Tag Archives: mjh free fiction

Analyses

For fun I put some random blog entries through I Write Like, which told me I write like: Jack London, JRR Tolkien, Chuck Palahniuk (twice), Arthur Clarke (for the “Earth Advengers” post), Cory Doctorow, Gertrude Stein, Dan Brown (for the first paragraph of a review of a Peter Ackroyd novel), Ray Bradbury, David Foster Wallace (twice, once for “Keep Smiling With Great Minutes”), and HG Wells. After that, deciding that my samples must have been generally too short to give a consistent result, I tried the whole of “Imaginary Reviews” and got Isaac Asimov; a 4000 word English ghost story, set mainly at the seaside and featuring an ageing middle class woman called Elizabeth, and got Isaac Asimov again; and then “Cave & Julia” & got HG Wells again. For the whole of Empty Space I got Arthur Clarke; but for its final chapter, which ends with that memorable sentence of crawling Cosmic horror, “First she would separate Dominic the pharma from his friends, take him upstairs, and fuck him carefully to a tearful overnight understanding of the life they all led now,” I got HP Lovecraft.

8 Comments

Filed under books & reviews, empty space, forthcoming work, ghosts, imaginary reviews, new fiction, science fiction, the horror, things to avoid in popular fiction, unforthcoming work, writing

look at the speed of it

I said: “Look at the speed of it.”

At midnight on our last day we stood in the exact centre of the Erzsebet bridge, gazing north. Szentendre and Danube Bend were out there somewhere, locked in a Middle European night stretching all the way to Czechoslovakia. Ice floes like huge lily pads raced towards us in the dark. You could hear them turning and dipping under one another, piling up briefly round the huge piers, jostling across the whole vast breadth of the river as they rushed south. No river is ugly after dark. But the Danube doesn’t care for anyone: without warning the Medieval cold came up off the water and reached on to the bridge for us. It was as if we had seen something move. We stepped back, straight into the traffic which grinds all night across the bridge from Buda into Pest.

“China!”

“Be careful!”

You have to imagine this–

Two naive and happy middle class people embracing on a bridge. Caught between the river and the road, they grin and shiver at one another, unable to distinguish between identity and geography, love and the need to keep warm.

“Look at the speed of it.”

“Oh, China, the Danube!”

From Isobel Avens Returns to Stepney in the Spring.

1 Comment

Filed under mjh free fiction

empty space: encoded in tears

Empty Space is published on July 19th 2012 by Gollancz. Here’s another chapter, less to whet the appetite than taunt it–

Last practitioner of a vanishing technique, with specialisms in diplomacy, military archeology and project development, R.I. Gaines–known to younger colleagues as Rig–had made his name as a partly affiliated information professional during one of EMC’s many small wars. He believed that while the organisation was fuelled by science, its motor ran in the regime of the imagination. ”Wrapped up in that metaphor,” he often told his team–a consciously mongrelised group of policy interns, ex-entradistas and science academics comfortable along a broad spectrum of disciplines– “you’ll always find politics. Action is political, whether it intends to be or not.”

Some projects require only an electronic presence. Others plead for some more passionate input. Today Gaines was in-country on Panamax IV, where the local rep Alyssia Fignall had uncovered dozens of what at first sight seemed like abandoned cities. Microchemical analysis of selected hotspots, however, had convinced her they were less conurbations than what she loosely termed “spiritual engines”: factories of sacrifice which, a hundred thousand years before the arrival of the boys from Earth, had hummed and roared day and night for a millenium or more, to bring about change–or, more likely, hold it off.

“Close to the Tract,” she said, “you find sites like these on every tenth planet. You can map the trauma front direct on to the astrophysics.”

Read on here.

1 Comment

Filed under empty space, forthcoming work, mjh free fiction, predicting the present, science fiction, the horror

when i think of Viriconium

now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away; yet it has all the unrealistic clarity of something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away, possessed of an unrealistic clarity like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through

15 Comments

Filed under fantasy

1984

I haven’t posted (& probably won’t, much) because I’m writing. But here’s a bit from a 1984 notebook, which some may recognise in its more written-up form–

We were looking down into a deep Gothic ravine, at the dry bottom of which a well-defined path curved up-hill between overgrown screes. Along the lip of the opposite wall, which was sheer and divided like a layer cake by long horizontal cracks, grew a few thin bent larches and firs. Half a mile or less to the south a high limestone scar rose under the grey sky. Northwards, the path climbed abruptly into the recesses of the cleft and vanished. A light rain had begun to fall; I could hear it pattering quietly on the dead larches, alien and lichenous, scattered over the heaps of scree where some winter wind had flung them.

We walked in silence out of the little bare wood along the cliff edge and stood in the rain to stare at the long featureless green sweeps of moorland stretching north. The head of the ravine was a stony cleft hardly wide enough to admit two people. The path came up to meet us, and we followed it along a small dry valley, sheep scattering in front of us. At the junction of two drystone walls we climbed a stile.

From Trow Gill the path domesticates for two miles, gently losing height amid the lush mixed woodland and cultivated shrubs of the old Farrer estate until it reaches Clapham, a stony, picturesque and prosperous village which once served generations of Farrers and now, squarely astride the A65 Kendal to Keighley road, logically serves tourists and second-homers instead. It’s an attractive enough place in summer, if a little reserved; but it was chilly and almost deserted when we got there. A few dowdy mallards honked from the shallows of the stream. A woman in a head scarf and gumboots stopped gardening to watch us pass, trowel in hand, eyes indifferent. Out on the main road, we waited half an hour for the Kendal bus. When it came it too was empty, but for one bronchitic old man and his sly red-eyed collie.

Reading: Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky, because I so much enjoyed the HE Bates-like atmosphere of Fire in the Blood. Listening to: Bowie, Diamond Dogs.

8 Comments

Filed under landscape

the aleph of east sheen

B knelt down to look at the foot of the wall. He seemed to have found something there among the ivy, the dead leaves, the litter of discarded condoms & wrappers trodden into the ground beneath the yews. After a moment he scratched energetically among this stuff with both hands. Then he said, “Oh. It’s gone,” and got to his feet.

“Did you see ?” he said. “The tiniest spark of light! It’s often there.” He looked down at his hands. “Sometimes you see more,” he said apologetically. I said I hadn’t seen anything at all. “Oh dear,” he said. “No ? Oh well. Let’s go and get a drink.”

We sat in the warmth & loud music of the pub, surrounded by very much younger people.

“Sometimes,” he said, “it seems to be expanding into a sphere.”

I wondered if he had read the Borges story, “The Aleph”. No, he said, he didn’t recall that. But he was delighted by it all the same.

“Why would it appear to us in a derelict graveyard in West London ?” he said. “That’s the question.”

I said I didn’t think it was the question.

Later that week I saw him wandering across Church Road with his dry cleaning. No one knows how to carry dry cleaning, it’s one of the basic puzzles of being human. B had his folded over both forearms and clutched to his chest, as if it was a lot more substantial than a cotton jacket & a pair of slacks, a lot heavier. Was he deriving comfort from it ? To me he looked harried & afraid, but that’s how most people in West London look.

3 Comments

Filed under ghosts, lost & found, the horror

on the couch

Simon Chapman reads “The East” at Starship Sofa.

Comments Off

Filed under Uncategorized