Category Archives: SHINE excerpts

The ‘Lost’ SHINE Interview: Lavie Tidhar

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Again my profound thanks to the indefatiguable Charles A. Tan for interviewing all the SHINE authors. Well, all the SHINE authors? Charles missed one, possibly becuase he’s so close to him (relatively speaking: they both post on the World SF News Blog, but live a considerable distance from each other).

I thought about attenting Charles to this (and I will now), but on second thought decided to interview Lavie myself.

So here is the ‘lost’ SHINE interview with Lavie Tidhar (and as an extra bonus tomorrow I will post the podcast of Lavie’s SHINE story The Solnet Ascendancy, narrated, very vividly, by Ray Sizemore):

Jetse de Vries: Actually, I don’t really see you as an ‘optimistic’ writer (at least: the work that I’m aware of). So why try SHINE? Stretch your wings? The challenge? Or do you just want to be published in every publication available?

Lavie Tidhar: It’s interesting — how do you fit into an ‘optimist?’ label? I’m not sure I’d describe myself that way, but with my science fiction work — I’ve been working on my own sort of future-history in a sequence of short stories and at least one novel — and that assumption, that there is a future, that humanity goes on to the solar system and even out of it, that it develops the tools necessary for its own survival — that’s quite optimistic, isn’t it?

I’m not sure the stories themselves are particularly optimistic — which comes down to an awareness that, even if we do go out into space, even if we do develop alternative energy sources and so on — humanity will still remain the same. You’d still have abuse (of people, of power), greed, violence… which means you can still tell interesting stories. I don’t ever see a utopia emerging, but I also doubt we’ll destroy ourselves in the short term.

So — a realist? But I’m pretty sure realists don’t write science fiction…

Maybe the answer is just wanting to be in every publication going, as you suggested! Continue reading

SHINE excerpts: “Ishin”

Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the sixteenth and final one: “Ishin” by Madeline Asbhy:

“Oh, dear.”

Brandon pauses, his fingers suspended over the keys. “What?”

“Stoning in progress. Well, a pebbling. Some girls going home for lunch. Their route passes some labour pick-ups.”

Brandon accesses Tink’s feed. Onscreen, the girls have formed a defensive cluster, heads ducking slightly as they walk onward. As Brandon watches, one of them brandishes her mobile and starts snapping pictures. Tink’s view is exceptional; he can see the defiant press of the girl’s thumb and her quick, almost unfazed dodge when a rock whips past her ear. Another girl dashes backward and grabs her elbow, tugs her back into the group as it re-assembles itself.

“Can we get her phone number?” Brandon asks.

“Probably. If we break some laws.” Through the earbud, Brandon hears Singer typing. “The mobile’s old; she probably got it as a donation. Could take a while. Better if you just hijack Tink.”

Brandon accesses Tink’s command line and inputs his own hack: ↑↑↓↓←→←→573. Now she belongs to him entirely, priorities momentarily forgotten, processes un-logged, movements off the grid. He directs her with his finger. She swerves, hovers, waits as Brandon plots safe Euler paths between the school and the nearest teashop. She pounces on the girl’s mobile, planting herself inside the phone, streaming the maps there. The girl nods as the first image pops up. Brandon watches through Tink’s eye, sees the slightly worried faces of the other girls as they look back at the labour pool on the corner, watches their lips move with a mixture of frustration and fear. When Tink withdraws they escape.

The people here are already so used to the bots, Brandon realizes, that they barely recognize them as surveillance. They are part of the landscape. As in a fairy tale, they have come alive through prolonged use: real dragonflies, real camels, real birds of prey.

For the first time, he thinks that this might have been the plan all along.

When he releases her from the hack, Tink zings upward and into the sky. She homes in on the beacon from a predator above, first aligning herself with its wide, arcing flightpath, and then pinning herself to its white steel flank. It blinks at her rapidly, and she dives off and streaks away back into the city.

“What was that?” Brandon asks.

“A work order,” Singer says.

Excerpt from “Ishin” by Madeline Ashby. Copyright © 2010 by Madeline Ashby.

Picture credits:

NOTE: when searching the internet for ‘spider robot’ images for the excerpt of Paula R. Stiles’s “Sustainable Development”, I came across the BAE Systems website which features a video called Micro Autonomous System and Technology (MAST). I’m mentioning it, because such robots—either remote controlled or autonomous—play an important role in two Shine stories (“Ishin” and “Sustainable Development”) and one DayBreak Magazine story (“Fembot”). This is the future at your doorstep and near-future SF in action: while these systems are being developed, SF is already working out their implications.

NOTE 2: when trawling the internet for images (especially for the interactive google map below), I found out about a ship design called ISHIN via Ecofriend: this is serendipity!

