Shineanthology’s Weblog

An anthology of optimistic, near future SF

Archive for November, 2010

SHINE excerpts: “Twittering the Stars”

While most story excerpts from the Shine anthology have appeared already at DayBreak Magazine, I decided to post them here, as well (after all, this *is* the Shine website). This is the eighth one: “Twittering the Stars” by Mari Ness:

Note 1: Indeed, it’s a story told completely in tweets, and like the Twitter website, the most recent tweets show up on top. Yet, “Twittering the Stars” is written in such a way that you can read it in either direction (from top to bottom or vice-versa) and it still works beautifully.

Note 2: Our current astonauts are already using Twitter, sending twitpics from the International Space Station (via BoingBoing; via io9) from astronauts Jose Hernandez (@Astro_Jose) and Souichi Noguchi (@Astr_Soichi), who are both on Twitter. Simply breathtaking, indeed!

Note 3: when I was thinking about a name for the online magazine accompanying the Shine anthology, ‘Dawn’ immediately came to mind, but eventually I figured ‘DayBreak’ worked a bit better. I wasn’t aware of the ‘Dawn’ spacecraft concept — pictured below the excerpt — that NASA was (is?) developing for solar system exploration.

@the28thkarenbear Well, being the sweetest out of 6 doesn’t mean much.
6:54 pm March 13th, 2052 from distweet in reply to the28thkarenbear

@the28thkarenbear AWW. You are the sweetest person on the planet.
5:23 pm March 11th, 2052 from distweet in reply to the28thkarenbear

I probably could concoct some alcoholic thing from my plants, but probably not the best idea.
1:19 pm March 10th, 2052 from distweet

Still, if you’re reading this, please respond. Just so that I don’t feel so alone.
10:42 am March 8th, 2052 from distweet

Right. Keep forgetting that it now takes hours for my tweets to reach you and hours for you to respond.
10:42 am March 8th, 2052 from distweet

Is anybody reading this? Anybody?
7:18 pm March 7th, 2052 from distweet

I wish all of you could see this with me.
3:01 am February 26th, 2052 from distweet

Slightly upsetting to realize that a supernova is much brighter than Earth, but it’s so beautiful.
5:18 pm February 23rd, 2052 from distweet

We’re watching the Betelgeuse supernova too. It’s—I can’t tell you how spectacular it is from here. Only the sun is brighter.
5:16 pm February 23rd, 2052 from distweet

To make up for it, A had pictures of little red envelopes on our hand screens, that exploded into fireworks when we thumbed over them.
8:03 pm January 23rd, 2052 from distweet

A celebrated Chinese New Year today by opening every door on the ship. I think she just wanted to catch T naked.
8:02 pm January 23rd, 2052 from distweet

Sorry for the long silence. Just finding that I don’t have much to say. I’m caught in the silence of stars.
4:02 pm October 12th, 2051 from distweet

@frogheart29 My first niece! Congratulations! I wish I could hold her. Show her pictures of me for me, will ya?
7:43 pm May 17th, 2051 from distweet in reply to frogheart29

And when the plants are growing, they’re growing in weird directions.
12:49 pm May 5th, 2051

@loucheroo Oh, we’re fine for food even without the garden. I just miss biting into a real tomato, you know?
12:42 pm May 5th, 2051 from distweet

I think the plants know we’re leaving the sun.
10:31 am May 4th, 2051 from distweet

The garden isn’t producing as much as expected. We should have everything—real soil, water, fertilizer, robot pollinators—
10:31 am May 4th, 2051 from distweet

I keep finding myself looking out the portholes in the gardens and labs and in our living area, and wanting to sing to the stars.
6:02 pm April 23rd, 2051 from distweet

Trying to figure out how K passed the psych tests to get on here. I know, double PhD, quan comp/eng, 8 years Chinese Air Force. Still.
3:22 am March 27th, 2051 from distweet

Ok, our worst mistake? Letting R bring along his horror film collection. In space no one can hear you scream. Yeah, right.
4:06 am March 7th, 2051 from distweet

I say I keep everyone breathing.
10:13 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

