short stories

These are my short stories. I'll be adding to them fairly regularly, so expect the list to grow. As a writer, I find these fun to create. They're freeing, simple and feather-light. They are the soufflé of stories. Currently, these shorts amount to 80,000 words.

Dervish 458

Written in 2019 and just under 13,000 words (46 pages, approx), this is pure sci-fi with just a dash of horror (but no gore).

Cover copy:

This morning I woke with the rosey glow of someone pumped and aching to begin a day brimming with the promise of this world’s strange nature being revealed at last. 

By this evening everyone is dead, and I’m trying to get off this accursed planet. 

And in between, a load of stuff happened; not all of which I’m especially proud of. 

Isn’t it funny how quickly a day can just skitter away from you?

 - - -

I wrote this: first, to get back into writing after being too busy being that other guy; and second, as a challenge to write a purely character-driven story with no dialogue.

Enjoy the sample and if you liked what you read, mail me for the full story.

There is no God

I know because He told me

Written in 2019 and just over 13,000 words (48 pages, approx), this is a speculative sci-fi, Fermi paradox stuff with a Creator bent.

Cover copy:

Yesterday, I lived in world of boundless possibilities, of a universe to explore, of discoveries to be made that would shake us to our core. Yesterday, I was young and stupid and all the better for it. Today, I look at the prison, I see the bars - the tantalising hints of what lies beyond - and I wish that I had never ventured out there in the first place.

What was I thinking?

Who was I kidding?

They say that ignorance is bliss, right? Well, they were spot on.

And I should know.

 - - -

This I wrote - in juxtaposition to Dervish - to explore the use of realistic dialogue. I also wanted to try a contrasting character and I was challenging myself to come up with a story to go with the title (which came to me first).

Enjoy the sample and if you liked what you read, mail me for the full story.

Ascent into Madness

Written in 2020 and 9,000 words (38 pages, approx), this is a speculative scf-fi about ascension and the idea that knowledge too can chain us.

Cover copy:

When they sent me down into that poisonous world, to discover Venus’ secret, I was a different me. When I came back I was changed: resolved, engorged somehow. Well, mostly. And now, having returned to the ship, they’re trying to kill me. Honestly - just ask we.

I’m not sure if they’re trying to kill me because of what I know, or what I’ve become. Although, right at this moment, I suspect the reason falls secondary to the act. Also, I can’t quite work out if I’ve had a psychotic break or not. I mean, if I had, I wouldn’t know that I had, right? Hello… You there? Yes, you. Looking, staring. You. Seriously; sometimes I wonder if I’m not just talking to myself.


So, busy day. Best get on.

 - - -

I've been wanting to explore the idea of madness for a while and thus to attempt to write a character experiencing it. I set it in Venus because it's just such an interesting place. And what I learned during my research of the planet, I applied to Love is a Red Balloon.

Enjoy the sample and if you liked what you read, mail me for the full story.

An Orignal Thought

Written in 2021 and just over 13,000 words (54 pages, approx), this is a speculative story regarding social media, race, the power of an idea and the human condition.

Cover copy:

‘Hello? Is any…body…?’ Looks around pod in confusion/fear. ‘I don’t seem to… Is this about that Friday? It wasn’t my fault, you know. Seriously. I mean, that thing nearly took my head off, so like… it’s not like I-’

‘Hello, M.’ Offers reassuring/calmful mouth smiling gesture.

‘Woooah,’ pulls away in surprise/shock, ‘who the fu- Where in seven hells did you spring from?’ Breathing rate increases. Forehead becomes involuntarily moist.

‘Please, do not be alarmed. Your cooperation in establishing the origin point will be most appreciated. The provision of your account of events leading up to the-’

‘This is about the job on that Friday isn’t it? Well, I can spare you the trouble. I had nothing to do with it going bad like that. Nadda. I’m the victim here, you get me?’

Pause.

‘Which will no doubt become clear once you begin your account retrieval.’

Item breaths out and visibly calms. Facial muscles ease and pupil dilation renormalises. ‘Okay then, so like, just so we’re crystal; I’m not in any trouble. Right? This is all just between us, yeah? No corporates, becau-’

Nods head in soothing non-verbal reinforcement action.

Underlying suspicion of motive appears reduced. ‘Well, okay then. Just so long as… right. Good. I mean, I’m happy to cooperate and all, it’s just…’ Adjusts self in chair. ‘If it matters t’you that much, then fine.’ Smiles thinly in apparent easing of inner tension. ‘It was the last job on a Friday, typically…’

 - - -

I've been trying to get this story out of my head for some time. My first attempt ended up as After the Rise. The problem was that I didn't have an angle, a premise, to root the story in. But finally my brain figured it out: an interview. They say you shouldn't have favourites, but...

Enjoy the sample and if you liked what you read, mail me for the full story.

A Light Beyond the Stars

Written in 2021 and a little under 15,000 words (64 pages, approx), this is a science fiction story (with just a pinch of the speculative) and deals - from a unique viewpoint - with the environment (the love of the natural world), the intimacy, intensity, of a close relationship and the ease of cultural misunderstandings. It also tries to wrap its tiny mind around the all-bending issue of... time.

