Monthly Archives: November 2009

SHINE COMPETITION: THE RULES

The rules: I’ll keep it short and sweet.

  1. Everyone from around the world is allowed (and invited!) to enter. However:
  2. Since the top ten prizes are alcoholic drinks, I will ask confirmation of the top ten winners that they are of drinking age in their country of residence. Without that confirmation by email I will not send out the prize, and let number 11 (or 12, or 13, etc.) be the lucky one;
  3. Enter the SHINE competiton by sending your answers (example: 1-A, author Jane Doe; 2-B, author Joe Sixpack; etc.) to shineanthology@gmail.com . Please put “SHINE COMPETITION” in the header: this makes my life much easier.
  4. Accompany this entry with your postal mail address: an *actual* address. Sorry for families: only one entry per postal mail address. This is to prevent one person from entering multiple times. I will send the prize to the address of the winning entry, and if that is a non-existent postal address, then the next one in line will get the prize;
  5. Entrant with the most correct answers wins: if more than one person has the most correct answers, then the first one (by date of the email) wins. Number 1 gets first choice of the main prizes;
  6. Then the one with the second most correct answers (or who came in later than number 1 while having the same number of answers correct) will have the second choice of the main prizes;
  7. And so forth down the line until all ten main prizes have been selected.
  8. The competition will run from November 30 until December 15: it will close to entries at December 16 midnight, Dutch time. All entries coming after that will be discarded unread;
  9. Winners, together with the answers of the competition, will be announced on Friday December 18;
  10. The editor, the authors and the people working for Solaris Books (in short: anybody with knowledge and access to at least one of the original stories) is excempt from this competition;
  11. I am the judge, jury and executor of the competition, and my judgment is final.

That’s it: good luck!

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SHINE COMPETITION: THE PRIZES

Today, Monday November 30, I will start the official Shine Competition. The actual rules will be posted in a separate post, and the actual competition, as well.

But to whet your appetite, lets start with what you actually can win! Well, Ive decided that the winners get a choice. It works like this: the top twenty will all get either an Optimism T-shirt (Im contacting Compass Box about availability, especially re. different sizes) or a Shine T-shirt, which Ill produce myself on CaféPress; and of course a copy of the Shine anthology.

However, those finishing in the top ten, get to select the main prizes, as follows: number 1 gets first choice, number 2 second choice, etcetera until number ten just gets what the others left over.

So, without further ado, here are the main prizes:

Cognac:

Frapin Cigar Blend: the perfect digestif after a heavy Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. A Grande Champagne, Premier Grand Cru du Cognac, which is admittedly a mouthful, but wait until you have an actual mouth ful of this liquor of the gods! Cognacs are with only some very rare exceptions blends, and this blend has its separate constituents aged on new French oak casks (a French speciality) for at least 15 to 20 years. Resulting in a tannin-rich, yet surprisingly smooth cognac, with overtones of vanilla, dried fruits, honey, fine herbs and old port. I give this to my brother (who doesnt like whisky) for our regular Sunday meals, and such a bottle never lasts long!

Whisky:

Highland Park 21 years old: A superb whisky thats both complex and smooth. Like with the Springbank 18 year old (see below), it has a legendary predecessor: the Bicentenary. Its been over ten years since I tasted the Bicentenary, so its hard to make a comparison. This Highland Park 21 year old is very smooth while having a surprising depth. On the one side you have the signature Highland Park toffee, fudge and dark chocolate, while on the other side you have a heathery smoke, nutmeg and ginger. Its mellow, yet firm like a loving mother who knows whats best for you. Kidding aside, a whisky thats both silk and steel.

Springbank 18 years old: this is one of the most highly anticipated whiskies of 2009. The first Springbank to be following on the footsteps of the legendary 21 year old of a decade ago (I bought those 21 year old Springbanks for 96 guilders about €40 at the time. Now its become a collectors item and goes for €400). And theyve only bottled 7800 of this one, which are going fast. Ive managed to get one, so grab this opportunity! Its hard to say how it compares with its legendary predecessor (its been over ten years since I tasted that one), but this Springbank 18 years old is everything a whisky should be: smooth & sharp; rich & oily; depth & balance; oranges & pepper; tannins & caramel; cacao & honey: a perplexing paradox of yins & yans zig-zagging through the complete whisky range (I better stop while Im still ahead…;-). Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “The Branding of Shu Mei Feng”

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The Branding of Shu Mei Feng

By Amanda Clark

Apart from wanting optimistic, near future SF stories for the Shine anthology, I also wanted to have a wide range of settings for the Shine stories and — ideally — also from authors from across the world. I didn’t quite achieve the latter (the language barrier: translating is, relatively, expensive; not enough outreach and other factors), but I think I succeeded in the former.

By necessity, this means that a lot of these worldwide settings are written through the eyes of western authors. This is a part of writing the other, that is a person from culture A writing about a person from culture B. Research and feedback are an essential part of that, and it certainly helps if you’ve actually been in that particular place. Well, Amanda Clark has lived in China for several years, and I think it shows in “The Branding of Shu Mei Fen”.

