Colin P Davies

Julian of Earth

When Tarn Erstbauer saw the incoming ship score its white trail across the intensely indigo sky he jammed the hammer into his belt and slid down the roof tiles to the ladder. In the kitchen, Mother Lilly sat at the table stoning brightberries. She barely glanced up as Tarn rushed in, rinsed his hands at the sink and freshened his face.

“A ship, Mutti,” he said. “Could be customers...with any luck. We could sure use some.” He dried his hands on a threadbare towel and watched for a response. When she did not reply he tossed the towel over a chair and hurried upstairs for his uniform.

Asimov's Science Fiction April/May 2013


Substitues

Melinda had not always been confused.  There had been a time when she could gaze at the stars and see only beauty, not patterns - a time before she forgot how to walk.  Now patterns were beauty, and they spoke to her.  The TV said it was a gift from the offworlders, given to only a few; the ability to hear the language of the universe, if not to understand it.  But Dad said it was an alien disease, seeded by stealth.

Three years ago they had been living in the far north, away from cities, away from the alien overseers, in a white cottage that smelled of roses in the summer and paraffin oil in the winter.  Out front, a long garden stretched up to the passing lane and, to the rear, the vegetable garden ended in a stream and then the woods.  As Melinda started to change, the bubbling water provided hours of stimulation for her pattern-seeking brain.  She never found a pattern, but she did notice the movement in the trees beyond the stream, when the man first found them.

Daily Science Fiction 1st February 2013


Land of Fire and Ashes

Castello climbed up the cliff until the stench cleared, the air cooled and the agitated cries of the shredders were lost in the rip and roar of the late-afternoon wind. The creatures could not follow him this high. He was safe -- but had again failed to get back to his shuttle.

He halted and examined his hands. The sharp stones had torn his skin, but he’d been too busy scrambling for his life to feel pain. He hooked an arm over a branch and spat onto his palms, stirring the blood and dirt into a brown paste, then stroked war paint across his cheeks. He wanted only to get out of here. They gave him no choice but to fight.


Abyss & Apex #41 2012


The Fighter

By the time Dominick saw the police car in his mirror it was already too late.  Controls were overridden and his car slowed to a halt.  Headlamps lit up the interior, so that he felt he was in the ring again, in the floodlights, fighting.  He tugged at his seatbelt.  His gloved fingers struggled to find the button and he bashed it with his fist.

The radio switched itself on and a voice addressed him: Please get out of the car.

“I’m trying to....”  He threw off the belt, pushed the door high, and squeezed out from behind the wheel.  Icy evening air soothed the fresh wounds on his bare arms.  Sweat dripped from his thick eyebrows and he had the taste of blood in his mouth.  Hecklers, pokers, groupies...and now this!

Step away from the car.


Asimov's Science Fiction June 2011



Red Robot
A Pestworld story

By the time Parvo reached the stone paved yard, the robot was standing motionless, the sun gleaming off its crimson carapace.  He patted his hands over his trench coat, gaining comfort from the shapes and sharp edges of the tools and tricks hidden within, then stepped forward as the robot declared, “Happy Birthday, Sigmund Parvo!  Happy birthday to you!

Parvo shook his head.  “It’s not till tomorrow.”

The robot shrugged its huge plated shoulders and gazed around at the upturned, frightened faces of the guards.  A burly man fainted; no-one else moved.  “I can’t make tomorrow,” it said.


Beam Me Up Podcast


Stippleback

In the hours immediately following the massacre of the Stipplebacks, the true scale of the crime was obscured by righteous assertions and wilful blindness.  With medals and mendacity, King Sarban lauded the fighting men.  Queen Dara expressed sorrow at a regrettable necessity.  Chaplain Varon blessed the flying relics, then dug out his bottle and offered thanks in the best way he knew how.  With the swamp-dwellers dead, the food crisis was over.  Outpost was saved.  The site of the slaughter was left to the attentions of the carrion kites and stump eels and would quickly fade into history.  No one cared to look too closely.

Something of a mistake.
 
Jupiter SF #30 2010





Henry Jumps a Shark

Ratings were in free fall. Mars, One Day at a Time had lost its edge, its excitement, and was about to lose its audience.