Cover copy:

They were the farthest out along the rolling way and so they knew - when word reached them - that they would be the one’s to go and come again to prevent the all-ending. To protect their blessed biome, and all those others further in, lost to the future but safe still in the past.

Of course they understood the loop trap that they could not roll around, but then it was only theoretical and completely unprovable within the fixed nature of the universal all-brane.

And so dutifully, they went so to come again, back to their beloved life-sphere.

What they did not expect - once the calm-space had passed through the horizon-shim - was the fearful light-heat and the mandible-grapple unfolding there.
Or the truly, shockingly alien not-void-life: hot, hard, metallic, toxic.
Or even the entangled light-hole that threatened their own sweet sphere.
But mostly, what they fully did not expect to find was their past rolling out of the future in quite the way that it was.

But then that’s circularity entrapment causations for you.

- - -

Like No God, I came up with the title before I had any idea as to the story, except that it was to involve a cause-effect time travel paradox, and be told from a non-human perspective. See a light, travel to its origin point to stop said light, end up causing light.

Enjoy the sample and if you liked what you read, mail me for the full story.

The Final Incidence

Written in 2021 and over 18,000 words (80 pages, approx), this is a philosophical science fiction story about simulation, reality, real and artificial, God the universe and everything. What will happen at the end of time and how will we know it, and it know us? Big hand, small map stuff.

Cover copy:

The Settled Notion is a simple thing. A single Belief, but one must have Faith to truly know it. Something only the true life livers have and even then, only a select few of us. I was once an initiate of our Order, then to become The Revered and now Witness. Here to observe the death of our universe so that it can die. 

And why? 

Well, now there’s a thing to ask. I watched the Cascade, and it barely drew a tear. I watched my race fight the entropy of a contracting universe and pondered the point of their railing against the dying light. I watched as my beloved’s ashes became dust became muons and felt the crushing guilt of it. And I have waited, countless aeons, for this moment. Simply to Witness and in so doing, save us all, even though I alone remain. 

I am Watcher, Witness, God-To-The-End-Of-Time.

- - -

I started this story thinking I was writing The Observer Effect, but I decided that whatever that is, this isn't it. This is a story with a different focus. I like that the characters are new, and not derivative of previous stories. And I like that it's present tense but isn't engaging the reader directly. It's more as if the reader is merely viewing, which is key to the story.

Enjoy the sample and if you liked what you read, mail me for the full story.

The Observer Effect

Written in 2022 and over 20,000 words (86 pages, approx), this is a pure science fiction story about how the observed affect the observers, not the other way around. It's based on the idea that anyone sent to observe a world couldn't help but be drawn in. Plus, there's another party at play seeking to achieve that very thing.

Cover copy:

The Observer Effect is the disturbance of an observed system through the act of observation. Yet no one ever questions the effect upon the observers by that which is being observed. 

One did, though, and sent a team of not particularly skilled or prized mechaforms to the gash-city of Shattered Light, on the fringe of Supine Pan. High above the city, aboard the Hadromere, they spent their awake time observing the Ages of the unique world below, reporting their findings Upstairs. 

Only something wasn’t quite right. Someone had an oar and was sticking it in. 

And that oar in their sandpit — it was risked the whole experiment, indeed the planet itself, as well as their ability to find the answer to a question no one had ever asked. 

Upstairs would not be pleased. Probably. 

Also, they absolutely were not supposed to go down to the planet. Big no-no.

- - -

The world-building aspect of this story is inspired by the Culture novels of Iain M. Banks, which are some of the best science fiction there is. I have wanted to build a wider world to set some stories in, and so this fitted nicely. It's a simple tale, with some set-piece scenes and a well realised world. For me, it's the world-building and, as always, the characters.

Enjoy the sample and if you liked what you read, mail me for the full story.

The Difference Engine

Coming just as soon as I work out what my Difference Engine is, etc.

Oh my gosh, how can I read these totally awesome short stories?

Good question, made-up person. I’m still trying to figure that out.

They say that with the advent of ebooks and Amazon/Kindle (other online bookstores exist) and all the interneting, that publishing a story has never been easier. They lie. It's now far more difficult because everyone's at it. Authors, channels, choices abound, and while the quantity has shot up, I'm not sure that quality followed with it. And once you self-publish well then you've given up your chance to be traditionally published (I know, I know, but you have, face it). And I see trad publishing as the true test of my worth as a writer. If my writing doesn't make a suit take a punt on me, well then, maybe I'm not the writer that I'd hoped I was.

So for the moment, if you want to read any of these stories in full, mail me and I'll be so ecstatic to hear from someanyone, I'll gleefully send you an epub to read on your reader.

Right now, this site is primarily focused on finding a traditional route to publication.
If you're a suit and like what you see, get in touch and I'll send any manuscript in any format/style you want. I'll make the tea, too, if you like.

mark j suddaby | writer