“The Storyteller” Picked Up by Rampant Loon!

My latest short story, The Storyteller, has been bought by Rampant Loon Press! I’ve been working on this one on-and-off for about five years now. It’s gone through several periods of mothball status and at least two rounds of workshop critique from my writer group — so by no means an easy road to the finish. Ringing in at around 5700 words (pared down from over 7000), it’s also one my longest short stories.

The Storyteller is a response to a couple of converging thought threads that I’ve had in recent years. Firstly, I wondered if it was possible to envision a scenario in which humanity unites around something besides a common external threat. I wanted to attempt the kind of  “optimistic” scifi that also doesn’t avoid meaningful conflict, which it seems many people are looking for but can’t quite find these days.

Secondly, I have been itching for a long time to write something a little more “out there” than the near-future, hard-scifi of Red Soil Through Our Fingers. This story is a step in the direction of the more fantastic and mind-bending science fiction that I enjoy reading, but still falls short of my ideal. Still, I think it at least better reflects who I am as a writer today, more so than the other works of mine that are currently available.

Finally, it’s also just a relief to get something new out there at all. For various reasons, my writing really bogged down following the publication of Red Soil Through Our Fingers, and it’s been over two and a half years since I’ve been able to publish anything new. I’m hoping that this gives me a motivation spurt to get my writing back on track, and get my finished story portfolio caught up a bit with the idea queue in my head.

Now that The Storyteller has been purchased, I have hopes it will appear in a forthcoming issue of Stupefying Stories magazine. I’ll be sure to blog and toot when it is released!

Review of “The Three-Body Problem” by Liu Cixin

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1)The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved it. Fantastic, mind-blowing ideas and many-layered cultural setting, social systems, and characters. My only complaints are 1) the dialogue comes off as stiff and overly-constructed (which I assume I can attribute to the difficulty of translating from Chinese), and 2) the exposition and plot advancement (especially as we begin to learn more about the Trisolarans) often feels very heavy-handed.

Let’s see how it scores on the Nalin Scale of SciFi Elements that really hook me:

  • Ideas: Excellent
  • Wonder and Awe: Excellent
  • Identity: Excellent
  • Myth/Ritual/Infinity: Very Good (and I suspect the sequels will push even further)

Some of the best science fiction I’ve read in awhile. Will definitely read the sequels.

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“The Parched Lands” is now available for free at Smashwords

The Parched Lands, my short story that was first published in 2013 in Issue 7 of Crossed Genres Magazine, is now available for free from Smashwords, as well as other ebook retailers such as Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and the Apple iBook Store. Retailers besides Smashwords may take several days to index the story.

(Kindle Users: I no longer distribute on Amazon. However, you can still read my books! Buy from Smashwords, and you will be able to download the book in .mobi format. You will need to move the .mobi file to your Kindle (via USB), or you can read it via the Kindle Reader mobile or desktop apps.)

Amanthi is a teenage student in a not-so-distant future school system of hyper-testing and top-down control. In this world, creativity is a liability — but Amanthi is not deterred from dreaming. My short story, “The Parched Lands”, delves into the tangled issues of race, tracking, high-stakes testing, and creativity starvation that run through America’s public school systems.

 

Sci-Fi Story Elements That Really Hook Me!

For well over a year now, I’ve been spinning my wheels on a sequel to Red Soil Through Our Fingers. Despite the well-known writing advice that the first draft will be crap and you just have to power through it, somehow the three drafts I’ve started and scrapped so far seemed to have more wrong than merely being ordinary first-draft crap. Something really fundamental felt like it was missing.

So I finally took a break from trying to write the fourth do-over and decided to just freewrite about what I love in the sci-fi novels that I read. I analyzed my very favorite speculative fiction novels for common threads, and tried to distill them into individual motifs. The results were enlightening, and subsequent work has helped me re-plan and restructure the work-in-progress to better align with the elements of speculative fiction that I find exciting.

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My RavenCon Schedule

I’ll be at RavenCon 2018 next weekend (April 20-22)!

The Con of Opportunity returns to Williamsburg, Virginia with over 300 hours of programming in one action-packed weekend! Gaming, panels, signings, kids’ programming, workshops, readings, vendors, authors, artists, tournaments, costuming, anime, movies, concerts, books, books, and more books!

