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Very busy at the moment, not least because I’m about to start an MA in Creative Writing at York St John University. The reading list is longer than some of the prescribed texts; I’m just hoping that the course leaves me with enough time to actually do any of the creative writing that they’re trying to teach me.

New stories

The new Strange Economics anthology, edited by David F Schultz, includes my story “The Slow Bomb”:

The General stood up, and gestured through the window. “Look at it. That bomb started falling before I was born. It will reach the ground after I’m dead. But we know that will be it. It seems to be big enough to wipe out this country at least, and we’ve no idea what other effect it will have. There are slow warplanes all over the world; we think there’s another hatch opening over China, although we won’t know for six months. However many it takes, they’ll finish the job. They mean to wipe us all out, and there’s nothing we can do to avoid our fate.”

“There Is a Beauty in this Condition”  is in the August issue of Electric Spec:

As I took in the features of my former lover, I could also see the world through her. She made no attempt to use gloves and veils to hide herself—it didn’t work for long, and faders soon lost interest in disguise anyway. They tended to have a serenity about them, which almost made them easier to identify than their translucence. If it happened to me I would fight it, rail against nature and somehow bring myself back through force of will; but as I studied Penelope I saw no hint of struggle. She had always been pale, but now she was half-invisible, an outline against the back of the chair that wasn’t fully filled in. She had always dyed her hair jet-black, but now she had brown roots, although they were difficult to make out against the similar colour of the wallpaper behind her. I guessed that she still had a few weeks before she vanished completely.

“A Song of Sorrow” is in the new anthology from The Future Fire, Making Monsters, edited by Djibril Al-Ayad and Emma Bridges:

“Once I lived among many of us. We would spend the days flying and singing to each other, men and women. Did you know there were males? Your kind hunted them. I do not know if any are left. I came here with my lover Aglaopheme, precisely to keep out of your way. The last I saw of her, she was in a huge net. Men with beeswax stole her, and took her away on a huge vessel. They threw fire and wooden weapons at me when I tried to pluck them from their ship. I knew I was not fated to die that day, but as I lay wounded on this shore, I believed otherwise.” There was only fear on his face. “I do not sing for your kind, human, but for the return of Aglaopheme. You should go now. Find shelter in the woods. From the night. And from me.”

(My guest blog post on the subject of monsters of my childhood is here.)

“The Reference Library” is in the Colp issue “The Passage of Time“:

She opened the door and smiled at me, and I wanted to cry out in pain. It should have been the greatest moment of my life, but I knew now that I was utterly separated from it. Whatever would happen here tonight was in the past, long gone from me. I could never regain it.

“New Heaven, New Earth” is in the Third Flatiron anthology Galileo’s Theme Park:

“May I remind you, Bishop, that the geocentric system, for want of a better word, represents a severe existential threat to the human race. Since this phenomenon was discovered, it has been expanding at something near the speed of light, taking in everything it finds in its path; removing the laws of physics and replacing them with a Ptolemaic universe. It shows no sign of stopping. If it reaches our own solar system, the Earth will cease to orbit the Sun, and both will circle around some far more distant point. If we stay at the same distance, and the planet continues to rotate, we’ll survive; we’ll lose the seasons, but nature and our own technology will find a way. But if we orbit independently, we’ll find ourselves moving further and further away from the Sun. Eventually, we’re finished.”

And The First Line published my story “Damnatio Memoriae”:

“The Damnatio Memoriae has been used exactly once. As a result of a full meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Even they don’t know who it was used on, or why; that’s the nature of the weapon. Someone, the Great Criminal if you like, committed crimes against humanity so heinous that the world decided to trigger a device to literally remove him from history. Because it worked so well, there is no record of who he was or what he did. No one dares use it again until they can recover the information, but it worked too well. I’ve devoted my career to this part of history, but I can’t work it out. After all, they didn’t do it to Hitler. Or Stalin. Or bin Laden. But now you think it was used on a friend of yours from a burger bar?”

Forthcoming

As if that weren’t enough, Colp will be publishing my story “I Could Not Sleep For Thinking of the Sky” in their new “Sky’s the Limit” issue.

Recent publications

My story “Vixerunt” is still available on the Electric Athenaeum “For Future Generations” site:

‘We’re at war,’ said Peter, talking more to himself than to Florian; his mind seemed elsewhere. ‘A war between the present and the future. Constantly stealing from each other—snatching, snatching back, revenge attacks, punishments. Wasting our time on each other. Depleting the population, shrinking our resources. Until the system implodes altogether, and there’s nothing left.’

And “The Day the Mirror Told the Truth” appears in the Circlet Press anthology A Beastly Affair: Erotic Stories of Beauty and the Beast, edited by J Blackmore:

“I fled to the bathroom and locked the door, then braved the mirror. I was right, my real face was returning. I could see the faint outline of the scars, and I was far redder than I should have been; not with the glow of health I had seen on Isabel’s face, but with the after-effects of the burns. I quickly opened the bathroom cabinet and pulled out all my toiletries, looking for the small bottle in the corner. There was no writing on the label, just a large letter H, apparently short for Harmonie, a company whose existence had never been confirmed but who was supposed to manufacture the substance. If Isabel had found it I would have told her I was secretly using poppers. But it contained something far more sublime. Or rather, it should have done; as far as I could tell, it was empty.

I took off the top and inhaled as deeply as I could. There was still some residue in there. It smelt of perfection, there was no other word to describe it, and I sniffed the last dregs of it into my body, hoping there was still enough to have the desired effect. I then put the bottle back in its corner, although there was no point trying to use it again. I had run out of Beauty.

I looked back at the mirror, and with relief I saw that it was playing along. The scars were fading; my skin was returning to normal.”

Recent reviews

There have also been some recent reviews of my work – BCN is positive about On Wings of Pity, and you might be interested to read Des Lewis’s review of my story collection The End of the World: A User’s Guide.  Des was publisher of Nemonymous, and was responsible for the first publication of my story “The Point of Oswald Masters”.

And don’t forget that you can buy my novel On Wings of Pity from Amazon, and my collection The End of the World: A User’s Guide for only £7.99.

[Last update 13 September 2018]

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