Welcome to my Apocalypse(s)

As we make it through one of the worst years in recent history, I thought it would be interesting to look at some of my stories that involve futuristic disasters and post-apocalyptic scenarios.

One of the first stories I ever wrote concerns a “perfect storm” of disasters — earthquakes plus nuclear warfare plus tsunamis plus the slow-pocalypse of climate change plus a very Covid19-like pandemic — “Hurry Up and Wait” originally in Perihelion Science Fiction in 2013 has been reprinted several times, most recently in Into the Ruins.

Another story, in Lightspeed’s Women Destroy SF anthology, doesn’t identify the type of disaster that occurs but it’s clearly human-caused. “Standard Deviant” was most recently reprinted in Frozen Wavelets.

Climate change is the obvious catastrophe awaiting us all. I’ve written many stories, both cautionary tales and hopeful ones, which you can find in this link. “Wicked Problem” is the latest of these and was recently released in Utopia SF magazine.

When aliens come into the arena, they may become our evil overlords as per “Connecting through the Cosmos” (originally in SF Comet in English and Chinese, and reprinted in The Insignia Series’ Asian Science Fiction anthology Vol 5 among other places). Of course, aliens don’t need to be the instigators of a dystopic future — humans do that well enough on their own. “Across the Hard-Packed Sand” and “Look, Don’t Touch” (in the Aurora-winning Second Contacts anthology) examine current-day issues like racism and homelessness with the assumption that they perpetuate even when aliens have been among us for some time.

I dissect a failed grassroots protest in “Technicality”, and how evil overlords can take electronic form in “Hat and Stick”.

Apocalypses can occur on exoplanets as well. “Bound, Determined”, in the Brave New Girls #4 anthology involves terraforming-gone-wrong and how that might lead to a two-class system.

These dystopic stories are a departure for me. Generally, I try to write upbeat stories and inject at least a tidbit of hope into each one. These days, yes, that’s been harder, but I strongly believe human nature is transformable, and our species can, as generations go forward, become our best selves.

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Criminal futures

This story was a long time coming. Back in 2012, I knew I wanted to write a story about wingsuits and BASE jumping on a low gravity planet. And there the idea sat until 2016 when I realized I could combine it with another idea I’d had for a murder mystery on an exoplanet. I also wanted to include the element of climate change (which underpins a lot of my stories), and to specifically examine the psychological toll taken by living with a constant feeling of unease (little did I know that Covid-19 was just around the corner and would add to our collective angst).

Vernacular’s The Way of the Laser anthology focuses on how futuristic disruptive technology will create new opportunities for crime. On distant worlds, the line between what is legal and ethical blurs.

…whether you’re looking for hard sci-fi or something more wildly speculative, you’ll find something to enjoy in this collection. The settings range from Earth in the not-too-distant future to alien planets that present their own problems for human settlers, and the crimes themselves vary from your standard murder and theft to deciding whether to take care of an unauthorized baby. Even the morality of each story varies. Some have the feel of a cop drama, while others question whether the law at the heart of the story is good, and whether the criminal is even entirely bad. I’m very glad I picked this book up to review, and I know any science fictions fans will be glad they picked it up to read.

San Francisco Book Review

The Way of the Laser is coming out June 25th. You can preorder it now. And you can read an interview with me, along with a free excerpt from “Handful of Empty”, at Vernacular Books.

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Magic Pens anthology now out!


One of my favorite editors, E.D.E. Bell of Atthis Arts, came up with the idea for an anthology about magic pens. What a great idea, eh!

This eclectic, multi-genre collection of original stories about the power of communication, the magic of writing instruments, and the strength of community, curated to inspire wonder, hope, and joy.

I knew immediately I had to contribute a story if at all possible. The result was “Writ Large”, a surprisingly timely tale of the creation of a “new normal” and a possible way to vastly improve the world.

Treat yourself to the ebook or the print version of Magic Pens today!

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The Greening of Speculative Fiction


Climate change is on everyone’s mind these days, and the trends in speculative fiction have quickly reflected that. Climate fiction, also called Cli-Fi, is a subgenre of Eco-Fiction in that it involves the direct or indirect effects of climate change in an ecologically focused story.

