Tag Archives: Electric Velocipede

STORY SALE: Star to Universe Magazine

I’m quite chuffed to say that my story Star has been accepted by new UK based Universe magazine and will appear in their first ‘Albion’ themed issue in May 2012.

Star was written in the 5th week of my time at the Clarion writer’s workshop in 2008. I went to Clarion with the mission of breaking my writing…kicking apart the style I had developed and finding different directions to go in. I spent the first four weeks doing that, and getting suitably savaged in the critique sessions, so in week five I returned to my more familiar style of dark, intense flash fiction and Star was the product.

In one aspect Star is a glimpse at a dystopian, alternative Britain 60 years after Nazi Germany won world war II. Britain’s history as an imperial and industrial power is a strong theme in much of my fiction, and Star was one of the first times I explored this idea. In another aspect it’s a very personal story about growing up in a British culture I felt deeply and often aggressively alienated from. And, reading the story back three years after writing it, I see there is also an emergent idea about belief and materialism in the story mix. So I am very happy that the story has found a good home.

AND: My Lovesick Zombie Boy Band, first published in the Hugo award winning Electric Velocipede, is available for free on Amazon Kindle for a few days from Saturday.

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Story Sale to Dark Fiction

My Love Sick Zombie Boy Band, very soon to be published in the Hugo award winning Electric Velocipede magazine, has been accepted by Dark Fictions podcast magazine for their April issue, which will be on the theme of The Waste Land (Death, Living Death and Moral Decay) inspired by the TS Eliot poem.

In only three issues Dark Fiction have published some pretty cool writers including Lauren Beukes, Cory Doctorow and Jon Courtney Grimwood. The story is going to be read by Sam Moffat, who has the perfect voice for MLSZBB’s central character, Fred. This is the third story I have had recorded in audio, so I’m really looking forward to hearing it in April.

You can read an extract of My Love Sick Zombie Boy Band here.


First published in Electric Velocipede #13. Reprinted in Serendipity : Magical Realism and Arts & Things. Podcast in StarShipSofa #173.


by Damien G. Walter

When great uncle Peter came to live with our family in the house by the sea I asked my mother why it was he never spoke. My mother explained that great uncle Peter had always been silent, that when he was born he came out without even a scream. Great uncle Peter could have only been young when the family; his mother and father and his sister Ranyevskya – my great grandmother, came over the sea from the old country. And in the smoky streets of London they learnt the tongue of their new home to speak in the world, and kept the language of the old country for home. But great uncle Peter spoke not a word of either. And years passed and then decades and my grandmother was born and my mother and then me and as far as anyone knew great uncle Peter still never said a word. When I was older and had children of my own I realised that for all my mother had told me of great uncles Peters silence, she had never been able to tell me why. She never could have because neither she or anybody else knew.

We knew that Peter was special and we looked after him. Through generations of the family he was passed from one relative to the next, always the women watching over this silent, detached man. But then grandmother died of old age and it came my mothers turn and there it skipped a generation. My mother was a working woman and did not have the patience to nurse great uncle Peter. At first she panicked when my father brought this strange savant down from London to our house by the sea. Panicked at the years of life she saw slipping through her fingers, sucked away by Peters needs. My parents advertised for a nurse. They could afford this with the money from two jobs that had already bought the big house and the best schools for me and my two brothers. But the nurse was never needed. Once a day I would take great uncle Peter for a long walk along the Brighton seafront and after only a few days we became a familiar sight on the promenade, the stooped yet still tall old man in the heavy black overcoat, the young girl with masses of unruly blonde hair in her own red windbreaker.

The pebble was always with him. At dinner times he would pop it into his pocket, when he slept it lay on the side table beside him. At any other time it was in his hand, rotating in his long supple fingers. For months I am certain I supposed that he took it from the beach. One day I looked at it more closely. The form of the stone was depressed in two places, where his thumb and forefinger rubbed against its milky surface. I remarked on this to my mother and she started with surprise – yes, Great uncle Peter had had the stone ever since she could remember, maybe as far back as his being a boy and always turning, turning, turning in his fingers until its shape became forever altered.

