Phew, it’s been a busy week all round, but particularly when it comes to short story news, as the beloved folks at Open Pen have just let me know they’d like to publish my flash fiction story On the Last Rebellion. It will be available ONLINE and FREE TO READ this weekend!
You will be able to have a look at it from 9AM ON SUNDAY over on the Open Pen website.
I also thoroughly recommend taking a look at their archives, as they’ve just had their big 20th issue celebrations and there’s a lot going on. Continue reading ‘On the Last Rebellion’ in Open Pen THIS WEEKEND!
Taking to cyberspace on this cold winter’s day to give a huge shout out to Fictive Dream online literary magazine, who one week today are publishing my short story ‘Proscenium’ as part of Flash Fiction February!
I’m super proud have been selected as an author for this special short story month, and really recommend checking out their website all this month for new great stories every day.
Reading to warm your toes amongst this midwinter chill! x
Excitement levels have reached new heights, as The Locust Theorem, one of my latest short stories, is Story of the Week on Fairlight Books. If you haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, you can follow this link, or check out the snippet below…
Doctor Evans slept like the dead. She grumbled when I woke her.
‘Shh. Listen.’ I held up a hand. She rubbed her eyes, trying to make sense of the noise.
‘Where’s it coming from?’
She got up, frowning, and padded to the open window. ‘Sh*t, look at the stars.’
‘Am I dreaming?’
‘No.’ I joined her by the window, both of us staring slack-jawed at the shuddering sky.
‘What is it? I know that noise, I’ve heard it before.’
‘I think it’s teeth,’ I replied slowly. ‘Human teeth. Chattering.’ Continue reading ‘The Locust Theorem’ is Story of the Week
I’m totally thrilled and excited to say that my latest short story, The Locust Theorem, has just been published by Fairlight Books. It’s online, it’s free to read right here, and is a lovely bit of sci-fi fun to get you through to the weekend.
The story takes about twenty minutes to read and follows Andy Anderson, a struggling geneticist trying to come to terms with the loss of his girlfriend – and if that doesn’t grab you, here’s an excerpt:
The first indication I had that something might be wrong was the day the builders came. They had set up scaffolding outside the hotel and, as Su was passing under it, one of them dropped a knife. It sailed four floors down, point-first, straight towards Su’s face. She looked up just in time for it to hit her. There was a sharp sound, like a blade against granite, before the knife fell to the ground and clattered away across the forecourt. Su was shaken but not hurt, aside from a light red irritation that bloomed in a line down her face. Continue reading Publication of The Locust Theorem
In the midst of writing a dystopia of my own, it strikes me on an almost daily basis the degree to which society has come under the thumb of a very fickle dictator: money. Further, money within the context of an inherently unstable and unjust neoliberal capitalist system. For a searing criticism of the failures of this system, flawlessly melded with a scintillating story, I point you in the direction of Lionel Shriver’s The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047.
The Mandible family has a sizeable fortune, but when a bloodless world war wipes out their millions they, like the rest of America, find themselves out of their homes and on the brink of starvation. Crammed into their poorest relatives’ house, the financial crisis brings out the best in some, and the worst in others. But, as society continues to devolve and culture breaks down, the choices ahead only get tougher. Continue reading Book Review | ‘The Mandibles’ by Lionel Shriver
I am hugely excited to be able to tell you all that my latest short story, BORN – BREATHING – BOUND, has been accepted for publication in The Cadaverine!
I’m so grateful to the fabulous editor Lenni Sanders for finding my little tale in the slushpile and can’t wait to see it on Cadaverine’s pages. Cadaverine is a wonderful, free online magazine of poetry and prose from writers under 30 and I’m really honoured to be featured in its pages.
More details as and when…
I am a great fan of a good bromance and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is all about the ultimate bromance. It’s a gorgeous, fantastic story of intelligence, friendship and betrayal told through hundreds of years, as one man lives his life over and over again throughout the 20th century.
Like so many novels, it benefits from a lack of spoilers, so I won’t say too much about the plot. It focuses on one mister Harry August, a man who after his first life, finds that he is born again instead of passing on. Instead of dying, he finds out that is he an Ouroboros, destined to live the same life over and over again, retaining awareness of every life and living on forever. Inducted into the Cronus Club, he finds others like him, and fits into a network of communication spanning across the centuries. But when he receives a message that the end of the world is fast approaching, he is drawn into a web of danger and cunning an attempt to prevent it. Continue reading ‘The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August’ by Claire North
Zombie fiction has become almost unfashionably in vogue this year, but The Girl With All The Gifts changes that, breaking every cliche. It’s got the pseudo-scientific theory and political commentary of World War Z, and is as unputdownable as Sci-Fi blockbuster book of the year, The Martian.
