Light at the dark side of the year

Returning to balance is hard work. There’s so many pits one can fall in. Not to look far, as I’m writing this, the ruthless clock shows half past midnight. But as with everything else, it’s the repetitive little steps that count. I hope. Ask me in a year.

But enough about that. The last two months were busy (which ones aren’t, eh?). Changes are coming. Some are already here. I’ve started a journey towards self-employment and I’ll be announcing stuff and showing my creations soon. It’s in equal parts scary, exciting and liberating. And also surprising. As kids and young adults we have dreams, hopes and some preconceived notions about where life will take us. It is refreshing to know that it’s also able to surprise us. In a good way. Anyhow, more soon. And I mean, real soon.

On another positive note, I am once again able to write. Sounds ridiculous when placed on a writer’s blog, I know. But the truth is, I have been struggling with putting words together for nearly two years. There’s still days when it seems too exhausting but I’m doing my best to keep them few and far between. What this means in practice is, that the work on my story collection has resumed. Few stories still require finishing and there’s plenty of editing to do, but the end is in sight.

Which in some twisted way brings me to my recent attendance to BristolCon, our last best hope for science fiction (to brutally butcher the byline of Babylon 5). Now, I have been going to BristolCon for a decade and always found it to be extremely friendly. But there have been occasions where, stuck in the cloud of my own self-depreciation, I’ve spent entire hours avoiding people. And let me add, it was despite the wonderful atmosphere and active efforts of some of the con-goers. That trend became so prevalent that this year, especially in view of reduced number of attendees and covid restrictions, I considered not going. I did in the end and feel so much better for it. For the first time since… no, for the first time ever, I genuinely adopted the ‘give no fuck’ approach to human contact. As you can guess it resulted in some great conversations and new acquaintances gained.

In the interest of giving a shout-out, I will now list few people. I’ve spent some quality time talking RPGs with Mieke Blaushild and Emma Collis, digital zombies with David and Claire Cartwright and Andre Garzia. Discussed burying children under the shed and AR board games with Allen Stroud as well as crashing the table of the Guests of Honour Anna Smith-Spark and Adrian Tchaikovsky to reminisce on some shared memories with Pete Sutton. I’ve also (in longer or shorter form) caught up with: Jo, Roz, Chris, Pete, Ian, Nick… this list is becoming ridiculous. Suffice to say, there has been people aplenty and I enjoyed myself immensely. Awkward-free.

There, that’s my personal outpour for this season.

Hopefully you’re still here and awake. Because as tradition dictates there’s some music heading your way. And the recent months have been ripe with good tunes.

Let’s start with something time relevant. It’s a recent release by Żywiołak, a Polish folk/folk-metal band who dig deep into the collective Slavic soul, singing about Dziady. Now, I don’t think this song is a potential radio hit. It doesn’t have enough repetition to become an ‘ear-worm’ but it does strike a chord. Check it out. And if you’re curious about the holiday itself, check this article.

To balance the inherent darkness of Żywiołak, have a listen to Darktek, frenchcore producer whose music (featured in Mr Robot soundtrack) keeps my endorphin levels high. It’s fast, it’s bonkers and full of joy. I love it and as my wife claims, it says something about me. Not sure what though…

And that’s it for tonight. There’s more music and more news, but the call of the Holy Pillow is irresistible. Hello and goodbye, as always.

Unstuckness [Explicit]

Burnout is a bastard and getting ones’ head unstuck from your own arse takes more time then you’d think. *

These two obvious truths are obvious only in the damned retrospect. But if you’re anything like me, dear reader, you’ll heed no warning. And then you’ll realise how much you need people and just how dangerous is getting stuck in the ‘temporary’. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll also be able to arrive at a conclusion that while all flesh is grass, there are lovely green patches just a step to the side of the beaten track that you can graze on. Too metaphorical? Good.

There’ll be more. Soon. It’s a bloody process, savy?

For now, have a listen to the etheric Purity Ring and the beautifully bonkers Sam Spiegel.

* Yes – I’m aware it’s not entirely the correct meaning, but sod. 😉

Cover reveal

Some more weeks passed since my last post than I intended. Sadly none of that time was filled with leisure and pleasure. Luckily some of that work went into various upgrades to this page and into writing stuff. Though the latter goes kinda without saying, right?

Most notable change is the domain name move to the proper .com one. This means various exciting things like newsletters, bonus content and greater control over what happens to things here. But all that will come with new year and will hopefully brighten up the grim reality of this post-brexit little island of ours.

In the meantime, let me share with you some exciting news of the anthology for which I’ve translated a story, the Eurasian Monsters published by Fox Spirit Books. Firstly, the cover is finally here. So ‘feast yer eyes’ and don’t forget to follow me to make sure you won’t miss the premiere.

