Posts Tagged ‘short story’

For Nebula Consideration: “Our Possible Pasts”

Dear Fellow SFWA Members:

 

2113_largeFor your consideration, I present my short story “Our Possible Pasts.” It was published in April 2016 as part of the anthology 2113: Stories Inspired by the Music of Rush.

The story is now available for free to SFWA Members on the Nebula Awards Fiction forum, in the Short Story 2016 section, by gracious permission of its editor. (You must be a registered member of SFWA and logged into the Forums to access the story.) ETA 1 November 2016: The story is available in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI file formats.

If you are a member of SFWA and plan to recommend works for the upcoming Nebula Awards, I would be grateful if you would read my story and consider giving it your support.

ETA: The nomination period has opened and will remain open through February 15, 2017, 11:59pm PST. If you are a SFWA member and would like to recommend my work to other members for their consideration, please do so here on the SFWA Forum.

Thank you, and please feel free to share the word with other SFWA members.

// David Mack

#SFWApro

Midnight Rider: Love Betrayed, Love Avenged

Out_of_Tune_II-2Part two of my recent interview with the guys at trek.fm‘s Stage 9 is now live! In this segment, we talk about my new “weird Western” tale “Midnight Rider,” from the new anthology Out of Tune, Book 2, edited by Jonathan Maberry.

My story was inspired by the old English ballad “The Suffolk Miracle,” and I spoke with Stage 9 about the thought process that led me to make the creative decisions necessary for this adaptation of the ballad’s tale to a new setting and ending. We also discuss the challenges and rewards of writing short fiction versus novels.

Give it a listen!

http://trek.fm/stage-nine/3

I talk about “Our Possible Pasts”

2113_largeLast week I spoke with the guys at trek.fm’s Stage 9 about my two new original short stories. Part one of that two-part interview is now live.

If you’d like to know more about Our Possible Pasts,” my contribution to the anthology 2113: Stories Inspired by the Music of Rush, then this is the Q&A you’ve been waiting for.

We talk about the musical inspiration of the tale, the themes of the story, and how I chose to approach the tale’s ending.

So give the interview a listen and get the inside scoop on a story I’m very proud to have written.

OUT OF TUNE, Book 2 – On Sale Now!

OUT OF TUNE – Book 2, a brand-new anthology of original stories by some of today’s top authors of horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction, is out now, ready for immediate shipping and download!

Out_of_Tune_II-2  midnightrider_large

In addition to featuring new fiction by such noted authors as Delilah S. Dawson, Cherie M. Priest, Laura Anne Gilman, and Rachel Caine, OUT OF TUNE – Book 2 includes my new short story Midnight Rider,” a “weird Western” tale of love denied and trust betrayed, inspired by the classic folk song “The Suffolk Miracle.”

Edited by New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry, this volume will be sure to delight fans of every stripe of speculative fiction.

ORDER NOW: http://davidmack.pro/writing/midnight-rider/

“If You Were a Puppy, My Sweet”

by Glenn Hauman & David Mack

If you were a puppy, my sweet, you would be a wild one. You’d be big and neutered, just like human-you. You’d bound from place to place, unburdened by any thought of consequences, full of energy and bereft of conscience. Some would delight in your antics, your perverse rejection of dignity. Others would quail from your manic slobbering and call you a nuisance, but you would be excused, because that’s just how puppies behave.

If you were a wild puppy, I’d hear you yelp. I’d bear your endless braying and wonder what you were going on about. Sometimes you’d growl at people passing by, innocent people doing things you didn’t understand or thought dangerous, and you’d bare your tiny fangs in an impotent snarl. Other times, you’d bark at shadows or at nothing at all, and I would imagine that in your head you were facing down dinosaurs with mighty roars. You’d be crazy-brave.

If you were crazy-brave, you’d be impossible to housebreak. No matter how many times I tried, you’d have a mad streak in you, which would become a different streak on the floor. You’d confound me by defecating in your own den, devouring your mess, and doing it all again. I would do my best to help you stop, but you would be defiant, my sweet. You would become angry and think I was trying to stop you from doing anything you wanted, at any place and any time. And that would make you sad.

