Monthly Archives: January 2010

SHINE excerpt: “The Church of Accelerated Redemption”

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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 sixth one: “The Church of Accelerated Redemption” by Gareth L. Powell & Aliette de Bodard:

With a sigh, she closed her father’s mail. She knew she should call him but her migraine wouldn’t go away, and she couldn’t banish the image of the Bedouin-scarf man from her thoughts, and the sheer incongruousness of his presence at the demonstration.

On a whim, she opened her browser. A few clicks took her from the portal of Paris’ Préfecture to a list of the demonstrations that had been planned for the day, with an interactive map showing their itineraries, agreed routes, and some general background information on the causes they supported.

Let’s see…

In the vicinity of the Church’s headquarters, there’d been one demonstration scheduled for the early morning: the bus drivers’ union protesting against the new automated, self-driving buses. But that had ended at eleven, and as far as she could see, it had nothing to do with the Church of Accelerated Redemption. She kept scrolling.

Ah, there it was…

From four in the afternoon until seven, a protest by the Extraordinary Sapience Committee against the opening of the Church of Accelerated Redemption’s new headquarters.

A quick search netted her the website of the ESC: a slick multi-media presentation merging immersive audio, 3D-animations and overlaid reports to state its case against the Church.

The Committee themselves were a loose online collective of like-minded geeks, freaks and hackers. They believed the Church’s weak AIs were capable of being upgraded into independent, free-thinking beings, and therefore subject to the same protections afforded to infants and children under French Law. The weak AIs — the ones beaming the exaflops of automated prayers into the stratosphere — might well be saving the souls of the Redemptionists, but according to the Committee, they were shown no gratitude and were treated worse than slaves or imprisoned sweatshop workers, kept on a tight leash and pre-programmed to cheerfully accept their lot in life.

There was a link on the homepage to the Committee’s bulletin boards which, when she clicked on it, opened a fresh treasure trove of controversy. There were discussion threads comparing the AI’s gel-based neural chassis with those of natural mammalian brains, and others arguing that the occasional spikes seen in their bandwidth corresponded to similar peaks seen in the human brain during intense emotional eruptions…

It had never occurred to Lisa to consider AIs as living beings. She’d always thought of them as simulations, complex computer programs designed to perform specific tasks. She’d had no idea so many people could get so worked up about defending their rights, and that they’d be so desperately trying to free them from bondage, the same way animal liberationists used to bust ill-treated dogs and cats from the world’s cosmetic labs. And she still didn’t see where the man with the Bedouin scarf fitted in at all. She’d seen a few men on the streets with that type of costume, but they had been old and conservative, unlikely to associate with angry young left-wing protesters. Hopelessly, she searched the rest of the boards, hoping to see a post from him — although she knew full well that she had no idea of his name or what he looked like under the scarf, and all the posters on the boards used aliases…

Excerpt from “The Church of Accelerated Redemption” by Gareth L. Powell & Aliettte de Bodard. Copyright © 2010 by Gareth L. Powell & Aliettte de Bodard.

Picture credits:

Gareth L Powell is a regular contributor to Interzone. His stories have appeared all over the world and been translated into seven languages. His first collection, The Last Reef, was published by Elastic Press in 2008 and Pendragon will publish his first novel, Silversands, in 2010. He lives in the English West Country with his wife and daughters and can be found online at: www.garethlpowell.com.


Aliette de Bodard is a French computer engineer who moonlights as a writer, with short fiction forthcoming or published in markets such as Asimov’sInterzone and Realms of Fantasy. She’s a Campbell Award finalist and a Writers of the Future winner. Watch out for her debut novel, the Aztec fantasy Servant of the Underworld, published by Angry Robot.

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

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Review Quotes:

I looked first at The Church of Accelerated Redemption a collaboration between Gareth L Powell and Aliette de Bodard and found myself immediately sucked into their wonderfully intimate story of a computer engineer’s struggle with loneliness and discontent. I like Aliette’s writing having read parts of her novel Servant of the Underworld, yet in this story I found something altogether different — a main character whose search for meaning in a dead end job unexpectedly takes a turn she could not have predicted. Wonderful and full of promise, I liked her attitude and the fact that although she was pretty scared, she wasn’t too scared to grab a new future for herself.

