Unidentified But Hilarious

dang alien varmints ain't goin take over mah town, dagnabbit So a funny thing happened recently. I wrote a short story, sent if off and it was... accepted! For a humorous SF/F anthology called Unidentified Funny Objects 5. Woo hoo!

It's on sale now, or at least the Kindle version is. The print version is out next week, and I have my author copy clutched in my hot little hands as I type (yes, I'm a contortionist). It does look rather nice.

Many more people than me are in it, of course. There's David Gerrold (The Trouble with Tribbles) and Shaenon Garrity (Skin Horse and Narbonic), just to begin with. Huge, huge thanks go to the editor, Alex Shvartsman, who saw fit to pluck my story from the slush pile and add it to the collection.

My contribution is Customer Service Hobgoblin, in which Robin Goodfellow - hobgoblin, trickster, Shakespeare-botherer and general pain-in-the-backside - has as much fun as his manager will allow while working in a rather unusual call centre.

So if you're moved to spend a fancy-coffee's-worth of cash on something that will make you much happier for far longer, here are the links:

US Kindle - UK Kindle - Barnes & Noble - Kobo



Twenty Years Ago Today: Death of Bill Hicks

bill-hicks After reporting on murders, massacres and wars breaking out all over the planet, it is nothing but an unmitigated relief to speak for a few paragraphs about a comedian who makes me laugh. Even if the occasion is his untimely death at the age of 32 from pancreatic cancer, which is now known as the most dickish of all cancers.

Some cancers present symptoms early enough to be treated; some worm away in secret until it's too late for anyone to do anything. Pancreatic cancer is very much of the latter category. In some ways, the location of the tumour is actually a bit of a surprise: Hicks was expecting lung cancer, constantly joking about having to breathe through a hole in his throat in five years time thanks to his tobacco addiction.

So: twenty years ago today, Bill Hicks died of cancer. He last spoke to anyone beyond his immediate family on February the 14th. He didn't speak to Denis Leary at all, after being permanently disgusted at Leary stealing his routines. He'd known about the diagnosis since June the previous year, but had kept on touring until he couldn't manage it any more, despite weekly chemotherapy.

Hicks' career lifted after his death in a way that he probably couldn't have foreseen, but may possibly have hated. All his jokes about the pointlessness of Bush Senior's war on Iraq were horribly prescient of Bush Junior's war on Iraq, nearly ten years after Hicks died. He also hated the commercialism of American culture, vilifying the disposable pop stars of his day. Which included Rick Astley, who has enjoyed an 'ironic' afterlife as a bad joke designed to piss people off, but which no doubt profited Astley immensely.

I started this blog series as a way of marketing my next book, which is set in the world of twenty years ago. Here's Hicks' verdict on marketing and people who indulge in marketing:

...so I should probably shut up about now. In the same spirit of anti-commercialism, you can find most of Hicks' work available for free on YouTube. It'll give you an extremely entertaining evening (barring the occasional repetition of material), and make you very angry about how much things haven't changed in the last twenty years. Or possibly it'll make you angry about how much worse they are.

Relentless - Sane Man - Revelations - Bill Hicks' Last Show (allegedly, can't be sure)

(meanwhile, in the don't-believe-in-heroes department, there's some homophobia in that last link. He edges closer to misogyny as well. Bill, I am disappointed. Dammit.)

Twenty Years Ago Today: There Was No News Today

thedaytodayAfter a long night of abuse at the hands of Tonya Harding and her accomplices, news was declared dead on arrival at the dawn of Wednesday the 2nd of February, 1994. It would be magically brought back to life by presidential twinkling on the following day, but for now we have to resort to fake news in order to remind ourselves of how unimportant we are compared to the stellar magnitude of people on television.  

Twenty years ago today was the first broadcast of the third episode of The Day Today, Christopher Morris' land-shattering satire of all things news-related. It's the unacceptable middle child of his Radio 4 programme On the Hour and the bastard father of his Channel 4 show, Brass Eye. We can also blame it for inflicting Alan Partridge upon both television and those parts of the UK which are happy not to be in Norfolk.

Morris was last seen wandering around the Large Hadron Collider in 2010, looking for large hadrons and wearing a lot of hair.