Thursday, January 31, 2008

Roadwalker Reviewed

Jupiter #19 has been reviewd by Terry Grimwood on the Whispers of Wickedness site. Of Roadwalker he says:

Roadwalker by Gareth D Jones takes us to another future-primitive society through which an intimidating, enigmatic road has been carved by a mysterious machine. No one knows where it leads, who built it or why. So, cheek still damp from his truelove’s kiss, a young farmhand sets off to find out. This is one of an occasional series but stands alone as a yet another warmly compelling piece.

'Warmly compelling' is good enough for me.

You Wait for Weeks...

...then 2 come along at once!

I haven't had any fiction mags to read for a while, but this week I'm expecting Interzone #214 to arrive.

When a large brown envelope arrived in the post, I was pleasantly surprised that it instead contained Midnight Street, a magazine that has reached the significant issue #10.

Look out for reviews of both magazines soon.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Science Behind the Fiction

I finished reading the latest mags from the BSFA this weekend. As usual some interesting articles, particularly the 2 interviews with figures from the publishing world. There was also a comment about 'hard' SF and how you really need to know the science you're basing your stories on.

So, in line with this, I've been reading How to Fossilise Your Hamster, full of lots of useful science to be tried at home. Among the experiments I've been attempting are:

-Measuring the speed of light using a microwave and a chocolate bar

-Extracting iron from cornflakes

-Breaking spaghetti into three pieces

-Superimposing different coloured images of fish on my retina

Whether any of these will help my writing remains to be seen!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wasn't Paying Attention Last Week

Yes, I'm afraid I was feeling a little ill and had spent all day staring at a VDU at work so I didn't get round to checking out all the other Flash Fictioneers last week. Due to those not-very-sound reasons I totaly missed the fact that Greg O'Byrne has joined the fray. So welcome to Greg, and may Fridays continue to be interesting.

Friday Flash Fiction: An Obscure Incident Somewhere in Deep Space

An Obscure Incident Somewhere in Deep Space
By Gareth D Jones

It was 17:30 ship time, which followed Galactic Standard time that was in turn based on Greenwich Mean time, though in fact neither the ship nor indeed the crew had ever set foot nor tentacle on Earth, and with the effects of relativistic travel it was probably quite academic anyway, when it happened.

It should be pointed out that this region of space has been noted in the past to have been the location of several other incidents of varying consequence, but whether they are related to the current matter is debatable. At the time most of the crew were engaged in a variety of routine tasks involved in the running of a vessel of that size, while others were off duty and engaged in recreational activities. It is therefore difficult to ascertain how many of them became aware of the impending crisis and how quickly this awareness overcame them.

The immediate actions taken by officers on duty, the records kept by the ships computer and subsequent investigations all agree on one point. If it were not for the skill and quick reactions of those crewmembers that dealt with the incident, it is likely that the consequences would have been entirely different.

The End

The opening, rambling sentence to this story was inspired by the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, while the rest of the rather sketchy plot was inspired by the Vague News that featured on Radio 1's Mark & Lard show (the best show on the radio ever) several years back.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Two of Each

In a brief flurry of activity I sent off 4 submissions today - 2 to magazines and 2 to anthologies. One is an original anthology and the other accepts reprints, so I thought I'd give them a shot. I get the impression that anthologies are harder to sell to. I don't really know if that's true, but being one-off publications they probably get far too many subs, even more than a magazine would. I've selected stories that fit in with their themes though, so I'll just sit back and wait as usual.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Maelstrom Magazine

Received a message from the editor of Maelstrom magazine this week, one of the UK's small press magazines:

Sol Publications and Maelstrom SF Magazine have been somewhat innactive of late, however, I am hoping to get back into publishing in the near future.

As with many small press magazines there are often lulls in publication, but there's still hope for this one yet.

BSFA Award Shortlist

The shortlist for the BSFA award has been anounced. The artwok that accompanied my story Looking In, Looking Out in Murky Depths #1 had been nominated but sadly didn't make the shortlist.

Monday, January 21, 2008

So Much to Read...

