The casual visitor to this site will doubtless assume that I’m principally interested in writing essays: nothing could be further from the truth. I’m principally interested in writing speculative fiction, and I spend the greatest part of my time doing so. Which might lead you to wonder where it is… Well, the trouble is that it takes a long time to write a novel, and if you want to get one published you need to refrain from posting it all over the internet. I’ve spent a great deal of time developing a fantasy world, in which I intend to set novels, but I’m also planning to revive an episodic serial set there, some of which I’ve already published on this site. You can find that world through the link below, and below that are samples of a couple of novels yet to be written.
The kind of fiction I want to write is the sort of speculative fiction that takes you somewhere else entirely: I’m a fan of the well realised fictional world, whether it be a weird conceptual conceit, like Flatland, or a beautiful exercise in mythologising like Middle Earth. Where many writers fall short, for me, is in failing to realise that their world will never come alive unless the characters that inhabit it are believable, and imagined in as much painstaking detail as the mores of their Imperial court, or the physics of their warp drive. This is the bit of the craft of writing fiction that I know the least about, have the least experience of (having at least tried my hand at other aspects), and will almost certainly find the hardest. Of course a gripping story is also important: one of the things I like about speculative fiction is that it’s always about stuff. The library I work in for part of the week is full of novels about dull, conventional middle class people leading uninteresting lives: this bizarrely popular and respected genre is known as ‘modern fiction’. In other words, it’s supposed to be so serious and important that it’s not a genre at all: personally I prefer to read something in which believable, well rounded characters have extraordinary adventures in a thoroughly imagined and consistent fictional setting. The way a writer builds a world can be as enlightening and communicative as the way in which they depict privileged people who work in the media getting all emo during a divorce.
Ölnezea is the name of the mother goddess, and also the name of the flat, circular world that constitutes her body. Ölnezea populated her body with dragons, gods, and servants of the gods, called dabhu: some of these dabhu took it upon themselves to have children of their own, breeding in the manner of animals, and from these children sprang the twenty-eight tribes of women and men. A war was fought over the right of these children to exist, and in the end the world was given to them, the gods and dabhu being banished below or beyond it by the Doom Of Yats. This Doom, spoken on behalf of Ölnezea by Yats of the Black Waters, god of death, brought time and death into being, and heralded the dawn of the First Day. Five thousand six hundred and ninety-nine years later, a mercenary company that operates on the shores of the Walled Ocean is finding it hard to earn a living: their story is told in the series called The Blackswords. As I find the time I will also publish essays on the history of Ölnezea, it’s various lands and peoples, and of course that old fantasy staple, maps.
An independent spaceship owner, some three hundred years in the future, makes a series of seemingly aimless peregrinations around the solar system, visiting a huge diversity of societies, and meeting a host of interesting characters. Meanwhile, in the Virtuality where most of the Earth’s twenty billion people spend their time, Sherlock Holmes is hired to investigate a series of mysterious appearances. The extraordinary connection between these two journeys does not become apparent until it is too late to prevent it from affecting the whole human race, for good or ill.
A librarian lives out his life in a decaying palace, in a once wealthy region of the City, whose influence has long since waned. One day, an adventurous nobleman appears in his reading room, and he is soon embroiled in a fascinating research project that promises to decode some of the earliest known texts. What he does not realise is that this nobleman is delusional enough to believe that the City, which everyone knows to be infinite, has an edge. And worse than that, he intends to find it.
My return to writing, after many years focussed on music, came as the result of hearing David Soul reading the poems of Pablo Neruda. I was inspired, and wrote a good number of poems in the few months after my epiphany. I have since concluded that my talents lie elsewhere, and that only one of the poems I wrote was worth reading.