Science fiction can be a great way to teach science in a fun way… so we thought not only in the European Astrobiology Institute, and created an e-book anthology of reprint SF stories by world-renowned authors. Each of the stories has an astrobiologically relevant theme that’s discussed more in-depth in a nonfiction piece following the story. More about it here!
Merely a month ago, telepresence was an interesting thing, but not an immediate concern. Now, it’s on everyone’s mind, and coincidence had it that a new XPRIZE anthology focused on telepresence, AVATARS Inc., was launched yesterday. It’s pure accident that the anthology came out now (the date was set months ago), but there you have it.
My story, “A Mountain to Climb“, concerns telepresence of a single person in multiple robotic bodies, and a space elevator in the process of building.
Hopefully, when a pandemic occurs the next time (unfortunately a question of when rather than if; mitigation is a different question, and that will hopefully be much better), we’ll be prepared to control robotic avatars to teach, take care of the elderly, deliver food and medicine or do surgery.
Better late than never: Here’s what I published this year (in English or Anglophone-relevant; not counting my Czech publications), so that you can read it and decide if it’s award-worthy.
- “Dreaming Up The Future” (Analog 7-8 2019)
- “From So Complex A Beginning” (Analog 9-10 2019); labeled Hugo award-worthy by RocketStackRank
- “Martian Fever” (Analog 11/12 2019)
- Haka: European Speculative Fiction in Filipino (ed. Julie Nováková and Jaroslav Olša, Jr.; Anvil Publishing, 2019)
While my short story “All The Smells in The World” appeared in the Jan/Feb 2019 issue of Analog, it came out in December, so it was eligible in 2018. In addition, two of my stories were reprinted this year (“The Gift” in Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2019, and “Becoming” in Strange Constellations), but as you are surely aware, reprints are also not eligible.
You can see there’s notably fewer stories than last year, and that has two reasons. The smaller one is, lots of my new stuff appeared in Czech: essays for magazines such as Respekt and Proč ne?, new anthologized short stories, two new Aeronautilus awards to add to my collection (for the best Czech SFFH book and short story published in 2018), radio interviews… However, I also did a TEDx talk on the role of SF in inspiring real-world science and tech, a Europlanet webinar on the search for life in the solar system, and an interview for the Gernsback Machine podcast. Plus I participated in three panels at this year’s Worldcon in Dublin.
The bigger (and growing bigger still) reason is the one-year-old at home, who is amazing, smart and beautiful, but leaves me precious little time for getting any work done, and squeezing writing, translation, editing, working on my grant and PhD thesis, and the occasional essays, talks and such into some two to at best four hours a day proved even more difficult than previously imagined (not speaking of trying to attend a convention with a baby who only wanted to feed directly from the source, but was already old enough to need lots of activity, so in need of an indoor baby/toddler-suitable playground – not really close to the convention center). Nonetheless, there are going to be new publications in 2020, both fiction and nonfiction, and hopefully more translations and editing work as well!
So it’s this time of year again: Nebula nominations are now open. Everyone’s making eligibility posts, so, without further ado, here’s mine:
“Deep Down in The Cloud” (Clarkesworld Feb 2018) – SF
“Under The Spinodal Curve” by Hanuš Seiner, in my translation (Tor.com, March 2018) – SF
“Frankenstein Sonata” (Broad Knowledge, Upper Rubber Boot, 2018) – F/SF/horror
“All The Smells in The World” (Analog Jan/Feb 2019; published Dec 18, upcoming) – SF
“Reset in Peace” (Amazing Stories, upcoming) – SF
“Screen in Silver, Love in Colour, Mirror in Black-and-White” (Shades Within Us, Laksa Media, 2018) – fantasy
“The Iconoclasma” by Hanuš Seiner, in my translation (F&SF Nov/Dec 2018) – SF
More stories of mine, and hopefully some translations too, are upcoming next year. Plus there’s an anthology of European SF in Filipino translation I’ve co-edited with His Excellency Jaroslav Olša, Jr., the Czech ambassador in the Philippines – but more about that later!
