Check out my newly released sci fi novella, Ships!

SHIPS:  Yet another sci fi novella I had a lot of fun writing, though this one’s a bit of a “soft” sci fi…slipstream, as they call it…with large parts set in present time and ordinary circumstances that are equally accessible to non-sci-fi readers.  (Still, along with my usual snarky/politically incorrect humor, it’s got some very alien aliens.)

Again, it will be featured on a big banner at this May’s SFWA Nebula Awards Conference.  The blurb’s below, and the Kindle version’s a mere 99 cents here.

Gorgeous, and born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth, Veronica Hamilton has never had to interrupt her dreamy sentimentality to question her cultural snobbery or even whether or not that diagnosis of Asperger’s was accurate.  But that was before her fabulously wealthy CEO husband framed her for the murders he committed.  Now she’s fleeing across “fly-over” America with the pedal to the metal of her burgundy-upholstered Rolls.

Meanwhile, barreling toward Earth, Histus is suffering from extreme sensory deprivation because he no longer has a body.  But his gas-giant home planet has been annihilated, and the only way to survive was to upload his consciousness into his crippled ship.

What could these two have in common?  Oh, and incidentally, will they save the planet Earth?

“Hugo-nominated Sue Hollister Barr has written a gripping story peopled with believable and sympathetically drawn characters who are lost and adrift, whether in the panoramic landscape of Kansas or deep space.  She explores how we are all so caught up in our pasts and prejudices that we lose the capacity for true communication.”

Harrison Park, Author

“Sue Hollister Barr’s Ships references Longfellow’s ships that pass in the night, but in this case one ship is a huge alien vessel, and the other is the planet Earth.  And they don’t pass unseen.  Raucous, witty humor and intriguing characters (including disembodied aliens, a trophy wife wanted for murder and the denizens of a tiny Kansas town) make for a wonderfully fun, and in places quite beautiful, read.”

Sondra Fink, Psycho-Girl.Com

“A rollercoaster through such delights as slimy bosses, bad sex, and the question of compassion for minds that are, literally, worlds apart.”

Alexandra Price, Science Writer

Instafreebie Group Giveaway: Science Fiction Space Opera to…

Okay, I couldn’t resist the name Instafreebie…what fun!  Didn’t know this site existed till about a week ago; now I’m part of a group of science fiction authors giving out over 100 whole or partial books for free from March 1 through March 31st.  So please click on this link and this second link starting tomorrow and grab ’em while you can!

My two free offerings will be:

It’s the year 2100. Nan has had to leave her peaceful home above what used to be the Arctic Circle for something extraordinarily old-fashioned: a physical meeting with someone in, of all places, a city. If she doesn’t contract a fatal disease first, she might choke to death on Manhattan’s Rococo holography. And why hasn’t she heard anything from her best friend, Trix? But things are about to get a whole lot worse than having dinner with the man who hired her to devise a craft, which should get all those annoying aliens off welfare and back to their home planet.


Thanks to stellar advances in longevity, Earth is overrun by Baby Boomers well into their hundreds. Social Security being the stuff of history books, subsequent generations must find some way to put all those Boomers to good use…challenging since few have minds that have survived along with their bodies. But the silver lining is that few can complain about what some of those uses are.

Mary, born in rural Virginia in 1948, never was the good girl just hoping to catch a husband that her family expected. Instead of just minding her evening chores, she memorized the constellations as she marveled at the majesty of the night sky. All she ever wanted was to somehow, someday make it to the stars. Now, in a charity nursing home amidst the rubble of what’s now a post-industrial Africa, she might finally have lived long enough to see her wish come true. But only if she can escape her nursing home, free the other Boomers there..including the one who thinks she’s Marilyn Monroe and the one who thinks he’s Napoleon…and just remember what her own name is.

Boomers for the Stars, latest news

Every year lately, my publishing credits have consisted of one sci fi novella.  For 2017 it was Boomers for the Stars.  Since it’s on the reading list for a Nebula award, I’ve made a free audiobook version available for the convenience of those who will vote.  But all are welcome to enjoy it till the end of March, here:

(All rights to all versions of Boomers for the Stars, including this audiobook, are exclusively reserved by Sue Hollister Barr.)

I had great fun writing this fast-paced romp into a darkly imagined future!  Baby Boomers have been kept alive long enough to be elder-abused in brand-new ways, including…but not limited to…the rigors of interstellar travel.  Here are some reviews:

From “verified purchases” on Amazon:

“This is both a fun and thoughtful piece of writing. Being a Baby Boomer myself, I was curious about how the topic would be handled in Science Fiction and whether it would just be another superfluous old people story. Instead, I found it witty, insightful, suspenseful, and thought-provoking. She writes very well, too. I like her style. Oh, yes, and I laughed a lot!”

