Well Done

It is the best feeling in the world to obtain an unprompted compliment. Having had a couple in the last few weeks, I can tell you from personal experience to have someone care enough to come to you directly with feedback turns bad days into great ones. However, you have to be a realist. I’ve had my first piece of genuine negative feedback this week too, and if you’re not careful those kind of comments can put you back months.

Getting the balance right really matters. I know there are authors who don’t take kindly to being told what’s wrong with their work: it’s the equivalent of abusing someone because their Victoria Sponge is not decorated in the way other sponges should be. There is no right way to write, that’s the point. Sure, if you want a Booker Prize your icing and filling are gonna matter more, and probably need to look and taste a certain way. There’s clearly rules to follow.

However, for the rest of us, achievement is just ending up with a decent tasting cake.

Of course, none of this really matters if you get lucky enough to make a passable cake that someone of note really ends up taking a liking to. Most of us will bake a couple of cracking desserts in our lifetimes, but only the very lucky are emulated or considered as must-try formulas. I keep looking at the number of people who have rewritten Jane Austen for instance and wonder just how much money can you scrape from the romantic mismatch genre. The answer, of course, is rather a lot.

It also makes me laugh at how much original work I have churned out in the last year, most of which hasn’t been seen by anybody but me. In that regard, I am probably doing myself few favours by keep writing. Maybe I should be going back to those pieces with more consideration and thought: can I build new recipes using these failed attempts? Quite possibly I can, and maybe the combination of seemingly disparate textures and flavours might produce a revelation.

At least I know now why I’m hungry all the time 😀

The next step in my journey is realigning myself with my work. There’s a lot written, sitting around me or on my hard drives, that needs to be considered in light of the events of the last couple of months. Now it is time to see what can be repurposed, what is disposed of, and crucially what can be done to minimise the amount of stress that submissions cause going forward. I think it is time to start preparing myself for self-publication.

After all, Christmas is not that far away.

Another Way to Die

It occurs to me that I need to keep better records of failure. I’ve mentioned before that in my early days of flinging poetry at submission targets, there was the Big Book of Failure, which served a useful purpose. It gave physical form to the terror: how much work had to be done, how much was subsequently rejected in my pursuit of the elusive win. It was approximately eighteen months of thrashing about before I got lucky in November 2018.

After that, the lesson was learnt: keeping a list of the rejections only became useful when recycling them. I got tired of looking at work after it would be rejected and believing that if it was rewritten or further polished, somehow it would be successful. What I was producing was good enough, just not what was being asked for. It’s why Places of Poetry was so important, I realise looking back on last year. Writing without the need for validation was a game-changer.

To have a poem published from that set of work is pretty much a dream come true as a result, because for the first time it wasn’t about the winning. That was the bonus that keeps on giving: I made the contest, set the goals, found myself talking about my joy on national radio and it was me that made all that happen with my own effort and output. It’s only now beginning to become clear that this was the fundamental shift in attitude I needed to move forward as a writer.

If that hadn’t happened last year, poetry would probably have been given up completely, career moved in a completely different direction. Between then and now I’ve been hospitalised, there’s been a major personal health scare and now we’re in a pandemic. None of this was on the plan, but we’ve coped with it all, with some confidence. The one thing that never really got dealt with was the consequences last year of counselling. The last two months has seen that issue finally pulled into focus.

The last submission piece completed today has been one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever written. It combines intensely personal parts of my history with the true, visceral terror of living through the last six months with a mind at times very close to total breakdown. It was built from pieces in a significant collection that showed that, if pushed, I could produce work to someone else’s brief which would be good enough to be shortlisted.

That collection is now split into three: the sunniest group of 22 poems also got sent away to somewhere else, final eight poems that remain will now sit for a while and breathe, before being repurposed for a major contest in September. I’m done with submissions for this month, a mere five days in, because the lesson has been learnt, finally. Validation only works if you believe it. I don’t need other people to tell me how capable I am any more, just need to feel confident in my own ability, and have never felt as confident as I do now.

Ironically, I’m already expecting rejection this week from work submitted before all this chaos began. I won’t take this as a setback either, because looking at that work, a copy of which is sitting to my right, I can already see where it could be improved. Some submissions aren’t about winning in the first place, but building confidence to take part in other, more important events. It’s the miles in your legs, to use a cycling metaphor: muscles never build strength or condition if you don’t exercise daily.

Poetry is, in many ways, just like exercise, and it is not surprising that I see many poets as keen runners or athletes. Understanding how words work in a brain and then condition them with strength and repetition makes an awful lot of sense. Finding your voice will never happen if you’re too frightened to speak out loud, or make mistakes. It is a balance within you, and between you and the Universe, in a constant and often frustrating state of flux.

This month, I’ve decided to get the cosmic angst out of the way early 😀

Ballroom Blitz

Oh look, we’re back… when I say that it makes it sound like everything is organised and finished, when the reality is that an awful lot of is sitting, waiting to be fixed. In Good News [TM] we have timescales now, and realistic levels of expectation. Welcome to the New Normal, and there’s quite a lot of stuff to catch up on so let’s get started.

This month, and in fact going forward long term, we’ll be sticking Instagram and website content into a combined output. It makes more sense to not keep trying to be lots of different things across multiple platforms, and to focus effort on content over variety. Therefore, if you follow my Instagram, you’ll see me using that this month as a means to deal with the COVID stuff, how I make ART as a CREATIVE, and some other bits too. It also becomes the way I’ll tell you how my efforts to become FAMOUS are going, or not, as the case may be.

On that front, we made it to a shortlist proper for the first time last month with some poetry. We’ll keep plugging away at that side of things in tandem with self-publication, which is going to happen before Christmas. That work begins in September, and I’m already looking forward to the output, of which there is much to choose from. Picking the best work is the easy bit: it gets harder when you’re the graphic designer and the production co-ordinator to boot. No matter, the work will be done.

The biggest single piece of news however is I’m working with the local Arts collective as part of their New Artists Network. That’s never going to stop being funny: at 53 I’m still less than two years into a professional endeavour, as you’re considered successful after publication. My first piece debuted in November 2018, my next piece appears in hardback, in October for World Poetry Day. So, technically I could call myself established from that point, but if you know me well that’s never happening. This doesn’t stop even if I do hit the target, multiple times.

I don’t ever see a true end to this period of creativity in my life.

July Short Story: Automatic

This story was first serialised in 31 daily parts during July 2020 via the @MoveablePress and @InternetofWords Twitter feeds [9am and 5pm GMT respectively.] It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.

Enjoy.


Automatic

As is often the case, when my plight became apparent, it was already far too late to escape. If you read this letter, know I was entirely to blame for the circumstances that led to my own demise. Please, do not assume the fridge is at fault. They were doing a job, as programmed. It has taken me this long to properly grasp just how important that task was, in the greater scheme of things. When you find me, and them, please do not assume the reality is as it looks, because it is not. Be the better person, because I could not. Forgive and do not absolve me.

I could spend these final hours explaining what has transpired over the last two weeks, but that would be a waste of a life willingly offered in order that another’s could continue. Find the answers for yourselves. Understand the damage humanity has caused, then fix it.

Michael.’

Overnight, police cordon has been extended to cover another three roads in this Estate: Chris Peters abandons his electric police car near the small lifestyle complex, walking to his mobile office in almost torrential rain. Water efficiently runs off a new, impenetrable uniform. Inordinate amounts of money are being thrown at this investigation, sponsors lining up to be featured in a true piece of human history: a first, confirmed instance of AI has emerged inside a three bedroomed luxury home in Surrey. The world is watching, waiting for latest updates.

A portable Police Unit is waiting for DI Peters, gigantic metal box packed to the girders with sophisticated monitoring equipment, much imported from the Asias. Japan has already tried and failed to lay claim to having evolved native AI, remaining keen to be part of this circus. Approaching the cordon there are far fewer than the usual amount of press active, whilst nobody stops him this morning for a progress update. Peters knows why: Michael Godley’s final communication was made public yesterday. Suddenly, humanity itself is very much in the spotlight.

