Screenshot of my new stories index page featuring four sci-fi stories with cover art and logos

For years I’ve been tinkering on and off with writing short speculative fiction on my blog; which I affectionately call my “shitty sci-fi” (to keep the self-expectations low). Inspired by Robin Rendle’s Essays, I decided give more prominence to my stories on the ol’ website. There’s now a new top-level navigation link that will take you to a small directory of short fiction. There’s even a brand new story there too, hot off the presses.

Are they great? No, they are shitty. Can you read them? Yes, you can.

Read my Shitty Sci-fi

My hope is that giving my stories a home will push me into a more deliberate writing practice. I’ve got at least six stories kicking around in the backlog of my brain and the longer they sit the more grandiose they become. Little-by-little I hope to explore these little worlds I’m building in my head and convert them into something tangible.

One improvement I made with the Stories index is that each story now has “sci-fi concept art” to go along with it (inside a cool sci-fi rectangle, natch). I started with the custom titles I do for each story, but the list was missing an element of visual interest. Because I lack photoshop patience I decided to use AI to generate the artwork. I’m using the new Dall·E 3 which did a much better job than my past attempts with Dall·E 2. I may have to try Midjourney again. I have ethical quandries but this solution fit within my timeframe (a day), my budget ($0), and my goals (“good enough”).

There’s a mismatch between the world I envision and the aesthetic generated by AI, but I don’t know the right commands to get what I want from the machine. I’m so bad at prompt engineering it feels ecologically wasteful to even try to get better. And yes, I recognize the poetic irony about using AI –which consumes colossal amounts of energy– to generate artwork for stories about post-climate apocalypses and robots replacing our jobs… but here we are… living in that tension. Waving my hands at the larger issues, I think the images do a good job at establishing a mood before entering a story.

Next steps: Write more sci-fi. I’m also going to retcon the original posts (digital garden-style) and do short write-ups on the inspiration around each post and what writing objectives I was trying to hit. The last bit is I need to figure out how to get the Jekyll Collection in my RSS feed or create a dedicated feed. But those are future me problems.

I hope you enjoy my shitty sci-fi. <3