Category Archives: Original writing

The New Star

Aliens in 1940s England!

The New Star Cover

Cover by Kay Slutebeck

Yes, I have now got round to publishing a Kindle copy of my story The New Star, which is a cheerful assault on all Angela Thirkell held most dear: a tale about how miserable it must have been to be an upper-class county wife in England in the 1940s, when men would rather make love to a horse than you, and there’s nothing to do except write bad poetry about suicide.  Until strange people from somewhere they call ‘Barnard’s Star’ arrive.  Their leader is a woman!  A strangely attractive woman!  One of them is green and has the wrong number of fingers!  They make people vanish with a ray!  What is a lady to do?

Or, as it says on Amazon:

Lydia Marsden is just another bored, frustrated upper-class wife in 1940s rural England who wishes her husband would make love to her occasionally. And then three visitors call on her husband. Foreigners. One of whom is green and has an unusual number of fingers. And all of whom seem singularly unaccustomed to the rules governing polite society. To the extent that their leader is a woman. And everything changes (if only because the housemaid was mysteriously disintegrated by some kind of ray). Lydia discovers the joys of sapphism. Her friend Clarissa experiments with xenophilia. And rural England will never be the same again.

This is a not-so-gentle satire on the English County culture chronicled by Angela Thirkell and the like, asking why should women have to live with a world in which the only options available to them were frustrated wife or servant? Why does it matter what the neighbours think? And what happens if you set a man with a cosh up against a man with a ray gun?

So how do I buy it?

I thought you’d never ask.  Wherever you can find Kindle books you can buy it.  Specifically:

It’s cheap, it’s quite funny, and there’s some spiffy cover art by Kay Sluterbeck.


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Lost Girl of Krypton

The Lost Girl

Oh noes!

I thought it worth mentioning that I have finally managed to achieve (self) published status with my story Lost Girl of Krypton, now available for Kindle (and Kindle reader application on PCs).  And it comes with an absolutely spiffing cover illustration by Kay Sluterbeck, which you can see on this very page.

What’s all this then?

Lost Girl of Krypton is a story narrated by a mentally disturbed young woman, who appears to have multiple personalities, and who clearly believes that she is Power Girl, and that people from the DC Universe (Superman, Lois Lane, Harley Quinn, the Huntress, Oracle) play a part in her life.  Whether any of this is true, or whether all the events she narrates are delusion, is left for the reader to determine.  She starts uncertain of her identity, and undertakes a journey of some sort, which leads her to a conclusion about who she is. 

It’s not an especially cheerful read, though there’s a lot of quite dark humour, but it is definitely the best thing I’ve written, and it is a deliberate attempt at using the whole superhero mythos, that I discussed in Superheroes in Myth, to do something complex, challenging and adult (in the sense of not childish).  And using superheroes, particularly one as liminal as Power Girl, as a way of exploring mental illness seemed a good thing to do.

The important bit

If you want to buy it (and see my lovely Amazon author page), then it is now available as a Kindle book from a variety of Amazon sites, in particular:

More from Power Girl

Oh no, not again

Yes, I’m afraid it is.  Having written somewhat exhaustively on the subject of Power Girl, everyone’s favourite over-endowed superheroine here and here, I have gone one stage further in contributing to her degradation.  I have committed fanfic upon her person.

That’s right, fanfic.  That is to say, 12,000 (ish) words of cheerfully doom-laden prose purporting to be the first-person narrative of a young woman who finds herself in a hospital and not entirely certain as to who she is.  She may be Kara Zor-L, or Karen Starr or Power Girl or one of a number of other individuals who appear to share her head with her.  And then, her cousin, a Mr Kent, turns up and discharges her and takes her home for some unclear reason.  And then, in a complex journey, she finally works out who she is.

The key thing about this is that it’s the narrative of someone with a rather childlike view on the world who just doesn’t comprehend her own powers, or how people work.  She starts out probably psychotic, and by the end she’s developed into a raging psychopath and possibly worse.  And yet she is still an innocent.  So it’s a study in morbid psychology and, though I say so myself, rather subtle.

What I’m trying to say is, I think this is the best thing I’ve ever written, and it’s a big breakthrough for me in maturity as a writer.  So I’d like to share it with you:

A new poem: Rita Hayworth on the station

This was originally written for an experimental multi-author poetry site where specific rules are given as to the form a poem should take.  In this case the instructions included a view across a station from one platform to another, mentioning Rita Hayworth.  As readers of my other blogs will know, I am something of a fan of Miss Hayworth, so this was irresistible.


