Thursday, October 22, 2020

Useless Cogs



I have just published my eighth short story collection.  “Useless Cogs” contains forty, science fiction stories that range from only a few dozen words to a few thousand and are filled with time travelers, AIs, clones, aliens, even sexbots, although not often as you would imagine.  As examples, there’s a time traveler that’s always a step behind, an AI that’s late on rent, and a sexbot with bad software.  Some of the stories are humorous, some horrifying, and some … depend on your point of view.  You can get it on Kindle for only $1.99, or the equivalent.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Big Election Sale

I had a plan to have ten of my Kindle ebooks on sale leading up to the election.  The hope was that maybe somebody would download one of my books so they would have something to read while they waited in line to vote.  So that was the plan, but then I started seeing all these posts of people waiting in line for ten hours or more to vote early.  My big sale that wouldn’t start until the end of the month wouldn’t help them, so I’m now doing four smaller sales from now through the election.  This post will show which books are free to download when.  So if you’re going to be waiting in line, hopefully something of mine will strike your fancy and help pass the time.  And if you’ve already voted, then reward yourself.  And if you’re not an American citizen, then be sure to vote in your country’s elections.  Democracy only works if the people participate.

Thursday October 15 through Monday October 19

A Man of Few Words



A Man of Few Words is a collection of fifty flash fiction stories by Stephen L. Thompson. What would really happen if a “T-Rex on steroids” attacked a city? Why do science fiction writers make the best lovers? How does a company get to Second Base with VIPs? These questions and more are explored by Stephen using less than 1000 words and in various genres from humor to horror and general fiction to science fiction.

The majority of the stories were previously published (most by Stephen himself on his website) but all were revised for this collection. In addition, each piece is accompanied by some background information on the origin of the story or a funny tale about the writing of it to give a fuller experience.

The Moon Before Mars


Over the last few years a lot of people have caught Mars fever. It seems a week doesn’t go by without a report of some new group wanting to send people to Mars, or some big name in the industry talking about why we have to go to Mars, or articles talking about the glorious future humanity will have on Mars. All of this worries Stephen L. Thompson. In his opinion, a Mars base is currently not sustainable because there’s no way for it to make money. A few missions may fly doing extraordinary science, but if it’s then cancelled for cost the whole Mars Project may just be seen as an expensive stunt.

Fortunately, there are other places in the solar system besides Mars. While bases on the moon and amongst the asteroids won’t be as inspirational as one on Mars, they will have opportunities for businesses to make goods and services as well as profits, meaning less chance of them being outright cancelled. This will make life better on Earth and secure a firm foothold in space for humanity. The essays in “The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars” allow Mister Thompson to describe his ideas on what can be accomplished on the moon and with the asteroids, and why Mars isn’t the destiny of humanity its cheerleaders make it out to be.

Tuesday October 20 through Saturday October 24

Lonely Phoenix

 


Partway to a new colony world, board member Geoffrey Ames is woken from hibernation by the caretaking crew of the Lucian. They require him to look into the matter of their fellow crewman Morgan Heller. Morgan’s claims – such as being over 1500 years old – would normally land him in the psychiatric ward, except he can back up some of his other claims.

The Only Certainty

 


On The Day, for reasons unknown, people began changing. They went to sleep as their old selves and woke in their beds in different bodies: bodies that had belonged to other people. And each time they fall asleep, they wake in a new body. Set months later, “The Only Certainty” follows Derrick Gorton on an average day in this new world as he deals with food shortages, the semi-collapse of society, and how to finish his latest novel.

Sunday October 25 through Thursday October 29

Relics

 


This work contains some profanity and sexual situations. It is intended for mature audiences only.

A plague that kills men has devastated the world’s population. Only a few thousand boys and men were able to be quarantined. But Mike Shay is the only man known to have a natural immunity to the plague. Therefore, he is practically the only man in a world of women. He spends his days reading, playing video games, and making the occasional sperm donation. Then Dr. Veronica Barrett shows up, disrupting what passes for his life. She says she’s there to investigate his “mental wellbeing,” but is there more to her visit?

