Interzone #271 July – Aug 2017 Editorial

Yes I was invited to supply the editorial and duly did so. You’ll find it in that issue and it concerns my visit to the Barbican’s exhibition Into the Unknown A Journey through Science Fiction. As usual my efforts were edited to ensure they made sense by Andy Cox so, after a suitable interval, I will post my original less expertly edited version here. Meantime here are a few photos.

My name in lights – top right

IZ 271_large

Toy Robots at the Barbican

20170616_134503 toy robots

Magazines and books along with the script for 2001: A Space Odyssey

PS you may even get a free read via the ‘look inside’ sample from an Amazon Kindle site, (there are lots) Smashwords (and its associates B&N, ibooks, Kobo etc) or Weightless Books




The Cheshire Prize for Literature and More

The University of Chester each year holds a literary competition that attracts entries from writers from across the world, The High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature.    The competition is open to everyone, wherever they now live, who has ever lived or worked in that area. The first prize is £2,000 and secondary prizes to a total of £750 can be awarded at the judges’ discretion.

I have entered the competition many times and never heard back other than to receive an invite to enter the next year’s competition.  2015’s competition differed, for me, in that two months after the winners were announced I received an invitation to submit my story to an anthology of the entries considered worthy by the judges. I was only too pleased to be included.

The anthology, called Patches of Light, contains the winning story and runners up along with 17 others from the total of 226 stories entered. So I can claim I reached the top 10% in the Judges’ estimation.  So at least I did get somewhere this time. Beyond that I was invited to the 6th July launch of Patches of Light at Chester University and went there with Irene, my wife. We were joined author Priya Sharma who came along as support. Priya has reported on the launch here.

Before the 2016 winner, Pauline Brown, read out her story, Tick Tock, four of the other contributors, chosen by lot, were given the opportunity to read from their own entries. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity but forgot to read out my story’s title, Hall Queen. I’m not sure what the audience made of that as the title was important to the section I read out. Too late to worry now.

Patches of Light is edited by Dr Ian Seed of the University of Chester and published in print and ebook form by the university press. It contains 21 short stories and each one has a maximum length of 1500 words.

patches 12a

Yes it has been slightly photoshopped.



The presentation by the actual High Sheriff herself, Mrs K H Cowell OBE DL, on 6 July 2016.

That same month my poem ‘Farming the Wind‘ was published in print in Shooter Literary Magazine‘s technology issue. Note that word ‘literary’. Who would have thought…

That word ‘poem’ associated with my name always makes me uncomfortable.  Poem and poet have so many literary connotations that I don’t feel apply to me or my efforts. Incidentally there is another Roy Gray publishing poetry on the internet and it is X rated so be careful what you search for. So far my attempts at poems are very chaste.


So once again 20 years after my first poetic triumph I am a paid and published poet.

Finally in this post I can announce that my short story ‘Applied Cosmology‘ was published in Kraxon Magazine at the very end of July. It is free to read online here. It is all of 1000 words and probably was posted 1st of August but I got the news and the proof in July.



To brexit or not to brexit? That is no longer the question.

Yes I have answer as to which way you should vote on Jun 23 and the reason why.
It is quite simple really. Essentially I am a science fiction writer, well I like to think I am, and usually I set my (short) stories in the near future. That is always risky as it takes me so long to get a story published (if it ever is) that those clever chaps, and chapesses, at Apple or Google, etc make the stories obsolete rather too quickly for my comfort.
However a few years ago Pendragon Press did publish my story ‘The Joy of Technology’ before any technical advances destroyed its premise. Pendragon published it as a chapbook and, though now out of print, it remains my solitary triumph as an actual ‘book’; stand alone, bound between covers, a spine, cover art a blurb and pages (admittedly not many) of text.
I have since self-published ‘Joy’ as an ebook and with some relevent ‘extras’. That was the origin of this blog and one place you can find the ebook version is here.
“What has all this to with Brexit?” you could be asking, having got this far. Surely that is obvious now.
I tend to worry about my stories becoming technically obsolescent but Brexit would make ‘Joy’ socially obsolescent. You wouldn’t want that. ‘Joy’ is set in a future where Britain is an EU member.

