Monday, April 10, 2017


In the first edition of C. G. Howes: A scholar’s guide to the Stained Glass of England, Wales, Scotland and the Isles – a much inferior work in many ways Dominic Trelayn thought, to Painton Cowen’s later volume on the topic – there was, however, at least one interesting snippet that, might, repay study. 

We know this from an entry in Dominic’s diary for the day before.  The cancellation of a lecture, and the unlooked for retention of a fee that while meagre enough for the work, looked more munificent in the light of a gift from a sheepish College, meant that both the time and funds, were – as they so rarely are – available in propinquity, and the College’s own location chimed happily with the matter for the church in question was no more than a few miles away, across a pleasant, meadowed landscape.

From guest lecturer then, to dilettante at large was a matter of asking the refectory to pack up a lunch –ostensively for his return to London – and after a night’s sleep in the bursar’s spare bed, it would Dominic felt be easy enough to stride out with the lark through the hedgerowed ways towards the not too distant spire, that stood dark against a copse of trees to the west of the College proper. He would, he thought, have ample time to inspect the window before returning to collect his luggage, and catch his train.

That he set out, and that as he walked, he fished from his pocket Howes’ book and holding it in that bird claw way – one handed – that so amused undergraduates for a reason he had never been able to follow, and refreshed his memory, we know from the testimony of just such a group of undergraduates, not early risers, but very late to bed, who observed him leaving the College grounds.

The passage that absorbed his attention we can deduce from his diary, and the circumstances.

“In the east window are some interesting examples of imported glass, depicting the nativity, as the Rector avers. The panels however must have been taken from different sources for they differ in age and construction, and as a result of this process, perhaps one of restitution or repair, the nativity offers not three wise men or kings, but four. The first from left to right is a C13 commonplace, although its partner separated by gun-metal may have been taken from a C12 Tree of Jesse window rather than a nativity proper, the third King is much later being C16 Flemish, but the fourth, is substantially older than the others and exceptionally fine, save for the colour which is a uniformly unpleasant yellowish stain of a particularly granular nature.”

We do not know which of the two peculiarities attributed to the window had most worked upon Dominic’s curiosity.

The 12th Century is early for the image known as the Jesse tree, which shows the human descent of Jesus through the line of David, and the supposedly earliest surviving stained glass, in England at least, dated at 1170, depicts just such a tree, so it is likely that he would have been interested to confirm Howes’ impressions as to the provenance of the second figure.  I must re-iterate that though the the fourth figure was held by Howe to be ‘substantially older’ the oldest stained glass in England known to the ecclesiastical authorities is the afore mentioned Jesse’s Tree fragment in York Minster. That there could be nestling in the window of a minor country church an older piece: a substantially older piece, seemed unlikely. Dominic must have had it in mind to examine, and perhaps photograph the window in respect of the fourth figure.  According to the undergraduates he had with him a camera, or at least a camera case, slung on a leather strap over his left shoulder.

According to his diary, Dominic had spoken to the College's own Scriptural instructor, Father McKinney who though a Catholic and thus not himself a communicant of the church in question, was able to assure him that the church was never locked, and that indeed it had never been subject to attempted thefts of altar plate, or lead from the roof as urban churches sometimes are, and for that matter as St. Winifreds of the Father's own communion, in the next village, had on at least one occasion. Father McKinney had attended the church once, a reciprocal gesture of friendship to the incumbent, but he could not recall anything about the window - though he supposed it's oldest pane might be a fragment of glass brought back from the first crusade, perhaps looted in one of those peculiar acts of christian upon christian violence originating in the schism between the Western and Eastern Church of 1054.  When I interviewed father McKinney later, he recalled the conversation, but had little to add to it, although he had remembered a reference in a volume, which he had set aside to bring to Dominic's attention on his return. Apparently in the leaflet A Further Indictment Against the Franks, issued (though some have doubted the attribution) by Photios I of Constantinopal, "the leading light of the ninth century renaissance", the following passage occurs, "in addition to such sundery novelties as demanding that the Holy Spirit procedeth both from the Father and the Son, the Western church numbers the Magus, by threes so as to echo their trinity, but many gospels they have discarded speak of a fourth King, whose present was unfavourable to the Lord"

This snippet would have been of interest to Dominic had he been able to hear it and he would, no doubt, have imagined, a monograph on the subject under his name, and perhaps confirmation of a genuine discovery on the part of Clive Gregory Howes. A footnote in Painton Cowen’s next edition, and a lecture on the subject in the next round of scholastic achievements. Small enough rewards for what he evidently must have undergone.

Being a visitor, and one whose reason for being in the College was purely temporary, he wasn’t immediately missed. Nor, for it was small, in a side chapel, and not the focus of the tiny congregation’s worship was the change in the window immediately noticed.

It was two weeks before matters were discovered. Dominic’s landlady had rung our University when he hadn’t returned home after the long vacation. One of the other lecturers in the medieval studies, substrata of history (his University was still big on that despite the cuts) recalled that he had been complaining that he’d only landed three lecturing gigs in his spare time, that season. The last of the three, it transpired, had left an irate message with the Dean’s office about the unreliability of certain lecturers and how it might reflect on the University.

Dominic had been expected to contact them to make arrangements for his forthcoming visit, and had not done so, leaving them in some difficulty to provide for their students. Putting this together took a little while but it seemed something had happened to Dominic either at the site of his second lecture, or between there and his lodgings.

