Stranded

This is the first poem I wrote specifically to submit for publication in a poetry journal. It was refused, so you all get to enjoy it instead, as well as the good people at superversiveSF.

Stranded

Stranded on a pinnacle, surrounded by a throng
Of the vilest creatures known from story, myth or song.
He led them on a merry dance when things got out of hand,
Out here to this lonely peak, amidst this barren land.

His radio is long-since smashed, his ammo’s running low,
His jetpack is all out of charge, discarded in the snow.
He’s improvised and struggled hard to keep the hordes at bay;
With no rocks left, it looks as if he won’t survive the day.

Hiding has proved futile, they smell his sweat and fear,
Their bony claws pierced through his armour, slashing his right ear.
His arms are getting heavy, his eyelids won’t stay up,
He sees bug reinforcements and his head begins to drop.

They cover the horizon, the ground squirms as they swarm,
The only thing that held them back was a great ice storm.
But now the winds are calming, they start their new ascent,
The screech of claws upon bare slate is homing on his scent.

He shivers as he stands again to face the warrior drones,
Debilitating cold and dread both pierce his weary bones.
He pictures all those he bought time to reach a safer place,
From where they could at last find peace and meet a friendly face.

He smiles to think of Sylvia enjoying motherhood,
Raising four kids and a dog beside a sleepy wood.
Jason, Mick and Frank will all be standing in salute,
As his beloved plays a mournful song on her old flute.

They’ll join their voices with the choir that sings a solemn hymn
Beside the lasting monument with which they’ll honour him.
They’ll talk about the good old times, the laughs, the games, the pranks,
Then raise their glasses in a toast to show their debt of thanks.

Then go on to enjoy the lives that he has won for them,
Each moment of sweet liberty more precious than a gem.
Just metres now and one clip left, he adds to the great heap
Of insectoid carcasses that fill the chasm deep.

With no regard for brotherhood, they trample on their own,
Fearlessly and ravenously scale that pile of bone.
His rifle clicks dead one last time, they do not pause or slow,
He catches one last glimpse of sunset’s amber afterglow,

Then all around him falls a flood of piercing metal rain,
Roaring jets and blinding searchlights drive them back again.
Pistons hiss and cargo bay doors open to his right;
Half-thinking this is all a dream, he steps into the light.

They wrap him in a blanket, and soar into the sky,
For the first time in a month his hands and head are dry.
“They’ll nuke the site from orbit as soon as we are clear,
And turn that vicious army to a sterile glassy smear.”

“How did you find me way out here? My radio was gone.”
“This was the seventh mountain range that we’ve explored since dawn.
We’ve scoured half the planetoid, all looking for your heat;
We couldn’t just leave you behind, there’s someone you should meet.”

The lovely face of Sylvia appears on a small screen,
She looks to him as if she’s just been crowned a beauty queen.
“Thank God you’re out, I couldn’t bear the thought that you were lost,
After all you did for us, and what your courage cost.

“I found the letter that you left, I really didn’t know
How much our friendship meant to you, you let so little show.”
“You weren’t supposed to read that, it was only if I didn’t—“
She puts a finger to her lips, he meekly takes the hint.

“You said you hoped I’d find a man that’s faithful, honest, good;
With whom to raise a family, who’d treat me as he should.
I know of one,” She beams a smile so full of joy and life,
Then says the words he’s longed to hear: “I’d love to be your wife!”

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Sci Phi Journal Issue 8 is Now On Sale!

The Kindle ebook version of Sci Phi Journal Issue 8, the last issue of the journal in its current format, has just gone on sale at amazon

Chapters 14 and 15 of Beyond The Mist appear in Sci Phi Journal Issue 8

Chapters 14 and 15 of Beyond The Mist appear in Sci Phi Journal Issue 8

The reasons for the format change, as well as what to look forward to in this fine issue are given in the message from the editor, which can be read (together with the first three pieces of flash fiction) through Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature at the above link.

Chapter 14 and 15 of Beyond the Mist appear in this issue, and a number of entertaining stories and fascinating articles, so flex your mighty index finger muscles and click on that link, or visit Sci Phi Journal’s patreon page to become a subscriber and exchange your hard-earned dollars, pounds, crowns, Ugandan shillings or Exoxanthian Freknars (I hear the exchange rate is very good right now) for some prime reading material now and into the future!

