Visiting the Islands

I haven’t been blogging much recently — just one post in 2017 — but I’ve had good reason.

Since late last year, I’ve been working on a shared world project with a few writerly friends, gradually developing the concept and setting, before we dived in and started to write. We’re now less than a week away from launching our project, with websites, graphics, promotional materials and other efforts all waiting to explode from hiding!

Want a little taster of what we’ve been up to?

SeaSerpentCoverImage.jpg

ARCHIPELAGO is a swashbuckling historical fantasy serial — think Treasure Island and Moby Dick with a hint of Master & Commander, as filtered through George R. R. Martin on a weekly basis. The project is part collaborative and part competitive: each of the contributors enter the scenario from a different point of view, exploring the unknown until we meet in the middle, where we’ll vie for supremacy (or our characters will… but who knows what will go down when things start to get heated!).

All this will be delivered to readers in a sort of online magazine format, and the ultimate result will be a novel-length adventure that weaves together our different story strands.

My collaborators are two talented sf authors from across the pond: Canada’s Charlotte Ashley, who has featured in F&SF Magazine (most recently on the cover!), PodCastle and the Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2017, plus nominations for the Sunburst and Aurora Awards; and America’s Kurt Hunt, who doesn’t go in for all that website-having malarkey and yet still manages to land stories at the likes of Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and PodCastle. Picture me as the millstone around their necks.

We know each other via SFFWorld.com, and like me both have appeared in past SFFW anthologies: Charlotte in You Are Here and Lucky or Unlucky?, and Kurt in Ecotones.

ARCHIPELAGO is launching very soon: teaser stories will appear during May, with Year One’s weekly episodes going live from the start of June. We’ll also be running a novelty Kickstarter campaign during our promo-month to help spread the word around the crowdfunding community – and I’ll be sharing links to all that over the coming weeks!

Our logo comes courtesy of writer/designer Holly Heisey — and you can find out more about their work at http://hollyheisey.com/

April the Last

Probably it comes as a surprise that we’re a third of the way through the year already. Well:

— FOOLED YOU —

it’s still February!

[wipes a tear from his eye] Classic.

Anyway, for perhaps the eighth or ninth time a short story of mine is now appearing in the small, free-to-read, unadorned-by-horrible-advertising sf ezine Mythaxis. It’s called April the Last, a bit of humorous* horror about Englishness (the quaint kind, not mercenary xenophobia) and the end of the world. Start now and it’ll be finished in about five minutes, just like the real End of Days!

* all humour subjective

I created the cover image using Creative Commons licensed photos by Staffan Vilcans, Derek Blackadder and secretlondon123. Many thanks to them all! If you want to check out more of their images, please follow this link.


To read other stories I have in Mythaxis, you’ve got two options. You could click over there and trawl through the past issues until you find them, one by one — but that sounds like hard work, and you might miss one… Alternatively, you could sign up to my quiet-as-the-grave mailing list and receive a free copy of Five Steps Forward, Three Steps Back, a little ebook which contains the first seven, plus a bonus extra! Be warned, I’ve got cool news to share in the next few months…

YOU ARE HERE

…IS PUBLISHED!

 

The fifth annual SFFWorld.com anthology is out now, and it’s probably the best to date! Eighteen map-themed stories of fantasy, horror and science fiction that include villainous wizards and bumbling apprentices, apocalyptic battlefields, shape-shifting espionage, sinster comings-of-age, golum explorers, and other larger-than-life encounters — as well as distortions of such seemingly mundane things as a tour guide pamphlet, or a lover’s tiff on an isolated moor…

I’m delighted to have been involved, both as one of the authors between the covers and designer of the art upon it. To celebrate Thanksgiving and help ease the straining wounds of an uncertain world, YOU ARE HERE is currently available for just $2.99 (or equivalent currency!). And not just that, all early proceeds will be donated to The Humane Society — as was the fee of the featured author, indie-bookmonster Lindsay Buroker.

I hope you give it a try! Cover, blurb and retail links to follow

Maps define our lives as they define our world.

What were once the priceless resources of a brave and lonely few as they set off into the unknown are now carried in the pockets of billions around the globe. But they were never merely lines on paper – while depicting our geography we infused them with our intelligence, our desires, our imagination, and our memories.

Yesterday, we mapped the world only after we discovered its secrets. Today we map the mind and the body as we do so, and slowly unveil the universe before we set off into its infinite domains. Maps may have changed, but they are also changeless: they will always be guides to the spaces, the things and maybe the people around us.

This anthology charts eighteen worlds which are beautiful, frightening, alien, familiar – sometimes none of these, sometimes all. These stories cover every corner of the speculative map, featuring horror, science fiction, steampunk, high fantasy and more, in styles ranging from the literary and the lyrical to the pulpy and the thrilling.

Wherever you find yourself, there’s only one thing you can ever know for sure:

YOU ARE HERE

Now go explore

 

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