On our last walk along the seafront I took Peter down to the edge of the shore itself, a short walk from the promenade over the beach of grey pebbles that we rocked and rolled our way over in long, stumbling steps. From the shore we watched the sun drop towards the sea and the pink sky creep upwards from the flat horizon. The waves crashed in towards the beach, climbing higher up the narrow sand channel with each attempt and threatening to flood my expensive shoes. I was looking down at those very shoes when I felt great uncle Peter beside me move with a speed and determination I had never guessed him capable of. I looked up to see his long arm drawn up and back, the cupped hand close by his cheek gripping the pale pebble. He stayed in that pose for only a second before his arm swept forward, the hand unclasped and the pebble was sent soaring out over the waves in a massive arc. We stood silently watching the stone diminish into a tiny speck and then dip down and vanish into the cold waters of the sea, its sound lost amongst the roaring of the waves.

My great uncle Peter looked down at me, the first time he had seemed to even notice his niece and quite unexpectedly a giant smile cracked his face in two.

‘Hello’ he said.

‘Everything now will be just fine.’

And then on that spot he simply collapsed, his heavy body – that I had no way to hold up – falling against the mattress of smooth pebbled beach with a clatter and a crunch.

And the stone sank beneath the waves.

My father found the papers beneath great Uncle Peters bed the day we returned from the hospital. They were written in a tiny, tight calligraphy of nonsensical scratches that spread over page and then page and then page of notebook after notebook. We had never seen great uncle Peter write. The edges of the pages were worn round from fingering, yellow stains crept inward onto their whiteness, the eldest were thin and brittle as though they would crumble under the touch and the newest had been closed for the last time many years before. I keep them now in two large plastic boxes. When I peel back the lids the air they release is impregnated with the scent of those pages, the feeling of those words. I take them and I lay them side by side on the carpet of our bedroom floor and stare at the neat rows of nonsensical letters. I sit and I stare for hours that can become days until my husband or my son or then my grandson pull me away. There isn’t any sense in those words, however hard I try I can’t find a thing in them but however hard I try I can’t stop searching for their meaning. Those tiny shapes scare me more every day because I know, I KNOW that something out there understands them.

I remember great uncle Peter’s stone crashing down into the sea, its ripples quickly lost amongst the waves then carried to the farthest shore and off into the future.

For all our sakes, I hope he hit what he was aiming for.

Whatever happened to the Next Weird?

The first Guardian blog post I wrote (just under two years ago…how time flies!) was titled The new world of the New Weird. I wrote the piece fully aware that the New Weird had already been and gone, but with the idea that it was none the less an interesting movement in genre fiction to highlight for The Guardian readership, who likely had no idea that genre fiction was capable of such literary experimentation. I also wanted to ask where the next wave of literary experimentation would come from. After New Weird, what would be the Next Weird?

(My mind is thinking all of this over as I recover from a weird 48 hour bug, so excuse me if I drift into a slight hallucinatory state as I type.)

I’m slightly disappointed that two years on I’m still waiting for an answer. Later this week I’ll be on The Guardian books podcast talking about, among other things, exciting new SF titles for 2010. Now, its not that there aren’t any exciting titles slated for 2010. But what I can’t see are any really experimental titles. It seems that in the wake of the recession and the titanic upheavals in progress in the publishing industry, genre fiction has entered a period of profound conservatism. Much of the new genre fiction to be published in 2010 seems to be very much ‘generic’ in nature, with very little that pushes at the boundaries of genre. I think thats a great shame, because without the new ideas and energy provided by more experimental writing genre fiction quickly grows stale. And without them the Next Weird might never arrive.

But maybe I’m wrong. Are there interesting and experimental authors set to make a mark in 2010? If so please tell me, so I can track down their work.


Thrin tells us all about her Yellow Wallpaper.

The Hugo awards are open for nominations, Electric Velocipede are eligible in a few categories.

Story McNuggets

Today I observed a pattern in my writing. I have been working on a story that goes by the working title of Clocks for some months now. It is one of those stories that emerges by accumulation. Every so often I add another paragraph, or a sentence, or even just a word. It is now 1800 words long, and into that small linguistic space I have condensed three point-of-view characters, at least a dozen scenes (some only a few words long) and enough angst to power a small work of literary fiction. Which gives me a choice. I can leave this dense narrative nugget as it is, or I can treat it like a seed from which, with care and attention,  might grow a real story. In the case of Clocks, I think I’ll take the second option. But I have realised that I produce these Story McNuggets quite frequently. I know at least one other writer who seems to work this way, but I’m wondering if there are any more of you out there?

