Winter Issues

I’ve got two stories coming out in two magazines.  Both publications label the forthcoming issues “winter issue.” That’s fitting; I’ve had “winter issues” since I was a kid. I hate snow, hate cold, and complain eloquently and bitterly every time I have to scrape ice off my car.

“Defender of the Flesh” will be appearing soon in Bewildering Stories. “Tale Without Fairies” will be in Syntax & Salt.

Armadillocon III

Much to get caught up on, since ARMADILLOCON is over and I am back in my chaotic hideyhole. Networking, panels, workshops, poetry about chupacabras and roadkill, robots, vampires, gravity — it was a maelstrom of nerdy nirvana. Thanks to Dave Chang of Space Squid for the generous hospitality and for introducing me around to the community. It was great to be around people who are submitting to the same markets, facing the same dilemmas (how do you develop a character arc for a robot?) and starting their own interstitial avocation singularities. I feel renewed and reset.

Then it was off to Utah, where the warm and warped Elizabeth Swanstrom and Scott Svatos showed me where the tops of mountains are. We doctored old children’s books into obscene lovecraftian surgery texts, drank buckets of good coffee, stood in awe of the Mormon Spaceship.

I am home. Back at work. But horrible plots are afoot…watch this space…

Armadillocon II

Arrived in Austin 9:50 local time. But I’d left Madison at 2:15 AM. Have not slept, except fitfully on buses and planes.

Walked all over downtown Austin. Tried breakfast tacos at two different locales. Ended up at Bookpeople where I stayed for about five hours, intermittently dozing behind the shelves and blowing my travel budget sky high.

Convention started 20 minutes ago; just the opening ceremonies. Will get over there shortly.



I’m headed to Austin next week to attend the 39th annual Armadillocon. It’s the alt-weird sci fi con, like Worldcon’s snarky teenage kid sister. Going to sit in on some flash fiction panels, going to go to writing forums, and enter some contests, and drink.

It’s become startlingly clear to me recently that you can’t and shouldn’t work in a vacuum. I do it all alone in the dark, and it’s starting to make me yell at wallpaper and suspect passing dogs of being cats. I’ve realized — admitted after denying it for years — that I need contact with other writers. One goes funny otherwise. And I don’t need to get funnier.

So I’ll post dispatches from there. Once it’s here.

The Universe of TRM

The Rude Mechanicals, subject of the forthcoming novel of a related title, fly around in space. Nothing noteworthy about this. Fictional outer space is more crowded than a Beijing interchange, what with all the millennium falcons and Enterprizes and whatnot rattling around up there.

In this telling, however, the theme is mighty: to wit, the Universe we know and love —  is a giant rubbish heap. A disaster area, a Superfund site.

Before the catastrophe of the Big Bang, the universe was a perfect singularity.

No Time, no Space, no Birth, no Decay, no Beginnings, no Endings.

Beings of inconceivable perfection enjoyed perfect stasis and nonbeing. Elegant Abstractions, Magnificent Conundrums, Esteemed Paradoxicals knew all there was to know and did nothing at all … and is this not what a Heaven’s for?

But a Contradictory Aspersion had other plans. He touched a match to a keg of flammable Reality. And the whole edifice blew cosmos-high.

And we’re living in the aftermath – a giant sooty Void full of glowing embers (OK, stars, but you get it). Chunks of random matter hurtle willy-nilly along vertiginous curves of spacetime, rollercoastering this way and that, banging into each other.

Worse than Gravity, worst of all — Time! Who unleashed this corrosive slop on undeserving lifeforms? Time makes fools and atoms of us all. No sooner do you get a good construct going than it decays into glup. Eventually, every living thing will die, and every chain of atoms will decouple, and every atom will devolve into iron-56. Nothing but a dead haze of isotopic rust.

Who could live in such a catastrophic wasteland, in a dangerous Nothingness hung with gobs of burning nuclear fuel, hurtling along a temporally-destabilized one-dimensional butterslide towards death?

The Abstractions and Conundrums, safely ensconced in a pocket universe, were stunned at what they saw. Flecks of carbon — building cities! Zipping around in rockets! Heating frozen foods with toaster-ovens!

TRM is the story of unlikely beings who survive in a hostile universe. Really, isn’t every story about that?