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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. 

Hugo Station by Morgan Crooks (2012)
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 were no lights. Each night more of the walls and ceiling were missing. As more and more of the dry wall and insulation was removed, the moan of wind became more and more audible. After a month or so of this, I'm not ashamed to admit I basically sprinted from one end of this floor to the other. To be clear, I never saw so much as a rat on that floor but something about its slow dissolution unnerved me. The original drafts of "Machinery of Ghosts," were an effort to capture that feeling of being isolated inside of a structure slowly falling apart.

As I said, the original version of this story is more than a decade old. Because I was a writing more or less for myself without much thought of where the story would go, I'd describe these versions as short stories only in the sense that they were tales somewhat shorter than a novel. Chamille was always the main character but her journey through D-Block and the nanoweapons was one part of a larger plot about taking over the space station for the UN. I grew dissatisfied with my revisions and I got involved in other projects.

Cut to four years ago, after getting my first few stories published, I start raiding the attic (so to speak) for other stories I could revise into some publishable form. I always like the mood and idea of this story and a quick read through suggested the most interesting part of the story was this descent into a very different sort of war-zone. I slashed away all of the other sub-plots and spend the next year or so refining the idea of a haunted space station and its unhappy residents. The story appearing in "Year's Best Transhuman SF" is the result.

I've always had high hopes for this story and I'm happy to have it in this collection alongside the work of so many other accomplished and talented writers. Hopefully you buy the collection and enjoy it! 

Links to print and digital copies:
  • Purchase "Year's Best Transhuman SF" paperback
  • Purchase "Year's Best Transhuman SF" e-book

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