T says he keeps everyone alive. Not that anyone’s needed a doctor yet, and we haven’t seen him do anything else except watch the stars.
10:12 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

A says she’s the only one with mission for the entire trip. The rest of us stop after we mine the iridium/lithium.
10:12 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

K and R say they are piloting the ship. Without them, no iridium/lithium.
10:11 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

Major fight broke out over who has the most important job on the ship. M says lithium entire point of trip.
10:11 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

Sigh. SOME people have no idea how to share living quarters. You’d think a doctor of all people would be less of a slob.
8:11 pm January 24th, 2051 from distweet

Excerpt from “Twittering the Stars” by Mari Ness. Copyright © 2010 by Mari Ness.

Picture credits:

Mari Ness lives in central Florida, and likes to watch space shuttles and rockets leap into the sky. Her work has previously appeared in numerous print and online venues, including Fantasy Magazine, Hub Fiction and Farrago’s Wainscot. She’s still hoping to spend time in a space station some day.

Also, check out the exclusive interview Charles A. Tan with her at SF Signal.

Review Quotes:

I started reading the story from the beginning… then realised that it’s written in the present and what I really should do is start at the end of the story and read forward! Make sense? (It will if you tweet yourself) And I loved it. Cleverly constructed, the author manages to tell a heartbreaking story across the time period of four years. We see the main character go from an over-excited and slightly egotistical botanist going on a space mission to a deeply thoughtful, sad and very humane being. A very clever piece of writing and one I’d recommend.

SF Revu;

One of the most original stories I’ve read in years is Twittering the Stars by Mari Ness, which is constructed entirely of tweets (messages of 140 characters or less) and tells the story of a deep space crew mining lithium and iridium – and a discovery that will change them all forever.

Explorations: the Barnes & Noble SciFi and Fantasy Blog;

and my personal favourite, Twittering the Stars by Mari Ness: an account of a space expedition, told as a series of tweets.

Twittering the Stars really made me think about how we tell our stories.

Catherine Hughes;

In the case of Mari Ness’ Twittering the Stars, the literary constraint is structural. What could have been little more than a gimmicky format (the clue is in the name) is used to break a tale of unlucky asteroid miners into pithy, revealing chunks that comprise a grippingly personal narrative.

New Scientist;

Mari Ness offers a formally challenging tale of an astronaut gardener’s tweets, and the messages are even presented in reverse chronological order, which makes for an evocative experience. “Discussion over what to do with T’s body” is just one of many powerful lines, but the story is hurt by an uninspired little fart of a title: Twittering in Space.

(Editor’s note: actual title is Twittering the Stars.)

SciFi Wire;

Twittering the Stars by Mari Ness could be interpreted as gimmicky due to its use of the Twitter format but Ness makes the most out of her medium. The story immediately engulfs you in the drama and wins you over to the protagonist’s side. What’s deceptive about the piece is that it’s quite lengthy but because Ness uses Tweets, it doesn’t feel overbearing. Another bonus is that the story could be read in reverse order and would still be just as relevant.

Charles A. Tan;

A second story I want to mention is Twittering the Stars by Mari Ness. De Vries is apparently a big fan Twitter. He mentions the medium a number of times in the introductions to the various stories. I’m not a great fan my self, I will sacrifice knowing things now to knowing them in a bit more detail at a time of my own choosing but you can’t deny it’s popularity. Ness wrote a story that is completely conveyed in the form of Tweets and starts with the newest message at the top. The story is that of a space ship returning to earth after visiting the asteroid belt. Clearly something has going wrong en route and we gradually work our way back to the point where we find out what. This story can be read in the reverse order as well and that makes it pretty unusual. It’s a very interesting and quite succesfull experiment in using such a new medium for literary purposes.

Val’s Random Comments;

The one story I disliked immensely for its twitter format; for me this kind of short paragraphs interspersed with the twitter paraphernalia is annoying in the extreme; otherwise the content seemed interesting enough with a space expedition and some biology experiments, but I just hate fiction formatted like that…

Fantasy Book Critic;

An interactive map of SHINE anthology story locations:

US:Buy SHINE at Amazon.com! Buy SHINE at Barnes & Noble! Buy SHINE at Borders!Buy SHINE at Powell's Books!

