INSTINCTS #1: A Haiku by Stewart C. Baker

 

Today we’re sharing the first poetry contribution to our new online series,  Instincts: Asian Speculative Poetry. (‘Instincts’ for short).

Haiku are wonderful expressions of thought and beauty: adding speculative elements is especially difficult in this form, so I love the creativity of this piece. And if you’re into haiku, you’ll get the frog reference…

A Haiku (Untitled)

By Stewart C. Baker

Basho’s death day

the neural network stops

to watch the frogs

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Stewart C Baker is an academic librarian, speculative fiction writer and poet, web editor for The Heron’s Nest, and editor-in-chief of sub-Q Magazine. Stewart was born in England, has lived in South Carolina, Japan, and California, and currently lives in Oregon with his family­­—although if anyone asks, he’ll usually say he’s from the Internet. You can find him online at https://infomancy.net

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 Stewart’s work in The Insignia Series Anthologies:

‘Love and Relativity’ (Insignia: Asian Science Fiction, July 2018)

‘Raising Words’ (Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts, Aug 2018)

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If you’re inspired by Stewart’s words and want to give Asian speculative poetry a go, check out our submission details here.

We also have an open anthology submission call for 100-word (drabbles) Japanese Fantasy stories.

We’d love to read your work!

Have a great week,

~Kelly~

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*Frog image by Samuel Giacomelli on Unsplash

 

 

Featured Book: ‘Magical Women’ Anthology (Sukanya Venkatraghavan)

If you love short stories and love Indian/South Asian fantasy writing, you might want this one on your TBR list 🙂

MAGICAL WOMEN (Anthology)

Edited by Sukanya Venkatraghavan

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Blurb:

A weaver is initiated into the ancient art of bringing a universe into existence. A demon hunter encounters an unlikely opponent. Four goddesses engage in a cosmic brawl. A graphic designer duels with a dark secret involving a mysterious tattoo. A defiant chudail makes a shocking announcement at a kitty party. A puppet seeking adventure discovers who she really is. A young woman’s resolute choice leads her to haunt Death across millennia. . . A compelling collection of stories that speak of love, rage, rebellion, choices and chances, Magical Women brings together some of the strongest female voices in contemporary Indian writing. Combining astounding imagination with superlative craft, these tales will intrigue and delight in equal measure.

My (Kelly’s) Review:

This anthology includes 14 stories, all by South Asian women. Many stories focus on social and environmental issues, and a few were too feminist for my own taste, but overall I enjoyed the variety and quality of stories in this collection.

My personal favorites:

  1. ‘Rulebook for Creating a Universe’ by Tashan Mehta. This is the 3rd story in order, and I just loved the storytelling and prose. It’s also original mythology, which I like to see in short stories.
  2. ‘Bahameen’ by Asma Kazi. This is a very intriguing story about a ‘time-hopper’, closer to fantasy than scifi.
  3.  ‘The Girl Who Haunted Death’ by Nikita Deshpande. I liked that this was a modern retelling of the Hindu story about Savitri and Satyavan, and was easy to read (after a few heavier mythology-based stories in the book).
  4. I can’t leave out the editor’s contribution, ‘The Rakshasi’s Rose Garden’. A rakshasi is a ‘man-eater’, similar to a succubus, and I quite liked the storytelling of this piece too.

And regarding the book production: I think the cover art is amazing–it captures both the fantasy and science fiction imagery of the different pieces. However, the font inside is very hard to read; both the headings and italic fonts are thin and light lettering. I read the kindle format and had to change the font and text size setting (first time ever). I had to read the whole book set to Large Print just so the italics was readable. It was distracting, and I only read a couple of stories at a time because of it.

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View ‘Magical Women’ on Amazon.com

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I would love to feature more Asian fantasy books here on The Insignia Series blog. If you have a review you’d like to share, or are an author with a new release, feel free to get in touch with me! Send email enquiries to: blackwingsandwhitepaper@gmail.com, or post a message to @InsigniaStories (Twitter) or The Insignia Series (Facebook).

 

 

INSIGNIA Anthologies are FREE at Smashwords!!

Hi everyone, welcome to July!

What’s the best thing about July every year? The SMASHWORDS SUMMER SALE of course!

I’m into it this year, and putting the Insignia Series anthologies – all seven – on FREE promo all month long !!!

It’s a great chance to fill out your collection, or recommend the series to a friend. If you’re already a fan of the series, please help spread the word. 🙂

FREE at SMASHWORDS!!

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LINK TO THE INSIGNIA SERIES BOOKS ON SMASHWORDS

*Enter the coupon code (under the regular price listing) to claim your free download*

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SALE! Smashwords’ Read an Ebook Week

It’s Read an Ebook Week again over at Smashwords!

It’s an awesome chance to stock up on free and discounted ebooks by your favorite indie authors.

We’re offering volumes 1-3 of The Insignia Series for FREE this week!

And volumes 4-6 are 50% OFF!

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Just enter the coupon code (found on each book page) at the checkout to receive the discount.

