‘Netflix for Dreams’ and Swapping Sci-Fi Stories in Cyberspace…

I like sci-fi. Sci-fi is my jam. I put it in porridge and then said porridge is inedible ’cause it’s got robot bits and cosmic debris and maybe even a techsistential crisis in there as well. Whatever. I eat that mess up because it’s good for me. Sci-fi is brain food.

Because I like science fiction I (literally) jumped at the chance to get involved in a mass sci-fi-writing party when it heard about it a couple of weeks ago. What happened was this: a person named Regular Frog decided they’d set-up ‘SF Swap‘ (hashtag: #SFSwap) and put the proposal out to Twitter. Writers rallied round, rigged themselves up to monitors and got in on the action. That action is the exchange of science fiction concepts and the subsequent writing of stories based on those concepts.

It works like this: everyone throws out a short hook for a story and someone else gets that prompt and has to fashion a thousand-word yarn out of it. It’s then uploaded onto the SF Swap website for everyone to enjoy, and there’s a lot to enjoy. It’s really interesting to see how people adapt to the challenge and how genre tropes and stylings have been played with.

There’s a beautiful mix of stories both in terms of theme and tone. We have pulpy space opera, alien encounters, nature fighting back, technology-based horrors, black comedy cyberpunk, cosmic dread, doomed missions, post-apocalyptic bewilderment and stellar romances. I’ve had a blast coming back to the site over and over to read the latest uploads and I recommend having a read through if you want some stimulating flash-fiction.

My own effort has been uploaded and it’s based on a prompt from Tanya Osborne. The prompt was ‘Netflix for Dreams’ and it’s one of the best pitches I could have hoped for. (I got an email that said nothing but ‘Netflix for Dreams’. It was one of the best emails I’ve had in a while. I got a bit excited about that email.)

Netflix for Dreams is what it says it is, and if you read it you’ll find a dizzying array of eclectic titles on offer (I had a lot of fun inventing fantasies, though some of them are partly based on my own real dreams). Feel free to head over to the SW Swap site and enjoy not only my fresh blast of fiction, but the many marvellous works of others getting immersed in this exciting experimental writing jam…

 

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‘We Made It’ Issue #3: Super Sock-Power Zine Spectacle…

We Made It… again! The zine edited by Rembrand Le Compte is back for its 3rd issue and that issue is now in my hand and between my fingers. Look, see? It’s in my hand and between my fingers…

We Made It! It's the sock issue with an sweet cover from Lord Rembo himself...

We Made It! It’s the sock issue with an sweet cover from Lord Rembo himself…

The theme for this edition was ‘Socks’ and that inspired me to write a very-short comic strip titled Cap’n Patch’s Pirates and the Hunt for Socktopus. After the unicorn-action of issue 2, Cheri Borgstrom agreed to collaborate with me again and she turned my script into a really sweet comics page. Here’s an image that hints at the strip but, really, gives away nothing besides the rubber duck cameo…

There's your title and a tease of Panel One...

There’s your title and a tease of Panel One…

That’s just one submission in an anthology of 11 pieces from a diverse range of international artists working in different mediums. We Made It is packed, as always, with some wonderful creative energy and if it sounds interesting, I direct you to the site where you can download a digital version or seek out a printed copy. (And there you can also find Issue #1 which features my short story Whale Caesar and Issue #2 which features mine and Cheri’s comic Unicorn Exclusive: Una the Aurous Tells All.)

Same as ever, it’s always a thrill to see my words turned into a tangible, visualised comic and I’m really happy to be a part of collaborative endeavours like this. Here’s to creating things, to comics, to Cap’n Patch and – yeah – to socks. Socks rock, and this zine proves it…

‘We Made It’ Issue #2: Fantastical Unicorn-Themed Zine Action…

What is best in life? Some people would answer “fat unicorns“. Those people have a good point. Rembrand Le Compte is one of those people and he decided that fat unicorns should be the theme for the second issue of the We Made It zine that he edits. That zine is now here…

It’s a very nice anthology package packed full of sweet illustrations/stories/poems/photos from a diverse array of ace artists, all inspired by the fat unicorn theme. I’m happy and humbled to be in there alongside them, for this issue features some of my work as well – a comic titled ‘Una the Aurous ——-‘. Cheri Borgstrom illustrated the short story and she brought the whole thing to life and turned my idea into something beautiful. I’m really pleased with the end result and it’s a thrill to see something I wrote made real as a printed comic that I can hold in my hands.

We Made It. Yes we did, and you can see what we made by ordering issues – print or digital – from the We Made It site. You might also be interested in the first issue – themed around Whales – which features my short prose story/alternate history ramble ‘Whale Caesar’. You also might be interested in submitting to future issues, so keep an eye out for news of issue 3.

What is best in life? Well, if it isn’t fat unicorns, it’s probably making things. Yeah, I think that might be it…

Barbarians Work (and Kill) on Bank Holidays…

Yesterday it was a bank holiday, but I don’t think we should have holidays for banks. Really, banks are among the most awful institutions ever conceived. I’m thinking about banks and feeling nauseous. Ick. Oh, I’d love to to live in a world bereft of such things alongside people and creatures who do not care for economic systems and suchlike. Barbarians who inhabit fantastical realms only visitable within the imagination care not for banks. Barbarians of said fantastical realms do not take bank holidays either. Yeah, let’s trip back to yesterday and head over to those realms…

Yesterday The Working Barbarian was working (what bank holiday?) for a new chapter surfaced in cyberspace. The collaborative crowd-sourced saga continues apace and it fell up on me to take the narrative on after the climax of our hero Jala’s boss battle with the dread Magebane. Readers voted on the story’s direction and decided that Jala should kill the villain, so I have duly killed her. You can read that in the new instalment – chapter the two-and-twentieth which is titled Death Drives. After reading you then get to cast your vote and choose where we go from here. I encourage you to do so, and you can always go back through the various chapters or check the Recap-O-Rama I wrote if you need to get up to speed with the unfolding story and surrounding mythos we’ve built up.

I will leave you with the power metal-heavy Working Barbarian Workout Mixtape I used as mood music for writing the fresh episode. Savage sounds for scripting slaughter can be found in the playlist. It might make excellent motivational music for your next visit to the bank…

 

The Working Barbarian Rises…

The Working Barbarian Rises again and so I doodled some timely fan-art…

Holy hot dragon halitosis! It returns! The great, bloody, sprawling, astonishingly-compelling fantasy epic is back! Oh, and the new season of Game of Thrones has started as well but, please, don’t talk about that. I have not the means to access this glorious thing until a later date and have appropriately erected my filters and advanced spoiler protection system (it’s a 700-foot high wall made of ice, stone and magic). Still, I’m not convinced that it’s strong enough so I may go into hiding and exile across myself the Narrow Sea, only to return when I’ve read the original books and allowed my dragons chance to mature. Yeah, maybe…

Anyway, to fantasy fiction I can talk about and that I am actually involved in – The Life and Times of the Working Barbarian. After a winter break, Saga-Father Magus John of Steele has declared its time to thaw out the tale and pick up the perishing plot threads. The crowdsourced collaborative adventure will continue and it will continue by bringing you the climactic boss battle we promised before the break.

You may have trouble remembering that or not remember it at all. In fact, you may not recall any of this or have any familiarity with this thing of which I speak and are now asking “Che cosa? What is this Working Barbarian? I am confused and clueless and do beseech thee! Enlighten me!” Okay, that I can do and that I have done. Before we proceed with the adventure, let us take you back with a brief catch-up-slash-primer…

You can, of course, get up to date with the story so far by reading each individual episode. If you lack the time and inclination, however, the recap-o-rama I wrote is a handy aid that’ll set you up nicely for the much-anticipated restart. I hope you enjoy it. Go forth and embrace the Barbarian adventure

The ‘We Made It’ Zine and the Secret History of Whale Caesar…

We Made It! Well, Rembrand Le Compte made it and put in the real effort of actually pitching and putting together a fresh collaborative creative project. Kudos, then, to Lord Rembo for his initiative and editorial effort because We Made It #1 is an excellent collection that contains superb material from an array of talented artists and writers.

The theme of the zine (the zine-theme) is whales and, because I really like sea creatures and alternate history, I offered up a piece of writing titled Whale Caesar. I figured that it was time to share the truth about the forgotten Roman Emperor Publius Cetus Traianus – a mighty and fascinating figure whose name was shamefully scrubbed from the chronicles. I’m just happy to have the chance to tell his story and to have my work included in the mix.

We Made It is a limited-run publication but there may be more copies available at some point in the future. There will definitely be more issues with different themes for artists to submit to and for further information please visit the website.

Here’s a photo giving you a hint of my whale-of-a-tale

‘Whale Caesar’ in the We Made It zine…

Adventuring on into Unnerving Unknowns with the Working Barbarian…

What is best in life? Tales of high adventure and that is what The Life and Times of the Working Barbarian gives you and is all about. The crowd-sourced fantasy saga advances ever onward and the latest instalment – the 15th part, titled ‘Unsure and Obscure’ – has been written by me. I urge you to go and read that, because when you’ve finished reading it you get a choice and your choice affects the way the story unravels in the future. That means you have Power. Yes, you: Power. Strip down, raise your sword, feel the lightning and scream “BY CROM! I HAVE THE POWER!”

You feelin’ that primal barbarian thrill right? If you’ve fallen behind or need to familiarise yourself with the story thus far, here’s a handy chapter breakdown page. Immersing yourself in fantasy fiction is so much fun (It’s what is best in life) and I get huge enjoyment out of the challenge of writing for The Working Barbarian. Honestly, it’s a gleeful, ultra-visceral typing-frenzy freakout soundtracked by The Sword is what the creative process for this thing is. Here you can find a horde of hot-wit writer heroes creating worlds and mythologies, simultaneously crafting a careful narrative that’s got to consistently stick to the rules and plot elements that others have already written.

As I said, it’s fun. Go forth and be a part of it, mighty warrior of the Web Wastelands. Enjoy my most recent addition to the adventure, and enjoy the Power

Come Together to Create Comics Magick…

THWACK! KER-SPLAT! PA-ZOW!

Those were comic book sound effects. I like comic book sound effects. I like writing ’em though, to be honest, I don’t write ’em that often because the comic scenarios I script up tend not to call for them. I should write ’em more often. KRAKOOM! Oh, that felt pretty good…

SWISH-WHIP! Yes, comics and comics energy is on my mind right now as I gather my materials and plans for the Thought Bubble convention in November. I’m currently working on getting stuff ready in time to showcase at the event. What I’d also like to do, if possible, is turnaround some of these short comic scripts I’ve written into actual fully drawn pieces for print and release.

I love writing comic scripts and have a fair few of different tone, styles and genre lying around. (I may start just posting a few up for all to see as an open exhibition/invite.) Scripting up these stories gives you the biggest thrill but then the inevitable comedown arrives when you finish them and find yourself asking, “So, will anybody ever actually draw this?” I want to make that answer: “Yes they will and yes they have done and yes go write more!” Writing! Drawing! Comics! These things make us happy! Pa-zow!

I’m always open to collaboration and am keen to share them with artists who can draw better than myself in hope that we can turn my manuscripts into manifest graphic works. This, then, is basically a rallying call blogpost shout out to scream into the void “Hey! Who wants to play with me? Any of you ultra-gifted art-mages wanna make comics magick with me?

Thought Bubble is two months away so if anybody is up for the challenge of arting up very, very short comic one-shots, give me a shout. It might potentially be a lot of fun – the kind of fun that you have to punctuate with exuberant sound effects like “BUZZZUUUMPFF!” OR “PHWAAWUUUUSH!” Then we show comics to people and hopefully people enjoy comics and then we all feed off each other’s creative energies and then it radiates, transmogrifies and then, oh my Drokk, we’re all alight and aglow as our hearts burn with the beautiful pure fire of the original essential spirit of the Universe that we’ve tapped into and it grows and ascends and surges white-hot and resplendent and beats beatifically and then we all simultaneously explode…

FFFFFFFFFFFFFWWWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAABOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!

(Yes. It could be that awesome…)

Working on the Working Barbarian, the Saga Moves Ever Onward…

There’s Jala, Freya, Marek the Stoat and there’s now a Star Witch called Kru. There’s also the question of whether it’s a good idea to trust said Star Witch and ascertain details of our hero’s destiny and readers decided, “By the Twelve Hells, yes! Trust her and show us destiny!” That was my job. I wrote that episode and it constitutes Part 9 of The Life and Times of the Working Barbarian (actually, we’re dealing with epic material so it should be written as ‘Part IX’ or ‘Part the Ninth’).

I’ve taken my turn and now it’s up to you, dear reader, to use your voting powers to influence the unfolding adventure. Then another writer – and they are all excellent writers – will act according to the outcome and take this tale forward towards the destinies that I’ve hinted at. If you’re new to the story, fear not for it’s still early days and you can quickly catch up.

Go forth then, intrepid and wily warrior in the cyber-realms, and consider The Working Barbarian. Then you can have your say and shape the fate of the characters we’re writing. I hope you enjoy my latest contribution and I hope you choose wisely…