Terry’s December Watercolour Writing Newsletter

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7 Fantasy & Sci-Fi Novels that will make you rethink the Moon

Considering the moon moons us every night, I haven’t come across many cool moon concepts in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. But, here’s a list of some awesome writers who’ve completely re-thunk the moon and made it into a totally rad concept.

1. Roverandom -1925
J. R. R. Tolkien


Imagine all the creatures from LOTR compressed into one place – that’s what it’s like on Tolkien’s moon. There  are wizards, dragons, goblins… the whole lot!

The only thing missing is a hobbit main character. Instead, the main character is a dog… then a toy dog… then a toy-sized dog… yip yip!

Some weird wizard dude gets mad at Rover for biting him and turns him into a toy dog (justly so! Toys can’t bite). Another wizard strolls by and decides to turn the toy dog into a toy-sized dog (justly so! All toys want to become real).

Rover is unhappy with his toy-sized dog self, but needs the original wizard to change him back. Obviously riding a seagull to the moon is the best place to look, so that’s what Rover does. Unfortunately the wizard is actually from Persia, but you know, he might have been from the moon.

If you’re a Tolkien fan, you’ll enjoy finding quips of LOTR in this super short book that he crafted for his son after he lost his toy dog.

“Tolkien *can* write a story with a happy ending! It’s a very charming tale, closer in style to “The Hobbit” than LOTR, but lighter and full of colloquialisms and word plays (many of which were lost on me!) that are rare in his other books. As he never prepared it to be published, there are a few loose ends and anomalies, but they are easily overlooked.”
X (Goodreads)

2. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress -1966
Robert A. Heinlein

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Since nobody likes prisoners, it only makes sense that we ship them all to the moon. I’m thinking of putting forward a motion to rename the moon, Mooncatraz.

In 2075, Earth is all faminey, so the Earthlings force their Moonling captors to grow wheat in gigantic underground farms and ship it back to their planet. The Moonlings are all like, “Nay, we need to conserve what water we have to survive!” Then the main moon computer (whose name is Mike) goes “beep boop” and calculates that the prisoners will turn to cannibalism from resource depletion if they keep sending shipments to Earth. Luckily computers hate cannibalism and so Mike sides with the prisoners and starts a revolt against their Earthling captors.

I really can’t wait for this novel to become a film. I’ll get see the acronym TANSTAAFL plastered on movie posters everywhere!

“What I learned from this book:
1. History bends and melts over time.
2. The first AI we meet might not be intentional.
3. Throwing rocks can get serious over interplanetary distances.
4. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”
Dan (Goodreads)

3. Luna: New Moon -2015
Ian McDonald

New Moon (Luna, #1)

100 years into the future, humanity has colonized the moon. I can’t wait for this to happen, because I think a mooncation (moon vacation) would be super stellar!

Another cool thing in this novel is that everyone’s eyes are fitted with “chibs” (like Google Glass) that tell the user how much air/water/etc. they have left.

Imagine if we had this technology already? My screen would constantly say, “Less donuts. More kale.”

After reading this book, I started a money jar for myself with a label that says, Mooncation Fund. There’s also a tonne of crazy political drama (and a crazy amount of sex) in this book, so if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, definitely check it out.

“If you can imagine the Starks and Lannisters as two rival families with competing mining operations on the moon, I daresay the situation might look a lot like the plot of Luna: New Moon. I can’t remember the last time I read a sci-fi novel featuring a richer and more compelling premise.”
Mogsy (Bibliosanctum )

4. The First Men in the Moon -1901
H.G. Wells

The First Men in the Moon

Wells was my favourite author growing up. My brother would go to the public library every weekend and run for the Sci-Fi section to see if we could find any undiscovered Wells stories.

Perhaps this novel sparked my fascination with the moon. In Wells’ story, a scientist invents an anti-gravity material called, cavorite. Obviously the best use for such a thing is to make a little anti-gravity ship and go to the moon. And that’s exactly what another dude convinces the scientist to do.

