This is where it all began…?

The latest ideas that the appearance of the dog star, Sirius, for the first time in their history inspired the temple builders of 11,000 years old Gobekli Tepe, the world’s oldest known temple, are fascinating.

It’s a site I’d love to visit, as I would Catalhoyuk, another neolithic site in Turkey, and one of the worlds first cities. A honeycomb place without streets, footpaths, windows or any public buildings. Why would thousands of people choose to live that way?

So it looks like religion came first – or maybe it was astronomy. I rather like the idea of neolithic scientists. Perhaps in those days there was no distinction between the two. Trying to imagine the world-views of people from that era, that lost culture, intrigues me. Perhaps it’s impossible. Whatever their reasons and beliefs, I think they were trying to understand and measure the world, with the desire to predict, or even control it.

Like Stonehenge the questions Who? How? and Why remain.Culture there must have been – to move the 40-60 tonne stones and carve the accomplished animal designs. The theory that dawning agriculture drove society, religion and art seems overthrown, at least here.  Rather than spare calories driving innovation somehow it’s nice to think that first they looked up at the sky in awe and dreamed, and then acted on those dreams.

~

Friday Flash – She Likes Shoes

She Likes Shoes

She likes them a lot. Clip-clat; the sound, the shape, the different ways you walk. The aroma, the textures of shoes.  She likes shoes much more than feet – her own, yours, mine. Much more than Cara’s feet.

Feet are an ugly necessity.

Cara, I’ll remind you at this point, is her best friend.

Life without shoes? Never! Without Cara, regrettable but not inevitable. Life without ugly feet on the other hand (oh, haha).

When she comes into the operating room Cara stops screaming and crying.

‘Now, Cara,’ she says, ‘these gentlemen are going to try something new.’

~

#10 in the ‘Beyond the Street’s sequence. An audio version is available here.

Honest blurbs – the what and the how.

When I was a young reader I soon learned to trust – or not trust – the reviews on the back of books. My default weekly selection at the local library was one anthology, one book with a bright yellow cover and the VG logo (I’d soon learned to trust that as an implicit recommendation, and another novel. Back then it was all SF and fantasy, that was what I read, that was all I wanted to read. The blurbs on the back helped me pick and choose. One I learned to rely on was, as I recall, the reviewer for the Oxford Mail. I wondered why a provincial newspaper was so good at spotting good SF and fantasy (years later I found out: again, as I recall, Christopher Priest who was the reviewer). The thing was, I learned to trust their opinion.

Reviews I understood, but I didn’t get how one author got to pass comment on another’s work. I came up with some convoluted and, if I’d taken the time to think about it, implausible ideas.

Now, years, decades later, I have a book of my own and I know the answer. This is how it goes, and it’s pretty simple:

You, your agent or publisher asks some writers who you think will like the book if they’d be kind enough to read it, and if they like it, to write a blurb. If they don’t want to, they say ‘Sorry, too busy’.

That’s it. Then you sit and wait in fear and trepidation for the emails. Every single one of mine when they came I couldn’t open. I had to wander round the house for a bit, conclude I was being foolish, and go and read it.

I don’t have an agent so I decided I’d rather ask people myself. My book is SF, so, feeling like some pushy little gobshite, I got in touch with people who wrote SF of one kind of another. I wondered if they’d be so kind…

One said ‘Sorry, too busy’, one was flattered to be asked, one offered to read it before I asked them, one just said ‘Yes, sure’ and one said ‘I will if you want, but i hated the last thing you wrote.’  Which was, really,  just what I wanted.

So I got my blurbs and that’s how it happened. Thank you, Mike Carey, Chris Beckett, Jaine Fenn and Francis Knight. Praise from the praiseworthy.. I’m happy as anything.

~

“Dave Gullen’s debut novel is huge, enthralling, packed with bold ideas and genre-shattering extrapolations. And his characters get so deep inside your head you’re still arguing with them days later. Seriously, you need this book.” – Mike Carey
“Global warming has really begun to bite, but human consumption of resources has become more frantic than ever in this clever, dark and often very funny satire on rapacious capitalism.” – Chris Beckett

“A sharp and witty take on the perils of consumerism. To be honest, it was fairly terrifying — very believable.” – Francis Knight

“Subversive. Hilarious. Touching. Brilliant.” – Jaine Fenn

~

Kraken Rises at Bristol Festival of Literature

Running over 9 days, featuring over 50 authors, the Bristol Festival of Literature runs 19-27 October at various locations city-wide in Bristol

This year I’m one of the six writers involved in the Kraken Rises! event on the 19th October.

