A companion, not a sequel

I released this a little while ago but what with one thing (repeated terrorism) and another (general election) and another (massive fire in my city), my job-that-pays-the-rent of “reading all the national newspapers” has been rather all-consuming and my time off has been filled with trying to forget all about it, so this post is late.

A while back I published an odd little short story called The Renaka Device, a post-Revolutionary fantasy story about propaganda and truth. I also have novel I’m currently editing which is, in the main, about the mutability of memory, gaslighting, and truth.

Since the latter isn’t ready yet, I ended up writing another short story set in the same post-Revolutionary fantasy land as The Renaka Device, about the different sizes of commitment, the expendability of the individual, and fanaticism, and how the latter can be picked up and used by whoever wants to, not just one position in the political spectrum.


Available on Amazon Kindle UK (and also on most other Amazon regional sites).

Twenty years after the Revolution, the journalist Shukach Istynyya is permitted to speak with the Revolutionary Republic’s number one enemy, in a once-in-a-lifetime interview. “It might be any man within the cell that I am brought to face, but the Party is honest, and the Party is just, and the man in the cell is called Lubach Zahradnik, and he is The Traitor.”

Future announcements regarding more short stories are on their way but have to been reined in for the time being! Thank you for reading.

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Other, Better Authors

Regular readers are tired of me hectoring them to buy my books and fund my decadent lifestyle choices like “being able to afford to get to my job” and “paying the electricity bill”. Irregular readers are confused as to why I’m not shouting about Huel at this precise moment.

In the fullness of time I’m going to come back and beat you all over the head with the imminence of The Next Big One, explain how I have gone from a banana-hating, coffee-eschewing meat addicted sandwich-lover to a cold-brew-hefting, banana-craving, bread-avoiding pescatarian hipster scumbag (actually that one’s pretty straightforward: turns out testosterone changes your tastes and body chemistry. Also, willpower and working nightshift. Hoo boy do you need to be able to stomach a lot of coffee).

But for now I want to draw attention to m’colleague and global opposite, Wayne Ree. Pronounced “Ray”, because fuck you, and also because there’s an acute accent over the second e that my keyboard wants no part of.

Wayne, a founding member of the aptly-named Global Beards, is a versatile and imaginative writer who I feel just isn’t getting the love he deserves. The man has written Yellow Princess: Attack of the Dinosharksbut also quieter, more adult and introspective pieces in Tales from a Tiny Room, and partnered up with the explosively excellent Anna AB on the ferocious collection Prompt – snappy, dangerous short fiction. Also, he’s bought me whisky at least once so that pretty much makes him a Good People.

So you should buy his stories, because they’re varied and exciting and because, if you’re very lucky and flatter him enough, he may one day let you touch The Beard. Maybe.

On Being The Demented Consumer Product You Want To See In The World

Oh no, more blogging about Packetsu?

Oh yes, more blogging about Packetsu.

Look, I’m really, truly sorry about this, but ever since I realised I can make okayu and various other dishes in a Thermos jar, the desire to use one as the basis for that ridiculous system has been unstoppable. I mean, now that I’ve discovered you can buy ones with a microwaveable insert, rendering them perfect for pretty much any approach to office-based cooking, that does seem like a ready solution to rice-or-egg-or-pulse-based meals [for things that don’t need to hold the heat in for as long I suppose one can just commandeer a cardboard cup, like the ones Itsu use for their instant noodles].

And well, the thing is, I bought some nonsense from Jbox.com. I went there looking for candy bento boxes and discovered that in addition to this they sell tiny, pocket-sized bag sealers. As in the little heat up things you put a battery into and squeeze along cellophane packets in order to form a sealed edge that can be ripped open easily?

The final nails in the “wasn’t this supposed to be buyable from shops, wasn’t that the whole point” coffin was two separate grocery-shopping discoveries: Morrisons sell this pre-mixed dried vegetables, pasta and barley which really just needs to sit in hot water for a while, and places like Nuts.com have started selling freeze-dried vegetables.

One bag sealer. Spice mix. Seaweed. 30g of rice (to make around 80/100g, or one serving), and 30g of pasta mix (to make 80g, around one serving). This is either going to be the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship (preferably one that relies less heavily on spending a fortune on instant Pho tubs), or it’s going to be a fucking disaster.

If you’re staring at this wondering what exactly is revolutionary about putting some rice in a bag, and why I can’t just cook something and take it in a lunchbox/bento, or at least make one premix and stop hurting the environment with multiple bags, I would like to invite you to consider the following imagination exercises:

  1. What if I change my mind at the last minute and decide I want to eat something else?
  2. What if I change my mind about one part of my meal just before leaving the house and want to swap something out?
  3. What if I want to have a choice of meals without carrying multiple flipping lunchboxes?
  4. What if I want to have multiple meals?
  5. Until my idiotic country can manage to do things like meet clean air targets and stop removing subsidies for renewable energy and commit to sorting out the energy profiles of new buildings, and large product producers can switch to already-existing biodegradable and edible plastics alternatives, I’m not assuming sole personal responsibility for The Environment on the basis of using a battery-operated heat-sealer on one cellophane lollipop bag.
  6. Also, fuck off.

