Odin Oxthorn Shares Their Greatest SciFi Gadget for OWS CyCon 2019

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Welcome to another fantastic stop in our Greatest Gadgets blog hop! On this stop, we’re highlighting awesome Scifi tech, and you can find a full list of participating authors and topics for this hop on the OWS Cycon Website. Let’s dive in!

Welcome Odin!

Hi there! Thanks so much for having me!

Before we dive in to the nitty gritty, what is Sleepless Flame about?

Sleepless Flame is a fast-paced mission style cyberpunk thriller featuring a nonbinary protagonist. You follow the exploits of Nara, an alien war criminal that made a new life for herself as a mercenary in the Undercity of Arcadia.

Things get interesting for her when the unconscious body of the heir of the largest Biotech conglomerate lands at her feet. The same company that also has the largest price on her head. Oh what to do?

What can you tell us about the piece of SciFi tech you’re featuring today?

Let me introduce you to the InSpec Araknyd Visualization Assistant. Ranked number 1 in reconnaissance and user experience.

This tiny AI will give you the power of sight from another camera’s eyes! Just switch it on then drop it, and  this ingenious piece of machinery will do the work for you! No more depending on open wireless ports to risky security systems.

The Araknyd will automatically seek out the nearest surveillance device and infiltrate its systems, handing off the device’s visuals directly into your Augmented HUD in YOUR preferred platform. Its eight output connectors are not only its mode of transportation, it is also guaranteed to interface with every type of port on the market! (And some off market too.)

Don’t be cornered on your information gathering excursions without taking one of these with you!

NOTE: InSpec is not held liable for actions that violate trade agreements and local law. The Araknyd is used for in-house corporate surveillance and not to be used to gain access to unauthorized property.

Here is an excerpt from Sleepless Flame describing it in action:

She extracted a tiny mechanical spider from a pocket, turning it on its back to reveal a switch on its abdomen. With a gentle push, the critter twitched to life, flailing its tiny needle-like limbs excitedly as she set it on the ground.

           The critter darted over the floor, racing up to the ceiling with an eager tempest of pointy feet. Consumed by its hunting instinct, the creature accelerated toward its hapless victim, stalking a vigilant surveillance unit monitoring the corridor. The predator encircled the base of the camera, rearing back on its hind legs as it sized up its foe. Having uncovered the device’s weak point, it lunged onto its prey, ramming two of its wiry projections into the base of the camera. After a moment, it let off a victorious chirp, alerting Nara of a successful connection.

           Proud of its achievements, the critter summoned a display into Nara’s screen, showing off the perspective of the conquered camera. As she zoomed in on the screen, she reached her hand out past the elevator door, watching her fingers disappear in a hazy mist of warping light as the bug worked its illusory magic.

Where can people find you on the web?

Thanks for having me! I have a booth over at OWSCyCon where you can check out my work and come chat with me:

https://owscycon.ourwriteside.com/forums/topic/odin-oxthorn-author-booth/

As well as my Books here:

https://www.amazon.com/Odin-Oxthorn/e/B07B546XXR

But you can also follow me around the internet here:

https://www.odinsmusings.com/

https://www.facebook.com/OdinsMusings/

https://twitter.com/OdinsMusings

https://www.youtube.com/user/odinsmusings

https://www.instagram.com/odinsmusings/

Hope to see you there!


For more stops on our World-building Showcase, visit the tour page on the OWS CyCon website. You can also find more great SciFi authors and books on our main Sci Fi event page.

Also, if you’re visiting from OWS CyCon, don’t forget to subscribe to my Lunarian Press newsletter using the Subscribe box below!

Yes, even more Scifi/Fantasy Very Short Stories!

Yes, I wrote even more science fiction and fantasy Very Short Stories! These appeared on Twitter on the hashtags #scififri, #satsplat, and #vss365! I hope you enjoy them!

  1. "WILLOW! Bring me that antidote!" His slave stumbled into the room, tripping over her feet. He poked her with his cane.

    "Hurry!" Her hands shook as she poured a drink into his mouth. He cursed.

    "Wrong one, stupid girl!" He fell, his mouth foaming.

    Willow smiled.

  2. Water poured out of the sea caves and frothed at the bottom of the cavern, tearing at the rock with hungry force.

    "They call this place Charybdis," he said. "If someone fell down there, they'd be torn to pieces."

    Was that what had happened to her sister? she thought.

  3. She dropped her eyes and blushed, looking pretty and demure. It gave her the opportunity to give surreptitious glance at their guests' weapons. The milk-faced boy carried a fine sword, Damascus steel. His fingers drifted to the hilt like he knew how to use it.

  4. The cauldron boiled and seethed. Frothy black effervescence floated to the top. She sprinkled a couple of milky eyes into the brew. At last, when the smell burnt her nostrils, she poured him a tumbler full.

    "There," she said. "The strongest hangover cure I can make."

  5. The delicate butterflies flit over the surface of the lake, their wings silver and blue in the moonlight. They float around the waterfall and vanish in the mist.

    "Where do they go?" I whisper.

    "No one knows," Gran says. "But mayhap the fairies."

Five SciFi/Fantasy Very Short Stories

I’ve been writing so many very short stories, I’ve decided to blog them by genre:). Here are some SciFi/Fantasy Very Short Stories that I wrote for either #vss365 or #satsplat on Twitter (I’m @TheWiseSerpent).

  1. Her people had only a vestigial stinger, a tiny hooked nail that curled underneath her big toe. Mostly, it made shoe shopping annoying. But sometimes, she thought, easing one foot out of the rope they'd bound her with, it did come in handy. She wiggled off her socks and waited for her kidnapper to return.

  2. He smiles wide enough that she can see his tongue drifting over teeth too sharp. Her hand trembles around the wooden cross she's holding.

    "It's not enough just to hold it," he says. "You have to be vehement."

    She plunges the sharpened end of the cross into his chest.

  3. No wonder magic was so difficult, she thought. The spells were all horribly vague, completely unlike the clear scientific language she was used to. Twelve cattails? She squinted. The tails of actual cats, or the water plants? No way to tell. She sighed.

  4. The veil parted to reveal his new-bought bride, still inactivated. He lifted her hand and pressed the button beneath her knuckle to enter the code. Her eyes began to flutter, and he leaned in to give her a kiss.

    "Husband?" she asked. "

    “Yes, something like that."

  5. He eyed her food, his lip curled. "Are you actually eating that?"

    She smiled and licked the juices off her lips.

    "I thought you were a vegan."

    "Most of the time. But tonight is a full moon."

    "Well, I'm leaving."

    "If you were smarter," she said, "you'd run."

My Favorite Robots

In my book, Sapience, I write about many different kinds of robots in stories like “Husk” and “Swan.” Like many science fiction writers, one of the things I like about robots is how easy it is to imagine thousands of variations of them, some good, some frightening, and some funny. What’s more, there are tons of real life robots now, some of which look like they stepped straight out a scifi convention! Here’s a list of some of my favorite robots!

  1. Roomba/Eufy

    I hate vacuuming, so when the first roombas came out I was super excited to have a robot that could clean a floor. True, they were too expensive for me to get one at first, but the concept was there, and over the years roomba-type robots have improved in quality and come down in price. We actually have a Eufy now, which is in fact Amazon’s version of the roomba, and I love it! Honestly, the biggest problem is my toddler, who seems determined to single-handed prevent the robot apocalypse by banging the Eufy to an early grave.

  2. Marvin the Paranoid Android

    I love Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, and Marvin the Paranoid Android is one of the reasons why. Although, is it fair to call Marvin paranoid, when it seems like people sort of are out to get him? Or that they at least forget about or ignore his feeling pretty much constantly? Nonetheless, he’s very funny, and I think he represents an interesting interpretation of robots. Marvin could likely takeover the Universe or at least rule the people around him, and yet for some reason he doesn’t. Instead, he decides to save them, even when they treat him like a bummer most of the time.

  3. GIR from Invader Zim

    Invader Zim is still one of my favorite cartoons/comic books, and GIR is a big reason why. He’s enthusiastic, funny. and joyful, even if he can be a bit stupid (or is he happy because he’s stupid? It’s definitely possible Jhonen Vasquez intended to make that point).

  4. BB8

    Definitely the cutest orange soccer ball robot I’ve ever seen. My daughter calls him “Baby 8,” and he’s so charming and enjoyable to watch! Personally, I think they could give BB8 a spin off Star Wars show for kids.

  5. Atlas from Boston Dynamics

    Have you seen the videos of what Atlas and Cheetah from Boston Dynamics can do? Wow. The future is now. Robots that were once a part of science fiction are becoming more possible everyday. And that’s why I think science fiction is so important. We need to imagine the future, and think about all the possible impacts that new technology, from robots to AI, could have on human beings. Certainly, there’s a possibility that robots could help us build a better, safer world. But there are great risks, too, and science fiction can help us figure out what those are before we have to welcome our new robot overlords.

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Review: Tales from Alternate Earths

In honor of Indy April, I decided to read and review several books by independent authors or small presses. I chose Tales from Alternate Earths form Inklings Press to review because I’d read an enjoyed some of the Leo McBride’s Altered Instinct. Full disclosure: Altered Instinct gave a great review to a story I contributed to Red Sun Magazine.

