new story published at egg+frog

My short story The Mating Ritual of the 3D Printer is now up at the excellent Egg+Frog a new journal of British writing. Read it here:

bsfa best fiction long-list: good vibrations

I’m delighted to announce that my story good vibrations, published by the mechanics institute review last year has been long-listed for the bsfa best short fiction award.

bsfa logo

You can read the story here and see the full longlist here.

hulk is tired

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but I think I might be a bit bored with speculative fiction. Or perhaps, speculative fiction is a bit bored with me.

Could it be that we’ve just been seeing too much of each other during lockdowns one through three?

“It’s not you, it’s me,” spec-fic might say on our regular date night held in the corner of a friendly tavern (built beneath the shadow of towering rocket-ship).

Certainly, I seem to have read a lot of speculative fiction lately that simply moves the genre furniture around the house rather than adding a new wing (or preferably) trap-door to it.

It’s a thought that reminds me a little of what Robert Eaglestone thinks is genre’s birth defect. For him, literary fiction is really where it’s at.

“It says everything,” he says. (Which is the whole point apparently.)

From his perspective, genre fiction, too-often, is only ever talking to and about itself.

And while I think this observation does articulate some of my own weariness, how to square this with his rather contradictory special pleading for lit-fic itself, which he regards as a non-generic type of writing whose tendency to be in conversation with its own history is validation of its uniqueness rather than a flaw.

As an aside, I wonder if beneath some of the slightly sniffy attitudes expressed towards spec-fic in literary circles lies the fact that it often sells a lot better than literary fiction.

Having all that filthy lucre smeared over your tentacles means that genre
cannot be art at all, rather it is something commercial, hybridised and
degraded. That said, Dickens and Cervantes both turned out contemporary
best-sellers and you can’t get much more canon than little Davy Copperfield or the Madman of La Mancha. (It’s possible then, that perhaps critics will even regard Stephen King a little more kindly in a hundred year’s time.)

So, I’m not entirely sure where this slightly circular and self-indulgent post has got me.

Perhaps, I should start seeing other genres?

I’ll be honest about it with speculative fiction. We’ll go to the usual place on date night, drink half a bottle of chianti and work out some ground rules. Without them, in this sort of situation, someone will always get hurt. (Most probably be me.)

Or perhaps, after all, it really is just as the picture below says: Hulk is tired and Hulk should have a nap.

Image of the hulk sleeping. “Hulk is tired.” He says, “Hulk will sleep and everything that has made Hulk tired will change”
Hulk is really tired.


autonomicon is a simple bot inspired by Alan Trotter and Allison Parrish’s work that generates Lovecraftian automatic writing by pulling random snippets from an online resource storing Lovecraft’s corpus and splicing it together with words suggested by a simple statistical API.

To use just click the ’Summon’, button to get the next word from the bot or select one of the word tiles to add your own choices into the mix. The algorithm determines which words are the most likely to follow the last word displayed (the numbers beneath them are a measure of probable occurrence).