Floating Point, Book Four of Devi Jones’ Locker, will be released Oct 4! Find out more.

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M. Darusha Wehm
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll find something you like here.

If you want to read something short, check out the free stories available here or the links under “Publications” on the right go to other places my stories have been published. Some of those are free to read online.

If you prefer longer works, I have free samples of all my novels available on the site. Beautiful Red was my first book, and is a standalone cyberpunk story. Self Made, Act of Will and The Beauty of Our Weapons are a series (in that order) about future detective Andersson DexterChildren of Arkadia is a standalone political space station epic.

My newest series, Devi Jones’ Locker, is mainstream fiction — a light beach read that brings the beach to you. The first book in this series is Packet Trade.

Cookies and a Book: Earl Grey Shortbread and Breath of Earth with Beth Cato

Cookies and a Book: Earl Grey Shortbread and Breath of Earth with Beth Cato

My friend Beth Cato has dropped by again with another amazing recipe. And another amazing steampunk book to tell you about.

I’m steampunk fantasy author Beth Cato. My new series starts off with Breath of Earth, out on August 23rd. Unlike my Clockwork Dagger books, this novel is set on Earth—1906 San Francisco, to be exact. Yes, my book involves earthquakes. My heroine, Ingrid Carmichael, is a geomancer, and a profoundly gifted one at that… but women aren’t supposed to be endowed with such powerful magic. Nor is a woman of color supposed to be, well, anything of note. But Ingrid is not content with being a demure secretary, pouring coffee and tea for stuffy white men engaged in never-ending meetings. She wants recognition, meaning, in her complex world.

In tribute to Ingrid, let’s make our own darn tea and shortbread. In this case, I’m being literal: I’m sharing a recipe for Earl Grey Tea Shortbread! These are buttery, soft cookies with a small kick of heat from the tea.

More about Breath of Earth:

After the Earth’s power is suddenly left unprotected, a young geomancer must rely on her unique magical powers to survive in this fresh fantasy standalone from the author of acclaimed The Clockwork Dagger.

In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer wardens who have no idea of the depth of her power—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills.

When assassins kill the wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by her incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, the city is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose Earth’s powers to masterminds determined to control the energy for their own dark ends. The danger escalates when Chinese refugees, preparing to fight the encroaching American and Japanese, fracture the uneasy alliance between the Pacific allies, transforming the city into a veritable powder keg. And the slightest tremor will set it off. . . .

Forced on the run, Ingrid makes some shocking discoveries about herself. Her powerful magic has grown even more fearsome . . . and she may be the fulcrum on which the balance of world power rests.

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger series from Harper Voyager, which includes her Nebula-nominated novella WINGS OF SORROW AND BONE. Her newest novel is BREATH OF EARTH. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.

Interview with Erica L. Satifka, author of Stay Crazy

Interview with Erica L. Satifka, author of Stay Crazy

I got a chance to chat with Erica L. Satifka (my editor for the Devi Jones’ Locker series) about her debut novel, Stay Crazy, to be released August 16. I am really looking forward to reading this book!

After a breakdown in college landed Emmeline Kalberg in a mental hospital, she’s struggling to get her life on track. She’s back in her hometown and everyone knows she’s crazy, but the twelve pills she takes every day keep her anxiety and paranoia in check. So when a voice that calls itself Escodex begins talking to Em from a box of frozen chicken nuggets, she’s sure that it’s real and not another hallucination. Well… pretty sure.

An evil entity is taking over the employees of Savertown USA, sucking out their energy so it can break into Escodex’s dimension. When her coworkers start dying, Em realizes that she may be the only one who can stop things from getting worse. Now she must convince her therapist she’s not having a relapse and keep her boss from firing her. All while getting her coworker Roger to help enact the plans Escodex conveys to her through the RFID chips in the Savertown USA products. It’s enough to make anyone Stay Crazy.

Can you describe your writing for someone who is unfamiliar with it?

Dark science fiction: Imagine all the good things that might be possible with a futuristic concept or technology, then completely invert them, add a pinch of paranoia, a slacker hero, and serve at room temperature.

