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Stories Of An Awkward Size - A Slipstream And Hard SF Anthology
STORIES OF AN AWKWARD SIZE – A Slipstream And Hard SF Anthology

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‘IMPASSE DAY’ Novel: Alpha-Readers Wanted


(Novel – political thriller/hard science-fiction)


My new novel Impasse Day is at the ‘alpha test’ phase.

It’s a near-future political thriller with a hard science-fiction bent. It has a lot of threads and a rich cast (think Game Of Thrones amount of story going on).

I need fast readers to help ‘alpha test’ it.

In English, ‘alpha test’ (it’s a software term) means:

* This is a warts-and-all draft

* I’m still working on it as you’re reading it. So at least one plot thread will be altered slightly!

* I’m still prepared to make directional changes in it (a bit). When it gets to ‘beta test’ phase I’m only fixing typos and grammos! 🙂


* Impasse Day is a ‘brick’ – it’s 640 pages in full-size ‘trim’, about 680 pages on an average e-reader (though shorter if you don’t have massive line-spacing like I like!). So you need to be a fast reader who eats big books.

* It has STRONG ADULT LANGUAGE. There are no sex scenes but there is violence on and off stage throughout the story.

I have a couple of trusty alpha-readers already on the case, but I could use as many as possible? PLEASE? 🙂

If you think you could finish it by mid-March (at the latest) this year 2019, email me at:

and I’ll send you an EPUB (and a PDF).

I need comments on:

* What you ENJOY and LIKE about Impasse Day!

* Anything that BORES, ANNOYS or PUZZLES you!

* Typos

* Grammos

* Characters who get lost

* Threads that get lost

* Violations of Chekhov’s Rule: something that you thought would reappear later but vanished

* Repeat’os: anywhere I’ve said something twice without it being justified

* Contradict’os: anywhere something is contradicted later

* Ghost’os: somebody stars speaking but at no point was actually introduced

* Smug’os: a character demonstrates too much familiarity with the other characters or with the reader, without earning the right

* Zombo’s: a character has no personality whatsoever

* Walking Dead Dialogue: characters ramble-on at length about nothing and your eyes glaze over


In return:

* I have not money to offer, BUT, I’m sure I can do food/gift vouchers for your favourite eatery, Amazon gifts or fluffy things through the mail. Name your poison!

* You’ll get a mention in the back pages of the finished product, and if you’re an author I’m happy to put links to your author page (just specify it for me!).


Jon Swords-Holdsworth

Come Silent Winged Sleep? Come Non-Existent Gatwick Airport Drone …?

I thought I was about to make stock from others’ misfortunes about one story subject – drones, UAVs – but it turned out I was about to whip that stock from another subject altogether – misinformation.

Namely the absurdity that the erroneous Gatwick Airport drone sightings have become.

(Am i that kind of person, to exploit such misfortune? Maybe I am, maybe I’m not, you’ll have to buy my books to find out!)

In the, ahem, meantime. So it appears the mere rumour of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Unpiloted Aerial Vehicle if you prefer), UAV, is enough to shut down a major airport for three days?

In my story Come Silent Winged Sleep (in my anthology Stories Of An Awkward Size), all sorts of UAV and RAV (Robot Aerial Vehicle) mischief is presented, but the story bears the physical threat of the devices as the main thrust.

The purely psychological aspect? OK. I’m going to have to get on that in future work.

In Charlie Brooker’s truly horrible (horribly brilliant) Black Mirror instalment,


In Brooker’s truly horrible (horribly brilliant) instalment, Metalhead, it is strongly implied the devices were conceived as a terror weapon, not just a genocidal infiltration system. Thus now that they are operating beyond their original programme, their threat is even scarier than it might have been anyway.

But now it turns out, household “drones” are enough to do the psychological part of the job. Especially when they stand a chance of getting sucked into a jet-turbine engine and destroying it, possibly along with the occupants of the attached vehicle.

I can be smug. I’m not the only one, there are a few of us, who in our stories included warnings about the future of UAV/RAV combat.

I conceived Come Silent Winged Sleep many years ago, but finally published it in 2014. It still was only taken seriously by a few.

But the thing is, there were much earlier stories that said small, autonomous robot weaponry was always going to run amok.

Philip K. Dick’s “Swords” in Second Variety (filmed as the grotesquely under-rated movie Screamers) were already an ungoverned-battlefield threat, long before he got to the Artificial Intelligence meat of his message.

So it seems we have arrived and … oh yes, I was talking about being smug.

How about some solutions, hmm, Jon?

Well, we already have regulations. Much good may they do. In Australia, CASA, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, publishes a wise set of rules – that are Federal law – about where civilian UAVs and RAVs can be flown. They even have an app to help you if you’re going for a fly of your xmas pressie!

