A Comet of Ideas Looking for a Planet

From the frozen tundra of Jupiter's moon Europa, to a rainy night on Dartmoor. From an evening rush hour train bound for King's Cross, to a murderous interrogation room. From the hot city of Khartoum, to an interstellar data router that has started to malfunction. From the Falkland Islands, to a nightclub in the Kuiper Belt. Huw Langridge brings you 13 short science fiction stories to make you think about where we came from, where we're going, and who else might be with us.

The Train Set

Ghosts haunt our railways. Sinister seaside towns lurk at the end of branch-lines not visible on any train map. A dark and disused London Underground station harbours a diabolical secret. Families come together and grow, and families are broken apart.

"The Train Set" consists of six stories.

Two previously published works, "At Steepdean Halt", first published in 2008 in The Ranfurly Review, and "Last Train to Tassenmere" which after its publication in Supernatural Tales received an honourable mention in Ellen Datlow's Year's Best Horror of 2009.

Rounding out the collection are three new short stories, and "Flyers", a brand new novella.


"8 out of 10" - Bookmark Online Reads

"A Well Written Weird Mystery..." - Fiona Gregory, Web Fiction Guide

All the time we are surrounded by coincidences. Some we pay a second thought to and then forget about. Some fill us with wonder. Some we never even notice. But there are some which can scare us. When Kieran Whyteleafe starts to see little coincidences happening around him he decides to investigate their meaning. The coincidences seem to centre around the word Spireclaw. Why does the word keep appearing in places only meant for Kieran's eyes? Is it connected to the suicide of his old school friend? And what is the significance of the archive boxes that turn up mysteriously at his work. Kieran's desire to solve some of the puzzles that surround him has pitched him on a trajectory of discovery, and his investigations will culminate in a revelation that is too shocking for him to comprehend.

Reviews of Spireclaw

"I was hooked by Spireclaw and I read it in one sitting, as I tend to do when something really grabs me.  It has just the right blend of mystery, the occult and drama to keep one turning the pages. A writer usually has to avoid coincidences like the plague, but it is something essential to the plot in Spireclaw and it is spellbinding the way that the coincidences build up to form a tangled web of intrigue that has the reader wondering whats going to happen next. The narrative is pacey and at times I was reminded of the novels of Dan Brown when the hero is on a quest for the answers, going from one nugget of information to the next leading to a conclusion that is shocking, but in a sense is based on something so deep and hidden in the human psyche. A love story that transcends time, Spireclaw left me wanting more. Cracking stuff." - Rupert C, Zambia

"I just finished reading Spireclaw. It really held my suspense and I thought it was a terrific book! ... I found out about online books a couple months ago and I've been reading lots of books. Spireclaw is the best one I've read so far!" - Linda M, Dallas TX

The Axiom Few

"Fresh and exciting and definitely recommended..." Rod MacDonald, SFCrowsnest

Archer, Geek and Davey are The Axiom Few, a small band of freelance techno-graduates who operate on the edge of science in a future London. Welcome to the test-shack. This short story collection contains three previously published stories and five that are new to this release.

Reviews for The Axiom Few Story "The Voidant Lance"

A good point about 'Jupiter' is that you often get a series of stories running through the magazine, the 'Roadrunner' stories coming to mind. This issue sees the welcome return of The Axiom Few in a story called 'The Voidant Lance' written by Huw Langridge. Come on, Channel 4, there's a series waiting to be made here.

The setting is London in the year 2057. Archer, Geek and the gang discover that an alien device is on its way to crash into the Earth resulting in an apocalypse which would devastate the planet and cause billions of deaths. They have a plan which involves shifting everyone on Earth a little bit into the future but Archer's son, Lloyd, arrives on the scene and tries to stop them. Quite badly disfigured by genetic mishaps, the boy has a warning to deliver. Curiously, the arrival of a son he did not know he had helps Archer to come to terms with the problems he has with his own father.

Delving into the plot in greater detail would be a spoiler. Take it from me, this is an electric story and to the editor, make sure you get more of the Axiom Few in the future!  - Rod MacDonald, SF Crowsnest

"The Voidant Lance" by Huw Langridge is part of a series of stories about the Axiom Few, men who deal with perils to the planet. The leader of the group, Archer is alerted by his estranged father, Goddard, of an object headed toward Earth by a race called the Voidant. Archer, with the help of his colleagues, Geek and Davey, must find a way to save Earth from a catastrophic collision. But someone else shows up to advise them and their plans change. We are told that the next installment for the Axiom Few is at the author's website, and it should be well worth checking out if the next story is as good as this one. - Sam Tomaino, SFRevu

Reviews for The Axiom Few Story "The Ceres Configuration"

Huw Langridge provides us with The Ceres Configuration. A good old fashioned (yet high-tech) tale of approaching apocalypse, this story served to remind me just what unpretentious science fiction can do when written by someone who clearly relishes every word. - Adrian Fry - Whispers of Wickedness