“This intriguing novella tells an adventure-filled story with twists and turns that will captivate every reader – young and old.”

“All the fast-paced fun of pulp fiction without any of the creaky, inept, embarrassing bits that might lead you to question reading sci-fi. What a great read!”

From Claudia Deutsch, journalist:

“Sue Hollister Barr deftly walks that fine line between science fiction and horrifying reality. Let’s face it, the aging of the Baby Boomers would be causing massive societal problems, even if climate change didn’t threaten famine and mass dislocations. Barr’s vision of how unscrupulous folk can take advantage of the situation is unfortunately quite realistic. But her vision of how a few courageous folk can successfully fight back leaves her reader with hope. Brava!”


On The Road, Pittsburra: SFWA 2017 Nebula Awards Conference

All right, all right, it’s not Pittsburra, but rather Pittsburgh, but the last five letters are the same as in Edinburgh…

Anyway, long ago I could have become an active member of “SIF-wuh.”  (Speaking of pronunciation, that’s how they say SFWA, which stands for Science Fiction Writers of America.)  But I just joined.  This past weekend I went to their yearly Nebula Awards Conference for the first time, which was held in Pittsburra.

Considering that their Nebula Award is the most prestigious award for this genre, the Nobel Prize in Literature for those of us who write speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy), the first thing that struck me was the open friendliness extended to me as a newcomer.  The president of the organization was kind enough to meet with me one-on-one, an honor I wasn’t expecting, and even bought one of my books from the bookstore.  A writer reputed to make six figures a year as an indie author was so intent on offering me marketing advise that he spent twice as long with me as he’d agreed to.  It didn’t take me long to realize, from everyone I came in contact with, that what I had joined was a family.

And then there was the banquet, during which the Nebula Awards were announced and given out to the winners for work published in the previous year.  Floral arrangements in the center of the tables?  No…and here I’ll start dropping names…a unique found-object robot sculpture on each table, compliments of Don L. Jones.  Dull, small talk among the strangers I was seated with?  No, I had two animated authors on one side and, on the other, Jim Fiscus who won a well-deserved special award and delighted me as we debated the merits of various Japanese film directors.  Toastmaster?  A real, live astronaut, Dr. Kjell Lindgren, who delighted us with his personal pictures and stories from four months of weightlessness with killer views.  This special guest, having watched our planet for so long from afar, stole our hearts when he expressed how he couldn’t understand why anyone fortunate to live on such a beautiful planet could do anything nasty to the rest of us living here.  Charlie Jane Anders stole our hearts when, having just won a Nebula for her novel All the Birds in the Sky, she said…in the small voice of someone who feels very deeply what they say…that everyone should have a voice.

In short, this writer had a truly wonderful time in…oh, all right…Pittsburgh.


Boomers for the Stars Kindle version now on sale for a mere 99 cents

Okay…I did get a little carried away fancying up the paperback version of my latest sci fi novella, the result being that it’s retailing for $14.99 on Amazon.  But now that it’s available elsewhere, including a 99-cent Kindle version, do you forgive me?  Hmmmm?

Boomers for a mere 99 cents HERE

Even if you did pay $14.99, please keep your fingers crossed for me that SFWA’s featuring Boomers for the Stars a couple of different ways at the upcoming Nebula Awards Conference is enough to get it a Nebula Award for 2017…

But mostly I just hope you enjoy this sometimes tongue-in-cheek tale of how future generations deal with freakishly ancient Baby Boomers as much as I had fun writing it!

Check out my newly released sci fi novella, Boomers for the Stars!

BOOMERS FOR THE STARS:  Another sci fi novella I had a lot of fun writing, which will be featured on a big banner at the May 2017 SFWA Nebula Awards Conference.

In a dystopian future Baby Boomers…kept alive far too long by the first, clumsily imperfect advances in the science of longevity…once served as guinea pigs for the fledgling science of interstellar travel.  Now things are even worse…

I’ve just released it in paperback on Amazon:

Boomers for the Stars (paperback) BUY ON AMAZON

I’ll let you know as soon as it’s available elsewhere and when the Kindle version is available for a mere 99 cents.


For those of you curious about where I got the inspiration for my most recent book, Rococo, here’s the flash fiction from whence it came…on one of the many days in which I found myself thoroughly disgusted by self-help books.

Toeing an anti-depressant wrapper, she loitered at the western edge of a northsouth.  The alternating rubble and reclaimed farmlands of New Jersey twinkled in the twilight…visible through a Westside airbus clearing.  From the east, through the dip in the moonscrapers created by the Chrysler Building Museum, a battered airbus buzzed in for its landing.  Flashing silver amidst its graffiti, its landing gear descended like the pincers of a huge, battle-worn beetle.  It dopplered over her head, spraying her with a cloud of urban dust that smelled vaguely of discarded electronics, and slid into its clearing.

She sneezed, turning as a rustle announced another observer of the setting sun, and found her voice.  “Trixie, you slut, what an angelic smile.  And who had to slap you silly to get you to wear something that’s even thigh-length, let alone not leather?  That dress…  How can you even walk, let alone clear a doorway, with all those ruffles?

A cloud of dotted Swiss twirled before her.  Eyes full of pastels and spring widened.  “Were you addressing me?”  There was just the faintest hint of a Southern drawl.

“Well excuse me.  We’ve only been best friends for 20 years.”

Trixie looked blank.

“Does the name…oh never mind my name…does the name Trixie mean anything to you?”

Trixie still looked blank, but rallied.  “Pooh!  I’ll recall names in a minute.  Just see if I don’t.  Why, I just now came out from under the machine at the Nupersonality Discount Outlet up yonder.  You call 2121-8347-11572 to make an appointment.”

“Remarkably selective, those memory wipes…”

“Well yes…yes, I do truly believe they gave me a partial memory wipe while I was there.  They were most considerate and very reasonably priced.  They helped me understand how it would be ever so much easier for me to adjust to my Nupersonality that way.”  Ringlets jiggled as Trixie threw her head back.  “They were uncommonly helpful and the memory wipe costs next to nothing if you’re getting a full personality reconstruction.  If you call now they’d be just tickled to give you an additional 20% off if you get a full personality reconstruction before Mars Day.”

“Trixie, I don’t believe you did this to yourself again.  And I was just getting used to your hooker’s personality.  Of all the shoddy…”

“Whatever you could be talking about, dearest, I really cannot imagine.”

“Fuck.”  She clapped her forehead with the palm of her hand.  “What are you this time, the video-game version of Scarlett O’Hara?  Their languatician should be shot.”

“Don’t be cross at poor lil’…  Trixie!  That’s my name!  See?  A person’s always a little foggy after memory work.  You know they take away a little too much memory on purpose, because some of it comes back, but I’m mighty glad I did it.  You all can be, too!  Their offices are right over yonder at…”

“No, thank you.  You can keep your discount personality houses to yourself.  At least, when you bought your hooker personality from Spice of Life, they had the decency to do their research.  For myself, I’m having enough trouble with reputable therapies.  I went to Sachs for a Feelings Flush yesterday and I still can’t get rid of all this fucking anger.”  She shook, breath whistling through clenched teeth.  Knowing it wasn’t Trixie, she plumbed her depths in search of the something to be angry about.

Birdlike, Trixie tilted her head to watch.

As usual, she came up empty-handed.

Trixie spotted her own image in a mirrored pole and pinched her cheeks till they were rosy.

“Trixie, do you think it was that Assertiveness implant I got last spring?”  Her fury was bubbling to the surface again, as faithful as a geyser.  Compulsively fussing with her already perfect hair, she spotted a truly pathetic homeless boy, dressed in torn plastic, who was watching her closely.  “I felt so good, so strong and powerful at first.  But maybe it was of poor quality and turned on me later.  They say that can happen.  Or maybe it didn’t mix well with that second Positive Thinking I got.”

Trixie was staring past the poor homeless boy at the sun setting over the Jersey cornfields.  “Don’t think of that now.  Don’t let anger and ugliness poison you.  Not when everything’s all misty and warm and sweet.”  The glare of the setting sun off Trixie’s impossibly perfect white teeth as Trixie smiled was blinding.

She was alone, except for Trixie and the homeless boy that kept staring at her.  A rage filled her, then the deepest imaginable sorrow, which slowly subsided with the day.  She wasn’t able to identify a reason for either.

Trixie curtsied deeply and fluttered off, a dotted Swiss tumbleweed weaving with the wind through the steep canyons of the city.

She was left shuddering against a cold that didn’t exist.  Staring into the deep wells of the poor homeless boy’s eyes, a sense of vertigo touched her.  Her own words to Trixie came back to haunt her, reverberating through her bone marrow as they tumbled about the canyons of her mind:  “Does the name…oh never mind my name.  Never mind my name.  What…exactly…is my name?”

The sun popped under the horizon, leaving her alone in utter solitude with a complete stranger.  It wasn’t the homeless boy; he’d left long ago.  Only the sound of his final conclusion about her lingered on forever, echoing through her mind.  It was a long, hard laugh.

Check out my newly released sci fi novella, Rococo!