UK:Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith!Buy SHINE at Waterstone's! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

Independents:Buy SHINE at the IndieBound!Buy SHINE at Books-A-Million!Order SHINE via Goodreads!

Canada:Buy SHINE at Amazon Canada!Germany:Buy SHINE at Amazon Deutschland!India: Order SHINE at Flipkart!

SHINE podcast: ” Castoff World”


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As some of you may have noticed through io9, here is the wonderfully narrated podcast—by the phenomenal Kate Baker—of Kay Kenyon’s “Castoff World”.

Read the full story at io9.

Podcast:


Castoff World mp3

Enjoy!

Picture credits:

Kay Kenyon’s latest work, published by Pyr, is a sci-fantasy quartet beginning with Bright of the Sky, a story that introduced readers to the Entire, a tunnel universe next door. Publishers Weekly listed this novel among the top 150 books of 2007. The series has twice been shortlisted for the American Library Association Reading List awards. The final volume, Prince of Storms will appear in January 2010. Her work has been nominated for major awards in the field and translated into French, Russian, Spanish, Czech and audio versions. Recent short stories appeared in Fast Forward 2 and The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume Two. She lives in eastern Washington state with her husband. She is the chair of a writing conference, Write on the River, and is currently working on a fantasy novel. All of her work has happy endings, except for those with characters who, alas, must die.

Also, check out the exclusive interview Charles A. Tan did with her at SF Signal.

Review Quotes:

Kay Kenyon’s fantastic Castoff World chronicles the life of Child, a young girl whose entire existence has been spent on a garbage island adrift in the ocean. Her only companionship is a sickly grandfather and something she calls Nora — a Nanobotic Oceanic Refuse Accumulator that has continued its mission of collecting pollutants from the water, breaking them down, and transforming them into “good stuff.”

Explorations: the Barnes & Noble SciFi and Fantasy Blog;

Likewise the events of the touching Castoff World by Kay Kenyon are restricted to a tiny stage — a makeshift Pacific raft — that nonetheless serves as an effective microcosm of broader ecological concerns.

New Scientist;

Kay Kenyon’s wonderful story Castoff World of a young girl’s life aboard a floating reclamation centre;

Catherine Hughes;

Castoff World by Kay Kenyon has an amazing dreamlike feel to it. It’s about a girl, her Grappa (older grandfather figure) and a boat called Nora drifting on the ocean. It’s about truth and having to fend for yourself. It’s a bit Big Blue in its feel and the ending made me well up and sigh that Child will now no longer be alone. Beautiful.

SF Revu;

The last story I want to mention is Kay Kenyon’s Castoff World. The story is about Child and her Grappa floating around on a barge originally intended to clean up the Ocean of pollutants like plastics. The barge has long since lost contact with the people who designed and ran it and it is now floating freely on a dangerous ocean, collecting ever more rubbish. We see the story from Child’s perspective. It’s a very touching story, I particularly liked the subtle presence of artificial intelligence. Beautifully written. This one is probably my favourite in the entire collection.

Val’s Random Comments;

A story about the “friendship” between the orphan Child and Nora, a “Nanobotic Oceanic Refuse Accumulator” aka “an ocean garbage eating artificial island” which is Child’s only known home. While a bit too short, this story hearkens back to the traditional lost in the world adventure and it’s wonderful.

Fantasy Book Critic;

An interactive Google Map of story locations from the SHINE anthology:

US:Buy SHINE at Amazon.com! Buy SHINE at Barnes & Noble! Buy SHINE at Borders!Buy SHINE at Powell's Books!

UK:Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith!Buy SHINE at Waterstone's! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

ELECTRONIC:Buy SHINE at MobiPocket!Buy SHINE at Amazon Kindle!Buy SHINE at MobiPocket!

Independents:Buy SHINE at the IndieBound!Buy SHINE at Books-A-Million!Order SHINE via Goodreads!Order SHINE via Pick-a-Book!

Canada:Buy SHINE at Amazon Canada!

Germany:Buy SHINE at Amazon Deutschland!

India: Order SHINE at Flipkart!


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