Category: Publication

‘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.

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.


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.