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Last year I had the distinct honor to have my first fiction published by Catherynne M. Valente at Apex Magazine. Cat had an amazing year individually and Apex was Hugo-nominated.

I am deeply proud to have been a tiny part of a great year for the zine and a part of this great volume.  Pre-order now available with free shipping.

Baby is healthy. Move is (mostly) complete. Job is (barely) settled. Many new works in the pipeline. So here’s to looking forward, and celebrating great company.

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Apex Magazine has made my story available gratis, so if you’re interested, check it out!

The story was introduced this way:  Jeremy R. Butler channels the adventure and dangers of deep space mining with his “Recipe Collecting in the Asteroid Belt.” 

Insatiable reader Lois Tilton reviewed it over at Locus Online, describing the theme as “be careful what you wish for” and the content as “depressing humor.”  I tend agree with both comments.

This story grew from an idea of an astronaut in deep space, so deprived of sensory experience that he decompressed just to feel the wind. I’m pleased by the outcome, and even happier that Cat, Jason and the Apex slush readers liked it too.  Enjoy!

Recipe Collecting in the Asteroid Belt

On Killing (beloved) Characters in a Science-Fictional Universe

[vague spoilers for Fringe, Doctor Who, Lost, Star Trek:TNG]

I used to like The Twilight Zone growing up.  A single premise, one protagonist.  Nice, clean, one-off, storytelling.

I also used to love Star Trek: The Next Generation. Over seven seasons, how many main characters died? One.

Two different approaches to genre television, and both are outdated. In the new world of genre television we expect arcs lasting a season, plotlines to build on the previous episode, and we won’t tolerate the sit-com device of resetting the world weekly.

The question is:  haven’t we gone too far?  Both Fringe and Doctor Who advertised recent plots with promises of characters dying—“tune in as we say good-bye to a beloved character.”  It’s Clooney’s last episode of ER, Diane saying good-bye to Sam, and it’s definitely Charlie’s “Not Penny’s Boat” moment.  I tune in, kleenex in hand.

Both shows delivered, and un-delivered, and no doubt will deliver again, because both have done so through the narrative devices that sci-fi allows (glimpses of the future, changed timelines, remarkably successful CPR, impersonating androids, reincarnation, etc.), leaving such deaths no more than a TV guide blurb: [Main Character] dies, returns next week.

Here’s where I feel cheated. Speculative fiction allows for heightening of scale of the human experience. It’s impossible in other genres to take an internal conflict and raise the stakes to the jeopardy of all mankind.  That is a great power, but with it comes great responsibility. The minute that an internal conflict can destroy reality and then be undone each week, we’re much closer to South Park or The Twilight Zone than we are to a season arc. It also leads me to believe that the showrunners have little respect for either the characters or their audience.

I blame Lost.  For all of its novel story-telling devices, that whole last season was a shooting gallery…and then it wasn’t. But please, if you’re going to steal something from Lost, does it have to be the most reviled element?