Madeline Ashby can be found at her blog, escaping the trunk, and @madelineashby on Twitter. She immigrated to Canada in 2006, where she joined Toronto’s Cecil Street Irregulars genre writing workshop. Since then, she has been published in Flurb, Nature, and Escape Pod. When not working on her novel, she’s a student of the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program at the Ontario College of Art and Design, a blogger for WorldChanging Canada and Frames Per Second Magazine, and a fan of anime and manga.

Also, check out the exclusive interview Charles A. Tan did with her at SF Signal.

Review quotes:

Madeline Ashby’s Ishin is masterfully plotted with two very engaging characters that hold your attention. It’s a volatile story of two men — the one jaded and tired, the other optimistic and almost naive — who do their best to walk the fine line between making right choices for the right reasons in a world filled with political land mines. A truly well executed set piece of story-telling.

SF Revu;

I had heard praises for Madeline Ashby before but it was only after reading her story Ishin that I had the realization that this was the Madeline Ashby other people were talking about. Ashby writes compelling hard science fiction that’s both imaginative and very down-to-earth. I could easily see this author giving Ted Chiang a run for his money down the line, and while Ishin isn’t the best story in the anthology, it’s certainly reason enough to buy the book.

Charles A. Tan;

An interactive map of the SHINE story locations:

US:Buy SHINE at Amazon.com! Buy SHINE at Barnes & Noble! Buy SHINE at Borders!Buy SHINE at Powell's Books!

UK:Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith!Buy SHINE at Waterstone's! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

Independents:Buy SHINE at the IndieBound!Buy SHINE at Books-A-Million!Order SHINE via Goodreads!

Canada:Buy SHINE at Amazon Canada!Germany:Buy SHINE at Amazon Deutschland!India: Order SHINE at Flipkart!

SHINE excerpts: “Paul Kishosha’s Children”

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Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the fifteenth one: “Paul Kishosha’s Children” by Ken Edgett:

“To summarize, we’re expecting a little light rain in the morning and partly cloudy conditions this afternoon with a high of twenty-eight. Tonight, overcast with a low around sixteen. Up next on StarTV MorningStar News, we’ll meet Doctor Paul Kishosha, creator of Joe the Martian’s Adventures, a new show airing each Saturday morning at nine, here on StarTV,” the beautiful young anchorwoman, Teresia Bilame, teased.

During the commercial break for Coca-Cola, HIV prevention, and wireless smartphone services, I was directed to put out my cigarette and join Miss Bilame on a set that resembled a western-style living room—a couch, a couple of comfortable chairs, a coffee table, bookshelves behind the couch, and a television.

Miss Bilame faced one of the cameras and read from the teleprompter, “Welcome back to StarTV MorningStar news.” She smiled and said, “Joining me this morning is Doctor Paul Kishosha, the creative force behind Joe the Martian’s Adventures, a new program running each Saturday morning here on StarTV at nine.”

She turned toward me, “Dr. Kishosha, how are you this morning?”

“Paul, please. And I am well. Very well on this fine Thursday morning, Miss Bilame,” I smiled.

“So, tell me about Joe the Martian. The show has been airing for three weeks, now. How is it going?”

“Uh—so far, very well. Excellent indeed.”

“And your subject is science?”

“Our subject,” I winked, “is entertainment. For children. And their parents and grandparents. Everyone,” I smiled again. “It is an entertaining show with a little sense of humor so that the whole family can enjoy. But, you are right, it is also about science.”

“And, so, what is a typical show like?”

“Each show has a variety of things. There is always an animated piece featuring Joe the Martian and Beauty the Leopard and a visit with a real, east African scientist, doctor, or engineer. We also like to show children doing a science project—like planting trees and flowers in their schoolyard, or setting up a weather station. And there is always an update on what is happening in the sky with the stars, planets, and the moon. We offer tips on disease prevention and protecting the environment, and we like to show something going on in nature—wild gorillas, flamingos on Lake Natron, an erupting volcano, the silence of snowfall on Kilimanjaro, things like that.”

“Let’s see a clip.”

They showed a couple of minutes of the five-minute claymation piece about Joe and Beauty exploring the dunes of Titan. These were compared with the linear dunes on the coast of Namibia, and other dunes in the Sahara. It was from our second episode.

“The Martian,” Miss Bilame smiled, “is really cute. Titan, that is a moon of,” she looked at an actual note card that she picked up from the coffee table, “Saturn, right?”

“Indeed it is, Miss Bilame. A wonderful world orbiting our sixth planet from the Sun.”

“Why, Doctor Kishosha, are the characters rendered in clay? Why not use computers? Is it too expensive?”

“We use clay because it is fun. Kids respond to it. Yes, computer graphics would cost more, but, honestly, clay is more fun. And clay is something a child can work with at home.”

“Speaking of cost, how did you fund your project, Joe the Martian’s Adventures, which runs each Saturday morning here on StarTV at nine?”

