Spawn of Mars
Blog of Fictioneer David Skinner
Drifting in My Lane
Years of Inconsistent Fiction
As a preface to this listing of my works, I want to say that if you came to me by any one of them, you would likely be jarred by many of the others, as I am not entirely consistent in my tone and genre. Oh, my stuff is usually fantastic, weird, magically real, or scientifictional; but I am somewhat rude to my readers in that I don't stick to their expectations. This is not a virtue, I earnestly admit. But there it is.

P.S. What follows is my oeuvre. It excludes unworthy and unfinished works.
The Giant's Walk
A Novel About Providence and Faith
In 1858, young priest Zebediah Goodnow and the orphaned Joanna pursue a murderous Giant and soon find themselves among the Martians. In 1957, astronaut Scott Winslow Hale takes his sick wife Helen to the shrine of the beatified Zebediah and, soon after, clashes with a stranger named Eddie. In a tangle of Providential events, perseverance and peace are drawn from the toil of Faith. 
Canto 1

Hale and well-tempered was Scott Winslow Hale. His body was military grade, and unscarred; his intensity in combat had been not an intemperate fury but an unflappable precision, and those frenetic months against China — as part of the 16th Fighter Squadron, 51st Interceptor Wing — had never made him a daredevil. Fit and level-headed, he was one of a hundred equivalent men chosen for the Astronaut Corps. His exemplary progress as an astronaut had pleased his superiors at NASA, so much so that he was chosen for the Virgo Project itself and would, in 1960, so long as President Dewey's "frivolous ambitions" were not killed by Congress, be among the first to walk on the Moon. To the consuming public, NASA had naturally emphasized Scott's apollonian worth. NASA had also naturally emphasized his delightful wife Helen. Only lately had things become awkward, as Helen's deterioration diverged her from the Hale perfection.

Her sickness had been patient: her symptoms smattered, each alone so seemingly petty; but after a time she was clearly amiss. And despite her being not even thirty years old, there was no mistaking it: paralysis agitans. The Shaking Palsy. She trembled. She stiffened. Her voice flattened. She couldn't summon a gesture. She couldn't remind herself to blink. Her presence flaked away and dementia was stirring. The pallidotomy, the opening up of her skull, the cutting of her brain, had failed. Oh, from the start she and her husband had prayed. They had recited every little prayer, every little novena, every little litany of hope. They had been stalwart; even then they were not hopeless. But they were afraid. They didn't want to part now, even if Heaven awaited both. Before the thoughts and words could never again be formed, Helen asked Scott to take her to Blessed Zebediah's shrine.

However much a Catholic child might be encouraged to admire St. This-or-That, This-or-That's tale could not compete with Bl. Zebediah's. To be sure, the densely sober minds of the Church bristled at the utter outrageousness of Joanna Hutchinson's memoir. Giant! Martians! Holes between worlds! Yet the piety and orthodoxy of Joanna could not be gainsaid; and she was hardly the only earthly witness to the Giant, nor to the Prince of Mars. What's more, Zebediah's heroism on behalf of the Blessed Sacrament was a magnificent lesson. And, well, if all of it came mixed with a trek through the Solar System, so be it. Anyhow, there was no fighting the popularity of Zebediah, especially once the healings at the Hole began. By 1944, the Church had enough evidence — and finally the inclination — to beatify Zebediah. Only one more miracle, directly and clearly attributable to Zebediah's intercession, remained for his canonization.

