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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 of 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 Dexter.

My next novel, Children of Arkadia, a political space station epic, is scheduled for release in early 2015.

Interview with J.S. Bangs, author of Storm Bride

Interview with J.S. Bangs, author of Storm Bride

I chatted recently with J.S. Bangs, author of the fantasy novel Storm Bride.

When Saotse rode across the treacherous ocean on an orca at the bidding of Oarsa, Power of the Sea, the blind maiden believed she had been chosen for a great destiny. But she hasn’t heard Oarsa’s voice in decades. Aged now, she has found her place among a peaceful, long-lived people, though her adoptive sister, Uya, still blossoms with youth. Then, pregnant Uya is kidnapped, and the rest of her family is slaughtered when an army of mounted warriors strikes the defenseless capital, leaving Saotse grief stricken and alone.

After Saotse finds refuge with strangers in a distant village, a new Power makes contact. Saotse embraces the opportunity to bury her bloodthirsty enemies in vengeance, but wielding the Power’s bitter magic could cost her everything she is.

As war escalates and allies flock to her side, Saotse believes she finally understands Oarsa’s purpose for her. But the Powers may have set events in motion that even they cannot control, and the fates of gods and men alike hang in the balance.

J.S. writes short fiction as well, and is particularly interested in linguistics and languages, of both the human and computer varieties.

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

J.S.: I like to write epic fantasy in unusual settings. “Unusual” means that I eschew the traditional fake!Europe settings, elves-and-dwarves, as well as the most straightforward quest plotlines. When I do draw inspiration from real-world cultures, I tend to use non-European cultures, or else I’ll just make something up entire. That said, I still love epic fantasy, so you’ll find plenty of gods, kings, magic, and heroes. Among contemporary authors, I would compare my style to N.K. Jemison or C.J. Cherryh.

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

J.S.: I’d love to live there…. but not during the events of the story. The main setting for this book is the city of Prasa, which seems like a really pleasant place to live when it’s not being plundered by barbarians. They have beautiful pebble beaches, a mild climate, and excellent views over the bay and the mountains.

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

J.S.: My story ideas always involve the random collision between multiple ideas in my head. On a personal level, this book was written in the period around when my second child was born, and I was very caught up in the process of becoming a parent again. That came through pretty strongly in the character themes of the novel. I had also recently read a wave of Warrior Princess stories, and I was getting a little annoyed with the notion that a “strong female character” meant a girl picking up a sword and killing people. I wanted to write some strong female characters who were resolutely feminine, and who could impact the world without ever holding a weapon.

At the level of plot and setting, I was intrigued by a recurring cycle in the history of Europe and Asia where the “civilized” people living at the edges of the Eurasian continent get overrun by barbarian nomads from the inland steppes, and then the barbarians settle down and become civilized, and then the whole cycle repeats again a few hundred years later. I was also struck by something I learned about the Plains Indians, which is that some of the most iconic “plains” tribes, such as the Dakota, were actually descended from groups who originally lived much further east. But the arrival of European settlers on the Eastern seaboard created a ripple effect of westward movement.  Both of these motifs are present in the history and backstory of the setting.

Me: What surprised you while writing it?

J.S.: How gratifying it was. This was my second attempt at writing this story, after my first one ran aground and died on the rocks at 40,000 words. I was nervous about attempting this one again, but I was tremendously relieved to find out that the plot problems which had wrecked the first attempt were fixable, and I fixed them. (They key turned out to be eliminating a major character. Lesson: Don’t be afraid to eliminate whole characters and plot arcs if you need to.)

Me: How will reading it make people feel?

J.S.: By turns intrigued, horrified, anxious, relieved, disappointed, revolted, panicked, and vindicated.

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

J.S.: I usually create a language for my books, and this book was no exception. For the less linguistically inclined, on this book I especially challenged myself to expand my use of imagery and descriptive language, and it was mostly a success. However, my line editor was a huge help in this regard, because there were a lot of places where she said, “Yes, that’s a very creative metaphor, but it makes no sense.” Good on her :).

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JS Bangs - Headshot

J.S. Bangs lives in the American Midwest with his family of four. When not writing, he works as a computer programmer, and he can occasionally be found gardening, biking, making cheese, or playing Magic: the Gathering.
His short fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, and other venues. You can read his blog at http://jsbangs.com, or follow him on Twitter as @jsbpax.
Even more tech from my novels coming true

Even more tech from my novels coming true

Sort of.

