Tag Archives: sci fi

‘No Arrests in 2039′ podcast

Do you remember ‘No Arrests in 2039′ on Every Day Fiction? No? Great – it’ll be all fresh when you listen to the podcast then! And you might think twice about falling crime statistics …

‘Baby Bird': new SF short story

‘I keep thinking we should have left it to die, you know, rather than do what we did …’ on Read Short Fiction today. A tale of a personal road to hell paved with the best of intentions. What choices would you have made?



Space Station.jpg


Fliss compressed her short, squat frame further into the burned out hollow of the hull, shoving Hennessey’s evacuated carcass aside and flicking indeterminate debris casually off her weapons harness. She holed up to consider strategy.

Fliss was a soldier; a grunt on the peri-solar defence ring where killing aliens, not caring platitudes, got you through a shift. She looked down at her uniform, or what passed for one after this morning’s skirmish, and scraped off the residue it had collected from the blast that took out her unit’s communications array. Most of her squad had gone with it and some of the residue was biological but Fliss didn’t much care whose just so long as it wasn’t hers.  She kicked the mess away with her boot, checked out her shoulder mountings for ammunition and headed off into the silence that used to be the galley. One survivor, not human. She shot it without ceremony and moved on, disregarding the plea for help it had registered on its translation device.

Fliss was not given to social communication; few of them here were, thrust out onto the edges of civilisation. How long had it been? Ten years? And had any relief units been sent up? No!  A flicker of anger caught momentarily then disappeared under Fliss’s cold dismissal. She had avoided execution by taking this option and the company of like-minded ‘volunteers’ had proved physically and sexually entertaining. No hardship, she concluded, hefting aside the stinking morass that had been another invader and squirming through the gap in the bulkhead towards the bridge.  She opened a com channel and hissed a command. They’d better be there or she’d make them wish the bastard crawlers had got them. A slight smile curled up one side of her mouth, that might be an entertaining distraction if push came to shove.

The ship hummed and throbbed as its automated repair systems got started on reconstruction. Fliss wiped something viscous off her face and onto her pants and the fabric felt slick with – what? Blood? Vomit? No, lubrication oil, some of the life support gaskets must have blown – shit! She pressed on, the urgency was cranking up; if this tub was holed too seriously…

The bridge was empty. A huge gap in the far skin was sealed now by the emergency force field unit but not before what was left of the crew had been spaced. One body remained, the commander, an honest woman here out of duty. Fliss probed Mackenzie’s top pocket for her ID, lingering momentarily over a breast hardened with rigor – nice tits, shame – then ran the bio-chip through her scan-and-rip software and elevated herself to officer class. Might as well be her family got the compensation payout as anyone else’s she thought.  She stuck the tag into the sub light transfer unit and squatted down next to Mackenzie’s body to wait for the air to run out.

(c) suzanne conboy-hill 2012. First published on PowFastFiction,  October 2010. Sadly, PowFast is now closed so I had to find a new home for this nasty little psychopath before she ran out of aliens and crew-mates.

‘A very particular view’

Wondering how the universe works? Here’s your answer: ‘A very particular view’ out on E Victoria Flynn’s Roadside Attractions today.

‘No Arrests in 2039′

Good old Every Day Fiction, they’re taking a chance with another of my tales. ‘No Arrests in 2039′, in which a local council gets inventive about its crime stats, will be unleashed on August 9th.

Disclaimer: Dear Elected Representatives – No, this is not a way forward, you hear me?

Update: EDF is offline at the moment while they move house to new servers.

EDF reports progress, and will be back on August 15th. Affected stories will transfer to September. 09/08/11

Some fact with your fiction

"Star Trek Creator", Autographed

Image by Josh Bancroft via Flickr

I used to think creativity and imagination had nothing to do with science until I heard that a significant number of NASA scientists had developed their interests through reading and watching science fiction. While Gene Roddenberry was boldly going, courtesy of fantastic warp drive technology, these chaps were figuring out how to build it. So now we have scanners Dr McCoy would find handy, information tablets that outclass the gizmos a red shirt would offer to the Captain for signature, and communication devices that can access the world, not just one contact point. There’s probably an app in development for the beaming up capability.

For me, the cross over comes in imagining something that doesn’t exist yet and, in both my worlds, this needs to be fairly soundly based in current evidence or to be at least conceptually feasible. The project using virtual world technology, reported in the Essl Foundation Social Index, is a gratifying example of how that can work. The paper was invited on the basis of our earlier reports. You can find it on page 134 if you wish to delve.