Issue 8’s Cat Leonard Artwork for Beyond the Mist!

Issue 8 of Sci Phi Journal, which will be the last issue of the journal in its current format, will feature chapters 14 and 15 of Beyond the Mist. The last two installments will continue in the new sustainable format, which will mean I’ll start get paid for the editing work I’ve been doing on the journal as well as for my contributions, though the initial rates may be lower until subscriptions pick up, details on the new setup can be found here.

Cat Leonard’s second illustration, depicting the protagonist’s first look at the wilderness valley as he emerges from the trees, will appear in Issue 8, and looks like this:

BTM_valley

The other two illustrations will be done, and will appear in the final standalone publication of Beyond the Mist, which will be available both in ebook and paperback form after the last two installments have been made available to Sci Phi Journal subscribers in due course.

The Best Sci Phi Journal Articles

As promised, here are my article picks for each issue of Sci Phi Journal (again, this is not to say that the other articles in each issue were bad, many of them were very strong, just these are the ones that stood out to me):

Issue 1:

“ “I am Groot”: An Aristotelian Reflection on Space Aliens and Substance by Daniel Vecchio

An look at what Aristotle would have made of Rocket Racoon and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, and the questions of identity that they raise.

Issue 2:

“The Making of the Fellowship: Concepts of the Good in the Lord of the Rings” by Tom Simon

A breathtaking survey of what the various “Speaking peoples” in Middle Earth regarded as the highest good.

Issue 3:

“The Tyrant’s Headache” by Eric Schwitzgebel

A fun critique of a functionalist philosophy of pain

Issue 4:

Now this is a really tough pick, as all of the articles are very good, but I’m going to go for “The Confluence Between Scientific and Literary Imagination” By Arlan Andrews, which looks at the common source of both literary and scientific creativity, and how one often inspires the other (especially when it comes to sci-fi).

Issue 5:

“On Emotion Drugs” by Jeff Corkern

A fresh perspective on the question of whether recreational ‘emotion’ drugs should be legalised not in terms of personal liberty or their unintended side-effects, but through looking at the core purpose of the drugs themselves.

Issue 6:

“General Directive 18: Self-Defensive Genocide in the Starfire Universe” by Patrick S. Baker

Is genocide ‘in self-defence’ ever justified?

Issue 7:

I have to be honest, I didn’t think the articles in Issue 7 were as strong as in other issues – they were all decent and interesting without any one article particularly grabbing me.

Jeff Corkern’s “On the Influence of Emotion Drugs on History” looks at the factors that may have retarded the development of the pre-Spanish American civilizations that were so quickly wiped out, and Jeff Racho’s “Mad Max:Fury Road – Surrounded by Political Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing”, which is more of a film review than an article, looks at whether this film’s controversial hype of being a ‘feminist’ film actually stands up to scrutiny.

If You Haven’t Tried Sci Phi Journal yet, You’re Missing Out

The Sci Phi Journal, which is publishing Beyond the Mist, is in need of additional readers to remain sustainable, and if the readership does not grow sufficiently, it might have to fold before completing the scheduled serialization. I would encourage anyone who is undecided about whether to buy an issue, anyone who likes the sound of stories and articles that truly engage your brain, to take a chance and try it, there are many excellent reads to choose from. If you have already bought some issues, tell your friends about it or write an amazon review. The highlights among the stories for me are as follows (this is not to say that the stories I do not mention are poor, and some of you may disagree with my personal picks, but these are the ones that stood out to me): Continue reading

Sneak Preview of Sci Phi Journal Issue 8 Cover Art!

Issue 8, containing Chapters 14 and 15 of Beyond the Mist is about to enter its final proofreading stage, and a sneak preview of its cover art by Cat Leonard has been released. Looking very good, in my opinion. What say you, fine perusers of my ramblings?

Issue 8 Cover Art Concept

Issue 8 Cover Art Concept

Nobility Among Us No Longer in Global Distribution

The global distribution deal on the paperback version of Nobility Among Us ended last month and will not be renewed, so the various bookstores around the world that previously sold it will stop doing so once their stock runs out. It can still be bought from the publisher’s site, or direct from me. If there is sufficient interest in the future, I will start a separate print run with a company that does not charge an annual fee for additional sales channels.

The sales page has been modified to reflect this.