A Cool Sci-Fi Short Story, A Question That Sprouted From It

I just read an awesome short story and I wanted to share it with you. It’s titled Zugzwang and it came from Daily Science Fiction yesterday, which emails you sci-fi stories under 1000 word every day. If you aren’t subscribed to DSF, I highly recommend it. Think about it. You read boring e-mails every day, right? Why not add a short story in your reading list as well?

Anyway, this story is about an alien encounter and it hooked me in right from the beginning. Its writer’s name is Curtis M. Chen. As a big fan of Ted Chiang and Ken Liu (if you haven’t heard of them, you’re missing out on some awesome stories!), I was curious to see another Chinese American name.

And I wasn’t disappointed. The story was excellently crafted. The plot had tension and several layers of things going on, yet no word seemed redundant and all of the sentences were simple-yet-varied.

If you haven’t read it already, I ask you to go ahead and read it here. When you’re done, come back and let’s talk about it.

Are you done? Good. How’d you like it? I know, right? Well, on the topic of alien chess, there has been an awesome novella series called “Championship B’tok” by Edward M.Lerner on September, 2014 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact Magazine. If you liked Zugzwang, your mind will be blown to smithereens at B’tok, I guarantee. (Sadly, though, it’s a series and ends with a cliffhanger… the show still goes on.)

Anyway, a little bio of Curtis Chen said that he was a software engineer in Silicon Valley (whoa!), AND he is a Clarion West graduate (double-rainbow-whoa!). So we should expect to read more awesome stories from him. As you probably know, Clarion is an intensive and competitive sci-fi workshop, many contemporary sci-fi and fantasy authors are alumni.

Both Chiang and Liu have computer science background and I got really accustomed to their easy reading, thought provoking stories. So this might get you wondering, “Would I succeed as a sci-fi author if I pursued IT?”

I would argue that it doesn’t have to be IT, but any science degree helps. Robert Heinlein had a naval engineering degree, Isaac Asimov was a professor of biochemistry and Arthur C. Clark had a degree in math and physics, among his experience in other things.

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