Instead of the normal, adolescent, heterosexual male fantasy of being the only guy on a planet of women, “Relics” tries to give a more realistic view of Mike’s life.

Seventh Story Stockpile

 


Over the years, Stephen L. Thompson has posted several short stories on websites that later – for one reason or another – died. While the corpses of some of these sites are still around where you can read his stories, many have vanished from the internet. And since there are few sites that will publish such previously published works, the only way you could read them was if he self-published them in a collection.

In addition to such “lost” stories, he’s included some new stories that – for one reason or another – he felt he’d have a hard time finding someone to publish them. So “Seventh Story Stockpile” basically contains stories he didn’t know what to do with. But now he can move on to other projects.

Friday October 30 through Tuesday November 3

Political Pies

 


Everybody complains about politics, but does anyone do anything about it? Stephen L. Thompson’s attempt to do something about it is to collect forty of his short stories with a political element into his Political Pies anthology. His stories are either politically neutral or equally condemning of the national parties. Instead of trying to sway you to one ideology or another, his goal is to just get people thinking about politics in the hopes a rose might grow out of all the political manure.

The All-You-Can-Read Buffet

 


The All-You-Can-Read Buffet is a collection of forty stories covering various genres and themes ranging from six to over 4,200 words in length. Some of these stories Stephen L. Thompson began writing a decade ago, while others were written especially for this collection. All together, they are a buffet of his writing. As such, he encourage you to read as much as you want. Go back for seconds, thirds, fourths even. He won’t even mind if you skip over the stuff you don’t like, but, to quote your mother, “How do you know you don’t like it? Have you tried it?”

The Future is Coming

 


As a science fiction writer, Stephen L. Thompson has spent a lot of time thinking about how technology will change the way we live. He has come up with these ten short essays about science fictional elements that will – almost certainly – one day become science fact as a way for people to start coming to terms with them. Because he has spent time thinking about clones and AIs, Stephen feels that he’ll be okay when they do finally show up whereas most people will probably freak out. He hopes his essays will get people to start thinking about the future because, no matter what we do, the future is coming.

Duty

 


For reasons of safety and avoiding paradoxes, Time Travel Incorporated assigns a Guardian to all its travelers. So when there is an accident during political historian Roj Hasol’s trip back to 1968, it’s his Guardian Susan who sets out on the arduous task of cleaning up the mess.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Free Election Kindle

Shortly before the 2012 election, I self-published Political Pies, a collection of forty of my stories of various genres but all dealing with politics in some fashion.  In case you’re wondering, I tried to be equally condemning of both parties.  There are a couple of stories where there’s a debate between a Republican, a Democrat, and some Third Party person, and it’s the Third Party person who is talking sense.  I wasn’t trying to cram some ideology down people’s throats, I just wanted to hopefully get people thinking about political issues after showing them a point of view they had probably never thought of before. 

Anyway, in the years since I’ve tried to have a free sale for the Kindle version around every Election Day.  (And also the Fourth of July, and sometimes the Pennsylvania Primary elections.)  The hope was that maybe someone would download it and then have something to read while they waited in line to vote. 

Usually I just have Political Pies for free, but back in March and April I had two Coronavirus Sales where – each time – people could freely download six of my ebooks.  And given how important this election is, I decided to have an even bigger sale.  Between Friday October 30, and Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, ten of my ebooks (including Political Pies) will be free to download.  I’ll have a blog post listing all of them when the time comes, but the point of this post is to ask if other authors would care to join me in offering up free Kindle ebooks for Election Day.  Either so people have something to read while waiting in line, or as a reward for voting.

