Friday, September 30, 2011

The Land of Candy

A vast jungle of treacle swamps, candy-cane trees, and mountains as dangerous as they are delicious. It is ruled over by the jungle lord Tarzipan.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The New Death and others: buy it, or get a free copy for a review.

The New Death and others is now out. You can buy it from Amazon or Smashwords for 99c. Amazon has it as a kindle file, and Smashwords has it as a kindle file and various other formats.

I'll send a free copy to anyone who agrees to write a review on their blog, or on a relevant forum such as Just email me (news at apolitical dot info) and tell me where you'd write a review, and what file format you prefer.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

If we're not meant to eat people, why are they made of meat?

    October 31st, 1839, Thursday. This morning we witnessed a shocking spectacle. Twenty (20) dead bodies of men, women and children were brought to Rewa as a present from Tanoa. They were distributed among the people to be cooked and eaten. They were dragged about in the water and on the beach. The children amused themselves by sporting with and mutilating the body of a little girl. A crowd of men and women maltreated the body of a grey-haired old man and that a young women. Human entrails were floating down the river in front of the mission premises. Mutilated limbs, heads, and trunks of the bodies of human beings have been floating about, and scenes of disgust and horror have been presented to our view in every direction. How true it is that the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.

    November 1st, Friday. This morning a little after break of day I was surprised to hear voices of several persons who were talking very loudly near the front fence of the mission premises. On going out to ascertain the cause of the noise, I found a human head in our garden. This was the head of the old man whose body had been abused on the beach. The arm of the body had been broken by a bullet which passed through the bone near to the shoulder, and upper part of the skull had been knocked off with a club. The head had been thrown into our garden during the night, with the intention no doubt, of annoying us and shocking our feelings.

Reverend David Cargill

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The New Death and others: contents

This is the complete listing of what will be in The New Death and others. It's not necessarily in the right order. The stories with links have been published online. I have a series of poems that are based on fantasy stories in the public domain. The links for these are to the original stories.
The God of the Poor
How the Isle of Cats Got Its Name
The Enemy Within
Under the Pyramids (based on the story of the same name by H.P. Lovecraft)
The End
The Lamb's Speech
A Date with Destiny
Everlasting Fire
The New Death
The Prince of the Howling Forest
The Uncharted Isle
The Moon Sailed Sadly Through the Sky
The Scholar and the Moon
When Love Calls
Weary Love
Fame's Beloved
The Name of the Helper
The Warring Gods
The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune (based on the story of the same name by Robert E. Howard)
The Adventure of the Murdered Philanthropist
The Doom That Was Laid Upon Fame
May Every Woman
Death and the Merchant
Lost, Feral or Stray
The Apprenticeship
The Jeweled City
The Producer
Law and Justice
The Bird and the Two Trees
The Sailor
The Prince and the Sky-Maiden
The Face in the Hill
The Garden of Adompha (based on the story of the same name by Clark Ashton Smith)
The New Magazine
The Perfect Woman
If My Life Was Filmed
Legend: The Story of Kevin Marley
The Construction Workers of Telelee
The New God
That Which Unites Us
Two Brothers
The God of the City of Dust
The Dragon Festival
I Heard the Mermaids Singing
Singles Bar
The Auto-Pope
Diamanda and the Isle of Wives
The Death of the Artist
The Morning Post
My Cat Is Not Like Other Cats
The Handsome but Impossibly Demanding Prince
The Exchange
Charon  (based on the story of the same name by Lord Dunsany)
Mourning Has Broken
Sigrun and the Shepherd
Local News

Monday, September 26, 2011

The New Death and others: blurb

Death gets a roommate...

An electronic Pope faces a difficult theological question...

A wicked vizier makes a terrible bargain...

44 stories. 19 poems. No whiny vampires. There's a thin line between genius and insanity, and James Hutchings has just crossed it - but from which direction?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Flights of Fancy is now The New Death and others

Hey, you know how I said I'd changed the title of my ebook to Flights of Fancy? Three days is a long time in publishing...