Would you want to live in the world of your book? Why or why not?

I did live in the world of the book! Or at least, certain aspects of the book are heavily based on where I grew up and a job I used to have. Stay Crazy has a contemporary setting in small-town Western Pennsylvania, which is where I’m from. Her job is at a big-box store, the kind of place that’s quickly becoming the “company store” for many small communities where the manufacturing jobs that had supported families for decades no longer exist.

However, the other “world” of the novel is Em’s mind. I worked very hard to ensure that Em’s feelings were authentic for a person living with schizophrenia, reading multiple first person accounts as well as clinical research. I hope that anyone reading Stay Crazy who also shares Em’s worldview will find it realistic. It would be easy to say, “I can’t imagine dealing with Em’s illness” but that would be disrespectful to the countless people who do so every day.

But to answer the question directly: The first chance I got, I moved to the “big city” of Pittsburgh. Draw your own conclusions from that!

Why did you write this story? What is compelling about it for you?

The story was developed over several months of daydreaming while working as a stocker in the frozen food aisle of a real-world big-box store. (Spoiler: Guess what part of Savertown USA Em works in?) I’d also just discovered Philip K. Dick, so had parallel universes and reality testing on the brain. So naturally, a person who already has reason to question their understanding of the world made a perfect protagonist. The problem is that too many times, the portrayal of a person with atypical neurology comes down to a stereotype. I’ve mentioned in a different interview how people with schizophrenia tend to either be cast as “mystics” or the homeless person down the street, designed to scare readers. I didn’t want that for Em. I wanted her to be as real as I could make her, drawing on memoirs from people who have gone through similar experiences. It’s important to me to write an engaging story, but I didn’t want Stay Crazy to be the fifteenth “young woman tries to save the world” story out in the month of August.

The compelling thing about Em’s story is that she’s not your usual protagonist. Beyond her neuro-diversity, she’s also not the neglected figure who is “discovered” to save the day, or a generic figure shown to have great abilities. Em would be a background character/sidekick in most novels, allowed to do one or two cool things, make a few sarcastic quips, and stand aside for the hero/heroine to save the day. In my world, and I did this by design, Em is the primary figure. I don’t think we get enough rough-edged, imperfect, somewhat unlikeable protagonists. Especially girl protagonists like that.

How will reading it make people feel?

I don’t believe that an author should tell a reader how to feel about a book, and I’ve already learned that most people don’t find my writing nearly as funny as I do. Can’t predict reader reaction! However, as with all of my fiction, I also want to make the reader think about the key concepts behind the story as well as just enjoying the plot. For instance, I’d like them to really think about how the idea of capitalism and being “a productive member of society” really impacts on someone like Em who can’t fulfill that role with ease. I’m sure readers will come up with their own key concepts, too, and I look forward to hearing from them about what they’ve taken away from the book. (Save an author, write a review!)

Was there anything you did deliberately while crafting this novel (pacing, language, symbolism…)? Why?

I don’t use (deliberate) symbolism, and I don’t really try to create pretty prose on purpose. But I’m pretty proud of the hallucination scenes, as they’re written in a fluid, florid style that helps to differentiate them from the more straightforward prose of the reality-based sections of the novel. That was deliberate, kinda, but not so much calculated so much as it’s what I imagine a text rendering of psychosis would actually be like.

However, the main thing I like about Stay Crazy‘s “craft” is the dialogue. I’m sort of a jerk, and so is Em, and I had a lot of fun making the characters banter and writing out Em’s little snarky thoughts about her coworkers, her sister’s religion, her therapist, and everything else under the sun. I really tried hard to capture a sort of Daria Morgendorffer/Aubrey Plaza vibe in Em’s dialogue and interactions, while also not making her so sarcastic that you want to strangle her. It was a delicate balancing act for sure. And I have to admit, it was a little cathartic to be able to write out the kind of stuff that I could never say in person. Take that, polite society!

