Sunday, December 30, 2007

Friday Flash Fiction - The Stories So Far

Inspired by Neil Beynon, I thought I'd take a look at the flash fiction I've posted since joining the Flash Fictioneers what seems like a very long time ago. I was surpised to discover a list of 19 stories; not quite every week due to various circumstances, but almost.

My favourites, I think, are:

The Gondolier - my first entry, and also my first drabble.

Delayed Reaction - received several nice comments and I was pleased with the subtlety I managed to evoke.

Frozen - short, and not very sweet. A new style of writing for me.

All of them have been fun, enabling me to experiment with content, style, form, tense and viewpoint in a way that I would never have done with full length stories. I'm looking forward to continuing next year in the build up to the Flash Fiction Workshop at Eastercon.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pantechnicon #5 Review

I came to Pantechnicon expecting the usual kind of webzine for a non-paying market – a few stories and maybe an editorial. What I discovered was a pleasant surprise. There are a couple of stories available to read on the actual web page, but the magazine itself is a colourful 82 page PDF, packed with illustrations, reviews, columns and articles along with the stories. Of course by the time I’d printed it out double-sided, 2 pages to a side in black and white it didn’t look quite so good, but then that’s the test of a decent magazine – does the fiction compare favourably with the presentation?

Read the rest of my review at Whispers of Wickedness.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday Flash Fiction: Get Knitted

As discussed yesterday, this week's story comes fresh from the 1950s:

Get Knitted
By Gareth D Jones

This story now appears in the Illuminations anthology.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Golden Age

I read a lot of old sci fi, from Victorian stories by the like of H G Wells, through to story collections from the 50s and 60s, with occasional stories from in between. While there are regular Victorian style stories still written today, the 50s and 60s don't tend to be emulated very often. Maybe this is because it seems quite chauvenistic and sexist by today's standards, while Jules Verne et al seem merely historical.

When reading stories from the 'Golden Age' you'll note that female characters are quite limited. They get to either:

a. Wait at home for their heroic astronaut husband to return.
b. Use their technological labour saving devices.
c. Go a bit hysterical and need to be slapped.

In the spirit of appreciating the culture of the age, rather than being outaged by it, I'm working on a 50s style story for this week's Friday Flash Fiction. Letters of complaint about its sexist content should be addressed to:

Gareth D Jones
c/o The 1950s

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sceince Fiction, Fantasy & Horror

Discussions and debates have been ongoing for quite some time about the fate of genre magazines. Many encourage subscriptions as a way of giving a magazine a solid readership and some cash to put into production. Others advocate contacting the editors to let them know what you do and don’t like. Of course, there are so many magazines that if only we could read them all we’d all find one we like.

I’ve bought and read individual copies of a number of magazines recently, as well as reading on-line zines. One of the main reasons I don’t want to subscribe to most of them is that they’re frequently a mix of science fiction, fantasy and horror. I presume that there are many people who like all three, else there wouldn’t be so many cross-genre magazines out there, but it might just as easily put off single-genre readers. I only read science fiction. Fantasy and horror don’t really interest me. Of course that takes us to a whole different discussion on the definitions of each genre, but the fact is that I know what I like and, however it’s marketed, it’s most definitely SF rather then F or H.

So, if I’m going to pay good money for a magazine, I’m not going to buy one in which only 1/3 of the contents interest me. Or, possibly worse, a mixed genre magazine that does a ‘Fantasy Special’ occasionally that I’m really not bothered about at all.

Now, before I’m accused of narrow-mindedness, I have come across some fantastic stories that are probably leaning more towards F and H in the course of my reading. Murky Depths, for instance is a fabulous cross-genre magazine. With so many zines to choose from though, readers can afford to be picky. Each magazine has to do enough to attract a section of that audience. I recognise that it must be exceedingly tough to launch a new genre magazine, and I don’t have the answers any more than the next fan, but its something to think about.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Flash Fiction: Frozen

By Gareth D Jones

This story now appears in the Illuminations anthology.

This is the first time I've written a story in the present tense. I've always thought it a bit of an odd tense to write in, especially in the first person. When I conceived of this idea it just seemed the right way to write it though.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Flash Fiction Galore

Two sites of note for lovers of flash fiction that I've become aware of this week:

The Daily Cabal posts flash fiction every week day by one of a group of several authors.

Guy Hogan posts flash fiction on his blog, but also lots of interesting and useful tips on writing flash fiction. However much you write I always find it of benefit to hear what others have to say on the subject.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Market News

News on three short fiction markets this week:

UK magazine Fiction is having a major re-think and plans to return next year. The first two issues were in print, followed by three PDF issues, never quite managing their ultimate goal of becoming monthly. The fiction they've published so far has been of good quality, and fresh presentation made it fun to read. Let's hope they do manage a come-back next year.

Meanwhile I found two new markets of note on Duotropes:

Transmitter is the on-line magazine of Illusion TV, a US digital cable SF channel. It pays pro rates and could possibly be a replacement for the SciFi channel's own on-line zine that disappeared last year.

Wrong World appears to be an entirely new idea, as far as I can see. They plan to publish fiction exclusively on DVD, with each story given its own Twilight Zone style intro and conclusion voice over. The DVDs can be bought or rented and they're paying pro rates plus royalties to authors. It's a brave new idea and will be interesting to see how it develops.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Post-Apocalyptic Musings

Friday’s story X Factory was what’s often called post-Apocalyptic fiction. You may have noticed though that there’s no mention in my little tale of why the remnants of humanity are forced to live in underground caves. They’re circulating air from somewhere, so there’s presumably not radioactive or biological contamination to worry about. There’s also a low level of technology, so presumably there wasn’t time to set up much infrastructure.

The fact is, I don’t know what happened, and for this story it doesn’t really matter. In flash fiction there’s only time to make one point. This week’s story will also be post-Apocalyptic, by coincidence. This time the world is frozen and there’s mention of a dust-laden atmosphere. Was that caused by nuclear fallout? Meteor impact? Volcanic eruption? Again, that’s not the point of the story so it doesn’t really matter.

I’ve read a couple of short stories in recent months where the author likes to go into detail about how man ravaged the environment and brought disaster on himself. Global warming, extinct animals, atmospheric pollution, general gloom and doom. The problem is, it’s often irrelevant to the plot and I can watch the news if I want to be depressed. I like my fiction to be a diversion. If your story is based around the melting of the arctic ice caps, I don’t need a moralistic lecture thrown in too.

The Postman is one of my favourite novels. I’m pretty sure David Brin does explain what led to the post-apocalyptic setting of the story, but in a novel you’ve got plenty of room to do that without making it too blatant. Interestingly though, I don’t remember what the explanation was. I just remember what a brilliant story it was. The exploits of the Postman didn’t depend on why it had happened, he was just coping with the consequences.

I may try some apocalyptic fiction next. They’re the stories where you get to describe and explain the end of the world. I just need to think of some totally bizarre way of destroying the Earth…

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Flash Fiction: X Factory

X Factory
By Gareth D Jones

Thi story will now be appearing in Labyrinth Inhabitant Magazine

This week I move a significant step closer to fulfilling my ambition of having a story title beginning with each letter of the alphabet...

New Venue

I'm pleased to say that I've joined the Whispers of Wickedness reviewing team, which is one of the best known review sites. I'm joining a team that includes many well known names from the world of fiction. I'll let you know when any of my reviews appear over there.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Upcoming Award

I mentioned previously that I've alsmost finalised my list of favourite stories of the year. I'm not likely to read more than another couple of magazines this year, so in early January I shall present my favourite stories along with a comment or two about each of them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Forthcoming Stories

Following on from The Gondolier, another of my flash fiction tales, Delayed Reaction will be appearing in Efimeras in the next month or so.

