Wednesday, 8 December 2021

2021: The year of the four emperors

 Merry Christmas, one and all!

I hope this December sees you fine and healthy after yet another year of pestilence and incompetently corrupt government. It's that time of year where people recap their writing successes and I jump on the bandwagon with my meagre offerings and a bit of free fiction.
But this year I have a surprising amount to shout about for I had four, count 'em, four, stories published this year. A phenomenal amount for me and I can't ever say thank you enough to those wonderful editors who picked my little stories.

First of all was Sacrificial Gasoline, published in New Maps in April. A story about incompetent and corrupt government, oddly enough, and it's interaction with climate change. It can be found here

The second appeared in the anthology A Quiet Afternoon 2 and is called Rab the Giant and the Problem Neighbour. It's a quieter piece about being a good neighbour and not jumping to conclusions and can be bought here

Third was Gentrification and the Dream House, published in KZine in June and available here
This one is my attempt at a proper portal fantasy, somewhat let down by the characters being in their forties and not their childhood.

Finally last month brought us Titanic Terrstructures, a fairly titanic book in it's own right and an anthology of stories set around ginormous SF structures. Mine also has Aunts and they can be found here

I am extremely happy about all of these and not a little shocked to see them all together like this. Sadly I'll not see this many in one go for a long while to come, if nothing else because my writing this year has been very bitty and inconsequential. I will blame it on a second year of pandemic based brain fog but abject laziness does have a part to play as well. Here's hoping that next year I can write more as I have a TV studio set thing I've been working on for ages I'd love to get out there and a thing about post-apocalyptic tablet that keeps gnawing at the back of my brain.

One thing I did mange to write was flash fiction in October, following the Glasgow Writer Circle prompts. The output from that can be found here if you didn't see it at the time here or on Twitter.

And now to the traditional Christmas gift of free fiction. This year I bring you Why did you leave your last employer? This was a story that got picked up for publishing last year, in 2020, but, due to the editor's politics not agreeing with mine, shall we say, I never pimped it. Unfortunate but I didn't feel happy directing people towards the magazine after some of the things the editor said.
Anyhoo, I now produce it here so you can see what it was. Hope you like it.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Life in the big House


I've got a new story out, yay! This one is in an anthology, Titanic Terastructures that can be found here, that is a set of stories all in some way related to ginormous SF thingumies of a Ringworld stylee. I am very much looking forward to reading this and seeing what huge and wondrous ideas people have written of.

As for my story, it is set in a place called The House which is a planet wide residence that has seen better days and is a 'living in the ruins' type of story. There may be quite a lot of dust but I hope you like it.

By way of a wee taster, I've put up a piece of flash fiction that I wrote a few years back that was my first visit to The House. Ever since then the setting has stuck in my head and keeps nagging me to write things about it. I've had a few goes at short stories and this is the most successful. Saying that, the idea keeps nagging me so there might be more.

The flash piece that created it all can be found here: The Oculus at the Edge of the Universe


As Amazon is not great at showing all authors, here is a TOC for the book:

Honeysuckle for Ashes / Christopher R. Muscato

You Too Shall Pass / Russell Nichols

Jack, the Medbot and the Giant in the Sky / Laurel Beckley

Bang / Craig Russell

Fundamentals of Search and Rescue / Jennifer R. Donohue

Mothership / M.R. Parsons

Broken Circle / Manda Benson

Memento Mori / Johannes Toivo Svensson

Ashes to Ashes Dust to Stardust / Wendy Nikel

Under the Graying Sea / Jonathan Sherwood

Tharsis Dilemma / Matthew Ross

The Moment / Dan Piponi

The Big House / Bunny McFadden

The Sensation of Drowning / Dennis Mombauer

The Long Road Home / Andrew Gudgel

A Singular Event in the Fourth Dimension / Andrea M. Pawley

And the House Did Watch Over All / Brian M. Milton

The Long Sleep to Tera Terra / Mark Kirkbride

The What-The Tree / Liam Hogan

Haunting House / Mike Morgan

Heavenstair / Al Onia

Antimatter Dreams / David Wright

Distraction / Regina Clarke

Podfall / Barend Nieuwstraten III

The Kamacite Cage / Richard de Silva

Land of Opportunity / Gustavo Bondoni

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Recurring dreams and dusty attics

Proving that story publications are like busses, I've another new one for your perusal. This time it is a story of old childhood memories and how market forces affects them. Or something.

Anywho, you can find it in Kzine issue 30 and it is called Gentrification and the Dream House.

This one had an odd gestation in that it is based on a recurring dream I've had all my life. Child, student, adult, the same basic scenario cropped up of my travelling through narrow passages in old houses and, a couple of years back, it came to me again. Only this time the dream was an angry rant about modern consumerism ruining old stuff.  As I'm sure happens in your dreams all the time too.

Other than being a sign that I'm getting old this inspired me to try to write down the feelings I was getting from the dream and, eventually, it evolved into the published story. Initially there was a lot more of the dream, i.e. passages and  non-sequitur weirdness but thanks to the lovely and clever people at the Glasgow Science Fiction Writer's Circle that was (sadly) cut to let the story that it morphed into appear.

Also inspirational was the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow which I went to while initially writing this and got distracted from the band looking at the ironwork. 

Now, while I have you here, not only is this out today, but, as previously mentioned, you can also find a story of mine in A Quiet Afternoon 2 which you can find here on pre-order, although the pdfs go out in only a few days time. 