At the station
Waiting
Standing idling till the train comes
That will take me home

I look across
At the other side
Where a train has just stopped
Disgorging the young whose day begins as mine ends
Crowding into town in their lemming-like rush
To drink
To dance
To find in a brief fumble up against a wall
The closest they will come to transcendance

But they don’t think of transcendance
So taken up are they in the moment and themselves
That they see their scrawny bodies eroticism far exceeding Rita Hayworth
In their dull couplings a flame to outdo Bogie and Bacall
Or at least they would if they knew their names

So arrogant
So certain is youth
That they cannot see that to a jaded man
Of not quite middle age
The memory image of Rita Hayworth’s body
Her face
Her lips
Her all powerful breasts
Might rival and even overpower their over exposed charms
Such is youth
And so was I when young
But I fear for them
For when they are like me
Not quite old and not quite young
With no Rita no Lauren or Katharine
Who will they have to bring some cheer into the greyness of the everyday

We have left behind the era of the gods
Bequeathing to our children a world we made without them
We thought that godlessness was better
But without the gods can there be a soul?

More poetry

Here are a couple more poems that I’ve generated.  They’re both a bit sad.  The first reflects on something very important to me, that is the issue of truth, and its paramount importance above all other things.  The second looks at the nature of identity, finding it vanishing in both the macrocosm and the microcosm.

Poem 1:

Can we know truth?
Some lay claim to be its guardians, but,
Regardless of whether their truth is born
Of divine revelation, philosophy or of
Reason, they ban dissent. But at least
They value truth.
Some decry it, deny it, say it doesn’t
Matter, that there are much fitter gods to serve.
They fear the truth.
I know that I can have no other mistress.
I know that if forced to choose between truth and
Anything else, truth always will be my choice.
But my truth is that of an ill mind
And finds no takers.

POEM 2:

I am so large, my body is made out of
Hundreds of millions of millions of tiny cells,
Each one a living thing all on its own.
And each of them is made of just as many
Atoms, which further subdivide into
Electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, gluons,
And, at the heart, a string, maybe a piece
Of pure quintessence. I am not in these,
Or in the atoms, or even the cells
That make the body that I call myself.
I am nowhere. When I look for me, I vanish.

I am so small, one of sixty million
On an island, in a continent, on a planet we call Earth,
The home of six thousand million people.
And Earth is only one of eight, nine, eight
Planets spinning round a star, the Sun,
Just one of hundreds of thousand millions of stars
Within the Milky Way, and it
Is one galaxy in a universe in which
Galaxies outnumber all the grains of sand
On all the beaches I played on as a child.
I am not there, the universe would still
Continue much unchanged if I, if all I know,
If Earth, if Sun, if Milky Way were ended.

And yet my mind encompasses all these things:
I can see myself as a colossus or a speck,
And even dimly comprehend the infinite.
And so I rehearse to myself each day,
This list of reasons for my non-existence.

Sonnet

This is by way of being my first ‘serious’ poem.  That is to say, I’ve written any quantity of light verse, indeed, a whole verse play, but that was a formal exercise.  This is the first time I’ve tried to say something that mattered to me.

It’s worth noting that in spite of this the piece is still pretty strictly constructed, so it consists of tetrameters arranged in rhyming couplets, as well as adhering to the classic 6 + 8 structure.  I do find that a strict structure actually aids composition.

After all that, here it is.  Please be kind.  As I said, it’s my first attempt, but it is about a subject that matters to me a lot.  So, without further ado:

A sonnet by Julian Porter

The problem’s not inside your head,
But with those who, too easily led
To judgement, cannot comprehend
That it’s them drives you round the bend,
With their falsely caring ways,
That turn to nightmare all the days.
Yet all they need’s the simple will
To not assume that mentally ill
Means mentally inept, or worse,
Which makes them unwisely averse
To give responsibility
To those of us, like you or me,
Who only want to do our bit,
And by doing become fit.

What really happened . . .

The Author

The Author

It’s all lies you know.

I never kidnapped Santa.  That’s a lie.  And I never nearly ruined Christmas for everyone either.  Sure, a few people died, and that musician would never play the violin, or do anything else requiring limbs, again, but the FBI were very efficient, and to this day everyone believes that it was a secret CIA weapons test gone horribly wrong.  And I never rescued that Sally from Oogie either, let alone had a duel with him.  Hell, I gave her to him.  Thought it would stop her nagging at me to ‘make an honest rag-doll of her’.  Me and Oogie, we’re like that, have been ever since the old days when we were Great Cthulhu’s hench-things.

So why does everyone believe all that crap?  You want to know?  Really, I’m not boring you?  I wouldn’t want to think I’m boring you.  Fine, just let me get another – oh, that’s very generous of you, it’s a special cocktail called ‘The Creeping Chaos’, the man here does it wonderfully, you should try it.  Seventeen types of rum, bat’s blood and the tears of an infant.  With a big hairy spider as garnish.  No?  Well one for me anyway.  And you might want to get another Guinness for Zero.  He doesn’t like it when people forget to include him in the round.  And then he nips your ankles.  Ever been bitten by a spectral dog?  Take my advice.  Don’t.