Coming up in January will be Roadwalker in Jupiter, the sequel to the criticaly acclaimed Roadmaker.

I'm also currently working on a review of Pantechnicon #5.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How Do I Sound in Spanish?

Kind multiligiual fellow author Sara Genge took a look at both the English and Spanish versions of The Gondolier for me and offered the following observations:

I read both and I think it's fair to say the translation is very good. There's a bit of alliteration in the Spanish version that wasn't so obvious in the English. I wonder if the translator did it on purpose: it works really well.

You still sound like yourself in the Spanish version (except for the differences in language, which always lends its own flavour to anybody's writing).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Spanish Flash Fiction

No flash fiction on Friday, as you may have noticed, though I do have a sick note from the doctor to let me off. Instead, you can read the Spanish translation of The Gondolier, my first entry in the Friday Flash Fiction meme.

El Gondolero was published on Friday in Spanish flash fiction webzine Efimeras, the third of my stories they've published.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I've Been Stumbled!

A while back I came across a reference to my Friday Flash The Emporer's New Forcefield on the Stumble Upon site. Since then it's produced a mild flow of traffic. I've been attempting to add a 'Stumble It' button, but somehow it just doesn't seem to work. Any technicaly brilliant suggestions would be welcome.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust?

There have been no new issues of Farthing magazine since January, and this week the link to their site is dead. They're still listed on Ralan's and Duotropes as 'closed to submissions until further notice', but it's not looking good.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fiction #4 Review

Fiction Magazine #4
Review by Gareth D Jones

Since issue #3, Fiction magazine has moved to PDF format, with the possibility of moving back to print in the future. I don’t find on-line magazines as exciting as having an actual printed magazine in your hand, but the editors are maintaining the standard of fiction established in their first two print editions.

The first and longest story is An Act of Mercy by Sarah Hughes. It’s a multi-stranded story that initially left me confused due to the similarity of character’s names in different threads (Ryan, Rayne, Reuben). This meant that I had to keep checking back , breaking the flow of the story. Several typos didn’t help too. Getting past these problems, it was an interesting story of viruses, nanobots, androids and a sprinkling of very diverse characters to add to the interest. I’m tempted to say it was almost too ambitious, introducing enough characters to sustain a much longer piece. The complex plot was entertaining though and the android characters were particularly well developed.

Fellow Flash Fictioneer Gareth L Powell’s contribution is A Necklace of Ivy, a realistically rendered tale set against the backdrop of a mysterious alien plague sweeping through Cornwall. A young couple are making their way out of the county in advance of an army curfew, but make the mistake of stopping for one last break. The realistic dialogue and briefly sketched description make it a compelling little tale.

Andrew Knighton’s The Secret in the Sewers is great fun, a cross between Alan Quartermain and The Wild, Wild West in which two intrepid, presumably Victorian, explorers discover something unusual beneath the city of Venice. It’s written with flair and charisma and is very entertaining.

The old question of Artificial Intelligence and self awareness is given an intelligent outing in Bob Lock’s Do We Not Bleed? A hung-over scientist is excited at the prospect of solving the aforementioned problem, but discovers something rather startling. Again the characterisation and dialogue are realistically portrayed and result in an intriguing story.

I still like my magazines to arrive in the post though.

Dark Tales #11 Review

With no end in sight to the unfortunate hiatus at UK SF Review, my two recent reviews are rapidly going past their sell-by date. Rather than look for an alternate venue at this late stage, I've decided to post them here instead. I really prefer to have them posted elsewhere as they are more likely to be seen by larger numbers of casual readers which provides more exposure for both the publications and the authors. Still, for now, here we are:

Dark Tales #11
Reviewed by Gareth D Jones

Another large helping of dark and disturbing fiction arrives in the form of Dark Tales #11. The whole issue is entertaining and varied in contents, and looks and feels quite smart too.

The opening story this issue is A. Reader’s Half Life, which is the name of a drug that reduces the patient’s age by half. Sounds like miracle, but as is usually the case there are unforeseen and rather unsettling side effects. The story is well written, and does a good job of outlining the true horror of the situation, with a profoundly thoughtful ending. At least, I thought it was the end, only to find another few paragraphs over the page that I thought rather blunted the impact. So, choose for yourself which end you think best.

Niall McMahon recounts A Dream of Faces, the touching tale of a young boy’s encounter with a terribly scarred burns victim who touches his life for a while. His initial reactions, the subsequent development of their relationship and her ultimately profound effect on his life really are engagingly told. The feelings of both come across well and ensure that the story will stay with you.

Debt is a story of lycanthropy by Andrew J Oliver. It’s only short, so there’s no real development of the characters or motivations beyond a brief setting of the scene. It’s also written in the second person, which I always find a little odd, but that’s just a matter of taste. The confusion and disorientation are conveyed well, but no real explanation is given. The success of the story then depends on whether you like reasons for the strange goings-on, or whether you’re happier with the unexplained.

A man attempting to retrieve his lost wallet from an eccentric old woman is the setting for Davin Ireland’s Growing Season. There’s some good descriptive work of the decrepit house and the overgrown garden, with the old lady becoming more and more creepy. The tale develops well as bewilderment and frustration set in, slowly giving way to horror as the old lady’s true purpose becomes clear. I’m giving up gardening after reading this.

Seeing Red is a vampiric tale by Mel Wright, in which a young boy develops a taste for blood through a series of seemingly innocent incidents. The story becomes more and more disturbing, with a horrifying finale in an allotment that doubles my resolve to give up gardening!

An unsettling guest in a B&B provides the chills in Reception by Peter Hynes. He seems to be watching particularly gory horror films in the privacy of his room. When the proprietor finally learns the truth he quickly wishes he hadn’t. The creepy guest is developed well as the owner becomes more and more fixated on discovering the truth, but like Debt I was left slightly nonplussed at the conclusion.

In Prize Pelt Valentine Roberts describes a suitably creepy artist with a fur fetish. The man’s unusual tastes are revealed slowly and build up the expectation to round the story off nicely.

Tall Flowers by Mark Reece is similar in concept to Growing Season, but I wasn’t really sure whether to take it seriously or not. The main character, who becomes fixated with gardening, doesn’t act with any kind of logic, and neither does the librarian whom she meets. Admittedly she’s a bit eccentric, but the plot seemed to be rushing to its conclusion without much thought to how to get there.

The final story is also the strongest. David Robertson’s The Blackford Folly is set in a Scottish stately home in Victorian times, where two men investigate the disappearance of the Laird who lives there. There’s plenty of atmospheric description – the servants, the study, the folly itself, strange goings-on in the night. The Arthur Conan-Doyle style also adds to the flavour. A very enjoyable and engrossing tale to round out the issue.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Another Anniversary

Shockingly, it's three years tomorrow that my first story was published, on a now defunct website. It's also the second anniversary of this blog. As it's so close to the end of the year I shall save the retrospective musings until then.

Friday Flash Fiction: Time Did Emit

Not a new story this week, but one that I first posted here several weeks before joining the Fictioneers. I put so much effort into this one that I thought it deserved a second airing.

There are three things you'll notice about this story:

1. It's very short.
2. It doesn't make a great deal of sense.
3. You can read it backwards, hence 1 and 2 above.

Time Did Emit

By Gareth D Jones

I was on a reviled DNA time loop and I saw wolf and DNA flow. Was I DNA pool? Emit and deliver a no, saw I.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Own Personal Category

The second Orbital 2008 progress report arrived in the post yesterday. It's full of information about guests and programme items, including a brief mention of a writing workshop.

