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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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.

 


I Made a Plugin

Because I like to procrastinate on one project by beginning another, I wrote a WordPress plugin for writers in between projects. It’s called Sunray Author Manager, and you can use it to display a carousel slider of your publications, as well as a sorted bibliography of your work. Examples here and here. Best of all, it’s free. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Download Sunray Author Manager here.


The Senses Five Press Website is Back Online

TL;DR: I’ve put the Senses Five Press website back online.

The long version:

Some of you may know that I started Sybil’s Garage, a speculative fiction ‘zine, back in 2003. It ran for seven annual issues, and the fiction and poetry therein received lots of honorable mentions and acclaim. Many praised the magazine for its unique aesthetic (which is not at all clear from this current website incarnation).

In 2007 I was approached by Ekaterina Sedia about publishing an urban fantasy anthology she was editing. I believe at the time it was going to be called Moonlit Domes. Excited by all the great stories and authors (many of whom have gone on to do great things in the genre), I took on the task of publishing the anthology, which we renamed to Paper Cities. To my utter astonishment, in 2009 Paper Cities went on to *win* the World Fantasy Award. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe it could win, but that Paper Cities was literally the first and *only* book we ever produced, and it went on to win one of the biggest awards in the genre. I was told that had never happened before. And to my knowledge, in the history of the awards, Paper Cities still holds that record.

In 2010, I was nominated for a World Fantasy Award in the category of Special Award Non-Professional for my work editing Sybil’s Garage and publishing Paper Cities. It was my first personal award nomination, and I will never forget it.

So much happened in those long seven years. Those days seem like eons ago now, lifetimes away. And despite all the amazing things that we did, in 2010 I decided to sunset Senses Five Press. Running the magazine was simply taking up too much of my writing time. It was a blast, and it really helped me get a start in the genre, because through Senses Five Press I met and published so many great people. But because I switched focus to my own writing, after 2012 I stopped updating the Sense Five Press website. Some time later, because I wanted to be known for my writing and not for my editing, I put the site on ice.

Now, however, I think enough time has passed that I can safely turn on the site again without confusion. I have enough fiction out in the world that I’m comfortable people will encounter that first. In addition, the site has a lot of great content, including interviews with authors, short fiction, and the full tables of contents for all the issues, all of which, in the interest of completeness, should be online for people to discover. Admittedly, the site has a lot of crap too, old blog posts of mine where I waxed philosophical over some half-cocked thought I thought at the time was profound. Or maybe I was just trying to fill pages. If you are looking for a writer trying to find his voice, you might find him there.

The web has changed much since then, and a lot of the bells and whistles I added to the site look dated or quite simply don’t work anymore. That and some pages are poorly formatted. I hope you can see through all that to find something that was to me and I think a lot of other people a real treasure to be part of.

Visit Senses Five Press here.

 

Writing in the Age of Trump

Ever since president Trump has been elected I’ve had increased anxiety about the world. Wherever your political views may lie, it’s hard to ignore his administration’s attacks on education, the environment, LGBTQ rights, immigration, the news media, and even the functioning of government itself. Right now Trump himself is under threat for obstruction of justice, and his administration may have colluded with the Russians to help shift the election in his favor. These are turbulent times.

There is a reason why the quiet cabin in the woods is the writer’s cliche. There, we can be left to do our work unadulterated by the outside world, free of distractions, free of worrying about anything except our art. Of course, reality is often much different. Maybe it’s our families, our mortgage, our job, or something else that pulls us away. But what most writers crave is a safe space in which to work on their art, a place where we can temporarily escape from the world to inhabit our creations.

An unsettled world makes this difficult. Personally, I find it all very distracting and anxiety producing. Almost every day there is another piece of bad news that comes out. I try to counter this by focusing on some good trends: the renewables market is increasing; electric cars are on course to overtake internal combustion vehicles in less than two decades; several US states vowed to abide by the Paris Accords even if the Trump administration will not; California and New York passed preliminary bills for universal health care. I also do media blackouts, where I try (and often fail) to stay off news and social media sites for a few days, to clear my head. But curiosity always draws me back. It’s the old fight or flight response. We don’t want to ignore that tiger lurking in the woods. We want to know what he’s up to, so he doesn’t kill us.

All of this affects my writing. Some of it is obvious: I’m physically distracted by the news and what it means for the world. Some of it less so: I’ve noticed my fiction has become darker and bleaker since the election, and I’m trying to counter that by writing alternate narratives, ones that provide optimistic or visionary views of the future. I’ve also found myself melancholy more often. Those who know me know I have my moods, but I’m typically happy and easy going. But more often than not I’ve lately found myself gloomy and depressed. Some of those feelings, I channel into my fiction. Some of that I just have to sit with. The world is not the place I thought it was, and that sucks, and while there are some things I can do, I have to accept that many things I have little control over.

What can we do? I think expressing ourselves, through our fiction, yes, but also elsewhere is one possible answer. When we share our anxiety with others, we put ourselves in a vulnerable position, and it’s only through vulnerability that true healing can take place. When we realize that we are not alone with our feelings, that thousands of others share them too, that can be a kind of comfort. Anyway, I’m just putting this out there to let you know that, if you feel like I do, you are not alone.