First equal in the Gernsback Writing Contest

writing-contest-logo-with-trademark-e1432910614435I’m thrilled that my story “Penny of Tharsis Montes” is one of the three winners of the innaugural Amazing Stories Gernsback Writing Contest.

The contest asked writers to visualize how the solar system would look in 250 years time. Mine ended up set on a somewhat terraformed Mars (hence Tharsis Montes).

The story will be published in the first issue of the Amazing Stories Bi-annual anthology early next year. Can’t wait.

The Harpsichord Elf in Capricious

CapriciousCover1 - mediumMy story “The Harpsichord Elf” appears in the September issue of Capricious, a new magazine of literary speculative fiction and criticism, edited by A.C. Buchanan. The wonderful cover art is by Anastasia (Mircha) Astasheva. The magazine is available for download free download. Subscriptions are available.

The story is perhaps slipstream (a little bit fantasy, a little bit sci-fi), and perhaps dovetails into “The Molenstraat Music Festival” in a way… well, with some musical themes there at least.

The opening paragraphs go something like this:

As Shev clawed his way through the ruined floorboards into the music room, he got a splinter in his thumb. Still waist-deep in the hole he pulled the splinter with his teeth. He sucked on the sore thumb for a moment.
Somewhere deeper in the structure someone shouted.
“You can’t be in here,” a cello said. Rosewood and yew, it leant back in a stand. Out of tune.
“Quiet you,” Shev forced his way out onto the floor.

Nice review of “The Molenstraat Music Festival”

tangentOkay, so I probably shouldn’t read reviews of my work (too much chance of that not going well). That said, Bob Bough of Tangent, one of science fiction’s reveiw magazines, has written a great review of my story “The Molenstraat Music Festival”, from the current issue of Asimov’s. Yay. Thanks. That’s one I was pleased to read. :-)

ASF_september 2015

Nice review of The Molenstraat Music Festival in Locus Online Reviews

lorLois Tilton regularly reviews the latest science fiction and fantasy magazines. Her review of my story The Molenstraat Music Festival from the September Asimov’s is neatly neutral, which I’m taking as a good thing.

Distractions in Perihelion

fullcover034My short story “Distractions” is out now in Perihelion.

A wonderful cover by Hardy Fowler – “Taking a five minute break, a mecha pilot enjoys a quiet reverie in this secluded forest on the third planet from the sun.” Feels cool to have one of my stories hidden behind such a fabulous illustration.

This is a lighter one than my recent Asimov’s story – Robert’s boss Julianne Kette will stop at nothing to get her bounty, even if it means dragging him through hell to get it.


Frustrated that I could only return to the cafe with bad news, I beat my way back along the dusty street. Kette would not be pleased.
Some screaming kids ran out from between buildings, a hoop robot chasing them. The thing had little pincers and zappers around its circumference. It fired barbs at them
Laughing, the kids ploughed through traffic, oblivious to the enormous trucks and skimmers speeding along. Sirens blared and the hoop robot stopped at the sidewalk’s edge.
I tascered the thin little machine and took it with me.


My thanks again to editor Sam Bellotto Jr., for publishing another one of my quirky pieces.

The Molenstraat Music Festival in Asimovs

ASF_september 2015My novelette “The Molenstraat Music Festival” has just been published in the September issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. It’s a story of a far future that, among advanced technology, still has time for art.

“I’m Tamsin Birchall.” She stepped down from the vehicle. She was tall, thin-legged and wasp-waisted. She’d had work done, but then everybody did these days, didn’t they? She was wearing a blue single-piece dress that seemed to wrap around her legs almost like slacks as she walked. Her hips swayed, but her shoulders stayed steady. She could be a dancer.
“I can help you?” Clancy said. He pointed back the way they’d come. “Stay on that road for another six or seven miles you’ll come to a nice, isolated beach. The water’s a long way down now, with the dry, but it’s still pleasant enough. The trees grow down to the sand’s edge, and there are some grassy picnic spots. Another ten miles on, up Freyberg Road, there’s a rooming house.”
“It’s not directions I’m looking for.”


I’m thrilled and honored to be sharing the table of contents with science fiction luminaries once again. Brenda Cooper!, Jason Sanford, Vylar Kaftan, among others.

I’m also honored that Asimov’s editor Sheila Williams saw something in my little story. Thanks.

In praise of Terminator Genisys

Terminator_GenisysI went to Terminator Genisys in the weekend and had a ball. While it’s not quite my new favorite film, I’m surpised by some of the criticism out in the media. I found it a fabulous, creative reinvention. It was fun and well-structured, with some great set-pieces that the genre demands, and some nicely thrown in homages and nods to the previous films.

This MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS, so feel free to skip :-)

My movie-going companion had not seen any of the previous terminator movies so over the weeks before hitting the theatre, I did a rewatch while she had her first watch of those previous four movies. Some I enjoy more than others, but I enjoy them all. Some seem dated, some seem try hard, at least one seems “how is this a terminator film?”. It was good to refresh my mind, especially with so many reflections back on those films in the new one.

I’ll admit I delight in big-budget films where lots of stuff blows up, but I do like them to make sense. (I do love art house too – I saw Mr Turner recently, 2.5 hours of Timothy Spall’s monosyllabic grunts – and I’m looking forward to Palmy’s film festival starting in a couple of weeks). Terminator Genisys made sense to me. As with many films there were gaps and fudging and some silliness (the bus flips, getting airborne in the process), but those things felt less important than a generally strong movie.

Some critics have suggested that this new film retreads the old films. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe in the way that Back to the Future Part II retreads Part I. It seems to me that if that “retreading” hadn’t happened then Back to the Future Part II would have fallen apart as a story: revisiting the first film made sense. Likewise in Terminator Genisys. That moment where older Arnie confronts younger Arnie confronting the punks at Griffith Observatory with “He won’t need any clothes” was a clever approach (if anything it was more like a retreading Back to the Future II – Marty watching Biff confronting George again). Likewise having the T-1000 chasing Kyle Reese right after he’s arrived in 1984 cleared up any “what about the advanced terminators from T2 and T3. I enjoyed the nods to both films in those sequences.

Where Terminator Genisys comes into its own is ripping up the rules. Sure it’s easier to “reboot” when you can fool with timelines. I loved Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese – especially with his bafflement arriving to find that Emilia Clarke’s Sarah Connor knows more about the situation than he does. I loved how Arnie has aged into the role – his most human yet. I loved especially the twist that John Connor – whose continued existence has for the most part has been central to the plot – had become the bad guy.

This movie was an absolute thrill. For an action buff who’s become jaded by endless Transformers movies (honestly I struggle to tell them apart – which one had Mark Wahlberg? Which one did Chicago start looking like San Francisco looks in every-other movie?), and can pretty-much predict the action in the Fast and Furious franchise*, it was magic to see a strong, clever reinvention of the franchise.

I only hope that somehow the film makes its way to profitability and someone, somehwhere green-lights the sequel (or even two).

*(yes, I know F&F is a franchise that’s reinvented itself too).


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