Category Archives: Fiction

Cosmopolitan Predators! Dramatis Personae

Cosmopolitan Predators! appears in Aethernet Magazine


Billy Bunyan: teenage boy living in the skin of the Rock with his two fundamentalist fathers. Billy has a radio hidden behind his locker which he uses to listen to the spaceships that pass by outside. If his fathers ever find out he will be in big trouble…

Chelio: had his neocortex altered so that he can be friends with many, many people. He knows everyone on Eunomia and has slept with about half of them. So far.

The young man: wants to be the man with no name. He insists he’s not an assassin, even those he’s carrying several intelligent, high cachet weapons, and despite the fact he’s already killed two people.

Eli: legendary invincible soldier. He wants to be left alone to search the libraries on Eunomia for a particular book.

Mary-Ann Hodgson: naive new arrival on Eunomia Everyone exploited her back on earth, does she really expect things to be better on the Rock?

Jenny Solzhe: knows Mary-Ann from back on Earth (and has a tattoo just like hers). Very intelligent – she’s up to something.

Cosmo Lyttleton: devastatingly attractive, breathlessly charming and frighteningly intelligent. Ebony skin, a chiseled jaw and eyes so dark you can see your own reflection in them, eyes in which you could watch your own eyes melt as you lose your heart to him… He’s the new head of Buziness

Piper #320: engineer. She wants to get the job done properly, unlike most of her colleagues…

Graham Ian Stains: not really worth knowing. Don’t bother remembering his name.

Damon Masterson:  The Open Source Detective.  He’s interested in the young man, but why…?

Otis Memphis: Teenager.  Earns money incubating viruses in his body

Lisa Mortis: Professional Gambler

Szent-Gyorgi:  One of the second tranche.  Owns a cafe in the Zoshull district

The Backpack:  Former Security AI working in a jetpack.  Saving money to buy a ship to inhabit.


The Founding Family

Lipton Mercedes: Buziness

Brandy Marsalis: Zoshull

Mary Kenton: Civics

McConnel Hudson: Engineering

Zunel: Processing

Josephine “Farmer Joe” Daniau-Beauchene Wong: Agropower

The Seventh Founder:  Doesn’t exist.  Never has existed.

March to Time

Date: October 2013

Muster: The Egg Market

Dress: Full Uniform

Crunch crunch crunch. Mmmmm, mmmmm. Crunch crunch crunch.


A while ago I bought a USB turntable to transfer my records from vinyl to MP3. I copied a few across, but gave up in the end when I decided I would be better served by paying for a subscription to Spotify.

When I tell this story to my male friends, their typical reaction is that “Ah! But most of the records I own aren’t available on Spotify.” I can’t help thinking that what they are implying is that they have wider and more discerning taste than me.  This may be true but there’s no need to rub it in.

Marian Keyes (don’t be misled by the chick-lit label, there’s a writer who really knows her craft) often makes jokes in her books about men and their record collections. I don’t know about men, but people do take pride in the breadth of their tastes. Ask someone what sort of books they like to read and they’ll usually reply something like “Mainly Detective Fiction, but I do like other things as well…” Well, yes, but nearly everyone would say the same. It’s rare to meet someone who only reads Detective Fiction, or Romances, or my own genre, SF.  So why mention the fact that you like other things, too?  Just say you like Ghost Stories and have done with it.

I don’t have a problem with being described as an SF writer, or an SF reader for that matter. There’s nothing wrong with being interested in a certain field. Eclecticism is great, but only up to a point. To take an example, every so often the BBC launches yet another radio program comes along which prides itself on its disparate play list. They never work. There needs to be some unifying theme or all you get is a lot of songs.

The human brain likes a just a little bit of order. Too much order and all you get is wallpaper patterns. Too little order and you all you have is randomness. The human brain is very good at picking up just the right amount of order when it looks at patterns. That’s how it can distinguish between a language and random collection of letters.  That’s why it likes music which is at once familiar but with the occasional twist or quirk.  The same goes for stories, by and large.

Of course, you will point out that there are many books and pieces of music out there which aren’t familiar at all, but people listen to and read them with great enjoyment.  This is true, but I would wonder at the path by which people arrived at these books…

Cosmopolitan Predators!

… and now for something completely different.

Not a novel, not a series of short stories, but a little bit of both.

I had the germ of the idea for this years ago when I read Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.  I love many things about Maupin’s writing, but one of the things that really caught my attention about the Tales was that they originally appeared as regular instalments in the San Francisco Chronicle.

That struck me as a really different way of writing.  When I write a novel, I plan it out, write it, redraft it, change the beginning, change the end, redraft again… I’ve often wondered what it would be like writing a story as a serial, not having the luxury of going back and changing what I’d done.  What would that mean?  Would the characters evolve in a different way?  The idea has fascinated me for years, however there’s always been one drawback.  Nobody really publishes serial fiction any more.

I discussed this with Chris Beckett at Eastercon last year, and it turned out he was fascinated by the idea of serial fiction, too.  So, it turns out were Keith Brooke, Eric Brown, Juliet E McKenna, Philip Palmer, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Ian Whates.  We all wanted to write serial fiction, but there was no outlet for it…

So I decided to do something about that.  My wife is an experienced editor, I have the IT skills and so…

Athernet Magazine will be launching on March 30th.  Aethernet Magazine is the magazine of serial fiction.  In it you’ll find serial fiction by the above authors, and by me.  Cosmopolitan Predators! is just a little but like Tales of the City in that it follows the lives of a series of characters, however it scores over Maupin in that it has more robots in it.

The concept behind Aethernet Magazine isn’t a new one, but perhaps its a concept whose time has come again.  See what you think…

Stories from the Northern Road (Penrose 2.5)

StryNthRdMidThe first ever collection from one of the UK’s finest SF authors: Tony Ballantyne, who has been a finalist for the Philip K Dick award and whose short fiction has featured regularly in Years Best SF anthologies.

A quartet of brand new stories set on the world of Penrose (introduced in the novels Twisted Metal and Blood and Iron) join five stories set in the Recursion universe to produce Stories from the Northern Road. This is Tony Ballantyne at his best.


Released September 2012, and as a Signed Hardback Edition, limited to 125 copies: £19.99


  1. Introduction

Stories from the Northern Road

  1. A Note from the Author
  2. Four Blind Horses
  3. Janet Verdigris
  4. Isabel and the Outlandish Robots
  5. The Robot Behind Me

Recursive Tales

  2. Restoring the Balance 1
  3. Restoring the Balance 2
  4. Seeds
  5. The Sixth VNM



Colinthology is a collection of light-hearted, uplifting fantasy and SF short stories, put together in memory of Colin Harvey, who passed away suddenly in August 2011. All of the stories have been donated for free by friends of Colin, and all of the proceeds are being donated to Above & Beyond, the Bristol-based charity for which Colin volunteered in his spare time.

I was proud to be asked to contribute to the Colinthology. For some reason I’ve never quite understood, people thought that Colin and I were brothers. It became a standing joke at conventions, with Colin getting his friends to come up to me and pretend they thought I was him. Obviously, we were both blessed at birth with outstanding good looks, prodigious talent and incredible modesty, but Colin had something else that set him apart from me and most other writers. Colin genuinely enjoyed every aspect of the writer’s life. Everyone likes to talk about their own work, even if they pretend not to, but I’ve never known anyone with as much enthusiasm as Colin for other people’s work, other people’s workshops and other people’s talks.

Conventions will seem a little less inviting now that my brother will not be there waiting for me.