These days, it’s difficult to write eco-fiction set on Earth that is not about climate change. The two are regrettably interrelated. My own cli-fi leans toward taking the optimistic approach: Since attitude is what caused the climate crisis, attitude is what can fix it.

My first cli-fi story was published way back in 2013 in Perihelion. In “Hurry Up and Wait”, an apocalypse survivor is initially happy that he finally is being left alone by society and, well, you can guess how long that lasts. You can find it reprinted in Into the Ruins.

Cli-fi can take place anywhere. “The Knells of Agassiz” (published in the Water anthology, also available at Little Blue Marble) heads up north to help preserve Canada’s glaciers. “One Bad Apple” (SciFutures’ City of the Future anthology) journeys to an inner city food forest. “Home on the Free Range”, (Analog, Jan/Feb 2018) examines a complex ecosystem on an exoplanet from the point of view of a farm worker. In the fourth volume of the middle grade Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, a young girl sneaks out of her habitat home to take an adventurous walk because “Fluffy Pets are Best”.

Some of my cli-fi is very pointed. “The Weight of the World” (Cli-Fi: Canadian Tales of Climate Change) and the forthcoming “Handful of Empty” (preorder The Way of the Laser anthology from Vernacular Books) are both about food security under very different circumstances. “Wicked Problem”, (Utopia SF Magazine) has a scientist and her daughter dealing with an actively dangerous climate-changed environment. In “Bear #178” (Winner of Communitech’s True North contest, find it at Little Blue Marble), a tech-enhanced grizzly bear solves the problem of her shrinking habitat in a disastrous way.

Both “The Call of the Wold” (Solarpunk Summers) and “Halps’ Promise” (just released in Solarpunk Winters) take a lighter turn and put some humor on the workings of two very different intentional communities.

“A Distant Honk” (The Unlikely Coulrophobia Remix anthology and Little Blue Marble) is both pointed and funny. It takes a hard look at how feral clowns might adapt to climate change and how we might adapt along with them. “Stewardship” (originally in Unsung Stories, now available at Little Blue Marble) is in a similar vein, a cautionary tale about environmental protection gone wrong.

Other stories are quite serious. “Five Ways to Talk about Twisted Oak Moss” in the Rising Tides literary anthology, examines our past and future environment, using moss colonies as a metaphor for larger habitats.

However you like your cli-fi, I hope you click on a few of these links and find something to give you enjoyment and food for thought!

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Winter is coming!

The intentional community that I wrote about in World Weaver Press’ Solarpunk Summers became a whole world in my head. I really enjoyed figuring out how just such a community might work. I had the same fun in the newly released Solarpunk Winters. This anthology envisions winters of the future, with stories of scientists and regular people working together towards a new hope.

My story, “Halps’ Promise”, involves an aspiring teenaged engineer enthusiastically helping to fix a community’s energy source.  One reviewer said, “The quirky heroine in…“Halps’ Promise” by Holly Schofield, helped make this offbeat story one of my favorites.”

Climate change is a reality. How we cope with it remains to be seen.  I hope this story stirs some ideas in the minds of readers everywhere.

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Quaffing a Story

I’ve always been interested in having my stories in unlikely locations, such as vending machines or coffee sleeves, so I jumped at the chance to have a story printed on a can of beer.

Blindman Breweries in Lacombe, Alberta currently offers Super Mild craft beer with 24 different tales printed right on the can. My story, “Fourteen Thousand Sunsets”, draws on the farming life, winter, and the inevitability of aging.

CBC News even did an article on the microfiction-enhanced microbrew.

Literary beer, who knew?

You can find Super Mild throughout Alberta until the end of January. Please drink responsibly.

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Blast off for new worlds with the Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide Volume 6!

The sixth year of the Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide anthology has just been released. I’ve been privileged to have stories in Volumes #4 and #5 and I’m glad “Special Effects” found a home in this newest volume. The story is about a young girl on a generation ship coming to terms with both her grandmother’s recent death and a shipboard crisis — intense topics for young readers!

The 24 stories in this 432-page book all examine the “what if” of science fiction, filling a much-needed gap of short speculative fiction for middle grade readers.

Get Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide #6 from AmazonBarnes & Noble, Kobo, and your local bookstore, and, please, continue to challenge the young readers in your life. Because, to quote the Dreaming Robot Press editors: the answer to “what if” is never finished.

