Tag Archives: Sci-fi

Target Fixation

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.


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Beneath a Square Sun

How quickly January has gone. The passage of time continues to confuse and mystify me. I mean, how can January be over already? Where’s all that time gone? It’s relentless, it never pauses for rest of respite, it just keeps on coming; an unstoppable temporal juggernaut. But gone it has, and the dawn of February will soon be upon us. Tradition dictates that I now talk about the weather. There has been a lot of snow. Most of north-east of America was recently buried under numerous feet of snow. The same is also true for the United Kingdom. Except where I live. I didn’t get any snow. I’m feeling quite bitter about this if I’m honest. I like snow.

If like me you feel betrayed by the weather, please feel free to assuage your sorrows with some short stories.

41 - Jan 2015 - Beneath a Square Sun

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January’s Pictonaut Challenge

The New Year is upon us, and with it comes the advent of new beginnings, of something fresh, vital, brimming with raw potentiality and the opportunities for outrageous shenanigans. But most of all the air is filled with the smell of hope. It smells of soap, and mint and freshly baked bread. The hope that maybe this year will be better than the last, or the hope that we’ll finally get round to doing that thing we’ve been meaning to do for years, or perhaps that this will be the year you “finally get your shit together.” A new year is ever a time of strange, unexplored frontiers and of terrifying unknowns. So strap on your sturdiest boots and prepare to venture into the land Beneath a Square Sun.

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It’s time to shut it down, pack it up and box it away. 2014 is done and finished. Christmas is over and there remains only the hurdle of new year’s eve before it is finally over. For better or worse, 2014 happened. There were highs and there were lows. But regardless of a geopolitical shitstorm(s) threatening to swallow us all, I remain resolutely alive. Any day above ground is a good day. I have recently returned from a brief sojourn to the frozen north and once again masterfully avoided the yearly rail meltdown. December has left me tired, strung-out and worn-down. Because that is how December rolls. Yet despite this, there is as always, stories to be told.

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Midnight Freight

The clatter of keys grows silent. November is over and NaNoWriMo is at an end. A typhoon of tortured tales grows still, their limp and pallid forms lie mewling on the dusty ground, their hurried and unnatural births now over. Deadlines and targets are a thing of the past. Some will be counting themselves as winners, having managed to put together 50,000 words. other will count themselves as losers, having fallen short of that lofty goal. I however, have been up to other things. Spending my evening in quiet contemplation, making soup and watching sci-fi from the early 2000s. When it comes to NaNoWriMo the distinction between winner and losers is at best moot and at worst erroneous. I learnt long ago, that the only winning move, is not to play.

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November’s Pictonaut Challenge

The ghost have been blown away on the wind, the bats are back in their roosts, the vampires are safely stowed away in their coffins and the skellingtons have been packed back into their closets. Now it is November, a time of flame, fireworks and dangerously large amounts of writing. Yes, once again NaNoWriMo rears its bestial and hoary head from the wordy loam in which it has slumbered. It has let outs its keening howl to call writers to arms. It is a call which I have once again responded with: “No! Not again! You can’t make me!” Once is enough. I turned my will upon the task and triumphed once. never again, I am not strong enough to survive another attempt and the looming spectre of possible failure.

That is not to say I won’t be writing in November, I am always writing. It is required. It is mandatory. The Pictonaut Challenge is so much easier to manage, and requires a much, much smaller investment of time. Should you feel that NaNoWriMo might be just a little bit too arduous a task, then you should join me, join me in exploring the wonders and mysteries of “Midnight Freight.

39 - Nov 2014 - Midnight Freight

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Yet another month evaporates away like mist on a late spring morning. The great and titanic majesty of summer begins to stir itself from its slumber, serpentine coils sliding and uncoiling. It readies itself to strike, be it with sun-fire or unending rain, Summer is a fickle beast and we are never sure with which weapon it will strike. Let’s face it, summer’s a bit of a dick. But on this day, the last before summer awakens I bring you stories. Tales of derring-do, of wonder and sorrow, tales of a place which is not here. Tales of a girl, standing on a mountain.

33 - May 2014 - Yogic

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Somehow April seems to have passed me by in a haze of bank holidays and getting considerably less done than I rightly should. Another month lost to the ages with the grand total of naff all to show for my continuing and ignoble quest to valiantly not die. This month has not been about achievement or meeting goals and targets, it has largely been about subsisting, maintaining the holding pattern that allows me to pay my rent and buy the inordinate amounts of tea I pour into my face in order to dull the horrors of existence. In all honestly, it hasn’t been a terrible month but then again it hasn’t been amazing. it has been a litany of average. And I’m okay with that. Average is acceptable. I can live with average. Average is a month when you’re not stressed out by the minutia of adult life. Average is a quiet weekend on the sofa watching television. Average is something we don’t appreciate enough. The lofty highs and glorious days of our lives are transient and fleeting, but average? Average is here to stay. It’s the average days that ultimately keep us going. And if that’s not enough for you, here are some short stories.

32 - Apr 2014 - Relay - Steve Renn

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Voyage to the Planets

Months are oft wont to slip by without you noticing. August has basically evaporated. And considering the continued fair weather that’s hardly surprising. This spate of fair weather was interrupted by one event of note however. A rain storm which I had the misfortune to by cycling home in. A rain storm so fierce and mighty, of such raw unbridled power that it managed to more or less dissolve parts of my new trainers. It also made me very, very wet. Which, if you think about it, is pretty much rain’s raison d’etre. At least I think that happened this month. Time has a very annoying habit of just blurring together in my head, events become transposed across dates. Things which happened in 2006 still feel very much like “only last week.” Yet despite the alleged duality of time and space I have yet to find similar things happening with my own personal geography. There has been no finding myself in two places at once. Which is a shame, because that would be super handy.

Aug 2013 - Voyage to the Planets - Daren Horley Continue reading

August’s Pictonaut Challenge

It’s August now. This is a fact which I am having a great deal of trouble comprehending. How can it conceivably be August? Already? Come on, you’re having a laugh! Seriously? August? Already? Fucking hell…

That means that I’ve been snuggled away in my little one bedroom flat for nearly 10 months. It also means I’ve been down in the deepest, darkest and most hideously depraved outlands of southern England for 2 years. Time is relentless in its surging forwards. The future is always rushing straight at us waving a big sign, which in large black capitals reads “LOOK AT ME!” It’s also my little brother’s birthday. A person who in my mind’s eye will always remain about 11 years old, is now edging ever further into his 20s. That’s not even remotely terrifying. But such is life. It is relentless. It is without mercy. It is unfathomable. It is cruel and it is cold.

In those respects it’s just like space (Tenuous segue ahoy!) Space is cool. Space is out future and it is our salvation. Space is absolutely fucking everywhere. So take your protein pills, put your helmet on and prepare for a Voyage to the Planets.

Aug 2013 - Voyage to the Planets - Daren Horley Continue reading