Every Single One Of My Titles

Old School Reading: Joe Haldeman

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This is a linked collection of short stories — the adventures of a government assassin in a smallish interplanetary empire. The links are interludes in which the assassin is interviewed and prepared for the next mission through hypnotic suggestion — Haldeman is known for war stories that have more to say about what lies beneath the war than the actions of war, and this is no exception. The training & hypnosis plus the actions the protagonist performs in service weigh heavily on his mind, even through the hypnosis (Brainwashing? You decide.) until… well, I’d hate to spoil it for anyone.

The copy I’m reading, you may have noticed by the grease-penciled price on the cover, is from a thrift store. It’s a book club edition from 1977 — maybe it’s still in print? If not, Amazon’s not bad for finding used out of print stuff. That’s how I got my edition of Spinrad’s The Iron Dream — but that’s another story.

“Half Sour, Half Sweet” Is About Finding Hope In The Depths Of Regret

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This is a story that comes, in part, out of my own life and experiences. Unlike David Brown, I am not yet seventy years old and I did not miss out on the love of my life. But I do know what regret is, and I do know what it is to wonder if my chance to have a good life got left behind in the past. David did leave his good life behind, and he’s wondering where it got to, and how he got so old. David’s redemption is in a little bit of magic that he mistakenly left behind at his boyhood home, if only he can find it and figure out how to use it. And maybe a bit in his grandson’s unknowing help.

My hope and redemption, you might (not) be startled to discover, is in writing stories like this. There’s a bit more of my past in it than usual, not that you’d notice if I didn’t tell you. David’s boyhood home is basically one I lived in when I was around five years old, though I didn’t get to finish growing up there like David did. The staircase and the vertigo one gets looking down it are there, if the house still stands. David’s grandson’s room is right where mine was, though of course in the mid-1970s there was no computer in it. I took some liberties — I had to move the creek across the field to a different position, and the creek needed to have a road next to it that never existed. I think the fishing is better in David’s creek than it was in mine, too.

But that’s fiction for you. We have to move some things around to make room for the fantasy. We have to include enough of the real for the fantastic to be grounded in our thoughts and feelings.

And we have to read it, of course. I hope you’ll read this one. David and I will thank you for it.

You can find it at Amazon, iTunes Bookstore, Google Play Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and at Smashwords.

It is also included among the twenty-one stories in the Not Gruntled collection, which is available in trade paperback as well as ebook formats.

New Monthly Microfiction At Patreon: “The Mangrove At The End Of The World”

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I’ve been posting a piece of microfiction each month for Patreon patrons (a whole buck a month is the minimum pledge to see them) since March. This month’s offering is a vignette about a young man fishing in a place that makes the familiar Earth seem very alien indeed. It’s about hope and death and life and duty, and maybe a few other things, too. While a vignette isn’t quite a story of its own, this one sketches the edges of at least three big stories for your — and maybe my, in future works — imagination to work on.

You should read it. I think it’s worth seeing.

Thirteen Word Story: “Paleolithic Baggage”

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They transcended flesh and argued about which pure energy was the superior one.

Thirteen Word Story: They Walk Among Us

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Wearing the skins of the homeless, scouts for the alien invasion spied, invisible.

Thirteen Word Story: A Distant Relation of Armstrong

Why not? We’ve played this out enough times in our own history…

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The aliens pronounced him King of the Moon, then gave him his decrees.

SciFi News Network: The New 2165 Babies Are Here!

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SFNN FASHION & TRENDS

NORTH AMERICA

STAFF

Ever since the United Nations guaranteed the freedom of parents to tailor their authorized offspring in 2132, the unveiling of the new model year’s babies has been a rolling gala affair sweeping the world’s capitals every March the first. Hopeful parents the world around observe the ritual of choosing their favorites before the UN issues denials or –joy!– acceptances of parenthood on the fifteenth.