If you were sad, I’d try to make you happy again. I’d add something solid to your imbalanced diet of red meat. I’d give you a chew toy to see if it cheered you up, hoping that having something to gnaw on would satisfy you. I would enter you in a dog show, but no award would suit you. You’re too proud to be placated by such small gestures; you would never be satisfied with any bones thrown your way. You’d resist my advice until you made yourself sick.

If you got sick, I’d take care of you. I’d take you to the vet and get you all the medicine you needed, and I’d be on the watch for any of the horrible diseases you could get: Lyme disease. Worms. Fleas and mites. Arthritis. Puppy strangles. Parvovirus. But you’d slip your leash, flee into the night, make friends with the wrong animals, and come home infected with rabies.

If you came home infected with rabies, I’d watch, helpless, as you twitched and foamed at the mouth. I’d stay back as you lashed out at nearby objects, attacking and biting anything in range, trying to infect everything around you with the very thing that has driven you mad. I would try to soothe you as your voice became dry and rough and hoarse, the spasms of the muscles in your throat degrading your bark to a miserable “chorf.” I’d be heartbroken as the disease consumed your brain, and I’d wish there was something, anything, I could do to free you from its madness.

If I could free you from your madness, we’d both see you’re not really rabid, that you do what you do with the power of reason. We’d know you were once a thinking human being, responsible for your own actions—an honor you sacrificed to become this gibbering beast I can’t understand. I still wouldn’t know what you hoped to become. I couldn’t tell if your plans went ass-over-teakettle or if you planned to become this all along. I’d know you once were human, but that you chose to turn your back on that for reasons known only to you… to become something different.

If you became something different, all you’d do is howl strange love songs to your legions of the spittle-flecked, and you’d respond to nothing but dog whistles. Even so, in spite of evidence and experience, I’d try to reason with you.

If I tried to reason with you, I would soon discover it to be in vain. I’d realize you thought your fury would make you big and strong, and maybe you’d fool more than a few, but I would see the truth: I’d see that you’d shrunk, your stature diminished by your swelling savagery. You’d still think yourself a creature of courage and strength and righteousness, whose claws and fangs intimidate your foes effortlessly, but your anger and delirium and weakness would only make you an object of scorn, a walking tragedy defined by wiser souls than you. Honor and glory would desert you, and all you would be left with are your regrets and your incurable rabies.

If you were afflicted with incurable rabies, no one could save you as you weakened and drooled, a grotesque public spectacle. I would be sad but resigned to your tale’s inevitable conclusion, and you and all your puppy friends would be sad, too.

If you were sad and rabid, I would bring you with me to the wide-open rampart, and we would watch the mighty spaceships fly. I’d tell you to look up, and we’d see those ships break our world’s surly bonds to depart for alien shores. We’d wish their crews well as they explored great wonders yet unknown. Then you’d fill the lengthening dusk with your pitiful whimpers as the shiny rockets soared away … without you … never to return.

with a tip of our hats to Rachel Swirsky

(Read the backstory behind this piece, and our apology to Ms. Swirsky here.)

My stories for GISHWHES 2014

Now that the scavenger hunt known as GISHWHES is ended for this year, it’s my pleasure to share with one and all the four pieces of microfiction that I wrote for various teams.

The terms of Item #78 were to obtain from a previously published sci-fi author a story of no more than 140 words that included Misha Collins, the Queen of England, and an elopus (an elephant-octopus chimera, the mascot of the hunt).

The first three I gave to teams what had one of their members send me a selfie with one of my books, just so I could know I was supporting folks who were my fans. The fourth I sent to a German GISHER who wrote me such a heartfelt letter that I couldn’t let her down, with or without a selfie.

It was a pleasure to write these tales, and I was glad to help some folks in their quest for GISHWHES glory. Let’s do it again sometime.

Now, without further ado, I present the stories … such as they are.

 

“The People’s Queen”
© 2014 David Mack

Cold wind swept over the bridge. The pistol trembled in Charles’ hand as he aimed at Diana and her lover, Misha Collins. “You’ve cuckolded me for the last time!”

Diana sprang forward, arms wide, to shield her inamorata. “Kill me, but don’t hurt Misha!”

“Save your breath. You’ll need it after I throw you in the Thames.”

