Monday, February 23, 2009


My story The Glass Cage is currently up at the very fine webzine Aphelion. I’m particularly pleased about this one since it was the first story I completed when I made my return to writing after a somewhat lengthy hiatus.

To mythologize myself for a moment, it’s part of my Shining Cities sequence of stories which so far consists of about half a dozen stories set at the end of Earth’s life-cycle (my contribution to the whole Dying Earth sub-genre of SF and F) two of which have now seen the light of day (the other being What Dread Words which appeared in Sorcerous Signals last year) and a third ‘orphan’ story – The Bone House – is scheduled to appear in Beneath Ceaseless Skies later this year (I call it an orphan story since it is set in the same world as the Shining Cities stories but makes no direct reference to them).

Now, I know that it’s a little strange to write about a series of stories that are (mostly) still at the ‘sitting on my hard drive/ in my drawer/ nothing more than notes and half-finished stage’ but shameless self promotion is shameless self promotion.

The Glass Cage was the first completed story of the Shining Cities sequence before I even knew that it was going to be a sequence (if that makes any sense) and is a fairly straightforward sword and sorcery tale but is the story that sets the tone for the subsequent Shining Cities tales: bleak yet hopeful, action orientated yet (I hope) philosophical in their nature.

Fiction set at the end of the world or the end of time has always fascinated me since it offers endless possibilities for tone, style and narrative choices. Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique stories with their dulled glitter and hedonistic cruelty, Michael Moorcock’s Dancers At The End of Time with their playful tone and larger than life characters, the slow entropy of M. John Harrison’s Viriconium where audacious feats are not simply the preserve of the characters but of the author himself, turning the very notion of what the stories mean directly on its head, the wildly colourful world of Brian Aldiss’ Hothouse and, of course, the jewelled prose of Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth.

While I do not and never would compare myself to any of these writers it is because of them that I feel so at home at the end of the world (in a fictional sense). Added to that is a deep and abiding love and admiration for the work of Max Ernst who’s paintings, particularly Europe After The Rain and Silence, have always seemed to me to encapsulate the endless possibilities of The End.

Yes, I feel at home at the end of the world – so I may just stay there a little longer.

The Glass Cage: Aphelion

What Dread Words: Sorcerous Signals(

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