Monday, 1 June 2015

"Contours Worth Levelling"

Trapped inside the contours of your own pallid skull, you begin your schemes anew.

Imagine Byzantine tunnels (awakening), hopping across the smouldering gridiron of mundane circumstance carved across your synapses (contemplating). Wantonly, abruptlyedges charred, now and forever. Angles for the sake of anglesyour meals (hundreds) and travels (thousands) and love-partners (priceless) just pale shades of separation.

You breach it, again (coax auxiliary synapses) with a stare. A gesture, directed at the sky above your head (singular-sol system, adequate bio-sphere). Rolling shoulders fit to punch out giants. Dreading the gods that wait beyond your sight and touch and sheer unbridled contemplation (there is life). Because there are gods with your name on their judgements (beyond rest, beyond sleep). They don't float, they seep; they don't wait, they exist. Spiting you, in spite of you.

The scheme waits, flounders across that cruel gridiron with the singed edges of forced habit (proliferate). And consume, and engulf and engorge (and proliferate)

and live. Shrug your shoulders, kick the duvet away. Straighten your nightshirt and stand. Creak for a moment, the spring air licking at your waistline and the curl of your shins. Stare into the still-settling dawn, the ambient drone of the mopeds and bazaar-carts and express trains crammed with the dead-awake. It's all


The tunnels are misdirected, the gridiron pointless but grounded. Faithless and flawless and utterly depravedenforced by waking and reflection and hunger and (proliferate) with every impulse, every tap and link and call to an ether you can't really describe. Wouldn't want to, when you can (proliferate) because it's

stupidly simple. A vocation without an office: a title without a position. Figures without accounts. Nothing to worry about, paid with everything worth doing. In full, on demand, by the pound. Looming in the skies outside your windows are

Invading. Spores wrap their claws around the upper atmosphere and tug, hard. Sink anti-oxygen enzymes deep into the sweet spring air, invading the mouths of billions. Suppressing any screams the populace may have had. Extinguishing any records of your passing. It swells into contours that block the gridiron, momentarily. What sparks died forever in that moment of submission? That defeat as seven billions souls died and

your blouse emerged from the wash, unscathed

You are nameless

you are faceless. A destroyer of worlds

a slave to routine?
Back. Wringing out what I can. 

<work> Scraps, "arachnae.we" disaster arcs
<words> "Rogues"--George R.R. Martin+Gardner Dozois (editors), "California"--Edan Lepucki
<noise> "No One Moves, No One Gets Hurt"--Bedouin Soundclash
<screens> N/A
<food+drink> Homemade pho. Dinner+breakfast.
<quotes> "Let us die, with music"--unnamed Russian lunar lander director, 1969.  

Friday, 8 May 2015

"Sanctuary"--Sketch (Deadfall excerpt)

A parade of the scarcely living shuffled across the flagstones of the Causeway Al-Koji.

For weeks, it had trudged across the sweltering tropic glades of the inner Oman Caliphate: bound to unmarked gravel roads constantly washed out by monsoons and neglect. Ague stole elders, snatched children, plucked at the healthy to mark them as refugees. Sallow bones and rotting gums adorned once-swaggering bazaarmen, gruff paddy farmers, longshoremen, scribes, thieves.

It marched in a silence stifled by the creak of ungreased axles, the tramp of footfalls. Hundreds of mud-splattered cloaks obscured the Causeway's marble surface in a woolen canopy. Around the edges, several serpentine icons of Koki slipped over the edge and into the ocean's froth below. Few noticed, and none cared.

The Legion was inching southward, thirty miles a day. Seven fortified towns had fallen since they took the south road to Oman-Ah. Their infernos transfixed them at dusk halts, promising thirst and twisted ankles the following noon.

Southward, past the sunken ohawood bones of the docklands. Around barricades of vanities in the Old Heart district. Between the vicious food queues at the inshore jetties and caravan-ports. Through the half-feral phalanxes of rogue Levy companies, waiting derelict for the treaty. Over the heaps of dead that followed.

