Story Central

Alien Invasions
Short Stories

My short story Last Breath Day appears in the Alien Invasions Short Stories anthology, available NOW from Flame Tree Publishing or pre-order from Amazon.


Short Stories on this site:

Sylvester Down
Death vs Taxes
The Wind Wasn't Right
The War on Christmas
Divine Knowledge *
Fortunate Waze *

Shakespeare's Last Stand *
Uncertainty Persists *
Toto Was Wrong *
The Devouring *
Hail to the Chiefs *

* 100-word flash fiction


Recent Blog Posts:

Buying a Book for all the Wrong Reasons

Can there be a wrong reason to buy a book? I think there can, and I think I’m guilty of it. The book in question is Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, which won the Hugo (Science Fiction’s premier award) in 2014 for Best Novel. Even before I knew that the book had won the Hugo, i had seen the cover and been intrigued enough by it to pick up the book and read the back blurb. Something about the blurb always put me off, and I didn’t buy it. Now I have, and now I know I should have listened to my gut and saved the money.

What led me to buy it? The “Sad Puppies.”

There’s a bit of history here that needs to be explained. A few years ago, some members of the science fiction community noted that the Hugo tended to be awarded to (apparently straight) white male writers, which was fine when that was what the industry was made of, but the growing diversity of the writing pool seemed not to be represented in the Hugo nominees, and good works by women and people of colour (PoC) had little chance of being nominated. Some prominent people in sci fi started suggesting the names of writers who were being overlooked, and last year, the Hugo nominees were much more diverse than in previous years, and Anne Leckie won best novel.

Science Fiction Mullet: Party upfront, brawl out back

*Mullet: A men's hairstyle, short in front and long out back. See Bono, below.

Bono with a mulletFor most people, their main exposure to science fiction is through movies. This has been true for a long time, although in recent years that’s escalated. Even people who don’t like science fiction saw The Avengers. Many probably didn’t even consider it science fiction. Ditto for Gravity.

In the meantime, there has been a slow battle brewing deeper in the science fiction community. This year, science fiction’s pre-eminent award, the Hugos, is wrapped in controversy. One small, vocal group has managed to stack the nominations with works that may not represent the best of this year, or any year. I’m sure you’ve been following this controversy closely (not). If you want to get up to speed, George R. R. Martin can help you.

So while the most fanatical members of the science fiction community look inward and fight over the the soul of the Hugos, society as a whole is bracing itself for a romping summer of exciting science fiction.

When is your story not your story?

"Something unsavoury" happening in Hollywood may not sound original, but then again, when have you seen anything original come out of Hollywood?

To answer my own rhetorical question, I would have said that Interstellar and Gravity were two recent examples of originality, not based on books, that showed that Hollywood could still produce truly engaging original content.

It turns out that I may have been only half right, and that's where this gets unsavoury.


Thoughts on Shel Silverstein

Recently, Shel Silverstein has become a topic of conversation in the blogosphere, not bad for someone who died in 1999. The cause of this sudden surge of interest is a new interpretation of one of his classic works, The Giving Tree. The upshot of this new interpretation is that the book is not about compassion and greed, but in fact about "patriarchy" and that it “romanticizes self-destructive and self-negating behavior in women."

I guess that I'd have to say that people sometimes read a book too deeply, projecting their own themes onto those of the author. Shel wrote simplistic stories with a child-like perspective. I've always had a soft spot for that perspective, but he wrote in broad storkes, and in doing so, left room open for others to fill in the details as fit their psychology.

Tau Ceti - an update

The last time I wrote about Tau Ceti’s progress was in September when it was sitting at 77,000 words. I was worried at the time that the story might wrap up too quickly, that it might be only 90,000 words complete. A lot has changed since then. I got to spend a lot of time working on the story in December, and I’ve found that some key scenes took much longer to develop than I had expected, pushing the current, not-yet-complete, word count over 105,000.

Star Wars (1977) vs Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

In 1977 I fell in love with a movie that doesn't technically exist any more. That movie was called Star Wars. Its creator has tried his best to destroy every existing print of the negatives, to ensure that the movie would be lost. Why? Because he wanted to use the guts of the film to make a new "enhanced" version called Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.