SF Revu;

the marvellous The Church of Accelerated Redemption by Gareth L Powell and Aliette de Bodard, which tells of a computer engineer’s dissastisfaction with her life and the impulsive search for meaning within it that leads her to a very unexpected discovery;

Catherine Hughes;

The second personal favorite of the anthology, this story starts quietly enough with the struggles of Lisa a young American expatriate in Paris; seduced by the charm of the city, she remained after her university days to work as a hardware tech consultant for a French boss who does not particularly like her and gives her the worst jobs nobody else wants; one such job involves fixing some servers for a new cult, The Church of Accelerated Redemption, which has a crazy-sounding way to “redemption”, way that would seem quite over the top unless you read today’s headlines. When a demonstration against the exploitation of the AI’s that the church supposedly uses for the “accelerated” part, keeps Lisa in the church headquarters, she becomes fascinated by a mysterious protester dressed in Bedouin garb; she seeks him out and gets involved with — read the story to find out!

While not particularly ground-breaking, this one has an excellent style and Lisa is a very endearing character that you cannot stop rooting for.

Fantasy Book Critic;

Shine has its share of good stories such as Overhead by Jason Stoddard and The Church of Accelerated Redemption by Gareth L. Powell and Aliette de Bodard.

Charles A. Tan;

An interactive map of 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 excerpt: “Sustainable Development”

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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 fifth one: “Sustainable Development” by Paula R. Stiles:

Normally, selling peanuts in Boubara is a job mothers send their children to do in the marché. As the spider heads up the steps into the bar, I try the usual way of calling a child—crooking my fingers at the robot. “Tsst! Petit! Viens ici!

The robot approaches me. Someone has left a carefully scrawled sign on the tray, “10 CFA par tas—10 Francs per pile.” Village prices. I pull out a 50 CFA coin for all five tas and toss it onto the tray.

The robot tilts the tray forward until the tas begin to slip. It probably has a weight measurement control inside that calculates the coin.

Prenez tous, grand merci—Take everything, thank you,” it says in a flat, metallic voice. I scoop up the tas and dump them on the dusty cement of the bar. After I empty the tray, the robot hurries off through the empty marché.

Talk about tech dumping. Who got the bright idea to dump intelligent robots in a small African village? My predecessor, that’s who. He got them to help the men grow cash crops. Scooping up my peanuts, I stand and follow it.

Excerpt from “Sustainable Development” by Paula R. Stiles. Copyright © 2010 by Paula R. Stiles.

Picture credits:

Possessing a quixotic fondness for difficult careers, Paula R Stiles has driven ambulances, taught fish farming for the Peace Corps in West Africa and earned a Scottish PhD in medieval history, studying Templars and non-Christians in Spain. She has also sold fiction to Strange Horizons, Writers of the Future, Jim Baen’s Universe, Futures, @outshine and other markets. She is Editor in Chief of the Lovecraft/Mythos ‘zine Innsmouth Free Press. You can find her at: http://www.geocities.com/rpcv.geo/other.html or on Twitter (@thesnowleopard).

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

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Review Quotes:

Sustainable Development by Paula R Stiles brought a huge smile to my face; in her future vision it is still the women who do all the hard work!

Catherine Hughes;

Sustainable Development by Paula R Stiles had me smiling. Very tongue-in-cheek and very clever, Stiles plays with stereotypes in a small, impoverished, African village where the men are seen never to be doing any of the hard work, but the women are constantly working and seemingly working themselves into the ground. It’s a very small story, but again it’s well edited and cleverly written, so that the final scene makes you smile that slow steady smile of happiness.

SF Revu;

A short and funny story with a twist about African women using considerable ingenuity to help with their backbreaking work.

Fantasy Book Critic;

Paula R. Stiles’ Sustainable Development envisions robots in unlikely roles in West Africa.

Explorations: the Barnes & Noble SciFi and Fantasy Blog;

Sustainable Development by Paula Stiles, about robots taking over the “women’s work” of a West African village, is rather too much of a happily-ever-after story, especially given the social dislocations that often accompany sudden technological changes.

SciFi Wire;

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 map of 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!

October @outshine prose poems—humourous

October 3:

It’s 2034: Brian’s nanocure, immortality, and ecosystem resurrection stories keep getting rejected from Asimov’s for lacking SFnal elements.

[Bio] Jen Waverly wants an ecosystem resurrector, and posts about pub trivia, marriage rights, and books here http://is.gd/3lVBE .

October 10:

The Martians came.
Reviled by germs,
they left the world
on talking terms.
A Christmas card
from Leader Zirth?
At least it did-
n’t cost the Earth!

