Monthly Archives: December 2009

SHINE: the Table of Contents

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As a way to close off 2009, while simultaneously promising something for 2010, here is the Table of Contents for the Shine anthology (UPDATE: Shine has been released in the USA March 30, and in the UK April 15; story titles link to story excerpts, complete with pictures, review quotes, exclusive interviews & interactive maps; in some cases to podcast or even the full text; author names link to their websites):

Cover Image:

UPDATE: here are some review quotes:

That’s why Shine is such a significant — dare I say, historic — anthology. And with a rich diversity of settings and thematic speculation, this is a collection most science fiction fans will undoubtedly embrace.

Explorations: the Barnes & Noble SciFi and Fantasy Blog;

…just about a textbook example of how to do it…

Having read hundreds of anthologies it isn’t often that I want to revisit one soon afterwards, Shine is definitely one such.

Not Free SF Reader;

Overall, Shine is utterly worth reading.

SciFi Wire;

On all counts, it’s a rousing success, the very model of a modern project, and points the way toward a healthy future for SF short stories.

Salon;

But it would be difficult — some might say doubly impossible — for every entry in an anthology as ambitious as Shine to appeal to every reader. It is to de Vries’ credit that all but the most hard-hearted of sci-fi readers should find their own brand of optimism represented somewhere among Shine’s array of bright futures.

New Scientist;

But if we are to have some some influence over how that change unfolds, isn’t it important that our stories, whether they be in the news, on television screens or in the pages of science fiction novels, fully explore the optimistic possibilities that technology represents?

The Guardian;

To round off this very long review I’m happy to report that Shine was a truly fascinating and enjoyable read. I’m not the biggest SF fan in the world, but I’ll happily promote this to others who, like me, feel the same way. Here are authors with stories and characters I could relate to. But then, I suspect hardened SF readers out there will devour this with gusto. Jetse de Vries has done a truly remarkable job putting Shine together and I’d like to be signed up to read any follow-up anthology because this one has genuinely broken down some preconceived ideas I’ve had about the genre.

SF Revu;

For an anthology with a very tight remit — optimistic near-future science fiction — there is a huge variety in the stories themselves. It occurs to me that this book is the perfect introduction to SF for readers who wouldn’t normally venture into the genre.

Catherine Hughes;

The diversity of the stories and the consistently high quality of this collection is testament to his passion for this project. […] A shining example of what positive thinking can achieve.

Val’s Random Comments;

An interactive map of SHINE story locations:

SHINE is slated for an April 2010 release. I am working on an official SHINE launch party at Odyssey, the 61st British National Science Fiction Convention. More news as it happens.

In the meantime, DayBreak Magazine will feature—apart from other great, near-future SF storiesexcerpts of the stories (two at a time).

For now: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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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!

July @outshine prose poems—humourous

July 4:

“How far does it go?” she asked as we fell through the subspace burrow. I shrugged apologetically: “Theoretically, forever.”

[Bio] Gareth’s stories have appeared in 20 mags and 10 languages. He drinks lots of tea. http://www.garethdjones.co.uk/ .

July 11:

They called Bill crazy for downloading his consciousness into a video game, but he wanted to spend more time with his kids.

[Bio] If you can catch Matthew Sanborn Smith early enough in the day, he smells rather nice. http://is.gd/ov1z .

July 18:

For three months, my android’s gone to school for me, dated my girlfriend and done my chores. Nobody’s noticed. Now to make my sister’s.

[Bio] @ficklefiction is actually @fickledeity. Just your average Sri Lankan girl with dreams of changing the world for the better.

July 25:

The sun is bright

the air is free

the Martian men

don’t bother me.

The soil is red

the sky is wide

I’m proud to be

a Martian bride.

[Bio] Amanda Davis is a Pittsburgh engineer with a green thumb and a taste for horror movies. She blogs at http://tinyurl.com/ddvpvj .

July @outshine prose poems—Inspiring

July 1:

Victory: I did it. The vaccine that will prevent AIDS. No one will ever have to watch someone die like that. Like Marie. My Marie. Like me.

[Bio] Mark Best has had short fiction published in various genres. Complete list at http://is.gd/1kQji .

July 8:

So brave, so nervous. Both of them. Hand in hand, no gloves and no special suits. An unlocked hatch, a step outside. Truth: Earth survided.

[Bio] Jacques Barcia is a weird fiction writer from Brazil who’s waiting for the climate to change back to normal. www.verbeat.org/blogs/pwt.

July 15:

A woman grafts a miniature, nano-engineered breed of fruit trees to people’s skin. Orchards travel the world and seed onto garbage heaps.

