New Publication: “The Mechanical Turk Has a Panic Attack” in Uncharted Magazine

Plates showing the mechanical turk, a machine made to look as though it is an automaton playing chess, while really a person is crouched inside it controlling everything.
Plates from Ernest Wittenberg’s 1960 article “Échec!”, about the actual mechanical turk

A bit delayed in announcing this, but I’ve got a new story up on Uncharted Magazine! It’s about a server in a high-end but not quite high-end-enough restaurant pretending to be an android. I mean, the title is the plot, essentially. It’s really good! Seriously, this is probably my favorite thing I’ve written in the past couple years, and I’m so pleased to have it published. You can read it over on Uncharted Magazine.

New Publication: “The Hilarious Inside Joke of Our Overwhelming Melancholic Nostalgia” in Solarpunk Magazine

My story “The Hilarious Inside Joke of Our Overwhelming Melancholic Nostalgia” is in the inaugural issue of Solarpunk Magazine, just published today! Solarpunk Magazine is a new magazine publishing writing and artwork that grapples with climate change and “demand[s] utopia.” The first issue is extra-large, with 6 short stories, 3 poems, and 4 nonfiction articles. It even includes an interview with Kim Stanley Robinson! You can purchase it here. EDIT: You can also read or listen to my story online here!

My story is set in a future Florida radically changed by climate change, where “Crimes Against the Future” are punished by implanting memories of the world before, the world lost to rising sea levels and changing ecologies. Kyra, whose older brother has been punished in this way so many times that the implanted memories have become permanent, wants to commit a crime so she can know what the old world was like herself.

New Publication: Classic Cage in some scripts Issue 3

some scripts issue 3My one act play Classic Cage is available in issue 3 of some scripts, their climate change-themed issue! The issue is available to read free for the next month, until June 11th, here. Here’s the synopsis:

Tara Cage is struggling to sell her next book. Publishers on Mars want another of her cheerful, optimistic Earth travelogues, the ones that made her so popular, but things have been getting bad on Earth. Climate change and economic upheaval have made Tara a lot more cynical, and sick of selling Mars a whitewashed version of her home planet. Her sister and literary agent, Michaela Cage, tries to grease the wheels with a potential publisher by getting a realtime FTL video connection between them on Mars and Tara on Earth. Unfortunately Tara’s internet connection has been screwy, making the video chat’s predictive AI patch over moments of lag with an AI version of Tara, compiled from calls made by Tara the last time she used it—which was twenty years ago. Between the upbeat, cheerful robo-Tara, and the true, jaded, bitter Tara, the publisher is getting mixed messages—though the AI seems to be making a better impression than Tara herself.

New Publication: The Ones I Used to Know in some scripts

Screen Shot 2019-02-02 at 11.33.51 AMMy short play The Ones I Used to Know is now available in the inaugural issue of some scripts! I’m so happy to have been included in this project, a magazine founded on the idea that scripts have literary merit, and can be enjoyed and appreciated even in their purely textual form. I’ll refrain from going into my full rant on the importance of reading plays, but basically the core ethos of this magazine is right in line with how I feel about scripts and screenplays as textual objects, and I’m as excited to be published in it as I am to read all the other contributors’ works.

My play is a ten-minute piece about climate change and Christmas music, set in a small town in Iowa. I realize this sounds awfully similar to “Fuck You Pay Me” but 1. Yes, and 2. They are actually quite distinct, and 3. You should check it out anyway!!!

New Publication: “Fuck You Pay Me” in Reckoning

reckoning-3-cover-draft-2-webMy short story “Fuck You Pay Me” is now available in Reckoning 3Reckoning is a non-profit journal that publishes poems, artwork, stories, and essays about climate change and environmental justice. My writing aside, you should absolutely check them out. They do fantastic work and support a broad range of artists, and I’m thrilled to be included in this year’s issue.

As for my story, “Fuck You Pay Me” is a story about two high school seniors who will be graduating soon, facing a world severely effected by climate change, and watching their opportunities dry up before their eyes. So, using an accountability AI to calculate the dollar amount that they are owed by the world, given the damage that climate change has done to them, they decide to balance the scales of climate justice and rob a wealthy family. Other stuff happens, and it takes place around Christmas, so it’s a perfect story for the holidays!

Currently you can buy an ebook of Reckoning 3 here. If you can’t spare the seven bucks right now, everything in Reckoning will be published online over the next six months, so you’ll be able to read my story free in April 2019—and if you want a physical copy, tthose will be available in June 2019.

Happy Holidays all!

New Publication: “Grumbles” in Kzine

MyKzine15cover short story “Grumbles” is now available in the May 2016 issue of Kzine! This is my first publication by a paying magazine, so I’m very excited about it.

