We’ve moved (again)

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Published on: November 30, 2011

Yes, I know we’re only new here but we’ve upped and moved again, and this time to our permanent home. Due to gremlins, aliens, demonic dogs, and clumsy fingers, we’ve had to reside here, biding our time til our new domain name became available-which is now is.

Move on over to midnightechomagazine.com and you’ll find us, complete with the brand new release of Midnight Echo Issue 6, the science fiction-horror special!

See you there!

Midnight Echo Issue 6 Interviews: Joanne Anderton

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Published on: November 27, 2011

As the release date for Midnight Echo 6: The Science Fiction Horror Issue is this week, we though we would introduce you to Joanne Anderton, who wrote one of the most original and bizarre stories in the line-up, “Out Hunting for Teeth”. Joanne’s writing strength is demonstrated by her recent novel publication, Debris, out from Angry Robot.

Pre-order your copy of the limited print edition now for only $10 + postage.

* * * * *

Midnight Echo: What is your favorite Sci-fi horror novel or short story and why?

Joanne: I’m really no good at playing favourites. I do, however, have a soft spot for Ghost Beyond Earth by G. M. Hague. I read this book many years ago (when I was but a young thing…) and it left such an impression on me. Twisted, creepy supernatural horror mixed with space-station claustrophobia and good old fashioned madness, all with an Australian setting and tone. There’s just something about space and horror that goes together so well, and I think the same things applies to horror set in Australia. So much of the horror in sci-fi comes from the isolation, and the fact that you just can’t escape because there’s nowhere for you to go. How much is that like the Australian outback? No one can hear you scream on an isolated cattle station either…

Midnight Echo: Tell us about your story and what your influences are?

Joanne: The main character in my story, “Out Hunting for Teeth”, is Wype — a W-type Scavenger-Class android. He’s part dead boy, part machine, and he hunts humans through the insides of a crippled starship, so he can extract their useful material, such as skeletons and neural networks. He was built by the Witch, a giant and grotesque creature born from the ship’s core. He mostly ignores the whispers from his dead boy’s brain and listens to his programming instead, until he finds the body of a man hanged by his own people. What he discovers on the dead man’s networks will change everything.

“Out Hunting for Teeth” was inspired by Goya’s etching of the same name, which depicts a witch stealing teeth from the body of a hanged man. As soon as I saw it, I just knew I wanted to write about it, but I also knew I wanted to do something… different. This story is the result. My husband described it as a cross between Wall-E and Genocyber and I still think that’s the best description!

Midnight Echo: Tell us something about yourself as a writer that isn’t common knowledge?

Joanne: There’s common knowledge about me? Now I’m worried. Well, hmmm, how about: I love writing horror, but I’m a complete chicken when it comes to reading it or watching it. A truly scary movie will give me many sleepless nights before I convince myself that no, the *insert horrific supernatural creature here* isn’t real. Got to be supernatural though. Serial killers just bore me.

* * * * *

Out Hunting for Teeth

Joanne Anderton

The colony in the sunside hydroponics chamber had strung the man up in the access corridor like an offering. He swung from the ceiling’s naked beams on a noose of optical fibre and copper wire, and his hands were tied in front of him. His face was expressionless and grey, his mouth hung open, and the nodes drilled into his teeth were misfiring desperate, panicking signals.

W-type Scavenger-Class—nicknamed Wype by his mistress in her cruel glee—had never seen anything like it.

His sensors told him the man was already dead, no need to chase and kill this one himself, which reduced the chance he would damage the man’s spinal enhancements and neural networks. That was good. The Witch was vicious when she was displeased. So it made sense to cut the man down, slice him into manageable parts and drag the useful ones back to her as quickly as possible.

But Wype was more than sensors and circuitry. He was a Witch’s spell, a complex blend of dead human parts and recycled machine parts, given life and a task by his mistress. He shared a brain, and most of his body, with a dead boy. And his boy told him something wasn’t right. Humans were too few and they considered themselves too precious to kill each other indiscriminately. There had to be a reason for this man’s death. Perhaps he was contaminated. If Wype brought a virus—biological or digital—into the Witch’s lair, she would eject him into airless space.