[Bio] Alex Dally MacFarlane (http://is.gd/uIUg) wants a cheek-tree. Find her work in LCRW, Electric Velocipede and, soon, Clarkesworld.

July 22:

An accident, the combine ate the farmer’s arm. An invention, the pharm’s bio-lattice grew him another. Come harvest, the farmer gave thanks.

[Bio] William T. Vandemark chases storms, photographs weather vanes, and writes speculative fiction. http://www.williamtvandemark.com .

July 29:

The surgeon embeds artificial nerves in her prosthetic hand. She can feel a handshake, a fire burning, the color of rain.

[Bio] Carma has been reading/writing science fiction & fantasy for (mumble, mumble) years. Her writing group’s website: breakthruwriting.com .

DayBreak Fiction: “Fembot”, v2

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Fembot

by Carlos Hernandez

I realise I’m putting this up at Christmas Day when all the world should be hankering for peace. So shoot me for being contrary, but here’s a story set in the middle of a future war that not only reminds us why war is insanity, but that it also warps our — we hope — normally sane minds.

Carlos and I first crossed virtual paths (we still have to meet in the flesh, and the first drink will be on me!) at the old — now defunct — message boards of Creative Guy Publishing. CGP head honcho Pete Allen has published such talents as Adrienne Jones, Jack Mangan, Marlo Dianne, Carlos Hernandez, Kaori Praschak and me (OK: I’ll leave it up to others to decide if I’m a talent) in his Amityville House of Pancakes series from 2004 onwards. I have very fond memories about the discussions we had on that forum.

So I was quite chuffed when Carlos sent me a couple of stories for Interzone later on, of which two were published: “The Macrobe Conservation Project” in IZ #202 (sharing a ToC with CGP mate Jack Mangan) and “Exvisible” in IZ #211. And while Carlos also had stories printed in literary magazines like Written Word Magazine and Cosmopsis, and in a mystery anthology called Hit List, the Best of Latino Mystery, he also kept writing speculative fiction, and his contribution to Interfictions 2 — “The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria” — is a doozy (effortlessly mixing magic realism, SF, fantasy and Cuban voodoo rituals), while his Futurismic story — “Homeostasis” — is a must-read, not only because it’s a thought-provoking piece about how tomorrow’s medical technology can change your very being and identity (with philosophical zombies and Searle’s ‘Chinese Room’ thrown in for good measure), but also because “Fembot” takes the premise of “Homeostasis” a step further, and into the battlefield. And while you can go read “Homeostasis” with the click of a mouse, it is not strictly necessary as “Fembot” (like “Homeostasis”) can be read fully stand-alone. Also, this is Carlos at his very (so far, I hasten to add: he just gets better and better) best, and most humane.

Because this is, even if it’s set in a very dirty war zone, a story about love: how it can blossom in the harshest of places and survive even the strangest of transitions…

KAESŎNG

As we approached the Folk Hotel, a dog emerged from the entrance, loping happily toward us. So I looked at Travis, and he leveled his rifle and shot it. One yelp and it fell.

It didn’t explode. That was disappointing. If the dog explodes, everything’s clear, everything’s right. But dogs don’t explode too often. Most of the time, the bullet goes in through the head and comes out the ass, dragging half the mongrel’s guts out with it. But even that feels a little bit good. And sometimes, not often, but way too often, a dog explodes. Then you’re justified. Then you sit there and watch the carcass burn and say, “Sorry buddy, it was you or me.”

A dead dog will rot in no time during the Changma. Rains nonstop, and even if it does stop it’s like it didn’t: instead of obeying gravity, the rain just hangs in the air like someone hit the pause button. I wondered if some local would find the carcass in time to harvest the meat. And then I wondered how many of my squad wouldn’t mind being the ones doing the harvesting. We had 22 Chicken à la King MREs to split between the seven of us — plenty of food if we made it back to our FOB on schedule. But if we were detained even a couple of days, things could get dicey. So, starting now, we had to eat like things would get dicey. If we each ate half an MRE a day, we’d have food for a week. We’d be starving — half a Chicken à la King MRE will give you about 650 calories — but we’d make it.

So I knew we’d be starving, and here was a fresh kill in front of us. If we didn’t eat it, someone else would. We’d have to make sure the dog wasn’t diseased, or that it wasn’t an IED — a single bullet won’t always set off a gutbuster. But if it wasn’t either of those things, we’d be fools not to eat it.

