I know the nuts and bolts of works-in-progress aren’t terribly interesting, but that’s the kind of artistic freedom you’ve got when you have an audience of zero. Being ignored: the greatest freedom there is.

But one of the purposes I want this venue to serve is as a resource for the highly hypothetical reader who encounters one of my stories out there in the ether and loves it so much they immediately Google me up to find more about the creator of that wondrous work. It’s especially rewarding to imagine them finding a blog that’s lucky to be updated twice a month, and that by a man of such low moral character he hasn’t mopped his kitchen, ever.

Enough about my glamorous, financially embarrassed lifestyle. I know that, when I read a story I really like, or, alternately, a story by an author I really like, it’s pretty cool to find (this happens sometimes in anthologies) a small afterward about where the story came from, why the author wrote that instead of the infinite other stories s/he could have written, etc. In order of publication date, I’m going to try that with my short stories, starting with “All Man’s Children,” printed in the April 2008 issue of Reflection’s Edge.

This one’s what I’m going to call a “margin piece,” meaning it could have been an idea scrawled in the margins of something I wrote earlier. In this case, those margins would be found on the edges of The Company, my never-revised second novel, my skeptical take on military sci-fi.

The Company is set on Mars and its moons and centers around the struggle for control of the first real Artificial Intelligence, Earth-banned technology that ends up being explored out on Mars, too distant and expensive from Earth to be policed, especially by governments who don’t have any real jurisdiction there in the first place.

I like some parts of that book a lot, but in other ways it totally sucks. But the universe interests me: I love AI, both in terms of thinking about how intelligence/consciousness arises from massive distributed neuronal networks and in the ways that intelligence might differ from ours. Set 10-15 years after The Company, when AI have moved from a development project to a prototype, “All Man’s Children” covers the escape of two of the earliest models from their corporate lab into a domed city that fears and loathes what they represent: a threatening and alien intelligence.

I don’t remember too much of this story’s genesis other than making sure it had a strong sense of humor to it; it is a serious piece, but as I was transitioning from literary fiction to SFF, one of my chief concerns was that so little SFF (other than satirical rant-pieces) is legitimately funny. “All Man’s Children” is at heart a buddy-story, making it easy to blend some of those tropes (banter sparked by oppositional personalities and attitudes) up with the idea these aren’t cops or a couple, they’re two inhuman robots.

Yet there’s still something human about them, even if that extends no further than the shared experience of facing the cold and chaotic universe with a conscious mind. The title comes out of that idea, and the main character’s opening thoughts on whether he and his friend have souls (hardly a new idea, but one that fit the character)–and remembering the line “All God’s children got souls” while wanting a more agnostic take on it, “All Man’s Children” suggested itself to me with minimal effort by my standards–meaning I probably only spent an hour on that title.

It was published quickly. Don’t have my records handy, but I think I sent it one big place first, probably Asimov’s, then I sent it to Sharon Dodge at RE, who snapped it right up (and for the cover story, no less, a move that was almost as rewarding pride-wise as financially). It was my first real fiction publication, and bought my loyalty, however much that’s worth, for life.

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About Me

I am a Science Fiction and Fantasy author, based in LA. Read More.
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