Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Plans for 2010: The Space Opera Novel

I don't really know what to write about as an end of year post, but feel that I should do one. Why? Even that question I can't answer. With so much going on in my life outside writing from starting a new job in a new state in the New Year, writing and editing has taken a back seat. When I'm not writing I'm thinking about writing, and currently my thinking has been along the lines of how much I miss writing when I'm not doing it, like the last few months. So I'm looking ahead, to 2010 and what I want to achieve, when I'll be writing again.

So far I have two books lined up to edit for the New Year, both horror, one gaming and one fiction, and both with US publishers. I'll also continue reviewing speculative fiction books for Albedo One and already I have a few I should be emailing to the team in Ireland. I also have a few short stories I want to finish and send off to various magazines to see how I go, mostly science fiction. All of this, well it's happening, what's not happening is... the novel.

Over 2009 I've been reading a lot of new space opera, particularly Alastair Reynolds, and find that although I've always been reading this subgenre of science fiction for a long time, there are always ideas here that excite me even after thirty years of familiarity with the setting. It's what I love reading and what I love writing.

So I've decided 2010 is the year I really need to give my new space opera novel a go, get it done and out to agents and/or publishers. That's the plan, write the novel. It's what every author needs to do if they are ever to become professionals in this game. Will I succeed? Who knows, but with the experience I've had since the last seven years since I wrote my last 100,000 word manuscript, I feel I'm in a much better place to give it a go.

Anyway, I hope everyone out there has the successes they hope for in the new year, and that the future will be exciting and rewarding. And perhaps I'll get to know a whole lot more of you in the writing/editing game now that I'm moving to a new state.

There you go, 2010 is looking great already.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Les Secrets du Kenya

I've just discovered that I've now been translated into French, with my Secrets of Kenya book for the Call of Cthulhu game out as Les Secrets du Kenya.

Unforunately I don't have my author copy to contribute much more here, but the cover does look nice. It seems to include all four scenarios from the original, and many of my photographs as well as historical photographs I found. Appartently my interior artwork is gone, with new art to replace it.

That's all I know for now.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Second Review for "The Octagon"

I have to be happy about this review, from Rod MacDonald at SFCrowsnest:

David Conyers is a rising star and I'm sure we will be hearing a lot more about him in the future. He certainly hasn't let us down with this offering entitled 'The Octagon'. So good are the scenarios he dreams up that I'm beginning to wonder if he is really a time traveller from the future.

I've said it before, Jupiter Magazine is going from strength to strength and I'm glad to be a part of it, especially when the review says this about the magazine:

'Jupiter' has now reached its 26th edition! This magazine continues its high standard of Science Fiction literature with four readable short stories which will undoubtedly entertain you. ... All in all, a very rewarding edition of 'Jupiter'. When you've read a copy of this magazine, you are always looking forward to the next.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The 2009 Scorecard

I've decided at the end of each year I will summarise what I have achieved in writing, as a record as much for myself as to share with those who read my blog. I did the same last year, and comparing the two my output in 2009 was slightly better than last year, although no novel yet.

All of my new short stories this year were published overseas, and included:
  • "Six-Legged Shadows" with Brian M. Sammons in Monstrous (Permuted Press)
  • "Black Water" in Jupiter 24
  • "The Octagon" in Jupiter 26
  • "The Garden Fortress" in Thrilling Tales #4 (Rainfall Books)
  • "The Lord of the Law" in The Fourth Black Book of Horror.

Reprints include:

  • "Subtle Invasion" in Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror Vol 3 (Brimstone Press)
  • "Homo Canis" in Midnight Echo #2 (Australian Horror Writers Association) also received an honourable mention in Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year Vol 1
  • "Stomach Acid" with Brian M. Sammons in Cthulhu Unbound 2 (Permuted Press).

Other publications include:

  • "Virtual Worlds and Imagined Futures" an interview with Greg Egan in Albedo One 37
  • "The Burning Stars" Call of Cthulhu scenario in Terrors from Beyond (Chaosium) which is gaining incredibly positive reviews and feedback from gamers everywhere
  • Several reviews for Albedo One.

Other achievements include a Ditmar nomination for my science fiction tale "Soft Viscosity" in 2012 (Twelfth Planet Press), I attended GenConOz as a guest, and I sold several stories to various magazines and anthologies, one of which is a science fiction tale appearing in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. I'm also editing a new anthology of Cthulhu Mythos tales with Brian M. Sammons that will be published by Permuted Press, and I'm editing a collection of Call of Cthulhu gaming scenarios for a yet to be named publisher.

Several books with my stories which didn't come out this year but might in 2010 included:

  • "Emergency Rebuild" in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 43
  • "Sister of the Sands" in Cthulhu's Dark Cults (Chaosium) (which I incidentally edited way back in 2007)
  • “Subtle Invasion” in Best New Tales of the Apocalypse (Permuted Press)
  • "Dream Machine" in Scenes from the Second Storey (Morrigan Books)
  • "The Hag of Zais" in Eldritch Steel (Elder Signs Press)
  • "Sweet as Decay" with David Witteveen in Macabre (Brimstone Press)
  • "The Swelling" reprinted at Innsmouth Free Press
  • A new Harrison Peel tale has also been sold, but I've been asked to keep closed lipped about this one until the publisher makes an announcement.

I had hoped to output more this year, but a redundancy and now having to change states for financial/work reasons, I guess has affected my output. Hopefully once I'm settled in Sydney in the new year, that will all change.

Monday, 7 December 2009

A Detailed Review of Terrors From Beyond

Just noticed this review for Terrors from Beyond, which featured my scenario "The Burning Stars" for the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game. This is what the reviewer said about my scenario:

Superb! One of the most unusual premises for any scenario I've read in the entire hobby. Beyond that, phenomenally well-executed; a treat to read, and one that the players will definitely never forget.

Read the rest of the review here.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

2009 Aurealis Awards Finalists Announced

The finalists for the 2009 Aurealis Awards have just been announced here. Congratulations to everyone who has been nominated. It is especially nice to see that Peter M. Ball has as many nominations as he does. His novella Horn was the most original speculative fiction story I read by an Australian this year. Greg Egan also has a nomination for Best Collection with Oceanic, so it is good to see him back in the awards again.

Friday, 4 December 2009

First Review of "The Octagon"

Jupiter magazine keeps doing well with positive reviews and so I'm always honoured to be a part of any issue that comes out. The latest release, 26, featured my novella "The Octagon" which received a postive review on SFRevu by Sam Tomaino, along with the rest of the magazine. This is what Sam said about my story:

The Octagon in the story of the same name by David Conyers is an alien artifact on which the ultimate reality show is filmed. Two colonies on this artifact have disappeared. Now, in 2280, it's the location of a Survivor-type show in which the contestants aren't voted off, they die, taken away by some native things called geotherms. We are introduced to the last contestants and the producer of the show in this grim, but effective, tale of a nasty future.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Moving to Sydney

Well, it's official, I'm moving to Sydney permanently with a new job there over the Christmas and New Years period. I'll still be checking in on my emails over that time, but I may be out of touch for long perioeds until I'm settled. Now the fun of finding a house, packing up here in Adelaide, driving over to Sydney, unpacking and settling in.

Sydney was where I was born, and I've spent a lot of time there with work. However this will be the first time I've lived there if you don't count the first two years of my life, which I don't.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Stoker Nomination

Well I've been nominated for a Stoker Award in the short story category for my tale "Six-Legged Shadows". The story appeared in Monstrous earlier this year, which was edited by Ryan C. Thomas and published by Permuted Press.

For the record, the story is a collaboration with Brian M. Sammons, who is not an Australian author as many people think, but rather he is from Michigan, USA. Brian and I got to know each other working with the Book of Dark Wisdom and the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game. To date we have collaborated on three short stories, which is more than I've collaborated with anyone. Brian's a damn fine author too.