It was my job to find out what. I’m a beadle. I police, in a sense, the university campus, and I run odd jobs. For instance I sometimes look for missing academics. Generally, although not on this occasion, I have tended to find them in public houses, or other people’s beds. Academics are after all only human. I wear a suit, I have a bowler hat. Many people say I have a winning smile.

So eventually I found the church, and because I’d done my research into Dominic’s diary (still in his luggage in the bursar’s lodge of that little College), and into C. G. Howes volume – not Dominic’s obviously, but the College’s library was adequate enough to contain a copy – I wasn’t surprised, in one way, by what I found although I was in others.

There were, certainly, four figures in the stained glass window, but there was no such right hand figure as the book had described. While it was true that the three leftmost figures may well, I am no expert, have dated from the thirteenth, twelth, and sixteenth centuries, the last panel of glass was one of those modern types of stained glass which I profoundly hope the University never sees fit to adopt in any of its chapels.

It was a scarlet figure wrapped in green, and blue mosaic – perhaps intended to convey kingship, but if so it was a king of a modern kind, all hand-wringing and asking people ‘how did you get here today?’ and ‘and commenting that their jobs ‘must be interesting.’ Not, as you might say – a King in Narnia – and not a King in peculiar yellow glass, predating the twelfth century. It was a King with a small black case on a leather strap slung over its shoulder.

The other thing about it was the artistry of its tiny face, which scarlet suit not withstanding – for no one ever remembered him ever wearing anything but hard-wearing tweed – was that of a substantially accurate likeness of Dominic Trelayn.

There’s not very much left to be said. Dominic, who must have disappeared to somewhere, never returned. The Rector of the Church believed that the stained glass must have been changed in his absence, perhaps on the order of the Bishop – for he had made a number of requests for funding to address the chapel window – the fourth figure needing at least cleaning, and he had found it to prey upon certain of his parishioner’s minds. Indeed it had been hidden by a draw-string curtain for many years, since the time of his predecessor the Reverend Thomas Havering.

There is perhaps one unusual postscript though it is hard to see how it could possibly relate to Dominic’s departure for realms unknown.

The third of his lectures, at that very opinionated, and lower class body – I believe it to have originally been a polytechnic – ended in a student riot.  The replacement for Doctor Trelayn, a worthy but somewhat dull academic from the Other Place, no doubt the best that could be go on short notice, and for little money, was beginning his discussion of whatever piece of medieval history he had decided to lay before the undergraduates, when in his own words:  “A cloud of yellow dust, blew me off the bally stage”.

That  the dust cloud, became a figure, and that it delivered, what can only be called a lecture, is I believe maintained by many of the audience, but then they were only undergraduates, and they are presently, in the majority of cases, undergoing psychological treatments.  Still perhaps there was a sense of obligation, after all nobles obliges. We can, however, I feel, only be grateful that the substance of that lecture is lost to us.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Godzilla In Liverpool

The Liver Building where
My grandfather,
Worked in insurance, burns,
The Liver Birds, melted to metal droplets
Vapourised to rain, fly finally away.
The meteor debris of sundering fire
Falls upon Canning, and on Salthouse Dock
And up Lord Street and Church Street,
See he strides.
And Bluecoat Children flee, as fearful hordes
Along no-longer Bold Street, inbetween
Cathedrals raised to subtly different takes
Upon a far more human featured God.

He kills a smaller number than the War,
Burns fewer Churches,
But he moves as one,
Colossal, entity,
In whose dark wake,
Three graces fall in ruin,
Under whose shadow,
The city's people,
Ants, more than beatles,
Scurry, lost, alone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Why Faction Paradox Is Part Of The Doctor Who Universe

'Cos it is.

Faction Paradox is first described in a licenced work of prose Doctor Who fiction.  FACT!

In their current form in Licensed prose fiction Faction Paradox continue to interact with other licensed DWU characters, and with others which may well thematically and functionally represent entities where licenses are not practically available.  FACT!

Ergo - the only possible reason for not concluding FP is DWU is a sufficiency of cash to obtain the licenses.

Therefore: Send me (or better yet Stuart Douglas of Obverse books) a wad of cash.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Ruthless Rhymes

Ruthless Rhymes

On Friendship

I tend to like my friends alive
For though the dead ones are no trouble
When I think how I had to strive
To kill them, it’s incredibubble.

On Marriage(s)

I hope you know I only jest
For I would never take the life
Of any friend from worst to best
Now on the other hand, a wife...

It’s true I’ve only had the nine
And that they were unlucky all
The crashing car, the poisoned wine,
That unseen bear-trap in the hall.

The puffer-fish that some how got
Into the celebration flan,
The creature that time had forgot
(Not meant, now, to be known by man)

Who knew it would become enraged?
I should have locked the time machine,
Or kept the safety bar engaged
Upon the Upper Pleistocene.

Too, many thought, I should have guessed
The need for entertaining fare
When Dracula, comes as a guest
It’s always for the host to share.

And number seven, (hair of red)
Started out lucky, but no more
For though the Tiger was well fed
She should have picked the Other Door.

Eight and Nine, were practically
One and the same, well being twins,
I draw no line exactically
Where one ends or where one begins.

They’re both dead now.  The balloon burst,
The zeppelin also caught alight,
 I sometimes think I have been cursed
That things just never turn out right.