It had all started well, back in 2099, with the United Nations’ base established in Marineris and the subsequent expansion of the frontiers. Wherever the Rovers went, the Robsons went too. They had adventures and family fall-outs, tense dramas and high comedy; and, far away, the Earth watched. There was an excitement in the air in those days, a rust-tinted, dusty excitement. This world was new and anything could happen.

But it didn’t.

Bewildering Stories #400



The Booby-Trapped Boy


For Nick Ferrari the revelation started on a Friday night blitz, when Joannie was an irritating burr in his ear and he was still looking to wipe Shona from his memory.  Five shots of Tequilapop had numbed his face and he sank back into the heaped coats on the bench.  Joannie’s teeth flashed in the glitterball spray.  She was trying hard - he had to grant her that - but he was determined not to be cheered up.


“Martians,” said Joannie.  “Can’t live with them, can’t dump them without a permit.”


Nick kicked out at her, but only succeeded in losing his shoe.  “You’re not helping.”


M Brane SF #20




An Honorable Race


At the age of fifteen orbits, Jason -- the only son of Theo and Miriam -- first smelled time upon the stony beach at Reaper Bay under the severe eye of Harmer, the village teacher.  On that morning, when a strong wind carried spray in off the ocean, Harmer’s red beard was wet, his spectacles grimy, and his eyes all but invisible.  As the rotund examiner meticulously stowed away various tubes of enhancements and samples into his ornate wooden valise, Jason stood shivering in the icy air of early spring, watching as waves rolled in to burst upon the rocky shore.  He turned and looked over his shoulder at the teacher.  “Can we go inside now?”


Time in a Bottle - Altered Dimensions Press



The Monster on Mandrake Street
A Pestworld story


Parvo had been told that he would find wha
t he needed in Mandrake Street, but he was not happy to be here.  His heart thudded and icy sweat soaked the collar of his shirt.  He was reliving the recurring nightmare of his childhood that had bequeathed him an overwhelming fear of magic: the house in the forest and his disobedient legs which carried him within; the witch with the walk-in oven and no face; the freshly-baked biscuit in which he had bitten upon a human tooth….


Nanny Naples was to blame.


Bewildering Stories #361



Paper Lies


Johnny Mephisto was a boy out of time, an anachronism, a tick of a backwards tock.  While his peers filled their days with specious spectacle and synesthetic thrills, Johnny read novels.  While his classmates studied astrogation and alien anatomy, indulged in exotic stimulation and flits to the moon, Johnny rode the purple sage.  Not for Johnny the crystal towers and orbital elevators of 2089.  No, he preferred his chamber, an armchair, and Max Brand.


A Fistful of Hollers - Cyberaliens Press



The Certainty Principle


When it came, the crash was sudden and brutal.

 

In the low gleam of sunset, Sergeant John Hale and his crew of marines, together with their passengers, Matt Sparks and his documentary team, had been speeding across the icy Martian desert in an elderly Lockheed Sprint -- an ugly but solid workhorse hover-vehicle ideal for short-duration missions.  They skimmed over dunes of dusty snow, throwing up a crystalline spray to catch the dying light -- a deliberate spectacle for the camera.

 

John knew something was wrong the moment the interior lights flickered.  Seconds later, the lights died to blackness as power failed and the ship dropped.


Asimov's Science Fiction  February 2009


"...an effective well-written story"  Sam Tomaino  SFRevu



Geraint

No one would have believed in these early years of the twenty- first century that the small Welsh village of Llanalgo Wells was being visited regularly and leisurely by an intelligence greater than Man's and yet as familiar as an old friend -- least of all, Conrad Parry, a man tortured by the past and blind to his own future. He would continue to assure himself of that hard fact in the days near the end. It allowed him absolution. Conrad could no longer see himself as anything other than victim. He was a shopkeeper, not a physicist! He understood power tools, lawn mowers and kitchen utensils -- things he could see and touch -- not theories and possibilities and infinities.


Tall Tales on the Iron Horse - Bewildering Press


Good and Faithful Servant

Samuel flexed his painfully cramped fingers and imagined the weight of, not dishes, but a handgun.


First shot...take out the boyfriend. POW! Right knee shattered -- now Paulo has an excuse for that stupid bow-legged gait. He topples, granting Samuel a clear shot at Lady Theresa as she turns. POW! The titanium slug cleaves her tatooed forehead, showering her shimmering green sari with blood. She screams as her towering white wig falls slowly to splash into the koi pool. Oh yes...she screams.

