Tuesday, September 28, 2010


All writers go though troughs, I reckon, and I've been going through another one of mine recently, with a few rejections in my inbox over the past couple of days. Mustn't grumble too much, though, as at least one acceptance has also landed in and I've also done a mini-interview for Innsmouth Free Press, chatting briefly about my upcoming story The Song of Tussugaroth which is due to appear there early next month.

Also next month, the first issue of a new sword and sorcery ezine, Iron Bound, is due to go live and will contain my short story The Cold Legions (which explains the wintery landscape on the right).

Swings and roundabouts, as they say.

You can find Innsmouth Free Press here:

And Iron Bound here:

Monday, September 27, 2010


... on behalf of Nathan Meyer, whose new novel is currently available from Mirrorstone.
Aldwyn's Academy: A Companion Novel to A Practical Guide to Wizardry

Enter a school for magic where even the first day can be (un)deadly...On the very first day of school at the world-famous Aldwyns Academy for Wizardry, fledgling wizard Dorian Ravensmith finds himself immersed in a mystery. White wolves have been attacking incoming students. Ghosts are haunting the Snapping Dragon Gardens. And the professors lurk in the halls, whispering about a shadowy wizard who seems to be behind it all.That night, Dorian spies a figure creeping into the Snapping Dragon Gardens and and he follows, certain that with the help of a few magic items and simple potions, he can catch the culprit by daybreak and return a hero. But as hobgoblins, banshees, and a terrifying dragon try to stop him at every turn, Dorian discovers that he's stepped into an (un)deadly trap that could not only destroy his future as a wizard but also the beloved wizardry school.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Edited by Jonathan Laden and Michele Barasso, Daily Science Fiction does exactly what it says on the tin - delivering sf and fantasy stories to your inbox every weekday.

Recent authors have included Colin Harvey, Cat Rambo, Melissa Mead, Ree Young and Debs Walker.

It'll only cost you a little time to subscribe and any new market for short fiction is always worth supporting.

You can find out more here: http://dailysciencefiction.com/

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Courtesy of the SF Reader Forum comes news of a new bi-lingual webzine, Onirismes. Published in both English and French, Onirismes is ‘dedicated to publishing short fiction and poetry that belong in the fields of speculative and fantastic literature (Fantasy, Science fiction, and all kinds of interstitial experiments).’

It all sounds rather good to me.

You can find out more here:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jupiter/ The Earth Beneath My Feet

SFCrowsnest has a good review of the current issue of Jupiter currently online. Reviewer Rod McDonald singles out Nigel Fisher's debut story 'Oil on Canvas' for particular praise (and quite right, too, it's an excellent story) but also has nice things to say about my own contribution to the issue The Earth Beneath My Feet.

You can read the full review here:

Friday, September 3, 2010


Without doubt the greatest popular novelist of our time, Stephen King is also one of the biggest champions and finest exponents of the short story. In an age when we are constantly being told that the short story is dead as the dodo or that short story collection simply don’t sell (but then, I’m fairly certain they never did in any real quantities) Stephen King constantly bucks the trend.

More importantly, the man has a real love for the short form, which is evident in both the introductions to his collections and the story notes which appear in them. His 1978 collection Night Shift is probably one of the best single-author collections out there (and contains such stories as Children of the Corn, The Mangler, Sometimes They Come Back, Quitters Inc and the wonderfully Lovecraftian Jerusalem’s Lot (a prequel to ‘Salem’s Lot).

1985’s Skeleton Crew doesn’t have quite the same ratio of instantly brilliant stories but does contain his wonderful novella The Mist and a clutch of SF shorts such as The Jaunt and Beachworld that are perhaps atypical of King’s work but are nonetheless entertaining reads. The real jewel in the crown however is Survivor Type, one of the finest gross-out tales ever written. Not that the story is particularly graphic or bloody (certainly not when compared to the ‘splatterpunk’ of Clive Barker or the early novels of James Herbert) but its central question – how much of himself can a man actually eat? - is a nicely shuddersome one.

Written as the diary of Richard Pine (aka Richard Pinzetti), a skilled surgeon although less than wholesome individual who finds himself marooned on a coral island with no food and only, “four gallons of water. A sewing kit. This book I’m writing in… two knives, one dull and one fairly sharp, one combination fork and spoon… two kilos of pure heroin, worth about $350,000, New York street value.”

Dr Pine, you see, has never had any qualms about selling blank prescriptions, or diet pills. Or Librium. Or in this case transporting two kilos of heroin from Thailand to the USA, a last-gasp business transaction when he finds the authorities on his trail.

But with the sinking of the liner that was taking him home and a hasty, selfish escape, Pine finds himself on a barren island “190 paces wide at its thickest point, and some 267 paces long from tip to tip.”

Starving, but savagely determined to survive, Pine kills and eats a seagull (raw) but his second attempt to catch a bird results in a broken ankle: “a compound fracture. It went like a gunshot. The pain was unbelievable.”

Unable to move and with the risk of infection setting in, Pine decides that the only course of action open to him is to amputate his own foot, using a generous amount of heroin as anesthetic. “And as wretched as I am I still want to live. I remember what Mockridge used to say in Basic Anatomy… Sooner or later, he’d say, the question comes up in every medical student’s career: How much shock trauma can the patient stand?... Cut to its base level, gentlemen, he’d say, the answer is always another question: How badly does the patient want to survive.
I think I can bring it off.
I really do.

What follows thereafter is as gruesome as it is inevitable:
“I was very careful.
I washed it thoroughly before I ate it.”

As hunger and regular snots of heroin begin to take their toll, Pine comes to accept that “…that the only help I could look to in the matter of replenishing my sapped vitality was my own body.”

Systematically, like a mechanic stripping an engine, Pine begins to literally devour himself from the feet upwards. And as the nature of the narrator changes so too does the nature of the narrative.

Initially lucid and straightforward, the diary begins to change tone as Pine records his thoughts, mixing hallucination, fever dream, pain and the rush and withdrawal of heroin addiction. “Took the other leg at the knee. Sleepy all day. “Doctor was this operation necessary?” Haha. Shaky hands, like an old man. Hate them. Blood under the fingernails. Scabs.”

“Am I insane yet? I must be. I’m a monster now, a freak. Nothing left below the groin. Just a freak. A head attached to a torso dragging itself along the sand by the elbows. A crab. A stoned crab… Hey man I’m just a poor stoned crab can you spare me a dime.

There are a number of factors that make Survivor Type a great short story. First is the sheer audacity of its central idea – that of self-cannibalism – second is the character of Richard Pine himself; despite the fact that he is utterly unlikeable, King manages to inject a certain sympathy into the character so that rather than hate we come to grudgingly admire Pine (for a while anyway). Third is King’s writing, which shifts Pine’s voice effortlessly from clarity to near-madness, to self-pity to bullish thug, to, well, the survivor type.

“Who cares, this hand or that, good food good meat good God let’s eat.”

With Stephen King as its protector the short story is in good hands.