At the end of the booklet is a guest list, with everyone's name alongside a code letter, A for Attending, J for Junior, G for Guest etc. Alongside my name is the letter D. Nobody else has a D. It's not mentioned in the key either. Suggestions on a postcard as to what it means.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


The new issue of UK based webzine Pantechnicon is due next week. According to the editors the 'website is moving to a more dynamic-content platform rather than the quarterly update format.'

This is good news for the UK SF small press (if indeed that term applies to webzines) as it's more like six months since the last issue so I was begining to think it had entered one of those potentially terminal pauses, along with Farthing that has been mysteriously quiet since January.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Well, the results of my little experiment in populism are pretty inconclusive. A minor increase in site traffic of around 20% is hardly significant. I don't seem to have more than a couple of hits directed from Technorati, though there are plenty of unknowns.

Ah well, back to the drawing board...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Flash Fiction: Let Me Entertain You

Let Me Entertain You
By Gareth D Jones

Jake smiled with enormous satisfaction as Paris completed his massage and Heidi brought over his drink of cool juice. The androids’ likenesses were remarkable. No wonder the spa was so popular. After luxuriating for a while longer he left the treatment room and headed off to the games room for a round of poker.

The two attendants slumped down on the room’s two chairs.

“This is so humiliating!” said Paris “I used to be a star! I was the most popular person on youtube!”

“What can we do?” Heidi said, her voice full of resignation. “The androids are so good today they don’t need us any more.” She took a swig of juice. “I just give thanks I have a job.”

The End

This week's story is an experiment in popular culture. It's based on some of today's top search words from Technorati. I shall now sit back and see how many random hits come my way. I'll let you know how it goes on Monday.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Now On-Line fact it was available on-line shortly after my last post. Go to the Murky Depths website and download the PDF taster. Let me know what you think of Looking In, Looking Out. It's possibly my best story so far.

Click here to read more about the story and see what people have said about it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Free PDF Taster

Murky Depths magazine is to post a free PDF taster on its website in the near future. This will include the completely fabulous graphics and layout of my story Looking In, Looking Out. Hopefully you'll think the story is as good as the art!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Flash Fiction: Cat Burglar

Cat Burglar
By Gareth D Jones

Existing in an uncertain state somewhere between probabilities, the quantum being flitted across the surface of the Earth, observing, learning, absorbing energy. Occasionally it intervened in the affairs of the probabilistic world. To its senses everything was blurred, each iota of time producing several quantum states that teetered on the brink of existence before one won out and became true.

One such indeterminate state attracted its attention due to its longevity. A corporeal creature hovered between two states – that of life and death – far longer than was probable. Just as the blur began to resolve itself the being intervened, pulling the small creature out from the corporeal world and into a permanent state of quantum flux. The creature, it discovered, was not very intelligent, but made a pleasant travelling companion as it went on its way.


“And so ze cat theoretically exists in two states.” The eccentric German scientist was saying to his sceptical audience. “Ven ve open ze box, ve find out if ze cat is alive, or dead.” He opened the container with a flourish and stared into it with amazement.

“Or,” He said, amending his hypothesis on the spot, “whether it has totally disappeared.”

The End

I've been fascinated by the concept of Schrodinger's cat since I first came across it in phyics lessons at school. In fact, any text book on quantum physics is far more bizarre than most SF novels. In both this story and A Few Good Men I take the idea a little too literally.

Elloquent Comment

A kind Greek author, whom I contacted through the Planeta SF group, has provided a translation of the comment about Absolute Zero that I found on a Greek forum:

The feeling I got was like being in a scientist symposium. Cocktail in one hand, strolling from one group of talkers to the other, trying to find a conversation I could understand. A party of mathematicians was laughing with funny equations. I couldn't make heads or tales of it. Another group was taking of an experiment gone wrong. It seemed it might go wrong right from the start. They were looking at me, asking if I agreed with their eyes, but I could only nod foolishly, pretending I understood.

I guess he didn't like it that much, but full marks for elloquence!

Delayed Reviews

You may recall that I promised reviews of Dark Tales #10 and Fiction #4. Sadly there has been a prolonged hiatus at UK SF Review and these have yet to appear. I'll let you know when anything develops.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How Do I Edit My Story?

I don’t know about you, but I find it far harder to edit my own story than to write it in the first place. The problem is, I’m happy with the way I’ve written it, and when you read your own work you’re blind to mistakes. Lots of people have written lots of useful advice on editing and critiquing. I don’t claim to be very good at it, but I thought I’d share my experiences.

Hopefully, if you’ve used a decent word processor, any obvious spelling mistakes will be picked up, so you shouldn’t need to worry about that. The problem is when you’ve made up names of people or planets, or created new words to describe some amazing piece of technology. The spellchecker highlights them every time, so then you don’t notice when you’ve spelled one wrong. I always add new words to the dictionary to avoid this happening, after being caught out several times.

The other thing your spellchecker doesn’t spot is malapropisms, where you’ve accidentally used the wrong word. A grammar checker would pick it up, but I don’t like using them as they never like anything I write!

So, now you’ve checked it says what you intended, there are a couple of things I’ve found that help me spot things that need changing. One is to leave the manuscript for a couple of weeks before looking at it again, the other is to read it out loud. That way you’ll more easily notice:

• Sentences that made sense at the time but now just seem gibberish
• Word echoes – using the same word repeatedly
• Tautology – saying the same thing twice
• Pointlessness - explaining things irrelevant to the plot
• Dullness – whole swathes of text where nothing happens
• Info dump – explaining the physics / history behind your story in one big paragraph
• Technobabble – info dump disguised as dialogue
• Other dull dialogue that adds nothing to the story

If you remove all of the above and discover that you have nothing left, it can be a bit disheartening.

Now it’s time to look at the word count. Every story must be as long as it needs to be to tell the tale, but you’ll find that it gets more difficult to find suitable markets as your manuscript gets longer. So now comes the most difficult bit. What else can you cut out without compromising the flow of the story? I know. You don’t want to cut out any of your lovingly crafted prose. So to make it easier, join a critiquing group where somebody you don’t know will go through your newly refined story and hack it to pieces all over again.

It’s all for your own good!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Top Ten Almost Complete

I've added another story to my list of favourites for the year. I originally intended to post a top ten list at the end of the year, though I may not limit the number in the end. So far I have nine stories that have stood out, so I guess either way it'll be pretty close to ten. I don't claim it's going to be as prestigious as the Hugo and Nebula awards, but I think it's nice to acknowledge what's entertained me during the year.

Friday, November 09, 2007

An Ambiguous Review

I found a Greek discussion board with a comment about Absolute Zero. The babel fish translator comes out with this:

"Absolute Zero of" Gareth D. Jones. 9 No 370 - 5/9/07. Translation P. Koy'stas and X. Karakoy'da. The sense that I took, and only sense could be, it was as if I found themselves in conference of scientists. With a cocktail in the hand, I wandered from pigada'kj in pigada'kj trying I find a discussion that I would understand. A team of mathematics they said astej'es equations and xekardj'zontan in the laughters. I I did not touch nor a XI. I fell also in somebodies that discussed a experiment that went askew. It was as it appears olofa'nero from his sti'sjmo and application that the all thing would lead in gka'fa. Me they looked at they see an I agree and I shook my head sygkatavatjka' as the idiot, pretending that "ma yes, light lantern." It should exist certain special warnings in the beginning of similar short stories. Apw'lesa precious faja' substance in my stubborness him I read all. Edit: A hot recognition in the talent and the patience of translators.

Not entirely sure whether that's good or bad!

