Please join me in congratulating Neil James Hudson and Third Flatiron Publishing for their Honorable Mention in WSFA's Small Press Award 2017 for Best Short Fiction. Neil's story, The Mytilenian Delay, was published in Third Flatiron's "Hyperpowers" anthology. Third Flatiron publishes three or four anthologies each year. To learn more and to review their open calls for stories, visit ThirdFlatiron.com.
The inspiration for Disposal, Inc. came from two things. The first bit of inspiration is the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. The second source is the Canadian Government's plan to store nuclear waste in a bunker just 1.2 kilometers from Lake Huron, one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world; the lake that just happens to be the source of my drinking water. The blithe disregard of community concerns is all the more aggravating when you consider that some of the waste and dismantled reactor parts they intend to store will remain radioactive for more than 100,000 years. I mean, what could possibly go wrong in a hundred millennia?
"Wouldn't iit be great,"I thought, "If I could teleport all the nuclear waste to the Moon for disposal?" Who knows, maybe that single act might make nuclear power a little safer. On the remediation side, maybe we could decontaminate the Chernoble and Fukushima sites without creating problems somewhere else on Earth.
Given this premise, I started thinking about transporter technologies. Like Bones in the original series, I have real concerns about Star-Trek inspired transporter technologies. The thought of disassembling (aka, killing) people and sending them through space as a pattern, then re-assembling them at the destination makes me wonder about the nature of humanity and the value of human life. Are transported individuals natural or artificial entities? Heck, you can probably use the pattern buffers to create soldiers, slaves, or organ donors. In the real world, people and organizations are trying to patent genetic sequence information. In the future, who would own your pattern once you stepped through the transporter? What would/could they do with that pattern?
The very thought makes me shudder so this story won't use Star Trek-based transporter technologies. Instead, I plan to use a fold-space transporter. In my imaginary world, the device would fold space so that the two quantum-entangled units are permanently connected through subspace. The units act as if they are adjacent to one another, but separated by a wall. Once the mechanism is activated, the matter transmitter acts like a lazy Susan, rotating a defined volume of space from one side of the subspace wall to another. At the same time, the volume over the far unit is rotated to this side.
Think about it. We could colonize Mars by sending a large and a small matter transport pad to the red planet. Once the pad is on the ground and functional, people could step off the Moon and onto Martian soil. (We don't want to bring Mars bugs to Earth.) If something happens to the large platform, you could send a repairman through the small door. We could also send a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri, popping in in every now and again to see how things are going.
That"s it for now. Next time we can discuss the story arc. Leave a comment if you have ideas or comments.
I was feeling good about my WIP, stringing words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs when I hit quicksand. I struggled to escape, to find firmer ground, but every action pulled me deeper into darkness. My heart pounded like a jackhammer. My throat closed. I couldn't move. Couldn't breathe. I was in over my head.
Sharp writhing shapes pressed against me, their claws tearing at my flesh as they worked their way toward the page. I was helpless; terrified and appalled by the darkness. Manic madness emerged from my fingers, the pulsing stain oozing across the page, desecrating the virgin white space, creating a trail of darkness and despair.
Fear. My fear makes them stronger. The rising gorge of horror and desolation threaten to consume me. I fight grimly, but my strength...God, my strength and focus are failing. Thousands more press against me. My struggle attracts them. It fuels their frenzy, their hunger. I'm...I'm losing control. My
In her article for Writers Digest, Leigh Michaels lays down "The Essential Elements of Writing a Romance Novel." This nice overview concentrates on the following requirements:
Point number 2, the problem and conflict must also include the context in which the conflict happens. In providing this context, the reader often learns about new places, businesses, or fields of inquiry, making the story both educational and emotional.
Think of the context as the cup that constrains and shapes the story. We all want to consume goodness that lives within the cup, but the experience is enhanced by presenting that goodness in a pretty or interesting vessel.
The goal of this post is to describe several different storytelling vessels that could be used to shape your next romantic story.
Boxers and Briefs
The protagonists include a sports attorney and an injured boxer or mixed martial arts fighter. Lots of room for backstory, contrasting worlds, intrigue, and conflict.
What the Frack!