And now, a windswept morning simmered in grey and soaked with rain, across one of the House Causeways.

Salvation would be a caravel or zigger-ship. And if the Hoard Coast had not blocked their escape this morning with a titanic gale, the mob might have simply marched into the sea with bowed heads. Oman-Ah, the Treasury of a Million Hearths, had thrown them nothing but bones.

So, onward. The living staggered onwards, leaving black cloaks and silver shards to swirl and scatter under the Causeway's curves. Overhead, the gongs of the Al-Koji Basilica crashed out a warning.

Work in progress. Intro to a Deadfall section I'm working on. You'll get more as the weeks drag on, and my patience for the draft of a certain Terraform submission wears thin. 

<work> "Leak", "Sanctuary", "arachnae.we"
<words> "The Armour of Contempt"--Dan Abnett/"Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse"--ed. John Joseph Adams
<noise> Perfect Confusion (first incarnation of Cage The Elephant)
<screen> N/A
<levels> N/A
<food+drink> French toast, water
<quote> “Adulthood brings with it the pernicious illusion of control, perhaps even depends on it. I mean that mirage of dominion over our own life that allows us to feel like adults, for we associate maturity with autonomy, the sovereign right to determine what is going to happen to us next."--Juan Gabriel Vasquez, "The Sound of Things Falling"

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Motherboard+A Few Career Changes

First off.

Sci-fi and speculative fiction writers--check out Terraform if you haven't already. It's a subsection of Motherboard, Vice's science and technology culture vertical 'site. A beautiful place to trawl for ideas or submit your work. They do have a budget for writers/journalists of all stripes, and Matthew Braga (Motherboard's editor) is a great guy. Just do some recon first, and seriously consider whether your work fits their style. If so, I know they want to learn more about it (and you). I'm working on a few things at the moment that may, with enough thrust, achieve escape velocity from their slush pile...

Secondly, career changes. I quit my staff reporter gig. I'm going to be retraining as a video journalist, and I'll be picking up a new job as city editor of a Toronto-based website by the end of the summer. Video should keep me from slogging home and sitting in front of a screen with a word count hovering around zero, wondering why I don't have the energy to finish a sentence after pounding out 3-4 articles a week at my other gig. As for the city editor thing, it's for a reboot of an older site (courtesy of an editor I used to work for), so we're all going to be learning the ropes as we go.

The point is, I'll be around a bit more in the next few weeks than I have in a while. Radio silence may ensue around the end of August/early September. Nothing you haven't read (or not read) before.

<work> "Tools (wt)", "arachnae.we", "Paragons"
<words> "The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer"--Neal Stephenson/"Equal Rites"--Terry Pratchett
<noise> "Cornucopia"--Serj Tankian
 <screens> N/A
<levels> N/A
 <food+drink> Strong coffee
<quotes> "I loved you in the sunshine/You chase the moon with a spear"--Serj Tankian

Thursday, 26 February 2015


A hundred Andromeda suns fizzle under ether yokes. Gravity chafes, sends sparks flying into the long dark. Touches off nebulae and pockets of hyper-combustible gasses. Cataclysms send plasma tendrils deeper into the black: gnawing, hungry. 

They awaken. 

A bare and colourless body: blank eyes, an angular skull with no soft edges. Hairless cheeks, a slash of a mouth, a triple-folded grey loincloth. Ancient, but freshly minted. Only the youngest of bodies can house the god-tapped. 

A white plain soaks up starlight in all directions. No cover, no wind,no foliage. Silence, stillness.

A red dwarf is hungry. Corona arcs flip and loop in twenty-million mile chains, engulfing a delicate array of ice-moons. 

They blink. Ponder calculations never before sung or whispered or written.

Engulfed and unshriven. Polar caps remain untouched. The coronas divert around an inscrutable cone, simmering into nothingless at the system's edge. A hundred thousand warrens under the ice flows and glacial lakes chitter in relief and offer fresh sacrifices. 