And like many Catholic children, Helen had enjoyed the colorful little books about Zebediah. When she learned more about him — the things deep in Joanna's memoir; the richness aside the storybooks — she became all the more fond of him. Zebediah's shrine may have been the only shrine in the United States, the nearest place of healing, the most reasonable place for her to go; but she would have chosen it in any event, as it was his shrine. Scott favored it as well. He had his own affection for Zebediah (indeed, this affection had been one of the happy, small things that had drawn Helen and him together). Still, he had to thank God that the shrine was just twelve hours north of Houston. NASA had been against their going at all, fearing the publicity that would attach to the Credulous Astronaut, His Dying Wife, and the Outer-Space Saint-to-Be; but an anonymous jaunt to Kansas, the briefest absence from the Virgo Project, would surely go unnoticed; and in the end, even the jittery bureaucrats were moved by Scott's determination to aid his pathetic wife. They let him go. And only now, on the road, away from his training, from the simple distraction of preparing for the Moon, did his determination waver and the certainty of Helen's death overwhelm him. Rationally he could hope for God's attention; but this trawling for a miracle seemed so merely desperate. Scott Winslow Hale was unfamiliar with desperation. It had begun to unnerve him.

It had even begun to fracture him. Later that night they stopped at a motel. As Helen slept, Scott was restless. Suddenly, against the darkness, he saw himself in a terrible vision, trapped on the Moon and arguing about something with Zebediah; while, beside the two of them, Judas laughed.

Trade Paper

Stellar Stories, Vol.1
Science Fiction & Wonder
Eight stories of rockets and robots, monsters and Martians, fistfights and beauties, wonders and awe... 
The Fourth Gift

A brotherhood outside of time seeks to mend a Solar System devastated by lunatic machines — until their mending is disrupted by a mysterious ring around the moon!

Whether or not the Mender had rebuilt his Luna, the ring was there. Even if the Mender had supplanted Luna with some ambitious structure – some divergence from the dull old Moon – the ring was there, whirring within. The ring, that is, was disregarding actual conditions of local matter and gravity, and was relentlessly orbiting some ideal of Luna.
Banana Man

An old man escapes his aimless life by claiming an asteroid and growing the most perfect bananas upon it!

The gatekeeper directed Nesden to push the crate into the bioscanner bay. Nesden did so. The bioscanner lit the crate and stared inside with a multitude of imaging radiations. The gatekeeper reviewed the pictures and data on his terminal. For a moment he was other than a minion of the Ceres Port Authority and said, marveling, “Those are nice looking bananas.”
The Girl With the Nuclear Bomb

A girl who is not a girl awaits judgment against a city — and a stranger knows what she carries!

She sent the spiders, six of them, no bigger than spiders and looking exactly like spiders, even if stepped upon they would seem like spiders, smearing like spiders, hair-thin legs in spider-smear; but they made no webs and sought no flies and busied themselves with only whatever she desired.
The King's Portion

A king on the run is accosted by a voracious entity!

The King, wide-eyed, stepped back. As did Faren. The blood of the body was blackened. The roots faded. The leaves parted. The body was lifted, and trembled. Its armor fell, every strap suddenly decayed. Its tunic dusted away. It hovered naked, black blood traversing its chest.
Some Things Missing From Her Profile

His blind date has been kidnapped by Martians. He has no idea why. But he isn't about to let them keep her!

Becker had no plan to kill anyone. He intended, if possible, to spirit Lovely away. But he expected resistance. And even if, for now, the Gneiss in his grip was manifested as a dart-taser, he had it configured for instant reversion to its lethal default.
Due a Hanging

She might be on the yacht in the Martian Canal.
And he isn't the only one looking for her!

His cheeks were scarred terribly, as if by swinging knives, and his skin was rough, a sickly tan. He was lanky, nearly as tall as Becker. His arms hung at his sides. Only his hands were ill at ease, the fingers slowly bending and wrapping each other. They appeared to have been broken in the past.
Ambit of Charon

Men from a Plutonian research base confront
metaphysical chaos on Charon!

Porter now clamped and checked all the seals on his helmet. He checked the status of his suit systems. At the tool locker he prudently grabbed a heavy wrench. He swung it once to assess its potential to break bones.
The Spare Midge

Two runaway sisters — their minds interlaced — resolve to rescue the implanted helper-sentience of a deceased warrior!

