September was something of a busy month. In August we bought a red and white setter puppy and it proceeded to create havoc in the household. We had been warned that puppies were life-changing – much like having a child – but no amount of forewarning quite prepared us. As I work from home, the brunt of Uther’s care falls upon me. Perhaps in a bid to prove to myself that I could work in adverse conditions – and that the tiresome routine of dog-care would not blunt my creativity – I set out to write as many short stories in September as I could.
The result was that I wrote ten. I’ve never before managed that level of productivity. Okay, seven of them were short-shorts, between one thousand and fifteen hundred words long – but the others consisted of a 16k novella, an 8k story, and one at 4k. The novella was about a far future world where the seas have vanished and the remnants of humanity scrabble for existence in deep canyons that were once the ocean bottoms. The long story was more autobiographical: it’s about a dog, and its intrusion into the life of a computer hacker. It occurred to me that in future convicts might not be imprisoned but given robotic dogs instead. The 4k story was not SF but a detective tale about a man with a peculiar ability and how it helps him to solve the theft of a work of art from a London gallery. Among the seven short-shorts are the first ever zombie story I’ve written, my first outright fantasy (about a genie and the wishes he grants the President of the USA), and a science fiction tale about a near-future America where the gun lobby have even more power than they do now…
The novella, provisionally entitled “Beneath the Ancient Sun” will appear from Infinity Plus Books next year in a collection of four of my longer stories and novellas, Rites of Passage, and “P.O.O.C.H.” will appear in my collection Strange Visitors from NewCon Press next Easter. The remaining tales will be submitted to various magazines when I’ve knocked them into shape.
And Uther, who is sitting on the floor gnawing at my chair as I type, sat through this burst of productivity with only the occasional interruption.