Suddenly, I have a veritable pile of reading material. In the non-fiction departiment I'm partway through How to Fossilise your Hamster, with Palin's New Europe waiting to go next. Meanwhile I'm reading Jack Vance's The Grey Prince while Big Planet awaits, both fresh from a well-known on-line auction site, and also in the post came a brand new copy of Jack McDevitt's A Talent for War that I bought after thoroughly enjoying Polaris recently. The first of the Foundation prequels also awaits, though having read the Dune prequels I'm a bit cautious of the possible desecration of a classic. Any advice on that one? Finally, a Frederick Pohl book who's title escapes me at the moment; it's from the VGSF Classics imprint though, and they haven't let me down yet.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Flash Fiction: Prequel

Prequel will be appearing in the 2011 Daily Flash anthology from Pill Hill Press.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

50 Stories

After writing this week's flash fiction story ready for Friday, I added it to my Great Spreadsheet of Fiction and came to the remarkable conclusion that I have now written fifty stories. That's twenty flash fiction and thirty longer short stories. I can hardly believe it myself!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Flash Fiction: Built by Moonlight

Built by Moonlight
By Gareth D Jones

This story now appears in the Illuminations anthology.

The somewhat breathless style of this week's story was inspired by the Ray Bradbury collection that I'm currently reading. Many of his stories have that rambling style that drags you inexorably from paragraph to paragraph without time to pause.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Roadwalker - Out Now

Issue #19 of Jupiter magazine is now out and contains my story Roadwalker, the sequel to Roadmaker that appeared in issue #16.

The review of that issue called Roadmaker 'a gorgeous story', and hopefully I've maintained the same feeling and standard for this one. Roadmaker was written as a stand alone story and I've tried not to make Roadwalker depend too much on knowledge of the first story, but you can still buy copies of #16 if you want to follow the story from the begining.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Three Laws of Baby Food

Inspired by Isaac Asimov and by much experience, I have devised the Three Laws of Baby Food. If you are a parent you'll appreciate their accuracy:

  1. A baby will always make a mess when not wearing a bib.

  2. A baby will always make a mess with orange food, and not with white food, except where this contradicts the First Law.

  3. A baby will always make a mess with the last spoonful, except where this contradicts either of the first two Laws.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Favourite Stories of 2007

I've read around 400 short stories this year, about half of them new, but every now and then a story particularly stood out to me. Not all of them were perfect, but enjoyable, thought provoking or above all, memorable. I've finaly ended up with a list of my ten favourites published during 2007, listed here in chronological order:

A Pocket Full of Posies - Michele Dutcher – Aphelion #112
I've always liked sky elevators, and this one seems to be well-thought out. The whole story was well told and the ending had the air of a classic SF novel. The passage about the mysterious old lady added an extra dimension of realism and the whole story could easily have lasted much longer.

Passing the Test - Anna Feruglio Dal Dan Farthing #5
This story remained with me for a long time after I finished it. It deals with a refugee’s attempts to return to Earth from one of the colonies, a very topical subject in the UK, and the test of humanity that he is obliged to take. The man’s desperation to bring himself and his daughter to safety really involve you in the story and his struggle against the seemingly indifferent authorities grips the emotions to the end

The Blue Parallel - Jessica Reissman Hub #11
A cleverly inventive story that explores a world where reality is not solid and precautions are necessary against the chaotic work of ‘patterners’. It’s one of those stories that could be SF or fantasy, but it doesn’t actually matter as you are caught up in her marvellously crafted world.

City of Flesh - Russ Jackson – Fiction #2
The longest and most riveting story of the issue. It’s a classic ‘aliens walk among us’ conspiracy, and the various protagonists offer different slices of insight into what’s happening. The Day of the Triffids came to mind among other things, and I was gripped to the end.

The Gate – Rhian Chapman – Fiction #2
The emotive story of a star ship pilot who uses wormhole-type gates to transport cargo across the galaxy. The transit is beautifully described and the emotional highs and lows of the life of a pilot are truly involving.

