03/23/2023 Snippet, Notes from the 2078 United Nations Antarctic Archeological Survey.

I should just note now that I am attempting to write a viewpoint character who disagrees with me on things, without making him too much of a caricature. Alas for him, this is also a horror story.


January 17

We tested the capacities of the repaired software today, and wow. That doesn’t come across as very scientific or dignified, I know. Still: wow. How’s the software doing, now that it’s taking full advantage of the drones we were given? Well, does anybody want a good surface map of Antarctica? Because we’ll have an accurate one within two weeks.

To be fair, it’s mostly going to be a map of ice and snow. But these survey drones are amazing; with the upgrades, they can detect significant metal deposits through up to two hundred yards (rolling eyes) of ice and snow. I’m told that’s deep enough to find some old meteor strikes, which is obviously making the astrophysicists and geologists sit up and take notice. Hooper and I haven’t promised anything to anybody, but we’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for anything worth a closer look.

It really is cheating, doing preliminary surveys like this. The drones are designed to go anywhere from the void of space to the surface of Venus, so an Antarctic summer isn’t even a challenge for them. I can see why the UN wanted to keep ultimate hold over the drones; all alien tech is valuable, but things like the drones are priceless. They’re also politically dangerous, which is why we’re testing their capabilities down here, instead of somewhere more touchy.

January 24

Communications with the NSF are down again. First time this year! Besides, that gives us the chance to figure out more about the drones without having bureaucrats breathing down our necks. …Not that I would ever give the other side ammunition by admitting that in public. They’re annoying enough as it is.

03/22/2023 Snippet, GHOSTS ON AN ALIEN WIND.

Genre awareness is not always helpful!


The hallway ended in double doors. They were Amalgamation-made: the padlock and chains keeping them shut were distinctly human. We contemplated the scene for a long moment. Finally, Oft spoke. “If it makes you feel any better, Pam — I would also rather like to go back the way we came.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, readying my gun. “That lock’s pretty damned solid. It’ll hold, no problem. I think everything looks fine. We can just go back, hop on the lander, be back for a late lunch or early dinner. I’ll even buy the first round.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Oft replied as the Anticipant glided to the padlock. “Obviously I would cover the tab for the night. I could do no less, seeing as I wasted your time with this needless side trip. After all, we are sensible people, are we not? If we see a locked door, and know not why it is locked, it would be absurd for us to open it anyway.”

The lock popped off. The Anticipant grabbed it out of the air before it could fall, then reattached it to one edge of the chain in one deft motion. The other end, she wrapped around her wrist and arm, idly twirling the lock around as she stepped back and pulled open one door.

“Exactly.” I stepped forward, into the deeper darkness. “Look at us, being absolutely sensible people.”

03/22/2023 Snippet, Notes from the 2078 United Nations Antarctic Archeological Survey.

Had this thought before I went to bed; woke up, and had 1000 words done without raising a sweat. Nice.


December 22, 2078

Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station

Finally got the suborbital delivery of the special equipment from up north. I wish to say that it “took ‘em long enough,” but that would be unfair. We all decided that the Survey’s work would benefit from incorporating the new stable superconductor technology into the image resonators, and Monitech actually upgraded the product on time, and within budget. I shouldn’t blame them for the Argentinian separatists rising up again, however briefly. At that, we are lucky that the Brazilian personnel in the Survey are all politically reliable Brazilian-Brazilian themselves.

Although ‘luck’ probably had nothing to do with it. Everyone remembers the wretched way the Grabiński affair ended, back in ‘77. It may be more difficult to acquire firearms in Antarctica than it was to the Empty Quarter, but archeological expeditions still have a remarkable number of items that can be turned into deadly weapons. It’s best to leave the more excitable political fanatics at home.

Still! We carry on. The image resonators are here, just in time for Christmas, and soon there will be a proper drone fleet for the Survey. I expect wonders from the new year.

December 31

There were quite a few arguments over when exactly the new year would start, but eventually everyone agreed on New Zealand Time. According to one of the old hands at the Station, this happens every year. She also said it usually didn’t devolve into an actual fistfight. I got the impression that the incident didn’t reflect well on the Survey, even if watching two scientists take awkward swings at each other did have its own entertainment value. Fortunately, I was able to convince her that I was above such crudeness — or at least that kind of crudeness. She had nothing to complain about the way we rang in the New Year.

January 3, 2079

The drones were retrofitted, checked out, sent up in the air — and the software promptly crashed. Ah, technology. How useful thou art! Fortunately, Ted Hooper spent a couple of years at CHARS before the Canadians shut it down for refurbishing; he figured out where the code was getting hung up before the coders themselves did. Apparently it was a common problem in Nunavut. We’re lucky to have him.

I will be doing an Author Talk with @frightreads on April 6th.

FrightReads Book Fest is a Maryland book festival that I’ve been attending for the last two years. It’s a lot of fun, and very vendor-friendly: I sell a decent number of books, and get to meet a bunch of other indy writers there. It’s pretty successful, too. This year, FrightReads has been expanded to the whole weekend (Sept 30 – October 1st), and they’re coming up with other ways to expand their reach.