Friday Flash Fiction: The Ironic Man

The Ironic Man will be appearing in the POW!erful Tales anthology due out from Peryton Publishing in February 2009.

This is a sequel to my 2005 story Too Late the Hero, published on Aphelion.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Submission Update

I've sent another two stories on their way to different magazines this week, joining the four that are already sitting in various slush piles. I don't count the foreign language submissions as you mostly never hear from them again, so I don't know whether they're still waiting or have been rejected.

I currently have two stories accepted and due for publication next year, along with three foreign language submissions accepted. Also lurking on the computer at the moment are two completed stories that have yet to be reviewed and edited.

The most shocking thing is that I only have three items on my list of stories to write. That's the lowest total I've had ever. This is partly due to the fact that lots of new ideas have been turned into flash fiction pieces, and some ideas that have been hanging around for years have gone the same way with the realisation that I was never going to make a full-length story out of them.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Friday Flash Fictioneers Flash Fiction Workshop

The organisers of Orbital 2008, next year's Eastercon, are to include a Flash Fiction Workshop again this year, this time to be hosted by the Friday Flash Fictioneers!

Secret negotiations are still underway, but more details will be revealed as they are confirmed. A shorter title would probably be a good start.

Quirks of Translation

My three copies of Ennea have arrived, containing the Greek translation of Absolute Zero. There's a cool little distorted picture of a scientist in a whie lab coat too. I know enough Greek letters to be able to pick out the name of my characters and was amused to note that Portia Callaghan has been transliterated with a hard G instead of a silent one. By coincidence there's also a Greek character named Markos Papadopoluos.

The story is set in a fictional facility called the European Hadron Laboratory, based on CERN-LHC in Switzerland. The translators have obviously decided to avoid confusion and have substituted CERN-LHC for my made up location.

This is the third of my stories to feature the European Hadron Laboratory, the other two being Fluctuations and its sequel, the Mare Inebrium story Turning Over a New Leaf.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Belated Flash Fiction: The Planet Sweets

Been miserably ill for several days, but managed to heroically drag myself to the keyboard to give you this:

The Planet Sweets
By Gareth D Jones

“2006 HH123 Vanishes!” Read the headlines. They were not great headlines. The newspaper editors would have been happier had something more memorable vanished, like Mars or Mercury, or especially Venus that could have provided some great alliteration. The astronomers were aghast nonetheless. How could the 85th largest object in the solar system just disappear?

Unfortunately nobody had been watching at the time. Now that it had been noticed, the entire astronomical community was scouring the skies for any sign of its whereabouts. So this time there was somebody watching when several minor Jovian asteroids blinked out of existence. Quickly the observers became aware of an inky black shape disguised against the inky blackness of space.

Using instruments that didn’t rely on colour perception it was soon revealed that a huge whale-like creature was gambolling playfully in Jupiter’s wake and gobbling down minor celestial bodies like popcorn. When it closed in on Jupiter and made a beeline for Europa there was great consternation. That moon was the greatest hope for finding extraterrestrial life. But in the blink of an eye the space-whale extended its maw and sucked Europa up. Several minutes later it ejected the moon back out again, into a new and highly erratic orbit around its mother planet. Only now it was much smaller. The icy covering was gone, leaving a shrivelled up ball of rock in its place, just as when certain obnoxious people suck off the chocolate and spit the brazil nut back out.

The space whale looped away from Jupiter and began swooping sunward, altering course several times until it became obvious that Mars was its target. With a suddenness that was shocking even after what they had already witnessed, Phobos and Diemos were gulped down like a pair of M&Ms. The whale drifted slowly round in a huge curve that took it back on a course for Mars itself.

Already the Earth was in a state of panic, and as the whale’s targets grew larger the human race seemed doomed. One thing stood in the way though. Greed, which it seemed, is a universal vice. The whale extended its cavernous jaw and engulfed the planet Mars. As many children have discovered however, some sweets are just too large. It was like trying to swallow a gobstopper whole.

Thousands of astronomer watched on as earth-shattering convulsions shook the great beast’s body. It writhed and squirmed, until suddenly the red planet was ejected back into space, its surface scored with enourmous gouges that resembled a network of canals.

Put off by the experience, the whale turned away from the sun and, with a flick of its tail swept off into interstellar space in search of easier pickings.

On earth, millions of children were much more careful with their food from then on.

The End

P.S. 2006HH123 really is the 85th largest object in the solar system.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Articles of Interest

There were several interesting, entertaining and informative articles in the latest magazines from the BSFA. One I found particularly interesting was an interview with Jo Fletcher from Gollancz. It gave a real insight into the publishing world, and the difficulties faced by new authors. Certainly food for thought! Another useful article on agents discussed whether you really need one – the answer to which generally is Yes – and how to go about getting yourself an agent. Both articles are essential reading for budding authors.

The third article I took note of discussed reviewing and critiquing, and quotes Kames Blish as saying: “a good critic… is positively obliged to be harsh towards bad work.”

I don’t like being harsh in my reviews. My aim is to provide feedback, an independent opinion, publicity for the magazine, maybe some satisfaction for the underappreciated authors. If that means I’m not a good critic, I can live with it!

Monday, October 29, 2007

End of the Road

I stayed up ridiculously late on Saturday while I was on a roll, writing 4,000 words of Roadbuilder, the fifth and final installment in the Roadmaker saga. I've never written that much in a day before. I'm really pleased with the conclusion, an emotional end to what has been a very enjoyable project. Of course I still have to go back and check through it again, but that won't be 'til next week.

On checking my master spreadsheet of everything to do with writing, I noted that my short stories have now topped 100,000 words. I was quite impressed with myself.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Flash Fiction: Precious Cargo

Precious Cargo
By Gareth D Jones

This story now appears in the Illuminations anthology.

To commemorate the birth of my new baby girl I proposed the theme 'The New Arrival' for this week's Flash Fiction. It looks like most of the others didn't see my message though. Must find some way to communicate efficiently across the planet. Ideas, anyone?

Friday Flash Fictioneers Take Over the World

Well, that's a slight exageration. I received the latest mailing from the BSFA, including their three magazines, Matrix, Vector and Focus, and the Fictioneers are well represented.

Martin McGrath is one of the editors, and also wrote a couple of articles. There's an article and reviews from Paul Raven and poetry from Gareth L Powell.

That just leave the rest of the world for us to conquer.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Favourable Comments

A brief trawl through the webs this week dug up some nice comments on recent stories.

FreeSF gives Inside Every Successful Man '4 out of 5'. There are no other comments, but I'm happy with that score.

Regarding Looking In, Looking Out in Murky Depths #1, one comment on their forum says:

Gareth D Jones’ Looking In, Looking Out nearly made me cry. Which was the last thing I expected from a double page, diary-style piece, told from the dispassionate and innocent viewpoint of an alien, that can’t have been more than a few hundred words. I read it on the bus and hastily had to pull myself together for fear of losing face in front of the village school kids. It’s not what he says, it's what he doesn’t.

While over on SFRevu they say:

The first prose story is "Looking In, Looking Out" by Gareth D. Jones and is one of the best in the issue. An alien intelligence makes contact with an unborn child. Its observations make for a very good short-short story.

Significant Figures

I received from my bank a notification of the mony transfer from Cosmos for A Few Good Men - my first professional payment. I shall keep it in the hopes that one day I'll have an office wall on which to hang it in a frame.

Meanwhile I realised that with the two stories noted yesterday I have reached my target of 12 story publications this year, an avearge of 1 a month! With two stories still due to appear on Efimeras by the end of the year and three more stories confirmed already for next year, things are looking good. :o)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Absolute Zero

My hard SF story Absolute Zero has appeared in the Greek magazine Ennea, or 9, the weekly supplement of one of Greece's major daily newspapers Eleftherotypia. The magazine apparently has a circulation of 200,000, making this probably my most widely read story.

