Why You Should Hate Chatbots: A Measured Response
If you go back and read guys like Asimov, the general belief among a lot of mid-20th century futurists and golden-age scifi authors was that the advent of robotics and artificial intelligence would result in a paradise for human beings. Finally freed from the need to perform back-breaking, soul-draining labor, humanity would be able to pursue the truly enriching parts of life: art, culture, literature, leisure, and community.
Boy, were they ever wrong.
Robotics – automation – has been with us a long while now. Robots began to replace assembly line workers in the 60s; automated tellers began to replace bank personnel in the 80s; automated check-out is replacing retail workers now. They even got a robot patrolling the aisles at my local grocery store. None of these things – none of them – have substantively improved humanity. Incrementally, yes: cars are made faster, nobody waits in line at the bank, etc.. But mostly, these automation practices have primarily served to enrich the wealthy at the expense of the workforce.
Now, fortunately it has proven (thus far) that there are always other jobs to be had in different places. Nobody really loved working in a factory their whole life, I guess, not when they could get a job elsewhere with less noise that was more interesting and fulfilling. But, see, I’m not that convinced of this argument (which is the standard line taken to suggest automation isn’t that bad). To take the auto industry for one thing, job satisfaction among auto workers in the 1960s was high – wages were good, the job was stable, and the union was looking out for its members. Now? Things are less rosy.
Robotics and AI have been consistently sold to consumers as making their lives more convenient and they have done so. But this has been at the cost of workers, almost universally, as good jobs have been replaced or reduced. The era of machine-assisted leisure has never come to pass and it will not come to pass. We live in a world that is aggressively capitalist and work is essential to sustain our lives. The people who own and develop these machines cut the throats of poorer, less-well-connected workers and call it progress when what it actually should be called is a kind of class violence. Bigger yachts for them, two or three part-time jobs for you.
This brings me to “AI,” or, what it should more accurately be called, chatbots.
To dispense with the perfunctory up-front: Chat GPT is not intelligent by any measure of the word. It is a text compiler, a kind of advanced auto-complete. Ted Chiang describes it in The New Yorker thusly:
Think of ChatGPT as a blurry JPEG of all the text on the Web. It retains much of the information on the Web, in the same way that a JPEG retains much of the information of a higher-resolution image, but, if you’re looking for an exact sequence of bits, you won’t find it; all you will ever get is an approximation. But, because the approximation is presented in the form of grammatical text, which ChatGPT excels at creating, it’s usually acceptable. You’re still looking at a blurry JPEG, but the blurriness occurs in a way that doesn’t make the picture as a whole look less sharp.
ChatGPT is basically a search engine attached to an advanced autocomplete algorithm. It creates seemingly meaningful text by using good syntax to express stuff you can find by any series of semi-competent web searches. It doesn’t “think,” it doesn’t “know.” It’s a photocopier.
In an ideal world I might find this really cool. We do not live in that world, however, and this device will not be used in terribly positive ways. This is mostly because it seems to do something that most people don’t particularly like to do, which is think. People will (and people are) confusing what ChatGPT does with thinking, which is only accurate insofar as you believe that all thinking represents is the ability to make a degree of sense when talking to others. There is no grounding in truth, no underlying rationale that can be interrogated, there is no intentionality, and therefore no thought involved whatsoever.
When a new technology comes around, I like to consider the end-case scenarios for this technology. When this technology reaches its perfected state (a theoretical thing, to be sure), what purpose will it serve? For something like ChatGPT, I feel like this is some variation of the following:
- Chatbots are the source for all knowledge and research information.
- Chatbots are used to instruct people on skills and behaviors in lieu of teachers.
- Chatbots are used to create cheap and readily available entertainment products for the masses.
All three of these end-stage use cases I find catastrophically bad for humanity and, moreover, entirely unnecessary. To take them one at a time:
Chatbots are the source of all knowledge and research information
In this futuristic scenario, chatbots replace search engines and libraries and means of acquiring information. If you want to know something, you ask the bot, which is probably on your watch or your phone or even your wearable device of some other kind. Seems great, right?
