tumblr_lxx7p6a9AX1qjjvnxo1_400Oh dear…

“The next one?”

Saul’s voice sounds strange, quiet almost strangled. I turn, noticing as I do that the knife is strangely clean. George is unsettled and moves away towards the door, Ana has already left, Ray chasing after her… but why?

Paul sits in the chair, unharmed. There’s a flicker around his throat like the way they blur a criminal’s face on the television. What do they call it? Pixelisation.

“I just cut your throat, you should be dead,” I stalk back to him, angry, confused.

“Gamers have many lives,” he says, smugly. He opens his mouth to say something else and I stab him again, punching my blade between his ribs, into his heart and watching the life leave his eyes.

“Now Saul, the next…” I’m interrupted. The air breaks into squares and reforms. Paul sits there again, looking at me, smugly.

“Many lives,” he repeats.

I stab him again. This time through the eye.

Again, he returns.

I cut his wrists, Saul shoots him – damn the sound I want this man dead – none of it works. I’m… afraid. I lash out and I stab him over and over again until the meat that was once a man slumps and almost pours out of the chair.

It doesn’t take.

“There’s also cheat codes,” he says, offhandedly.

“WHY WON’T YOU DIE?” I scream. I almost stab him again but what would be the point.

“Perhaps I was never alive to start with. Perhaps I’m a scarecrow, a strawman, a conjuring if your own delusion. Perhaps I had the mushroom starter.”

A sensitive spot, I drive the dagger up under his chin, between his jaw, up through his soft palette and into his brain. This time I leave it there, but when the squares engulf him the blade appears, back in my hand.

“I never raped anyone. Though that sort of accusation is something people like you like to throw around. I never stalked anyone or harassed anyone. I disagreed with some people, loudly, and you seem to regard that as some sort of cardinal sin. I think you’re looking for an excuse to play out some murder fantasies. Maybe it’s just your puppeteer.”

I raise the blade, but I can’t make it strike this time, it would be pointless, unsatisfying, horrifying.

“You can’t kill something that never existed. You can’t kill the truth. Especially if you’re a fiction yourself and you, Ella, are just a bad story. A murderous wank fantasy. A trope. You’re the traumatised avenger, just another Batman with tits, like Huntress, Batgirl, all the rest. You’re a rule 63 of Patrick Bateman. Even the cover of your book betrays your influences.”

“Book? I…”

There’s a flash of squares and now there’s two of him, neither of them in the chair, neither tied.

“You created a cartoon villain, a ‘bad man’ of the type the Amazon reviews say you like to kill. Except… we’re not bad men. Come to that, can you imagine the screams of protest if we wrote murderous revenge porn about those arrayed against us?”

A flash, there’s four of them now.

“Many of us aren’t men at all. We’re gay and straight, bi and trans. We’re men and women and all points in between. We’re people who want to defend art and free expression. We’re people who want to retain a free internet.”

A flash, then sixteen, then thirty-two, Saul disappears into the crowd. They’re all smiling at me as they close in, so many faces, so many different faces, and they’re laughing at me. Laughing at me, Ella, the murderess, the avenger. They’re not scared of me, they’re not taking me seriously. The blade falls from my hand and clatters to the ground.

“What do you want?”

“We just wanted to play video games. Now we have to save the world.”

Paul emerges from the crowd and crouches, at my feet, picking up the knife. “Milady,” he says, and tips a fedora I’m sure he wasn’t wearing a second again.

He leans in closer still. I recoil against the wall, my skin crawling. This is horrifying, unreal, unnatural.

“The sad part of this is that if the people we oppose had their way, you wouldn’t exist at all Ella. A sexualised woman, written by a man? Bloody violence? They’d 451 your arse in a second. We deal in truth Ella. The truth is you’re badly written revenge porn, written by a male-submissive hack who likely pays for his Amazon reviews. If you think that’s incorrect consider I’ve not bothered to research you very much. Before you open your mouth again, maybe put us to shame by bothering to research us. Take that message to your puppetmaster.”

And everything dissolves into little squares.

404, file not found.

The following is a five star review for Old, Fat Punks – posted on Amazin. You should totally buy a copy, review it and recommend it to your friends.


This is an outstanding novel. It is also a very dangerous novel. Old, Fat, Punks is nostalgic tribute to a bygone era. A pre-Margaret Thatcher, pre-Ronald Reagan era in which young people still thought they could change the world for the better – an idealistic era, a romantic era. This novel is also about the cold hard truth that that era has passed and it is a blistering critique of the world we live in today.

This novel is also about the cold hard truth that that era has passed and it is a blistering critique of the world we live in today.

Derek, Trol (one “l” because two is too much work) and Tim are ageing, drunk, unsuccessful former punks from the late 1970s. Each one is facing a grinding, humiliating future in which their choices are poverty on the British dole or throwing out what little self-esteem they have left. One drunken night they agree to under take one last great act of defiance. But not to make a difference but rather to show the world that we now live in a system that even the most extreme political act cannot change (told you it was a dangerous novel). Over the course of the novel we see them put together their plan of action while confronting some of their own demons from the past. We also flash back on their days running with their mates in Britain’s punk scene and come to better understand who these characters are and what drives them.

Each one is facing a grinding, humiliating future in which their choices are poverty on the British dole or throwing out what little self-esteem they have left. One drunken night they agree to under take one last great act of defiance.

The book is well written with complex and interesting characters (even the secondary characters are well rounded and believable). Derek, Trol and Tim are as distinct and complex as you can possibly imagine and make a magnificent spring board for the author to comment on everything from being gay and a racial minority to the state of public schools, the nature of unrequited love, political activism, obesity and the music industry. It is a stinging critique of our modern era and some of a particular political bent will not appreciate our hero’s views of the world (if you are in the 1%, I’m guessing you won’t enjoy this). But if you dreamed of making a difference (or bless you if you are young and think you can make a difference) then this novel seers the heart. It is not hopeless. The novel is romantic and so is the author. Both believe that at the core of all of us is the desire to make the world better – if we can just believe that it can be done (and believe in each other) and open our eyes to the truth of the world around us.

The novel is romantic and so is the author. Both believe that at the core of all of us is the desire to make the world better – if we can just believe that it can be done…

Amazon Kindle

Lulu (hardcopy)


Do me a favour and check out Kindlescout, it’s a way of supporting authors on Amazon & this series deserves support

A friend of this author gave me some support – full disclosure – but it’s a cool idea for a series and deserves support!

New, and even experienced, authors need help and support, this is a new way of making that happen.

Derek, Tim and ‘Trol’ are three ageing rebels, hitting their fifties. Disillusioned by the way the world has turned out and the frustration of their teenage dreams of a better life or a revolution.

All they have left are stories of past glory and pints of cheap beer at one of the last punk-pubs in London.

Watching a riot unfurl on television, to no point and no effect, their frustration boils over and they decide to do something futile and stupid, a grand, nihilistic gesture of futility.

Comedy, social and political satire, and frustration all meet in this story of a ‘revolutionary caper’




Lulu (Hardcopy)


WOV_09_KH0009_01_PSo it was the Hugo Awards and, if I have this right, everywhere it was a Sad Puppies slate* ‘No award’ won, everywhere it wasn’t a Sad Puppies slate a story with the ‘right politics’ won.

This is being hailed by the Anti-Puppies (Angry Kittens?) as some sort of victory, since the Puppy slate didn’t win, but that seems, to me, to have gotten things utterly wrong.

What happened has confirmed 100% what the problem is. Rather than allow a good story that just happens to have been written by someone with the ‘wrong politics’ (or just someone who was nominated by the Puppies) they’d rather nobody won at all and are willing to block-vote on that basis, whereas the Puppies were happy to divide their votes based on personal assessment of merit throughout their slated offerings.

There’s absolutely no way, whatsoever, that you can argue this hasn’t been politicised now, nor can you argue that this politicisation is not to the detriment of what are supposed to be awards based on talent, not political orthodoxy.

I’m on the left, I’m progressive (in the proper meaning of the word) but I simply can’t simultaneously claim that political ground AND seek to silence others or demand that any and all kudos can and should go to people who agree with me on every point or who use their work to preach (rather than their work being informed by their politics).

A good example of this, for me, would be Peter F Hamilton. He’s right wing, I’m left, but he writes fantastic space opera that deals with interesting technological and social questions, yet no Hugos for him. Politics have nothing to do with whether he’s a good, popular writer or not.

The hope for me, and I think for a lot of Puppies, that was by demonstrating the problem they would prompt a correction of the problem. Instead the awards system seems to have doubled down which leaves two paths:

  1. Escalation (a single Sad Puppies nominee).
  2. Fixing the problem (this seems massively unlikely given what’s happened).

A possible third would be to set up a new award, or to boost a different award, but the false narrative about Sad Puppies (similarly to the one about Gamergate) is so powerful that people will hate and/or ignore it anyway.

I don’t know where this goes from here, but it’s not a victory for anyone.

It has, however, demonstrated blatantly that the Sad Puppies were right.

*The Sad Puppies is a protest movement against politics rather than talent having determined who won the Hugo Awards (science fiction and fantasy book awards) for the past few years. In protest they created a slate of titles for ‘block voting’ in an attempt to counter this corruption by showing what the problem was, in order to encourage reform.

Well this all sounds rather familiar, doesn’t it?

It’s an interesting essay, and makes some valid points about the weight of nostalgia on this particular corner of genre fiction. But it also falls into a pattern that’s worryingly prevalent these days in the world of criticism, particularly when it gets to the topic of rape and sexual assault in fantasy. It’s at this point that Lutgendorff’s argument falls into the trap of confusing a depiction of something in a work of fiction for an endorsement of that thing (at least, in any instance where there’s an absence of explicit, unequivocal condemnation of it).



18lp5c9jxqj7rjpgEsoteric horror brought to you courtesy of ironic sexism.