Excerpt from “Paul Kishosha’s Children” by Ken Edgett. Copyright © 2010 by Ken Edgett.

Picture credits:

Ken Edgett is a geologist whose research has largely focused on the planet Mars. Working at Malin Space Science Systems of San Diego, California, USA, he targeted tens of thousands of images acquired by the Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. In 1997-2002, Edgett was a regular on-air contributor of 1-2 minute science education pieces for a children’s television program, Brainstorm, produced by KTVK-TV in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. He is the co-author of a children’s book, Touchdown Mars!, published in 2000, and his first published short fiction was in the 2008 anthology, Return to Luna, from Hadley Rille Books. In addition to writing, Edgett’s present effort includes that of being the Principal Investigator for a camera aboard the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, launching in 2011.

Also, check out the exclusive interview Charles A. Tan did with him at SF Signal.

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Review quotes:

Paul Kishosha’s Children by Ken Edgett — wow. Wonderfully expressive, clever and amusing, Ken’ s managed to create characters who reflect a humanity we’re in danger of losing. Having fun learning is becoming more and more outdated and he tackles this very well in this story, with its setting in a small school in an African nation. I would make this something for most teachers to read — regardless of their own reading habits! It reminds us that learning can be fun, and learning clever stuff creates enthusiasm and enthusiasm helps work out problems. It sounds simplistic but you have to read it to appreciate where I’m coming from.

SF Revu;

A touching story about scientist Paul Kishosha who returns to Tanzania and inspires a country through his stories about Joe the Martian Adventures; wonderful and lyrical.

Fantasy Book Critic;

An interactive map of the SHINE story locations:

US:Buy SHINE at Amazon.com! Buy SHINE at Barnes & Noble! Buy SHINE at Borders!Buy SHINE at Powell's Books!

UK:Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith!Buy SHINE at Waterstone's! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

Independents:Buy SHINE at the IndieBound!Buy SHINE at Books-A-Million!Order SHINE via Goodreads!

Canada:Buy SHINE at Amazon Canada!Germany:Buy SHINE at Amazon Deutschland!India: Order SHINE at Flipkart!

SHINE excerpts: “Castoff World”

Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the fourteenth one: “Castoff World” by Kay Kenyon:

Child knelt at the edge of the ocean and carefully spread the bird bones on the water, putting them out to sea. She waited for them to burst into feathers and rise from the ocean, flapping in circles, corkscrewing into the wind.

Not this time, though.

Child always hoped to see the leftover bones from meals reform in their proper shapes: seagull, turtle, swordfish. When she was little, she used to think Grappa was saying they had to put meal leftovers out to sleep, not out to sea. So even though she knew better now—being almost seven—she still thought of the bones as sleeping. And it was their little fun thing that they said, her and Grappa: out to sleep.

She checked the fishing lines on this side of the island for any catches—none—and scanned the horizon for pirates. The blue-green sea stretched in gentle swells to the edge of the world. No pirates today. If you saw pirates you had to crawl to the trap door to meet Grappa who would have a rat for protection. They’d practiced many times, always quiet and serious, but Child would have liked a glimpse of pirates. The book had a picture of one, but Grappa said, no, that was like in the movies, and not a real pirate. Movies was a before word. The book didn’t have a picture of movies. But it had other before things, like fire hydrant, bicycle, and nano assembler.

“You dropped a bone, Child.”

Grappa stood, his beard fluttering in the wind, and pointed to the tiny bone.

“Can I watch Nora kick it off?”

He nodded, and they crouched beside the bone, watching as the nanobots slowly moved the fragment toward the water’s edge. You couldn’t see the nanobots because of being too small, but they were there, working hard, passing the bone to the nanobots next to them. It would take all afternoon for Nora to put the bone out to sleep. Child would come back later to check on the progress.

“Nora doesn’t like our garbage,” Child pronounced.

“Not her kind.” Grappa stood and looked out over their floating home. It was made entirely from garbage, an island of toxic trash, collected over years of swirling round the ocean gyre. The more garbage collected, the bigger Nora got. Here and there you could see plastic bottles, sty-ro-foam cups, white and yellow bags, and crunched up cans. Over there, a collection of tiny stirrers and straws, lined up like a miniature forest. (Forest: many trees clumped together. Tree: tall growing thingy.) Nora was going to break all these things down and make them into good stuff so that bad stuff wouldn’t leak into the water.

Grappa said Nora wasn’t alive. But they called her her, because he said you could call ships her, and what they were on was like a ship or maybe a raft.

Picture credits:

Kay Kenyon’s latest work, published by Pyr, is a sci-fantasy quartet beginning with Bright of the Sky, a story that introduced readers to the Entire, a tunnel universe next door. Publishers Weekly listed this novel among the top 150 books of 2007. The series has twice been shortlisted for the American Library Association Reading List awards. The final volume, Prince of Storms will appear in January 2010. Her work has been nominated for major awards in the field and translated into French, Russian, Spanish, Czech and audio versions. Recent short stories appeared in Fast Forward 2 and The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume Two. She lives in eastern Washington state with her husband. She is the chair of a writing conference, Write on the River, and is currently working on a fantasy novel. All of her work has happy endings, except for those with characters who, alas, must die.

