Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer
“The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard)”
The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 3
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“The Marsh of Camarina”
Shades Within Us
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“The History Within Us”
Future Science Fiction Digest - Issue 0
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Smokopolitan nr 10
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“In Memory of a Summer’s Day”
Mad Hatters and March Hares
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“Will You Meet Me There, Out Beyond the Bend?”
Nightmare Magazine 63
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“The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard)”
Bifrost
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“Love Engine Optimization”
Lightspeed Magazine 85
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“The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard)”
Tor.com
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“The Singularity is in Your Hair”
Cyber World
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“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”
Nebula Awards Showcase 2016
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“The Garden Beyond Her Infinite Skies”
XB-1
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Nebula Awards Showcase 2015
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“Demon in Aisle 6”
Nightmare Magazine 38
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“The Problem of Meat”
Grendelsong
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
科幻世界 (Science Fiction World)
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“The Garden Beyond Her Infinite Skies”
Clarkesworld Magazine
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“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”
World Chinese SF Association
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“Cameron Rhyder’s Legs”
Clarkesworld Magazine #98
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“The History Within Us”
XB-1 Issue 11/2014
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Космопорт (Kosmoport)
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
XB-1 Issue 8/2014
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“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”
Clarkesworld Magazine #92
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“Pheth’s Aviary”
Beneath Ceaseless Skies - Issue 133
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“The Last Probe”
Launch Pad
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“The History Within Us”
Clarkesworld Year Four
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Lightspeed Magazine and io9.com
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“The Great Game at the End of the World”
After
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“The Suffering Gallery”
The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year Three
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“The Hands That Feed”
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk
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“The Bricks of Gelecek”
Naked City
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“The Hands That Feed”
Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories
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“The History Within Us”
The People of the Book
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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 Girl in the Basement”
Apex Magazine, Vol 3, Issue 3
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“The Spaces Between Things”
Electric Velocipede 17/18
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“The Girl in the Basement”
Hatter Bones
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“Saving Diego”
Interzone #221
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“The Sembla”
A Field Guide to Surreal Botany
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“The Writing’s on the Wall”
Farrago's Wainscot #5
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“Marie and the Mathematicians”
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #26
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“The Thing in the Refrigerator That Could Stop Time”
Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest
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Podcast Interview & Romanian Translation

Photo by Scott Edelman

Scott Edelman has released Episode 70 of Eating the Fantastic, in which he grills interviews me at Pittsburgh’s famous Pork & Beans restaurant. I talk with him about my journey toward writing, what the Altered Fluid writing group has taught me, why I ended up writing science fiction, how I ended up co-host of the Fantastic Fiction at KGB series, and many other things. I’ve done lots of interviews, and I have to say that Scott’s questions were among the most researched and thorough I’ve encountered.

Give it a listen here.

The other news is that my Nebula-nominated story “The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard)” has been translated into Romanian by Alexandru Maniu and appears in this month’s Helion SF online magazine. For my Romanian-speaking friends, the link is here.

 

 


My Readercon Schedule

I’ll be attending Readercon July 12-15 in Quincy, MA. I’ll be on one panel, and I’ll be doing a reading. Most likely I’ll be reading from the novel-in-progress. Here’s my schedule:

Futures That Feel like Home
Location: Blue Hills
Fri 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM 
Description Our panelists will discuss the fictional futures they find most appealing and would be happy to live in (maybe with some caveats). Does the work that depicts these futures provide a path or hints as to how humans might get there? What makes these futures worth rooting for and aspiring to?

Reading: Matthew Kressel
Location: Salon A
Sat 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM 

Hope to see you there!


Shades Within Us

My story “The Marsh of Camarina” will appear in the Canadian anthology Shades Within Us: Tales of Migrations and Fractured Borders,  edited by Lucas K. Law and Susan Forest. Proceeds from the anthology will benefit the Mood Disorders Association and Alex Community Food Centre. Here’s a description of the book from the book jacket:

Migration. A transformation of time, place, and being . . .

WHO ARE THE SHADES WITHIN US?

We are called drifters, nomads. We are expatriates, evacuees, and pilgrims. We are colonists, aliens, explorers; strangers, visitors–intruders, conquerors–exiles, asylum seekers, and . . . outsiders.

