• Endless Joke
    Endless Joke
    by David Antrobus

    Here's that writers' manual you were reaching and scrambling for. You know the one: filled with juicy writing tidbits and dripping with pop cultural snark and smartassery. Ew. Not an attractive look. But effective. And by the end, you'll either want to kiss me or kill me. With extreme prejudice. Go on. You know you want to.

  • Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    by David Antrobus

    Please click on the above thumbnail to buy my short, intense nonfiction book featuring 9/11 and trauma. It's less than the price of a cup of coffee... and contains fewer calories. Although, unlike most caffeine boosts, it might make you cry.

  • Music Speaks
    Music Speaks
    by LB Clark

    My story "Solo" appears in this excellent music charity anthology, Music Speaks. It is an odd hybrid of the darkly comic and the eerily apocalyptic... with a musical theme. Aw, rather than me explain it, just read it. Okay, uh, please?

  • First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    by Sybil Wilen, P. J. Ruce, Jeffrey McDonald, John Page, Susan Burdorf, Christina Gavi, David Alexander, Joanna Parypinski, Jack Flynn, Graeme Edwardson, David Antrobus, Jason Bailey, Xavier Axelson

    My story "Unquiet Slumbers" appears in the zombie anthology First Time Dead, Volume 3. It spills blood, gore and genuine tears of sorrow. Anyway, buy this stellar anthology and judge for yourself.

  • Seasons
    by David Antrobus, Edward Lorn, JD Mader, Jo-Anne Teal

    Four stories, four writers, four seasons. Characters broken by life, although not necessarily beaten. Are the seasons reminders of our growth or a glimpse of our slow decay?

  • Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited

    I have two stories in this delightful compendium of every 2012 winner of their Flash Fiction Challenge—one a nasty little horror short, the other an amusing misadventure of Og the caveman, his first appearance.

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The New Rapture

Had a dream last night, alone… no, more like a vision, in which it turned out the religious folks who insist on the coming of the Rapture—that moment of self-vindication in which the rest of us sinners all burn and suffer and destroy ourselves here on earth while the righteous are taken into Heaven—have been right all along.

Only, there's this twist, see? As our future dwindles due to overfishing, over logging, the constant rapacious destruction of environment after habitat after ecosystem in order to extract the last few drops of something we either need (water) or want (lumber) or are addicted to (oil), and as the planet deteriorates into a toxic, boiling sea of tribalism and increasing barbarity, partly wrought by self-centred short termism, intolerance of others, wealth disparity and outright bigotry, a newly discovered planet slides silently into our solar system and heads toward earth, a half decade away from up close and impersonal.

The planet, at first noticed only by astronomers who decide to hold off on announcing its disquieting presence off the cold shoulder of poor relegated Pluto, appears perfectly Earthlike, with one key difference: it's a pre-industrial unspoiled earth more akin to a fantasy realm than an actual planet. Tracts of warm, green, forested land surrounded by azure ocean beneath the most tender of climates. It is beautiful.

The delay over the announcement arises from an idea put forth by a handful of NASA scientists and thinkers. If this world is approaching so close to the earth, and in under five years, how feasible would it be to transport a few million humans across the tiny amount of space in order to colonize it? They estimate it would be quite possible, albeit a massive undertaking. And due to its size and slowing velocity, they also calculate it will fall into earth's orbit instead of plunging into the sun.

The catch? Only those who have proven to demonstrate true compassion and love toward their fellow humans—who have mostly refrained from the ugliness of racism or homophobia or any type of fundamentalist creed, religious or political, who are admittedly flawed yet possessed of an appreciation of the only two things that really matter: love and beauty—will be permitted to travel there.

So, the plans are drawn up and over the next handful of years, rumours of this thing are everywhere, at every water-cooler, regularly trending on Twitter, whispered along daylight highways, invading the world's fitful dreams, with many on either side of the divide skeptical of its reality. But as the new "star" appears undeniably brighter in our night skies, even showing ever-less faintly after sunrise and before sundown, the tension increases and more and more skirmishes break out upon the earth. Millions of lives are lost in instantly forgotten border wars, in conflicts over resources, over irrelevant differences, but the moment finally arrives and the hidden silos slide silently open and release their silver seeds filled with the t-shirt-sloganned, the pierced, the dreadlocked, the Doc Martened, the tie-dyed, the sexually liberated, the tattooed, the stoned, the tolerant, the disenfranchised, the gentle, the artists, the wounded healers. Not inheriting but departing the earth.

As their planet descends into a maelstrom of rage and horror, both mirrored and fuelled by the earthquakes and tsunamis and raging conflagrations of a world at last tipped beyond the balance of stability, these new migrant-colonists look back one last time, flinching at the dying screams of the cruel, the selfish, the tyrannical, the faux-populists, the prejudiced, the hate-filled, the control freaks, the authoritarians, the zealots, the abusers, the book-burners, the bullies, those who think it perfectly fine to shoot a wolf from a helicopter, those who would deny equal access to health care to their fellow humans, those who would prevent consenting adults from loving each other, those who wish for an absent daddy to come save them, those who believe winning is more important than the joy of playing, those who add and have added nothing to the world… before turning their gaze toward the heavens, toward their new home looming ahead, a new hopeful world the secret planners had already secretly named… this world and this exodus both, named Enrapture.

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also writes for Indies Unlimited and BlergPop. Be sure to check out his work there if you like what you read here.


Review of "Making a Name"

I reviewed Rosanne Dingli's Making a Name and other stories over at Amazon. I'll let it stand.

We are so spoiled these days, by the garish and the obvious. Subtlety and nuance seem to have been relegated to the quieter corners of the world. In "Making a Name and other stories", Australian author Rosanne Dingli seems to be on a one-woman mission to bring those qualities back into the mainstream.

These nine short stories are rich in the finer aspects of human interaction. It is a book filled with gestures. Glances, tilted heads, quiet movements tell deeper stories than many writers manage to convey in far showier works. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate homicidal savagery and alien invasions as much as the next fan of genre fiction, but who wants a meal of only protein? Green vegetables are good for you, after all. But I also don't want to appear to damn with faint praise, or compare Ms Dingli's stories to brussels sprouts. No, these are finely tuned and exquisitely textured snapshots of the human condition in all its regrettable, messy glory. And there is even a hint of unease that sometimes emerges more fully at the end, a haunted echo of something barely touched upon in the body of the story itself. I am being careful not to leave spoilers here, not that these stories particularly hinge on shocking revelations; even the twists are subtle.

One story in particular continued to resonate for me long afterward. In "Woman Peeling An Apple", the complexity of human relationships is at its most intense; all the loneliness, desperation, tender envy and regret of sexual longing are present in this beautifully crafted account of painters, photographers, friendships, and family ties. Its European setting (France, Belgium) enhances its paradoxically gentle power, and it won't let go.

If I were to offer one slight criticism, and not a particularly serious one, the writing is perhaps *too* mannered sometimes. Everyone "makes love"... and maybe this is my own capitulation to the sensational, but I found myself wishing they would get a little raunchier, a little earthier, now and then. But like I said, that is but a minor quibble; the vast majority of this work is a delight--in its memorable phrases, in its clear love of and dexterity with the language itself.

This is the territory of Virginia Woolf, or possibly Milan Kundera. Now *that* is certainly not faint praise.

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also writes for Indies Unlimited and BlergPop. Be sure to check out his work there if you like what you read here.


Walker Is My Name And I Am The Same

There hung over the place a kynd of scortchy smel a kynd of stinging scortchy smel and the grey smoak driffing thru the blue smoak of the chard coal harts. Twean lite it wer the 1st dark coming on. Bat lite it wer and dimminy the pink and red stumps glimmering in the coppises like loppt off arms and legs and the rivver hy and hummering. The dogs wer howling nor it wernt like no other howling I ever heard it wer a kynd of wyld hoapless soun it wer a lorn and oansome yoop yaroo it soundit like they wer runnying on ther hynt legs and telling like thin black men and sad. Crying ther yoop yaroo ther sad tel what theyd all ways knowit theywd have to tel agen. [P. 189 Picador Edition, © 1980]

Not simply one of the great post-apocalyptic novels, Riddley Walker is one of the great mythic novels, period. With darkness having long descended on humankind, centuries after a nuclear catastrophe, a twelve year old boy scrabbling in the barren dirt of England's southeast corner awakens to something unexpected. Not hope, far from it. But the sense his life is not as delineated as he and his primitive kind assumed. But I want you to read it, so I won't give much more away. Other than the language itself. This is a tour de force more reminiscent of Tolkien's "sub-creation", in that an entire language has been created... in this case, a base and gutteral language that nevertheless, at its best, possesses a kind of roughshod lyrical charm. It is part fable, part dystopia, equal parts bawdily hilarious and unsettlingly haunting. Or plain haunted, even. Haunted by the dimmest recollection of a past when humans had sufficient "clevverness" to almost destroy themselves.

I have been working on and off on a kind of dark fantasy novel, and this book, this bleak visionary glimpse of one possible future, was a major influence. Why today? Why mention it now?

Because author Russell Hoban died on Tuesday (December 13) and any hope we may have harboured of anything approaching a sequel passed away with him. The only hope is that this breathtaking, near perfect work of art will now break out of its cult status and be recognised as one of the great pieces of 20th Century literature it undoubtedly is.

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also writes for Indies Unlimited and BlergPop. Be sure to check out his work there if you like what you read here.


The Versatile Blogger Award

The Versatile Blogger Award. Pour moi? Well who knew? A blogging award after only five posts? Must be that new cologne (no, I don't wear cologne).

Although, now I have to pay my dues by linking back to the person who sent this my way, by outlining seven things about myself, and by rewarding five other bloggers with this same award.

So first up, a big thank you to Nicole Storey for passing this award on, it was very kind of her. Pssst, Nicole: I'll get the money and that "special object" to you as soon as it won't look at all suspicious in any way whatsoever, okay? Oh wait, inside voice!

Seven things you may or may not know about me (and which may or may not be true):

1. In the movie This Is Spinal Tap, I played a small part as a bass control button that only went to 9.

2. Koalas utterly terrify me.

3. Seeing the colour turquoise on a traffic sign makes me go temporarily deaf in one ear.

4. A distant relative once owned Stonehenge and lost it in a bet over how many toothpicks someone could hide in the Grand Duchess of Doncaster's cleavage.

5. I secretly wrote the major Shakepeare tragedy King Lear. Shhhh... I'm actually not proud of the typos in that one.

6. I once planned to gather a harem formed entirely of slightly irritable soccer moms. Sadly, at the last minute, I discovered a local bylaw prohibiting it.

7. Eerily, my fingerprints match up perfectly with those of actor Robert De Niro. As a result, I am considering framing him for a heinously spectacular crime, if only for some of his disappointing late-career roles.

Five worthy recipients:

Michael Edward ("Ed") McNally: Sable City

Yvonne Hertzberger: Yvonne Hertzberger

Patricia Carrigan: Patricia Carrigan

John Claude Smith: The Wilderness Within

Chuck Wendig: Terrible Minds

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also writes for Indies Unlimited and BlergPop. Be sure to check out his work there if you like what you read here.


Dreamscape (Transatlantic Version)

So, I was in London somewhere on the Thames Embankment and we were looking for a decent place to get coffee. It was a bright, sunny afternoon. A passerby pointed around a corner, by a bridge abutment and below a patch of grass, and we saw a tall, wooden ladder leading up into what looked like a child's tree fort. We proceeded to climb it, and just as I was able to see inside the building through the hatch, my companion started to slip and I grabbed her under her thin arms before she fell the entire way. She was panicked and I tried to soothe her. She was not exactly human, I noticed now; her head more canine, from which hung spindly arms and a body shaped like a cylinder. She had no lower limbs. Once she had calmed down and I'd pulled her through the hatch, she said, both apologetically and matter-of-factly, "there is not much to me, I'm just a head and one vital organ, probably a kidney," as we joined the cafeteria/canteen-style lineup/queue. I felt puzzled and mildly irritated.

© Art Nahpro, 2011It seemed to take forever; the proprietor—an unkempt and unattractive man—kept leaving his post at the cash register/till to attend to something fussy and seemingly unnecessary across the café and I could feel my patience stretch taut like a garotte. When it was our turn to pay, I attempted to hand him a ten pound note/twenty dollar bill, and once again he left to attend to whatever it was that was bothering him on the other side of the room, and although I planned to say something along the lines of "this is too long to wait to buy just coffee", once we were finally served I lost my resolve, paid up in silence, and walked over to the crude wooden picnic-style tables, nursing two steaming drinks. The coffee was not even particularly good, but as soon as I'd downed it, I realised I had somehow managed to eat the entire face of my companion as well, whose exposed foxlike skull was still smeared in globules of yellow fat atop her hollow tubelike body, all of her still twitching gently. My wet lips tasted of salt. Ashamed and quietly horrified, I left quickly, throwing her remains down the ladder into what was now a foggy London evening, scurrying after them like death's ugliest sibling.

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also writes for Indies Unlimited and BlergPop. Be sure to check out his work there if you like what you read here.