Open for Submissions

Vast: Stories of mind, soul and consciousness in a technological age.

Exciting news! Orchid’s Lantern is about to open its doors for the first time. Vast is to be the very first anthology published by our independent press. We’re seeking stories that explore the relationship between technological development and human ontology.

To give an idea of scope, here are a few things to think about:

  • Could machines ever fill the god-shaped hole in man, and what might religions of the future look like?
  • How might developments in electronics, computing or medical procedure aid (or hinder) the transcendence of our mental faculties?
  • What new forms of non-physical communication could emerge, and what effect would this have on the way we live?
  • What can artificial intelligence teach us about the nature of mind, soul and consciousness? Are these qualities only present in living things?
  • How have smart phones, the Internet, crypto currencies and automation already changed the way we think?
  • How might mental illness be helped or hindered by technology?
  • Will mind and matter always be considered distinct?
  • How might the exploration of altered states of consciousness, natural and otherwise, be changed in light of fast-developing scientific approaches?
  • What paths could quantum physics take us down when coupled with future technology, and how might it solve the hard problem of consciousness?
  • How might unconscious desires or biases impact our future?
  • Will the kind of dreams we have, or the way we perceive them, evolve?
  • What direction might the disciplines of philosophy and psychology take in the future?

These are intended to give you an idea of the feel we are going for, and should act as inspiration only. They are not necessarily jumping off points, and they are not the only angles on the theme we will accept.

We want high impact experimental pieces, streams of consciousness, unusual perspectives and fictional accounts of altered states. We want extrapolations and interpretations of our present reality, or visions of drastic changes. The playful and colourful will be juxtaposed with dystopia. We do not want highly fantastical settings unless they explicitly link back to the theme. We want complete stories, not chapters of something bigger.

Please do not send us:

  • Stories of a racist, sexist or bigoted nature (though careful exploration of such themes may be considered)
  • Stories promoting particular religions or political stances
  • Vampires, werewolves, superheroes or magic
  • Erotica

We like: Maniac, Russian Doll, OA, Black Mirror, The Matrix, Philip K Dick, William Gibson, Jeff Vandermeer, Kurt Vonnegut, Cixin Liu, Robert Anton Wilson, Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts and Terence McKenna.

 

Particulars

All submissions should be less than 7,500 words. There is no lower limit because we are fans of flash fiction, so long as it is strong and impactful. However we aim to have a variety of lengths in the finished publication.

The initial deadline is 10th September 2019, but we reserve the right to extend this should we not receive enough quality submissions by this date.

We will acknowledge receipt of all submissions, and later respond with an accept, decline, or request for discussion. If you have not received the second email within a month of submission, your piece is being considered and we will be in touch by 10th October. Please do not send follow-up emails unless you wish to withdraw your submission.

Simultaneous submissions to other publishers are allowed, but please let us know straight away if you receive an acceptance so we can remove you from our list.

Each author may submit only one piece for consideration.

Submissions may have been previously published online, but must be removed prior to the publication of this anthology.

We expect to publish the anthology mid 2020.

Contributors will be compensated with a small one-off sterling payment of 0.5p per word (£5 per 1000 words) and two paperback copies of the anthology.

All stories will be checked for grammatical consistency (using British English as we are a UK publisher) and proofread prior to publishing, but we ask that all submissions are in a polished, complete state when you send them to us. Excessive errors or poor form will result in your submission being declined.

A 50 word bio will be required for inclusion in the final anthology. It is not a requirement to send this with your initial submission, but you may do so if you wish.

We are committed to diversity in literature, and as long as they follow our guidelines, we will give all submissions equal consideration. Whether you’re a new or established writer, we welcome your submissions.

Vast will be edited by C.R. Dudley, author of metaphysical collections Fragments of Perception and Mind in the Gap.

Submissions should be emailed to submissions@orchidslantern.com with ‘Vast’ as the subject line. Documents should be clearly marked with the author or pen name and story title on each page. By submitting, you accept our guidelines detailed above and assert yourself as the copyright holder.

 

We look forward to reading your stories!

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Still have questions? Ask us in the comments below.

Book Giveaway!

A quick note to let you know that my first book, Fragments of Perception and Other Stories, is currently on a Kindle Countdown deal. That means that in the UK you can grab a copy for just 99p, but only for the next 5 days! In the US, it’s even cheaper at 99c for the next 2 days and then $1.99 until Wednesday next week. I’d love for you to give it a try!

Click here for UK listing.

Click here for US listing.

And as ever I have signed paperbacks available here.

Newsletter – February 2019

Virtual Futures Near Future Fiction Vol 1
News
I’m pleased to tell you that Virtual Futures Near-Future Fictions Vol. 1 is now up for pre-order on Amazon! This is an anthology of 18 ‘bleeding-edge’ social sci-fi shorts, and includes my brand new and exclusive story Undefined Variable. The official release date is 5th March.