Also, check out the exclusive interview Charles A. Tan did with her at SF Signal.

Review Quotes:

Kay Kenyon’s fantastic Castoff World chronicles the life of Child, a young girl whose entire existence has been spent on a garbage island adrift in the ocean. Her only companionship is a sickly grandfather and something she calls Nora — a Nanobotic Oceanic Refuse Accumulator that has continued its mission of collecting pollutants from the water, breaking them down, and transforming them into “good stuff.”

Explorations: the Barnes & Noble SciFi and Fantasy Blog;

Likewise the events of the touching Castoff World by Kay Kenyon are restricted to a tiny stage — a makeshift Pacific raft — that nonetheless serves as an effective microcosm of broader ecological concerns.

New Scientist;

Kay Kenyon’s wonderful story Castoff World of a young girl’s life aboard a floating reclamation centre;

Catherine Hughes;

Castoff World by Kay Kenyon has an amazing dreamlike feel to it. It’s about a girl, her Grappa (older grandfather figure) and a boat called Nora drifting on the ocean. It’s about truth and having to fend for yourself. It’s a bit Big Blue in its feel and the ending made me well up and sigh that Child will now no longer be alone. Beautiful.

SF Revu;

The last story I want to mention is Kay Kenyon’s Castoff World. The story is about Child and her Grappa floating around on a barge originally intended to clean up the Ocean of pollutants like plastics. The barge has long since lost contact with the people who designed and ran it and it is now floating freely on a dangerous ocean, collecting ever more rubbish. We see the story from Child’s perspective. It’s a very touching story, I particularly liked the subtle presence of artificial intelligence. Beautifully written. This one is probably my favourite in the entire collection.

Val’s Random Comments;

A story about the “friendship” between the orphan Child and Nora, a “Nanobotic Oceanic Refuse Accumulator” aka “an ocean garbage eating artificial island” which is Child’s only known home. While a bit too short, this story hearkens back to the traditional lost in the world adventure and it’s wonderful.

Fantasy Book Critic;

An interactive Google Map of story locations from the SHINE anthology:

US:Buy SHINE at Amazon.com! Buy SHINE at Barnes & Noble! Buy SHINE at Borders!Buy SHINE at Powell's Books!

UK:Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith!Buy SHINE at Waterstone's! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

Independents:Buy SHINE at the IndieBound!Buy SHINE at Books-A-Million!Order SHINE via Goodreads!

Canada:Buy SHINE at Amazon Canada!

Germany:Buy SHINE at Amazon Deutschland!

India: Order SHINE at Flipkart!

SHINE excerpts: “Russian Roulette 2020″

Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the thirteenth one: “Russian Roulette 2020” by Eva Maria Chapman:

Next morning MV was woken by singing. Cursing, he went to the window. He’d been up half the night catching up with pips and downloads. Just a few hours away from his ZiSleeve was lethal. It mustn’t happen again.

Out of the window the garden looked resplendent in the morning sunshine. Tripping through it barefoot was his nemesis, that temptress Rada. It looked like she was singing to the flowers. Bloody hell—what a kook! Colleen had made such a mistake bringing them to this Godforsaken place.

Well it must be near midnight in New York—time for a game before Jeezbob hit the sack. He closed the curtain. Jeezbob had manoeuvred him into a cave full of unexploded mines, and the sound of whizzing, banging and explosions drowned out that wretched singing.

A shaft of sunlight slipped through a crack in the curtain and caught his face. Dammit. It reminded him of the sparkle on Rada’s pearly teeth. He went to the window. Oh God she was cartwheeling again. As she came up, she spied him.

“Come, come outside! It is so wonderful out here.” He was torn. Then he saw the quote above his door.

If we don’t change our direction, we’ll wind up where we are headed.

Boy, was this place trying to brainwash him? He decided to take his ZiSleeve with him. As protection.

“Oh okay, but I’m not doing any more cartwheels.”

“Of course not—I want to show you the gardens.”

“Just for a short while.” Out he went, armoured with his ZiSleeve.

The garden was bursting with vegetables and flowers. Cabbages the size of footballs swelled out among a riot of nasturtiums.

“You grow all your own vegetables?”

“Yes, and fruits, and healing herbs. We use permaculture techniques.”

“Do you guard your gardens?”

“No.”

“Why not?” In LA, gardens had sprouted everywhere—disused lots, sides of roads where guerrilla gardeners had to become more guerrilla-like to protect their produce. MV earned extra money by patrolling gardens at night, entertained by his ZiSleeve of course.

