Publication

Bone Flowers

Aaaaand… a Happy New Year to you! I hope it’s a good one.

My story “The Osteomancer’s Husband” is now up at Diabolical Plots as the January 2016 story.

He warned his wife the villagers would come. With their pitchforks, their fire. Their hateful ignorance.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “We have to leave. They saw beneath my mask.”

The inspiration for this story were a couple of photographs used for a writing group prompt challenge. One image was of flowing water (“…the burbling mountain stream…”), the second was of a hand tossing what looked like tiny bones to the wind (“Like…tiny snowflake vertebrae…”), both by the talented Robin Cristofari. To me the bones looked like seedlings, so I immediately began to wonder what their origin might be.

If you like the story (or even if you don’t), please feel free to comment here or on the Diabolical Plots site. Any feedback is always welcome.

"Les Feuilles mortes 3" by Robin Cristofari

“Les Feuilles mortes 3” by Robin Cristofari.

The Dragonmaster’s Doom

Received in the post today a copy of Dragons, Droids & Doom: Year One, the collected stories from the first year of Fantasy Scroll Magazine, edited by Iulian Ionescu and Frederick Doot. Amongst many other stories by many other authors, it contains my Mevlish story, “The Dragonmaster’s Ghost”, first published in FSM #4. Very happy to see it reprinted in what is a very handsome-looking physical book. 

Dragons, Droids & Doom: Year One is available as a trade paperback or as an e-book from most of the usual places as well as from its own dedicated website. 

  
 

Hands Out

My story “Dance of the Splintered Hands” is now up at the Autumn 2015 issue of Kaleidotrope. What are you doing here? Go read it now!

Closer to the dome, I began to make out the hands in more detail. They varied hugely in size and shape: from crab-like creatures the size of dinner-plates, up to huge multi-legged earth-moving monstrosities that chewed up the ground with their jagged mandibles. Many of the hands were smoothly metallic, some were covered in swirling geometric patterns, and others were organic-looking and roughly textured — no two were exactly alike.

Although “Hands” is one of my earliest stories, it’s still a favourite of mine, set in my novel-verse milieu of the Heptatheon, with its god moons, angels, faces and hands. I’m really glad it found a home.

H.R. MacMillan Space Centre crab sculpture, Vancouver, Canada. Photo (C) Neil Every.

The Maze of His Infinities

My flash story “The Maze of His Infinities” has been accepted by Perihelion Science Fiction and is now available in their February edition.

This story arose from a combination of a dream that involved The Construct as described in the story (I woke shouting: “Infinity is not a number!”), vague recollection of this New Scientist article, and a story prompt based on the lyrics of Blue Öyster Cult’s “In The Presence of Another World”. It’s one of those stories I wonder if I should have fleshed out to a fuller length, say 3 or 4K, or perhaps even longer….but oh well. So many ideas. So little time.

NB: Also my flash story “Starfish and Apples”, originally published by Nine, is currently available for free all this week at QuarterReads. This is the first time it’s been available without being behind a paywall and you can check it out here.

Serge Salat's "Beyond Infinity" art installation.

Serge Salat’s “Beyond Infinity” art installation.

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The Ghost In The Scroll

Happy to announce my story “The Dragonmaster’s Ghost” is up at issue #4 of Fantasy Scroll Mag. What are you waiting for? Go read it now!

“Ghost” is a sequel to “The Clay Farima” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #128), and the third story to feature the world and characters first introduced in “The Edge of Magic” (included in Fantasy For Good, just out this month).

The canonical order of the three “Mevlish the Mighty” stories:

  1. The Edge of Magic
  2. The Clay Farima
  3. The Dragonmaster’s Ghost

I’m still considering if the Near and Far Kingdoms or Mevlish will feature in more stories. I have no doubt they could. But I do wonder if they should.

Let me know what you think, either here or on the Fantasy Scroll Mag site.