I signaled the rest of the patrol to cover me. But as I started to make for the dog, Ludmilla said, “Don’t to be stupid, Sergeant. Send the Fembot.”

Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “Fembot”

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Fembot

by Carlos Hernandez

I realise I’m putting this up at Christmas Day when all the world should be hankering for peace. So shoot me for being contrary, but here’s a story set in the middle of a future war that not only reminds us why war is insanity, but that it also warps our — we hope — normally sane minds.

Carlos and I first crossed virtual paths (we still have to meet in the flesh, and the first drink will be on me!) at the old — now defunct — message boards of Creative Guy Publishing. CGP head honcho Pete Allen has published such talents as Adrienne Jones, Jack Mangan, Marlo Dianne, Carlos Hernandez, Kaori Praschak and me (OK: I’ll leave it up to others to decide if I’m a talent) in his Amityville House of Pancakes series from 2004 onwards. I have very fond memories about the discussions we had on that forum.

So I was quite chuffed when Carlos sent me a couple of stories for Interzone later on, of which two were published: “The Macrobe Conservation Project” in IZ #202 (sharing a ToC with CGP mate Jack Mangan) and “Exvisible” in IZ #211. And while Carlos also had stories printed in literary magazines like Written Word Magazine and Cosmopsis, and in a mystery anthology called Hit List, the Best of Latino Mystery, he also kept writing speculative fiction, and his contribution to Interfictions 2 — “The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria” — is a doozy (effortlessly mixing magic realism, SF, fantasy and Cuban voodoo rituals), while his Futurismic story — “Homeostasis” — is a must-read, not only because it’s a thought-provoking piece about how tomorrow’s medical technology can change your very being and identity (with philosophical zombies and Searle’s ‘Chinese Room’ thrown in for good measure), but also because “Fembot” takes the premise of “Homeostasis” a step further, and into the battlefield. And while you can go read “Homeostasis” with the click of a mouse, it is not strictly necessary as “Fembot” (like “Homeostasis”) can be read fully stand-alone. Also, this is Carlos at his very (so far, I hasten to add: he just gets better and better) best, and most humane.

Because this is, even if it’s set in a very dirty war zone, a story about love: how it can blossom in the harshest of places and survive even the strangest of transitions…

KAESŎNG

As we approached the Folk Hotel, a dog emerged from the entrance, loping happily toward us. So I looked at Travis, and he leveled his rifle and shot it. One yelp and it fell.

It didn’t explode. That was disappointing. If the dog explodes, everything’s clear, everything’s right. But dogs don’t explode too often. Most of the time, the bullet goes in through the head and comes out the ass, dragging half the mongrel’s guts out with it. But even that feels a little bit good. And sometimes, not often, but way too often, a dog explodes. Then you’re justified. Then you sit there and watch the carcass burn and say, “Sorry buddy, it was you or me.”

A dead dog will rot in no time during the Changma. Rains nonstop, and even if it does stop it’s like it didn’t: instead of obeying gravity, the rain just hangs in the air like someone hit the pause button. I wondered if some local would find the carcass in time to harvest the meat. And then I wondered how many of my squad wouldn’t mind being the ones doing the harvesting. We had 22 Chicken à la King MREs to split between the seven of us — plenty of food if we made it back to our FOB on schedule. But if we were detained even a couple of days, things could get dicey. So, starting now, we had to eat like things would get dicey. If we each ate half an MRE a day, we’d have food for a week. We’d be starving — half a Chicken à la King MRE will give you about 650 calories — but we’d make it.

So I knew we’d be starving, and here was a fresh kill in front of us. If we didn’t eat it, someone else would. We’d have to make sure the dog wasn’t diseased, or that it wasn’t an IED — a single bullet won’t always set off a gutbuster. But if it wasn’t either of those things, we’d be fools not to eat it.

I signaled the rest of the patrol to cover me. But as I started to make for the dog, Ludmilla said, “Don’t to be stupid, Sergeant. Send the Fembot.”

Continue reading

June @outshine prose poems—humourous

June 7:

A cryogenics capsule malfunctioned. The body was crammed into another’s tank. An icy embrace, the couple was together again.

[Bio] Peter Keller is a hemophiliac on the cutting edge of twitterfiction. http://twitter.com/wordshiv .

June 14:

Single 500 yr old Martian seeks Single Earth Female 18-32, for alien abduction and impregnation roleplay. No cold or flu carriers.

[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.

June 21:

Dad’s alive again — simulated from memories fed into a machine. He’s happy: 404 errors are rare and he can claim he’s younger than me.

[Bio] Aaron is currently traveling the world and writing on planes, trains and buses. He’s forgotten that he ever lived any other way.

