theferrett: (Meazel)

So I’ve been pretty terrible at writer-marketing, because I don’t think I’ve told you that one of my favorite stories of all time is available for you to read. Plus another story that’s sillier and, er, flighty.

If you’ll recall, “‘Run,’ Bakri Says” – the tale of a girl attempting to rescue her time-travelling terrorist brother from prison – was one of two stories I’ve ever written where I finished the first draft and said, “Yeah, that’s getting published.”  And lo, Sheila Williams at Asimov’s agreed, and so it was published to generally good reviews.  It’s certainly one of the few stories I’ve gotten spontaneous fan mail on.

Escape Pod thought it was worth a podcast, and so you can now read (or listen to Mur Lafferty’s emotional reading) today!  Just so’s you recall the opening:

“I just want to know where my brother is,” Irena yells at the guards.  The English words are thick and slow on her tongue, like honey.  She holds her hands high in the air; the gun she’s tucked into the back of her pants jabs at her spine.

She doesn’t want to kill the soldiers on this iteration; she’s never killed anyone before, and doesn’t want to start.  But unless she can get poor, weak Sammi out of that prison in the next fifty/infinity minutes, they’ll start in on him with the rubber hoses and he’ll tell them what he’s done.  And though she loves her brother with all her heart, it would be a blessing then if the Americans beat him to death.

The guards are still at the far end of the street, just before the tangle of barbed wire that bars the prison entrance.  Irena stands still, lets them approach her, guns out.  One is a black man, the skin around his eyes creased with a habitual expression of distrust; a fringe of white hair and an unwavering aim marks him as a career man.  The other is a younger man, squinting nervously, his babyfat face the picture of every new American soldier.  Above them, a third soldier looks down from his wooden tower, reaching for the radio at his belt.

She hopes she won’t get to know them.  This will be easier if all they do is point guns and yell.  It’ll be just like Sammi’s stupid videogames.

“My brother,” she repeats, her mouth dry; it hurts to raise her arms after the rough surgery Bakri’s done with an X-acto knife and some fishing line.  “His name is Sammi Daraghmeh.  You rounded him up last night, with many other men.  He is — “

Their gazes catch on the rough iron manacle dangling from her left wrist.  She looks up, remembers that Bakri installed a button on the tether so she could rewind, realizes the front of her cornflower-blue abayah is splotched with blood from her oozing stitches.

“Wait.” She backs away.  “I’m not — “

Want to read the rest?  Go, check it out.

And if you’re looking for some lighter fare, my comedy tale “In The Unlikely Event” – about some horrifically standardized preparations for space flight – is now available at Daily Science Fiction.  This one may make you laugh.  Or wince.  Or both.

The flight attendant speaks as though he will win an Olympic medal if he finishes this safety speech in record time.

“Today’s interstellar flight to the Taurean cluster will take approximately seventy years external-time, racking up six hours on your biological clocks. To avoid unnecessary amputations, please keep all hands, feet, and other protuberances within the boundaries of your personal cryogenics chamber….

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

It’s that time of year again, where authors everywhere point at their published works and go, “Hey, if you can nominate for the Hugos or the Nebulas, check this out!”  And I’m not sure how much that helps.  I think it’s the stories that matter, and you either remember them at the end of the year or you don’t.

(Besides, I’m told according to some who game the system that if you tell people about your stories after the nomination periods begun, you’ve already screwed up – most people either vote right on Day One or right on Day Final, without much in between.  I’m a Day Final, m’self.  And here I am, three days late.)

That said, there’s also a lot of stories you could have read during the year that maybe have slipped your mind, and so I shall mention the ones I’d like to remind you of.  I’ve linked to them online when they are available – if they’re not, and you’re eligible to nominate, let me know and I’ll send you your very hand-created copy to peruse on the privacy of your own Kindle.

Short Stories:

“Run,” Bakri Says (Asimov’s) – My rather intense story of a girl who must rescue her time-travelling terrorist brother, this is my pick for my best story of the year.  Lois Tilton at Locus (a notoriously tough reviewer) gave it a “Recommended,” and my Christmas squee came when Doctor Who writer Paul Cornell (who wrote “The Family of Blood,” one of my favorite takes on Tennant-Doctor) said that it was a “bit of a masterpiece.” Also, Tangent Online recommended it as one of their “Best of 2011″ stories.

iTime (Redstone SF) – My other time-travelling fiasco story of 2011, this one’s about a socially-inept physics student whose air-headed roommate gets her hands on the first personal time-travelling device.  Tangent Online also recommended it as one of their “Best of 2011″ stories, except they ranked this one even higher.

Novelettes:

Sauerkraut Station (Giganotosaurus) – My “Little House on the Prairie in Space” riff, this chronicles the tale of young Lizzie, who’s lived out on remote trading post Sauerkraut Station all of her life, and tells what happens to her once the war started.  I don’t know how many positive reviews this racked up on the trades, but I received more positive emails on this than anything else I published.  So I’ll ask y’all to take a look.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I figure you only have a week or two to purchase the latest Asimov’s before my story disappears from the shelves, so let’s go over the reviews for my time-travelling terrorism story “‘Run,’ Bakri Says”:

Aaron over at Fantastic Reviews Blog made it his “Story Recommendation of the Week,” saying this:

Authors have been writing stories inspired by video games since I first began reading science fiction in the 1970′s, and for far longer than that they’ve been writing fiction to illustrate the dehumanizing effects of war. Yet in “‘Run,’ Bakri Says,” Ferrett Steinmetz manages to do both in an original and powerful way….