Buy at Amazon

Buy at Barnes & Noble

Buy from Apex

headshot_satifkaErica L. Satifka is a writer and/or friendly artificial construct, forged in a heady mix of iced coffee and sarcasm. She enjoys rainy days, questioning reality, ignoring her to-do list, and adding to her collection of tattoos. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Shimmer, Lightspeed, and Intergalactic Medicine Show, and her debut novel Stay Crazy will be released in August 2016 by Apex Publications. Originally from Pittsburgh, she now lives in Portland, Oregon with her spouse Rob and an indeterminate number of cats.

The Diversity Problem in SFF We Don’t Talk About

The Diversity Problem in SFF We Don’t Talk About

Spoilers: it’s US cultural dominance.

We all know that there is a long history in literature in general, and speculative literature in particular, of amplifying dominant voices to the exclusion of other stories. But we are getting better.

Campaigns like We Need Diverse Books, the #ownvoices conversation, and leading magazines devoting special issues to writing by women, members of the queer communities, people of colour and more are shining spotlights on works by authors and/or featuring characters who better represent the world in which we really live.

Indeed, this year’s Nebula Awards have been lauded as a showcase for diversity. As Andrew Liptak said about the nominees, writing for io9, “What jumps out right away is that this is a strong, diverse list of works and authors.” And when the voting was done, and the winners of the prose awards were all women, two of whom are women of colour, Liptak wrote:

“The science fiction world has had its share of drama with the Hugo Awards as various slates have worked aggressively to push against the growing numbers of women and people of color appearing on award ballots. The Nebula Awards have demonstrated, for two years in a row, that science fiction and fantasy literature remains a strong, inclusive body of literature.”

But, inclusive of what, exactly? What about geographical diversity? I took a look at some numbers, and saw an unsurprising but troublesome situation.

nebula graph

In this year’s Nebula Awards shortlist, at least 79% of the works were written by authors living in the United States. Only 7 out of 34 works were by authors who are resident outside the US, or whose country of residence I couldn’t find in publicly available material1. See below2 for notes on methodology.

It’s not just the Nebulas either. I didn’t look at this year’s Hugo shortlist, but last year Lynn E. O’Connacht posted a comprehensive breakdown of Hugo nominees by nationality. The whole post is worth a read, but here are the numbers3:

Novel:

US: 82.2% (106 authors)
UK: 12.4% (16 authors)
Canada: 3.1% (4 authors)
China: 0.8% (1 author)
France: 0.8% (1 author)
Jamaica: 0.8% (1 author)

 

The short fiction categories:

US: 74.5% (205 authors)
UK: 10.2% (28 authors)
Canada: 3.3% (9 authors)
Australia: 1.1% (3 authors)
France: 0.4% (1 author)
Netherlands: 0.4% (1 author)
Unknown: 10.2% (28 authors)

I also looked at a few other awards for comparison and I was shocked to discover that a significant percentage of the 2016 Arthur C. Clarke Award (for SFF published in Britain) and British Fantasy Awards shortlists were for works by US-based authors.

Out of six works on the Clarke award shortlist, two are by US-based authors and over 20% of the British Fantasy Award shortlist are US-based authors, including at least one US-based author’s work in each category.4

So what can be done about it? I’m not the only one talking about this; Australian author T.R. Napper wrote on this topic recently with respect to the Hugos, with his own proposal. Instead, I think following the model of other diversity initiatives is the way to go.

  • Address the elephant (or, in this case, eagle) in the room instead of ignoring it.
  • If you hold a special call for submission to amplify the voices of people from outside certain geographic areas, maybe think about restricting that call to authors from outside those regions.
  • Recognize that even if you don’t attend conventions or in-person workshops, which are substantially easier for US-based authors to do, if you are an author who lives in North America you benefit from the privilege of sharing time zones with industry professionals. It sounds small, but community is often built from small things like fun twitter conversations and online chat.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I hope that we can open a conversation5 about how to become more inclusive of voices all over the planet. After all, we are the literature of other worlds — surely we can  accommodate more of the world we already inhabit.

