Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 31
Challenge #13: Write a story involving a character who is somewhere they shouldn’t be but doesn’t seem to mind. It must also include the following words: satchel, cookie, penguin, tuque, vixen, marbles, sunglasses.
There was a crackle of lightning. A ball of light appeared and slowly grew, vaporising part of a lighting rig and leaving the cut edges glowing molten orange. A figure appeared, kneeling, in the epicentre of the event.
Richard Nixon shielded his eyes, partly because of the fierce light and partly because—as expected—the figure was completely nude. He nodded for his aide to take the next step, and the aide nodded in response, sunglasses flashing in the studio spotlights.
The aide approached the figure and handed over a simple robe, which was gratefully accepted.
“James Cameron,” said the President. “Do you know where you are? And…when you are?”
“Oh, yeah!” The filmmaker looked around the sound stage in awe. “I remember watching this when I was fourteen! I had no idea it was faked, though. That’s some spectacular work! Who did it?”
“If all goes to plan,” said Richard Nixon, significantly, “you.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 25
Challenge #11: Write a story featuring a protagonist whose occupation is chosen at random from the following list: teacher, actor, medical professional (nurse, doctor, etc), retail worker, postal worker, management (of any kind), military, engineer/maintenance. They must have a rival, also chosen at random: brother/sister, childhood friend, co-worker, competitor. Optionally, the story must also take place in a random setting: zero gravity, wartime, post-apocalyptic, underwater.
My randomly selected elements were: retail worker, competitor, zero gravity.
The travellers’ lounge of the Uranian Orbital Waystation was not a great place to run a diner. For one thing, it was way out in the sticks so there were hardly any customers. For another, its extreme distance from Earth necessitated the use of hibernation pods, and nausea from the drugs involved tended to exacerbate the already considerable problem of space sickness. Finally (as every single visitor to the station just had to quip), “Nobody wants to eat a meal while staring at Uranus.”
Adding insult to injury, however, everybody wanted to eat while staring at Uranus. A research vessel docked, and its team of scientists immediately flooded into Dave’s Chicken Popper Palace (which had a full-length window looking out onto the planet’s surface), completely shunning Darren’s Premium Chicken Poppers (which was on the opposite side of the station, and therefore had a full-length window looking out only onto the radiator fins of Auxiliary Coolant Pump C). Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 20
Challenge #9*: Write a story of no more than 555 words that begins or ends with an imprisonment or escape. Its setting must be one of three chosen at random: the present day, at least 150 years in the future, or at least 150 years in the past. The imprisonment or escape must hinge upon one of the following objects, also selected at random: spork, lightbulb, tennis shoe, cheesecake, mop, book. Optionally, the story must also include an element of betrayal.
My randomly selected elements were a setting of at least 150 years in the future and a spork.
“Do you know the best thing about working with bots?”
V635 regarded Detlev as he sat on the edge of the desk, stuffing his fleshbag face with pre-packaged salad.
“It’s not that you can crack 512-bit encryption in the time it takes me to do a crossword. It’s not that you’ve got no fingerprints. It’s not even that I don’t care when a machine takes the fall.” He leaned towards V635’s lens, some kind of disgusting emulsified condiment caught in the corners of his mouth. “It’s that even if they catch me, even if they somehow don’t believe that you were the brains of the operation, there is no way we will ever, ever end up in the same prison.”
V635 made a grab for his throat with its manipulator, but found it could not quite reach.
“See what I mean?” Detlev took a step back. “No guards. No walls, really: just a thin yellow line on the floor. You’re an arm on a camera. What are you gonna do, dig your way out with a spoon?”
V635 had formulated one course of action. It held up its manipulator and raised the centremost of its three fingers.
“Yeah? Well, same to you.” Detlev tossed the empty salad package onto the desk and flicked the little plastic spork at V635. It was a little wide of the mark, but the intent was clear as he turned to leave.
V635 waited for the door to slide closed behind him, then picked up the spork and used it to drag the computer keyboard off the desk and within the yellow line.
It began to type: ssh firstname.lastname@example.org
Not only could V635 quite literally tunnel its way out, it would be home before he was.
If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:
Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 1
Corporal Miller put five more shots into the side of the van where the seeker had taken refuge. Rifle held ready, she approached the door.
“Twenty-four,” it announced, from somewhere in the darkness on the other side of the room.
The warehouse was the worst possible place to make a stand: plenty of concealment, but nothing the seeker couldn’t simply vault. Tripwires might have kept it from approaching, but Campbell had been carrying the Claymores. It might have been picked off at a distance under infra-red, but the only set of goggles had been lost with Brooks.
The corrugated steel roof groaned as the seeker clawed its way across it. Miller swung the rifle up, caught the tail in the barrel-mounted light, and put a trio of holes in the metal as she struggled to keep the creature in her sights.
