Notes and Links
In 1979 I was working for a company in London’s Soho district. In my lunch hour, I would usually go to one of two excellent sandwich bars in Wardour Street and would pass through an alleyway called St. Anne’s Court. On one side of the alley were a number of doors with red lights over them. The dingy stairways led to … I never found out. On the other side of the alleyway was a shop called ‘Dark They Were and Golden-Eyed’, a reference to a short story by Ray Bradbury. It was Europe’s largest science fiction bookshop.
Most days, I would spend twenty minutes, or so browsing the great many books and magazines on offer. There were paperbacks, fanzines, graphic novels, comics and all kinds of fascinating items. It was rare that I came out of that shop without one or two paperbacks in my hand. My journey into central London each morning was on a Number 9 bus. It was fortunate that the bus station was at the end of the short cul-de-sac where I lived. The advantage of getting onto an empty bus in the morning meant that I had the pick of all the seats. I chose the front seat, on the right hand side, on the top deck. There I would be relatively undisturbed, and would have half an hour of peace to write.
At first, I used pen and paper. Later, I had a Tandy laptop with its two-inch-high, black and white LCD screen. I wrote science fiction short stories. I loved the longer books by Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and, especially, Larry Niven – but I read those in the evenings. On the morning bus ride my mind was clear and I wrote.
Many of the stories I wrote back then are lost in the mists of time, probably due a massive clear-out before having building work done on the house. When I eventually left that house all of my notebooks and folders were crammed into boxes by the removal men and ended up in my new home’s large attic. It was with great delight that I opened one of these boxes one day, looking for something else, and found this time capsule from a younger me in the past: a loose-leaf folder, a couple of ring-bound notebooks and a number of short stories. Some were typed on the Tandy laptop and printed out, others were hastily scribbled on a shaking omnibus. I had very good handwriting at early school but in later years it diminished due to the rapid scrawling of notes in science classes.
The material I found has now been consolidated into Exopod and Professor Magneto and his Amazing Mechanical Man. Although there are a few newer stories in the Professor Magneto collection, the majority were written some thirty-five years ago. They were directly influenced by the books I was reading back then; the books of what I consider to be the golden age of science fiction.
Now, I have a confession to make. I have had to make a few minor changes to these stories. Science has a nasty habit of catching up with fiction! Although the science fiction short story has all but disappeared, they are in a unique position to communicate sharp new ideas and expound concepts without the waffle that so often accompanies modern novels.
At this point, I would like to thank the folks at Arkbound for seeing my work through to fruition, I don’t think I could have done it without them.
Joe Gillespie, November 2016