But here’s the thing: you have no idea where this information is coming from. You, in fact, can’t know, because the bot doesn’t even know itself. As a writing professor for the past fifteen years or so, a significant portion of my time in my freshmen writing seminars has been source evaluation – how can you tell whether or not a source you find on the internet (or even in the library) is reliable or even useful and relevant? This is a skill and a very important one in a world as awash in information as ours is. Chatbots completely evade all of those skills.
In this world, you need to utterly trust the chatbot. But can you? Chatbots, like everything else, are programmed and created by humans and humans have agendas, biases, and blind spots. These will inevitably become part of the chatbot and, as a result, what its users will do is trust whatever the individual, company, or organization tells them reality is. Does Fox News and its incessant lies upset you? Does Elon Musks’s temper tantrums over not getting enough retweets give you the creeps? Well, it’s about to get irrevocably worse. Shit like this could legitimately destroy the internet itself.
Chatbots are used to instruct people on skills and behaviors in lieu of teachers
Chatbots seem like a great way to save money for schools and universities. It knows everything (it doesn’t) and it can write perfectly good papers (it can’t), so why bother paying skilled professionals when you can just stick the kids in front of a computer screen and get it to tell you what to do?
The thing is, though, that these tools cannot and will not ever be able to replace an actual teacher. You might be saying “yeah, duh! Of course!” but listen to me: The second, and I mean the exact second some administrator thinks they can lay off a portion of their faculty and replace their utility with chatbots, they will do it. They will be replaced with a vastly inferior product, but they absolutely will not care so long as the tuition money keeps flowing in.
You hear people saying “well, how is this tool any different than a calculator” and I believe every single one of these people is making a category error. The calculator is much more analogous to spell-check: a tool that saves labor in pedestrian things, like arithmetic and spelling, to enable better critical engagement in higher level thinking tasks. What people are going to try to get chatbots to do is replace the higher level thinking tasks. No more needing to decide how or why to make an argument or evaluate evidence or clarify your thinking! You can just rely on the robot to do this!
And it will be bad at it! Spectacularly bad at it! I’m already seeing this garbage float up to the surface in my classes this semester (Spring 2023) and it’s all pretty worthless. Even if, in the future, we fix the accuracy issues and address the incoherencies that come from poor prompting, this part will still remain: an object that does not think cannot replace actual thinking done by actual humans. It should not. It must not.
I am aware of the argument that states “we just need to reimagine how to teach,” and I find that this is largely wanting as an argument in any other way than the practical and short-term one. Yes, writing is going to become an unreliable tool to teach critical thinking because students will believe they can easily evade doing so by using these tools. This means a return to in-class writing (hello blue books!) which has a variety of accessibility issues and maybe even a return to oral examinations (which would necessitate smaller class sizes from a practical standpoint) and in both cases we are looking at reduced wages, a poorer working environment, and worse outcomes. Why? Because teachers are expensive and already mistreated and undervalued, and literally nothing about this makes anything better.
And they will try to replace us, especially at less wealthy institutions, especially at the adjunct level. If you’re rich, you still get a bespoke educational experience and all the critical thinking skills that go along with it. For everyone else? You’re out of luck.
Chatbots are used to create cheap and readily available entertainment products to the masses
No, really, why? What is even the point of doing this? Why would I want to hear a machine tell me a story that is, in reality, a pastiche of every other story told without passion, without creativity, without nuance? Who actually wants this shit?
No one, really. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, of course. Fools will buy anything, and expect to see chatbot mills turning out pablum for short money and expect them to make a killing while they strangle the actual artists out there trying to make a living (already a poor one, mind you).
Remember those techno-utopians from the mid-20th century? Remember what they hoped AI would bring us? The whole fucking point of being alive is to communicate with each other, to engage in art and culture and literature. To find truth and beauty. The idea that somebody out there is going to make a machine that does that for us is abhorrent to me. Utterly, gobsmackingly abhorrent.
