science fiction

Six Very Short Stories (August 2019)

Here are six more of my very short stories! These are mostly scifi, with some dark stories that are more horror. I wrote them for the hashtags #vss365, #scififri, and #satsplat.

Safe Harbor

Kenda fired up her ship's safe harbor beacon. A bright flash of light indicated a nearby SOS--injuries, low on fuel, no food. The distressed ship was cheap--a hardscrabble freighter like settler families used. No money for her troubles. She clicked "ignore."

Glory

They told him about bravery, loyalty, and patriotism. They told stories of glory and courage. But the end came in a muddy field, shivering, guts trembling. The pale horse that felled thousands of soldiers with the most ignoble death. He cried for his mother.

Doppelganger

She leaned forward, as if she stared into a dark mirror. The other woman was identical, but not. A web of scars on one cheek, lips curled in a brutal scowl. A hand reached up and yanked her hair. She couldn't tell if the scream came from her, or the other.

Mutation

It was a small mutation in an ordinary flu virus. Under an electron microscope they looked identical and early symptoms were the same. But the patients--after a week, their eyes bled, their skin erupted in weeping sores. They died choking on their own blood.

Haven

The suit could feel like a haven. Away from everyone else, floating in the dark, the soft glow of distant corals the only light. Jethon couldn't reach her. But it was an illusion. A layer of graphene and insulation wouldn't protect her from sharp spines or teeth.

They’re Coming

She slammed the door and slid the bolt into place. The front window shattered.

"You'll answer for what you've done, Witch!" her neighbor screamed, tearing at her curtains, his eyes bulging.

"I didn't," she said. No one heard her. Or if they did, no one cared.

Mirrors

Mirrors

If you enjoyed my very short stories, check out my books, Sapience and Saints & Curses! And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter!

Seven Very Short Stories (July 2019)

I’ve continued writing tons more very short stories this month! These I mostly shared on the hashtags #vss365, #satsplat, and #scififri.

Silver Hair

She had silver hair she kept in tight braids during the day. But at night, when she told me stories, she let her hair flow down like a winter river. In the darkest times, I dream about her, but now her eyes are stars and her hair flows across the sky.

Leaving

She stared out the orphanage window, imagining a glittering life elsewhere. She told the other children about the dances she'd attend, the men who'd love her. It all came true. She came back to the orphanage pregnant.

"Stay, little one," she whispered to her baby, dying.

Not a Scratch

He left her without a single visible scar, not even a scratch. Just the memories, bright and brutal and horrible, burned into her retinas. And the loss--a gaping hole in her life where her friends had been, the love and support she'd needed when she left him.

Fly

"An unlikely astronaut," the teacher had muttered under his breath as Lina presented her project. All he saw was her chair. Now she floated above the ship's console, staring out the viewport. A verdant new world. She couldn't walk--but she could fly.

Equanimity

She faced her husband's death with equanimity, even when they made her identify his body. Stay strong for the children, she thought, clutching a rosary to her chest. But then they wheeled out her son.

Soul

"Do you have a soul? Can a true psyche emerge from gears and nano fibers?" he asked, stroking her face and kissing her. She adjusted her automatic responses to prevent cringing.

"I have a soul, Senator. It belongs to you, if you support the Digital Citizen Act."

Condor System

The Condor system was a worldwide project, a way to protect the entire planet from meteors, comets, all extinction level events from space. But someone on the project betrayed us. The plasma guns incinerated DC and Moscow.

Let us help, China said. For a price.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy my very short stories, check out my collection of science fiction short stories, Sapience, or my new book, Saints and Curses. And remember to subscribe to my newsletter!

nicola-nuttall-OkmTqOduDGE-unsplash.jpg

Five More Mixed Genre Very Short Stories (July 2019)

Yes, here are even more very short stories, or vss. I wrote these for hashtags like #vss365, #satsplat, #scififri, and #scifansat. I hope you enjoy reading them!

