New Year

A calendar completes its course, it’s cycle ends this day,

People see this as a chance to live a different way.

But opportunities for transformation come each hour,

Not just when fireworks fly and great bells ring from every tower.


Every waking moment we have space to turn around

Reevaluate our goals and aim for higher ground

Through willpower freer than the chains of our own circumstance,

We can change the style and aims of our own journey’s dance.


Repentance quite literally means that you change your mind;

Transform the way you think and value every end and kind.

This precious gift from upon high to reverse our decay

And key to free us from the debt we never could repay.

Sci Phi Journal Issue 3 now available in print!

Sci Phi Journal Issue 3, including Beyond the Mist chapters 4 and 5, is now available in printed form from Amazon:

Sci Phi Journal Issue#3

Sci Phi Journal Issue#3

Talent Contests and the Superversive

I am happy to announce that I am now a regular contributor over at SuperversiveSF, where some of my old posts from this blog can be found, together with some new stuff that won’t appear here. This piece will be posted both here and there at roughly the same time.

Talent Contests and the Superversive

I once wrote a very rambling post on this issue, I’ll not bore you with that one, merely provide a link to it at the end. I’m not going to talk about the sort of talent shows you might see at school or church where there is no competition going on, but the mass-market talent contests such as Superstar, x-factor, This or that country’s got talent and whatever other such formats you are familiar with or will arise in the future.

Here there’s no-one declaring every entrant to be a winner just for taking part, here there is genuine evaluation of artistic qualities, of whatever sort are being sought by the given contest. Here we want people who massively overrate their own abilities to receive an honest (if not withering) assessment, and those who have a genuine and well developed gift but are full of doubt about themselves to receive the acclaim and encouragement they need to further hone their abilities and produce something truly worthwhile.

Many people in the audience at the show are there to savour the maulings at the hands of the panel, some to poke fun at the people too full of themselves, and some just hope for a decent bit of entertainment from somewhere, but what really makes their day and ends up going viral (and what the organisers of the contest if not the audience really hope for) is when in the midst of the drudgery and humdrum performers a humble unassuming package contains a gift so refined that the audience gains a peek into a higher world, there is the faintest glimmer of heaven opening just a crack to give everyone the briefest whiff of celestial air; true beauty, living and dynamic that bears witness to the truth. Talent contests are a public hunt for the superversive.

Many such instances have been captured through the years where the lesson to draw is not to judge a book by its cover, but there was one such incident (there may be others that I am unaware of, I don’t follow these shows, only occasionally catch one of the viral videos) that illustrated a great deal more than that, opening my eyes to the value and purpose of friendship, and by extension, the value and purpose of art.

I am referring to the pair of Jonathan Antoine and Charlotte Jaconelli. Over the course of their progress through Britain’s Got Talent, in particular their initial audition (but also in their performance in the next round), demonstrated not just performances of high artistic merit, but strengths of character and a depth of friendship that is worth remembering and emulating. At one point one was in a position of power over the other and then later the situation was reversed. At those times each used that power to support and defend the other rather than grab glory for themselves. Harsh criticism was not used as an excuse to mope and give up, but as motivation to focus and improve.

Each complemented the other and enabled the other to reach new heights. Neither one of them would have been able to make that transformative journey without the other, and both of them acknowledged and appreciated that fact, and valued each other as friends. Inquiries as to whether they were romantically involved with each other were not denied with a sense of shame, but simply answered with the disarming vitality of innocence.

I understand that they have now gone their separate ways artistically, but even should everythgin fall apart form this point on, through their journey together they showed me the following things, for which I am grateful:

Firstly, the purpose of good art is to soar and take the audience with you – to catch a glimpse of the divine, take hold of a little piece of heaven, bring it down to earth and share it.

Secondly, the purpose of friendship is to help someone else to soar, to overcome their flaws and achieve something worthwhile.

Thirdly, by extension, the purpose of parenthood is to prepare your children to soar, to grow, strengthen and properly use their wings, show them which way is up, instil in them the character they need to recognize and persevere towards worthy goals, and cultivate in them the skills they need to reach them.

Not bad for a pair of teenagers, eh?


The original rambling article


The Word

Before the moon, before the sun,

Before the universe had begun

Limitless existence true

Spoke the Word, and all was new.

Astounding power, so intricate,

Made mighty things and delicate.


The Word is not just uttered speech, for Logos is the term;

By it the old Greeks wisdom and pure logic did affirm.

Through Him the undetectable divine can be revealed,

Through Him the greatest secrets in the world can be unsealed.

Through Him all things that have existed find their loving source,

Through Him all things in current motion run their active course.


This greatest of all principles, the ground of all that is,

Descended to take human form to rescue all that’s His.

Almighty full divinity erupted into space,

Yet clothed with full humanity, bringing love and grace.