Once I started reading this, I actually tore through many of the stories pretty quickly. I thought that the theme of the anthology, which was imagining alternative events or outcomes in human history, was quite interesting. That said, like many multi-author anthologies, the styles and interpretations of the authors included were wildly variable. In fact, if I had a criticism, it’s that it was actually too variable. Every time I felt I had a grasp of the events and alternate history in one story, I’d move on to another one that was incredibly different in time period, characters, and theme. Sometimes that worked, as I found the new story as interesting as the one I’d left. Sometimes, not quite so much.

A few stories stood out as particular good. I liked the subtle tension set against the domestic calm of Terri Pray’s “One More Dawn,” and the interesting twists of history in Jessica Holmes’ “September 26th, 1983.” My favorite stories, though, were the last three. I liked Leo McBride’s “The Secret War” because its shell-shocked and traumatized main character really spoke to me, and I enjoyed twist at the end. Daniel Bensen’s “Treasure Fleet” had a richly imagined world and interesting characters. I think more science fiction and fantasy writers should look at 14th century China’s domination of the seas!

But if I had to choose one favorite, I’d have to pick Maria Haskins’ “Tunguska, 1987.” Haskins’ characters had great depth, and her world had some fantastic science fiction elements—the mysterious metal invaders, their incredible powers, and the fact that some people could sense the alterations that time travel produced, all of it made a good story. What’s more, her reveals at the end were as subtle and fascinating as her earlier writing, and left me with as many questions as she’d answered.

A couple of the stories really weren’t to my taste. I felt that while “Twilight of the Mesozoic Moon” had an interesting premise, the story felt like it had too many elements, some of which didn’t feel like they went together. The story had two authors, so I almost wondered if it was a “too many cooks” problem. I didn’t care for “One World,” because honestly it read a little like a conspiracy theory gone amok, and I just couldn’t relate or sympathize with the main character (for most of the story, he seemed more like an observer than a protagonist). “Stargazing on Oxford Street” had an interesting setting and a good premise, but I felt that the main characters didn’t really accomplish anything or do much.

Overall, I felt that Tales from Alternate Earths was a good indie anthology and a good way to discover lots of new sci-fi authors. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in alternate history or science fiction.

Five More Very Short Stories

Here are five more of my very short stories! I originally posted them to #vss365 on Twitter.

  1. The snake curls around her arm, an old friend. Jen strokes its smooth scales, green and red. She has long been immune to her companion's venom, but it could stop the heart of an assassin in seconds. One reason why she has survived so many attempts on her life.

  2. It was a pity to destroy such beauty. He brushed a curl of rosewood off his scraper. He could understand why the new queen wished to replace the veneers of the old queen with her own coat of arms. By why did she demand he destroy the little princess's arms as well?

  3. A few extra pills, and she can float in the dreamless void. The voices don't bother her here, and she can't feel the pain anymore. Sometimes she wants to stay forever, but people need her. She just wishes she didn't have to listen to them screaming in her head.

  4. Floating the frozen sea is not like drifting in a void, as many people think. Bio-luminescent corals light up the deep sea vents while jelly-flowers and tube-sharks churn the cold waters of the upper layers. They ignore her submersible if she stops the propulsion.

  5. "My family starved to death, and you didn't care about them. Do you expect me to cry over one rich brat?" Spit flew from his mouth as the rope tightened on his neck. "You call me a villain? To you, that's just another peasant!" The rope jerked, and his feet dangled.

Guest Post and Review of Sapience

I’m happy to say that Sapience got another lovely review, this time on Killian Wolf’s blog!

I gotta say, WOW! Thanks to Alexis Lantgen this will not be the last science fiction I pick up. I really enjoyed reading these. 

Check out the rest of the review on KillianWolf.com!

I also have a guest post on Mrs. Average Evaluates on being a mother and a writer, so check it out!

Becoming a mother is a beautiful but difficult transition. You’re so exhausted, so overwhelmed, that it’s hard to find the mental energy for the complex thinking required to write well.

I’m happy to write more guest post for other blogs or website, so if you’re interested in having me write for you, use the contact form below!

Name *
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Review: Sister Emily's Lightship by Jane Yolen

Since I’ve been writing short stories, I thought I’d mention some more short story collections that I’ve read by other authors!

I first discovered Jane Yolen through her children's books, the adorable "How Does a Dinosaur?" books. I checked them out of the library to read to my little girl, and we ended up buying How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Room?. These are lovely books for toddlers and young children--good messages delivered in a charming and imaginative way. However, on a later library trip, I discovered Sister Emily’s Lightship, and realized the author of some of my daughter's favorite books was also an award winning science fiction and fantasy writer for adults! I had to check the book out.