In the twenty-some years I studied at the Miskatonic I came to realise the importance of the university in relation to the safety and security of the planet as a whole. Scholars at this fine institution, with its collection of rare tomes and artefacts and with its association to exploring the furthest reaches of our planet nowhere was better suited to battle the elder horrors which threaten this world – in secret of course.

Since at least the nineteen-twenties, and likely as far back as its founding, the university has been a centre for a number of professors and investigators risking life, limb and sanity to preserve fragile humanity from destruction at the hands of cosmic horrors.

But no more.

Our little cabal of professors and assistants, explorers, scholars of ancient languages, parapsychology, science and antiquities was outed when an overzealous assistant registered our society with the university authorities – seemingly on a whim. There were some benefits to this, we no longer had to masquerade as something else when we needed to use facilities and money was made available, which greatly improved the quality of the coffee we were drinking but had we known the consequences this would have we would have never gone along with it.

Things proceeded as normal, albeit with better coffee, for perhaps a month until we received a visitation from the campus diversity officer who had been checking into the various university groups and societies to ensure they conformed to a set of rules so changeable, esoteric and confusing that even I – who has mastered the incantations of the Dark Pharaoh – could not decipher them.

What it appeared to boil down to was that we were all too old, too white and too male and that we would have to induct more people from what she referred to as ‘minorities’. Women, persons of colour and so forth.

This delighted professor Abernathy, who has long argued that we need ‘more chicks in eschatological disaster prevention’, but it presented a problem for the rest of us, whose classes are still mostly inhabited by white men as well and the few women we did have in our classes showed little or no interest in tackling shadowy monstrosities from beyond.

It was then that we made our second mistake, in explaining this difficulty we asked for help.

And we got it.

Professor Bentham was not au fait with any of the fields necessary for our work, only with ‘Gender Studies’, but since she simply disappeared into the stacks and did not bother us this was little worry.

More concerning by far was the application – which we could not deny – of a foreign student, a pygmy or ‘little person’ which I’m given to understand is the preferred term – of the Tcho-Tcho tribe, originally from Tibet before their diaspora.

Na-Na, for that was his name, much to the amusement of Professor Abernathy, was a problem from the start. He would scurry, disconcertingly, through the stacks and leap out at the most inopportune moments. When he attacked Professor Carnegie with a blowpipe and dragged him off into the stacks, never to be seen again, we protested only to be told that was his culture and we should not be so judgemental, that we should ‘decolonise our attitudes’ towards his rich heritage. Even when we found a human hand, gnawn upon, laid atop a leather-bound folio of The Yellow Sign, which we suspected to belong to Professor Carnegie, nothing was done. ‘Dietary requirements of his culture’ we were told.

We had other problems by then of course. Female interns from the Gender Studies course who had joined our group as aides and researchers walked out en masse having read – in passing – a tome of ritual magic attributed to Dr Dee and having taken offence at talk of esoteric principles of ‘maleness’ and ‘femaleness’ utilised in the rituals within. They would listen to no explanation and it mattered not one jot to them that this was centuries old.

Thanks to them to university paper ran an ‘expose’ on us as a hotbed of sexism and we were besieged by constant protest, culminating in the pulling of a fire alarm as part of the protest. In the ensuing confusion with the fire brigade over a century’s worth of meticulously referenced knowledge was lost, along with many first editions. A great loss to our great work.

Besieged by angry furies, sniped at constantly by a cannibalistic half-man and with our work exposed to the world we did the best we could as the stars began to turn right.

During our most delicate preparations Professor Bentham made herself known to us again, forgotten for so long. Only she was different, she had degenerated – no, sorry, transitioned – into something other, an avatar of Shub-PoCurath (you can’t say the ‘N’ word or anything that sounds like it). Hooved. Tentacled. A hundred breasts and dozens of gaping, suppurating vaginas covered the knotted trunk of her body, indistinguishable from her many babbling mouths.

Professor Abernathy attempted, heroically to intercede and shove her back into the stacks. We thought he had been devoured, but it was worse.

The next day we were awash with campus police and a worried looking person from the office of the Dean. Professor Abernathy was being held up on molestation charges. In the struggle his hands had touched at least four breasts and three vaginas and Professor Bentham, now operating under the preferred pronoun of ‘Ia’ was holding him up on rape charges.

The siege – and the fire alarms – began again.

Despite all this, as the stars came right, we held out hope that we could stave off the end. We had everything prepared, meticulously, to heal the tear in the world that would admit the dark ones to this reality. All we needed was a virginal incantrix for the climax of the ritual. We had a volunteer and at the right moment she recited the words perfectly, but nothing happened.

There could only have been one possible cause, and she had cost us the world through her dishonestly.

But, apparently, that was slut shaming.

So now, as a black sun devours the sky and shadow tentacles devastate the planet, as the campus police come to arrest me for insensitivity, even as our world comes to an end, the conspiracy becomes clear.

We were the victims of a new cult, a cult that listens and believes, a cult that will live on until the very end because they made a deal with the dark powers beyond.


Or at least #KillMenFirst


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,253 other followers