But drones are just too useful. Even factoring the errant law-abiding citizen (and the idiot) aside, the things are going to get manufactured offline. No registration involved. They are, and are going to continue to be, deployed beyond view, beyond hearing, in all sorts of surveillance roles. All sorts of planning roles.

All sorts of nuisance, sabotage, and assault roles.

They are a level, if lumpy, playing-field in a game that anyone can play. (Side note: people laugh at how incapable 3D-printing currently is. That laughter will go away soon.)

And they are annoyingly, dangerously hard to detect and track, as the Russian armed forces have been discovering in Syria.

The police forces of the near future are going to have to deploy hunter-killer RAVs of their own to bring down intruding drones. Fighting swarms with swarms, exactly as our immune system does.

Even civil aircraft are going to have to become “drone proof” to whatever extent they can.

It sounds absurd, but we’re there.

Stories Of An Awkward Size contains five “long stories” including Come Silent Winged Sleep. It covers many Slipstream and Hard Science Fiction subjects, and is available on Amazon and other outlets in a variety of formats.

(Featured Image from The Conversation)

‘IMPASSE DAY’ A Novel. The Story So Far …

(Not book cover, just Sisyphus rocking out)

Phew. Another phase in ‘Impasse Day’ complete – and it’s currently 586 pages long in 6″ by 9″ trim.

All the trivial notes have been addressed. I call the in-book notes ‘slashnotes’, because I begin them with a backslash, ‘\’. It’s the only character that never naturally appears in an ODT document, and so I can search for it easily with OpenOffice (currently LibreOffice) or other tools.

Thing is, of course, LibreOffice et al have their own Comment systems, which I am starting to use. It’s just I’ve been a software designer tooooo long to trust anybody’s sh… stuff.

There are more ‘slashnotes’ to go, but now they are all plot-adjustments and scene fixups, not just minor forgotten details and things that needed smoothing.

I tell thee –

The next novel I am planning out down to the beat! This one I planned via lots and lots of notes, both typed and voice, all of which I had to consolidate. I’m still consolidating them, and that process will go on right to the end when – no doubt – I throw half of them away!

In fact, for the next one I’m adopting Vince Gilligan’s screen-writing team’s approach, and one I’ve seen other writers discuss – lots of individual plot-points, each written on a lined card and pinned to a wall so they can be easily moved around.

Every plot point!

Github are done, move to Gitlab or elsewhere.

Github is done. Remove any projects you have from Github, as soon as possible. I deleted my own account just then.

For those who came in late:

Microsoft have just acquired Github for nearly $8 billion, completely invalidating any purpose Github ever served.

There is a giant exodus (13 thousand projects at writing, and climbing) to Gitlab, and MS already have shills posting on Gitlab’s Twitter feed trying to slow the bleeding. It’s not working, the migration is accelerating as the news spreads.

Gitlab are far from perfect. Google has a big stake in them, and they endorse ‘Modern’ rubbish like DevOps. Their site is also not easy to use (not that Github’s was).

But currently Gitlab are the lifeboat. Others will emerge.




Gitlab migration (from Github) assistance page:

It will try and sell you on their commercial options (which, who knows, you may want) but the free option is always available. These sites work by having a huge population of free projects, most of which stagnate but give the site its legitimacy in the first place. Then on top of that they maintain a very large population of commercial projects which bring in a substantial revenue. This is precisely how Github worked (and why MS felt it was worth $8 billion of their own dwindling revenue.) Don’t feel guilty about using the free option, it’s what props them up.



It appears everything has come true from my story COME SILENT WINGED SLEEP (the third story in my anthology STORIES OF AN AWKWARD SIZE).

A Criminal Gang Used a Drone Swarm To Obstruct an FBI Hostage Raid

Image courtesy


Available on all outlets once again:
AMAZON as a KINDLE, or as a PAPERBACK from AMAZON or Amazon CREATESPACE, or in EPUB and other formats from ITUNES, BARNES&NOBLE, KOBO, and others…

Stories Of An Awkward Size - A Slipstream And Hard SF Anthology
Stories Of An Awkward Size – A Slipstream And Hard SF Anthology


The Canberra Deep Space Network station is monitoring Cassini’s final plunge right now. At approximately 8.32 PM AEST tonight (6.32 AM EDT), Cassini’s 20 year mission will end in fire, inside Saturn’s atmosphere.
An appropriately Viking funeral for a diligent explorer.
The signal received by Canberra will cease approximately 83 minutes later, due to the speed of light and Saturn’s immense distance from earth, at around 10.54 PM AEST.

Cassini: The Grand Finale: End of Mission Timeline

1997 – 2017