Tall Tales on the Iron Horse - Bewildering Press


All The Right Words

Sharon picked up the bowl and passed it through the sterilizer. "I know the new barmaid is attractive. I'm not blind or daft. And I know you're only a man...but if you ever embarrass me like that again...."


"Sorry."

She wiped her hands absently on her cream cardigan and watched as a seagull swooped down to snatch at the squirrel. It carried the squealing creature aloft.

Sharon loved living this close to the sea.


Tall Tales on the Iron Horse - Bewildering Press



Her Precipitous Pride, His Lamentable Ears

The Queen had ruled for thirty years -- years of battles and blood, fear and respect. She’d launched a hundred starships and hung five hundred traitors, taken eighty-one lovers, and birthed twenty-seven brats. The entire empire prayed to her image, gave thanks for each additional day she permitted them to live, and posted tax payments four times a year. Life was good, until one early spring morning, when the rising sun cut through a fine rain to place a rainbow, a down-turned smile, across the land, and her twenty-eighth child, a boy, popped out into the world.


Bewildering Stories  #267


Happy Halloween

The skeleton was one of those alloy jobs from Wal-Mart with the Interim Mark 4 brain and independent motor control in the fingers. I recognized it straight away -- I’d been fascinated by animatronics since I was six and had an extensive knowledge of makes and models and systems. It had been a best seller some years back, until the recall. Official explanations cited a battery fault and gyroscope malfunction, but the rumor I heard was that a skeleton killed a kid and made a Halloween lantern out of his head. I didn’t believe it, but it was a fun tale to tell on a spooky All Hallows evening.


Bewildering Stories  #265


Pestworld

The creature came scuttling down the rocky hillside towards Old Fools’ Square. Only moments behind ran a short stocky man, his leaps assured and his toothy smile confident, his black trench coat flapping in the wind of the chase. Pursued and pursuer hit the cobbled ground at almost the same instant. A torrent of disturbed stones tumbled around them.

Townsfolk at the white-canopied market stalls paused in their shopping. Children stopped skipping.

Finding its path hampered by humans, the creature turned and reared up on its hind legs. Its human-like head was now on a level with Parvo's. It drew back its top lip, mimicking Parvo's pronounced front teeth; its hairless skull already mocked Parvo's shaved head. Man and creature made eye contact and once again Parvo found himself quietly reciting the Pestmeister litany: “Pests have no souls, pests have no humanity, pests have no rights....”

Bewildering Stories  #233 & 234


Babel 3000

Unbeknownst to Smith, archaic words had become cool.

“Nicola...” he protested.  “You’re making that word up.”

    
The blonde girl’s cheeks flared crimson and she was clearly befuddled.  She leaned her bicycle against the crumbling bark of a naked oak tree.  “Honest Guv...I ain’t.  I...I heard it only yesterday.  My boyfriend hooked it in London, 1236 AD.”

Included in Dave Truesdale's Recommended Reading List for 2007  published in Black Gate

Nominated for the British Science Fiction Association Award

'"Babel 3000" is a wistful tale, told with subtlety' Kimberly Lundstrom  Tangent Online

Asimov's Science Fiction   March 2007

Now available on Anthology Builder

Read online at Abandoned Towers Magazine

A Divine Madness  (with David Redd)

Another time Diana would have been alert to the creature outside the cottage, to the scarred and bloody hands that clawed at the doors and shuttered windows, but she heard only the coughs of the woman who lay dying in the darkened room.

“Sssh, Mary. Don’t try to talk.” Diana touched a fingertip to her friend’s forehead. The young mother did not have long to live. “Simon is well. He’ll return soon.” It was a lie — a kindness. The seven-year old boy lay lifeless in a back room.

Diana scooped up more soft coals and threw them onto the banked-up fire. The air was thick and cloying. Londoners believed that tarry smoke might drive out the pestilence. Diana had been willing to try anything but found she could change nothing. Why did these people live only to die? For centuries the question had unsettled her. She had no answer.