Secondly, the book should be available still this year. So keep some pounds and pennies on the side as it will be worth your money.
If you’d like to be check Fox Spirit Books’ offer, head over here and if you’d like to discover who Margrét Helgadóttir is make sure to check her blog at this link.

And that’s it for tonight. Short and sweet as they say, but rest assured more news will be coming with increased frequency. I leave you with two pieces in Polish. One is by the brilliantly fresh Kwiat Jabłoni (or Appletree Flower if you happen to be rusty with the lingo). Titled “Mogło być nic” which loosely translates to ‘there could’ve been nothing’, it inspires to cherish what you have.

The other, by half-legendary Strachy na Lachy, is aptly titled “Żyję w kraju w którym każdy chce mnie zrobić w chuja”. And I’m struggling with translating this title and remaining at least somewhat swear-free. Let’s just say it roughly says “I leave in a country where everyone tries to… cheat me.” Feel free to add as much filth to the last two words as you like.

Stay safe and until we meet again!

Eurasian Monsters

Hello friend.

As promised, we meet again and as promised I have more good news to share with you. Earlier this year by both, pure chance and friend’s suggestion (yes John Bav, I’m talking about you) I was enlisted by Fox Spirit Press to translate a story for one of their ‘Monster’ anthologies. You have likely guessed by now that the full title is ‘Eurasian Monsters’. More details and table of contents are your finger tips by clicking the picture below.

For now there’s no official release date or cover image but worry not, I’ll be posting here as soon as information becomes available.

This week my head has been invaded mainly by K-Pop artists. The short piece I’m currently working on is rather bleak and I found I tend to listen to light, simple music on such occasions. It helps retain some balance, but at the same time makes for a weird ‘inspiration playlists’. As my wife calls this a guilty pleasure, I’m left with little choice but to invite you to this cosy and sometimes bizarre world. Below song, by the genre’s titan, Blackpink, is the typical mish-mash of styles and inspirations with simplistic lyrics and satisfying harmonics.

If you’ve been here before, you know I like balance. Which is why the next song is from completely different fairy-tale to poorly paraphrase the Polish saying. This piece, by the Polish band Lemon, is one of those songs that invokes various feelings depending on the listener’s starting mood. If you know the language you’ll be able to appreciate the precise diction and sparing yet powerful lyrics.

And that’s it for tonight. There are other projects I want to share with you, so stay tuned and keep well. Until next week.

A new beginning?

Hello Friend,

Firstly, thank you for visiting. I have not been here a while and so have you. Let’s change that.

A lot has happened in my life and in ‘Life’ in general since my last entry here. Most of that sadly relates in one form or another to covid. But let’s leave that subject to other spaces. Here, again, I’d like to share with you news about my work, my inspirations, some fantastic and wonderous human beings I’ve came across so far and well, occasional rant or two. Nobody’s perfect.

For tonight, I’d like to share with you some great news that are somewhat dated but still warm up my black heart. Way back in April this year The Best of British Fantasy released their yearly anthology, which you can get here. They also published a Recommended Reading List of 50 stories (here) and yours truly had his name included. To some it might be a small achievement, but I found it to be a perfect boost to kill a little of this self-doubt that every artist have. Therefore a big ‘thank you’ goes to the team at the BBF and also to the editors and publisher of the anthology in which my story was originally included. And if you’re curious if it’s worth a read you can get the physical or virtual copy below.

Now, as things are changing they aught to stay the same a little. Just to keep the balance right. Right? I will keep the tradition of sharing of some music with you. If you know me personally you know I love good headbanging metal as much as a thumpin’ techno and won’t shy away from anything in between.

To keep true to above here’s two earworms that have been living in my brain recently. First is a piece by Five Finger Death Punch. It’s not a band I generally listen to but this piece is just lovely. There’s a lot of fluff at the start of the video so just bare with or skip to 1:20 😉

The second song is by the house and techno legend that is Westbam. A nice mature piece guaranteed to get your leg twitching.

And with that, I leave you for tonight. The next instalment will arrive in a week and more changes, including some structural work to this website, are coming. Stay tuned and keep well.

The Airship has landed…

…for the second time. That’s right folks. A follow up to my first ever English publication will hit the stores this Saturday 26th October. The official launch will take place at the legendary Bristol Con at exactly 2pm in Panel Room 1. Just sayin’ cause you might wanna turn up.

I’m obviously chuffed that I’ve been given a chance to revisit those characters and that weird setting. Hope you can come and join me and a fine bunch of other authors in celebrating the birth of our brainchild. All beer donations will be graciously accepted!