[Bio] I’m 40, married and live in Plymouth, England. Writing is my main hobby. Quite a number of my poems/stories have been published.

October 17:

Engine’s protesting, sir. Says it wants a pony. Shall I tell the passengers to wait, or…?

[Bio] Carolyn Elizabeth Lamb can fold into a portable cube, for your convenience.

October 24:

It’s a strange week when you’re thinking, ‘trenchcoats or atomic insects? Wait, is that trenchcoats ON atomic insects?’ I love my job.

[Bio] Marlo Dianne is a writer/artist of more than fifty published works. This wondergeek is found @ http://www.forbiddendragon.blogspot.com .

October 31:

The climbing guide could tell Harper’s arm was flagging. The whisper at camp was: could he pull it off and grow a good one by morning?

[Bio] @jeremylewit enjoys the conceit that his focus problem is early-onset time travel. http://jeremylewit.blogspot.com/ .

October @outshine prose poems—Inspiring

October 7:

People-faces are scary, but eKitty is simple, safe. Joe pets it and giggles. Stroking him back via the remote, his mother meows with joy.

[Bio] Finale believes happiness is a choice.

October 14:

Trillions of nanoparticles cross the blood-brain barrier, each pairing off with a brain cell. They perform a truly modern dance—science.

[Bio] @MattAlbertson is a Seattle geek who enjoys splicing his fiction with cutting edge technology. http://www.mattalbertson.com/ .

October 21:

Optimized and burned clean,
our nightmares you learn.
Holograms able to love
are your successors.

~The Cosmist Worm

[Bio] James Dye — @JamesJDye — is a writer and college student from Dubuque Iowa.

October 28:

dry earth holds wee tracks
lightly they imprint the earth
quail, raccoon, skunk, thrush.

[Bio] Jodi: I don’t know who she is except lost in her thoughts and found in her writing.

DayBreak Fiction: “Dalí’s Clocks”, v2

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Dalí’s Clocks

Dave Hutchinson

I met Dave back in 2005 at the Interaction WorldCon in Glasgow. He was hanging around with what I will call — for lack of a better term — the ‘Chris Roberson’ gang and as we discussed several things over drinks he gave me a copy of As the Crow Flies, which I found was full of great stories.

Last year, I was quite chuffed when Ian Whates asked me to write an intro to Dave’s novella “The Push” (recently released via Newcon Press), but unfortunately the economics of sending signing sheets across the pond were prohibitive. So while Eric Brown took that honour, I’ll give a short appreciation of Dave here.

When I read As the Crow Flies and The Villages, I had the impression of Dave being a quintessential British writer, and I mean that in a very good way. British in the sense of observing something out of the ordinary, and instead of being appalled, rather being fascinated with it. Even if the extraordinary goes to extremes like “The Pavement Artist” or “The Trauma Jockey”.

Quite unlike the typical Dutch (and Australian) ‘tall puppy syndrome’, Dave displays, instead of a ‘sense of fear’, rather a ‘sense of wonder’ at the strange encounters crossing his path. It is British in the sense that he is not only very tolerant of the village eccentric, but also genuinly interested in that person.

That impression, that of Dave as the quintessential Brit, proved not to be totally accurate, as he sent me a very European story: while initially set in Gdansk, the story moves to Belgium, Italy and basically all of Europe. “Dalí’s Clocks” is, like “The Gender Plague”, about an engineered virus on a rampage. While the symptoms of this are very different than those in KD Wentworth’s story (and while both have their tongue firmly in cheek, a serious undercurrent runs through them, as well), the overall effect seems to be going in a similar direction…

(NB: special thanks to Susan Garvie for letting me use the image of her ‘Confused Cat’!)

I was living in Gdansk back then, in a newish block of flats overlooking the Warta just outside the Old Town. In the mornings I could sit on my balcony and eat breakfast while the fake pirate boats took tourists downriver to take photographs of the old fortifications at Westerplatte. Evenings, I could wander through Hanseatic splendour, take my pick of hundreds of remarkably fine restaurants, cross the river to the concert hall to attend a performance by the Baltic Philharmonic, visit art galleries, catch a film. Good times, and I took it all for granted.

