THE SNACK was a return to the same near-future universe as THE SUIT, which appeared in Analog in 2007. Although the capsule idea came from DISCOVER magazine, the ubiquity of commercialization of our society was the through line of the story. Sad to say, the technology of the story is not that distant from the present day’s.
Appears in Analog, December 2012 Created: April 2012 Sold: June 2012, Words: 9,700
SOMEWHERE A SEA was a prequel to the first story in MAGICIAN and written to explain how Blade became of part of Arthur Thomas’ posse. I put this in the Splinters Universe under creative commons by invitation from Steve and Sharon and managed to get a few contributions from readers,some of whom may have downloaded the e-Novel.
Appeared temporarily on Splinters Universe, March 2012
Created: April 2003, Words: 14,000
SCOUT is another chapter in my series of war with the mysterious Shardies that originally appeared in Bright Red Star and continued in Glass Box, and Cybermarine. These stories involve the brutal steps humanity has to take to survive the aliens’ implacable advance. Although framed as dealing with conflict in a military setting, these three grim stories revolve around questions of morality and the ethical underpinnings as well as survival and what it really means to be human.
Appeared in Asimov’s, June 2012 Created: April 2011 Sold: November 2011, Words: 5,500
Also hear Podcasts at ESCAPE POD, Episode 378 and The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 5, released July 2013.
CYBERMARINE is the third story of the Shardie campaign and describes how the protagonist of Bright Red Star was created, altho he is a different individual. As I am writing these stories the concepts of the Shardie war and the sacrifices humanity must make are becoming clearer in my mind. Eventually I might write the complete story, but not yet, not while it is still in its nascent stage of development.
Appears in Defending the Future, December 2010 Created: December 2009 Sold: February 2010, Words: 5,500
THE OLD MAN’S BEST: Allen Steele and I participated in a Worldcon panel on Beer in Space during which hilarity reigned as puns flew across the panel. Although some of us were prepared with facts these did not get in the way of a lively exchange of ideas. The one I came away with was that gas would be a huge problem. I played with this story on and off the years but could never generate enough enthusiasm to complete it until I caught something on thew web about the Japanese brewing low alcohol beer from soy. Click, and the story sort of wrote itself from there – after which Jerry Oltion’s sage advice and corrections eliminated many of my erroneous assumptions about the difficulties to be encountered in following such a simple process.
Appeared in Analog, May 2011 Created: Sept 2004 – June 2010 Sold: August 2010, Words: 5,600
ASTRONOMICAL DISTANCE, GEOLOGICAL TIME was created while driving through the west. I was impressed by the geological formations and their representation of Earth’s ages. At the same time I considered that when some of these strata were being created the light now reaching us had just left some of the stars. That thought led to examine what stars that might be and how the distance in time was equivalent to the distance in space.
The story was written to reflect my research, but also to convey the immense time and distances involved. Depressingly, it also illustrated that without FTL we probably will never leave our tiny, tiny neighborhood.
I should also note that this story would not have been possible were it not for the invaluable help provided by Dr. Michael Brotherton at the University of Montana.
Appeared in Analog, March 2011 Created: September 2009 Sold: March 2010, Words: 4,000
TEN WINKS TO FOREVER is a neat little relativistic story, The idea occurred while I was writing ASTRONOMICAL DISTANCE so I quickly sketched out this story and later edited in the story of the poor bastard who took that fatal first step to the stars and then let his emotions and curiousity get the better of him. I wrote this story to convey a sense of the immense distances between the stars and the time it would take, given our relativistic universe, to travel among them. This immensity was brought home to me when I wondered what starlight now reaching us had started out when various geologic layers were formed. I threw in a few ideas about human development and differentiation due to science and environment to indicate the passage of time and then tried to personalize the ideas by focusing on a few individuals affected by winking.
Appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show #17, June 2010 Created: February 2010 Sold: April 2010, Words: 5,900
TORTUOUS PATH is the tale of a young boy approaching puberty and the decision he faces. The tale takes place on an interstellar ship under the control of the Order, of which the protagonist is an acolyte and whose friend is destined for greater things, or so he thinks. The story is also about the clash of technology and tradition.
Appeared in Abyss and Apex, April 2010 Created: September 2008 Sold: June 2009, Words: 8,000
ENCOUNTER IN A YELLOW WOOD arose from a pair of articles in Discover Magazine. The first dealt with phytoremediation as a solution to cleaning up hazardous waste sites while the latter was one on emulating the hydrostatic action of trees with micropipettes. Pairing the two and throwing in a little genetic tinkering, the conflict between preservationists and environmentalists, and mixing these two with a reunited pair of former lovers seemed to make a decent tale.
Postscript: The copyediting of this story was so screwed up that the editor published, in the June 2010 issue, a public apology and, with my permission, placed a corrected copy on the Analog website so readers would not feel cheated.
Appeared in: Analog, March 2010, Created: January 2009 Sold: April 2009, Words: 5,000
NO CORD OR CABLE is a short version of a much longer novelette that had far too many characters and details. The story is basically a retelling of Hamlet, albiet somewhat changed by the circumstance of society and history.
Throughout the story I tried to impart a baroque feeling to the society and the formal modes of speech, most clearly evidenced by Doctor Zg’s conversational style. I also wanted to include the scientific view of the growth of the universe from nothingness through expansion, and fading into the infinite long night of heat death – all of which were metaphors for the protagonist’s family. The title comes from Robert Burton’s oft-quoted “No cord or cable can so forcibly draw, or hold so fast, as love can do with a twined thread.”
Appeared in Abyss and Apex, April 2009 Created November 2008 Sold: January 2009 Words: 8,200
THE GLASS BOX is a grim little tale of one battle in the war with the Shardies that started with Bright Red Star (see below). In this case there is a more compelling reason to rescue a survivor and learn what she knows. The morality at play in this story and the question it raises is whether truth really matters in the face of adverse circumstances, or even if it matters.
Appeared in So It Begins, January 2009 Created July 2007 Sold: May 2008 Words: 5,000
THE WINDS OF MARS is the final novella in the Three Planet Sailing series that started with The Super, followed by Pumpkin, Primrose and Thorn, and Primrose Rescue back to back as a continuous narrative.
Winds was a challenge of physics in trying to figure out how you could sail on a dry, dusty place with almost no atmosphere such as Mars. Interestingly enough I discovered that not only was it possible, but actually designed a craft that could accomplish this feat. <p Appeared in Baen’s Universe, June 2009 Created February 2008 Sold: July 2007 Words: 23,500