SF Short Stories for National Short Story Day

National Short Story DayToday is not only the shortest day of the year but it’s also National Short Story Day. I was recently asked to recommend two science fiction short stories, one classic and another modern, to appear on the National Short Story website. Click on the link if you’d like to hear what I had to say about Adjustment Team by Philip K. Dick and The Calorie Man by Paolo Bacigalupi.

This was a difficult decision to make. My tastes vary from month to month depending on what I’m reading / writing / playing at the time. Ask me next year and I’ll probably give you a completely different answer!

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Rocket Dragons Ignite Anthology

Rocket Dragons Ignite: DSF Year 2I’m very pleased to announce that my short story Silver Sixpence has been published in the Daily Science Fiction anthology Rocket Dragons Ignite: DSF Year 2. This anthology is a huge read at 870 pages with over 260 stories and 425,000 words — that’s the size of four typical novels in a single volume!

Silver Sixpence is what I would call mundane science fiction, a sub-genre which focuses on a believable use of science and technology as available at the time of writing. That means no faster-than-light travel, no aliens, quite possibly no lasers or robots, although that’s a changing arena right now.

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . .

Mos EspaLike a lot of 70’s kids I loved Star Wars. I’ve just returned from an amazing week’s holiday in Tunisia with my wife and sons. During our visit we were lucky enough to visit a couple of locations used during the production of the Star Wars films A New Hope and Phantom Menace.

Both sites were situated in the far south of the country, well away from the popular tourist spots of the north. Undeterred, we booked a two-day tour that went on to cover nearly 1300 km, we rode through a sandstorm in the Sahara and enjoyed an adrenalin-fueled 4×4 rally drive along a section of an old Paris-Dakar route.

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MA Graduation

"Masters in Creative Writing with the Vice Chancellor's Prize"Three years ago I was still relatively unpublished. I’d previously had a short story called Farming Tsiolkovsky placed with Demensions magazine and a handful of non-fiction gaming articles (albeit paid articles) published with the Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society. What I really wanted to do was write novels.

At this point I’d completed three ‘practice’ novels: a historical/Lovecraftian thriller set aboard a British airship, a mundane hard-SF novel with a rather turgid plot and a dystopian cyberpunk novel set in near-future London. These had all been sent off to various agents and publishers and I’d received the usual ‘no thanks’ response slips or just nothing at all. I decided that my writing needed help, especially at a technical level, and so I looked around for a local evening class. I eventually ended up swapping emails with Jon Glover, head of Creative Writing at nearby Bolton University, about joining that year’s intake for a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing.

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Calls for Submissions: Ghost Stories

Calls for submissions: Ghost StoriesI don’t know what’s going on at the moment but I keep seeing calls for submissions for ghost stories. I often write in this genre but I simply don’t have enough pieces to submit to all these wonderful markets, so I thought I’d share them around!

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Learning Chinese

Class of 2012!I’ve been learning Mandarin Chinese for a little over a year now (not counting the handful of mangled phrases I’d picked up from various martial arts over the years or watching too much Firefly). So I thought I’d share a little of the experience.

First of all, why?

Because it’s fun, it’s a challenge and getting started isn’t nearly as impossible as a lot of people think.

Yes, I find the tones difficult — measure words as well — but I’d counter this by saying that the lack of verb tense modification and a simple numbering system makes for a balanced learning experience. Here are three quick tips for getting started . . .

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Eastercon 2013

Conloot!Eastercon is the UK’s premier convention for science fiction writers, this year held in Bradford and as the 64th Eastercon it was badged ‘Eight Squared Con‘.

The convention is winding down about now, and I got back late last night, completely knackered after a minimal amount of sleep on Saturday night. I guess the TL;DR summary would be something like: ‘conference center easy to find, great parking, lots of fun, informative and thought-provoking, great opportunity to network with other writers.’

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Arcane II

Arcane II now available!Arcane II is now available, featuring one of my short stories, His City, a strange tale of contemporary urban mysticism meets traditional fairy tale.

Arcane II includes twenty-one unsettling stories, designed to sit in the back of your brain and chew at things! And it’s available right now via Amazon (UK), Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Print edition coming soon.

Grab a copy and feel free to leave some feedback in the comments below. Happy reading!

Interzone #241

Interzone #241 has just hit the shelves and I’m chuffed to say that I have a mention in the review section with my short story ‘Incarnate’ (as featured in the Rocket Science Anthology edited by Ian Sales). The reviewer has these kind words to say:

“…the saddest tale was probably Craig Pay’s ‘Incarnate’, telling the story from one parent’s perspective of what happens when the other parent won’t let go and tries to put right the untimely death of their teenage daughter.”

This is the same story that received a favourable mention in the Guardian back in April. And this is a setting that I’ll be exploring later this summer once I’ve finished up with my current projects. With a novel.

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