REQUIEM FOR AN ASTRONAUT
Thirty years ago, Joan Kaminsky disappeared during a test flight of an experimental spacecraft powered by alien technology. Now, the glowing figure of Joan has begun to appear in the skies above East City, becoming a focus for the anti-tech cults that wage war beyond the city walls. After abandoning the city and relocating to the badlands, Bart, a scientist who knew Joan and had worked on the experimental space programme, determines to solve the mystery of what happened, convinced that her manifestations are not random. When a young woman, Cal, arrives on his doorstep following an attack on a nearby organ farm, Bart has no idea of the danger she represents, nor that the encounter will bring him closer to solving the puzzle of the missing astronaut and her enigmatic reappearances.
Buy Requiem For An Astronaut here
MY FIRST LONDON DREAM
Hack actor, ex-convict and ex-agent provocateur, Billy is hired by his mentor Peter Priest, a retired director of schlock, who had been advising Felix on the film industry in the weeks before his disappearance. Set in 2007, months before the financial crash, My First London Dream follows Billy Vehement’s search through the Brixton underworld where, aided by his old friend, Manny Solomon, he navigates a plot of coke dealers and pornographers, amateur actors and part-time DJs, where links to organised crime and Russian political killings come in unexpected places. Blending elements of Billy’s work as a jobbing actor, and his past dealings with Peter Priest’s black propaganda organisation, The North Soho News Agency, My First London Dream explores the performances at the heart of life in the twenty-first century city.
Buy My First London Dream here.
Scenes From The Island
Released from a spell in prison, Mitchell drifts around the remains of his old life, struggling to adjust to his freedom. A phone call from his old friend Hopper leads to a job in Emperor Court, a luxury block of apartments by the sea. Soon, Mitchell finds himself caught up in the grandiose schemes of Hopper and his wife Elizabeth, and the lives of the those who have ended up in the Court: the residents Hannah, Dragan and Tudor, and the security worker Xiao Li. But it is the itinerant Axl whose sinister presence will cast a shadow over Mitchell’s stay, leaving it to end in violence and escape. Scenes from the Island is a novel of betrayal, murder, and the responsibility of our dreams.
Buy Scenes From The Island here
All The Dogs
Just out of rehab, Monkey rejects the dangerous allure of Herointown, his Shropshire birthplace, only to find himself working in a makeshift ecstasy factory in a rural squat. At the Mansion, in an idyllic landscape, he shuns the petty politics, manipulation and secrecy between his new housemates – Lucas, the Vegan, Taylor and disaffected earth-mother Charley.
‘All the Dogs is a stirring debut, a compellingly written tract on the importance of finding a place on the earth. Shot through with sadness, it is a plea against smallness: of thought, of ambition, of outlook, of soul. A new and welcome talent is here’ – Niall Griffiths
‘Bennett’s debut will resonate with anyone tired of the hypocrisy surrounding our nation’s chemical hobbies. With flashes of poetic description and unflinching explorations of modern relationships, Bennett leavens his dark tale with unexpected tenderness and moments of deadpan humour’ – Joolz Denby
Buy All The Dogs here
‘BENJI THE KILLBOT’
Drawn to his balcony by the sight of a skud moving across the skyline, Marvell made the mistake of catching the attention of a passing drone. It jagged from its flight path towards him, a squat, flash-damaged robot with the name ‘Benji’ stencilled on its orange paintwork in white letters. A green hailing light flashed expectantly as it neared Marvell’s balcony.
‘Hi how are you?’ the machine called out. ‘I’m Benji. Do you want anyone killed today?’
‘Benji the Kilobit’ is available free with a digital copy of Interzone 294.
”THE COMING OF THE EXTROVERTS’
‘They move amongst us like predators, looking to dominate with their will. The relentless force of their personalities: really, it’s a kind of murder. At every step of my life, they’ve dogged me, beaten me down, beaten us all down, if you think about it. Extroverts! Don’t you ever wonder what they are?’
Moog barely paused for breath. He was talking about extroverts in general, their hunger and rapacity, but the topic of conversation had been forced on us by The Extroverts, a local band who had appeared on the same bill as Moog at Waldo’s Down Home Social, a nightclub on the fringes of our East City quarter, the ruined province in which we saw out our lives.’
‘Vines’ featured on Interzone Digital.
‘The vines crept through the fabric of East City one summer night, the seed falling over us silent as snow. Once landed, the roots took hold through brick, concrete or slab, emitting a moist chewing noise as the seeds exploded into their complexity. Moonlight seemed to provoke them into a state of frenzy, but the vines grew calmer during daylight, almost sluggish in their state of strange photosynthesis.’
‘AN ISLAND FOR LOST ASTRONAUTS’
‘An Island For Lost Astronauts’ featured in issue 290/291 of Interzone.
‘The astronauts moved amongst us like captive angels. They wandered the islands of Rivertown, rootless and distracted, their movements snared by the effortless logic of gravity. As we fought for daily life on the outskirts of East City, the astronauts tuned through our hapless suffering, their expressions beatific, deranged and bereft. They rarely looked at the sky.’
‘captured dreams of the dead machine’
‘Captured Dreams of the Dead Machine’ featured in Issue 288 of Interzone
‘A client had once said to Ash that the past is a currency that never devalues. Out from East City, piloting a hover on a buying-run, those words returned to Ash like an implant meme that wouldn’t dismiss, like a stubborn hallucination of a dopamine dream.’
‘Frankie’ featured in Issue 285 of Interzone
‘After Frankie died, his shack in the woods became a sort of shrine. People travelled from all over the country to visit this place in the mountains to the south of our country, where he’d seen out the last of his days. Students and children camped outside on the grass, sleeping under light blankets, eating yellow broth cooked up in a pot over a fire. People read excerpts from Frankie’s work. A local band played.’
‘Dream of the High Mountain’
‘Dream of the High Mountain’ featured in Issue 284 of Interzone
‘A man in white djellaba crossing a high rise balcony. A view from a compound window in Tucson. Wagtails dying by the motorway. ‘My name is Mieko Tan. Welcome to my crazy world!!!’ The last spire of Venice slipping beneath the waves.
Not long into his stay in the retreat, Morgan realised where he’d first seen Elena Fisk. She sat near him at lunch: a tall, pale, gently muscular woman with sedate grey eyes behind narrow retro glasses, her black dreadlocks twisted into the shape of a tortured spider. She shared a table with another recent arrival, a Swedish man, who, during those first lonely days Morgan had entertained himself by imagining as a Scientology spy.’
‘A Pressed Red Flower In The Abandoned Archive’
‘A Pressed Red Flower In The Abandoned Archive’ featured in Issue 71 of Black Static
‘After returning from Indonesia, I found a short term research job with the Unit of Disaster Management, an obscure research unit located in offices outside of Waterloo. On a nine month contract, my duties were low level and banal, but gradually, as my work became appreciated and deadlines loomed, I moved onto more important projects. Proofreading and editing reports on anything from Islamist terrorist cells to coastal erosion in East Anglia, I was required to sign the official secrets act, a bond which, although I’m not sure how, I may now be breaking.’
‘When You Decided To Call’
‘When You Decided To Call’ featured in Issue 69 of Black Static.
‘When I was very young, my father told me stories of a cycling holiday he had taken in the Netherlands during his early twenties. One spring, a little after my thirtieth birthday, I took two weeks off work to follow his journey… Expressive as it was of a world before I was born, the landscape seemed an occult place to me, simultaneously fascinating and forbidding, like the realm of death.’
‘Acton Undream’ featured in the first issue of Black Static.
‘Bax once had a dream where Joseph Goebbels worked as the entertainer at a children’s birthday party. I have never forgotten it. At that time, the TV had packed in and the mother board on the computer was shot. Bax and I relied on each other’s dreams to pass the time.’
‘You Will Be wearing green’
‘You Will Be Wearing Green’ featured in issue 9 of the Crimewave series, published by TTA Press.
A gang of teenagers sat laughing around a mobile phone on the 18.17 out of Victoria, but Derek tried to ignore them. He concentrated on his paper, reading the front page story about a body found in woodland on the outskirts of the city, a young female student who had been missing for over a week.Beyond the train window, the interior of the station drained away, soon replaced by the steel-crossed view over the Thames.’
‘The Days We Lived Like Them’ featured in issue 45 of Brittle Star magazine
We moved to the suburbs, renting the ground floor of a Victorian terrace. A young couple shared the flat upstairs, but while my wife occasionally saw them in the communal hallway, in over three months I had never met them.
‘Park Rites’ featured in London Noir, edited by Cathi Unsworth and published by Serpent’s Tail (UK) and Akashic Books (US). Loosely based on true events, the story follows Enzo, a troubled teenager, as a walks around Clissold Park in North London. London Noir has been translated in French, Italian, Turkish, and Russian.
Buy London Noir here.
London Noir is also available on Audible.
Subtle Edens: The Elastic Book of Slipstream
‘My Copy of Robinson‘ featured in the anthology of slipstream fiction, Subtle Edens. You can also read ‘My Copy of Robinson’ on my site.
‘I’d like to say that I discovered Robinson for myself, but as usual someone else had to show me the way. I seem to require jumpstarts like this to overcome the indolence, which seems to be my natural state. Alarmingly, as I grow older, I seem more in the grip of this laziness: a paralysis that is something like fear.’
‘A Reason For The Town’ featured on 3:AM Magazine.
‘When I came to the town, what struck me most was the large number of dwarfs. They seemed, really, to be everywhere: haggling in the aisles of food shops, holding hands underneath the coloured plastic awnings of the street market, sipping cans of lager upon the promenade. That such an insignificant coastal town could claim so many dwarfs amongst its citizens struck me as amazing and I struggled to account for it. Some nights, I closed my eyes and imagined a ship running aground, a cruel current, a winter storm. This was, perhaps, wrong. The dwarfs were not the outsiders, after all. I had only recently arrived.’
Read ‘A Reason For The Town’ here.
I’ve also published a few stories on my blog. I’m planning to make them available as a collection some time soon, but until then they’re all available below. Some have been rescued from obscurity from publications which have vanished, while some are just, well, obscure.
Beneath The Telescope
In The Steam Kitchen
Flat Pack Furniture
Trumpet Wars of the Old Town
Dog Dream of the Boss