And, not for nothing, but it can’t do this either! Like, it can produce soulless, functional crap – equivalent, of course, to soulless functional crap created by actual humans – but that’s hardly worth the cost it will have on society, on the world, on real human beings. The idea that “all quality will float to the top” is fucking bullshit, of course. Anybody who says that isn’t engaging their critical thinking skills too well – who will be excluded (the poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalized)? How will anybody be able to pursue art when the possibility of making money is functionally deleted (the rich, the comfortable, the privileged)?
See? Can’t you all see?
Now, there’s nothing much I (or anyone else) can individually do about this horror show. It’s happening and, barring some kind of legal action (fat chance), it will continue to get worse. As a teacher and a writer, it will disrupt my life badly, harm people I care about, and might even force me out of my profession(s). I’m sorry, but I have a hard time taking indulgence in these tools as anything other than a personal slight – the belief that what I am is worthless and replaceable.
I wish we lived in the world Asimov and Clarke imagined. We don’t.
Chatbots like ChatGPT are a threat. Treat them as such.
Read “Proof of Concept,” my scifi novelette on Locus’s Recommended List!
So, big-time exciting news (and somewhat belated, as it happened a couple weeks back), but one of the novelettes I published in 2022, “Proof of Concept,” made the Locus Recommended Reading List! For those of you who don’t know, Locus is the SFF trade publication of record, and each year around the time when people are nominating for various
awards (the Hugos, the Nebulas, etc.), they list off what they think was the best stuff from that year to give people a guide for what to read and (potentially) nominate. AND I MADE THE LIST! Yay me!
Now, this doesn’t actually mean I’m going to get nominated for something. In fact, I highly doubt it – I’m not particularly well known and the field is extremely competitive, but it is really nice to know that some people out there who know their stuff think I deserve some attention.
Additionally, the magazine that published “Proof of Concept,” Analog Science Fiction and Fact, has elected to make the story free to read (for a limited time, I imagine). You can download it HERE, so check it out! It’s a story about weird aliens, memory holes, exploitation, and literal self-discovery. Another way of putting it is that it is a scifi survival horror story from the point of view of the monster. This story is part of a linked series of stories I’ve been publishing with Analog for the last year or two, with the fourth in that series due out sometime later this year. So check it out!
And thanks to everyone – reviewers, fans, and friends – who gave this story some love and got me on that list. Here’s hoping I can place one there next year, too!
My Schedule at Boskone 60 – Come See Me!
Just digging myself out of the writing mines long enough to let you all know I’ll be at Boskone 60, this February 17th-19th, 2023 in my home town of Boston, MA. I’ll be there on Friday afternoon/evening, all day Saturday, and on Sunday morning, and I hope to see you all there!
For those of you unaware, Boskone is the convention organized each year by the New England Science Fiction Association. It draw a lot of top talent from across the country and even from Europe, usually features a good number of top shelf agents and editors from New York City, all while being an intimate and very personable convention. It’s especially good for people trying to break into the business or for folks from around the Boston/New England area who want to go to a con but don’t want to be overwhelmed. I’ve been going for years now and I always have a good time, and I strongly recommend coming down and checking it out.
As for myself, here’s my schedule for the weekend:
Panel: The Villain Protagonist in Speculative Fiction (Friday, 2/17, 2:30pm)
Big bads can be fun to write and fun to read. As moral ambiguity grows in fiction, we see the line begin to blur for characters who were traditionally cast as villains. How are villains evolving and where do we see them crossing over into the protagonist role? These are characters who often have immoral goals and who use immoral means to achieve their goals … and yet, we root for them. (Think of Breaking Bad.) Let’s dig into why these protagonists are compelling, and what makes them work.
Group Reading: Science Fiction (Saturday, 2/18, 1:00pm)
Our group reading will feature up to five science fiction authors who will each read from one of their published or in-process works. They will also host an author Q&A as time permits.