Eagle photo credit: Jordan Confino

Notes   [ + ]

1. I used the authors’ public bios, wikipedia, and in some cases interviews to determine country of residence. When residence information was not publicly obtainable, I’ve marked those authors as Unknown, even when their nationalities were listed. Therefore, some authors’ bios may list them as American authors, but if I could not determine their residence, they are listed here as Unknown.
2. I have no interest in identity policing here, so chose to use current residence as the benchmark. I recognize that living in a country does not necessarily mean a person has an identification with that nationality. However, I’d argue that simply residing in the US confers a privilege with respect to SFF publishing, so that’s the metric I chose.
3. Lynn chose a different methodology than I did, but the trend is pretty clear.
4. A complete breakdown of the shortlists and references I used is in this pdf, including a breakdown of the shortlist for the new Eugie Award where 3/5 nominees are US-based.
5. If anyone has corrections to make, please feel free to comment here or email me privately at darusha@darusha.ca.

Please note that I will continue to list authors’ residences as Unknown if that information is not part of a public bio. I have no interest in asking anyone to reveal information about their residence, and believe strongly in every individual’s right to privacy.

My mainstream novel, The Home for Wayward Parrots, to be published by NeWest Press

My mainstream novel, The Home for Wayward Parrots, to be published by NeWest Press

Good news, everyone!

My mainstream novel, The Home for Wayward Parrots, will be published by the venerable Canadian literary publisher NeWest Press.

Here’s the blurb from their announcement:

The Home For Wayward Parrots, by Darusha Wehm:

Now grown up, Brian “Gumbo” Guillemot searches for his birth parents after a happy adopted childhood. Along the way, he regales readers with often-complicated encounters with women, men and more.

I describe the book like this:

A late-bloomer’s coming of age story set on Vancouver Island, The Home For Wayward Parrots explores friendship, romance, modern families and geek pop culture with wit, compassion and extremely foul-mouthed birds.

Look for Parrots in Spring 2018.

Photo credit: Martin Pettitt

Interview with J. Kathleen Cheney, author of Dreaming Death

Interview with J. Kathleen Cheney, author of Dreaming Death

Today I’m chatting with J. Kathleen Cheney, whose new book Dreaming Death is being released today!

Shironne Anjir’s status as a sensitive is both a gift and a curse. Her augmented senses allow her to discover and feel things others can’t, but her talents come with a price: a constant assault of emotions and sensations has left her blind. Determined to use her abilities as best she can, Shironne works tirelessly as an investigator for the Larossan army.

A member of the royal family’s guard, Mikael Lee also possesses an overwhelming power—he dreams of the deaths of others, sometimes in vivid, shocking detail, and sometimes in cryptic fragments and half-remembered images.

But then a killer brings a reign of terror to the city, snuffing out his victims with an arcane and deadly blood magic. Only Shironne can sense and interpret Mikael’s dim, dark dreams of the murders. And what they find together will lead them into a nightmare…

Can you describe your writing for someone who is unfamiliar with it?

My writing is a mix of things, part Fantasy, part Murder Mystery, and a small part Romance. Never as much of a swashbuckling story as a thinking one. (At least that’s what I tell myself.)

Would you want to live in the world of your book? Why or why not?

No way! It’s too cold in this novel. Not Antarctica cold, but I personally consider anything north of Texas too cold, so it doesn’t take much to get me shivering. The setting of Dreaming Death is in a part of the world where glaciers have receded, but could come back at any time.

Well, maybe if I never had to come above ground….

Why did you write this story? What is compelling about it for you?

For what it’s worth, I love this world. I actually have eight novels outlined in this setting (across two time periods: the invasion, and two hundred years later.)  I think what I loved about this story was the sensitives (of the Six Families) coming together with the broadcasters (of the Anvarrid Houses) and learning to use their talents together. Dreaming Death is set two hundred years post-invasion, but it’s still the same problem: a broadcaster and a sensitive have to learn to use their powers to complement each other.

What surprised you while writing it?

I have a culture in this series that lives underground in a man-made structure (called the Fortress.) In considering that structure, I learned that at the University of Minnesota you can study building underground buildings. In fact, one of the resources I used while writing it was a textbook for the school called Underground Space Design. The book was really invaluable, not only in discussion of the physical buildings themselves, but also in the psychological ramifications of having people underground all the time. (The low level of stimulation is difficult for some people to endure.)

