Review: Skin

Skin by Liam Brown

Allergies. They’re more and more commonplace, whether nuts, pollen, cats, dogs, horses, dust-mites… But what if they went one step further? What if we became allergic to something much more common, something we couldn’t avoid and something that would complicate even the creating of an anti-allergy drug (antihistamines won’t work)?

What if we became allergic to each other?

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Review: Poster Boy

Poster Boy by N.J. Crosskey

Persevere.

As many know, I like good dystopian fiction. Inevitably, it has a science fiction element so one of the problems is establishing the reality and, in places, a viewpoint. Poster Boy starts off with a suspense-filled scene that we know is an ending: we just don’t know when. But it has to establish a baseline in the past and has to do so from the perspective of a privileged, spoilt teenager with all the proverbial angst and self-focus.

It’s a difficult task. Very difficult. But NJ Crosskey manages it, and establishes a viewpoint and voice(s) that you cannot help but grate against: I loathed the main protagonists… but had to keep to reading.

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Developmental Shorts: Beyond Reasonable Doubt

I’ve just added another page to the Developmental Shorts menu, this time Beyond Reasonable Doubt, the winner of the 2014 Orwell Society Dystopian Short Story competition. The prize is a good one for students and is judged by some key figures in the academic world. The guide for the competition went somewhere along the lines of ‘write something that Orwell would have approved of’.

There are deliberate nods to 1984 throughout, including one I thought was really obvious but which no-one has spotted or yet commented upon.

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Started to add stories

I’ve just added the first sample of short stories I have written. They cannot be considered final, polished pieces but can be seen as steps on the way. The stories will be accessible from the Short Stories page, on which I make a few comments and personal observations about them as development pieces. The first one is a Dystopian SF piece, The Sun Must Rise, which starts and ends at a difficult time in winter.

[Featured Image: Justin Kern, Baha’i Temple at Blue Hour,
The Baha'i Temple at Blue Hour
Creative Commons]

One of those times…

Writing has almost crashed. The 1,000-a-day minimum quota has been broached, downwards, despite working when I can to make it up.  I can point to a whole host of reasons why, including a new grandson and supporting my daughter, but the reality is that something has had to give.

Take yesterday, for example: radio show in the morning, pop back to check on a carpenter finishing our kitchen, then a drive up to Birmingham for an evening book launch & publishing group launch, sleep overnight, drive back, sort out Shipton Shorts, handle admin, continue some marketing stuff to help with this year’s Orwell Dystopian Fiction Prize, drive to local library to support the Summer Reading Challenge, then back home. Rest. Whither writing? Sure, a blog entry, but it’s not the 1000 words.

Trouble is, that in these situations, I always feel like pushing myself to do more.  Such behaviour is a mistake, though, a habit from the past.  The reality is that all these activities have to be surrounded by, and enmeshed within, Pain Management. For others, that may seem to slow things down; for me, it’s as fast as I can go without punishing myself.

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Long time coming: What’s been cooking?

I’ve been focusing on the MA and Pain Management for the past few months so posts here have been scarce. However, there has been some success, a lot of work done (for me) and a lot in the pipeline. Without more ado….

What’s been Baked

An SF/Dystopian story has been longlisted for the James White Award, which was very nice, as I was wondering if I would be able to repeat the success I had with the Orwell Dystopian Fiction prize.  Given it had this success, I’m pushing the story elsewhere to see what happens. The Hampshire Writer’s Society at the University of Winchester has a large membership and meets monthly. They also run a themed competition each month. As I was able to attend the last meeting I thought I’d enter this month’s competition, for a story based in an exotic location.  With such a large membership (150-200) quality tends to be high, irrespective of the entries received (only 12 this time, I’m afraid) and I was still delighted to come out Highly Commended with the start of something I called ‘The Ochre Trail’. Further, delightfully, I won Faber’s weekly Quickfic flash fiction competition, adding to the success of previous BCU writers who have submitted and either won or become a runner-up. The story can be read on the Faber Academy’s news pages. The ending was particularly appreciated, something I try hard to achieve. Continue reading