That’s my final published story for 2014, which brings the total to five. Two fantasy stories, two science fiction, and one horror. Sounds about right.

 

"Into The Vortex", photo by Rick Holliday.

“Into The Vortex”, photo by Rick Holliday.

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The Edge of Magic

The first story featuring my wizardly character Mevlish the Mighty is published today in the all-round awesome charitable anthology Fantasy For Good. Still can’t quite believe my story is in the same volume as works by some of my childhood writing heros, authors who inspired my own writing. It’s a very strange feeling! And raising funds for such a good cause too, close to the hearts of many of the readers as well as the contributors. Huge kudos to Richard Salter, Jordan Ellinger, Trent Zelazny, Jennifer and Robert Wilson for bringing it all together.

In “The Edge of Magic” I knew I wanted to write a classic-style fantasy, but with a gritty edge, and a strong female lead. No way Kaffryn was going to let herself be pushed around by her troubled spouse Mevlish. The original idea developed from a swirl of questions: What would happen if two powerful mages disputed custody of their child? Who would win? And what if magic followed a law similar to Newton’s universal gravitation? Would there be a Roche limit equivalent, a region where the strength of magic would tear you apart? What would lie beyond that limit and would anyone ever be able to breach it? In “Edge” and its sequels I try to explore, at least in part, some of these questions.

I hope readers enjoy the story, just one amongst thirty varied and diverse tales in this great anthology. I hope it raises lots of money for Colon Cancer Alliance.

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Fantasy For Good: ToC Announced

Received the galleys for “Fantasy For Good: A Charitable Anthology” today and I’ve got to say it looks awesome. The release date has been set for 9th December 2014 and the Kindle edition is available to pre-order already. The trade paperback from Nightscape Press will also be pre-orderable soon (see links below).

All proceeds from the sale of this anthology go directly to Colon Cancer Alliance, a charity dedicated to the prevention of this deadly disease, as well as funding research and supporting patients who suffer from it. Having now read the moving foreword by the editors Richard Salter and Jordan Ellinger, the introduction by Trent Zelazny about his father’s silent battle with this cancer and the very important lessons he’s drawn from it, hearing about the involvement of Jay Lake and others touched by this terrible disease — it’s very much clear this anthology has been created from the heart. I hope it does really well and raises a hell of a lot of money for CCA.

Here is the table of contents. I’m humbled and feel privileged to be a part of it.

Table Of Contents
“Horseman, Pass By – An Introduction” – Trent Zelazny
“The Edge of Magic” – Henry Szabranski
“Annual Dues” – Ken Scholes
“The Kitsuneís Nine Tales” – Kelley Armstrong
“Elroy Wooden Sword” – S.C. Hayden
“In the Lost Lands” – George R.R. Martin
“Worms Rising From the Dirt” – David Farland
“Snow Wolf and Evening Wolf” – James Enge
“Knightís Errand” – Jane Lindskold
“Languid in Rose” – Frances Silversmith
“Green They Were, and Golden-Eyed” – Alan Dean Foster
“Golden” – Todd McCaffrey
“Mountain Spirit” – Piers Anthony
“Moon Glass” – Megan Moore
“The George Business” – Roger Zelazny
“Only the End of the World Again” – Neil Gaiman
“Lenora of the Low” – Marina J. Lostetter
“Trufan Fever” – Katherine Kerr
“Undying Love” – Jackie Kessler
“Dancing With the Mouse King” – Carrie Vaughn
“Showlogo” – Nnedi Okorafor
“The Bluest Hour” – Jaye Wells
“Pandal Food” – Samit Basu
“Loincloth” – Kevin J Anderson and Rebecca Moesta
“Man of Water” – Kyle Aisteach
“Bones of a Righteous Man” – Michael Ezell
“Timeís Mistress” – Steven Savile
“Little Pig, Berry Brown and the Hard Moon” – Jay Lake
“The Grenade Garden” – Michael Moorcock
“Sand and Teeth” – Carmen Tudor
“The Seas of Heaven” – David Parish-Whittaker

