Almond Press publish a variety of short stories, so I thought I’d take a look at some classical short stories that everyone should read.
The world is – and always has been – full of stories that describe the world after an apocalypse. In religion it’s often a way to start over. In the bible it’s up to Noah, to built a new post-apocalyptic world after the flood has washed away all civilization. When ‘Ragnarok’, de final battle in Scandinavian mythology, has ended up in the death of almost all the gods, creatures and people, it’s up to two people hiding in a tree to climb down and reshape their world. And so we can continue throughout history, reading the stories of new worlds and life after the decline. We can go all the way from the bible to ‘the hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy’ and ‘The Road’. A rise in post-apocalyptic novels Since the success of ‘The Road’, the praised novel by Cormac McCarthy, there has been a rise in the popularity of post-apocalyptic writing. Jason Heller gives an extensive list of examples in his article ‘Does Post-Apocalyptic Literature Have A (Non-Dystopian) Future?’ Since then, there are numerous new ways the world could end, and a lot of novels have been adapted for the screen. In ‘I am Legend’, based on the novel by Richard Matheson (1954), 90% of all humans are infected with a virus after a researcher tries to find a cure for cancer. But also major floods, wars between species, climate change and genetically modified ‘super humans’ pop up in all kinds of stories. There are also a lot of novelists that create their stories in a world after a devastating event. In “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell we not only have to deal with elements of fantasy but also with a society that – in the near future – has fallen apart. Global society has reached the age… read more →
I grew up watching Star Trek, The Original Series. I would stay up until midnight to watch it in the darkness of my bedroom when everyone else was asleep. In many ways it greatly influenced my writing, demonstrating to me the power of science fiction. One of the things I found fascinating was their interpretation of the future of medicine. Medical care was done by rectangular gadgets that made buzzing noises or beeped and had readouts (which we couldn’t see), but revealed to Dr. McCoy exactly what was happening in the body of the patient. Cures came in the form of hypos that shot medicine through the skin without the need of a piercing needle. There were rare instances of surgery, and that was just as clean, antiseptic and invisible. There was no blood, and extraordinary things could occur, such as reattaching Spock’s brain. Years later, when I was writing a dystopian science fiction play, I revisited these forms of “hands off” and “antiseptic” medical procedures and took them to, what I felt, were their logical conclusions. In my play, medicine of the future would be dominated by technology, to the extent that medics (individuals who functioned as a hospital, ambulance and doctor all in one) had no authority to touch a patient. The machines were the only allowable, legal contact. This technologically miraculous medicine would be available only to the upper classes. With the rise of advanced technology came with it a rise in cost: these nearly-guaranteed cures would be expensive and not affordable to everyone. Those who lived “Uptown” were the rich and could afford medical technology. Those “Downtown” had to resort to traditional medicine. And what was traditional? Surgery with scalpels and circular saws, injections, psychotherapy, meditation, herbs, teas, and mercury and arsenic to cure syphilis. It… read more →
One of the worst feelings for any writer is staring at a blank page, yet it’s a task I found myself doing more often than I would have liked, especially the first page of every new chapter. My problem wasn’t lack of ideas, or motivation. My problem was I didn’t use a detailed outline. I did have an outline. Sort of. Somewhere, lost in a pile of notes you’ll find a loose sheet of paper with one or two words for each chapter (well . . . at least ten chapters) and a story are sketched out on the other side of the paper, usually accompanied by coffee stains. Because that works for me. All writers fall into two categories, either you’re an outline writer or an organic writer. I’ve also seen them called plotters and pants writers, and George R.R. Martin refers to them as architects and gardeners. Discussing the pros and cons of both might take all day, but in short, an outline writer plans their stories, with meticulous detail, while an organic writer plops their characters on a blank page and allows the story to develop freely. An outline writer rarely keeps the page of any chapter or scene empty for long. I’m an organic writer though, which means I end up staring at a lot of blank pages. I might know what big event needs to happen in the scene, but the details are floating around in the air waiting for me to pull them out. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. My characters love the potential in that emptiness. Sometimes they love it so much, they have a hard time moving. I’ve spent many mornings writing the first couple paragraphs of a scene, only to delete them and start all over again. Twenty times… read more →