Happy Reading!

~Kelly~

 

August News

Hello everyone, and a warm welcome to our new blog followers!

Well, it’s been sweltering here in Japan for the past few weeks. We’ve had several days over forty degrees and still with high humidity! I’m ver glad I bought a new air-conditioner for my office this year. How’s the weather where you guys are?

I’ve been using my summer break to work on a few Insignia projects, so thought I’d post a summary here of what’s happening for anyone interested…Cheers! ~~Kelly~~

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1) Insignia: Asian Science Fiction was published in July, and is currently in Round 2 of a cover art contest over at All Author. If you like our cover design and would like to support us, please pop over and vote! No need to be a member or register on the site to do so.

VOTE HERE!

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2) Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts will be released on August 20! I did an announcement post about it a few weeks ago, but if you missed it, you can check out the book details HERE.

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3) Next Insignia Series anthology?

A few people have asked about the next project: I’d like to open a new submission call in September or October, so would be curious to hear from you writers out there what themes would interest you…Or readers, what would you like read about next?

One of my ideas at the moment is to do ‘Flash Fiction & Poetry’, accepting work up to 1000 words in length, and open to poetry for the first time. I’ve been writing 100-word stories recently, and love how much story you can tell in just a few paragraphs.

All stories would still be required to be set in Asian countries (or a fantasy version of) and have leading Asian characters.

My second idea is to do a ‘Best of Asian Fantasy 2018‘. Submissions will then be open until year-end, and I would select maybe the Top 5 stories from those nominated. Stories would have to have been published this year by a journal or small press anthology etc, NOT self-published pieces.

Lastly, my best idea for a story-themed anthology is to do ‘Asian Ghost Stories’. I think we have ghost stories in every Insignia anthology to date, so I feel it would be easy to fill with great submissions.

Of course, I’d love to hear your ideas! Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or chat with me on Twitter sometime! Our Twitter link is: @InsigniaStories and my personal account is @KellyMatsuura

That’s enough typing for me tonight (I’ve been proofreading and formatting all day). Enjoy the rest of the month, and Happy Travels to those of you on summer vacation 🙂

Excerpt: ‘The Drowning Pool’ by Vonnie Winslow Crist

‘The Drowning Pool’ is a lovely mix of science fiction and fantasy, with Indian cultural elements. It a flash piece, so the excerpt is just a small tease….

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‘The Drowning Pool’ by Vonnie Winslow Crist

Excerpt:

The swimming pool on the Chandra Estate in New Thoothukudi was shaped like a coffin. From local historical records, Darshan knew this had not been the case when the pool was first constructed on Mars in the twenty-third century. Then, it had been oval in shape, and the centerpiece of an elaborate garden. But that was prior to Lalita’s drowning.

The facility manager stood on a slope of well-manicured grass and contemplated the pool. Mango and arjuna trees, genetically modified to fit the terra-formed planet’s climate and trimmed to near-perfection, and jasmine, bred to bloom year-round, surrounded the pool’s patio. Wrought metal chairs circling form-stone tables with decorative umbrellas poking out from their centers were positioned around the pool awaiting the wedding reception guests. Bathed in the glow of solar lamps and the scant moonlight of Phobos, the scene beneath the environs-dome was postcard beautiful, except for Lalita’s ghost perched on the edge of the pool.

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Vonnie Winslow Crist’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Science Fiction Page

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Excerpt: ‘Love & Relativity’ by Stewart C. Baker

Stewart C. Baker is a new contributor to The Insignia Series, and his story, ‘Love & relativity’ is an interesting Indian sci-fi piece that’s sure to linger after reading.

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‘Love & Relativity’ by Stewart C. Baker

Excerpt:

Dearest Adhi,

The psychiatrist assigned by Headquarters suggested I start a diary to help me cope with your ship’s disappearance.  Instead, I’m going to write you a bibliography.

I won’t write every day, and maybe you’ll never read this anyway, but it helps to think that someday I’ll be able to show you what I’ve written here.  To think that somehow, someday, we will bring you home.

Can’t write any more today.

I miss you.  I love you.

Indira

#

Source: ‘Special Relativity, The Universe, and You’ (New Beginnings Press: London, 2028)

Date Read: December 3, 2036

Summary:  Time is not an absolute, but depends on your location in the ‘hypersurface of the present’—a map of all physical space.  The speed of visible light limits observations to events already past, so the past is all there is.

Notes: While reading, I discovered I was pregnant.  It’s strange to think that once she’s born, I’ll only ever be able to see what she was—even if it’s only a few nanoseconds difference.  I wonder, if someone is inside you, can you still connect at the speed of ‘now’?

Ravi from mission control keeps calling, but they are no closer to learning what became of your ship.

Be safe.  I love you.

Indira

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Stewart C. Baker’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Science Fiction Page

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Excerpt: ‘Kill/Switch’ by L. Chan

 

Stolen memories and black market tech feature in L. Chan’s intriguing story, ‘Kill/Switch’.