He tensed to fire—then the elopus’s violet tentacle lurched over the side of the bridge and snared him in its fearsome grip. Caught in the beast’s trunk was the corpse of Charles’ mother. In a blur they both were gone, pulled down into the gray dredge of the river, their bones breaking like dry twigs in the monster’s embrace.

Misha looked at Diana. “If they’re both dead, doesn’t that make you Queen of England?”

She was positively giddy. “Yes, I believe it does.”

(written for GISHWHES team Lumptacular, requested by member Jenna Carodiskey-Wiebe)

“The Cliffs of Dover”
© 2014 David Mack

“Majesty, we’re ruined! The Spanish Armada nears our shores!”

The Virgin Queen gazed east from the Cliffs of Dover, her mien placid. “Fear not, Walsingham. I have matters well in hand.”

“But Raleigh is slain, your grace! His ships are ablaze! We must retreat.”

“Spanish feet will not touch England’s green and pleasant lands, Sir Francis. Stand fast.” She pointed into the smoky distance, toward a churning vortex in the middle of the English Channel. “Look there. Our salvation arrives.”

Walsingham’s eyes widened. “By all that’s holy! Majesty, is that—? Can it be?”

“Yes—it’s the time-traveler Misha Collins, astride his invincible elopus Gishwhes. See how its tentacles crush our enemies? The forces of King Charles have blundered into our trap.”

“It’s a miracle!”

“No, Walsingham. It is victory by design. Prepare a feast for Misha and his monster.”

(written for Team Leaphard, requested by member Daniel Leaphard)

“The Gift”
© 2014 David Mack

“What is it, Mister President?”

“An elopus, Your Majesty.”

“Begging your pardon?”

“An elopus. An elephant-octopus chimera.”

“If you insist. Pray tell, what is it doing in my throne room?”

“Eating the prime minister of Canada, I believe.”

“Allow me to rephrase: Why is it in my throne room?”

“It’s a gift. From the United States to the people of Great Britain.”

“You shouldn’t have.”

“It was our pleasure.”

“You mistake me. I spoke literally. You should not have brought this abomination here.”

“My apologies. Excuse me. … Steve! Pack it up. We’ll give it to the French.”

“Stop!”

“Majesty?”

“I hate it, but I’ll die before I let the French have it. … Sergeant Major? Put it in Loch Ness.”

“Yes, Majesty.”

“Now then, President Collins, let us retire to the castle for dinner.”

“Please, Your Majesty—call me Misha.”

(written for Team E=MCHammeredLoves37027, requested by member Paloma Figueroa)

“Scoop”
© 2014 David Mack

Misha Collins points across the fog-shrouded heath. “There.”

I focus the binoculars, and I can’t believe my eyes. A tusked, trunked, tentacled behemoth scuttles and slouches across the moor. “What the—?”

“Isn’t it magnificent? It’s an elopus.”

“I’d call it terrifying.” I spy the surrounding area. “What kind of bait-and-switch is this? You promised me exclusive photos of the Queen of England.”

A diabolical smirk distorts Misha’s handsome face. “There she is.” He notes my confusion and nods at the creature. “Elopi are shape-changers.”

“The queen’s been replaced by an elopus?!”

“She’s always been one. The entire House of Windsor is elopi.”

Visions of the front page dance in my head. “We’re going to be rich.”

I feel the tentacle around my throat and realize I’ve been deceived. Misha is one of them.

Damn him. Damn him to hell.

(written for GISHER Marina Ginsberg and her team with an impossibly long name)

Why Google Books Is My Friend…

For years I have been trying to remember the title and author of a short story I once read during my adolescence. I was fairly certain it had been published in OMNI magazine, and I recalled clearly that it was about a couple who gain the ability to stop time whenever they maintain physical contact while in the loft bed of their New York City apartment.

I tried many times over the years to find this story by searching for various terms, with no luck. Until tonight. A simple Google search for: “the loft” “stop time” short story returned a Google Books result that I recognized instantly as the story I had been trying to remember:

“Rent Control” by Walter Tevis.

They have an excerpt of it on Google Books; it’s currently available as part of a collection titled Home and Beyond: An Anthology of Kentucky Short Stories. Which, not coincidentally, I am now adding to my Amazon wish list.

Thank you, Google Books.