Between the first and the fifteenth, everyone dreams. And I mean everyone, not just parents. With projected lifespans due to medical advances outstripping the very passage of time (over the last decade, projected average age of death worldwide was pushed back eighteen years), the rare sight of a real, living child is a thrill for the most jaded among us.

For the 2165 model year, the top audience-voted choice for male babies is based on pop star Idris Van Styrx. Age progressions show the basic Van Styrx for 2065 will grow a bit taller and huskier than the star himself, with additional musculature especially in the thighs, shoulders, and chest further accentuating the topheavy look that was so popular in last year’s male babies. A full range of options are available and vary by manufacturer. Red-Gold Rice Basket of Beijing, top baby vendor for the East Asia and Pacifica regions, made a particular splash with a controversial option for prehensile thumbed feet pitched to the microgravity living market.

The most popular female model is a sharp departure from last year’s choice of popular political figure Isbel Fleischer of the South America region after her late-2064 embroilment in a scandal related to labor contract awards for the region’s second space elevator. This year, Fleischer’s namesake baby model did not make the charts at all, replaced by historical stage actor Akiko Nakamura of Pacifica. The actor is physically diminutive and the baby modeled after her preserves those basic dimensions, though a taller model with her proportions is expected to outsell the original.

The Intersex/Genderqueer model favored by viewers, unlike last year’s beefy, male-trait-weighted choice of military reenactor Chadforth Farthington of the Western Europe region, is markedly androgynous and sleek. Olympic swimmer Gloria Gary Beers of Mobile, Alabama, North America Region is the basis for this model baby, promising long arms, broad chest, and hips with both a surprising flare and muscular strength. Popular modifications, predictably with an athlete model, focus on physicality. A newly revealed, highly flexible cartilaginous spine developed by MicroGene in Beers’ home region seems particularly promising in the market.

Thirteen Word Story: Misanthrope’s Paw

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After his robot armies finished their bloody work, the last human discovered loneliness.

SciFi News Network 2115: Law Enforcement Droid Kills Youth, 33

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CHICAGO-MILWAUKEE-GARY (CMG) METROPLEX – 6 June 2115

Early this morning, Law Enforcement Droid 6338-CRN-7b1 deployed a “taser slug,” or kinetic impact capacitor delivering an electrical stun charge to the target, against a citizen whose name is witheld due to status as a legal minor. The citizen was allegedly engaged in committing an assault of unstated nature upon another juvenile citizen at the time.

CMGPD administrator in charge of android officer operations Perkins confirmed that the citizen was declared dead at the scene. Cause of death has not been officially determined. “The citizen did not have an upload archive active and could not be saved by transfer to an artificial mind,” Perkins added. Personality upload archives are generally installed when a citizen reaches the age of majority at 35.

Although Perkins was in charge of the officer in question at the time of the shooting, officers in CMGPD have been autonomous since 2081 and Perkins was not personally involved in the incident. Perkins, in his 63rd year of service, will not face disciplinary action.

The officer droid has been removed from service pending manual review of its onboard recordings and AI hardware.

This fatality marks the 3rd this year in the greater CMG metro area. Mayor Patel’s office stated that the Mayor was especially concerned with police department fatalities and will be exploring the possibility of a “top to bottom” review of Police Department operations.

“This is the worst year for citizen deaths due to police operations since the 2090s,” the mayor’s statement read. Following the complete automation of patrol officer ranks in 2081, fatalities fell steadily through the 2090s, which ended with 6 police-related citizen deaths in 2099, a number which has not been matched since then. “Halfway through the year, we appear to be on track to match the bad old 2090s. Last year, the number was 4, which was worse than any of the five years previous. We’re doing something wrong, and we’ll find out what it is and correct it. These numbers need to be trending down, not up.”

Relativity For Your Mouth

Our perceptions are WAY more dependent on our expectations and preconceptions than we like to think.

Do you think, perhaps, that this extends beyond food to our social and political worlds? I’m wondering, too, how it has colored my perception of short stories and novels I’ve liked or disliked in the past.

Hmm!

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