June 28:

Blasted alien technology! Mary sighed and prepared for a day of déjà vu, after accidentally setting her new alarm clock to yesterday.

[Bio] Bio Deborah Walker can often be found in the British Museum nicking ideas from ancient cultures.

June @outshine prose poems—Inspiring

June 3:

Met bureau reports: blue skies are gonna cheer us

rain in catchment areas

finally

they’re doing something about the weather.

[Bio] Amanda is a Melbourne-based writer and poet. She is a graduate/survivor of Clarion South 2009. Website http://amandale.net .

June 10:

Silent, drafted blind worms burrow

Decomposing, circles closing

Garbage eating, circles meeting

Biocrafted Ouroboros.

[Bio] Rajan Khanna writes about beer and wine in addition to fiction. You can follow him @rajanyk or http://www.rajankhanna.com .

June 17:

She spoke for the first time. Roses fell from her lips. Pearls. Her body turned into luminescence and butterflies. It surprised no one.

[Bio] Mercedes M. Yardley loves beautiful things: www.abrokenlaptop.wordpress.com .

June 24:

Footfalls, sunlight, waves, wind, and heat—we used it all. But it wasn’t until we used life itself that balance returned to the planet.

[Bio] Ben White doesn’t have enough hours in the day, not even close: http://www.benwhite.com/.

Should SF Die?

(Cross-posted from the Shine website.)

There’s been a lot of musing about the fate of science fiction, lately. To be clear, I’ll be discussing *written SF* here (predominantly), not SF in movies, comics, video games or other media. To summarise (and this is far from complete, but I hope it touches upon the main points):

My viewpoint is that SF is becoming increasingly irrelevant, and that lack of relevance can be attributed to developments and trends already mentioned in the points above, and SF’s unwillingness to really engage with the here-and-now. That doesn’t mean that SF needs to die (actually, a slow marginalisation into an increasingly neglected and despised niche-cum-ghetto is probably a fate worse than death), but it does mean that SF needs to change, and that it needs to become much more inclusive of the alien (and I mean alien in ‘humans-can-be-aliens-to-each-other’ sense) and proactive, meaning it should not just shout ‘FIRE! FIRE!’ (and do almost nothing but), but both man the fire trucks *and* think of ways to prevent more fires.

That’s the short version: allow me to expand on it below the cut. Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “The Courage of the Lion Tamer” v2

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The Courage of the Lion Tamer

by Anya Martin

Back in 2006, I did an almost coast-to-coast trip in the US when I went from Anaheim (after LACon IV) to Atlanta (for Dragon*Con), rental car loaded with tons of Interzone copies (and various TTAPress releases). In Atlanta, and at Dragon*Con, Anya Martin — whom I’d already met both at Interaction and LACon IV — and her husband Phil showed me around. They were fantastic hosts.

I also vividly remember Phil complaining — well, it wasn’t complaining, more like ruefully wondering — why Anya wasn’t writing fiction anymore (as a journalist she was and is writing plenty of non-fiction). After I returned from the madness that is Dragon*Con (and I spent a few days winding down with Anya and Phil), I tried to entice Anya into writing via a few emails, but — seemingly — to little or no effect. Until this summer, as she sent me “The Courage of the Lion Tamer” about ten seconds before the Shine deadline closed, noting in her email that she had actually used this as a way to force her to finish a short story and actually send it out.

I quite like “The Courage of the Lion Tamer”, but when I was making my final selections for the Shine anthology I chose two stories also set in Africa that I thought worked and fitted the sensibility of Shine just a bit better. Nevertheless, I’m very happy to publish “The Courage of the Lion Tamer” here at DayBreak Magazine, and I certainly hope that she will keep (and have some info that she is) writing more fiction.

For now, enjoy this reminiscence of a near future that, on the one hand it needs to be rewilded, but on the other hand might need to keep in touch with the latest developments at large, as well.

(Note: and the day before I’m putting up this story I find out — via ecoworldly — that a small part of it is already happening: Living with Lions: Lion Guardians. To avoid a minor spoiler, it’s probably better to check these links after reading Anya’s story.)

“Fear an ignorant man more than a lion.”

—Turkish proverb

I could hear Simba grumbling behind his bars—at least it sounded like grumbling—a raw guttural noise that he often makes not dissimilar to the tones uttered by a dog I once had when he was trying to get comfortable and rubbing his back against a wall. One of the three lionesses also made a faint growl, and another echoed her. Probably Simba was rearranging himself or maybe just a particularly loud snore and the others responding. But it was my job to ensure they were all right at all times, so I rolled out of my cot and into my sandals, splashed water on my face from the faucet, grabbed a dressing gown and flashlight, and slipped out of the tent.