Bewildering Stories  #221


Dust to Dust

Richard’s phosphorescence had returned, like a seasonal dust cloud, lemon sharp and angry edged.  He stroked a finger down his forearm and dry skin fell like powder to the smooth tiled floor.  He had thought that the disease had abated, that whatever rare and distressing variant of eczema had afflicted him this last week had been only a temporary reaction to the stress of being hunted.  That hope had now faded...and it made him angry.

Bewildering Stories  #209


The Hay Devils

Every July Dad would put me on the Greyhound, wave a hearty goodbye, and shout, "House'll be hollow without you!"  Then I'd clamber up on the seat to hoist my bag onto the rack and listen as he pounded the horn in his rusty old pick-up.  This year that parting call sounded more forlorn than ever.  To my early-adolescent mind, Dad was becoming increasingly odd and worryingly isolated.  Lately, I'd woken at night to hear him talking to Mom.  The next day he would confess to me how much he still missed her.

Sciencefictionfantasyhorror.com


The Evangelist

Jesus Santana considered himself in the vanguard of civilizing forces. When pressed, he would confess to the sin of pride. When praised, he would deflect the compliment onto God. And when pilloried... Well, that wasn’t about to happen.

It had been ten days now since he’d made the five-hour crossing of the frozen Strait of the Aurora and driven his stealth sled up the island’s icy beach — nine days since he’d first walked cautiously out of the coastal frond-forest and into the village — and already he’d seen enough to confirm the stories which had reached his church back in New Reykjavik. Those first travelers had brought knowledge here and trinkets, and introduced the language, but the harbingers clearly needed more than that — they needed him.

Bewildering Stories  #183


The Thing from the Thing from Another World

When all the shooting and blasting and bludgeoning were finally over and the hairy giant carcass had been hauled onto seven different trucks and the disgusting residue of blood and alien guts had been shovelled from the White House lawn, the twopla relaxed and stretched out its six slender legs across the crisp brown bed of a blade of dead grass.

Washington was beautiful in the Fall, no doubt about it, but the visitor was disappointed. The capital was not on its itinerary. The trip should have been quiet and comfortable. That was before the Grog had decided to have a word with the President — a naïve decision which had been destined to end in misunderstanding. When the time came to go home, the twopla would have to hitch a new ride.

Bewildering Stories  #181
The First Bewildering Stories Anthology (ed. Jerry Wright & Donn Webb) -2006- Adventure Books


The Man Who Sank

Niall is the worst of us.  He’s meaner, more vicious, more crazy.  He hates everyone: Jamacians, Asians, queers....  Chances are he hates me as well.  His Dad had been a violent waste-of-DNA and Niall intends to make us all pay.  He doesn’t care about anything...and yet, only last Saturday, when we met up as usual, I found him anxious and attentive to every stranger on the street.

Sciencefictionfantasyhorror.com


The Defenders

Finally, Grandfather slowed the dinghy, and the retinue of iridescent wakefish skated away under a punishing noon sun.

Elisa leaned over the side and watched another wavering giant carcass pass below while Grandfather whistled a tune far older than Elisa’s thirteen years.

“That’s enough!” she said -- then softer, “I’ve seen enough.”

'For such a brief story, Davies encompasses a wide range.  "The Defenders" brought to mind a comment by John Clute (in reference to both James Tiptree Jr and the underrated Kris Neville) "A capacity to develop the sometimes routine initial material of a story so that its implications expanded constantly..."  Tiptree did this with breathtaking ease, and Davies displays a similar ability here'  Chris Markwyn  Tangent Online

'"The Defenders" by Colin P Davies expertly dissects colonialism in quintessential science-fictional terms'  Nick Gevers   Locus

'Short, effective, and providing a solid emotional payoff, this is a great short story'  Jason B Sizemore  Apex Digest 

Nominated for the British Science Fiction Association Award

Asimov's Science Fiction  Oct/Nov 2004

The Year's Best Science Fiction #22  Ed. Gardner Dozois   St Martin's Press  (Best New SF #18 from Robinson in the UK) 

Galaktika #197


The Girl with the Four-Dimensional Head

She rode down the glass elevator from the insystem ship Berlin as a celebrity.  The Marsport Marineris crowd swelled across the ruddy concrete, their hunger for novelty fired by advance bulletins on the newsnet.  Since the accident, she’d become Big News.  Had she wanted anonymity she would have needed a disguise and forty centimetres off her height.

