I am proudly participating in the 2011 Clarion Write-a-Thon, both as a sponsor and as a writer.  My writing goal is to revise the six stories I wrote when I attended Clarion 2010, and get them out the door and submitted somewhere.  Here’s an overview of the six stories; I’ll post more details each week.

I think the Clarion Writers’ Workshop is a marvel–the UCSD incarnation and its Clarion West sister–and worthy of support from both writers and readers.  Take a peek at my other posts on Clarion to get an idea of how wonderful, challenging, crazed, and successful the program and my classmates have been.

The Stories:

The Last Cup

Jack has been stolen away, taken Under The Hill by sinister forces: a Pooka that wants a promotion to Nightmare, an unspeakable Elder Creature, a Raven well-read in forbidden tomes.  Only…  this fearsome trio doesn’t quite have its act together: instead of giving way to terror and madness, Jack is taking it all in stride; worse yet, he seems to be enjoying the adventure.  “Thing is, you see, I would not mind a story to tell my own nephews one day around the fire.”  And sure enough, Jack and his unlikely companions find a story…


Char just wants to keep his family and friends like they have always been.  But in these first days of his teens, those efforts seem ever harder and less appreciated:  his Mom is acting like a… like a person, with all the confusions and imperfections that implies. And his friends are acting like idiots.

When his friend’s father returns from space, one of the handful of Pilots—the Goners, post-conversion beings of carbon nanostructures able to withstand the stresses of near-C travel—then Char starts thinking that if holding things together is so difficult and thankless, then maybe letting go is a better choice.  And no one has gone farther—from Earth, from their lives, from humanity—than the Goners.

Forks and Hope

A Bloom is a colony creature, a ten-meter circle of alien life that can strip an animal, or a human, down to a puddle of parts and goo in seconds.  A “Circle of Life”, one sarcastic scientist dubbed it, an “Improvised Evolutionary Device”.

Ki Ninurta is the only person to have survived stepping on one.  Isolated by her terrible scars, her survivors guilt, her loneliness and rage, she has dedicated her life to the study of the Blooms. Her defiant nighttime walks on the dangerous surface have never led to another accident, not until she found a couple of thrill seekers out on the surface:  a newbie from Earth, eager for alien skies, and a mechanic, eager for the newbie.

Ki is leading them back to safety when there was a crunch underfoot, and the sharp unmistakeable smell of a Bloom.  The slightest move, a hand put out for support, a falling tear, could set the Bloom off, as they crouch there in the dark…

Twelve and Tag

We were all there in the bar that night, the entire crew of the ship that went down under the ice of Europa, and the two new hires out of Earth.

“It’s not just ice that breaks,” Cheung said, “doing what we do.” His thin, fleet fingers mimed something snapping. “It’s equipment, people, whole ships, sometimes. Got to know each other.”

“Gotta trust,” Nava said.

And that’s what we were doing there:  getting drunk, telling stories, looking for that trust.  None of us was likely to be rich enough to afford a Transcription and revival contract:  we got dead out here, we stayed dead.  But these new crewmembers, Adra and Zandt, their stories were going somewhere dark, and dangerous…

Parts per Billion

The great colony ships of the 22nd century—generation ships that took centuries to arrive—were finally reaching their destinations, only to discover worlds already settled by FTL travel.  Annette de Grey and Sadar Mehta were a First Contact team out from Earth, trained to break the news to the arriving colonists that times had passed them on.  It was a sad, difficult work, and occasionally dangerous, as the disaster of the Ulysses had shown.

The crew of this new arrival, the Fargo, were strange, warped by contaminants in their closed ecosystem, a culture centuries out of date and warped itself by long generations in space.   And the local Chí system was notoriously elitist, concerned with propriety and appearances.  The situation was volatile enough without the Chí bureaucrats that insisted on accompanying Annette and Sadar, and worse, a reporter…

Two Things About Thrand Zandy’s Technotéque

There are two things you do not want to do when walking down the six steel steps and through the accessway into Thrand Zandy’s Technothèque. First is carry a weapon. Second is have more cash in pocket than you’re willing to spend.

If you go in packing, even something like a cryptoceramic blade, the scanners embedded in the airlock are going to catch you, or Martta’s nose for trouble will; either way, Martta will have you kissing floor before you can raise a hand or an objection. If you go in flush, Zandy will know how much you’ve got on you, sure as Martta can tell a piece from a pecker at a glance, and Zandy and his techs have more ways to separate you from your stash than there are cheap dives and bam flops in all of New Singapore Station.

That’s why I’d left my hardware in a locker at Transit Terminal Seven, and then had to walk the loop all the way back from Burton Module because I’d forgotten to add my bootknife to the pile. And that’s why I had a creditchip for two million Exchange Credits in my back pocket, and another eighty-seven creds in cash tucked into my bra.  Assuming the drop went down and I got my commission, I could afford to drink and jack my way through the eighty-seven creds. The two million creds weren’t mine…

I was in debt down to my boots, and Nana Io was threatening to kick me out into the corridors again. Xujenc was finally offering me decent contracts. I couldn’t afford a screwup; I was running out of potential employers.

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