“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” nominated for a Nebula Award

Nebula AwardsI’m excited to announce that my story “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye,” which was published in May 2014 in Clarkesworld Magazine has just been nominated for a Nebula Award in the category of Best Short Story! This is my second nomination for my fiction and it’s still just as exciting as the first time.

You can read the story here. And you can download a podcast here. The story is also available here in various ebook formats.

It’s an honor to have my story included in the same category with such talents as Aliette de Bodard, Eugie Foster, Usman T. Malik, Sarah Pinsker, Ursula Vernon, and Alyssa Wong. And what incredible stories they all are. Wow.

“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” began as some of my stories often do, with a sudden inspiration just before bed. I scrambled to write down the first sentence, which popped into my mind fully formed and remained unchanged despite several edits of the story. “As the Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye wandered the galaxy harvesting dead stars, they liked to talk.” I was struck with this vision of these two cosmic garbage truck drivers, one of them a little ignorant, overly loquacious, but ultimately sensitive, wandering around a dead galaxy and speaking about the good ol’ days when things were thriving. I also had this vision of a human, encoded in an ancient artifact, who would be discovered by these aliens eons after humanity had gone extinct. The story pretty much followed from these two premises.

Spoiler warning: plot elements follow below.

Getting Beth’s character right was important to me. I began with a strong woman, obstinate about protecting her children from the harsh truth of her impending death. Beth is also gay, and in the world that she and her wife Sloan inhabit, which might be just a few short decades from now, being gay, straight, trans — any sexual orientation — is naturally accepted. Hence why my story normalizes it. As Beth is incarnated each time, her thoughts go back to her loved ones: her children, Yrma and Bella, and her wife Sloan, and also the lovely snow-covered pines beside her glass house in Denver, Colorado. In other words, she is the root connecting back to Earth.

But Beth is also something more. She uses the All-Seeing Eye’s strength, the Eye’s insatiable curiosity, against her. The original Beth from Earth, encoded in the artifact, is discovered by a future alien civilization and used as a Trojan horse to destroy the Eye. Beth not only survives because Sloan, rather than let her wither away and die, decided to encode her wife, but Beth also saves the entire galaxy. I also hinted at the end that within the Eye’s vast knowledge lies the long-forgotten histories of many thousands of sentient races. Perhaps one day soon they might live again.

I enjoy writing about deep time, these vast cosmic timespans and speculative futures beyond humanity’s reach, and so “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” was one hell of a fun story to write. I’m honored and flattered that it was chosen as a Nebula Nominee, and I wish good luck to and congratulate my fellow nominees!


On Novel Editing

Several years ago while at Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner’s house Delia showed me a manuscript of her novel marked up with her editor’s comments. She said, “Just in case you were curious what such a thing looks like.” I saw page after page of line edits marked in colored pencil. I recall suggesting that it didn’t look like too much work, and she said, “Oh, no, dear. It’s a whole lot of work.”

Boy was she right.

I recently received the edits for my first novel, KING OF SHARDS, coming in October from Arche Press. And while Darin Bradley opted to send me the edits via Word’s Track Changes feature, they were no less daunting than what Delia had suggested. The actual number of edits that Darin had were few. But it had been almost two years since I had looked at the manuscript in any kind of detail. Suddenly things jumped out at me that I wished to change. I have also recently started writing the second novel, and have developed my universes’s mythology to the point where I had to edit things in the first book to sync with the second. As I told Darin, while writing the first book I was in a sense finding my way through the mythology. And now that I have developed it significantly, a lot of those expositional passages can be trimmed if not cut. I killed my darlings, streamlined prose, and in general worked as hard as possible to make KING OF SHARDS as good as it can possibly be.

For the past three weeks, morning and night, with afternoons spent on the day job, I’ve gone through the book line by line, word by word. And now I’m on a much needed vacation. It’s been intense and exhilarating in all the good ways I imagined when I first thought I would like to write a book. I’m giving the book one more read through before sending it off to Darin. I imagine the adventure gets only more intense from here, but I’m looking forward to every minute of it.


Default Pessimism in the Nerd Press

 

This means Earth must have died, right?

Because nothing says “Dead Earth” like an FTL ship.

More default pessimism from the nerd media today. io9.com has an article up now titled, “After Earth Falls, Will Interstellar Space Travel Be Our Salvation?

It begins like this:

It may be just a matter of time before the Earth becomes uninhabitable. As astrophysicists and avid science fiction fans, we naturally find the prospect of interstellar colonization intriguing and exciting. But is it practical, or even possible? Or is there a better solution?

When you start an article with the premise that the Earth will fall (not if, but when) and will become uninhabitable (oh, well!), and then proceed to get really super-nerdly excited about space technology, it says to me that you are (a) inhuman, (b) immature, or (c) a fool who lacks imagination. I vote for (d) all of the above. Let me rewrite the title of the article, just so you know what the authors are really saying,:”After Billions of People Die Needlessly in Preventable Cataclysms, Won’t Space Travel Be Really Cool?” 

You can do better io9.com. Seriously, you can do a hell of a lot better.


Positive Future vs. the Singularity
Simple solutions, not cosmic ones.

Simple, real solutions, not cosmic ones.

Believing technology may be the solution to many of humankind’s problems is not the same thing as wanting the trans-human Singularity, that modern cultist, nerdist philosophy that believes in 30 years or less technology will progress so quickly that the future will be as unrecognizable to us as an iPhone is to a goldfish. Believing in the revolutionary power of technology is not an either or proposition, i.e. you believe in the Singularity or you’re a Luddite. I’ve seen it suggested that conspicuous consumption and early adoption really only serve to “fill a crushing vacuousness” in our lives. Maybe in that small case. But the vacuousness is only there if you don’t have a clearly defined long-term goal, if your path from dawn to dusk involves going through the motions, without considering the future beyond the next iteration of Star Wars or version 10 point whatever of your favorite video game.

In other words, an empty life is a choice you make, sometimes without knowing you are making a choice.

Technology can be used for good things, if we make that conscious choice. Solar power, electric cars, satellite internet access to under-served areas of the globe so that people can have greater access to educational materials, which in turn will reduce poverty, ignorance, and subsequently war. Supporting technological innovation doesn’t mean buying the latest gadget and throwing it away as soon as the next version comes out. It means understanding that technology has given us a great many good things: clean water, electricity, information, medicine, transportation, insights into the human condition, etc., etc. And technology will continue to improve the lives of many by many orders of magnitude over the next several decades. We can help both the Earth heal and a great many suffering people live better lives with technology without subscribing to a semi-spiritualist, quasi-messianic view of some post-human Singular age.


KING OF SHARDS Cover

There are few moments to an author that are more exciting than the book cover reveal, that moment when you get to show off the fabulous art and design for the book you’ve worked on for so long. Even more exciting is getting to reveal your very first book cover. As I’ve announced recently, I’ve sold a trilogy of books to Darin Bradley at Resurrection House. The first book in the series is King of Shards. The cover design, minus a few small edits, is below. Isn’t it fantastic? The background artwork is by Leon Tukker. The talented young artist is from the Netherlands and is only 22 years old! Check out his portfolio. This kid’s amazing! His artwork is perfect for the cover, really capturing the sense of the book. King of Shards will be out this Fall, 2015.

King of Shards

King of Shards

And here’s what King of Shards is all about:

Across the ineffable expanse of the Great Deep float billions of shattered universes, the Shards. Populated with vengeful demons and tormented humans, the Shards need Earth to survive just as plants need water. Earth itself is kept alive by thirty-six righteous people, thirty-six hidden saints known as the Lamed Vav. Kill but a few of the Lamed Vav and the Earth will shatter, and all the Shards that rely upon it will die in a horrible cataclysm.

When Daniel Fisher is abducted on his wedding day by the demon king, Ashmedai, he learns he is a Lamed Vav, one of the hidden righteous upholding the world. The demon Mashit has usurped the throne of demonkind from Ashmedai and has been systematically murdering the Lamed Vav. On a desert-covered Shard teeming with strange creatures, pursued by a fearsome demon army, Daniel and Ashmedai, saint and demon, must join forces to stop Mashit before she destroys all of existence. Daniel’s survival means he must ally with evil Ashmedai. Yet who but a saint – a Lamed Vav – can save the world?


Alice K. Turner
Alice K. Turker (photo credit Ellen Datlow)

Alice K. Turker (photo credit Ellen Datlow)

I’m very sorry to hear that Alice K. Turner has passed away Jan 16, 2015. She was the Playboy fiction editor for many years, and before that she worked at New York Magazine and Publishers Weekly.

In 2002 I took a writing class at the New School in Manhattan taught by Alice Turner. I had no idea the class would change my life. Alice’s class was my introduction to the genre. I had always read SF&F, but this was the first time I seriously tried writing some. And I was terrible. But Alice was patient with all the students and even suggested to another writing group that I and one other “showed promise.” And because of that email I joined the Altered Fluid writers group. And later, after going to lots of Fantastic Fiction at KGB events, a reading series that Alice co-founded with Terry Bisson, I met Ellen Datlow, and a few years later was asked to co-host with Ellen. Now, almost thirteen years later, I’ve been nominated for a Nebula, published a few dozen short stories in pro markets, co-host the series that Alice founded, and have a trilogy book series coming out this fall. And all of that — ALL of it — wouldn’t have been possible without that first class I took with Alice. She was always warm and friendly and patient with everyone. When I saw her at various events, a few times at KGB or at the SFWA reception, no matter how much time had passed, she always remembered me and our class and asked how we were doing. I’m very sorry to hear of her passing, and despite not having seen her for a couple of years now, I will miss her very much. Thank you, Alice, for all that you have given.


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Sunray Computer

In addition to writing science fiction & fantasy, I maintain a living by working as a freelance developer, system administrator, and graphic designer. If you need a new website, IT services for your business, or a graphic designer, I’m your man.

More info about my services can be found at my business site, Sunray Computer.

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