Aaron also very kindly contacted me to ask whether he could read my story at work – he has a cool program where periodically, he reads good stories to his co-workers, and he was kind enough to choose mine.  But he won’t be reading it right away. Apparently some hack called “Connie Willis” has agreed to show up in person and read her story.

Hrmph. What does she know about writing?  Anyway….

SFRevu erroneously thinks that the time-travelling loop that Irena is caught in is a videogame, a problem my beta readers had at first, too.  (I though I’d massaged that out. Damn.) They still kindly say, “Don’t think of this just as a game story, it has a real chiller at the end. Steinmetz puts together a perfect little story.”

(And of course, there’s still my “Recommended” review from Lois Tilton, which I’m still geeked over.)

As for Sauerkraut Station,” my Little House On The Prairie in space novella (which you can read for free), Lois Tilton at Locus declined to give it a recommended review but said:

There are a lot of cold equations here, and hard choices: a Cautionary Tale about the idiocy of wars. But primarily it’s a coming-of-age story, and a positive one.

The phenomenal C.S.E. Cooney said, “It has that beautiful barbed quality. You like the protagonist so much you want to crawl right into her skin. And then stuff happens. And you can’t get out. And when the story ends, you emerge shaking…. Made my lunch afterward, muttering to myself, ‘Why do I even bother when there are such people writing?’” Which is funny, because I’ve said that about her. So yay for backscratching!

Asakiyume said, kindly, “This story feels so real, it’s hard to believe that Sauerkraut Station isn’t out there, somewhere. It’s a long story, but every moment is wonderful.”

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

"Run," Bakri Says - My Latest Story's In Asimov's!I’ve only written two stories where I finished them and went, “I’m going to sell this.”  As a writer, you live for those moments – it must be what Babe Ruth felt like when he pointed to the bleachers and smashed the run.

One of them was “As Below, So Above,” which was picked up by Beneath Ceaseless Skies and was later made into a PodCastle audio production.  The other was this story: “‘Run,’ Bakri Says,” perhaps the most powerful story I’ve ever written.  It’s certainly the only story to get a “Recommended” from Lois Tilton over at Locus, a notably tough reviewer who’s slammed some of my previous work.  (Writing a tale that impressed her was one of my minor goals for this year, so I’m especially proud.)

This story is about a girl and her mad scientist, terrorist, time-travelling brother.  It starts like this:

“I just want to know where my brother is,” Irena yells at the guards.  The English words are thick and slow on her tongue, like honey.  She holds her hands high in the air; the gun she’s tucked into the back of her pants jabs at her spine.

She doesn’t want to kill the soldiers on this iteration; she’s never killed anyone before, and doesn’t want to start.  But unless she can get poor, weak Sammi out of that prison in the next fifty/infinity minutes, they’ll start in on him with the rubber hoses and he’ll tell them what he’s done.  And though she loves her brother with all her heart, it would be a blessing then if the Americans beat him to death.

The guards are still at the far end of the street, just before the tangle of barbed wire that bars the prison entrance.  Irena stands still, lets them approach her, guns out.  One is a black man, the skin around his eyes creased with a habitual expression of distrust; a fringe of white hair and an unwavering aim marks him as a career man.  The other is a younger man, squinting nervously, his babyfat face the picture of every new American soldier.  Above them, a third soldier looks down from his wooden tower, reaching for the radio at his belt.

She hopes she won’t get to know them.  This will be easier if all they do is point guns and yell.  It’ll be just like Sammi’s stupid videogames.

“My brother,” she repeats, her mouth dry; it hurts to raise her arms after the rough surgery Bakri’s done with an X-acto knife and some fishing line.  “His name is Sammi Daraghmeh.  You rounded him up last night, with many other men.  He is — “

Their gazes catch on the rough iron manacle dangling from her left wrist.  She looks up, remembers that Bakri installed a button on the tether so she could rewind, realizes the front of her cornflower-blue abayah is splotched with blood from her oozing stitches.

“Wait.” She backs away.  “I’m not — “

The younger soldier yells, “She’s got something!”  They open fire.  Something tugs at her neck, parting flesh; another crack, and she swallows her own teeth.  She tries to talk but her windpipe whistles; her body betrays her, refusing to move as she crumples to the ground, willing herself to keep going.  Nothing listens.

This is death, she thinks.  This is what it’s like to die.

This story is in the latest issue of Asimov’s, available at many fine bookstores – or, if you have no bookstore available, you can purchase the latest issue for your Kindle for a mere $2.99.

And I feel so strongly about this story that I’ll do something I’ve done for only one other tale – if you buy this because you read the excerpt here and don’t like it, I’ll give you your money back.  That’s right; $2.99 in your pocket if you think it stinks.  I did that for “A Window, Clear As A Mirror” and had no takers, and I’m pretty sure this won’t disappoint anyone.

Anyway, take a look.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

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