So Wype and his boy decided this required more investigation.

Wype swung himself down from the ducting. His boy leg jarred at the impact. He pumped a fresh round of painkillers into the degenerating muscle, and shuffled awkwardly forward. He was designed for climbing through the hollow bones and rotting guts of the derelict ship, not walking in a straight line. His metallic leg was longer than his human leg, segmented, and hooked at the tip. His one human hand was encased in reinforced ceramic tiles stolen from the ship’s breached hull. He had two mechanical arms. One ended in a hook like his leg, the second was a multi-tool of cables, a light, a soldering iron and a photon-beam blade.

The sensors protruding from Wype’s neck scanned for heat signals, electronic pulses, and neural firings. He detected nothing but the panic emanating from the man’s teeth. He cut the man’s leg, wiped a thin drop of blood directly on the powerful lenses of his mechanical eye, and ran as many scans as he was programmed with. As far as Wype could tell there was nothing wrong with his flesh, other than the rigors of death. That only left his networks.

Wype hauled himself up the wall, extended his blade and cut the man down. Then he dropped back to the floor, and pried open the dead man’s mouth. It took a little drilling with the sharpened tip of his blade to expose enough ports to link himself with the neural network.

Human networks were basically designed for maintenance: they monitored blood pressure, muscle function, and oxygen uptake. But the dead man’s was doing none of those things. Instead, it was flooded with data, a nonsense of figures and formulas, instructions and feedback that didn’t feel human at all. It felt, if anything, like a machine. A jumbled, failing machine.

“Who are you?”

* * * * *

Biography – Joanne Anderton

Joanne Anderton lives in Sydney with her husband and too many pets. By day she is a mild-mannered marketing coordinator for an Australian book distributor. By night, weekends and lunchtimes she writes dark fantasy and horror. Her short fiction has recently appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and Worlds Next Door. She was shortlisted for the 2009 Aurealis Award for best young adult short story. Her debut novel, Debris (Book One the Veiled Worlds Series) will be published by Angry Robot Books in 2011, followed by Suited in 2012.

Visit her online at: http://joanneanderton.com and on Twitter@joanneanderton

Subscription drive winners announced

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Published on: November 20, 2011

Congratulations to Daniel Miller for winning first prize in Midnight Echo’s subscription drive! Daniel, $200 is coming your way.

Second prize went to Sam Stephens, who wins a $50 prize pack from Black House Comics, a copy of Macabre; A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis and Marty Young, plus Australian Hauntings, edited by James Doig, and signed copies of White Tiger by best-selling author Kylie Chan, Concrete Jungle by Brett McBean, and Bone Marrow Stew by Tim Curran.

Third Prize goes to Reginald Dare, who receives a signed copy of This Green Hell by best-selling author Greig Beck, plus Australian Hauntings, edited by James Doig, a voucher to the value of $75 for use at Cohesion Editing and Proofreading, and signed copies of Concrete Jungle by Brett McBean, and Bone Marrow Stew by Tim Curran.

Congratulations to all winners, and thank you to everyone who took out a subscription during this drive. Your support is very much appreciated.

You can still subscribe of course, with subscription options going for as little as $3.85/year.

And stay tuned for Midnight Echo Issue 6, the science fiction-horror special, due out on November 30! There is only a limited print run so don’t miss out, make your pre-order now.

Midnight Echo Issue 6 Interviews: Helen Stubbs

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Published on: November 20, 2011

Our fourth interview with the contributing authors of Midnight Echo 6: The Science Fiction Horror Issue is with upcoming Australian weird speculative fiction short story writer, Helen Stubbs. Her contribution “Surgeon Scalpelfingers” is as weird and wonderful as it sounds.

Pre-order your copy of the limited print edition now for only $10 + postage.

Don’t forget, Midnight Echo’s subscription drive will run until November the 20th. All you have to do to be in with a chance to win $200 in cold hard cash, or signed books by award-winning authors, is to take out any one of our subscription offers before then. Subscriptions go for as little as $3.85/year for ebook and PDF formats.