How will reading it make people feel?

If they’re not claustrophobic, then I hope they would be satisfied at the end (Don’t we all hope that?) and then want to read the next installment…

Was there anything you did deliberately while crafting this novel (pacing, language, symbolism…)? Why?

I tried on this one to differentiate speech more in dialog. One person speaks in short sentences while another goes on and on. One character has very precise speech and qualifies her sentences. One uses virus words: um, well, so, uh. I also have one character who speaks like he was raised speaking a null-subject language. He frequently drops his subjects, particularly when he’s speaking of himself.  I originally did that, thinking it would make him sound more efficient, as if he’s got so much on his mind he doesn’t have room for subjects. Now I’m just hoping that people don’t think they’re all overdone!

Buy the book here:

Amazon

Powells

B&N

J. Kathleen Cheney taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, but gave it all up for a chance to write stories. Her novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist.  Her novel, The Golden City was a Finalist for the 2014 Locus Awards (Best First Novel). Dreaming Death will be the first in a new series, the Palace of Dreams Novels.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CheneyJKathleen

Twitter: @jkcheney

Tumblr: http://jkathleencheney.tumblr.com/

Website: www.jkathleencheney.com

Coming Feb 9 2016: Packet Trade

Coming Feb 9 2016: Packet Trade

Tropical adventures.
A rag-tag sailing crew.
Running off-grid data servers?
Sounds legit.

Devi Jones is a year away from graduating with a Computer Science degree and it’s internship time. But usually the ship part isn’t quite so literal. She gets hired by Really Remote Desktop, a cloud data storage company that keeps their servers in odd places, like the bilge of a hundred-foot sailboat.

How can a homebody like Devi step on to a boat with six strangers and sail away from everything she has ever known? All while trying to do her best at her first real job? Being in a tropical paradise helps — but only until things start to go wrong.

Packet Trade is book one of Devi Jones’ Locker. It will be released as five Kindle episodes, with new episodes every two weeks, or you can buy the full volume at any time in ebook or paperback.

Pre-orders for the first episode and the complete book will be up soon, so watch this space.

If you’re already intrigued, you can read a sample here.

Note to my regular readers: This is a Darusha Wehm without the M. book, so there won’t be any AIs, robots or space travel. There’s still science, but it’s not speculative.

Interview with Lawrence M. Schoen, Author of Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard

Interview with Lawrence M. Schoen, Author of Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard

Just in time for the release of his new book, Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen stopped by for this interview. About Barsk:

The Sixth Sense meets Planet of the Apes in a moving science fiction novel set so far in the future, humanity is gone and forgotten in Lawrence M. Schoen’s Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard.
An historian who speaks with the dead is ensnared by the past. A child who feels no pain and who should not exist sees the future. Between them are truths that will shake worlds.

Me: Can you describe your writing for someone who is unfamiliar with it?

Lawrence: A lot of my past writing takes the form of light and humorous stories, enjoyable and entertaining reads. This is particularly true of the series of short stories, novellas, and novels that make up my Amazing Conroy series. With Barsk I went darker. Which is not to say that there are not amusing and light-hearted bits, but overall the tone is much more serious, as one would expect when dealing with themes like intolerance and death.

Would you want to live in the world of your book?

That’s a tough call. If I lived on any of the island rainforests of Barsk, that would mean I’m an anthropomorphic elephant (a Fant). While it might be very cool to make my home in a living city high in the trees, it would probably take a while to get used to having a trunk. Also, the Fant tend to eschew most technology and I can’t see myself going back to writing everything longhand.

Elsewhere though, on most of the hundreds of other worlds in the Alliance that I invented for the book, such a parochial view on hardware is rarer and I could have all sorts of cool gadgets (I’m not giving up my smart gear, sorry). But I still couldn’t be a human being, as there aren’t any. I’d have to get comfortable being some other race of Raised Mammal. And furry.

Why did you write this story?