But still, I hear you’re single now
How many husbands dead? A Dozen?
I’d marry you with hopeful vow
Oh wait, no Damn! I am your cousin.

On Chocolate

I kept lying there thinking, what had I done.
And where was the body, and who hid the gun,
But these are the things that you’re bound to regret
When far too much chocolate meets Russian roulette.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

TheTaxonomy of Lesser Known Supernatural Beasts

The shadow wolf and shadow bat
Share the same gothic habitat
But harder than vampire's tooth enamel
The lot of the poor shadow camel
Which tries to slink from shade to gloom -
The shadow elephant in the room -
The suns' rays shine too vast to number,
Through dusk and mirk and kind penumba.
The shadow sloth too has its flaws,
Though armed with mighty clutching claws,
Though it leaps up at sink of sun
The day has dawned 'er it's begun.
Shadow wolves also have a pack
And not a hump upon their back,
Shadow camels are sick as fuck
They think the wolves got all the luck.

[Inspired by Simon Forward's Shadow Wolf, poem]

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Exciting(ish) news


My Mycroft Holmes narrated Sherlock Holmes story "A Family Resemblance" is out in Titan Book's ASSOCIATES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES edited by the excellent GEORGE MANN.

He, Cavan Scott, Andrew Lane and I will be signing copies at the book's launch at Forbidden Planet in London between 6-7 on Thursday 1st September.

See details here:


My esteemed friend and colleague Andrew Hickey has reviewed my book THE KING IN YELLOW / Le Roi En Jaune, here:


Well, *I* think those are both exciting pieces of news.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Referwonky (after Lewis Carroll)

`Twas brexit, and the tory coves
conspired the leadership to grab
All flimsy were the Boris-Goves
And the May-wrath outCrabb.
"Beware the Referwonks, my son!
Seek not to jaw of laws mismatch!
Beware the Ukip bund, and shun
The farragous Pandersnitch!"
He took his Corbyl sword in hand:
Long time the marxist's foe he sought --
So rested he by the SunScum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in whutnuxt thought he stood,
The Pe-el-Pe with eyes of flame,
Came waffling through the Lobbyley wood,
And backbit as it came!
One, two! One, two! but though twice through
The Corbyl blade went snicker-snack!
It had two faces on its head
And just came blairing back.
"What backbit by the Pe-el-Pe?
When Referwonks are seen to rove?
It might still have been worse, you see
The Boris, fell at it's own Gove!

(Corbyl sword suggested by Dave Stone)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

John Brexitman

Enter the wooden voting cubical,

One of three standing in the old Church hall -

Remember Nanny's words upon the landing

To do your best, and be so sensible:

The vote once cast is sacred after all.

Even in pencil it will not be changed

To doubt that is to doubt the entire state.

Even the moderns are not so deranged

As to suggest the turning wheels of fate,

Are clocked back like a duff mileometer

By government men in tweeds or volent checks.

This is the moment twixt Bremain and Brex

Mark just one X against one option there,

Remember how Joan with her yellow hair

Insisted that to vote In was the thing.

Yet Nigel promised that the funds

That we give now to foreign junketting,

Might buy a goodly number of hot buns

To feed the injured in our hospital.

Oh lord the strain of making out who's right

On one side Marx on other Capital,

Or In or Out, or even day or night.

There - I've marked one, should I have marked the other?

Harked to Nigel, Nanny, Joan, or Mother?

It's folded now,

I did vote in,  I know,

Or did I?  Dear me, how the memory goes.

I don't suppose it matters anyway

What is one vote but dust upon one's shoes

That any spit and polish wipes away.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Fragment of a children's story from a dream...

It was pirate week at Geoffrey's school and everyone was excited.
The school trip was to Cut-throat Cove, and Cut-throat Cove was home to two great pirates:
Captain Faithless and Shark-Tooth Ned.

Shark-Tooth Ned had sailed with Carcosa Jack under the Barbary Moon, and Captain Faithless had killed his own crew for gold in the salt and peppery waters of the Devil's Spice Islands, and every man's hand now was against him.

The two pirates hated each other and it was said that it was only their burning rivalry that had kept them alive all these long years.

For both of them had loved the she-Captain Jacqueline Smee whose father had sailed with Hook himself.
She had scorned to choose between them, saying no pirate captain would she wed but only an honest man whose hands weren't red with Tortuga gold, nor yellow with sailors' blood. (Ah, she were bonny but she were colour-blind.)

Faithless had moored his ship, the Scarlet Eel in the lee of Saucepan Island, whose lagoon bubbles and froths and boils where the volcano mutters in the deeps. He manned his ship alone, for no crew would serve under a man who'd cut the throats of his own sailors for nothing but gold. Jewels now, that would have been understood.

Geoffrey and the rest of 7b came along side the Scarlet Eel in the school's motorboat and finding Faithless asleep - owing to too much gunpowder rum - tied him up. Geoffrey put on the Captain's black pirate hat, o waterproof leather, and took one of his powder pistols. It went off and sent a ball through Michael Jones' lunch box.  Mrs Mercator who was in charge said Geoffrey should give the pistol to her.

Michael said he liked black powder sandwiches.  The motorboat sailed to the edge of Loudhailer Island, the whole shape of which magnifies every sound, for it is one vast cave.

An awful growling groan was coming from the cave mouth.  Dragons! said Jane - but this was, Geoffrey pointed out, pirate week, not Dragon week.  Ogres, said Arthur, but Geoffrey just gave him a look.

