Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’


I think my next project, once my brain sorts itself out, will be a collection of short genre-erotica. The idea’s been teasing at me and I intend to do the same sort of format that I did for the pulp stories. That is, approximately 6k stories with approximately 1.5k word ‘episodes’ in four parts forming the story as a whole. I don’t know if I’ll post the pre-edited versions here as I did before, but I might.

The current plan, subject to change, would be:

  1. The Other Woman – An espionage story about a female agent of particular talent and deadly ability.
  2. Tiger Bone – An adventure story about tourists running afoul of tiger poachers.
  3. The Lady in the Castle – A fantasy story about a spoiled brat of a maid waiting in her tower for her prince to come.
  4. Cold Hands – A horror story or ‘paranormal romance’ in which a woman takes a vampire for her lover but things don’t turn out sparkles and rainbows.
  5. No Refuge – A ‘grande guignol’ mystery in which an adulterous lover is betrayed by his unconscious mind.
  6. Heart of Glass – A detective story in which our detective tries to track down a gang of jewel thieves known for using sex as a weapon.
  7. Have a Heart – A science fiction story about a jealous robot.
  8. Conqueror of the Clouds – A steampunk story of an amazing airship and its unconventional captain.
  9. Iron in the Fire – A western story about an ambitious saloon girl dealing with her competition.
  10. Debt before Dishonour – A fantasy story in which a sell-sword finds himself on the slave blocks of Khem.
  11. The Ambassador – A science fiction story about the obsequiousness of humanity in serving a more advanced race.
  12. The Suitor – A horror story about a very persistent suitor.

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3252536920_2f173fe3d5In far-flung and mysterious Salay, perfumed maidens – hands stained with spice – can read the future from the markings on a tabby-cat’s fur, but only with supreme indifference.

In frigid Nordenhelm where fire is a god, they read their augers in the vomit of drunkards. That they drink mead is the only thing that makes the task tolerable to their shamen.

In Ilmac, in the wind-blown, obsidian towers of the High Skeptomancers they scoff at signs and omens, but they can discern what is likely to happen with their numbers and their reason.

In Syllabur the Cult of Silk claims to see the paths of fate in the trickle of semen on a virgin’s breast – but we suspect the old men lie.

The Hermit of Stoone, if pressed, will present his own secret to knowing the future. It is simply this:
To wait for it to happen, patiently.

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Ring! Ring! Ring!

Who the hell uses a phone box any more? Other than flexible homeless people looking for shelter, foreigners with shitty cell phone plans and closing-time drunks in need of an emergency urinal?

Well, it turns out that even if phone boxes are neglected by much of the ‘normal’ world they’re still fetish objects for a whole host of urban myth and magic.

Red Phone Box is a story cycle contributed to by a bundle of great new and old talent and curated and edited by Tim & Salome. Salome does the editing on my stories, Tim will be known to many of you as a Master of Puzzles and one of the guys involved with Nightfall Games.

This project means I’m going to be published alongside Warren Ellis – something I never thought would happen – and it has also formed a loose community of creative people to form around it. It’s less a book than a family in many ways and it has cemented my love for the way social media can create something wonderful by pulling together writers and artists who are normally fairly… well, hermetic.

Anyway, I think you should back it. It deserves to be out there, read and enjoyed and with support there’ll be a sequel.

It’s a fever dream, pressed between the covers of a book like a preserved and delicate flower.

It’s cheaper than drugs.

Back it.

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xlargeI’m sure you’ve seen that picture, above, doing the rounds. Many people seem to think it makes some clever point about gender, SF & Fantasy art and so on. I don’t particularly think that it does. The aim is, apparently, to show the silliness of the first cover by changing the genders around to create some kind of ‘aha’ moment in the viewer but in that task I can’t see that it succeeds. The humour here is not the ‘aha, look how ridiculously women are treated in art’ but rather the ‘haha’ of the pantomime dame or the incompetent transvestite. Its not funny because its a transposition its funny because its a bunch of unfit men in feminine poses. Tellingly, the woman in the supposedly ‘masculine’ pose doesn’t look silly, which rather demonstrates how one-sided this all can be.

