the great tome of fantastic and wondrous places

The Great Tome of Fantastic and Wondrous Places (The Great Tome Series Book 3) available now, featuring my short story "Fury world": https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01L2V0GCM/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_IPU4xbJCWM1EV


Writers of the future contest

My short story "Willy" has received an honourable mention in the L. Ron Hubbard writers of the future contest for quarter 3 2016.

My short story "second floor" has been accepted

My short story "second floor" has been accepted for publication in bards & sages quarterly magazine July 2017 issue.


My short story "Willy" has been published

My short story "Willy" about a rogue AI in deep space is in the new issue of Nebula Rift magazine, out now in Kindle / PDF format.


Excerpt from my short story "Second floor"

As the rain of a cold, dreary December afternoon pounded against the small, high window, other things came flooding back to her. Coughing and sneezing due to the dust, Eilidh flicked the light switch on and, taking in the room in greater detail, she spotted several more items that had once been dear to her. She stepped over some boxes and edged past a wardrobe to get to the far side of the room, remembering the peeling patterned wallpaper, the threadbare carpet, the musty smell, and the itchiness she had often felt after spending long spells in the room due to the dust. Subconsciously scratching at the back of her wrist, she then pulled the sheet off a large painting that rested against a sideboard; a landscape, snowy mountains, a wooden shack, a dirt track, a calm river, trees. She had loved this painting. It had featured as the background to many of her expeditions through her Grandmother's past. One thing about it had always bothered her, though, and she smiled again as she remembered. There were several small boats on the river, but the artist had, for some reason, painted one of them half way off the edge of the picture. On the one hand, she supposed that it was simply to add to the illusion of life, of a living, breathing world. But on the other, it just didn't sit quite right in Eilidh's eyes, and somehow it made her feel as though the painting was somehow incomplete, that the half-boat was an anomaly, taking away from the otherwise perfect piece.
Turning away, Eilidh almost tripped over another box that lay in the middle of the floor; the box, she now remembered, that she had been looking through last time she was here. Sitting down next to it, she began rifling through the contents, remembering this thing or that, even remembering the point where she had stopped last time. She smiled yet again, thinking how strange it was that such detail of things long forgotten can return so quickly, given the right stimuli. Not many people get the chance to return to something exactly as they left it after so long, and the experience was electric, her brain working overtime, her heart racing, sweat breaking out on her forehead, a result of the freight train that was barrelling through her mind, picking up memories along the way and thrusting them into the forefront of her consciousness.  

Upcoming bards & sages anthology part II

My short story "The bad, bad luck of Judson Worley" is due to be published in the Bards & Sages Anthology "The Great Tome of Cryptids and Legendary Creatures" due for release December 2016.


Upcoming bards & sages anthology

My short story "fury world" is due to be published in the bards & sages publishing "great tome of fantastic and wondrous places", out in September in paperback and Kindle/PDF:  http://www.bardsandsages.com/speculative_fiction/great_tome_vol_3


Author interview

Back in February I was interviewed by Fiona Mcvie from authorsinterviews.wordpress.com. You can read the full interview here: http://tinyurl.com/jlfrpuk

Excerpt from my short story "Willy"

