Free Fiction by me: “The Story of Daro and the Arbolita” on StarShipSofa

Hey look, a new story by me!

This story previously appeared in Analog, which is not freely available, so I am especially happy that it is now available for anybody who didn’t grab a physical copy at the time!

For those of you not familiar with StarShipSofa, here is my write up from way back in 2011:

This podcast can only be described as adorable. It is so clearly by the people, for the people and the host is such a nice guy, that you can’t help but love it. However, I would definitely not recommend this for everyone. It’s a lot more than just audio fiction. Although they do include at least one story in every episode, it’s more like one feature among many, instead of the main event. The very, very long episodes contain author interviews, genre news, genre history, upcoming book releases, etc. If you’re really into science fiction in general, then there is a lot to offer here.

On this particular episode it starts off with my story straight away, but I do highly recommend you stick around and listen to the fascinating “science news” segment.

Review Roundup

I have a couple of stories out recently, and since (probably) don’t google me quite as obsessively as *I* google me, I thought I might bring them to your attention.

First up, I had “The Story of Daro and the Arbolita” in the November issue of Analog.

This is what Lois Tilton at Locus had to say:

Humans settling Tillal, the world of the arbolita, take great pains to avoid harming the margalo trees that sustain much life on the planet. Daro is driving a truck through the forest when he sees an injured arbolita lying on the path. Attempting desperately to avoid striking her, he swerves his truck so that he’s injured and several trees are uprooted. For this crime, the arbolita intend to sentence him to death, but at least he gets a trial.

I’ve seen quite a number of stories concerning humans caught up in alien justice systems, but this one relies on the philosophical thought experiments typified by the trolley problem. I like this use; although the fictional situation might be considered rather contrived, so, of course, are the original thought experiments.

Bob Blough at Tangent says:

Shane Halbach is a new writer to me. He shows promise in “The Story of Daro and the Arbolita” by his use of stories within the alien culture he creates. A man driving a futuristic big rig on an alien planet crashes into some trees in order to avoid killing a native. Due to this, Daro is put on trial for killing the trees. The society is very lightly sketched and the trial involves telling stories to remind the judge of certain truths. It is an interesting idea but too fleeting a glimpse to be very memorable.

So he wants more from me. Got it. Editors take note.

Sam Tomaino at SFRevu says:

“Daro is driving a “suspensor tug” towing a flatbed through a narrow road on the planet Tillal when he sees one of the native arbolita lying on the road in front of him. To save her life, he lets loose the flatbed which destroys several of the sacred margalo trees. He finds himself on trial for his life and must tell a good story to get out of it. Nicely done.

Finally, Rocket Stack Rank says:

Rating: 4, Recommended

On planet Tillal, the Arbolita practically worship their margolo trees, and killing one is a crime–even to save a life.

This is essentially a courtroom drama, even though it’s a very alien court. The hapless public defender makes for good comic relief. The idea of defending oneself by telling a story is interesting.

The story is light enough that we don’t get deeply emotionally involved, although the scene at the very end where the Arbolita Daro saved peeks at him before he goes comes close.

(Although I particularly appreciate the comment there that says, “What a strange and memorable story. The words monkey trial and kangaroo court come to mind but they don’t quite describe the scene of ape-like creatures using fables to judge a man. :-)”

Moving over to “Exit Strategy” in Fantasy Scroll #9,

Quick Sip Reviews says:

This one might not be as Halloween-themed as some of the other ones, but it certainly is a lot of damn fun. Calling to mind older sword and sorcery fantasy stories, it involves a dwarf, a heist, and a dragon. And I’m not going to lie, this one reads an awful lot like a D&D session, but that’s never really bothered me. It reads like a really fun D&D session, filled with fun characters and people doing their best to find the weakness of a tough opponent and find a way to bend a few rules. In any fantasy where there’s a rather rigid magic system, there are situations where things can be interpreted rather loosely. And here things get a bit clever as Delevan, the dwarf, and his fellow thieves seek to filch a whole lot of coin from a powerful dragon. There is a bit of back-story as the characters argue before agreeing to team up, and a lot of banter as things go from bad to worse to everything-was-fine-from-the-start. The characterization might not be incredibly deep, but sometimes that’s not the point. Sometimes the point is seeing people get eaten by a dragon and live to tell about it. Fast and with a delightful and rather grumpy voice, the story does what it sets out to do: to entertain. Job well done.

Overall, very positive. Thanks to everyone who has reviewed my stories or left me a comment. If the worst thing you can say is, “This story was too short,” I guess I’m doing all right. 🙂

Coming Soon – Me! In Analog!

Way back in February, I announced that I sold a story to Analog.

Looks like I will be appearing in the November issue (which means it goes on sale in October, which means my contributor copies will be arriving in September…publishing is weird).

Guess what came in the mail this week??


An Analog Man

I am very please to announce that my story, “The Story of Daro and the Arbolita” will be appearing in Analog Science Fiction and Fact.

I know non-writers are probably not as familiar with the prestige of one market versus another, but there are definite “tiers” between the magazines. In the top tier of magazines, there are three known as the “big three”: Analog, Asimov’s, and Fantasy & Science Fiction. Those are the last three big print magazines; the ones you can actually subscribe to through the mail like a regular magazine, the ones you can still occasionally find on the shelf in a bookstore. Of the “big three”, Analog is the biggest, at least by circulation (they are over 27,000 subscribers).

In fact, Analog is the longest running science fiction magazine, going back to 1930 (known back then as “Astounding Stories”). If you are not a science fiction fan, you can trust that they have published every science fiction author you have heard of: people like Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Robert Heinlein, and a lot of others. Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight first appeared in Analog. Frank Herbert’s Dune first appeared in Analog.

All of this is a long way to say, I’m dead.

I died now.

Clearly this crazy, ridiculous world in which I have a story forthcoming from Analog is some sort of non-reality heaven simulation, and none of you are real.

You know, two things:
1) After the amazing writing year I had last year, I was really braced for a slump this year. It seemed like it could only be downhill. So far, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
2) There is a certain voice that says, “Hey, maybe you aught to cool it with these announcements, buddy. Be a pro. Act like you been there before.” But you know what? Screw that. I *am* a pro, and so whatever I do? That’s what a pro does.

Do you know what a pro does when he sells a story to Analog?