Monday, 15 August 2022

They Who Scream America

...is the name of my new weird/paranoid pulling back of the curtain on how the world really works, as featured in the latest issue of Mithila Review which, I've just learnt from Wikipediais the "only international science fiction and fantasy magazine published from India".  Don't know why, but that make me a little bit proud - and only bolsters my suggestion that you go buy yourself a copy.



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2084 - The Meschera Bandwidth

2084. The world remains at war.

In the Eurasian desert, twenty-year old Adnan emerges from a coma with memories of a strictly ordered city of steel and glass, and a woman he loved.

The city is the Dome, and the woman... is Adnan's secret to keep.

Adnan learns what the Dome is, and what his role really was within it. He learns why everybody fears the Sickness more than the troopers. And he learns why he is the only one who can stop the war.

Persuaded to re-enter the Dome to implant a virus that will bring the war machine to its knees, the resistance think that Adnan is returning to free the many - but really he wants to free the one.

24 0s & a 2

Twenty-four slipstream stories.  Frequently absurd, often minimifidian, occasionally heroic.

Friday, 12 August 2022

Nobody needs to get hurt, nobody needs to hurt anyone - naturally, you cockwomble, it's all a fiction

I recently celebrated my 50th rejection from Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores (not quite sure how this should be recognised - a golden email, perhaps?).  I've had some near misses with these guys before, and here they delivered a variation on the theme with a good-cop-bad-cop routine:

I really liked this story and in many ways savored the author’s quips and whims of the whip smart, tart mouthed, elderly archaeologist. I don’t think I will be forgetting her any time soon

balanced by:

the character interactions border on irritating and unfortunately the story depends on them as there is not much else going on. Even the framing device is superfluous to the banter. All told it doesn't make much sense, and comes off as more of an inside joke than a story meant for publication

or:

I have read several stories by the author that are consistently good...

...but the wheels and levers that makes the story work didn’t hold up for me.

The feedback ends with a real stinger:

The story includes the killing of insects; not sure if that's a problem according to CRES's submission guidelines.

Seriously?  I can't kill a mosquito?  In a fucking story??  What sort of batshit crazy world is this?

I'm currently reading an anthology of Buddhist Beat writings, and looking forward to giving it a two-star rating on goodreads.com (ain't poetry great, the way there's so much white space the pages almost turn themselves - shame about the words).  In one of the few moments that pokes its head above the bilge and arse gravy, William S Burroughs, a Buddhism sceptic, reluctantly takes part in a Buddhist retreat, and the first thing he does is fashion a fly swatter:

"I think this no-killing obsession is a nonsense.  Where do you draw the line?  Mosquitos?  Biting flies?  Lice?  Venomous insects?  I'd rather kill a brown recluse spider than get bitten by one.  And I will not co-exist with flies.   Little spider in a web at the window.  He's all right.  But I hear a rustling on the shelf above my bed.  I light a candle and there is a spider about an inch across and a brown spider at that.  Might be a brown recluse.  Any case, too big to live in my vicinity.  I feel better after it is dead, knowing it can't get on my face while I am sleeping."

Well, there's your answer, Bill.  Nowadays, you can't kill it even if you've made it all up...

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2084 - The Meschera Bandwidth

2084. The world remains at war.

In the Eurasian desert, twenty-year old Adnan emerges from a coma with memories of a strictly ordered city of steel and glass, and a woman he loved.

The city is the Dome, and the woman... is Adnan's secret to keep.

Adnan learns what the Dome is, and what his role really was within it. He learns why everybody fears the Sickness more than the troopers. And he learns why he is the only one who can stop the war.

Persuaded to re-enter the Dome to implant a virus that will bring the war machine to its knees, the resistance think that Adnan is returning to free the many - but really he wants to free the one.

24 0s & a 2

Twenty-four slipstream stories.  Frequently absurd, often minimifidian, occasionally heroic.


Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Disappearing (possibly, even, fast)

Do yourself a favour, and make your way to issue #27 of Bourbon Penn, where you'll find my dream-logic contribution, The Disappearing.  And then work your way back through the other twenty-six issues of this excellent publication.


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You're here, so surely you know how to do that?


2084 - The Meschera Bandwidth

2084. The world remains at war.

In the Eurasian desert, twenty-year old Adnan emerges from a coma with memories of a strictly ordered city of steel and glass, and a woman he loved.

The city is the Dome, and the woman... is Adnan's secret to keep.

Adnan learns what the Dome is, and what his role really was within it. He learns why everybody fears the Sickness more than the troopers. And he learns why he is the only one who can stop the war.

Persuaded to re-enter the Dome to implant a virus that will bring the war machine to its knees, the resistance think that Adnan is returning to free the many - but really he wants to free the one.

24 0s & a 2

Twenty-four slipstream stories.  Frequently absurd, often minimifidian, occasionally heroic.

Saturday, 16 July 2022

Strike one!

No, not entirely sure what it means either, other than it has something to do with baseball, which seems to be rounders for people who can’t grasp cricket, and that there are three of them, and they’re not good news.

My first strike, if that’s the right term, is actually rather a good thing: it’s my story Sunrunner in Third Flatiron’s latest - indeed, their thirty-first - anthology, After the Gold Rush, and my third for Juliana Rew’s ever-excellent series.  Do check it out, and do check out the preceding thirty.

I’m counting it as my first strike as it’s the first of three professional publications that I’m allowed before I am ineligible for the L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future competition, in which I’m struggling to get my obligatory two silver honorables (sic) this year.

You may think, with a novel and fifty-odd stories published that I have been long-since ineligible, but the shorts have either been below the 3000-word limit that the judges see as flash, or haven’t been paid at a professional rate.  And the novel that gives this blog its name, 2084: The Meschera Bandwidth?  Well, that needs 5000 sales to count against me.  So, if some four thousand nine-hundred and ninety odd of you want to club together…

#

Click on the images or search for these on Amazon.

You're here, so surely you know how to do that?


2084 - The Meschera Bandwidth

2084. The world remains at war.

In the Eurasian desert, twenty-year old Adnan emerges from a coma with memories of a strictly ordered city of steel and glass, and a woman he loved.

The city is the Dome, and the woman... is Adnan's secret to keep.

Adnan learns what the Dome is, and what his role really was within it. He learns why everybody fears the Sickness more than the troopers. And he learns why he is the only one who can stop the war.

Persuaded to re-enter the Dome to implant a virus that will bring the war machine to its knees, the resistance think that Adnan is returning to free the many - but really he wants to free the one.

24 0s & a 2

Twenty-four slipstream stories.  Frequently absurd, often minimifidian, occasionally heroic.



Wednesday, 22 June 2022

…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. That, and T-Shirt Sales.

...is the title of my contribution to Mystery and Horror LLC's ninth 'Strangely Funny' anthology, release date tbc.


#

Click on the images or search for these on Amazon.
You're here, so surely you know how to do that?


2084 - The Meschera Bandwidth

2084. The world remains at war.

In the Eurasian desert, twenty-year old Adnan emerges from a coma with memories of a strictly ordered city of steel and glass, and a woman he loved.

The city is the Dome, and the woman... is Adnan's secret to keep.

Adnan learns what the Dome is, and what his role really was within it. He learns why everybody fears the Sickness more than the troopers. And he learns why he is the only one who can stop the war.

Persuaded to re-enter the Dome to implant a virus that will bring the war machine to its knees, the resistance think that Adnan is returning to free the many - but really he wants to free the one.

24 0s & a 2

Twenty-four slipstream stories.  Frequently absurd, often minimifidian, occasionally heroic.

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Stay classy

I have, for the last year and half or so, been a member of the British Science Fiction Association.  You'd think, being British and a writer of science fiction of reasonably long standing, I'd have been a member for years.  However, I've long struggled with the notion of what such an association is for, given that, for most, the production of written science fiction is a solitary activity, excepting the popular parlour game 'Drabble'.  It's not as though they give you more direct line of sight to publishers or agents, which would be of value to me.  Yes, I suppose if we were all knee-deep in TV or movie science fiction, then we'd need to be more collaborative, but wouldn't working in that milieu make that happen anyway?  And as for discussing the consumption and enjoyment of science fiction, isn't that what pubs and beer are for?  Deeper analysis than that risks treating genre fiction as having more explanatory power or meaning than it has.  I mean, the vast, vast majority of the time we're just trying to entertain.  End of.

The BSFA's publication Vector shows what happens when it's-just-a-bit-of-fun is taken way, way too seriously, with articles of various degrees of pretention or portent disappearing up their own fundaments in a haze of pseudo-intellectual nonsense.  Imagine not just every slice of burnt toast contains the face of Jesus, but you've decided you can predict the future from his facial expressions.  And whilst I'm grateful the BSFA produce it and post it out to me, the fact that it's available free on the interweb makes paying a membership fee even more questionable.

One notable exception from the trend towards social science PhD leather elbow patch unreadableness is Marie Vibbert's article 'Jobs and Class of Main Characters in Science Fiction', which I enjoyed considerably.  Now, I could bang on about the utter, utter misunderstanding of the concept of class that predicates Marie's analysis, but it turns out she's American, so obviously class, to her, is all about money, whereas in Britain it's all about... well, class, obviously - which is separate from, albeit wonkily related to, demography, which is more about what's going on here.  That apart, it's an interesting take on authorial choices without seeing patterns in the clouds that just ain't there.

You've previously seen how I like a good bit of Excel, so I though it may be mildly amusing if I were to put my own stories, both published (50-odd) and unpublished (40-odd) through the same analysis, partly to see whether I diverge from the norm, and partly to judge whether there's some fundamental difference between what the market's bitten on and what they've spat back at me.

Marie, using a semi-scientific but, to me, entirely reasonable salad of Orion SF Masterworks, BSFA award winners and a 'best of' Google search, gives us this result, compared to Pew Research figures on the US population as a whole:

And my survey says...

So, what to think?  Well, firstly, my unpublished work looks a lot like the sci-fi universe, whereas my published work looks more like real life.  And, overall, I'm a lot less inclined to give my protagonists unrepresentative positions of power and influence than writers generally.  I wasn't expecting to draw the conclusion that I'm right and it's the rest of the industry that's wrong, but if that's what the numbers say...

Tempted as I am to end there, it's probably nothing other than noise.  But, if there is meaning to be gleaned, it may reflect British versus American mores (which I don't think Marie even acknowledges, let alone tackles), far better expressed and discussed here.  I get why Americans want their heroes to be starship captains and superheroes - if my nation had precious little history, I'd want Arthurs and Beowulfs too - but get Britons to write sci-fi and you end up with Doctor WhoHitchhikers and Red Dwarf.  We don't want people with power, we want outsiders and the oppressed middle, because that's who we look up to and feel most kinship with, respectively.  That's why many of my stories have people of ability trapped below the decision makers, implementing absurdity despite themselves: lions led by donkeys.  Not sure that trope makes it across the pond unscathed every time.

However, like Marie, I had difficulty assigning class to a lot of my characters.  Some - God, Death, a sentient refrigerator - I simply excluded, but others - a "magician", a teenage girl, kids - made me ponder.  But much of the time I'm writing an every(wo)man, a placeholder, a cypher we can all hang our own faces on.  When you, dear reader, read such stories, you can place yourself in the shoes of the protagonist whilst, similarly, I'm writing me - and, because I see myself, class-wise, occupying that middle ground, I see those cyphers as of similar class - even if that me is another gender, age or race, because that battle to overcome hurdles to get to what you want, whether that's to survive a near-death encounter or just sell some t-shirts, is universal.  And, after all, isn't that exactly why we write and read fiction?

Trouble is, you can't stretch a simple, universal truth like that into a pseudo-academic Vector article...

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You're here, so surely you know how to do that?


2084 - The Meschera Bandwidth

2084. The world remains at war.

In the Eurasian desert, twenty-year old Adnan emerges from a coma with memories of a strictly ordered city of steel and glass, and a woman he loved.

The city is the Dome, and the woman... is Adnan's secret to keep.

Adnan learns what the Dome is, and what his role really was within it. He learns why everybody fears the Sickness more than the troopers. And he learns why he is the only one who can stop the war.

Persuaded to re-enter the Dome to implant a virus that will bring the war machine to its knees, the resistance think that Adnan is returning to free the many - but really he wants to free the one.

24 0s & a 2

Twenty-four slipstream stories.  Frequently absurd, often minimifidian, occasionally heroic.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

After Abercrombie

Serendipitously, after recent posts outlining my somewhat laissez faire attitude towards simultaneous submissions, life comes along with an example of the scenario I may have to spin as reality when trying to gloss over my misdemeanours: a submission long-since given up as lost in the ether and subsequently pitched to other markets, that is accepted totally out of the blue.

The story is a sci-fi flash called 'After Abercrombie' and the venue in question is the Page & Spine Fiction Showcase.  In fact, the message wasn't just that it had been accepted, but that it would be published the next day, and $20 would be finding its way into my PayPal account (and has done so).

I'm doubly confused as this seems to be Page & Spine's death rattle, having rebranded themselves as the unpaid market P&S.  No contract came with the acceptance, writers' guidelines have been removed from the old site, and my email enquiry about terms, particularly exclusivity, has not been responded to.  So, I guess, there is no exclusivity.  Not sure what else to conclude.

Other than suggesting you take a look.

#

Click on the images or search for these on Amazon.
You're here, so surely you know how to do that?


2084 - The Meschera Bandwidth

2084. The world remains at war.

In the Eurasian desert, twenty-year old Adnan emerges from a coma with memories of a strictly ordered city of steel and glass, and a woman he loved.

The city is the Dome, and the woman... is Adnan's secret to keep.

Adnan learns what the Dome is, and what his role really was within it. He learns why everybody fears the Sickness more than the troopers. And he learns why he is the only one who can stop the war.

Persuaded to re-enter the Dome to implant a virus that will bring the war machine to its knees, the resistance think that Adnan is returning to free the many - but really he wants to free the one.

24 0s & a 2

Twenty-four slipstream stories.  Frequently absurd, often minimifidian, occasionally heroic.