#sfwapro

On The Origin of Giants

My story “On Ohab’s Land” is out in the Spring 2019 edition of Kaleidotrope. No it’s nothing to do with whales. Here’s a taster:

Grass stubble crunches beneath Ohab’s feet as he approaches the giant. The long, dry summer has baked the hayfield a deep golden brown, and late-blooming poppies sprout from between the ridges of cracked mud, nodding like amiable premonitions of blood as Ohab passes by. The last wisps of early morning mist have burned away, and crows, unfazed by the giant’s presence, flap lazily between the barrel-trunked oaks that dot the field’s perimeter.

Don’t ask me how many attempts it took to get that first paragraph just so. Many. Many attempts. No really. If you have a figure in mind for the number of revisions then I’m pretty sure it’s too low. Yes. Even that figure. Waaaaaay too low. And I’m still not sure about the extra comma or the two instances of “Ohab”. Yes, these are things that give me sleepless nights.

The story’s first-pass name was “The Origin of Giants”, a rather grandiose title from under which it could never really escape. Although “Land” deals more or less with the physical origin of giants (in this story world), it nowhere near adequately approaches the origin of true giants, those not of merely physical stature… for that you’d be better off reading something like Jose Pablo Iriarte’s The Curse of Giants. So the title had to change, and the story had to find a new heart… which I think it does, at the end. Probably it’s too optimistic of me to consider Ohab a suitable case for redemption, but in order to be a writer you really do have to put aside the pessimism now and again. Do I believe that change for the better — for people and the world — is possible? Sometimes. Yes, I really do.

“Giant” by Saryth Chareonpanichkul

The Good of Fantasy for Good

The folks at Nightscape Press and anthology co-editor Richard Salter recently shared the news that Fantasy for Good has so far raised at least $10,000 for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. Which is absolutely fantastic — but you know what? It doesn’t need to stop there. The anthology is still for sale and it’s full of timeless tales by some of the biggest names in fantasy literature, so if you haven’t got a copy yet (or two, or more) it’s not too late to help this great book raise even more funds for a really worthwhile cause.

Also. Look at that cover. It’s worth the price alone.

Repeated Sins

The anthology Sins and Other Worlds, edited by Eric S. Fomley, is now out in e-book and print format, available from the retail arm of the world’s most popular cloud computing platform provider. It contains a reprint of my dark little flash story In the Maze of His Infinities, first published by Perihelion SF.

Table of Contents

  • The Plague – Ken Liu
  • The Far Side of the Wilderness – Alex Shvartsman
  • The Last Racist – Laird Long
  • Floating in My Tin Can – Gerri Leen
  • Tough Crowd – Holly Schofield
  • Nothing – Douglas Smith
  • The Memory Ward – Wendy Nikel
  • About Time – Mike Murphy
  • God State – Michelle Ann King
  • Tugship – Russell Hemmell
  • When There’s Only Dust Left – Jeremy Szal
  • Angels Behaving Badly – Rhonda Eikamp
  • The Dust Bathynaut – Dennis Monbauer
  • A Fully Chameleonic Foil – Christi Nogle
  • The Service Call – Ed Ahern
  • The Sin of Envy – George Nikolopoulos
  • Flies – Robert Silverberg
  • Between Two Distant Shores There Lies Space for an Ocean of Troubles – Jez Patterson
  • Death, Where is thy Sting? – John H. Dromey
  • Last Long Night – Lina Rather
  • Apocalypse Beta Test Survey – Gregg Chamberlain
  • In the Maze of His Infinities – Henry Szabranski
  • Most Valuable Player – Eric Choi
  • Benchwarmer – Mike Resnick & Lezli Robyn
  • The Cyclops – James Dorr
  • Remembrance Day – Liam Hogan
  • The Eye Patch Protocol – Vaughan Stanger
  • Once Was Lost – Alan Baxter
  • The Assassin Program – Christina Sng
  • The Plan – Mike Murphy
  • Stewardship – Holly Schofield
  • Walls of Nigeria – Jeremy Szal
  • Whom He May Devour – Alex Shvartsman
  • Event Cloak – Ken Liu
  • Job Qualifications – Kevin J. Anderson