As I stumbled in the direction of the cages, a red-tailed monkey dashed across my path, and shining the flashlight up on another of the tents in the camp, I spied the white jowls and ruffs of two more running across its roof. Maybe the lions’ noises were just triggered by their movement. I rounded the tent’s corner, and as the cages came into view, though, I saw the cause of the disturbance—the grayish-brown outline of a warthog standing about 10 feet from the lions, and Simba on his feet, glancing at it, pacing, a mix of fascination and—I hoped—hunger in his eyes. The lionesses also had their eyes locked. They would need those natural instincts to kick in soon if they were going to survive.

Warthogs wandered the camp freely, and one of them even laid down almost literally at my feet yesterday. Were it not for its tusks, I almost dared reach down and pet it. Would have thought the lions would make the little guy, from snout to tail about four foot long, nervous, but I guess he could sense the bars that separated him from being a late night snack. Kind of like the housecat that stares down a dog that’s going crazy to chase it but is confined to a leash. Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “The Courage of the Lion Tamer”

Share/Bookmark

The Courage of the Lion Tamer

by Anya Martin

Back in 2006, I did an almost coast-to-coast trip in the US when I went from Anaheim (after LACon IV) to Atlanta (for Dragon*Con), rental car loaded with tons of Interzone copies (and various TTAPress releases). In Atlanta, and at Dragon*Con, Anya Martin — whom I’d already met both at Interaction and LACon IV — and her husband Phil showed me around. They were fantastic hosts.

I also vividly remember Phil complaining — well, it wasn’t complaining, more like ruefully wondering — why Anya wasn’t writing fiction anymore (as a journalist she was and is writing plenty of non-fiction). After I returned from the madness that is Dragon*Con (and I spent a few days winding down with Anya and Phil), I tried to entice Anya into writing via a few emails, but — seemingly — to little or no effect. Until this summer, as she sent me “The Courage of the Lion Tamer” about ten seconds before the Shine deadline closed, noting in her email that she had actually used this as a way to force her to finish a short story and actually send it out.

I quite like “The Courage of the Lion Tamer”, but when I was making my final selections for the Shine anthology I chose two stories also set in Africa that I thought worked and fitted the sensibility of Shine just a bit better. Nevertheless, I’m very happy to publish “The Courage of the Lion Tamer” here at DayBreak Magazine, and I certainly hope that she will keep (and have some info that she is) writing more fiction.

For now, enjoy this reminiscence of a near future that, on the one hand it needs to be rewilded, but on the other hand might need to keep in touch with the latest developments at large, as well.

(Note: and the day before I’m putting up this story I find out — via ecoworldly — that a small part of it is already happening: Living with LionsLion Guardians. To avoid a minor spoiler, it’s probably better to check these links after reading Anya’s story.)

“Fear an ignorant man more than a lion.”

—Turkish proverb

I could hear Simba grumbling behind his bars—at least it sounded like grumbling—a raw guttural noise that he often makes not dissimilar to the tones uttered by a dog I once had when he was trying to get comfortable and rubbing his back against a wall. One of the three lionesses also made a faint growl, and another echoed her. Probably Simba was rearranging himself or maybe just a particularly loud snore and the others responding. But it was my job to ensure they were all right at all times, so I rolled out of my cot and into my sandals, splashed water on my face from the faucet, grabbed a dressing gown and flashlight, and slipped out of the tent.

As I stumbled in the direction of the cages, a red-tailed monkey dashed across my path, and shining the flashlight up on another of the tents in the camp, I spied the white jowls and ruffs of two more running across its roof. Maybe the lions’ noises were just triggered by their movement. I rounded the tent’s corner, and as the cages came into view, though, I saw the cause of the disturbance—the grayish-brown outline of a warthog standing about 12 feet from the lions, and Simba on his feet, glancing at it, pacing, a mix of fascination and—I hoped—hunger in his eyes. The lionesses also had their eyes locked. They would need those natural instincts to kick in soon if they were going to survive.

Warthogs wandered the camp freely, and one of them even laid down almost literally at my feet yesterday. Were it not for its tusks, I almost dared reach down and pet it. Would have thought the lions would make the little guy, from snout to tail about four foot long, nervous, but I guess he could sense the bars that separated him from being a late night snack. Kind of like the housecat that stares down a dog that’s going crazy to chase it but is confined to a leash. Continue reading