Self-Review 3: Broken Worlds

Broken Worlds smallBroken Worlds

There are holes in the world. Tears in reality through which creatures are emerging, crawling up from their broken worlds. At one time emerging in their natural forms, they can no longer exist here without taking a native host, their bodies often warped, their minds rarely surviving. And if you stumble into this world, a quick death may be the best you can hope for.



The earliest written of my published novels (there’s one unpublished one which was written before it), this was intended as a pulpy action adventure story. I’m not sure how much of that intent is evident to the reader, though. It was episodic, and if I were writing it today – now eBooks are a viable option – I’d probably do it as distinct episodes. But as a whole I do feel it could feel a bit odd. There’s a definite story at the centre, but it could also have a monster of the chapter feel to it if you don’t approach it from a certain perspective, and doesn’t have much explanation until later in the book, which could put some off. It’s also probably overwritten.

It serves to set up a kind of shared setting which can link a number of my stories. The basic idea of possession via creatures from other dimensions passing through invisible portals allows me to use a single explanation for the cause of the various creatures in this story, as well as the werewolves and vampires of To Hunt Monsters. It could even explain the power in Rainbows in Eclipse, but I’ll leave that for a spoilers section in reviewing that book. (This theme of infection in the earlier books is probably influenced by my father’s cancer, and my unconscious dealing with it in some manner.)


Also linking stories is the faeries being behind a lot of stuff. This is from the older fairy tales where they’re always taking children and replacing them with changelings. It this story they took humans because of their ability to weather travelling between dimension. The faeries can’t do it, having to project their consciousness into hosts in other dimensions.

Then they get the idea of turning a human into a vessel for them. It doesn’t go well, causing a disaster which break a number of dimensions. Travel between them is now dangerous, the faeries’ homeland may not have survived, and the creatures which do now make it through tend not to be as beneficent as those which used to travel to Earth, being twisted by the disaster.

There’s also the humans the faeries took away, using them to colonise other dimensions. This is part of the back story for the world of Blade Sworn, although it’s only touched on in that book. It could easily allow me to link the other fantasy worlds if I want.

One of the main ideas of the book is my view of metaphysics and life: we’re all one life form. There’s no point at which the cells from our parent which form us aren’t alive, so there’s a continuity of life. We appear to be separate because we view the world three dimensionally, while living in four (taking time to be a fourth dimension for the purposes of this argument). It’d be like looking at a two dimensional cross-section of a tree, where all the branches appear to be separate.

Viewing our species as a single life form in this way opens up the possibilities of how to explain things like telepathy, déjà vu, precognition, and past lives (non-local correlations imply time isn’t necessarily a barrier on some levels). It also adds to the question of the existence of the soul whether they’d be individual souls, or a shared soul, but that can wait for a sequel.


Self-Review 2: The Story

The StoryThe Story

A cautionary short tale of the dangers of promiscuous bibilophilia.

An 800 word short story.




This was basically a joke – which apparently doesn’t translate well on the Nook to judge by the reviews on B&N (compare them to the reviews on Smashwords – although B&N is notorious for poor reviews of free stuff. Part of the problem may be that they don’t diplay word count, which is why my short stories list it in the description).

I was aiming for a Lovecraftian tone to the piece, with slightly archaic language to make it feel old, and I’m relatively happy with the result. Although it was done so long ago that I don’t really feel much connection to it anymore.

I’d considered doing an alternative online version, since as read it’s implied to be in print, but never got around to it.

I put it in copyleft so anyone can reproduce and modify it as they like (as long as it remains free), since it’s in keeping with the point of the story. Not aware of anyone who has yet.

I really don’t have much else to say about this.

Self-Review 1: Expressions of Freedom

Finally got some time, but since I’m low on ideas I’ll start self-reviewing my old stuff. It’ll be done from memory – otherwise I’ll get waylaid fixing the language which could go on forever – and will probably focus more on the areas I feel could be improved, or which have been mentioned in reviews. It’s also likely to meander a bit, and not actually be a review.

EoF smallExpressions of Freedom

So you’re minding your own business, doing your job, making influential people uncomfortable under your journalistic gaze, and what happens? Shadowy informants tell you the democratic system is compromised, the people behind it lean on your publisher to kill the story before you’ve even got it, and your life could be ruined if you carry on. But at least they’re not trying to kill you. Oh, sh…

A 10,000 word science fiction novelette.


This was the first story I did when I seriously started writing, so was fairly experimental to me. I had no idea how long it’d turn out to be (and I still tend to be fairly poor at guessing such things before I start). I just had a rough plan of the story and wrote.

I’m not too unhappy with it, although it has had quite a bit of polishing since, and I did tighten the ending up a bit. The main problem I have with it is that it feels a bit too close to Transmetropolitan in some respects. It isn’t really, but while I was conscious of that being an influence for a story about a future journalist when I was writing, it was only after it was published that I realised the final confrontation with the bid bad is a bit similar. Probably not as similar as I’m worried it is, though.

I do find the first person perspective easier in some ways, and it does incline the viewpoint towards either the light-hearted or the dark, being far more immediate than the third person I more often use. But I find it also forces a certain feel on the story that isn’t always useful (not sure how to explain this, so maybe I’d better come back to it in a later post).

First person is also better used when you have a single viewpoint character, where most of my novels have multiple viewpoints. While I generally like Kathy Reichs’ writing, and enjoyed Virals, there’s a scene which really jarred me when reading it: most of the book is from the first person viewpoint of the lead character, then suddenly there’s a short chapter from someone else’s viewpoint (I think it may even have been in the third person [I got the book from a library so can’t check]) which I just found unsettling. Maybe if the viewpoint character changed more often it’d have been less obtrusive.

Politics seems to be a recurring theme in some of my writing, exploring different methods of governance. The direct democracy presented here is probably closer to my political inclination than the other models I’ve explored elsewhere, although as the story shows I don’t think it’d be an easy transition.

A frequent comment of this and other of my short stories is that they’re too short, and could be spread over a novel. Considering how short some of my novels are, I kind of doubt that. I write to the length the story wants to go to, without worrying about categorising them. If a reader thinks I haven’t explained an idea well enough and it needs more space, then it’s a problem. If they just think it could have been explored in more detail, then it’s probably true, but I go as far into the ideas as I feel like. Forcing it is just likely to produce bad writing. Sometimes I feel compelled to add detail (such as the short story Mind/War Games evolving into Grey Engines), but in this case I haven’t currently felt the compulsion. I tend to have a terse writing style in some respects, and prefer to let the story find its own length.