Best SF 30

Gardner Dozois’s massive The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection is now out in the US. It’s been described as the most diverse yet. As Dozois writes:

It shows the continuing evolution of the field in the Twenty-First Century, as new types of people with new perspective and new approaches continue to come into it, people who might not have fit comfortably into John W. Campbell’s largely white, male, middle-class, American stable of writers at ANALOG in the ’30s and ’40s.

I am very fortunate to have not one but two stories in the current volume – Central Station story “Under the Eaves” and “The Memcordist” (set in the same future-history milieu of the Continuity).

Here is the cover:

Year's Best SF 30

And here is the table of contents:

  1. “Weep For Day” by Indrapramit Das
  2. “The Man” by Paul Mcauley
  3. “The Memcordist” by Lavie Tidhar
  4. “The Girl-thing Who Went Out For Sushi” by Pat Cadigan
  5. “Holmes Sherlock” by Eleanor Arnason
  6. “Nightfall On The Peak Of Eternal Light” by Richard A. Lovett And William Gleson
  7. “Close Encounters” by Andy Duncan
  8. “The Finite Canvas” by Brit Mandelo
  9. “Steamgothic” by Sean Mcmullen
  10. “In The House Of Aryaman” by A Lonely Signal Burns” by Elizabeth Bear
  11. “Macy Minot’s Last Christmas On Dione, Ring Racing, Fiddler’s Green, The Potter’s Garden” by Paul Mcauley
  12. “Twenty Lights To “the Land Of Snow,” Michael Bishop
  13. “Astrophilia” by Carrie Vaughn
  14. “What Did Tessimond Tell You?” by Adam Roberts
  15. “Old Paint” by Megan Lindholm
  16. “Chitai Heiki Koronbin” by David Moles
  17. “Gods Of Risk” by James S. A. Corey
  18. “The Water Thief” by Alastair Reynolds
  19. “Nightside On Callisto” by Linda Nagata
  20. “Under The Eaves” by Lavie Tidhar
  21. “Sudden” by Broken And Unexpected” by Steven Popkes
  22. “Fireborn” by Robert Charles Wilson
  23. “Ruminations In An Alien Tongue” by Vandana Singh
  24. “Tyche And The Ants” by Hannu Rajaniemi
  25. “The Wreck Of The Charles Dexter Ward” by Sarah Monette And Elizabeth Bear
  26. “Invisible Men” by Christopher Barzak
  27. “Ship’s Brother” by Aliette De Bodared
  28. “Eater-of-bone” by Robert Reed

 

“The Oracle” in Analog

 

 

 

Even a few years ago, I would have been over the moon for managing to sell a story to Analog Magazine. Once Astounding, this is the oldest science fiction magazine in continuous existence, beginning in 1930 and edited during the 40s and later by John W. Campbell Jr., ushering in the so-called “Golden Age” of science fiction.

So to sell to to the same magazine as Asimov and Heinlein etc. would have been a big deal for more than one reason. It would also have been a statement of sort, or at least I couldn’t help but feel that way. It would be the first time for someone like me to be published in the magazine, for one.

But this didn’t happen.

I got used to mailed rejection slips and eventually gave up entirely on mailing manuscripts to magazines. I would only send stories to places that took electronic submissions, and my short story career to date has been dominated by the increasingly-popular online magazines. They were seen as inferior, somehow, less popular, less “serious” in a way. More open to challenging stories would be another way to look at it, of course, and now the online magazines can’t really be ignored, with the American “big three” print magazines increasingly transitioning to digital subscriptions to catch up.

At some point, Dell Magazines decided to make the move to accepting electronic submissions (which meant Asimov’s and Analog, to me) and so I started sending stories out again to them, now that it wasn’t costing me time and money to do so. I didn’t really get any further this time around than I did before. The old editor of Analog kept sending me e-mails with a checklist, most prominent amongst the list the admonition that “Analog readers are problem-solvers!”

Since I have little interest in “problem stories” but rather in actual stories, we clearly didn’t get along any better. We had, I felt, a clash of ideologies. I could live with that – it wasn’t as if, at that point, I was lacking places to be published in.

In the meantime, and to my surprise, I did manage to sell one story to Asimov’s – a good but essentially non-confrontational piece (“Needlework”). Then came the news that Analog’s editor Stanley Schmidt was retiring after 34 years. Thirty four years!

A new editor, Trevor Quachri, was taking his place. Now, I have to admit I was dubious anything would change. Analog was seen as the last bastion of old-fashioned, 1950s-style science fiction, filled with white men solving space problems with a trusty slide-rule. So it was with considerable surprise – and pleasure! – when I got an e-mail only a month or so later to say Analog were buying my story, “The Oracle” – a Central Station story, of all things! Was Israel even a setting for science fiction?

Then, Trevor went one step further, and bought my parody of science fiction, “Whaliens”, for a future issue.

It feels very strange to be in Analog. A few years ago, I would have been ecstatic. It would have been a validation, of sort. Now, in a way, it’s just one more publication, but I can’t help see that it is also historic, in some way, if only for me and not for a wider segment of writers. I don’t know. I have mixed feelings – Analog stood for so long for everything I was reacting against in science fiction, that I find myself momentarily lost for words, or sure of what my reaction should be.

I’m very grateful to Trevor for taking that leap of faith with “The Oracle”, and I’m looking forward to publication of “Whaliens” later on. It will be interesting…

Analog

“The Core” in Interzone

My latest Central Station story, “The Core” (completing the arc of previous stories “Strigoi” and “The Bookseller”) is now in Interzone issue #246.

Interzone 246

 

In the dark of night, Achimwene awakened.