It was a pleasure to be featured on Mike Chapman’s Saturday Interviews this month. Mike asks lots of interesting, in-depth questions, so that was a lot of fun to do. You can read the full interview here. Mike also wrote a very thoughtful review of Mind in the Gap, which you can read here.
What I’m Writing
I’m busy working on the second draft of my novel The Enlightenment Machine at the moment. It’s full of my typical mind-bending weirdness, but the very first part of it is set in the North-East of England where I grew up. I had written a lot on memory on the first draft, but as nothing quite compares to a visit, I went to Redcar to take some photos and make notes of the areas I’ve chosen to feature. My Grandma came with me, which was fantastic as she was able to give me some insights I’d have otherwise missed, and she unknowingly filled in a vital part of the plot I was missing. The visit was the injection of enthusiasm the project needed after being left on the back-burner for so long, and it’s now progressing at a pace and quality I’m happy with.

I’m continuing to make time for writing amidst a busy schedule by getting up an hour or so early each morning. There’s something that really sets the mind on task when it’s the first thing you think about when you wake up; before the over-rational, self-critical part of the mind stirs from hypnogogic bliss…
What’s On My Mind
I’ve been undertaking some night-time experiments recently, in which I meditate upon a chosen Tattva symbol before sleep and record the resulting dreams. I’ve had some interesting experiences with it so far, which you can read all about here.

tattva cards

Partly due to this experiment and partly as an avenue of research for the book, I’ve been reading a lot about the theoretical fourth spatial dimension. My thoughts on this are coming together to crystalize some unusual ideas, which I’ll be sure to write up on the blog soon.
What I’m Reading
I just finished My Eyes Are Black Holes by Logan Ryan Smith, which is an impressive novel in a style reminiscent of David Lynch or perhaps Hunter S. Thompson. It traps you in the mind of a man troubled by hallucinations, confused memories, and grotesque fantasies. I highly recommend it.

For my non-fiction read, I’m in the middle of Other Worlds by Christopher G White. It’s an exploration of our willingness to believe in higher dimensions across history, and our fascination with the line where spirituality and science meet. I’ve learned a lot from it, and plan to write a review feature on it when I’m done.

And (because I can’t read my Kindle in the bath) I’m also re-visiting an old favourite novel: Rubicon Beach by Steve Erickson.
What’s On My Headphones
While writing, I’m almost exclusively listening to Nine Inch Nails and Coil at the moment. They seem to hit the perfect creative vibe for the section I’m working on. Otherwise, Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic by The Ocean has rarely been off my headphones. I saw the band live for the third time back in November, and was once again blown away by their performance.

Podcast-wise, I’m still dancing with Third Eye Drops. It’s an ever-fascinating foray into philosophy, psychedelics, self-development and spirituality. I highly recommend checking it out.

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For more information on my books, or to purchase a signed copy, please visit my books page. Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog for regular updates on my projects, as well as articles, flash fiction, and reviews of the unusual. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram if that’s your thing.

Reflections: Reading and Writing Short Fiction

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Writing Short Fiction: The Word Count Limbo

JG Ballard once said in an interview:

“I am very grateful that I started my career as a writer writing short stories because you really learn your craft. You can also explore yourself; if you write a huge number of short stories it doesn’t take you long to realize you have certain strengths and weaknesses and that your imagination leans towards one corner of the compass. I think young writers today are tempted into writing novels far too early.”

That pretty well matches up with my experience as a writer so far. And I would add that short stories are a great way to get your name out there, either by sharing them on a blog or submitting to anthologies and journals.

I started out writing fragments of stories: just ideas, really, but written as prose rather than notes, and usually in first person. I progressed to writing ‘proper’ flash fiction with more curated content between 300 and 1,000 words. I wrote them in great numbers and shared them in multiple formats, so I got lots of feedback on what worked and what didn’t. In particular I learned where the uniqueness of my style shone and where it felt forced or mechanical. Continue reading “Reflections: Reading and Writing Short Fiction”

Release Day – 23.09.18

It’s release day! 23rd September is not only Autumn Equinox but also a significant date for my characters, so I’m thrilled I could make it today. Thank you to everyone who pre-ordered, and to all my advance readers.

Mind in the Gap is now available as an ebook on Kindle and as a paperback from anywhere that sells books. You can also order a signed copy directly from me here.

These 14 connected stories have theories of consciousness melded together with visions of future technology, alternate realities, and as many rabbit holes as you choose to go down… Please check it out and help spread the word!

Mind in the Gap – The Stories

Mind in the Gap has the approval of my advance readers and is now up for pre-order! So, I thought now was a good time to share some more details on the stories in the book with you.

