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.


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.

 


New Story “Love Engine Optimization” out in Lightspeed

My internet privacy story “Love Engine Optimization” is out in this month’s Lightspeed. You can buy the issue now or wait until June 27th and read it for free. Looks like lots of good fiction here from Vandana Singh, Elizabeth Bear, Carlos Hernandez, plus non fiction from Amal El-Mohtar, Carrie Vaughn, and lots of others. Check it out!

A little hint on the theme of my story: when we talk of internet privacy, we usually assume the actors are large players: corporations, governments, and large criminal enterprises exploiting software flaws and human gullibility for profit. But we know from Snowden and WikiLeaks the actors can be small as well. What could one person do with full access to another’s data that a large body could not?

You can read “Love Engine Optimization” now if you buy the issue, or you can read it for free on June 27th!

 


Privacy vs. Convenience

A few years ago at Lunacon I was on a panel called “Privacy in the Digital Age.” This was pre-Snowden, and one of my co-panelists, at the very start of the panel blurts out, “This whole notion of privacy today is bunk! No one should have any reasonable expectation of privacy. In the Middle Ages, nothing you did was private. If you went to the market to buy a leg of lamb, every one knew this. If you got your wife pregnant, everyone knew this. If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide!”

Fuck, I hate this argument. It’s so malformed it’s not even wrong.

Never mind that this person did not see the irony of applying Middle-Aged standards to 21st century problems, I found his whole proposition suspect. Of course, there was privacy in the Middle Ages. (Unless you feel that every secret whispered in the dark was later announced via herald to the town square.) And even if there wasn’t any privacy at all, so what? It is a mistake to think that just because at some time in human history we behaved a certain way it’s okay if we behave the same way now.

There is an unprecedented amount of information about us being stored in the cloud, and you probably only know about some of it. You may have heard that your internet provider can now legally track what websites you visit. Your cell phone is tracking your position via GPS. Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others track what pages you visit on the web. Admit it, you were probably a little creeped out that very first time you browsed a website looking for Adidas shoes and suddenly saw Adidas ads popping up in your web pages. It’s unsettling when we realize people (or algorithms) are watching our behaviors.

But now we are handing over much more information than we ever have. Smartwatches record your heart rate, your respiration, and your sleep patterns. Department stores have hidden sensors in mannequins which track you as you move throughout the store. There are smartglasses that can record your brainwave patterns. With Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and others, our conversations are being uploaded into the cloud for analysis. Facebook (and likely others) are building extremely detailed psycho-emotional profiles about you, which they will then presumably use to sell to advertisers. There’s a lot of evidence these type of profiles were used in the most recent U.S. presidential election to manipulate the public to vote a certain way. 

The point is, as more and more of our personal, intimate data is being uploaded into the cloud, it becomes that much easier for a bad actor to abuse it. The manipulation of the voting public, I fear, is only just the beginning. Worse, a lot of us are wholly unaware this is even happening. We are putting a lot of trust in these systems, and these systems have not yet proven to us we can trust them.

I benefit a lot from these systems. I like that Google Maps knows what places I’ve been to, and highlights them on the map for reference. I like that, as I’m driving, I can text my friend solely by talking to my phone. I think it’s a good thing that people are being more conscious about their health by recording their exercise and sleeping habits. All these technologies can be extremely beneficial. But we have to balance those benefits with a reasonable expectation of privacy. Otherwise, we are leaving ourselves open to a level of manipulation and exploitation never before seen in human history.


Interview in Outer Places

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Mahon of Outer Places and the interview gone up live on their website. I talk about the Singularity, data privacy, technological ethics, and my long and short fiction.

You can check out the interview here.