The whispers in the docks, fairways, and corridors of KEL Port were darker tonight. Up near general intake, where new arrivals to KEL26 were processed, Port Security officers were clustered in small groups muttering amongst themselves. In the cozy noodle shop on Sub-Level B, the little family of Tau-Ceti immigrants weren’t greeting customers with their usual cheer. And down in the Mog’s cantina, where most of KEL Port went to eat and drink, kindly, straightlaced Loadmaster Teller sat in corner, plastered out of his mind, having an angry argument with an empty chair.

Something was surely amiss, Radco thought, but puzzling out exactly what was proving to be a difficult task. Calamity was like a disease to humans; it might not have struck anywhere near them, but it deeply affected them nonetheless. To remain unaffected by the general air of unease would mark him as an outsider, unnatural and automatically suspect.

Radco shivered at the thought. Humans were notoriously cruel to outsiders.

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The humans’ offspring crawled out of the shadows between a pair of structural supports, its doughy hands and feet unprotected from the grimy corridor floor. The shadow suppressed a hiss of alarm and detoured around the tiny being as it sat up and stuffed both grubby hands into its mouth.

Humans were irrationally protective of their young. Perhaps, the shadow mused, it was because their young were so soft and helpless, and often utterly oblivious to the dangers of their surroundings. That said, for all their outraged protectiveness, humans allowed their offspring to do the most counter-intuitively dangerous things. Case in point: the creature rubbing its bare appendages on the filthy floor and stuffing them into its mouth.

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After running my Patreon page for a little over half a year and seeing what garners the most interest, I’m looking to update my tier rewards to reflect what I’ve learned. If you’re already a subscriber or looking to become one, don’t worry– you won’t lose access to anything you have access to now.

I plan to move some rewards around and add additional rewards to several tiers. The hope is that this will this attract more patrons, as well as making it easier for me to fulfill my obligations each month. (The latter has been difficult at times, what with the Other Job eating between 65 and 75 hours a week since the start of this year.)

Here’s a breakdown of proposed changes.

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This is an excerpt from a short story I wrote way back in 2011. I was going through a particularly rough patch, and I channeled it into a story about a guy haunted by loss and a series of unforgivable mistakes. It’s something of a dark science fiction mystery. Enjoy!

Ethan knew how this worked.

The assistant in the crisp white scrubs would read the questions to him one by one to verify the answers he had given on the form. It was his job to sit on the edge of the paper-lined exam table and give the man the answers he wanted.

“Occupation?”

“Job seeker.”

“Parents?”

“Deceased.”

“Spouse? Children?”

“No. None.”

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Liquid Cool cover

I’m told you’re supposed to start book reviews with something positive. Liquid Cool isn’t the worst book I’ve ever read. It’s not the most offensive, or the most appalling. It isn’t even the most poorly edited. But that’s probably the extent of the positive things I can say about it.

Liquid Cool passes itself off as cyberpunk detective novel, but calling it that is a bit of a stretch. Cruz is a laborer in generically-named Metropolis. He restores cars and does odd jobs, none of which are particularly interesting, or of much interest to him. What Cruz really wants is to be a detective.

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Movie poster for Blade Runner 2049

A few weekends ago I finally got around to watching Blade Runner 2049, the long-awaited addition to the cyberpunk phenomenon that started with Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? And I have to say, I’m impressed. 2049 far exceeded its predecessors.

In this review I’ll discuss what I liked and didn’t like about the movie. I’m also going to talk about some disagreements I have with the underlying premises of the original book and film. There will be mild spoilers. If you haven’t watched 2049 yet, I highly recommend you do so! This review will be waiting for you when you get back.

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Interesting fact: my Favorite Reads of 2018 is one of the most viewed articles on this site. It’s ranked 4th by traffic, behind only articles about Ingram Spark and Kindle Direct Publishing. This surprised me. It also tells me that people really enjoy these end-of-year summaries, and that’s more than enough reason to do another one.

Before we get into the meat of this list, a disclaimer: this isn’t a ranking of books that hit the best seller lists or received a lot of publicity. These are my personal favorites among the books I had the chance to read this year. There are fewer than last year because, unfortunately, the Other Job took a huge bite out of my free time. I haven’t had a chance to do nearly as much reading as I would have liked.

This list covers a range of genres, and many if not all of the authors are indies. (Read indie books! There are a ton of incredible stories out there from indie authors, their books are often more affordable than traditionally published ones, and you’re helping someone fulfill their dreams. What could be better than that?)

A word on how I evaluate books: I’m intrigued by new and unique concepts, subversion of expectations, and genre blending. Bonus points if it makes me laugh. Comparing most of these books to each other would be impossible, so they’re organized alphabetically by title. If you’d like to read more, each heading links to my review of that book.

Now, without further ado, here are my favorite reads of 2019!

Continue reading “Favorite Reads of 2019”

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I know I’ve spent a lot of time the last couple of weeks keeping you up to date on the dumpster fire that is the Other Job. Now it’s time to update you on the good stuff– otherwise known as what I’ve been writing.

Inspired by real-life events, I’ve been working on a series of short science fiction stories about the experiences of a Load Master working for Baron Cargo, a fly-by-night freight hauling outfit operating on a backwater iceball planet. Lowered Expectations went live on Patreon on November 19th, and highlights the often catastrophic results of the “we’re not going to worry about this problem right now– it’ll be fine” style of management.

Continue reading “Looking Ahead”

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In the distance, distorted by the nutrient gel filling the stasis tank, klaxons blared.

The vat’s seal popped, exposing him to the sting of cold, dry ship-board air. Marc’s breather unit detached, followed by the connections that kept his body functioning through the long dark sleep. The klaxon became louder, more immediate.

Red emergency lights strobed as he opened his eyes, illuminating a dimly lit storage hold. He had just enough time to realize that this was not the comfortable passenger carrier he’d gone to sleep on before the stasis pod tilted upright and dumped him out on the dirty metal decking. The nutrient gel steamed as it flowed down a conveniently located drain. Icy metal welcomed him, naked and shivering, back into the real world.

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It’s hard to believe that yet another summer is nearly over. The leaves are turning yellow in my corner of the world, and the infamous low-lying areas experienced their first frost a few weeks ago. Where does the time go?

In my case, time flies when you’re screaming busy. I’ve been invited back for Part II of a superb speculative fiction anthology, Trumpland 2020: Divided We Stand, and am currently working on my entry.

Hel’s Fury, my submission for the first Trumpland collection, was extremely dark. It was kind of a worst case scenario, a hodgepodge of national news and the worst of my state’s own tendencies.

I’m happy to announce that my as-yet-untitled submission to 2020 will be much brighter. My goal is to highlight some of the good in Alaska and Alaskans, the spirit of community and resistance that I grew up with and still see occasionally in Alaska’s remote corners.

I’m also exploring Patreon as an avenue to get my short fiction in front of more readers and support myself while doing it. The first wave of September tier rewards are now live and I’m particularly excited about this month’s story, which digs into the origins of my cyborg OC Frank the Tank.

As some of you who’ve been with me the longest may know, Frank started out as a bit character in a piece of flash fiction.

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