'The Girl with the Four-Dimensional Head" by Colin P Davies is excellent. This is not another goofy, pulpy tale, but a gritty sci-fi drama with fully drawn characters, outstanding dialog, and an interesting take on the old standby setting of Mars'  Michael Gabriel Bailey  Tangent Online

Honourable Mention in The Year's Best SF #22  Gardner Dozois

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #12


Perhaps a Goddess

Inanna should have been feeling good.  Her wits were sharp.  Her outreach sensitivity was peaking.  She was aware of the ants commuting below the tarmac surface and the rat watching her from beside the Coca-Cola hoarding.  She knew this was the best time - she always knew - and she’d never hesitated before.

In the six millenia since her early years in Sumeria, she’d had so many partners she no longer attempted to remember their names.  But now she had Robert.  Robert, a name she would have trouble forgetting.  She loved him - and yet it was time to kill him. 

'And there are several highlights. Colin P. Davies provides a tale of a Sumerian death goddess in love'    Ian Sherred  New Hope International

Paradox #3  


Dolls

Mandi’s difficulties with the doll started shortly after her pseudo-mother was arrested by Robot Rentals.  The two women who arrived to do the job wore pinstripe suits and an air of aloofness.  By the time they finally frog-marched their captive down the path to the waiting cart, both engineers were unkempt and red-cheeked with embarrassment -- and Mandi was giggling uncontrollably.

'Multiple layers give "Dolls" a weight that will beg you to re-read'   S R Turner  Tangent Online

'A savage attack on the cult of youthful appearance'   Nick Gevers  Locus

3SF #2

The Immersion Book of SF


Tall Tales on the Iron Horse

Two kilometres inland from the equatorial Sumatran port of Padang the train turns sharply, plunges into the mountain, and clatters down through a darkness relieved only by the occasional glimmer of St. Elmo’s fire, finally emerging, after three days by the clock, into the icy, orange daylight of Saturn's moon, Titan.

At least, that’s what Gillian said.

'Clever surrealism and a superb punch line'   Nick Gevers  Locus

'It's one of those stories you can't quite make sense of until the end, and even then you have to think about it. Well worth the ride'   David Soyka   SF Site

Included in the Locus 2002 Recommended Reading List

Honourable Mention in The Year's Best SF #20  Gardner Dozois 

Available online at infinity plus

Spectrum SF #8


A Touch of Earth

He'd said he was a writer and at first I'd considered that fact just cause to decline his company.  But he was insistent and clever.  There was the coffee shop encounter and the accident with the dog in hydroponics, the botulism scare and the missing mail from his mother.  Within weeks, familiarity led to capitulation and we became friends.

Carol was not happy.  She said Gunn smelled odd and, like all writers, lived in that border country between this universe and a far stranger one.

The children were not happy.  They said he played with their toys.

Beyond  #2

Bewildering Stories  #190


Pondlife

It was not the first time Richard had dreamed of the ocean.  Reports of the rising sea, the flooded coast, had affected him powerfully, seeding a fascination which, over the years, had become increasingly obsessive.  Submerged houses; seaweed-strangled road signs; wavering sunlight the colour of champagne.  These were the images of the time, and of his dreams.  Yet he was uncertain whether he loved the sea, or hated it.

Once again he resolved to quit his career as guinea pig - there were more comfortable ways to earn money - and pulled the blankets up over his head.

In the morning he found that the waves had been real.

Substance  Spring 1995


 Clifford and the Bookmole

"You have a problem, I believe."

But the only problem Clifford had at that moment was how to wake himself up.  He pinched his arm.  He shook his head.  He slapped himself in the face.  Valuing his teeth, he decided to accept he was awake and that all this was really happening.  He ought to say something; this was his bedroom after all.  But what do you say when you meet...

"You say hello," said the old man.

"Er, hello."

"Hello God."

"Hello God," said Clifford obediently.

"Hello God...frey."

"Hell!"

Threads  #7

Bewildering Stories  #197


Chicken

Was this how it felt to fly?  To be surrounded by emptiness, nothing to push against, nothing to grab except the air - and your own flesh?  I could believe I was flying.  It was a sensation both thrilling and dangerous, and had to be resisted.  I couldn't afford to disturb my concentration for even one moment of pleasure.  I was alone out here, a half-kilometre up in the sky, floating...

