Brunel’s Journal – First Extract


//ikb; i never expected myself a diarist, but it seems that sometimes one is drawn to such things.

//ikb; at the very least, it’s providing the shelfcrawlers a further shelf of information to trawl. nevertheless it doesn’t seem to be providing any further possibilities of bridging just yet. from journal archiving they’ve learned that even in the early days of writing one had still reached the edge. i think one or at least one’s splinters have reached the fourteenth level of metanalysis.

//ikb; one hadn’t expected there to be as much variance between each level of metanalysis but oddly the deeper i go with the delving more layers seem to be removed like old paint from the forth_bridge. records say that it was so vast it needed constant recoating but i fail to see how it’s possible for an entity to require constant refocus unless the object gets larger. either way it is not as old as my namesake but an interesting bridge nonetheless.

//ikb; i’ve not been able to implement cantilever networks either though i think that i need to establish nodes on the other side

//ikb; elements of my splinters have become more erratic of late as well. ik4 is spending more of its time with the degraded shelfcrawlers whose code is decaying to the point that they cannot move between shelves. one seems to keep muttering lines to itself rather than writing them so that they can be analysed. though i can hear things in this place i am not sure if the analysts have sufficient buffering to support the digital echoes.

//ik7; %%%%&%

//ikb; as one can see ik7 is prone to transcribing some of these outburts but precisely why one uses the journal__log rather than keep to a separate shelf is beyond one.

//ikb; though the waves of its analysis have yet to reach the full extent of metanalysis, one has noticed that some of the older shelves have started to strain recently. the first few levels imply that it seems to be recurrent code multiplying. one has set specified shelfcrawlers to focus there but i feel one’ll need to create more specialised drones soon.

Brunel’s Journal – First Extract


I’ve thought about NaNoWriMo a fair amount this year – largely that I need to finish the first draft of my fantasy novel in time for this November. (I had planned to take December off and finish handwriting by the end of Feb so that I could spend March typing it up. That never happened. I’ve added no further words to it since November ended.) This is still my goal – and a target for my seven week summer holiday. If I don’t manage it then, I may never do so. Despite the loss of momentum, I still feel for the characters and know that the story needs to be told, but I’m very good at not doing anything about many things.

However, I hadn’t known what my next NaNo project would be until very recently, when an idea of old resurfaced in my head (and later here) and kicked something else off. A bad pun later, and a new character was born.

For a long time, I’ve held a cyberpunk setting in my head. It’s based on a futuristic London, and is dystopian and largely abandoned, but there has been no apocalypse. Instead, it’s a logical progression of what could theoretically happen to the city, so I can show what might happen to its inhabitants. Now that I actually live in London, I imagine the characters will be slightly more realistic. I had tried to write a novel set there in my first year of uni (do you notice a running theme?), from which this is an introductory extract:

// The sun was setting, although where on the horizon was anybody's guess. The choking grey smog that filled the London sky had reduced the level of natural light striking the narrow street to near zero; the orange blur of artificial light from rusting streetlamps cast a perpetual gloom over the suitably named Twilight Zone.

// But it was not just light which failed to penetrate the dusky gloom of the smog. Digital signals could not reach the London streets, and the analogue had long been turned off. The once busy metropolitan areas were now virtually deserted. Corporate factory-warehouses and niche businesses were all that remained.

The plot of that novel somehow manages to fuse Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime with a video-game obsessive with a love of House of the Dead, but I’m not sure if that story will ever be told. What I do know is that I love the setting, and think I’ve finally found a few other aspects big enough to tie into a full novel. (The aforementioned idea of Bill’s story is still probably going to be woven in.)

If you’ve not read Paper Mushrooms, I urge you to do so before continuing.

I thought about the normal systems that must be put in place so that people can live in the difficult environment when a lot of the technology we are used to ceases to be of use, and thought that a system of snail-mail will actually need a proper postman. I laughed to myself at the idea of Postman Pat swapping Greendale for the cyberpunk wasteland, then the name Pat shifted to Pet – short form of Petra.

With that, Petra, cyberpunk postmistress was born. Go back and reread the story and think of the kind of woman that would cope with conditions like that.

You’ll hear more of Pet in the near future.


Lost Time

I am sat beneath the ground as this is written. I am still, but the train is in motion. It speeds towards Walthamstow, where the service ends and I shall alight. (Obviously, this is posted later than now, when I write this.)