Turns out there’s some crazy shit going down on the orbiting rock and the two are enslaved by some insect-dude farmers who were herding their cows (the cows are actually just big blobs of lard).

It’s a good thing we went to the moon already and discovered this was all false. Otherwise, I’d be having nightmares of lardcows and insect dudes every time I look up into the sky at night.

“Describe this book in a single word? Ridiculous. I have never read science fictions. I have read very few classics. And then I went and randomly picked up this classic sci-fi written in 1901. Well, I’m very glad I did so because The First Men In The Moon by Sir H.G Wells is as amazing as it is ridiculous.”
Veronica the Geek (Goodreads)

It’s also noteworthy to mention that there’s a film adaptation, First Men on the Moon (1964), which is worth a watch. It definitely gave me nightmares of gigantic caterpillars and weird crystal hive mind caves as a kid.

5. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter -10th Century

Not a novel, but I had to include it in this list. Besides being a moon fan, I’m also an ancient tale fan, so bonus points as this is the oldest surviving Japanese prose narrative.

In ancient Japan they didn’t know that moon babies are born inside of bamboo stalks so a bamboo cutter is surprised when he cuts one open and finds a tiny girl. Luckily we know better now.

The cutter then raises the girl as his own and she grows into the most beautiful thing ever because bamboo juice is great for the skin. Her beauty attracts all the men who want to do things to her that they can only do once they’re married. But, bamboo girl will have none of it. Only a moon husband will do.

I can’t say much more without giving too much away, but I definitely recommend checking it out. Plus, it’s the story of how Mount Fuji got its name.

All in all, whoever crafted this story was on some kind of crazy trip. Moon people born in bamboo stalks on earth? That’s a stretch!

This is a super great story!
-Unkown Japanese Person (10th Century Japan)

6. Mutineers’ Moon -1991
David Weber

Mutineers' Moon (Dahak, #1)

This book answers a lot of questions that science hasn’t yet figured out.

What is the moon? A gigantic sentient spaceship of course!

Where did humans come from? 50,000 years ago, there was a mutiny in the moon space ship and a bunch of humans were like, “We’re going to live on earth.”

Are evil aliens coming to destroy us all? Yes, and the only way to save humanity is by faking the death of an astronaut!

See? Everything makes sense now.

I always knew there was more to the moon than its boring orbit thing. I mean, it does cause nice eclipses every once in a while, but being a gigantic, ancient spaceship is way cooler.

Without getting into the complexity of this novel (there’s a lot of different conflicts to keep up on. It’s more of a military sci-fi thing), let me just say that this is possibly the coolest concept I’ve come across for the moon.

“One of my all-time favorite series. I’ve likely re-read this book (in the omnibus “Empire from the Ashes” edition) more than any other in my collection.”
Ross Wilson (Goodreads)

7. Gardens of the Moon -1999
Steven Erikson

Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)

There’s not as much moon in this novel (or the 10-part series) as there is a gigantic floating rock with an impenetrable fortress inside of it, called Moon Spawn (there are other floating fortresses too, but this one is the most badass).

I mean, the moon is basically a big floating rock anyway, so Moon Spawn fits the description perfectly.

If I were going to try to rule the world, this is exactly what I would build. What makes Moon Spawn more terrifying is that thousands of humongous ravens live on it. Have you ever been out for an early morning for a jog when you turn a corner and a dozen crows are silently staring at you from dead tree? Now imagine that X 3,000!

There’s an awesome battle in Gardens of the Moon against Moon Spawn. A bunch of mages are like, “We can overthrown this thing” and set it on fire. No big deal though, the fortress just floats away and continues to be totally awesome somewhere else (well, until it crashes into the sea and becomes a bunch of treasure-filled islands, which is also pretty rad).

Here’s a sweetass depiction of the battle. Notice the hoards of ravens?

