Tag Archives: speculative fiction

Short Story in Interzone #265

On a cold January night in America, Donald J. Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign — still widely considered to be nothing but a joke in appallingly poor taste at the time — blustered its way towards the first Republican primaries.

And for reasons that I still do not fully comprehend, the following statement clattered out of my keyboard:

It is widely recognized that the candidacy of Mr. Trump is a phenomenon long lacking a firm scientific explanation.

And because I lacked the good sense to just stop, I kept on typing.

The result:  one of the strangest stories I’ve ever written.

The title alone–which is rather exceptionally not fit for print here–says it all.

At some point, Dr. Axsel Scinder, the morally ambiguous protagonist (?) of the story, showed up in my writing and I realized he was the originator of this particular line of inquiry:

Streaked with Toner. In the latter stages of Dr. Axsel Scinder’s investigations–as the funding dried up in the aftermath of the economic crisis and the high-rise Institute crumbled around him–he found himself obsessively viewing projected (and thus grotesquely enlarged) cine-loops of the Presidential candidate.

And the story goes on from there, ever more intricately entwining itself in madness, manifest through (as one reviewer put it) “the sheer bravado of this text BEING the Trump phenomenon itself.”

Already, many aspects of this satirical work of fiction have turned out to be prescient:

Of course, Trump won.

His candidacy truly turned out to be indicative of “hedonistic and utilitarian desires manifest in widely suppressed middle-American white culture,” as Dr. Scinders puts it in the story.

And instead of the joke that everyone took him for early on, the President-elect has turned out to be worthy as an object of study.

But perhaps the most uncanny parallel to date emerged in CNN’s actual coverage of “The Moment America Knew:”

In that moment, in the early hours of November 9 after nearly two years of an unprecedented and at times unbelievable campaign, the Empire State building glowed an uninterrupted red. Its facade bore a stories-high projection of Donald Trump: America’s next President.

Donald Trump,

And if you pick up Issue #265 of Interzone, the award-winning magazine of speculative fiction where the story appeared, you’ll see exactly where this image dovetails into the strange investigations of Dr. Axsel Scinders that I had confabulated some 10 months before.

On-Techno-Erotic-Trump...-illustration-by-Dave-Senecal

Illustration by Dave Senecal (senecal.deviantart.com)


Interzone-265-Cover-by-Vincent-Sammy-thumb“On the Techno-[*] Potential of Donald Trump under Conditions of Partially Induced Psychosis” by Ken Hinckley. In Interzone,  No. 265, pp. 44-53. July/August 2016, ed. by Andy Cox.

  • [*] Full title redacted for this web site

[Contents of Interzone #265].

Available from: [Amazon] [Weightless books]

Cover art by Vincent Sammy

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Short Story: Six Names for The End

SIX NAMES FOR THE END

Time to say goodbye.

nature futures iconMy latest confabulation is now available at Nature, in the award-winning Futures column. It was a fun piece of fiction to write — short, sharp, and packing a mighty wallop — and I hope that you enjoy reading it, too.

As well, you can find my post about the writing of this story on The Futures Conditional blog, also hosted by Nature.

Coming up shortly, my next short story is currently slated to appear in Interzone issue #265 in July. It’s a mighty strange one, which steps on pretty much every third rail known to mankind, and with even a title that has the potential to raise a large number of eyebrows.

What can I say, I try to keep things interesting around here. (grin).

Nature cover“Six Names for the End” by Ken Hinckley. In Nature, Vol. 534, No. 7607, p. 430. June 15, 2016. Futures column. [Available to read online for free]

Published by Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved. DOI: 10.1038/534430a

Nature Futures 2 Anthology, featuring “The Ostracons of Europa”

Leading speculative fiction publisher Tor Books has just come out with Nature Futures 2, an anthology of 100 provocative science-fictional visions of the future. (Available on Kindle and the other usual suspects.)

And that cover! Pretty darned spectacular:

Nature Futures 2 (front cover) (Credit: JACEY http://www.jacey.com)

Credit: JACEY http://www.jacey.com/

The editors, Colin Sullivan and Henry Gee, hand-picked their favorite stories for this anthology, all drawn from the last several  years of the award-winning Futures column from Nature.

The anthology thereby features many award winning authors, from Elizabeth Bear and Rachel Swirsky to Gregory Benford and Mike Resnick, to a personal favorite short-story writer of mine, the inimitable Ken Liu.

And I’m thrilled to say that my contribution, The Ostracons of Europa, made the cut as well!

The Ostracons of Europa (book cover)

 

The anthology is only available as an e-book, but just for fun, and by way of celebration, I put together a special print edition of The Ostracons of Europa available as a stand-alone story–a collector’s item of sorts.

It’s a very short story and makes for a very short book, but what the heck.

The paper-book format draws out the tension of the story–by judicious use of chapter breaks–plus it’s hard to beat the feeling of riffling through those creamy antique-white sheets of finely compacted pulp…

But just to be safe, and since in my scientific work I push at the crackling-with-electricity and fuming-with-sulfur frontiers of technology, the book also includes a coupon code so you can download a free electronic edition at your leisure 🙂

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.

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.