“Well Miroslav.” She lowered her voice as she said his name. Despite himself he thrilled at the way she pronounced it. “We have plenty of gardens in Russia. And land. You must remember the Soviet Union collapsed twenty years before the world financial crash of 2009. Fortunately most people, even those in the cities, still had access to a dacha and garden. In the early 1990s while Russia boiled out of control in a soup of intrigue, power and greed, these gardens saved Russia from starvation and possibly another revolution.”

“Revolution may have been a good thing.”

“No Miroslav—our country was worse than a battered, bloody dog after seventy years of revolution. In 1995 there emerged from the Siberian Taiga my heroine, the eco-mystic Anastasia, who persuaded hundreds of thousands of people to turn away from the transient attraction of luxury consumer goods, and delight in the simple pleasures of planting seeds and creating gardens. By the time Capitalism cracked apart, President Medvedev was passing legislation for people to acquire land cheaply, so they could be self-sufficient. What was great was that these people were well educated and technically literate and brought their new knowledge to the land. My parents were successful city people who became quickly disillusioned with a Western copycat lifestyle; they traded their concrete coop in Moscow for an eco-house in the countryside, at first commuting while they built it.”

Her eyes sparkled as she spoke of her parents. “Oh Miroslav I wish I could take you to visit them, so you could eat one of the apples from the tree they planted when I was born. It would help your skin condition.”

MV looked at the rosy flush of her skin and longed to touch it—to somehow infuse it into his own.

“So what is so special about this school?” He had avoided going to Shchetinin’ s talk, pleading Zi overload.

“We learn how to create a positive future.”

“How?”

“In many ways, but basically by relating to each other and thinking.”

“Thinking?”

“Yes, most people only use a fraction of their thinking capabilities.”

“Well I don’t. I think all the time.”

“Miroslav, you never have time to think—a slave to your ZiSleeve.”

“I’m thinking the whole time—responding to hundreds of pieces of info every day, through my live-Stream.”

“Just Nowism; downloading data. Reacting. Not retaining it.”

“Yes I am.”

“I doubt that. When do you contemplate deeply, sharpen your understanding—ponder whether something optimal in the present may not be optimal in the future? Do you observe nature for example? Work out the true laws that govern everything?”

“Well—er…” MV thought of his mother who commented sadly that old-fashioned daydreaming had disappeared?

“Well Miroslav—the deep, quiet thinking process is alien to many today because of the influence of the technocratic world. People spend their entire life marshalling their thoughts towards using and creating better widgets and gadgets. You are seduced by these substitutes for real life.”

MV’s Wii injury throbbed. His ZiSleeve winked and beeped.

“Substitutes! You’re unbelievably arrogant! You should have seen the amazing devices at the Expo. Technology that will save our planet.”

“Miroslav, the planet needs greater consciousness, reflective awareness, not just technical fixes.”

But MV was back at Moscow’s Crystal Island. His eyes glazed over. “You should have seen the robots.”

“Just clever inventions, nothing more.”

“Inventions? Robots will take over.”

“Only the brains behind them will take over. Our brains. Technology is created by us; by our thoughts. It is us humans who are amazing. Robots, at best, are useful servants.

“Look at this ZiSleeve! I can get any piece of information I want at any time. I’m being better educated than anyone in mankind’s history.” MV’s Zi bleeped obligingly in emphasis. “I’m proud to be part of a cross-fertilisation that’s driving a generation of new scientific knowledge and technological innovation at an unprecedented rate.”

“Yes that is good—it makes you flip from topic to topic easily and you learn a lot quickly, but it also makes you lazy. Your mind is continually searching for input—the latest disaster, the latest news, the latest—what do you call it? Thrill.” She pronounced it ‘T’rill.’

MV had to acknowledge that point. Each day brought an exciting breaking news story on ZiNet—plenty of them—cyclones, fires, riots, floods, sieges. There was even a special part of YouTube called SiegeTube where people could tune into their own reality siege. It felt dull if a day went by without a disaster to tune into.

“But it’s good to be tuned into the world. I’m connected to millions of people in real time. Live-streaming.”

“Real time? A delusion. Just an impression of real life. Live-streaming enslaves you to the web. Why are we here? How can we save the planet? How do we relate to each other? They are the real time questions.”

“I am relating to others all over the globe. Strangers reach out to each other—open up, express themselves more easily. I respond to so many people.”

“Yes but you never have time to deeply ponder. You are mesmerised by the web like a baboon is to a red bottom. Easily led. Never stopping to think.”

