I’m always delighted to see a new issue of Taddle Creek mysteriously appear in my driveway, and this work of art is no exception. I particularly like the letter to the editor about my story “Starseed,” published in an earlier edition of Taddle Creek. I’m no stranger to letters to the editor thanks to my previous career in the media, but this was an interesting change from the usual accusations of being a left/right wing shill for Big Publishing/indie anarchists.
Late last year, Taddle Creek, in quick succession, received possibly the two greatest letters ever to grace its e-mailbox. Both were from Kieran Dunn, of Guelph, Ontario, who wrote: “I have just finished reading ‘Starseed,’ by Peter Darbyshire, in the summer issue of Taddle Creek (No. 43). I was perplexed by the following passage: ‘The interior of that starship was indescribable by the likes of me. Perhaps Gernsback and his fellow science fictioneers could manage it, but it is beyond me.’ While I appreciate the homage in this ‘celebration of the . . . pulp magazine,’ I have to wonder when this story is meant to take place. The Battle of the Somme, the concluding event in the story, was fought in 1916. Amazing Stories, Hugo Gernsback’s first foray into what we now call science fiction, was not founded until 1926. It seems unlikely that the narrator, Archimedes Death, would be writing later than 1926 and, thus, unlikely he would refer to Hugo Gernsback as a ‘science fictioneer.’ I would be interested to hear your take on this.”
Read the full letter here at Taddle Creek, including my response. I like the way Kieran Dunn’s mind works!
And if you want to support Taddle Creek putting more beautiful ephemera into the world, there’s always the subscribe option!
Self-isolating at home during the coronavirus pandemic? Finished watching every single show on Netflix? Built your survival fort out of toilet paper and dried pasta? Remember when any of those things would have seemed strange just a few weeks ago?
Maybe it’s time to hunker down and ignore the zombies and asteroid storms and alien saucers outside with a good read. Here’s a quick list of some of my works you can read for free online. Finish them all and you’ll open the Seventh Seal! Do it quick before the Fifth Horseman arrives!
- Has the World Ended Yet? Well, it’s getting there. In the meantime, an excerpt from my most recent published book. (I’ve written others, but it’s hard to find the time to publish them when I’m fighting off tentacled zombies on my doorstep. Always with the procrastination and excuses….)
- Starseed: Or, The Strange Transformation of Archimedes Death. A mysterious and dark superhero in the First World War! A super scientist determined to learn the truth! Mechanical alien spiders! Trench warfare! No plagues!
- The Angel Azrael Rode Into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse. The first in my series of stories about the angel gunslinger Azrael.
- The Angel Azrael Delivers Small Mercies. “Mercy” is a loaded word when you’re an angel gunslinger.
- The Angel Azrael Delivers Justice to the People of the Dust. “Justice” is also a loaded word when you’re an angel gunslinger.
- The Princess Trap. A sheepherder and a dragon come to an arrangement of sorts. Hapless knights pay the price.
- We Are All Ghosts. My first (and only) Lovecraftian superhero apocalypse story! An updated version of this appears in Has the World Ended Yet?, my latest book.
- We Are a Rupture That Cannot Be Contained. Ghosts erupt out of pipelines and the world ends. Hey, the price of gas is low right now! An updated version of this appears in Has the World Ended Yet?, my latest book.
- We Continue to Pray for Something to End Our Prayers. Gotta say, this isn’t the way I expected the world to end. An updated version of this appears in Has the World Ended Yet?, my latest book.
Literary or some such genre
My latest book, Has the World Ended Yet?, is now available in ebook format — Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iTunes, the usual suspects. Now it’s simple as opening an app on your phone to bring about the apocalypse!
Buy Has the World Ended Yet? (ebook)
You can also buy the ancient, bound physical tome if that’s more your thing. Probably makes better kindling for cooking fires after the collapse of civilization anyway.
Buy Has the World Ended Yet? (paperback)
I was surprised and delighted to see my latest book, Has the World Ended Yet?, mentioned over at Shawna Lemay’s Transactions With Beauty. Lemay is one of my favourite writers and Transactions With Beauty is one of my few must-read sites, so this is a great honour for me. And I love the photographs!
Plus, it’s probably the only time in my life I will ever be included with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Radiohead and the Rolling Stones.
A mysterious and dark superhero! A super scientist determined to learn the truth! Mechanical alien spiders! Trench warfare! My latest story, “Starseed: Or, The Strange Transformation of Archimedes Death,” is now live at Taddle Creek!
Previous: Pulp Spectacular
UPDATED: “Starseed” is now live at Taddle Creek’s online emporium of wonders!
I’m thrilled to announce I’ve got a shiny new story in Taddle Creek’s “pulp spectacular” issue. Taddle Creek has always been one of my favourite mags – and not just because they’ve published a few stories of mine, like “Neighbours” and “The Code” (from my first book, Please), as well as “If You Lived Here” (from my second book, The Warhol Gang). They even published one of the stories that wound in my latest book, Has the World Ended Yet?
That last bit actually brings us around to my new story, “Starseed (Or, The Strange Transformation of Archimedes Death”). The story is my take on a Superman kind of story, where I imagined what would happen if someone like Superman found himself on Earth with no formidable enemies and the conscience of a man who realized no one could stop him, no matter what he did. No one, that is, except for perhaps a reluctant scientist hero by the name of Archimedes….
I’d originally considered including the story in Has the World Ended Yet? because it was a good fit for the collection in terms of content and tone. But my editor, Paul Vermeersch, felt it wasn’t quite ready when it came time for the book to go to print, and he was right. We kept it out and I worked on it for a few more drafts, until I got it to the point where I’d truly captured that pulp feel. Then Taddle Creek editor Conan Tobias asked me if I had anything for a special pulp issue he was planning and here we are.
Anyway, check out the issue if you can. It’s done up in true pulp form specially for the issue, with more wild and crazy authors than you can shake a tentacle at. Check out the table of contents if you don’t believe me!
And, as always, thanks for reading.
Neil Gaiman’s American Gods seems to be getting a lot of attention these days, which makes me happy. I had the chance to interview him over sushi many years ago, when I still worked in the media, and he was one of the nicest and most honest writers I’d ever met. Plus there’s all that creative stuff. He’s the kind of writer you really like to see succeed and blow up in mainstream popularity, especially given all the work he does on behalf of others.
I also like seeing American Gods get lots of attention because of that time Robert J. Wiersema went on the CBC’s Next Chapter and suggested readers of American Gods may also like my first Cross book, The Mona Lisa Sacrifice. Check it out if you haven’t heard it already – the segment starts around the 41 minute mark.
My first Cross book, The Mona Lisa Sacrifice, is included in The Bad Fairy StoryBundle. Pay what you want for 10 books! Find out why The Mona Lisa Sacrifice is “like if Quentin Tarantino made Howl’s Moving Castle”!
My book aside, it’s a pretty good deal. 10 books for less than the price of a coffee each – and no DRM! It’s almost too good to be true, like some sort of fairy trick….
My calendar reminds me it’s been three years since the publication of The Mona Lisa Sacrifice, the first in my Cross series of supernatural thrillers. I wasn’t sure where the tale of Cross and his angel enemies and mythical friends would lead me, but it turned into a wild and unpredictable journey. Shakespearean spirits and faerie intrigue! Strange, magical libraries! Undead Atlanteans, literary vampires and crazed angels! The difficulties of being a single parent to a ghost child! The horrors of monstrous royal families! The complications of love among immortal beings! And a host of characters that seem to have been born more from their own imaginations than mine – including, of course, Alice.
I think as a writer the thing you hope for most is to create a world that hasn’t been done before – and that wouldn’t have been made up by anyone else. Something that is a unique creation, a world that other people want to visit for a time and return to at different points in their lives, be it for discovery, nostalgia, comfort or joy. Those are the books that live on in my imagination. Hopefully Cross and his friends are creating such a world for some of you.
Also, I have recently finished the first draft of the fourth book in the Cross series. With any luck, you’ll have a chance to spend more time with Cross and his friends – and enemies – in the near future. Which, with Cross, always means a trip into our secret pasts….
Can’t view the ancient parchments? Read it below:
and to all a good night
once a year the elves rouse him from the long winter of sleep
with their screams, their burning bodies dancing through his nightmares
he wakes to their ancient bones scattered around the workshop
white as the snow and ice that bury the ruins in silent, eternal night
the same elves that had found him under the world tree
as dead as all the other world trees
and had unwrapped him from the bonds of his frozen grave
root and chain and stone and bone
lost there for so many nights
he no longer remembered
they gave him gifts of warm clothes
hot food and drink
until he burned inside
like a furnace
they took him into their workshops
and showed him impossible things
wonders made real
what some would call science
what others would call magic
what they called wishes
but all the wishes of the elves couldn’t save them
from the fire that burned out of control
and the ice and cold
of his soul
and so he sleeps forgotten again
in the ruins of the workshop
waking only once a year
on that anniversary
when their screams drive him out
into the snow and ice and long night
in search of other sleepers
so he can whisper in their dreams
the secrets of the elves
of impossible things
of the end
so he can free himself from the burden
of their gifts that could never be
and slumber for another year
his mind frozen hard
as a shard of coal
Originally published in On Spec No. 102 (Fall 2015)