Friday, 30 November 2012

Life in the Kuiper Belt - Free today and tomorrow

My science-fiction adventure novel Schaefer's Integrity is free today and tomorrow on Kindle. That's Friday 30th November and Saturday 1st December.

Set at the edge of our solar system, amongst the many spinning stations and stones that make up the Kuiper Belt mining colony, Duncan Schaefer, a lowly chef, becomes infected with a virus that brings into question a number of beliefs held by the scientific community. The virus has a mind of its own and soon Duncan is on a quest to Earth to discover the truth about the strange mutations in his body, and his bizarre dreams of an inverted pyramid structure in distant space...something called the Extraction Point.

Below is a snippet from Schaefer's Integrity. Get the novel free here.

After the meeting with Carl I returned to my cabin, put on Kuiper Limit’s latest album and prepared for the launch.  Halfway into the first piece of music we took off.  Amidst a stomach-churning rumble of the high-pressure pumps firing steam into the propulsion chambers, we undocked from the Construction Station on what was to be – for me – the first of only three voyages as an employee on the Josiah.  I sat glued to the monitor in my cabin throughout the launch.  I watched as we lifted clear of the docking platform and cast away the last of the tethers.  Then, with a burst of the pressure jets, Josiah eased forward and away to the left, slowly at first but picking up speed quite quickly.  Down on the docking platform I could see a couple of servicemen waving goodbye before turning and walking off towards the lifts.  Within three minutes the ship reached the main entrance to the dock and we slid out into the vast expanse of space.
I was instantly blessed with a stunning panoramic vista as the camera revealed the familiar and beautiful cluster of stars at the centre of our galaxy.  The clarity and depth of what I could see filled me with a new sense of awe; an enriched sense of distance and perspective.
Back on Josiah once again, space felt different.  There was something about being on a small ship – rather than a huge space station – that enhanced the sense of oneness with the endless ether.
What must life have been like for my ancestors? Back in mankind’s childhood, trapped on Earth, they never knew a life in space.
Kuiper Limit was playing loud in my ear.  Yet again they had scored the scene perfectly.  This was the beginning of my new life, and I could feel my throat tighten with emotion as I saw the Construction Station getting smaller and smaller in the distance behind us.
Soon after, I caught sight of my old home - the Entertainment Station - spinning away like a loose wheel in the distance as it emerged from behind the Construction Station.  It too got smaller and smaller through my view-port as Josiah pulled me away, pulling me on to a new life.
The station itself was a big, grey and drab spinning disc.  No artist would ever feel compelled to paint a likeness of its structure.  All an artist would ever do is wish for it to be adorned with brighter colours.  But survival in space was not about aesthetics, cosmetics and beauty; it was about functionality, safety and - above all - the integrity of the hull, which kept the murderous vacuum at bay.

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Train Now Departing

A hearty thanks to everyone who downloaded my short story collection The Train Set over the weekend. I shifted 181 copies and made it to #6 in the Amazon short stories chart in the UK!

If you have read the collection, or even only part of it, I would be hugely grateful if you could write a short review on Amazon. Every review helps sell more copies and I really would like this collection to be a success.

Sometime between now and Christmas I will be promoting one other book in a free 2-day extravaganza, Schaefer's Integrity, so keep an eye out for that, and I will obviously be making it known here, and on Twitter and Facebook, when that happens.

In the meantime please look at my other works which (due to various copyright issues) will probably not be going for free on Kindle in the foreseeable future. Those are The Axiom Few, Spireclaw and The Daedalus Transfer (the latter two of which can be read right now on this website).

Thanks again everyone!

Friday, 23 November 2012

The Train Set - Free Today and Tomorrow

Just a quick post to let you Kindle readers know that my short story collection "The Train Set" is available on Amazon for free today and tomorrow (Nov 23rd and 24th). I would love it if you downloaded and had a read of one or two stories within it, (or all of them if you like). Then tell your friends!

You can get it here.

Here's a snippet from one of the stories... "At Steepdean Halt"

I was twelve that year when we had our last family picnic at Steepdean. The field where we had come for years was just as beautiful as ever, and in the heat of June 1976 it possessed a summery beauty that seemed to contrast so plainly against the tragedy that happened here; a tragedy that protracted an idyllic day in the countryside into a sad and mournful autumn.

My younger brother, Samuel, aged eight, hands sticky with dried orangeade, beat me in a running race to the edge of the field where the trees began. He may have been four years younger than me but he was just as tall and his legs were powerful. He’d probably had more sugar than me too. Besides, I was a girl and in my brother's eyes, girls could never be faster than boys.

Though we were both out of breath when we got to the edge of the field we wasted no time in seeking shade from the high sun, which pierced the perfect blue sky but could not penetrate the canopy of leaves.