* * * * *

Midnight Echo: What is your favorite Sci-fi horror novel or short story and why?

Helen: My favourite Science Fiction horror novels are The Visitor and The Margarets by Sheri Tepper. She deals with futures where humankind endures drastic interventions by extra-terrestrial entities. Tepper writes girls who can do whatever they must to survive horrific events, rituals and weapons. The novels are disturbing, beautiful and believable. I would love to be able to create worlds and universes as massive and convincing as hers.

I also love John Wyndham’s novella Consider Her Ways, and Kafka’s Metamorphosis, which are both subtle horror working with the concept of waking in vastly changed circumstances. Whether you become a breeder or a cockroach, that has to suck.

Midnight Echo: Tell us about your story and what your influences are?

Helen: My story, “Surgeon Scalpelfingers”, draws on one of my greatest childhood fears…ending up on an alien work bench. Initially, my protagonist observes what has happened in a cool detached manner. I love the narration of John Wyndham and that influenced my style in this piece. Jeff Lindsay’s Darkly Dreaming Dexter inspired me in part (to take my character apart), while the robot from Lost in Space was definitely in the back of my mind as I designed the final product. There are some delightfully icky images in this story. Yay.

Midnight Echo: Tell us something about yourself as a writer that isn’t common knowledge?

Helen: My first attempt at constructing a book was non-fiction. It was about my pet chicken, Chatterbox, who hatched one Christmas day then met an untimely end mere months later. Rest in peace, Chatterbox (1985-1986). This story is for you, who will ever be my favourite adolescent rooster, for whom I never found even a torn dappled feather. Was it alien abduction? Perhaps you are free ranging through far off galaxies, making single-legged featherless hens very happy.

* * * * *

Surgeon Scalpelfingers

Helen Stubbs

My I woke and wondered if I was still me, then decided probably not. While I had no memory of what I had been, I was certain I’d been a single thing, with a few or more limbs and zero coils.

I was strewn around the dim lab. I still had a sense of my body-parts, though we were no longer directly joined. Some sat tall and alone, on quietly vibrating dishes—that arm for example. It used to have a hand on top, now it had a metallic disc.

A brown organ with a curved back was encased in a glass canister of orange jelly. It had an aerial on top and wires trailing from the base. Yet other parts of former me inhabited small robots, for example, one finger had become the body of a metallic seven-legged beetle…an insect? Insept, I supposed. Its rubbery neck supported a half-sphere, which turned toward me.

Oh, hello—it held my other eye. That other eye looked back at me, to where this eye and my thoughts were based… in my head? No, not at all. My other eye had a clear view and told me I no longer had a head.

The majority of me was collected on a green operating table. One eye had been set into a circle of skin that was stretched over a cylinder. It looked similar to a drum. I couldn’t see my mouth, but other parts of me lay along the bench, integrated with a lot of hardware. Limbs, organs and a few toes were set into glass and metal casing. The connections between them included cable, wire and some tubing. I had no skeleton—not bone and not metal. My scaffolding was missing. I could not stand up.

My independent eyes looked about a little more, rolling around their new settings. Beyond the circle of light that surrounded the green bench, it was hard to make out details. But there were my bones; lined up, from shortest to longest, in a slim tank that stretched along a wall. It didn’t look like it included all 206, but approximately a hundred.

My nose sat on top of a tripod. If I had an eye above it, that eye would have quite a view. Perhaps the *insept* could crawl up and take a look? Actually, it was good vantage point for smelling. My nose sniffed… it smelled blood and Betadine. And something more animal. Something that could do with a wash.

I was a work in progress. If I could have found my tear-ducts I would have cried.

To distract myself, I focused on locating my missing fingers, recalling that there should be another nine of those, along with two arms and two ears. These things were coming back to me. And so was a tall wobbling form, backlit by a bright light beyond the corridor. He was a two-metre tall, hill-shaped blob.

“Surgeon,” said a voice above me, in an unfamiliar language—yet I understood.

The voice belonged to a triangular robot face on a snake-like arm. Its long neck originated from somewhere above, lost in the darkness. It had spoken through a triangular speaker which lit up when it spoke. This mouth was set beneath its round camera eye.