My appearance at BristolCon will not be, however, limited to the launch and standard boozing at the bar. I’ve also managed to secure a space at a panel discussing if Sci-Fi is harder to write than Fantasy. I will be exchanging thoughts and arguments in the fine company of Rosie Oliver, Jaine Fenn, Daniel Kelly and Greg Chivers. If you’re interested find us in Panel Room 2 at 1pm.

And finally, if you’d like to hear me stutter into the microphone, please pop in at 12.50 to the Panel Room 2 for a little sample of my writing. Who knows, you might even like it.

“Th-Th-The, Th-Th-The, Th-Th… That’s all, folks!” to quote Porky Pig. See you Saturday and for now I leave you in the company of Polish bands: Żywiołak and Percival Schuttenbach. Both of which had some serious influence on my writing. Curious how? Ask me.

Easy muffins

don’t exist. We all know it, yet we all would sometimes like to not remember. This post was going to be about ‘Stoney Street’. There is one, that I’m fond of, in the town I now live. It’s a nice ‘character’ street. But the real stony street is inside.

I grew up in what some of you would call ‘coal country’. Dead in the centre of a city made of concrete and contradictions. Exploited for centuries by Germans, Polish and the local population alike. Where whole districts welcome you with slogans such as “Witamy w krainie, gdzie obcy ginie” (loose translation – I beg forgiveness) “Welcome to the land where the outsider dies”. And at the same time home to the largest park inside a city in Europe and more than 900 years of history.

Covered with red brick, concrete and asphalt, there’s a lot of ‘stoney’ places about. They glisten when the heavens open. And there’s a special kind of crouching alertness to it late at night. Like… Well, if you grew up in the city, you know what I mean.

Below song, was with me when I trotted the empty streets, risked life going through old military training grounds and gawked at the sky in futile attempt to see the stars. Whenever I hear it, a piece of my, call it soul for lack of better terminology, opens and I’m back home, dangling feet from the 4th storey window of my room, listening to the hum of civilisation and soaking in a panorama of dirty rooftops bathed in the light of sodium-vapor lamps.

Made by Amon Tobin, whilst titled ‘Easy muffin’, to me will always remain Stoney Street. Why? Well that’s another story.

Enjoy this muffin!


Still alive and kicking. There will be changes coming and more regular posts. Well… as regular as I can muster but still. It will get lively, though not all posts will be about writing.  So to start…

Open your seventh ear to the beauty of Nitrogen. By Juno Reactor. One of the early psychedelia I used to regularly include in my dj sets.
Here combined with Alejandro Jodorovsky’s disturbing visions from ‘Holy Mountain’.

Da thang!

October shenanigans & BristolCon

Time flies and is never available in sufficient quantities when most desired.

Things are happening in my life. Not all of it good and not all of it I’m willing to share here, but stay with me and find out about the fun stuff.

I will be reading a story at the “Tales from the Graveyard“, which is a literary event of spooky stories presented to you by the North Bristol Writers as part of the Bristol Festival of Literature. It will take place on 19th October at Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol with a start date of 7pm. The event requires tickets, so go, friend, go! Get one!

So that’s 19th. Then, on the 28th, there’s the famous BristolCon, taking place at Double Tree Hotel in Bristol. The program for it has been released now and I’m happy to report that my name appears on it twice. First, I will take part in panel discussion about languages in science fiction and later on I will host a workshop helping you write that perfect dialogue. So don’t be shy, pop along.

I’m obviously super excited and moderately anxious about running the workshop, but I know there will be ample amount of time during the day to catch up with friends in the bar. The full program can be found here and as always, there are far to many things I’d like to see/attend at once.

In the meantime, I leave you with something for the ear. Or two. Because tradition and all…

First, a piece of Mongolian folk metal, because why not. And on top of that it has throat singing.

Second is something slightly different and a bit more… jumpy with a very lively video. Enjoy!

Wrapping noodles round ears

You might wonder, after reading the above title, if I’ve gone completely bonkers. And regardless of the fact that it might just be the case, I’ll try to make some sense. The phrase is a translation of a Polish saying, which basically means to talk lengthy. And why do I tell you that? Well, it’s something of a warning. Few things have happened since my last post that I would like to tell you about. It might take me few words so bear with me.

First of all, I’d like to tell you about an exciting project my friend is coercing me to take part in. It’s a brand new radio show, that will air on Frome FM and will feature speculative fiction authors. It will be a melange of interviews, music and readings meant to promote authors known and unknown. When? Not entirely sure yet. We haven’t picked the date up yet and we’ll likely record a session or two before going live to have a backup in case life happens. But I’ll keep you posted.

Secondly, I read. Publicly. It was, as always, a slightly scary experience. Especially that there were people in the audience. Living people. More than two dozens of them, might I add. True, the crowd was there mostly due to the fact I was reading alongside this year’s Clark’s nominee, the lovely Emma Newman. It always amazes me that after nearly two decades of dj’ing experience, role playing, LARPing and hosting radio shows, once I stand there with a piece of my own writing, I turn into a stuttering mumbler. That being said, the crowd was kind, didn’t escape and stayed for the Q&A session as well. If you’d like to have a listen to myself, Emma or even both, head over here. Post some comments if you wish and hopefully I’ll see you next time.

SPOILER ALERT – the following might give you unwanted insight into pieces of pop-culture.

Now, I know I mostly share “writerly” stuff, but I’d like to ramble a bit about the products of culture I have recently consumed. First of all, let me explain something. I rarely have time to sit down and watch something in peace or read a book in other locations than the toilet or just before I fall on my face at 2am. There are various reasons for that but only one outcome – a huge delay with my ‘to watch’ and ‘to read’ piles. Excuses, I know. Anyway, me and wife finally managed to scrape up some time to see few of the movies we were putting off for later. First of them was “The Arrival”, based on a short story by Ted Chiang. And let me tell you, it was so far the best sci-fi film I’ve seen this year. The visuals were great, the story was fantastic and the acting was good as well. Call me weird but two things really got me in this movie. It’s a story of alien contact/possible invasion (at least as seen from the human point of view) yet there are no epic battle scenes, even though there was potential to show some. It is also a love story, with tangible tension between the main characters but *SPOILER ALERT* there are no sex scenes present. Hell, we need to wait for the kiss almost the entire movie. It’s intelligent and moving, sometimes funny and rather hints things than hits you in the face with them. Summing up, I you haven’t yet, watch it. It’s well worth your time.

Now the other two were slightly more disappointing. The first was Independence Day: Resurgence (not to be confused with Independents Day or Independence Daysaster – yes, there are movies with those titles…). We sat down hoping to get a good run for the money, what with modern special effects and mature Jeff Goldblum. Unfortunately, it was a disappointing couple of hours. Sure, the visual side was ok (though nothing I would really want to watch again), the story, however… my God, was it boring! I’m not even going to touch on the amount of paper thin tropes that were used to prop up the plot. I managed to dose off for a minute during the culmination scene which is something that just does not happen. Ever. All in all it was a disappointing experience, which leads me to the last home-viewed movie I wanted to share thoughts about.

The “Jupiter Rising”. Yes, I know it’s “old” and there possibly isn’t anything new I can tell you about it. Especially that I had mixed feelings about it. I enjoyed the visual side of it. The ships anyway. They were a nice, decadent, artistic in vision that appealed to me and, for one reason or another, brought to mind Enki Bilal’s “Nikopol” trilogy. That being said, the aliens… I mean, c’mon! I could swallow the winged dinosaurs and happy-faced androids, hell, even the Mickey Mouse assistant to one of the royals, but for the love of Thor, what was Bambi doing there, flying the cop’s space ship?! The story was also a bit… call it simplistic. But halfway down the film we’ve stopped (because kids…) and talked about it with wife and quickly realised this movie was made for teenagers. This made the dialog and some of the plot pot holes easier to bear. Still, I’m not sure if I want to recommend it to anyone. I suppose if you want to see some funky ship designs and have time to waste, you could do worse.

Finally, there’s “Ghost in the Shell”. As a sideline, can I tell you we have an amazing cinema in Frome? Yes? Well, I just did. Anyway, I’ve seen some negative opinions on the movie (some of them very idiotic indeed). People moaned it didn’t have the full original soundtrack, the actress wasn’t Asian (which actually was as in the anime) and so on. But personally I think it was a good adaptation. The acting was superb, the visuals didn’t disappoint and Batou in my opinion looked just perfect! Speaking of soundtrack, during the movie it was nicely non-intrusive and I thought that using the main theme from the anime as a closing song was a brilliant idea. Especially to people who, like me, knew and loved the original work. It made me want to go home and watch it again. It worked.

Oh, and I almost forgot. I stumbled across a platform called Dust recently, which hosts sci-fi short films. This one I liked quite a lot even though the story could be made better. Check it out and check the other ones as there’s loads to discover there.

So, there you are. I better shut up now and leave you with something for the ear in anticipation for the next post, which will hopefully appear a bit sooner. First is something I used as one of the background songs when I wrote “Curiosity is the first step” story. The second is just a nice piece of 90’s trance.

And remember, you can always say hello in the comments. I usually don’t bite.