Mary who was by far the bravest of 7b was all for going into the cave, but before she could the groaning became a sort of song.

'Oh serve me rum, when day is done
And serve me more in bed
A hot spiced glass
And a pretty lass
For my name is Shark-Tooth Ned!'

He sang his name 'Ssshaarrk Toooth' probably because of the aforesaid dental impediment. Geoffrey, Mary, Michael, Jane, Arthur, and Mrs. Mercator steered the motorboat round.Loudhailer Island until they found Ned stitting in a rowing skiff with a vast pirate's blanket of sea-sheep's wool over his knees, and his face cradled in his hands.

Oh maties, he cried when he saw them - Ye may have taen old Faithless napping for the brute was ever a slave to drink, but Captain Ned suffers no lubbers to take him down.

And he pulled from under his sea-sheep's blanket a great blunderbus full of grapeshot and crammed with black powder.

Hands up! my jolly children, hands up school marm who should no better than to sail around Cut-throat Cove. Hand over you valuables!

Be reasonable - said Geoffrey, how can we hand over our valuables with our hands up.  Besides we aren't allowed to bring valuables on school trips, not since Astronaut Week.

Thank you so much, said Michael - you know I won't get any pocket money until that camera phone makes re-entry.

Ned groaned and set his blunderbus aside.  I wish, I could have been an Astronaut, and never a pirate - he said - but me maths let me down.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Poem On "Mary Worth" in the style of Wallace Stevens

Wear purple, and fixedly proclaim,
Your aphorisms, as if you were wise,
For wisdom seemingly is all you have,
To lave your meddling with sweet champagne.
Let people read your words and find them meet,
As close to truth as things their mothers’ said,
This is the empty winding of the sheet,
This is the vain conviction of the dead.

Tiptoe your careless, carefulness,
As cats through ornaments their bodies thread,
Along the mantelpieces of the mind,
Where Dresden shepardesses mark the pyre.
These are the times we envy not the dead,
Although upon that road our steps conspire,
Hush, hush, we step so lightly none will cry,
Or turn in bitter sleep as we pass by.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

First review of my Black Archive book.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The World Of The End

The End Of The World by Archibald MacLeish
Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
The armless ambidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe,
And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting
The neck of Madame Sossman while the drum
Pointed, and Teeny was about to cough
In waltz-time swinging Jocko by the thumb
Quite unexpectedly the top blew off:

And there, there overhead, there, there hung over
Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
There in the starless dark, the poise, the hover,
There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
There in the sudden blackness the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing — nothing at all.

The World Of The End by Simon Bucher-Jones

White out expectantly, the too full page,
The headless editor was tightening
The pencil parallels to form a cage
And Bugs the Bunny was engaged in frightening
The apoplectic, hesitant and stuttering pig
Porcinely and protractedly, agog
Until the words, unutterably big
Write out expectantly their ambient fog:

And there, there underneath, there, there foot-wreathed
Under the mirror glass pavements, thousand curling toes
There in the awful underness, the gulf, endeeped,
Nothing, but nothing, in the abyss shows,
There in the black ink blackness of black strokes,
The kraken of the underworld concealed
Only the epitaph – ‘tha’ that’s all folks!’
Appears where every ending is revealed.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Part of a story I'm working on...


In the head of the great statue of Mu-ra-oir in the jungle plateau, beyond the hills are set twelve great yellow diamonds, each the size of a sphere that would fit precisely in the circle made by the index finger and thumb of a large man’s hand.

Any single diamond would ransom a European princess from a space-pirate, or buy a small island in the American archipelago where a man might rest under the waving palms: all twelve would fund an empire, or fund the toppling of one.

But they will never be stolen, for the jungle guards them, and worse. According to my noble guide, a fanatic sect makes the great pilgrimage of Mu-ra-oir, to bow at the shrouded feet (which it is death to see) of the statue, twice every Venusian year. If they were to discover the diamonds were missing (and they would, for the beautiful face of Mu-ra-oir is a blessing as great, as his awful feet are a curse, and thus the sinecure of all their eyes, as Mrs. Malaprop would have had it) they would – after blindfolding themselves - remove the shrouds from the feet of the statue, and the god Mu-ra-oir would stride forth to recover his eyes.

Striding forth, legend recounts, the statue would change and shrink, and take on the form of a Venusian, of prime years, filled with an evil wisdom and an awful science, dedicated to the recovery of the eyes, sworn to bring vengeance to the thieves and to all who had laid hands upon the gems, and to their families to the seventh generation.

This at least is the belief of the tall plateau tribes of Venus, and if the sophisticates of the lower towns, and the sub-swamps scoff at their high-dwelling kin’s creeds, still Venusians whisper in awe of the time-lost destruction of the ancient dynasty of Hulc, whose founder queen M’mab wore for a time the fifth eye of Mu-ra-oir in her crown.

Out of the jungle, and down from the hills came the avenger called Valdavor Va, whose feet were never seen naked (being covered in the skins of serpents killed in the jungle), and the prehistoric dynasty was laid waste to the seventh generation before the evil hand of Valdavor Va was lifted from the lands of Hulc.

Thus say the Venusians, and it would be – I verily believe – better for an earthman to cut off his own hands, than to touch the gems (if they exist), for any Venusian would happily conspire to his death thereafter, lest the evil genius Valdavor Va (who is the dreadful, vengeful emanation of Mu-ra-oir) should come forth again.

