David Stevens

Posts Tagged ‘speculative fiction’

Quick, drop everything!

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2018 at 10:33 pm

Check out the winter 2018 edition of Space and Time magazine, featuring “Store in a Dark Place” by yours truly. It takes place in a dark, dark world that I have visited before in “Avoiding Gagarin” in Aurealis and “The Big Reveal” in Kaleidotrope.

Must … read … NOW!

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Accident

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2018 at 4:50 pm

I am conscious of (one of) Adam Roberts‘* projects, seeking “to write a short story for every sub-genre and premise that SF has made famous; to assemble a collection in which I can try my hand at all the hackneyed old conventions …”.

My reading habits of course change over time, but in my life I have read a lot of science fiction. I don’t really write much of it, I suppose – in the limited time I have to write, I gain more pleasure writing things – with speculative elements – that depend more on mood than science. I can remember looking at Prof Roberts’ list# and thinking, yes, well, I’ll never write a robot story. And then I did. Yesterday, by accident. I only realised half way through. A robot with wires and springs and a CPU and cogs and gears. So I guess, never say never. (Now, of course I’ll be much happier if I get to write that I published a robot story. We’ll see.)

…..

*standard caveat, I am not worthy, etc. And do I have to mention Adam Roberts around this time every year? (Please click that link – it took me a bit of time to write it, and a long time to remove the irony and smart arsery that tempts me every time I try to write honestly about emotion.)

#here it is. But why not click here and read it at the source? The asterisks are not mine.

1. Time-travel story.*
2. First encounter with alien life.*
3. Novum story (new piece of technology).*
4. Interplanetary/interstellar travel story.*
5. Robot story.*
6. Virtual Reality story.
7. ‘Philosophical’ story.*
8. Post nuclear war mutation story.*
9. Scientist story.*
10. Alternative History.*
11. Magic Realism.*
12. Utopia/Dystopia.
13. Sword and Sorcery.*
14. Thundering good old-fashioned space opera story.*
15. The End of the World.*

Among the Dead

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2017 at 8:11 pm

My grandfather sits in the ruin of his house. It is always night when I am here. The sky is my skull, a low dome seen from the inside. His jaw is strong and held hard, grinding the fossils of his teeth. (Even if he still smoked, he could not. His pipe stem could not be forced between those lips. It would be snapped by those teeth. The end of it would stay in that mouth a hundred years, preserved.)

Wind sweeps the ash. I do not feel the cold. I stare at the strength of that head. I remember bending and kissing that head, like a child’s, as it lay on a pillow. The man I never kissed, who always shook hands. The skull beneath the skin.

That he came back to sit here, among the ruins. He does not decay, instead the house does. Each time I come, it has deteriorated further, taking his place in the grave. The elements do not bother him. If the wind wears him, if water drips him away, leaching away the minerals of him a drop at a time, perhaps it is for the best. Perhaps it is what he desires. As he weathers, mountains are ground down, oceans rise, seas fall. Forests grow and are consumed. The constellations shift, all sped up for him. He is the Time Traveller, he is Rod Taylor in his chair, encased in stone, then freed again. In my visits, I am a shadow. I am the flickering ghost. It is I who am death, I am mortality. We are worn down around him.

He gulps sometimes. The throat works, the jaw moves and clenches. He is biting deeper, getting a better grip on the world. Once or twice he has looked towards me. I stand close. He does not stop me. I am calm in his presence, calm with the nostalgia of grief. The longing for those other worlds I can never visit. Childhood. The past. The lives of others. The drowsy warmth of everything will be alright. The knowledge of grief to come.

That he has returned, and so far, not the others. Preserved in his pride, his inflexible ideas of proper behaviour. The feuds that burned silently within, in his room as he read, as he listened to talk back radio.

It is monochrome here. It suits the grey hair, slicked back along his scalp.

My aunt, white gowned against the window, arms raised and pressing the glass. Could only I see her? Were the adults pretending it was otherwise? My other grandmother, from the other side of my family, smiling, her lips uncertain, her eyes betraying an unease. She knew. We mourned when my aunt left, why did no one tell me she was back? Kept inside, a secret.

All the dead are kept inside, a secret that no one else wants to know. We are all haunted, and sometimes they stare out from the windows of our eyes. They come back, but they are not the same.

