Tag Archives: Publication

Posts that are to do with publication of my work

Make Mine a Macchiato (a story)

I wanted to try something a little away from science fiction as well as something a little silly. ‘Make Mine a Macchiato was the result. It was also the first time I showed a story in progress to a non-writer friend. While I didn’t agree with all the feedback, I did gain an appreciation for the benefit of better understanding what your potential audience might like. In this instance, my friend wasn’t a big fan of the ambiguity at the end of the story. I liked it so in the end I kept it, but it was a good reminder that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.


Make Mine a Macchiato

Jack was used to tickles of insight that warned him when things weren’t quite right. His talents didn’t lie in proper prognostication — even the thought of tracking the probabilities of multiple potential futures gave him a headache. But every now and then he got a nudge, an inkling that things were about to get ugly. Mostly, those flashes were frustrating and vague. Fortunately, the crushing waves of terror helped him pinpoint the problem this time.

A portal hung open in the middle of the footpath, like a malicious shimmering eye. Through it Jack could see the hazy image of a person. Well, perspective was a little tricky. Perhaps larger than a person. In fact, if he wasn’t an avowed atheist Jack could have sworn he was looking at…

“A demon?” Jack muttered.

“Come on, Jack,” the purported demon said. “You don’t believe in all that supernatural bullshit. Psionics are a completely natural phenomenon. Why would this be any different?”

Jack squeezed his eyes shut and pinched the bridge of his nose in the universally acknowledged mechanism for dispelling hallucinations.

It didn’t work. Some form of response seemed in order.

“If you are human that’s a bloody good disguise,” Jack managed. “You seem to have more horns than I’m used to seeing on the average pedestrian, and the red marbling throughout your suspiciously stony skin…”

“Yes, well, I’m sure there are plenty of rational explanations,” it interrupted. “Anything from a complicated government conspiracy involving a new form of sensory mind control through to that dodgy kebab you ate last night. Does it really matter?”

Jack supposed not, although interpretations that pointed to mental instability would be of concern. The fact that no passersby were freaking out seemed to lend that branch of thought credence and Jack said as much.

“Look, Jacky boy,” the devil shaped entity said. “I’m really just looking for someone to buy me a macchiato. The cafe across the road is my favourite, and it isn’t every day that a certified level 17 psionic walks by. Do a demon a favour and pick me up one would you?”

Jack remembered enough stories to know that he was in dangerous bargaining territory. But he didn’t believe in demons. So why was he still standing here? He started to back away, slowly.

The as yet unproved daemon raised its hands in placation.

“Jack. Mate. Look at it this way. Right now you’re worried you might be crazy. If you hand over the coffee and it actually disappears you’ll know you’re sane. If it doesn’t, well…early psychiatric intervention can only be a good thing.”

The apparition made a reasonable point. Jack shrugged, crossed the road, and purchased a macchiato for it — and a flat white for himself. He used the cardboard carrying tray to pass the small cup through the portal’s glistening threshold to the eagerly waiting fiend on the other side, then stood back to find out if demons were real.

THE END


‘Make Mine a Macchiato’ was originally published in Antipodean SF, in issue 166 (April 2012). It is also available in the free collection of my published flash fiction and short stories A Flash in the Pan?See my bibliography for more details about my published work.

Creative Commons License

This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.

The Gloriously Cunning Plan (a story)

In my day job I deal with bureaucracy a lot. “The Gloriously Cunning Plan” stemmed from this concern – what would happen if one of those last minute heroic plans I always see on TV came face to face with the kind of red tape I see in real government work?


The Gloriously Cunning Plan

Second Lieutenant Sanders hovered in perfect equilibrium between oblivion and suffering. He longed to let go and allow the breaking waves of pain to drag him back into a sea of blissful unconsciousness. But a nagging sense of some important task left undone wouldn’t let him rest. That, and the bloody distracting siren that someone insisted on blasting into his eardrums.

One eye opened as a lifetime’s experience of eyelid manipulation had led him to believe it would. The other was… sticky. Gummy — clearly refusing to toggle as required. Already feeling put upon, Sanders tried not to take this additional injustice personally.

Activating muscles that protested being press-ganged into service, he raised a hand to paw at his face. He smeared enough blood away to restore minimal function. The harsh artificial light of the shuttle pod’s interior clashed in headache-inducing splendour with the flickering flames of the uncontrolled fires that burned in the console. Meanwhile, the smell of burning plastic assaulted his nose as thoroughly as the light ambushed his eyes.

Time to leave.

Sanders rose, his body reeling like a tired scarecrow left too long to the mercy of crows. He stumbled forward and collapsed his weight onto the door control, executing a clumsy escape from the increasingly smoky confines of the forward cabin.