Picture credits:

Eva Maria Chapman has successfully pursued a variety of careers; teacher, academic, psychotherapist and director of an energy efficiency company. In her career as author, she is a genre hopper. Her first book Sasha & Olga, a memoir, charts the adversities of her Russian refugee family, before and after emigrating to Australia; her second, Butterflies & Demons, unveils the extraordinary past of the Kaurna Adelaide Aborigines, combining historic fiction with fantasy. ‘Russian Roulette 2020’ is her first foray into Science Fiction and has inspired her to embark further into this genre. She is now writing an optimistic novel set in the future. She lives in happy seclusion in a wildlife sanctuary on the edge of Exmoor, England, with her husband Jake. When not writing, or growing vegetables, she likes to make (and wear) hats, party with friends, and frolic with her grandchildren.

Also, check out the exclusive interview Charles A. Tan did with her at SF Signal.

Review Quotes:

Eva Maria Chapman’s Russian Roulette 2020 genuinely took me by surprise. I truly enjoyed her writing style and the voice of her characters. Set in the very near future, it focuses on a group of high school children who have come from an intensely high tech community to spend time at one of Russia’s ground-breaking schools where technology is not the main focus of their every day lives. Chapman writes eloquently of how difficult the kids find it to relate to being outside, to talking to each other and their guides at the school, when they’re more used to being linked into a the wider world and conversing by message with others all over the world. A very interesting, sobering look at how technology invades our lives. Oh, and there is a wonderful budding romance and I adored it. More please?

SF Revu;

Russian Roulette 2020 by Eva Maria Chapman touches upon the social media phenomenon, too, in that it recounts the story of a group of teens who are compelled to disengage from their cyber-existences and fully engage with reality. The story made me consider how you might blend science fiction with traditional fantasy using virtual worlds. Or maybe even put a new spin on historical fiction.

Catherine Hughes;

In Russian Roulette 2020 by Eva Maria Chapman we get to see the downside of all that instant access. People are consumed by the present, constantly in touch and responding to what is happening elsewhere. A group of American technology addicts encounters a Russian school where they live and teach according to a different philosophy. The group does not shun technology but clearly thinks a connection with the land and your community is equally important. It’s one of the more spiritual stories in the collection. What I particularly liked about it, is that the contrast the author is trying to create between the two groups does not result in one of them completely ignoring the possibilities of technology. It’s about balance. Technology has its uses as both groups will find out in the story.

Val’s Random Comments;

In Eva Maria Chapman’ s Russian Roulette 2020, for example, a blasé teen’s quick-fix addictions dissolve over the course of a slushy summer-camp romance with an insufferably twee hippy.

New Scientist;

Russian Roulette 2020 by Eva Maria Chapman for example falls into the trap of utopian didacticism as the protagonist is reduced to merely being a foil in what is a one-sided narrative.

Charles A. Tan;

An interactive Google Map of story locations from the SHINE anthology:

US:Buy SHINE at Amazon.com! Buy SHINE at Barnes & Noble! Buy SHINE at Borders!Buy SHINE at Powell's Books!

UK:Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith!Buy SHINE at Waterstone's! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

Independents:Buy SHINE at the IndieBound!Buy SHINE at Books-A-Million!Order SHINE via Goodreads!

Canada:Buy SHINE at Amazon Canada!

Germany:Buy SHINE at Amazon Deutschland!

India: Order SHINE at Flipkart!

SHINE excerpts: “Scheherazade Cast in Starlight”

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Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the twelfth one: “Sheherazade Cast in Starlight” by Jason Andrew:

The Qur’an says that all people are a single nation. Though we failed that day, we were shown the way by the will of Allah. Globalization has been a dirty word for oppressive governments. They want to keep their borders clearly defined with walls of stone and barbed wire and land mines. They want their citizens to think only of what happens in their lands, to their familes. They want us to forget that we all are one family.

Technology blurs those borders. It allows information to flow freely. It is the bane of any oppressive government. There were no more barriers to hide us away from the rest of the world. No firewalls that could keep out our stories. The world hungered for reality entertainment. When I was ready, I stepped into the starlight.

My v-casts are circulated around the world. Every action recorded and captured in amber for the world to study. Anyone in the world can watch me. I am Scheherazade cast in starlight, telling a story each night to keep my head. I competed against drunken bears roaming free in Butte, Montana. I told the world of the food shortages, the war, tragedies, and love against the tale of seven strangers trapped in a house forced to live together. I battled against Big Brother by showing stories about all of our brothers and sisters. We showed the world that the greatest stories come not from forced drama, but from life and living despite the darkness.

Each night before I slept, I checked my ranking. I was safe as long I had eyes upon me. Or so I believed. I am shamed to admit that I was drunk with my new celebrity. I had messages from foreign leaders, proud mothers, and little girls seeking a role-model. I thought that I had made a difference.

Picture Credits:

Jason Andrew lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Lisa. By day, he works as a mild-mannered technical writer. By night, he writes stories of the fantastic and occasionally fights crime. As a child, Jason spent his Saturdays watching the Creature Feature classics and furiously scribbling down stories; his first short story, written at age six, titled ‘The Wolfman Eats Perry Mason,’ was rejected and caused his Grandmother to watch him very closely for a few years.