“A comet in the sky heralds weirdness for Bristol. Write your way to safety! Join a one-day writing competition, with the help of six authors based at secret locations. Make your own book, try ‘cut-up’ techniques, investigate digital futures, explore interactive maps. Ten best entries win publication in an anthology by Angry Robot. The winning tale will be performed at the Unputdownable Speakeasy,.”

With – David Gullen, Jonathan Howard, Tim Maughan, Emma Newman, Gareth Powell, Gaie Sebold.

We’ll be there with clues, pointers, suggestions and ideas for characters and situations – then it’s up to you to write your own story set against the backdrop of the comet, and the Kraken! This is going to be great fun – if I wasn’t already on one side of this event I’d be on the other, writing my own story.

There is also a competition to design cover art for the Angry Robot book – more details on the Festival web site.

~

Shopocalypse – The Book Launch!

I’ve know about this for ages so it’s lovely to finally be able to announce the launch of my SF novel, Shopocalypse.

This will take place on Wednesday, 9th October, upstairs at theTwo Chairman, 1 Warwick House Street, SW1Y 5AT.  This is just a short walk from Charing Cross or Piccadilly Circus. If you can make it, please come along and help me celebrate. It will be a pleasure to see you.

We’ll be starting at 18:30, I’ll be reading a short extract a little later on, followed by an informal conversation between myself and Colin Tate from Clarion Publishing about the origins and themes of the book. As Colin says:

“With (some) complimentary drinks from Clarion Publishing, and (lots of) good craic on the night, there will also be a reading by David from the novel, as well as a conversation between David and Colin Tate (Clarion Publishing/Monico) about the world of ‘Shopocalypse’.

You’ll be able to pick up a copy at the event, but should you want to keep your hands free – you can pre-order a copy here.”

~

Friday Flash – A Second Chance

Number nine in the ‘Beyond the Streets’ sequence. The audio version is available here.

A Second Chance

If she had one regret it was that she had never experienced conversion. Not wanting to know, not needing, just curious to understand how it had felt. Beyond life, beyond the actuality of living – that outmoded phase of being – there was no desire but necessity.

The fulfilment of necessity was extremely satisfying.

First of the post-animate, she and her sisters had arisen without conversion. Flawed and imperfect they had studied each other, seen the necessities, and fulfilled them. With every extension and amputation flesh became cooperative.

This was the new truth: Cooperation would be extended.

~

Friday Flash – On The Levees

This week I’m delighted to welcome guest narrator Jack Calverley, host and editor of the excellent Crime City Central audio fiction web site.

You can listen to Jack’s narration here, or read the story below. Or you could do both, because Jack’s reading is great!

On the Levees

Like all foxes, this one knew there was something wrong with humans. One side of the doorway half of them were crazy, on the other side they had all gone bad.

A new group came through. They were hunters but they hadn’t tried to hunt him. One of them was hurt, blood odour sharp in the frozen air. The fox hung around. You never knew.

A wild horn blew. The fox crouched down. The humans made off, their trail obvious in the snow. They had left the wounded one behind. He was singing. Humans really were crazy.

~

Friday Flash – Mission Creep

Mission Creep

Frozen with shock Grant stared at the new prisoner – it was Skorzaney. Frightened and confused, Grant returned to his cell. Head in hands, he sat on his bunk and tried to think calmly.

Skorzaney would only be here if he wanted to be, and that could only be for one reason. Everything Grant had done, every sacrifice had been to protect his son. He cursed himself for a fool, he had let himself think it was over. It was never over.

At least his last choice was a simple one. He had to get out of there.

~

The audio version is available here.

Friday Flash – Nu Orleans

Nu-Orleans

It’s like, it’s this place, OK? And it’s really cool. And I’ve been thinking about it and I reckon I might go there, you know? I mean, one day I will go there. I will, really. In fact if I wanted I could go tomorrow. Today, even.

If I had a reason.

I really want to because it’s new, see? Like everything is brand new but more than that. Wiped clean and made over. Pure. And anyway, well, I’ve been thinking about it you know and like, the thing I wanted to say is would you come with me?

~

Brought to you this week from the blissfully sunny beaches of Kynance cove. Now there’s devotion.

Audio narration to follow.

Friday Flash – Oval Office

Oval Office

He studied the table. White linen, silver cutlery, a wine glass for him. A single red rose. Tonight was going to be something special.

This was where things happened.

This was where the shit went down.

Classical music, a few candles. It didn’t take much to turn an office into something – nicer.

Knuckles rapped lightly on the door. A woman’s voice, muffled through the wood. ‘Mr Tollinger? John?’

He got up. He opened the door.

‘Come in.’

He’d never seen anyone like her.

In the morning he left the office; the warehouse; the city.

Tomorrow was another day.

~

Audio narration is available here.