HAIR STINGS

"Don't touch me! You're mean and I hate you."

I ignore the sting in my heart. "Even if you hate me, Mommy still has to brush the knots out of your hair.”

ICE MOON

It took three years to dig a stable tunnel into the ice of Enceladus. I was part of the remote operation, piloting the unmanned vehicles in the first mission. I can't explain what I saw. It was like a surrealist fairy garden, or a coral reef. Then it swarmed.

LUVKINS

"Luvkins" had been designed for children, but their precious little faces and spray of "baby" pheromones drove many women mad. They filled houses with the toys, jumped in front of cars to rescue them, and campaigned to save them from landfills.

GRASPING DREAMS

"Grasping."

"Too much."

"Unseemly."

"She's just so...ambitious."

She wanted to clasp her hands over her ears. Why was she forever punished when she tried to reach for her dreams? Once bright and hopeful, her passion twisted into something fetid and bitter.

COYOTE

The night is hot but the drinks are cold. The pulse of the music is like the tribal drums he remembers. He climbs on roof and howls at the moon. A woman appears in a white dress that glows like moonlight. She kisses him.

"No tricks, Coyote," she says. He laughs.

Remember, if you enjoy my very short stories, check out my books, Sapience and Saints and Curses, and sign up for my newsletter!

PIA17144-full (1).jpg

Five More SciFi/Fantasy Very Short Stories (July 2019)

I’ve stayed pretty busy, so I haven’t been posting as many very short stories on Twitter as I was. But I am trying to keep it up, since it’s so much fun! I wrote these stories for #vss365, #scififri, #scifansat, and #satsplat.

Soup

She stirs a pot of water, smiling. "I'm making soup," she says. "Try some."

"Delicious," I say, wishing we had real soup. 10 more days. "Sweetie--"

"Don't worry, Mommy. I know we don't have rations. I'll be brave until we land."

"Yes, baby." Tears cloud my eyes.

Greetings from Earth

The craft unfurled like a tangle of vines. The beings inside shimmered and glowed like sentient mists. I tried to call off the airstrike. Too late--they'd triggered our 1980's paranoia. I cried when it hit--burned everything to ash. I hope they didn't suffer.

Contact

It was nothing like we thought. The first signs were in the flight patterns of butterflies and the song of the whales. When the ship arrived, it was a green and translucent, more like a bubble than a craft. Their contact brought a revolution of peace.

Fortune

It was a joke, a fun thing to do for my bachelorette party the night before the wedding. But the old woman had palsied hands and milky white eyes, and she gasped when she touched my hand.

"What's my fortune?"

"Run," she said. "Don't look back."

I wish I'd listened.

Liberty

Her hands stray over the shackles she's spent months shaving away. Liberty, almost... A key turns in the lock; a guard shoves something in her cell. A child, tiny shackles around bony wrists. Sobbing. She wraps it in her arms.

"Shhh, it's okay. We'll be free. Someday."

If you enjoyed these stories, and are interested in reading more of them, please make sure to sign up for my newsletter!

nowshad-arefin-EvdYEGDu_CQ-unsplash.jpg

Review: Fractalistic by Gerardo Delgadillo

Fractialistic Cover.jpg

Gerardo Delgadillo and I were in a writing group together for several years, so when he sent me an ARC of his latest book, Fractalistc, I was excited to read it. I’m glad I did, because Fractalistic is a fascinating book—part scifi, part bildungsroman, part romance, with a lovely dash of Mexican culture that makes the setting vivid and interesting.

After moving to Mexico with her parents, Winter Gutan had been hoping the local alternative medicine doctor would cure her mother’s illness. When her mother does not survive his controversial treatments, Winter’s life spirals in despair.

