Christopher McKitterickis creating science fiction and more
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– Kij Johnson: Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, & World Fantasy award winner
I'm grateful for your considering becoming my patron – I look forward to writing for and collaborating with you on a variety of cool projects while building community here. Thanks so much for joining me on this journey! Feel free to ask me anything.
The most important thing life's taught me so far:
I've lived in twelve US cities and towns, seven states, and two countries, but call Lawrence – where I teach science fiction and writing at the University of Kansas – home. I'm a public speaker, Campbell Memorial Award juror and chair, and Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction director. I see my surviving until now as evidence of quantum realities (more on that in excerpts from my in-progress memoir, Stories from a Perilous Youth).
No more! That's why I've set up this Patreon: I want to create an intentional community of readers and creatives – people who encourage and support one another – the way I do for my (successful!) Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop attendees. When I'm not writing (or being creative in other ways), I feel hollow, less alive. But when I'm working on projects I'm passionate about – and for an audience – I'm full of fire and life. Like so many creatives, to be happy and healthy, I need to write and create art, and feel I have a lot to share and offer. So I see Patreon as an accountability tool, too, because patrons are depending on what I've promised, just like an anthology or magazine editor.
I'm doing this for audience expectations, project deadlines, feedback, and due dates, and to see if enough people will support my work for me to devote more time to creating art! Also to learn new things about contemporary creative modes, reader interaction, and writing careers that I can share with my students and you.
Mostly I see Patreon as a reason to produce more creative output directly to an audience: Sounds like heaven.
My short fiction has appeared in a wide diversity of publications. The newest is "Ashes of Exploding Suns, Monuments to Dust" (Nov/Dec 2018 Analog Science Fiction & Fact), a novelette that critics say, "believes in humanity and our future," that "manages to combine space opera, sociological speculation, and introspection into a unified whole," and "an epic tale with a great conclusion," and currently a finalist for the AnLab Award! It's one of my faves so far – the first piece I'll post here. I also wrote a companion essay for their blog.
To give you more insight into my work, some nice reviews for my debut novel, Transcendence:
- Library Journal: "Readers who enjoyed the cyberpunk feel of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash as well as the cosmic fiction of James Blish’s Cities in Flight should welcome the author’s full-length sf debut."
- Publisher's Weekly: "The narrative and its intricate setting creates offers a stark, thoughtful, and engrossing look at human society and its interactions with animate and inanimate objects."
- Algis Budrys: "Brilliant."
- Kij Johnson: "A gorgeous cyberpunk/space opera/coming-of-age/new-wave philosophical action novel."
- Jack McDevitt: "Riveting."
- Ann Tonsor Zeddies: "Beautiful, moving, and ambitious."
Some current book-length projects you'll see include:
- The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella: Near-future YA SF. A story of friendship, Othering, and chosen family. After being forced from home, siblings Jack and Stella try to evade capture on a road-trip across Kansas that leads them to the Moon and beyond. Along the way, they learn the power of love and acceptance – and the danger of fear handed down from older generations.
- Empire Ship: Hard-edged far-future SF. A menace from the ancient past threatens galactic civilization. Aboard a world-sized Empire Ship, a boy comes of age in a society that sharpens men into weapons while the ship's Captain plans to resurrect the Empire. Elsewhere, a woman launches a mission to destroy the threat and must decide how best to save humankind while working to save her father from the worst boss ever and teaching a couple borderline-psychopaths about loyalty and love...
- Squirrels and Robots: Children's book about a far-future colony of evolved squirrels on a human-depopulated Earth and how one curious squirrel befriends the last operational AI robot and journey to the stars. Yes, I love and admire squirrels. Originally envisioned as an illustrated book – stay tuned! If enough patrons show interest, I might be able to lure an artist friend into this endeavor...
- Stories from a Perilous Youth: A (hopefully!) humorous memoir of surviving a childhood of near-drownings, explosions, failed hang-glider experiments, and getting shot a little bit. During Andy Duncan's first visit to Lawrence (when he won the Sturgeon Award), and after telling one another stories late into the night, he prompted me to start writing them down. Blame him. I might first release these here as short-shorts, or video performances from a local coffee shop, or both! I'll post a survey to gauge your preference.
