___WORDS FROM ME_____________________________________

we shall make monsters . . . audio version

A few years ago – quite a few years ago – I wrote a sort-of steampunk, sort-of tongue-in-cheek horror SF piece poking fun at the then newish trend of manufactured “boybands”. You know the sort, the four or five-piece set of healthy-looking young men with a gleam in their eyes and a polished smile beneath carefully styled hair. They’d dance, sing – sometimes well, sometimes well enough – and be pretty much indistinguishable from all the other boybands that did exactly the same thing. You’d even confuse the names of the bands and be unsure which of them was singing which song.

As far as I could work out, these bands seemed to have been born out of the manufactured hits of the late 80s, those awful sound-alike songs of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. I pretty much stopped listening to Top 40 radio when these songs dominated the airwaves, and back then Top 40 radio was pretty much all there was when it came to music on UK radio stations. (Remember, kids, this was before the internet and almost unlimited choice through streaming services. We had an AM and an FM dial, and if we didn’t mind excessive crackle, we could find some foreign longwave station looping in and out of tune depending on the atmospherics in the evening.) But those SAW songs were everywhere, and you couldn’t avoid them. If they weren’t on the radio, they were on the TV; if they weren’t on the TV, they were in the clothes store or on the speakers of the supermarket.

I got to thinking that it was all a bit Frankensteinian, and remembered – or misremembered, I’m not entirely sure – a line from Frankenstein: “We shall make monsters.” It seemed a neat little phrase that tied into the idea of the most popular records in the charts being referred to as “monster hits”. When such ideas hit you, you don’t have much choice. Go forth and apply pen.

So I did, and for a laugh called the boy band “Stepfor’d”, a contraction of Step Forward and a nod to Ira Levin’s satire on male insecurity The Stepford Wives. I think at that point, I had stopped caring that I was riffing on the back of one of the most celebrated books in history with Frankenstein, so was happy to nod at a modern classic. What was I thinking? The answer is I probably wasn’t. I was having fun. With that in mind, I’m sure that it is entirely coincidental that the first-person narrator of the tale has the initials S.A.W. 

Anyway, the tale was picked up for publication by Mad Scientist Journal and is available to buy in the Spring 2014 edition for ebooks.

If, however, you would like to listen to the tale, then the lovely people at Sage and Savant have produced an audio edition, in two parts, that can be accessed free via their site and/or which you can download from iTunes. You can either listen online or download the piece to keep. Sage and Savant is a great little site, with a cast production of an ongoing series podcast that, at the time I write, is up to episode 203. If fun SF with a steampunk bent is your thing, then this is the place to be. As well as the series podcast, S&S also has a set of short stories you can listen to by, amongst others, Harry Turtledove, Allana McFall, Greg Bear, and Alan Dean Foster. You can't do much better than that.

Composer and Sage and Savant cast member Chip Michael was generous enough to apply his talents to my tale. Thanks, Chip! If you’d like to, you can listen to Chip’s reading of my story here.

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