Inhuman Swill : Science Fiction
            

I'm delighted to announce that my new short story, "Last" (with a nifty illustration by Marco Megrati), has just appeared at Seat14C.com, an online science fiction anthology and writing competition presented by XPRIZE.

XPRIZE, as you may know, is a non-profit organization that designs and manages public science competitions intended to encourage technological development that could benefit all of humanity. (No small goal, there.) One of their latest initiatives is a push for science fiction stories that promote a more hopeful future than the dystopian visions that seem to be so popular.

To that end, XPRIZE has launched Seat14C.com, a site that is both an online anthology and a fiction contest. Thirty well-known science fiction writers have all contributed short stories about the passengers on a transatlantic flight that departs Tokyo in 2017 but somehow lands in San Francisco in 2037. (The contributors list includes names like Margaret Atwood, Hugh Howey, Nancy Kress, Bruce Sterling, Charlie Jane Anders, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Charles Yu.) Our stories were written to highlight the amazing positive effects that twenty years of scientific advancement could have on a city like San Francisco.

As for the contest, XPRIZE invites readers to submit their own stories about the passenger in Seat 14C. The winner, to be chosen by members of the XPRIZE Science Fiction Advisory Council, will receive round-trip airfare to Tokyo, four nights in a four-star hotel, and $1,500 in spending cash, besides having his or her story published on Seat14C.com.

Full entry

Will you claim #Seat14C?

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XPRIZE's Seat 14C
For those of you with an interest in science fiction, technology, and futurism—or just in life on Earth itself—I'd like to bring to your attention a new writing contest sponsored by XPRIZE.

XPRIZE, as you may know, is a non-profit organization that designs and manages public science competitions intended to encourage technological development that could benefit all of humanity. (No small goal, there.) One of their latest initiatives is a push for science fiction stories that promote a more hopeful future than the dystopian visions that seem to be so popular.

To that end, XPRIZE has launched Seat14C.com, a site that is both an online anthology and a fiction contest. Thirty well-known science fiction writers have all contributed short stories about the passengers on a transatlantic flight that departs Tokyo in 2017 but somehow lands in San Francisco in 2037. (The contributors list includes names like Margaret Atwood, Hugh Howey, Nancy Kress, Bruce Sterling, Charlie Jane Anders, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Charles Yu. My own contribution, about the passenger in 42E, will appear on the site on August 16th.) Our stories were written to highlight the amazing positive effects that twenty years of scientific advancement could have on a city like San Francisco.

As for the contest, XPRIZE invites readers to submit their own stories about the passenger in Seat 14C. The winner, to be chosen by members of the XPRIZE Science Fiction Advisory Council, will receive round-trip airfare to Tokyo, four nights in a four-star hotel, and $1,500 in spending cash, besides having his or her story published on Seat14C.com.

Full entry
            

My novelette "Our Dependence on Foreign Keys" is now available as a 99¢ ebook! I hope you'll check it out, especially since I'm hoping to get to work on more Franny and Hondo stories.

"Our Dependence on Foreign Keys" was originally published online in 2015 in Across the Margin.


Our Dependence on Foreign Keys

'Our Dependence on Foreign Keys' by William Shunn

Release date: 2 May 2017

When high-tech partycrashers swarm his exclusive soirée high above the floodways of New York City, billionaire inventor Pell Franziskaner can't be sure whether it's a garden-variety annoyance or a prelude to murder. His own.

Environment, economics, and augmented reality collide in this tale of reputation, revenge, and artificial intelligences so advanced they run directly on the fabric of spacetime.


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The Electoral College convenes today in state capitols across the country to stamp its imprimatur on our recent, horrifying election.

This antiquated, anti-democratic convocation was much on my mind two weeks ago when I returned to Chicago to appear at the 100th episode of Tuesday Funk, the long-running reading series I used to co-host. For that occasion, my brilliant wife Laura suggested I read from my first published short story.

I started work on "From Our Point of View We Had Moved to the Left" more than 25 years ago, in 1990, when my vision of the 2009 presidential inauguration seemed to me like nothing more than a whimsical fantasy. After much revision, the story appeared in the February 1993 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction,—my fiction debut. Unfortunately, it has now proved, at least in part, to be the most prescient of my stories. I wish it weren't, but there it is.

The crowd at Tuesday Funk seemed to agree, as you can plainly hear at the 3:27 mark in the video below.

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Tuesday Funk, 100th show, December 6, 2016, 7:30 pm
I'm delighted to be appearing tonight at a very special edition of Chicago's Tuesday Funk reading series.