When I was in junior high and high school, I had the misfortune to have social studies teachers who managed to convince me that history was nothing more than a boring list of names and dates. This was a huge disservice. I now realize that history is perhaps best conceptualized as a type of storytelling, and it can be as riveting and nuanced as the best work of fiction. But the damage was done, and even now, so many decades later, I still feel cheated. In many ways, Barsk began as an attempt to absolve that sin and talk about history from the perspective of someone who was making the study of it his life’s work. To show that despite it being old and dead it was also vibrant and alive. That led curiously to the not so metaphorical plotline of having a protagonist who could actually talk to the dead, as well as the further complication of what happens when the historian finds himself at the very heart of the events he’s supposedly chronicling.

What is compelling for you?

People. When I was growing up, I worked with my father at the swapmeet. We sold everything from lingerie to melon-ballers to cans of “liquid bandage,” and I did this every weekend from age five to eighteen, escaping only by going off to college. During those thirteen years I interacted with every flavor of humanity, every race, gender, socio-economic and educational level. I got to see what they had in common and how they differed, both as groups and individuals. That experience contributed to my pursuing a doctorate in psychology, and it’s what made me realize that each of us has a story to tell, if only someone would listen.

What surprised you while writing it?

The way things came together at the end.

I knew how everything ended (indeed, almost every word of Barsk’s epilogue was written more than twenty years ago). But the way all the character arcs and the various plotlines flowed together in such a satisfying result, I wasn’t expecting that. Clearly, my unconscious mind had it all planned out, but when it finally trickled into my awareness I was really amazed and pleased.

How will reading it make people feel?

I hope it will move people, and leave them emotionally impacted long after they turn the last page. I grew up reading Burroughs and Heinlein and Zelazny, and time and again I was on the receiving end of that “sense o’ wonder” that continues to fade in and out of fashion in our field. I strive to create that in my work (whether it’s currently fashionable to do so, or not, I can’t say). I want readers to relate to my characters, to care about their choices and lives. They’re very real for me, and I’d like them to come alive for my readers as well. At the end of Barsk, I want people to be asking what happens next to Jorl and Pizlo, as they would about real people who have crossed in and out of their lives.

Was there anything you did deliberately while crafting this novel (pacing, language, symbolism…)?

Oh yeah, all of that. Readers have consistently told me that my strengths are dialogue and characterization, and by extension my weaknesses are plot and pacing. So a lot of writing Barsk was about my striving to improve the way I create and manage both plot and pacing. I think all writers want to get better, to stretch and grow. The solution for me was to invest in a large number of subplots, and use my strengths to develop and explore them. Which is why all the POV characters have their own backstories and motivations for what they’re doing, and that informs the main storyline. Even some of the minor supporting characters have their own tiny narratives, because in their own minds they’re the heroes of their own stories.

Language is easier for me because, 1) it’s language, which is what I live for, 2) it emerges from the individual characters as manifested in their conversation and, hello, characterization and dialogue!

As for symbolism, I’m finding that people who read Barsk are adamant that I put in this or that object lesson, that the entire book is an allegorical statement about one thing or another, that it’s my personal soapbox. I honestly don’t believe this is the case. Are there symbols in the book? Sure, of course there are, and since I wrote it I must be the one to have put them in. But if I did, I don’t think it was in any kind of knowing, conscious, or deliberate way. But too, I don’t expect anyone to believe me however true that statement may be.

Why?

That really cuts to the question of “why do we write books in the first place?” I’m not one of those authors who raise the back of a hand to the forehead and with anguish in my voice proclaims that I simply have to write, that the words must come forth. I see other writers do that and it makes me roll my eyes. I don’t believe it, though I do believe that they may believe it. But you know what they say about that river in Egypt. But hey, if helps them to put words on the page, who am I to judge?

Part of why I write is to entertain, to tell a story. Part is to grow as person. Writing a novel is an odd exercise in personal exploration. If you do it right by the time you’re done you know new things about yourself that you hadn’t realized were true, or that you had in you. It can be a mild learning experience or a hugely transformative crucible, and you’re probably not going to know which until you’re on the other side of the book.

And that’s a good thing, I think. Because writing a novel should be an intensely personal experience, for both the author and the audience. Writing Barsk changed the way I see the world, and if I did it right it should have a similar effect on the reader. We’ll see.