Panel: Andor, Hope, and the Galactic Rebellion (Sunday, 2/19, 11:30am)
Andor, the series, is many things: a prequel, an epic dystopian series, and an origin story for many-many people and story lines within the Star Wars universe. Oddly, it has no Jedi, no magic, no traditionally “Star Wars-y” trappings. So, why does this series work so well? How does it continue to feel fresh and new? Does it really fit into the Star Wars mythology that has been constructed? Is the series really about the character Cassian Andor or something else? And why did the three words “I can’t swim” hit us so hard? We discuss all of these questions and more as we dissect the series.
Panel: Shining a Light on Humor (Sunday, 2/19, 1:00pm)
Humorous SF/F is a much loved subgenre, but it doesn’t get the same respect as its serious peers. But why? This has long been a touchy subject among authors and fans of funny fiction. We look at the role of humor in SF/F, some of the best stories, and how a brilliant writer like the late Sir Terry Pratchett can earn a knighthood but never a major award in the field. What will it take for the powers that be to take humor seriously?
There you have it! Looking forward to seeing some old friend and meeting some new ones down on the Boston Waterfront! Hope to see you there!
It’s Award Season! (aka “Here’s What I Published This Year!”)
Greetings friends, bots, and errant Twitter exiles!
As is tradition in the SF/F writing world, when the nominations for the Nebula awards open, we list off the stuff we wrote this year on the odd chance somebody with some kind of clout or pull notices us, remembers that story we wrote, and BANG, we make the ballot. This is very similar to buying raffle tickets at your local rotary club function, albeit with much lower chances of success and vastly fewer opportunities to score basketball tickets.
That said, I had a pretty good year for short fiction, and I’d like to advertise my work a bit, so listen up:
First up (and most recent) is my short story “Tithe the Bones, Sell the Blood” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies #368
This one has the distinction of being able to be read online for free, so go and check it out right now if you haven’t. I am a big fan of BCS and have been trying to score a sale there for years – very pleased with this dark fantasy tale.
Then, back in August, my short story “Like Manna from Heaven Dark” in Zombies Need Brains’ Brave New Worlds anthology.
This is my second story to appear in ZNB anthologies and it has been a great experience both times. This particular one is a very dark tale of the future of space colonization, involving space pirates and a debate about a very particular kind of cannibalism.
In July was my most recent Faceless short story in the July/August issue of Analog: “Punctuated Equilibrium”
It seems I’m writing a series of linked short stories over on Analog, all involving a shape-shifting assassin “named” Faceless and its various adventures. I am loving these tales and I hope you are too!
In May, another Faceless story in the May/June Analog: “Proof of Concept”
This one has Faceless with a ravaged memory on a space ship full of violent aliens and no answers! Wheeee! These were my 4th and 5th appearances in this magazine, and I’m super excited every time I make its pages!
Finally, in January I published my story “Prison Colony Optimization Protocols” in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
I’m particularly proud of this one – about a rogue AI who is sentenced to administer and prison colony – and it was my 3rd appearance in F&SF. January is a long time back, though, so I hope people haven’t forgotten it! I even made the cover!
Anyway, that’s about it for this year! 5 stories, all in pro markets–go me! I’m very proud of all of them and hope you will give them some consideration!Thanks and good luck to all my fellow writers out there!
How to Play Tithe
I’ve got a new story out! This one is on Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a market I’ve been trying to break into for a while. It’s about a desperate man planning to cheat the undead at cards – nice and dark and bleak and with just a dash of hope. Perfect for Halloween, I’d say. Buy it here!
How to Play Tithe
Now, it just so happens I was obsessive enough with this story to actually draw up the rules for the card game that Cedric plays with the dead, called Tithe. I even went so far as to play a few hands (against myself, granted) to see if the game would work and, if it worked, how would it go. Nothing like an actual test of the game, of course, and I’m hardly the best card player in the world, but I did enough for it to pass basic inspection. Curious? Well, here are the rules.