Friday, September 23, 2011


In our world baboons have been known to kidnap the puppies of feral dogs, and to as it were domesticate them. The dogs are able to be trained to stand guard duty, and receive food for their service, like the dogs of humans.

In Teleleli troops of wild baboons live on the roofs and in the sewers, and have gone further than those of our world. As well as dogs, they have been known to kidnap children. Some of these children have become the leaders of baboon troops. The Telelelene scholar Snorri Troll-Tongue has even investigated the possibility that some baboons have a measure of human ancestry. At least he claimed that was what he was doing.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Once Upon a Time is now Flights of Fancy

After getting some feedback, I've decided to change the cover and title of my upcoming ebook. This is the new cover.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Poles

It seems likely that either the North or South Pole once held an entrance to the world where Teleleli lies.

My suspicions were first aroused by reading of the secret world or city of Agartha, which is said to reside at the Earth's core and be accessible by entrances in both poles. It is described by some sources as being a place of great wealth and knowledge. Others describe a complex of dismal caves inhabited by evil demons. This contradiction might be explained as originating with the accounts of two or more travelers who had made their way to different parts of the same world.

The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World, published in 1668 by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, describes a world, filled with talking animals, that is likewise entered via the North Pole.

It seems to me that some groups of the 19th and early 20th centuries, perhaps even in various governments, may have believed that this portal still existed. This could explain the otherwise disproportionate efforts expended in attempting to reach the North Pole. Indeed United States President John Quincy Adams gave his approval for an official expedition to the North Pole for the purpose of entering the supposed hollow Earth, but left office before it could be organised.
Perhaps when it was discovered that no portal existed at the North Pole, they concluded that it could be found at the South Pole, and put their efforts there only to be disappointed again. Of course this assumes that they were in fact disappointed. I note the desperate efforts of various governments, extending even to the present day, to extend their claims over Antarctica. Obviously there are more prosaic explanations for this phenomenon, for example that they are motivated by the large number of frozen cavemen there that could be thawed out to form an army.

Monday, September 19, 2011


These creatures have, thankfully, never been seen in Teleleli. They are only known there through descriptions given by refugees from Barsoom, who say that they came into conflict with them in the distant past.

The original appearance of the creatures is not known, although they may have resembled Barsoomians, or even been a branch of that species. The prevailing philosophy of their society seemed to be based on a belief that the mind was separate to the body, even to the brain, and a hatred of the body combined with an idealisation of the mind. Possessing advanced science, they were able to alter their bodies. Perhaps this led to a vicious cycle where they found themselves in bodies instinctively alien to them, which caused their hatred of the body to grow, and led in turn to more extreme modifications.

Whether this is the reason, it is undisputed that they altered their bodies more and more. At one period in Barsoomian history they are reported as having soft, oversized, but otherwise human- or Barsoomian-like heads, but lacking any other body. Instead, they grew headless bodies, on which they 'rode', controlling them by unknown means.

After many centuries their bodies were huge, and resembled machines more than biological creatures, having a metal-like skin and weapons of great power, including poisonous black smoke and a 'Tenth Ray', which is described as a special form of light which incinerated whatever it fell upon. They are said to have had many tentacles instead of arms and legs, and to have been able to travel land and sea with equal ease, though not to fly (the name Sky-Tyrants derives from the fact that they towered over the Barsoomians).

It strikes me as a peculiar coincidence that the loa of Haitian voodoo are said to 'ride' the worshippers whom they possess, and perhaps this provides some clue as to the Sky-Tyrants' eventual fate. It may be that they managed to become altogether incorporeal. In any case, after a destructive war they are heard of no more in the history of Barsoom.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Flying City of the Night

As the name would imply, this structure is a flying city. Its appearance is feared by many, since it appears only with the intention of destroying and looting. However it seems to choose its targets carefully, on political grounds. The inhabitants of the city appear to have similar views to the Conspiracy of Equals. When asked who led them, they are said to have replied "Prince Nobody" or "Captain No-one."