I’m not trying to organize like a website listing everything that’s free.  My grand plan is just using #FreeElectionKindle on Twitter to hopefully catch some attention.  If you want to join in, great.  If not, that’s also great. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Register to vote/Check your voter status


It seems every four years the political talking heads come out and say that “This election is the most important election of the modern era.” And you know what, for 2020, they might actually be right.  Because whether you think everything is hunky-dory, or you think the best description of the country is a dumpster fire, there will be major repercussions whoever wins this November.

Now you could just sit back and say, “Why bother voting when the system is broken?” Well, one aspect of why the system is broken is because too many people don’t bother being a part of it.  The only way to have a government that reflects the country is if the majority of the people participated in choosing that government.  Our government is not perfect – it’s very, very far from perfect – but not voting is you saying you’ll just take whatever happens.  And if you don’t like what you’re given, well, you can’t complain because you had the chance to make your voice heard and chose not to.

The way to make your voice heard is to register to vote.  How to register should be laid out on your state’s website.  But even if you’ve already registered, you should take the time to check your registration status, which I think is an option on most state websites.  (You may also wish to double check on your polling place.)  An important reason to do this now, is that there are several reasons why your status could be wrong: you moved and forgot to update it, a clerical error, or maybe you were caught up in an overly enthusiastic purge.  Whatever the reason, if you check now and find a problem you can get it all worked out before Election Day.  Election Day is hectic enough without people waiting in line only to find out there’s an issue.

So register to vote, or check your status, so everything will be in order come November 3rd and you can make sure your voice will be heard, in this, the most important election of the modern era.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

I need help from Latin speakers

Nine years ago, I wrote a short story about people uploading their consciousness to computers and becoming a new species.  At the time, I knew a guy who – out of boredom, or something – was teaching himself Latin.  I asked him for help in naming this new species.  What he came up with was Homo narratus, which he said meant “man recorded” since the Romans didn’t have a word for uploaded.  Anyway, I’m working on a collection of short stories and I’m including that one.  What I would like to know is does Homo narratus make sense, or is there an even better way to phrase it.  I probably haven’t talked to that guy in like eight years, and it would be a weird way to reconnect to just ask how his Latin is.  So if you know Latin, I’d really appreciate your comments.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Fourth of July Sale!

For the last few years, I’ve tried to have a free sale for my ebook of political stories, Political Pies, around the Fourth of July.  But this year – because of everything – I figured I’d include a few of my other ebooks as well.  So if you are so disgusted with real politics you don’t want to even read fictional politics, you have a few other choices.  All of these will be free to download from Wednesday July 1st, through Sunday July 5th.  So grab them before you get too drunk.

Political Pies

Everybody complains about politics, but does anyone do anything about it? My attempt to do something about it is to collect forty of my short stories with a political element into this anthology. The stories are either politically neutral or equally condemning of the national parties. Instead of trying to sway you to one ideology or another, my goal is to just get people thinking about politics in the hopes a rose might grow out of all the political manure.


A Man of Few Words


A Man of Few Words is a collection of fifty of my flash fiction stories. What would really happen if a “T-Rex on steroids” attacked a city? Why do science fiction writers make the best lovers? How does a company get to Second Base with VIPs? I explore these questions and more using less than 1000 words and in various genres from humor to horror and general fiction to science fiction.

 

The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars


Over the last few years a lot of people have caught Mars fever. It seems a week doesn’t go by without a report of some new group wanting to send people to Mars, or some big name in the industry talking about why we have to go to Mars, or articles talking about the glorious future humanity will have on Mars. All of this worries me. In my opinion, a Mars base is currently not sustainable because there’s no way for it to make money. A few missions may fly doing extraordinary science, but if it’s then cancelled for cost the whole Mars Project may just be seen as an expensive stunt.

Fortunately, there are other places in the solar system besides Mars. While bases on the moon and amongst the asteroids won’t be as inspirational as one on Mars, they will have opportunities for businesses to make goods and services as well as profits, meaning less chance of them being outright cancelled. This will make life better on Earth and secure a firm foothold in space for humanity. The essays in “The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars” allow me to describe my ideas on what can be accomplished on the moon and with the asteroids, and why Mars isn’t the destiny of humanity its cheerleaders make it out to be.