The power behind all wonders did become a helpless babe,

To suffer and to sacrifice Himself, the world to save.

A Year

A year she has sparkled,

A year she has grown,

A year she has learned so much

And through her beauty shown.


A princess among princes,

A doe among the bucks,

A precious jewel in our crown,

With this important crux:


That she and all her brothers

Are loved as gifts from God,

Encouraged to fulfil the call

With more than just a nod;


To live full lives of service

To honour and to bless

The lives and world around them,

Even under stress.


Each day we will protect her

And guide her as she learns;

Making new discoveries,

Finding new concerns,


Safe in the sure knowledge

That she is dearly loved;

The latest of the living gifts

Sent us from above.

What is this mysterious sweet temptation?

What is this mysterious sweet temptation?

Table manners are very important in this family

Table manners are very important in this family

Reviewer Praise for Beyond the Mist!

In the official review of Sci Phi Journal Issue 2 over at Castalia House, the reviewer had this to say about my contribution:


There were two standouts in the fiction category: “The Quantum Process” by David Hallquist, a frightening snapshot of a mind duplication procedure gone wrong, and “Beyond the Mist” by Ben Zwycky, a new serial with a mind-bending beginning that hopefully will keep getting better.


read the review here

Read the first chapter of Beyond the Mist and see if you agree with the reviewer.


I have to agree with the reviewer about “The Quantum Process”, it was the most powerful and best-written fiction contribution in the issue in my opinion. For my work to be placed alongside is praise indeed. I also hope that the continuation of the serial, appearing in Sci Phi Journal Issue 3 in January, will live up to people’s expectations.


Priceless treasure from the sky,
Granting life when death was nigh,
Refreshing and enabling both
Imposing trees and undergrowth.

Gentle streams are fed and grow
Their joyful shimmering glassy flow.
Dusty fields turn rich dark brown
Around the peaceful market town.

Farmers grin and celebrate
And now are free to contemplate
What will grow on their good lands
And what they’ll glean with calloused hands.

Washing out upon the line
Is rinsed for free a second time.
Husbands look up from the bar,
“Now I don’t need to wash the car.”

Puddles bring young children joy
Greater than a brand new toy
Their mothers might not be impressed
At the state of their Sunday best.

Lawns awake and gardens bloom,
Woven on a verdant loom.
Vegetables and herbs en masse
Thrive beside the cultured grass.

Deserts turn to fertile plains,
Ripe with gently wafting grains,
Gulleys turn to raging floods,
Swirling dusts to viscous muds.

Barren cliffs to fragrant falls,
Silence to thronged wildlife calls.
All this and more the rains do bring,
Hence we now their praises sing.

The Superversive

Apologies for the lack of posts, my old computer was having more and more crashes and freezes, so I replaced it with a new notebook and am still in the process of setting things up again. One of the first things I did on my new precious on Friday was to give a brief skype interview to Jason Rennie, editor of the Sci Phi Journal and host of the Sci Phi Show podcast. That will be broadcast sometime in January after the next issue of the journal comes out, I’ll be sure to let you all know when exactly that will be.

On  a barely related note on Monday I went to the cinema for the first time in a long time to see Interstellar. I must say right now, if you haven’t seen it, go and see it, it is possibly the best film I have ever seen in my life. I daren’t go into any detail for fear of spoiling the experience for anyone who has not yet seen it, but I can say that it is spectacular, engrossing, insightful, inspiring, uplifting, a shining example of superversive art at its finest.

What is superversive art, you may ask?

Briefly, it is the opposite of subversive art, which seeks to tear down and undermine the values and structures of society in some way or another. Once society has been utterly subverted and its structures destroyed, there is nothing left to subvert, only to dig a deeper and deeper hole into despair and insanity. Superversive art aims to build over the top of the ruins, rebuilding the healthy values and structures, witnessing to deep truths and allowing glimpses at a higher reality far above the draining drudgery we have been told to starve our souls with.

The term in this meaning was coined by the ever awesome Tom Simon (author of ‘The Making of the Fellowship: Concepts of the Good in The Lord of the Rings’, in my opinion the highlight of Sci Phi Journal Issue 2, as well as many other excellent essays and books) back in 2003, but really took off this year with the advent of the superversive literary movement, headed by L Jagi Lamplighter, John C. Wright and other writers and creators far more talented and prolific than myself, sparked by this essay:

I hope that one day, some of my own work could be considered good enough to count as part of this worthy movement and play a small part in bringing fresh light to dark corners of this damaged but still beautiful world. Who’s with me?

Christmas Ordering Deadline for Nobility Among Us Paperbacks

I have been informed by the publisher that in order for deliveries to arrive in time for Christmas, printed copies of Nobility Among Us need to be ordered on or before Monday the 8th of December, i.e. this is the last weekend in which it can be ordered and be sure that it will arrive in time.