SchoenHeadshot-2(300dpi)

Lawrence M. Schoen holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, has been nominated for the Campbell, Hugo, and Nebula awards, is a world authority on the Klingon language, operates the small press Paper Golem, and is a practicing hypnotherapist specializing in authors’ issues.

His previous science fiction includes many light and humorous adventures of a space-faring stage hypnotist and his alien animal companion. His most recent book, Barsk, takes a very different tone, exploring issues of prophecy, intolerance, friendship, conspiracy, and loyalty, and redefines the continua between life and death. He lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his wife and their dog.

Website: http://www.lawrencemschoen.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lawrencemschoen

Twitter: @klingonguy

2015 Awards Recommendations (and my eligible works)

It’s that time of year again. This year I’ve been focussing on reading current short fiction rather than novels, so my awards recommendations are all under novel-length. I still have a lot to read, so I’ll update this post as I read more things, but for now here are my favourites for this year (in no particular order):

Novelette

“Our Lady of the Open Road” by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s)

Short Story

“Android Whores Can’t Cry” by Natalia Theodoridou (Clarkesworld)
“Broken” by Jason Kimble (Escape Pod)
“Here Is My Thinking On A Matter That Concerns Us All” by Rahul Kanakia (Lightspeed)
“Weight of the World” by José Pablo Iriarte (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination)
“When the Circus Lights Down” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine)

 

As for my stuff, I have two works eligible for nomination this year. Both are eligible for the Hugo, Nebula, Aurora (Canadian SFF awards) and Sir Julius Vogel (New Zealand SFF awards).

You would know if you are eligible to nominate for the first three, but anyone may make free nominations for the SJVs. It’s just an email away, more information is here (and the info you need to submit is below, plus your contact details). If you’ve enjoyed any SF, fantasy or horror by a New Zealander (including films and comics!), I’d encourage you to nominate.

My eligible works for 2015:

Children of Arkadia by M. Darusha Wehm, Bundoran Press
Novel
Released April 2015
Science Fiction
For more information: darusha@darusha.ca
http://www.amazon.com/Children-Arkadia-M-Darusha-Wehm-ebook/dp/B00VO1SI9Y/

“The Edge of the Abyss” by M. Darusha Wehm, published in Contact Light, Silence in the Library LLC.
Short story
Released July 2015
Science Fiction
For more information: darusha@darusha.ca
http://www.amazon.com/Contact-Light-Gail-Z-Martin-ebook/dp/B012MLE39I/

 

Notes from the Cyborg-Messe

Notes from the Cyborg-Messe

On Nov 6-8, I had the great honour to be a part of the “world’s first cyborg fair” in Düsseldorf, Germany. Held jointly by the NRW-Forum and Cyborgs e.v., the event brought together artists, academics, philosophers and technologists in an exploration of the current state of the art of human/technology integration.

I gave the keynote address on Friday evening to an enthusiastic audience. I’ll have a video up soon of the talk (slides and audio only, I’m afraid). The abstract is:

Humans have always used technology and one of the most ancient tools we use is storytelling. Science and fiction are a conversation and science fiction in particular lets us try out new futures before we build them. Stories teach us about the past, they create the future and they can be as a personal enhancement technology to change our lives.

After I blathered on, the event continued with a wide variety of items, including

  • an amazing philosophical discussion on citizen science and the moral imperative of enhancing human bodies to become more ethical animals by Tim Cannon,
  • a reading and discussion of her German steampunk books by author Anja Bagus,
  • notes on the current and near future state of the art in consumer implantable technologies by Hannes Sjöblad
  • an academic talk about human enhancement versus body modification by Stephanie Rembold

plus an exhibition of incredible body and skin inspired jewelry by Nadja Buttendorf and a fashion show.

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There were also a handful of companies exhibiting their goods, the main draw being implantable NFC chips, which were available to purchase and receive onsite (I got mine!).

On the Saturday afternoon the press was in full force as Tim Cannon and Shawn Sarver from Grindhouse Wetware were implanted with the first North Star under the skin LED system. Jowan Österlund of Biohax International did the work (and also did my implant — he’s an artist with a needle). There’s a safe for work write-up at Gizmodo and a more extensive one with some graphic images at Motherboard.

