To round out a busy month of publications, my story “Ink for a Verbal Contract” is out now and available to read for free in James Gunn’s Ad Astra, together with a gorgeous illustration from Susan Nicolai.
This story goes back a long way. Once upon a time, it was a finalist (my one and only) in the Writers of the Future contest. So it came close. I’m just about to pro-out of the contest (it’s open only to non-professional writers and I’m soon to be considered professional), so it’s cool to see this story published.
With that, this story was my baby, in a way, a cherished one. I was not about to let it vanish, so it’s stayed on the submission rounds, and I’m pleased to have it in Ad Astra (my second story with them, after Mars Bomb Bound for Titan a couple of years back).
I also need to acknowledge my friend Monique Bowers for her invaluable feedback when I first drafted the story. Thanks Monique!
Ink for a Verbal Contract
by Sean Monaghan
Gemma felt the pain right away. She sighed, stretching, angling her limbs and hips, trying to find a more comfortable position. She blinked, looking at the Arhend side table strewn with folders.
Her Gadjet saw that she was awake and sat up, a message flashing on the screen. Alex had called during the night, and the Gadjet had let her sleep, waiting until now to show the message.
“Good results here,” the message said. “Promising prospects. Call you later on.”
My short story “Go For The Dome” is out now in the August issue of Perihelion.
Trapped on the lunar surface, fleeing from a wrecked ship, Maree will do whatever it takes to find shelter.
Another hard sci-fi story, following my recent hard sci-fi story in Asimov’s. Perihelion specializes in hard sci-fi anyway. And I do like setting my stories on the moon. I’ve had a few stories in Perihelion over the years, and I’m again grateful to editor Sam Bellotto Jr. for taking this one.
I’m thrilled that my novelette “The Molenstraat Music Festival” is a finalist in the 30th Annual Readers’ Award Poll. The story is posted on the site and available to read (for free). Looking forward to see the announcement of the winners in May (with baited breath and fingers crossed).
My story “The Harpsichord Elf” appears in the September issue of Capricious, a new magazine of literary speculative fiction and criticism, edited by A.C. Buchanan. The wonderful cover art is by Anastasia (Mircha) Astasheva. The magazine is available for download free download. Subscriptions are available.
The story is perhaps slipstream (a little bit fantasy, a little bit sci-fi), and perhaps dovetails into “The Molenstraat Music Festival” in a way… well, with some musical themes there at least.
The opening paragraphs go something like this:
As Shev clawed his way through the ruined floorboards into the music room, he got a splinter in his thumb. Still waist-deep in the hole he pulled the splinter with his teeth. He sucked on the sore thumb for a moment.
Somewhere deeper in the structure someone shouted.
“You can’t be in here,” a cello said. Rosewood and yew, it leant back in a stand. Out of tune.
“Quiet you,” Shev forced his way out onto the floor.
My short story “Distractions” is out now in Perihelion.
A wonderful cover by Hardy Fowler – “Taking a five minute break, a mecha pilot enjoys a quiet reverie in this secluded forest on the third planet from the sun.” Feels cool to have one of my stories hidden behind such a fabulous illustration.
This is a lighter one than my recent Asimov’s story – Robert’s boss Julianne Kette will stop at nothing to get her bounty, even if it means dragging him through hell to get it.
Frustrated that I could only return to the cafe with bad news, I beat my way back along the dusty street. Kette would not be pleased.
Some screaming kids ran out from between buildings, a hoop robot chasing them. The thing had little pincers and zappers around its circumference. It fired barbs at them
Laughing, the kids ploughed through traffic, oblivious to the enormous trucks and skimmers speeding along. Sirens blared and the hoop robot stopped at the sidewalk’s edge.
I tascered the thin little machine and took it with me.
My thanks again to editor Sam Bellotto Jr., for publishing another one of my quirky pieces.
My little story “Number Man” has just come out in the March issue of the SQ Mag, an Australian Spec Fic Magazine. The story, “charts the difficulties of life after prison, especially when your family got you put in there in the first place” (from Sophie’s introduction). It’s also described as Cyberpunk, but I hadn’t thought of that when I was writing it (did someone once say a writer is the worst judge of his own writing?). Anyway, it was a fun adventure to write, I hope it’s as much fun to read. There are some other cool stories in there too, and I do like that cover.
My hard sci-fi story “Lightning Strikes” has just appeared in the current issue of Perihelion.
David Bron’s on a mission to stop his son from getting killed for the sake of an electrical art piece. Bron’s got a bounty hunter on his tail and an out of whack ship. And the electric art is about to begin.
There are some other top stories in the issue too, and a great editorial from editor Sam Bellotto.
This is my third story in Perihelion, after “Stone 382” last year, and “Quisic Smith and the Russian Puzzle Doll” in January.
My science fiction political environmental thriller short “Mars Bomb Bound for Titan” has just come out in issue 3 of James Gunn’s Ad Astra from the Kansas University Center for the Study of Science Fiction.
What if authorities thwarted your plans to seed Mars with algae and higher forms? What if you went to prison for it? When Carmen gets out she’s ready to take a quiet research assistant job and put all that behind her. Except the group who want to see Titan need her expertise. And if they have to they’ll take it at gunpoint.
Ad Astra is an annual publication. K.C. Ball*, had a story in last year’s edition. I seem to follow her around a bit – I had a story in Perihelion not long after one of hers. Hopefully I can tag along to Analog, Lightspeed and Writers of the Future.
*K.C. published one of my stories in her online flash fiction publication 10Flash a few years back, so I remain grateful and admiring.
My short story “Aerobrake”, originally published in The Colored Lens Winter 2014 issue, is now available free at The Colored Lens website.
Claire’s got more than a few problems on her hands as she tries to wrestle errant satellites and ships into safe orbits. When she encounters a ship with a surprising occupant she’s going to do everything it takes to put things right.
The whole issue is available on