Tag Archives: writing

Short Story: The Totem of Curtained Minds

My latest short story appears today in the new issue of Fiction River:Time Streams, a collection of 15 great time travel stories by newcomers and established professional writers alike, edited by Dean Wesley Smith.

I’ve really enjoyed the first two volumes of Fiction River, so I hope you’ll check it out, and of course I hope that you enjoy my contribution, The Totem of Curtained Minds, as well. It’s really an honor to be included in this volume with so many other great writers, pulled together by a widely respected editor like Dean.

The Totem of Curtained Minds is a moving story with a nice strong theme to it that I wrote in a paroxysm of blind inspiration from nothing more than the title. I often write short stories this way, pulling ideas from thin air and just letting the story come to me as it must, which is great fun and a great way to come up with some really unique ideas.

FR-Time-Streams-just-front-200x300

“The Totem of Curtained Minds” by Ken Hinckley.

In Fiction River: Time Streams, Vol. 1, No. 3, August 20th, 2013.

Edited by Dean Wesley Smith (series editors: Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch).

Now available in electronic and trade paper editions from your local bookseller, Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.

Update: Time Streams, including my story, is now also available in audio from Audible.com.

Short Story: The Ostracons of Europa

"The Ostracons of Europa" in Nature

THE OSTRACONS OF EUROPA

A measure of life.

The current issue of Nature features my short story The Ostracons of Europa, a nifty story-of-revelation set on (you guessed it) Jupiter’s mysterious moon Europa.

The story appears in Nature’s long-running (and award-winning) Futures column of short speculative fictions, edited by Colin Sullivan. I hope you enjoy it.

Update: The editors at Nature picked my story as their favorite of the month for July 2013, and feature it in their free podcast, read by Henry Gee! Also available as an MP3 Download.

I’ve also got a short story coming out in Fiction River: Time Streams, edited by Dean Wesley Smith, coming out next month (Aug. 20th, 2013). For details check out my Fiction tab.

Nature-Ostracons-Europa-cover-full“The Ostracons of Europa” by Ken Hinckley. In Nature, Vol. 499, No. 7456, p. 120. July 3rd, 2013. Futures column. [Available to read online for free]

[Also available as a Nature Futures podcast and MP3 Download.]

Published by Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved. DOI: 10.1038/499120a.

On Success in Creative Endeavors: How to Write Literary Masterpieces of Sheer Gilded Genius by Dumpster Diving

My alter-ego has a guest blog up on the Penumbra magazine site today that talks about how to succeed at creative endeavors. You know, writing and artwork, music and sculpture. All the good stuff.

And yes, scientific research is very much a creative endeavor as well.

In this short essay I also recount a story that Gary Starkweather, the inventor of the laser printer, used to tell about how he evaluated start-up companies, and I promise you will laugh when you hear how he did it.

I used to frequent the hardware lab where Gary worked before he retired so I consider myself very lucky to have spent a lot of time talking shop with him and enjoying his jokes. And this one is one of my favorite of his stories that he would tell about working in Silicon Valley. Great fun.

How to Write Literary Masterpieces of Sheer Gilded Genius by Dumpster Diving

PS: Gary was also prominently featured in Malcolm Gladwell’s recent essay in the New Yorker about The Creation Myth. Seek it out – it’s a great read on the truth about innovation!

Happy New Year, Fiction Tab, Story Published

Hi Folks and happy new year to you all. The blog has steamrolled past a thousand subscribers now (wow that came fast!) so welcome to all who have joined recently. And definitely feel free to leave a comment, question, or provocation– for me at least, a great post usually requires a great question to spur the dark recesses of my brain, so have at it if there’s a thought burning a hole in your mind.

I have a new post in the works about the remarkable proliferation of devices in my briefcase which will be up soon… quite a fascinating little study in the digital ecology of e-readers and other gadgets that is turning out to be.

In the meantime, I’ve added a Fiction tab to the blog header– I’m a research scientist by day, a writer of offbeat speculative tales and other literary abominations by night. Occasionally I even write stories that other people actually like to read. I’ll post any new publications in my treasury of wayward fictions up there as they come through the pipeline.