“I’m logging this information for my own personal use, as I’m having trouble keeping track of everything that’s been going on. It’s hard to explain. The implant continues to function perfectly, as far as I can tell, and any suspicions I may have had have been quelled by the ships chronometer, which is infallible. But I’ve started to notice things, just little things here and there, which don’t quite add up. For example, two days ago, I performed scheduled, routine maintenance in the hydroponic bay. I took the usual readings, cleared out the troughs, checked the nozzle heads, and took growth measurements. Nothing out of the ordinary to report. But then, yesterday, Willy sent me back into hydroponics to perform an emergency procedure - a converter in one of the wall panels had blown. I’ve told Willy many, many times that I was concerned by the condensation in the bay, and that the temperature controls were set too high, but all he says is “Commander Wilkins, everything is within normal operational parameters” etc. etc. Anyway, I knew something was off the second I walked in there. I was swatting branches out of my face just to get to the back wall, when just the day before it had been mostly clear. On a whim, I took some of the same growth measurements I had taken the previous day, and the results were puzzling to say the least. One of the tomato vines in particular was highly anomalous, having grown a full thirteen inches, in less than twenty four hours! I checked and double checked everything, the measurements, the chronometer, my implant settings, and everything checks out. But I don’t know, I’m no horticulturalist and maybe, in these extreme conditions such a growth spurt isn’t completely out of the ordinary. And if there was something going wrong with the implant and I was being kept under for extended periods, then surely I would experience extra hair and beard growth, or body odour, which I can report is not the case. So, I’ve come up with an idea. In the morning, I’m going to attempt to access the level eight secure data on the ships computer. I only have a level seven decryption tag, so it isn’t going to be easy, but if there’s one thing I’m good for it’s getting what I need out of a computer system – five years of specialised cyber security training have seen to that. So, what am I looking for? Well, this afternoon I remembered an old conversation with associate administrator King, about the subjects used in the initial testing phase of the Nebulon-AZ3 active sleep implant. His daughter Tabatha, an ESF trainee, had volunteered for the testing – under Administrator King’s encouragement, no doubt, to ensure transparency. So my thinking is that there has to be some sort of record of that testing, or at the very least a blueprint or technical manual explaining the inner workings of the device. It’s a simple case of investigation and elimination, and I’m eager to get my teeth into the history of this implant that I so hastily stuck inside my body. I hope it’s all above board, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m going to find a nice little piece of the puzzle hidden away in there somewhere. Wilkins out.”

My Amazon author page

Kindle editions of the issues of Efiction and Nebula Rift featuring my short stories are now up on Amazon, which means I now have an Amazon author page where all of my stuff can be found in one place: http://tinyurl.com/zeuc44b


Magazines featuring my short stories are 1/2 price

Publications featuring my short stories are currently 50% off, use promo code SPRINGSALE: OFFER NOW ENDED


Excerpt from my short story "On the horn"

Dancer flipped the arm rests down and eased back into the drivers seat. He stared out of the narrow viewfinder at the sheer rock face on his left, then across the open bushland to the right, randomly dotted with boulders of various sizes, probably dropped by some ancient, retreating glacier. The blue-purple sky was getting darker with every passing second; there was maybe thirty minutes of light left at most. Drawing in a long, deep breath and exhaling slowly, Dancer grabbed his datapad. He already knew his schedule, he’d checked it every day for the last week, but now that the work cycle was coming to an end, he enjoyed looking at it all the same. Eighty six days on world, four to go. He just had to deliver this last consignment and get the roller back to the depot, then he was off on the next shuttle to orbit, and from there, the next cruiser back to Earth for two months rest. But right now, he had other things to think about. Setting down the datapad, he looked out the viewport once again, trying to spot something, anything, that was remotely familiar. Yeah, something wasn’t right. Better wake Steffens thought Dancer, grabbing the internal comms mic and, as a mischievous smile crossed his lips, cranked up the volume level in the bunk module to maximum.
“Hey Steffens, rise and shine! Better get up here! we’ve got new orders from base. Come on Steffens, I need your eyes up here on the double!”
“Jesus Dancer, you trying to give me a heart attack back here?! I’m telling you, it wasn’t funny the last time and it sure as hell isn’t funny now! Anyway, I’ve still got three hours of my rest period left, what’s so important that…”
“Hey, like I said, orders from base. They sent us a nav update a while back and…”
“Yeah yeah, spare me the details. I’ll be right up.” Then, under his breath, “ Jackass.”
“Hey, I heard that!”
“Yeah yeah… turn the damn volume down you jack… ah forget it.”
 Dancer switched off the mic, chuckling to himself. He knew he should probably stop messing with Steffens, he was bound to get him back one day. On the other hand, he was senior driver and outranked the new kid, so might as well have his fun while it lasted. Feeling satisfied with himself, Dancer had just settled down into the drivers seat once again when the roller hit something, probably one of the smaller boulders, and the vehicle bounced up in the air, coming down with a thump and almost throwing Dancer out of his seat. The auto-nav was programmed to avoid any objects large enough to cause damage to the roller, but this one must have been just outside of the parameters. Just about audible over the rumble of the engines and the crunch and grind of the huge, two hundred inch wheels, Dancer heard a loud bang and clatter from the bunk module, followed by a pained yelp from Steffens. He chuckled to himself again, bursting into uproarious laughter as the door to the bunk module opened to reveal a flustered looking Steffens, sweating and dribbling blood from a superficial head wound.
“Thanks for the heads up, genius! You knew I was up and about, least you could do is keep your eyes on the road! I mean… oh, just fuck you. Fuck you Dancer! You like that? Fuck you man!”
This only encouraged Dancer more, and it was several minutes before he managed to compose himself, by which time Steffens had settled down into the co-drivers seat.
“Ok Steffens, I’m sorry, playtime is over now, ok? Anyway, we got a problem up here I need you to take a look at. Can you keep an eye on the auto-nav readout while I try and get my bearings with the external cameras? I don’t really know how to explain it to you, but I just get the feeling that we aren’t where the nav-com says we are.”