My panel schedule is below:

Ask a Scientist: Kids Edition – Saturday, April 21 • 1:00pm – 1:55pm – Room G. Those curious scientific questions we’ve always wondered about but have never been able to ask a scientist, until today!
(Robert V. Aldrich*, Les Carter, Richard Groller, N.A. Ratnayake)

2001: A Space Odyssey: 50 Years – Saturday, April 21 • 4:00pm – 4:55pm – Room E. A discussion of the 50th anniversary of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and how it stands up to today.
(Jennifer R. Povey, N.A. Ratnayake, Chris Shrewsbury, John C. Wright*)

Reading: Chris A Jackson and N.A. Ratnayake – Saturday, April 21 • 8:00pm – 8:55pm – Room 4. (I will probably read from unpublished work, either from one of the two novels I have in progress or a short story that is currently in submission circulation.)

If you can’t make any of these panels, you can also find me wandering the con. I’ll be live tweeting (@quantumcowboy) and tooting (@quantumcowboy@wandering.shop) throughout the weekend. I’ll also have the remaining few promo USB drives containing Red Soil Through our Fingers plus my two published short stories.

VVEV: Reflections on the Collection (No Spoilers)

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Visions, Ventures, and Escape Velocities

I’ve been posting a review/response to each of the five sections of Visions, Ventures, and Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures, which is available for free from Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination thanks to a grant from NASA. In this post, I’ll switch gears to some concluding thoughts about VVEV as a whole.

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Response to VVEV: Section V – Concluding Thoughts

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Visions, Ventures, and Escape Velocities

VVEV is illustrated by by Maciej Rebisz.

This is Part 5 of a six-part response to Visions, Ventures, and Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures, which is available for free from Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination thanks to a grant from NASA. I say “response” and not “review” because I intend to engage with the ideas presented from my own point of view.

Section V of VVEV is entitled Concluding Thoughts, and contains three essays:

  • The Luxury Problem: Space Exploration in the “Emergency Century, Kim Stanley Robinson, in conversation with James Bell
  • The Practical Economics of Space, Clark A. Miller
  • High Hedonistic and Low Fatalistic, Linda T. Elkins-Tanton

This blog post contains spoilers!

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Response to VVEV: Section IV – Exoplanets

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Visions, Ventures, and Escape Velocities

VVEV is illustrated by by Maciej Rebisz.

This is Part 4 of a six-part response to Visions, Ventures, and Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures, which is available for free from Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination thanks to a grant from NASA. I say “response” and not “review” because I intend to engage with the ideas presented from my own point of view.

Section IV of VVEV is entitled Exoplanets, and contains one short story and two essays:

  • Shikasta, by Vandana Singh
  • The New Science of Astrobiology, by Sara Imari Walker
  • Negotiating the Values of Space Exploration, by Emma Frow

This blog post contains spoilers!

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Response to VVEV: Section III – Asteroids

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Visions, Ventures, and Escape Velocities

VVEV is illustrated by Maciej Rebisz

This is Part 3 of a six-part response to Visions, Ventures, and Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures, which is available for free from Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination thanks to a grant from NASA. I say “response” and not “review” because I intend to engage with the ideas presented from my own point of view.

Section III of VVEV is entitled Asteroids, and contains two short stories and two essays:

  • The Use of Things, by Ramez Naam
  • Toward Asteroid Exploration, by Roland Lehoucq
  • Night Shift, by Eileen Gunn
  • Rethinking Risk, by Andrew D. Maynard

This blog post contains spoilers!

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Response to VVEV: Section II – Mars

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Visions, Ventures, and Escape Velocities

VVEV is illustrated by Maciej Rebis

This is Part 2 of a six-part response to Visions, Ventures, and Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures, which is available for free from Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination thanks to a grant from NASA. I say “response” and not “review” because I intend to engage with the ideas presented from my own point of view.

Section II of VVEV is entitled Mars, and contains two short stories and two essays:

  • The Baker of Mars, by Karl Schroeder
  • Exploration Fact and Exploration Fiction, by Lawrence Dritsas
  • Death on Mars, by Madeline Ashby
  • Life on Mars?, by Steve Ruff

This blog post contains spoilers!

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