I recently made a sale to Penumbra, a new professional-paying speculative fiction magazine from Musa Publishing, and the issue with my short story just went live a few days ago. It speculates on an unlikely bit of direct-input display technology that every guy secretly wishes he had. Check out my funny little tale and all the other great stories in the issue if you want an entertaining read.

“Piss Match,” written as Alistair Ainscott, in Penumbra, Vol. 1 No. 4 (Musa Publishing), January 2012. Professional market (5¢/word). [Kindle]

A high-tech urinal, a pointless workplace confrontation– what could  possibly go wrong?

You can help support a great new speculative fiction magazine by subscribing to Penumbra. Many established authors– as well as newcomers like me– appear in the pages of the magazine.

Thanks and I sincerely hope the new year finds you well.

The Fractured State of Reading and Publishing

The bad news: I dropped my Kindle this morning.

The good news: I caught it before it hit the floor.

The even worse news: In so doing, I slammed it against the corner of my desk, smashing the e-ink screen into a starburst of gray, black, and white-plaid shards:

The newly fractured landscape of my kindle screen.The man pictured in the screen saver offers his disapproval with a withering half-frown, a my-oh-my-what-have-thee done expression as he finds himself trapped forever in this doomed terrain of shattered e-ink.

So, I guess it’s back to paper for me until my new Kindle arrives.

For a long time I never thought I would have any use for a Kindle. After all, who wants to read on a computer? And what about marking up the text, dogearing pages, or having more than one book open on my desk at a time?

Well, those behaviors are mostly my self-fueled obsessions when authoring original works of nonfiction. For recreational reading, the mechanisms for highlighting passages and bookmarking pages on the Kindle are, while somewhat clumsy and indirect, still good enough to get the job done.

And then there’s the instant gratification aspect.

This weekend up I was up at my cabin, at 3000′ elevation and nestled deep in the alpine pinnacles of the Cascade Crest, and I decided that I wanted to read another one of the mystery anthologies edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg because I recently read By Hook or By Crook on the recommendation of Kristine Kathryn Rusch and it was fantastic.

So I just brought up the book in the Kindle store, paged through the related reads, and within sixty seconds of the impulse I was reading Between the Dark and the Daylight.

But now I have to read the bloody thing on my smartphone until my new Kindle arrives.

And while I wait, it occured to me that the fractured Kindle screen pictured above strikes a perfect image of the publishing industry and the entire state of reading these days. The old world has been shattered by feedback loops in technology and ongoing market forces that just keep reinforcing one another. Paper books ain’t going away soon, but I’ll probably live to see the day where they are uncommon for most titles. Bookstores will be relegated to specialty boutique status, like the camera and stationery stores populating the deserted shoals of strip-malls.

And you know what that smells like to me?

Opportunity.

The Courier was one example of how these shifts might spawn whole new experiences or categories of devices. The Amazon Tablet might well be another. But whatever the next hot gadget or gizmo is, rest assured, I feel like a technological wolf, scenting a long series of innovations-to-come in the shifting winds, and I’ll be looking to make a killing. :-) What of tablets with pen and multi-touch? What of Nicholas Chen’s Multi-Slate Reading System, a federation of cheap slates that you can scatter about your office like the glossy marketing brochures you get in the mail, tossed aside for the day where you may or may not read them? What of flexible, paper-like displays?

We’re still in the stone age here, folks, as far as e-readers are concerned. We’ll look back fondly on the Kindle and its ilk as the quaint auto-buggies that presaged a sleek, sophisticated, and nearly unrecognizable future.

That’s where I want to be, even if I have to cobble it together with clunky prototypes, Frankenstein monsters of acrylic and delrin etched out by the laser cutter of my dreams.

In the meantime, you could do a lot worse than to follow Kristine Kathryn Rusch and her husband, Dean Wesley Smith, as they talk about what this means for readers and writers and the publishing industry writ large.