Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

A Wee Worldbuilding Thought Experiment

May 16, 2015

No one has ever asked me where I get my ideas from, or if I’m worried I’ll run out of ideas. But if anyone ever cared to ask, I’d say, “from paying attention,” and, “no, because if I pay attention for five minutes an idea will present itself.”

Case in point (because I’m writing other shit, so I don’t want to tease this one out into a proper story right now) as follows.

Ingredient the first: the rebirth of feudalism. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class is disappearing. At some point, it stands to reason, the rich will consolidate the entirety of all the money. Seriously, something like half of the bottom 90% of Americans doesn’t actually possess money. They have so much debt that they live in a perpetual state of net loss.

No, I won’t post a source. You have the fucking internet, so why have you not been paying attention? Besides, this is a world-building thought experiment, so all I really need for a source is “shit I remember reading at some point.”

Also, the rich own politics. They’re nicer about it than when the also basically policed the land they owned as well, but they make the laws. Anyone who’s paying attention knows this.

But, family fortunes tend to be lost after a handful of generations. At some point I read something that said most had been lost after three generations.

This means that our dynastic overlords have an expiry date. Which means that the resources they’ve accumulated will be up for grabs in every hundred years or so. But only the already rich can grab them, because poor people don’t fucking get rich, because, jesus, a million things. The deck is stacked.

So we have rich families rising and falling in fortune, scheming and conniving to usurp each other.

Okay, ingredient the second: Emojis are replacing language, and some of them cost money. There was a NYT article recently about how emojis are causing problems with writing and reading skills. No, I’m not linking it, you have fucking Google.

Maybe it was an NPR article?

Anyway, emojis are replacing language, and some of them cost money. So if some people are very rich, and some people are very poor, it stands to reason that some people will have access to more emojis, and others will have access to fewer emojis.

Remember, if you don’t own the emoji pack, you can’t even read them on your device. All of the emojis you don’t own show up as placeholder symbols. So some people will essentially have access to more language. They will be able to communicate more ideas, and more complex ideas, because they can afford to own that language. The poor will literally have their ability to communicate and, even crazier, think abstractly and critically limited because they just can’t buy the “words.”

I mean, did you read that article about how “blue” wasn’t a concept for a long damn time? How there just wasn’t a word for it, so people probably didn’t even see it? William S Burroughs talked a lot about how language forms thought, and so have quite a few other critics. So what words would the rich keep to themselves? What thoughts do they not want the people below them thinking?

Bam, there’s a fucking world. I wouldn’t even make the main characters super poor; the rich need a consumer class, they’d just prefer it was a consumer class that didn’t have any real resources but credit. Of course, that consumer class can’t afford the more complex language, or they have “better” things on which to spend their debt, but they still have a handful more abstract concepts than the properly poor. The real key to making the story work is choosing what words and concepts the rich keep to themselves, and how lacking those words and concepts influences the way the debt-class thinks and talks.

Throw in a bildungsroman, or a prince-and-the-pauper, or a wrong-side-of-the-tracks romance, or a visitor-from-another-place (like, a place that doesn’t use emojis), or, hell, even a fucking roman à clef about struggling to be a writer, and you’ve got yourself a god damn story.


New Bug-Infested Fiction in Unlikely Story *Updated*

December 1, 2014
West Side Slug Life by Andrew Ferneyhough

I love this picture, and I want to high-five this slug.

I’m really happy to report that my newest story, “Coping with Common Garden Pests,” is live in Unlikely Story. You can read it for free!

Unlikely Story, for those who don’t know, publishes themed issues. This particular issue is another installment of their wonderful Journal of Unlikely Entomology, so expect lots of bugs. Also expect a whole bunch of great, speculative-fiction short stories.

Unlikely will be posting an interview with me that covers anything I might have said here that anyone might even be able to pretend is interesting. So in lieu of any commentary, I’ll just update this post with a link at some point in the future.

*Update* The Unlikely Interview is live.


Publishing Updates: Unstuck, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, Unlikely Story, and Bonus PANK Interview

September 10, 2014

I will probably never not neglect this blog. I know that some non-self-promotional-blogging is called for, but that’s not what I’m going to do today. Today I’m going to catch up on all the self-promotional news I haven’t blogged on my blog yet.

First, Unstuck 3 came out, and it includes my story “The Beginning of Peace.” The issue is already out of print, but can be purchased as an ebook from Amazon. Getting published in Unstuck was really, really exciting for me. They’ve published a whole host of authors who I love, and who have influenced my writing. It’s a wonderful feeling to share paper with such talented people. I also had a wonderful experience with the Unstuck editorial staff, who saw the potential in my story and had me write a whole second half for it. I’ve never before engaged in such extensive revision with an editor, but I can’t wait to do it again. If “The Beginning of Peace” is any good, half the credit goes to Josh Rolnick and the rest of the Unstuck editors.


If it sucks, please blame them.

Second, I made my first professional sci-fi/fantasy story sale to Daily Science Fiction. “Chapter One” is available to read free on their website. I can’t say I’m entirely happy with the formatting, but I am ecstatic that they liked the story enough to publish it.