The snake-bot turned to face the surgeon.

The surgeon burped and farted as he moved closer, and his rolls of pale fat came into view. His white face seemed to glow against the dimly lit background. He had bruise-blue lips, just like raw sausages. His pale yellow eyes were rimmed with red inflammation.

* * * * *

Biography – Helen Stubbs

Helen Stubbs loves the beautiful weird, especially fiction about the future and alternate realities. Her writing usually includes tough heroines and terrible things. Her unpublished novel, Black Earth, is a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Award. She’s currently working on a novel called Verdan’s Marsh. Helen’s short stories have appeared in the Aussiecon Four Souvenir Booklet (competition winner “The Perforation”) and the Australian vampire anthology Dead Red Heart. She’s a member of Queensland Writers Centre, Vision Writers and Prana Writers. Her interests include chatting to strangers, travelling, bike riding, the environment, art and innovation. Contact Helen at twitter.com/superleni and helenstubbs.wordpress.com.

Midnight Echo Issue 6 Interviews: Cat Sparks

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Published on: November 16, 2011

Our third interview with the contributing authors of Midnight Echo 6: The Science Fiction Horror Issue is with Australian speculative fiction short story writer and editor, Cat Sparks, who penned a space opera horror fantasy with pirates, “Dead Low”.

Pre-order your copy of the limited print edition now for only $10 + postage.

Don’t forget, Midnight Echo’s subscription drive will run until November the 20th. All you have to do to be in with a chance to win $200 in cold hard cash, or signed books by award-winning authors, is to take out any one of our subscription offers before then. Subscriptions go for as little as $3.85/year for ebook and PDF formats.

* * * * *

Midnight Echo: What is your favorite Sci-fi horror novel or short story and why?

Cat: I’m not sure I have an absolute favourite, but I was really taken by Jeff Long’s The Descent when I read it a few years ago. The novel concerns a vast, labyrinthine world of tunnels and caverns below the subsurface of the world and the troglodyte hominid cultures that inhabit them; tribes humans have interpreted as demons throughout history. This is a violent novel rich with character and detail. Many scenes remain indelibly imprinted on my mind.

Other favourites include Stephen King’s The Stand and Patricia Highsmith’s collection of short storiesTales of Natural and Unnatural Catastrophes.

Midnight Echo: Tell us about your story and what your influences are?

Cat: “Dead Low” is inspired by elephants’ graveyards and abandoned children raised by wolves, only instead of elephants there are space ships and in place of wolves run malfunctioning surplus military hardware. Did I mention there are pirates? What’s not to like?

Midnight Echo: Tell us something about yourself as a writer that isn’t common knowledge?

Cat: Most of my writing, one way or another, tends to be about the search for identity: either mine, my protagonists’, or perhaps that of the entire human species. I didn’t realise this fact until an astute editor pointed it out after reading a bunch of my stories. “Dead Low”, however, is about SPACE PIRATES!

* * * * *

Dead Low

Cat Sparks

They were seven all up if you counted the pilot—and Clancy always did. Qamar had the smarts to demand a fee in lieu of a share of the plunder. Smarts enough to get paid regardless. He never went in but he’d always got them out. More than once by the skin of their back teeth. He cut things close but close was good enough for Clancy. She wouldn’t have swapped him for all the jewels on Europa.

The Sargasso Drift was not for the faint hearted. Not for greenhorns either. She knew she should have left the kid at base. Konte was excited for all the wrong reasons. Busting out and itching for a fight. Trouble was the last thing Clancy needed. The Sargasso Drift was trouble enough on its own.

“Looks like an elephants’ graveyard,” said Kyah, picking at her fingernails as Clancy enhanced the view. Before them, a sea of debris meshed with frozen rocks. Shattered hulls slept nestled amongst them, their once shiny surfaces pockmarked by centuries of micro impacts. Booster cylinders, photon drives, modular components battered into new and unrecognisable shapes. All jammed together to form a large amorphous mass, like a cancer or a blood clot. And something else; a substance registering as a brown-grey shadow that looked as though it should have been rock, but wasn’t.