The Deck and Play Area
Tithe is played with a deck of 60 cards with five suits of 12 cards – a Tomb, numbered cards 1-10, and a Lord. The suits are Skulls, Swords, Crowns, Coins, and Hearts.
The game is played on a five-pointed star, with up to five players, each at a vertex of the star. The game can also be played with as few as two players, but the rules shift a little bit to make that possible. Generally, play with a full table is preferred.
Sequence of Play
At the start of a hand, each player puts their ante in the center of the pentagram and are dealt 5 cards by the dealer. The dealer then lays five cards at the five intersections at the center of the pentagram – this is called “the Circle.”
The first round of betting happens just after the Circle, starting with the left of the dealer and moving clockwise. Players with poor starting positions or poor hands fold, anyone else has to match the highest bet at the table or go all-in with whatever they have remaining to play out the hand.
Remaining players must then play a card by matching or beating a card on the Circle adjacent to their starting point and placing it on top. Lords are high, but are beaten by Tombs. Additionally, the suits have a pecking order: Skulls over Coins over Swords over Crowns over Hearts over Skulls.
All suits are therefore dominant over one suit and servile to another. This affects what happens when a card is played on the Circle. It goes like this:
- A card played on another card that is neither dominant or servile wins, meaning the card beneath is out of play (covered entirely by the winning card).
- A card played on a card of a dominant suit merely buries, meaning the card beneath is still in play and the card above (the one you played) can be disregarded. (the top card is placed so the buried card is still visible).
- A card played on a card of a servile suit takes, meaning the player takes the card beneath (and any other cards it has covered) and puts them in your hand.
End of the Hand
Bets are taken every two turns of the circle until everybody but the winner folds OR no remaining players can play cards. The pot is then split between the remaining players (assuming there is more than one left) and the deal moves clockwise and a new hand is begun.
Observations from Games Played against Myself
First, I’ve found it’s super unlikely that more than one person wins a hand. I played a few dozen hands of this thing (looking like a lunatic in my office, believe me), using a suit from a second deck with a different design to represent the 5th suit. The basic strategy circles around knowing or guessing what cards everybody else has based upon what has been shown already. Most hands did not go more than four turns.
Does it work as an actual, playable game? I have no goddamned idea. I am not much of a gambler or a card player (though I am an inveterate gamer), so whether this would make a good way to lose money to card sharks is sort of beyond me. However, the rules are just plausible enough to pass basic inspection. Yes, this seems like a playable game, and that’s what matters.
Also, if any of you ever want to try it out at a convention someday, I’m happy to try – you just have to figure out how to get our hands on a 5-suit, 60-card deck.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed this one! And check out my story in BCS this month!
My Worldcon 2022 Schedule! Come find me!
I’m headed to Worldcon later this week in Chicago! There will be fun! Thrills! Hijinks! A non-zero chance of derring do!
And me, sitting off by the side somewhere, trying to make eye-contact with somebody I know so I don’t feel like I’m alone. This post is my official invitation to make eye contact.
Actually, no – scratch that – that would be weird. This is my official invitation to introduce yourself like a regular person and we can have a nice conversation about science fiction and stuff.
Barring that, if you’d rather observe me from afar or find me in a predetermined place, here is where I’ll be:
Panel: The Care and Feeding of Your Tabletop Game Group
Friday, 9/2, 1pm, in McCormick
Successful and enduring game groups don’t happen by accident, they require careful thought and regular maintenance. In this panel we draw on our decades of experience to give you advice on setting the tone, picking games, cultivating good sportsmanship, picking the ideal location, and establishing ground rules—to ensure that fun is had by all!
Table Talk: Auston Habershaw
Friday, 9/2, 4pm, in Crystal Foyer
Auston Habershaw is the author of over 25 short stories in places like Analog, F&SF, and ZNB Anthologies. He has published four fantasy novels with Harper Voyager and is a longtime presenter at PAX East about storytelling in TTRPGs.
