Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer
“The History Within Us”
Future Science Fiction Digest - Issue 0
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“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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“Will You Meet Me There, Out Beyond the Bend?”
Nightmare Magazine 63
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Smokopolitan nr 10
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“The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard)”
Bifrost
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“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 85
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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 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 38
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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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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!


Early Thoughts on Rogue One
Jyn Erso, thief/hero.

Jyn Erso, thief/hero.

By now you have seen the trailer for the new Star Wars prequel, Rogue One. If not, well:

So my first thought is: Yes. Damn this looks cool. It’s Star Wars meets the Bourne Identity, and with a kick-ass woman in the lead to boot a la Max Max. It’s the perfect mash-up for the genre, and I’m happy to see something in this universe that doesn’t look like a copy-and-paste of what’s come before.

Except something irked me. I love Forest Whitaker. He was superb in The Butler, and pretty much everything he’s been in. So I don’t fault him for his lines. But in the tail end of the teaser he says, “If you fight…what will you become?”

Now I understand this is a teaser. There are a thousand and one possibilities as to whom he is speaking with (most likely Jyn Erso) and the context in which it was said. But…do we have to go down this fucking road again? You know what I’m talking about. “The Dark Side, versus THE LIGHT!” Why does Hollywood think that heroes always need to be so dark and edgy and corruptible? (E.g. see Batman vs. Superman). One of the fantastic things about Rey in The Force Awakens is her exuberant innocence, a la Luke Skywalker in “A New Hope.” Rey will likely be tested by the Dark Side too, but if my hunch is correct she will not be corrupted. I get that Jyn’s character begins with ambiguous morals — she is a criminal from the get go, but I really hope that this film doesn’t follow that trite old Star Wars character arc of individuals fighting their own inner emo battle of good vs. evil. Fighting for justice does not necessarily corrupt you, and Star Wars often forgets this. This movie looks refreshing and I hope that the characters are as well.

Otherwise, I think this looks pretty kick-ass.


King of Shards Audiobook & Pronunciations
Jonathan Davis, Narrator of King of Shards

Jonathan Davis, Narrator of King of Shards

The King of Shards audiobook is now available for pre-order. The book is narrated by Jonathan Davis, whose bio is pretty impressive!

Jonathan Davis has received critical acclaim for his narration in a variety of genres. He has garnered accolades from Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today, and Audio File Magazine. He is the recipient of the Audie Award for his narration of Robert Sawyer’s Calculating God (Audible Frontiers) and has been nominated for the Ben Franklin Award for his narration of Jose Saramago’s Blindness. Jonathan is honored to have narrated over thirty Star Wars titles for Lucas Film and Random House Audio, including Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, and Dark Lord. He has narrated bestsellers for many of the top publishing houses and audio divisions, for authors as diverse as Neal Stephenson, David Baldacci, Brett Easton Ellis, William Gibson, Kurt Vonnegut, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and Junot Diaz. He has narrated over 150 audiobooks, including Shadow of the Wind, Snow Crash, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Stranger, The Chosen, The Windup Girl, Galapagos, and Glamorama. Jonathan resides in New Jersey with his wife Stacy, a librarian, and their daughter Olivia Simone.

While I was hiking in Switzerland this past summer, Jonathan emailed me with the following words that appear in King of Shards, asking how he should pronounce them:

Kinayn’ore
Mashit
DanBaer
Ukne
Mollai
Davo
Rana Lila
Marul Menacha
Sheol
Liu
Emod
Ytrian
Bedu
Chialdra
Diasamaz
Grug
shedim
Azazel
Kokabiel
Kelilah
Zadok

I began typing a long list of pronunciation descriptions, when I thought, You know, why don’t I just record myself speaking them? Which would be easy, except I didn’t have my laptop handy, and my Chromebook didn’t have a microphone. Not to worry, I thought, I have a smartphone! Except I didn’t have a recording app. Then I’ll just download one! Except the wifi in the hotel was spotty. Eventually, I found, if I twisted myself into occult positions like some ascetic yogi I could get slow, but steady wifi. And here I remained, contorted into a human knot, recording these words into my phone. I recorded them twice, because I giggled the first time, because I kept thinking, I wonder if the guests in the adjacent room can hear me? And if so, what do they think of these strange words I’m chanting? Did they think I was speaking a foreign language? Reciting the words of some occult spell?

Eventually I was able to email Jonathan the mp3 file of the sounds. He was super appreciative! I haven’t listened to the audio book yet. Like everyone else, I have to wait until October 13th to download it, but I’m really looking forward to listening. 


36 Days of Judaic Myth: Day 26, Adne Sadeh, The First Man

To celebrate the October 13th release of my forthcoming debut novel, King of Shards, I will be featuring one new blog entry a day about a different Judaic myth for 36 days. Today’s entry is on Adne Sadeh, The First Man.