“Yeah, no problem Dancer, but I’m telling you, I can’t deal with 
any more of your crap today…


My short story "Fury World" has been published

My short story "Fury world" has been published in the new issue of Nebula Rift magazine, available here: http://www.fictionmagazines.com/shop/nebula-issues/nebula-rift-vol-04-no-02/


Excerpt from my short story "On the horn"

“Dancer… Dancer I don’t like this. What is going on, man? It’s like you said earlier, with the rock formations, and the unbroken earth… we aren’t in the right place. Rodriguez must have overridden the sat-com, rigged it to send out a false position… I dunno, I’m no radio technician, but… ah, man, where the hell are we going?”
Dancer was silent, staring out the viewfinder. Making every effort to remain as calm as possible, he lifted the radio and, through gritted teeth, hissed “Yugo base. This is Dancer in Roller Twelve. Do you receive me. Over. I say again, Yugo base, this is Dancer. Are you receiving me? Hello? Is anybody receiving me at Yugo base? Rodriguez, Jenkins, will someone respond?”
The channel cracked and hissed, but no response came. Dancer switched to the general emergency channel, just in case there was another Roller nearby – he knew there wasn’t, but anything was worth a try now. Again, there was no response.
“Steffens, we have no choice, we are going to have to ride it out until dawn and see for ourselves where in the hell we are when the sun comes up. We’ve been off course for more than four hours, and we could easily be in unmapped territory by now. God damned company! You know buddy, the first couple of years out here were great, really great. We got all the training, all the support, all the spare parts you needed and then some. If anything went wrong, even the slightest niggle with the Roller, there’d be support vehicles despatched from multiple locations to guide you home. There weren’t any decommissioned relief bases, or comm stations with only one technician on duty. There were three men to each Roller, and they even made some of the more important runs by dropship. Now though, it’s like this whole place is falling apart. I can’t believe they actually gave me a co-driver for this run now that I think about it; I’ve been running solo out here for, oh, the last two or three work cycles. Some of the guys I joined up with back at the beginning, lifers like me, just stopped coming back after their off time back on Earth. When I tracked a couple down back home, they told me they got laid off! You’ve seen all the raw materials we’re carrying around out here, right Steffens? No way anybody should be getting laid off, this planet is an embarrassment of riches. Then they replace them with… no offence kid, but, well, you new guys just don’t get the training we got. When they first planned this expedition, we were signed up to three years training – yeah, that’s right, three years! Toughest part was the acclimatisation simulators. You see that rebreather you carry around there? Well us old timers don’t need them because we spent months cooped up in pressurized chambers, to teach our bodies to breathe the atmosphere here on 296e. But you new guys, you get six weeks training, and then get sent out here with no clue what you’re doing, unable to breathe the atmosphere, and barely getting paid enough to make coming all the way out here worthwhile! I mean, Steffens, you’re alright buddy, don’t take it personally, but I really miss some of those guys, you know? Ah hell, forget about it. Sorry to go on about it, it just gets to me. But hey, it passes the time, eh?”
“Erm, yeah, sure thing Dancer. Thanks for the history lesson. I’ve, er, got some news feeds I’d like to take a look at if you don’t mind…”
“yeah, whatever, I’ll shut up for a while. Have at it, kid.”