The faint light of Central Station crept into the room through the blinds. It cast a faint glow over the pillow cases and the white crumpled sheet and over the book placed face down on the bedside table beside Achimwene’s side of the bed, a Bill Glimmung mystery, much worn and stained with age.

He turned and reached for the other side of the bed but it was empty. Carmel, again, was gone.

He sat up and turned on the lamp. It cast a small pool of yellow amber light. He picked up the book and stared at it. The bland, handsome face of Bill Glimmung, Martian Detective, stared back at him.

What would Bill Glimmung do, in Achimwene’s place? he thought. He got up and padded downstairs, and opened the refrigerator. It was quiet. He wondered what it felt like to other people, to whole ones. Those who grew up with a node as a part of them, those who were, forever, a part of the Conversation.

Achimwene heard only silence.

New Central Station story, “Crabapple” now online

My latest Central Station story, Crabapple, is now online at Daily Science Fiction:

Neighborhoods sprouted around Central Station like weeds. On the outskirts of the old neighborhood, along the Kibbutz Galuyot Road and Siren Road and Sderot Menachem Begin, the old abandoned highways of Tel Aviv, they grew, ringing the immense structure of the spaceport rising high into the sky. Houses sprouted like trees, blooming, adaptoplant weeds feeding on rain and sun, and digging roots into the sandy ground, breaking ancient asphalt. Adaptoplant neighborhoods, seasonal, unstable, sprouting walls and doors and windows, half-open sewers hanging in the air, exposed bamboo pipes, apartments growing over and into each other, growing without order or sense, creating pavements suspended in midair, houses at crazy angles, shacks and huts with half-formed doors, windows like eyes–

In autumn the neighborhoods shed, doors drying, windows shrinking slowly, pipes drooping. Houses fell like leaves to the ground below and the road cleaning machines murmured happily, eating up the shrunken leaves of former residencies. Above ground the tenants of those seasonal buoyant suburbs stepped cautiously, testing the ground with each step taken, to see if it would hold, migrating nervously across the skyline to other, fresher spurts of growth, new adaptoplant blooming delicately, windows opening like fruit– continue reading.

Central Station

I have been working on this story cycle / mosaic novel for two years I think. I’ve been struggling with finishing it but I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough in the past couple of days and it may be that I am staring at a (very rough) working draft. I have the feeling it requires one more story, though. The total word count is currently 76,000, which is actually longer than Osama.

This post is really more for my own benefit, to see where I am with it and what happened to the individual stories that make up the overall mosaic.

And so, in chronological order (and not order of appearance), here is the complete (so far) list:

  • “The Indignity of Rain”, Interzone, 2012
  • “Under the Eaves”, Robots: The Recent A.I., 2012 (Dozois’ Year’s Best, Horton’s Year’s Best)
  • “Robotnik”, Dark Faith II, 2012
  • The Smell of Orange Groves, Clarkesworld, 2011 (Dozois’ Year’s Best, Strahan’s Year’s Best, Polish translation)
  • “Crabapple”, forthcoming Daily Science Fiction, 2013
  • The Lord of Discarded Things, Strange Horizons, 2012
  • “Filaments”. Unpublished
  • Strigoi. Interzone, 2012
  • “The Book Seller”. Interzone, 2013
  • “The God Artist”. Unpublished
  • “Vladimir Chong Chooses to Die”. Unpublished
  • “The Oracle”. Forthcoming Analog, 2013
  • “The Core”. Unpublished
  • “The Birthing Clinics”, unpublished

There is also a very brief prelude that may or may not go in to the final version. I don’t think this is quite there yet, but it’s a big leap towards completion. It’s been a long and sometimes frustrating process, began in Israel, finishing in London, and published in book form who knows when or where… but for all that, a project that has meant a lot to me.

Free E-Book: “Strigoi”

I’m taking a break until the new year, but I’m delighted to be able to offer an e-book copy of my novelette, Strigoi, first published in Interzone #242, September 2012, as a free download. My thanks to Andy Cox at Interzone for allowing me to put this up, and to my cover artist, Warwick Fraser-Coombe, for letting me use his illustration of the story from Interzone.

Strigoi

Download free e-book:

“The Lord of Discarded Things” in Strange Horizons

My latest Central Station story, The Lord of Discarded Things, is now up at Strange Horizons. They are having their annual fund drive at the moment, so if you like what they do, maybe drop them some cash!

There were still alte-zachen men in Jaffa in those days. There had always been, junk-gypsies, part Jew, part Arab, part something else again. It was the time of the Messiah Murder, of which you must have heard, of which the historian Elezra (himself progenitor of Miriam Elezra, who with the Golda Meir automaton journeyed to Ancient-Mars-That-Never-Was, and changed the course of a planet) has written, “It was a time of fervour and uncertainty, a time of hate and peace, in which the messiah’s appearance and subsequent execution were almost incidental.”

There were still alte-zachen men in Jaffa and Central Station in those days, as there always were and always will be, and chief amongst them was Ibrahim, he who was sometimes called The Lord of Discarded Things.

You must have seen him approach a thousand times. He appears in the background, always in the background, of tourist-taken images, of numerous feeds. The cart, first: a flat top carried on the four wheels of a liberated, ancient car. In Jaffa’s junkyards, dead combustion-engine cars proliferated, towers of them making a city of junk in which hid the city’s unfortunates. The cart pulled by one or two horses, city-bred and born: mismatched grey and white, these Palestinian horses, an intermingling of breeds, distant cousins to the noble Arabian strains. Small, strong, and patient, they carried the cart overloaded with broken-down things, without complaint, on the weekends putting on bells and colourful garb and carrying small children along the promenade, for a price. – continue reading.