Within the Sling, as Midge and I settled into the baubleship and waited for the snap, I stared out at the sparkling tension of the aether and realized it was beautiful. I actually thought: It's beautiful. And I felt something then that Midge did not. She longed to escape, to get away, far away — and by the lace this filled me, too; but on my own, to my own surprise, I felt also the promise of a far place.

Trade Paper

Stellar Stories, Vol.2
Science Fiction & Wonder
Nine stories of rockets and robots, monsters and Martians, fistfights and beauties, wonders and awe... 
An Uncommon Day at the Lake

A selfish diversion to the Martian desert attracts outlaw trouble – and ends with a revelation in the hills!

“You,” snarled Lovely, “tried to kill my man.” She buried a bullet in the upholstery. Pug-face yelped. “But,” she said tightly, “I do have a question.” She aimed at his leg. “Where is that chest?”
Mae Walks

Everyone has a bopper but she never seems to bop!

Of course she can only get into places with doors, but most places still have doors, you know. I’m sure you don’t use them any more than I do but next time you bop somewhere, look around. There’s more doors than you’d think.
Tainted by Grace

A has-been assassin is forced to babysit a deadly demongirl!

He raised his head to watch the client's window, seven stories up. The client's lamp was on. Above the eaves, Gideon saw the moon. Within a few seconds Grace had clawed up the side of the building, not as a young woman but as herself...
The Courtship of Jay and Elusivebeth

A young man sets his heart on the intimate companion of the artificial Man in the Moon!

But anyhow, cause of what the Man in the Moon did to cyberspace, eating it up and all, Old Jacks just really hate him and so they hate jammies and since Ellucy is a jammie any Old Jack, even Case, would have to call her Monster. But Ellie my heart is no monster: she's lovely, you know, and the Jacks got no right. Ellie may be nonhuman but she's soft: she's got a girl's body — her body, mine too, now, my wife: Nothing monsterish about my Elusivebeth.
Dead Neighbor

He's certain his neighbor is dead –
and he's got the invention to prove it!

The glow of the device’s readout limned his face in the darkness. He narrowed the device’s temporal range to twenty four hours. Then he walked forward with slow sweeps left and right.
O Po Teef

An essayist ponders an abnormal disproof of
the Reimann Hypothesis!

We all know it, no matter how removed we are from academia. The media, given to ridiculous hoaxes and hysterical gaslighting, and being thoroughly innumerate, amathematical, and generally mid-witted, was well-disposed to spreading the outrageous tale of the Magical Math Proof.
The Escalating Wish

A sea-dwelling traveler from the stars must
grant a wish to a fisherman!

“Oh, Mr. Flounder,” wailed the Hunter, “I told her! Be contented, I says. I begs her, I did,” as plaintively he cried to his pet, “I did, didn’t I, Old Bear,” who panted in confirmation. “But does she ever listen?”
Poof Poof Ya Does Me a Favor

A girl who communes with the planet Pluto hires a boy who
can spray-paint with his mind!

Pluto’s slow, large voice has always been at the back of my mind. I can spend hours doing this or that, waiting for him to finish speaking. He’s as natural to me as my heartbeat. Only when I was four or so did I realize how abnormal it actually was, when I recognized how much it bewildered and worried my parents and I learned not to mention my friend the planet Pluto.
The Impossible Footprint

The Daredevil of Jopitar plans an impossible act and
seeks the aid of a girl who cannot burn!

For the limousine was an ashman’s cart beside that glorious projectile of Heaven; and just as I had expected, the awe of our three neophytes swelled once, twice, thrice and again, as, in the expansive courtyard of the Castle, they beheld the silver-sheened Victuri on the landing pad, and rose in the tower beside it, and crossed the gangplank toward it, and entered its oval hatch.

Trade Paper

Stellar Stories, Vol.3
Science Fiction & Wonder
Eight stories of rockets and robots, monsters and Martians, fistfights and beauties, wonders and awe... 
The Unshrouded Stars

An astronaut and a lamia make a deal:
She'll stop eating children if he takes her to outer space!