My grandfather sits amongst the exposed beams, the drooping wallpaper having outlasted the plasterboard beneath. He has made himself comfortable in the chair that was thrown away long ago. Its return is as great a miracle as his. He is silent. Why do we protest? Why do we bother to rage? The brave new world was always coming, and there was nothing we could do about it. We shall consume the whole world, we shall eat our young, the forests will die, the skies will burn.

There is no moon, no stars, no electricity, no peasant mob brandishing torches, but I see him clear in this night. I cannot think how I first found him here. I think I just knew. He cannot be in this house. It was sold years ago, and rebuilt, and another family lives here. Still, it is where I found him. Perhaps we are in one of those other twenty four dimensions of folded string. I do not know. I just gaze upon him and sit in his quiet presence.

The dead stare. What vision is imprinted on their eyes? We fear what they have seen.

His wife is not there. Will she come? Nobody told me my grandmother was in hospital. I could not answer the phone. I was freezing in a bath of ice, sitting with a child who refused to be comforted unless someone was in there with him, trying to bring his fever down. Later, when I finally was told, in emergency as she, unconscious, clawed at the air, as though prematurely buried and scraping at the coffin lid, I prayed and prayed into her ear, a hundred Hail Mary’s to calm her down, and then those arms rested, they allowed themselves to stop. Thank you God for that.

The dead are all inside. How many skeleton arms drag torsos forward through the mud of my mind, skulls drooping, exposed spines drifting away to nothing? How many more bony arms are yet to come? When shall I join them? What shall I see?

Or will death be banished forever, and we infested us with nanobots that work constantly to keep us fit, keep us happy in our jobs, content in the hell we have made?

These are thoughts I think, when I awake after my visits.

Crop Rotation

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Pretty chuffed to see my story ‘Crop Rotation’,  included by Ellen Datlow in her long list of honourable mentions of horror stories for 2016, associated with volume 9 of The Best Horror of the Year. I was very happy that ‘Crop Rotation’ was published in the anthology ‘At the Edge‘, edited by Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts. Quick, be like all the cool kids and run out and buy it now.

Coming in December …

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Hanging out with HP Lovecraft and Ramsey Campbell, amongst others …

Fly like a Vogel …

In Uncategorized on June 4, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Great news – At the Edge, a wonderful anthology of speculative fiction by New Zealand (New Zealandian?) and Australian writers, won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Work. And you will immediately see my self interest at work when I congratulate editors Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts for their win, and thank them for including my story, Crop Rotation, in the collection. More details over at David Versace’s blog.

… thinks:  … must buy … At The Edge … NOW…! …

Anticipation

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2017 at 10:33 am

Of course, anticipation is usually sweeter, but it remains that (not unexpectedly, but wouldn’t it have been noice, yes, noice!) “Eat, Pray, Wait” by yours truly shall not grace the pages of the next edition of Year’s Best Weird Fiction. However, it is available here for your reading pleasure, sandwiched with other morsels between the covers of john Benson’s “Not One of Us”. Of course, I recommend YBWF and Michael Kelly’s Undertow publications (especially Shadows and Tall Trees) to you for your edification (cos that’s what we are all about, the edification). And while at it, why not read something else I have written, so that my living will have been worthwhile? (Insert smiley face here, but shade it grey and make it faint, that’s a noice touch.)

Abandoned chunk from a work in progress

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Fucken hungry.  He could murder a cold one too, a dozen, but he knows he could drink a sea and  it wouldn’t fill him with what he needs.

He’s just taking a breather.  No one could deny he’s been digging away down here in the dark.  Working hard.  Its only when he looks up that he realises there’s a kid down here.

Thinking about it, he supposes there are dead kids. Has to be.  Plenty of them. Not much use though, are they, your dead kid.  Not in a mine, he thinks, forgetting how old he was when he started this caper, like he’s forgotten everything, except how to dig. And that he’s dead. He knows that.

Its not a smoko, cos he doesn’t have any smokes.  Can’t, not down a mine.  More a breather.  Not that he’s sure he’s really breathing.  Dead, and he still wants a smoke.  Some habits die hard.  And its not as though he’s just dead.  When he realised he was here, when he woke up working, he didn’ t have any legs left, that’s how dead he was.

The kid’s not on a track, not on rails. Neither is he, now that his legs have grown back, but you know what I mean. He’s not official like. The kid’s not working. He’s on a lark, just wandering about.  Gets on his wick.

The kid sees him. He’s got a lamp stuck on his head, like he’s a miner. He’s a bludger, more like. Shit scared now, not wandering about so aimlessly now. So he should be, bludger.  He wouldn’t bludge down here.  Who knows what they’d do?  If they can bring you back to life, what other shit can they do?  He’s never liked bludgers and he’s never liked wankers.  Remembers that.  Bludgers, wankers, thieves.  Blinks.  A feeling rises, and he remembers it before he can name it.  Shame.  That’s it.  Thieves.  He’s been eating some of the rocks he’s been digging.  Just some little ones.  Surely no one will miss them.  Fucken hungry.

Smell the kid’s fear. Didn’t know he could do that. Bet that’s new.  Scent condenses on his tongue, and saliva flows. He changes inside. Its like feelings he gave up on a long time ago. Longings.

So fucken hungry he could eat his own arse.

But he doesn’t have to.

He’d laugh if he had a voice.   Oh yes.  The kid’s face turns weird, he’s running.  Why?  He realised that he had been walking, without knowing it.  Just a passenger being carried along by legs and hunger.  I see.  The kid’s running away from me.  The kid fumbles in his back pack, loses a bit of the distance between them, pulls out a bit of tinfoil.  That knife won’t help, kid. You gonna murder me?  I’m already dead.

He hops down from the track, into the rubble of what they’ve been digging. Coal. Utility pipes. Dirt. Small trees pulled down through the earth by their roots. Form and complexity. Information and structure. Bits of it lying around down there.

Watcha got in that bag kid? A monster gun? Shambling over, stretching stiff joints. Something wriggling about in there.

Whatever it is, the kid brings the knife down into the centre of it, and it doesn’t like it.  Its jumping around.  The kid sticks the knife into its guts, and it spurts.

O!  The smell. He still can’t remember his name, but flavours flood back, and the drool pours out over his chin.  He can recall crumbed lambs brains and cream and mushrooms and wine – the bitter of the first beer after work on a summer’s day – burning his fingers snatching at hot chips with vinegar, the sun already down and steam pouring from their mouths as they broke battered fish into bits – onion as he licked at his wife’s fingers – stolen honey – other, private tastes…

The thing whatever it was was in his face and he sucked it empty, breathed it down, a wonderful throat-full of blood or motor oil or whatever it was inside, bloody beautiful, and chewing down on the carcass, swallowing it into him, wiping his mouth with his arm then licking the arm clean, the misery in his stomach abated for a moment, letting out a moan like he’s breaking.

The creaking of an ancient unoiled engine returning to life, his voice returned. “Thanks kid.” Clouds were lifting and he stepped out of a haze. “I’m George?” he groaned with the intonation of an unsure teenage girl.  “Yes, I’m George. What the fuck are you doing down here?”

“Looking for someone.”

“Are they dead?”

“Hope not.”

Grappling with 2017

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2017 at 11:08 am

The coming soon is coming sooner. Long awaited, the second volume of the Grapple Annual is, I hear, coming this way. If not just around the corner, then surely it is just down the street and couple of blocks to the left. Some rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Canberra to be born. Should we be bewaring the ides of March? Or April? Or even February? Dunno. But I hear that it is coming.

Sergeant Burns is a character that/who has been living inside my head for a long time. He had a little peek out of my third eye hole a few years ago, courtesy of my self-trephination (there are some who say the pineal gland is not meant to see the light of day. Who says it doesn’t already? I just wanted to let some air in. Are these the same few who would restrict surgery for the elite, and deny it to the masses? I speak of the performance thereof. But now is not the time to discuss Amateur surgery. I capitalise Amateur in the spirit of the Olympics. But I digress. And where would the fun be in life if we didn’t?), in his initial public appearance a few years ago in the first Grapple Annual, which published his Penultimate Report. And now he wakes me from my sleep, demanding I record his final adventures. Another character, little harmless (I think there is a spelling mistake there somewhere) MacGuffin, spends a few moments in the daylight in the second Grapple, before being replaced in his cupboard, or setting off to interstellar darkness, or both, or perhaps I just can’t remember which.

The Golden Age of Science Fiction, celibating or is that celebrating Robert Heinlein’s birthday as I colonise July in the Grapple Annual. Coming soon-ish.

The Grapple Annual No. 2

FEATURING:

Braille by Louis Klee (4 January)
Hydra by Emma Marie Jones (11 January)
– 28 January by Soraya Morayef (28 January)
– Loss by Alice Bishop (7 February)
– Racey Friends – looking by Paden Hunter (12 February)
– Nightdriving by Alexander Bennetts (28 February)
– Fairy Goddaughter by Sarah Pritchard (6 March)
– Beware the Ides of March! by Sam Brien (15 March)
 The Connected World by David C Mahler (21 March)
– Visiting Richard Yates by Elizabeth Caplice (25 March)
– March Camping, 1990s by Christopher Evans (26 March)
– Dreamcast Monolith with Undergrowth by Alice Carroll (31 March)
– Meander, Triste and Awe by Brett Canét-Gibson (14th April)
– Divine Vinyl by Owen Heitmann (16 April)
 From JG Ballard, July 1966 (behind Foot Locker, August 2013) by Andrew Galan (19 April)
– Today I Feel Like Remembering by Anna Jacobson (22 April)
 Thoughts on art and the ways it reaches you by Sandra Hajda (29 April)
– May, The Opening by Ben Walter (1 May)
– Mahala by Fikret Pajalic (5 May)
– The Drunk and the Flower Man by Nathan Fioritti (11 May)
– What If? by Miranda Cashin (15 May)
– The River Fisher’s Daughter by Kirk Marshall (25 May)
– Baby Emma by Emma Makepeace (1 June)
– All these places have their moments by Madeline Karurtz (12 June)
– After Life by Lauren Briggs (23 June)
The Golden Age of Science Fiction by David Stevens (7 July)
– The 8th July in History by Safdar Ahmed (8 July)
– Positive Space by Lynley Eavis (21 July)
– The End of Days by Jack Martinez (1 August)
– When They Were Young by Shuang West (13 August)
– Audley by Humyara Mahbub (14 August)
– The Gurindji People by Mandy Ord (16 August)
– Go Troppo by Isabelle Li (17 September)
– Campo de’ Fiori by Ashley Capes (22 September)
 Rule Ten by Gregory Wolos (28 September)
– Four Confessions That I’ve Been Meaning to Confess Since That Evening When We Made Guacamole and I Compared All Three Avocados to my Womb, Which Might’ve Made You Uncomfortable but I Couldn’t Tell for Sure by Kayla Pongrac (29 September)
– Pilot Episode, October 2nd by Lauren Paredes (2 October)
– I Desire; I Have Our Home by Emma Rose Smith (2 November)
– Great Emu War by Eleri Mai Harris (8 November)
– Lucia by Lucy Hunter (13 December)
– An ordinary domestic pattern was disclosed by Monica Carroll (17 December)
– Time Zones by Jake Lawrence (30 December)

Editor: Duncan Felton

Designer and visual art editor: Finbah Neill

Editorial Assistant: Rachael Nielsen

Readers: Lucy Nelson, Frazer Brown and  Kara Griffin-Warwicke

 

Kaleidotrope

In Uncategorized on January 2, 2017 at 10:12 am

The new edition of Kaleidotrope is live and ready for your reading pleasure. Check out the contents below – in the words of various people, including that little kid, in O Brother Where art thou?, its bona fide.

Fiction
“The Song of the Whistling Crab” by Michael McGlade
“One Thousand Paper Cranes” by Julie C. Day
“The Big Reveal” by David Stevens
“Scrapie’s Trap” by Lisa Bergin
“The Last Seven Eternities of Dr. Julian Slade, PhD” by Joshua Kamin

Poetry
“Ship of Jinn” by Holly Lyn Walrath
“From the Dictionary of Nonexistent Words, A Sampler” by Kathrin Köhler
“The Last Word” by Gwynne Garfinkle

Artwork

Cesar Valtierra
10 years and they are still going strong, have to be doing something right! (A future in advertising awaits me not.)