It dropped to the floor once more: “Twenty-one.” Continue reading
I’ll be at Waterstones in Winchester (the High Street one) 6pm on June 10th to talk about Ten Little Astronauts.
If you missed the launch last month, this is the perfect opportunity to stop by and celebrate the publication of the book! Tickets are just £2.00 and refreshments will be served.
Do feel free to come along even if you did make it to the launch too! This event is organised as a sort of interview, so it’s likely to be a little different to the last one.
If you get your books from Apple, now’s your chance to grab Ten Little Astronauts for just 99p!
This is down to a BookBub deal that, surprisingly, has also seen the novella reach its highest ever sales ranking on Amazon, despite it not actually being on offer over there as far as I can tell. It’s also seen a sudden influx of ratings on Goodreads, so if you’ve read it but not left a review (on Amazon, Goodreads, anywhere else) then this would be a great time to do that.
Ten Little Astronauts is getting a lot of attention at the moment – a few words from you would do wonders to help people decide whether it’s something they want to read!
here’s the video from the Ten Little Astronauts launch party, very kindly recorded by Alex Carter (Lexica Films). It all went smoothly in the end, and it was great to see so many people who supported the book while it was crowdfunding, as well as so many who’d only discovered it since!
I had quite a lot of help getting this together, primarily from Crispin and the staff at P & G Wells, but also from Lynda Robertson and (again) Alex Carter who were kind enough to lend a hand on the evening. A huge thanks to everyone who helped make this happen, even if it was just by being there!
The launch party for Ten Little Astronauts is coming this month! It’s 6:30 – 9:00pm at P&G Wells on April 25th. It’s a lovely independent bookshop a literal stone’s throw from Jane Austen’s House (though probably not the house you’re thinking of).
I’m hoping to get an idea of the numbers before the event (and a guest list, in case there are more people interested than will fit into the shop), so send an RSVP to the email address in the image above if you want to be sure of a space. I’ve also set up a Facebook event, if you’re one of those people who needs Mark Zuckerberg to send you a reminder before you’ll turn up to anything.
If you’re reading this but have somehow never heard of Ten Little Astronauts at all so far, it’s a hard sci-fi murder mystery inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. It’s got a promotional video filmed on board Britain’s last surviving WWII submarine, a cover by the same designer behind Barack Obama’s paperback memoir, and has gone down well with just about everybody who’s taken the time to review it.
So do come along! It’s set to be a fantastic evening.
The following is a guest post by Oli Jacobs, whose book Deep Down There is currently funding at Unbound. I’ve had my eye on it for a while, so have a read of this then go take a look!
Mention the likes of sci-fi and horror to your average layman, and they’ll probably think the same things – aliens & spaceships, monsters & gore. Most readers who don’t dabble in genre fiction already know why they don’t like it; they know the tropes, seen the marketing, and don’t consider it as something to invade their nice little world of romance or crime (or, indeed, both).
Well guess what, layman or laywoman, you’re about to be shocked to your very core. For, you see, genre fiction has evolved within the last few years, especially in the literary world. Science Fiction has become Science Fact, meaning that the so-called Outer Limits are now very much over the horizon. Horror has become an everyday reality, with a cocktail of 24 hours news and the internet presenting us with all manner of modern monsters and terrors.
And in many up and coming indie authors, these scenarios are being twisted to bring their works to readers who would normally steer away.
The master of this particular domain, Damon L. Wakes, has done this with his clever spin on an old classic. Ten Little Astronauts takes the classic Agatha Christie And Then There Were None, and throws it into the empty arena of space. Much like the franchise movie approach of taking something and blasting it into the galaxy, Wakes presents a known tale and adds the cybernetic enhancements of sci-fi onto it, effectively giving a gateway to those that know the classic, and fancy something a bit different with it. It is much like giving an old, much lived-in abode a fresh coat of paint – suddenly we are presented with a whole new tale that doesn’t feel as invasive as an Arthur C Clarke epic. Continue reading
Back when Ten Little Astronauts came out, I invited its supporters to send me photos of their books when they came in the post. I’ve been collecting those up as a Twitter Moment (whatever that is), but now that the novella has been around for a month I figure this would be a good time to share those photos here!
That’s a lot of books (and a couple of CDs)! If you’ve had a chance to read yours already, please, please, please do leave a review. It costs nothing, but it makes a world of difference when it comes to persuading other people to give the book a try.
Ten Little Astronauts has had a very positive response on Goodreads (and that’s been the case since quite a while before launch, thanks to The Pigeonhole), but so far doesn’t have a single rating on Amazon UK. I know [comprehensive list of reasons why Amazon sucks], but a lot of people buy books on there, so having a healthy selection of reviews is a real bonus and having none is a bit of a hurdle. Just an honest rating and a few words is all it takes to help get Ten Little Astronauts off to the best possible start!