Upcoming Publications

More exciting times ahead!

So, I’ve had contracts through for two stories of mine now:

  • ‘Divine Optimization’, in Daily Science Fiction (hopefully in the next few months)
  • ‘Green Fingers’, in Fantasy Scroll Magazine (no idea when! I’ll let you know)

I’ll do proper posts when they are put up and give links to kindle and whatnot (I’m in a magazine!), but for now, here’s a little taste of what’s to come.

‘Divine Optimization’ was originally written as a spoken word piece to be performed at a story slam, so its pretty darn short (clocking up just 250 words). That being the case, its hard to say much about it without giving the game away. However, to whet your whistle, have you ever wondered how Google manages to get you the page you wanted from just one or two search terms? I give a somewhat more speculative answer than most computer scientists would (I imagine!)

‘Green Fingers’ is my first foray into publishing non-flash fiction (coming in at a whopping 4,200 words!). The story follows the life of an android (called Andy) trying to find a place for himself in a post-machine-human-war world. The idea of this piece was to explore how way an AI might view its identity over time and the lengths it could go to protect or change that identity for the better.

That’s all from me for now, I shall do me more posts when the stories arrive in (digital) print!

Pip pip,

C

 

 

 

 

 

The hardest puzzle about tea you’ll read all day

Exciting times! A puzzle I suggested to the Guardian’s Alex Bellos went up today. Can you solve it?

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/feb/29/can-you-solve-it-the-puzzee-rascal-problem-that-will-drive-you-bonkers

I’ll write up a longwinded solution to the hardest version of this puzzle at some point soon (in as layman’s terms as I can!)

 

 

 

‘I, Robert’ published on EveryDayFiction.com

This one slipped through the net! (Although I’m also terrible at blogging)

I’m very pleased to say that my piece ‘I, Robert’ (yes, that’s a big nod to Asimov), was published on EveryDayFiction.com in September last year.

The story follows a rather troubled robot, named Robert, trying to find purpose and identity for himself in a post-apocalyptic world. Check it out at: http://everydayfiction.com/i-robert-by-chris-ovenden/

More to come very soon!

Pip pip.

 

 

‘Behind Grey Eyes’ published on Daily Science Fiction

Huzzah! Another piece by yours truly went live yesterday, this time on Daily Science Fiction. Check it out here!

This piece was inspired by a chat I had with a friend of mine about the effect mobile technology is having on our ability to appreciate what’s going on around us. It’s a familiar thought: we’re so busy tweeting, facebooking, and instagramming everything that we sometimes don’t get a chance to just stop and enjoy it all. (Spoilers on the way!)

This story imagines a world in which modern society has created a subservient group of humans to do all of the jobs and tasks that people think are beneath them or boring. The people in this group are philosophical zombies: humans with perfectly functioning brains and bodies, but none of the accompanying phenomenal states that usually goes with that. They are persons (well, arguably) who will act in just the way we would expect a person to act, but who have no conscious experience of anything that is going on.

The idea of using zombies is this: what’s so bad about a boring job, is that you have to experience doing it, so if you give it to someone who has no conscious experience then no one loses out. The problem, of course, is that it becomes difficult to draw the line between what is an interesting job and what is a boring job. Every job has positive and negative parts to it—anyone can take joy in what they are doing—and once you start doing nothing at all, you cut yourself out of really experiencing anything anyway (even if you are fully capable of doing so!). In the story world, things have been taken to the extreme and zombies appear to do pretty much everything.

Hopefully the story doesn’t come off too preachy! I mostly just wanted to write a story about p-zombies, and this seemed like the perfect place to use them: here’s a guy (grey-eyed to be precise) who can’t have conscious experiences who non-the-less perceives more about the world around him than our protagonist, who has all the time in the world to take everything in but spends it not paying attention.

Hope you enjoy the read!

‘Peace for our times’ – Every Day Fiction

It gives me great pleasure to report that my flash story, ‘Peace for our times’, has been published on Every Day Fiction today! You can find the story here and read it for free! If you have the time, leave a rating or a comment (you can sign in using a facebook account).

I thought I would do a little blog post about the thinking behind the story, but that will involve some spoilers. So, again, if you haven’t read it already, check the story out here.

Read it?

Good.

So hopefully by now you’ve realised that the title, ‘Peace for our times’, is an allusion to the famous phrase spoken by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1938.

I got the idea for this story whilst talking to a friend about who they would invite to their ‘celebrity dinner party’. If time travel really were possible, I thought, one could actually have such a dinner party. Better yet, one could set oneself up as a sort of time-travelling talent agent, bringing figures of the past into the future for public appearances (for a hefty fee!). But why would these celebrities of the past agree to being ferried around through time? Potentially, in return for the very fame for which they are sought! I love a good time travel paradox, me!

In the story, the implication is that the allies win WWII only because Churchill signs a contract with this time travel escort agency, but the agency only approach Churchill because he is famous for his role in leading the allies to that very victory!

Imagine a world in which this were really going on, how much of the rest of history might have been decided (and still might be being decided!) by these kinds of clandestine deals?

Hope you enjoy the story, let me know what you think in the comments below!

Send Send Send

I was chatting to some friends at my writing group a few nights ago and the subject of sending work out came up. Specifically, when to stop meddling with short stories and let them go (or in many cases, dig them out of the drawer and send them as they are). I thought I’d share my own take on it.

Now admittedly, I don’t always stick to this as rigidly as I should, but here is my general rules for sending off submissions:

1. If its been untouched a month, send it.

That’s pretty much it. If you find you have a completed piece – as in one that has a beginning, middle and end, ignoring revisions you think you might want to make – that’s been sitting in a ‘fiction’ folder for over a month, get it onto the submission train.

By this point in my shelving process, if I haven’t modified (or even opened) a file in a month, then I’ve moved on to bigger and better things and in all likelihood I won’t be coming back any time soon. That story ain’t doing me any good sat on my hard-drive, and by the time I do eventually come back to it I’ll most likely have developed my style in such a way (hopefully for the better) that I think it’s trash.

So, send send send.

I suppose I could add a few more rules (for once the rejections come back) :

2. If it gets a form rejection, send it.

3. If it gets a personal rejection, send it.

If it’s a form rejection, then you’ve got nothing to go on as to why it was rejected, and what you could do to change it. Probably bad fit, so send it out again.

If it’s a personal rejection, then the reviewers liked it enough to take time out of their day to write to you about it. Send it out again.

In the rare instance that you get a personal rejection back within a month of writing the piece, maybe you should take a look at the comments and think about how you might amend the piece. If you’ve got the will to look at it, re-write and forego your other projects, then great! But if, like me, you move on to a new story (admittedly I mostly write flash) every other week, then just keep those pieces going out.

For finding places to send, I make use of Duotrope, which I can’t recommend enough to anyone looking to get into the publishing game (hobbyist or not). I’ll probably do another post singing its praises later.

So, what d’yu reckon? Good system? What’s your submission method?

‘Peace for our Times’ publishing June 24th

Having just checked EveryDayFiction‘s Table of Contents for June, I’m excited to say that my flash story, ‘Peace for our Times’, will be published with them on June 24th!

Watch this space. I’ll post a link to it when it goes up (and Facebook it, and tweet it, and shout about it in the town hall ringing a bell etc. etc.) and give a bit of commentary on the story. For now, I’ll just say that I think it’s my favourite flash piece that I’ve written to date: time travel and messing with history (in a metaphysically possible way, of course!).

Excited!