Day 26: Adne Sadeh, The First Man

 The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary

The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary

Before God created Adam, he created another creature who has gone extinct. We call this creature the Adne Sadeh. This creature was attached to the earth by a naval cord, and if the cord were to be cut, the Adne Sadeh would die. The cord could stretch up to a full mile, and thus the Adne Sadeh lived its whole life confined to the radius of its naval cord. The create ate the fruits and vegetables that grew within its domain, and it snatched and fed on the unfortunate creatures that walked too close to it. The creatures lived for a very long time, and it was said that only two things could kill the Adne Sadeh: cutting its cord, or a flood. Thus all the Adne Sadehs were erased from the earth with the Great Flood.

But some say a few of these creatures still remain in high mountains and in remote places where humans do not dwell. They call these beasts Fadua, and they resembled humans in all respects but for the large naval cord that connects them to the earth. Any one who approaches within reach of its tether is instantly killed and devoured, thus few records of their existence remain. It is said that the bones of Fadua can be used to practice witchcraft. 

The Myth’s Origins

The Midrash Tanhuma describes an encounter of a man who was served an Adne Sadeh and told it was a vegetable, even though it looked in all respects like a human being. The man ran away, believing himself to be a cannibal. The 1672 Maiseh Buch, or Story Book, a collection of 254 tales compiled by Jacob ben Abraham, tells of a rabbi who was served what appeared to be human hands, but which was a type of vegetable. 

Leviticus 19:31 says, “Turn you not unto the ghosts, nor unto familiar spirits; seek them not out, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.” In this passage, “familiar spirits” is sometimes translated as “wizard.” And in Hebrew, this is pronounced jedoui or jedua, quite close to the word “jedi,” who is a type of wizard in the Star Wars mythology, though the words likely have no etymological connection.

The myth may be based on part on the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, an 11th century Central Asian myth of a sheep growing as a “fruit” from a plant base and connected to it by a tethering umbilical cord.  

Some Thoughts on the Myth

I love the stories of strange creatures of the bible. The Ziz, the Leviathan, Behemoth, the Shamir. And here we have another myth, evolved from a Talmudic tale of a rabbi who was served an unusual dish and commingled with other myths of the Middle Ages. While there is no causal link that I could find between the modern word “jedi” and the jedoui of Leviticus, it’s interesting to note that they both mean a kind of wizard. It also makes me wonder about the origination of such a myth of a man connected to the earth by a tether. What did such a person or persons see that inspired them to create this myth? Some strange animal in the woods? A birth in progress? It’s interesting to ponder, and might make good short story fodder.

Tomorrow’s Myth: Tzimtzum, the Contraction of God

 


Does Star Trek Need a Villain in Every New Film Now?
But it has cool special effects!

But it has cool special effects!

I read this article this morning and it made me both sad and disappointed:

Idris Elba In Early Talks for ‘Star Trek 3’ Villain

So Star Trek needs Khan-like villains now in every new film? Once, I remember Star Trek was about exploration, discovery, big ideas and the betterment of humanity, about the movement away from a world of scarcity and divisiveness into a world where each person is free to seek out her bliss in whichever way they see fit. Now it’s all about space battles and evil nemeses. This is why I have enjoyed films like Interstellar and books like Kim Stanley Robinson’s amazing 2312, which both explore what humanity might become without need for an arch-nemesis or evil mastermind. Can you imagine? No? Sorry, but that’s your fault. Except it’s not your fault, not really. It’s what you’ve been conditioned to think through years of pessimistic visions.

Some say science fiction is never about the future and always about the present. And in this case of Star Trek they are right. Under Roddenberry’s command, the Star Trek enterprise (see what I did there) was always about envisioning a positive humanity for us. With his passing, the show reverted to a Star Wars like laser-gunslinging adventure. Now every new film is about some evil mastermind, a la James Bond or Holmes’s Moriarty. It’s never about how humanity, in the centuries from now, overcomes our worst tendencies of violence and barbarity and explores the unknown. Starfleet is depicted less like an advanced university now and more like a military academy. Roddenberry was always aware of the fine line between the command structure of the ship he envisioned and one of a military vessel. But the Enterprise was primarily a vessel of exploration, not offense.

That has been dropped in favor of new villains. We are no longer exploring what’s out there, venturing into the deep unknown. Hollywood, because most of the producers have the imagination of a paper bag, can’t see beyond the next space battle. And so we are left stuck in the Us vs. Them mentality. Nothing against Idris Elba. He’s a fine actor. But I have to say that Star Trek is beginning to bore me.

Dear Hollywood, can you envision a positive future for humankind? I dare you.