Short Stories

The Ethnographer’s Gift

Described as odd but horrific, an alien ethnographer collects death moments for his study. One autumn morning he starts to show Chloe … Published in Breach #10

From The Ethnographer’s Gift:

“This is one of my favourites,” she was answered. “Did you see the look on the girls’ faces?”

“Yes, I did,” Chloe said coldly. She didn’t like what she watched. It worried and frightened her.

“Why are you showing me this?” Chloe asked. She was visibly upset by what she saw. She crossed her arms as if to give herself a reassuring hug.

But her companion went on, sounding more excited. “They really loved each other very much. They were just like any family. They just got lost in the heat and the boredom.”

“They’re really dead now?” Chloe asked.

See my interview with Breach magazine on their webpage:

https://www.breachzine.com/single-post/2019/03/18/Interview-with-Christopher-McMaster





Journey to the Stars

Included in the anthology: Kaituhi Rawhiti: A Celebration of East Coast Writers

E-book available HERE

A man’s dream of meeting the lights he has seen in the sky, of journeying with them, turns to nightmare when he finally gets what he wants…

From Journey to the Stars:

Tom chased aliens like others chased storms. He chased them for the same reasons too. He met a group once, or rather, their paths crossed. Wild eyes and messy hair, they were more excited the closer they got to their storm. They obviously lived for it. He wasn’t all that different from them. He was just as excited, just as wild eyed, just as crazed the closer he got.

There were lots of leads to pick up on. Short wave radio was his favourite. It was awash in theorists, or conspiracists, and chasers like himself. And it was immediate. There was no delay in uploading files, no hours wasted in trolling websites or following endless paths with keywords for breadcrumbs.

On that occasion he watched them peel away to intercept the storm. They didn’t understand why Tom didn’t follow as the storm tracked west, but he wasn’t interested in any terrestrial meteorological event. He was after what, or who, was hiding behind it. He knew something was there. Just like the storm chasers followed their leads, Tom followed his.

Tom prided himself in reading between the lines, in seeing relevant data in observations that the person on air didn’t even see. He was also adept at picking out the plants, the hoaxers, paid by the government or whoever, to redirect the gaze, to sew some confusion. There was that place in America, what they called ‘Area 51’, now there was a conspiracy, just not the one a lot of people believed. Classic redirection, simple, but effective. If you get people looking in one place, they aren’t looking where they should be.

e-book also available from: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kaituhi-rawhiti-tairawhiti-writers-hub/1137958057?ean=2940164563851

I was also an editor of this book, which is full of cool stories and poems (two of which are mine!) from writers with a connection to the East Coast. The renowned author Witi Ihimaera wrote the introduction. A big thank you to him and his very complimentary words.

    “It’s like hanging out with a group of Coasties enjoying a barbecue at the beach. We’ve just had a feed from the grill of sausages and kai moana, cooked to perfection by the four editors, Aaron Compton, Christopher McMaster, Gillian Moon and Claire Price, our glasses have been filled with either beer or wine (well, for the adults), and now it’s time to break out the guitar and sing some songs.

         These contributors each sing a mean waiata.

Witi Ihimaera (from the Introduction)



Coming soon:

Stepping Out: The Personal Log of Captain Elizabeth Sheridan

Soon to be published in the upcoming Revolutions anthology from Deadset press, Stepping Out is the prologue to my science fiction novel, MisStep, presented here as a stand alone short story.

About the anthology: Revolutions will be the third annual anthology by ASF. The group was formed to give Australian speculative writers a place to come to for advice, ideas, joint marketing, and so much more. Our first two anthologies—Beginnings and Journeys—were released November 2018 & November 2019, and Revolutions will continue this trend with a November 2020 release.

Stepping Out: After almost two decades of searching in vain for a planet ‘B’ to save a dying Earth, one by one the crew of the exploratory ship, Fortitude, take the decision to ‘step out’ on their return home, a form of suicide by stepping out the airlock into the vacuum of space. The personal log of the captain, referred to by some as a long suicide note, acts as a wake up call to Earth, a catalyst in the social revolution that future generations would remember as the Great Clean Up, the collective decision to save the only home humanity has.





But wait, there’s more! Join my email list and send me a message you want to read any of these before they’re submitted for publication:

Failure to Communicate

We can’t even communicate with dolphins, an intelligent mammal from our own planet. How on earth (or off it) could we talk to alien life? This short story explores what might happen when we try.

From Failure to Communicate:

The ship arrived on a Tuesday. Everybody would remember where they were, and what they were doing, the moment they looked up and saw it. First contact. We were no longer alone. It sat in a low orbit, silently circling our blue green planet. Its size made it visible to the naked eye, day and night. It seemed to come from nowhere, totally undetected, and it circled.  

Silently

Hours turned into days, days into weeks, fear and excitement warped into fear and confusion.  We all waited, watching as the huge silver disk slid over our homes. The welcome signs of the newagers began to fade. The doomsdayers grew bored in their bunkers. Militaries scrambled and then grew restless. The International Space Station readied to evacuate. And then just watched and waited.



Earth Story

With an asteroid hurtling towards their planet, a ship is sent to evacuate their colony … It wasn’t just the dinosaurs that suffered.

From Earth Story:

Tara gazed up at the rocket. Its smooth surface reflected the light of the moon, painting the hull with silver. She craned her neck to see the windows near the cone where the pilots sat and controlled the magnificent ship. It was magnificent, she decided, the most magnificent thing she had ever seen. The stairs leading inside were down, and the entry door open. She could have climbed up and went inside, but that could wait. She would enter soon enough.

“It’s not bad for shuttle,” a voice said.

She jumped, startled, and a little embarrassed by the squeal that she let escape.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” the voce said.

“You didn’t scare me,” Tara snapped.

She looked in the direction of the voice and saw one of the Homeworlders. He looked about her age, but as her eyes adjusted, she saw the cadet insignia on his shoulders, meaning he was perhaps a bit younger. Tara shook her head disapprovingly. They liked their costumes, these people. She recognized him from the reception. If she were honest with her emotions, she was awed by the crowd, overwhelmed even. She had never seen so many strangers before. Through great effort she managed to keep her mouth closed as she studied their uniforms, how they held their drinks and ate their food, and as the night progressed even how they danced. Only when one of them tried to entice her onto the floor did she find it all too much and flee to the comfort of the night outside.



The Locker Room

I spent a month working in the belly of a factory trawler, elbow deep in fish guts. I told the guys on my shift they were going to be characters in a story, a combat platoon on a space ship. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent, because, well, they aren’t.

From The Locker Room:

“Give me your data, Mohi. There’s nobody in the quadrant you could reach,” Tyler said.

“My mother’s on Luna,” Mohi said.

“Gimme your access code, man!” Tyler’s voice taking on a familiar shrillness. “You aren’t gonna face time her.”

“Nothing’s for free, soldier,” I tossed a ball in because it was entertaining.

“Fuck to do with you?” she shot back, the ball ricocheting against her wall. Tyler added a withering look to accompany it.

“Sell it if you aren’t using it, Mohi,” I threw the ball again, but not at her. She watched where it went. Mohi wavered between the two of us, stuck in one of those social interactions he had little skill with. He had to be on the spectrum or something. You could see the cogs in his head trying to work out if he was being fucked with, or if it was serious. He understood violence better. A gun only had two ends, which was simple enough for him.



Stay tuned…

An alien caught in the web of life, forgetting who he was (The Bardo) …

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