This book has twenty eight short stories, each one unique. In fact, it's hard to sum up Yolen's work, since the stories are so diverse in tone. Yet each one was interesting in its own right. I loved the lyricism of stories like "Become a Warrior" or "The Traveler and the Tale," as well as the cheeky impertinence of "Lost Girls." Yolen has a particular gift for re-telling fairy tales in a fresh, often startling way. "Granny Rumple" is penetrating examination of the Rumpelstiltskin story, one that reveals the original's unsavory origins. Likewise, "Allereirauh" and "Godmother Death" are haunting versions of folk tales and the bitter truths they hide. "Allereirauh" deals with the tragedy of incest and child abuse, and the horrid cycle it produces in one generation after another. Yolen also has several very funny stories, including a hilarious critique of Romeo and Juliet in "Dusty Loves" and the raunchy but enjoyable "Dick W. and his Pussy; or, Tess and her Adequate Dick."


Out of so many vastly different stories, I found it hard to pick my favorites, but if I had to, I'd say either "Sister Death" or "The Memoirs  of a Bottle Djinn." "Sister Death" is a dark tale about Lillith, yet the twist at the end, especially with its uncertain hope of redemption, makes it a powerful tale. I enjoyed "The Memoirs of a Bottle Djinn" because it was so evocative of the glories and joys of life, and the way that asceticism and religious fundamentalism rob life of its meaning. But the best part of the story was its wise protagonist, who recognizes that all the pleasures in the world are meaningless without love and companionship.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves science fiction and fantasy. And I'd also recommend Yolen's children's books to parents everywhere!

Review: Black Swan, White Raven

Black Swan, White Raven is a collection of fairy tales retold by modern fantasy writers. The stories are alternately dazzling, psychological, dark, and powerful. While a few fell flat, several stood out as brilliant re-imaginings of familiar stories.

In particular, I enjoyed Anne Bishop's retelling of Rapunzel, where the heroine learns true wisdom from her suffering. Don Webb's Three Dwarves and 2,000 Maniacs had an energetic and compelling voice, and captured the madcap insanity of magic run amok. Pat Murphy's The True Story turns the story of Snow White completely on its head, and raises some hard questions about why stepmothers are so reviled in stories, while fathers are excused. Likewise, Karen Fowler's The Black Fairy's Curse plays with our expectations about what makes a truly happy ending and a healthy relationship. Yet, perhaps the most eerie and unique story is Bruce Glassco's True Thomas, which seamlessly blends science fiction and fantasy into one of the most compelling versions of faeries I've ever read. This book is worth reading for that story alone.

A few of the stories were disappointing. I didn't care for The Flounder's Kiss--the main character seems likeable enough until the end of the story, when he becomes completely monstrous. It felt like an out of character transformation, and made the story feel uncomfortable and misogynistic. I also didn't care for the The Breadcrumb Trail, a poem included in the stories. It just didn't seem to work for me--it seemed to obvious.
Overall, I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fairytales, fantasy, or even science fiction. The stories are so diverse that each one feels new and exciting, even when they're retelling familiar stories. It's fascinating to read so many entirely new perspectives on fairy tales.

Short Stories: Why I Write Them

Over the last few years, I’ve written tons of short stories! I started writing them soon after I had my first child. As a new mother, I found it difficult to get the focused, sustained time and attention I needed to write a full length novel, so instead I started writing something short. I ended up really liking short stories, both to read and to write, because they can pack such an emotional punch in such a quick period of time.

Short stories are also good way for writers to explore different genres or writing styles without committing to an intense project. If you normally write serious, dramatic novels, you could try writing something light-hearted or funny in a short story. I've written short stories about minor characters or aspects of a world I might later use in a novel. That allows me to flesh out these side characters and give them more depth, and it can help with world-building.

It can be tricky with science fiction or fantasy stories because often the worlds we create in speculative fiction are unique to our imaginations. This is why many fantasy writers spend so much time "world-building," or writing about the setting of their stories or novels. For short stories, our world-building needs to be economized as much as possible. We need to suggest the nature of our world in a few words, or else our "short story" quickly swells into a novel with a limited, short-story plot. I handle this by trying to keep the world entirely within one character's perspective. If that character knows little about the nature of magic or a scientific discovery, then I don't give the reader an explanation either. It's often more dramatic and emotional if characters don't completely understand what's happening to them, or how things work. Life is often bewildering.

While writing short stories is a fun challenge, reading them wonderful too! I love many short stories by writers such as Connie Willis and Neil Gaiman. I also like reading multi-author anthologies such as Black Swan, White Raven, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, or the Nebula Awards Showcase books, which have some really excellent science fiction. Books like these can also help you find new authors whose writing and story telling you admire.

Of course, if you enjoy short stories, I hope you’ll read my book, Sapience, as well!