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Habitat

There’s only so much we can do. Conservation funding is hard to find. There are so many other ways to spend money, ways that have quicker results, or more immediate impact. Infrastructure, education, tax cuts.

We use what we can get to create reserves, save important sites from development. We put up barriers to protect the organisms we’re trying to save, to keep them in and keep poachers out. Resource extraction is a big problem. Miners are always trying to sneak in, and plant collectors. It doesn’t matter how out of the way the reserve is, we have to keep rangers onsite.

I wish we could do more than just set aside a planet or two. That doesn’t seem to be enough to keep these humans from destroying themselves through overpopulation and pollution. I keep asking for more funds, a bigger area.

But there’s only so much we can do.


I haven’t been writing much if any fiction, as you can tell from the radio silence here. I’m trying to get back on the horse, but the nonfiction I’ve been writing seems to be coloring my outlook.

The random Wikipedia prompt didn’t help any.

Balancing

I am delighted to announce that my second appearance in Fireside, the fantasy short story “Balance Point,” is out today. Magic gone sideways, the price of knowledge, and the difficulty of being young.

Trygvi says you should go read it right now!

#SFWApro

Geordie

Back to the flash-writing project (#7 for 2017). Today’s prompt is a 19th-c coal mining song from Newcastle, Geordie Black. There are a couple of recorded versions, including this one by Ian Campbell Folk Group.


They say young men can’t imagine being old, but I can’t either imagine being young. There was never a time when my bones didn’t ache, when I slept at night, when I could hear a young lady whispering in my ear, when I had a young lady or two who wanted to whisper in my ear.

There was never a time when I went down in the mine.

This town mines, or cooks and cleans for those that do. I can’t cook, so I must have mined. This town can’t imagine anything more. I look around; all the young men have coal dust for skin. I look around; there are no old men. Young men descend, day after day. They come out old, or not at all. They leave themselves in the mine, bit by bit, swapping self for coal.

I do not recall the mine, but it remembers me.

Hit

Sirisha slid on beaded black evening gloves, concealing the tattoos that wrapped her forearms. If Devudu noticed the intricate traceries, he would never allow her close enough to kill him. The slithery scarlet fabric of her dress plunged here and swooped there, concealing as much as it bared. Sirisha twirled, ensuring her knives were among the items concealed. The blades were brightly polished, but insufficiently formal for tonight. A clutch held only her forged invitation to the gala and a lipstick that matched her gown. Everything else she might require was hidden on her body.

The gallery was packed with people enjoying the champagne and pretending to enjoy the exhibits. Devudu was the pivot around which the crowd flowed, each person hoping for a moment of his attention. Sirisha too desired a moment, a timespan as thin as a blade. She eased her way into the eddy, eager to work.


150-word flash #6 for 2017.
Random Wikipedia prompt

The Ponies

“I wanna play the ponies.”

I turned to face the little man following me around the room. “I already told you that you can’t. Whining won’t help.”

“I was on my way to the track. I’m gonna win big, you know. I always do. You’re costing me huge amounts of money.”

I looked at the threadbare knees of his suit, at his scuffed shoes. “Sure you are.”

I slid into the shuttle command seat, ignoring his grab for my arm.

“I was meeting my friends, they’ll be looking for me.”

“No, Arthur Daniel Jameson, you weren’t. You were going to the track alone, where you were going to lose all your money and have a heart attack. Now sit down and shut up.” Jameson sat, ashen. He might have had that heart attack on the spot, if I hadn’t already fixed it. Couldn’t have my pony keeling over just yet.


Back at it, with another random Wikipedia prompt.

God’s Little Acre

You get two stories today. The previous one was from yesterday; this is today’s, from another random article.

God’s Little Acre

Dandelions and crabgrass covered the carefully tended hillslope, a patch of green drawing the eye amid the landscape of rubble and scorchmarks. So far had we fallen that those weeds were the most beautiful things, and I tended carefully each yellow bloom, guarded each clock, planted each seed myself, distributing them around the fallen gravestones. I keep an eye out for sprouts in the burned area. Someday I will find other plants for my garden.

I have some medical supplies left, bandages, some antibiotics past their prime, a few syringes of morphine. I store them in the chapel, alongside my crates of canned goods. I tend anyone who sees the green and came, but mostly I bury them. I can’t carve them stones, but I plant dandelions on the graves.

She would have liked it, you know. It doesn’t snow here any more, not ever. She didn’t like the snow.

Delivery Only

I’m continuing the 150-word stories, this one from this prompt.

Delivery Only

The Mitsuko latched neatly onto my airlock. These automated delivery drones were the best. I could order anything I wanted without talking to another human, and then it arrived.

I got to the airlock fast, to keep the hexapedal delivery tractor from hauling its load beyond the cargo bay. I didn’t want even a robot poking around my habitat. I unloaded my things, signed the delivery stub, and slammed the lock behind the Mitsuko.

I eagerly rooted through the containers, each sealed with the trademarked arrow. The last batch of parts I needed! I’d been holding back a fraction of the ore I mined for years, not enough to make the bosses suspicious. I was reshaping entire asteroids, building death ray platforms. Delivery drones weren’t smart enough to notice, but a human would be suspicious. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime. They’d made it possible to take over the solar system.

Writing numbers roundup

Data! My favorite thing…

My first short story submission was in 2009.

Since then I have submitted 18 stories a total of 66 times, and sold 9 of them, 4 for SFWA professional rates. I’ve never finished more than 3 stories in a calendar year, made more than 15 submissions, or sold more than 2 stories. I sold 4 stories on their first submission, but my most popular story took 8 tries, though it has now been both podcast and translated.

In 2016, I finished 2 stories, made 7 submissions, had 2 stories sold in previous years appear in print, and sold 1 story.

My intent for 2017 is to finish 4 stories, completely revise 2 others, and to make at least 20 submissions, although I’d also like to work on a novel, and have several nonfiction projects in the works.

Here are the titles and first lines of four of those stories:

Crossing the Water: A sparrow landed on the road, deceived by its placid surface.

The Dirt of Denela: Loredana Ney’s troubles ended here, up against a red-tinged crater wall, with the dirt of Denela under her fingernails and poison coating her throat.

Spindle, Apple, Thorn: The air smelled of dust and ozone.

Learning to be Terrestrial: I clutched my full mug of coffee, the memory of warmth enough to keep my hands wrapped around a cooling cup.

#SFWApro

Negotiation

Liza pushed her way to the door as the train rolled through the airlock into San Vital, even though it wouldn’t unlock until the pressure washer finished. Dust got into everything regardless, but rinsing the train at least meant there was less of it. She looked back. No sign of the guy who’d been tailing her, a known runner for the anti-alien Progressives. Liza knew better than to touch her pocket. Either the packet was there or it wasn’t; nothing she could do right now except attract attention.

She slipped out the door the instant it slid open, muttering apologies to the people she shoved past. Her steady walk toward the Pratt Avenue exit barely faltered when the man fell into step alongside. She glanced around for a cop. “Officer, I’m smuggling alien artifacts and this guy is following me.” Yeah, no.

Liza looked up at him. “Let’s talk.”

What a prompt: the 1969 Manitoba election.
You will see some inspiration from that article, maybe, but only in the vaguest sense

Notes from the field

There were no roads into these hills, barely any paths. Donkeys didn’t need much, nor did people used to the climbs. Used to nothing else, living in this landscape. I didn’t have a donkey, just a notebook, a set of sample jars, and a sturdy staff. Somewhere down this dusty path was a village, mentioned in the last census. Nobody had recorded how big it was, or exactly where it was located. I doubted the census taker even managed to find it.

These hills were the epicenter of wild caraway diversity: more wild kinds than than the single weak species grown commercially. More flavor, different volatiles; more power to repel demons. We were desperate. I’d evaded patrols to get this far, hidden by the resistance. I scanned the vegetation as I walked, saving seeds in labeled jars, heading toward an unknown village, hoping someone could point me to a cure.