Samuel was already standing astride on the lowest branch of one of the bigger trees when I caught up, and while I bent over out of breath with the heels of my hands supported on my knees, he was eagerly climbing to the next set of branches.

 ‘Be careful,’ I shouted knowing full well that my pleas would not be heeded. In fact, he was already on the next branch up and could probably see the village from his vantage point if he looked to the south across the cut.

The railway below had been almost invisible to me, and when the sound of a diesel train started to rise in the distance to the east it became obvious just how close to the track we were. Through the trees below us the sun pinched the four rails. The ever louder churning of the oncoming train filled the day and soon the smell of the locomotive was upon us, as was the train itself. A flat fronted, yellow-faced, blue Class 60 with 8 passenger carriages plunged noisily past us. No sooner had it appeared did it disappear to the west, dropping us back into a silence punctuated by nothing but the sound of the church bell in the village tolling two o'clock.

Samuel and I had been silent and unmoving while the train had passed, but this minor interlude, or the apparent danger it presented, did not stop my brother from boldly climbing to a higher part of the tree.

'You should come down from there,' I called, but the grin he returned to me displayed that a common stubbornness had possessed him, the kind of bloody-mindedness that usually ended up with grazed hands and knees, salty tears and ice-cream. As he advanced further along a branch that seemed incapable of holding even his small frame, I thought these actions would end in tears. I had no idea that the tears would belong to my mother, my father and me.

The moment it all started was when Samuel stopped suddenly, looking down and out in front of him as though he was eyeing a place to land from a jump that was both dangerous and stupid.

'Don't jump! It's too far and the ground is sloped!'

He ignored me, but said nothing and for a moment I switched my thoughts to the notion that he might have been planning a leap to the branch of another tree.

Eventually he called down to me, 'Claire. There's a girl on the railway line.'

Friday, 2 November 2012

Sighting FM

...point three. Surrey's favourite destination for talk. That's the weather. It's eleven oh six. Now, before we go to our next caller I have to say. Jane in the booth opposite me who lovingly takes your calls tells me that the switchboard is going absolutely crazy tonight. Apparently people have been ringing in saying there are some mysterious lights in the sky above Dorking. I'm gonna take one of those calls now. Barry, you're up on Box Hill aren't you? What are you doing up there so late, shouldn't you be in bed?

Well Nick there's loads of us up here and we've been watching these three lights going back and forth for the last hour.

Whereabouts are they exactly? I mean, you should have a pretty good view up there right?

Yeah, they're sort of over Leith Hill way.

Isn't that the approach to Gatwick? Are you sure these aren't just planes landing Barry?

Yeah well, they would be if they were moving towards the airport but these lights are just sort of oscillating back and forth.

Really? How many are up there with you watching this?

Hundreds. We're all up on the lookout watching to the south and these lights...

Are the lights together when they move?


I mean, are they in a formation?

Yeah, like it's... like they're attached to one ship.


Or craft or what have you.

Thanks Barry. I can hear lots of people in the background. Sounds like there's a crowd up there. I'm gonna try... Jane can you... yep. I want to try and get through to Surrey police to see if they've... Ahh, they're engaged. Ok. Keep trying for me Jane. Put them through when they answer. Right, we have Anne on the line. If anyone knows what this is about then please do call in so we can put our listener's minds to rest. Now Anne you're up on Leith Hill aren't you?

That's right Nick. The lights are directly above us, we can even feel the...

How high above you are they Anne? Can you tell us?

...warmth of the lights. About fifty metres above us. Yeah, fifty to a...

So it's really quite close to you?

...hundred or so...

And how are the lights arranged? Can you... a vertical rod, three lights arranged...

Can you see if it's actually a ship, like our last caller said?

...hovering above us.

I have to say that we've just had a call from the Civil Aviation Authority and they've actually suspended all inbound and out... Anne, what was that noise? Anne?

I'm here. There's a new light. A spotlight shining directly down on our hill and...

Another light? Coming from the shippy crafty thing? up everyone on the hill. I didn't realise there were so many people up here and... oh my G...

Anne? Anne are you still there? Anne? Well it looks like we've... we've lost Anne there. Jane can you find out what happened to that line. Let's go to line five in the meantime. We have erm... let's go to Alex who's on Box Hill. Alex what can you see?

There's a like, a light shining down onto Leith Hill but from this far away I can't really work out what's going on.

We were just talking to Anne, who was on Leith Hill but the line went dead. I don't know if there's anyone else up th...

It's shooting up into the sky. The lights are climbing upwards.

Alex, stay... stay on the line, we've got to go to a break...