ROCOCO:  A sci fi novella I had a lot of fun writing!  Even the two years I spent researching our future as predicted by a truly diverse collection of people…but including those paid the big bucks to make accurate calls in such matters for major corporations.  Personally, I love this novella, and its sales so far would seem to indicate that I’m not alone, but in case you’d (somewhat understandably!) prefer a somewhat more objective opinion before spending your hard-earned cash on a copy:

“Welcome, my dearest dear, to Rococo…a novella with as many plot flourishes as its name suggests.  In a richly imagined future, Nan is designing the propulsion system for a vessel with a mysterious itinerary, and she’s working for an elusive boss.  Her work, she discovers, is of interest to many parties, and she has the dark suspicion that not all of that interest is healthy.  There is indeed something sinister afoot, and the voice of Nan’s grandfather echoes in her mind:  ‘Only you can overcome this.’  Sue Hollister Barr’s characters will draw you into this tale, leading you through fantastic settings and swirling twists.” Amanda Coffin, Editor.

Ready to buy now?  Hmmm?  Hmmm?  (The Kindle version’s only 99 cents!)  If so, Rococo‘s currently available a number of different places including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


Craig Healing Springs (this excerpt from my memoirs is about aging)

See if you agree with the editor who, though he published other work of mine in the New York Times, rejected this piece.  (Written long ago, it’s now part of Craig Healing Springs, the title I’ve given my memoirs.)



When I moved to Long Island the first neighbor to introduce herself was an elderly woman living alone.  She fussed over my 18 month old, asked after my husband, and delighted me with her dry humor.  Of all my new neighbors, she was the one who made us feel our new house was a home.

I’d tear about the yard like a crazy person, figuring I had five minutes to finish clipping before the baby woke, and see my neighbor lovingly caress each rose.  I’d race to the car to make a run for milk and juice…and spot my neighbor leaning on her rake to watch the sun glint gold off Northport Harbor.

She worked a lot “on the grounds.”  It gave her the opportunity to commiserate with passers-by on how a homeowner’s work was never done.  It didn’t take long to decode her complaints:  her house was her pride and joy.

Then one day she fell down the stairs.  Something was broken.  I forget what because what happened afterwards struck me as much more important.

Her daughter, whose distinction it was to be talked about even more than the house, came to care for her.  It was decided that my neighbor was senile.  Anyway her eyesight was bad, and sometime while recovering from her fall she signed, without realizing it, a power of attorney.

After that the daughter, who loved her, was afraid of her living alone.  The stairs were steep, and the next fall could have been a lot more serious, but my neighbor didn’t want to sell her house.  “For her own good” it was put on the market anyway.

My neighbor, full of rage and hurt, moved to her daughter’s home.  She felt her own home had been stolen and hated to see her possessions transplanted into someone else’s.  Her glass collection didn’t look right on a modern bookcase.  Her son-in-law mistreated her “color TV.”  She felt caged in someone else’s world where she had no function…no life.

The next stop was the nursing home.

Meanwhile the 18 month old my neighbor used to make yarn octopuses for was soon to enter kindergarten.  Remembering how this neighbor fussed over my firstborn, I was sorry she wasn’t around when I was pregnant with my second.  She would have told me to eat my vegetables and would have predicted the child’s sex.

My second child was six months old when I dressed her in a hand-embroidered dress we only used for picture taking and took her to see my ex-neighbor.

I found the nursing home at the end of a short street marked “dead end.”  (Better an occasional driver curse his/her way through a U-turn than to leave that sign posted!)

The building itself was beautiful…a shaded, once-graceful home.  But it smelled of urine.

The living room was actually many rooms, poorly lit.  People lined the walls in an assortment of odd chairs.  Well-meaning nurses talked pleasantries to people who rarely responded.

I wondered if I should disturb this sepulchral setting with a gurgling, giggling, squirmy baby, but just then said baby was discovered.  It wasn’t just by my ex-neighbor.  Looking down, I found gnarled fingers holding each pink hand, plump foot, and every accessible roll of baby fat.  Whether hobbling, in wheelchairs, or clanking along in walkers, each of that nursing home’s inmates was making it over to ooh and ah and coo and tickle.  I couldn’t leave until everyone had had their turn.

I’d just brought my baby for my neighbor to see but left with a bittersweet feeling of discovery.  Had my infant daughter been a fountain of youth in a place that, no matter how well-intentioned, was little more than a gentle person’s death row?  The people in that nursing home were put there because loving relatives were willing to pay for what would appear to be most important:  top-quality care.  I wonder.  Maybe there are things worse than finding your death at the bottom of a staircase in your own home.

Ink Splatters 3

Out with the sold; in with the new…

…author’s edition of my horror novel, Twisted, with heartfelt thanks to all who have bought, read, and given the original conventionally published version five-star reviews.  I think you’ll like this new version…much meaner and cleaner with new twists in the plot…even better.  You can get it on Amazon (paperback or Kindle):  

Twisted (new author's edition 2015)