In particular, I loved Fractalistic’s colorful and engaging cast of characters. Winter, the main character, has all the intensity and passion of a traumatized and confused teenager, in a good way. She’s deeply flawed and makes mistakes, but she’s also kind. I know that this is a small part of the book, but I loved Winter’s kindness to animals, including the dog she decides to adopt, and her sweetness to a crying child at one point in the story. Winter’s friends (or the classmates from her school who become her friends) are just as interesting, and have complex lives of their own. Even her love interest, Rafa, turns out to be way more than the hunky soccer player he seems at first. Meanwhile, grief and pain threaten to overwhelm Winter’s father, and the depictions of his drinking and descent into misery felt as vivid and painful as a fresh cut.

I thought the plot was also engaging, and it kept me guessing about people’s motives and their secrets through most of the book. Winter is distrustful, and with good reason, since many of the people close to her aren’t being very honest.

Overall, I really loved this book! The author’s depictions of Mexico are so real you can practically taste the churros, and I found myself wanting to attend a Mexican soccer game more than I’d ever have expected. I loved the characters and their relationships, and the story kept me guessing. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in YA, light scifi, or light, sweet romance. Fractalistic is available for preorder now, and comes out July 9, 2019!

Five Very Short Stories: SciFi and Horror!

Of course, I’m still writing tons of very short stories, or #vss, on Twitter, These stories came from the prompts for #vss365, #scififri, and #satsplat!

Explosions

She hired glitterbots for their five-year-old's birthday party, and timed the bright explosions of pink sparkles for when her daughter blew out the candles. Everyone clapped when they went off. Except for one of the neighborhood dads, who sobbed in a corner, shaking.

Not My Fault

It's not my fault. She shouldn't have dressed like that, just begging for it. Girls like her deserve what's coming to them, if you ask me. I mean, that Dora the Explorer backpack? That cheeky gap-toothed smile? What's a man supposed to think?

Mining

Typical mining practices might disrupt the fragile ecosystem of Proxima 5. Instead, Xan had developed a network of modified plants whose roots could pull metals to the surface. An iron farm, he thought, as he disentangled the first muddy clumps of ore.

Sentient

"Don't be absurd. Coral doesn't have sentience."

"Have you ever asked them?"

"No, why would I?"

"Haven't you heard them? You know they sing at night."

"Of course they don't! That's the sound of the wind and the waves."

"Just remember, they tried to negotiate."

Jed’s Rehydrated Burgers

Jed was not the first person on Mars, or the first to climb Olympus Mons, or even one of the first wave of colonists. But he did open up the first bistro in space! He proudly put up a sign for Martian potato fries and the best rehydrated burger outside Earth's orbit.

vlad-tchompalov-brrR3rAvr1A-unsplash.jpg

Book Review: G.M. Nair's Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire

I picked up a copy of G.M. Nair’s Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire because I met him on Twitter, and he seemed very funny! Also, I happen to love scifi/fantasy comedies like Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and anything by Terry Pratchett, so I was excited to read one by a new author. I’m so glad I did, because Nair’s book is a joy to read. It’s funny, but it also has moments of great drama and pathos, and I loved the characters.

It took Michael and Stephanie nearly an hour of walking before they spotted a lone cab searching the edge of suburbia for a fare like a grandparent canvassing a toy store for a "Nintendo Playstation."

Michael Duckett and Stephanie Dyer seem at first like the most hilariously awkward/incompetent duo to ever fumble their way through a cosmos spanning mystery. But one of the things I loved about the book was how they grew and developed as the story progressed. They both come to reevaluate their lives and their friendship in meaningful ways, Even side characters, ones we barely meet, seem to grow over the course of the book. What’s more, while the story has plenty of moments of zany comedy, there are moments of poignancy and depth that I loved. As the book progressed, Nair gave both Duckett & Dyer a level of self-awareness that lead to some very thoughtful, sweet moments.