The protagonists are an oil-field geologist and an environmentalist. They initially square off during a fact-finding meeting run by a state oversight committee. Thrown together during an Oklahoma earthquake, their personal interaction reaches the smoking point and eventually catches fire.
Altering Your Genes
Set amid the raging controversy on human genetic alterations, this story has many potential protagonists including single parent(s) whose child(ren) is/are impaired by a genetic mutation, the genetic purists who believe we shouldn't play God with the genetic code, the scientific team who developed methods for making the genetic changes, and political appointees have their own agenda. Look at CRISPR/Cas9 news articles for more background information.
Three Sheets to the Wind
The protagonists are a crusty marine racing engineer and a female racing captain. The woman is struggling to get ahead in this high-stakes, male-dominated field.
The protagonists in this story are a psychologist and a mechanical engineer. They are part of a team working with Gulf War veterans to develop better artificial limbs. They disagree on the ultimate goal of the project. Should they strive to create a prosthesis that mimics the flesh and blood version or should they push the envelope, giving the recipient enhanced strength and durability? How would these changes affect the injured soldier? Cyborg controversy. Would you be willing to have a normal arm amputated if replacement arm gave you enhanced abilities?
A research librarian takes a historical fiction novelist to task for inaccuracies in his/her newest work. Respect and love blossom during their public/private arguments. The couple find they have more in common than they initially thought.
The Woollie Womb
With the recent sequencing of the woolly mammoth genome, there is an increasing desire to bring back these extinct animals. The protagonists are a genetic engineer and a large animal zoologist specializing in elephants. To bring back a woolly, the embryo would have to be carried in an elephant womb. This could have disastrous consequences for the host. Heated arguments turn into another kind of heat as the story progresses. Follow the links for more information. http://bit.ly/2xlKAPO and http://bit.ly/2xW5Pov
Well, there you have it-- seven settings for building your next romance story. Let me know how you like them.
"He's writing with the blood of his enemies," a co-worker explained to the group as I cleaned the grip of my fountain pen with a damp paper towel. I had filled the converter with Noodler's Antietam ink the previous evening and there was a small amount of residue on the grip. My finger was red and the damp towel wicked the color, making it look like I was bleeding profusely. Working in a clinical laboratory, the first reaction from the staff is to attack the problem with bandages and bleach. Fortunately, I needed neither.
I cleaned the offending spot and put the towel in the hazardous waste bucket. The ink isn't hazardous but I didn't want a colleague to worry that blood had somehow been discarded into the normal waste stream. That would be a serious Biosafety violation.
Antietam, blood of my enemies; I thought of those things as I initialed documents, batch records, and quality assurance forms that morning. I was using a Lamy Vista demonstrator pen and the fine cursive italic nib was laying down crisp bloody lines on the crappy paper we use in our laser printers. It seemed somehow fitting that a clinical scientist would use an ink resembling dried blood to mark-up documents. The color is distinctive, dark, and saturated, and it reproduces well in the copier.
Writing with the blood of my enemies. The phrase seems poetic and horrific. I wouldn't be surprised to find it in the Game of Thrones or a horror fantasy novel. The phrase and the ink appeals to the writer in me.
Backstory: Antietam Fountain Pen Ink
Nathan Tardif, the founder of Noodler's Ink likes to create commemorative and classic ink colors for his company. Always on the lookout for new ideas, he purchased a vintage 1800s inkwell and rehydrated the dried ink to discover a brown-red fluid that looked like dried blood on the written page. Nathan reproduced the color using modern ink components. Because of the color, he named it Antitam (see below).
The behavior of Antietam fountain pen ink is variable depending upon the paper type and the width/amount of ink applied to the paper. The ink feathers on cheap paper, producing a dried blood appearance. Broader nibs produce more shading as the ink absorbs and dries. This characteristic is valued by writing and drawing aficionados. On less absorbent papers, the ink has a more unified, red-brown coloration.
Fought on September 18, 1862, the battle of Antietam was single bloodiest day in the history of the United States. There were 23,000 casualties and at Burnside Bridge, the casualties were so high that survivors said that Antietam Creek ran red with blood.
WSFA Small Press Finalist
I am really geeked to announce that Neil James Husdon's story, The Mytilenian Delay, is a finalist for the WSFA Small Press Award. Neil's story first appeared in the Hyperpowers military and space opera anthology published by Third Flatiron Publications.
In his Tangent Online review, Steve Johnson described The Mytilenian Delay as follows:
"The Mytilenian Delay by Neil James Hudson posits a tradition of blowing up entire inhabited worlds to maintain an Empire. Partly technical, partly traditional, a delay is built into the destruction ritual, to give the Empire time to change its mind. In real life, Mytilene was spared because Athens countermanded the destruct order just in time. Will the Captain spare a possibly-innocent world this time? The twist, when he reaches his decision, is delicious, reminiscent of Eric Frank Russell."
Neil and the other finalists will be honored at the WSFA award ceremony on Saturday, October 7, 2017 at Capclave (http://www.capclave.org ) the annual Washington (DC) Science Fiction Association (WSFA) convention. Capclave will be held October 6-8 in Gaithersburg, MD.
Congratulations to Neil James Hudson and publisher Juliana Rew for this well deserved honor.
Edited by Bascomb James
Series Editor: Juliana Rew
Publisher: Third Flatiron Publications
Publication Date: May 15, 2016
Classic poetic form with rhyme. I wanted to write something with rhythm while maintaining the ethereal feeling. I hope this works.
She walks in misty moonlight
Wearing a gossamer gown
Fourteen steps away, her lover
Fourteen steps of hallowed ground
Each step, anticipation
Builds with nary a sound
Fourteen steps to arms that hold her
Fourteen steps to hearts that pound
She pauses with ardent trembling
Gossamer pools on the ground
Fourteen steps she traveled to find him
Fourteen steps and loving is found
The lineup for the Fall/Winter anthology from Third Flatiron Anthologies has been announced. Third Flatiron publishes four themed speculative fiction anthologies annually. The theme for this volume is the is the Keystone, the central stone in an arch. It's also the critical element that holds everything together.
According to publisher Juliana Rew, Keystone Chronicles is a double issue and features an international group of authors.
Keystone Chronicles is available for pre-order from Smashwords and Amazon. The publication date is August 20. The paperback version will be available shortly thereafter. Third Flatiron will also publish a podcast or two based upon these stories.
Here is the lineup:
More information can be found at World Weaver Press.
About the Author
A writer and artist dedicated to multiple genres, Meg Pontecorvo earned an MFA in Poetry Writing from Washington University in St. Louis and is a 2010 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. Meg has published a novelette, “Grounded,” in Asimov’s, and her artwork in collage and pen has been featured in experimental video performances in the Bay Area. A native of Philadelphia, she grew up in the Midwest and now shares a small apartment with her partner and cats in San Francisco, where she cooks in a tech-free kitchen.
Accepted for Publication
Cue the Rocky theme song! Last night I got a message from Juliana Rew, the publisher at Third Flatiron Publications, telling me that my story, “TANSTAAFL” was accepted for publication. The story will appear in the 2016 Fall Anthology entitled “Keystone Chronicles.” The publication date for the ebook is August 15, 2016, with print version following shortly thereafter.
The theme for the anthology is the keystone—the central stone at the summit of an arch that holds the whole thing together. In this anthology, keystones are the critical elements that other things depend upon for support. As you might imagine, when the keystone is removed, things fall apart, quickly and catastrophically. Juli told us that anything could be a keystone—keystone species, pipelines, cops, beer, or ski resorts—anything at all, as long as it was speculative fiction.
I wrote TANSTAAFL specifically for Juli’s challenge and the story came together much faster than I expected. Yes, it required a fair amount of head scratching and doodling on a pad, but once the ending and the theme were decided, the story wrote itself. Unfortunately the story can’t spell worth a damn and its punctuation sucks out loud, but hey, I had to contribute something to the work.
The title? Well, that’s a tip of the hat to Robert Heinlein who popularized the acronym in his 1966 novel, “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.” In homage to the era, I also tried to emulate the pulp fiction writing style. Get the anthology, read my story, and let me know if I succeeded.
That’s all I am going to say about the story for now. I’m looking forward to the anthology’s publication date. I’m anxious to discover the other keystones. Aren’t you?
OK folks, you can turn up the theme music and join me in my happy dance. “Yo, Adrian!”