Excerpt from my short story "Fury World"

As the planet shook, the creature stirred. It’s massive body, wrapped around the planet’s core like a dog warming it’s belly by the fire, began to expand and contract as it flexed long dormant muscles and tendons. It took stock of it’s extremities; countless tendrils, each many miles long, spread far and wide throughout the planets mantle. Their tips rested amongst underground caverns and fissures, drawing in moisture and minerals that were, for the most part, impossible for any drill to exploit, although a small percentage of the creatures appendages did come within reach of the surface. Still, it had no desire to go up there. It was cold, and barren on the surface. No, it would not travel to the edges of its world. Not unless it had no other choice.
Many years ago, they had come. They had dared to come to it’s world, to change it for their own needs, and to walk upon it as if it was their own. The first time, it had not been ready for them, and once the terra-ships had left, it seemed that their activity had become minimal. The creature, though angered, allowed them to remain. For now. If they respected it’s world, it would respect them.
Years later, the ships returned, and the creature remained idle no longer. It extended a tendril and plucked the Tau Ceti out of the sky as though it were a child’s toy, but it allowed the other ships to flee, returning to it’s eternal slumber. A warning, then.
But now, they returned a third time. Had they no value for their own lives? Was it’s world so important to them? There were other worlds, uninhabited worlds, ripe for the taking. But they chose to return here once more. It had lain here for millennia, waiting for another of it’s kind to make contact. Perhaps it was the last, it did not know. But there was one thing that it did know - It would no longer tolerate these pathetic mortals to walk upon it’s home, to change it, to pile their waste upon it, to build their structures and land their vessels. They would pay the ultimate price for their transgressions. The creature, enraged, began to dig.


My short story "Lifespan" has been published

My short story "Lifespan" has been published in the new edition of Nebula Rift magazine, available here:  http://www.fictionmagazines.com/shop/nebula-issues/nebula-rift-vol-04-no-01/


Excerpt from my short story "Lifespan"

Reality smacked Bobby hard in the face. 1, 2, 3… his eyes came into focus, his mind began to clear. It was freezing cold, he was starving and his clothes were tattered rags. Every bone and muscle in his body ached; he had never felt so physically exhausted in his life. He stood amongst a small gathering of the similarly unfortunate. What had he signed up for? His memory was hazy, but this… somehow, this wasn't real. Or at least, this wasn't him.
A group of soldiers, their weapons raised, stood a few metres away behind an infuriated… Sergeant? Captain? In any case, the leader. He was yelling in… German? - Bobby was never any good with languages - and waving a Luger pistol over his head. Where the fuck am I? Thought Bobby, but then, as soon as he had asked himself the question, he knew. No! Anything but this, anything! Oh Jesus fucking Christ not this!
7, 8, 9… The soldiers moved amongst them, selected nine people, seemingly at random, and lined them up in front of the rest of the group. Bobby was the last in line. He wanted to fight against them, to scream, to run, to beg for mercy. He was an American citizen for Christ’s sake! But he wasn't in control. Something came back to him then. This is not me thought Bobby. But even so… 30 seconds? That means something. 30 seconds...
The chosen nine were forced to their knees, and down onto their bellies. Nobody resisted. Their faces were stony, emotionless. Bobby remembered why. 14, 15, 16… He heard the first gunshot. Moments later, a second. By the time the eighth gunshot rang out, the person Bobby had become was shaking and crying, but he still did not resist. The leader stood over him, shouting, ejected the clip from his pistol, and slammed in another. Bobby felt the cold metal press into the back of his shaven head, 27, 28, 29... and howled a silent scream, lost inside this other mind. No matter how loud he tried to yell, nobody could hear him.


Excerpt from my short story "The bad, bad luck of Judson Worley"