“This here’s what you call a dead low,” Clancy explained. “Everything adrift in this part of the system ends up here sooner or later.”

Corvettes, cutters, blockade runners, battle cruisers, satellites, zips and flails, and all the other junk detritus illegally dumped from freighters.

“Elephant?” asked Konte, the kid in battle fatigues so new, the fabric was still stiff and shiny.

“An ancient kind of ship,” said Pace. “Freighter. Pre-Empire. Reckon this is where the Horgis generals sent their ships to die.”

“No way!” said the kid, his eyes as wide as saucers. He turned to Clancy. “Can’t we get in closer?”

“Not until we have to.” The grim tone to Clancy’s voice gave them all an early warning. All except the kid, of course, this being his first time out. Nobody wanted him along for the ride. Virgin heroes were generally the first to fall, usually dragging some other poor bastard down with them.

“First in, first serve for salvage rights,” said Kyah. Her hands were trembling, which meant she was on the juice again. Not good.

“Hon, we’re far from being the first. A good many of those shattered hulls belonged to salvage crews.”

“Not good ones, though. If they were good, they would never have bought it so easy.”

Clancy decided to let it go. Regret was already gnawing at her edges. The lies it had taken to get them all this far. After all, the ship belonged to Pace. His ship, Barbuda’s map, but the heartache was hers and hers alone. If she was wrong then none of it was going to matter.

“So what does the scan say?”

DeVere was already on it. “Highly mineralised,” he offered.

* * * * *

Biography – Cat Sparks

Cat Sparks is fiction editor of Cosmos Magazine. She managed Agog! Press, an Australian independent press that produced ten anthologies of new speculative fiction from 2002-2008. A graduate of the inaugural Clarion South Writers’ Workshop and a Writers of the Future prize winner, she has edited five anthologies of speculative fiction and more than fifty of her short stories have been published since 2000. She’s won thirteen Aurealis and Ditmar awards for writing, editing and art. She is currently working on a dystopian/biopunk trilogy and a suite of post-apocalypse tales set on the New South Wales south coast. (Photo credit: Selena Quintrell)

Midnight Echo Issue 6 Interviews: Alan Baxter

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Published on: November 7, 2011

In our second interview as part of the lead up to Midnight Echo 6: The Science Fiction Horror issue, we have an interview with Alan Baxter. His contribution tackles the fears faced by space travellers far form home and very deep into the void.

Pre-order your copy of the limited print edition now for only $10 + postage.

* * * * *

Midnight Echo: What is your favorite Sci-fi horror novel or short story and why?

Alan: This is a really tough one to answer. Some of the best sci-fi horror is in the movies as it’s sadly under-represented in written fiction, but there is a lot of good stuff out there. However, while it’s not necessarily classified as horror, I would have to say Peter Watts’s novel, Blindsight. It’s a hard SF first-contact novel, and not really a horror novel in the commonly accepted sense. But Watts does such an amazing job of creating a truly alien entity for first contact and develops such horrifying reality around what such an encounter would really be like, that I find it hard to go past. It’s an outstanding book, and perhaps the most horrifying element for me is the way the aliens move. Seriously, read it and you’ll see what I mean.

Midnight Echo: Tell us about your story and what your influences are?

Alan: My story involves a few influences. Firstly, my science fiction tends to be heavy on the fiction and light on the science. I’m not scientifically educated enough to make the scientific elements of a story really convincing, but I love the scope for exploring ideas that SF gives a writer. There’s certainly way more out there than we can comprehend, let alone prepare for, as the example of Blindsight above so ably demonstrates. On top of that, the experiences of humans in deep space would be very different to any experience available on Earth and I like to play with those ideas too. So my story explores the nature of very deep space exploration, the inexplicable things that might be out there, and the psychology of the people in those situations. I like my sci-fi to have a bit of a wild frontiers element, with the technological and human challenges that would bring. For example, the main character, Peevy, has a condition called deepfear, like a galactic agoraphobia, which was a lot of fun to play with.

Midnight Echo: Tell us something about yourself as a writer that isn’t common knowledge?

