The best of 2010

December 31st, 2010

I’ve published a lot of stories this year, as you can see from my bibliography. They’re all, for one reason or another, personal favourites, though some I might have thought a little less of have proven more engaging for some readers. I’ve tried a variety of styles and genres this year, from hard sci-fi to humourous horror and been published both in print and online.

Anyway, this selection is my favourite five online stories from the year:

Fledgling (The New Flesh)

Sunset Photographer (365Tomorrows)

Jacob’s Naked Aquarium (Bewildering Stories – selected for best of quarterly review, 3rd quarter 2010)

Zemogorgon (Pulp Metal Magazine)

Zombie-Eyed Girl (Flashes in The Dark)

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Overall, it’s been a good year, a banner year in fact – I’ve published more this year than all previous years combined – exceeding my own ridiculous goal (lesson: aim high). I still have so much more to work on and a set of new goals that will push me and challenge me – I will publish far fewer pieces, but look for longer stories, and different approaches.

See you in 2011.

Sunset Photographer – flash fiction at 365Tomorrows


As the name suggests, 365Tomorrows publish a new science fiction piece every day.

My flash story Sunset Photographer has just been published.

“Tony Willits scrambled up the scree slope looking for the Leica on hands and knees. The sun, tapping the horizon, glistened through airborne particles. Deimos in the sky and some heavy terraforming dust-devils lurched along the far canyon edge. He’d taken some great photos, but this was too extraordinary to miss…”

A calamity, a tough choice and a gorgeous sunset, all set in the fabulous hills of Mars. 365T publish only flash fiction and their limit is 600 words, so this is pretty tight.

“Can’t You Find Anything Up There” – new flash sci-fi story on 365Tomorrows

The wonderful team at 365Tomorrows have published my story Can’t You Find Anything Up There. This is another light-hearted Mars story, of explorers and researchers. I noticed a little formatting thing that I forget with the web – my fault – there were originally line breaks between the two story threads as they swapped back and forth, but they’ve been lost in the translation from .rtf to .html. Whoops – I should use asterisks. Anyway it might take a little reading with patience to keep track of who is where and what is how and so on.

As the name would suggest, 365Tomorrows publish a new science fiction story every day. Each story gets a full day as leader on the home page, then drops to archives as the next story goes live. There’s a strong community based around the site – a cool forum with some intriguing discussions.

Cutting words to meet limits

Over the weekend I’ve been working on a couple of science fiction stories, reworking and whittling them for their intended markets. Antipodean Science Fiction, which has published a couple of my stories already, has a tight limit – around 500 words (they have a little flexibility, but not much over 500). 365Tomorrows has taken one of my stories and their limit is 600. My two current stories are 650 and 570 words respectively.

There’s a good article by Ken Rand here on the Science Fiction Writers of America site, about straightforward ways of cutting ten percent from stories and articles. That’s a good start, though having read the article a while ago I notice that I’ve been doing some of these things automatically anyway.

After that the question becomes, what can I remove without having the whole story collapse into a shambles? Perhaps I could drop the mention of the poker game in the longer story? Well, that’s important for character. But how else could I show that aspect? Perhaps if I took Karl’s character out of the other story and just let it be between Bayliss and Angela it would tighten up a bit? It feels like they need a foil, but could that just be done through the situation?

Well, I’ll keep cutting and see where it gets. Otherwise, I might just re-write them from scratch and see how they will fit with one of sites with longer limits – 1000 words feels like a lot to play with when I’ve been shooting for 500.

New Science Fiction story coming out soon

A new Sean Monaghan story – “Jerry and Monica’s Falling Out” – will soon appear on 365Tomorrows. The website has daily flash science fiction from staff writers and through submissions. The story is a fun little science fiction flash. It will appear on the front page for one day (hence the 365), then slip into the archives. I’ll repost with the permanent link later. Lots of other good stories to read there too, if you’re looking for a quick sci-fi fix.