Sunday, April 20, 2014

April stories! Clarkesworld and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Story month! ゜゚・*\(^O^)/*・゜゚
‘Autodidact’ on Clarkesworld Magazine (Subscriptions | Patreon). A sentient starship, a psychologist, and a soldier: the battlefield they make of each other.
On Srisunthorn Station, the corpses of conquered stars are nurtured into ships.
They may become shelters from solar winds, orbitals giving company to lonely planets, mausoleums for the sainted. But long ago an admiral came, bringing a toll of dead and trailing carcasses of worlds. Her armor was hammered out of battle formations and broken alliances, welded by secret plans and sudden annihilation. She cast it down before the engineers, piece by piece making known to them the essentials of war.
“That is what you must make them for,” she said as her trappings shuddered with the pressure of lethal feints and shattered pacts. “War is a pustule that must be lanced for the laws of the universe to continue, and I am in need of a scalpel.”
‘Golden Daughter, Stone Wife’ on Beneath Ceaseless Skies (Subscriptions). An immigrant sorcerer, her lost golem, and a compromise of winter. Podcast read by Folly Blaine.
I watch her through the bright, clear eyes of a fox. You see the world differently this way, closer to the ground, sight plaited from smells, nose to soil and snow. A fox’s mind is so wide, made of simple geometry and immediate needs.
The fox sniffs and tosses its head. She comes.
‘Golden Daughter’ shares the issue with ‘At the Edge of the Sea’ by Raphael Ordonez, which I found lovely, evocative and wonderfully unsettling.
I’m extra pleased in that – though these two stories were written months apart – their publication dates tidily coincide: both being stories with immigrant main characters, artificial life, a desire for parenthood, *and* they both take place in a small, contained setting (a space station and a house respectively). Apart from those common details though, they end up being very different stories, with hugely unlike conclusions.
I’ve been *incredibly* happy with the reception for ‘Autodidact’! The first day this was up my mentions didn’t completely explode but definitely filled up a lot, which I didn’t think was a thing that happens when you’re a little baby writer. Carl V. Anderson liked it at SFSignal, and Lois Tilton called the final moment subtle and effective, Charlotte Ashby reviewing for Apex Magazine had kind things to say about it, and a reader of Clarkesworldkindly said it was one of the standout stories. Not to be outdone, ‘Golden Daughter, Stone Wife’ has already been selected for a reprint in The Mammoth Book of Warriors and Wizardry edited by Sean Wallace, out late this year. I think that’s the fastest reprint I’ve ever had!
While I’m proud of and believe in my stories, it’s still a surprise when people let me know they liked my writing; I couldn’t have asked for more. I took a few risks with ‘Autodidact’ (one of them being to use three different pronouns for a single character), but they seem to have worked out all right. I wrote this story with Ancillary Justice on my brain (because of course!), as I otherwise never thought of writing sentient AIs before, though my approach to it is probably very different from Ann’s.
If you want to read more stories with sentient spaceships in them, I loved Aliette de Bodard’s ‘The Breath of War’ and ‘Ship’s Brother’, Kameron Hurley’s ‘Enyo-Enyo’, though I’d be happy to read more. For golem stories – erm, please suggest?

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