We went LARPing with the Profound Decisions Empire LARP and one of the characters in our Hall, Cadarn, died. It was very dramatic; at one point, we thought three of us had snuffed it, but two of us made it back. Sadly we had to leave Cadarn behind. It really brought home to me how important our characters are at these events.
When we got home, I felt that we'd left it somewhat hanging unfinished, so I wrote this. In the time this is written, we are just in the last stages of packing up our entire village to move to a new one, in Hahnmark, a move that was put forward by Cadarn himself. With him dead, we're left to carry on his wishes alone.
Algar rested his hand gently on the oxen’s neck. “Good girl, Nina. You saw us through the storm.”
The oxen bent her head to the bale of hay at her feet, rumbling appreciatively. He tutted, looking at the mud still caked around her hooves and halfway up her coat, matting her rough hair, but such things could wait until tomorrow.Read More
Last week a new XPRIZE was announced at the TED conference in Vancouver, for an AI to speak at the 2020 conference for 18 minutes and give a TED talk worthy of a standing ovation. There were a few other details, such as it being a competition of sorts where competing teams will be whittled down until there are only three remaining, but I couldn't help but think...
What would the winning AI's speech sound like?
The custom-built auditorium in Vancouver was abuzz with pre-talk excitement as the audience filed in. Behind the stage, Roger Patel fiddled absently with his cufflinks, watching the comings and goings of technicians. The hydra of wires that supplied power to the projectors and sound equipment snaked over the floor, but many more ended at the large black cube. It was almost featureless, save for the slim monitor attached to its front, currently displaying the eMan logo. The little Vitruvian man flipped and rotated on the screen, and as Roger watched it he began to feel faintly sick, as though his stomach were flipping at the same frequency.
“Is it ready?”Read More
The last post I made pointed out that I needed a creation story for the world of Claws of the Chimera. Here it is!
“Come close, Aldo, and I will tell you a tale.”
The boy stood and walked over to where his mother sat. He nestled in the lap of her long embroidered dress, against the smoothness of her pregnant belly, and looked up into eyes that sparkled in the firelight. “What sort of tale?”
Her lips bent into a small smile. “The first tale, my sweet. How the world was made.”
Aldo closed his eyes, fingers wrapped around a lock of her dark hair, twining it over and over around his fingers, as she began.Read More
I recorded this short story and it's up as a podcast right now! If you'd rather have it piped into your ears, click here!
I was putting the finishing touches to my invention when my guest arrived, accompanied by a wisp of cold air. He didn’t ring the doorbell, or knock on the workshop door. Nothing so practical. He was just suddenly behind me. Looming. Death has a habit of doing that, I suppose.
I lurched upright and yowled in pain as my head made contact with the brassy underside of my latest work. It echoed dully, like a bell. Gritting my teeth against the pain, I turned to face Death, wrench firmly in my grip.
“Who the bloody hell are you?”
I’M DEATH, Death said. His gaze roamed around the garage, gaslight shining off the polished skull. I’M SORRY, YOUR NAME WAS...?Read More
Last week's Pocket Fiction focused on the port towns to the west of Meria, the setting for Claws of the Chimera. Gathered loosely into the Lutran Confederacy, the towns are a haven for anyone looking for a freer life. Giant otters and men walk side by side, some seeking a life of piracy, others looking for lawful lines of work. Sometimes that work takes them out to sea; other times it takes them upriver, into Gyb or Laurice territory. Check out this post for some of the research I did while writing this story.
Tark is one of the more piratical residents. Together with Guthry, his human friend, they're more often than not on the wrong side of the law. Today, though, their crimes have caught up with them...
I opened my eyes with a gasp. Almost immediately the pain in my head spiked, and I raised a paw to block the harsh sunlight. The sick feeling in my stomach grew with every aching breath and I rolled onto my front, coughing up a mouthful of phlegm onto the hard-packed sand.
Staggering to my feet, I looked around. The impact of the cannon shot had thrown me into a little blind, behind some of the brown rocks that littered the beach. Fragments of memory came back to me: running with Guthry, the goods on his back, a shout before the blast, and then darkness.
