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Archive for SHINE excerpts

SHINE excerpt: “Overhead”

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 third one: “Overhead” by Jason Stoddard:

“Candy!” Nils Loera said.

“No,” Ani Loera told him.

“Yes!” Nils jumped over Ani’s shoulders. Another bounce took him to the corridor ceiling, where he swung ahead of her on the exposed steel beams.

Ani shook her head. At 6 years old, Nils had already formulated his most important equation: SHIPMENT = TREAT. Nils was black-haired, blue-eyed, round-faced, and an endless bundle of energy. She couldn’t help grinning at him.

I have a kid. On the moon.

And he’s cute.

“Candy!” Nils yelled, disappearing down the corridor.

Ani caught up to him at the shaker. Nils bounced up and down in front of the scarred plastic window, frowning.

“Where’s the people?” Nils asked.

“What?”

“Nobody there.”

Ani squinted through the foggy, scratched plastic. There was only one person in the airlock. His spacesuit bore a faded tag: SHAO. Jun Shao. His silver-visored helmet reflected stark gray walls and her furrowed brow.

Ani ticked an impatient tune on the cold steel walls as the shaker knocked the abrasive moon-dust from Jun’s suit. Nils tried to do the same, but his young fingers weren’t quite coordinated enough.

Eventually, the airlock door swing open. Jun stepped out, popping his helmet. His expression was blank, unreadable.

“What happened?” Ani asked.

Jun shook his head. “Nothing there.”

“Nothing there? What do you mean, nothing there?”

“No shipment.”

“No newbies?”

“No people, no parts, no nothing.”

Ani felt fear twist her guts. They’d never missed a shipment. Ever. Not for—

Not for 15 years.

Jun shucked his gauntlets and hung them under his name in the rack. He sat down on a bench and began wriggling out of his suit. Nils helped him pull. Jun gave the kid a weak grin and let Nils unlatch his boots.

“Maybe it went off-course.”

“Has it ever gone off-course?”

A sudden thought, clear and distinct, as if someone had spoken in her ear: What if this is the end of the shipments?

Ani paced. “Did you look around?”

“Yes.”

“Thoroughly?”

“Peep my stream!” Jun looked up at her. For the first time, she saw his too-wide eyes. He was terrified, too.

Ani’s watchstream buzzed, signaling a direct message. She glanced at it; messages scrolled, as watchers realized something bad was happening. They’d be looking to her for direction.

What a terrible time to be Prime, she thought. She’d won the lottery last month.

“We have to go back out,” she told Jun. “We have to look for the drop. The shipment may have gone off course.”

“It’s never gone off course—”

“I know. But we have to look.”

Jun stopped moving and just looked at her, his face an unreadable mask of exhaustion. Ani wondered how many shifts he’d run in a row. Two? Three? More?

“Put your suit back on,” she told Jun.

Nils stopped helping Jun with his suit and looked up at her, frowning.

Ani sighed and addressed the nearest surveillance dot: “Anyone else with outside experience and a suit, come down. We need to make as many tracks as we can.”

Slowly, Jun started putting his suit back on.

“No candy?” Nils asked.

Ani forced a smile. “I’ll see what I can do.”


Excerpt from “Overhead” by Jason Stoddard. Copyright © 2010 by Jason Stoddard.

Picture credits:

Jason Stoddard is trying to answer the question, “Can business and writing coexist?” with varying degrees of success. Writing-wise, he has two books coming out in 2010 from Prime Books: Winning Mars and Eternal Franchise. He’s also been seen in Sci Fiction, Interzone, Strange Horizons, Futurismic, Talebones, and many other publications. He’s a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and the Sidewise Award. On the other side, Jason leads Centric / Agency of Change, a marketing agency he founded in 1994. In this role, he’s a popular speaker on social media and virtual worlds at venues like Harvard University, The Directors Guild of America, Internet Strategy Forum, Loyola Marymount University, and Inverge. Jason lives in Los Angeles with his wife, who writes romance as Ashleigh Raine.

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

Review quotes:

Jason Stoddard, whose extraordinary ability to extrapolate today’s emerging technology into tomorrow’s everyday reality, provides perhaps the book’s crown jewel with Overhead, a story of an emerging post-scarcity society.

The Guardian;

and — arguably the anthology’s standout story — Jason Stoddard’s Overhead follows a colony on the Moon through a series of potential disasters and exemplifies some of humankind’s finest traits: perseverance, ingenuity, and hope.

Explorations: the Barnes & Noble SciFi and Fantasy Blog;

Jason Stoddard’s Overhead should be made into a movie or a TV-series at least! I rooted so hard for these guys on their moon, ignored by Earth and left to struggle in the face of adversity. I can’t really explain too much as it’s a pretty involved plot and so tightly written. But I’ve given you the gist: people on the far side of the moon; ignored by those on earth; left to fend for themselves; brimful of hope, just excellent.

