For Your Consideration – Implanted

It’s awards season, the time of year that strikes fear into the heart of every writer while simultaneously stoking the flames of what-ifs.

The only thing I have that’s award-eligible this year, is my debut science fiction novel Implanted, that was published by Angry Robot this August in trade paperback and ebook. An audiobook version came out at the end of October from High Bridge Audio. I’m immensely proud of it, between its mash-up of cyberpunk and solarpunk elements, the homage to espionage and romance, and a deep-dive into communication theory.

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After all, when you’re writing about the future, you can never have too many ideas in my opinion. And mine tend to come to me snarled together, interwoven and inseparable, or in great big chains like dominoes falling into place, one right after another.

It’s gotten some great reviews, between the ambitious world and a turbo-charged second half, but I’d love for it to find even more readers. In case you’re still on the fence about the book, here’s a look at some of the themes I explore in Implanted:

This is a story about the coming climate apocalypse.

So many different potential futures stretch out before us. But as recent reports suggest, it’s increasingly likely we’ll have to pay the piper for all the damage we’ve wrought to Mother Nature, and god help us when that debt comes due. In the world of Implanted, the worst has already happened. After too many years of storm-leveled towns, receding coastlines, drought, flood, pollution, and devastating fighting over food and resources as governments try (and fail) to provide for their people, domed cities have become humanity’s only option to escape the ravages of a world pushed to the brink after so many years of abuse.

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What would make such a disruptive population shift into a constrained environment successful? Think about it. If you had to bundle up your life, abandon your home, and take refuge in a domed city, what would bring you solace?

This is (also) a story about hyperconnectivity.

For the citizens of New Worth, it’s neural implants that make day-to-day life more bearable along with the network that provides them with an unending array of information, entertainment, and ways to connect with other users. After all, when you lose everything, what’s one more piece of your humanity?

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Roughly two generations later, when the book starts, the tech has matured with the city. While everyone in New Worth is granted equal protection from the hostile environment outside, their lives inside the dome are dictated by status, credit balances, and career potential. Those with the right credentials have every advantage as they literally rise through the ranks, living out their lives on the city’s luxurious upper levels. Everyone else remains landlocked below – choked off from light, constrained by space, and constantly inundated by others tied to the same fate. The one bright spot on the horizon is Emergence – the day when the dome finally comes down, and they can return to the land.

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After all this time, implants are still most people’s go-to choice to cope with living under glass. But taming the network’s growth has become virtually impossible – too much of the city’s infrastructure relies on it – which in turn has made data security increasingly difficult.

So… this is also a story about information security.

The government and business sectors have been sinking so much money and manpower into chasing down bugs and backdoors and staying on top of new advances, they’ve had to come up with a new way of doing things. Getting back to basics, with a twist, of course. Physical instead of digital delivery of information, the twist being the DNA-encoded blood cells as the new format.

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Enter Aventine Security, a clandestine organization that specializes in shuttling information too sensitive for the network across the city. What makes their elite couriers so special isn’t the state-of-the-art training or gear they’ve been provided with, but a special property of their blood that allows them to carry encoded information that makes it undetectable, unhackable, and untraceable. And people are willing to pay top dollar for their services…and their discretion.

And perhaps most importantly, Implanted is a female-centered cyberpunk story.

Which in my mind at least we need more of. Men’s visions of our technological future dominate the field, too often filled with oversexualized women with problematic characterization (dentata’s anyone?). The list of women publishing cyberpunk is short though memorable (frex. Pat Cadigan, Laura Mixon, Madeline Ashby, KC Alexander), and I humbly add Implanted to that list, where I tried to cram together as many things I love as I could, including high-tech gadgets, light espionage, romance, and hard questions about the future, while centering the female experience.

And I very much hope you’ll join me on the adventure…

New Story in Shohola Press’s Abandoned Places anthology!

I’m happy to announce my short story “Glitch” can be found in Shohola Press’s first anthology Abandoned Places, edited by George Galuchak and Christopher Cornell.

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The anthology comes out March 9th, and if you live in the Bay Area, there are some fun launch events coming up.

I recently had the opportunity to talk about the story on the Unreliable Narrators podcast with editor Chris Cornell. Other contributors are also interviewed about their stories and creative process, and the Unreliable Narrators crew always creates an entertaining podcast.

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So give it a listen, and as a bonus you’ll get a sneak peek at a special announcement from me!

And be sure to check out the anthology when it’s released. I had a blast writing my story. “Glitch” is about abandoned code bases, video games, and murder birds, and you can get a bit of a sense for the story’s aesthetic based on the related Pinterest page.

New Year, New Words

Can’t believe it’s 2018 already and we’re already well into January. Lots of things to look forward to in the New Year for me and hopefully for you too!

For starters, just before the year-end break, I received my contributor copies for Flame Tree Publishing’s Agents & Spies Short Stories anthology. As with their Heroic Fantasy installment in the Gothic Fantasy series that I contributed a story to, it’s a beautiful volume, with a lovely binding and an eye-catching, embossed design with silver and gold foil stamping.

I’m thrilled to be apart of the collection. Pre-order it through Amazon or Flame Tree Publishing’s website.

In other news, Shohola Press, a new imprint founded by writer friends and all-around amazing people Chris Cornell and George Galuschak, is gearing up for their inaugural release, an anthology of stories, including one of mine!

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Abandoned Places is a “tour of the lonely, the rejected and the uninhabited. Featuring stories of fantasy, horror and science fiction by rising new authors and classic tales by familiar names.” To learn more, check out the press release with a list of all the contributors.

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And stay tuned to learn more about my story “Glitch” that will become available when the anthology releases March 9, 2018!

Heroic Fantasy Short Stories Author Copies and More!

In all the fuss of the last few weeks, my author copies for Flame Tree Publishing’s Heroic Fantasy Short Stories anthology arrived, and they are even more beautiful than I’d been led to believe. Be warned, what follows is a strip tease for book lovers everywhere.

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First the cover, with veins of gold wrapping around the front, back, spine of the book.

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Here’s another angle.

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And another. Are you feeling hot? We haven’t even peeked under the covers yet 😉

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Inside, past silky silver endpapers, we reach the lovingly detailed title page.

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What follows are stories both new and old capturing the best parts about heroic fantasy—dashing battles, brave warriors, sweeping adventures, and monsters most foul.

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My story, “Those Who Wear Their White Hair Proudly,” details a young woman’s exploits as she’s conscripted into a mysterious Order of female warriors tasked with keeping the world safe from monsters. My Pinterest board captures some of the inspiration that helped me write the story. Over at the Flame Tree Publishing blog, I talked some more about the story and my writing process.

The books are available September 29th through most online retailers, or, if you prefer, you can order them directly through the publisher’s website.

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In addition to this volume of Flame Tree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy series, I’m happy to announce I’ll also be a contributor to their Agents & Spies short story collection. Yay! I’ll have more details about that closer to its release later this year.

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New short story “No Regrets on Fourth Street” Now Available!

I’m pleased to announce my short story “No Regrets on Fourth Street” is available in the latest issue of Perihelion Science Fiction.

It’s a story near and dear to my heart — aren’t they all? — mixing action and romance with a cyberpunk future. For a sense of what I was thinking about when writing this piece, check out my Pinterest board for the project.

So I hope you enjoy the story, and be sure to check out the rest of the issue!