Young Love on the Drowned Side of the City William D McIntosh Darker Matter #5
A post-apocalyptic tale of youngsters left to fend for themselves in a ruined city while the adults struggle to cope with their own trauma. The society is well realised and the relationships between the characters make it a troubling but heart warming tale.

Paston, Kentucky Jonathan C Gillespie Murky Depths #1
Small self-replicating machines are stripping the land of metal, leaving behind a ruined society. The different aspects of that society are well-thought out and the mission to destroy the machines is both gritty and gripping.

Spin-Off Merchandise Roz Southey Midnight Street #9
A story set in a future that reminded me of Blade Runner. It’s a society where celebrity and conformity have both gained such importance that almost everyone has gone under cosmetic surgery in order to imitate their favourite star. The few who don’t conform are fiercely persecuted and the mission of one woman to make her way unnoticed through the city streets was both entertaining and thought-provoking.

Audience of One John Hickman Aphelion #116
A fabulous story. I loved the irony and the way the frustration of being stranded on Titan came across. The alien(s) were great too. In fact, everything was great.

The Redoubt Gareth L Powell Aphelion #117
There was real emotional depth here as a young couple are offered the chance to send a digital copy of themselves on a universe-spanning voyage to the end of time. The scope of the concept and the agonising debate made it just perfect.

P.S. I couldn't find links for a few of the authors. If you have a link for any of them, please let me know!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Repeat Reviews

The UK SF Review site is back up and running, so my two previously posted reviews are now available there too:

Fiction magazine #4, featuring a story by fellow Flash Fictioneer Gareth L Powell, and Dark Tales #11.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Friday Flash Fiction: Future Perfect

After writing Frozen a couple of weeks ago in the first person, present tense, I started thinking about what other unusual tenses could I use for a story. In the end I settled on:

Future Perfect
By Gareth D Jones

By the time you read this I will have succeeded. How can I be so confident? The realities in which I will have succeeded in repairing the imperfections in the continuum will be the ones in which you will be reading this log. In those I will have ceased to exist. Does this sadden me? No. There will be plenty of versions of me living on in other realities. In these I will be sad to have failed in my mission, yet happy to be still in existence. In those realities I will have returned and deleted this log.

The imperfections will have gone when you are reading this. In fact it will be as though they had never occurred. Then why I am I writing this? In the hopes that some of you who will be reading will appreciate the sacrifice I will have made.

For you, the future will be without imperfections.

The End

Just a reminder, as it's a new year, the other Friday Flash Fictioneers who post a short story most weeks are:

Neil Beynon
Martin McGrath
Gareth L Powell
Paul Raven
Shaun Green
Dan Pawley
Justin Pickard

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A New Year - A New Experiment

I've decided it's time for another bold, and some might say pointless, blogging experiment. I've created a new blog:

A Million Blogs

It's sole purpose is to collect incoming links from other blogs to see how quickly and how far it can climb the rankings of the blogosphere. I've embedded a technorati authority widget so you can see how it progresses. How can you join in this grand experiment? Simply add a link to it from your blog and ask all your readers to do the same.

How many links will it collect? I have no idea, but the clue to my ridiculously over-optimistic aim is in the title of the blog.

So, start linking and we'll see where it goes!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What Did I Do in 2007?

It's time once more to think back on what I've accomplished in the writing field over the past year.

One of the highlights has to be my first professional publication, in Cosmos magazine. I was also very proud to appear in issue #1 of Murky Depths. My story Looking In,Looking out received many favourable comments and the artwork that accompanied it was phenomenal. I also had my first semi-professional sale, only just before the Cosmos sale, this one to Hub magazine.

Altogther I had 14 stories published last year, including reprints and translations. My first paid translation came in September when Absolute Zero was published in Ennea, a Greek magazine with an astounding circulation of 200,000. I added German and Spanish to my repertoir this year too.

I've written quite a selection of reviews as well, most recently on the well-respected Whispers of Wickedness site.

I also must mention the Friday Flash Fictioneers. Not only have I written loads of very short stories, but got to know several other authors along the way, most of whom I shall get to meet in the flesh finally at Eastercon this year.

So, onwards into 2008 for more of the same...