This is just me, at a table, with a small group of people having a conversation about…well…anything at all! To sign up for this Table Talk, visit https://chicon.org/tabletalks All sign up are available starting Wednesday August 31st at Noon central, and you will be notified at least 12 hours before the Table Talk time if you were chosen for a spot. More details available at https://chicon.org/tabletalks.
I really hope people sign up for this, because sitting at one of these tables by yourself is a trifle demoralizing. Come talk to me! I promise I’m nice!
Group Reading: Zombies Need Brains Authors
Saturday, 9/3, 10am, in Roosevelt 1
Join Auston Habershaw, Elektra Hammond, and Joshua Palmatier as they read from works published through Zombies Need Brains.
I have no idea what I’m reading yet, but this should be fun! There may be more of us there than just us 3, too, so who knows who you might run into? Check it out!
Online Panel: One Hero to Save Them All
Saturday, 9/3, 2:30pm (CDT), in Airmeet 3
Many stories set in dystopias or featuring a revolution focus the narrative on a single, solitary hero. But is this realistic? Is it fair, either to the hero who must do all the work or to the secondary characters? Is it fair to readers, looking to effect changes in their own societies, to read about hyper-competent characters who can do it all? Come join the panelists as they explore and question examples of solitary heroes.
So, there you have it – I’ve got one of everything, here. Take your pick! And if you see me in the dealers hall or wherever, say hi!
Looking forward to meeting you!
Current Projects: A Dragon in Her Lair
For the last couple years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to contribute to the anthologies published by Zombies Need Brains each year. Well, they’ve kicked off their 10 year anniversary with another set of anthologies and, once again, you’ll find my work in their pages. What’s my topic this year? Well, I’m really excited because it is one of my favorite subjects:
Here’s the description of the anthology:
DRAGONESQUE: Since Grendel and McCaffrey’s Pern, readers have been enthralled with the magic and mystique of dragons. But it’s rare that we get to see the world through the dragon’s perspective. In DRAGONESQUE, you’ll experience an anthology of fantasy and science fiction stories told from, or through, or with, the dragon’s point of view. High fantasy, sword & sorcery, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, magical realism, and of course science fiction…DRAGONESQUE will feature a wealth of genres that even a dragon would be tempted to horde. Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, DRAGONESQUE will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of 6,000 words each.
Now, I’ve written dragon stuff before. My story “Lord of the Cul-de-sac,” about a dragon moving to the suburbs, made it into one of Galaxy’s Edge “Best Of” anthologies. I really dig dragons and, in particular, I really like to insert dragons into the modern world.
So, by way of a sneak peak for the story I’m working on for this next year’s anthology, let me tell you what I’m thinking: a dragon who solves crimes.
A dragon detective.
A modern art loving dragon detective.
A modern art loving dragon detective who refuses to leave her lair and, instead, has her personal assistant/henchman doing all the legwork and dragging suspects to her palatial home and so on and then solves the crimes using her supernaturally keen senses and even keener intellect.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because it is a fantasy adaptation of my favorite mystery series of all time: none other than Rex Stout’s immortal Nero Wolfe mysteries, wherein gumshoe Archie Goodwin legs it all over town to help reclusive genius Nero Wolfe solve the crimes that leave the police scratching their heads.
Unlike Wolfe, my dragon (currently named “Angharad”) doesn’t collect orchids, she collects artwork. Collecting artwork costs a lot of money, and the way she sustains her habits is by recovering lost or stolen things, because I figured that there was very little that would disgust a dragon more than thieves.
In my dream of dreams, this won’t just be one story, but the first (or maybe second) of many. A linked series of dragon-centered mysteries. I’ve already written one of them (trying to sell it now) and either that one or the next one I write I hope to include in Dragonesque.
Now, I’m tempted to share an excerpt, but as I’m not sure whether the story I have done will be appearing in Dragonesque or somewhere else, I’ll just leave it at that and you’ll just have to wait. I’m excited and I hope you’re excited, too!