The cover on the left is clearly a call-back to James Bond, steeped in reference and film and literary history. An actual reversal has been done in James Bond and wasn’t ridiculous. That was a genuine like for like substitution and, tellingly, it’s a) not funny and b) beloved by many women.

Any point that might be trying to be made is lost because of the stupidity and, yet again, all you end up with is a circle-jerk of the already convinced talking about how clever and meaningful it is. There are discussions to be had on this topic, but cheap and nonsensical stunts like this (and the other cover poses) that fail to take into account gender dimorphism, athleticism, reference etc and fail to do a like-for-like change don’t add anything to it other than being a jumping-off point for discussion.

If I had the skills to do it it might be interesting to do a genuine like-for-like substitution of the same cover, (Tom Daley might make a good swimwear substitute rather than out-of-shape writers) but alas I don’t.


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insects-in-amber-distantCaruth cries and the tears soften and cut tracks through the crust around his eyes. He’s forced flat by the weight of them, three of them, pinning his legs and his trifurcated trunk to the cold, rough cobbles of the alley. He can’t move, can’t do anything but protest as the straddle him and pin him with their weight and even his cries are stifled, a boot pressing down and crushing his trunk, barely a squeak making it out of the nostrils.

The ruffian tears back his robe, revealing his face, his back. A glittering trail of golden gems studding his thick, oily skin. It hurts as the brute grasps and squeezes at the flesh and there is a ‘pop’ that is felt, rather than heard.

The amber lozenge pops from the thick skin, dripping sebum  and leaving a raw, pinkish hole in his flesh. The footpad shakes the oil from his prize and holds it up to the lamplight. An oval comedone of hard amber and –  deep in the centre of it – the preserved and perfect body of a flea.

Caruth tries to shift, his skin raw now, desperate to be free of them. They’re stealing his only legacy. It’s hopeless, years on the street have left him week and feeble. He freezes, feeling the point of a knife against his brow.

“Cut the skin free. We can pick ’em out later.”

This is it.

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Here’s my latest pulp short story in edited, amended and shiny form for you to purchase. Perfect for a commuting read. This whole series of short stories are based around a more modern-ish, knowing wink at the pulps.

The Dastard is a thief and an outcast, he cares for nobody but himself. To pull off this job, however, he’s going to need friends – and permission. Neither of which he’s used to dealing with. Then the treasure may not be entirely what he expected either…





This is, roughly, a halfway point in my pulp short story project, there will be a compilation at the end of all this. You can get every short story so far in a single lump from DrivethruFiction HERE.

If you run a pulp-friendly blog, podcast or other review thingy, please get in touch and I shall shower you with freebies in exchange for publicity.

Art by the world’s most fantastic cat-mum, Rowena Aitken (with assistance from Pixel the cat).

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Out on the frontier the streets are straight and the houses grow in neat little rows just waiting for someone to come along and occupy them. Mile upon mile of identical looking boxes stretching away into infinity, curving up to the horizon. It is maddening, dizzying and any sense of progress is difficult to find. The only thing that’s wild, the only thing that’s different are the plants growing in the untended gardens, window boxes and parks with nobody to tame them.

Where people live things are more chaotic, more interesting, more different. The straight lines become ragged, the houses are shifted, changed and moved. Lithomancers work their magic on bricks and mortar, tiles and stone and force the houses to grow as their owners want them. Even without the tender touch of a loving craftsman a building will shift and turn over the lifetimes of the residents, reflecting their dreams, their aspirations and their crafts.

Straight lines disappear beneath the babbling and bubbling humanity of the streets. Street stalls cling to the twisting, living houses and ruin the lines of the streets. The drains overflow with the waste and detritus of the people. It’s a glorious, living mess and so different to the unsettled areas.

Sometimes though, a street turns bad.

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