INPUT=3 GRAINS MAGNESIUM + 4ml INK + INFINITY^2=OUTPUT[.lit] + WHIRR + DING

Christopher McKitterick

Short Fiction


LONG BEFORE my first novel saw print, my writing career started in the magazines (where I also publish poetry and nonfiction). Modern American science fiction traces its roots to the early adventure and SF mags like the originals, Astounding and Amazing. (Read James Gunn's Road to Science Fiction anthologies for an excellent history of SF.) Over time, the SF field has been influenced more and more by novels, and now by the media. But without Hugo Gernsback and John W. Campbell - along with all the editors who've shaped the field since - we might never have seen our genre blossom into what it's become.

I love short SF - especially when holding down demanding day jobs - because one can sit down for a few days and pretty much not come up for air until a rough draft is complete. To manage this, I don't start drafting until reaching what I call "critical mass" - the plot is outlined, I've gotten to know the characters well, and I have a good feel of the setting and action. I usually start with an idea, say, "What if our relationship with aliens were like our relationship with dogs?" or "What if aliens could evolve a planet-spanning mind?" Then I start fleshing out that idea, find out who's most affected by its implications or applications, where they live (hopefully one that reinforces the theme - oh, yeah, and come up with a theme in there somewhere), and so on. Only when it's more work to hold all the material in my head than to write the thing do I turn on the computer and start typing. But I've learned to never hit the keyboard until I'm confident with as much as I can possibly know about the ideas, technologies, second- and third-level effects, characters, civilizations, etc.

Here's a list of short work for which I managed to pull all these elements together enough that editors bought them.

Selected Short-Fiction Bibliography

Orpheus' Engines


Mission Tomorrow: A New Century Of Exploration, anticipated publication fall 2015, from Baen Books.

The follow-up story set in the "Jupiter Whispers" universe, but with some major updates to the characters and environment. Ultimately, this'll become a novel, after another story or two....


Combat scenario between H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds Martians
    and prehistoric titanoboa



For Discovery Channel Magazine's "Godzilla vs T. Rex" article, September 2013

This article is just for fun, sort of a "Shark Week" for paleontology and SF nerds. I wrote up three little fictional scenarios about how I thought things would go if one of Wells' Martian tripods and a ginormous titanoboa were to encounter one another. Titanoboa usually wins... except in an open-ground confrontation, where the tripod's range and line-of-sight give the advantage.

The Recursive Man

Aftermaths, April 13, 2012, Hadley Rille Books

Surveyor of Mars

Westward Weird, February 7, 2012, DAW Books

I had a lot of fun writing this story about a Martian land surveyor - and reluctant gunfighter - who gets drawn into larger and less-pleasant events that will shape the future of the pioneer world. It's set in about 1900 on Percival Lowell's Mars after H.G. Wells' Martian invasion of England. A horrific civil war wiped out the (sentient) Martians, and human pioneers are homesteading, mining, and looting the planet. The surveyor of Mars is a young man who emigrated because of troubles back home in Montana that led to his father's death. Unfortunately, troubles arise on Mars, too, with a war brewing between the Company and the settlers....

Inspiration came from Wells' War of the Worlds; Percival Lowell's Mars as the Abode of Life and Mars and Its Canals to get a feel for how people thought of Mars at the time; Antoniadi's map of Mars as he and Lowell saw it through the imperfect optics of the time; and Jonathan Raban's Bad Land, a wonderful look at the plight of the pioneers who settled northeast Montana, aka "The Great American Desert."

Gunfighters, Buffalo Soldiers, pioneers, a habitable Mars that never was but maybe could have been: I plan to work more within this setting!

Nice comment about the story here, by author Lane Robins.

The Enlightenment

Sentinels In Honor of Arthur C. Clarke, August 2010, Hadley Rille Books

The Empty Utopia

Ruins: Extraterrestrial, October 2007, Hadley Rille Books

Honorable mention in The Years Best Science Fiction 2007. Nice review from David C. Kopaska-Merkel here. Another lovely review of the anthology by Fantasy Book Critic here.

Jupiter Whispers

Visual Journeys: A Tribute to Space Art, July 2007, Hadley Rille Books

Honorable mention in The Year's Best Science Fiction 2007. Also got a nice review from Richard Horton, TCM Reviews, and Some Fantastic. Such a cool anthology: The editor asked the authors to "literate" space-art, rather than hiring artists to illustrate the stories. I picked the fantastic illustration to the right, from Ron Miller's Grand Tour: A Traveler's Guide to the Solar System blew me away in junior high and inspired me to write this story (and more to come).

Man, I wish this were still in print, but full-color art anthos aren't a way for publishers to make big profits.

The Enlightenment

Synergy: New Science Fiction, September 2004, Five Star Books

Nominated for the Sturgeon Award.

Lost Dogs

Outlanders eBook, Scorpius Digital

Nice review in Tangent.

Lost Dogs

Analog Science Fiction & Fact, September 2001

The Web

Artemis Magazine, the magazine of the Artemis Project, Summer 2000

City of Tomorrow

Captain Proton, Pocket Books, November 1999

This (and my other Captain Proton pieces) got a nice mention in this Amazing Stories interview.

Under Observation

Captain Proton, Pocket Books, November 1999

Worlds of Tomorrow

Captain Proton, Pocket Books, November 1999

What Lurks in a Man's Mind

Analog Science Fiction & Fact, October 1999

Biolog

Analog Science Fiction & Fact, October 1999

Circles of Light and Shadow

Analog Science Fiction & Fact, February 1999

This one got a lot of nice reviews: from SF Site, tpi, Cerberus, and Tangent, and it was also a nominee for the 2000 Locus Poll Award. I got a kick out of how it was quoted in a medical journal: "Anecdotal evidence is legitimate if it appears in sufficient quantity." Nominations for the Nebula, the AnLab, and the Locus Poll awards.

A Scientist's War

E-Scape, December 1998

A Plague of Mannequins

E-Scape, October 1996

The Recursive Man

Tomorrow Speculative Fiction, #20 (April 1996)

Nominated for the Sturgeon and Nebula awards.

A Call to Arms

Analog Science Fiction & Fact, January 1996

Paving the Road to Armageddon

Analog Science Fiction & Fact, May 1995

Nominations for the Sturgeon, Nebula, and Hugo awards; appeared on Tangents Recommended Reading List.

James Gunn and The Dreamers

Extrapolation, Winter 1995

The Myth of Sephon

NOTA, Spring 1991

Martians and Others

NOTA, Winter 1990

Forty Minutes

OHS Blackboard, May 1985 (my first publication, and the only story my high-school paper published!)

MAIN PAGE
BIO
BLOGS
NOVELS
SEX POEMS
POETRY
NONFICTION
MAIL