the m john harrison blog

Month: August, 2014

they were like animals

I’ll be reading again–from “Animals”, a proper ghost story–at a launch event for the Curious Tales collection The Lantern Dead at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, December 18th. Details here as soon they’re available, or keep an eye on the Curious Tales site.

interrogating the object

From “The Neon Heart Murders”, one of the precursor stories of the Empty Space trilogy–

“When Aschemann first walked through the door of the Cafe Surf, it was not night: it was late morning. The bar was full of sunshine and bright air. Taupe sand blew across the floor tiles, and a toddler was crawling about between the cane tables, wearing only a T-shirt with the legend SURF NOIR. Meanings–all incongruous–splashed off this like drops of water, as the dead metaphors trapped inside the live one collided and reverberated endlessly and elastically, taking up new positions relative to one another. SURF NOIR, which is a whole new existence; which is a “world” implied in two words, dispelled in an instant; which is foam on the appalling multitextual sea we drift on. “Which is probably,” Aschemann noted, “the name of an aftershave.”

Thanks to everyone at Irradiating the Object for helping to complicate this conundrum further.


…nostalgia is part of your life come back to burn your fingers, so you piss on not just this fire but the whole idea of fire, as quick as you can.

the vacuous-realist image

Alice Finkel writes: “We use the term ‘vacuous-realist’ to describe group photos like these. In a vacuous-realist image, the subjects will always be seen looking, or moving, in different directions. This reveals a startling, hitherto unsuspected lack of coherence to their activities, undercutting our intuitive sense of the structuredness and continuity of human behaviour. But it also enables us to project & manipulate the deep group dynamic.” It’s not possible, Finkel believes, to plan a vacuous-realist shot, “although the accomplished vacuous-realist will have an intuitive grasp of the occasion which might produce one.”

new short fiction

20,000 words of short fiction coming out before the end of the year: “The 4th Domain”, as a single in the next month or so (should have a cover to show soon); a ghost story project with the Curious Tales collective, which I won’t talk about yet; & the rather unpleasant sci fi horror post disaster astral plane thing I finished this week, which is at present titled “The Crisis” but might end up being called something else, & which will have its debutante ball at Irradiating the Object next week. Unless someone makes me a better offer, “The Crisis” will be singled too. After that, given that I have plenty of stories, I really ought to get the collection on the road as soon as possible. More news when that happens, obviously.

a wilful inability to lift themselves out of their own moment

& stones


today she finds a few gold snowflakes

Today she finds a few gold snowflakes in her purse, relics of last Christmas or the one before. “I don’t know where they came from or what they’re for!” she tells us delightedly. Then: “I can never remember where I’ve put things these days.” Memory is both curse and blessing. She always offers the loss of it with a smile, not as an explanation but as a habitation, the place she’s speaking from. Her kitchen doorway is crawling with ants. A robin whirs out of the garden to eat them, then makes itself at home, on the doormat, on the refrigerator, on the back of a chair, its little dark eye cocked sidewise at everything. The robin is sharp as its own beak. Its memory is unlike hers. Its sense of ownership of its own time–the same busyness she used to have–is acute. Get ants, the robin thinks, if it can be said to think: Then get more.

I stood a long time watching the raindrops strike the brickwork in absolute silence then fade in the warmth and the wind.

end of a dream

We ran through the rooms, looking for a way back to the staircase. I found a way–an empty corridor in a different kind of place, quite old but much more upscale–then I was out in a street on my own. I was still agitated and excited and I wondered what would happen next time we met. Then I found an old chair in the street. It was quite small and still looked good, but when I picked it up I saw that parts of it were missing, and when I put it down (on a bench near a phone box) it fell to pieces.