Year’s Best Aotearoa/NZ SF&F, Volume 2

This must be one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve seen recently! It’s by Laya Mutton-Rogers, who has done an absolutely beautiful job.

New Zealand hosted WorldCon this year, or at least it was supposed to (thanks to pandemic, the whole thing went virtual) but anyway: this, the second volume of Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy, was designed to coincide with the convention, in an effort to introduce more people to Kiwi speculative fiction. I was lucky enough to have a story in the first volume, so I was just as delighted to have a story in the second.

“Inside the Body of Relatives” was originally published last year in Asimov’s. It’s a story about an elderly woman and her artificially intelligent house. It’s a very quiet story, with no AI going rogue or anything like that – just a house programmed to be kind trying to get its increasingly lonely owner to socialise more. Which she does, eventually, but not in any way the house expects. It’s evolutionary biology to the rescue, and the story itself developed from one of those nights when I was tucked up in bed, listening to the rain on the roof and contemplating building materials. Which I don’t do very often, but in this case it all came together nicely.

Thanks to Marie at Paper Road Press for publishing one of my stories again, and if you’re interested in this lovely book, you can find it here.

Inside the Body of Relatives

I have a new story out! “Inside the Body of Relatives” is in the November/December 2019 issue of Asimov’s Magazine. It’s the fourth story I’ve had in Asimov’s, and the first which is actually a short story. Everything else I’ve had published there has been a novelette, so it’s good to have sold them something different. It’s a short story because it’s only a little idea, and sometimes you just don’t need to pad out a good idea with extra words. That idea – and I don’t want to spoil it, exactly – is something that came to me one night when I was lying in bed, tucked up under the duvet and listening to rain on the roof. And it was such a simple idea, and it seemed so obvious…

It’s also a story that features that staple of the science fiction narrative: artificial intelligence. Specifically, an AI dwelling. There’s a reason this is a trope (often a horrifying trope) but I wanted something not-horrifying for this. It’s a quiet little story about aging and loneliness and evolutionary biology, so there seemed no reason to go all overwrought with it. Anyway, here’s a teaser of it:

There’s a reason I don’t have a lot of guests – or worse, a tenant, for all the rent would round out my super. I like my house quiet.

“Quiet as the toooomb,” says the house, in response. It gets sarcastic when it’s worried. “I don’t like to think about you getting depressed,” it says.

“I’m not depressed.”

“Loneliness can be a trigger for depression,” says the house. “You are lonely, and I am not a substitute…”