SkyDogs: Storm Clouds and Books
Richard Farren Barber
It’s always raining in Stoke. I suspect that’s not necessarily true, but it certainly feels that whenever I’m passing through the town, the rain clouds gather overhead. I was traveling through Stoke with my family and the black clouds were boiling when I came up with the idea for SkyDogs. As with many of my stories, the origin of SkyDogs came from the clash of two ideas. The first was my observation about Stoke and the second was a scene in Robert Westall’s novel Futuretrack 5. It’s a small scene in which the main character, Kitson, watches cloud-seeding over the sea so that the rain falls off the coast. It occurred to me that Stoke would benefit from a similar idea.
And SkyDogs was born. The idea that in the future we would have the capacity to farm the clouds. Only it wouldn’t be rain cannons or drones doing the work, it would be people. I wanted an industrial vibe to the work – along the lines of Oil Riggers and Trawlermen. I imagined that cutting through clouds would be a hard slog; manual and dangerous. The primary danger of working a few hundred feet in the air was the potential of falling down to earth, and that is never far from the thoughts of the workers, but at the same time they’re professionals, and that brings with it a certain familiarity and nonchalance.
For me, SkyDogs is about camaraderie. Not the romantic view of one for all and all for one, but a harder, more realistic fellowship that exists; whether you’re working down a coal mine or on a farm or out in rough seas. It’s about the recognition that if you don’t have faith in the people you’re working with then you can’t trust them with your life. And when you go up in the air on a Mule and start cutting into the clouds with a wand, you need someone who has got your back.
In SkyDogs, Raif is a new recruit whose innocence leaves him vulnerable when he rises up into the sky on his first day. When something comes out of the clouds, something dangerous and unknown, Raif doesn’t have enough experience to understand when to run… When to be afraid.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Richard Farren Barber was born in Nottingham in July 1970. After studying in London he returned to the East Midlands. He lives with his wife and son and works as a Manager for a local university. He has written over 200 short stories and has had short stories published in Alt-Dead, Alt-Zombie, Blood Oranges, , ePocalypse – Tales from the End, , Murky Depths, Midnight Echo, Midnight Street, Morpheus Tales, , Night Terrors II, Siblings, The House of Horror, Trembles, and broadcast on BBC Radio Derby, The Wicked Library and Pseudopod. Richard’s novella “The Power of Nothing” was be published by Damnation Books in 2013 and his novella “The Sleeping Dead” was published by DarkFuse in 2014.
Horror and science fiction blend seamlessly in the twelve stories contained within this anthology. Whether it’s mutation, creation, invention, machinery gone awry, or space/time travel, each of the authors included took on the challenge of weaving a tale that not only stood up against scientific possibilities, but will scare the proverbial pants off readers.
Imagine a world where the skies are protected from giant insects by men and women who climb into flying steel contraptions. Or perhaps you like the idea of nanobots quietly working in the background to effect positive change, only to find out that maybe those changes aren’t completely beneficial. How about genetic manipulation gone horribly wrong? Fiction that may not be too far from fact…
All of these terrifying, yet thought provoking scenarios are part of this collection of tales that definitely have some genuine kick!
Dead Serious: A Story of the Invaders — Paul M. Feeney
Hive Mind — Alex Woolf
The Unity Contagion — B. David Spicer
SkyDogs — Richard Farren Barber
Grey Sands — DJ Tyrer
Waiting Time — Rivka Jacobs
First Second — Jason D’Aprile
Idle Puppet — Dev Jarrett
Face Value — P.N. Roberts
The Forgotten Ones — J. D. Waye
What Really Happened on Green Moon 764… — Sergio Palumbo
Under The Twin Eyes — Matthew Smallwood
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