Brave New Year

Happy New Year, everyone!

I hope the holidays gave everybody the chance to rest, reflect and recharge, ready for 2022.

Over the Christmas period I was invited by the splendidly mad AnRoinnUltra to contribute to a bit of festive science-fiction whimsy he’s called Twelve Robots of Christmas. The premise is simple: over the twelve days of Christmas, twelve writers would compose a very short piece of fiction to do with… you’ve guessed it – robots.

Mine was the Seventh Robot, and ARU even persuaded me to perform it to camera, so apologies to those of you who are used to dealing with me in the recommended sans visage manner. Anyway, here’s my piece, and the text below. The rest of the pieces are on ARU’s site, and feature as much spice and variety as you could expect from a well-nourished plum duff.

My family has owned me for the best part of a year. I’m powered by light, so Christmas is a rather pleasurable time for me as nourishing light cascades from every household, especially at evening time. We are following suit; through the wind and slush I’m carrying a box of electric light decorations for our own home. Mom and Harriet walk a few steps ahead of me, chatting, and laughing.

We pass the shadowy doorway of a church, and I notice a pile of crumpled rags there shift. I stop, assessing the movement for threats, but the dark and dirty face that emerges from the darkness, its eyes half-closed with fatigue and cheeks sunken from malnutrition, bears neither the will nor the capacity for ill-intent.

My calculations are quick. My current payload meets our household’s seasonal photic requirements several times over, so I retrieve a small cylindrical decoration from my bag, and switch it on. The sleeve surrounding the cylinder moves, displaying a silhouetted scene of shepherds following a star. I offer the trinket to the dirty face, whose hands creep from the blankets in apprehensive receipt. As he takes the light I see it reflected in his eyes, and his lips turn up into a smile.

Mom turns around and sees us. For a moment I believe she’ll scold me for giving one of our possessions away, but as she approaches she looks at the man, and I see the light reflect in her face, too.

It’s after she has bought the man a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, and has spent some time talking with him, that we walk away. Harriet praises me. When I look back I see that every aspect of the Church is uplit, making it look as though it is draped with curtains. And at its foot is the tiny figure it by a lone flicker. It’s this that makes me realise that humans and I share something; they are also powered by the light.

Plans for 2022

Year after year I’ve said to myself that this is the year to finally get properly represented with an agent, sell at least one book, and take the next step of my career. For various reasons (I went with Covid in 2020 and see no reason not to stick with it now!) these haven’t happened, but this year I’m determined to stay focused on the things that are within my control, and see where they can take me.

The most obvious thing would be Chronscast. The first episode will be released on Monday, finally, and this represents a really exciting new venture for the new year. Plus, as we’ve got guests lined up for most of season one now, it should be a resolution I can stick to.

The other ambition I have is to make good progress on my latest WIP manuscript. Once Chronscast is running under its own steam I hope to get back to the nuts and bolts of writing. I would ordinarily be thinking about subbing and pitching around now, for my previous novel, The Green Man. But it takes up a lot of time and energy, and I’ll just let that simmer for now.

My other ambition is to keep talking to new people, new writers and folks within the industry, and understand a little more what’s going on there. It’s an interesting time to be a writer, however modest one’s station, and it pays to understand the wider landscape out there.

In any case, here’s hoping that whatever you’re hoping for 2022, we all have the forebearance and the application to try and make it happen. Because these things don’t happen by themselves. Happy New Year!

Published by Dan Jones

I'm a science fiction writer and podcaster. My debut novel Man O’War was published in 2018 by Snowbooks, and I’ve had a few short stories published here and there. I also host Chronscast, the official podcast of SFF Chronicles, the world's largest science-fiction and fantasy community. Away from writing I work for the UK Space Agency on a programme of space robotics for advanced satellite and planetary exploration technologies. All of which comes in rather handy when coming up with new ideas for science fiction stories.

One thought on “Brave New Year

  1. Deadly stuff Dan, appreciate you jumping in with that story to ring in the New Year with -great work. Hopefully the robots gather a bit of steam next year for a charity print run. Looking forward to the podcast.

    Liked by 1 person

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