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

All my stuff has moved

Now that The Train Set has launched on Kindle (what do you mean you don't have a copy?), I have turned my attention to relocating all the content from my website into this blog site. I was getting tired of updating multiple locations with new information, and also becoming less of a fan of Moonfruit due to my website not showing up very well on anything made by Apple. I know all that will change but it's a service I'm paying for and it just doesn't seem necessary anymore.

So please browse the page tabs at the top to view all (or most) of the content that was previously available on my website. I will, in a short while, update the page redirects for my web domains to point to here, so that links to me are not lost.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Train Set - A Glimpse at the Cover

My short story collection "The Train Set" is now out on Kindle. A great little book for Halloween.

The collection includes the following stories:

At Steepdean Halt - Previously published in 2008 in The Ranfurly Review
The Suited Man of Lock St Station - New to this collection.
Last Train to Tassenmere - Previously published in 2009 in Supernatural Tales. Received an honourable mention in Ellen Datlow's Year's Best Horror. 
The View From Setcham Viaduct - New to this collection (although briefly seen on this blog last year)
Dark Tickets - Also briefly seen on this blog, but new to this collection.
Flyers - A novella that is new to this collection.

Buy The Train Set from Amazon on Kindle now.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Books now available on Kindle

I'm pleased to say that four of my earlier works are now available to buy on Kindle via Amazon, all for less than a quid. Considering they are all so ridiculously cheap there isn't much of an excuse not to have a look, unless you don't have a Kindle, in which case, get it for the Kindle app on your phone or tablet. See I told you there's no excuse.

Go here to see them.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Interactive Fiction

Proof that the internet has a page for everything (I think we already knew that) is that I found a good many sites full of love for the old Choose Your Own Adventure book series from the 1980s, of which I had a shelf full. Those old books were about 100 pages long and featured a branch-like narrative with multiple endings. With titles like "The Cave of Time", "The House of Danger" and "Journey Under the Sea", these books worked for readers of my age (which was about ten).

"You reach a fork in the road and find an old man sitting there. To turn left in the fork, go to page 45. To turn right, go to page 56. To talk to the old man, go to page 80."

That sort of thing.

Later on, when computers came along, I fell in love with the text adventures of Magnetic Scrolls (yes there's a website for them too). With games like Jinxter, The Guild of Thieves and Corruption, I was hooked by the way that these games built worlds in your head.

Even now there is a cult following for these old style games, but interactive fiction lives on in the form of hyperfiction (hypertext fiction where you navigate the story through hyperlinks on a web page).

I've decided to have a go at creating a piece of interactive fiction for the Android phone. As a fan of the old Myst-style point and click adventures too I wanted to try and merge some of those elements in there too. As a writer I could combine a number of passions into one. Who knows, I might even end up with an App I could sell for a small fee.

So I've been having a heap of fun (a little bit of sarcasm in there in case you didn't notice) installing the Java Development Environment, along with all the necessary stuff to create and build Android Apps. Let's see where I end up. I have a story, which I am building into a game narrative, and I've devised a few puzzles to challenge the reader. And I've even dug out some of the old MP3s of music I wrote on my trusty Yamaha V50 synthesizer back in the 1990s, to add a little atmosphere.

I'm very excited about this little project, and will post more as I progress on this new journey.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Pandora's Star

A few years ago I had an idea for a novel. I even wrote a full synopsis, character list, complete with information about their own personal story arcs, and drafted the first twenty pages or so. It was going to be a trilogy, my magnum opus. The most ambitious piece of science-fiction I'd ever tried to write. It was going to be called "The Construction".

One day all the stars disappear. The Space Foundation call it "Star Blacking". A crew is assembled and a ship is sent out to the edge of the solar system, only to find that our solar system has been enclosed in a barrier, a shell. Alien's tell us it is for our protection, but then a war takes place outside the shell, and another set of alien's tell us they are attempting to free us from the imminent enslavement of humanity by the first aliens. Who do we believe? It sort of goes on from there...

Imagine my total disappointment when I recently picked up Peter F Hamilton's "Pandora's Star", only to find that the king of Space Opera got there first. There are a few minor differences but the principal is the same and so are the dilemmas faced by humanity.

So it's back to the drawing board for my magnum opus. Time for some new ideas. There's a beautiful moon in the sky tonight, and a stunning vista of stars. Always inspiring. New ideas area out there waiting to be had.
And it reminds me that there's a new character that's been bouncing around my head. His name is Derek Pytance. And for those of you who have read my short story collection "The Axiom Few", he's a new individual in that universe. Because I always wondered what would motivate a man to create something as powerful and omnipotent and calculating as the Biological Retro-Enabled Nth Dimensional Array (BRENDA to you and me...)