SF Revu;

For me this was the best story of the anthology and not surprising it is the one that involves exploration of Outer Space, namely a colony on the dark side of the moon — so it stays out of touch with humanity except for regular deliveries of technology and people that want to join — where humanity can “reboot” if needed and where the rules are designed to create a better society. In a past thread that mixes with the current one and explains how the colony came to be, we follow executive Roy Parekh setting up an insurance company with a twist. Sense of wonder, memorable characters and a superb ending made Overhead a story that induced me to follow Mr. Stoddard’s career from now on. I would love a novel that would expand this story since I think the necessary depth is there.

Fantasy Book Critic;

Jason Stoddard’s Overhead is better as summary (idealists go to the moon) than as story. In it, a good idea is damaged by characters who speak their ideologies as if quoting from an instruction manual: “’An algorithmic search of online habits can easily be correlated with tendencies towards religion, economic philosophy, gluttony, and many other undesirable influences,’ said another geek”—a geek said that? Really?

SciFi Wire;

Finally, also 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!

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 excerpts: “The Greenman Watches the Black Bar Go Up, Up, Up”

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 second one: “The Greenman Watches the Black Bar Go Up, Up, Up” by Jacques Barcia:

(UPDATE: phishers have stolen around $4 million in carbon credits [as reported in Wired, via Boing Boing]. Just to show that carbon credits are already a highly important — and interesting — item today, and will be even more so tomorrow. Ideally, SHINE stories are highly relevant, and increasingly, they prove to be exactly that…;-)

The pricking under his shirt had stopped. They talked in a dedicated moIP connection for no more than ten minutes, with only one of those spent on discussing the many zeroes being offered to Inácio as a reward and how they’d known his lover. Lúcio met them at the Shigeru Awards and apparently gave them Inácio’s contact details.

The three clients wore encrypted avatars that masked their features, appearing as nothing but dark cloaks with plasma globes for heads. But out of recklessness or sheer confidence their voices weren’t jumbled. They were all teens.

“And that’s it, Inácio. We want you to find everything you can about Gear5’s policies.” The taller avatar had an older but more casual tone. Advanced physics algorithms made the somewhat anthropomorphic illusion dodge waiters, tourists and other rich media floating in the augmented reality.

In the real world, Inácio sat at a round stone table close to the escalator leading to the avenue down below. Rush hour had passed, but the traffic systems were still operating. The street drove the cars so close to each other they looked like a single line of black bars and yellow spots. “You understand that what you’re asking is extremely unusual, don’t you?” The analyst already had three search engines running in his field of vision, along with dozens of other eydgets, including some custom market research apps, blabber feeds and text clients, sending private messages to trustworthy contacts and opening anonymous topics in professional social networks’ forums. “And your deadline is impossible to meet. I just can’t provide you a full report about this Gear5 in less than eight hours.”

“I told you,” said the third plasma globe. It had the sweet voice of a girl, but naturally distorted like a bad death metal guitar plug-in. “We should have contacted him much earlier.”

The youngest avatar seemed to turn to the angry girl and back to face Inácio. “Unfortunately, Mr. Lima, it’s a very tight window of opportunity. But we know you’re probably asking questions to your acquaintances by now and they’ll certainly ask their own in the following minutes. We couldn’t let an avalanche of gossip be spread before the markets were closed. Besides, we decided to make our move just a few hours ago when word has reached us that the company will open part of their codes tomorrow morning.” The globe’s innards were filled with a storm of pink lightning. The avatar leaned closer to Inácio. “But I don’t think you really find the task unusual, do you?”

He didn’t. There was this indigent startup wikindustry operating for eleven months now with an ever rising stock of carbon credits and these kids, whoever they were, wanted to know whether the thing Gear5 had under development, besides the occasional crowdvertising for rising mobbands they claimed to do, was sustainable or not. That all meant he had to find out everything about the company and their product using, he’d say, unconventional methods. “Like I said, the deadline is impossible,” he said.

“Just give it a try. We trust you.”

Rich teenage wallets were not uncommon, especially in the tech business. But this group was different. They were too young and seemed to have a different focus, too knew for him to clearly identify. So his only option was to treat them as a common group of aggressive investors, the kind of people he had a history of hating. “Look, I know you know exactly what that company has been developing. You won’t tell me for competitive reasons, of course, but if you are considering the investment then you’ve already measured how much money you can get from that. So why bother with carbon market regulations they’re certainly meeting? Just go there and put your cash on it.”

The young foreigner put his cloak-and-globe body back straight and raised, for the first time, a pair of ghostly hands. “You’re not getting it, Mr. Lima.” He looked like he was giving a lecture. “Money has meaning only to those old enough to remember it. No, Mr. Lima, we don’t want to put a single penny on it. We want to find out if this project conforms to our working ethics. We want to invest our brains and bandwidth on it.”

Excerpt from “The Greenman Watches the Black Bar Go Up, Up, Up” by Jacques Barcia. Copyright © 2010 by Jacques Barcia.

Picture credits:

Jacques Barcia is a speculative fiction writer and information technology reporter from Recife, Brazil. His short fiction has appeared in Brazilian, American and Romanian online markets. He’s one of the authors actively supporting Greenpunk.net and the Outer Alliance initiative. When he’s not writing, Jacques acts as the lead singer of Brazilian grindcore band Rabujos. He’s married and has the smartest, loveliest, bookishiest daughter in the world. Jacques is currently working on his first novel. He can be reached at http://www.verbeat.org/blogs/thedreammachine/.

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

Review quotes:

In a near future Recife, Brazil, Inacio Lima a middle aged former “green soldier”, haunted by the untimely death of his husband Lucio, works as a “sustainability consultant” when he is approached by some mysterious foreigners to investigate Gear5, a company that is supposed to announce a new revolutionary product and is buying carbon credits like mad. The investigation will carry Inacio to unexpected places and encounters. Another superb story that works as atmosphere, style, characters and world building.

Fantasy Book Critic;

This story is very relevant given the present-day, myopic ‘group-think’ support of carbon trading that has resulted in inevitable profligate funding as well as what is in effect fraud. In this story a cyber-jock checks out a new trading group for a team of young Turks…

Concatenation;

A mysterious group of young people ask a self-employed sustainability analyst to do some very quick work for them. But what is the real product and what is really going on?

**** 4 Stars! Mysterious, vague, and a bit confusing until all the pieces begin to fall into place. ****

First Amazon Customer Review;

And if the most radical aims of transhumanism are realised, could mortality itself become a thing of the past?

The Guardian;

The state is viewed with suspicion, while the market moves so quickly that malevolent corporations die off with a minimum of fuss. China, Brazil, tiny Vanuatu all have powerful roles in a post-superpower future.

SciFi Wire;

The Greenman Watches the Black Bar Go Up, Up, Up by Jacques Barcia — sadly, the final short story in Shine and the second one in the anthology which I could not rap my mind around. I re-read it several times and the story became clearer but again, I strongly suspect that this is for true fans of the genre.

SF Revu;

Others, like Jacques Barcia’s The Greenman Watches the Black Bar Go Up, Up, Up strive so hard to transcend present-day troubles that they teeter into transhumanist follies.

New Scientist;

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!

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 excerpts: The Earth of Yunhe”

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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 first one: “The Earth of Yunhe” by Eric Gregory (podcast of the complete story here!):

He came to us with promises of dirt. I was outside of the city that day, checking up on the outermost ring of accumulators, but I saw the whole mess on the network once it was over. I saw it from every angle, through the beady eyes of two dozen different wi-mo cameras. On some impulse that I didn’t quite understand, I brought up the most popular video now.

Xiaohao strode into Little Yunhe Square, right up to the Administrators’ Quonset hut offices. He wore the black skinweave favored by the Ecclesia—likely the first of his many mistakes—and waved his arms like an attention-starved child. “It’s time to return to our ancestral home!” he shouted. Xiao had never been a very good public speaker; he compensated for anxiety with breathtaking pompousness. “The day is today! The hour is this hour! Follow me, and we’ll raise Yunhe from new soil!”

With each word, more and more of the square’s homeless raised their wi-mos to record the madman’s performance. Two security officers outside of the Quonset hut exchanged uncertain glances and advanced cautiously, hands on the butts of their pistols.

“New soil!” Xiaohao cried again. “Smart soil from the Ecclesia, soil to reclaim Yunhe―the real Yunhe―from the ash. I’m giving this to you. We will built it together. Look! Explore!” That last bit made no sense; did he carry some of the magic dirt in his hand? Xiao went silent as something approached from offscreen. The camera jerked to one side, zoomed in on the Little Yunhe Administrators as they emerged from their offices. Papa, dressed in his trademark gray suit, took the lead.

“Father,” said Xiao, barely audible now, “I’ve brought—”

Papa moved faster than the wi-mo filmmaker could follow. When the camera found him again, the old man stood over his son, who was crumpled on the ground clutching his face. “I’m giving this to you,” screamed Xiao, and Papa reared back to kick him in the gut.

I couldn’t watch any further.

My fingers shook as I folded up the wi-mo. Could I really say that Papa wouldn’t kill him? I’d winced when I saw the video for the first time, but assumed the worst was over. After all, Xiaohao hadn’t been the first criminal beaten by our father, and Little Yunhe had never executed anyone before. My brother had come here practically wrapped in the flag of Ecclesia; of course Papa would show him hard justice, give him a week or two in the Whale. But he wouldn’t kill his own son.