In so doing it is not that the average Venusian is bloodthirsty – no more so than an earthly bandito, or politician at any rate - nor that they themselves believe a gem, in itself, whether stolen or not, is a thing that outweighs the life of a person, but they believe that until such a thief is slain : Mu-ra-oir will not sit in his seat in the temple of pilgrimage, and that his feet are abroad in the land, and this is intolerable to them, for if the feet be abroad albeit covered, they may be seen if Valdavor Va so wills it, and any who see the feet of Mu-ra-oir (even shrunk into the pedal extremities of Valdavor Va) will become mindless and dreadful creatures, and a curse will fall upon the lands of Venus. Further unless he sits in his seat in the temple of pilgrimage, Mu-ra-oir cannot bring the soft rains, and all the Venusians of the high lands believe still, that if the soft rains do not come, Venus will wither and die and become a world of boiling heat and stifling air, and a lit jewel of the solar system will flicker and die.

                     Charles Dickens’ Pictures from Venus (1846)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Now available for pre-order, volume #5 in the Black Archive - a series of in depth looks at individual Doctor Who episodes.  My volume on THE IMAGE OF THE FENDAHL.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

In memorium - Ray Bradbury - THE RAINBOW

It was Mah who saw it first, over the neck of the dimorphodon on which he was feeding.  Startled, he let his lips’ pressure on the vein lessen, and a gust of blood spurted into his right eye.

How we laughed.

We were in lively spirits – despite having been dreadfully ill for forty days and nights with ‘running water sickness’.

The giant Coffin Barge, its wooden decks spread with a layer of our native soil (from the land of Nod) had sustained us, and now we were safely aground again: one valley along from those self-righteous Noahs.

The vision was a marvelous sight, a band of curdled anti-light across the night sky, seven bands of virulent non-colour.  Dead, Outrage, Gallow, Spleen, Grue,  Indignant, and Violent.

Mah’s brother Mehs came up with a way to remember them – ‘Dracula’s Orphans’ Goodness Slurped Greedily In Veins’.  (Dracula is a descendant of ours - promised unto us by Prophesy).  Ma gave him a disciplinary thwack with the old silver, for saying “G**dn*ss”.  We chortled to see him jump with a singed behind.

Pa suggested: “Devils Often Generate Significant Gains In Ventures” – which was worthy, but awfully dull.  Obviously I’m glad we didn’t dissolve in the flood-waters, and it’s marvelous that Pa is in like Cain with the Dark Angels – but I can’t help wish he was a bit more romantic. 

H’tepaj  - said *he* couldn’t see the difference between Indignant and Violent.  Mah said that “There wasn’t a difference -  with him” – which was funny because it was  true.  That started a fight.

My name?  I’m Babeleteqedes, and I generally run with Mehs when the blood-mood takes us.  I’m named after the Great Unholy Project that the Tyrant blasted just before the Flood – which is lovely (I don’t think).   I might as well be called Incomprehensibil or Glossolalaura.   Actually I wouldn’t mind ‘Gloss’, my hair is my best feature, and my teeth are nice and sharp unlike Mama Arazme who has false ones.  (She thinks we don’t know.)

Mah’s blood-mate Kuamataleen, and H’tep’s  Sesenatada  like to shorten their names to Kuama, and Sesen, but I call them K, and S for shorter still. 

Aside from the Unholy Beasts (we took the ones the snooty Noahs rejected) that’s all of us.  Eight vampires to carry on the tradition of the Night.   

It’s far too many.  Now that we’re ashore and not pink and horribly flushed with ‘running water sickness’, we’ll soon prune the ranks a bit.   Much as I find Pa dull, we probably can’t stake him yet – at least until we’ve got the recipes for Blood-wine, but Arazme the toothless, silver-cane wielder,  and K and S, are prey.  There can be only one Vampire Queen.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Afterwards and Before, by Thomas Hardy and Simon Bucher-Jones

Afterwards by Thomas Hardy

When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
"He was a man who used to notice such things"?

If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid's soundless blink,
The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight
Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,
"To him this must have been a familiar sight."

If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,
When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,
One may say, "He strove that such innocent creatures should
come to no harm,
But he could do little for them; and now he is gone."

If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at
the door,
Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees,
Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more,
"He was one who had an eye for such mysteries"?

And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom,
And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,
Till they rise again, as they were a new bell's boom,
"He hears it not now, but used to notice such things?"

Before by Simon Bucher-Jones

When you opened up your satchel to the faint morning ray,
And the homework flapped its few brown crumpled leaves,
Doodled and tangential, did your teachers say,
“Nobody that daydreams, any fame achieves” ?

If it was mid morning at Brockhampton’s small school,
Did the eight year old you see on the window, the green-gleam fly alight,
Did you note its shining carapace while seeming but a fool,
As the teacher said, “Now, Hardy – is that right?” ?

If you paused on the blackboard’s blackness, white-stone chalk a-raised,
In the hand to enscribe, when the cry of a Dorchester raven cawed,
Did Mr Last wax sarcastic and say, “Young Hardy strove to write, but was dazed,
Like a moth by a flame, like a poet by nature awed!” ?

If, when you had left school at last, to train under James Hicks
As an architect labouring with set squares, drawings, and measuring-strings,
Did they bring you no straw, to make your mental bricks,
Did they notice you notice, the least of the trembling things ?