Yote Remain; to ensure my one published book is not outdated, outmoded and unread. Then buy the ebook to see the joys of membership to come.

Cover by Ben Baldwin
Cover by Ben Baldwin

PS I have no objection to you buying ‘Joy’ if you vote leave. In fact I urge you to do so to see what you may have prevented.

E book links itunes books if you have the app, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble,, so far.

More Non “Joy of Technology” News

In 1998 I reviewed a play for Interzone. It was one of 5 reviews I wrote for the magazine around then, but only 3 were published. There was not a great deal of genre theatre to review, especially where I lived (and still do) in the Manchester area so my reviews were few and eventually got shorter and are very rare now. Below is one of the unpublished ones and I revive it here only because yesterday I came across this, another ‘genre’ promenade play in a park ; ‘Hobbit’ at Willamson Park, Lancaster.
Maybe the following will encourge you to go, maybe it won’t and maybe it will be useful if you do go. Hobbit is on from 5 July to 13 August.

A Poor Summer for Vampires (1998 ‘Dracula’ in Chadkirk Chapel Grounds, Stockport)

Encouraged by evidence of global warming Manchester’s Midsommer Actor’s Company started touring plays outdoors; in parks and the grounds of churches, abbeys and castles. 1998 is not a good year for promenade plays in the parks but their PR states the show goes on come wind, rain or sun. `Bring something to sit on; folding stool or waterproof groundsheet, warm clothing, sensible footwear, raingear, torch, insect repellent’. We didn’t need the insect repellent.

This year’s production, _Dracula – The Undead_, premiered around an ancient stone chapel so audiences trailed the action through `towering beech woods’ and parkland. With a warm dry summer still a possibility this seemed like a good idea midway through the World Cup.

On 21 July we sat, windswept and cold, under low, scudding cloud on the lawn fronting Stockport’s Chadkirk Chapel. From this 1476 Danube battlefield we crossed the grass to the hinterland of Harwich in the 1870’s and the Murray’s molehill spoiled croquet green. Soon we knew that Vlad’s body had disappeared after the battle. Harwich was isolated because of a strange plague that left local girls pale and dead in their beds. Quarantine stranded strangers were welcome to stay at the Murray’s home and Mina’s intended was away in Transylvania trying to sell East Anglian property to a chap called Dracula.

Each scene moved us progressively further into the warmth of the woods. Technology, other than lighting, was not evident so the acting relied on loud voices and dramatic gestures. Melodrama ruled the forest but at this point, a half mile from the toilets, one began to regret visiting the bar before the play. Scenes from Suffolk and Rumania alternated in those leafy glades. The director, Simon Corble, took advantage of the landscapes with anguished cries and screams from all round signifying events in Transylvania, (no need for Dolby C here.) using steeply rising banks as settings to ensure audiences had good views and winding a nicely judged funeral procession across a distant ridge. The echoing hymns of the pallbearers distressed the mysterious Lucy far more than the death of the poor girl being buried. This angered Mina but she and Lucy still became more than good friends.

Dr Morton also fell for Lucy but, puzzled by her sleepwalking and the plague’s effect on Mina, he decided to call in the cavalry. Enter Van Helsing to help his former pupil.

The first scene after the interval, with Simon Kirk as Van Helsing, is undoubtedly the most effective of the night. Everything before has been one long introduction. His first appearance gets the drama moving. This scene is effective SF, but it is the only one. Nevertheless Van Helsing soon shows us that a croquet mallet in scene 2 has to strike by scene 9. Martin Pirong’s Dracula provides a frisson of anxiety, appearing out of the dark to find Lucy staked out on the croquet pitch. Events hasten to the expected conclusion but the route is different.

The final scene, outside the real chapel, leaves Mina alone and unprotected. She does the paperwork while the men rush off, through real rain and over real gravestones, to find Dracula’s coffin, a task considered “too dangerous for women”. She soon finds a scary hand on her shoulder but, luckily, her typewriter intrigues Dracula. Mina takes advantage of his distraction and, being quite handy with a paper spike, pins him to her chair.

This production was no parody, unlike this summer’s cancelled _Dracula – The Musical with Bite_ but the script was uneven and the actors were always fighting against outside distractions: rain, the lowing of cows over the battlefield, trees in the wrong place. Overall it never reached ‘must see’ status however if you fancy an unusual family night out, especially at the more atmospheric venues, you won’t be disappointed.

The tour, which finishes late September, is centred around Manchester but includes Lord Byron’s old home, the gothic ruins at Newstead Abbey (Notts), Peel Castle, Isle of Man and Helmsley Castle, North Yorks.

We finish with practicalities. The cold start after a couple of pints left me wishing I had ordered spirits at the bar. Ladies might want to check the distance and scarcity of toilet facilities unless they are prepared to emulate the men and retire to the undergrowth. Don’t speed off the paths in the dark, those low branches can give you a nasty headache. If you rely on public transport make sure you have around 45 minutes leeway for any overrun.

Non “Joy of Technology” News

I have a non-fiction article, Why we are here? published in Sci Phi Journal #5.

New Scientist, 20 April 2006 issue contained Amanda Gefter’s piece ‘Exploring Stephen Hawking’s Flexiverse’. Quoting from that “The real lesson of these so-called singularity theorems is that the origin of the universe is a quantum event,”. My article, ‘Why we are here’, started there.

Sci Phi Journal’s website.

My story Neutrino C.A.T. was a free E book on the TTA Press’ E book sites Amazon, Smashwords and those linked to the latter; iBooks, B&N, Kobo etc.

Last year it was withdrawn by TTA so now I’ve used my latest technology to regenerate the E book republished it on the Roy Gray pages of Amazon and Smashwords. I made my own E Pub but I can’t find a way to post it here as an E book yet. Here is a direct link to the Smashwords edition and here to the and .uk editions. It is free on Smashwords.

Here is the cover image.

neutcat cov 2015   Cover for Neutrino C.A.T.

The following are originals of the images that contain the elements used to make the cover.


The Joy of Technology

Cover by Ben Baldwin
Cover by Ben Baldwin

by Roy Gray

I’m Roy Gray, and I wrote The Joy of Technology, you can see the cover above. In a technical sense, it’s rude and explicit—but, being science fiction (SF) there’s insufficient flesh-to-flesh contact to worry anyone.

There’s nothing new or different about a short story turned e-book or E book collections of short stories be they rather rude, somewhat explicit or otherwise.  The Joy of Technology Ebook is all of those plus more.

Originally a short story The Joy of Technology was published as a ‘chapbook’ by Pendragon Press in 2011. Now I’ve converted it into an e book and added the ‘DVD extras’ though, of course, there is no DVD with any downloadable e book – including this one.
Is it fiction or non-fiction? Is it a short story collection or a novel containing short stories? Is it all of those or none of those? Yes I think it is.

An important aspect of ‘creative writing’ is most of it never gets published and, while the proportions of published to unpublished may have changed with the advent of e books, blogs and social networks, I suspect that remains true. For every author who can make a success of their ‘shopping list’ there are hundreds who languish unknown, unread and unpublished.

I sit somewhere in that range, too close to the unknown pole for comfort, but at least someone found some of my work of value.

The Joy of Technology  was one of my few successes and now it’s a self published ebook. This blog is one of my ways of telling you about that e book version.

One further warning to ensure that readers are not misled about the nature of the story.
It was not written with any intention to offend anyone but the sexually explicit portions and language may have that effect. If you are likely to be offended by this type of material it would be wise to avoid going further.

I will try to keep this site completely inoffensive but remember offense is in the eye of the beholder. I have tried to ensure the free samples of the ebook do not contain any particularly ‘adult’ material.

I will be sorry if anyone buys Joy and then feels that the currency, time and/or effort they spent obtaining it was wasted. I would, of course, be even sorrier should any of those who then go on to read it feel the same. Either way one consolation may be that the single story The Joy of Technology that headlines the ebook is reasonably short and represents a larger proportion of author’s time than it does the reader’s.
The ‘DVD Extras’ also contain scenes, scenarios and language that may be objectionable to some readers. Again, if this is likely to offend you, do not download.

E book links itunes books, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble,, so far.