Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 27
Challenge #12*: David Bowie Day. Write a story worth at least 100 Bowie Points based on the following scoring system: 1 point for each non-consecutive letter Z, 5 points for each string of song lyrics, 20 points for meeting a specific word count (69, 270, 369, 599, 700), and 10 points for each reference to Bowie’s movies or personas (a labyrinth, goblins, stolen babies, bogs of stench, a magic dance, moving the stars, childhood obsessions, memory loss, one or more men that fall to earth, aliens in disguise, best intentions, unforeseen complications, dying planets, a character with heterochromia, a character that is an avid painter or art collector, glass spiders, lots of drugs, saying goodbye, dramatic departures, black stars, swansong, an alien god with a guitar, five years, a character that is bisexual or LGBTQ, a character that is struggling with mental illness, dead roses, lightning bolts, panic in Detroit). Optionally, the story must also include a character with a distaste for music.
This story is worth 1258 Bowie Points altogether.
“YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!” yelled the wizard, as he crashed through the ceiling of Girth Loinhammer’s subterranean labyrinth.
“Hi Grandalf,” said Girth.
“Hi.” Grandalf the Gay stood up and brushed the dust from his robes.
“Tough day?” asked Sekhmet, once she’d finished her mouthful of black pudding bagel.
He squinted up through the hole he’d just made. “I think the eagles are getting tired of me using them like Uber.”
“Maybe you should…not do that?”
“I try not to take advantage, but I’m old, my knees ache, and I can hitch a ride with an eagle without having to climb downstairs.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 29
Challenge #13*: David Bowie Day. Write a story including a character in mourning and exploring the theme of religion. It must include at least three David Bowie film titles, a swan song, and a character who speaks to the audience only in David Bowie song titles.
Everyone had been sad about it, naturally. To so suddenly lose a figure so beloved to so many. But it had struck Hades more than most. To him it was deeply personal, somehow. It shouldn’t have been—until it had happened, he’d never even been in the same room—but it was. He bet Baal never had to put up with this sort of sacrilege.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” said Virgil to the reader.
That was Virgil’s imaginary friend: “the reader.” Hades wasn’t sure when it had started, but he suspected it had something to do with his still-alive friend Dante waltzing off to Purgatory and leaving him stuck here. That or the linguine incident. That had been hard on everybody. Hades himself didn’t much like to think about it. He turned his attention instead to Charon, still trying to lift the deceased into his tiny little canoe.
“Have you tried using a lever of some kind?” yelled one of the shades.
“For the last time, Archimedes, enough with the levers!” Hades yelled back, then turned to Charon once more.
He didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Continue reading
A week and a bit since the launch of Ten Little Astronauts on Unbound, and I’ve just put out my first Shed update. This one – Why Sci-fi? – focuses on the reasons why I chose to take the premise of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and take it to interstellar space, and should hopefully be a bit of an introduction to the book for anyone who isn’t already familiar with the basic idea. That said, if you haven’t seen the video for the book already then I highly recommend giving that a watch:
If you’d like to read the Shed update – Why Sci-fi? – it’s available publicly through that link. If you’d like to read future Shed updates, I highly recommend pledging to support the book: some of them will only be available to subscribers, and I’m already having a good think about what I’ll include in those.
If you are planning to support the book, you might like to know that Unbound is currently running a promotion that offers £10 off any pledge. That’s £10 that won’t actually go towards getting the book into print, so if you want to do your bit to help out then I’d recommend looking at it as £10 worth of extra rewards rather than £10 off the cost: for example, I’ve just used the code myself to get a signed hardback of this David Bowie anthology for the cost of a regular hardback.
The code to take advantage of this deal is rio16, but do be quick: it expires at midnight on Sunday, UK time!
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 29
Challenge #13*: David Bowie Day. Write a story exploring themes of death or identity, including something beginning and something ending, and incorporating transhumanism. It must include at least 10 quotes or lyrics by David Bowie, and a character based on Bowie himself.
Blasting across the universe in a napalm-propelled rocketship with an Egyptian goddess in the driver’s seat and a money-pooping goat in the cargo hold was not the carefree getaway Girth Loinhammer had hoped it would be. He let out a gentle sigh.
“What’s wrong?” asked Sekhmet. Despite being the goddess of bloodshed, she was surprisingly sensitive to other people’s feelings (and unsurprisingly liable to punch in the face anybody who mentioned this out loud).
“It’s nothing,” he said. Then, feeling he might as well get it out there: “It’s just…you know we’re fictional characters, right?”
“No,” said Sekhmet, rolling her eyes. “I thought we were in a real napalm spaceship with a real money-pooping goat.”
“Okay, point taken. The thing is, when we exist, it’s because we’re in a story. And when I’m in a story, I almost always have to explain that I used to run a generic fantasy dungeon, that everyone I took prisoner in it was expecting a different kind of dungeon, and then within a thousand words it ends with me running off because things get…erotic.”
“Why do you always say that in subscript?”
“Because I don’t like it! You know me, I like violence. I’m not happy when things get…sexual.”
“Hey, foos!” put in the ship’s computer, which of course contained the uploaded consciousness of Mr. T. “There’s a starman waiting in the sky!”
“What?” asked Sekhmet.
“Knowing my luck,” said Girth, gloomily, “it’ll be some androgynous weirdo.”
Flash Fiction Month 2015, Day 28
Challenge #12: DAVID BOWIE DAY. Score at least 150 Bowie points under the following system:
Score one point for every letter “Z” in your story.
Score 10 points for each:
- …David Bowie song title
- …quote of more than three words from any David Bowie song
- …character called Ziggy, Major Tom, Aladdin, Jareth or Jean
- …made up word
Score 20 points for including a:
- …magic dance
- …goblin king
- …spaceman or raygun
- …spider from mars
Score 50 points if:
- Your piece is 565 words long (“David Robert Jones”)
- Your story features an androgynous character, or a character who changes gender or sex
- Your story features a man who fell to earth
- Your story features a man who sold the world.
“You call that a knife?” growled Jareth. “This is a knife!”
“I think you’re in the wrong Bowie fanclub,” said Jean, slicing lemons at the bar.
“ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” snored Ziggy.
“Ah, nuts.” Jareth plonked his knife down on the bar and looked around. There certainly were rather more spacemen, goblin kings, and spiders from Mars than he’d been expecting. “When’s the next bus to Crocodile, Dundee?”
Jean pulled a face. “I think it’s gonna be a long, long time.
“Ah, nuts.” Jareth gave the corks dangling from his hat a frustrated slap. “I was supposed to meet Major Tom there half an hour ago. These military types expect you to be punctual, you know.”
“Excuse me?” A man or woman in a very impressive lifeguard tower costume tapped Jean on the shoulder with one of his or her long wooden legs. “Will the Hoff be available to sign my lifebuoy today?”
“I think you’re in the wrong David fanclub,” said Jean. “Now if you can hold on for just a minute, I’ve got to move Ziggy along. There’s a starman waiting in the sky, and—uh-oh.” Continue reading