Daniel Tyka, the artist behind the cover art for our Broken Worlds: Dystopian Stories short story collection will participate in the 31st annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards being held April 2015 in Los Angeles. Daniel was one of three 4th quarter illustrator winners this year and will be published in the upcoming L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume XXXI anthology. One of the 12 winning stories featured in the collection will be assigned to him for illustration. The full list of 4th Quarter Finalists is as follows: Daniel Tyka, Poland Robert Blaylock of Virginia, USA Samantha Broccoli of Massachusetts, USA Christopher Denq of California, USA Samrath Kaur of Rhode Island, USA Megan Kelchner of New York, USA Megen Nelson of Florida, USA Ariel Toledo-Peluso of Nevada, USA The finalists will take part in a week-long workshop led by the man behind the Chronicles of Narnia artwork, Cliff Nielsen, as well as Dave Norman (Star Wars), and Larry Elmore (Dungeons & Dragons). A gala ceremony will follow at which a $5,000 award will be handed to the winner (we have our fingers crossed for Daniel!). Further information on the contest is available at www.writersofthefuture.com More of Daniel’s work can be found at artificialdesign.deviantart.com Broken Worlds by Daniel Tyka
Destruction of the world as we know it. There’s just something about it, isn’t there? It shouldn’t be so satisfying to read and yet it is. Almost like picking a scab off a half-healed wound. It has inspired countless books and short stories of every type, from children’s books to adult fiction and everything in between. My own personal journey with dystopian fiction began in my final year at school when I was required to write an essay on a topic of my choice. Somehow I managed to gravitate towards the topic of dystopic fiction through Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Margaret Attwood’s Oryx and Crake. I followed the Oryx and Crake series, and incidentally, had the opportunity to attend the Edinburgh Book Festival in 2013 where Attwood launched the last of the series, Maddaddam. More recently there has been a boom in the number of dystopian fiction novels produced, particularly in the Young Adult section of publishing. This is perhaps thanks to the success of the Hunger Games book series and film tie-ins. Oddly enough, research done at the start of this year shows that those purchasing Young Adult styled novels are actually more likely to be over the age of 20, with 79% of the market being over the age of 18. Is this due to a lack of adult dystopic fiction? Perhaps it is. Yet the genre has been around for so long that it is impossible not to find something worth reading. Perhaps they just want to read something new and shiny. Perhaps the films are just what make it appealing and therefore are more widely marketed and so people know what to look for? Whatever it may be, it’s safe to say that the genre is on the rise. But it is strange that… read more →
Thomas Brown is the winner of this year’s short story competition. With the pending release of the anthology, which is themed around Dystopian Worlds, it seemed like a great idea to ask Thomas some questions about his writing career. Thomas is the author of a book called ‘Lynnwood’ and has some extremely interesting insights into the world of horror and the themes that draw him to the genre. His answers to the questions are a truly inspiring read for any aspiring writer. Be sure to check out his work! “A quintessentially British folk horror chiller [LYNNWOOD], with an escalating power of dread that is rendered deftly. A new voice in British horror, that you’ll want to read, has entered the field.” – ADAM NEVILL, author of THE RITUAL “Although [LYNNWOOD] is described as a horror, I would say that it is not entirely typical of this genre. […] The story is strange, dark and unsettling, but very beautifully crafted.” – READER, The People’s Book Prize “The author’s writing was very poetic and gave nothing away. [LYNNWOOD] is the type of book to read curled up in front of a fire, just don’t be alone…” – KATHLEEN KELLY, CelticLady’s Reviews Christina Crook: When and why did you start writing? Thomas Brown: I’m sure I started writing off the back of my love for books. From an early age I was passionate about reading, so it seems natural that this passion might have led to me writing stories of my own. I still have the original copy of my first ever short story in a drawer under my bed. I must have been twelve or thirteen, and it was dark fantasy fiction about a vampire. I read a lot of fantasy then, so I suppose that purports the link between reading and the… read more →
The world of literature is currently experiencing a wonderful resurgence of dystopian fiction. Many classic novels are set against futuristic new world orders, such as 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale and A Wrinkle in Time, but given our current awareness of developing technologies, social media and government investigation, writers are finding themselves with endless new scope for gripping dystopian fiction that could one day become our reality. Many feel we are getting closer and closer to a world not dissimilar to that of 1984. The media is filled with tales of surveillance and spies – a total lack of privacy, and crossed with the instability of politics, the economy and society in general, our future is living up to be a bit of a scary place. Where will it go? The possibility of that is perfect for writers, and those with social awareness and a vivid imagination are coming up absolutely gripping novels that engage the reader and leave them dwelling on the future for days afterwards. Two of the most obvious examples of modern dystopian fiction would be the Hunger Games and the Divergent trilogies. Both have been adapted into films and are set in the remains of what used to be North America. Divergent sees its society divided into five factions, depending on the personality type of each individual. It is organised and overly structured, terrifying and bound to implode. Dystopian novels usually see some sort of uprising from rebellious protagonists who don’t want to be controlled. The plots play highly on fear, a lack of freedom and the forbidding of unique thought. It is in human nature to fight back against the controlling acts of others, and this makes for some fantastic fiction! I’m not sure about others, but for me, dystopia is like the big red button… read more →