(I tried to find the source of this image, but couldn’t. If you know it, please tell me!)

This is a series to get into if you like super high fantasy. The world building is completely next level (especially because the series is 10 books long). There’s even a whole 3,000+ page wiki dedicated to Erikson’s series.

“There’s a loooot of (incredible) characters, places, concepts, gods, demons – and what little exposition there is usually comes after the fact, but I’ve never been in a more vividly realised / immersive fantasy world.”
Sam Ashurst (Goodreads)

Special Mention:

In Cloud Atlas (2004, David Mitchell) advertisements are beamed onto the moon from a dystopian Korea.

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Six Amazingly Bizarre Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels You’ve Never Heard Of

You’re proud of reading strange fiction.

When someone says, “I read this really weird book…” you immediately tune them out, because they’re peasants compared to what you’ve read.


I bet your feet aren’t even wet in bizarre. If they were, you’d have already read everything on this list of godawful reviews of some of the godawfullestly bizarre books you can find.

6. Shadow and Claw
Gene Wolfe

Shadow & Claw (The Book of the New Sun #1-2)

The worst part about this novel is that it’s hard to follow along. The best part is that when you do, you’re thrown into an insanely fantastical world that’s constantly trying to kill you and for some reason, you just can’t leave.

The main dude grows up in a Torturer’s guild, where all he does all day long is learn better ways to torture people. Sadly, he falls in love with one of his torturees and helps her commit suicide (a no no, to other Torturers).

Now on the run from the Torturer’s guild, main dude starts to explore the world, and honestly, he should have stayed in his deep, damp, torturous dungeons, because the world is WAY worse.

Imagine you’re a cute, little, peaceful peasant.

“La la la, I’m going to walk to the next village to go to grandma’s!” you say and leave the gates of your village (by the way, the gates of your village are ten miles thick to keep all the baddies out)

Not two moments have passed and your carcass has been ripped to shreds by gigantic beastly monsters! Your soul ripped to shreds by strange flying cloths (yeah, flying, soul sucking cloths)! Your dignity ripped to shreds by your avenging family who eats your corpse as part of a strange ritual where they consume your memories. Worst of all, your ears are ripped to shreds because there are some bards engaging in an outdoor spectacle of song and dance watching this all happen, while a bomb goes off and destroys everything.

To add onto absurdity, there’s actually A LITERAL PLAY written write into the book! Like, story stops, play starts. And they have nothing to do with each other. It’s just whack.

And once you’re back in the story, you can’t even safely stay there for long, because at random points you’re transported to modern day earth, where you hang out with some missionaries missionarying to some Amazonial people.

This book is just all over the place, but in a strangely acceptable way that makes you want to engage in hours of research after you finish the novel just to figure out what it’s about.

5. Iris
William Barton and Michael Capobianco

Iris is about a group of astronauts who are all sexually interested in one another (so many love triangles, it turns into a love hexagon). Of course the best place to send a sex-crazed orgy is to investigate a disant moon, because that’s what super advanced civilization do. Screw scientists and screening tests.

The crazy sexagon (sex hexagon) manages to stop having sex long enough to actually do their exploration duty and check out the planet they were sent to investigate. Needless to say, some of the crew stays behind so they can have more sex. I’M NOT EVEN JOKING!

The crew quickly discover an ancient alien “ark” ship on the moon that they suspect was carrying some ancient alien animals after some ancient alien planet died. They accidentally turn on the ship (in more than a sexual way) and it imparts its memories into their sexy bods.

Actually, it turns out the vessel is still alive, after being abandoned on the moon for aeons. What’s more is that it douses the crew in its deliciously oozy oil, which is actually some strange form of communication. Things get even stranger when it turns out the ship wants to get in on all their sexy times, and we spend a good deal learning about robot ship sex (which doesn’t really make sense, because robots can’t reproduce, but the authors make it make sense).

It’s a tough read for sure, so be ready for a challenge! Just make sure to wear some gloves when you pick up this read, because things are going to get oozy and sticky real fast.

4. The Gameplayers of Zan
M.A. Foster
The Gameplayers of Zan (Ler, #2)

This novel is on a whole other level. Imagine taking George R. R. Martin and J. R. Tolkien and putting all their world-building energy into creating the daily nuances of a subculture of futuristic humans.

The novel is about the Ler, a race of genetically superior humans. They were created by humans, but they turned TOO different than expected. Plain old humans don’t like them, so they’re all pushed into a little forest community, where tourists go to watch their daily activities, and the government watches closely for fear that they’re plotting something.

These super humans who live in braids (makes sense once you read it), have INSANELY complex daily rituals and ways of interacting with each other. I’m talking like 100 pages purely describing how a certain connotation of a word effects the social interactions of different braids. It’s just INSANE how much detail goes into creating Ler culture. After finishing this book, you can apply for expedited advanced anthropology degree from Harvard University.

And of course, it turns out the Ler HAVE BEEN PLOTTING SOMETHING. Something huge, and they’ve been doing it undetected for hundreds of years through an ancient tradition of playing a game which is part of their INSANELY COMPLEX culture.

On top of this, you learn all about the complete mindfucks of the Lers’s capabilities. By will they can transport their minds into basically another dimension, or just decide to erase all their own memories and start over as a baby in the body of an adult (this happens by the way). Being a baby adult is just the most inconvenient thing ever, so don’t try it.

All in all, the Gameplayers of Zan is on an entirely different level than any other book you could ever read.

3. Diaspora
Greg Egan

Where do I even start with this one.

In the FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR future, nearly everybody lives in an internet-type virtual world. Information is freely and instantly available, so people find entertainment in jumping copies of their consciousness to other parts of the galaxy to watch stars explode from different satellites.

Out of the far reaches of the internet, sometimes artificial intelligences accidentally get born and the main character is one. She… he… whatever it is, has to learn the culture of this crazy future and try to fit in.

Oh, by the way, Earth is still around, and ancient humans still live on it, but they’ve put an embargo on their internet-galaxy-travelling brothers and sisters from coming to Earth, BECAUSE THEY HATE THEM. Unlucky for them is that the internet humans discover a supernova that will destroy Earth’s atmosphere, so now the internet humans are all like “duh, how do we tell dumb Earthlings they’ll die if they don’t want to communicate with them?”

Obviously the answer is to send the newly born AI’s mind into the wiring on an earth robot so it can try to warn the Earthlings.

Hardly any Earthlings believe the internet-human-AI-robot hybrid, which is unfortunate because they all die. All except one other Earthling who falls in love with the AI, who then transfers her consciousness to the internet.

Let me just say that THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING of the story. There’s a crazy amount of stuff that happens, that I can’t even begin to do justice to. For instance, at one point, the internet humans build a gigantic, bazillitrillion mile long hyper jump space travel device, and then find YET ANOTHER race of even more super-internet-human-robot hybrids (who hate internet-humans by the way, seriously, what gives?). And the ending of the novel is even more bizarre as our AI hero decides to go on a trek across the universe and find an ancient race of super-internet-human-robot-crabpeople-buddhistmonk-robot-internet hybrids. Everything in this novel is just plain whack.

Also, parts of this novel are HARDCORE SCIENCE FICTION, like solving mathematical problems science fiction, so be ready to dive super deep into quantum mechanics, because the author has a B.Sc.

Read it, you will definitely have a lot to think about by the end.

2. Stone
Adam Roberts


I can’t think of a more bizarre novel that could ever exist.