Exuberance #3

Read online at Abandoned Towers Magazine



Gwinny

"Can I help?" I said.  "I'm well stocked, got a tool for everything."  I tried one of my best smiles - lots of teeth - but her icy eyes told me my innuendo was a no-no.  I felt my cheeks flush red.

Then she smiled.  "You're funny," she said.

Well, I considered myself to be many things, to be a man of manifold facets, multiple talents, but "funny" was pretty low on my list.  I was hurt.  She may as well have called me effeminate.

I stared under the Renault's bonnet and attempted to appear knowledgeable.  Steam was coming from the thing at the front, the metal grille thingy.  I grasped for something technical to say; something impressive - something like, "It's broken."

Auguries  #15


David Yeung Remains

The doorbell said, "Sarah", framing the name in a flat parody of cathedral chimes.  David Yeung repeated the word, letting the syllables bounce around until they penetrated the blur of alcohol and began to form some sort of coherent pattern.  His wife - her name was Sarah.

She'd followed him; tracked him down to this dismal lowtown apartment.

He raised the flask of sherry, focussed on the bright language of the label, the sunshine sentiments, so out of place on this drizzly, disjointed day.  His hand trembled.

She couldn't come in.  No, he couldn't let her in.  The prickling in his arms and legs told him it was too near the time.  Within minutes she would hate him.

The Scanner #9


Rolf and the Volvo

Please visit the Library


Pop's Babies

Dear Dad,

I've been thinking about your last letter and in particular your astute comments on the multi-million pound Joe Simple hype:  "Sample Simple's Samples".  I have to say that it has been effective - you know even I was tempted for this year's quota - and the queues have been growing and growing.

But you're right.  There's much more to life than pop stars (however much I might fancy them).

Auguries  #11


Lord of the Walnut

Oscar Kohl closed the bedroom door quietly and crossed to the balcony rail.  The pre-dawn wind was warm and soft.  It carried both the scent of roses and an occasional stagnant breath from the mud banks of the river Jest.

He should spend these last few hours with his wife, Emily.  This was her last chance to see him.  He surely owed her that much.  But he wanted to watch the lightening of the eastern sky, to wish the sun to rise impossibly early; to squeeze tired blood through arid veins.

Mostly he wanted to be away from the pain he was about to cause.

The Scanner  #2


Fear of Falling

The supervisor shrugged his shoulders.  "It's nothing to be ashamed of, Mr Wright.  Most humans here suffer a fear of falling."  He pointed up to the sky.  "They call it Triton's Heaven.  Up is down, and down is up.  Some can't even glance at the sky without first anchoring themselves.  Either you learn to live with it, or you never raise your eyes above the ground."

Wright followed the robot's gesture.  The cloud which had shrouded the colony since his arrival had been drawn out of the sky, the growing wind chasing the last tatters, like loose litter, towards the snow-sea.  Stars gleamed coldly in the blue-blackness.

And dominating all, swelling in his perception as if to fill half the sky, the huge blue majesty of Neptune.

Above him?

Or below him?

In its vastness, its striped fields of variegated greens and blues - which, even as he watched, seemed to flow across that soft-edged disc - the planet was a landscape into which he was falling.

Auguries #10


...Or was he Pushed?

Ragg clamped his hands to his face.  "Get away!  Away!"

He fell to his knees, squeezing his eyelids shut.  He could see nothing.  In the dark sanctuary of his skull, he could hope he was safe.  But he could feel the watching, the thousands of eyes.

Though, moments later, he opened his eyes to the green silence and stillness, he knew they were still there.

And he understood, with absolute certainty, that his companions would be with him for ever.

Nerve Gardens  #2


Till Death May Us Part

Alice screamed as she hurled the framed painting of the Remembered Glory across the bedroom.  It smashed into the oval rosewood mirror - secreter of their scribed initials for decades - which hung beside the door.  Silver needles splashed over the carpet.  Alexander recalled months of snow and ice in the shipyard; stalactites grinning from the rigging like rows of uneven teeth, thick ice on the deck with its grimy patches of ground-in filth and pockets of frozen blood.

"No!  I hate the ocean - it's too large and...empty."  Her voice trembled as she searched for words.  "I'm scared for myself - and I know that's selfish.  I admit that I'm weak."

Focus #12