In my 20+ years of teaching (and taking!) writing workshops, I've created and curated thousands of resources for writers (especially in speculative fiction). I've had the privilege to learn from many of the greats, and to teach many who've gone on to publishing success (my SF Workshop alums see perhaps the highest rate of publication in the field!). So if y'all want to see these materials, I'm happy to share them on a regular basis, too.
I've spent most of my life teaching, and my students seem to get a lot out of what I offer (super reviews, and I was a finalist for the H.O.P.E. Award for Outstanding Progressive Educator) - plus I love to share insights and understanding, so I'll occasionally share materials and thoughts from my science fiction literature, media, and STS courses, as well. Treat those days as a college education where you don't have to go anywhere to educate yourself!
I write tons of short essays, think-pieces, and other nonfiction. Lots have appeared on my Tumblr blog (and my old LiveJournal, migrated to Dreamwidth), so if you follow me there, you might have seen some of these. I'm sure to post something of this sort every week. I plan to make Patreon my primary blog for original posts (though I won't forget my delightful Tumblr friends!).
Most of my earliest publications were poetry, and I still occasionally write poems, so I'm likely to share them here if you're interested.
I've been an astronomer since my early teens, built dozens of telescopes, run observatories, written planetarium programs and "This Week in the Sky" newsletters, and have been doing astrophotography since the days when we had to develop our own film and print it on paper. I'll share my best photos here on occasion.
I enjoy a bunch of fandoms, but my original and deepest is science and the science-fiction mode of perceiving the world. One of my mentors, SF great Frederik Pohl, said his favorite sport was science, and I really take that to heart. I've attended the The Schrodinger Sessions: Quantum Physics for SF writers, and I hope to attend Launchpad Astronomy Workshop for SF writers this year - plus I studied astronomy and astrophysics for years, and even got the VIP tour of NASA's Mission Control:
I'm also a huge fan of urban wildlife! I've cultivated a healthy population of birds, squirrels, possums, feral cats, and much more in my immediate environment, so you're sure to see regular photos of and stories about my little outdoor friends.
Oh, and I build custom electric bikes, motorcycles, vintage cars, and other machines, so if you want to see what I'm working on, I'm happy to share illustrated progress reports and how-tos here, too.
- Short fiction (including work written from patron prompts!), both WIP and completed work.
- Full-length scenes and chapters from novels-in-progress.
- Personal tales from Stories from a Perilous Youth , the memoir of how I survived ridiculous events I had no reason to, and what I learned from all that.
- My YA SF series, The Galactic Adventures of Jack and Stella – the first book of which is nearly complete! I'll be looking for patron feedback.
- In-depth writing advice from my decades of teaching writing workshops and taking them with the most brilliant minds in the field.
- Spacey astrophotos, cute animal pics, and other photography.
- Maybe even some videos, if there's call for it.
- And more.
Things that add up to longer works, I'll collect into books, novels, or whatever format is best, and make available to everyone as revised, finished, professional collections if we raise enough patronage to support free art for all.
Oh, and I'll always start a new project by asking followers to provide input, if you want. Not only will that help me develop my work – I love brainstorming and hearing constructive feedback (it takes letting go to fully embrace criticism, a skill all creatives would do well to learn) – it'll also help make my work more the kind of thing you want to see. I might even do fundraisers to create print books if enough people want them.
I don't want to stop doing the "give it away free and rely on the honesty of readers to give back what they feel it's worth and can afford" model that I've been following for years. So as long as enough people sign up to reach the listed goals, all subscribers will see most of my stuff regardless of tier.
If these projects sound interesting, I hope you'll consider becoming a patron of my work! I'm rarin' to go and look forward to subscribers expecting good stuff on a regular basis!
Thanks for visiting. I hope you like it here.
Help every patron access more! If we meet this goal each month, you'll help give all patrons (regardless of tier):
- Access to all my posts.
- Sneak peeks of completed creative work as it's getting ready to find a home.
- A back-stage pass to in-progress stories, novels, poetry, and other creative material. What am I working on this month?
- You see it before anyone else! It might be a scene, chunk of dialogue, or descriptive passage, or maybe a poem, essay, or other work no one else has seen.