Tor.com content by

Steven Gould

Fiction and Excerpts [4]
All

Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Exo (Excerpt)

, || Cent can teleport. So can her parents, but they are the only people in the world who can. This is not as great as you might think it would be—sure, you can go shopping in Japan and then have tea in London, but it's hard to keep a secret like that. And there are people, dangerous people, who work for governments and have guns, who want to make you do just this one thing for them. And when you're a teenage girl things get even more complicated. High school. Boys. Global climate change, refugees, and genocide. Orbital mechanics. But Cent isn't easily daunted, and neither are Davy and Millie, her parents. She's going to make some changes in the world.

Impulse (Excerpt)

, || Cent has a secret. She lives in isolation, with her parents, hiding from the people who took her father captive and tortured him to gain control over his ability to teleport, and from the government agencies who want to use his talent. Cent has seen the world, but only from the safety of her parents' arms. She's teleported more than anyone on Earth, except for her mother and father, but she's never been able to do it herself. Her life has never been in danger. Until the day when she went snowboarding without permission and triggered an avalanche. When the snow and ice thundered down on her, she suddenly found herself in her own bedroom. That was the first time.

Exo (Excerpt)

Cent can teleport. So can her parents, but they are the only people in the world who can. This is not as great as you might think it would be—sure, you can go shopping in Japan and then have tea in London, but it’s hard to keep a secret like that. And there are people, dangerous people, who work for governments and have guns, who want to make you do just this one thing for them. And when you’re a teenage girl things get even more complicated. High school. Boys. Global climate change, refugees, and genocide. Orbital mechanics.

But Cent isn’t easily daunted, and neither are Davy and Millie, her parents. She’s going to make some changes in the world.

Amazon Buy link Exo

Steven Gould returns to the world of his classic novel Jumper in Exo, the sequel to Impulse, blending the drama of high school with world shattering consequences. Exo publishes September 9th from Tor Books!

[Read an excerpt]

Impulse (Excerpt)

Take a gander at this excerpt from Impulse by Steven Gould, out on January 15:

Cent has a secret. She lives in isolation, with her parents, hiding from the people who took her father captive and tortured him to gain control over his ability to teleport, and from the government agencies who want to use his talent. Cent has seen the world, but only from the safety of her parents’ arms. She’s teleported more than anyone on Earth, except for her mother and father, but she’s never been able to do it herself. Her life has never been in danger.

Until the day when she went snowboarding without permission and triggered an avalanche. When the snow and ice thundered down on her, she suddenly found herself in her own bedroom. That was the first time.

[Read more]

Bugs in the Arroyo

The first few days were just weird and annoying. You’d come out in the morning and find one of the damn things had chewed most of the way through your car’s antenna. A week later, people were crashing because the bugs had eaten through brake lines or the cars wouldn’t start at all ’cause the bugs had gone for all the copper wire. And remember, they just bud off another bug when they’ve eaten enough so their numbers increased geometrically. By the end of the first month they’d done for the entire car, finishing off the engine block and every last steel wire in the radial tires. By the end of the first week people were driving out of the southwest. By the end of the first month they were walking.

We didn’t realize they’d go for your fillings and crowns until they’d done for most of the infrastructure in Arizona and New Mexico. What? Yeah, that’s what caused the scarring. There was extensive reconstructive surgery too, or it would be worse. Would I go back? Huh. I’d have to have some of my dental work replaced but it’s not like I have a pacemaker or an artificial joint. But no. I don’t think so. It may be more crowded outside the territory, but who wants to live without metal?

Excerpt: When the Metal Eaters Came: First-Person Accounts

This story is also available for download from major ebook retailers.

* * *

The second day after leaving the Rio Grande, on the downslope east of the Manzanos, Kimball pulled over the lip of a hill and found an argument in progress.

Mrs. Pedecaris, the mule drawing his cart, had apparently heard them first for her ears twitched forward well before the top of the hill. Kimball was not surprised. The trail they were following had become more of a road, well-defined wheel ruts with fresh tracks, and fresh horse manure just beginning to dry.

Kimball had looped the reins over the brake lever while he was weaving the last bit of a wide-brimmed green cattail hat—and Mrs. Pedecaris slowed as she approached the cluster of vehicles just over the hill.

There were five carts similar to Kimball’s, high-wheeled boxes with composite wheels and axles. Three were horse-drawn, one mule-drawn, and one cart had lowered shafts and a cross bar to be pulled by hand, like a Mormon cart. Then three freight wagons with six-horse teams stood in a row, and there were a couple of saddle horses in front of them.

Kimball took Mrs. Pedecaris off the edge of the road to where a tough patch of dry buffalo grass was doing all right in the shade of some low mesquite bushes. He pulled off her bridle so she could crop the grass and said, “Pull up a chair, Mrs. P.” The mule snorted and dipped her head into the grass.

The road dipped sharply, into a cut leading down into a broad arroyo running down from the mountains. That’s where the cluster of people stood, crouched, or sat.

“—dehydration is really the issue.”

“Maybe we could throw a canteen?”

“Dammit, how many times do we gotta argue this? You crush a bug they’ll swarm her for sure. Us too.”

[Read more]

Maya Lin and the Wave Field

 

This work of art was created last year by my daughter as she ruthlessly gutted all sorts of stuffies to create a more harmonious whole.  I suppose it could be viewed as a Frankensteinian version of diversity.

As I said at another blog:

If these stuffies can come together to make a greater whole, then we Americans—nay, we humans planet wide!—should be able to as well.

(The dismembering and sewing together thing—it will hurt at first.)

I love it but I was reminded of it when watching a video detailing the art of Maya Lin.  Lin’s most famous work of art is the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, designed when she was 21 for a public design competition while still an undergraduate in sculpture at Yale.

Lin also works on art that uses some of her own children’s abandoned toys but what is really cool are the four installations she’s done utilizing the shapes of waves in landscape.

Maya Lin's Wave Field

Video at the New York Times.

Behaving Badly As A Career Strategy, part 4

Stevie Chuckles’ Advice to New Writers

Part Four: A Word About Conventions

(Part One here.   Part Two here.  Part Three here.)

You are important. Your writing is important. You and your writing are more important than anybody else (and their crummy writing). Here are some behaviors you can embrace to accentuate your place in the writing universe.

  1. Now that you’ve published you should send a letter to the World Con committee that you’re now available for Guest of Honor gigs. Regional conventions will also wish to be appraised of your availability as they never have enough really GOOD writers to worship. They will appreciate this.
  2. When you do panels, you must create a model of Stonehenge out of copies of your own books, piled high enough to obscure most of the other panel members.
  3. [Read more…]

  4. When you answer a question on a panel you must find a way to relate it to your own work. An example: “What are some of the most richly realized characters in the history of literature?”  “Well, I don’t like to brag, but many people say that my character Larry the Bleeder, in my book, TONGUE WRESTLERS OF TARG, is one of the best…”  People appreciate such candor.
  5. When on panels remember that people are there to see and hear about you and your work. Even if the moderator doesn’t realize it, make sure that the audience is not denied their opportunity to listen to you speak, even if the other panelists are selfishly keeping this from happening. One useful technique for this is to get hold of the microphone and NEVER, NEVER let it go. If some other writer’s toady turns off the PA, remember your voice lessons. If you stand on your chair or the table, you’ll be easier to hear.
  6. When a con committee member doesn’t quite realize who you are and why you have added yourself to an already overfull panel of SF luminaries be sure and scream at them shrilly and heap scorn upon them. This is nothing more than a service as the interaction will no doubt assist them in remembering who you are next time and will give them something to talk about when they are socializing with their circle of unimportant friends like people who run conventions and various industry professionals.
  7. When you see an editor headed out to lunch with a few writers this is the perfect opportunity to attach yourself to the group. I’m sure the editor wanted to ask you but was prevented by the unabashed jealousy of the other writers. Your timely intervention will save the editor from boring discussions of cutting edge particle physics and new astronomical discoveries as you will spend the entire lunch getting him better acquainted with the wonderfulness that is you and your work and those bastard reviewers who are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.
  8. When you go out to eat with all your struggling writer buddies and it comes time to pay, remember who the genius is here. The important one. They may not say it but when you put in four bucks too little for your portion they really don’t mind coming up with extra money to cover you. They’re grateful you came and are spending time with them. Besides, they’re a bunch of hard-SF writers. What do they know about math?
  9. People of the appropriate gender find you attractive (even if they won’t admit it and try to hide it by slapping you). Be compassionate. Don’t let their fear of violating societal conventions keep them away from the wonderfulness that is you. Extra points for sharing yourself during an awards ceremony!

That’s it for now but I would be more than happy to hear about other equally good strategies for furthering one’s writing career in the comments.  I am but an Egg.


*The above was part of my lecture at the 2008 Viable Paradise Writers workshop on Martha’s Vineyard. New writers are strongly encouraged to follow every step. It cuts down on my competition.

Behaving Badly As A Career Strategy, part 3

Stevie Chuckles’ Advice to New Writers

Part Three: After you’ve published

(Part One here. Part Two here.)