Getting back to the Bram Stoker nomination, this means that Brian and I have at least one vote from a member of the USA Horror Writers Association who thought our story was worthy enough to be judged. Whoever has voted for me, thank you. I believe now I need five votes to get through to the next round. Here's hoping. More news later if I hear any.

Lastly, I wanted to thank Juliet Bathory and everyone at the Australian Horror Writers Association for promoting all Australian authors nominated for a Stoker Award this year.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Reviews Keep Coming

Another positive review of The Spiraling Worm has just appeared on Amazon.com. It's interesting to see in reading this one how different stories appeal to different readers, although "Impossible Object" and "False Containment" remain most reader's favorites. The reviewer, Michael J. Tresca, had this to say about the two stories in question: "Imposslble Object" is "more a science fiction tale, is awesome" and "False Containment" as "one of the few stories in this collection that isn't afraid to drive home the insane horror of the Mythos". I should note for the reviewer's benefit that there was never any intention of writing a Call of Cthulhu role-playing game supplement for Chaosium set in the world of The Spiraling Worm.

John Sunseri, who co-authored the collection with me, said early on that he beleived our book would be a sleeper, and it looks to be that way. I have more fan mail today about this book than I ever did when it was first released, and questions about the sequel. Well, I better keep working on more Harrison Peel (the hero of The Spiraling Worm) stories then.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Recommended Books: Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror Vol.4

The Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror series edited by Angela Challis is a great 'best of' anthology series published by Brimstone Press. I've always found the stories to be well mixed so that a most horror readers with their various tastes will find something that suits their reading habits.

I have appeared in Volume 3. Alas I will not be in Volume 4 which has just been announced and will be out in March 2010. But just because I'm not in it doesn't mean it is not worth buying. The latest edition features stories by Peter M. Ball, John Birmingham, Kirstyn McDermott and Jason Nahrung, amongst others, and then there will be summaries of the year of Aussie dark fiction that was.

Now if Brimstone Press would only release Macabre: A Journey Through Australia's Darkest Fears (I have a vested interest in this one because I have a story in it that I wrote more than five years ago now).

Read about Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror Volume 4 here.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Interview over at Innmouth Free Press

An interview I did with Innsmouth Free Press went up today. I talk with Silvia Moreno-Garcia on The Spiraling Worm and the Harrison Peel series, my influences and favorite books, the Australian speculative fiction scene, H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, and the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game. Read the interview here.

Monday, 2 November 2009

More Reviews

The Specusphere has just posted several reviews of Australian books in which my short stories have appeared. Felicity Dowker said of my story "Subtle Invasion" in Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror Volume 3 that it was "unnerving, horrific, and well written". Midnight Echo 1 and 2 and Black Box: Shadow Box 2 were also reviewed in the same issue, each of which featured several of my stories.

Over at OzHorrorScope Stephanie Gunn in a review of Midnight Echo #1 said that ""Cactus" by David Conyers is a story at once grounded in reality and yet completely surreal. One of the most original pieces in the magazine, it displays a mastery of imagery."

Some of my stories earlier tales appearing in US anthologies over the last couple of years have been reviewed on Goodreads. Of "Regrowth" appearing in Arkham Tales one reviewer said "Another author worth watching for; a PI takes on the case of some bizarre plants which alters his life forever. A very cool story, one of my favorites." The same reviewer said of my story "False Containment" appearing in Horrors Beyond: "Now, I truly enjoy this author's work, and here he did not let me down one bit. An awesome story that will leave you thinking about politics, the environment and what's wrong with the freakin' world... Very very fine writing."

Always nice to have a positive review, wherever they appear.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Sci Fi and Literature: They're Both Genres

I just read this interesting article on Science Fiction and Fantasy Media by Ellen Datlow. It's about how literary authors, editors, reviewers and readers just can't get their head around the fact that science fiction and fantasy novels have just as much to offer readers and society as the literature genre does (yes, literature is a genre, it has it's own section in bookshops and is marketed that way, don't kid yourself that it is otherwise).

The article made me think of something an English teacher said to my class once in high school, that when William Shakespeare was writing plays most of his audience thought that his stories were unfolding there and then, and couldn't understand the concept of tales being set in other places and times. I asked the teacher this is how the modern world saw science fiction, as it is often set in other places and times, and all of them imagined and that maybe most people couldn't get their head around the fact that these stories are set in make-believe lands. He said it was completely different, because science fiction wasn't a real genre.

In highschool I used to quote science fiction books in my essays, until I was told that I would not be well received by my examiners if I did that and that I would score poorly. So I stopped only in terms of self interest, but felt that I was betraying something fundamental by doing so. That something was wrong with society's ideas on fostering creativity.

I'm not saying science fiction and fantasy is for everyone, but I do see it as sad that we live in an world where it is constantly dismissed as not being worthwhile. Unfortunately I believe science fiction movies and television series have been at least partially responsible for this misconception. Ideas in visual media are often 50 years being the literaturary scene. Take the movie I, Robot which came out more than five decades after it was written. Good film, but the ideas about artificial intelligence and how it could actually work and the implications on society are far more developed than that these days (for example read Charles Stross' Saturn Returns).

Then you get movies and shows like Star Trek which really fail to understand the genre it was based upon, and their writers just coming up with stupid ideas. If I was captain of the Enterprise being attacked by Klingons, I wouldn't teleport over three men in jumpsuits and no environmental suits just in case there was no oxygen on the other side. I'd also wouldn't just arm them with only small arms to take out the ship, rather I'd transport over a nuclear bomb, then detonate it from afar. In the movie Sunshine the starship obviously has artifical gravity inside, but that same force is not used to accelerate the ship to the sun which would have otherwise reduced the trip from months into days. Plus the sun isn't going to die out for billions of years.

What I loved about science fiction and fantasy in the written form (novels and short stories) is that its scope is so broad, which you just can't get in any other form of fiction. I'm not limited to stories set on Earth in the present or in the past. If I want to write about alternate forms of society and government I can. Dune by Frank Herbert is a classic example of what I'm talking about here.

A friend of my wife's is a professor of quantum optics in England. He recently returned to Adelaide to see his family and catch up with us (amongst other friends) and he and I started talking about science fiction. He saw its influence as essential to the development of science and technology. Simply put, he'd noticed that his peers who didn't read science fiction didn't have the imagination to solve real scientific problems that scientists who did read in the genre could. Without science fiction, society wouldn't evolve as rapidly as it does.

I know that science fiction and fantasy authors and readers can and do read in the literary genre, but sometimes I feel that the reverse is not true, that many literary authors and readers, like Shakespeare's audience, don't have the imagination to understand it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, people should read what they like, and can only take on new information they are ready to take on. But to critise the genre because one can't understand it, well that just shows poor form, and perhaps fear of the unknown.

There are many fantastic science fiction and fantasy books out there that are thought provoking. If you haven't tried the genre, I would highly recommend it. The best works in this genre are equal to the best in the literary genre.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

My Greg Egan Interview in Albedo One #37

I've been waiting to announce this one for a while; I've recently interviewed Australian science fiction author Greg Egan which has now appeared the latest issue of Albedo One. My first in-depth interview with a high profile speculative fiction author.

Greg talks about his influences, his writing proces, his favourites of his own work, upcoming books, his experiences with the Australian speculative fiction scene, sources for his idea, and his involvement with securing the release of illegally detained refugees in Australia.

The same issue features several of my reviews, and because I don't have my contributor copy with me yet, I'll have to announce what those reviews are in a latter post.