And, since I've been having that sort of year which I promise this it the last of, a further reminder that back in April I also had a story out in New Maps which you can find here

I hope you enjoy and that the next time you're down the shops you consider the alternatives on offer and if you can get to them by a door half way up a wall.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Low risk reading for the win!

I have a new story coming out soon in a wee Canadian anthology called A Quiet Afternoon 2 and they've just opened their site for pre-orders. You can find it here

The anthology is a collection of relaxed stories ideal for a restful afternoon, something we could all do with these days. Apparently they had volume 1 out last year as a response to the pandemic and you can still find it on their website should you be in need of additional emergency sitting down.

My story is a partner to one I had published in Fireside back in December 2017 in that it features Rab the Giant again, this time having to deal with some problematic neighbours and his prejudices and assumptions. 

I like this one a lot and am very glad it's found a home, especially in something quite so suited to my interests of having a nice sit down and not getting wound up. Especially nice is that the publishers will make a donation to a local Canadian charity out of the proceeds so go on, look it up.

I hope you like it.

Special Glaswegian Offer: Due to the relaxed and Canadian nature of the anthology they asked me to tone down the language from it's Glaswegian default but if anyone wants to know how the original sounded I'm perfectly happy to come round your house and shout the obscenity at you from the street.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Sacrificial Gasoline


The cover to New Maps, Issue 2

It's a new story! 

I'm very pleased to report that my story, Sacrificial Gasoline, has appeared in this wonderful publication, New Maps. You can find them here

New Maps showcases 'de-industrial' fiction and if you want more information on what that is, they have a great editorial all about it in the issue. Basically it's stories of the near future where humanity is struggling with the end of out current profligate pillaging of the planet and turning to a different way of living, whatever that may be. But not with some magic Start Trek clean energy gixmo. In my case, it's a tale told by an old granny of her childhood which is a generation or two from now.

I first wrote this quite a few years back and it has gone through a number of evolutions before finding it's home but probably the thing that distresses me the most about it is that its politics (and the politician in it) are only more relevant than they were then.

And finally a wee note on the inspiration for this story. It's often hard to know what, exactly, triggered an idea but in this case I can point to the album Songs From The Floodplain by Jon Boden. It's a (very good) album set in a similar de-industrial world and got my brain working great style. I highly recommend it and it's follow up Afterglow if you like the ideas in this magazine and/or English folk. 

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the story, for all its grim settings.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

2020: The year of the pestilence

 Hello all. I hope this strangest of years has been not too bad for you and that this finds you well. It's been weird, tragic and befuddling for all so well done on getting through it best you can and fingers crossed for an improvement next year.

It's been odd for us all but for me one of the oddest things is that it's mostly been good for me. Being stuck in meant I had to find alternative exercise and have taken up running. Not seeing people in pubs meant I have drunk less. I am probably healthier due to the pandemic than I would have been on a normal year. 

Not that I'd wish this again, ever, of course.

I do say mostly as I fear I've become too used to not talking to real people in the flesh and, come the glorious day when we're vaccinated and can meet up again, I'll have some sort of Lovecraft-style screaming fit about too many eyes watching me. Hopefully I'll keep it internalised. 😉 

As for my writing, I've managed to keep up a basic level of it. Working in fits and starts I've finished off a couple of new things  and have been diligently working in the background to push them out to markets and not let them languish too long after a rejection. This has led to a significantly higher number of submissions this year, over 70, and an acceptance to come out next year, which is lovely.

As for publishings, it was a good year, if slightly odd.

Firstly I had a story out in Shoreline of Infinity, Issue 17, in January. A tale of space-faring starfish and rubbish collection, I'm very happy to have seen it in a local (well, Edinburgh) magazine and alongside some top notch other stuff.

Secondly was my contribution to the Glasgow Science Fiction Writer's Circle anthology, Flotation Device. This is a charity anthology produced by the circle and donates its funds to several charities helping out those struggling during this strangest of years. If you've not, please consider buying, it's for a good cause and the stories are well worth reading too. Even if mine is deeply silly and has to come with a translation.

I did have a third story come out this year, in August. A tale of science gone wrong and less than careful bee husbandry that I really like. I was deeply happy about it until the editor, just before publication, made some political comments that I couldn't support. As such, the story came out, I didn't promote it and, sadly, I'll just leave it there. A salutary lesson in being careful who you submit too.

And so we come to the standard Christmas 'present' of an old story posted up. This year it is Maukit

This one was published in 2013 and was my first anthology publication. It appeared in Caledonia Dreamin', a set of stories based on Scots words and is the darkest thing I've had published. The anthology is still available here and is well worth it. 

Anyhoo, thanks for reading and fingers crossed for a better year to come. It's going to be a roller-coaster in its own right, what with the politics ongoing. but I hope it finds you better.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Self-isolating for charity


Hello, I hope you're all well in these difficult and frankly bizarre times.

It is difficult to know how the next few months are going to pan out but it does look like it will be difficult for many people through illness or their employer's being selfish bastards. To try to help in what small way we can the Glasgow Science Fiction Writer's Circle has produced an anthology e-book which they are selling for charity.
As edited by E.M. Faulds and featuring the greats of the circle (and me) it is 20 stories for a small fee of £5.99. Sold directly to try to maximise the money going to charities including The Trussell Trust,
Medecins Sans Frontieres and Simon Community Scotland.

If you can, please buy one. It's for a great cause and my story is very short and mostly tentacle filled so you can avoid it easily.

You can find out more here at