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.

Not quite Friday Flash

Having decided to make audio versions of the flash pieces after I’d started the latest sequence I’ve been in catch-up mode. This means there is no new flash fiction from me this week, but I do have an audio narration for the story I wrote a few weeks ago – Jimmy Checks Out.

 

Open Water – My first short story collection

I’m very happy to announce ‘Open Water’ my first collection of short stories will be published by TheEXAGGERATEDpress later this year.

Launch is currently scheduled for World Fantasy at Brighton (31/10 – 3/11)

I’m really pleased about this. Short stories get published once in a magazine and then tend to disappear. It will be great to have some back in print – and some new ones too. It’s been an enjoyable – and occasionally necessary – thing to go back over these stories, old and new.

I also discovered I’d managed to lose a manuscript for a novella (A Little Onwards) serialised in issues 2-4 of Trevor Denyer’s Legend magazine over a decade ago. I think I’ve got copies of the magazine in the attic so I could recreate it if I wanted to. A bit of a shock to discover that!

Maybe see you at World Fantasy?

Friday Flash – The Desert

The Desert

Ancient, desiccated cacti crumbled to nothing under Amroye’s boot. The sand was freezing, icy air leached heat from her face. The low sun hadn’t moved for hours, a distant pale disk.

It was the worst sort of lost. She knew exactly where she was.

The wild silence was here but it was just out of reach. Ice rimmed the dune flanks, a glittering, frangible crust. She began walking again, to keep warm. Then, down in the dry gulch, she saw the fox prints.

Too desperate to be relieved, too weary, Amroye followed the tracks at a ground-eating pace.

~

Audio narration available here

Jack Vance – Farewell

Jack Vance, one of the all-time great storytellers and literary stylists of genre fiction passed away on 26th March, 2013, aged 96.

I love his story-telling, his exuberant and unique writing style.

I’ve written a brief appreciation over at the Pornokitsch web site.

RIP Mr Vance. Thank you.

Friday Flash – Benny Checks In

Benny Checks In

Benny gripped the stolen handbag and got in the queue. He’d got the itch, got it bad. He couldn’t bear it. He went back down the alley.

It wasn’t fair. He’d sweated for that bag, he’d done the legwork, he’d taken the risks. It was his bag.

Swap it for a measly wrap? He had a better idea. He’d sell the plastic, the phone. A bag like that had to be worth something. He’d work hard, get clean…

That itch, cockroaches in his belly. He had it bad. Shaking and shuffling, Benny got back in the queue.

~

Audio narration of this story is available here.

Friday Flash – Jimmy Checks Out

Jimmy Checks Out

He’d caught a bullet.

Pow!

Snatch! Just like that.

He’d seen it coming he told them later. He’d snatched that motherfucker right out of the air. Burned his palm but that was OK. Anyways, it wasn’t a real bullet, it was a copy. Nice one, too.

How did Jimmy know? He knew because you couldn’t do that with real bullets. You couldn’t catch ‘em.

Jimmy flipped the bullet, caught it, and slipped it into his pocket. Guy who fired it wouldn’t mind. Guy like that, he’d have a whole bunch of bullets. He could spare a few.

~

The origins of this are pretty oblique, inspired by, but not necessarily about, book piracy. And that all came about from reading this blog post from Gaie Sebold.
Audio narration is available here.

Fiction and Climate Change

I’ve just finished reviewing Tony White’s riveting novel Shackleton’s Man Goes North for Arc magazine, a novel about the past, present, and future of climate change.

One thing he’s interested in is seeing how we can predict what the future may hold by looking at what is happening now.  And then he looks at what we humans are doing right now. As part of this he references the IPCC Special Report: Emissions Scenarios.

These scenarios are “alternative images of how the future might unfold and are an appropriate tool with which to analyse how driving forces may influence future emission outcomes and to assess the associated uncertainties.”

Now, the IPCC is a hugely important and influential organisation, and one that in my mind holds the authoritative high ground on pragmatic scientific accuracy, opinion and advice on this absolutely vital and urgent subject.  In its own words, the IPCC is

“the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.”

So, people, this is my challenge: go read this report. Specifically, use the slide-bar on the left and go to page 10. Read the first sentence of the firs paragraph, top left. You’ll probably want to because when I read it in Tony White’s book I wanted to check this out for myself.  If you don’t want to, this is what it says:

“All scenarios describe futures that are generally more affluent than today.”

So that’s fine. Whatever happens with global warming we’ll all be better off.

I write a lot of fiction, I write a lot of SF, but I have to admit to a failure of imagination here, because I never thought of that one. Or perhaps it’s because you just couldn’t make it up.

On  the Antarctic peninsula tough little grasses and lichen are expanding their ranges as the climate warms. What are we humans doing right now? It feels to me like we’re all part of that band playing on the decks of the Titanic.

(Shackleton’s Man Goes South is a great, adventurous and passionate book. It was commissioned by the Science Museum, and you can read it free on their web site.)

~

Times of Trouble anthology released

Times of Trouble (A Time Travel anthology) from Permuted Press

This is nice.

Times of Trouble (A Time-Travel Anthology) is released this week by Permuted Press. Edited by the ever-charming Lane Adamson, this includes my story, Previous, as well as contributions from Stephen Gaskell, Ruth Nestvold, and many more.

Permuted are promising a print edition in due course, for now you can find electronic editions on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Friday Flash – The Prison

This is the start of a new sequence and this time I’m taking inspiration from two sources: Titles are the chapter heading from my soon to be released SF novel, Shopocalypse; the stories and characters are inspired by current work in progress, ‘Beyond The Streets We Know’, a fantasy set in this world and others.

No spoilers here. I am riffing off the characters and stories in ‘Beyond The Streets’, not reprising them. Events in these stories will not happen in the book, think of them as alternatives, things that might have been, or are yet to come.

Shopocalypse has 68 chapter titles, so this could run for some time if I use them all. As before, exactly 100 words per story, including the title. Enjoy! And as ever, your comments are most welcome.

The Prison

Skorzaney sat on the thin, hard mattress and rubbed his chin. This was nothing, he had spent twice this long simply putting the plan together.

Those plans still existed. This was simply delay, postponement. What were a few more years? He’d get out when he got out, until then nothing was going to change. People had been waiting a long, long time. They, like he, could wait a little longer.

So the kid was dead. Bars and doors were simply a state of mind. Skorzaney settled back against the wall. He had all the time in the world.

~

Audio Narration available here