Kill Cast

Mark Linsenmayer’s podcast of “Kill Switch” is now up at Constellary Tales, along with an interview with me about the story. Brian Hirt and Ken Gerber have somehow edited my voice to sound much posher and more articulate than it actually is, and boy I do not sound anywhere near as nervous as I actually was during the recording. But judge for yourselves.

Also, a great excuse to post up another great Juno image. 

Of Techno-Oligarchs and their Gas Giant Mining Operations…

Image of Jupiter’s swirling cloudscape captured by NASA’s Juno probe.

…is a great name for a 70’s prog-rock concept album, but is also partially the subject matter of — as promised last month — a second story that (only very briefly) mentions the Discontinuity featured in “The Veilonaut’s Dream“. My story “Kill Switch” has been accepted for publication by new SF magazine “Constellary Tales” and will be podcast hopefully later this autumn. Yay for podcasts! — they always seem to make my stories sound great. Can’t wait to listen to it.

Also a great opportunity to showcase as the blog image the swirling clouds of Jupiter as captured by NASA’s Juno probe, currently still swooping around old Jove. Despite the imminent collapse of Western civilisation it’s great to be living in a time when we can receive such amazing photos from the outer reaches of the solar system.

A Final Update from the Observatory

“The Veilonaut’s Dream” is, I think, the most widely reviewed story of mine so far, and for the most part these seem to be broadly positive. Please indulge me as I list a few below… it’s not often I get the chance.

“A beautiful story that weaves through the distant mysteries of space, contemplating the impossible depths of the universe and the existence of life beyond our tiny stake in the ground. It’s part space exploration, part terror, leaving you a bit dizzy as your imagination tries to keep up with the originality of so many space landscapes.”

Jacob Olsen, Reviews & Robots

“In this literary, mesmerizing, multi-layered story”…. “Szabranski is a master at building tension.”

Jeffrey Steven Adams, Tangent Online

“The piece is tense and centers memory and distance. Not just the distance the Discontinuity stretches, though, but also the distance people keep from it, trying to avoid the dangers it represents but also, maybe, missing out on what’s really there—what’s really possible. It’s a story about being lost and, maybe, depending on how you look at it, being found.” … “To me, an argument for faith where science fails—not religious faith, exactly, but rather a leap of faith in humanity, that maybe we can find out way even in the vastness of space. A great read!”

Charles Payseur, Quick Sip Reviews

“A very eerie story with haunting imagery that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Definitely recommend this to anyone who likes darker sci-fi with a slight mystical feel.”

Stephanie, Goodreads

“How did Szabranski keep me reading? This is certain death.”

“Uncle Josh”, Better Writing Through Reading

“It’s a classic science fiction story told with heart.” … “There is particularly effective use of altogether different science-fictional imagery as the titular ‘dream’ is revealed near the story’s conclusion, linking the narrator’s personal drama of the explorers with a the grander story playing out. The whole comes together to tell a great space exploration story.” … “Highly Recommended.”

Eclipse Review of Science Fiction

“…a story that’s an entrant in that evergreen subgenre: “unfathomable alien technology.” … I liked the relationships between Mads and the younger veilonauts as well as the synchronicity between her relationship with her partner and with the Discontinuity.”

Karen Burnham, Locus

Now… is this truly the final update from the Observatory, out there beyond the orbit of Pluto? Perhaps not. The Others and their Discontinuity feature in a few of my stories (not an intentional series, more like a handy future history backdrop I can dip into), of which “The Veilonaut’s Dream” was the third written. I’ll post news about the fate of another one of those stories next month…

outer-space-science-fiction