Taking place in the future, humanity has become perfect, yay! Turns out we solved all disease and death with little nanobots that live inside our bloodstream and repair everything. You can even communicate to these nanobots using your thoughts to tell them things like, “grow me wings so I can fly!” or “give me gigantic nostrils, so someone can stick their penis up them so I can have nose sex!” This…actually…happens… So much so, that nose sex becomes a fad ON AN ENTIRE PLANET, and people visit that planet and grow their noses just to have nose sex. Think about that for a moment. Nose sex, people. Nose. Sex.

So, the story begins with the only known criminal in the known universe. Since humanity is perfect and everyone has everything they could ever want, no one has any sort of motivation to do any harm to anyone else. Except our hero. He killed someone, and he quickly becomes famous throughout the universe as the only criminal ever.

Since “police” and “jails” are mere abstract concepts from a very distant past, humanity doesn’t really know what to do with him, so they do the best thing they can think of.

They “execute” him by taking out dude’s nanobots so he’ll die of natural causes (the lamest execution possible). Oh, but they also exhile him.

How? Well, they put him inside a plastic chamber…inside a meteor…inside a sun…inside a distant galaxy. He’s nothing to worry about now, right? WRONG! Dude escapes from his sun-Alcatraz prison by wrapping his body in foam and shooting it really really really really fast through the meteor. YES THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS. He escapes with foam. Don’t even ask. I don’t even know.

So now we have dude who’s wrapped in foam, just floating through space with killing on his mind. I wish I could tell you all about his crazy killing adventures through the galaxies, but let me just say, he does a lot of killing. Like billions of people killing.

The most memorable scene in the book (other than nose sex), is dude dismembering a body, only to be super annoyed that the dismembered parts of the body keep crawling back together. The nanobots inside just won’t let the dude die, so he eventually has to bury all the separate parts so the dude CAN’T crawl back together.

I don’t even want to talk about the rest, because even recalling parts of this book troubles me.

Just read it… you will not be disappointed. You will be disturbed, but not disappointed.

1. Beyond Redemption
Michael R. Fletcher

Beyond Redemption

Imagine a world where your beliefs become reality. Believe strongly enough over time that you’re a fish and you eventually become one. Believe you’re a fish TOO MUCH and your own fish insanity kills you.

Now imagine you aren’t a fish, but other people believe you’re a fish… yup, you still end up a fish, because belief defies reality.

This is Beyond Redemption… without the fish.

All the characters in this book ARE EXTREMELY INTERESTING. There’s a kleptomaniac who can steal anything without getting caught, because that’s what she is. There’s a swordsmen who makes other people believe he’s the best swordsman in the world, so he’s easily able to defeat anyone.

There’s also this grotesque, stout, bald woman who can manipulate fire, a priest who’s personality is literally splitting, a dude who literally turns into a handful of scorpions, and a scientist who’s really good at science, because he loves science.

The best character is probably a slaver. A dude who’s 1,000 pounds and CRAVES love and acceptance so hard that other people are forced to love him no matter what. To reinforce his beliefs, he lives off a steady diet of those who love him, cooking them into a stew. It’s just so messed up, it’s hard to take your eyes off the pages of this novel. An hour will flash by like a minute you’ll be so engaged.

The actual story revolves around an insane priest who’s trying to get a whole city to believe in a young boy god he’s imagined up. The whole city believes so hard that the god actually becomes real. He then manipulates this young boy god so that he’s the god of a god and can use the god to do anything he wishes, which obviously is world domination.

Meanwhile, a troop of lowlife crazies determines that they’re going to steal the god, because of money.

Needless to say, madness ensues and there’s a ridiculously climactic scene (probably my favourite of any novel) where all these crazies are in one place throwing their powers to shit. Not to mention, every time you put this novel down, you’ll feel the need to take a shower, as the setting is so utterly grimy and glorifyingly putrid.

But, this novel is every sort of amazing in its themes, and concepts, and characters, plus there’s the fact that everyone’s got a random German name.

This is definitely the most bizarre novel you will ever read.