This is the first time one of my stories has appeared in translation before it has in English, and is also the first paying foreign market to accept one of my stories.

Inside Every Succesfull Man

Issue 28 of Hub magazine contains my story Inside Every Successful Man. Slight delay on my blog in noting this as I've been rather busy for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Longest Tale

After several weeks I have come to the end of The Journey Within, my Victorian adventure. It's finished up at 10,700 words, thousands longer than any other individual story I've written. In fact, it qualifies as a novelette.

It's the most heavily revised story I've written too. I reached 7,000 words before I noticed a fatal flaw in the plot and went back to the begining to edit it. Halfway through that edit I realised that with the change in emphasis, other parts of the plot were now not as convincing, so I went back to the begining again. Having got almost through the whole thing the second time I decided to change the location and went back to edit it all again.

I finaly persevered to the end, and I'm very pleased with the result. I'm leaving it a week or so to brew before I go back to review it, when I'm sure I'll find lots more editing to do. With a story that long there's got to be lots of room for deletions!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Second Collaborative Story

It's a whole year since the launch of my first collaborative project that resulted in last months publication of The Blind Collaborators. After receiving much critical acclaim I have now launched the second collaborative story project.

It will again be set on board the orbital habitat Astropolis and will be written with up to half a dozen other authors, none of whom will know the ultimate aim of the story until after it is complete.

I'm really looking forward to seeing who joins up and what they produce.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Flash Fiction: The Alliterati

The Alliterati
By Gareth D Jones

This story now appears in the Illuminations anthology.

Almost all of the other Fictioneers have posted before me this week, and new inductee Dan Fawley joins us this week too.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Submitting to the Right Market

While looking at some information on Duotropes I was shocked to read that on average only 25% of stories submitted follow the submission guidelines and even less have been formatted properly.

Why would a writer do that? Why make a tough job even more difficult? Especially as response times sometimes drag on for months, you really don’t want to waste your time sending a story to an inappropriate market.

Of course you don’t have the time or money to read a copy of every magazine you might ever submit to, but it doesn’t take long to read their submission guidelines and see what they do and don’t like.

If you’re an aspiring writer, do yourself a favour and concentrate your efforts where it will do some good!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Orbital 2008

Today I signed up to attend Orbital - the 2008 Eastercon. I'm member 737, which is almost 100 more than last year when I signed up on the day, so it looks to be a busy convention this time. It's held over the bank holiday weekend in April next year, and I'm looking forward to meeting up with the rest of the Friday Flash Fictioneers, among others.

Friday, September 28, 2007

BSFA Award Nominations Open

Nominations for the 2007 BSFA Award are now open. Any memeber of the British Science Fiction Association can nominate their best short story, novel, artwork and non-fiction work. I already have a few firm favourites among the short stories I've read this year. I'll have to start thinking about which ones to nominate.

Of course, should any BSFA members happen to have liked any of my stories this year...

Friday Flash Fiction: The Man Behind the Throne

This week's little vignette is a homage to Jack Vance, written in response to a challenge on the Jack Vance Appreciation Facebook Group. Jack Vance is one of my favourite authors, with books like The Blue Planet and Nightlamp counted among my favourite novels.

The Man Behind the Throne
By Gareth D Jones

With bombastic aplomb, the self-styled Grand and Cognizant Vizier settled himself into his voluminous throne. His parti-coloured robes of aubergine and burnt ochre drifted to rest around him like the silken folds of a deflating hot air balloon. His coiffure and beard were of such exuberant proportions that a team of three barbers were kept in constant employ to tend to them. He was, by his own admission, a great man.

Aldoon Snickerthwatt, senior attending barber, scuttled over to tend to a few stray wisps of hair before the grand doors to the audience chamber were opened. He brandished an ivory comb carved from a tusk of the now extinct desert walrus, and a pair of silver scissors formed in the likeness of a peacock’s head. Briskly he attended to his illustrious task, then melted back into the shadows of the velvet hangings that festooned the rear wall.

The huge dark wood doors, carved in a phantasmagorical intaglio of stylised mythical creatures, opened slowly under the hands of two armour bearers. Ushered in by the Lord Attending Justice, a flock of dignitaries and worthies entered to seek audience with the throne.

Snickerthwatt smiled indulgently at the scene, confident in the knowledge that it was he that made the Vizier so grand.

The End

Already posted ahead of me this week: Paul Raven and Neil Beynon.

Spanish Sahara

My Friday Flash Fiction desert story Delayed Reaction has been accepted by Spanish flash fiction webzine Efimeras and is due to appear in December.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reading and Writing

I received a note from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine today that for the fourth time one of my stories has reached the 2nd round of submissions. The previous three reached the third round and fell at the last hurdle. ASIM publish the kind of light-hearted, entertaining stories that I like to write, so I'm hoping to be in with a good chance again.

Meanwhile I've read the new edition of Fiction magazine, which includes a story by fellow Friday Flash Fictioneer Gareth L Powell. I've written a review of it for UK SF Review and will be following that with the new issue of Dark Tales that arrived in the post this week.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Flash Fiction: The Emporer's New Force Field

A little slice of space opera this week:

The Emperor’s New Force Field
By Gareth D Jones

Thi story now appears in the Illuminations anthology.

I guess the title probably gave the ending away, but I think you can get away with it in such a short story.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Eastercon Souvenir

The Eastercon souvenir brochure has arrived, full of photos and anecdotes, behind the scenes stories and information. There's also a review of the whole programme, including some really interesting stuff that I attended, and some decidedly odd stuff that I didn't. At the back of the brochure is a complete list of the attendees, and scanning quickly through them there are some people that I didn't know at the time who are very familiar now, including some of the Friday Flash Fictioneers. There'll be a lot more people for me to meet up with next year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Updated Dates

The Hub publication schedule has been updated, and it now appears that Inside Every Successfull Man will be on line in the next two or three weeks.

Meanwhile the Jupiter blog notes the acceptance of Roadrider.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Almost a Novelette

My Victorian adventure The Journey Within keeps on getting longer - 6,500 words now, with no end in sight. I'm thinking it'll be about 10,000 words eventually. It's already the longest single story I've written.

I had a bit of a rethink yesterday though; parts of the plot weren't developing well and seemed to be heading for a dead end. I've started going back through with some fairly heavy editing to change one of the major plot components before I continue. I've had the idea for this one for a long time, just obviously never thought it through very well!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Anonymous Translation

Today I discovered a German translation of last week's Friday Flash Fiction All Change on a blog entitled 'Tourism Industry'. There's no explanation along with it as to why it's there, or who translated it or anything else. I've left a message hoping for clarification.

I'm quite flattered someone took the time to translate it, although my German isn't good enough to know whether it's been done properly by a human or just put through a translation programme.

Very mysterious!

Friday Flash Fiction: Parallels

By Gareth D Jones

Ironically they had chosen this wide open field to reduce the chance of meeting anyone. They had taken every precaution imaginable to avoid paradoxes. They had theorised about parallel universes and what might happen if he altered the course of time.

What they hadn’t considered was that from this moment, one year in Enoch’s past, a multitude of parallels had been created by innumerable choices in his life. In most of them he had continued his research into time travel. In most of them he had succeeded, had volunteered, had chosen the date of his anniversary to travel to, had chosen this wide open field.

Enoch stared round the now crowded field, at the thousands of parallels of himself all in turn staring at each other in shock.