Alan: I’m such an online whore that I doubt there’s much people don’t already know. But here’s a couple of things. I wrote a sequel story to “Trawling The Void”, called “Salvage In The Void”, which picks up exactly where the first story ends, and that sequel just placed as a semi-finalist in the Writers Of The Future competition. So now I need to find somewhere to publish it. Also, I used to be a fishmonger. How’s that?

* * * * *

Trawling the Void

Alan Baxter

The incoherent voices in Peevy’s mind were more insistent. The ghostly dragging at his clothes and skin stronger, though he knew nothing was there. He ground his teeth, staring at the diagnostics panel. I’m not going mad. I’m not going mad. The thought was becoming his mantra.

He reached one hand down and scratched the soft, furry head of LaVey. The SimHound looked up, gave him a doggy smile. Peevy frowned at engine efficiency readouts. “Look at this, Jack.”

The Duty Engineer, an old ship hand, rough around the edges, shrugged. “Looks all right to me.” His grizzled old face showed no signs of worry.

Peevy glanced up, surprised. “Really? Look at the energy fluctuation across the coils.”

“It’s not much.”

“Maybe not, but as we don’t know what’s causing it we have to find out.”

“You’re the boss.”

Peevy smiled at the Duty Engineer. He was getting lazy in his old age.

#

“This array seems fine.” Peevy twisted in the cramped space to look the other way. “What about there?” The presence surged and he stiffened, wincing as he tried to ignore it.

The tech opposite gave a thumbs up. “Yep, this one’s fine too.”

Peevy made a sound of annoyance. LaVey watched with heavy-lidded disinterest as Peevy and the tech emerged from the service bay. Jack’s eyebrows raised. “Nothing.”

The old eyebrows sank as he smiled. “There you go then.”

“No. The engines are still out of whack. You should care about this. I think we should do a full restart.”

“The Cap will not be happy about that.”

“The Cap will have to suck it up.”

* * * * *

Biography – Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author living on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia. He writes dark fantasy, science fiction and horror, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. His contemporary dark fantasy novels, RealmShift and MageSign, are out through Gryphonwood Press, and his short fiction has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies in Australia, the US and the UK, including the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror. Alan is also a freelance writer, penning reviews, feature articles and opinion. Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website.

Midnight Echo Issue 6 Interviews: Andrew J McKiernan

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Published on: October 29, 2011

Here is the first in a series of interviews and story extracts with the contributors to Midnight Echo 6: The Science Fiction Horror issue, due for release in November 2011. The first interview off the post is Andrew J. McKiernan, who gave us a creepy Lovecraftian tale set on a comet.

Pre-order your copy of the limited print edition now for only $10 + postage.

* * * * *

Midnight Echo: What is your favourite Sci-fi horror novel or short story and why?

Andrew: Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds is probably my favourite. It  might not be horror in the traditional sense, but it uses a lot of the tropes to create suspense and a more than sufficient amount of dark imagery. Essentially an almost-hard-sf space opera, Revelation Space also delights in inflicting a bleak and menacing future upon its readers. There is the Nostalgia For Infinity; a centuries old starship more like a rotting Gothic castle than the flashy futuristic sterility of other SF ships. It once carried hundreds and thousands of passengers, but now only a handful of crew members haunt its dark corridors. Not only that, but both the ship and its captain have been infected by the Melding Plague, a virus that attacks humans and machines in equal measure, transforming them into grotesque symbiotes that make it impossible to tell where the machine ends and the human begins. Add into all that the overall series arc (continued in further novels) of a billion year old alien race that has already once wiped out almost all life in the galaxy and is intent on doing it again, and you have some strong Lovecraftian overtones. How can anyone go wrong with a mix like that?

Midnight Echo: Tell us about your story and what your influences are?

Andrew: My story, “The Wanderer In The Darkness” is a quite obvious attempt at moving something of the Lovecraft Mythos into space. I’ve always seen Lovecraft’s main mythos tales as being more SF than Horror; these are aliens we are dealing with, not supernatural demons, and the leap from Lovecraft’s more common setting of early 20th century America to 21st century deep space seemed an easy leap to make as far as story-telling goes. It is a simple story, essentially; a crew on a routine mission finds out that things aren’t at all what they expected them to be. It is a trope that has been used to connect Horror and SF in films so many times in the past - AlienThe ThingEvent HorizonPandorum - but not so much that I’ve encountered in literature.