The Final Frontier, an anthology of SF stories pushing the limits of (insofar) fictional space exploration, is available now! It includes my story “The Symphony of Ice and Dust” (orig. published in Clarkesworld). More about the anthology and its table of contents here.
In other news, I’ll be at two Czech events in the foreseeable future: Melting Pot (moderating debates with Peter S. Beagle and Thomas Olde Heuvelt), and Parcon (focused on translation this year). In December, I’ll deliver a contribution on worldbuilding in Czech SF at the Worlding SF conference. No Worldcon or Eurocon this year, but I hope to be both in Dublin and Belfast for them in 2019!
The Sofia Science Festival, organized chiefly by the British Council in Bulgaria, is approaching, so here is a list of the program items I’ll be participating in (plus two Monday events organized by the university):
Sat. May 12
- “Among Thousands of Planets” (17:00-18:00, Sofia Science Festival)
Sun. May 13
- “Science as Culture and Identity” (15:00-16:00, Sofia Science Festival)
- “FameLab National Finale” (19:00-approx. 22:00?, Sofia Science Festival)
Mon. May 14
- “Where to seek life in the solar system?” (16:15-17:30, Faculty of Physics)
- Grace&Gravity event (19:30-21:00, Observatory, Department of Astronomy)
I’m looking forward to my stay in Sofia, meeting local scientists and writers, enjoying the festival and seeing a bit of Bulgaria – it’s going to be my first time in the country, which has a rich history and many natural wonders, too.
In other news, my newest book, Czech short story collection titled Světy za obzorem (Worlds Beyond The Horizon), is out! It contains seventeen short stories. There was a question about translation. Luckily, English-speaking readers already had a chance to read some of the stories – e.g. “Becoming”, “Dancing An Elegy, His Own”, “Étude for An Extraordinary Mind”, and “The Symphony of Ice and Dust”.
The astrobiology seminar at the Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague, starts this week. This time, we’ve got three guest speakers from abroad: Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Lena Noack, and Aharon Oren. Their talks will be in English. The full program (in Czech) is below.
It’s finally here: 2018. Many people seemed very eager for 2017 to end, and I’m not surprised, though you can’t cheat a calendar (unless you’re a pope some centuries before our time), and besides, the number doesn’t really change much apart from our perceptions and dates in history books. I could write a lot of the same as I’ve written a year before (calling 2016 a “split personality year”), and if anything, 2017 only continued the same trends. I’m happy about how we continue battling poverty, increasing access to education, medical care, clean water and more, and I’m also very worried about the behavior of many world leaders, big talks of nuclear weapons… Things are getting better and worse at the same time, as I suspect it’s been in one or another way for most of our history.
So I’ll, perhaps cowardly, skip the rest of this and focus on a more personal take on 2017. Most of all, it was a very successful year for translations. “Terra Nullius” and “Hexagrammaton”, two wonderful stories by Czech author Hanuš Seiner in my translation, were published in Strange Horizons and Tor.com, respectively. My anthology Dreams From Beyond appeared in a print edition to be launched at the Manila International Book Fair last September. That means I visited the Philippines – and I loved it very much; more on traveling later.
In overall, translations from various languages came up a lot in more and more Anglophone magazines throughout 2017, and I’m very pleased about that! It’s all thanks to the effort of editors, translators, reviewers and bloggers who care about bringing more world SFF on the English-speaking world. I want to thank them all for that! If you want to follow translated SFF, a good place to start is Rachel Cordasco’s blog and social media. She provides an excellent overview of new SF in translation!
I published one short story (“Étude for An Extraordinary Mind”, in Futuristica Vol. 2) and two novelettes (“To See The Elephant” in Analog 5-6/2017, and “The Wagner Trouble” in GigaNotoSaurus 4/2017) last year, and sold some more to be published in 2018. Together with Tomas Petrasek, I also wrote a nonfiction article on the Fermi Paradox for Clarkesworld, and my article about Venus (“Hell Is Other Planets”) was published just before Christmas in the latest issue of Analog. I also had several short publications in my native Czech.