An American father shields his son from Irish discrimination. A Chinese foreign student wrestles to safeguard her family at the expense of her soul. A college graduate is displaced by technology. A Nigerian high school student chooses between revenge and redemption. A bureaucrat parses the mystery of Taiwanese time travelers. A defeated alien struggles to assimilate into human culture. A Czechoslovakian actress confronts the German WWII invasion. A child crosses an invisible border wall. And many more.

Stories that transcend borders, generations, and cultures. Each is a glimpse into our human need in face of change: to hold fast to home, to tradition, to family; and yet to reach out, to strive for a better life.

If you didn’t guess from the above description, my story is the one where “A college graduate is displaced by technology.” Graduating from a top school with a degree in computer science, she discovers that AIs have taken all the programming jobs, and so, with no other options, she heads up to an experimental community in Canada where she must decide what to do with her life.

Links to preorder the anthology are here.


Health and Happiness for Writers: The Writer’s Spine

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post titled “Health and Happiness for Writers: The Writer’s Ego“, which was a continuation of the discussion from a panel at the 2018 Nebula Award Conference in Pittsburgh. In my post I discussed some of the emotional issues writers might encounter in their career. In this post, I want to talk a little bit about the physical side of things. Specifically, the writer’s spine and the travails we put it through, often unconsciously.

There is the old cliche that a suffering artist is a better artist. That’s horseshit. Artists do their best work when they are healthy and happy.

If you read my blog, you may have encountered my post “When I Was Suffering, I Made Less Art,” which is about my journey through the U.S. Healthcare system with no health insurance and a herniated disc in my neck that was so painful it made it near impossible to do anything productive. The post went viral after John Scalzi retweeted a link to it, because I think it resonated with people, and also because of the Republican attempts (which continue today) to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

There is the old cliche that a suffering artist is a better artist. That’s horseshit. Artists do their best work when they are healthy and happy.

So after the panel in Pittsburgh, this young guy comes up to me and, before he even speaks, I know by his body language what he’s going to say: he has terrible pain in his neck. You could see it in his face, his barely contained grimace, his reddened, squinting eyes. My first thought was, I see you’re in pain, and I have been through the same thing. I want to help you.

We didn’t have a lot of time to talk, but I quickly outlined several things that worked for me not only to mitigate but to eliminate pain. I also quickly went over techniques I use to keep my body functioning optimally, so I can be as productive as possible.

Here is some of what I said:

  1. Begin with body awareness. How are you sitting? How are you writing? Are you slouched over a keyboard like an opening parenthesis? This is the worst posture ever, because you are putting all of the weight of your head onto your cervical spine (lower back and neck), and these vertebrae are the most common to get herniated.

    BAD posture. DO NOT sit like this!

    This should be your posture:

    And actually, having the midline of the monitor at eye level is probably better, since it prevents you from leaning forward to see what’s on the bottom of your screen.

  2. If you feel pain, stopIf I could shout this from the rooftops, I would: If you feel pain, stop. Do not work through pain. It doesn’t make you tough. It makes you stupid. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that you are doing it wrong. Got a tingle in your shoulder? Neck? Lower back? Stop. Reevaluate your posture. Take a break. Go get some water. Go for a walk. Working through pain is a quick way toward a more serious injury.

  3. Exercise your core. When you are young, your body forgives bad posture and infrequent exercise. But as we age, the places in our bodies where we have put the most stress will often flare up with an injury. This is because we have let our core muscles atrophy. Most people do not use the core muscles in their everyday lives. And because our core muscles are weak, our other muscles overcompensate. Your lower back or your neck take up the strain. One thing I’ve learned is that regular exercise of my core muscle groups reduces and often completely eliminates neck and lower back pain. This is because once you have strengthened those muscles, the rest of the body doesn’t need to work as hard to compensate. To strengthen my core, I use a combination of Iyengar Yoga (you can do this routine in about 10 minutes in the morning) and a rowing machine at the gym, with occasional free weights. 

