The East Hanover Hum. Stupefying Stories. To have a cyberpunk story accepted by the person who coined the term “cyberpunk” is a box-checking achievement.
The Changeling. This story, which first appeared in Unnerving, will be read on the podcast Creepy!
The Water Dragon’s Lark. A Flight of Dragons. The sestina, like those I had published by Clarion and Innisfree, uses as its unlike repeated word an “Avatar” element, in this case, stone (for Earth). Set on (and under) Bow Bridge in Central Park, it was inspired by the Japanese bronze mirror described in A History of the World in 100 Objects.
A Bowl of Shadows, Dark Recesses. Another eye horror story, grimdark with a twist. A novel in a thousand words.
Just Us, The Dread Machine, early 2022. A story about someone with a neural connection to his family introducing them to someone raised in a family who refuses such a connection. It’s sweeter than most of my stories despite all the vomiting. Plus it’s the inspiration for the cover!
A Diet of Worms, Issues in Earth Science. I love this story, which I think came from a Codex prompt. It asks the question: Is altruism a good thing?
I’m Looking Through You, The Arcanist. This is one of my most deeply twisted stories. Like You’ll Never Walk Alone and Just Us it shows what life could be like once we can share each others thoughts directly–and hack into them.
Drive Safely, Analog. September/October 2020 issue. Or as I like to think of it, first blood. It takes place, in my head, down my block at the corner. The third story accepted from the 2019 Codex contest Weekend Warrior. I have to thank the anonymous Codexian who suggested I send it to Analog. And check out all the reviews when you get when your story’s in a major. It got a “Nice ending!” on SF Revu. It got a great review on Tangent Online! On Goodreads, readers who mention it give it a 3/5, a Good+ and an A.
The Tube Worm, NewMyths.com. A fun little story about what life would be like if we didn’t face any predators. Parents would still be passive-aggressive, though.
See Something, Say Something, Kanstellation. What would a college history test look like in the white nationalist dictatorship America is becoming?
The Last Trial, Future Science Fiction Digest. My take on the legend of John Brown, which began as a Codex contest story with the prompt “false horizon,” which I stretched to mean, “moving the goal posts.” Jeremey is probably my favorite character in one of my stories; on Codex, a commentator wrote that she called to her husband while reading it, “This dog is such a jerk!” The story may have been informed by my day of interviews with a certain Seattle company. One thing I couldn’t fit in because the ramifications would stretch the story too far from the central competition: What is Luke’s job? He’s a lawyer who remotely oversees a team of uneducated people in Alabama, literal paperpushers, that feeds paper documents for review into scanners so natural language programs can analyze them. I should point out, notwithstanding the above, the reviewer at Tangent Online had no love for it, while the opinion of SFRevu was mixed: “Little surprise here in the great story.” I’ll lean into the last part. Adding later: This NY Times story suggest my fiction is becoming less fictional.
Paying Paul, Harbinger Press. I set the story in Oberammergau because that’s where the NATO School is. It borrows some ideas from this piece by Malcolm Gladwell. I took the idea of a Mizuno network from this article. How surprised was I when I went to St. Paul’s in London and found I could tap my credit card on a font (of sorts) to make a donation. The original title was “Franchisee.”
Gesamtkunstwerk, Daily Science Fiction. Basically, I don’t write stories anymore, I just compete in Codex story contests The prompt I chose for this story was the name of my contest group, Beauty (each group was named after a type of quark). By chance, I’d just read this article in the Times, which made me wonder how an alien would perceive beauty and whether it could appreciate human aesthetics. The title means “total work of art.”
The Last Time You’ll See Me. The First Time We’ll Meet, Factor Four. This may be the favorite of my stories. The compressed nature of the writing really affected my style. And I think I nailed bittersweet with this one, the story of two people who haven’t been able to face their love, facing the end of the world. Yes, another Codex contest story. It’s the one that I’m putting forth for award nominations. If you’re a member of the SFWA, you can find it in the reading room here.