The End

I was inspired to write this one after watching the film Deja Vu. In fact, I got up at 2 AM to write it, much to my wife's consternation!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Few Good Men

My alternate history story A Few Good Men appears on-line today at the website of Australian science magazine Cosmos. This is my first story to be published in a professional market.

This also makes my 200th blog entry - another milestone!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Weekend Developments

'Twas a busy weekend. I dashed out a daft little 500 word story about a giant space whale that will undoubtedly be appearing on this very blog one of these Fridays. After this I wrote the 1st 1600 words of The Journey Within, a Victorian era tale vaguelly unlike anything Jules Verne wrote. That one will probably end up around 5000 words.

I also received word from Cosmos magazine that A Few Good Men will be going on line this week, which is quicker than I thought.

Meanwhile a review of Murky Depths #1 has appeared at short fiction review site Tangent Online. Of my story Looking In, Looking Out they say:

Looking In, Looking Out by Gareth D. Jones is a visually interesting story consisting of a double page spread of several paragraphs, almost thought balloons, arranged in a counterclockwise circle around a picture of a fetus and the Earth.  Each paragraph is a log entry by an alien species attempting to communicate with people on the planet.  They find the only mind flexible enough to understand them as a fetus and so begin to interact with and teach it.  Then comes the twist.  Simple, quick, and pleasant.

Altogether, a very satisfactory weekend.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday Flash Fiction: All Change

This week the Friday Flash Fictioneers are all writing on the same theme: 'A funny thing happened to me in hyperspace', chosen by Neil Beynon. We won't be having a theme every week, but may take it in turns to suggest a theme once a month.

All Change
By Gareth D Jones

This story now appears in the Illuminations anthology.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Another Year

I received word from the editors of Portuguese magazine Phantastes today that there have been further delays in translation and publishing. They now expect to produce the next issue, including my story A Word in the Right Place, next summer.

Midnight Street #9 Review

Unlike most of the other magazines I’ve read recently, Midnight Street contains a varied mixture of interviews, reviews, and articles, as well as a sprinkling of poems interspersed among the fiction. It’s an A4 magazine with coloured illustrations on the cover and black and white within.

Read my review at UK SF Review.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Foreign Friday Flash Fiction

My first Friday Flash Fiction entry has today been accepted by Spanish flash fiction webzine Efimeras, who specialise in stories <200 words. The Spanish tranlslation of The Gondolier will appear in issue #124 in November. This will be the third of my stories they have published, and will take my total publications this year to 12, reaching my target of one per month on average.

Interestingly, one of Gareth L Powell's Friday Flashes, Thai Curry, first appeared in Efimeras earlier in the year.

The Blind Collaborators

Almost a year after its inception, my collaborative story The Blind Collaborators is now on line at Aphelion. For the full story behind the story, click on the 'Collaboration' tab.

You can see the comments being made about it on the Aphelion forum.

New Recruit

On Friday the Friday Flash Fictioneers were joined by new recruit Justin Pickard with Patterns in Traffic. I couldn't seem to leave a comment on his site, so let me say here that it was a very atmospheric story, with well-executed description and a sense of wonder. Very enjoyable.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Episode III

No, not Star Wars, but episode III of the Roadmaker saga has been accepted by Jupiter magazine. It's scheduled for issue #20 in April next year.

Roadmaker appeared in April this year, so I'm hoping that all four sequels will be published in Jupiter's four issues next year.

Friday Flash Fiction: Swarm

Last week I decided to stop numbering my FFF stories to avoid confusion as we all started on different weeks. The 'official' week number is on Gareth L Powell's blog as he started it. Though if he ever goes on holiday that'll confuse us all!

More of a light hearted story this week:

By Gareth D Jones

This story will be appearing in Flash Shots, March 2010.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dark Tales #10 Review

This is my first experience of Dark Tales, a glossy A5 magazine that’s filled, predictably, with stories of a dark slant. It advertises itself as a magazine of fantasy, horror and SF, but disappointingly for me contained little in the way of SF. Still, reviewers can’t be choosers, as the old saying goes.

Read my review at UK SF Review.

Forgotten Worlds #9 Review

As the months passed and no further issues of Forgotten Worlds appeared I began to fear the worst. Then all of a sudden issue #9 arrived in the post, bringing another varied selection of stories that fill this 56 page A5 magazine to capacity.

Read my review at UK SF Review.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Flash Fiction: The Last Adam

A few weeks ago, Jetse De Vries wrote this comment on the Velcro City Tourist Board:
Problem with flash fiction is that it ultimately is so forgettable: it’s *extremely* difficult to write a deep and resounding story at such lengths.

I think generaly that's true, but I'd like to offer the following as a contender. It was first published last June on Static Movement so as a reprint doesn't strictly keep to the spirt of FFF. Let me know what you think.

The Last Adam
By Gareth D Jones

The last man on earth worked in heart-broken silence, carving a name onto a wooden plaque with meticulous care. Once complete he placed it atop the last of a seemingly endless series of graves that had been harder and harder to dig with fewer and fewer people.

He sat down heavily and stared at his handiwork. He was no longer just the last man on earth. He was now the last human too.

The plaque simply read: ‘Eve’.

The End

Magazine News

I'm a week behind noticing this, but issue #3 of Fiction magazine is now out, with good news that they are now going monthly, as they had originaly planned. More ambivalent is the news that they have switched to a downloadable PDF format, until the end of the year at least, with a possibility of returning to print next year. This does mean it's now free, but also looses the excitement for me of getting a real paper copy through the post to read. They've asked for feedback on the decision though, so make your feelings known.

Meanwhile, after a delay of several months, issue #9 of Forgotten Worlds has arrived and I'll be reading it over the weekend. I've also received the latest issues of Midnight Street and Dark Tales, so look out for reviews of all of them over the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Absolute Rewrite

The writing of Absolute Zero has been the longest and most difficult of any short story I've yet written. Originaly 3000 words, I decided it was just too dull; there was too much technical jargon and dialogue. I chopped 500 words out, which is unheard of for me. I usually only cut the odd word or sentence here and there. I received a rejection after its first submission saying it was still too dull for the same reasons, so I cut another 500 words. The second rejection said the same.

The story seemed fated to gather dust on an obscure section of the hard drive, and yet I still liked the basic concept. After talking it over I realised that it wasn't really my style of story. I'd tried to write a serious, hard SF tale and it just didn't work.

So, now I've gone through it again, this time adding 200 words to make it into a more light-hearted kind of story that hopefully some friendly editor will like.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Other Side of the World

After three near misses with Australian pulp SF mag Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, I've finaly entered the antipodean market with a sale to 'Australia's best selling science magazine' Cosmos.

No, I didn't miss out a word, it's a science magazine, not a science fiction magazine. They publish one story per issue, and others on their website, which is where mine will appear as it's shorter than they want for the print mag.

A Few Good Men is an alternate history story, and will be joining a back catalogue of stories by such notable names as Charles Stross, Gregory Benford, Jay Lake and Paul Di Filipo. This is my first professional sale and as you can imagine, I'm quite thrilled.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More UK Markets

I suddenly noticed that you can sort by country on Duotropes, so I excitedly clicked on UK and discovered several more SF mags that I wasn't aware of, and a couple I had heard of but forgotten about. My new updated list on the side bar now boasts 18 UK SF markets. There are a few other literary mags that accept SF stories too, but I've just listed the markets that are purely speculative fiction.

Hopefully I'll be getting hold of some of these and reviewing them in due course.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Week Off

After a week's rest and relaxation (hence no Flash Fiction on Friday), I logged on again today to find some great comments about Murky Depths in general and my story Looking In, Looking Out in particular.