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Flash Fiction: Beverly Draws on Deck

Beverly Draws on Deck

A drop of sweat from my brow landed in my glass and I put my pen down. The ink was melting down the page, ruining the bird I had drawn. With a sigh, I skimmed through all my drawings from the trip so far – a smoking man, two dancing octopi, a smashed guitar.

A waitress appeared and offered me another drink.

“Away,” I shooed, still a bit annoyed that my art would never be recovered now.

She scuttled off like a little hermit crab in her high heels and short skirt and picked at the back of her blouse. It was completely soaked.

The alarm finally went off and I looked around the room. The tables were red, the walls and floor were red, the musicians were red. I looked to my husband as a single tear trailed down his cheek before evaporating in a puff of steam. Even that was red too. The giant warning light on the ceiling made everything red. It really wasn’t needed at this point.

“Excuse me, darling,” I said, dabbing my brow with a hanky. “This colour really isn’t doing anything for me. I’m going on deck for inspiration.”

“Indeed, Bev,” he huffed, a dry cough in his voice. Neither of us acknowledged the impending doom.

I passed some friends we had made earlier in our trip. We exchanged pleasantries with sad eyes and I wished them well (what foolishness). The viewing deck was bare and the heat glared in through the glass making it unbearably hot. I checked my pocked barometer.

130 degrees

131 degrees

132 degrees

The temperature climbed dangerously as we spun out of control. In one direction the sun ever growing larger. In the other, clouds of smoke streamed out into space. We had hit an icesteroid while on our leisurely cruise to Mars.

“Impenetrable,” the newspaper had advertised. “Climb aboard the luxurious Titanic 3000 for a trip of a lifetime!”

Oh the irony.

I took out my pen and paper and drew the sun, my last piece of art.

Flash Fiction: Doron and Erin Get Lost

Doron and Erin Get Lost

Waking up is never easy. It’s sluggish and you feel very old.

“Something isn’t right! Doron, come quick!”

Her voice was shrill. I yawned and wiped my eyes.

“No no no! ” she yelled. I carefully stepped out of the cyrosleep chamber and grabbed a towel.

“Quit worrying, Erin,” I called as I wiped slime from my body. “Did you turn the ship around?”

I chuckled to myself. Last time we visited my parents in Sector 6, she freaked out thinking we were lost. Turned out we had arrived facing the other way, their planet was just behind us.

“Yes! I’m serious! Come here!”

I sighed and grabbed my housecoat. She was in the control deck, frantically scrolling through the ship’s readouts.

“Calm down, let’s see.”

“We’re not in Sector 6 at all! Look!”

According to the readout, we were 12 light years from my parent’s.

“How the heck?” I scanned through the inputs and quickly realised she had entered the wrong coordinates. One degree off for thirty years in cyrosleep meant we were twelve light years away.

“We’re going to miss your dad’s 150th!”

“That’s it, Erin,” I said. “This is the last time I let you drive.”

Flash Fiction: Invasion


Still no attempts. 30 seconds till deadline.

“At the ready!”

I thought of my mother. She gave me courage all these years since I quit medical school. On my command, 40 billion tonnes of tetrafluoromethane would be released.

We established contact with Inanna three years ago, but all negotiation attempts were futile. They remained hostile, shooting down all our probes.

15 seconds.

I remembered the films I watched as a boy— aliens invading in tiny saucers— laughable now. Dumping greenhouse gases into a planet’s atmosphere was much more efficient. All life would be annihilated within a decade. They weren’t at a technological age to negate the effects, only Earth Equivalent 1940s. We had to establish peace or nip them now. They had just begun experimenting with nuclear fission.

5 seconds.

After med school, I quickly ascended the ranks, my mother’s support my anchor. Now the fate of billions rested on me. I had gone from saving lives to taking them. My heart raced.

0 seconds.

Why didn’t they respond? I imagine they’ve created their own films of alien invasions and in the end they win. They have no idea.

I sent a prayer to my mother.

“Fire at will!”