The Multiverse of Michael Merriweather, Daily Science Fiction. Also written for a Codex contest, the opening line was originally in the middle of the story, and I was encouraged to unbury the lead. The revelation at the end about what was going on, was a surprise to me too.
The Paper Dragon, Daily Science Fiction. My sixth story there. Written for a Codex contest and inspired by Japan’s “balloon bombs.” It received perhaps the best response from readers of any of my stories, with 20 likes on Daily SF’s Facebook page and nice reviews from Marian Allen and Anneliese Lemmon (5 stars), plus I woke up that day to several kind tweets about the story.
The Changeling, Unnerving Magazine. I get to be first on the masthead! Everyone probably has a “baby can’t sleep” story. I hope this one sets itself apart from the others by just being more messed up. You’ll want to shave before you read it.
The First Time They Murder Billy, The Arcanist. This story was fun to write, which I did for a Codex contest. Tin Can Audio made a fantastic audio version. It’s also been anthologized in Timeshift, edited by Eric S. Fomley
A Feast for the Minotaur, The Worlds of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Volume III. I wrote this story for a contest on Mythic Scribes. It did well in the voting, but I got dinged for the “something secret” prompt not being made prominent enough.
The Other Face of Medusa, The Martian Wave. This is my response to Arthur C. Clarke’s “A Meeting with Medusa.” A template for how I’ve written dialogue ever since.
18 Things Only A Martian Mom Will Understand (You Won’t Believe #13!), Daily Science Fiction
Mr. Pony, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores. Pubd for Halloween, this story was prompted by a creepy picture of kids in costume on a bunch that Sarah Pinsker gave me for the Codex Halloween contest. A daring story for me.
A Presentation to the Imperial Society of Mancers, Silent Screams: An Anthology of Socially Conscious Dark Fiction. This is the most disturbing story I’ll ever write. It was inspired by a scene in a Preston and Childs book in which a Hottentot body is studied in the Museum of Natural History. It made me think (while watching my daughter play indoor soccer, oddly enough) about what would happen to the orcs after the fall of Sauron. Would they be driven to near extinction, the last few put in zoos, then museums for study in Minas Tirith? I took that idea, dropped it into my gempunk world, then wrote the story in the style of a paper delivered to the Royal Society. Fortunately, their archives are online so I could pick up the voice and diction. It gets called out in a review on Amazon and another on Goodreads.
The Sounding Cataract, Amazing Stories. A Gernsback Award winner. The challenge was to write a positive story. Never easy for me. And just what would a rover make of something truly awesome?
Fade To Red: Three Interviews About Sebold’s Mars Trilogy,” Lightspeed. They also created an audio version and did a spotlight interview with me. This story was written for a contest on Mythic Scribes; it lost. Charles Payseur at Quick Sips was very generous. Rocket Stack Ranking didn’t like it as much. Nonetheless, it got mentions in two best of 2016 books, made the Tangent Online 2016 Recommended Reading List and got this wonderful review:
Stephen S. Power creates a fascinating story in his “Fade to Red: Three Interviews about Sebold’s Mars Trilogy.” The story is told in the form of three interviews with a filmmaker, spaced over 20+ years. The interviews deal with three films that the filmmaker has created based on a discovery on Mars. In it we see an evolution of technology, the filmmaking art, and cultural change prompted by mankind learning that other intelligent species exist in the universe. The double distancing technique, an interview of a film of the discovery, works well to allow a slow release of information and to change a simple “we are not alone” story into a pleasure to read. Power shows a strong command of language and register without losing sight of the purpose of the story. Recommended.
The Time Traveler, Zetetic. Time elapsed from sub to pub, including a couple edits? 9 hours, 43 minutes. I could get used to that. This is a pretty experimental story, so to answer your question: Yes, the paragraphs are supposed to stop mid-sentence.
The Catskill Dragon, Deep Magic. These were such pleasant people to work with. And I learned from the copyeditor the difference between dived and dove. It got several nice mentions on Goodreads. I also like how it’s kind of unclassifiable, as also discussed here.