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Rising Tides, Reflections for Climate Changing Times


This recently released anthology, Rising Tides, edited by Catriona Sandilands, contains more than forty pieces of climate change fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir, and poetry.

I’m proud that my work, “Five Ways to Talk about Twisted Oak Moss”, is among pieces that “emphasize the need for intimate stories and thoughtful attention. These stories parallel the critical issues facing the planet, and imagine equitable responses for all Canadians, moving beyond denial and apocalypse and toward shared meaning and action.”

Rising Tides…(contains)…words of sorrow, words of loss, words of concern and fear. But also, words of connection to trees, to ice, to nature. We need these words to apprehend the changes coming upon us. I commend Catriona Sandilands for bringing together this diverse group of people that honoured climate change through these words.
—Dr. Catherine Potvin, Canada Research Chair in Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical Forest (Tier 1)

Rising Tides is available from Caitlin Press and your local bookstore.

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The Future of Work is the work of the future

The Copia Institute (the think tank arm of Techdirt) set out to examine the nature of work and the future of work, with the end goal of helping to invent some better futures beyond the “gig economy apocalypse”, and more specific futures than “it’ll be okay”. They brought together a collection of thinkers: entrepreneurs, technologists, activists, journalists, philanthropists, lawyers, academics, who came up with a variety of different scenarios. They then gave those scenarios to a bunch of science and speculative fiction authors…including me.

The Working Futures anthology contains 14 stories, including two of mine. Some are upbeat and optimistic. Some, not so much. Many are deeply, deeply, in between: stuck in a world where “it’s complicated” is a fair way to describe things. All of them help paint possible pictures of what work might mean in the future.

Techdirt had some kind words to say about my stories:

“Trash Talk” by Holly Schofield explores the kind of job that probably doesn’t get much attention when people talk about “the future of work”: jobs that require manual labor. Many people seem to assume that those will just be entirely automated away but, as this story explores, it’s possible that we’ll just enhance humans with machines, rather than replacing them altogether. And sometimes that might create some, well, tricky situations.

Techdirt, October 11, 2019

 

“Generation Gap”, by Holly Schofield. This is Holly’s second story in our collection and among the many things we loved about it was how it really painted a picture of a potentially very different world — which held the possibility of being beautiful, but also possibly terrifying. Or perhaps something in between. And it raises questions about how our future world will connect with the past.

Techdirt, October 14, 2019

You can find a discussion of this fascinating topic and of this anthology at Boing Boing. And you can pick up a copy (kindle or paperback) of Working Futures at the Working Futures website.

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Shut Down Strangers & Hot Rod Angels, an anthology inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen

The summer I was nineteen, far back in the day, I worked for a government agency and traveled with a crew in a station wagon across Ontario. We had only a couple of cassette tapes to listen to — both of them were Bruce Springsteen albums. At first, I wasn’t into the music at all but, by the end of the summer, Bruce would become one of my all-time favorite musicians. The poetry in the lyrics and the depth of emotion in the music are a sweet combination. When I saw a submission call for a Springsteen anthology, I knew I had to write a story.

In the editor’s words: The best thing about this anthology is that you can’t pin it down as one thing. Much like Bruce’s music, the 38 poems, 14 CNF pieces, and 25 stories in Shut Down Strangers & Hot Rod Angels cover a wide range of modes and moods. There are pieces on identity and family, grief and spirituality, and all kinds of love—lost love, doomed love, almost-love, beautiful healing love, love you clutch onto like a lifeline when everything else slips away. There are pieces on the distance between the American dream and the American reality, and geographies that span the country and the globe. There are hard luck antiheroes, girls who cruise, and plenty of shut down angels and hot rod strangers. There is weirdness and whimsy and things that go bump in the night: ghosts and vampires, cryptids, chickens running games of chance. There is sadness and darkness in here, yes (I guess there’s just a meanness in this world), but there is also hope and light. And running through each and every piece there is an undercurrent of music, and of Springsteen’s spirit—a fire, a spark, a sound we can make our own.

Get Shut Down Strangers & Hot Rod Angels, including my story “Nowhere Radio”, by pre-ordering at Bone & Ink Press today!

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