I’ve had three stories come out all within a few days of each other, oddly. Three of my very favourite stories, too. They were all quite research-intensive and scared me/taught me a lot in the writing. I’m going to try to make these notes spoiler-free, so feel free to read on, even if you haven’t read the stories yet.
The Semaphore Society, in Crossed Genres
This story began as a 750-word flash story for an annual contest on the Codex forum. I expanded and revised it, reading as much as I could about the science of eye tracking as I went. It is near-future hard science fiction; the science of using one’s eyes to communicate is not far behind what I portray in my story. (Here’s one news story with autoplay video.) It is, I think, an uplifting story; how often do I get to say that? It was so wonderful working on this story with Kelly Jennings at Crossed Genres, who loves this story for all the reasons I do, who understood why I felt it was important to try to tell it.
Cattail Heart, in Daily Science Fiction
I am grateful to the editors of Daily Science Fiction for not giving anything about this story’s sub-genre away in the URL! Clever editors. It is speculative, but perhaps not in the way it first appears. It’s a story about ethics, I suppose, in both a straightforward and a metafictional way. Most importantly, this is a story about Canada’s shameful history of residential schools for Aboriginal children.
The first few paragraphs of this story came to me before I had anything else, as I lay cradling my own sleeping child and thinking about the burden of a parent’s love, which is more powerful than any parent’s powers of protection. Those few paragraphs sat as notes on my iPad for a long while. The narrator’s voice came to me loud and clear, but it took a few months for me to figure out who she was, and to gather the strength to try to tell her story and do right by her.
Traveller, Take Me, in On Spec.
I grew up in Manitoba and camped near the town of Flin Flon as a child. Flin Flon is named after a character in the 1905 science-fiction dime novel The Sunless City: From the Papers and Diaries of the Late Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin, by J. E. Preston Muddock, in which a prospector explores a bottomless lake in a submersible. Yep. We know, more or less, that prospector Tom Creighton named Flin Flon for that book, but we don’t know how he came across the book in the first place. This is the story of how that might have happened, and about the very beginning of the First World War, and about life choices for misanthropes (not that I’d know anything about that, cough cough.) Oh, and ghosts. One of the characters is Kate Rice, who was in fact a prospector in 1914. I relied heavily on the book Kate Rice, Prospector by Helen Duncan, which is very good.