The Future of Fire

Terraform, the future fiction section of VICE, just published “The Last Stand,” a piece of mine about the future of fire in California. It draws on climate/fire science and my experiences fighting fire to paint a picture of where we’re headed if we don’t get our shit together. You can read it here, along with my notes and references for you nerds interested in the science behind science fiction. Comments/arguments welcome.

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Special thanks to Tony Alvarez, hotshot firefighter, US Marine, and the hardest-working human I know, for providing the inspiration behind fire soldiers, and for schooling me on the proper way to sling a Humvee via helicopter.

I donated my payment for this piece to those who lost their homes and loved ones in the recent CA fires. If you have the means, I hope you’ll consider making a donation, however small. The California Fire Foundation and the American Red Cross are both accepting tax-deductible donations.

Much Love,

~Christoph

Hanging Trees

New story day! “Hanging Trees” is out now in the spring issue of Deep Magic (available here).

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I’m especially excited because this issue includes a story by Ken Liu. His translation of The Three-body Problem is among my all-time favorite novels, and his short story “The Paper Menagerie” (winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards) brought me to tears when I first read it.

“Hanging Trees” is slower than the thriller-type SF stories I usually write; nevertheless, I think it’s among my best. Set on a near-future Mars colony, it’s an allegory for an event in the history of science which impacted me deeply, and which I think is relevant today.

Like puzzles? “Hanging Trees” contains numerous clues to its inspiration; if you think you know which historical event inspired El’s story, tell me in a comment. The first reader to guess correctly will get a tree I’ve grown from seed, or a pack of wildflower seeds native to your region!

Möbius – free for one week

If you missed my science fiction medical mystery, “Möbius,” it’s available free for one week in Event Horizon: An Anthology of Authors Eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (download). After July 15, “Möbius” will still be available, but only by purchasing Writers of the Future, Vol. 32 (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers).

Of course I’d blow smoke about all my story-babies, so here’s an unbiased opinion from review magazine Tangent Online: “‘Möbius’ is a tightly written mix of mystery and moral questions that literally leaves the ending in your hands. Centering on a world where genetic research is tightly regulated, outlaw labs have sprung up and law enforcement has responded. The characters are well written, the mystery plausible, and the story reads like a high stakes poker game with the characters in a cycle of raising the stakes that leaves you racing through the story. Probably the best of the anthology.”

Enjoy!

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Artwork for “Möbius” by Talia Spencer

Taking Root

My new short story, “Taking Root,” is now available in D.O.A. III (Kindle and paperback), alongside some great writers, including Jack Ketchum, named “the scariest guy in America” by Stephen King. Please proceed with caution: “depraved” does not even come close to describing this book. Happy reading! 🙂

While I feel the warning is necessary, there’s some stellar writing in this anthology, including these lines that I think speak to why (mostly) sane people read and write the kinds of atrocities found within:

“There is no bottom. And there is no top … No matter how hard you fall, there is always a deeper darkness below. But if that is true, there is also no end to the height and the light that a soul can aspire to. Up goes up forever, too. A little perspective is a wonderful thing.”

– John Skipp, “Splatterpunk Alphabet Souffle”

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The Three-body Problem, and What America Can Learn from the Cultural Revolution

I rarely write book reviews, but after reading The Three-body Problem I must yawp from my rooftop just how extraordinary this novel is, in the hope that others will experience the same mind-bending awe this masterpiece inspired in me.

The Three-body Problem is by no means slow, though it’s not exactly an action-packed, cliffhanger-type novel. I enjoy those as well, and I’ll highly recommend Red Rising and Ready Player One if that’s what you’re looking for. But Liu Cixin didn’t need to blow shit up to keep me reading through the night: the sheer scope, originality, and power of his ideas do that job more than adequately.

The novel is set in China, largely in Beijing, a city in which I studied and worked for over a Continue reading