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1. The Predominator

For as long as he can remember, ZXXX84 has lived in an android city protected by a grand ethereal dome. He spends his days chasing targets set by the Triangle Council without ever understanding why, until one day he makes a discovery on the outside that points him in the direction of a greater truth.

2. Baily’s Beads

The biannual reality eclipse has come around again, and on his morning commute, Alex struggles to rationalise its existence.

3. Seek Assistance

A frustrated stock trader finds himself stuck in the London Underground system with only an irrational steering committee and his own compromised mind with which to plot an escape.

4. The Omega Paradigm

In a bizarre twist of medical advance and network design, the psyches of ordinary people are being split into components based on the theories of CG Jung. We follow Jason’s Anima as she tries to understand the purpose of it all, and attempts to make him whole again.

5. Mapmakers

Nav would do anything to escape the targeted advertising and constant live monitoring that is the norm of his time. So when he meets an ally on the bus to work who claims to have the means of taking him off-grid, he jumps at the chance. But can a trail of mind-altering ideas and coincidences lead him to a better life?

6. Spectres

During Meredith’s shift at the museum, shadows start to appear in the augmented reality app designed by her best friend. When she decides to track and collect them, she finds herself on a unique journey.

7. Winter Triangle

For the people of Origin, days can last entire lifetimes. They consider their lifestyle to be utopian, and traverse the many worlds encased in sound waves, to experience all that is on offer. But in accepting a special gift on zir 18th birthday, Shay takes on far more than ze bargained for and is forced to consider the question – who takes responsibility for crimes committed across realities?

8. One

Markus has worked for far too long. He really should have been home to meditate long ago. His brainwaves are in hi-beta and at their most visible to the angels, so he must do his best to mask his error and take cover from their ruthless, alien rules.

9. Chapel Perilous

An inventor is appalled that hippies should be allowed in the first class carriage. But in their own way, they manage to show him a whole new world that may well redirect the course of the future.

10. The Fold

Aaron makes the trip back down to Earth once every 12 weeks, but never before has he been so shaken by what he sees en route. The experience will not let him go, and follows him unsuspecting into his dreams, his private life and finally Blasar, a massive virtual reality entertainment warehouse.

11. Humanity 1.1.

A tiny imp of a man confronts Robyn on her drive home and attempts to explain what the biblical fall was really all about.

12. Frankie

In a world where every thought and emotion is externalised by a piece of worn tech, a meme artist is busy spotting consistencies and constructing little fixtures to hold on to. When things with his lover turn stale, the question arises whether the real community, the real love and the real beauty, is in stability and focus, or in sharing.

13. The Last Man

The City of Greater York is a ghost of the high-tech wonderland it once dreamed of becoming. Lab Technician Zane struggles through his daily routines in the hope that what small difference he can still make will be enough to raise what has been lost.

14. WTF?!

The story in the gaps. WTF?! is a fast and whimsical ride through the back streets of nowhere. M, who professes to be the outcast of a black hole, tries her best to answer every question her companion has about the nature of her reality, and presses him to make a difficult decision about his own.

I’ll leave you with a snippet from the lovely feedback I got from Paul Loughman, because he describes exactly what I was going for with this book. “It feels a times as though it’s a collection of short stories. But it isn’t. Every vignette is essential to the main point, which is so entertainingly and mind-bogglingly complex that the consistencies and connections between the stories (and the running dialogue between) make it an indivisible whole.”

***

Mind in the Gap is available to pre-order on Kindle, or as a signed paperback from Orchid’s Lantern direct. Check it out, add it to your wish list, tell all your friends! And if you are a book blogger, please email orchidslantern@gmail.com to register your interest in a review copy.

Edit: I should point out that although the Amazon page states the paperback equivalent is 159 pages, it’s actually 250. This will be updated shortly.

Mind in the Gap

I’ve been busy working on my second book, Mind in the Gap, and it is finally at the stage I can share some details with you!

My first book, Fragments of Perception, has been a great success as far as I’m concerned. What I’m getting from the feedback, however, is that my readers would like to see my next ideas expanded into longer pieces. So, that is what I have done with Mind in the Gap.

Never content with something straight-forward, I decided I wanted to create stories that are individually entertaining and thought-provoking, but collectively reminiscent of a many-faceted reality; the truth cannot be found in any one story we tell ourselves, only in the whole collection. I doubt whether the un-enhanced human brain has the capacity to perceive the complete picture of our world, so we have to make do with Fragments; one-off polaroid shots at single moments in space and time. But that will never stop us from making a puzzle of it all, and therein lies the nature of being human. Mind in the Gap, therefore, is layered and full of Easter eggs.