When they heard of your fame after, who’d seen your face when young,
And who moved not where you moved, nor saw the things you grasped,
Did they think of nothing, but shrugging – off the thought as a wasp that stung,
That they had genius before them, though beyond what their hands had clasped ?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Vapour Clowns

When the circus is in town
They seep beneath the door
Their noses a red stain upon the air.
Their bodies made of laughing gas,
Perform the feat of fitting
Ninety-nine, in a car.
They take you high,
They hit you like a custard pie,
I don't know why I think of them.
Except that everything is thin,
Except shoes, which are enormous,
Pants which are baggy,
And filled with seltzer.

Those vapour clowns,
They blow me away.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Book News - Charles Dickens' Martian Notes, and continued 2016 Sale!

Slightly madly at least one person (1) ..has stated they think my al-hist, mash-up adventure, lit-crit, sf novel “Charles Dickens’ Martian Notes” is worth considering for a Hugo nomination. It’s self-published here:
22392449.html £2.50, and its also ‘under consideration’ by Gollancz and Angry Robot respectively.

Meanwhile the paperback and hardback versions of my take on THE KING IN YELLOW are now for sale at 25% and 30% and the e-book remains £2.50

Additionally LULU itself is having a SALE,

Buy 3 books, get the 4th free!

Just add 4 print books to your cart and one will be free (of equal or lesser value).
Cannot be combined with other offers. Only one free item per order.
Use Code: TRGE15

The more you buy, the more you save!

Save 10% when you buy 15 or more print books.
Combine this offer with our bulk tiers and save even more!
Use Code: TKD15

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Prehistory Of The Brakespeare Voyage

This synopsis dates from 2002, and predates the documents I've posted earlier. The novel here was substantially different - no Brakespeare for a start.


20 chapters
Technical and Other Appendices and side-bars, in style of Book of the War.

Main text

A young Scarratt, using the locking point of a murder of a prostitute in post-war Liverpool (historical fact) observes

  1. Compassion,
  2. the death of a nechronmancer,
  3. the death of a future-Scarratt.

    Side bars a) the post-book debriefing of a gibbering living-head (eventually revealed as a preserved Web-possessed Scarratt, here iconically parallel to the Templar’s alledged head of John the Baptist) and b) the rationale behind the use of murder as a time-line mapping point.   [3,300 words
    draft attached
Chapter One

Main Text

Compassion discovers the Great Attractor, and around it a web spun from 10 million years of Earth’s history ending with its fall into the Great Attractor, everything previous to this back to X AD Palestine has been dismantled into the web.  That age is occupied and being demolished.  She comes closer to investigate and is attacked by men of Titu’s 10th Legion, who have a suspiciously well informed – if crude - technique for attacking timeships.  Recovering she meets Judah of Xaoleth, a local servant of the Great Houses who smuggles her out of Titus’ bombardment to the city of


A slightly older Scarratt is demoted for refusing to kill Brennos during the sack of Delphi, he leaves a window of opportunity in case it proves necessary to return to the task.

Chapter Two

Main Text

A nechronomancer entering a decaying timeship, its structure ageing to dust in the far far future, discovers something horrible. Pulled back to the nosphere of House Xianthellipse, he dies, his body attempting to repair itself, but becoming (seemingly in a variant of a “dying man scrawling a few letter of his killer’s name cliché”) a dead, ten days older, Richard Scarratt.  Analysis shows he has advanced time-cancer.  [Aside, isn’t it odd that space prefixes are now silly, but time-prefixes are still sinister.]

Sidebar (told as continued debrief of “head”)

Xianthellipse troops reaching (actually the wrong conclusion) burst into Scarratt’s command post on Hesperidies where he’s in the process of rigging some local elections, to increase the probability of a coup twenty years future-wards.  It’s bread and butter work, and his Group are getting increasingly trigger-happy, a condition he likes to discourage when ever possible.  Scarratt is unsurprised by the arrival of the Xianthellipse Militia and  convinces them he isn’t going to be the killer of their nechronomancer by a) pointing out he isn’t able to survive that deep into time, and b) showing their leader his gallery: a pocket dimension full of dead Scarratt’s none more than a month older than him, and the most recent (found dead in an alley behind a notorious time brothel).  This is the dead body of which Scarratt gained future knowledge in the prologue].

Chapter Three

Main Text

Compassion has been brought to the settlements along the edge of the Sea of Galilee (as was) now a vast mud flat. There the pipes go deep into the Earth, breaking down raw elements and passing it up into the construction. Great ducts descend from orbit sucking the planet away a piece at a time, and breaking down space itself. 

 Judah has an acquaintance there (either an old enemy or an old friend) – “it’s all the same since the Great House came.  The first thing they stole was the meaning out of the past.  What matters a crooked dealing, or a betrayal now” - who now runs a ramshackle hostel for the workers who go into the ducts to clear away blockages.  The reader will be given plenty of opportunity to see how the corrosive environment within the ducts can break down any non-biological system (hence the use of humanoids) – this is because Compassion will have to venture into the ducts in chapter 18.

They plan to hid Compassion there until they can make use of her in an attack on the House.

Compassion has however by this time has recovered almost completely and frankly can’t see any point in hiding out in a lot of mouldy pipes full of time-distorted pipemen and servicers.  Instead she enfolds Judah and his friend [implicitly either Jesus or John the Baptist] and takes them to Jerusalem to confront the citadel of the Houses on Earth.


Scarratt and the Housemaster of Xanthellipse in charge of the dismantling discuss why the project is centered on Jerusalem rather than Rome, and its importance as a “pivot” in the “web we are seeking to weave around the future”.  Scarratt appears to be endeavouring to discover the purpose of the web.  He suggests that the House is fearful of something within the Time Hole, something in the early years of space and time.  Housemaster Escadrimis is dismissive of this.  ‘Oh much earlier than that’.   House Xanthellipse has inherited a peculiar crusade, a crusade to preserve the peace of God. 

Chapter Four

Main Text

Compassion arrives in Jerusalem, and finds a functioning if shell-shocked society – one which has lost its purpose at the fall of the temple – and the arrival (some say return) at that point of the Heavenly Hosts of the Great House forces, armoured creatures in the form of Ezekial’s angels prowl the skies, the voice of the House of Heaven speaks from Herod’s golden tower.  Soldiers from Rome, lost and beaten down are stoned in the streets [the historical death by pressing, not casting of the first stone].

News from Rome and the world is of upheaval and dismay. 

 Everything is tending to flux.  History is being melted in a refiner’s fire, all is to be spun into a golden thread, a net to catch a great hole in the sky.  “Sewing up the eye of God”.


The planet she is on is Dominius,a Fortress World on the edge of the Attractor maintained by one of the Great Houses, ostensively as a support station for Timeships swept towards the attractor, but she suspects that it is in reality watching it.  Dominius is one node in a “web in space” being built to surrounding the attractor, a lattice of hair like strands each around 75 million miles in thickness enclosing and embedding stars and planets, Dominius is due to be “progressively integrated into the web”, that is dismantled, a process that (we will discover) is actively resisted by some of its native inhabitants.  The dismantling as we will see goes beyond matter and involves strip-mining space itself, and “rethreading” the “cored” interior of the lattice with living material that will form a gargantuan nervous system welded to space-time..

To avoid time complications/ enemy interest the web is not timeship based technology but apparently a machine construct being added to continually by progressive von Neuman devices, weaving it around the “rim” or “lip” of the Great Attractor, a distance in total of a billion light years.   Once completed it will be the largest known normal matter structure ever made.  It seems to Compassion a vastly excessive project merely to save a few lost time-pilots from a plunge out of existance, and her interest (self, and otherwise) is tweaked.  Blinking herself forward in time to the projected completion date, she finds not only a ring of web around the GA, but arms curving upward and inward, and downward and inward. The web is going to eventually englobe the GA.  HOWEVER IT IS UNFINISHED AND IN RUINS. OBVIOUSLY DESTROYED BY NON-HOUSE XIANTHELLIPSE FORCES.

Note: the Great Attractor is creating a new type of space as it folds the universe in on itself, whether a natural phenomenon or the work of the enemy is uncertain. The web-nerve material is in fact a living creature, brought by Xianthellipse war-beastiery technology from another dimension, growing to engulf the stars. These are, perhaps, two horrors in opposition, and against this background of incorporation into a trans-galactic bionome or being flung into a world where space is time and time space, the inhabitants of Dominus have decided that parties, death-pacts, and the survival of the least fit are the order of the day.

Chapter Two

Under the threat of “progressive integration” life on Dominius still continues as normal for many people, who see the move to modules in the inner wall of the local web strand as something that won’t happen in their life-times.  The natives have a level of technology about that of 1930s earth, bolstered by dribs and drabs of House technology.  They have for instance faster planes and atomic clocks and it is a routine movement of such a clock by a fast plane that first detects an anomalous result in time.

Compassion feels this as a twinge in the small of her back, as if her posture’s bad. (she is feeling a constriction of local space although this is not immediately clear). [Fun interlude with male masseur?

Inappropriate pass met with “horrible monster form”, or with implied full on lust, note ask LM / Lars about levels of permitted violence/erotica/use of language].

Gradually Compassion discovers, that time on Dominius has begun to be strangely affected. Whereas normally a fast shuttle suffers a little time dilation (so an atomic clock on board would appear to lose some seconds) on Dominius, rapid movement has begun to abrade space – the planet is literally – and seemingly permanently - shrinking (albeit by microns) with every fast journey made by it inhabitants.

However the effect is adding up, and is [apparently] threatening the local node of the web.  The House masters running the construction, are considering bringing forward breaking up the planet before its raw mass is lost to this peculiar compaction.  Their overseer though, tells them that the effect is precisely what was expected. He describes the web as a “tornique”.

Things are however brought to a head when Compassion herself, before discovering exactly what’s happening moves (as she believes in the vortex) between continents while seeking scientists to discuss the compulsion that is impelling her towards the attractor, and in advertantly fuses two continents together, as she collapses the space in between.

[Scene,  one House Lord,  “Of course we can rely on the effect being inperceptable to native scientists for many years.”  Colleague (looking out of window) “No, I’m not sure we can”.  1st character turns, ocean scene established across balcony is gone and urban city in its place, buildings on edges cut and sheared strangely, all wet, dying fish, etc impalled on city spires. ]  

Detected  (wrongly) as the source – instead of an large example of – the problem, Compassion is attacked by the House Militia of Dominius and forced to hold them off without moving in space, as

She can not risk collapsing space further, or becoming more vulnerable to the compulsion which she has begun to associate with the problem of Dominius’s space-time.  She executes some basic “time only maneovres” but the troops have time-jewelry and pursue her.

