Nine Night

John died last night. A heart attack and complications from surgery had kept him down for months. He grew pale at the end, his dark skin bleaching in the English winter. I wanted to count the gaps in his stained teeth that he always showed with that giant grin. The kind of man who forgot it’s an unforgiving city.

The kids were screaming in the basketball court, dominating the space with the shivering crash of railings and the inestimable joys of half term. It looked like another party to me.

Strangers milled in the corridors of my block, seemingly listless. I found the mood hard to read and the dour face staring at my sweaty shirt, the empty bin in my hands, didn’t fit. But I was tired from the gym, paid it no mind. The night before, our sofa shivered with heavy bass and barely muffled laughter was inescapable. Our space had been disrupted. Just a mid-week party thrown by people on different schedules, that coloured the nine night to come.

I lifted my tired legs up the stairs, once back in my flat set to stretching muscles. Our overhead light cast shadows, darker shades, and I heard my wife gasp. The note said nine night, all welcome.

Why do I think I can recognise death, even now after we became so well acquainted? Its English cousin is more severe than this. Vol-au-vonts and restraint over bammy and celebration. I’ve endured its passing over the course of years. Outside, the children play until long past midnight.

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The City in Motion

I’ve been thinking about cities, how they’re always in motion. The city never sleeps, its arteries clog, its lungs fill with smoke. But that only describes how we use the space. Meanwhile, it regenerates.

Museum Street

Museum Street, where You Me Bum Bum Train once lived.

City trunks

New towers in the City

Tottenham Court Road

The three faces of London: Historic, developing and transitory

The City at night

The City, in predatory guise

New Fenchurch Street

The crest of the wave

Autumn events – FantasyCon and Unsung Live

After a very busy summer with Unsung, at Nine Worlds, running events and making lots of books you think the sensible thing to do would be to take a break and enjoy the new and exciting world of married life. And you’re right, that probably is the sensible thing to do. But this is publishing, and there’s always another Con.

I’m going to be doing a couple of events in the next month, this time around short stories.

First up is FantasyCon in Scarborough, 23rd-25th September. Unsung will be running a stall there, so make sure to stop by if you’re there. I will also be chairing the panel, ‘A Little’s Enough: What makes a great short story?‘ at 2pm on the Sunday. I’ll be asking Emma Cosh, Lynda Clark, Neil Buchanan, Ruth Booth and David Guymer to share their secrets on the trickiest of forms.

After that, October 18th, we have the 5th instalment of Unsung Live. This is our series of SFF short fiction live literature events – 4 readers, 15 minutes each and complete stories. This time we have Tade Thompson (winner of the Kitschies Golden Tentacle for Making Wolf), Anne Charnock (Kitschies and Philip K. Dick shortlists for A Calculated Life), Irenosen Okojie (winner of the Betty Trask award for Butterfly Fish) and Pete Sutton (Sick City Syndrome due in late 2016).

The events are proving really popular, this one having sold half the tickets over night, so RSVP early to get a seat! And if you miss out but want to come, join the waitlist – we can look at bigger venues, if there’s enough interest.

Unsung Live #5: Tuesday 18th October

Tuesday, Oct 18, 2016, 7:00 PM

The Star of Kings
126 York Way London, Greater London N1 0AX London, GB

43 Story Lovers Attending

Following on from the resounding success of Unsung Live #4, we’re happy to announce our return to The Star of Kings for our fifth evening of storytelling for fans of the best in contemporary speculative fiction.Reading this time:• Irenosen Okojie is a writer and Arts Project Manager. Her debut novel Butterfly Fish won a Betty Trask award. Her wor…

Check out this Meetup →

Forthcoming story in Bourbon Penn

I’m very happy to say that one of my stories, ‘The Road Knows When a Journey is Over’ will be published in a forthcoming issue of Bourbon Penn. The story is set immediately after the apocalypse and deals with things like grief, loss and survivor guilt.

It’s an older piece of mine, but one that has been through several edits. It’s one of the ones I feel particularly close to, in fact, so it’s really good to know it’s found a good home.

I’ll post the publication date and how to read it as soon as I know.

Egoism and the Hero’s Journey

I blame Ursula Le Guin.

I read The Dispossessed recently and, aside from the obvious depths I found around exploring unconventional political philosophy, the conflicts between home and self and the morality of knowledge, I was struck by a particularly technical aspect of the writing.

So I had a go at hammering it out over at the Unsung blog. And spare a thought for poor old Shevek.

What cyberpunk was and what it will be

‘The spectacle [of cyberpunk] only becomes more refined and integrated with our lives as time goes by. It is still alarming that the most prophetic of dystopias was also the most ludicrous: the kitsch consumerism, corporate corruption, metropolitan bankruptcy and technological sheen of RoboCop (1987). There is no longer a delay between tragedy and farce, as Marx once conceived.’

Read the full article.