The android was making them all uncomfortable with its Zelzer Stiff eyeing them from its hip. It’d only been forty point three seconds since the landmark decision to include artificial humans in the Second Amendment and this son of a manufacturing plant had just walked into the Rig & Rattle with a laspistol holstered, twinkling. Kghoshi—a real bastard on a good day—splashed his drink on silver chestmetal and said, “You packing, tin can?” The bartender—a saint on a bad day—put an arm on the droid: “C’mon, now, let’s not do this.” The move was registered as an offensive action and the android shot the bartender between his eyebrows. Kghoshi’s finger moved a centimeter toward his gun when a second shot put a red dot on his forehead as uniform as urna. The men in the bar leaped to their feet. Offensive actions. The men in the bar toppled over chairs and tables. By the time the android reached the counter, empty now of breathing souls, a feed of reaction times, facial registers, psycho-prints—all pointing to self-defense—had been submitted to local authorities.
Published at Rune Bear Weekly on December 6th, 2018.
I’ve been producing some shopped images for Rune Bear’s social media outlets, mostly to advertise Weekly pieces. In each image, I tried to capture an element or mood from the paired prose. Here are a few of the latest:
A mounted bear for Amanda Bender’s “The Hero and the Hunter,” about a big game hunter who pursues exotic beasts. Look at those pain-sullied eyes. Look at ’em.
A bear spying on himself in a sword blade. This was create for T. J. Locustwood’s “The Recruitment of Steel.” (A story in which a man spies on himself in a sword blade.)
And a forest-forage supermarket freezer for Ken Poyner’s “Vending Machine Dreams.”
The Tishman Review nominated my story “And We Who Never Died” for Best Small Fictions.
BSF is an anthology that honors the “best short hybrid fiction published in a calendar year.” The Harvard Review wrote that the pieces in BSF are like a “splash of ice water in the face,” a wake-up call to “your life… unspooling.”
When I heard I’d been nominated, I was like cool beans and moved on to lesson planning and grading.
Then Coffin Bell posted this:
And I discovered that MY WIFE HAS BEEN NOMINATED.
As of this day, she and I are no longer friends. No longer best friends. No longer lovers.
But bitter enemies locked in literary combat.
THIS. MEANS. WAR.
Kasma Magazine published my science-fiction short, “Two Wings, Flightless,” about a man who has to destroy a hovership that’s been solar-beaming the countryside. Kasma is a speculative magazine that publishes a story every first day of the month. Each piece is accompanied by a beautiful bit of art by Jose Baetas. You can see his treatment for my story above.
In “Two Wings,” I wanted to replicate the hero goes to a cave to slay a dragon story in a post-apocalyptic setting, switching the fire-breather for a flying war machine. The result was really fun to write, especially since the narrator was so dour and grit-happy. I’m already planning a sequel.
My short story “House Divided,” about a divorced couple living in a house split between two dimensions, was included in this year’s America’s Emerging Writers, a nationwide anthology produced by Z Publishing. Out of the two thousand stories featured in their statewide editions, “House Divided” was one of 127 pieces selected.
“Good Fulch” is a story I’ve had in my head since high school. The premise is this. A society of robots have to decide if they should let a human live. The original draft was more human-focused; Charlton Heston shaking his fist at those “damn dirty CPUs.” But on a whim I switched the POV to the metal-heads themselves: glorious, dirty, regal, logical minds falling back on the xenophobia that once infected their creators.
The piece’s publication is Ripples in Space, a seasonal magazine devoted to “all things Sci-Fi, Dystopian, AI, [and] Space Marine.” It was the Space Marine mention that intrigued me, being an advocate for both Warhammer 40,000 and the works of Robert Heinlein.
“Good Fulch” features in this year’s Fall Selection.
A feather-fraught Rune Bear by Valeria Rios.
Check out her Twitter and Instagram.