featured free fiction

Our Dependency on Foreign Keys
Originally published online in two parts in Across the Margin, April 30 and May 1, 2015.

featured video

latest inhuman swill posts

Our Dependency on Foreign Keys, art by Hayrettin Karaerkek
The second and concluding part of my new science fiction novelette, "Our Dependency on Foreign Keys," is available today at the online magazine Across the Margin. (Part One appeared yesterday.)

When last we left our not-so-heroic hero Pell "Franny" Franziskaner, he was no closer than he was at the start to figuring out who is sabotaging his cocktail party and threatening to kill him, nor to completing or even figuring out the task he's been given by the super-duper advanced A.I. called Hondo. But at least he's invented a cool new party game called dueling holaoke! Will Franny unravel the mysteries before it's too late? And will Hondo ever make an appearance at the party?

Learn all the answers now...

Full entry

Our Dependency on Foreign Keys, art by Hayrettin Karaerkek
A brand-new story of mine, "Our Dependency on Foreign Keys," is available today at the online magazine Across the Margin.

Or actually, the first half of this 11,000-word story is available today. The second half will go live tomorrow morning.

And to be honest, it's not exactly brand-new, either, though this is the first time readers are seeing it. According to an old blog post, I was working on this story during a trip to Malta and the Middle East in May 2008. It was one of those stories that started with the title, and as I worked out the basic situation of the story the plot and its world, things grew very complicated indeed, even given that I decided to set it in the same near-future historical continuum as a couple of my earlier stories. I clearly remember the bar in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood where I was sitting when I named the main character Pell Franziskaner. According to my records, I finished the first draft around the time Barack Obama began his first term as president.

Full entry

The Falcon and the Snowman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack In 1985, I was a far bigger fan of jazz guitarist Pat Metheny than just about any other musician. The album that infected me was 1982's Offramp, which sounded unlike anything else I'd ever heard. I became a hardcore consumer of any and all vinyl featuring either Metheny or his compositional partner in the Pat Metheny Group, pianist Lyle Mays. (My friends and I could and did spend hours debating the meaning of the 20-minute title track from As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls. Yes, we were not normal.)

Thus it was inevitable, thirty years ago, that I would buy the new album from the Pat Metheny Group as soon as it appeared, even if it was the soundtrack to a movie I had not seen. I had a vague understanding of the true-life espionage case behind The Falcon and the Snowman (based on the book by Robert Lindsey), which told the story of Christopher Boyce and Daulton Lee, two young men from southern California who were arrested in 1977 for selling intelligence secrets to the Soviet Union. (Boyce was a falconry enthusiast and Lee a cocaine dealer, which is where their sobriquets came from.) I always meant to see the film, but never did.

But that didn't affect my enjoyment of the soundtrack. In fact, it might have enhanced it, as I could listen and try to imagine what was happening on screen during each passage. It wasn't my favorite Metheny album by any means, but parts of it I liked quite a lot. I even grudgingly came to enjoy the collaboration with David Bowie that kicked off side 2 of the record, "This Is Not America"—though I disliked the way the credits on the single made it seem like the Pat Metheny Group was just Bowie's backing band.

Full entry

latest proper manuscript format post

A reader writes to ask:

I know it's still acceptable to space twice after periods. However, if there's a close quote after a period is there actually only one space remaining after the quotation mark before first letter of the next sentence? Also, are there two spaces before the beginning of the quote, after the period closing the previous sentence?

In both the situations you describe, use two spaces. Keep in mind that your two spaces go after the sentence's final punctuation, whether that's a period, a quotation mark, a question mark, or an exclamation point.

latest perry slaughter post

'Deus ex Machina' by Perry Slaughter
Sigh. Much as I try, I can't keep those crazy kids at Sinister Regard from putting out new ebook editions of my juvenilia. The latest novella to get this pixelation treatment is Deus ex Machina, my ridiculous sci-fi romp about an artificial intelligence who tries to kill God and take the Big I AM's place.

The trade paperback edition of Deus ex Machina was released late last year, but for the ebook release Sinister Regard has given it a spiffily updated cover. And the ebook is available pretty much everywhere! Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, iBooks and Kindle all have it for a measly $1.99, and it's also available for your reading pleasure on such subscription services as Oyster and Scribd. How do you like me now?

But wait! That's not all! Sinister Regard will be bringing out three more of my books in print and electronic editions over the course of the summer, including two that have never before seen the light of day! First, on June 16th, is Whether We Are Mended, my collection of three long sci-fi love stories, which is also getting a cover that's a vast improvement over its original hardback edition.

Full entry
William Shunn

About William Shunn

William Shunn is the Hugo and Nebula Award–nominated author of over thirty works of short fiction, which have appeared since 1993 everywhere from Asimov's Science Fiction to Salon. A collaboration with Derryl Murphy, Cast a Cold Eye, came out from PS Publishing in 2009. For three years he hosted Tuesday Funk, an eclectic monthly reading series in Chicago, and he occasionally writes in the guise of Perry Slaughter.

Featured Calendar

Powered by Movable Type 4.38