"Back in them days, only tele-ma-vision in Makersville was owned by Bobby Dickers down at Dickers grain and feed, an’ he was a mean old sort, not a feller, for example, to let other folks in his house, ya get me? But the whole town was a buzzin’ at the thought o’ seein’ one of their own bein’ broadcast to the masses, an’ that miserable son of a bitch Bobby Dickers eventually agreed to let the folk o’ the town into his home – for a price, o’ course! Second problem was, his house was barely big enough for him and his family, let alone a couple o’ hundred townsfolk, so once the important people, the landowners, storeowners, and o’ course the old timers were all seated up inside the house, weren’t no room for much of anybody else! What ensued was nothin’ short o’ a carnival; ya got people starin’ in the window, bringin’ stools and steps to try and see over everyone else, ya got folks climbin’ on roofs, up trees, on balconies, shoutin’ for Bobby Dickers to move that tele-ma-vision up to the window so they could see! I even saw one feller, no word of a lie, up a telegraph pole out in the Jackson field, tryin’ ta watch with a tele-ma-scope, no word of a lie, I tell ya! Well, after all the commotion and kerfufflin’, folks finally got settled down to watch the show. Jud was third on the bill, and we all sat patiently though some crooner and a good ol’ country boy, same ol’ same ol’ back in them days, ya get me? And then sure enough, after an enthusiastic introduction from the host, Jud swaggered out on the stage, with a full band accompaniment behind ‘im; horns, backin’ singers, you name it! The crowd was on they feet, cheerin’ an’ a hollerin’, watchin’ Jud stroll across toward the mic, clutchin’ that shiny new Fender gee-tar, wavin’ to the crowd as he went, smilin’, confident, lookin’ like nothin’ on god’s green earth could stop ‘im! Then, out of the blue, it all went wrong for poor ol’ Jud. Jus’ as he was almost there - he was so close he started reachin’ for the mic – he tripped and fell, right slap on his face! Bang! O’ course, he had that gee-tar out in front o’ him, and it took the full weight o’ Judson Worley  - a feller o’ considerable size as he was – and that gee-tar got smashed into a hundred pieces! Crowd went quiet. Jud stood up, dusted his-self down, and jus’ stared down at the broken guitar neck dangling’ from his paw. A stage hand rushed out with a replacement gee-tar, and Jud slung it over his shoulder, sure enough. But what happened next, well… once again I was dumbstruck! I simply could not believe ma eyes!" 

Excerpt from my short story "The bad, bad luck of Judson Worley"

“It all started back in the spring o’ the year of our lord nineteen hundred and fifty two; howdy-doo, a fine year that was right enough, right e-nough! I - and Jud for that matter - was twenty one years young, Harry S. Truman was sittin’ in the White House, Al Martino and Frankie Laine were on the radio; those were the days boy, those. Were. The. Days! Heee-hoooo! ‘Course, the town o’ Makersville weren’t much more’n a dirt track back in those days, but still, a fine time to be alive, a fine time! Anyhows, ‘round that time, Old Pop Worley, Judson’s daddy, gave that boy his first gee-tar – a real junker, must o’ been sittin’ around in the old Worley house since, oh, before anyone could remember. Now, before I go on, I gotta tell ya – Judson Worley, good enough feller though he was, wasn’t quite all there upstairs, ya hear me? In other words, that boy was a simpleton; had the brain o’ a child, true enough. Now, Me an’ him grew up together round these parts, but I never saw much o’ that boy after he started playing that gee-tar, save whenever I took a walk past the jetty down by the river on the east side o’ town; Jud was down there every single day I heard, sittin’ with his feet danglin’ in the water, pluckin’ at that old gee-tar. Sounded like hell, boy couldn’t play a damn thing, but what ya gonna do, he seemed to be enjoyin’ his self so everybody jus’ left him to his own business. This went on for, oh, a month or so. Then one night - a Saturday in the month o’ May I think it was – I was sittin’ here, at this very bar! ‘Course, in them days, this place was jumpin’ on the weekend, hooo-haaa! Town might o’ been nothin’ but a dirt track, but it was our dirt track, ya get me? So I was sittin’ here, right here, when I heard a commotion down in back. That meant jus’ one thing an’ one thing only – the band was comin’ on! Heee-haaaw! Now, rest of the good ol’ US of A was doin’ they thing and doin’ it good, but round these parts… well we play the blues, the blues, and nothin’ but the blues, ya hear me boy? So, it was Saturday night, every feller in town lookin’ to blow off some steam, and sure enough, local band by the name o’ “The River Snakes” strode up on the stage. As was the usual, everyone in the place was up on they feet, a hootin’ and a hollerin’ ready to forget what ails ‘em and have a darn good time, ya hear? But then… well, sends a shiver down ma spine thinkin’ about it even now, all these years later,  but… well, who strode up on that stage right alongside the River Snakes, clutchin’ a bran’ new Fender electric gee-tar – a Tele-ma-caster or some such – yeah, you guessed it son, it was Jud Worley!"