Shameless self “Promotion”

Two really exciting things just happened and, right now, I really don’t know which has got me gibbering most. One is an extraordinary convergence in the technologies that will underpin our next research bid (and look out world, if we’re successful, because this will change the way we get information from hospitals and doctors for ever). The other is my first fiction publication outside of the recent NOT competition and it feels like my kid came home from their first day at school with an A* in higher maths! So which to choose? Well, in fairness, there’s no showing off to be had with the research yet as it’s at the ideas stage and will have to be costed til it squeaks to get a sniff at any funding. So that leaves the blatant, unashamed, trumpeting of my lovely (in its mother’s eye) flash piece with its not-so-lovely MC. Find ‘Promotion’ here at the very lovely Powfastfiction.

I thank you (bows dramatically and sweeps off stage leaving wafting evidence of ego-glitter and, in this instance, alien entrails)


Hugo Nominee – are we suckered by techno-twaddle?

starsI like my sci-fi, really I do, and having been inducted at the age of eight into this genre, I am more than familiar with the essentials of pseudo-scientific terminology. Heck, I write it myself and I appreciate both the value and the pitfalls of inventing tech-speak to describe something that isn’t yet in existence.

For me, the best tech-speak conveys a sense of familiarity so that, on reading it, I have a feeling I know what this is even though that has to be impossible. The worst offers a stream of multi-hyphenated guff and tells me this is ‘normal’, as in ‘Kraark clicked into the usual teleo-spectro-binswanger protrusion and disappeared in a cloud of pre-insular tachyons‘. Come on, gimme a break!

Sadly, this sort of neologismical nightmare is often the product of minds that either are, or believe themselves to be, superior to the mundane equipment the rest of us possess. People who seem perfectly able to write a half way decent letter or report, go into paroxysms of verbiage when asked to write for entertainment. I know, I’ve done it (give or take the superior mind bit). Fancy footwork that packs in vocabulaic (see what I mean?) excess and delights the author, showy sentences that have so little redundancy of language that you need a scalpel to dissect out the meaning, and purple paragraphs that lilt, roll, undulate, and titillate with the lightness of gossamer made of fine steel, and – where exactly is the verb here? Subject or object anyone?

Well, I’ve done quite a lot of work on myself to expunge this kind of self indulgence and write so that the writing itself is not the message. I’ve learned about ‘show, not tell’, although not always to best effect when it comes to the practical, and I’ve pretty much got my clever-cleverness under control most of the time. I’ve let it off the leash a bit in this post for the purposes of illustration (so just imagine what I can do if I really mean it!) and because I believe I’ve been out garbaged by a Hugo Award nominee.

Yes. Up for a major prize. That sort of Hugo Award nominee.

Admittedly this was an audio podcast and so keeping track was more difficult as the presentation has its own pace and narrator delivery style. But even so, it was, to me, a turgid, self important, blind-em-with-science agglutination of made-up verbiage that lectured and postured its way to a blindingly obvious conclusion. But it got some good reviews, people who liked the style, people who thought it was smart and intricate. And it’s up for an award.

So what do I make of this? Emporer’s New Clothes or am I missing something maybe? I think not. I think the people who liked it have the same apparent need to show superiority as the author (this man claims to have a PhD in cognitive sciences and linguistics and to be a university academic) so their appreciation is based on a kind of intellectual snobbery. Some years ago, a one-off study showed that academics at a conference rated most highly a deliberately incomprehensible lecture, thereby illustrating what we all know to be true – no-one likes to be thought an idiot. I suspect the same may be true in this situation, pseudo-scientific twaddle being accepted on the basis of the apparent credentials of the author and rated accordingly.

So, where do I go from here then? Clever-clever comes easy, been doing it for years, and since I’ve also got a PhD handy, I reckon I might be able to knot up enough punters to get myself a reasonable, if perpetually bemused, following. But that’s not what it’s about is it? Since getting to grips with my florid and verbally dense passages, making a conscious effort at dialogue, and at least nodding towards the ‘show’ imperative, I’ve been much more satisfied with my writing and happier with the product so I’ll not be going back other than in momentary lapses and happy indulgences such as today.

I won’t half be narked though if that undeconstructible, hyper-formal, word-saladic, pomposificatory, faux techno baffle-babble wins!

Wanted: Brit-lit lady sci-fi short story publisher

union jackAny takers out there for a nice bit of SF drama hot off the presses? Oh well, it was worth a try. I’ll get out my hair shirt, stick pebbles in my shoes, invest in a self-mortification programme (I expect there’s an iPhone app for that), and join the supplicants’ queue like everyone else. How on earth do you writers of novels cope? A couple of thousand words and I’m wrapped up and ready to move on! Attention span of a gnat and no stamina, clearly.


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