Yes, there will be a story in Shine that’s also set in China, and the main reason I took that one — after the upcoming Shine competition it will be revealed which one I’m talking about — is that “The Branding of Shu Mei Feng” is mostly set after the important changes are mostly set in motion, while — “The Earth of Yunhe” — depicts how one such a ground change could be implemented.

I first met Amanda Clark in the bar at the 2008 World Fantasy in Calgary: she was jetlagged after returning from Shanghai, and she told me she would start to ferment stories from her four years in Shanghai and Beijing. “The Branding of Shu Mei Feng” is the first one, and I certainly hope that she will write more. Also, she read part of it at the World Fantasy in San José a few weeks ago, and it was great (it showed me new angles to a story I already had read several times).

Admittedly, the beginning has a strong hint of Red Barchetta and “A Nice Morning Drive” (our heroine likes to tamper with, or reconfigure internal combustion vehicles), but that is only the kick-off. So follow Shu Mei Feng as she finds her way in a New World that is not only Brave, but simultaneously different and the same: as new policies are implemented, certain old habits die hard…

Shu Mei Feng — daughter of family Shu, most honorable owners of Beijing’s Best Happiness and Prosperity Vertical Farm No. 1 — screamed.

Icy liquid seeped into her eyes, her mouth, her nose, shutting off sight, sound, smell. Mei Feng felt neither Beautiful nor like a Phoenix in that moment. Her name should have been Drowned Turtle.

A calloused hand slid into her palm, soft, warm, squeezing rhythmically. Mei Feng willed herself to grip the hand, and this time she felt her fingers respond. She jerked upward, still blind, sputtering and coughing so hard she thought a lung might just come up.

“What the fuck?” She asked. The calloused hand squeezed painfully. She couldn’t hear her own voice. “I’ve gone deaf,” she added.

Light exploded around her, followed by the sound of water dripping and the earthy smell of new plantings. She twitched, gasping for one clean breath, crying out in relief when it came. She lay up to her neck under a blanket of hydroponic wool, so thick it pressed her down into the galvanized water trough jammed into her family’s shower. The blanket was connected by wires that ran over Father’s shoulders to an instrument that let out a little ping every few seconds. Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “The Branding of Shu Mei Feng”, v2

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The Branding of Shu Mei Feng

By Amanda Clark

Apart from wanting optimistic, near future SF stories for the Shine anthology, I also wanted to have a wide range of settings for the Shine stories and — ideally — also from authors from across the world. I didn’t quite achieve the latter (the language barrier: translating is, relatively, expensive; not enough outreach and other factors), but I think I succeeded in the former.

By necessity, this means that a lot of these worldwide settings are written through the eyes of western authors. This is a part of writing the other, that is a person from culture A writing about a person from culture B. Research and feedback are an essential part of that, and it certainly helps if you’ve actually been in that particular place. Well, Amanda Clark has lived in China for several years, and I think it shows in “The Branding of Shu Mei Fen”.

Yes, there will be a story in Shine that’s also set in China, and the main reason I took that one — after the upcoming Shine competition it will be revealed which one I’m talking about — is that “The Branding of Shu Mei Feng” is mostly set after the important changes are mostly set in motion, while — “The Earth of Yunhe” — depicts how one such a ground change could be implemented.

I first met Amanda Clark in the bar at the 2008 World Fantasy in Calgary: she was jetlagged after returning from Shanghai, and she told me she would start to ferment stories from her four years in Shanghai and Beijing. “The Branding of Shu Mei Feng” is the first one, and I certainly hope that she will write more. Also, she read part of it at the World Fantasy in San José a few weeks ago, and it was great (it showed me new angles to a story I already had read several times).

Admittedly, the beginning has a strong hint of Red Barchetta and “A Nice Morning Drive” (our heroine likes to tamper with, or reconfigure internal combustion vehicles), but that is only the kick-off. So follow Shu Mei Feng as she finds her way in a New World that is not only Brave, but simultaneously different and the same: as new policies are implemented, certain old habits die hard…

Shu Mei Feng — daughter of family Shu, most honorable owners of Beijing’s Best Happiness and Prosperity Vertical Farm No. 1 — screamed.

Icy liquid seeped into her eyes, her mouth, her nose, shutting off sight, sound, smell. Mei Feng felt neither Beautiful nor like a Phoenix in that moment. Her name should have been Drowned Turtle.

A calloused hand slid into her palm, soft, warm, squeezing rhythmically. Mei Feng willed herself to grip the hand, and this time she felt her fingers respond. She jerked upward, still blind, sputtering and coughing so hard she thought a lung might just come up.

“What the fuck?” She asked. The calloused hand squeezed painfully. She couldn’t hear her own voice. “I’ve gone deaf,” she added.

