Hard Copy, Soft Back

My novel, We Used Dark Forces (A Whitsuntide Science Adventure) is now available in physical form, at the somewhat reasonable price of ten British pounds.

UK customers can grab it here and US ones here and for the people of elsewhere, that populous locale, it can be obtained via your local version of the Evil Amazon Empire. I should try to make it purchasable from some less toxic outlet also. Many thanks to covert artist/designer Danny Carr, and blurbers Anne Billson and David Quantick.

Here, have an extract —

— it’s from Chapter 2, and the narrator is Enzo McWheattie —

“Ur,” said Muckle, or it may have been “Ar.” A woman of few words, Muckle, but a considerable variety of expressive sounds.

“Yes,” I concurred, “It’s a dicey problem, all right.” There she was with her bucket and mop, and there was Professor Iglói, stretched across the middle of the study, forming a thin, translucent film which seemed to shimmer whenever we spoke.

Muckle (the walnut-faced caretaker) and I had been in charge of cleaning up after the murders, supposing they were murders, myself in more of a supervisory capacity, Muckle doing the actual disposal of the bodies/remains/artefacts. This one was proving something of a stumper.

The powdery husk left by Dr. Gagnon had been simplicity itself: the dustpan was more than adequate to convey his crumbling parts to a suitable receptacle. Prof. Burtt had been liquified, which was a good deal messier, but the tiled floor of his laboratory had made things less distressing than they might have been. Quarshie’s crystallized form, being quite heavy, had required the assistance of several strong men, even after we’d chiselled him loose from the porcelain. But dear old Iglói looked set to be the most troublesome of all.

“I suppose it is dear old Iglói?” I mused, eyeing the glistening pink surface, like a great soap bubble spanning the room. The furniture and windows on the other side appeared in a pinkish soft focus, diffused through what had once, we believed, been a human being, and was now merely a moist, taut membrane.

“Afraid it’s him alright,” said Whitsuntide, sighting along the membrane from an acute angle. “I recognize his port wine stain. The features are distorted, anamorphically spread out, as it were, but still identifiable even in this flattened and translucent form.”

“Um,” said Muckle, possibly in agreement.

“Very good,” I contributed, “So we’re sure it’s poor old Iglói, but are we sure he’s dead?”

“Wouldn’t you be?” said Whitsuntide, breathing on the distended former professor. The surface rippled and misted up, but betrayed no sign of sentience.

“Certainly, if I had any choice in the matter,” I said, “But this is hardly a common situation. Can we afford to make assumptions? I would hate to be responsible for disposing of a body, or ex-body, that wasn’t properly deceased. Poor old Iglói would be furious.”

“Dead, or merely attenuated?” considered Whitsuntide. He placed the tip of his right index finger against the ball of his right thumb, and, making an “O” shape (minus the inverted commas), he lightly flicked the wall/window of Iglói, leaping back nimbly an instant later as the surface quivered violently.

“I think, either way, his career as physicist is at an end,” said Whitsuntide, as the concentric ripples faded. “The more urgent question seems to me whether you can peel him from the walls and ceiling without getting yourselves enveloped in his skin. I don’t fancy the job and I think I’ll leave you to it. I believe breakfast is served.”

He skipped off.

“Well, ah, Muckle,” I said.

“Ah,” she agreed, looking doubtful.

“I think poking at the upper areas with your broom, then stepping back sharpish should get you a positive result. I myself haven’t broken my fast yet either, and I should hate to miss out on the kedgeree.”

And, thus having given the old girl a clear set of instructions, I’m afraid I left her to it. I was halfway down the corridor when I heard a sort of unfolding splash and a more than usually passionate but muffled “Uhr” from the direction of the study.

Don’t look back, don’t look back.

“I find it all very interesting, of course,” Whitsuntide said over his bacon and eggs. His keen mind always latches onto enigmas and mysteries, and so the fatalities at Urchless — if they were fatalities — well, alright, some of them definitely were, but in the case of an Iglói or a Quarshie you couldn’t really be positive — as I say, the fatalities, or transmutations, or whatever, seemed to be occupying as much of his lively ratiocination as the serious scientific problems we were stationed at the castle to resolve.

“Interesting. Concerning, even,” I agreed. “Who is responsible? Who will be next?”

“Oh, but those are such uninspired questions. The answers will be (1) Someone in this room dining with us right now,” said my friend, as I scanned the breakfast room anxiously, looking at our fellow scientists as they grazed unconcernedly, “and (b) Someone in this room dining with us right now.”

“You mean the motive is of more interest than the victims or culprit?” I asked, eager to grasp his gist.

“Not at all! The motive is obvious, some malcontented fifth columnist, secretly gone over to the French -”

“You mean Germans.” Whitsuntide, brilliant with regard to science, was always fuzzy on politics.

“What interests me is not who or why but how. A whole string of bizarre assassinations, each beyond the reach of modern science, the methods chosen seemingly out of sheer exuberant artistry. Grotesque, wildly impractical, but visually striking and imaginative. If we knew how these murders were being carried out…”

“…we would understand who was behind them.”

“Better than that. We could reproduce them to slay our enemies.”

“The Germans!”

Whitsuntide hesitated just the merest fraction of a moment.

“Certainly. The Germans.”

NOW (purchase, and) READ ON

17 Responses to “Hard Copy, Soft Back”

  1. Muckle is a fine Scots word, meaning “large, hefty” — I assume Fields picked it up when touring Europe — legend has it he first tasted whisky in Scotland. So he culturally appropriated Muckle, which makes me proud, and I am appropriating it back.

  2. I’ve ordered the hard copy but your link above is to the kindle .

  3. Thanks! I thought I was linking to the general book page, from where you can select your choice of format, but I’ve amended it to lead straight to the paperback because why not?

  4. bensondonald Says:

    Put in my Amazon order for the paperback (along with “If I Were King”). I declined Amazon Prime and will therefore receive it in February.

  5. theredshoes1 Says:

    Fiona here – Fields also used McGonagall as a character name, so he seems to have been particularly attracted to all things Scottish. He wasn’t the only comedian/writer to become interested in The Great Poet And Tragedian, Spike Milligan became infatuated with him, along with The Pythons, Terry Pratchett and JK Rowling. I’m proud to say, I’m from Dundee, McGonagall’s home townee. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_McGonagall

  6. Fiona Watson Says:

    Also, ‘Charles Bogle’ was one of one of Fields’ writing pseudonyms. Bloody hell, this goes deeper than I thought…https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogle

  7. Fiona Watson Says:

    AND ‘The Grampian Hills.’ https://www.jstor.org/stable/41210489?seq=1

  8. Yes, it’s going to be a while before my author copies arrive too!

  9. Brilliant news, been eagerly awaiting the option of hard copy.

  10. Mark Fuller Says:

    Excellent, been waiting impatiently for a paper version :)

  11. The cover design is homage to the original Penguin Quatermass script books?

  12. Yes, my designer Danny Carr’s favourite-ever book covers, and possibly mine too.

  13. Got a preferred purveyor from whence to buy, David?

  14. Alas, only Amazon at the moment. Hopefully I’ll get around to Smashwords or someone less evil.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: