Speculative Fiction Author
“In Memory of a Summer’s Day”
Mad Hatters and March Hares
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“The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard)”
Tor.com
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“Love Engine Optimization”
Lightspeed Magazine
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“The Great Game at the End of the World”
Hex Publications
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“One Spring in Cherryville”
Available in most ebook formats
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“The Garden Beyond Her Infinite Skies”
XB-1
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“The Singularity is in Your Hair”
Cyber World
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“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”
Almanah Anticipatia 2016
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
科幻世界 (Science Fiction World)
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“The Problem of Meat”
Grendelsong
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“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”
Nebula Awards Showcase 2016
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“Demon in Aisle 6”
Nightmare Magazine
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“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”
World Chinese SF Association
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“The Thing in the Refrigerator That Could Stop Time”
Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest
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“Marie and the Mathematicians”
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #26
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“The Writing’s on the Wall”
Farrago's Wainscot #5
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“The Sembla”
A Field Guide to Surreal Botany
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“The Girl in the Basement”
Hatter Bones
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“Saving Diego”
Interzone #221
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“The Spaces Between Things”
Electric Velocipede 17/18
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“The Girl in the Basement”
Apex Magazine, Vol 3, Issue 3
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“The Suffering Gallery”
Beneath Ceaseless Skies - Issue 57
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“The History Within Us”
Clarkesworld Magazine #42
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“The History Within Us”
The People of the Book
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“The Hands That Feed”
Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories
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“The Bricks of Gelecek”
Naked City
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“The Hands That Feed”
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk
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“The Suffering Gallery”
The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year Three
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“The Great Game at the End of the World”
After
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Lightspeed Magazine and io9.com
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“The History Within Us”
Clarkesworld Year Four
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“The Last Probe”
Launch Pad
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“Pheth’s Aviary”
Beneath Ceaseless Skies - Issue 133
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“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”
Clarkesworld Magazine #92
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
XB-1 Issue 8/2014
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Космопорт (Kosmoport)
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“The History Within Us”
XB-1 Issue 11/2014
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“Cameron Rhyder’s Legs”
Clarkesworld Magazine #98
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Nebula Awards Showcase 2015
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“The Garden Beyond Her Infinite Skies”
Clarkesworld Magazine
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New story coming soon in Nightmare magazine

I’m happy to announce that I’ve just sold a new story. “Will You Meet Me There, Out Beyond the Bend?” will appear in a future issue of Nightmare magazine. This will be my second story in Nightmare

It’s about ghosts, car accidents, family, and human nesting behaviors.


You Can Still Be an Optimist and Warn About the Dangers of AI

I recently heard a few writers griping about how predictors of artificial intelligence have it all wrong, that those who warn of impending doom from our soon-to-be AI “overlords” are Chicken Littles. I think that’s a dangerous philosophy to have. When the world’s top computer scientists suggest that we will have artificial general intelligence on par with a human being in as little as two decades, I think it makes sense to consider the negative consequences of what that might mean *now* and not when it arrives. Because by then it will be too late.

Yes, AI promises to bring a great many positive things into the world. Automation, combined with a universal income, would free us up to do all the things we wish we could do but never get to, because we are constantly struggling to stay afloat financially. AI could bring about a new golden age. But it could bring about a dark age too, if we aren’t careful. These prognosticators who are warning against AI are like the climatologists who say that if we don’t drastically reduce our CO2 pollution, things are going to get bad for us real soon. Except AI could be far worse in terms of people affected, since our entire world is dependent on networked technology (as the recent hurricanes have made clear.)


Optimism is Hard

A friend of mine posted on social media recently about the fact that if we don’t curb our CO2 emissions, the world in 2100 will be an ugly place to live. He quoted a CNN article which said:

If we surpass that mark, it has been estimated by scientists that life on our planet will change as we know it. Rising seas, mass extinctions, super droughts, increased wildfires, intense hurricanes, decreased crops and fresh water and the melting of the Arctic are expected.

The impact on human health would be profound. Rising temperatures and shifts in weather would lead to reduced air quality, food and water contamination, more infections carried by mosquitoes and ticks and stress on mental health, according to a recent report from the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health.

In response to this post, a commenter said: “This drives home the point that it’s about saving ourselves not the planet.”

I responded, “Well, that’s a profoundly lovely message to leave to the next generation.”

Look, optimism is hard. It’s much easier to be a cynic, because that means you bear no responsibility. “Hey, there’s nothing I can do, so why not have fun while I’m here? YOLO, and all that.” It’s much, much harder to say, “There are a lot of huge problems affecting the world now. A lot of them seem intractable. But unless we do something, nothing will change. Maybe I can’t change everything. But maybe I can do one small thing. It may amount to nothing. It might not make a difference. But it also just might. And if ten, a hundred, a thousand people do something small, then that’s not such a small thing anymore.”

Cynicism is lazy. It’s the moral equivalent of not taking out the garbage, letting the dishes fester in the sink. Optimism is work. It means we have to be vigilant of not just our thoughts, but our deeds. It means we have to use our minds to dream up new ways of doing things that might be better and be open to trying those things, even if they fail.

So here’s some advice. Don’t be a cynic. It’s ugly, like a pile of overflowing garbage in the trash can and festering dishes in the sink. Just because problems are hard shouldn’t mean we don’t do anything to address them.


Some New Reviews

I received some nice reviews of “Love Engine Optimization” recently:

SFRevu says:

“Very good and scary character study and warning. Ends with a nice chill.” 

And Strange Shuttle says:

“Despite having a wholly unlikable protagonist (then again, isn’t that the point?), this story really worked for me. Kressel clearly knows his tech, and he employs precise language in this tale of manipulated love. The hacker v. hacker subplot adds just the right amount conflict leading up to the fallout in the end. If you like near-future science fiction, “Love Engine Optimization” is a must read.” 

You can read the story here.


Locus Review of “Love Engine Optimization”

Mercurio D. Rivera informs me that my story “Love Engine Optimization” got a nice write-up in Locus from Rich Horton: “[The story has] a timely central notion: a way of using deep data (with realtime help) to attract romantic partners. The question, of course, is how “real” such a romance would be. Kressel makes the story work by focusing on the character and drives of the protagonist, with an honest and dark twist of the knife at the end.” Here’s the story if you want to check it out.


My Readercon Schedule

I’ll be attending Readercon next weekend in Quincy, Massachusetts. Here’s my schedule. Three panels and a reading! Hope to see you there.

Friday July 14

12:00 PM    5    Writing Futuristic Fiction in 2017. Michael J. Deluca, Haris Durrani, Matt Kressel, Shariann Lewitt, Paul McAuley, Naomi Novik (leader).Speculative genre fiction has always had the ability to consider our future and shape it, so now that the present more sharply resembles the settings of some dystopian fictions, where do we as genre writers go next? Do we need to write more dystopian fiction to process our anxieties and warn against things getting worse, or do we need stories of hope, utopia, and resistance to get through a time that will be frightening and dangerous for many? Can editors and readers tell the difference between stories that were written before and after the election, and does it matter?

4:00 PM    B    Reading: Matt Kressel. Matt Kressel. Matt Kressel reads a new short story about AI, UBI, and job replacement.

6:00 PM    C    The Catastrophe of Success. Alex Jablokow, Jim Kelly (leader), Matt Kressel, Paul Levinson, Eric Schaller. In a 1947 essay called “The Catastrophe of Success,” Tennessee Williams wrote, “We are like a man who has bought up a great amount of equipment for a camping trip… but who now, when all the preparations and the provisions are piled expertly together, is suddenly too timid to set out on the journey…. Our great technology is a God-given chance for adventure and for progress which we are afraid to attempt.” This is a very 1940s SFnal way of looking at technology and the world. We are in Williams’s future, with 70 years of perspective to add to his still-relevant observation. What has changed in the human relationship to technology since 1947, and what has stayed the same? How can present-day SF explore this tension between what technology allows us to do and the fear that holds us back?

Saturday July 15

12:00 PM    6    Is There a Law of Conservation of Utopia?. John Crowley, Michael J. Deluca, Karen Heuler, Matt Kressel, Kathryn Morrow (leader), Wes Rist. Readercon 27 included panels on utopias, dystopias, and apocalypses, and in all the panels the distribution of utopian experience was noted to be uneven: one person’s utopia is another person’s dystopia. Authors often create tension by showing the dystopian underpinnings of seemingly utopian cultures (as in The Hunger Games and The Time Machine). How could an author depict a true universal utopia where life is genuinely better for everyone while still writing a satisfying story? Or is there a law of conservation of utopia in fiction such that the amount of happiness in a fictional culture remains constant, and any utopia for some has to be a dystopia for others in order to drive the plot?

New Story in Lightspeed & Other Stuff

My near-future cyber-hacking seduction story “Love Engine Optimization” is now out at Lightspeed Magazine.

I came up with the idea of “Love Engine Optimization” after reading a blog post from Hugh Howey where he suggests that privacy is obsolete. The common refrain I hear from people who don’t understand internet privacy is this: “If you do nothing wrong, what do you have to hide?”

That’s an absurd concept if you think about it for half a second. Especially now with all these cloud-connected devices that record everything from our heart rates to our locations to the number of hours we sleep. Add to that our detailed psychological profiles that social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google and others gather on us, and you have a pretty clear picture of what makes a human being tick.

I wanted to tell a story of someone who uses this data to manipulate another, in this case, to seduce them. (Data that anti-privacy advocates think should be in the public domain.) I wanted to show what such a bad actor might do with such information. I wrote this story last spring, long before the revelations that Russia might have done this very thing in the most recent U.S. elections. To me, it seems clear that we are offering up our personal data by the terabyte into the cloud, and yet we are not clearly thinking through the ramifications of giving all this personal data away. “Love Engine Optimization” is a horror story, then, encased in a near-future science fictional shell.

If you read the story, please consider writing an online review (good or bad) and/or sharing a link to the story on social media. I can never state enough how much that helps.

In an experiment in self-publishing, I’ve released my short story “One Spring in Cherryville” across several digital e-book markets.

“One Spring in Cherryville” chronicles the adventures of Mitch and his friends who live in a tumble-down rust-belt American town, with little prospects for their future, when they discover a treasure hidden in the basement of an old factory. But there is more to uncover in Cherryville, a dark past that just might change all their lives forever.

Amazon | Apple iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo

I’ve also been working on a new novel, a YA thriller about AI and the Singularity. In the past I’ve spoken a lot about my boredom with dystopian fiction. We’ve seen a glut of dystopian stories these past few decades (and I’ve written my fair share). And so I’ve decided to put my money where my mouth is and write an optimistic SF novel. This is not to say there is no conflict. No, there will be a lot of conflict. (The future of the planet is at stake.) But the ultimate message will be a hopeful and optimistic one. I can’t say more without spoiling it.

As for my short fiction, I have one story coming out in December called “In Memory of a Summer’s Day.” That will appear in Ellen Datlow’s Mad Hatters and March Hares, an anthology with stories based on the characters from Alice in Wonderland. I envision Wonderland as a kind of dilapidated theme park, where visitors take Disney-like tours through the famous scenes. Except there is something rotten at its very core.

Right now I have three short stories out with editors. “The Words That Maketh Murder” is about a former military drone engineer who begins hearing strange sounds at a train yard where she lives. “The Marsh of Camarina” is about AI, job replacement, and universal basic income. And “The Walk to Distant Suns,” which I co-wrote with Mercurio D. Rivera is about a woman who works as an engineer for a wormhole that allows people to migrate to another star system. I am also writing a ghost story.

So what about you? What are you working on? I would love to hear from you guys, to see what exciting things you’ve been up to.