Things that I like…

The Guardian interview Neil Gaiman about the experience of being buried alive under a huge pile of awards.

Electric Velocipede announce recent fiction purchases including me and my two Clarion friends Keffy R. M. Kehrli and Monica Byrne.

SOZD Progress Report

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in Support Our ‘Zines Day! I’ve been wonderfuly surprised by how many people have taken the time to get involved. Here are a selection of just a few of the good people who have shown their support:

M-Brane SF say 10/1 is SOZD

Electric Velocipede remind us how much positive feedback can help

Diva Diane calls me a mastermind (thanks!)

Kaleidotrope know that every bit of support helps

Charles Tan continues his stalwart support for the campaign

Juliet E Mckenna supports Murky Depths and Albedo One

Dark Wolf adds Nautilus and Beneath Ceaseless Skies to the meme

Scheherezade in Blue Jeans gets behind EV

Punk Tortoise likes SOZD

More suggestions from Charles Tan

Angry Robotess Aliette de Boddard remembers a few favourite stories

Cheryl Morgan supports SOZD and provides helpful words from Amanda Palmer

Over in the Twittersphere we’ve been listing a few of the ‘zines you might like to follow and support. Thanks to @kaolinfire @rsdevin @upwithgravity & @agamisu among others. #sozd for details.

There is no way to know how any of this translates to actual support for our ‘zines, but lets hope that at the least a few new subscriptions have been taken out. And it’s not over yet. Even as SOZD comes to a close here in the UK, many other time zones still have at least a few hours left.

Birthday, Story Sales, Stiff Back

My 32nd birthday arrived today, along with my first incidence of backpain! Old age seems to be coming sooner than expected. I’m sitting up very straight whilst typing, perhaps this will help.

I arrived at my birthday pre-cheered by two recent story sales:

John Klima at the Hugo award winning Electric Velocipede has bought My Love Sick Zombie Boy Band. I think this was the story that got me into Clarion, and then received copious workshop notes from Kelly Link. I think it’s my best story to date, so I’m very happy to know it will see publication. You can read a short extract, posted during the original writing of the story. Its my second publication in Electric Velocipede, which makes me extremely happy.

And the excellent chaps at StarShipSofa have generously agreed to include my story Momentum (Originaly oublished in EV #13) in a future edition of Aural Delights. I love hearing my stories in audio, and this is the third one I’ve been lucky enough to have produced. A fe wmore and I can release an album! (Rock stardom here we come)

And thanks to everyone who sent birthday greetings, I love you all.

We need a ‘Support our ‘Zines Day’


Last week I put a call out for suggestions of magazines that as an SF fan I should be reading. My subscriptions have lapsed recently (its been a busy year) so this week I wanted to renew some subscriptions and start a few new ones. I wanted to do this because I get a huge amount of joy from reading and listening to good stories, and want to contribute to keeping the publications I like going. I think a lot of people feel the same. So why don’t more of us subscribe and donate to our favourite publications?

Continue reading We need a ‘Support our ‘Zines Day’

We need more beautiful magazines

Mary Robinette Kowal made a wonderful point on tonight’s Sofanauts. In a discussion on the iPhone as e-reader Mary argued that e-books and online ‘zines would not kill printed publications. But the publications that survive will be the ones who understand the value of the physical object they are producing. I could not agree more. Continue reading We need more beautiful magazines

Limited Edition Damo

Right people. John Klima, editor at Electric Velocipede has recently become a father for the second time (congratulations!), but unfortunately now also finds himself the sole earner in his household.

But to every cloud is a silver lining, because John  has decided to sell off all remaining stock of Electric Velocpede #13 (among other things) which features my short story Momentum. Yes, thats right! You, dear reader, now have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of perhaps the most exciting literary opportunity since….well….since the last time I got you to buy Electric Velocipede! Continue reading Limited Edition Damo

Get Your Electric Velocipede Hot and Fresh!

Electric Velocipede is without doubt the magazine I most look forward to finding in my mail box. Yes, I know, I’m biased because I’ve featured in their pages. But even if I hadn’t, I hope I would have the sense to recognise what a great ‘zine editor John Klima is putting into the world. The roster of published writers reads like a who’s who of the most exciting rising stars in fantastical, weird and speculative fiction. Truly, if you have any interest in the short story, you really should take Mr. Klima up on his kind offer below and subscribe. Continue reading Get Your Electric Velocipede Hot and Fresh!