Want to make sure you meet Angharad and her loyal man-about-town, Sam Braun? Back the ZNB kickstarter, happening now!
My Interview w/Drinking with Authors
Just checking in to tell you that, if you haven’t seen it already, I was interviewed by Joshua Palmatier in his “Drinking with Authors” series! You can view it either on YouTube or on his Patreon.
For those of you weary of hyperlinks, here it is:
In it, we talk about the Saga of the Redeemed and writing in general and basically have a great conversation. Joshua is a great writer himself and his publishing company, Zombies Need Brains, puts out about two anthologies of short stories a year, and they are always great! You should check out his work and also those anthologies and support them if you can!
In Other News…
A lot will be happening on the short fiction front in the next few months, I think. I’ve got two stories coming out in Analog this year, another in ZNB’s Brave New Worlds, another in Galaxy’s Edge at some point, and hopefully more besides.
On the novel front, I’ve got two books still out on submission with my agent and another in the works. Keep your fingers crossed! If anything develops, I’ll post it here, for sure. Until then!
Look Who’s on the Cover of F&SF! (Spoiler: ME!)
I have let this blog lie fallow these last months. This has been a rough year for me and the traffic this place draws isn’t substantial, so I’ve not devoted much time to it. Moving forward, this is probably going to be a space where I primarily announce my upcoming or current publications before I (eventually) launch some kind of newsletter. That’s me, folks – getting in on Substack a full calendar year after it was cool.
Anyway, check this shit out:
I had a subscription to this magazine in high school. I read a ton of it (though I don’t think I ever managed to finish a single issue, alas) and it has always been the gold standard for my short fiction publication goals. The story in this issue is my third appearance in its esteemed pages, and my first time making the cover. I am super, super thrilled – this is the best writing news I’ve had in a while.
The story, “Prison Colony Optimization Protocols,” is about an AI convicted of a crime and sent to administer a prison colony on a terraforming planet on a distant frontier as punishment. Just your average fish-out-of-water story, you know? People who love Murderbot (like ME! I love Murderbot! Read Murderbot!) will like this one, I hope.
To get a subscription or buy individual issues of this issue, go here. Honestly, you should subscribe to this magazine even if you have no interest in reading my specific story–it’s great, and the new editor, Sheree Renee Thomas, is doing great work. Check it out!
Catch next time I’ve got something big coming!
BRAVE NEW WORLDS Kickstarter Launched!
I’m here to announce something I’ve sort of already announced, but here it is again: I will be a featured author in another Zombies Need Brains short story anthology! The Kickstarter to fund the project (and two others!) has just launched – go check it out!
Here’s a teaser for the anthology I’ll be in, titled BRAVE NEW WORLDS:
Humans have dreamed of traveling to the stars for generations. Their hope? To discover verdant new planets where they can build new societies or escape past persecutions. BRAVE NEW WORLDS will feature fourteen stellar stories set anywhere along our prospective settlers’ uncertain paths—from the heart-wrenching departure from Earth, through the unknown dangers of the long flight through the cold vastness of space, to the immigrants’ final arrival on an alien world. Will they be confronted by the ethical issue of an entirely new ecosystem, or the pure engineering challenges of terraforming a previously lifeless planet? Join us in BRAVE NEW WORLDS as we explore humanity’s race for the stars!
Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, BRAVE NEW WORLDS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of 6,000 words each. Anchor authors include:
- Jacey Bedford,
- Chaz Brenchley,
- Eric Choi,
- Auston Habershaw,
- Juliet Kemp,
- Gini Koch,
- Stephen Leigh, and
- Ian Tregillis
Cool, right? Also, if they fully fund, they’ll be taking submissions, too – and not just for this anthology, but for this on, NOIR, and SHATTERING THE GLASS SLIPPER, too! It all sounds super cool and you all should check it out!
In Other Writing News:
Weird Little World’s monster anthology, HUMANS ARE THE PROBLEM, is inching very close to release! My bio is posted up there with the other authors (exciting!). I can’t wait to read it! Go and check it out!