David Stevens

Posts Tagged ‘writing’

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.*

YMV

In Uncategorized on January 1, 2018 at 1:11 pm

I’m writing a story featuring a blind person, which led me by some circuitous and probably inappropriate path, to think that I should mention two of my stories that are available free for your listening pleasure, via podcast.

First up is my first ever published story, “Good Boy”, no longer in print, but available in audio in a slightly redacted version, on Pseudopod right here, just one click away.

“Some Corner of a Dorset Field that is Forever Arabia” can be read or listened to at Three Lobed Burning Eye, by clicking here. Your reader is yours truly, under the pseudonym Lloyd Connor, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but probably wasn’t. Delight in the fact that my written vocabulary is wider than my oral vocabulary! The story will be appearing again early this year under my own name.

Oh, and Happy New Year, Space Cadets!

Read for free …

In Uncategorized on December 8, 2017 at 4:02 pm

… you know you want to!

Christmas is coming, as I can tell from the 4.30pm sunset. O Southern Hemisphere, I miss you and your heatwave Christmas! A hot roast lunch with a side of cold prawns. Hot Christmas pudding, followed by pavlova with chilled fruit and cream. Everyone knows Jesus wasn’t born in winter …

I digress. If you are so interested, the following of my tales are available for your (free) reading pleasure. In the words of my father, don’t say I never give you anything. Just click on the titles to be transported to a winter wonderland (possibly of hell and suffering, but a wonderland nonetheless). All this by way of prelude to a new story being published in the next few days.

My Life as a Lizard

Some Corner of a Dorset Field that is Forever Arabia

This Neil Armstrong is not dead

The Big Reveal

 

 

 

 

A wonderful bucket in the face

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2017 at 11:35 am

Too often I just settle, but now I wanted more. I find it easy to commit, I’m prepared to put in the hard yards once the initial blush has worn off, but it occurred to me, why am I doing this even when there was no fist blush. Back in university days, a friend studying accounting used to rattle on about sunk costs, and not throwing good after bad, and his words returned to me.

I thought I was doing everything right – both broadening my horizons, and returning to old favourites, but my heart just was not in it. Perhaps I was searching too often online, and I needed to get out into the real world.

Rave reviews, prize winners – nothing was doing it for me. A few pages in and I would shrug my shoulders – surely, there has to be more to it than just this. I even began to doubt myself. The problem can’t be – me ? Can it?

Then, dear reader, I found it. “The North Water”, by Ian McGuire. From the first line, “Behold the man,” as we meet Drax. Immediately into the physicality of “the complex air,” and we perceive him: snorting, crotch adjusting, finger sucking. Ever alert to his appetites, antenna adjusted to determine which need should be attended. “… the fucking, the killing, the shitting, the eating. They could come in any order at all. No one is prior to or superior to the rest.”

Great writing, great story, superb characters, I am loving this so far. Perhaps after all, I was just searching for … The One.

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 …

You should read the Sean Duffy books if you aren’t already, OK?*

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2017 at 6:32 pm

I was saving Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy series of Belfast noir novels for a longer post. However. Fighting sleep. Must do something. Just spent 31 hours airport to airport Sydney to Amsterdam. Had #4 in the series, Gun Street Girl with me. The only complaint was that I finished it before Hong Kong. There’s a bunch of reasons I love these books – the setting, the music, the flawed detective hero, the history, the 80s, the multiple references to Philip K Dick. But all that is to be said right this moment is that I had an aisle seat, my wife and I had 4 seats to share, my kids were happy nearby, and I just sat there reading and eating with nowhere else to be and nothing else to do, enjoying crime and the suffering of (fictional) others in Troubles era Belfast. Bliss. Quick, go buy them now. Enjoy! Right now, just trying to stay awake until I can allow myself to collapse.

 

*Yep, that’s basically how I review books… perhaps I should add a threat?

Read it for sex, and not the other thing

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2017 at 12:16 am

There’s sex and too much religion. This one is hard to judge as it’s hard to “get”.

Thank you ABC Australia for your ever so incisive assessment of Emily Fridlund’s “History of Wolves”*. There’s “sex”, is there? That’s unusual. Some “sex” in a modern novel, hmmm. But not too much, apparently. Nor not enough. Just “sex”. Unlike “religion”. What are some of those things we might look for in literary fiction? Taking us out of our comfort zone? Showing us lives that are not ours, and different world views too? Some challenge? Perhaps not.

Haven’t read the book, so I suppose I should not comment. I might read it now, though. Just for “sex”, mind you – the exact right amount.

*Full disclosure – I lie. I am terribly unfair. I admit it. The piece is an assessment of chances of winning the Booker, it is not a book review. And it concludes its comments on this novel with “it has all the edges that suggest it’s worth tussling with”. So my remarks regarding “comfort zone” and “challenge” are dishonest. Very. Despite the fact that I had a good breakfast. Bad dog, David. Does it make it all ok if I confess down here in the fine print? Does it matter that the fine print is longer than the not so fine print? Perhaps I should just say nothing. Still though – language and all that. (How’s that for a sentence?) It struck a nerve of incongruity with me, especially compared to the assessments of the other shortlisted books, and the concluding sentence has a taste of “I might be wrong, and what if it wins?”.