 

Duty


Who cleans up the mess when the time machine malfunctions?

 

A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea and other stories


Hopefully, in the not too distant future humans will return to the moon. We will build bases and colonies, make farms and factories, and live, love and learn. “A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea and other stories” contains five of my short stories that are all set upon the moon. They give the tiniest glimpse of the possibilities awaiting us there.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A ticking potato


Fifteen or twenty years ago, I was at some book sale and I came across a collection of condensed novels.  I think some science fiction magazine back in the 80’s condensed three or four novels from the early 1900’s to fit in a 100 or so page digest sized magazine.  I picked it up – for maybe a dollar – because I do have an interest in classic stories, to see what has and hasn’t changed in storytelling over the last century.  Of course, things don’t often go to the front of my “To Read” pile so it was some time before I started reading it.  But I didn’t get too far.

I don’t remember the title or author of the first story, all I remember is that it was about some guy who had some invention and he needed money to build it, so he went to an estranged, rich uncle.  The uncle invited him to dinner, and the first course comes out and they talk for a bit.  The first course is clean up, the second is brought out, and they talk a bit more.  And I got so thrown out of the story that I had to stop.  What’s the issue, you ask?  Well, when I say they talked a bit, I mean it was like, the First Course arrives, “How’s your sister?” “She died last year of TB.” “I’m dreadfully sorry.” “These things happen.” First Course removed, Second Course arrives.  “How go your studies?” “Very well.” Second Course removed, Third Course arrives.

Now, I don’t know if in the original version their conversation was more in-depth, or if there were long, awkward silences where the narrator looked around at the paintings, or what.  If I can ever find that magazine again – it’s probably in a box in the attic – I’d love to look up the original novel to see what was cut out.  But by the Third Course in less than a page, I was completely out of the story.  I’m not sure what deeper meaning there could be for us having to know what each course was, so I’m not sure why those details were kept. 

I bring all that up, because I’m … I guess you could say sensitive to the flow of time in stories.  For example, something that makes me groan every time I see it is a standard thing in cop shows.  In one scene the main characters are talking at the station when they get a call for a body in a parking structure downtown.  The next scene they get out of their car at the parking structure and continue their conversation as if there wasn’t a twenty minute car ride in the middle.  I understand it’s done because they have the set for the station, and the set for the murder scene, so they want to use them as much as possible.  And it would cost too much to set up a third set in a car and CGI the traffic through the windows.  I understand that, but it still takes me out of the show. 

Fortunately, when writing a story, we’re not limited by a set budget.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t issues.  For example, in one of my current projects, these people are staying out in the woods for a while and are eating potatoes and fish cooked over a campfire.  My characters will be talking and putting food on to cook.  They’ll then talk for two or three pages.  So far, so good.  But then, maybe only five minutes have passed in their world so I can’t just have them eating still uncooked potatoes.  But I don’t want to just end the scene and come back with them eating or cleaning up and have them start the conversation again.  Did they just sit around the campfire for twenty minutes without saying anything of importance?

I realize that few people would bat an eye if I continued a conversation after a time jump, but it irks me.  I’m doing my best to have natural, realistic, flowing dialogue that drops in little bits of plot exposition, but I don’t want to write half-an-hour’s worth of in world dialogue while the potatoes cook.  My solution, as such, is once I’ve dropped enough plot points, I have a character – usually the dragon – tell a story.  And I do lead the conversation to a story, I don’t just have the dragon stand up in the middle of something and go, “Story time.” I don’t have to write the actual story, just have her start telling a story about X and have some of my main character’s thoughts.  So in a paragraph or two I can have a story that takes as long to tell as the potatoes need to cook.  And then the normal conversation can begin again as they eat.  So they’re not eating raw potatoes, they’re not sitting around the campfire silently, and while there is a time gap it comes without the bluntness of “End Scene.”