Ah, that’s good.  Now, where was I?  Oh yes, why people believe all that jolly, happy stuff about me and Santa and the elves.  Well, it all started in a bar, just like now.  Look are you sure you’ve got time for this, because you said you had to get to that wedding?  Okay, fine.  I was in this bar, well, not this bar, but a bar, hiding from Sally, and I met this bloke.  Like you, only he wasn’t.  I can tell you’ve got class, but he was a real scruffbag, hair everywhere, several days stubble, the works.  Normally I wouldn’t deign to speak to someone like that, but, hey, he was there, and he was a sucker, sorry, I mean terribly generous.  Who was he?  Oh, I don’t know, said his name was Burton, but to be honest I wasn’t paying much attention.  He wasn’t very interesting, you know?

So, anyway, I got to telling him about that Christmas.  Now what happened was, Santa had got bored, what with those bloody elves, and who could blame him.  You think my lot are bad?  At least they’re amusingly deranged, and they’re not jolly all the time.  You can get very bored with jolly, and Santa was.  He wanted to get away from the elves and the toddlers who argued about whether they had in fact been naughty, and Mrs Santa and spend a couple of weeks on Capri with his friend Silvio and a bunch of young women that Silvio happened to know.  Very amenable young women, if you get my drift.  You do?  Good.  If it weren’t for bloody Sally I’d be there with them now, but no it’s do this, cook that, destroy the other, and . . .

Sorry, my problems.  Not relevant.  So, like I said, Santa wanted to get away, so he and I cooked up the kidnap story as a way of making it seem plausible that he’d vanished.  So, as we arranged, I sent the kids round and Santa let himself be kidnapped, and he came round here, and we had a bit of a party, then, once we’d slept it off, he was off to Capri and I was dodging the lawyers that Sally had instructed to sue me for date rape.  Which I swear to this day I never . . .

So, then it was up to me to organise Christmas.  Oogie and I put our heads together and we worked out a plan.  It was quite simple.  We agreed that there was no way I was going to put up with the crap old Santa had to from the natives.  So the first thing I needed was a weapon.  One I could use to take out the little bastards if they happened to wake up while I was stuffing their stockings, if you get my drift.  No, I’m not saying I’m a paedophile, and I’d be glad if you wouldn’t take that tone with me, sir.  Thank you.  Where was I?  Oh yes, weapons.  Well, you know how it is: when you start building a serious weapon collection things just get out of hand, so by the time we’d finished I had a Glock 19 millimetre for close-action work, a couple of 9 millimetre machine pistols, in case I had to take out entire families, and an RPG-7, just in case I decided a house was just going to be plain trouble and needed to take it out from a distance.  And then one thing led to another, and it was late, and we were both a bit – hey, would you fancy another?  Why thank you.  Remember Zero.

That would put hairs on my chest, if I had a chest that is.  So yes, we were both a bit, er, merry, and I didn’t want to go home until I was certain Sally and her lawyers were asleep, and so when, at about 3 am, Oogie said I really needed a town-scale tactical weapon to deal with major trouble-spots, I didn’t say no.  Which I realise I should have.  And that’s how I ended up with the nuke.

Well, there isn’t much more to tell.  When I woke up I felt terrible, and there was Sally with a lawyer on one side and a registrar on the other, so I didn’t really have all the time to plan things out that, in retrospect, would probably have been a good idea.  So I barged into the first house, pistol at the ready, and there was this little bugger saying ‘Who’re you?  You’re not Santa’, so I gave him it between the eyes and beat a hasty retreat.  The next house was pretty much the same, the next I had to kill the whole family.  No, they weren’t interested in the presents, they wanted my guns.  I mean, there was this seven-year-old hanging onto the RPG like grim death.  What does a seven-year-old want with an RPG, I ask you?  So anyway, I killed the lot of them.

After that I was feeling a bit antsy, so I used the RPG on the next few houses, just to be on the safe side.  But, unfortunately, by the time I’d calmed down enough to try another delivery, the cops had been notified, and what with the gun-battle and all the demands that I take the skeleton mask off, I kind of lost my cool, and well, I set the timer on the nuke to thirty seconds and then I got out of there sharpish.

So, that’s what happened.  I got back, and because I was a bit distracted, what with the megadeath and all, I wasn’t sufficiently on my guard, and before I knew it, one of Sally’s goons had me in an arm-lock and I was given a simple choice: do the right thing or do time.  Well . . .

The film, you say?  Well, this Burton, he must have been some kind of hippy, because he kept saying ‘That’s terrible, man’ and ‘Gotta tell a story the kids can believe in’, and I was trying to explain to him that nothing’s more believable than death when . . .

Oh fuck.

Why hello my dear.  Good time at church?  Good.  I know, my dear, yes, I know I should come with you, but there’s the small matter of my having been excommunicated to deal with.  Not to mention the fact that I’m in the Book of Revelation.  Of course not, my dear.  I wouldn’t dream of it, my dear.  Right away, my dear.  Come, Zero.