It's the 100th episode of the long-running series. In honor of that occasion, current hosts Andrew Huff and Eden Robins have invited all the former hosts back as guests.

Please come out to Hopleaf tonight at 7:30 to see not just me but also Connor Coyne, Reinhardt Suarez, Hallie Palladino, and Sara Ross Witt. It's upstairs and it's free! It'll be a terrific show!

It's Tuesday Funk—Chicago's eclectic monthly reading series where good writing and good beer mix. (Hey, I coined that.)

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Six-word story

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Rocket trip to Andromeda. Space constrains.


Inspired by an email from a director at my company, who said he would be working from home today instead of his construction-necessitated temporary office because "Space constrains."

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Our Dependency on Foreign Keys, art by Hayrettin Karaerkek
The second and concluding part of my new science fiction novelette, "Our Dependency on Foreign Keys," is available today at the online magazine Across the Margin. (Part One appeared yesterday.)

When last we left our not-so-heroic hero Pell "Franny" Franziskaner, he was no closer than he was at the start to figuring out who is sabotaging his cocktail party and threatening to kill him, nor to completing or even figuring out the task he's been given by the super-duper advanced A.I. called Hondo. But at least he's invented a cool new party game called dueling holaoke! Will Franny unravel the mysteries before it's too late? And will Hondo ever make an appearance at the party?

Learn all the answers now...

Part One: http://acrossthemargin.com/odfkpo/

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Our Dependency on Foreign Keys, art by Hayrettin Karaerkek
A brand-new story of mine, "Our Dependency on Foreign Keys," is available today at the online magazine Across the Margin.

Or actually, the first half of this 11,000-word story is available today. The second half will go live tomorrow morning.

And to be honest, it's not exactly brand-new, either, though this is the first time readers are seeing it. According to an old blog post, I was working on this story during a trip to Malta and the Middle East in May 2008. It was one of those stories that started with the title, and as I worked out the basic situation of the story the plot and its world, things grew very complicated indeed, even given that I decided to set it in the same near-future historical continuum as a couple of my earlier stories. I clearly remember the bar in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood where I was sitting when I named the main character Pell Franziskaner. According to my records, I finished the first draft around the time Barack Obama began his first term as president.

The story was a difficult one to write because I needed it to be light and frothy but dense at the same time. I took the Jeeves and Wooster stories as my model, though I think you'd be hard-pressed to see that in this final version. Connie Willis's screwball comedies like "Blued Moon" were an inspiration too, though again...

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Newtown Literary Issue 5
Newtown Literary is our homegrown literary journal here in the borough of Queens. Its fifth issue, devoted to speculative poetry and prose, just appeared, and features my new short story "Sparkler." The issue can be purchased now at The Astoria Bookshop in Queens, and will soon be available for ordering online.

In celebration of the new issue, Newtown Literary will be hosting a launch party on December 17. The event takes place at Terraza 7 Train Café in Elmhurst, Queens. The lineup for the evening also includes Laura Grow-Nyberg, Jennifer Morell, Crystal Rivera, Joan Willette and more.

Wednesday, December 17, 7:00 pm
Newtown Literary #5 Launch
Terraza 7 Train Café
40-19 Gleane St
Elmhurst, NY 11373

Terraza 7 can be reached via the 7 train to 82nd Street in Queens, or (a bit less conveniently) via the M train to Elmhurst Avenue. I hope to see you there!

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The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell
This post about The Bone Clocks contains mild spoilers.

When grappling with works of genre fiction, most mainstream literary critics can be counted on to demonstrate a peculiar tone-deafness. Take the case of The New Yorker's James Woods, who calls David Mitchell's new novel The Bone Clocks "weightless," "empty," and "demented." So "frictionless" does Wood find it, in fact, that it prompts him to call into question the soundness of such earlier Mitchell works as Cloud Atlas.

Upon reflection, I have to admit that The Bone Clocks is probably my least favorite of Mitchell's novels (The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet being the only one I haven't yet read). But I found it for the most part extremely engaging, even thrilling, and I dispute Wood's contention that "the realism—the human activity—is relatively unimportant" when stacked up against the novel's science-fictional premise.

The Bone Clocks is built, like much of Mitchell's work, around a structural conceit that passes the duty of first-person narrator, like a baton in a relay race, to a new point-of-view character every hundred pages or so. Each of the book's six sections becomes, in essence, a novella of its own, conveying the overall narrative from its intensely realistic beginnings with a runaway teenager in 1984 to its apocalyptic, post-oil conclusion in 2043.

Full entry
The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
missionary
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn

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