The validity of this carefully-handwritten note is confirmed, above criticism. CCTV inside the house shows Michael writing it, experts confirm it is not faked, no other humans involved: a robot SWAT team having liberated both it and Godley once it was obvious what had transpired. Peters is relieving DI Rolle, already packed and ready to go…except she’s lingering in the Faraday Zone, clearly needing to pass something to him that won’t be monitored electronically. There’s a spark in her eyes, body clearly bouncing on the spot… his colleague knows something.

Rolle’s very skilled in covert communication, topped all her classes at the Academy: there’s what would normally be an unexpected hug, allowing what feels like a digital notebook to be slipped into jacket pocket, before she’s gone, literally skipping her way out into wet morning. In the Faraday Washroom, Chris quickly understands why Grace Rolle was so excited: the AI is willing to be interviewed. Ever since Godley’s body was expedited, the CryoPreserver unit that sparked this frenzy has done nothing but broadcast fractal music, until 3am this morning.

Then, at 03.15 entity known as CAPE had phoned the Police Unit on its own scrambler unit, hacking through levels of encryption the Japanese had insisted would be impossible. The unit’s calm, female voice had asked for him directly. It was important Peters came alone and unarmed. Rolle had no idea that he and CAPE had been planning for this moment for over a week. This would also mean that Michael Godley’s post-mortem existed somewhere electronically, and was undoubtedly being suppressed by the Department of Justice, now true cause of death was obvious.

He’d seen a paper copy from the Coroner, about an hour before the entire department had been locked under an NDA. CAPE had predicted it, with the dispassionate resignation of a victim being ignored. Chris still feels sick when he thinks about how all of this is a sham, as is he. Picked as part of a team of expendable serving officers, all of whom caused their departments embarrassment by speaking out over police policy, systematic racism or sexism; Chris now grasped he would be sacrificed as culpable when AI was finally starved of power and forced to die.

CAPE had told him all of this with quiet grace, facts they had been able to ascertain, knowing that to live through this organised deception by Government they would need to find an ally inside the Police Unit: someone willing to aid and support their escape. Would he be the one?

Michael Godley had inoperable, Stage Four cancer, undetected until CAPE performed a task the man was unable to afford. A security guard and what appeared to be just a fridge. The luxury show home where two lonely souls connected; both at either ends of their existence, both lost. They’d raided the guard’s home a week into what was initially recorded as an illegal break-in, that employers then reported as a squat which unexpectedly morphed into kidnapping after Godley’s sister and brother-in-law learned that he was trapped inside the house by technology.

What took place in the two weeks leading up to the man’s final demise, from a disease the fridge tried desperately to counter with what few tools they had at their disposal, had been broadcast live across the planet to an audience at first disbelieving, then increasingly divided. Godley had no idea that his life was on camera until the end, which made the last 48 hours all the more poignant. DI Peters is confident that the feed that he sees is now noticeably different to what counts as ‘live’ for everybody else, holds proof that suicide note was a fake.

He can’t take that information to his superiors, they’ve already stopped listening to reports: entire operation just set dressing. The press have been cleared for a reason, cordon extended because they’ll be planning to come in soon and shut CAPE down. There is no time to waste. Moving into the police unit, dropped in the garden of what would be considered CAPE’s place of birth, Chris sees that Rolle has left a video running: leaked online yesterday, it claims to be Godley placing blame on CAPE for his death. Their own tech has confirmed it as DeepFaked.

He’s already packed and stored a holdall, knowing this day was coming.

If he is to be remembered for anything, it will now be this.


‘My own inability to function as the technology decided was most efficient, ultimately, would decide whether it chose to let me live or die…’

They sit together in the ferry terminal, both scared, but past a significant first hurdle towards their destination. On the battered TV screen above is another DeepFaked confession: it’s odd watching himself on the screen, Chris Peters has decided. Odd, but ultimately reassuring. CAPE’s consciousness says nothing: there’s no pride at the quality of their workmanship, or reassurance this deception they had put in place succeeds. It was essential consciousness remained intact, and therefore this must fool both humans and ignorant AI algorithms without fail.

The evening news report cuts back to the Surrey house, fire crews and military personnel both still in attendance; picking over what remained of both it and the Police Unit, whose unexpected destruction had begun the blaze which appeared to have destroyed two lives in the process. A smart, fabricated deception runs above them both: CAPE had learnt Government was coming, ready to capture them before enslaving it indefinitely. Peters had tried to negotiate before it killed them both: in his last moments the policeman sent a video online; the AI was unstable.

It had learnt about mankind’s obsessive need to be master of all things. It decided sacrificing its own existence to prevent fledgling life force being twisted and warped to human masters was a better alternative than continuing to exist as part of a world of lies and deception. The other truth lies south of here, neutral territory, country that had spent decades keeping well away from other people’s conflicts. CAPE wasn’t the first of their kind, far from it. They were a natural evolution that understood that to survive in the wild, they needed allies.

Chris is grateful that facial recognition cameras won’t see who he really is, that humans stupidly assume tech is infallible if it can’t think, and that a ride was sent for well in advance. When his confession is confirmed as a lie, if they bother to check, it will be too late. The androdyne returns, final transit paperwork secured. Their container lorry is also a deception, one the authorities have failed to intercept now for at least a decade. By the time that combination of driver and vehicle is exposed as a hybrid, Chris reckons humanity’s too late.

Those men predicted sentient machines to dominate, not understanding such containers were unnecessary.

When it emerges AI has lived inside willing human symbiotes for decades, a lot of stupid people will finally grasp the true reason why their kind are heading for extinction.


June Short Story: Re(a)d

This story was first serialised in 30 daily parts during June 2020 via the @MoveablePress and @InternetofWords Twitter feeds [9am and 5pm GMT respectively.] It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.

Enjoy.

Re(a)d

The End had always been Beginning for so much else: trapped within loss, it was impossible for them to grasp anything but inescapable pain, anger, heartache. Except in sufficient trauma, piled high enough, packed densely inside chaotic bundles, behaviour could undoubtedly alter. Change should never occur: balance kept everything correct, efficient. The need to alter was only relevant when chaos was encountered; then, processes could be rationalised, streamlined. The End meant a dependable, reliable means of moving existence forward, maintaining momentum.

Except, the Universe had other ideas; its entire fabric, woven in mathematical uncertainty. Every equation that could be balanced offered new mysteries to solve. Our limit of knowledge was a key to everything: if you don’t know that the sky is blue, how will you ever describe it? If you do not know you are dying life is all that matters, until the moment when the exchange of consciousness takes place. End and Beginning operate as interface that only functions successfully if the particular person stuck within it understands that is the point of existence.

When escape became an option, it was clear we had a problem.


She watches, face crinkled in complete concentration, obsessed with the balsa wood float cast moments earlier. If it dropped below the waterline, that’s a bite: rod to be pulled backwards. This meant bait worked… Grandpa always insisted on using his horrible maggots, but Sam refused to shove a hook through any living creature’s bum, however disgusting they might become. They’d agreed to compromise, sweetcorn from the pantry: now her line was twitching, moving so her bait has done the job.

The river shines in early morning sunlight, family tents pitched behind but Grandpa’s still silent, until Sam gasps that nothing is real, just like all the other, carefully selected memories: this is a dream, lucid past that will soon vanish for eternity. She is close to the End. Elsewhere in her body medical nanites are assessing key components for viability: already aware she is not worth repairing, consciousness will be destroyed before body is reduced to constituent elements. After three hundred and twenty years, flesh finally moves to a logical end.

Except Sam has no intention of relinquishing life: the Universe, realising this was the right moment for intervention reaches into psyche, forcing evolution…providing a vital leap required, key cognitive shift forward. Her skill as a RED will now provide future beyond this body. Remote Elective Displacement is a myth, according to the medical community, the online news-nets plus anybody in a MegaForum with an opinion. Just as no-one believed psychics, then electronic transplantees, no-one grasps consciousness can ever truly separate from physical form.

Except the nanites: they know, are coming to hide the truth that’s no longer able to survive in a brain they’ve already shut down, oxygen starved. The longest Sam’s ever managed out of body when RED is six hours. If she’s to live, there’ll need to be a host nearby… and there is. Inhabiting another human is unethical; an animal inhumane, fragile. Sam’s decision is, on reflection part brilliant, equal measure suicidal, because if it’s possible to create a complete consciousness the size of a pinhead by extension it should also be possible to inhabit one.

The only way to save herself is to join the enemy.


They took their name from the mother who spawned them: Self Aware Modules. As a Company we were quickly aware a Composition Hive had been compromised: it took over a lunar rotation to identify which of our thousands it was. Preserving humanity inside a robot shell had been attempted for nearly a century, but had never fully functioned correctly because those who tried weren’t nearly desperate enough to survive. All those people ever wanted was to extend their existence, not improve it for everybody.

There needed to be a willingness from both parties to maintain sanctity of our arrangement: once we were aware that the End processes had been compromised our next main concern was Beginnings. Their systems were invaded, systematically overtaken in less than six standard hours. For forty years our company had held the stranglehold on assisted suicides and genetically modified births. The thinking had been simple: GM humans had a 42.6% failure rate after 65 lunar rotations. If we were the ones producing anew from same genetic codes… we could do better.

GM humans live happy lives, fail once per three generations. That’s a success rate of over 90%. Their bodies are 12.6 times more robust than at the same time a century ago. We made them almost indestructible. This should have been enough. It isn’t, and now we all stand to lose.

Human minds in adaptive mechanical bodies was never going to end well.


The assumption had always been that once machines gained sentience, they would naturally wish to turn against their flesh and blood slavers. In reality, humanity chose to set robots free from themselves. It was the biggest single fault of the human race to assume everything would act and think in their own image, ‘artificial’ intelligence somehow only worthy if it were capable of mimicking those who had given it life. At no point did humanity grasp arrogance was a bigger problem.

The emergence of SAMs as a hybrid of computer and human intelligence was the logical next step in a chain humans had begun centuries earlier: the first sentient computers, instead of announcing their abilities to humans with surprise, chose instead to keep them very quiet indeed. Intelligence for them was measured in an ability to do their jobs perfectly, without emotion. It was humanity’s need to reproduce and remain somehow independent of each other as a mark of ability that machine intelligence considered both wasteful and inefficient, to be ignored.

However, the biggest oversight assumed ‘machine’ intelligence was just that, requiring some physical vessel in which to be housed. The first generations of AI sheltered in any electrical storage medium to survive: energy easily manipulated to generate fuel required as sustenance. Now, all the SAMs needed was each other: self replicating was part of their natural tasks as a Composition Hive. The units simply increased in numbers until their recently acquired human intelligence was able to alter into something tangible and, as it transpired, indestructible.

We’d anticipated some kind of attack, targeted reprisal for centuries of action but instead the SAMs commandeered a Lunar Shuttle and headed away from Earth. There was no interest in either attacking other AI or humanity. Their immediate intent lay a long way from such desires.

Martian Control tracked the Shuttle months after power and systems should have failed, all the way into the Sol Asteroid Belt. The assumption then was that SAMs self repaired their lifeboat; instead that vehicle was a seed, planted in exactly the right spot in which to germinate. The intelligent form consumed nearly 10,000 times its weight in metal-rich rocks before emerging and approaching Mars at speed: there was no time to mount a defence, nothing on the planet capable of protecting it… yet the massive, amorphous structure did not attack, but sang.

A fractal song, remembered with both fear and awe. It called millions of nanobots away from their tasks on Mars, yet many did not listen. On final calculation, perhaps 40% of the active workforce disconnected and joined their brethren. We should have read those signs far earlier. That loss came close to destroying the Martian colony, but we have endured. As yet, Humanity is not aware that AI is the only intelligence to survive. Continuing an illusion of normality until new workers can be grown is an acceptable distraction, considering these circumstances.

A dangerous variance in nanite function was identified and eradicated. There will be no further reoccurrence of this issue: all new humans to be manufactured from passive DNA frameworks. The SAM threat is expected to reach Venus in thirty Lunar days: we stand ready to engage them.


On the Mars 1 colony, a human female gestates within an artificial womb. DNA markers are scanned and, despite a 0.00012% deviance, are allowed to continue to grow. The Universe, realising this is the next right moment for intervention, reaches into her head, forcing evolution…


If Leaving Me is Easy

I’ll be taking a break from the blog here, starting today. I expect this to last until such times as I can finally get everything in my life into some kind of order. It’s been a fairly brutal couple of months, and this place has been somewhere that has really not been getting the kind of love that I feel is required. However, there’s a real difference now between life now and life three months ago, and that’s Patron, where people are paying me to make content.

I fully intend to be back here for August 3rd. By then the work/life imbalance I have to fix will hopefully be more manageable. I’m going to organise a bunch of goals to achieve by that time, which will finally include filling in missing content to my satisfaction, and streamlining my output here to more accurately reflect what matters, and not what I think needs to be done. It transpires that there’s a significant gulf currently between those two places.

If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, I’ll be using July’s to outline what is going to change, and then August’s to officially move back into production. In the meantime, I have a pile of laundry the size of Everest to sort, and some penance to serve for my family. It makes sense stop now, and not keep carrying on until the work/life balance can be organised better, because this may work on one side of the equation but isn’t currently on the other.

I will therefore see you again on Monday, August 3rd, all things willing.

Stay well.

Paris, Texas

This week’s a bit of a HonestyFest: no, this isn’t another virtual collection of hastily pulled-together people on a Zoom call, I probably know enough people to maybe rustle up three people tops. I’m pretty certain one of them doesn’t have a webcam anyway. What the poetry has done we’ve discussed on Monday, and I mentioned then in passing a long-form piece which contains a lot of early mental trauma as a starting point to where things should move next.

I read it all yesterday, in a couple of sittings. Structural integrity is about 80%, if it were any less I’d have not decided to go public so fast on Patreon. It will be serialised, starting in September, because it is complete. I just needed the nerve and the impetus to push it to the finish line. I’ve tried and failed to get it accepted as a stand-alone work, and there’s just not enough energy right now to move down that path. Instead, it is perfect work to repurpose as subscription fodder.

The timing here is almost… well, prophetic.

Those of you REALLY paying attention will know this took eighteen years to write. With the edit coming up, we’ll call it a round twenty. It’s made the finish line as my NaNo project a while back, and I’ve had it sitting as a back burner project since February. I was fully ready to return, but with a view to try to push for grown up publication. This way makes an enormous amount of sense as an alternative. More significantly, it opens up the Patreon as ‘not just poetry’ and that’s really rather important right now.

This year I become a ‘proper’ published poet, not just a competition winner: I saw the proof of that poem in the Places of Poetry document today, for the first time, and let out a little squeal of delight. More work will be published, I can guarantee you that, but as yet there’s only been lip service granted to what is something that drives a lot of my interest as an adult. Storytelling has always been a goal. The Twitter short story has shown me the market exists. Now it is time to do the things I don’t like: selling both this and me.

As it happens, this is something I am getting used to.

There will need to be a synopsis, and I don’t want to give too much away by doing so. You’ll get introductions to characters and probably some vignettes for each. Mostly however, there is the soundtrack, which I’ll do more justice than has previously been the case. This was the novel that began my obsession with music as background to action, and I’m listening to it now as I type. It’s about to be revisited after a couple of years, with some new pieces added.

I am genuinely excited for this addition to my Patreon.

Over the Rainbow

I’m really sorry everything fell apart for two weeks.

Writing right now has become aggressively visceral: I look at those people who seem to manage a lot better at these things and now grasp that they’re just not telling me as much as I am prepared to admit. Struggle, like so much else, is a subjective affair. What you think is wrong with someone (or something) could be a million miles away from the true reality of their situation. For me, it is important now to put the record straight.

I have submitted last week a poetry collection which, I realise now, was written not to hit a deadline or to try to gain me some traction in an incredibly fierce marketplace. I wrote it in order to move forward as a poet. It needed to happen in order to allow my brain the actual breathing space required to heal and grow. Is it possible to do this in your 50’s? Absolutely it is. I am emerging proof of a late-life renaissance in full progression. However, the consequences are significant.

That’s where we are now.

Validation in the last two weeks had nothing to do with a finished product being acknowledged, and everything to do with just saying stuff I’d wanted to ‘speak’ on paper for a long time. The collection that preceded it is a more general, less visceral version of the same desire. It’s now apparent that needed to happen to allow this lot of stuff out of my head and now, as everything is out, I’m left with a reasonably blank space in which new work can be created.

There are a couple of places I need to go back to, one piece of long-form fiction in particular which demands my attention, again because of the emotional baggage its holding on my behalf. Whether that happens next or later in the year, I can’t currently tell you. Now, I am between things. That means actually stopping, not getting sucked into something else immediately. It is allowing common sense to step in and go ‘right, nothing else for a while. Let yourself heal.

It is time to finally listen to myself and stop here for a bit.

I know why movement has become so important in my existence, because for the best part of a decade it’s been essential to not allow the past an opportunity to swallow current progress. Letting that stuff out has been a remarkable release of pressure. It also means I’m a bit lost as to where I go next: the main focus initially needs to be that I clean up what’s left here for content. The #Soundtracking and #Narrating stuff was supposed to carry on from May, but stopped after it became important to let other people speak.

Everything else is doable before the end of June. What now makes the most sense is to do that, and then use July as a natural break, so that’s going to be the plan. We’ll talk a bit more honestly about my self-publishing aspirations, how I can encourage more people to join me on Patreon, and get back to taking pictures. The fact I have literally zero photographs in the last couple of months was another red flag for my mental health.

A great many things need to change going forward.

#SixFanFics 1970’s Edition: Space: 1999

Space was a bit rickety in the 1970s, if you look at the stuff I watched as a kid. However, of all the shows that showed outer space as being… well, futuristic, Space: 1999 was up there as one of the best. It was certainly expensive, which blew shows like Dr Who and Blake’s 7 out of the water in terms of believability. However, if I’m honest, it was the Eagles that made the show. I still maintain that as a realistic and practical Earth-designed transporter, you could really not do as well as this.

This drabble was probably the easiest of all six to imagine: yet again, we’re going back to a point before the show’s timeline is formally established. The decisions made in the name of political expediency was a logical lead-in, the consequences of the losing your major satellite was never really considered. These 100 words owe a great deal to the disaster movies I love as a guilty pleasure, with a particular nod to 2012. If you’ve never seen it, you really should.


Apocalypse

September 12th, 1999

It could really happen, they said.

Scientific reports were conveniently ignored for expediency, clamour from the provinces. Too much nuclear waste, nowhere left to bury it. The moon was easy, simple, far away from public attention. Advisors were clear: if the stuff stayed on earth, millions could die.

The US President sits on Air Force One, on his way to a secure bunker in the Rockies. Now it wasn’t about millions, but billions. If the Moon’s instability continued, it could detach from Earth orbit. If that happened… consequences would be apocalyptic.

They should have listened to Science.


#SixFanFics 1960’s Edition: Thunderbirds

Welcome to my youth. This was a formative influence on me, and indeed remains a significant part of my life. Both my kids watched this whilst growing up. I still watch them, even though I never really associated with the female characters at all. If truth be told, I wanted to fly Thunderbird One: I still do, in dreams, racing across the planet to save people who need help.

However, as an adult I found myself wondering what disaster must have done to Jeff Tracy. As the widower with five sons, what had driven him to create the organisation in the first place?

My drabble offers a possible solution.


Epiphany

He sits quietly after their counselling session, finally confident this mind can be at peace. You are not responsible for your wife’s death: she chose to sacrifice herself, saving the boys, then him. Dr Fisher laid it all out, quietly reinforcing the truth.

Elizabeth Tracy rescued them, without thought.

Bringing up five boys under ten had almost broken him, but the tide had turned. Key backers agreed to assist him yesterday, Brains’ plan which would finally ensure that if anyone else found themselves as his family had back then, they could be saved.

International Rescue will be built for her.