Stanley Spencer – New Stories 2

I posted a link yesterday to my most recent story, in December’s Compelling SF magazine.

The second story I want to plug appeared in another new science fiction magazine (exciting times!). This was Phantaxis, which published its first issue in November 2016, and is already onto issue number 3.

phantaxis-magazine-1The magazine is well worth checking out. Over 150 pages, and packed with new fiction for a very reasonable price.

I was so pleased to have a story in the very first edition of the new magazine. It was – I confess – something of an oddity. The title is “How Stanley Spencer Painted the Cookham Resurrection.”

It’s a time travel story. To enjoy it, you don’t absolutely have to be familiar with Britain’s top painter of the 20th Century, and his famous painting (see above), which is currently in the Tate Britain. But it probably helps!

Here’s the opening of the story as a taster. To read it all, you’ll need to check out Phantaxis #1 here.

HOW STANLEY SPENCER PAINTED THE COOKHAM RESURRECTION

 By Chris Barnham

 There were three of us for the Spencer Op. The other two were Nancy Prior and Danny Marlowe. Danny and me go back a long way; we’ve both done enough years at the Office that nothing can surprise us, except maybe how long they might make us work for our pensions. Nancy is younger and keener.

“Are you sure I can’t get closer to the action?” she asked as we stashed our things in the lockers before the Jump. The Office’s Darnell Suite has seen better days and the flaking paint on the walls and the chipped tiles in the showers make me depressed.

Showers are necessary, as you know if you’ve ever done a Darnell Jump. Living things have to go separate from inanimate objects. If you’re carrying anything, the Jump won’t work. If you’re wearing normal clothing, it works but you spend the next two days puking up. My advice: go naked and scrub every gram of dust from your body.

Some people get away with a light covering, something natural, like thin cotton. Me, I Jump buffo and I knew Danny did too. I didn’t know Nancy’s preference, but I was hopeful. She was, after all, something of a looker.

“You’ve read the file, Nance.” I closed my locker door. “Case the area round the church. Danny and I do the scouting to flush out the bad guys. Once they see we’re on to them, chances are they clear out. Job done.”

“If they’re even there.”

There’s never any certainty about that, just the usual flaky OffTime intel; rumours that a gang of Christian nut jobs wanted to swipe Spencer and trash his painting. No clue who they were, or how many.

I went first, giving Nancy and Danny a mock salute as I entered the booth. Disappointingly, Nancy had opted for the calico cloak option and looked like a Halloween ghost. Danny wore what his mother had first seen him in, looking a bit cold, I had to admit.

Inside the booth there was a brief flash of violet light and a puff of air in my face, like a balloon popped silently nearby. I lurched sideways, as if the ground had shifted a few inches.

It was a week earlier when Daniels gave me the Op. We were in one of the glass pods the Office used for meeting rooms, and as we spoke I could see the OffTime offices emptying, people grabbing coats and disappearing into the gloaming.

“So this guy’s a painter?”

“Was,” Daniels said. “He died in 1959.”…..

(To read the whole story, and plenty of other fine new SF stories, check out Phantaxis magazine.)

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All That is Solid – New Stories 1

What with one thing and another I’ve neglected blogging and writing lately. So it was pleasing to publish three new stories at the back end of 2016. Over the next couple of days, I’ll post links to where you can find them (mostly for free!).

Here’s the first

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Ten Valleys and a Badger Sett – South West Coast Path Day 10

Hartland Quay to Bude
42,000 steps

imageBy the morning, the rain has disappeared, and the wind has dropped away, giving us unexpectedly pleasant conditions as we set out. The sky is overcast and grey, but there are occasional fragments of blue in the distance, promising better weather later.

 

My guide book has whetted our appetite by telling us that the route ahead is

“one of the most scenic and dramatic stretches” of the coast path…”but also one of the toughest”.

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Early Musings and Late Penalties – South West Coast Path Day 9

Clovelly to Hartland Quay
30,000 steps

When I returned from the last instalment, I told my good friend Jerry that the next two stages were described in the guide book as ‘moderate to strenuous’ and (oh joy) ‘severe’.

“Oh?” said Jerry, with a tone like I’d just told him Madonna was on the line, at a loose end after her date had cancelled. He was in.

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Bugs and Wet Feet – South West Coast Path Day 8

Westward Ho! To Clovelly

32,000 steps

2016-07-24 10.20.42For the past two days the weather forecast for today has been suggesting a chance of rain.  We wake up to find that chance has materialised. The road outside is wet. More rain is promised for the rest of the morning.

At breakfast, Sam has his iPad out and looks up maths puzzles. I can tell today’s walk will be one to savour. Continue reading

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Walking Games and Cream Tea – South West Coast Path Day 7

Instow to Westward Ho!

30,000 steps

Instow

Instow

Instow has a pleasantly nautical air, with sailing boats rooted in the low-tide mud, and a wide expanse of yellow sand. The town is pretty, with a parade of pastel-shade villas along the waterfront, many with boldly-coloured shutters. A cricket pitch perches above the estuary. Everyone seems to have a wet dog, and knows everyone else.

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Pokemon Gone – South West Coast Path Day 6

Barnstaple to Instow

10,000 steps

It has taken longer than I expected, but finally we set out to resume the coastal trek. This time I have company: my son Sam, making his long-distance footpath debut. His proud mother takes a picture of us as we leave the house.

Now taller than Dad. And thinner.

Now taller than Dad. And thinner.

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