One glance at the outside of the shuttle confirmed what his injuries had led him to suspect — it hadn’t been an easy flight from the Odyssey.

The Odyssey! The mayday call from the military freighter. The Captain’s decision to respond. The many, many enemy ships that surrounded them. The gloriously cunning plan of the Captain, that relied on…

…that relied on Sanders getting to the bridge of this run down freighter. The blurry clock icon in his peripheral HUD painted the time in crimson neon across his vision. Sanders focused. Three minutes to go. If the missiles weren’t fired at exactly the right time and in exactly the right pattern the plan would fail, ensuring the destruction of the Odyssey and the almost certain capture of the freighter. But Sanders had served two tours with the Captain. He had seen enough rabbits pulled out of enough hats to feed a small army.

External communications were jammed, and internal communications unresponsive. Sanders raced down grey corridors filled with flickering lights, alarms, and barely repressed panic. These freighters didn’t exactly attract the best of the best. No security stopped him as he burst onto the main bridge with barely 20 seconds remaining.

‘Captain, I’m Lieutenant Sanders from the Odyssey‘, he barked. ‘We need a full spread of missiles, attack pattern delta-epilson-five to coordinates 165 by 234. On my mark…’

The frazzled freighter Captain looked up at Sanders, his expression bemused. ‘No can do. All class seven freighters had their missiles confiscated as a part of the last efficiency dividend process’, he said.

Sanders sighed and slumped to the ground as the forward screen flashed. It was awash with light from the exploding Odyssey.

Bloody bureaucracy, Sanders thought, and waited patiently for the oblivion he once again hoped would follow.

THE END


‘The Gloriously Cunning Plan’ was originally published in Antipodean SF, in issue 165 (March 2012). It is also available in the free collection of my published flash fiction and short stories A Flash in the Pan?See my bibliography for more details about my published work.

Creative Commons License

This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.

Authentic Empathy – audio edition

My latest story to be published in Antipodean SF was also played on the Anti-SF radio show as well. You can find the podcast of the episode here in episode Gemma, first released on May 23. My story, Authentic Empathy, is the first out of the gate.

I think it is fantastic that Nuke, the editor, provides so many channels for stories to be discovered. The website, the eBooks and the audio together provide a powerful delivery mechanism for everyone’s work. It is a pleasure to publish with him.

More details about all my publications can be found on my bibliography.

Authentic Empathy now available in Antipodean SF – Issue 200!

I have a new story published and online today! Authentic Empathy is the 10th story I’ve had published at the long term online magazine AntipodeanSF, and to make it even better, it is in the bumper issue 200.

AntipodeanSF was started back in February 1998 by Ion “Nuke” Newcombe as a venue for using the new-to-most-of-us technology of the internet to bring a wider range of stories to the masses. The stories were pitched at 500 words long (flash fiction) because that’s the most Nuke felt people could read in one hit on the flickering CRT screens that were the norm at the time.

17 years later, he is publishing issue 200 and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it. Nuke has been excellent to me – taking the time to not only publish but edit my stories. But more than that, I’ve been astonished at what a wide array of Australian writers had early publication credits with AntipodeanSF. Nuke is a stalwart of the Australian speculative fiction scene, and if you haven’t had a chance to check out AntipodeanSF, make now the time that you introduce yourself to its bite-sized delights!

Issue 200 is a bit different from most. Rather than the 6 – 10 flash fiction pieces Nuke usually publishes, he has gone back to people who had early AntipodeanSF publishing success and asked them to provide a new story. The issue contains 22 stories from authors who owe Nuke a debt of gratitude, and as a bonus he has included (in most cases) the first story that the author had published on AntipodeanSF. In my case, that story was called Shipwrecked, which came from my wondering about why Earth may have never been visited by extraterrestrial life.

My new work, Authentic Empathy, is a short piece that was inspired by some questions I’ve always had about what would really happen if AIs were introduced to the world.

If you’re interested in hearing more about AntipodeanSF, I recently interviewed Nuke for the Galactic Chat podcast.

So, go get my story here and if you’re interested in seeing more of my flash fiction, see my bibliography page or my self-published collection of the flash fiction (A Flash in the Pan?)that has previously been published at AntipodeanSF.

(I should note that for the last couple of years I have been producing the simple eBook editions of AntipodeanSF, so when you combine that work with the fact that Nuke has published my work, you can see that I’m a little biased!)

Authentic Empathy to be published on Antipodean SF

Nuke, the editor over at Antipodean SF, recently put a call out for stories to include in the upcoming 200th issue. He asked for people that had previously published in the magazine, and was particularly interested in people whose first publication was in Antipodean SF.

I ticked those boxes. My first ever publication was a story called Shipwrecked which was published in issue 163 back in January 2012.

