If you’d like to support Ten Little Astronauts but haven’t already, this is your absolute last chance. The supporter list will close at midnight on September 17th, UK time. If you’ve never even heard of this book before, here’s a video – filmed on board a submarine – to tell you what it’s all about:
Everybody who supports a book at Unbound gets their name listed in the back to record their contribution. But with Ten Little Astronauts set to launch next month, the thing has to be typeset and printed which means – inevitably – they have to call time on adding new supporters.
If you’re reading this before the deadline, please do consider spreading the news however you can. Post it on Facebook. Send out a tweet. Print out this blog post, fold it into a dainty origami swan and foist it on somebody while shouting “HONK! HONK!” I promise I won’t judge you (though can’t speak for anyone else).
Remember: if your name’s not on the list by midnight on the 17th, it won’t be in the book!
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 28
Challenge #13*: Write a story that involves an original fictional religion, a moral quandary, a language the protagonist can’t understand and a crisis of faith. The story must be either 555, 666, or 777 words in length.
“Thank you for coming, Father 73.”
The priest gave a dismissive wave of his nylon-gloved manipulator. “What sort of example would I set if I didn’t? ‘Render help to thy neighbour, except where such help would violate the first or second of my commandments.’ But also, I am curious to see what you have found.”
Surveyor 6359 lifted the tarpaulin from the object in the trench. Until it was understood and documented, the excavation could not continue and no more magtrack could be laid.
“A precursor relic,” she explained. “I think a container of some sort. We thought it best to send for someone to decipher the ancient script upon its surface before any attempt to move it.”
“This is wise.” Father 73 nodded. “The precursors set forth many trials and tests of faith: some of their devices will detonate rather than yield up their mysteries.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 24
Challenge #11: Write a story that takes place within either a utopian or dystopian setting. It must make use of dramatic irony and a key scene must revolve around a musical instrument.
At 2:47am Michael Johnson died of a heroin overdose on the third floor of a multi-storey car park just outside Hull.
At 9:18am his body was discovered by an Ikea employee, who subsequently called an ambulance.
At 9:44am the death was reported and a unique identification number sent to a server at the Ministry of Justice.
At 9:45am the code was broadcast, detonating one specific half-gram charge of plastic explosive.
Julia Walker’s phone was broken. She got out of bed, pulled on her clothes and turned on the TV.
“…collapsed in Parliament shortly before 10am and was pronounced dead on the scene. When approached for comment—”
The time in the breaking news banner read ten fifteen. Julia switched over to some ancient sitcom and stuck two slices of bread in the toaster. Then she boiled the kettle. The noise drowned out the voices on TV, but it was one she’d seen before: Ross had left a sandwich in the fridge and somebody else ate it. The camera cut to progressively more distant scenes as he shouted about it, prompting a flock of birds to take flight on a street somewhere. The effect was only slightly hampered by the weird square aspect ratio and grainy image. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 5
Challenge #3: Write story including a conveniently interrupted document and an anti-villain. One of these tropes must be lampshaded.
“Mr. President!” Special Planetary UFO Defence agent Brock Stone burst through the doors, waving a slightly singed journal. “Hold the nuclear strike! We’ve recovered Professor Nerdlinger’s research notes on the anti-alien ray!”
“Oh, thank God.” The President took the journal and began to read:
I’ve done it! At long last I’ve done it! In all my years studying the approaching alien fleet, I never imagined that such a force, such a terrible foe, could have such an enormous weakness. And such an obvious weakness! I simply can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner. I have run the numbers over and over in my head, and I am convinced the the machine I have devised will cause the aliens’ brains to explode instantly. It promises to be as simple as it is effective. All that remains is to outline the means of constructing this wonderous device, which I shall do post haste within the pages of this very— Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 4
“Haven’t we already done time travel before?” asked Captain Redundancy, inquisitively.
“Only once,” answered Tautology Boy. “Three years go, in 2015.”
“Good, good.” Captain Redundancy nodded. “Nice and redundant. So what year is it now?”
“67,000,000 BC,” said Private Paradox, swinging his machete through the thick Cretaceous foliage. “We appear to have…what’s the word?”
“Overshot?” suggested Tautology Boy. “Jumped? Skipped? Missed?” The vengeful masked avenger’s sidekick was rather good with synonyms.
“Overshot?” suggested Captain Redundancy himself, since it seemed the most likely option.
“No,” said Private Paradox. “What I was going to say was ‘…deliberately travelled millions of years into the past because my promise of a redundant expedition through time was in fact a ruse devised to ensure you would furnish me with the enriched phlebotinum necessary to make this journey through time and step on a butterfly.’” Continue reading
It’s here at last! The paperback version of We All Saw It Coming, my flash fiction anthology for 2017.
If you’ve come across previous anthologies in the series, you’ll know the deal: 31 stories, each written on a single day during July as part of Flash Fiction Month. The stories are generally funny, sometimes serious, and don’t really match up to any kind of theme. Except on this occasion, maybe, when you might be forgiven for thinking that the theme is bananas. Continue reading
The Dragon and The Dying Stars, my final piece for Flash Fiction Month 2017, was selected as a Daily Deviation over on deviantart.com today! If you’re not familiar with the site, that means it’s been prominently featured as something that’s worth checking out: it’s not an award as such, but still it’s nice to know that my story has been selected and it’s already getting a whole lot of new readers as a result. This has happened a few times before, and it’s always a real boost.
Also worth mentioning is that saturdaystorytellers recently released a recording of another dragon-related story of mine, The Chalice and the Swords. This one was written in 20 minutes as part of a “write-off” challenge in which that’s all the time you get. Those aren’t running any more, which is a shame because I feel as though I got a lot of great stories out of them despite the tight time limit. This incarnation of the story was narrated by Don Socrates, and the image you see above is Awaking by AhhhFire.
We did it! Ten Little Astronauts has all the funding it needs to make it into print (and then some!). Unbound has just moved it over to the paperback list, which means it now has 131% of its target. That’s pretty incredible, and it’s all down to the people who pledged or just generally helped to get it in front of enough readers to make this happen. Continue reading
I said a while ago that I was planning to take part in the Global Game Jam in Southampton this year, and I invited anybody interested to join me and possibly form a team before getting to the event. My approach last year was pretty much just to turn up and improvise, so I was really glad this time around to be able to tackle a project with people I already knew.
This was a first for me for two reasons. One was that I had a fairly solid idea what kind of skills people on the team would have going in, and the other was that I ended up not really writing very much at all in the end. All four of us are writers, so when it came to producing a story – even an interactive one – we were all set. My job was more or less just to come up with the Twine gubbins to keep track of everything that’s happening in that story. Continue reading
The Christmas deadline for funding Ten Little Astronauts has now passed, but since nobody’s in the Unbound office over the holidays there’s technically nothing stopping people from contributing. If you meant to pledge before Christmas and are currently kicking yourself for missing your chance, don’t do that. There’s still time, and your support can still make a difference.
It’s pretty much certain that there are still people out there who’d pledge if they simply knew about the book – so if there’s a friend you’ve been meaning to tell about it, it would be absolutely great if you could do that – but personally I’ll be focusing on other things for the next little while. Once Unbound opens up again in the New Year I expect to hear from Scott Pack about what the options are for Ten Little Astronauts – at 72% funded and with 245 people already lined up to get a copy, I think it’s in a pretty good position right now – but until that happens there won’t be much news.
In the meantime, I’m hoping to get this year’s flash fiction anthology – We All Saw It Coming – wrapped up while it still is actually this year. Ideally I’d like to get the ebook out before 2018, but the paperback may be a little longer. I might also do a little work on the interactive sci-fi story I offered as a reward for the first 150 supporters of Ten Little Astronauts. I’ve been looking forward to working on that for a long time!
As always, thanks to everyone who’s put in a pledge for Ten Little Astronauts, or even just passed it on to somebody else. The response to this book has been just mind-boggling, and everyone who’s done anything to help it out has had a hand in that. Thanks!