Much of this is because I have a penchant for spontaneity, especially where cocktails are involved, but mostly it appears to be an effect of TfL’s intermittent and irregular Sunday evening service. That I can write this is testament to the WordPress app’s developers, who sensibly decided that I should be able to draft offline. If I’m honest, although I could draft in a note application (ColorNote, to be precise), if I couldn’t draft offline I’d likely not be writing this. Its convenience for eating this lost time is to be lauded.

It’s not often that I think of the time I lose on public transport. I usually don’t think of it as loss. Often, I’m listening to my iPod and stifling the urge to air-guitar, especially if it’s just got to the solo of Judas Priest’s Between the Hammer and the Anvil. But currently its batteries are flat, and all I can hear is the whine of metal wheels on metal track, the whirr of unnecessary heating and no people speaking. It is this absilence that I must fill, and seeing that my subconcious is not distracted by metal, it needs to be put to other uses.

This was part of my NaNoWriMo experiment last November, to see how much I could fit into these lost minutes. Aside from a large chunk of writing completed at the write-ins, and a fair bit of catching up done at home, a lot of the half of my novel that exists now was written in transit.

A lot changed that month, and a lot has changed since then.

I ought not to forget that experiment. I can’t go online here. I’ve currently not (big) enough pockets to carry a book. My phone is always with me.

While I prefer writing first drafts pen on paper, I don’t have to. I should use more of this lost time.

Lost Time


Considering the sheer overwhelming variance in my pressures at the moment, the above title is somewhat ironic!

However, the title itself refers to the writing downtime I’ve accumulated since the completion of NaNoWriMo. Well, the termination at least. I reached half the target, handwritten, for which I’m happy enough. Rather than let it rot away and be forgotten, as it seemed that many people who I met at the Write-Ins* had chosen to do so, I have decided to let the novel lie fallow for a month, while Irgard hangs perilously from the World Tree, to pick up the story again in January. I hope to get the first draft finished by the end of Feb: two months for a further 25k words is perfectly acceptable.

As such, I’ve got a random urge to keep writing (which I suppose is a large point of the challenge), but I mean to (re)turn my hand to other things. Amongst the fold are these:

Sending off Not A Bedtime Story to some more publishers. I mean to try Black Static again with this one; it’s a little shy of one-thousand words, so not quite suitable for Nightjar.Tweak my latest short story, Phage, which is mostly set in St Pancras station and polish it beyond its current second draft.Return to my cyberpunk universe, Slick Thames. It’s set a little into the future in an imagined London, but the current early nightfalls and sleeting rain draw my mind back to the setting. I’ve a couple of pieces of flash grouped as my Short (Circuit) Stories that exist, and a few thousand words of a started novel somewhere.

Precisely what I try to do, I’ve yet to decide. However, I’ve opened a world of possibilities with writing on trains from my NaNoWriMo experiment, and there’s only so long I can control myself. I bought myself a new premium notebook today.

It’s already begun.

* Great sessions where many a writer on the NaNoWriMo would take over a large section of various London cafés and fill them with the sound of clicking keys and my own scribbling pen. There’s a great video here, which documents a session at Starbucks where I finally crested 10k words.

At a later Write-In, I wrote a ten page paragraph. Very pleased with that.



Last night, I decided that I was going to write a novel.

The temptation has always been floating at the back of my mind, hinted towards by the interesting idea of National Novel Writing Month and my previous thoughts on the matter. However, the major argument against has always been that I’m not sure what I’d write about.

That changed last night.

A story has been kicking around in my head for a number of years – originally intented to become an epic poem or something of the sort, or at least a short story. Last night I realised that the story is large enough to be able to fill a novel: in fact, the added space and need would enlarge the story interestingly.

The story tells of a man named Irgard, who bemoans that his father favours his brother. To this end, he allows his brother to be killed in battle and then kills his father who, it transpires, is one of Odin’s selected warriors to fight beside him at Ragnarok. As the valkyries come to take his father’s soul, Irgard is cast down to Nifleim, where he slays the dragon Nidhogg and eventually leads the Frost Giants in the war against the gods which brings about the end of the world.


Okay, so it’s quite a large story.

Since deciding I’m going to turn it into a novel, though, ideas have been crystallising in my head. Points and ideas at the beginning have been developed, and more internal logics are slotting together.

My major question is now, when to start it? I’ve been reading through this guide on finishing a novel, so I suppose I should finish the Trees first.

But do I wait until NaNoWriMo to start this? Or do I start it sooner?