Kindle editions can be pre-ordered here:

Canada Pre-Order Link: http://www.amazon.ca/Fantasy-Good-Charitable-George-Martin-ebook/dp/B00NJY4GUE

Pre-Orders for the Trade Paperback edition will be available soon the Nightscape Press webstore: http://nightscapepress.wix.com/store 

If you do the Goodreads thing, you can add it to your “To Read” list here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23167420-fantasy-for-good

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Brain The Size Of A Star System…

“…and they ask me to calculate what?” (Apologies to Marvin the Paranoid Android fans.)

My flash story “Within Without” is now up at Lakeside Circus. There’s also a podcast version, read by the inestimable Don Pizarro. Various beta-readers commented on the machine-like quality of the “voice” in this story, yet Don manages to inject both a sense of gravitas and escalating urgency to his performance. I’m really pleased with it.

“Within Without” features a Matrioshka Brain, a solar-system sized calculating engine, facing an existential crisis. The story arose from a prompt requiring the use of frames — a story set within a story set within a story, etc. In the end I didn’t write anything like that at all, but instead used a nested structure. And even that was drastically abbreviated. So basically I utterly failed at satisfying the prompt criteria. Still…as to the story itself, you can judge for yourself.

A spiral structure in the material around the old star R Sculptoris. ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/M. Maercker et al.

A visualization of a spiral structure in the material around the old star R Sculptoris.  Not a matrioshka brain at all. No.
ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/M. Maercker et al.

I See Faces In Things. Don’t You?

Pleased to announce my dark flash story “Animus” has been accepted by Horror D’Oeuvres.

I wrote this story whilst tossing and turning in bed with flu, so that may explain some of its hallucinatory fever dream vibe. Combine a high temperature with a writerly imagination and all sorts of strange visions may result. Once I was laid up with tonsillitis and I still clearly remember the weird fish that swam across the ceiling during my illness. And a fever wasn’t always required before I started to “see things”. As a child I was taken to the doctor because I claimed disembodied faces floated about my bed at night and stopped me from sleeping. A course of placebo sugar pills later and the apparitions faded away…or so I assured my worried parents.

Nowadays I hardly ever hallucinate. Apart from the boys’ toys (which are always chattering away to us and to each other), I haven’t heard common household items speak to me for a good long while. Although I admit I do hear voices emanating from my phone from time to time.

“Animus” will “go live” later this month, at 12 EST on 20th June (to be more or less exact). A site subscription is required to read the full story.

Update: “Animus”‘ is now live at the http://www.horrordoeuvres.com site.

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Heart Of Darkness

If you’re popping over from the DSF e-mail blast of “The Key To El-Carim’s Heart” scheduled for Monday 2nd December — welcome! If you’re not — welcome anyway!

As mentioned in the story notes, “El-Carim” was inspired in part by my recollection of a film I saw as a child, “Captain Sindbad“. I haven’t seen it since, but I do still remember the seemingly impregnable tower with the villain’s heart locked in a chest. As it turns out, the villain in question was actually called “El Kerim”, so in one sense the name of my narrator and the title of the story is based on a badly researched Wikipedia entry (tip: don’t believe everything you read on the Internet, kids). Never mind, there’s not much else in common with the film apart from that central image of the heartless villain attempting to defy death itself.

Pedro Armedariz (left) as "El Kerim" (Captain Sindbad 1963)

Pedro Armedariz (left) as “El Kerim” (Captain Sindbad 1963) is pleased by the work of his cryptographic wizards.

Some beta-readers questioned the viability of a cryptographic key stored not as a computer file but printed on paper or parchment. Believe me — it’s been done, even if it’s not necessarily the most convenient method of storage or distribution.

“Carim” is a rather dark story, and that also was another issue some readers had, indeed I questioned it myself. Hopefully it will serve to remind us all to take more care of our precious keys.