Co-editor Matt Wallace had this to say:
This glaring low-res snapshot doesn't come close to doing "Looking In, Looking Out" by Gareth D. Jones justice. This was one of the very first stories I pushed for the issue. Inventive, funny, poignant. But that layout just takes it to another level. *** gorgeous beyond all reason, man. It's easily my favorite presentation of any piece in the 'zine. Any piece in any 'zine, in fact. First big house I buy, I'm having Terry blow this one up to ridiculous scale so I can hang it on my wall.

There were also nice words from Neil Benyon, Anne Stringer and Jonathan C Gillespie, who called it 'interesting' a 'standout' and 'runaway hit'.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Flash Fiction #3: Delayed Reaction

Three others have already posted their contributions: Martin McGrath, Paul Raven and Gareth L Powell. All three have a certain mystic quality about them, as does mine by strange coincidence. It's a drabble again this week.

Delayed Reaction
By Gareth D Jones

This story now appears in the Illuminations anthology.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Darker Matter Review

Darker Matter is a UK based webzine that promises to be ‘the high quality online science fiction magazine so many worlds have been waiting for’. It provides artwork with each story and also has a continuously-updated list of the top-ten ranked stories so far. The font on the main page is not the easiest on the eye, but the stories are laid out nicely.

Read my review of issue #5, which sadly is to be the last, on SF UK Review.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Fourth Road

This week I've begun work on the fourth episode in the Roadmaker Saga. I'm about halfway through at the moment and, as with the others, enjoying it immensely. Several characters from earlier stories put in an appearance, along with a few new ones, and the Roadmaker world heads in a new drection.

Roadmaker was described as 'gorgeous' and Roadwalker as 'beautiful'. I'm looking for another superlative this time!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Sometimes the things you don't mean to write are just brilliant. While proof-reading one of my stories I discovered that instead of 'a lone wild dog with a limp' I'd written the much more entertaining sentence 'a lone wild dog with a limo'. The image is still making me chuckle now. :o)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Flash Fictioneers

The Friday Flash Fiction concept is obviously quite popular as my hit rate has tripled over the past two weekends. Shaun C Green is also joining in, making six I think, which ruined my idea for a post title of The Five Fictioneers. Maybe I'll make that into a story instead!

Gareth L Powell has calculated that a year from now we'll have written ~80,000 words of flash fiction between us. Now all we need is an enterprising publisher to realise the potential and sign us up for a flash fiction collection. Any takers?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Flash Fiction #2: Launch

This week's story is another 100 word drabble:

By Gareth D Jones

This story is now forthcoming from Flashshots.

I got the inspiration for this from Bob Shaw's The Ragged Astronauts and Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers. This is slightly more daft than either of them though.

Confirmed Dates

Official word has been posted about 2 of my upcoming stories:

  • The Jupiter magazine blog confirms that Roadwalker is booked for the January issue.

  • The Hub magazine schedule has Inside Every Successfull Man... booked for November 16th.
  • Thursday, August 02, 2007

    Looking In, Looking Out

    Issue #1 of Murky Depths has arrived, and what a sumptuous feast of art and words it is! Editor Terry Martin says he wanted to create a work of art and he certainly has succeeded. The presentation is fabulous, and my story Looking In, Looking Out looks brilliant, even before you read it. It must be the best quality inaugural issue in the history of SF magazines. Go and buy it (and not just for my story!).

    Turning Over a New Leaf

    My second Mare Inebrium story is on line in this month's Aphelion. It's also a sequel to one of my earliest published stories Fluctuations that received this excellent review in Bewildering Stories.

    So go and read Turning Over a New Leaf.

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    Coming in August...

    This month should see the Portuguese translation of A Word in the Right Place in Phantastes magazine. When the original English version appeared in Scifantastic #4 it was my first story in print. Now it will also be my first story in print in 2 languages.

    I've also had word from Terry Martin, editor of Murky Depths, that issue #1 is due back from the printers today. That means I'll be able to get my hands on Looking In, Looking Out ahead of schedule. Most of my stories are fairly light hearted and are sprinked with irony and dry humour, but this story is actually quite emotionaly involved, probably the only such story I have written. I'll be interested to see what kind of feedback I get on it.

    I'm currently reading the new edition of Darker Matter, so there'll be a review of that in due course, and there'll be more flash fiction posted here on Friday.

    I submitted Roadrider today, to continue the Roadmaker Saga, and I'm still playing round with ideas for the fourth installment, which I'll hopefully write this month.

    That should be enough to keep me going.

    Friday, July 27, 2007

    Friday Flash Fiction

    Over on his blog, Gareth L Powell came up with the idea of posting a short story every Friday. Friday Flash Fiction has already been adopted by:

  • Paul Raven
  • Martin McGrath
  • Neil Beynon

  • I thought I'd join in too. The four drabbles I've written this week are unlikely to find a place in the very limited drabble market, so here's the first installment:

    The Gondolier
    By Gareth D Jones

    This story now appears in the Illuminations anthology.

    Triple Drabbles

    On a previous occasion I attempted to write a drabble, a story of exactly 100 words, but failed miserably. I was suddenly struck by inspiration this week though and I've written three. I'm rather pleased with all of them. A fourth idea is currently circulating my brain waiting for a chance to be written.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2007


    The second episode of the Roadmaker Saga, entitled Roadwalker has been accepted for publication by Jupiter magazine. It has been slated for publication in issue #19 in January next year.

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    Murky Depths Line-Up

    The full table of contents for Murky Depths Issue #1 can now be seen on their website. My story Looking In, Looking Out is the first piece of fiction in the line up. The accompanying artwork is by Martin Deep, whom I haven't found out anything about yet. I'll keep looking.

    Thursday, July 12, 2007

    Fiction #2 Review

    Fiction returns with its 2nd issue, this time with a glossy cover to improve its air of professionalism, and the same informal, enthusiastic mix of reviews and comments. The fiction this time maintains or even improves the high standard set by issue #1.

    Read my review at UK SF Review.

    Review of Hub for June

    Since switching from print to on-line publication, Hub has presented a new story, along with reviews and articles, every Friday. June also saw the first ‘Special Issue’, so along with issues 9 to 13 there were six stories to read during the month.

    Read my review at UK SF Review.

    Wednesday, July 04, 2007

    Half a Year of Reading

    This year I’ve read far more short fiction than I ever have in the past – around 200 stories so far I reckon. Some of them have been great, some entertaining or thought provoking and some original. Other stories have been none of the above but well written nonetheless. Of course there have been some dire ones too.

    By the end of the year I’m thinking of creating a list of my top ten favourite stories of the year, provisionally entitled the ‘My Opinion is no More Valid than Anyone Else’s’ Awards for this year’s new fiction.

    Around half of what I’ve read so far this year isn’t new, so here’s a mention of my favourites since I last posted such a list in November:

    Nature Tale by Matthew Hughes - Postscripts #8

    The Fallen Angels of Jude by Terry Bramlett - Forgotten Worlds #6

    Seize the Lightning by Law Yihua - Forgotten Worlds #7

    Bubba Pritchert and the Space Aliens by Bud Webster - Hub #1

    The Frog Pond by James S Dorr – Hub #1

    Monday, July 02, 2007


    I was very honoured last week to recieve an invitation to join one of the UK's SF print magazines as an assistant editor. Sadly, the limited time I already have to read, write, review, sleep, and even work full time meant I had to turn the offer down. It's a gratifying acknowledgement of my endeavours though.

    Friday, June 29, 2007

    Obscure Claim to Fame

    My copy of Fiction magazine #2 arrived yesterday. The letters page has various people's opinions about issue 1, including a quote from my review posted on UK SF Review.