She surfaced from the crowd and headed into the Station. Hatcher stifled a cry to call her back, too aware of all the ears around him. When she disappeared into an adjacent module his heart sank and his guilt rose, as if he had loosed something terrible into the house of his fellows.
Motive of Man

Hak Iri and his friends are drafted by an aethir pirate for a rescue mission to chaotic Ooranos!

Despite Lan Apo’s assurance of the Markhurian’s good intentions “in this instance,” we were, after all, bound for a galleon of pirates – and lo those pirates had likely been neutered by some cruel transformation, yet what malicious force had done the transforming?
Wayward Scarecrow

Terrans and Martians clash over a runaway robot!

An expression clamped Virgil’s face, one of adamant seriousness. “Help is for people back on Earth. Waitin’ around for help. Lettin’ their selves be helped. Doin’ nothin’ without help. There’s things out here,” he jerked his head at the unseen Martians, “that’d love me and you to wait for help.”
Lament for a Sister

On a mission to expand the Quilt of Humynkind, a Radiotech learns his mother has petitioned for his annulment!

So I left the knot and am down here. The knotters, since news of my mother’s petition, were uncommuning me anyhow. Rees even said that he’d like to be my Annuller, as the Law would allow him to be, if he needed to be, since our knot is skeins away from humynkind – out of the Quilt – and Rees, as the knot’s Reminder, is our only local official.
The Baron of Nevada & His Branded Broads

Loot is loot, occult or not, and he needs the money. But stealing from the Baron means dealing with his Broads!

The humidity deepened her scent. She kept tugging me from my tightrope. Where is the illcrux, Mildred? That’s all I wanted to ask. I could ask it, she could answer, and we could get on with the tumble.
End of the Sigh

A starship flounders when a man extracts his incriminated hero from virtual storage!

I still have to get him whole again. Wish I could, but the noomer and the Jars are just not dancing. Gasping a necroslur in sigh has never been done before but, hell, I figured I could do it and, hell, I did do it, it was my hack that got Timon out of the slurry and into the ship – but of course I baked the noomer pretty bad.
His Own Ends

He won't let the Martians keep his patrimony!

Five generations of Becker men had possessed the peculiar weapon. In all the System were only a few thousand of the metamorphic pistols; in all the Cosmos was only one that mattered to Becker. His son, when a son came, would carry that Gneiss, too.
A Devil's Intuition

He's not a thief. But someone on Mars has decided he is!

He sharply turned right to see if the man followed. The man did. Worse, Becker saw another man, who had been coming up from behind. The two men were large and fit and misplaced in their suits, as if they’d be happier in loincloths and out slugging rhinos.

Currently available through Kickstarter.

Sideways of the Earth
Stories About Pugnacious Footefake
Pugnacious Footefake — bachelor, volunteer fireman, and seller of shoes — is beset by the unearthly and the magical.

One night the moon falls into his yard. Then he meets a frenetic mousefox while taking the census. Two children try to sell him a cup of gravity. An event with a fax machine prompts him to arrange a marriage. He finds himself on a snowy world, with a Princess trapped in ice. He receives an unusual package that keeps changing its mind. A roach starts a conversation with him.

And on a summer evening in a forested park, he is kidnapped by a pitiable nymph, who wants to grant him three wishes. 
Blue Moon

Pugnacious was awakened not by the rumble of the nearing moon but by a tapping at his window. Sleepily he looked to the glass and saw behind it an anxious star.
Easily a Hundred

He told the Census Bureau that he would count the people. The Bureau told him that wasn't necessary. He said it was. The Bureau said it wasn't. I'm volunteering! said Pugnacious. We don't need you, answered the Bureau.
Neighborhood Commerce

The children, a boy and a girl, were manning what appeared to be a Lemonade Stand. Except that there wasn't any lemonade in the pitcher. There was — well, as a matter of fact, Pugnacious would have thought the pitcher empty, except that it didn't seem empty. Then again, it didn't seem full, either. And it was clearly swelling inward — if a thing can indeed swell inward.
The Fax & Francine

