In amniotic darkness my mind reflowers, configuring itself in new and unfamiliar ways. Visions of slashing, blood-slicked blades fade, replaced by a deadening calm.
“One of my drones has gone rogue.”
…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.
“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.”
“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.”
“…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…
I’ve written about persistence before, but it’s a subject I want to return to. See, I’ve been sending stories to Clarkesworld for years now. Because of its fast turnaround time (typically a rejection only takes a couple of days, sometimes even less) it’s one of the first places I and many other writers send a new story. It’s high paying, prestigious, publishes great stories by some of the best writers in the field, has great art direction and production values — why not see if your brand-spanking new story is one Neil Clarke might be interested in before sending it anywhere else? So that’s what I’ve done. Many times. Over the years. 15 times, to be exact. Each time rejected.
Until my sixteenth submission, a few days ago.
Yes, this is a sly way to announce my story “The Veilonaut’s Dream” has been accepted by Clarkesworld. I still can’t quite believe it.
So you — yes you, with your seemingly endlessly growing pile of rejection e-mails — there is hope. If not this story, maybe the next. Keep trying. Keep improving. Stay professional. Read the guidelines. Push on through that dark night of the soul — we all get them, all of us. Try new styles, new subjects, new ideas, new characters. Keep getting feedback, keep an open mind, keep the faith. Because one day… you never know.
(PS. Just make sure it’s not a zombie story.)
Spent Father’s Day with the boys and wife, tootling around Oxford in the afternoon. Unfortunately tickets weren’t available for the new Tolkien Exhibition at the Bodleian Library, but instead we browsed around the Ashmolean Museum and rummaged through the nearby city centre bookstores, followed by pizza and cheesecake. To cap it off, came back home to find the 2018 Spring edition of Mythic magazine landed on the doorstep. So all in all — for me — a pretty good day.
52 stories from the first year of Metaphorosis magazine have been collected in this handy (and chunky!) tome, available from your favourite online book retailer now. Always a thrill and a privilege to see one of my stories in print, and this will make a very handsome addition to the trophy shelf.
…edited by David Steffen, is now available to pre-order at Amazon and other retailers coming soon. This collection includes all 25 stories published in the first two years of fiction on Diabolical Plots, with absolutely fantastic cover art by Galen Dara and the layout by Pat Steiner.
David Steffen is one of the genuine good guys of the genre. Check out his Long List anthologies of Hugo-nominated stories and look out for further Diabolical Plots collections coming out in the near future.
News that one of my favourite stories “She Is Chosen” has been accepted by MYTHIC magazine and will be appearing in their Spring 2018 issue in March. There will be a print edition, too, which I’m very much looking forward to getting my grubby little hands on.
My story The Dreaming Forest is out in the first issue of dark speculative magazine The Wyrd. Download it now: it’s free, and there’s a bunch of great stories in it.
Forest is sort of a sequel to Starfish and Apples and also to Survivors, the result of a spontaneous story-in-a-day duel with RJ Barker. If the setting, of a world dominated by carnivorous trees, appeals, then here’s a taste:
On our second night in the forest, exhausted after a day spent skulking in a fern-shrouded hollow as the trees roused into terrifying activity around us, I stumble over a raised, slime-covered root. Without thinking, I grab hold of a nearby branch. The claw-tree’s thorns pierce my padded glove and my cry of pain echoes through the moonlit wood.
Good luck to the team at The Wyrd. I hope their magazine goes from strength to strength.