The story features possibly the most useless zombie ever. I submitted this story to an open call for authors for an anthology. The editor liked the story, but said the tone was too humorous for the volume (what can I say, I don’t usually write in this genre). Some interesting news came out after I wrote this. More below the story (spoiler avoidance).
We’d driven up from London. The colonel’s hand-delivered summons had procured us an old beat-up Ford and nominally sufficient fuel rations in short order. The army depot had offered us a driver as well, but I didn’t have much opportunity to get behind the wheel, and had therefore declined the favour. The drive had been uneventful, thankfully, despite Charlies’ known predilection for practical jokes.
The facility sat on the edge of a small, rustic village, and had clearly been intended to appear as unobtrusive from the air as possible. There was a small gatehouse at the end of a long drive, situated under the canopy of an oak tree, and then further camouflaged with netting.
We were dressed in mufti, so the guards at the gate made us exit the vehicle and searched both us and the car thoroughly, before calling the building using a bakelite hand-cranked field-phone, to check our bona fides.
The building itself appeared to be a beautiful old pile from the outside, its facade covered with ivy that almost completely obscured the blacked-out windows. Continue reading
I wrote this a while back. Submitted it to Clarkesworld and then AE. Alas, both rejected it. The positive side is that I can now post it here. This is an attempt at writing something more down-beat. It didn’t really come together the way I’d intended though. Let’s just call it an experiment.
There’s a message waiting for me in the com shed. I’d hauled the remaining computers and communication gear there when everyone left. Small flat-panel satellite receiver bolted onto the corrugated metal roof. Still have enough juice for the generator for another year or two. Not sure what I’ll do when that runs out. If I’m still around then.
I pick up my headset and call them back. Reception is good this time of day. The satellite network isn’t too bad, most of the time, but it does have some gaps, and the station isn’t directly overhead at the moment.
“Hey, its our local hermit,” somebody says, answering my call. “Hang on, I’ll go get Zhaan. I think I saw her around here a few minutes ago.” I close my eyes for a while and wait. Continue reading
In honor of Canada Day, and also my entry in the July SF short story contest on LinkedIn. The theme was a recent news story (past few years), summer and mosquitoes.
The sun had mostly gone down over the western shore of Lake Simcoe.
We sat out on the deck, watching the light fade, swatting mosquitoes. I sipped away slowly at a nicely-chilled pale ale, and my brother Guy poked the barbeque desultorily with a metal rod. I could hear the rest of the family chatting through the sliding door.
The red and green lights of the channel into the marina reflected in the water in the distance. In the other direction, somebody was setting off celebratory fireworks at one of the waterfront mansions along Millionaire Row. Continue reading
It is nearly apsis in Ephis, The City on a Rock, the City that Almost Never Entirely Sleeps. We have traveled as far as we ever get from our little sun.
The Bright Side is on mood lighting now, and soon the light-siders will be flitting on over to the Night Side to play.
“You sure you can fix her in time?” Samir asks me. He plays gently with the keys of his piano, not pressing hard enough even to make a tone. Continue reading
My entry for the May short story competition on the Science Fiction readers, writers, collectors, and artists group on LinkedIn. I’ve been thinking of writing something slightly more substantial around the idea of the Roman Candle FTL Drive. The following story is obviously based on Wodehouse. Lemme know what you think.
“Roman Candle drives are simple things,” declared Wilbur. He brandished a large adjustable wrench in his right hand. “The mathematics are hairy, I’ll grant you that, but the machinery itself is trivially simple.”
He made a small declaratory tap of the wrench on the base of the auxiliary capacitor bank. “Tesla could have built this,” he added, further clarifying his intentions with a slightly harder tap.
“Sir, you’re likely to get your jacket covered in grease,” said Fox, attempting to draw Wilbur’s attention away, and potentially avert tragedy. “If you’ll allow me, why don’t I take a look at it while you chart our course?” Continue reading
Just submitted a short story for a collection. Hopefully it will make the cut. Otherwise will post it here.
It was a bit different than anything I’ve written before. Dark comedy, alternative history story.
I’ve been polishing a story that is going into an anthology that is being released (hopefully) a bit later this year. Will post more details once they firm up. Will write more here as soon as I have time!
My entry for the science fiction readers, writers, collectors and artists group’s
April short story contest. The story has to feature revenge, fire and cannot begin with the word “the”.
“Vengeance is therapy,” said the cyborg.
He sat several empty stools down the bar from me, with an evil-looking drink in hand, and an even half-dozen upturned glasses before him.
The bar sat on the outside skin of the station. A transparent strip zig-zagged its way across the floor, revealing the revolving star-scape. A nice touch in a place with few such. Continue reading
A bunch of people were discussing variations of the Alcubierre drive on the SF writers group on LinkedIn. While “warp” drives aren’t mathematically impossible (as far as anyone can tell), they do require something called negative energy, which is currently only known to exist in cases like the Casimir effect, which isn’t particularly useful from an engineering standpoint.
My contribution to the discussion was an oddball variant of the Alcubierre drive that looks like it would be a lot of fun to write about. I put together the following snippet to give you the flavor:
Warp drive gave us the solar system, but not the stars.
Ah yes, our beautiful, kludgy, ephemeral roman candle spaceships. Light up a puny chemical rocket for your delta vee. Discharge your great banks of ceramic capacitors to ionize plasma. Cloak it around your ship with magnets to make imaginary waveguides spawning negative energy in abundance.
In an instant, the grand old Alcubierre effect takes charge, curving the very universe around you. Away you go, as close to old man cee as a split hair, spitting electrical sparks in all directions, flaring incandescently in purple and magenta and white like an aurora on amphetamines – until your magical plasma dissipates or is knocked askew. Continue reading
“All right people, we’ve spotted a new crypto-currency. Let’s look alive folks!” the guy in suspenders clapped his hands loudly to punctuate his statement.
“Any idea where this one is coming from, boss?” asked a guy in the front row, wearing thick-framed glasses.
“Do we have a ruling from FINRA?” called somebody from the back.
“What is it called? I need a ticker symbol.”
“FINRA and the SEC are standing aside for the moment. The currency is called MUNEE. Why can’t these idiots spell correctly? I have word that it is already on all of the big exchanges,” the boss man spake.
There was a great and frenetic clattering of keyboards throughout the trading floor, interrupted occasionally with swearing as a trade misfired.
One of the senior traders waved his boss into a side room.
“I’ve got one of my sources looking into where the heck these crypto-currencies are coming from,” he said.
“Don’t ask,” he responded. “When these things go live, there are almost immediately a whole bunch of side betting sites created, and it seems to take only a few minutes for them to hit the big virtual currency exchanges. There’s immediate and massive trading, and the ticker always goes straight up. And nobody can trace an IP address on any of them.”
“Well the person or persons responsible are obviously not idiots. Even the economics are perfectly tuned. This one has an estimated annual deflation rate of zero point one. Our chief economist hath spoken.”
“My guy managed to get some source code though, and that’s the strange part,” said the trader.
“Well there are some funny comments in it.”
“I don’t have all day, you know.”
The trader paused for a second as if to collect his thoughts.
“It says something about how Earthlings will buy anything.”
This is obviously a shaggy dog story, as Isaac Asimov used to put it. It is the first part of a longer story that I am still working on. More news here as it happens.