You are important. Your writing is important. You and your writing are more important than anybody else (and their crummy writing). Here are some behaviors you can embrace to accentuate your place in the writing universe.

  1. If your work is a novel or in an anthology, immediately go to Amazon Dot Com and post several rave reviews. If the work is in an anthology be sure and point out how it stands head and shoulders above the other shit in the book. The readers will thank you for directing them to the “good” stuff.

    [Read more…]

  2. If your work is published in a magazine, head over to that magazine’s online forums and do the same.
  3. In the event your work is reviewed unfavorably, you should immediately write letters to the reviewer, his editor, and every other possible venue to explain the reviewer’s blind idiocy and mental incompetence.
  4. In addition, you should think about this review ALL THE TIME, carrying around a laminated copy, so that, in any person-to-person communication you may instantly be able to discuss at great length why this person is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Let me stress that this is the hallmark of a truly great writer. All other activities should come second to this. Even writing.
  5. In the event your work is reviewed favorably, you should seize upon the least favorable thing said and publicly and privately eviscerate the reviewer for his infelicitous remark. An example: “X’s brilliantly written first novel has vibrant compelling characters and riveting action, but I would have liked a little more of the heroine’s background.” You should only remember that the reviewer HATED THE HEROINE!
  6. Between obsessing about bad reviews and good reviews, you need to make time to Google every mention of your story and name on the intertubes. You must track down, find out what they said, and then explain to them why they are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.
  7. If you have time left over from these previous activities and you first work is a book, you must monitor the Amazon Sales Ranking every five minutes. When it spikes momentarily (because your Mom and your aunt Sylvie bought copies) you need to fire off a letter to your publisher demanding your giant royalty check.

Next time: A Word About Conventions. (To Boldly Go Where No Writer Has…)


*The above was part of my lecture at the 2008 Viable Paradise Writers workshop on Martha’s Vineyard. New writers are strongly encouraged to follow every step. It cuts down on my competition.

Behaving Badly As A Career Strategy, part 2

Stevie Chuckles’ Advice to New Writers

Part Two: After you’ve sold but before you’ve published

(Part One here.)

You are important. Your writing is important. You and your writing are more important than anybody else (and their crummy writing). Here are some behaviors you can embrace to accentuate your place in the writing universe.

  1. It’s hard for people to find the good stuff with all the crap that is published out there so be sure and send emails to everyone you know (but especially those you don’t know) to let them know about your upcoming work. You should also attach a very large, high definition video trailer for the work, explaining that the field of literature is about to be reinvented and invigorated, with all previous works cast into a dark shadow by the new shinyness that is you and your work. No little tiny grainy quicktime video will do. Production values matter. Make sure the attachment is sufficient length and size—in other words, GRAVITAS—to adequately clog their mailbox like half a roll of toilet paper in a public toilet. That way they are are sure to notice it.
  2. [Read more…]

  3. Be sure and go to rec.arts.sf and, in the middle of ANY conversation, post a comment as to how your upcoming story relates to the topic at hand. If it’s a bit of a stretch use similies. “My splatterpunk story relates to this conversation about elves like water mixes smoothly with oil.” Use metaphors. “The blood splattered walls of my story are the borders of Fairy.” Or, you can lie. “For a good story about elves, read my upcoming work in the anthology, SEX WITH THE DEAD.”
  4. Annonymously comment in people’s blogs about this upcoming story you were INCREDIBLY LUCKY to read. Again, you should loosely tie the subject of the post and comments into the story using similar methods to the ones above. Then show up as someone else and reinforce how wonderful the upcoming work is.
  5. Invite journalists to interview you as your work is about to be published. Since your genius transcends genres, feel free to pick venues that you might normally pass up. Model Railroader wants nothing more than to review a work with the driving narrative traction of six locomotives.
  6. You should follow up with Hollywood. After all, if they were all hot for you when they were just working with an idea (and your shiny personality) think how excited they’ll be now that you’ve finished something. They really admire people with initiative. So, finding out where they live, eat, or drop their children off for daycare is a good way to get their attention. I mean, its not as if you’ve got a camera or something. (But if you get any snaps of Angelina Jolie while doing this…just sayin’.)

Next time: After you’ve published. (Up close and personal.)


*The above was part of my lecture at the 2008 Viable Paradise Writer’s workshop on Martha’s Vienyard. New writers are strongly encouraged to follow every step. It cuts down on my competition.

Behaving Badly As A Career Strategy, part 1

Stevie Chuckles’ Advice to New Writers

Part 1: Before you sell

You are important. Your writing is important. You and your writing are more important than anybody else (and their crummy writing). Here are some behaviors you can embrace to accentuate your place in the writing universe.