Protagonist, little girl Melanie, is a very special child. Kept in a compound with a group of other children just like her, she waits with excitement for her favourite part of her strictly controlled life, her lessons with the lovely and kind Miss Justineau. But the compound, and her life, are not as safe or regular as they seem, and when tensions rise between her keepers, she is forced to ask questions about who and what she is. Continue reading ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ by M. R. Carey
Descent is the story of Ryan and his friends in a near-future world, where Scotland is independent, CCTV sees all and augmented reality is on the rise. It’s sold as an alien abduction adventure, full of government coverups and conspiracy theories, but it’s actually much subtler than that.
As teenagers, Ryan and his friend Callum are caught up in a bizarre incident that they conclude must have been an alien abduction. Yet, the story of the abduction, and whether or not it was real or imagined, is secondary for much of the book to Ryan’s experience as a young person in MacLeod’s near-future sandbox. Ultimately, it’s a story of evolving science, genetic evolution, technology, the fashion of tomorrow, augmented reality – and the political impacts all these technological developments might have on us. Continue reading ‘Descent’ by Ken MacLeod
Until I was in my mid-teens, I lived in Fantasy and largely ignored Science Fiction. Seeds of Earth by Michael Cobley is a perfect example of the reasons why I began to pay attention.
Book one of the Humanity’s Fire trilogy, Seeds of the Earth is set some years after humanity was forced to flee from Earth by alien warfare. Three ships of humans were sent out from Earth, one of which landed on Darien after the AI on their ship rebelled against them. Isolated, without knowledge of the fate of Earth or the other two ships, they live alongside the native alien population of Darien, the Uvuvo, with their strange beliefs in the power of nature and the spirit of their planet. Over a century passes before they are contacted by the outside world. The message? Earth is out there still, and things have become political. As a devastating war threatens to erupt across the galaxy, the inhabitants of Darien find themselves in the centre of it, their people and their planet riddled with deadly secrets. Continue reading ‘Seeds of Earth’ by Michael Cobley
I have been told by many people that Neal Stephenson is an acquired taste. To which my response is normally, “Then you should acquire it.”
To me, he’s the height of intellectual science fiction, without taking it into the realms of abstraction as achieved by someone like Gibson, or lending it the academic dryness you quite often find, for example, in the fantasy of Tolkien. I mean, who but Stephenson could possibly come up with a way to make quantum mathematics interesting by comparing it to pink farting dragons?
Having said that, Stephenson does take patience. As with nearly all his books, it took me between one hundred to two hundred pages to get gripped, but after that, the next four hundred just fly by!
Anathem follows Erasmas, a young academic living in a sanctuary of learning, closed off from the public except for one day every ten years. He has an idyllic, secluded life, free of concerns until one day his mentor is expelled from the sanctuary and Erasmas and his friends begin to notice strange lights in the sky. Imparting the intricacies quantum mathematics with his usual narrative dexterity, this is a classic science fiction adventure tour de force from Stephenson. Continue reading ‘Anathem’ by Neal Stephenson
It is a great grievance of mine that Science Fiction and Fantasy are often seen as lesser genres to literary fiction, or that if you write in a literary style you cannot appeal to audiences of these genres. To me, these views are utterly false. Thankfully, I think Karen Thompson Walker would probably agree, and neither of these quite popular views seem to have held her back when she created her extraordinary first book, The Age of Miracles.
Set in the near future, The Age of Miracles explores a world in which the planet Earth has begun to slow on it’s axis, and the experience of this by Julia, an American teenager. It’s a fantastically wrought piece, unfolding beautifully and eloquently across the pages. It’s almost oppressively anxious, without directly expressing much fear. The characters emotions are imparted obliquely and concisely, leading up to the final sentence with absolute poetic clarity. This is a book to read if you want to feel human. Continue reading ‘The Age of Miracles’ by Karen Thompson Walker
Read this book. Whether or not you like sci-fi, just sit down and read it. It supersedes the genre. Read it now, before it’s too late, and before the apathy of our age has infected you. Because this book will wake you up and make you Feel Things.
I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s a rhythmic, riddlesome, understated look at the way we effect each other. It is about reincarnation, but never explicitly, which is where the magic lies, because it can become both literal and metaphorical. The metaphor is strong: we give birth to the world from our actions and our ideas, and we are the children of past actions and ideas. If we do not learn, or act, or speak out, we are indulging in a wheel of destruction which reaches out beyond us, beyond simply ourselves. Continue reading ‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell