At this precise moment I am probably somewhere in the deepest, darkest Cotswolds, valiantly trying not to melt. June is rapidly drawing to a close and Summer has finally realised just how late it was running for work. It has been a while since I produced any new word based content for you to devour or ignore. This is a fact which my friend the Lady Tonksington Smythe did not fail to highlight. She requested that June be a month in which I got off my lazy-ass and actually wrote something again. I have used this gentle needling as an excuse to add 1,800 words to a short story which had been sitting unloved, and unfinished in my writer’s trunk for about a year. It represents the 4th instalment in what has accidentally become an eight and a half thousand words long series.
It joins The Starwatcher, the stand-alone piece Orange, and follows directly on from the end of The Watcher of Stars. It sees the (almost inevitable) return of the mysterious Gayane Al-Taftazânî, her hapless friend Almund Skeete, and the strange, wondrous science-fiction world they inhabit. The series was initially based on the famous “Starwatcher” image by the late Jean “Moebius” Giraud, but has since rapidly taken on a life of its own. This is the piece I cryptically hinted at two weeks ago, and it was a true joy to write and I adore every last bit of it. I hope you do too.
Leave a comment | tags: Moebius, Orange, Sci-fi, Short stories, Starwatcher, Target Fixation, Watcher of Stars, Writing | posted in Writing
In May 2012 I, as I have done every month for the last two and a bit years, wrote a story. It was called Starwatcher. It was an attempt at pulpy sci-fi with a slightly alien feel to it. Though I do quite like it, in of itself, it is nothing special. The piece originally had a brief epilogue to it that was perhaps no more than twenty or thirty words. In the end I got rid of it. It felt tacked on, superfluous, unnecessary. Over the intervening year and a half, that expunged epilogue sat in the back of my mind dormant and unmoving. Then one day it sprouted and grew and then flowered into something beyond my wildest expectations. This now completed epilogue is longer than the original and has been a labour of love. Writing it and the subsequent re-readings caused me to be almost overwhelmed by “Feels.”
During its composition I reflected quite a lot on love, friendship, relationships and what exactly they meant. How they define people, how it changes who the are. This quickly became an act of self-reflection as I thought about the most important relationships in my life. My life has been remarkably free from romantic entanglements, the relationships which have dominated my life are those between myself and my friends. By the metrics of television and film my life should be lonely, empty and unfulfilled. But it’s not. My life is rich, richer than I often realise. So I dedicate “The Watcher of Stars” not to any individual or great romantic love past or lost, but to the relationships which have really mattered to me. The ones without which I would be less than I am. I dedicate it to my friends.
This story is for Sam and Tonks, for being there despite not being able to be there; for Sarah and Pinaz, for sharing a house with me and living to tell the tale; for Gareth and Chelle, for visiting and being so insufferably sweet together; for the two Davids, for their internet shenanigans and good natured treachery; for Andy and JP, for knowing me as long as they have and still not hating me for it; for James and Neil, for scaring my mind in ways which will never truly heal; For Amy and Vicki, for risking social suicide by agreeing to be seen in public with me; for Mick and Steve, for proving to me that I am not the worst human being in existence; and for Marc and for Jess, for always teaching me something new, and for being so singularly interesting that I could just listen to them talk for hours. And a final thanks to the ensemble cast of my life, you are legion, beyond counting and beyond importance.
Even if I have never said it before or never say it again: You people matter to me in ways I cannot quite put into words. Without you I would just be a husk of gradually expiring meat. With you, I still am a husk of gradually expiring meat, but you make me feel not so bad about the fact.
Wherever you may find yourself, in love, in life and in space; I wish you all a Happy New Year. May this coming year be filled with not that which you want, but that which you need.
2 Comments | tags: Epilogue, Feels, Friends, Love, Moebius, New Year, Relationships, Starwatcher, Watcher of Stars, Writing | posted in Writing
Down here in my neck of the woods the snow has finally decided to bugger off and leave us well alone. The British weather in its typical mercurial way has rebounded from the cold snap by swinging to heights of frankly terrifying mildness. Despite it being what I would term the depths of winter the temperature rose to an incredible 13 degrees Celsius, forcing me to forgo both jumper and hat. Even the gloves came off, my winter beard now feels entirely extraneous. This unexpected bloom of warmth fits rather nicely with my equally mercurial mood. At the start of the month I was not in the finest of fettles, but now the grim introspection has gone, although the existential dread remains. But I’m okay with that he’s a reasonably okay guy when you get to know him, bit misunderstood and maligned, but always does the washing up and takes his shoes off when he comes through the door. So January’s ending on something approaching a high. I remain gainfully employed, I’m not dead and I have a house with function heating. everything’s coming up rose. Though not literally, give it a few months though.
Leave a comment | tags: January, Moebius, Pictonaut Challenge, Pictonauts, Plodding On, Short stories, Westerns, Writing | posted in Pictonauts, Writing
January the first, two thousand and fucking thirteen. Somehow, against all conceivable odds mankind has yet again managed to drag itself through a whole 365 and a quarter days without wiping itself from existence. If that alone is not cause for some small measure of celebration then I sure as hell don’t know what is.
While you all rise, sleepy and rheumy-eyed from the fug of a hangover for which you have no one else to blame but yourself, I am not with you. By means of ancient and secret manipulations of technology and time itself, I, your benevolent and gracious blogger, am still mired in the last plaintive death rattles of two thousand and fucking twelve. I’m drinking single malt whisky from a cracked glass tumbler that I bought from Marks and Spencer’s 5 years ago. I’m thinking, wondering and generally pondering upon the nature of things. I am, as ever, alone. My sole company is my own thoughts, both my best friend and my greatest nemesis. By rights I have probably had too much to drink, and so do I sidle down into the dark and foetid recesses of sentience while gazing into a fluid the colour of gold. There’s probably a metaphor for avarice and rampant consumerism in there somewhere.
As with the end of any year I find myself looking backward to what has gone before, it’s only natural at such a calendrical milestone. A stock check if you will. In my case I find, once again, that some one’s smashed the big glass window at the front of the store, piled half the stock into a rusty old shopping trolley and done a runner. There are so many things that remain unfinished and incomplete. It’s the nature of things, nothing is ever quite finished, something always slips through the cracks. There’s things which you just never quite manage to sort out completely and/or to the best of your abilities. Things which you’ve left unsaid or opportunities that have been left untaken, things which leave a big yawning hole somewhere deep inside, a hole that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t quite manage to fill. It’s always like this, this is how all years end. Northing is ever finished, not even at the very end of all things, that is just a stop, a big black line under everything. It’s not a finish; finish implies completion. No matter how hard we try, no matter how much we gird ourselves, put on our war-face, arm ourselves to the teeth and threaten to fuck life up something proper there will always be things left undone. All years are a war, the months are campaigns, the weeks are battles and the days are bloody skirmishes. We are nought if not the sum of our mistakes, alloyed with our regrets.
What matters is how a man (or a woman, or non-gender specific entity. Let’s not discriminate here) weathers the assault of the years, how they traverse all the myriad of pitfalls, spike traps, trip-wires and shit-flinging monkeys that life puts in front of us. How against all the odds, no matter how battered and broken we get, we manage to muster up enough strength to raise one single, solitary middle-finger to the world. What matters is how we manage to keep ourselves going, how we keep Plodding On.
3 Comments | tags: Introspection, January, Jean Giraud, Moebius, New Year, Pictonaut Challenge, Pictonauts, Plodding On, Regret, Short stories | posted in Pictonauts, Writing
There may have been some of you who turned up here on Monday just after the striking of noon expecting a blog post. Some of you may even have been disappointed to see that there wasn’t one. Since we’re all friends here I’m going to be honest, I just couldn’t be bothered to stitch some words together and send a shoddy collection of thoughts shambling into the bright and burning light like a poorly constructed corpse-beast. Necromancy has after all, never really been my forte. Besides, you were going to be getting two blog posts at the end of the week. Three posts in one week seemed a little overkill. I spent much of last weekend and indeed Monday itself, elsewhere. I left the safe confines of the Fortress of Ineptitude (my house) and sallied forth (got a train) to a dark and foreboding place filled with evil and despair (Hampshire) to see my mentors in the ways of the arcane arts (my parents.) What followed was three days of traipsing around a variety of gardens and stately homes which, due to the weather, may as well have been on the surface of the sun. In those three short days my carefully cultivated nerd-pallor of pure alabaster white has been utterly destroyed. Now my exposed flesh has become the colour of orange leather. This is one of many reasons I tend to avoid the outdoors and the sinister privations of the malevolent day-star. On the subject of stars I suppose I should get down to the business of wrapping up May’s Pictonaut Challenge: Starwatcher.
Leave a comment | tags: Gayane, May, Moebius, Pictonaut Challenge, Pictonauts, Short stories, Starwatcher, Writing | posted in Pictonauts, Writing
So it’s May. The last month of spring. The last month before summer finally arrives and my world begins an inexorable slide into an unpleasant, Stygian heat. The rains of the last month have been a delightful salve to my soul. I like rain. It keeps me cool, it makes me feel clean, it reminds me of a better time. A time when it meant I wouldn’t be dragged outside to play football. May is one of those month’s which fills me with a slight and intangible dread, I’ve always felt that there’s something distinctly suspicious and untrustworthy about it. I’ve chosen not to take a cue for this month’s theme from the month itself, all that would lead to would be thinly veiled phallic symbolism. I’m not sure anyone would enjoy that. So once again I’ve delved into the depths of the Pictonaut image folder in search of something suitably inspiring.
4 Comments | tags: May, Moebius, Pictonaut Challenge, Pictonauts, Short stories, Starwatcher | posted in Pictonauts, Writing