Given that I met the criteria, I put in a submission and was very pleased when Nuke accepted my submission for the flash fiction piece Authentic EmpathyAuthentic Empathy will be my 10th story published in Antipodean, and I remain very grateful to Nuke for all the support he has given my work over the last couple of years.

In September 2014 Antipodean is at issue 195, so issue 200 won’t come around until next February. I’ll be very interested to see what else Nuke does for the anniversary.

A full list of my published stories can be found on my bibliography page.

Showdown now available at Electric Spec

As reported earlier in the month, I recently sold my short story Showdown to the good people at Electric Spec.

Well, I’m pleased to say that the new edition (Volume 9, Issue 2) has gone live and Showdown is available to read online.

If semi-urban Australian fantasy with an elderly protagonist isn’t quite your style, you can still check out the other excellent offering which include:

  • Girl with the Crooked Spine by Jason Sturner – an unusual fantasy about a unique girl and a misfit boy who meet in the Field Museum in Chicago.
  • A Learned Man by Melinda Brasher is a fantasy inspired by La Leyenda de Bolsa Salgado, an El Salvadorian folktale.
  • Khuminay and the Axe-Wielding Psycho by Barton Paul Levenson. In it, there’s a creature named Khuminay and there’s at least one murder via an axe.
  • Between the Covers by Kathryn Yelinek takes place partly on Earth and partly on another world and explore the topic: what do you do if your memories of yourself aren’t reliable?
  • Forgetting by David E. Hughs is another memory related story.

On the non-fiction side is the ‘Spec Fic in Flicks’ column by Marty Mapes. This edition the topic is “An Alien Perspctive on the Human Condition”.

This edition also contains an interview with author Brian McClellan. McClellan writes epic fantasy, specifically, The Powder Mage Trilogy.

I hope you enjoy Showdown and the rest this edition of Electric Spec.

Wefting the Warp online

I recently blogged that my story, Wefting the Warp, had been purchased and published by Robot and Rayguna UK based speculative fiction magazine. The first publication was done through eBook form, available through Amazon and other fine eBook retailers.

For those not wanting to purchase the eBook version, good news. Robot and Raygun progressively publish each month’s stories on their website. My story is now freely available. Go and check it out. While you’re there, why not read the other fine fiction Robot and Raygun have been publishing?

Short story sale – Robot and Raygun

Well, good news in the Webb household as I celebrate my first short story sale for actual money. Wefting the Warp is a 4,300 word science fiction story and has been bought by Robot and Rayguna new UK based online and print magazine. From their blurb:

Robot and Raygun features all kinds of science fiction, from post apocalyptic worlds to starships travelling through the voids of space and all that lies between.  It is our aim to help fire your imagination and to envision the many futures that lay before us.

Each issue is made up of a selection of short stories to help you discover great new writers of science fiction.

R&R put out their first edition in March 2014, and my story appears in Issue 2, April 2014 which has just been released.

It is a great feeling to have someone like your work enough to pay for it. This is also my first short story length piece to be published (previous publications have been flash fiction).

As always, my bibliography page has details on where you can find all my published work.

Several people have given editorial feedback on the story, and to them I’d like to offer my sincerest thanks. The story wouldn’t have made it without you.

Very short flash fiction piece

Hi all. Antipodean SF has been kind enough to publish another one of my flash fiction pieces. This one is a very short piece called Hindsight is a Bitch and it comes in at around 100 words (I said short, didn’t I?).

You can also read it on the ePub or mobi version of issue 185 available at the e-Reader page of the Antipodean SF website.

I originally wrote this very short story for an online competition, but submitted it to Antipodean SF when I inexplicably failed to win. I hope you enjoy.

The Regersek Zone

Hi all,

It’s been a long time between posts – I’m afraid family life and day job have turned Mark into a very dull boy. Well, dull in terms of my writing. I’m a barrel of laughs when it comes to assessing the potential impact of altering the legislative framework governing the employment of public servants in my great state. But then, it’s hard not to be a wacky funster with material like that to work with.

Despite the temptations that drag me away from my blog, I did want to surface for long enough to say that one of my flash fiction pieces, titled The Regersek Zone, has just been published by the always excellent Ion Newcombe over at Antipodean SF.

Antipodean SF is a fantastic Australian website specialising in flash fiction of around 500 words. The editor, Nuke, has provided opportunities for authors to have their work published for many years, and is unfailingly generous with his time. If you haven’t checked out Antipodean SF, go and have a look immediately. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you…

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Back? Great. Hope you enjoyed yourself.

As for my story, I was watching the US based Falling Skies recently and began wondering why aliens that have mastered intergalactic travel would ever bother with the Earth. We seem like we’re more trouble than we’re worth. Especially when there is a tempting terraforming target not that far away…

(My other flash fiction publications can be found on the Bibliography page of this site).