As well as flight, the city seems to be capable of submerging itself under the sea, which it does to avoid pursuit. At other times it has flown away over mountain ranges or forests, slowing down land-based pursuit. It does not appear to be able to fly as high as cloud level, or to remain in the air indefinitely.

It is often said that the City will free political prisoners, debtors or slaves, and that some have gone with the city when it escaped. This has led to speculation that the inhabitants of the city may no longer be its original builders. Thus it is not known whether the inhabitants understand how the city flies.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Teeth of Fairies

Unlike humans, fairies only ever grow a single set of teeth. They are also prone to losing them, especially from their habit of chewing on stones and wood. Having never taken to false teeth, they have developed the custom of taking the teeth from humans and carving fairy-sized teeth from them. They make a magic glue which adheres the teeth to their gums, called Pixie Stick..Generally they will pay for human teeth - sometimes quite generously, since they have little other use for money. However they have been known to steal them from sleeping humans.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bad Water

Bad Water is water that has been used by undertakers or priests to wash corpses. This is the first stage of most funerary rituals in Teleleli, and is especially necessary in embalming and mummification. Bad Water is widely held to be an ingredient in Paste of the Spirits.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Please Pirate My Work

My ebook collection of poems and stories, Once Upon A Time, is due to come out on the 28th (at least that's when rights to a couple of stories I sold will revert to me, and I can upload it to Amazon and Smashwords - it might take a couple more days for them to process it).

I'm going to release the text under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license. This means that anyone can legally use the text, including putting it on file-sharing / torrent sites.

I'm doing this partly because I'm against the way that copyright is being used to give private individuals indefinite control over material that would have gone into the public domain, without those individuals having to give anything back.

However, I also think it will actually help me. In my experience people who create things often worry that someone will steal their ideas. I've seen this for board games, fiction, and role-playing games. I've found that, far from people stealing your ideas, it's actually quite hard to get anyone to take any interest in them even when you're giving them away.

Science fiction author Andrew Burt wrote that when someone put one of his books on a file-sharing site, that book got a spike in sales. So we'll see whether it helps me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Neck-Weasels: A Warning

The traveler should bear in mind that criminals are rumoured to train small snakes and dress them in the skins of neck-weasels. When a victim has worn one for a few minutes the snake chokes its wearer in the manner of a boa constrictor, and the criminals rob the corpse.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Origin of Ghouls

It is believed that babies who are born dead must be either cremated, or buried face down with a sickle around their neck. If neither is done the creature will rise again and eventually grow into a ghoul. Ghouls themselves claim not to remember their own births, and so do not confirm or deny the belief.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


It is generally believed that if a pregnant woman goes outside during a total eclipse, and with no clouds to protect her from the 'black rays' of the sun, she runs the risk of her baby being born very frail and sickly, half-witted, mad, or more than one of these, and with an inborn magical talent.

Such children will excel in areas of magic which match their spirit. One who rains fire and death on their enemies will be quick to anger and blame. One who excels in illusions will be a font of false oaths and promises, and a leader-astray of the innocent. One who begets madness will themselves be mad. It may be that this could work the other way, with virtuous spells matching virtuous magicians: but such would be a rarity of rarities.

They are also said to excel in the learning of languages. They are sometimes said to be able to learn languages without even hearing or reading them. Though, alas, they have little of sense to say in any tongue.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dryads and Fauns

Fauns and dryads are members of the same forest-dwelling species. Fauns are the males and dryads the females. The species has no name, since humans have traditionally treated the two genders as separate, and they simply call themselves 'the People'.