Yes, it’s fiddly and annoying and not what I wanted but thank you, large brands, for not actually muscling in on my Packetsu idea, because at least this way I can save a damn fortune making my own system work.

Centaurs … IN SPACE

Illustrative genius and all-round champion Emma Weakley occasionally does me the honour of keeping me company during my night shift odysseys, as she lives on the literal other side of the world and is therefore awake during what to her are reasonable hours.

At one point I got a bee stuck in my bonnet about my inability to draw a burly, bearish dude-centaur based on the heavy horses like the Breton, aiming for something with thick legs and thick arms, and being gently thwarted by a total lack of art skills, as I usually am.

Emma swooped in and said: alright, what does this guy look like?

And somehow, from this:

Guy Tautoru

(c) Emma Weakley

We accidentally came up with two whole cultures and histories, a raft of characters, and a plot involving prophecies and repetitions and echoes which neatly mirrored the culture of the main character. You can appreciate, I think, how much not-actually-working-at-work this involved.

I mention this because Guy Tautoru (below) and his new friend Eloquent, of the Byasa, now have their own blog.

Also (c) Emma Weakley

So if you feel like checking out some mental landscaping for this project, or more of Emma’s fantastic art and character designs (currently including Guy in a rage, Eloquent in party gear, and Guy’s Nana Tautoru), and possibly in future some snippets of brain dump or MAYBE EVEN WRITING, WHO KNOWS, please feel free to bookmark or follow:

SOLAR BEAR I: sad party centaurs in space

… we’re very talented people but neither of us can manage titles.

Packetsu Part 2: The Linkening

Wait, more on Packetsu?

Yes, more on Packetsu. Trawling through invention listings at frightening o’clock in the morning has gifted me with a number of discoveries, which either make the business of packetsu more feasible, or fit into the general theme.

This printer recycles plastic bottles. Perfect for cheap packaging. You could even print your own Packetsu containers at home with downloaded blueprints.

Edible cupcake wrappers. Edible wrapping is a definite factor in Packetsu. It reduces waste and means you’re getting more food for your money!

Plastic which biodegrades in two weeks. Again, perfect for comparatively guilt-free Packetsu packaging.

Edible anti-bacterial film. Absolutely 100% perfect for food wrapping in Packetsu, especially for meat or fresh veg components. Could be a real game-changer in terms of fresher elements in Packetsu, and you can eat it so no waste!

And staying on the theme of edible packaging – edible water bottle!

But how will you eat your packetsu concoctions? Why, with edible spoons, of course!

And then I Blue Petered it:

The stock pot (left) has since been replaced with an Oxo cube as they dissolve more quickly, although in general powder would be best.
The stock pot (left) has since been replaced with an Oxo cube as they dissolve more quickly, although in general powder would be best.
Another packetsu experiment: fish stock cube, vegetable stock cube, dried smoked squid, dried seaweed, soy sauce (in a fish-shaped bottle because there's a theme).
Another packetsu experiment: fish stock cube, vegetable stock cube, dried smoked squid, dried seaweed, soy sauce (in a fish-shaped bottle because there’s a theme).

Publication!

I’m still plodding on through a manuscript which is around 112,000 words at the moment – still in manageable territory for editing for now – but re-surfacing to let the world know I’ve been published:

In Conversation, by Delilah Des Anges and Kat Soini, at The Missing Slate

A collaborative poem which arose by accident while emailing Kat, and which has been duly filleted to remove the worst of my excesses – sometimes the last few lines of a verse will suffice! I’m very grateful to the editors at The Missing Slate for this opportunity and for their help.

August Links Post

Things I have done

Things friends have done

  • Almost immediately crowd-funded an illustrated version of the Ars Goetia, well done Lucian!

Things strangers have done

  • Come up with Oystercard wristbands, which I want like I want chocolate gin and world peace, because it would be satisfying and useful and it displays your balance! You don’t have to be at an Oyster machine to know how much is on there! These things need to become a reality immediately. I will pay the price. (Edit: Friend who works In Trains says this is not feasible, and I am upset).
  • The Royal Society have launched a Print On Demand service for their archive prints, so any other nerds who love old scientific illustrations like everyone Chez Des Anges does is in for a treat.
  • Wrote a brilliant defence of the Narnia books from the boring, oft-wielded “Susan Argument”. I’ve had so many arguments with people that have ended in taking down The Last Battle and making them read the actual words themselves, rather than regurgitating a misremembering by another writer, while muttering “words mean things” in their ear, it’s quite nice to see someone taking another approach.
  • Made a website where you can design your own shoes.
  • Made a very popular website which responds to a list of the ingredients you have to hand with recipes you can make with them. Although as the front page included the words “American Cheese” I’m guessing it’s focus is not necessarily as useful if you’re accessing it from a kitchen in Lagos.