To read more about this issue visit the Albedo One website. Fiction by Robert Reed, the second place winner of the Aeon Award 2008, "Aegis", by D. T. Neal, Sara Joan Berniker, Gustavo Bondoni, Richard Alan Scott, Gareth Stack and T D Edge.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Another Nice Review of The Spiraling Worm

Noticed today that another really nice review of The Spiraling Worm popped up on Amazon.com today by Stephen Jarjoura: "This was an excellent and fun book to read. If you are well versed in the Mythos, you'll find many references to the classics ... but without all of the "squamous tentacles" and "ichor covered walls" ... instead, the horrors are real, tangible, and described in fascinating detail."

Great to see that after two and a half years the book is still being read and enjoyed, and that our book remains one of the favorites of Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu fiction series.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Best New Tales of the Apocalypse (It's coming...)

A while ago my story "Subtle Invasion" from The Black Book of Horror was selected for the first volume of Best New Tales of the Apocalypse, edited by Bobbie Metevier and D.L. Snell, and to be publsihed by Permuted Press. Naturally I was excited.

Then for a long time I heard nothing and thought the project was on indefinite hold, but then a recent email from Mr. Snell informed me that this was not the case at all. Then I discovered the table of contents here and thought I would post it myself.
  • THE MAN WHO ATE PLANETS ... Lee Moan
  • HURRICANE WATCH ... Rebecca Day
  • THE ALL-NIGHT, ONE-STOP APOCALYPSE SHOP - Derek J. Goodman
  • KELMSCOTT MANOR: IN THE ATTICS - Lyn C.A. Gardner
  • THE SIXTH MISSION - Joe McKinney
  • ALL THE THINGS THAT CAN'T BE - Ian Randal Strock
  • TODAY IS NOT - Michael Sellars
  • RESTORE FROM BACKUP - J.F. Gonzalez & Michael Oliveri
  • SUBTLE INVASION - David Conyers
  • AMERICA IS COMING! - Dario Ciriello
  • THE SHAPE - Tim Curran
  • BETTY IN SIDESHOW - Daniel R. Robichaud
  • EVERYTHING GETS BIGGER AFTER NUCLEAR WAR - Ian Rogers
  • PIGS AND FEACHES - Patrice Sarath

Definitely one I'm looking forward to, sometime in 2010. I also hope this becomes an ongoing series.

Meanwhile "Subtle Invasion" remains my most successful story to date, with a reprint in Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror Vol. 3, an Australian Shadows nomination, and being read on The Writing Show.

Jason Fischer Writers of the Future Contest Winner

A belated congratulations to fellow South Aussie author Jason Fischer, who's short story "The House of Nameless" came first place in the Writers of the Future Contest. His prize is a week-long workshop in the United States in 2010. Well done Jason.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Honourable Mention in Best Horror of the Year Vol. 1

Just learnt that my Australian Horror Writers Association competition winning short story "Homo Canis" that was later published in 2008 Award Winning Australian Writing has received an honourable mention in Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Years Vol.1. It is always nice to have one's work recognised in a professional medium.

See the complete list of honourable mentions here, which I was pleased to see included stories from Cody Goodfellow, C.J. Henderson, William Jones, Jason Nahrung and D.L. Snell. Also congratulations to Charles Black for so many honourable mentions for stories in his Black Book of Horror series.

Special congratulations to Kirstyn McDermott who had her story "Painlessness" reprinted, which is much better than an honourable mention.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Worlds of Cthulhu #6

A nice surprise greeted me in the mailbox today, Worlds of Cthulhu #6, which features my artwork for Dennis Detwiller's "The Sense of the Sleight of Hand Man" Call of Cthulhu role-playing game scenario.

I know this issue came out in June 2009, so I'm a bit late to post (and arrange my contributor copy). Still an impressive looking issue from editor Adam Crossingham featuring scenarios from Oscar Rios and Frank Heller.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Influences: Lightship by Jim Burns and Chris Evans

When Lightship came out in 1985, a showcase of the science fiction illustraitions of British artist Jim Burns, I was blown away by the vivid and imaginative worlds he captured in paintings. I was in high school at the time and already planning my career as a science fiction writer, and when I saw this book my imagination went into overdrive, visualising some of the stories I could tell based on the pictures that were engrossing me. Stories from books I had never read, but now felt intrigued to read.

I’d studied art in high school and had considered a career as an illustrator, but I never did much more once I was at university except to dabble. That said I did enough to have had my illustrations published in books such as Secrets of Kenya, and although I was never very good and my writing was more important for me to pursue, art did give me a great starting point in imagining the future. For example, for a long time while I was developing my space opera setting for a series of books I’m planning in the future, I used to do lots of illustrations for that setting and my art skills really helped me imagine what my universe would look like. It was Lightship that sent me down this path, influenced me to give illustration a go to develop future settings.

In a recent conversation with D.M. Cornish we discussed the merits of writers who are also illustrators, and how it can greatly enhance the creative process. I certainly see that in his Monster Blood Tattoo series he is head and shoulders above most fantasy authors in creating amazing worlds with his words alone, because he illustrated it all first. I hope my illustrating experience eventually leads me to similar success (one can always hope).

My favorite illustrations in Lightship include the covers for Downward to the Earth, Mechanismo Spaceport, The Lovers, The Deathworms of Kratos, Bio of a Space Tyrant 3 and Startide Rising, but they are all great. The accompaning text by Chris Evans was an added bonus, openning me up to a whole host of science fiction ideas I’d never considered before, including terraforming and pantropy, concepts I would have never come across just from watching science fiction movies and television shows of the time.

Monday, 21 September 2009

"The Octagon" in Jupiter 26

Jupiter magazine's Issue 26 (Isonoe) is nearly here, and features my science fiction tale "The Octagon" which takes a look at the future of reality gameshows. This is my second sale to this magazine and my fifth original short story publication for 2009. Edited by Ian Redman, the other stories in the issue include:
  • "The Space Sphinx" by Edward Rodosek follows a reporter seeking to uncover the mystery of the 'Sphinx' on a colony world.
  • "Cold Pressure" by Rosie Oliver takes us on ocean voyage over a future Earth.
  • "In the Shadows of Hemera" by Will Styler looks at future space exploration.

GenCon Australia: Day 3

Today I get to upload some images from GenCon Australia 2009. Hoperfully pictures will tell a different story of my experiences from the previous two posts.

The first is an up high shot of the traders hall, just to give some perspective on what the venue was like. Around the corners there were role-playing, board games, card games and computer game arenas, so the space was much bigger than this picture depicts.

The second photograph is of me with four of Australia's leading speculative fiction novellests, from left to right Karen Miller, Kylie Chan, Rowena Cory Daniells and Marianne De Pierres with myself tacked on at the end where we were at the Pulp Fiction Bookstore stand. All four women gave me excellent advise on the world of writing and publishing and I thank them all for their time. They were also all very popular on all the seminars they attended.

The Dark Space and Nylon Angel posters are for Marianne's books. I picked up her Dark Space novel (which she generously signed for me) and started reading it on the flight back from Brisbane to Adelaide that night and really got into it.

The next image is of me with upcoming dark fantasy author (and GenCon event organiser) Peter M. Ball who has written the excellent urban fantasy novella Horn which is selling really well from Twelfth Planet Press. I highly recommend this book and find it to be one of the most original short fiction pieces from an Australian author in years. Peter also is a very generous and cool individual.
Here are some examples of the very cool costumes people have made for GenCon, including some Star Wars outfits that look like they've come straight out of Lucusville's production studios, they are that good. I had to include an image of Boba Fett as he's one of my favorite sci-fi villians. I wish I'd taken more photographs of people dressed up, and that I could have posted others didn't come out so blury.
GenCon was lots of fun all round and I got to meet some great people, including Matt Farrer, Ryan Naylor and Donna Hanson amongst many others. Special thanks also to all the GenCon volunteer players of the Saturday night session of "The Burning Stars", which was heaps of fun to run with such a great bunch of individuals, and sorry to everyone who missed out.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

GenCon Australia: Day 2

After a good night's sleep I was back at GenCon Australia. Today was busier, with many more people and many more costumes (or CosPlay as they call it). I was on two forums leaving me plenty of time to wander the stalls, gaming areas and displays. I caught up with Ron Serdiuk of Pulp Fiction Press who also owns a very impressive science fiction, fantasy and crime bookshop in Brisbane, Pulp Fiction Books. Also meet up with Ian Houlihan, GenCon Director and Show Manager.

