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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New short story: The Renaka Device

Exclusively on Amazon Kindle, on every Amazon Kindle site (I will link to UK | US but trust me: every site), a short story rather unlike any of my others in content and in style, The Renaka Device is fairly strongly-influenced by Ray Bradbury, I think.

My name is Potsve Revolution Renaka.

I was born a month after the fall of the old order. In celebration, my parents named me Potsve Revolution.

I can’t say much more without spoiling the story for you; feel free to pick up your copy (UK | US); Text-to-speech is available on this book for anyone who has difficulty reading from screens or is simply too busy to read but can listen.


Currently I’m plugging away at another sci-fi short story, The Grandmother Virus (which is giving me a headache, I won’t lie); other short fiction of mine you can treat yourself to in the meantime includes: Hannah Matchmaker’s New Skates (a rollerderby fable), Vessel 151-B (classic sci-fic take on the Pygmalion story), and Saint Grimbald’s Men (bodyhorror bildungsroman. Possibly).

Stay tuned this November for regular updates on how awful it is trying to pull an entire manuscript out of your face in one sitting.

Book Release: Vessel 151-B (Short Story)

Previous short stories I’ve put up for eReader purchase have fallen under modern parable/sports fairytale and body horror/historical lgbt horror, because I like to give genre boundaries a run for their money, and one of the stories I’ve put up on this blog probably comes under the heading of literary fiction, which (as mentioned) is not actually a dirty set of words. The latest offering I have is helpfully far more easily-categorised under classic sci-fi. If you want to get technical there are elements of classical parable and body horror in there, but it is more or less a straight-forward sci-fi story.

It’s also somewhat longer than the others, coming in at about 10,000 words, making it ideal for a train journey rather than a Tube journey.

After a terrible accident Calvin Owusu-Baah wakes to a silent ship and a strange, nagging sense that something is not right. As he begins to investigate he finds that things are far, far worse than he could have imagined, and that his efforts to improve the situation are only going to make things wrong.(short story)Available for Amazon Kindle (UK | US), and most other eReaders (here).
Cover taken from a photograph by J. Reilly.

After a terrible accident Calvin Owusu-Baah wakes to a silent ship and a strange, nagging sense that something is not right. As he begins to investigate he finds that things are far, far worse than he could have imagined, and that his efforts to improve the situation are only going to make things wrong.

Available for Amazon Kindle (UK | US), and most other eReaders (here); Vessel 151-B conforms to the most basic tenets of science fiction in asking questions about how humanity relates to technology, and where the limits of both human nature and responsibility lie.

Book Release: Saint Grimbald’s Men

After the fashion of Hannah Matchmaker’s New Skates, I’m letting this little story go on the Kindle for a pittance. At some point when I’ve amassed enough of these little stories I’ll put them together in a print collection, like I did with Tiny Fictions, so if you’re all about the dead tree format (and I don’t blame you, there is great satisfaction in being able to throw a book you don’t like across the room, and deleting something from your Kindle just isn’t the same!) don’t worry, it will eventually come to pass in a throwable, self-fillable format as well.

Unlike Hannah Matchmaker’s New Skates, this is also available as a PDF, without fussing about with Amazon’s interface (and profit margin); just pop me an email at [myname] at gmail dot com and ask about Paypal (it’ll be the same price as it’s listed on Amazon).

A grim tale.
A grim tale.

Unlike the roller derby story, this is very much not a sweet tale about overcoming the odds and learning to believe in yourself; instead it’s about the terrible consequences of repression, as expressed by body horror in a monastery. Or at least, I decided it was about the terrible consequences of repression: it’s actually about two monks who fall in love.

The Kindle edition is available from here ( .com instead of .co.uk if you’re not in the UK, obviously) , for a cover price of $0.99 USD or whatever that is in your local currency (in mine it usually works out at about 77p). For a sample of some of my fiction that you don’t have to pay for (besides the free previews on Lulu etc), there’s this.

And if you enjoyed the cover photograph, it is the work of one J. Reilly, and you can find more of her photography here.

Book Release: Hannah Matchmaker’s New Skates

This is a tale of woe and rejection, or more appropriately of “writing something for a very specific market”. A while ago a call was out for short stories about rollerderby for an anthology of said stories, and I wrote a short story about a girl who receives a pair of magic skates by accident, because I thought it would be a nice change from the “by day a librarian: by night a FLAT-TRACK VIXEN” news stories that make up every single bit of media coverage about one of my favourite sports (for the interested, the only sports I really have any time for are: rollerderby, boxing, and MMA). Possibly due to my assumption that people would find this charming rather than weird, it didn’t get accepted.