Dryads are born in an acorn, from which they hatch to reveal a creature that looks like a human baby, only much smaller. Within a few weeks they are the same size as a human baby. Fauns are also born very small and rapidly grow to human size. At puberty fauns develop hairy legs and horns, and dryads the power to change into trees (although cutting the bark will bring forth blood, not sap).

Friday, September 9, 2011

19th Century Edition Wars

Eventually so many rules sprang up, as each regiment improvised their own variations, two versions came into use. One, known as "rigid Kriegspiel", was played by strict adherence to the lengthy rule book. The other, "free Kriegspiel", was governed by the decisions of human umpires. Each version had its advantages and disadvantages: rigid Kriegspiel contained rules covering most situations, and the rules were derived from historical battles where those same situations had occurred, making the simulation verifiable and rooted in observable data, which some later American models discarded. However, its prescriptive nature acted against any impulse of the participants towards free and creative thinking. Conversely, free Kriegspiel could encourage this type of thinking, as its rules were open to interpretation by umpires and could be adapted during operation. This very interpretation, though, tended to negate the verifiable nature of the simulation, as different umpires might well adjudge the same situation in different ways, especially where there was a lack of historical precedent. In addition, it allowed umpires to weight the outcome, consciously or otherwise.

From Wikipedia.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bonsai Dryads

Dryads hatch from acorns. Some wicked folk kidnap newborn dryads, and bind the acorn in such a way that the dryad hardly grows. This means that when they reach adulthood both their human and tree forms will be tiny (about the size of a human hand) and stunted. Such creatures cannot reproduce, since there is no way to create fauns of the same size.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


These long, furry creatures can be trained to hang limply around a person's neck. In Teleleli, carrying a neck-weasel in this way is considered most fashionable.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Drapetomania is a form of delerium suffered by the slaves of Karsh and its allied nations.

Its symptoms include irritability, aggression, and finally and most tellingly absconding from service.

Treatments include aversion therapy, and in severe cases amputation of the toes.

Monday, September 5, 2011


The haggis is a creature native to a windswept and dismal land far from Teleleli. It cannot be domesticated, but is often hunted for food.

The creature is oval-shaped, and about the size of a human head. It has four legs, which it is able to withdraw into its body when it grazes. Because of this, and because its face is not very obvious, it is difficult to tell which end of the haggis is which, or whether it is awake or sleeping. This makes it more difficult to sneak up on, and aids it in escaping.

The haggis' habitat is under threat from a similar introduced species, the naan.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My favourite description of a fantasy RPG world

My conception of the T&T [Tunnels & Trolls] world was based on The Lord of The Rings as it would have been done by Marvel Comics in 1974 with Conan, Elric, the Gray Mouser and a host of badguys thrown in.

Ken St. Andre.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Buffy universe officially has dungeons

A while ago I read the Buffy Season 8 series of comics. They weren't that great to be honest (the Angel ones were worse, even leaving aside that they effectively re-write the ending of the TV series). However, I found something interesting in the 5th comic in the series.

In this issue, one of the Slayers goes into a D&D-like underworld, which is filled with mutually hostile groups of monsters - fairies, slime monsters, some things that look like some kind of ogre/orc/troll type, and apparently a couple of others.


This underworld seems to literally be under the ground: she's shown climbing down, rather than having to go through a magic portal or anything like that.

The plot is that the ogre things are planning to invade the surface world, and if they do so will destroy the other species who live closer to the surface. Thus the Slayer has to convince everyone to make an alliance against the ogres. The whole setup seems very similar to various older D&D modules.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Transforming Into An Animal

It is well-known that transforming into an animal whose primary sense is smell can cause the sorcerer to become insane, and be unable to return to human form.

This is because animals who rely on smell 'see' in four dimensions. Such animals can sense what happened in the past - for example that a human passed here a day ago.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Soul Dolls

It is known that some evil sorcerers can take living souls and trap them within the bodies of dolls.

Abbe Nays writes that dolls which contain the souls of children will always look in the direction of the child's body.

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