During my spare time Rowena Cory Daniels and I discussed role-playing games and how to becoime a profession game writer. Peter M. Ball and I talked about his novella Horn from Twelfth Planet Press, which incidentially is selling very well from what I've heard, and definitely worth a read. And I picked the brains of Marianne de Pierres, Kylie Chan and Rowena on their thoughts on agents and publishers, and strategies to get my novel picked up when it is written (yes, I'm a writer, so like all writers I'm progressing througha novel).

That evening I ran a demonstration game for several fo the GenCon volunteers of my Call of Cthulhu scenario "The Burning Stars" from Terrors from Beyond, which went down really well and lots of fun all round. I had to rush it a bit as we were working to a fixed timeline, but I got all the important clues in there, and the secret surprise when revealled went down well, even though many of the players had guessed what was going on early on.

I'll have a more detailed convention report tomorrow when I return home to Adelaide.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

GenCon Australia: Day 1

After a 4am wakeup and 6am flight from Adelaide to Brisbane, and then checking into my hotel I turned up at GenCon Australia feeling rather tired. However, excited to be there, I soon explored all the trade showrooms to be amazed at the number of gaming stores still selling role-playing games in Australia, despite my impression that the genre had been dying in Australia. Talking to store owners I soon discovered that games like Dungeons & Dragons selll well, and games like Call of Cthulhu don't, although this is not the trend in the United States. There were some Call of Cthulhu products, mostly Ken Hite's Trail of Cthulhu line from Pelgrane Press, which has excellent production values. I couldn't find any of my books, including Chaosium's most recent release, Terrors from Beyond featuring my scenario "The Burning Stars". In fact there was almost no representation of Chaosium products at all.

I'll freely admit I haven't been to a gaming convention like this one before. What first struck me was the number of people dressed as characters from their favorite science fiction and fantasy movies and television shows. I saw the Tenth Doctor, Stormtroopers (with excellent production values on their costumes), a transformer, wizards, fairies, elves and a whole host of Anime characters I couldn't even begin to identify. Star Wars characters by far were the most popular costumes, and far less Star Trek than I would have expected.

There are some impressive looking computer games, but not being a computer gamer myself, I just watched others play them (my time on the computer is spent writing).

I met several of Australia's leading speculative fiction writers including Karen Miller, Marianne De Pierres, Kylie Chan, Rowena Cory-Daneils, Peter M. Ball and Warhammer 40K author Matt Farrer, who are amongst the nicest people you could meet. I'll say that the Australian speculative fiction community is very friendly and encouraging when you get to meet them face to face. We sat on several panels talking on the business of writing speculative fiction, and attendance was much higher than I had expected.

Friday, 11 September 2009

I'm a Guest at GenCon Australia

I'm going to be a guest at GenCon Australia this year, after circumstances prevented me from attending last year. Held at the Brisbane Convention Centre 18-20 September 2009, so the event is less than a week away. Time to pack my carry-on luggage and go.

I'll be on various seminars as I've detailed below, talking about my fiction writing including The Spiraling Worm and Cthulhu's Dark Cults, my work with Albedo One and some tips on the magazine's Aeon Award for short speculative fiction with an annual price of 1,000 Euros, and on my gaming writing for the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game.

I also hope to run a couple of sessions of a demonstration Call of Cthulhu role-playing game based on a scenario I wrote. Which scenario that will be I will keep as mystery for the moment, but needless to say, it is one on this list. In between all of that I hope to catch up with people and meet a whole lot of new people. So I'll be busy, but if you are there, please say hello.

Friday

Hot Tips for Fiction Writers (Seminar Room 1, 2pm): Join Karen Miller, David Conyers, and Matt Farrer as they give away the hot tips that all aspiring writers should know.

Fights, Chase Scenes and Other Action (Seminar Room 1, 11 am): Want to know how to keep a reader on the edge of their seat? Join writers Kylie Chan, David Conyers and Marianne De Pierres as they discuss how to writer a killer action scene.

Saturday

The Writer’s Journey (Seminar Room 1, 12 pm): Join Marianne De Pierres, Kylie Chan, and David Conyers as they talk about the journey from aspiring writer to published author.

Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself (Seminar Room 3, 6 pm): Want to scare your players? Join game designers David Conyers and Ryan Naylor as they discuss the techniques they use when writing for horror games.

Sunday

Gaming and Writing (Seminar Room 1, 4 pm): How do you make the jump from playing games to becoming a writer? Join Matt Farrer, David Conyers, and Ryan Naylor as they talk about how they made the jump from gamer to author.

How to Make a Really Good Bad Guy (Seminar Room 1, 2 pm): What makes the perfect bad guy? Join authors Matt Farrer and David Conyers as they discuss the very best of the very worst.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Three New Reviews

Found some new reviews for three of my short stories.

For “Stomach Acid” which appeared in Cthulhu Unbound 2, Matthew T Carpenter said: “Once again we and Australia's finest, Major Peel, have been asked to do the impossible, given no choice but to risk life and limb (or other organ) and sanity at the intersection between humanity and the unknowable cosmos ... I'm a big fan of both Conyers and Sammons and I have to be grateful for what we have (feel free to expand it for the next collection, guys). Stomach Acid was a fine edition to their ongoing story arc.” Read the rest of the review here.

I found this review for “Homo Canis” from 2008 Award Winning Australian Writing in an unlikely publication, the Bellarine Times. Written by Mark Farrugia he lists my story as one of his favorites. “"Homo Canis" by David Conyers, which takes a less than conventional look at corporal punishment. This story won the Australian Horror Writers Association's Flash Fiction Competition in 2007 and is an excellent example of how an abstract idea can be entertainingly expressed under 1,000 words.” Read the rest of the review here.

The Fix gave “Black Water” from Jupiter #24 an overall positvie review with: “Conyers is pretty good at evoking his future, in particular by dropping in telling little details that hint at broader goings-on outside the frame of the narrative.” Read the rest of the review here.

I’m proud to have been published in Jupiter, as I’m find its stories to be rather good compared to other magazines that are unable to pay for stories. To its credit Jupiter gets consistently good reviews from SFRevu, SFSite, SFCrowsnest and other places. I just hope that the editor, Ian Redman, makes enough in the long run to be able to transform the magazine into a professional status publication and become the next Interzone or Albedo One.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Fun with a Digital Camera

I was given a 12.1 mega pixil digital camera for Father's Day, so you can imagine how excited I was taking photographs and videos on Sunday. On a whim I decided to snap a photograph of many of the anthologies and a few of the small-sized magazines I've been in. Sometimes it takes stacking them next to each other to see how many I've been in.

I've always been impressed by the production values of the Elder Signs Press, Permuted Press, Mortbury Press and Brimstone Press titles, which is testimount to what a few skills in graphic design and marketing can do for a publisher. That said, I'm proud of all the titles I have here, because they all look good. The only problem was that I've misplaced my copy of 2008 Award Winning Australian Writing from Melbourne Books for the line-up, because that is another impressive looking book. Others such as Jupiter or Rainfall Books don't work in the line-up because they are staple-bound.

I've also include The Spiraling Worm in the mix, as that contains five of my short storires and novellas.

My favorite cover of all the books here would still have to be the first anthology I appeared in, Horrors Beyond.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

New Short Story Sale

I've just sold a short story to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine Issue 47, out in time for WorldCon 2010 (or AussieCon4) which will be held September 2-6, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. The story is a short science fiction piece called "Emergency Rebuild" set on Mars. This is my second sale to Andromeda Spaceways.

Adding to this news I've been reliably informed that Scenes from the Second Storey from Morrigan Books featuring my tale "Dream Machine" will also be launched at WorldCon 2010, so two stories out at once at this major sci fi convention for Australia. This publication is the brain child of Mark S. Deniz, who always wanted to do an anthology of short stories with each tale based on the track listing of the album of the same name by God Machine, and as often happens with these things Mark decided to do two books. One features Australian authors and the other authors from the rest of the world. I guess it's pretty easy to work out which one I'm in. When I was asked to write the openning tale I couldn't turn the offer down. Finally, I'll appear in a Morrigan Books anthology (not for want of trying).

"Dream Machine" (my version) is set in Hell and in the same series as other dark fiction tales of mine that include "Cactus", "The Lord of the Law" and "Hell's Ambassador". I'm certain I was also influenced by Barry Adamson's album As Above, So Below as much as I was by Scenes from the Second Storey.

Monday, 31 August 2009

On Writing, Editing and Slush

I caught up with David Kernot this weekend and we had an interesting chat about science fiction, from both the author and editor viewpoints. I’ve edited Cthulhu’s Dark Cults and have another book in the works for a US publisher, and David is a member of the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine Co-op, and he’s editing Issue 47, so we’ve both got some practical experience behind us now on the editing front. At the same time we both write, predominately science fiction with about 50 published stories between us.

David told me that when he reads slush he tends to read the first and last pages before he reads anything else. This allows him to see if the story grabs him from the onset, and whether it concludes itself in an interesting manner. I thought this was a rather novel approach and started thinking about how he might perceive some of my stories read that way.

My viewpoint on slush is that I believe dialogue is important, and that I like to see it early on in a story. I don’t believe there is any better tool to create a character than dialogue and to propell a story along in real time (as opposed to telling a story after the events have occurred as Victorian Era writers were fond of doing). I also like the first line to grab me, something unusual, something that makes me sit-up and go, ‘oh, that’s interesting’ and want to keep reading.

It’s nice to have discussions like this with one’s peers. Writing and editing can be a very isolated experience and sometimes it takes an outsider to point out new approaches that can make a world of difference in the products (stories, books) we each produce.

So David and I have decided to collaborate on a short story, and see what new ideas come from that.

Friday, 14 August 2009

To Collaborate or not to Collaborate

Through my writing career I’ve ended up collaborating with various authours, and while I’ve gained much from the experience, I know many authors out there are reluctant to do so. Not me it seems. I’ve worked with Brian M. Sammons (“Stomach Acid” and “Six-Legged Shadows”), John Goodrich (“The Masked Messenger”), David Witteveen (“Sweat as Decay”), John Sunseri (“The Spiraling Worm”) and John Kenny (an unpublished science fiction piece) and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve got out of each collaboration and the end story we’ve created. I’ve also discussed the possibility with other authors of doing collaborations, including with David Kernot and C.J. Henderson, if we can ever get the time.

What I find works well for me is what I have learnt from the experience. Brian is taught me how to really cut to the heart of story, John Goodrich on how to tell a story without explicitly telling it, David in writing sincint poetical scenes, John Sunseri how to make language and character create a style all of its own, and John Kenny the importance of pace and reflective prose. I’ve learnt much more from each of these authors than just what I’ve listed, here I’m illustrating particular elements of learning that were unexpected for me in the process. The end result is that I feel that I’m a better writer because of these experiences, and it also taught me how to be humble and not so hung up on the in’s and out’s of a particular story. Oh, and to let a story tell itself.

The other reason I like collaborating is because of the creativity it allows.

I’m currently writing another novella with Brian M. Sammons, which is the reason for this post. I’m finding that even before we’ve started ideas are just flowing all over the place and we feed off each other’s perspective, so much so that the tale just seems to write itself. We are both very excited about where it is headed.

Most of my collaborations have been with horror and dark fantasy writers, a genre that seems to bring authors together rather than creating a sometimes overly negative competitive environment that I’m finding in some speculative fiction ‘scenes’. From my experience horror and dark fantasy writers tend to get excited about what each other are writing, and want to share. How nice is that!

Collaboration can potentially create its own problems. For example my most successful series, the Harrison Peel spies versus the Cthulhu Mythos series (The Spiraling Worm) is not a sole-creation of my own, but one that had a genesis with John Sunseri and now with Brian M. Sammons, C.J. Henderson and John Goodrich. We’ve all agreed that our characters are our own (mine is Harrison Peel, John Sunseri’s in Jack Dixon, C.J. Henderson is Joan De Molina and Brian M. Sammons’ is Jordan - amongst others) and that we need to seek permission to use each other’s characters, but we also agree that we can each pretty much do whatever we like in this shared world setting. So what happens if I get a movie or game deal for The Spiraling Worm (not saying it is likely, but it is a possibility), what do we do then? Hopefully we’ll all get financial rewarded, and that’s what I’d like to see.

So leading on from this point, I’ve decided that some series I will collaborate on (such as the Harrison Peel series) and some I won’t which I want to hold complete control over (such as my Earth Central series for example featuring stories including “Black Water”, “Aftermath”, “The Entropy Collapse”, “Terraformer”, “The Octagon” and others). Of course stories that aren’t part of any series (“Sweat as Decay”) don’t really matter, they are stand alones, but fun to write nonetheless.

Fun times ahead, seeing where all this collaboration business goes.

David Kernot to Edit an Issue of Andromeda Spaceways

I just got news that my good writing friend David Kernot is going to be editing his own issue of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine next year. David recently joined the ASIM co-op, where he is a regular reviewer, and it looks like all his hard work has paid off. Congratulations David, looking forward to your issue.

Recommended Reading: Dead Souls from Mark S. Deniz

Mark S. Deniz's latest anthology from Morrigan Books, Deal Souls, has just been released, the book with the creepy cover of a spider crawling over an eyeball. It features stories from Ramsey Campbell, Paul Finch, Gary McMahon and many others. The theme focuses on people without souls, who have taken the darker path in life. The possibilities...

I always like to see anthologies with strong themes yet broad enough to capture both the writers and readers imagination, and I'm certain this is what Dead Souls does. I'm sure it will do well.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Stomach Acid: An Extract

An extract from Brian M. Sammons and my short story in Cthulhu Unbound 2 follows:

Harrison Peel woke awkwardly, worried that he sensed ripples of déjà vu. The dirty hotel room with giant bugs scampering on the ceiling remained familiar, and the air sweating like an exerted fat man in this tropical heat was as oppressive as the moment before he drifted into sleep. It was his body clock was worried him. He felt as if it were late afternoon even though his watch said early morning. Had his watch failed? Had he slept all day and not noticed?

Sitting up brought stomach acid to his throat. Then he gagged. The nausea so bad he hoped only to vomit. Several moments of retching brought up nothing, and still the nausea would not abate. To counter the acid, he drank sterile water from his canteen. He choked on that too, vomited it up as he did.

Out of bed, peering into the broken mirror, Peel saw a haggard man. He saw himself as if he were a terminally ill cancer patient. Not the self-image he had witnessed in the same mirror yesterday when he had felt good and fighting fit. What had happened to him? It terrified him that he did not know.

It was then glancing over his shoulder that he noticed the tall gangly man.

Without hesitation Peel spun his whole body, pinned the intruder against a wall. One hand locked an arm so it would be a painful exercise to resist, the other pressed against the windpipe so he could kill without effort.

"If I die, Major," the stranger gasped, "so do you."

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Cthulhu Unbound 2: Harrison Peel is Back

Cthulhu Unbound 2 edited by Thomas Brannan my good friend John Sunseri has just been released by Permuted Press and you can purchase it here. This is a series of genre-blending tales with the Cthulhu Mythos as the central link between all stories. The first volume has been very successful and well received. I'm glad to have been part of the second volume.

My story in this book is written with another good friend Brian M. Sammons and it is called "Stomach Acid". This tale features former Australian Army Intelligence officer Major Harrison Peel from The Spiraling Worm, a collection/novel which I incidentally penned with John Sunseri.

In the heart of the Amazonian rainforests, Major Peel is blackmailed, when a human agent of an alien species compromises his life expectancy. The only way that Peel can live beyond a single day is to turn against the American agent, code-named Jordan, who hired him to act again the very menace that now controls Peel.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Ancient Shadows: Dark Tales of Eldritch Fantasy

I recently discovered that a short story I wrote many years ago is finally seeing print, in William Jones' lastest anthology Ancient Shadows: Dark Tales of Eldritch Fantasy and published by his imprint Elder Signs Press. Originally slated as Eldritch Steel, it's now scheduled for release in late 2009 or early 2010 depending on what you read where on the World Wide Web.

My story, "The Hag of Zais" takes place in H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands setting and is about a man lost and dying in the Sahara who encounters a talking cat. The cat promises to save the man's is life if he in turn promises to undertake a quest banishing a sorceress haunting a once great city of cats. Anyone familiar with my Secrets of Kenya sourcebook for the Call of Cthulhu game will notice that I've adapted this story story from the scenario in that book, "The Cats of Lamu." This story is a little bit different for me, as it's more high fantasy than anything I've written before.
Ancient Shadows can be purchased from Amazon.com.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Been Away

I've been away from posting and forums and so forth for the last couple of months, and there is a good reason for that. I've changed jobs, moved house and a couple of other issues I won't go into. Needless to say circumstances have settled down somewhat and I can again focus on my writing.

Quick updates, I've appeared in Midnight Echo #2 edited by Shane Jiraiya Cummings and Angela Challis for the Australian Horror Writer's Association, with my award winning short story "Homo Canis".

I've got reviews appearing in Albedo One where I've now been made a contributing editor (thanks guys!). Those reviews incidentally are Year's Best Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy Vol. 4 edited by Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt, Matter by Iain M. Banks, Angel Rising by Dirk Flinthart, and The Second Black Book of Horror edited by Charles Black.

My Call of Cthulhu gaming scenario "The Burning Stars" appeared in Terrors from Beyond from Chaosium. Although there were some layout and editing problems, the book otherwise looks impressive. It got a pretty good review from Pookie on Game Cryer. Here is an extract:

Terrors From Beyond saves its best for last. David Conyers’ “The Burning Stars” is the highlight of the collection, managing to meet the book’s lofty claims with aplomb. ... Another pleasure of reading this scenario is discovering how much of it is tied into earlier Call of Cthulhu scenarios and campaigns, the author taking the time to make it as much part of Call of Cthulhu canon as no other author does. It is refreshing to see an author acknowledge the history of the game in this fashion and it would be fantastic to see the author carry this into a full campaign – which David Conyers should be allowed to write…

I attended Conjecture where I didn't win a Ditmar, met some really familiar faces including D.M Cornish, Sean Williams and Jeff Harris, and met some new writers and editors I'd only previously known through email or reputation including Jason Fischer, Pat McNamara, Dirk Flinthardt, Jason Nahrung, Peter M. Ball, Kirstyn McDermott, Alisia Krasnostein and many others. Nice to finally put faces to so many names.

I've had some interesting developments behind the scenes too, interviewing one of Australia's most prominent science fiction authors which will appear in a future issue of Albedo One. And a couple of projects in the works in the United States which are looking very promising. More news on that later.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Issue 36 of Albedo One Released

Albedo One (where I am now a contributing editor) releases issue 36 where I'm now a contributing editor. This issue features an in-depth interview with renowned author Paul Di Filippo and more reviews from our columnists Juliet E. McKenna, Andrew McKenna and myself.

The cover art entitled "The Other Window", is courtesy of the highly talented Spainsh artist Enaer. The issue is packed full of fiction including the winner of the 2008 Aeon Award, "Twinkle, Twinkle" by Colin Henchley and the winning story of the 2008 German Science Fiction Award, "Homeward Journey" by Frank W. Haubold and translated to English by Wilf James especially for Albedo One. Albedon 1 intend to continue with our translations in the future, which will go some way at least in demonstrating the great and largely unrecognised (in the English speaking world) diversity and quality of speculative fiction being written in Europe at the moment.

The issue also includes work by Mike O'Driscoll, D. T. Neal, Craig Saunders and Kurt Kirchmeier.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Workshop: Structuring a Fantasy Novel

If you are in Adelaide and are interested in writing fantasy, then I'm running this workshop at the SA Writers' Centre:

Structuring a Fantasy Novel

Saturday 13 June, 2pm-5pm

The popularity of fantasy novels continues to grow and publishers are always in search of the next great epic trilogy. During this hands-on interactive workshop participants will develop an outline for a fantasy novel. Discussion points include: creating characters and how they grow through the narrative, popular fantasy themes, how to develop tension and conflict, how to propel the story, the importance of dialogue and action, using cultural references, and just what it is like to live in a world where magic and fantastical creatures reign. more…

Where: SA Writers' Centre, 2nd Floor, 187 Rundle Street, Adelaide

Cost: $55 for SAWC members; $77 for non-members

Contact: 08 8223 7662 or email sawriters@sawc.org.au

Book online here

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Midnight Echo #2 Released in June

Coming next month: Midnight Echo #2, edited by Angela Challis & Shane Jiraiya Cummings, and featuring creepy stories by Kurt Newton, Bob Franklin, David Conyers, Andrew McKiernan, Joanne Anderton, Shaun Jeffrey, Felicity Dowker, and many more... plus artwork from David Schembri and many talented dark fantasy artists.

Features my Australian Horror Writers Association's Flash Fiction Award winning story "Homo Canis" which originally featured in 2008 Award Winning Australian Writing from Melbourne Books.

"Homo Canis" - Aaron Sedgwick broke the law, killing his wife in a car accident while intoxicated with alcohol. For his punishment, he is sentenced to eighteen years hard labor, remade as a dog.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

First review of "The Lord of the Law"

New review of "The Lord of the Law" found on Dark Fiction Review:

The last story in The Fourth Black Book of Horror is "The Lord of The Law" by David Conyers. This is one of those stories that seems a little out of step with the rest of the book, but it’s no less enjoyable for it ... It’s a cleverly written tale that plays with the senses from beginning to end.

The reviewer gives the rest of the collection a very nice review, so congratulations to all the authors and editor Charles Black.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Star Wars: Crosscurrent by Paul S. Kemp

Just discovered that my good writing friend Paul S. Kemp has his first Star Wars novel coming out very soon Star Wars: Crosscurrent. I don't know much about it, but will post more when I learn more. Meanwhile you can order it here.

"Soft Viscosity" gets nominated for a Ditmar Award

How can this year get any better on the publishing front? Well I can think of many ways but hey it's all been good news this year, and today is no exception. I've just learnt that "Soft Viscosity" from 2012 has just been nominated for a Ditmar Award for Best Novella catagory. In fact it is the only story from that anthology to get a nomination which I didn't expect! Wow!

Thank you everyone who voted for me. I know most of you who did were overseas readers, so thanks for your support, and to those of you local Aussies who voted for me too. That's five stories with award nominations now ("Aftermath", "Homo Canis", "Black Water" and "Subtle Invasion" are the other ones) and it is interesting to note they are all my science fiction pieces.

Midnight Echo and 2012 both get nominations for Best Collection, but even though I appeared in both, I'd like to see Black edited by Angela Challis win, I mean she does a fantastic job at promoting Australian speculative fiction and deserves this award. But I guess it is a wait and see now.

Congratulations to all the nominees.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Another Great Review of "Black Water"

This is probably the best review I've ever had, again for "Black Water" which appeared in Jupiter #24, this time from SF Crowsnest by Rod MacDonald. This is what it had to say:

'Black Water' by David Conyers is an absolutely cracking story. It's one of the best I've read for some time... Even within the limitations of a short story, a believable world has been created with two strong characters, Joseph and an Australian woman called Donna, both trying to make their way as best they can. I particularly liked the use of archaic technology, even in the slums of Dar es Salaam. Well, if this is our future, we had better do something about it soon!

Read the rest of the review here.

Friday, 1 May 2009

SFRevu reviews "Black Water"

Ian Redman, editor of Jupiter has just advised me of the first review of Issue 24 which featured my story "Black Water". Here is what the reviewer Sam Tomaino said about my story:

The issue begins with "Black Water" by David Conyers. Set in a future Earth wracked by drought, Joseph Nuwangi is set on improving his lot in life. He has sacrificed much of his body to get where he is and now he is going to use just that sacrifice to make his fortune, on the island of Zanzibar with the purest water in the world. Conyers does a great job here with showing us a future world and the people in it.

Read the rest of the review here, which says great things about all the stories.

Charles Stross Interviewed on Yog-Sothoth.com

Interesting podcast with Charles Stross on Yog-Sothoth.com. He talks about his writing, role-playing games and the hint that an Atrocity Archives role-playing game is coming out soon based on the Call of Cthulhu (Basic Roleplaying Game) system.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

New Cover for Cthulhu’s Dark Cults

I was recently browsing the Chaosium website when I came across the new cover for Cthulhu’s Dark Cults, my first edited anthology out in a couple of months. It is by the very talented Steven Gilberts who is arguably the finest Cthulhu Mythos artist currently working in the field. Visit his website here for more examples of his creepy and evocative work.

I really like this cover, not that I didn’t like the previous cover, but Steve’s work really encapsulates thematically what the collection is about. Is it a scene from a specific story? No, but that doesn’t matter. Like a said, Steve’s image says everything it needs to. The silhouetted figures dancing in a naked frenzy around a materialising Cthulhuoid god in a dark and uninviting wood says it all. These are what the stories are about. I’m glad Steve came on board.

Steve has done some amazing work for other Chaosium covers including The Strange Cases of Rudolph Pearson, Secrets of New York, The Necronomicon and Mysteries of the Worm. Chaosium can thank William Jones for finding him, as he started out illustrating for the Journal of Dark Wisdom and covers for Elder Signs Press anthologies and novels, which is William’s flagship publishing house.

I look forward to seeing what Steve comes up with next.

Influences: Chasm City

I’ve only been reading Alastair Reynolds recently but boy did he make an impression. One of the new wave British science fiction authors who write strong, believable space opera, Reynold’s Revelation Space series is stunning in its scope and imagination.

Chasm City was the first Reynolds novel I read and was the most visually impressive of everythign that I've read by him.
The story centres around two characters. The first is an ex-soldier turned security expert who finds himself on a strange high tech world recovering from the aftermath of a devastating alien plague. His memory is sketchy, but he knows he is chasing a man who wants to kill him to kill him first. The other story concerns a questionable leader of a fleet of slower-than-light starships racing to colonise a distant world, and the coup that results. Both characters are separated by both time and space, but their relationship is closer than anyone might suspect.

Reynolds is influenced by Larry Niven’s Known Space series and it shows in its grand scope and amazing ideas, but what Reynolds does so much better are his characters, his easy to read style and sense of pace. He even has transhumans or posthumans, highly evolved species of men and women who have transgressed the frailness of the human condition, and live almost immortal lives. However unlike many of his contemporaries, Reynold’s posthumans don’t lose their ‘humanness’ with their super abilities.

I also like that high tech is not available for everyone. For example his world of Sky’s Edge is reminiscent of a Latin American country stuck in a perpetual civil war, while his world of Yellowstone is like New Orleans after the cyclone, an amazing vibrant city struck down into squalor after a horrific external event. There are other high tech worlds out there, but they are keeping it to themselves. Unlike many science fiction writers, Reynold’s knows how to build believable political and cultural backdrops to his worlds.

Aliens feature in his stories and they are creepy, enigmatic and highly creative, often with bizarre Lovecraftian like characteristics.

Chasm City is not the only tale in the series, there is also the trilogy Revelation Space, Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap, short story collections Diamond Dog, Turquoise Days and Galactic North, and the stand-alone novel The Prefect. If you like space opera big, exciting and action packed, this is a great series to read.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

"The Octagon" in Jupiter #26

I'm on a real roll this year with publications, already outstriping my output of 2008 with another story scheduled for release this year. Ian Redman, editor of Jupiter Magazine just accepted my space opera tale "The Octagon" for issue 26 out in November. The tale concerns a reality game show held inside an alien artefact the size of a city and is set in the same future series as "Terraformer" and "The Entropy Collapse". More news when it is published.

The Ditmars: Time to Vote for Your Favorite Australian Speculative Fiction Stories

It’s time to vote for the Ditmars Awards for stories and articles published by Australians in 2008. The awards are open from now until May 4 and the rules are explained here. Shane Jiraiya Cummings has posted a news item about nominations and award categories on HorrorScope.

Nominations are very simple, just email them to ditmars@conjecture2009.org. All you need to do is list the work, author or editor and the publisher or venue from anything you read and enjoyed by an Australian. You can nominate as many times as you want in as many categories as you want. You can even nominate yourself.

To be able to nominate you need to be seen as a person active in fandom, such as being an editor, publisher or writer, or as simple as having attended a convention for being a member of a professional organisation such as the Australian Horror Writers Association.

If you want to vote for anything I wrote in 2008, here is the list with all the appropriate information you need to cut and paste into your nominations email:

Novella Category:

  • “Soft Viscosity” in 2012 (Twelfth Planet Press).
Short Story Category:

The William Atheling Jr Award:

If you are eligible to vote and are interested in reading any of the above stories, please email me and I’ll make a copy of the story or article available to you. I'm not going to comment on who I will likely vote for or why, predominately because I don't believe I've read widely enough in all the categories (or any category) to be able to comment objectively (but I will still vote).

Thanks for voting, and if you vote for me, thank you for that too.

HELL'S AMBASSADOR I. NOT DEAD

The senator stormed into the office of Hell’s Ambassador, with half his skull missing. The smoking shotgun hung limp in his blood-soaked hands.

“I’m not dead?”

“No, you’re not.”

“I can’t take it anymore! The lies, the scandals, the looming criminal prosecutions.” He shot himself again, through the heart, splattering red meat on the oak furnishings. “Just take my soul now, take me to Hell? Release me from my horrors here!”

“No!” Hell’s Ambassador shouted. “I keep my souls with me on Earth. Too many demons downstairs would claim you as their own. I’m never there to keep them in line.”

Desperate, the senator shot himself again, disintegrating the other half of his skull. “Bastard!” he bellowed, as blood gushed from his mouth.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Recommended Books: New Ceres Nights

Just released from Twelfth Planet Press and edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Tehani Wessely is New Ceres Nights, an anthology of shared-world space opera tales set on planet that insists on embracing the Age of Enlightenment of nearly two hundred years ago. Meanwhile the Earth has been destroyed and interstellar conflict looms, and the success of this planet-wide experiment balances on the brink of collapse. The collection includes stories from Dirk Flinthart and Stephen Dedman, amongst others.

Twelfth Planet Press is an up and coming small press outfit from Western Australia who have previously released two prior books, 2012 of near future science fiction tales (well mostly, some were horror and some were fantasy) including my own rumble-in-the-jungle tale "Soft Viscosity", and Angel Rising by Dirk Flinthart which incidentally is also set in the New Ceres world.