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‘Kill/Switch’ by L. Chan

Excerpt:

Harpold opened his eyes and stared at his dead face. Cheeks already chalk white; dry eyes forever staring at the ceiling. A memory interrogation rig was still pressed tight around the head of the corpse. He traced the twist of wires from the rig back to the humming computer between him and the body.

Wu Yen Xing, said the security tag pinned to the breast of Harpold’s smart looking suit. Harpold’s body was dead in a chair. Harpold’s soul however, was alive in another man’s body. The world spun; he bent over double and splattered the floor with hot vomit. His memories, another man’s body. Memory transfer gone wrong? Sour, dusty air filled his lungs and left his nostrils slowly. He ran inventory; a litany of memories spaced to see if the transfer had gone through.

He was Harpold David Chang.

  1. He was ten. He topped his class in mathematics.
  2. His first kiss. She was drunk. He was not.
  3. Graduated a year early, top two percent of his cohort.
  4. Third year in Tarshem Industries, first year in advanced memory tech research.
  5. A missing year, one of five stolen from him when he fled the industry.
  6. Up to his eyeballs in synthetic drugs, working black market memory tech.

As the present day drew nearer, he sampled his memories with increasing frequency. Years. Months. Weeks. Long term was intact. Short term was good up to about a week before. He examined his new security pass. Interrogator, First Class, it said. First Class meant dangerous work, deep diving into the memories of the recently dead, fishing for memories in a sea of decaying neurons. Except somehow Harpold was in Wu’s body and he had nothing to explain why someone wanted his memories bad enough to kill him. That, and two giant holes in his memory.

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L. Chan’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Science Fiction Page

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Excerpt: ‘The Galaxy’s Cube’ by Jeremy Szal

The third excerpt I’d like to share from our new anthology is by another first-time contributor, Jeremy Szal.

‘The Galazy’s Cube’ is a gritty tale of black market tech dealing set in New Bangkok.

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‘The Galaxy’s Cube’ by Jeremy Szal

Excerpt:

It started to rain as he made his way back home, warm spatters of water drumming on tin roofs and taut tarpaulins. Two moons were visible in the sky, pouring pale light on the road. The third was obscured by thick clouds. Back on Earth, where his grandparents were born, there had been only one moon in the sky. And the days were twenty-four hours long, not thirty-two. He’d been meaning to go there, see the wonders they spoke about. But even getting a permit to travel would require years of saving. And then there was buying the actual ticket. He’d spent all his money on his daughter when she came down with the blister plague, slowly eating away at her body. Every sale he made from selling equipment fought back the disease just a little more. But in the end, it hadn’t been enough. It had crawled into Serah’s brain and killed her.

Some days Jharkrat didn’t know what kept him going.

He arrived at his bottom floor apartment. Blood-red creepers curled around the sagging poles that were weary with the building’s weight. He fished for the rusty key and unlocked the ancient door. He could have gotten a keypad or printscan system, but that would draw attention. Showed he had something to hide. The place was going to get broken in again anyway. No need to encourage the thieving devils. He’d seen what people would do for money. Just last month a man a couple of blocks down from him had traded his newborn son for a dog so he could sell its litter. Jharkrat had to restrain himself from going over and smashing the man’s teeth out.

The flat was a wreck; the floor littered with computer equipment and crushed beer cans, plastic chairs wrapped in thick cables. A moldy fan spun lazily overhead, swirling muggy air around the room. Stock was packed in cardboard boxes threatening to fall apart, stacked to the ceiling. Jharkrat swept away a disassembled motherboard from his desk and brought out the cube. He simply had to know what this was. There was no way the Ministry had licensed it. Which just made it all the more exciting.

~~~

Jeremy Szal’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Science Fiction Page

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HAPPY RELEASE DAY! ‘Insignia: Asian Science Fiction’

HAPPY RELEASE DAY everyone! I hope you all enjoy this new addition to the series. We have a few new authors joining the team on this one, so please check out their profiles for more info on their other published works, projects, etc.

The ebook is now available from Smashwords and all Amazon sites for US $1.99.

 

ASIAN SCIENCE FICTION

 

INSIGNIA VOL. 5 includes 8 science fiction stories with Asian characters and/or settings.

 

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CONTENTS

‘Stars Bright as Light’ by Joyce Chng

‘Islets of the Blest’ by Nidhi Singh

‘Uncle Ping’s Evening Farewell’ by Ray Daley

‘Connecting Through the Cosmos’ by Holly Schofield

‘The Galaxy’s Cube’ by Jeremy Szal

‘Kill / Switch’ by L. Chan

‘The Drowning Pool’ by Vonnie W. Crist

‘Love and Relativity’ by Stewart C. Baker

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AVAILABLE FROM:

| Smashwords | B & N | kobo |

| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA |

| Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES |

| Amazon IT | Amazon NL | Amazon JP | Amazon BR |

| Amazon MX | Amazon IN |

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Add on Goodreads

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Also, the first 4 Insignia anthologies are on sale at Smashwords for 99c until July 31st. They make great summer reading!

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