[Possible, - set bits of this pursuit in other chapters of book, as Compassion jumps forward into her own future.  And indeed inside herself.(a rare case of jumping into one’s own skin)  Note use of time-jewelry suggests troops may in fact work for Scarratt ].

She is eventually cornered, by the troops – when a door in the air opens and, an arm (Scarratt’s pulls her in).  Scarratt is travelling with a nechronomancer “Temnos Ra”   “Don’t blame me dear, it’s a guild rule we have to be vain” and a beautiful albino woman.  [“So who’s the white witch?” compassion asks].  Scarratt tells Compassion he needs her to promise to kill him on sight the next time she sees him.

He claims to have gone into the Attractor and “bounced”. Now fragmented rogue anti-Scarratt’s backwards in temprement and Time-flow are causing havoc, and absolutely “wrecking his good name with the ladies”.  He has tracked the last three to Dominus.   [This account is a lie as we will learn in a confrontation between a Web-Scarratt and Compassion later, in fact he has bargained with the Web itself, giving it sufficient biodata to grow itself into twenty hims (ten of which are dead so far). If a Web-him can escape into non-House space it will spread the web over space and time, outside Xianthellipse’s control, in return he has learned, he hopes, how to enter the Attractor safely.  He is playing a cat and mouse game with himself, unsure actually if the Web is indeed a danger, space is big after all.] 

Chapter Three-Eighteen

Bulk of book, with character development, hardest to plot out. Bear with me here.  It gradually draws together the vast planetary scope of Scarratt and Compassion’s search for his other selves, down into the bucolic gothic horror of the L and M narrative.

Chapter Eighteen

L tries to defend his father, but Scarratt brutally tells him his father is dead.  Not redeemed by suffering, not altered by his woes, but just dead, and buried in the long barrow behind the pipeworks.

The thing posing as his father, is the last web-copy of Scarratt, which forced its copied biodata to

Recreate itself in the immolation that supposedly changed M’s character.  Now with Scarratt too ravaged by time-cancer to act, and the fake-father in the ducts is safe from Compassion. From there he will be drawn up and incorporated into the biomass that will form part of the web itself, this was the web’s real plan, not to escape but to learn the time-manipulating secrets from Scarratt’s biology and return them to itself.  Or so it seems, but now, she ventures into the duct with L providing her with eyes and ears.

Chapter Nineteen

In the duct her hyper-senses are simply too acute, it is a link to a superconductor of information channelling the other worlds in the great web, it drowns her. [Chance for traditional futureward flashes of later books in series? / other author’s settings] L has to guide her.  [Note possibly intimately/sexually? Symbolically/symbiotically anyway. We’re talking a bareback riding motief, establish earlier a “cowboy” persona for L?]  He also has to choose whether or not to kill the think he’s learned to love as his father, or not.  It was a lie, and yet it did genuine good.  In the end he doesn’t kill it, even though he has the time-gun he took from Scarratt, the biologically engineered time-gun from chapter four (odd how useful that is in a duct environment, eh Scarratt?).

Chapter Twenty

Compassion interrogates the snatched Web-Scarratt [learning the truth of Scarratt’s involvement] and decides to let it go, but only on a world who’s sun is due to nova in 20 years. She tells it she intends to inspect in 19, and decide then what’s to be done.  In twenty years even a thing that can make a civilisation from itself shouldn’t have gone from flints to rocketry.  However when she’s gone the Web-thing reaches out and remodulates the sun.

[Note this is the sun, Scarratt had on his list to save in Chapter Three].  Cut to Scarratt, in pain and under treatment, who knows the Web-duplicate has time-cancer (which he incubated in himself prior to providing the biodata) [hence the death of the nechronomancer, copying the web-scarratt who he had encountered to the biodata level] and thus only about a brief time to live.  


Scarratt is about to take the last dose of antidote (the glowing blue-vials seen in Chapter four), and find it has been removed [by Compassion in chapter five].  Without it, he is permanantly marked by the time-cancer, though he survives.  “At last a scar,” he muses, “touche, Compassion, we must meet again”.

Compassion  begins to brew/decant/create more antidote, and makes a note to herself to revisit the world of the Web-Scarratt in when its ready. Then she’ll really control it.  But a still voice in her head wonders, is it control she wants or the sort of gratitude the scarratt-thing displayed to its “son”, even if it was only a lie.

Simon BJ


Friday, January 15, 2016

Monthly writing / activity update


I've finished a short story, involving Sherlock Holmes - but not narrated by him or Watson, and sent that off to the editor of an anthology.  More on this when or if I can make an announcment.

I've got editor's comments on my Black Archive #5Image of the Fendahl, and am working on a revised draft. Editor generally complimentary, which was nice, but somethings to do.  Deadline for this is between 22nd Jan and 12th Feb.

I'm going to submit my novel 'Charles Dicken's Martian Notes' to the Gollancz open-call next week, so wish me luck.  If I hear nothing from them I'll be producing a 'racier' more pulp paperback version during the year - using the conceit - of a 'third party' pirating the 'original' 'real' account.

I'm appearing in Panto for charity at the end of the month: this year I play the part of Prince Not-So Charming, the adopted brother of Sleeping Beauty (aka Barry).

- That seems almost like, in my writing at least, I am managing to deal with depression and actually do something. Hooray.