I’d also been reading about our physical exploration of comets via space probes, which first occurred with the Deep Space 1 probe in 2001 and continued on with Deep Impact 1 in 2005 and more recently Stardust in 2011. The orbits of comets through our solar system can take anything from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of years, and some originate from the inside Oort cloud – a place so far away that it may extend almost a full light year out from the sun – and yet even at that distance it is still classed as part of our solar system. Those sort of distances and time-spans are somewhat mind-boggling and fit in so well with the types of things Lovecraft was hinting at. These cold, dark bodies, drifting for aeon’s through unimaginable kilometres of space, returning occasionally to shed light and sometimes destruction upon the planets of our solar system. Harbingers of all sorts of prophesies throughout the history of man. It all seemed so perfect for a tale.

And so, what happens when we are finally able to set foot on one of these objects? What will we find? That’s the essential thrust of my tale and how the influences came together.

Midnight Echo: Tell us something about yourself as a writer that isn’t common knowledge?

Andrew: That’s right, always leave the hardest question until last! To be honest, if it isn’t common knowledge I probably have a reason for keeping it that way. Some things, especially about a horror writer, should always remain hidden and mysterious.

* * * * *

The Wanderer in the Darkness

Andrew J McKiernan

At a distance of just under 3,500 kilometres, the comet should have been visible as an object roughly the size of a full moon seen from earth. Instead, the passengers and crew saw only darkness and a spattering of light-year distant stars.

“It’s still out there, isn’t it?”

The question was from Graham Tully, a young Glacial Geologist on his first trip out of Earth’s gravity well. Three months out of slow-ship stasis and he could still taste the rotten-egg of hydrogen sulphide, still woke up choking on dreams of the hibernation tank’s cramped confines and perfluorocarbon breathing fluid filling his lungs. The transfer from Neptune orbit aboard the *Spiritus Mundi* had been easier; awake all the way under a constant, barely noticeable, 0.01G.

“Yeah, it’s still there,” Captain Haldane answered. “Why’re you here, Tully? You know anything at all about comets?”

“I know about ice. Supposed to be studying the Yasu Sulci ice ridges on Triton but this was too good an opportunity to pass up. So, where is it?”

Dr Susan Maradin, the mission’s astrogeologist, kicked off from a bulkhead towards a bank of display panels. Her fingers flicked across a keyboard and the display panels lit up with a variety of multi-hued blobs centred in blackness. Tully recognised them as spectrographic imagery—infra-red, ultra-violet, chemical emissions, x-ray—and he could see the shape of the comet in their rainbow swirls.

“See, still there,” Dr. Maradin said. “Comets are the least reflective objects in the solar system. They might be mostly ice, but the surface is a tarry crust of organic compounds. It absorbs most of the light that hits it. Probably won’t see anything unaided until we’re right on top of it. Maybe Peregrine Base will have left a light or two on for us?”

The mention of Peregrine Base caused the Captain to shift uncomfortably in his couch. He turned to his Co-pilot and found her already looking his way.

“Still no ping from Peregrine, Lieutenant Garneau?”

“Nothing, Captain. Peregrine’s nav-beacon and communication relays are transmitting identification codes, but no replies to our outgoings. Could be they’re out at a drill site?”

“For over twelve hours? Someone would have stayed back at the base, or they would have taken a radio with them.”

Lieutenant Garneau didn’t answer. She knew this was true. In space you never went anywhere without a radio capable of transmitting a signal, even if it was only an emergency beacon.