Third and Fourth, I recently made two more professional-rate sci-fi/fantasy story sales: one to Lightspeed, and the other to Unlikely Story for the Journal of Unlikely Entomology. The story in JUE will be out in November, the story in Lightspeed doesn’t have a release date yet. Again, very exciting stuff for me. All I want from life is to be a professional writer, and to make a living doing it. This feels like a solid step towards that goal.

These three pro sales are also a testament to the effectiveness of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Workshop. Seriously, if you want to write science fiction and/or fantasy, apply to Clarion. I originally wrote the story Lightspeed bought for week five of Clarion, and the story in Daily Science Fiction was my week six effort. Unlikely Story bought my first post-Clarion effort. I owe Clarion a debt of gratitude, and I particularly owe Karen Joy Fowler and Kelly Link, who taught week five and six as a team, for their guidance and encouragement. They are amazing people, teachers, and authors. Buy their books.

Lastly, PANK interviewed me for their Lightning Room after publishing my story “Selling the Fall” (which is neither sci-fi nor fantasy, though it is weird). If you care what I think about, like, writing and shit, check it out.

/self promotion

Spaceship, Spaceship, Rick Rude: HappySad Link Round Up, March 18, 2014

March 18, 2014

When I woke up today I trolled the social networks, as I am wont to do, and wanted to share a few things with, like, whoever mistakenly arrives at this blog looking for recipes that use Eurasian Black Salt. (more…)

The Actual Death of the American Author: On the Granularity of Genre

August 22, 2013

A few months back I responded to Scott Turow’s arguments about how copyright infringement and digital distribution would be the death of the American author. But it got me thinking about what other pernicious threats the American author might be facing.

First, to be clear, I think an integral part of Turow’s “American Author” is that the author subsists on income from his or her writing. Hence Turow’s concern over his perceived elision of the value of copyright. An author willing to work two other jobs while writing just for the chance to tell his or her stories doesn’t really count, because this author shouldn’t give one damn about copyright — payment is a bonus, being read is the reward. So let’s take this as rote: when we talk about the death of the American author, we’re talking about the death of the American author who earns his or her income through writing.

To my mind the biggest threat to this incarnation of the American author (after our our failing education system) is the fact that marketing departments have the final say in whether or not a title will be pushed by the publisher. Most publishers will only seriously market one or two of their titles every year, the rest are orphaned almost immediately by marketing departments. If an author wants attention for his or her book, the author must take up that responsibility. This is especially true if the marketing department doesn’t have a very clear idea of how, where, and to who to market the book. (more…)

The Morality of Extinction

July 22, 2013 just posted a brief article about how the Hangenberg extinction event led to the rise of ray-finned fish in the ocean. You and I care because current evolutionary thinking says our hands are just seriously mutated ray-fins. Without the major extinction event at the end of the Devonian, we might all be walking lungfish. Of course, the Hangenberg event was an extinction caused by the sudden rise in plant life on land, so if it had never happened there probably wouldn’t be much incentive for life to have started wandering around out of the ocean in the first place.

But this got me to thinking about the morality of extinction, because – make no bones about it – human life is an extinction event. Now we just have to decide how we’re going to handle it.  (more…)

New story in Bourbon Penn

May 15, 2013

I’ve got a new story out in the lovely Bourbon Penn. It’s called “Caretaker,” and, oddly enough, it’s about a woman who works as a caretaker for a cemetery. I mean, I guess it happens to be the only cemetery in the world and it’s so big she can’t see the walls…

Head over to Bourbon Penn and read “Caretaker,” then check out the rest of the wonderful stories in this issue. You can also pick up a copy of the issue for Kindle, or buy it as a printed object.

New Story: Supranow

May 6, 2013

Some days you build a world, some days a world builds you. Wait, what?

Nevermind. Check out “SupraNow,” a sci-fi bit in which I shamelessly plug a Sony product that doesn’t exist yet.

Thanks to the folks at Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure for giving this piece a home.

Surprise of the Week: Pandorum

July 7, 2011

With free Starz for the month and the GF out of town last weekend, I went on a bit of a movie binge.  I was majorly disappointed by The Book of Eli, got exactly what I expected from Ninja Assassin and Predators, and was pleasantly surprised by Pandorum.

I avoided Pandorum when it came out because the advertising made it look like just another schlocky survival horror film dressed up with science fiction bits.  In actuality, Pandorum is a potentially great science fiction movie dragged down by some tacked-on survival horror bits. (more…)

M-Brane Quarterly now on Amazon!

November 3, 2010

M-Brane SF has their first print quarterly available for purchase on Amazon right now for the bargain price of $11.95.  You should buy it because I’m in it it’s important to support small publications.  But I am in it, or my story “Cooper and the Satellite” is.  I don’t think I’d fit.

If you’re too cheap need to save money for your nose job hamster’s mastectomy, you can buy the pdf version of issue 20 (the one with my story) from the website for $2.