Everyone Goes into the Pumps Eventually, Stupefying Stories Showcase. The second of my gempunk stories. Vancian in its caperishness. I’d like to create a series of these stories, each leading to the next in that Robert Altman way. For instance, this one may be followed by one about what the three goons who come for Smuthagill do later.
Candle, Card and Mirror, Every Day Fiction. EDF gave me great notes to make this, one of my first fantasy stories, worthy of them. It will also be anthologized in Fantasy for the Throne.
You’ll Never Walk Alone, AE. This story was originally about a couple with implanted servos whose vibrations created a tritone when they touched, an idea inspired by Act Two of the This American Life episode “Mapping.”
Mamita, Flash Fiction Online. I see this story happening about 35 years in the future, which may be too pessimistic given the current rate of sea level rise, but Miami is no doubt going under. It’s only a matter of time.
For Your Light Affliction, Daily Science Fiction. I hate WholeFoods.
Ejected, Cyclopean. The house is modeled on the the summer home my family rented on Wanaksink Lake’s South Shore Road in Rock Hill, NY when I was a kid. The family bears no resemblance to my own, although my brother did fall out of that tree, bouncing down branch to branch the same way.
No Less Constant, AE. Duff made some great edits to the end of the story, and once again the art AE paired with it is stellar. Duff didn’t like my original title, “The Fire and the Rose Are One,” a reference to an Eliot poem, so we came up with “No Less Constant” at the last moment. I’m thinking now maybe it should have been “We’ll Always Have Parises,” although that might be too flip.
Stripped to Zero, Nature Futures. My story behind the story feature here makes me out to be more paranoid than I really am. Then again I won’t use EZ Pass or the location features on my phones. I also hate the scanners at the airports, which makes the wonderful Jacey illustration even better. StarShipSofa podcasted it here. Included in UP AND COMING: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors.
Who Else Would Make a World Like This? Flapperhouse. The spoiler alert they added may be the best ever. The title comes from this line from A Dance with Dragons: “At night Tyrion would oft hear her praying. A waste of words. If there are gods to listen, they are monstrous gods who torment us for their sport. Who else would make a world like this, so full of bondage, blood, and pain?” The first story I ever read aloud to an audience not made up of my college housemates, and Editor Joe even bought me beer, making it a doubly good night.
The First Degree of Separation, AE Micro 6. The star is modeled on Taylor Swift.
Wire Paladin, AE. I’m hoping that with this story and Stripped to Zero I’ll get a writing gig with Black Mirror. Included in UP AND COMING: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors.
At a Siding, Saturday Night Reader. A new take on the Trolley Problem. The case mentioned is Hallett et al. v. New York Cent. & H.R.R. Co. (Court of Appeals of New York, May 10, 1901.), which you can read about here.
Automatic Sky, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review. A third Coorlim title. It was a huge pain to work out the math of the folds. I love the illustration AE paired with the story. Reprinted by Evil Girlfriend Media. Included in UP AND COMING: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors.
The Mirror Cracks, Daily Science Fiction. Another story inspired by a Coorlim title.
The Revivalist, Sips Card. I love the Sips Card premise: a handsome business card with a QR code linking to the story that the publisher distributes in coffee shops. My story, one of their inaugural pieces, was viewed more than 225 times, which is impressive. The story was inspired by this piece on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, Dr. Poe and His Curious Breathing Machine. It was podcast by Gallery of Curiosities, as well as Radio Riel Steampunk. I have a plan for developing it into a novel, if not a series.
The Lark and the Lost Key: A Tale of the Old Took. When I decided to transition back to fiction, I started with a piece of Tolkien fanfiction. It’s clear to me why Gandalf chose a hobbit to join the expedition to the Lonely Mountain–naturally sneaky, scent unknown to dragons, etc.–but why did he choose Bilbo specifically? I decided that he must have had a previous relationship with the Old Took and wanted someone both Tookish, adventurous, as well as Shire honest, with Bilbo fitting the mixed bill perfectly. In fact, he might have known Bilbo as a child. Thus this story about their first adventure together. I put it up on Wattpad and got 70 views, which is nice–unless most of those are me checking to see how many views I’ve gotten.