  4. You are what you ingest. When I was in my 20s, I could throw back half a dozen beers and be fresh for work the next morning. Now, even two beers negatively affects my sleep cycle. Also, when I occasionally ingest (or inhale) other substances (use your imagination) I’ve found my energy level adversely affected the next day. The same is true for refined carbs. I love pizza and I could seriously eat a whole pie by myself. But afterward, and often the next day, I’m a sloth: sleepy, cranky, unmotivated. The bad things I put into my body have very real and immediate consequences in ways that they didn’t when I was in my 20s. This includes caffeine. My suggestion: avoid sugar, refined carbs, and excess caffeine. Minimize your intake of alcohol and drugs. Eat as many plants as you can stomach, because that’s still probably not enough. Have your blood tested to see if you are deficient in any vitamins (most of us are Vitamin D deficient), and take supplements if necessary.

  5. See a doctor, if you need to. Don’t be afraid to see a doctor. I know this one’s a mixed bag for many, since the quality and affordability of health insurance, at least in the U.S., is not ubiquitous. But if you can and have the opportunity, go see someone. Get a professional opinion. In fact, get multiple opinions. One orthopedist was ready to inject a steroid into my spine after a five-minute consult. I didn’t feel comfortable with that at all. I did visit a chiropractor who, through an adjustment, gave me the most relief I had had in many months, and that was wonderful. But another chiropractor, at the same practice, gave me no relief at all (I think because he was inexperienced), and so I left for another practice. My point is: get professional opinion(s), to make sure there is nothing more serious going on, but also use your judgment. If something doesn’t feel right for you, then don’t be afraid to walk away and seek help elsewhere.

  6. There is no shame in pain. This goes back to some of what I said in my earlier post about our emotions. During my most painful flare-up years ago, I was afraid to speak up and let people know how much I was suffering. Part of this was pride. I’m too young to be in this much pain. I can’t let anyone know I’m suffering, as that would make me vulnerable. Part of it was denial. If I ignore it, it will go away. Part of it was lack of health insurance. I have no other options, so I might as well just deal with this. A lot of this stems from societal expectations. Men, especially of my generation (Gen X), have been conditioned to avoid revealing vulnerability. We were taught that this is a sign of weakness, and weakness is bad. But — and this may seem counterintuitive — the strongest I’ve ever felt in my life was when I openly revealed my vulnerabilities and my pain to others. I have found that hiding my vulnerabilities only serves to amplify them, in the long run. My point: it’s okay to be in pain. There is no shame in it. In fact, millions of others have gone through what you are going through, and many of them can help.

And while I could go on, I already feel this post is getting rather long. And I think, depending on the feedback I get from this, I might do another post in this series. So I hope this was helpful to you. Let me know in the comments. 


SOLO Movie Review

In the latest episode of the venerable Geeks Guide to the Galaxy podcast, I join Rajan Khanna, Erin Lindsey, and host David Barr Kirtley to discuss Solo: A Star Wars Story.

The new Star Wars movie Solo is an enjoyable action-comedy, but it fails in one important area: really exploring how Han Solo developed his cynical, jaded attitude. The movie also mostly skips over Han’s time as an Imperial soldier, which fantasy author Erin Lindsey feels is a big mistake.

“I wanted to see Han learning to become a pilot, going up against the norms and expectations of the military, deciding it wasn’t for him—or it deciding he was not for them,” Lindsey says in Episode 312 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

Science fiction author Matthew Kressel agrees, noting that a brief sequence of trench warfare is one of the movie’s most interesting set pieces. “We could show Han in the trenches,” he says, “seeing how ugly war is, and maybe coming out of that a little bit darker, a little bit world-weary.”

You can read more about us and give a listen here!


“The Last Novelist” is a Eugie Foster Memorial Award Finalist

I am very happy to announce that “The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard)” has been selected as a finalist for the Eugie Foster Memorial Award. The finalists are:

From the Eugie Foster website:

The Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction (or Eugie Award) celebrates the best in innovative fiction. This annual award is presented at Dragon Con, the nation’s largest fan-run convention.

The Eugie Award honors stories that are irreplaceable, that inspire, enlighten, and entertain. We will be looking for stories that are beautiful, thoughtful, and passionate, and change us and the field. The recipient is a story that is unique and will become essential to speculative fiction readers.

I am honored to remember Eugie Foster in this way.