Recommended Books: Shards by Shane Jiraiya Cummings

Shane Jiraiya Cummings has just released his first book, Shards, out this week from Brimstone Press. The collection contains much of his short fiction, all of it dark, and some previously unpublished tales. The book is also enhanced by the wonderful illustrations of Andrew J. McKiernan.

Shane has been active in the dark fiction scene in Australia for many years editing several anthologies including Shadow Box and Black Box, and is the managing editor of OzHorrorScope. He and his wife Angela Challis also produced the very slick online flash fiction site Shadowed Realms, and Black Magazine. So he’s really contributed a lot to making dark fiction and horror as big as it is in Australia.

That said, I recommend Shards because Shane is a great writer. Last year he contributed a tale to the anthology I edited Cthulhu’s Dark Cults, and it was a great action packed tale of horror, “Requiem for the Burning God”. This story won’t appear in Shards, but plenty of other great tales will. I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Sci Fi is Go: "Black Water" in Jupiter #24

On the short story front I’m doing really well this year, with five tales out already and it’s only the start of April. Today saw the release of “Black Water”, my future Africa novella published in Jupiter #24: Locaste, a UK science fiction magazine edited by Ian Redman. “Black Water” was short-listed for the Aeon Award in 2006-2007, and now finally it is in print in none other than prime position in the magazine: the opening story. This is one of my personal favourites of my own work, even after three years when I wrote it. Also of interest to some, it’s in the same setting as “Aftermath” which was a Ditmar and Aurealis short-listed novella also set in Africa.

This is what the judges of the Aeon Award said about "Black Water":

“Black Water”, for me, stood out almost immediately from the several hundred other entries I read for the Aeon Award [2006-2007] this time around. Not that the bulk of the entries I read were bad, in any sense, just that this story was better than the “good” stories. What more can I say to explain that? The confident style, pacing, and the motivations of the characters. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget the tension in the story, that sense of will he or won’t he get away with it. Excellent work.

[Black Water] exhibited a great sense of place. Read it and you’ll see. It isn’t for me to try and out-do the story with my own words here. What I will say is that not many of us will ever get the chance to experience Africa, but this story will certainly take you a long way towards experiencing it as it is now, and unfortunately, where it may be headed in the future. This holds true not only for place, but character, and the interaction between Donna, the privileged white lady and the down and out Nuwangi is thoroughly convincing, and regrettably, probably not too far away from the truth of things.

Table of contents for Jupiter #24: Locaste is as follows:

  • Black Water - David Conyers

  • Sides of the Coin - Gustavo Bondoni

  • Our Man in Herrje - Andrew Knighton

  • The Ninth Circle - A.J. Kirby

  • If You Can’t Beat Them... - James McCormick

  • Dog’s Best Friend - Gareth D Jones

If you want to read my story and the rest Jupiter #24 (and back issues) can be purchased here (with a very nice cover by S. Cerulean). The opening scene to “Black Water” follows:

BLACK WATER

Dust blown from the arid interior rained on the streets of Dar es Salaam. Vendors and buyers in the Kariakoo Markets looked to the skies, the hope in their eyes sought rain. They were to be disappointed, but not surprised. It had not rained along the East African coast in five years.

Joseph Nuwangi pushed through the crowds of African faces. Most slung deteriorating gas masks about their belts or necks, prepared when the dust became too thick to breathe. Masai cattle-bleeders offered dirty cups of bovine blood with chiseled plates of goat cheese. Somali traders pressed wares of cheap electronics, second-hand guns and faulty robotic machines. Nuwangi sought the water sellers, and of these there were many. He selected a Hehe trader, whose water sloshed in a heavy translucent canister precarious upon the trolley of a rusted tricycle.

“What’s the quality?” Nuwangi asked glancing at the digital clock embedded in his cybernetic arm. The metal prosthetic groaned as he swung it near his face, ached where it gripped the flesh just below his left shoulder.

The water seller spoke through rotten teeth. “Grade A effendi, pure water from the snows of Kilimanjaro.”

Nuwangi laughed. “Kilimanjaro hasn’t had snow since before you were born, old man, and I don’t for a second believe that’s Grade A.”

Across Africa all water was dirty and polluted. Inevitably Grade A water had become the continent’s rarest commodity. If properly recycled in a closed system Grade A was more pure than the mountain springs of old. It couldn’t be produced cost-effectively anywhere in Africa, so where it was available it was protected by the strictest security measures. If the Hehe man’s water proved pure, then he had no need to hawk in a dirty market, he would be wealthy beyond measure. In the Kariakoo Markets the freshest water was found in the guts of flies feeding on human tear ducts, and even this water wasn’t worth drinking.

“I don’t believe you.”

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Extract from "The Lord of the Law"

Here is an extract from "The Lord of the Law", which appears in The Fourth Black Book of Horror now available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. This story is in the same series as my tales "Cactus" appearing in Midnight Echo #1 and "Hell's Ambassador" in Black Box.

THE LORD OF THE LAW

I’m forced to sit upon the ceiling, because gravity has reversed for me. I’m trapped in a hotel room. I dare not look out the window, afraid of what I’ll see. At least I had the courage to confirm the window is locked, so I can sleep at night.

This morning the Lord of the Law has returned. He deems to reverse gravity and sit with me. His clothes don’t hang downwards like mine, bunching at my neck and armpits. His clothes are clean.

“Are you ready to apologise?” he asks me.

I look at him. He wears the shape of a man, but his density is all wrong. When he’s still it’s like he’s painted on the wall, a two-dimensional picture of him on a canvas. The occasions when he does move I feel it is the room that shifts and warps around him, propelling him forward in its flux.

“I still don’t know what you want me to apologise for?”

He won’t look at me.

“Haven’t you tormented me enough?”

He doesn’t say anything. Instead the cracks in the ceiling and walls extend. They open silently, run before my very eyes.

I feel an unseen density press upon me, like swimming in water.

“Please?”

“Mr Skolling, self-denial serves no one. Not me and especially not you.”

“But I don’t know what I have done.”

He doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t move.

So I sob. I’ve been sitting on the ceiling for two weeks, trapped in dirty clothes, trapped with nether-light that casts shadows on every surface. All the time I’m wondering if I’m ever going to escape.

“What do you want me to do?”

“We’ll talk again tomorrow.”

“Please, just tell me?”

He rises, walks onto the wall, turns, walks to the floor, turns and goes to the bar fridge, every step silent as if he is not there.

He takes a beer, opens it, and pours it into a dirty glass. I can smell it. I want it. He knows this. He places it on the side table, its liquid suspended above me.

“What did I do?”

He leaves me, not through the door, but by melding into the wall, vanishing like a shadow surprised by a bright light.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

"The Lord of the Law"

Another short story is out today, "The Lord of the Law" in The Fourth Black Book of Horror edited by Charles Black and published by Mortbury Press. This is my second story in the this series, and it seems, the last story in the book. "The Lord of the Law" received a commendation in the Australian Horror Writers Assocation's Short Story Competition 2008. So I'm on track for this year's goal of getting one story published each month.

Here is the blurb and table of contents:

A tale of shear terror, a witch's curse, the horror of Halloween, the phantom in the priory and other unspeakable evils haunt the pages of The Fourth Black Book of Horror.
  • Soup - Craig Herbertson
  • Words - Paul Finch
  • A Cry For Help - Joel Lane
  • With Deepest Sympathy - Johnny Mains
  • Many Happy Returns - Carl T. Ford
  • All Hallow's Even - Franklin Marsh
  • Dead Water - David A. Sutton
  • And Still Those Screams Resound...'- Daniel McGachey
  • Love is in the Air - Gary McMahon
  • The Head - Reggie Oliver
  • The Devil Looks After His Own? - Ian C. Strachan
  • Bad Hair Day - Gary Fry
  • Flies - Hazel Quinn
  • Nails - Rog Pile
  • The Lord of the Law - David Conyers