In my Dex novels, the virtual world Marionette City lets you do just about anything you can do in the physical world: have a job, have sex, have a meal. I always thought of the latter as being the height of virtual cool.

I’m not the only one, obviously, as this article in Wired profiles a few different teams taking on the problem of simulating food. I kind of love this idea:

experimenting with tongue-based interfaces that can simulate sweet, salty, and savory flavors by sending an electrical current into taste buds.

Mmm… tasty electricity.

* Image from Project Nourished

Interview with Alex Shvartsman, Author of Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories

Interview with Alex Shvartsman, Author of Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories

I recently had a chat with author Alex Shvartsman, whose book, Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories, just came out.

Alex is a prolific short story writer, who is also the editor of the Unidentified Funny Objects annual anthology series of humorous SF/F. He knows a thing or two about games, as well.

Me: This is a collection of short stories. Is there any theme or similarity between them?

Alex: My body of work isn’t yet at the point where I can produce a themed collection. Instead, I included what I consider to be my best tales. The title story of the collection won an award and also came in second in the 2013 IGMS Reader Poll. A number of others made Tangent Online Recommended Reading Lists, or were reprinted, translated, and podcasted in various venues. So I’m going for overall quality rather than a singular theme, other than the fact that all the stories are science fiction or fantasy.

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

Alex: I’m proud to be known for writing humorous SF/F, because it’s such a difficult thing to pull off. However, not all stories in this collection are humorous. Some are rather dark (though I wouldn’t describe any as outright horror.) Overall, I try to write fun, plot-driven stories rather than character studies or works that are overly literary. Although I’m certainly not implying a parallel in quality, I strive to write the sort of fiction produced by Mike Resnick, Bob Silverberg, Jim Butcher or Simon R. Green.

Me: Would you want to live in the world of any of your stories (or definitely not want to)? Which one and why?

Alex: Oh, what a fun question! I think I’d enjoy living in the world of Conrad Brent. There are two stories about him in the book, and they take place in our regular world, in the borough of Brooklyn where I live, except magic and supernatural creatures are real, but only one in every 30,000 people can perceive them. There are wizards, and druids, and an enormous troll living under the Verrazano Bridge.

Me: Hmm… I don’t know about that troll. How do you think reading this collection will make people feel? Any ideas it might make readers consider?

Alex: If I do my job right, the reader will experience a rollercoaster ride. There is a mix of humor, adventure, darkness and introspection, and I hope that every reader can find a few favorites. Overall, I’m an optimist and I think my idea stories (especially flash pieces like “Notes on the Game in Progress, Played Almost to a Draw”) really show that. One of my own favorites is the story that concludes the collection: “Fate and Other Variables”. It’s about a hacker and a kabbalist teaming up to break into the Book of Fate and change their futures, and in addition to being a fun story has all sorts of intellectually stimulating ideas about free will.

Me: Finally, should we give this book to our grandmas?

If your grandma is anything like the one in the title story, she’d secretly enjoy the book! (Though she would never admit it, or let it show. She’s a tough old thing.) I strongly urge each of you to buy a copy and read it, that way you’ll be able to form your own opinions as to what the grandmas might think!

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Alex

Alex Shvartsman is a writer, translator and game designer from Brooklyn, NY. Over 70 of his short stories have appeared in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Nature, Galaxy’s Edge, Daily Science Fiction, and many other magazines and anthologies. He won the 2014 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction. He is the editor of the Unidentified Funny Objects annual anthology series of humorous SF/F. His collection, Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories released on February 1, 2015. His website is www.alexshvartsman.com

Children of Arkadia

Children of Arkadia CoverKaus wants nothing more than to be loved while its human counterpart, Raj Patel, believes fervently in freedom. Arkadia, one of four space stations circling Jupiter, was to be a refuge for all who fought the corrupt systems of old Earth, a haven where both humans and Artificial Intelligences could be happy and free. But the old prejudices and desires are still at play and, no matter how well-meaning its citizens, the children of Arkadia have tough compromises to make.

When the future of humanity is at stake, which will prove more powerful: freedom or happiness? What sacrifices will Kaus, Raj, and the rest of Arkadia’s residents have to make to survive?

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