Also, check out the exclusive interview Charles A. Tan did with him at SF Signal.

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Review Quotes:

Scheherazade Cast In Starlight by Jason Andrew is a strong,sharp story about an Iranian woman who uses her kills to tell the world of her country in all it’s brutality. She recounts how her mother had been thrown in jail for drug abuse, but her only crime was being elected to the parliament. If you read this and you mistakenly think it’s the one story in Shine that’s downbeat, it isn’t. Here we have a modern day storyteller who gets the world to listen, who empowers and who becomes the face of what a patriarchal society tries to destroy. Spikey, vivid storytelling.

SF Revu;

We get more information technology in Scheherazade Cast in Starlight by Jason Andrew. A brief account of how blogging leads to a political change in Iran. It’s clearly based on events that took place in that country right after the last elections, where the Internet was instrumental in getting the news about the protests out to the world. This story is more peaceful but only because the main character manages to keep the spotlight on herself. Locking people up or killing them is still a fairly effective way of silencing a dissident. It made me wonder if authoritarian regimes are rethinking their methods of suppressing opposition. Is the Internet really going to help spread democracy?

Val’s Random Comments;

There are also stories which are quite competent , but simply fail to be striking, such as Sustainable Development by Paul R. Stiles and Scheherazade Cast in Starlight by Jason Andrew.

Charles A. Tan;

An interactive Google Map of story locations from the SHINE anthology:

US:Buy SHINE at Amazon.com! Buy SHINE at Barnes & Noble! Buy SHINE at Borders!Buy SHINE at Powell's Books!

UK:Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith!Buy SHINE at Waterstone's! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

Independents:Buy SHINE at the IndieBound!Buy SHINE at Books-A-Million!Order SHINE via Goodreads!

Canada:Buy SHINE at Amazon Canada!Germany:Buy SHINE at Amazon Deutschland!India: Order SHINE at Flipkart!

SHINE excerpts: “Sarging Rasmussen: A Report by Organic”

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Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the eleventh one: “Sarging Rasmussen: A Report by Organic” by Gord Sellar:

We started out as far from idealists, of course. As my teacher, Praxis, said when he met me: “Environmentalist? Ha, you know who gets laid less than a green radical?”

“Nobody?” I said, wishing I’d mentioned my day job as a lab tech instead of how I spent my weekends.

It was true, though. Women had seen fit to chain themselves to trees beside me, and join me in hijacking oil tankers on highways, and march arm in arm with me in the streets of a dozen countries by my side. But I’d gotten precisely one girl out of a bra in my life, and that had lasted just five weeks. 37 days, to be precise. And that had been four years before.

“‘xactly,” Praxis said with a sneer. “Nobody. But we’re gonna change all that. You’re gonna,” he said, on day one.

That was back in the days when fellas like Praxis were called mPUAs. Guys like him made a living running “boot camps” for AFCs, the Average Frustrated Chumps. Guys who didn’t know how to talk to women and were willing to spend a thousand bucks for a weekend of being coached on how talk to women.

Guys like me.

Mostly, they learned by being forced to go sarging—approaching thousands of women in a row, until they stopped pissing themselves with fear and grew a backbone. And Praxis was right: during that weekend, he changed my life… or, well, really, I did. He’d taken me and the other AFCs—a hardware engineer who called himself Axiomatic, a lonely high school teacher we dubbed Homework, a recently-divorced cop called Slammer, and some Japanese poet or something—and baptized us by fire. We went out sarging all weekend—chatting up hot women in bars and bookstores and coffeeshops, coming onto them and hassling them, teasing and rubbing shoulders and even scoring some phone numbers.

That weekend was the first time I ever wore leather. Tight leather. Peacocky leather. Praxis taught us routines, taught us cocky-funny, taught us rules of thumb and dozens of techniques, and by the end of it, every one of us had learned the secret: there wasn’t one. Getting a woman’s phone number—or anything else, for that matter—didn’t require magic, or an eleven-inch cock, or perfect white teeth. All it took was asking for it in the right way, once she was ready to give it… once you’d helped her become ready. Pretty soon, we were having the time of our lives with the kind of babes who’d terrified us just months before. I was no longer Andrew Dalton: I had become Organic, and now I was swimming in women. Tall women, short women, dark and pale, funny and serious, wild and schoolmarmish alike. I tasted every flavour there was. I’d learned techniques for getting them to come home with me in less than thirty minutes of first contact. For engineering a threesome. For getting them to give me a sponge bath dressed in nurse uniforms, while speaking in fake Polish. (Look, everyone has his kinks, and whoever claims otherwise is lying.) For the first time in my life, I was getting laid like a truckload of linoleum. And it was the part of me that was really, really enjoying all that sex that spoke first when Katana had laid out his plan.