Reviews for The Axiom Few Story "The Darken Loop"

And from Janus, we move to the London of 2052 with "The Darken Loop" by Huw Langridge. The story starts with a very mundane setting of a young woman arriving with a train on the London Waterloo station and going to a job interview (and I actually smiled at it - the second part of last week, I was catching a train at the very same station every morning) and decides to make a detour and get herself a coffee. And with this introduction, we head up for the real story - a conscious AI, time travel (in a way) and parallel worlds. Add to this love and betrayal and it starts to shape up. Beautifully crafted, all the way to the end which repeats the beginning... or does it? - Annieworld, Random Thoughts

Huw Langridge's "The Darken Loop" begins in 2052 with a woman deciding to buy a cup of coffee. The story then focuses on a man called Geek who receives a message directly into his brain. It seems to be coming from a parallel universe and wants Geek to do an important job. This was a nicely told story of alternate realities. - Sam Tomaino, SFRevu

'The Darken Loop' by Huw Langridge is an exciting story of multi-dimensions and an entity from the future. The story begins innocuously enough with the girl called Louise going for an interview some 40 years in our future but not having enough money to buy a cup of coffee. Schrödinger's cat scenario...whether or not she has a cup of coffee affects the long-term future of not just one universe but a multitude of them. It also determines if she lives or dies.

Bring into this The Axiom Few, a small band of freelance techno graduates. The brains of the operation, a guy called Geek, is in communication with this entity from the future, an entity anthropic in nature, which pulls the past towards it and looks after humanity in the multitude of realities. Anyway, Geek has invented goggles which can look round corners in a dimensional sort of way. Their task is to get a Costa coffee voucher to Louise through a rip in time to save her and the future which lies ahead but this is complicated by the fact that she was the girl-friend of two members of the group and looking into the past isn't always a good idea.

An excellent story, one which has plenty of scope for development into other forms of media. This was a short story but the characterisation is good and it's possible to see a novel or even a radio or TV series featuring The Axiom Few. - Rod MacDonald, SF Crowsnest

In Huw Langridge's "The Darken Loop" a group of freelance scientists is urged by an AI to make use of an unexpected means of a sort of time travel to save the girlfriend of one of them. As with many time travel stories, paradoxes are a bit of a problem, not too badly navigated here. Interesting work, on the whole. - Rich Horton, The SF Site

Schaefer's Integrity

Duncan Schaefer is a chef in the Kuiper Mining Colony, at the edge of our solar system. He has become infected by a virus that is baffling science. With the help of his disfigured companion Maxan, he struggles to understand the physical changes his body is undergoing, which is earning him an unwanted celebrity status. Everyone wants a piece of him. Schaefer soon learns that the illness has a design of its own, and that there are greater things at stake than just his own life. Can he survive long enough to uncover the mystery of his illness, and make the connection between the physical changes in his body, and the future of mankind's place in the universe?

The Daedalus Transfer

"Solid, Steady Science Fiction..." - Gavin Williams, Web Fiction Guide

"...As the Earth swung past the view-port of the accommodation module, Frank could see the South Island of New Zealand creep slowly round to the dark side. The island was surrounded on all sides by the expanse of the South Pacific, and to the south he could make out scattered storm clouds, which churned up over the Antarctic’s ice fields...

When the module’s rotation carried the Earth out of sight, the deep star field came into view. He pushed his face close to the view-port. Without the glare of his home planet to obscure the light of the stars, he could see the infinite expanse spread out before him. It was a beautiful sight, a clearer version of the image that populated the summer nights of his childhood. Except this time he was not seeing those tiny distant points of light though a telescope hampered by orange city lights and localised pollution. Now he was able to look directly into the past life of the universe, and see everything it had to offer.

Somewhere below him, a controlled thrust burst altered the trajectory of the Daedalus. The ship was beginning to break away from Earth’s orbit and would soon be out of its gravitational free fall, on a transfer orbit to Mars..."

In the near future a message is received from Proxima Centauri 4.3 light years away. A massive operation is put into action to build a ship to send a crew of six to investigate the signal. They arrive after 150 years only to discover that the signal came from a very obscure and unexpected source.

Reviews of The Daedalus Transfer

"Huw Langridge is obviously a technology freak and has grounded this e-novel, The Daedalus Transfer in fact. The technological aspects and the human factors concerned with space travel are dealt with with surprising realism. Huw has done his homework. Entertaining and highly complex, the novel moves from the real to the surreal and it is a fascinating look at how space travel might be in the not too distant future. The characters are believable and the claustrophobic confines of the ship give rise to interesting interplay, especially as scientists with rational minds struggle to rationalize the seemingly impossible turns of events. This is a great novel for lovers of sci-fi and the themes dealt with in the novel will have the reader not only wondering about the future of mankinds exploration of the cosmos, but also questioning the realities of time and space itself". - Rupert C, Zambia