Light exploded around her, followed by the sound of water dripping and the earthy smell of new plantings. She twitched, gasping for one clean breath, crying out in relief when it came. She lay up to her neck under a blanket of hydroponic wool, so thick it pressed her down into the galvanized water trough jammed into her family’s shower. The blanket was connected by wires that ran over Father’s shoulders to an instrument that let out a little ping every few seconds. Continue reading

April @outshine prose poems—humourous

April 4:

At 97, Grandma got a time machine and started meeting her descendants. Last I heard, she had hugged twenty generations and was still going.

[Bio] Amanda Davis denies everything but regrets nothing. She blogs at http://tinyurl.com/ddvpvj .

April 11:

We shrugged Atlas off our backs early in the tech spike. Disappointedly, nothing much changed, except, well, all the bag ladies disappeared.

[Bio] meika lives in Tasmania and no longer writes for humans. twitter.com/meika .

April 18:

One night at the nude colony,
The moon rose celestially.
With no clothes to stifle
I transformed in a trifle
To eat snacks, packaging-free

[Bio] Writer-mommy-doctor who loves artists & underdogs: melissayuaninnes.net .

April 25:

“I told you it had some design flaws,” Audrey sighed as the city turned upside down and sank, shining, car horns blaring, into the sea.

[Bio] Paula R. Stiles, at: http://is.gd/kLAu, has sold SF, fantasy and horror stories to Strange Horizons, Jim Baen’s, Futures and others.

April @outshine prose poems—inspiring

April 1:

Above the rioters’ ruinous flames, a holoPhoenix shone. Hope rose like Holy Fire. The Rocking Raven Brigade beat chaos and despair.

[Bio] MD,writer, co-editor in French SF mag GALAXIES. Spends too much time dreaming and her house is always a mess. http://is.gd/gdmv .

April 8:

My avatars, luminous with data, press close, keen. A tap: we skim the zombie bots, dodge in, & deploy anti-viral mines; undead dust cloud.

[Bio] Maura McHugh lives in South Galway, Ireland, writes weird, loves technology, but loathes zombie botnets. http://splinister.com .

April 15:

Dancer divine

Tripping the rift

of dimensions

of distant days

brimming with light

She steps on stars

and drops to earth

and dances dreams.

[Bio] Ash M.B. has a B.A. in English, is a professional Polynesian dancer, a kung fu fighter, and writer. http://twitter.com/homeofleia .

April 22:

A pastel blue bloom, close enough to cup in my hands. The quiet white petals I remember; vivid leaves. Home is near; as are you, at last.

[Bio] Stephanie Campisi is a writer of the weird and wonderful. Find her at www.stephaniecampisi.com.

April 29:

Were people really so – alone, granpa?

disbelief in her deep brown eyes

Yes, dear, said I

Old friends laughing in the back of my mind.

[Bio] David Heijl lives in Belgium; juggles children, day job and night-time writerly ambitions but hasn’t dropped anything so far.

DayBreak Fiction: “The Gender Plague”, v2

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The Gender Plague

K. D. Wentworth

From the many reprints I was sent for Shine, there were only two that I considered very seriously: one is in the final Table of Contents (and the competition about that will begin in a few weeks), and this was the other one.

The premise—a virus that causes a person to change sex overnight—might be a bit wonky (although, with all the crazy performance-enhancement drugs out there I’m not so sure), but this story is a great example that it’s not really the idea itself that matters, but what you do with it. KD takes this crazy (well, it’s becoming less and less crazy in this modern world) notion and runs with it. She runs with it so well that the end result feels completely natural.

Some people think that if well-established (or so one thought) boundaries between things begin to blur, civilisation as we know it comes to a grinding halt. Personally, I think this is just another form of future shock, and once we get used to the newer, richer, crazier and more interesting reality, then we might get a world not unlike “The Gender Plague”…

Cheating Heart

Lance woke up female again on Tuesday—for the third time in the last ten weeks. When the clock-radio blasted him awake with a particularly wrenching rendition of “Your Cheating Heart,” he rolled over, then stiffened as several unexpected mounds of flesh pressed into his chest—breasts, definitely. Damn!

Heart pounding, he peeked under the sheet—not a goddamned hair anywhere on his now very generously endowed chest, and just when he had an important presentation to make to that officious Japanese outfit gearing up to sell seaweed tacos in the good old U.S. of A. Freaking nano-hackers, screwing around with a man’s basic equipment just for the hell of it! The fact that infected women all over Dallas were bound to be waking up male at that very moment was no consolation to a fellow whose family jewels had gone south somewhere in the depths of the night.

Well, that was what came of refusing to wear those stupid plastic gloves every time he left the apartment, but even the most unobtrusive pair made him look like an absolute wimp, and the more extensive plastic-film suits that protected your exposed flesh had all the appeal of full body condoms. In the advertising game, where first impressions were everything, he could not afford to look foolish. Why the hell didn’t the National Institutes of Health develop a real cure instead of a half-assed purging treatment that changed you back, but didn’t prevent additional infections? He had a good mind to start cheating on his taxes like everyone else. Continue reading