Overall, I really loved this book. If I had any criticism, it’s that the set up was a little long, but the payoff was so great it was totally worth it. Like the best comedies, it has a kind and compassionate heart, and like the best scifi, it has a fascinating and engaging world. I can only hope that G.M. Nair is working on a sequel, because I can’t wait to read what happens next!

anastasia-zhenina-65700-unsplash.jpg

StoryTime Read Aloud of "The Last Bird"

One of the things I signed up for during OWSCyCon 2019 was Timothy Bateson’s Storytime. Timothy and a few other volunteers agreed to record some of our stories and put them up on youtube! Storytime ended up being so popular that poor Tim got inundated with requests, but he kept going and is going to finish them all! I loved the audio for this story so much, I got tears in my eyes when I heard it. “The Last Bird” was one of my favorite stories from Sapience, and it’s been pretty popular with reviewers as well. So check it out, in audio form! Thank you so much, Timothy and Phoebe Darqueling, who did the voice recording.

Your Listen

More Very Short Stories, Mixed Genres

Here are five more very short stories I’ve written recently in a mix of genres—science fiction, dark fantasy, and realistic. I had posted them on twitter under #vss365 and #scififri. Also, if you are a writer, some of the members of #vss365 are going to be making an anthology of very short stories, submitted on twitter via the hashtag #vss365a. You can find out more on the Making Fiction website, so if you’re interested in submitting, check it out!

Orion

Capt. Dayne surveyed the icy surface of Enceladus from the deck of the Orion.

"What are the surface readings? When can we attempt a landing?" she asked her science officer.

"Tomorrow," came the taciturn answer.

"Good. We're ready."

"Perhaps."

Regrets

I have a thousand regrets. Paths not taken, love not given, friends lost for no real reason. But I have never regretted even one kiss I gave your soft baby face, or one nuzzle of your fuzzy hair. There is never enough time to tell you how much I love you.

Sudden Silence

I perk my head up, aware of the sudden silence.

"What are you doing?" I call, my heart beating in trepidation. No answer.

"Kids! What are you up to?" There's a flurry of footsteps and whispers.

"Nothing, Mommy!"

I start running upstairs.

Reciprocated

"What happened?" Sal yelled over the blaring alarms.

"Meteor," Jen said. "Pierced the hull."

"Isolate the compromised sector."

"That's us. We'll die."

"Put on your breather. We'll work fast and find a patch."

"Done. And I love you."

"Reciprocated."

A Dream

The sound of rain on her window inspires reverie. She runs a hand over her swollen belly.

Who will you be? she wonders.

The baby kicks. She closes her eyes. She sees the rain turn to blood, and the patter on her window becomes the sound of distant gunshots.

Enceladus2.jpg

Five More Science Fiction/Fantasy Very Short Stories

Yes, I’m still writing tons of very short stories on twitter! Most of these I wrote for #vss365, with a couple that were for #scififri and #satsplat as well. I hope you enjoy them.

Vile

"What are these vile things?" he said, peering at the android.

The bot shuddered at his touch, and kept her eyes downcast.

"We should throw them into the fire along with the pervert who engineered them."

The bot transmitted a silent warning to her sisters.

Embrace

Her poisoned filaments floated in the water like gossamer strands of silvery hair. She stretched out her arms and smiled at him, a sailor who'd caught sight of her from the prow of his ship.

"Come to me," she sang. He dove after her. Sweet and soft, just as she liked.

Listen

"Listen, listen deeply. The susurrus of magic is there, like the heartbeat of the earth. You must hear it first, before you can sing back to it."

Flowers

Mist flows along the river like breath from the mountains. She hears the scream of a black hawk winging its away across the gorges. The paleden flowers are high on the slopes near the water, a dangerous climb. Raeda looks for a secure handhold.

Lamb

The fields bloomed a verdant green. He stroked lush leaves, the wealth of the earth, inhaling the heady scent of spring.

"Please," the Lamb whispered. "Let me go."

He smiled gently, almost kind. "You are a gift. Your blood will water the earth gods. Rejoice."

nsey-benajah-421906-unsplash.jpg