Francine, who was taller than her mother, moved a bit behind her, as though to hide herself. She kept pushing her glasses back up on her nose. Meanwhile her mother inflated herself, again inhaling the lovely day, and then sighed for a very long time.
The Woeful Princess

Pugnacious knew he was not in his town of Flattened Hills anymore because there were no streets, no curbs, no sidewalks, no cars, no shops, no signs, nor any traffic lights. No pedestrians either. There was snow, however, crusted by ice, more furiously white than the sun above.
The Capricious Package

It was bound in twine and heavy for its size. It had no markings from the post office nor from any delivery service, but in a luminescent cursive it was addressed to The House of Liggip ap Num.
Making Pranks With Roaches

A prankster was calling the Thornberry home, often as late as midnight, and asking for Pugnacious. As soon as Pugnacious was on the line, the prankster simply chortled and hung up.
The Essential Wishes of Pugnacious Footefake

Pugnacious checked his watch. He could tell already that the nymph was going to delay him for a while. He hoped that Lily and Edie were not too near the end of their circuit. He should have ten minutes or so. He could only hope the nymph would be expeditious.

Pocket Book

The Chicken Bone
For Aficionados of Clashing Tones & Genres
In this collection’s title story, a man finds himself married to a former porn star, a woman he has adored for years. Their marriage, by her decree, is chaste; and while this doesn’t really bother him it does create a certain turmoil — especially when he has an ominous dream.

Meanwhile, a baby is found and no one remembers being the mother; a woman considers an invitation to adultery; a passionless girl lives in a land where the heads of some people hover; the world is being reshaped by a friend's fanciful maps; a young wife is presented to a man who has been strangely amputated; and a critic reviews an atypically transgressive play. 
A Confusion of Moms

Well, Betsy, about the only thing we've decided for sure, though we really don't know for sure, but we've decided to agree that the baby isn't Mom's, since Mom is way past that age anyhow. This made Mom, like, gleeful. "I'm a grandma, I'm a grandma," she said over and over, though I can't say if she was glad she was a grandma or glad she wasn't a mom again.
The Full Chorus Sings of Dorothy
Fitzgerald's Many Virtues

He's forgotten who I am. Other women may fall easily but I cannot. Yes, he and I are older now. We each have traveled long enough to meet each other again. He supposes, therefore, that I have changed, as though time requires that we change.

I stepped to the window and looked down and saw someone, boy or girl but young for sure, dodging the traffic, which was thinner than the crowd, and hurrying towards and past our building. The scream came from a head that was hooked in the someone’s arm. The head belonged to the neckless woman I’d seen five minutes before.
Fifty Words Each

Seventeen 50-word stories, including "Recklessly Re-Dialing," "For Son and Country," and "The Funeral Is Not This Week."
As True As She Wants It

Right in front of me she dismapped our street, drawing it quickly on a scrap of paper, making it wider and straighter and renaming it Esmeralda Avenue (after her favorite old stuffed bear), and sure enough, when we went outside, I looked at the street and its sign and saw that we now lived on straight and wide Esmeralda Avenue.
The Amputated Man

The amputated man lived far enough away that they had to drive. The drive wasn’t long — a few turns, a few lights, then across the unmapped line between markets with bulletproof glass and those without. Nick took Bobbie to the side of the bullets.
The Astonishing Lawrence Lyrik Agitates the Servants of the Censor

For daring to view Lyrik's work, for daring to legitimize him, I and the rest of the audience, as we entered the Hall, were pummeled with words and sometimes with spit and always with hate.
The Chicken Bone

When a reporter asks her — and even now they still do — why she would have married someone like me, she answers, simply enough, that she loves me. Reporters, of course, do not believe in love, and so they continue to speculate publicly about her motives — and about mine.

Pocket Book

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StoryHack #7
Cirsova: Winter 2023
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