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Tiers of Speculation

Earlier this year I finished reading Liu Cixin's Dreams of Forgotten Earth series. It struck me that a trilogy that began as a techno-thriller concerning a message from outer-space quickly morphed into a space-opera set within the solar system, and then by the third book changed to a mind-bending description of the end of the universe. Part of Liu Cixin's gift as a writer is using the plausible speculations to plow ever deeper into the unknown. This is not a series that can be read out of order, as each book lays the groundwork for what comes after. 
Which got me thinking. How do we classify different types of speculative fiction?

I'd like to propose an alternate way of thinking about genre fiction: tiers of vocabulary. This idea is, in part, inspired by how language is approached in the field of education. When writing a lesson or developing a curriculum, an educator will consider what words a prospective student may need in order to access the lesson and learn the knowled…
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Story-notes for "What Little We Know"

"What Little We Know," started life with these two sentences: "A young man falls in love with a statue who he believes saved his life. He sacrificed everything to save and protect it in return." This synopsis is fairly typical, by the way, for my story ideas. One or two sentences about an image or concept I can't shake out of my head. There was something in this idea I felt interested me, especially after reading Thomas Ligotti's "The Medusa," which I found very inspiring for writing a certain type of 'cozy gothic.' Like the myth of Set's Coffin, the Medusa illustrates the dread of knowing someone is walking into a trap made bespoke for them. I already envisioned the statue as a monster, as something predatory.

The idea sat unused for about half a year until the Spring of 2016. I researched a few ideas concerning statues and monsters which is when the egregoi and Atlantis stuff started to accrete around the edges. I finished a draft and…

"What Little We Know" now available!

Fantasia Divinity Magazine has released their December issue and I'm in it! My story, "What Little We Know," concerns a hidden glen in Upstate New York, two star-crossed lovers, and a carnivorous statue. I'd like to thank Madeline L. Stout, Amber M. Simpson and the rest of the team at Fantasia for choosing this story and giving it such a great home. Having read the other stories in the magazine, I can say the entire issue is terrific.

Free to read (scroll to the last story): December 2017 Issue of Fantasia Divinity MagazinePurchase a copy of magazine: To be updated once available 
I hope to release some story-notes to go along with this story, mostly concerning my process in developing the story from a very different idea into what it is presently.

Story-notes for "Machinery of Ghosts"

Gehenna and Hinnom's "Year's Best Transhuman SF" anthology is now available! This awesome collection happens to include my story "Machinery of Ghosts" which has a bit of an involved back-story. Here are a few notes on its inspirations as a story and its development over the years. 

I wrote this story more than a decade ago while working as a night shift guard in downtown Boston. Twice every night I had to leave my desk in the front lobby, take an elevator to the top floor, and walk all the way back down to that lobby. To make sure guards completed their rounds, each floor had two sensor stations that I had to check into with a black metal wand. For the most part, I didn't mind this part of the job. The upper floors provided a nice view of the city and it was interesting checking up on the various companies in the building. I did, however, mind the fifth floor.

The fifth floor was in the process of being remodeled when I worked at the building. There we…

"Machinery of Ghosts," is now available!

Gehenna and Hinnom's "Year's Best Transhuman SF" anthology is now available! This awesome collection just so happens to include my story "Machinery of Ghosts," a story set on an abandoned space station years after a traumatic, system-wide nanological war. Long after peace has been declared, a different sort of war endures within the station, one threatening to claim the station and everyone inside of it.
Purchase "Year's Best Transhuman SF" paperbackPurchase "Year's Best Transhuman SF" e-book I am so grateful to C.P. Dunphey and the entire team at Gehenna and Hinnom for choosing my story for this collection. Seeing it along side such excellent authors as Julie Novakova, Jeremy Szal, and Sheldon Woodbury is an amazing honor. 
Read Gehenna and Hinnom's press releaseI will release story notes for "Machinery of Ghosts" in the next few days, so stay tuned!

Arisia Panel Announcements for 2018

Arisia 2018 Panels have been announced and it looks like I'm going to be on a bunch in 2018. Go me!

Arisia, if you don't know, is a small fan-run, fan-centered annual SFF convention in Boston. I've had incredible experiences in the past taking part in panels on literature, media, gaming, and science. 

Two of the panels, "Writing Horror, the Occult, and the Macabre" and "Emotional Impact — How to Make Readers Care," are the first writing panels I've been invited to. I'm not claiming mastery in either but with a few stories under my belt I hope I have a few useful things to share.

I'm also on the "2017: The Year in Stephen King" panel which was my reach goal for the year. I count myself as an enormous fan of King's oeuvre and this has certainly been a banner year for the author from Bangor. From television series based on his work (Delores Claiborne and The Mist) to a pair of movies (one reportedly terrible and one I quite enjoyed…

"The Ferry Back" available through Collateral Journal

Issue 2.1 went live today over at Collateral Journal and my flash story, "The Ferry Back," is available for reading!

I wrote this story years ago as a part of a writing challenge. The professor of my last graduate class plopped a bag of odds and ends on the table in front of us, gave a moment to choose an item before giving us twenty minutes to write something about it.

The object described in this story, a small white patch of the Niagara Ferry, somehow seemed from the same era as the Vietnam war. The resulting story, while having very little connection to any actual event in my life, nevertheless feels like a summation of a certain portion of my childhood. Growing up I always had this sense what my father and my grandfather experienced in the wars they fought were still very much happening. Like these conflicts never really ended but went on and on and on.

This story deserved a great home and I'm pleased to see it offered along side the other tremendous stories on this…