    It's probably my most obscure claim to fame yet!

    Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    Palindromic Story

    Here’s a tough challenge: write a palindromic story, or even just a sentence, that makes sense. It’s fiendishly difficult. My 26 word attempt, or 52 words if you also read it backwards, doesn’t entirely adhere to the rules of grammar. It’s about a lycanthrope who gets stuck in a time loop while attempting to modify his own DNA:

    I was on a reviled DNA time loop and I saw wolf and DNA flow. Was I DNA pool? Emit and deliver a no, saw I.

    What it needs is a palindromic title. Email me with your suggestions. The winner will receive nothing but kudos.

    If you manage to create a sentence that you can also read backwards, send that to me too.

    If the idea has provided you with a moments amusement, pass it on to your literary friends.

    Monday, June 25, 2007

    Back of an Envelope

    While painting at the weekend (a wall, not a picture) I was working on some story ideas in my head. Overcome with the urge to jot something down I grabbed the nearest thing that came to hand. I can now say that I'm truly an author as I've fulfilled the old cliche of jotting something down on the back of an envelope!

    Friday, June 22, 2007

    Further Along the Road

    I've finished the first draft of Roadrider today. It's the third story in what I'm now calling the Roadmaker Saga, just to make it sound grandiose. It still needs polishing of course, but already I'm keen to start on the next installment...

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    Portuguese Update

    My story A Word in the Right Place was accepted by Portuguese magazine Phantastes over a year ago. Since then it's had various delays, but I've had confirmation from the editor today that it's still due to appear in August.

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    Collaborative Conclusion

    After many more months in the making than I could have imagined, my collaborative story The Blind Collaborators has been accepted by Aphelion and is scheduled for September's issue.

    That makes 10 stories appearing this year. I'm hopeful that I'll reach 12 to average 1 per month. I've sent off 2 more submissions today to make a total of 7 floating around out there somewhere, plus a few others I've submitted for reprints, translations and anthologies.

    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    Hub Update

    The editors at Hub magazine have confirmed that Inside Every Successful Man... will be appearing in November.

    This year's total is now up to 9 stories due to be published.

    Monday, June 11, 2007

    Briefly Spanish

    The Spanish translation of my Mare Inebrium story Ten years at the Bar appears today in issue 112 of flash fiction webzine Efimeras.

    This is my second story on their website, and my 4th translation.

    Friday, June 08, 2007

    The Hub of the Matter

    UK webzine Hub have accepted my futuristic medical story Inside Every Successful Man... for publication. No details as to the publication date yet. Hub publish one story per week and are the 4th UK magazine to accept my work.


    I took my laptop on holiday and wrote the 5,200 word sequel to Roadmaker, entitled Roadwalker. It's on its way to a magazine today to see if it can follow in Roadmaker's footsteps. I have a plan for a series of 5 Roadmaker stories in total. I'm halfway through writing the third and already have quite a few well-developed ideas for the fourth. The fifth is still just a vague outline, but I'm quite enthusiastic about the project now I'm writitng it again.

    While I was Away...

    ...I received another two story rejections. That's not as bad as it sounds though, because my last 4 rejections in a row have included personal comments, and all from professional markets. That's almost as good as an acceptance!

    Monday, June 04, 2007

    Forgotten Worlds #8 Review

    This is the latest issue of Forgotten Worlds, and the last of the magazine to be issued monthly. They have now switched to quarterly, which I’m hoping isn’t a euphemism for ‘indefinite hiatus’ as it has been with many other small press and web 'zines.

    Read my full review at UK SF Review.

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Murky Depths Cover

    The cover to issue #1 of Murky Depths has been revealed. The table of contents on the back page is set out in a refreshingly different format. The more I see the better it looks like it will be.

    I'll be incommunicade for a couple of weeks now, so don't think I'm ignoring you...

    Monday, May 14, 2007


    While I was at Eastercon there were readings by the BSFA Award nominated novelists, and of course the awards are presented during the weekend. Sadly, I hadn't read any of the nominees - novels or shorts - to be able to vote.

    I do read a huge number of stories during the year though; some are brilliant but receive little attention becauuse of being in a small press magazine. That's one of the reasons I began writing reviews. That's also one of the reasons that I've finally got round to joining the BSFA: I'll be able to make my own nominations for next year's awards. Yet another reason to contact me if you have a magazine you'd like to see reviewed.

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007

    Thinking and Plotting

    I haven't written anything over the bank holiday weekend, but I have been doing some plotting. Now that Roadmaker has been published I want to get on with the sequel that I have been planning for a long time. I just need to develop the vague outline into an actual plot.

    Meanwhile I've given some thought to my long-neglected novel and have a few more bits and bobs to include in the current chapter. I mentioned a while ago that I have an idea for a second collaborative story following on from the fun I've had with The Blind Collaborators. Well, that idea is taking shape nicely, though I'm going to wait until after the first one appears in Aphelion before I launch the next project. I also have idea for a third, but that's way into the future yet, but if you'd like to sign up you can send me an email any time and I'll let you know when I'm ready to start.

    Wednesday, May 02, 2007


    Following in the footsteps of most of the rest of the world I've created a MySpace page. If you're on MySpace too, feel free to send me a 'Friend Request', but be aware that unless I know who you are or your profile obviously shows that you have an interest in sci fi you may face the Spanish Inquistion before I add you. :0)

    Apparently, in the future, everyone will live in isolation and communicate only via their blog and MySpace page...

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Two Submissions

    I sent The Blind Collaborators on its way to Aphelion today, and just because I'm feeling optimistic also submitted Gap Years to Interzone simply because they're accepting electronic submissions this month.

    That's 7 stories now under submission and 3 accepted and awaiting publication.

    Forgotten Worlds #7 Review

    Forgotten Worlds continues to bring us a varied selection of SF, fantasy and horror and his been remarkably regular for its first seven issues. As usual the wide variety of tastes means there’s something for everyone, but each reader won’t necessarily like everything. It’s a balance that has to be made when producing a cross-genre magazine.

    Read the rest of my review on UK SF Review.

    Monday, April 30, 2007

    Collaborative Completion

    After 7 months my collaborative story The Blind Collaborators, written with 4 other authors from the Aphelion forum, is complete. It's great fun to see how the other author's sections tie in together with only the vaguest of guidelines from me. It's finished up at 10,800 words, twice as long as any short story I've written on my own. I'm looking forward to seeing my collaborators reactions when they see what happens to their characters at the end.

    Friday, April 27, 2007

    Attempted Drabble

    One of the unusual features of Farthing magazine, that I omitted to mention in my review of issue 5, is that they include a selection of drabbles between the stories. That's a story of exactly 100 words, for the uninitiated.

    I've written a couple of stories of roughly that length, The Last Adam and Ten Years at the Bar, so I thought it would be interesting to aim for 100 words exactly.

    I'd been thinking of another idea for avery short story for a while, so I set about writing Gap Years, about a teenager who ends up being away from Earth for rather longer than expected. It ended up at 528 words.

    That doesn't count as a drabble!

    Thursday, April 26, 2007

    Forgotten Worlds #6 Review

    While issue 5 of Forgotten Worlds contained predominantly science fiction stories, this edition leans a lot more heavily toward fantasy. This makes my review more difficult to write as I’m not really a fantasy fan, but nonetheless this is still a collection of varied and, for the most part, well-written stories.

    Read the rest of my review here.

    Wednesday, April 25, 2007

    Farthing #5 review

    Farthing is a shiny, digest size magazine that is published quarterly, and has already made an impact after the cover to issue 2 was nominated for a BSFA award.

    Read my review of issue 5 here.