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Biography – Andrew J McKiernan

Andrew J McKiernan is an author and illustrator living and working on the Central Coast of NSW. Since 2007 his short stories and novelettes have appeared in Aurealis and Midnight Echomagazines and well as the anthologies Shadow Plays, CSFG’s MasquesIn Bad Dreams 2Scenes From the Second Storey and Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears. His stories have been shortlisted twice for both the Aurealis and Australian Shadows awards, as well as Ditmar Awards shorlistings for both his writing and illustration. His short story “The Memory of Water” was recently reprinted in Ticonderoga Publications’ Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010 and his story “The Desert Song” received an Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year Vol.3 anthology. New stories are forthcoming in Aurealis #46 and Midnight Echo #6, both due for publication in November 2011.

Subscriptions/Pre-orders for Issue 6

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Published on: October 28, 2011

Don’t forget that your chance to win $200 in cash, plus books signed by Kylie Chan, Greig Beck, Brett McBean, Tim Curran, and more, is ending soon.

Midnight Echo’s subscription drive will run until just before the launch of Issue 6, due out in late November. All you have to do to be in with a chance to win one of the great prizes above is to take out any one of our subscription offers before November the 20th. Subscriptions go for as little as $3.85 for 1 year.

Print pre-orders for Issue 6, the science fiction-horror special, are now being taken, too. Edited by David Conyers, David Kernot, and Jason Fischer, this issue features fiction by Cody Goodfellow, Stephen Dedman, Cat Sparks, Shane Jiraiya Cummings, and more, plus an interview with Charles Stross and Chris Moore. There will be a limited print run only, so don’t miss out.

Print pre-orders can be made here.

 

Midnight Echo is currently available in print and PDF formats. We are aiming to release ebook formats later this year.

In other news, Issue 7, edited by Daniel Russell, is currently open to submissions and looking for fiction that explores taboos. Click here for full details. And stay tuned for a huge announcement regarding this issue, coming soon…

The Echo’s ‘Bunker’

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Published on: October 22, 2011

Feel like you’ve been missing that pulp era feel? Hanging out for giant bugs, carnivorous plants, and atomic-age sci-fi/horror?

Well, here at Midnight Echo, we’ve discovered a bunker filled with 1950s pulp era horror stories by long forgotten writers of the weird and wonderful, and we thought it only right we bring these stories out into the light—as graphic novels.

 

 

The new regular feature will be called “The Bunker” and will feature one pulp era story as a graphic novel per issue.

We have a huge collection of suitable stories just right for mutation, so if you have a pen ready to draw, please contact us at midnightecho [@] australianhorror.com and we can talk details…

In the meantime, don’t forget our subscription drive! For your chance to win $200, plus signed books by best-selling authors, and more, all you need to do is take out one of our subscription offers (these go for as little as $3.85). The drive ends on October 31, so don’t miss out!

 

Welcome to the Midnight Show

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Published on: September 24, 2011

Welcome to the all new website for Midnight Echo magazine!

To celebrate our ‘re-launch,’ we’re holding a subscription drive from now until November 20 (just prior to the launch of Issue 6); anyone who subscribes to one of our subscription options between now and then will go into the draw to win the following:

First Prize: $200 in cold hard cash!

Second Prize: $50 prize pack from Black House Comics, a copy of Macabre; A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis and Marty Young, plus Australian Hauntings, edited by James Doig, and a signed copy of White Tiger by best-selling author Kylie Chan.

Third Prize: a signed copy of This Green Hell by best-selling author Greig Beck, plus Australian Hauntings, edited by James Doig, and a voucher to the value of $75 for use at Cohesion Editing and Proofreading.

Thanks to Tasmaniac Publications, we also have copies of Bone Marrow Stew by Tim Curran, and Concrete Jungle by Brett McBean, to give away, plus there are more copies of Macabre; A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears, Australian Hauntings, as well as AHWA merchandise to the value of $60!

We need to reach 50 (or more) subscribers to be able to hold this draw, so spread the word! Let your friends know. Help Midnight Echo take you backstage to the midnight show. Plus, the more subscribers we get, the better we can pay our contributors. We’ve recently doubled the payment rates from 1c/word to 2c/word, but our aim is to be able to offer 5c/word.

We’ll post regular updates to let you know how close we’re getting to our target.

In the meantime, why not have a look around the new website, check out the details for Issue 6, coming this November, and let us know what you think.

Go explore the shadows!

Welcome , today is Sunday, October 26, 2014