One of these is their Author Talks program, in which they, you know, talk to an author via Facebook Live. I’ll be on it on April 6th, from 7 PM until whatever. The link is here: be sure to check it out, on the day!

Continue reading I will be doing an Author Talk with @frightreads on April 6th.

03/19/2023 Snippet, GHOSTS ON AN ALIEN WIND.

Had meetings and game tonight. I was lucky to get anything done.


Down here there were more traces of the Scouts’ presence; cracks in the metal walls, floor, and ceiling had been repaired with plastic of paris. They had even sanded down the goop until it was flush with the surface, which showed dedication, in its way. There were also what were probably helpful signs on the walls, but seeing those in the dark was one level of miracles too much for even lightfolds.

It occurred to me that there were flashlights in the kits, too. It also occurred to me that neither Oft nor the Anticipant had taken theirs out. Neither told me their reasons for that, but I decided I agreed with them anyway.

“What are we looking for down here, Oft?” I asked him, quietly but without whispering. Too many things out there notice whispers. “It’d help if I know what the goal was.”

“That’s the problem, Pam. We don’t really know. All that we’re sure of is that the Scouts did things down here, far away from prying eyes like ours. Whatever those deeds were, we need to know about them — but there are so many awful possibilities. It’s best for us to have a completely open mind about it.”

Patreon Microfiction: Soul-Red Roses.

‘Soul-Red Roses’ suggests that not every supernatural manifestation is flashy. There are other implications, but I’ll leave them as an exercise for the interested reader. No need to pound a metaphor into the ground.


03/18/2023 Snippet, GHOSTS ON AN ALIEN WIND.

Just a little ragged, Pam is getting.


It bothered me that the elevator platform went down the Dig shaft without bobbling or jerking. When you descend somewhere horrible that was used by cultists, you expect things to be slovenly, right? I kept waiting for the mechanisms to start whining or smoking, or maybe for the platform itself to turn out to be rickety and ready to collapse if you breathed on it too hard. That’s how cultist stuff generally was. People with no sense of self-preservation suck at doing maintenance. But not Scout-made gear! Oh, no! Those teenagers built things to last. I could tell how everything had been properly put together, with solid materials and no corners cut. They had done a proper job of weatherproofing, too. God help us all, somebody had worked hard on this job.

“Oft,” I ground out in the increasing gloom, “how sure are we that the Scouts are really off this planet by now?”

“Very,” he replied. “If they weren’t, we’d never have gotten this far without being challenged.”

“Lucky us.”

“Lucky us and lucky them, Pam.” The rough change in his voice made me blink. I looked over, and even in the dimness I could see how he stood tall and terrible, and a piercing light was in his eyes. In contrast, the Anticipant beside him was almost a shadow herself, the colors of her robe shading smoothly into the growing dark. It was alarming. The two of them might have both been weird, but I hadn’t really seen either as capable of being dangerous before. Now they looked thoroughly ready to deal with whatever we found, down here in the pit of the Dig.

I would have been afraid, if I had for a moment thought that they were here to deal with me.

Book of the Week: COVENANTS.

Shocking, yes. And by shocking I mean No, not really. COVENANTS is certainly my Book of the Week; your mileage, as always, may vary.

Four tales of agreements! Follow along as MARIE VISITS THE CONTINENT, on a mission of delicacy, and monsters. Sally forth with Duchess Carlotta into a zombie-haunted world as she takes THE QUEST FROM CASTLE WINDERMERE. Go on a TOUR OF DUTY in the interstellar spaces between charnel worlds. And lastly, discover with our horrified narrator that, after long, long years… THE STARS ARE WRONG. Enjoy! (Four stories, fifty eight thousand words total, each with its own illustration.)


03/17/2023 Snippet, GHOSTS ON AN ALIEN WIND.

Cheating, a little: I actually wrote this yesterday. But today was complicated.


We followed the almost-path of gorvines all the way to the Dig site, to absolutely nobody’s surprise. Well, I know I wasn’t surprised, and I assume the Anticipant couldn’t be. If Oft had any sudden revelations, he didn’t talk about them.

He was the first one to notice the regular sets of discoloration on the walls, though. “More places for torches,” he grimly observed, and I didn’t blame him at all. The Scouts had been here for a reason, and it involved the Erebus Dig. I tried not to think about the implications of that, and I definitely didn’t try to think of the suggestion that the Scouts were making this trip in the dark. It would have been a beautiful morning anywhere else in the world, and I absolutely did not want to be here.

Navigating this place at midnight sounded like a great way to court a heart attack.
From my last visit I remembered that there’s not much of the Dig aboveground. The topside part of the planetary defense center or storehouse or whatever the inhabitants used the place for before their Last Stand had been broken down to gravel, making the area look like a Jeffersonian parking lot. That was there, and still stubbornly free of any vegetation or even moss.

What was different was the primitive elevator centered over the Dig shaft, camouflage netting still draped it to hide it from the sky.

Check out Kate Ashwin’s Patreon!

Apparently she could use a bit of a financial boost. I like Kate’s Widdershins: it’s very possibly my actual favorite webcomic (definitely top five). I’m going to miss it when it ends, although I understand why she’s ending it.