Here’s the blurb (subject to change) and the cover, designed by the talented Natasha Snow:

MindintheGap-CRD-f

“The body likes continuity. It’s part of the deal. But the truth is, there are gaps everywhere. Gaps only the mind can slip through…”

Follow M – a strange and chaotic being who professes to be the outcast of a black hole – on a journey like no other. Flowing freely through the back streets of hidden realms, she drives her companion to meet the commuters who cross dimensions, embody future technology, and peek behind the scenes at consciousness; all with one purpose in mind.

Inventive, zany, and often surreal, C.R. Dudley’s style melds the metaphysical with the technological to create dazzling architectures of thought. Mind in the Gap is an extraordinary book of diversions, circular routes, and infinite possibilities. A collection of 14 unique stories and 14 alternate realities with more to connect them than meets the eye.

The edited manuscript is currently with my trusty advance readers, and if there are no major hiccups, it will be released on 23rd September: a significant date for my characters. I can’t wait!

An Interlude

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I thought since I have come out of hibernation, it might be a good time to tell you about a few things I’ve got going on. As I don’t do this too often, you could consider it a bumper newsletter! Here goes:
Writing

While giving the draft of my novel, The Enlightenment Machine, some space to breathe, I ended up plotting and starting to write another in the same world. Technically it tells the story of events preceding The Enlightenment Machine, so working on that has given me a good idea of what needs changing on the first for consistency and a stronger story arc. I also have a vague idea for how a third might go, so it’s looking like this might be a trilogy. I know how to set my targets high, that’s for sure!

Despite aiming to complete some longer works, I still love writing short fiction. I have so many ideas for new stories; if I stopped giving them a platform, they’d sneak their way into the novels and that would get messy fast. So, as well as the standalone pieces I post on the blog, I am working on a new collection. It’s going well so far, and I have plans to release it at the end of summer. This time it will be completely new material. These stories are a little longer than my usual flash – in the region of 2,000 words each – and have a running theme and a thread connecting them all. I’m really excited about it and can’t wait to tell you more.
Editing

I’ve done more beta reads over the last couple of months, as well as some full critiques and editing jobs. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the latter. They have been a great exercise in improving my craft as well as hopefully helping others. I look forward to doing more of this sort of thing. Thank you also to those who are helping me to see my own blindspots.
Fragments of Perception

Fragments of Perception has been out for 4 months now and I am thrilled with how well it is doing. Thank you so much to everyone who has bought a copy and recommended it to your friends. I have 7 reviews on Amazon and 8 on Goodreads, all claiming the book was thought-provoking and unusual, most giving 5 stars.

If you have read the book, please do consider leaving a review as they make a huge difference to indie authors. If you haven’t read the book yet, you can find the full blurb and buying options here.
Book Reviews

My ‘to read’ pile (OK, bookcase) is still ever-growing, but I do love to have unread books around me; I find it inspiring. I’ve just finished Otherworlds by David Luke, and have started on Narrative Machines by James Curcio. The new Borne story by Jeff Vandermeer also just arrived on my desk, along with Brett Anderson’s memoir Coal Black Mornings.

I have decided to lose the ‘marks out of ten’ method for rating books here on the blog in favour of letting readers make their own decision from the words I use. I want Orchid’s Lantern reviews to be respected for their in-depth and well-rounded approach, and I think the score being so prominent was going against that a little. I may still use the traditional 1-5 stars in the footer if people prefer that?

I am open to review requests, but they must be within my genre interests for fiction (metaphysical, sci-fi, fantasy, weird) or for non-fiction (philosophy, psychology, mysticism). As always, I will give a full review to anything that gives me enough to say without spoilers, and a ‘group spot’ for brief reviews of everything else.
Orchid’s Lantern

I have been thinking about where I want to go next with Orchid’s Lantern, and it seems that the natural progression would be to invite guests to share stories and reviews on the blog. I am still working out the details of this, but watch this space if that sounds like it could be of interest to you.
Virtual Futures

On 20th February the first Virtual Futures Near-Future Fiction event of the year took place at Library London. Geoff Ryman was guest speaker, and several other authors were in attendance (including me) to share their fictional interpretations of the future of disease. I’m not a public speaker, so thankfully the organisers paired me up with a talented actress who read my story Toxic Duck Inc to the live audience. It was a great venue, a great bunch of people, and a very high standard of writing. I was honoured to be involved. Recordings of all of the stories will be soon available to view on the Virtual Futures YouTube channel, which is well worth checking out anyway.

If you are local and missed this event, the next one is happening on 20th March. The theme will be Virtual Persons, and I have another brand new story called The Test which will be featured. Tickets are available now from Eventbrite.

And that’s it for now. It sounds like there’s a lot going on, and there is, but I’m loving every minute of it. The light is coming back and I’ve found my most productive rhythm – dream and draft in the morning, edit and proof in the afternoon.

I love to hear your comments, so please do keep interacting on the page and anywhere else you can find me. I am on Facebook, but I’m a bit more active on Twitter.

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