Everything ached as I stumbled around the rocks, looking up and down the deserted shoreline. Where was Guthry?Read More
Writing ‘Deep In Thought’ went the usual way my mind works, which was ‘Here is a theme. How can I twist the meaning of the sentence to make it about something oblique?’ It’s by far not the first time I’ve done it. Playing with words is a favourite pastime of mine, and I’m always looking for anagrams, codes, Spoonerisms, hidden meanings and words-written-backwards (pretty much any time I see a name, like Mr Radnor, I’ll read it backwards in case it’s important. 99% of the time it’s not.)
Deep In Thought is one of those. It’s about someone deep in thoughts... someone else’s thoughts.
I wrote ‘Keeping a Secret’ after doing a bit of research into coding information into human DNA for another project. I’m writing a short story that I would like to submit to the BBC’s Short Story Competition, and I stumbled across this new article.
It was the last line that really brought this story into view. I read that and thought, ‘Damn, that’d make an excellent story.’Read More
Koru, one of the five countries that make up the continent of Ehrian. Although, that said, one that I'm thinking of changing the name of, mainly because that makes the spoken language 'Koruan', which is little too close to 'Korean'. Maybe 'Korun' works, or 'Kor'. 'Caw, listen to me speak my language'. Bleh. In the D&D campaign we've gone with Koruan.
Anyway! A bit of dunking in the politics of Koru.
I've been playing with a few ideas for shorter stories after working with the fantastic Nana Li. It's a real challenge; I've realised that I tend to treat short stories as if they are part of a larger work, assuming knowledge on behalf of the reader that they perhaps don't have.
This is a longer story, twice the length it needs to be. I will, perhaps, cut it down at some point. For now I think I'd rather look at other stories and see if I can make full, concise stories below a thousand words. Something there for 100 themes challenges!
UPDATE! This is now a podcast episode. Enjoy!Read More
I've been listening to Stuff You Should Know Podcast through from the beginning, so I'm somewhat behind. There's a good one though, on the 10,000 year clock. It's a lovely idea, essentially that we might one day not be here as a civilisation but there will definitely be something left behind to prove that we were here.
It helped crystallise a thought I've been having recently with both the world of Poisonroot and the Eve and Tic stories, and my wonderful wife helpfully added another facet to it: what if the continent of Ehrian is something like a Pangaea continent, ten thousand years in the future? I appreciate that it wouldn't be time for the continents to actually move, but certainly time for a mass extinction event to have forever changed the face of the planet and for technology to have changed, evolved, moved on from its current wasteful ways. And then Sue suggested that I could use this as a way of including real scientific fact, or inventions, from now as seen through the eyes of Eve and Tic.
Part 2: Trunk
20th day of Fendas, 1456 AA
Four days on the road have done wonders for me; alas, I fear that my diary-writing has taken the toll for my efforts. As a researcher and a scientist I must make sure that I keep better records from here on out.
The countryside between Downshire and Daron is truly beautiful; rolling hills with a bracing wind coming down off of them, and the occasional small copse of trees. It’s mostly pasture land, supplying animals for bigger towns like Dotton and Eastwatch, and the forts that sit on the foothills of the Eastern Mountains. I passed a few people on the road, mostly traders; one offered me what I thought was a fair exchange when he brought out a comfortable-looking robe, bright gold thread winking all over it.Read More
So, here's a few funny things.
I write a lot. I don't post ANY of it up on here though! The problem? I spend a lot of time planning for my job (primary school teachers write a lot more than you'd think); I spend time making resources; and, the main place my writing goes, I plan, write and resource a weekly Dungeons and Dragons episode. I can't think of a better way of describing it; something punchy, hopefully ending on a cliffhanger or twist of some sort, and something that doesn't keep my players up until all hours.
I've moved to this blog for my writing, as the previous one was focussed entirely on one project, whereas I've produced a lot more than that over the last year and a bit. So this blog will be dedicated to all my writing, and also for typing up things I've learned through writing.
To get things going, here's a short story that I'm trying to get published. It starts in a decidedly rural setting, but soon descends into a mix of sci-fi, mild horror and a keen thread of black comedy.
The Grass is Always Greener
It all began when Gerald Merryhew discovered that intelligent cows tasted better...