‘Darner’ at Strange Horizons today

My long story (7715 words) ‘Darner’ is now available to read or listen to at Strange Horizons.

Working with them has been an absolute pleasure and I’m really proud to have this piece appear in such a prestigious publication.

If you’ve just arrived here after reading ‘Darner’ please check out my other recent stories ‘Obtrusion Rate‘, ‘Hyrmnal‘ and ‘Inundated’.

I can be found on twitter @burtkenobi and I’ve added a Newsletter sign-up option to my menu. This will be a low-traffic mailing list with notifications of any future publications or any other activities.

‘Inundated’ podcast at Far Fetched Fables

Yuri woke up to the sound of waves breaking at the end of the street, and knew that the undines had breached the final defences.

‘Inundated’ was my first published story and it will always have a special place in my heart. The publication was a small anthology known as Ecotones which is still available on Amazon. It contained some great names you may already know, such as Ken Liu, Lauren Beukes and Stephen Palmer as well as some up-and-coming talents like my friends from the Archipelago, Charlotte, Kurt and Andrew.

Today Far Fetched Fables are releasing it as the latest episode of their long-running fiction podcast. I’m very excited, as this is a first for me.

I wrote about the origin of ‘Inundated’ when it first came out, so I won’t repeat them here. The story is about a father and daughter, an apocalyptic sea god, and undines. I hope you enjoy it.

And after you’ve listened to this one, you could read my latest story ‘Obtrusion Rate‘ over at Liminal Stories.

Photo by Tobias van Schneider at Unsplash

Obtrusion Rate

I’m pleased to announce that my story ‘Obtrusion Rate’ was published on 1 May at Liminal Stories.

All writers have their favourites of their own works and this is mine. It was one of the first stories I was proud of, and was determined to see published, the first one that my friends told me that they loved with sufficient passion that I believed them.  It’s the story of a man who works for a large organisation tasked with responding to unspeakable events. In one sense it’s a workplace tale, and it had its origins, as all the best stories do, in life.

Fake cover for Obtrusion RateI work for a large employer, and like any big organisation there are levels, committees, projects and secrets. I often seem to write about the moment just as catastrophe hits, and I speculated about what kind of organisation handles apocalyptic events, and what if they had the same structure of committees and oversight that we do? How would the people cope? What effect would it have on the relationships between these colleagues?

Then one day I came to my then-office and found that there was a stain on the carpet tiles, and a ceiling panel had been removed. I wondered about a mid-level bureaucrat in an office like mine, and how his mind might try to avoid writing reports about the horrors he had witnessed.

Two days later I had the first draft of what became ‘Obtrusion Rate’.

The “fake” Penguin-style cover above and the illustration were made with the kind assistance of  Addison Smith and a template we found on the internet.

A snail at the Event Horizon

Why, it seems like only yesterday that ‘Hyrmnal‘ was published at DailyScienceFiction.com. Do you remember those days of mollusc madness? I sure do.

Since then, this blog has been suspiciously quiet.

“What have you been up to, Jonathan?” I hear you ask.

Well! I’ve been writing and revising new stories, and have a few forthcoming publications to announce once contracts are signed.

But this week’s post is about Event Horizon  – a new ebook anthology collecting work by lots of excellent emerging writers. The goal of the book is to promote everyone who is in their first year or two of publishing professionally (that is, selling stories at ‘professional’ rates of pay) for the John W. Campbell award.

‘Hyrmnal’ is in it, alongside many better (and longer) stories by names you might already be familiar with.

I wouldn’t bother nominating me for the award, but wait until you see what I publish in 2017!

Here’s the best news, the book is completely free. Get it now. It’s available until July only.

I’ll be back soon with news of what I’ve got coming out next. Enjoy Event Horizon!

And no more snails, I promise.


Image taken from page 621 of 'History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with genealogical and biographical sketches'

I am excited to announce that my short story “Hyrmnal” will be published this week by Daily Science Fiction . The story will be posted on their excellent website and emailed out to the subscribers to their free newsletter.

Update 2 September: Published TODAY – click to read 

This is my second published story after “Inundated” in the Ecotones anthology back in December. Where Inundated was long, this one is short, around 1100 words, and is a weird little story….Let me tell you how it began.

One of the ways I motivated myself to write last year was taking part in the SFFworld  monthly short fiction writing challenges. Each month we are given a theme and have to incorporate it into a story of about a thousand words of science fiction or fantasy. At the end of the month participants and members of the website vote on their favourite.

The theme was “musical instruments” and I had no idea what to write. I have little musical talent, perhaps because I have poor hearing – I actually hear in mono, though my recent hearing aids do help a bit.. I did the usual student strumming on an electric guitar, years ago, but without ever becoming what you might call…  good. One day I  taught those same chords to my kid brother and he quickly turned out to have an inner Hendrix.

I promptly gave up in disgust.

I don’t really hear lyrics when I listen to songs. I don’t read music and I don’t really know much about it, beyond the joy of listening. I was utterly stumped. So I sat in front of the TV trying to think of some way to ‘fake’ a story about musical instruments.

The programme on TV was about snails. Gastropods. They’re fascinating  – both repulsive and beautiful. I was transfixed as these “belly-footed” grotesques oozed across the screen. The story wrote itself…

“Coryde walked onto the podium to play her snail…”

Daily Science Fiction has thousands of readers and I’m elated to be published there. Also terrified. One early reader of the story told me that it gave him nightmares. I blame his weak constitution.


My story “Inundated” was published in the December 2015 anthology, Ecotones, as I may have mentioned many times. Sorry about that. I wrote the following piece for the “blogtour” we did to promote the anthology, and am republishing it here from fellow contributor and novelist Daniel Ausema’s blog.

When the theme for the anthology was announced, I was still stuck writing fragments and ‘flash’-length fiction of about 1000 words or more for the forum challenges. I found constructing longer stories quite difficult, though I’d made a few half-hearted attempts. Continue reading →