Kzine is a genre magazine, which publishes crime, horror, fantasy, and sci-fi stories. “Grumbles” falls into the sci-fi category. It’s about a foul-mouthed robot companion arguing with his owner about what childhood memorabilia the owner should pack for his move out to the asteroid belt. So if you’re interested in AI, futurism, or explorations of memory (thematically and science-fictionally), “Grumbles” should be an enjoyable read for you.

You can buy it here if you’re in the US, and here if you’re in the UK, and if you’re somewhere else you probably know better than me how to get ahold of foreign publications. It will also be available for free tomorrow, the 29th, for the day.

Upcoming Publication: “Grumbles”

I’m thrilled to announce that my short story, Kzine15cover“Grumbles,” will appear in the May 2016 issue of Kzine, which will be published sometime around the end of May.

Kzine is a kindle only magazine featuring stories of crime, horror, fantasy, and science fiction. My story falls into the latter category, and once again deals with robots. More than being about sentience or robot souls though, “Grumbles” is about preserving memories, and choosing which memories to hold onto. More literally, it’s about a foul-mouthed robot companion arguing with his owner about what childhood memorabilia the owner should pack for his move out to the asteroid belt.

So … get hype? I think that’s the industry parlance.

Everybody Submits (Except Whiners)

I recently overheard a conversation between two writers (but were they really?) about how much submitting sucked, how much bias there was toward known authors, how brutal rejection was. I wanted to run to the opposite corner of the room and hide from the abundant stupidity of that conversation. I might’ve interjected, but they were too far away from me. So let me break this down.

I don’t know how much bias there really is toward known authors. I have very little experience on the other end of submissions, and I’ve heard editors claim they don’t even know who a submission is from when they get it, and therefore have no bias. And yet, I can’t imagine Asimov’s publishing a novella by someone completely unheard of, without the writing being positively godly. I don’t know if things are any better or worse in the literary community—my knowledge is confined to speculative fiction markets. No matter what though, unknown people do get published, especially in magazines. Names sell issues, of course, but magazines are different from books. They’re subscription based, and they have multiple authors per issue. So it’s not like a book where a reader is deciding whether or not to buy a copy, they’re probably already subscribed. And for the people who aren’t subscribed, they can pick up an issue with a cover story by Aliette de Bodard that also has a short story by Unknown McNeverpublished.

Is it harder for unknowns? Who gives a shit. I’d be more stressed by being a known, and wondering if the market was accepting subpar stories just because I had a recognizable name.

Whatever. Not that important. Second part now.

“Rejection, it’s brutal.” Those were the exact words. I don’t understand this. I love submitting. And, while I’d rather be accepted than rejected, I enjoy getting rejected too. It means I can submit again.

I think what I like about submitting, and receiving rejections, is that it gives me a feeling of legitimacy. I don’t have much in common with professional writers—not in payment, not in success, not in quality of writing—but something I do have in common with them is that we all submit stories, and we all get rejections. At least, those professional writers who write short fiction do. And that connection to professionals is a cool feeling. With each query letter I write, with each story I put into standard manuscript format, with each new list of markets to submit to that I make, I feel like I’m doing professional work. And I also get a little spike of serotonin thinking, Maybe this’ll be the magazine that accepts this story. Maybe this’ll be my first published piece of short fiction.

And it’s the same with getting a rejection. It gives me a sense of camaraderie, like I’m tapping into this universal vein of disappointment and perseverance and writerliness. I’m not insane, some rejections are painful—like form rejections from a market that normally gives feedback, or rejection after a story has been held for further consideration—but mostly they’re just a small, manageable sting. What was worse was getting no rejections. For a while I was working on a 150K-word novel, and had no short fiction to submit, and I missed submitting so much.

So what’s wrong with these chuckleheads complaining about submissions and rejections? I imagine that they don’t realize that professional writers have achieved success because of long hard work. These clowns probably believe that writers are just like them. That professional writers are people with luck, or people with good connections, or people with god-given talents, or anything other than just plain, old, skilled workers. And because they believe that professional writers are so like them, they ironically don’t feel any connection when they submit, and instead suppose their actual writing to be the connection between them and professional writers. This is valid in some ways, but every writer’s process is different, so I’ve always felt that this writing is more of a personal thing. I suppose it’s less personal if you ape the process of a famous writer, which is what many writing books suggest, and can be a trap for aspiring writers. So by supposing themselves and professionals to be equal, these goofballs debase the writers, and devalue that tenuous but very special connection made in submitting.

The worse for them. I love submitting, and I’ll do it relentlessly just like every writer worth a damn has ever done. And they whinge about submitting, and they’ll do it infrequently—and the poor slush readers will have a few less submissions to read. The better for the workers.