Reigning in the dwarf takes focus. Multilinear incantations struggle to refit the shackles of gravity and force. They blink. They sweat. Serene and slender fingers tremor, then tighten across the folds of a loincloth ragged with rips.

There is time to meditate before the next destabilization. 

They exhale: slowly. It rushes into a gasp and leaves them coughing. Hacking, on a lone conjuresphere overseeing the Andromeda galaxy. A freshly minted body is revolting against this pruning of the heavens.

Shreds of awareness refuse to unknot and retreat. Asteroids pummel a gargantuan desert world baked at the epicentre of three suns. Another sentient species overruns itself in hordes of murderous theorists. Nine suns fade out, cores disintegrating on the remains of their own solar wind.

Stability is nothing when awareness is uncompromising.

A moment. They grasp at last-ditch vector solutions. Throw a blanket of unvarnished gravitational force over everything. Turn away.

And inward, recalling.

A shimmering plain-world layered in strata of sand-crystal. Endless deposits, encasing a molten core eternally burning its way to the deposits above. The fatal flaw as artistic flourish and cathartic anchor. Miracles undo themselves, always.

Constructed with painstaking care. Decades of contemplating the geosphere,  articulating the planet's inner core, considering magma streams. Centuries of surface holocaust to burn a million pristine beaches to glass. Fifteen comets, aimed perfectly, to shatter the surface glass in all the right places. 

Life, if there'd been the patience.

They sighed and waved. Annihilated the asteroids. 

 Back to regular writing. It'll be online most days: a variety of genres, styles, and modes. Getting back into fiction after an unintended hiatus. This isn't planned or drafted, but it's what I have.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Once More Into The Breach

Still alive.

I go back to freelancing in less than a week. The paper wants me back, and a good friend (former news editor) just came back to the communities desk. Meaning I'll have two desks to work for, plus a feature-length piece planned for sometime in February. The research can't be started until Monday, but once it does, I'll be thinking about, chasing down, or transcribing interviews until press day. Leaves little time for writing given my past operating procedure.

I need to change that. Not just because I haven't submitted anything decent since last year. Any kind of writing is an exercise. It needs regular, constant practice. I get it in spades for hard news, broadcast writing, even the odd feature-piece or two. But fiction? Forget it. I average about 2,000 words a day of transcribing, taking notes, drafts. Having the energy to hop off the train, flop down in my chair, and pound out 1,000 new words a day didn't seem possible a few months ago.

It should. It must. If I can't hack it now, as a freelancer on the bottom of the totem pole with no editorial duties, then it's not happening. There's a job opening in four months for a news editor position at my paper. No way in hell am I keeping up editing, reporting, and writing fiction at the same time. Not if I can't do this now.

I entered journalism to keep my thumb firmly on the pulse of the world, and pay the bills. Forgetting fiction for the sake of that defies the underlying rationale: life to inspire and infuse art. I can't make a living off of fiction. I'm not that good, I don't have the time, and my bank account isn't bottomless. If the result is chaining myself to a news desk for the rest of my life, forget it. I'm out.

I've got a grace period. Tuesdays, into Wednesday night. That's the time between the paper going to press and the editors finishing their pitches and assigning stories for the next week's issue. Twenty-four hours, give or take. I could live with writing once a week if I got that sort of time to plug away at projects.

The plan is to submit two, maybe three short pieces to fiction magazines. Toronto's got a whole 'zine community I've barely explored. Haven't had the time. Or so I've said. Finishing at least the first draft of "arachnae.we" by April is also on the list. Getting starting on the rewrites for "Pit Stop" or "Instant Gratification" by then wouldn't hurt. If there's time left, Black Library and a few Eclipse Phase magazines are always looking for submissions. I don't have qualms about tie-in fiction, fan-fiction, whatever they're calling it these days. If it's good writing, it's good writing.

"Paragons" is going to become a fixture at this place. I hope.