Would he?

Excerpt from “The Earth of Yunhe” by Eric Gregory. Copyright © 2010 by Eric Gregory

Picture credits:

Eric Gregory’s stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Black Static, Sybil’s Garage, and more. He has also written non-fiction for Fantasy Magazine and The Internet Review of Science Fiction. Visit him online at ericmg.com.

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

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Review Quotes:

Eric Gregory’s sublimely powerful The Earth of Yunhe takes place in a region of China devastated by a flood of toxic coal waste and a dissident native son who risks everything to find a solution — a solution that could transform the entire planet.

Explorations: the Barnes & Noble SciFi and Fantasy Blog;

Eric Gregory’s The Earth of Yunhe has to be my favourite out of all of the stories in Shine. It deals with two siblings in rebellion against their father and the current state of things. Gregory’s descriptions of the world of Yunhe is tightly controlled, allowing us glimpses of a future where China could perhaps be the garden of the world. What I truly liked in this was how quickly I grew fond of the characters and to be honest, I am willing Mr. Gregory to put pen to paper and offer up a full length novel soon because he writes very well indeed.

SF Revu;

The opening story, The Earth of Yunhe by Eric Gregory is a strong one. […] Gregory weaves a very interesting tale of a displaced people, conflict within a family and nanotechnology. What I particularly liked about this story is the way the author manges to capture such a complex theme as the conflicts arising within a community of displaced people in one family. Do you resign yourself to finding your place in your new environment or try to reclaim what was lost? And what if technology allows you to reclaim but politics won’t?

Val’s Random Comments;

In the relocated village of Little Yunhe, Yuen the daughter of the “village chief” tries to save her brother Xiao who has “defected” in college to Ecclesia, a transnational organization that plays the role of a state in this environmentally troubled Earth, only to return with a discovery that may allow Yunhe to be “grounded on soil” again. However Xiao is regarded as impious and “heretic” and his brash manners on return did not help, so he got flung in jail by his father. An excellent story that works at all levels — world building, action, inventiveness and characters and a superb start to the anthology.

Fantasy Book Critic;

Eric Gregory’s The Earth of Yunhe takes the reader to a future China suffocating beneath ash and pollutants. The remedy takes the form of nanite soil a hyper-complex algorithm, but the real problem is not pollution, but the government unwilling to compromise. Highly Recommended, and a promising opening.

Suite 101;

Eric Gregory likewise goes for technical plausibility in The Earth of Yunhe, though he keeps things closer to home as his characters use social networks mobilise support for rebuilding a climate-wrecked city with nanobots in the soil.

Futurismic;

[…] a fair number of them do a credible job of successfully balancing drama and optimism without sacrificing cultural complexity. The stories here that probably do the best job with this complex balancing act are The Solnet Ascendancy by Lavie Tidhar, Sarging Rasmussen: A Report by Organic by Gord Sellar, and The Earth of Yunhe by Eric Gregory.

—Garner Dozois in the April Locus Magazine;

Also, though half the stories take place in unusual locations, few present worldviews that diverge significantly from the default Anglosaxon mindset. Interestingly, the two that go farthest are those in which the first-person narrators don’t match the gender of the authors (Eric Gregory’s The Earth of Yunhe, a happy-outcome alternate of Tiananmen Square; Jason Andrew’s Scheherazade Cast in Starlight, an upbeat version of the Iranian election Tweeter phenomenon).

The Huffington Post;

The state is viewed with suspicion, while the market moves so quickly that malevolent corporations die off with a minimum of fuss. China, Brazil, tiny Vanuatu all have powerful roles in a post-superpower future.

SciFi Wire;

Eric Gregory’s The Earth of Yunhe is a more reflective and nuanced tale of repression and rebellion. The spare prose and the nicely drawn characters reaffirm the notion that sedition is always a possibility.

—Interzone;

An interactive map of the SHINE 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!

Order SHINE via Pick-a-Book!

Canada:Buy SHINE at Amazon Canada!

Germany:Buy SHINE at Amazon Deutschland!

India: Order SHINE at Flipkart!

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

SHINE excerpts in January:

Four story excerpts of the Shine anthology have already been put up at DayBreak Magazine:

January 1, 2010:

January 15, 2010:

UPCOMING:

January 29, 2010:

NOTE: correct links for the still-to-be-published excerpts will be added after they’ve actually been published.

NOTE 2: More Shine excerpts coming in February, March & April.

Also, I’ve put up a poll at DayBreak Magazine asking: “What are your favourite DayBreak stories of 2009?” Let me know!