But – traveling! An astrobiology meeting followed by a popular science festival in Sweden. Eurocon in Dortmund, Germany. Worldcon in Helsinki, Finland. And then, in September, the Philippines, Latvia and the Azores. Prague-Beijing-Manila-Shanghai-St. Petersburg-Riga-London-Ponta Delgada-Lisbon-Prague within one month. I’m a bit behind with sorting through the pictures, and I wanted to write a special blogpost about that, so please be a tiny bit more patient with me. It’s coming (in the meantime, see the travel and work collages below!).
The reason for this delay is that I’ve been very busy for the last few months with two new part-time jobs, co-organizing an exhibition and many educational activities (effectively making it a third part-time job), all the while trying to keep up my PhD studies, writing, editing and translating. I rarely seek jobs (I only applied for one of these), but they seem to have an uncanny ability to find me and persuade me that there’s still time for one more… 2017 was a busy year, a bit too busy to my taste. I’ve recently limited my activities in several ways and I want to focus more on writing, translation and my scientific work (plus popular science writing), while having one not so demanding but interesting part-time job. I really have to ignore the vacancy at the Czech Space Office to stay sane!
So, fast forward to this year…
- I want to finish a novel I did not finish last year.
- Write at least 12 short stories/novelettes, same as last year.
- Finish at least two scientific papers (one last year).
- Exercise regularly (right?).
- Otherwise, keep up the good work.
I hope you enjoy 2018. I certainly plan to!
Hey, you know what’s very different on the Anglophone SFF market as compared to the Czech one, beside what I’ve highlighted in my older Clarkesworld article?
We don’t do eligibility posts on the Czech market. It’s logical; it’s so small that you can expect everyone to at least vaguely hear about nearly everything that’s published. On the Anglo-American market, you’re supposed to shout, because few others will shout for you.
So here’s my shout. Let me first of all highlight two stories by Hanuš Seiner in my translation: short story “Terra Nullius”, published in Strange Horizons, and novelette “Hexagrammaton”, published at Tor.com. I’ve loved both stories in the original and couldn’t resist translating them. I can heartily recommend both.
Then there’s my own fiction, of course. I particularly enjoyed writing “Étude for An Extraordinary Mind” (in Futuristica Vol. II), a short story about music, multiple personalities, autism, and a bit of synesthesia. Those who prefer delving into animal minds will love novelette “To See The Elephant” (in Analog, 5-6/2017). Finally, if you prefer fantasy, and especially if you love music, there’s novelette “The Wagner Trouble” (in GigaNotoSaurus) for you.
Oh, and before you go, please consider supporting me on Patreon if you want to see more translations of brilliant Czech fiction, and more of my own fiction and nonfiction.
Many science fiction authors have probably experienced the feeling when something you wrote about in SF just a few years ago becomes reality. Hells, I even asked that question in my interview with Peter Watts.
But less frequently, reality catches up with you before you can even write the damn story. In early 2015, I started writing a piece about a mission to an interstellar comet. It progressed a bit during the year, but I abandoned it temporarily, meaning to get back to it later.
I can’t feel grumpy about it, since I love the discovery and definitively approve of interesting mission proposals, though I try not to grow attached to them (spoiler alert: too few ever get implemented, even if sound in all aspects, but that can hardly be changed anytime soon). Moreover, it doesn’t make the story obsolete. It makes it much less original, but than happens all the time for various reasons. It’s not like we’re anywhere near a crewed mission to a comet, which happens in the story.
The whole thing also serves as a reminder that I shouldn’t take so much damn time with some stories. And if you’re too curious about it before it finally gets finished, I have good news for you: I’ve released an excerpt for my Patreon subscribers!