Life, Scifi, Writing (Published)

Magazine Defunct — Kasma

A few years ago, Kasma Magazine published my scifi short, “Two Wings, Flightless,” a dragon-slaying quest set in a post-apocalypse. Tthe traditional winged lizard was replaced by an aircraft piloted by a hostile AI.

Kasma was a speculative magazine with beautiful art accompanying prose, but now, at least according to Duotrope, the publication has ended.

The magazine’s website concurs with this assessment.

For writers, this is the constant threat of having publications be digital-only (not that I will stop publishing digitally or anything). A physical print copy does wonders for the ego as well as permanency of a piece, although even print has its ephemeral nature. My story, “Two Wings,” also dealt with the ends of beautiful things.

Of course, this blog will too someday go extinct, whether it is by my death or distraction or poverty.

Life, Scifi, Writing (Published)

Published — “Devil’s Ivy”

In my pandemic distraction, I completely neglected to mention that InkQuills printed one of my flashes, “The Devil’s Ivy,” in an anthology of horror entitled Cryptid Encounters. The anthology was compiled by the wonderful Enakshi J., a poet, author, and blogger in India. Here’s her blog.

Cryptid Encounters is a collection of 13 speculative short stories “intended to scare, surprise, disgust, and startle.” Each piece has a similar conceit: a bizarre encounter and its aftermath. My included work, “The Devil’s Ivy,” draws inspiration from The Twilight Zone; the conceptual parallel of people encountering extraordinary beings with unkind motives will be obvious to fans of episodes like “To Serve Man” or “It’s a Good Life.”

Life, Scifi

My friend wrote a book

Stuart J. Warren, of his-own-blog fame, wrote a book about a robot who activates in the wilderness and stumbles on an automated society. Humanity, apparently, has been wiped out completely, and this robot tries to adjust to a brave, new world of logic, code, ailing technology, and fervent racism against long-gone Creators. 

My small contribution was as one of Stuart’s beta readers. Here’s the cover:

Dynamic Synapse Protocol is on Amazon.

 

Scifi, Writing

Drabble — “Mosfugito”

Blue sky from corporate to the car. Texting his wife, Mr. Kedder didn’t notice the mosfugito alight on his back — purple, corpulent, cellophane wings, with a proboscis that pushed discretely into Kedder’s time. Then the world heaved. Kedder spun ahead to his house, to bed, to morning with its toothpaste and groans. Years, suckled in seconds, flung children into college, into careers. Wrinkles wriggled across Kedder’s face. “Please…” A gray hair, a wife’s funeral, pills in a white cup. “Please… stop…” And as if in answer, the mosfugito tore from Kedder’s back, engorged on a gray husk bound to wheelchair.

Life, Scifi, Writing (Published)

Published — “Blue Winter High”

Seeing as only contributors received print editions of Writ in Water Issue 4, I’ve posted my story, “Blue Winter High,” in its entirety here.

Ms. Fountain parked her Camry before a cavalcade of snow, the glaze pushed by plows into mounds around faculty parking. She pulled her purse string over her shoulder, picked up her lunch bag, and nearly slipped on ice. The air was cold, the bone shiver kind. She strolled quickly over the pavement, only giving the mountains—purple beneath the sunrise—a glimpse in her periphery. She would appreciate their beauty on a warmer day.

Those early hours before school were devoted to Zero Hour, a psychological trick to add a class period. No one wanted periods one through nine. Zero through eight, however, was poetry. Fountain had to sneak soundlessly because classroom doors were open. Students reclined, their heads pointed at the ceiling, fingers playing invisible instruments. Each was engaged in a lesson, their eyes coated in degial plastic. The only movement was their hands. This was the latest trend in differentiated instruction. With pre-recorded lessons, students could pause or rewind with the twitch of a thumb. The teacher walked along the aisles, catching students when they leaned too far.

Ms. Fountain sped up in the English Hall, but it was no use. There was Mr. Tseng, standing by his door, greeting students as they sauntered by.

“Good morning,” Fountain said.

“I am fine. How are you?” Mr. Tseng replied so quickly it could have all been one word.

“Good,” Fountain said. She reached her door, opened it.

“Good, good,” Mr. Tseng repeated. His head was already scanning four boys down the hall. Possibly he was using facial recognition software to confirm their enrollment. Fountain eyed his hands anxiously. She knew he possessed the strength to rip her spine from her back.

65% of the teachers at Blue Winter High were automated. As machines emerged for nearly every task, teachers had hoped their profession was a bastion of human ingenuity. That human mentorship was necessary. Then Nagata Incorporated created an android that could teach more efficiently, if their research was to be trusted, than any person.

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Fantasy, Scifi, Writing (Published)

Published — “Rona of the Els”

Electric Spec picked up my short story, “Rona of the Els,” about a peasant witch who takes a noble girl on a tramp through the marsh.

“Quiet Reflections” by Yuri Magalhães (2020)

There’s an LGBT undercurrent here, as well as what I hoped was an interesting application of old fantasy tropes. This is meant to be a fun read, but maybe someone who’s looking at their future with a little less-than-hope might read “Rona” and feel inspired.

Electric Spec is a not-for-profit speculative magazine that publishes four times per year. “Rona of the Els” is featured in Volume 15, Issue 2, May 31, 2020, which also features a wonderful interview by Blogcritics Magazine editor Barbara Barnett.

Life, Scifi, Writing (Published)

Published — “Blue Winter High”

While a graduate student at Houston Baptist University, I created Writ in Water, an annual literary magazine focused on Literature & Life (unlike Rune Bear and the Weird & Wonderful). The stipulation was that all contributors had to be students or alumni of HBU. No outsiders and no professors. To sustain the magazine’s leadership, the editor-in-chief of Writ in Water would be the Writing Coordinator of the University’s Academic Success Center.

Although I’ve long left the magazine, moving north to teach in Denver, Writ in Water has flourished under a series of amazing editors, most currently Hannah Gentry. A few months back, Gentry contacted me about my process for gathering submissions and publication. She also invited me to send a story, so I thought, eh, sure, whatever, I’ll submit something. (Corruption at its finest, right?)

Today I’m excited to say “Blue Winter High” has been published in the 2020 issue of Writ in Water.

“Blue Winter High” takes place in a near-future where public education is mostly automated. A human teacher struggles to be as efficient as the robots around her. I was hoping to create the sense that human vitality might be threatened by the inhuman mechanical processes we keep implementing into our daily lives.