These days, I don’t really live anywhere. Or rather, I seem to live everywhere. In every town I visit, every city, every one-horse hamlet, a welcome is waiting for me. Hotels throw their doors open to me, private citizens unroll the red carpet. I haven’t had to pay for a meal or a night’s lodging in almost eight years. The clothes I wear, the car I drive, the cigarettes I smoke and the beer I drink are all gifts, pressed on me by a populace either eager to curry favour or to express its gratitude. You’d think it would become wearying, but you’d be wrong; there is nothing in this world better than never having to pay for anything ever again. And trust me, having people hanging on your every word, your every opinion, never ever gets old.

On the other hand, I’m on the road all the time. I have no choice. If I didn’t go to them, they would come to me, and that would become wearying. Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “Dalí’s Clocks”

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Dalí’s Clocks

Dave Hutchinson

I met Dave back in 2005 at the Interaction WorldCon in Glasgow. He was hanging around with what I will call — for lack of a better term — the ‘Chris Roberson’ gang and as we discussed several things over drinks he gave me a copy of As the Crow Flies, which I found was full of great stories.

Last year, I was quite chuffed when Ian Whates asked me to write an intro to Dave’s novella “The Push” (recently released via Newcon Press), but unfortunately the economics of sending signing sheets across the pond were prohibitive. So while Eric Brown took that honour, I’ll give a short appreciation of Dave here.

When I read As the Crow Flies and The Villages,  I had the impression of Dave being a quintessential British writer, and I mean that in a very good way. British in the sense of observing something out of the ordinary, and instead of being appalled, rather being fascinated with it. Even if the extraordinary goes to extremes like “The Pavement Artist” or “The Trauma Jockey”.

Quite unlike the typical Dutch (and Australian) ‘tall puppy syndrome’, Dave displays, instead of a ‘sense of fear’, rather a ‘sense of wonder’ at the strange encounters crossing his path. It is British in the sense that he is not only very tolerant of the village eccentric, but also genuinly interested in that person.

That impression, that of Dave as the quintessential Brit, proved not to be totally accurate, as he sent me a very European story: while initially set in Gdansk, the story moves to Belgium, Italy and basically all of Europe. “Dalí’s Clocks” is, like “The Gender Plague”, about an engineered virus on a rampage. While the symptoms of this are very different than those in KD Wentworth’s story (and while both have their tongue firmly in cheek, a serious undercurrent runs through them, as well), the overall effect seems to be going in a similar direction…

(NB: special thanks to Susan Garvie for letting me use the image of her ‘Confused Cat’!)

I was living in Gdansk back then, in a newish block of flats overlooking the Warta just outside the Old Town. In the mornings I could sit on my balcony and eat breakfast while the fake pirate boats took tourists downriver to take photographs of the old fortifications at Westerplatte. Evenings, I could wander through Hanseatic splendour, take my pick of hundreds of remarkably fine restaurants, cross the river to the concert hall to attend a performance by the Baltic Philharmonic, visit art galleries, catch a film. Good times, and I took it all for granted.

These days, I don’t really live anywhere. Or rather, I seem to live everywhere. In every town I visit, every city, every one-horse hamlet, a welcome is waiting for me. Hotels throw their doors open to me, private citizens unroll the red carpet. I haven’t had to pay for a meal or a night’s lodging in almost eight years. The clothes I wear, the car I drive, the cigarettes I smoke and the beer I drink are all gifts, pressed on me by a populace either eager to curry favour or to express its gratitude. You’d think it would become wearying, but you’d be wrong; there is nothing in this world better than never having to pay for anything ever again. And trust me, having people hanging on your every word, your every opinion, never ever gets old.

On the other hand, I’m on the road all the time. I have no choice. If I didn’t go to them, they would come to me, and that would become wearying. Continue reading

September @outshine prose poems—humourous

September 5:

They give her a galactic library ticket. She screams as she reads the rollercoaster of xeno-philosopy. It’s the ride of Earth’s life.

[Bio] After a twenty year period of procrastination Deborah Walker has, finally, started writing.

September 12:

Disaster! Can’t take Granddad anywhere. He got his toupee caught in the beach umbrella’s solar fan. That’s broken; we’re baking; he’s bald!

[Bio] Eva Chapman loves to have fun. http://is.gd/6jeiO .

September 19:

Definition of futility: chasing ruby-goldfish that burst out of a waterfall, sail across the greenhouse, enter another. Damn microgravity.

[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.

September 26:

Sand crunches beneath their feet, and the sun warms their gray skin. They gawk at the pyramids. “Looks like someone was here first.”

[Bio] Aurelio Rico Lopez III hails from the Philippines. He is an avid fan of all things weird.