All in all it was an incredible experience. Everyone was intelligent and lovely and the diverse mix of people made for a thought-provoking and inspiring time.

I want to thank Elle Nerdinger and Enno Park of Cyborgs e.V. for asking me to be a part of this amazing event and Nicola Funk, Alain Bieber and the team at NRW-Forum for all their hard work in making it all happen.

“Wings of Sorrow and Bone: A Clockwork Dagger Novella” by Beth Cato: Excerpt

“Wings of Sorrow and Bone: A Clockwork Dagger Novella” by Beth Cato: Excerpt

Steampunk author and baker extraordinaire Beth Cato is back! This time, she’s given me an excerpt from her new novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone. Enjoy!

Wings of Sorrow and Bone: A Clockwork Dagger Novella

A few months after the events of The Clockwork Crown

After being rescued by Octavia Leander from the slums of Caskentia, Rivka Stout is adjusting to her new life in Tamarania. But it’s hard for a blossoming machinist like herself to fit in with proper society, and she’d much rather be tinkering with her tools than at a hoity-toity party any day.

When Rivka stumbles into a laboratory run by the powerful Balthazar Cody, she also discovers a sinister plot involving chimera gremlins and the violent Arena game Warriors. The innocent creatures will end up hurt, or worse, if Rivka doesn’t find a way to stop Mr. Cody. And to do that means she will have to rely on some unexpected new friends.

In this excerpt from Chapter 2, Rivka and Tatiana have just met and escaped from Balthazar Cody’s party. Their nosiness has guided them to a basement laboratory full of peculiar creatures…

“Yes. Gremlins. My God, they are ugly,” said Tatiana, shuddering. She had to speak loudly to be heard.

The creatures mewed, cackled, and banged on the copper and wood bars of their enclosures. Nothing was made of silver. Rivka stepped closer.

The bright electric lighting showed the green gremlins well. Some had tint variations, like patches in a quilt. Their sizes ranged from pigeon to husky tomcat. Long, bat-like wings folded along their sides. Hideous hybrid faces featured round, black eyes, some of their noses compressed and others more elongated. Their arms tended toward long and skinny, hind legs stubby.

Gremlins had split lips, just like her.

Rivka traced her upper lip with her tongue. Doctors in Tamarania could fill the gap that partially exposed her front teeth. She was slowly saving up money for that very surgery.

“Hi there.” Rivka reached out. A gremlin’s three small fingers clutched her fingertips. There were no claws, nor did it try to lurch her off balance. The little gremlin pressed its face to the bars. Long, whiskered ears trembled. Rivka felt a vibration against her hand, and with a start realized that the creature was purring.

“A lot of them—no, all of them—are injured.” Tatiana pointed.

She was right. The gremlin whose hand Rivka held had bandages girthing most of its torso. The one to the left had no ear, just a rounded stub. The one below had no wings, and therefore, no arms. A cage over, the gremlin actually had separate arms, but its wings were gone as well.

“Is this like a medical ward for maimed gremlins?” Rivka frowned and looked around as she wiggled her hand free. It certainly seemed like a sterile surgical space. She pulled out her trusty little screwdriver again.

“What are you doing?”

“Being nosy. There has to be a ledger or something around here that chronicles their injuries.”

The cages were numbered and denoted with colorful flags; not all were occupied. Most of the cabinets and drawers held tools and blades with purposes she didn’t wish to contemplate. No paperwork had been left out. She pulled a cart from beneath a steel table. Lifting the hinged lid, she found a snarled pile of dead gremlins. She gasped.

“What?” called Tatiana from across the room.

“Bodies.” Rivka shoved the cart away. She’d seen all kinds of dead things before, people included, but there was something especially disturbing about a haphazard knot of that nature.

Like that sample? Read the whole novella for just 99-cents

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Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

She’s the author of The Clockwork Dagger (a 2015 Locus Award finalist for First Novel) and The Clockwork Crown from Harper Voyager.

Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.