Most of all, remember that rules are for OTHER writers.

  1. Manuscript format is for people without genius. Allow yourself to express your creativity with interesting paper, inks, and unusual fonts. Strange packaging—say, the uncured hide of a unicorn—will also bring your manuscript the attention it deserves. Don’t worry about return addresses. If they really like it, they’ll find you.
  2. [Read more…]

  3. Feel free to submit to several different markets at the same time. Your genius doesn’t have time to wait like those other jerks.
  4. Or, since you’re so important, feel free to submit your original manuscript. The only copy. Backups are for the timid.
  5. Write a cover letter that explains that the editor would be A PATHETIC FOOL to pass up this story which is obviously so much better than the SHIT that editor usually publishes. They will appreciate your candor.
  6. Feel free to contact movie studios immediately, even before your book or story is finished. Your ideas are so original and so creative they will just hand you buckets of money for the priviledge of being associated with you.
  7. Editors may demur but they really like nothing better than to have you follow them into the restroom so you can pitch your novel to them.
  8. If one of these lying bastards actually has the temerity to say they don’t want to listen to you pitch your story during their particularly painful bowel movement (I mean—you’d think they’d want the distraction, ya know) then it is your duty to trash them in public and private conversations. People will admire your spunky and courageous behavior. They won’t share your opinion with other editors. They respect your privacy. And they won’t put their cell phone video of your diatribe on YouTube.
  9. Consider novel submission methods. In this day of email and internet applications those companies aren’t really using their fax machines for anything important and this provides them with a hard copy. Or, since today’s editors are on the go, go, go, consider text messaging your manuscript to their cell phone, one paragraph at a time.
  10. Attend some writer’s workshops. Because of your genius, of course, the main topic of these events is how sucky everybody else’s writing is. Face it, everyone is really there in hopes you will like their story and to hear you savage everybody else’s story. They hope they can be as wittily cutting as you are.
  11. Remember that you don’t have to read the entire manuscript of the other workshop participants. You already know its sucks. It just eats up your time. Making fun of the first or second page is sufficient.
  12. If someone does have the temerity to criticize the story you’ve brought, it’s important that you interupt them before they finish—before they completely embarrass themselves. Otherwise you might not have enough time to explain how very WRONG, WRONG, WRONG they are.

Next time: After you’ve sold but before you’ve published. (It involves spam.)


*The above was part of my lecture at the 2008 Viable Paradise Writer’s workshop on Martha’s Vienyard. New writers are strongly encouraged to follow every step. It cuts down on my competition. Okay. Maybe not the fax thing. Or the text messaging. Or ANY of them.

Shade

 

Xareed had been waiting for the water truck for two days, seated in the dirt at the edge of the camp, his family’s plastic ten-liter water-jug tied to his ankle.

He didn’t like being on the edge of the camp. Except for the piece of cardboard he carried impaled on a stick there was no shade. The poet Sayyid had said, “God’s Blessing are more numerous than those growing trees,” and Xareed hoped so, for there were no trees in the camp or outside. So the blessings had better be more numerous, not less.

Being on the edge of the camp, especially on this side, was also bad because rebels would occasionally fire into the tents from the far side of the old lakebed, or set up mortars among the folds and gullies in the bottom.

Bad enough, but when the government troops came in response, the rebels would be long gone, and the troops would say they were hiding in the camp and there would be searches and arrests and summary executions.

It was safer deep inside the camp where Xareed lived with his mother and grandfather and sisters. Back when they’d come here, after the rebels had killed his father and burned their farm, there’d still been a little water in the lake and a lot of mud, so his family actually had a house, just a one-room building, but made of thick sun-dried bricks that kept the family cool in the heat and which had, on more than one occasion, stopped stray bullets and shrapnel that tore through the tents that most of the refugees lived in.

It had been Xareed’s idea, one of the few things he’d gotten from school that meant anything here. That, and enough English to talk to the foreigners who helped at the camps.

But Xareed really missed the shade of trees. His last memory of their farm, as they fled, was not the burning house and fields, but the flames consuming the wide canopy of their umbrella thorn acacia tree.

When the strangers showed up at the clinic tent, rumors and questions flew up and down the water line.

“How did they get here?”

“I don’t know. Maybe a truck on the far side of the camp?”

“Maybe they came on a water truck?”

This was nonsense since the entire camp knew within minutes when the water truck had been sighted.

“Could it be a new supplies convoy?”

“Maybe a new drilling machine?”

[Read more]