That was the part of me that had stopped caring about how many trees got cut down at Clayoquot sound, and didn’t give a shit about the coral reefs and strip mining in the Northwest Territories. They say that a sense of impending death makes people have more sex—it’s a mammalian instinct. Well, the first year the icecaps melted completely in summer? I made that work for me, and worked out my own mammalian panic all at once. From there, I hadn’t looked back, not once, at the dying Earth.

Not till that day. And it hurt to look again at what I’d once cared about—which I think is why I yelped, “That’s fucking crazy, Katana! The tools we have… they’re for pickup. For getting laid. Not for… saving the world.”

“Yeah, man,” Biosfear said, nodding his head. “What d’ya wanna do, seduce the sun into shining less brightly? Sarge lumberjacks? Toss a few negs at metacorporations and hope that they go sweet on us?”

Biosfear laughed at the absurdity of it. We all did.

“You’re not listening, bros,” Katana said, his hands parallel in front of him like some kind of loony Japanese evangelical minister. His eyes shone with some kind of insane, holy-fire light. “You can’t seduce the sun, but you don’t need to. The environment? The ecology? It’s people. I’ve been rereading Dawkins and Page…”

We all groaned.

“…and there’s something to this extended phenotype thing,” Katana went on. “The world is what we make it. What governments decide. How giant companies decide to behave. But governments and companies, what are they?”

“People,” Biosfear said. “They’re just people, and so they can be seduced…”

“Wrong,” said Katana, flicking at the wall with his keychain remote. The smartwall flickered, and images from satellites flooded it at high speed, corporate logos and national flags flashing superimposed onto creeping desertification, megastorms, and black-smoke flashes of brief, vicious water wars. “They’re persons, legally and functionally. They’re the ultimate amogs. And they can be amogged too.”

Someone who hadn’t known us would have taken one look around the room at us in our freaky peacocky clothing—Homeboyostasis’ purple fur vest, my depilated scalp, Biosfear’s animated Magic Eight Ball T-shirt cycling through its advice—No Way!… Yes Way!… Maybe!… Go Fuck Yourself!—and declared Katana’s attempt to sway us a complete, hopeless failure.

Goes to show you what total strangers know about anything.

Picture credits:

Gord Sellar was born in Malawi, grew up in Saskatchewan, and currently lives and works as a professor of English Language & Culture in South Korea. Since attending Clarion West in 2006, his work has appeared in Asimov’s SF, Interzone, Clarkesworld, Subterranean, and The Year’s Best SF Vol. 26, among other venues, and in 2009 he was a nominee for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. This story is dedicated to his buddies named Mike—in Jeonju, Utah, and Toronto alike, for being very different kinds of men, each excellent in his own way.

Also, check out the exclusive interview Charles A. Tan did with him at SF Signal.

Even more, check out the podcast, with a full cast, at StarShipSofa!

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Review Quotes:

Gord Sellar offers up a great title—Sarging Rasmussen: A Report (by Organic)—and a great story about the use of the current creepy trend of Pick-Up Artistry, augmented by cyberstuff, to save the world and find a li’l love.

SciFi Wire;

Gord Sellar’s Sarging Rasmussen: A Report (by Organic) fuses pick-up artistry with, of all things, environmental treaty negotiations — to amusing and surprisingly compelling effect.

New Scientist;

Striking the balance between sense of wonder, hard science fiction (be it biological or sociological), and social relevance is Sarging Rasmussen: A Report (by Organic) by Gord Sellar. This one immediately catches your attention with the author’s style, and actually manages to sustain it until the very end. To me, this is optimistic science fiction done right, even surpassing de Vries’s own fiction. The conceit here is that the short story doesn’t read like it’s preaching an agenda to you, and Sellar’s enthusiasm for the story is conveyed in the text. There’s a Second Foundation vibe to it and reminiscent of Nicola Griffith’s It Takes Two from Eclipse Three but Sellar takes the concept into a different direction.

Charles A. Tan;

Sarging Rasmussen: A report (by Organic) by Gord Sellar is unfortunately the one story I genuinely struggled with in this anthology. To be honest, I’ll say that it’s 150% my fault as I think it’s that little bit too hard edged for me to fully get into and comprehend. However, I’m sure that should a dedicated SF reader pick this up, they’d be laughing at my failure to get it.

SF Revu;

An interactive Google Map of story locations from the SHINE anthology:

US:Buy SHINE at Amazon.com! Buy SHINE at Barnes & Noble! Buy SHINE at Borders!Buy SHINE at Powell's Books!

UK:Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith!Buy SHINE at Waterstone's! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

Independents:Buy SHINE at the IndieBound!Buy SHINE at Books-A-Million!Order SHINE via Goodreads!

Canada:Buy SHINE at Amazon Canada!Germany:Buy SHINE at Amazon Deutschland!India: Order SHINE at Flipkart!