I was considering posting the story here on the blog, and then thought “I know I’ll make it into an eBook and give it away for free on the Amazon Kindle site”.

Turns out Amazon don’t really like you giving things away for free very much.

Short story: Hannah Matchmaker is struggling to make progress as fast as she’d like at Rollerderby, until she gets her hands on some new skates… A story for fans of Rollerderby who are already pretty au fete with the jargon.(I was trying to give this one away as a free eBook but Kindle were like NOPE MINIMUM $0.99)
Click on image for the kindle page

Short story: Hannah Matchmaker is struggling to make progress as fast as she’d like at Rollerderby, until she gets her hands on some new skates…

A story for fans of Rollerderby who are already pretty au fait with the jargon.

So instead I’ve given it the lowest allowable price on Amazon, which is $0.99USD, and if you’re a Prime member or whatever you can borrow it for free. Sorry about that. I would rather it was freely available since it’s only a short story, but if you think a short story might be worth a dollar give it a go!

Writing Post: A Parable

On his way to the big city for the first time, a farmer stopped by the side of the road for a drink of water from his pouch. He wiped his mouth and turned to spit, when he saw a glint of something colourful shining in the bushes.

Mindful that it might be a snake, he proceeded with caution. There he found, to his surprise, a pile of of rubies the size of hen’s eggs, and amid them a human skull, the jaw still hanging beneath it.

“Help yourself,” said the skull, before the farmer could so much exclaim in surprise, “there’s not much I can do with them now.”

“Good grief, a talking skull,” said the farmer, who was noted for his observational prowess. “How on earth did you get there?”

“I got here by talking, my friend,” said the skull.

Taking the skull at its word, the farmer began to scoop the rubies into his pockets with great excitement, for with them he could buy many cows, and land, and his farm was sure to flourish.

On his way into the city the guards stopped and searched him as they had stopped and searched each man entering the city (it took a very long time); when they came upon the rubies they called for the Captain of the guard.

“How did you come by these rubies?” asked the Captain, angry and shaking his spear. “These are the rubies of the prince. They were stolen last year. How have you these rubies and what do you mean by walking so brazenly back into the city with them?”

“Oh my,” said the farmer, who had been brought up to be an honest man, “I only found them by the side of the road a mile back, under a talking skull. It said I should take them.”

“A talking skull?” said the Captain of the guard. “This is either lying, or witchcraft. For the lie you shall be put to death, for the witchcraft you shall be imprisoned and exorcised. Where is this skull, liar-witch?”

“I can take you to it!” cried the farmer. “I am not a liar, and I am not a witch.”

When the Captain of the guard came to the skull with the farmer, he said, “This is just an old skull.”

“I tell you it talked,” said the farmer, quite distressed. He picked up the skull, crying, “Talk! Talk I say! Tell them I am not a liar!”

But the skull did not speak.

“Perhaps you have no authority,” said the Captain of the guard with a smirk. “Here, you. Skull. Say something, else your accomplice will lose his head.”

“Hey, I am not his accomplice,” the farmer said, “I am just a farmer.”

But the skull did not speak, and dangled as dead as any skull from the hand of the Captain of the guard.

“It seems your fate is sealed, thief,” said the Captain of the guard. “You steal the prince’s rubies and then you lie to the Captain of the city guard! You shall lose your head for this.”

As he said so the guard-of-the-axe knocked the farmer to his knees, and pressed his face to the dirt. He placed the edge of his axe along the farmer’s neck, and lifted up his axe.

“One last time,” said the Captain of the guard. “SKull, in the name of the prince, I command you to speak.”

But the skull did not speak.

The guard-of-the-axe brought his axe down THUNK, and the farmer’s head rolled into the bushes. With a shrug the Captain of the guard tossed aside the skull, and he went back to the city with the prince’s rubies, to a fine reward.

Presently, the skull, upside-down in the bushes, said, “Well hello, how on earth did you get there?”

And the severed head of the unfortunate farmer replied, “I got here by talking, my friend.”


If memory serves, I first learnt a version of this story when I was six or so, at one of the many festivals and workshops my mother used to take me along to because she couldn’t afford childcare. I’ve heard, read, and told many variations but the central theme and the refrain “I got here by talking, my friend” is always the same. I am not sure where the story originally hails from – the person who told it to me first said “Africa”, which is unnecessarily nebulous, and I have had no further advances on this beyond “West Africa, possibly”. At any rate, it is a fine parable, and one which deserves retelling.