Well, I didn't have a baby then. (Frankly, the me of December 2008 didn't know he was born. He barely knew his son was going to be.) Now I do, I really know what it's like to be very much too bloody busy to maintain an online presence.
That said, I'm going to make more of an effort in 2010 to keep this blog up to date. As well as trying to actually write one of those novels I've been picking vaguely away at since, erm, forever. I hereby pledge that I'll have a first draft of what I'm currently calling The Arrow and the Circle written by the beginning of 2011.
(Probably. Very likely. Certainly any year now, I should think.)
Meanwhile, here's something I prepared earlier. Since 2006 I've been writing an annual Christmas story to send out with my Christmas cards to family and friends, and since 2007 I've been archiving the previous year's story here and on my website. Unless you're on my Christmas card list, you'll have to wait until 2010 to read the story I've written this year, "Stella Maris". For now, however -- both here and here -- you can read last year's story, "Blitzenkrieg".
In retrospect, it's a little obvious. Frankly I prefer both "Stella Maris" and "Polarity". However it does the job of wishing the recipient a damn well bloody merry Christmas.
Speaking of which, one of the above to you all.
BLITZENKRIEGI've topped up the microfiction page as well, despite the fact that I haven't had time to update trapphic for months either. I'll try to be a more conscientious blogger, microblogger and site owner in the New Year.
by Philip Purser-Hallard
‘My, what a crowd. Good morning, gentlemen – and ladies, if there are any of you here.
‘Ah – good morning to you, ma’am.
‘Welcome all, to the third day of the International Defence and Security Solutions trade fair here in the beautiful Dock Lands of old London town – and to what I sincerely hope will be an unforgettable presentation on behalf of my company, Mistletopia Systems Inc.
‘Because, gentlemen – and ma’am – I’m here today to talk to you about SLAY.
‘SLAY stands for Strategic Localisation of Armament Yield – a modest name for a technology which will change the face of global, international and domestic conflict forever.
‘The SLAY prototype was developed at an independent R and D site in Northern Europe – now a subsidiary of Mistletopia Systems. At first the technology was directed to civilian ends, but the developers retained proprietary ownership. When we at Mistletopia became aware of its enormous applications in the defence sector, we instigated a takeover – a hostile one, of course.
‘That technology now belongs to us – lock stock and barrel, you might say. But with it we’ve built something a little more effective than a quaint old musket!
‘SLAY is unique. My colleague sitting behind me here will deal with the technical details, but I’ll say this. Strategic Localisation means that SLAY can deliver any payload, any time, with pinpoint accuracy, to any building in the world.
‘I’ll repeat that. Any building – anywhere.
‘Yes sir, ha ha, that does include this one.
‘The system has been extensively tested on residential targets, making it the future solution of choice for dealing with troublesome elements both domestic and abroad. However, it can also be adapted to gain access to any structure not hermetically sealed.
‘Ventilation ducts, sewerage systems, chimneys – you name it, SLAY can find its way through.
‘Class of payload? Not an issue. Conventional explosives, chemical or biological munitions, tactical nuclear warheads – SLAY can deliver any package with equal ease.
‘And that’s not all. Fuelled by nothing more complex than fructose, fat and carbohydrates, SLAY is the cheapest, lowest-maintenance payload delivery system yet devised. It’s also by far the fastest system currently on the market. “More rapid than eagles”, as one poetic observer described it.
‘With SLAY you can strike at any number of targets simultaneously – that’s right, sir, I did say simultaneously – and at no more than 24 hours’ notice.
‘The advantages of SLAY to the discerning government are obvious. All you need do is make a list – better check it, of course! – and SLAY will do the rest. At midnight, local time, the targets you nominate – plus anyone unwise enough to share a building with them – will receive from you that very special package.
‘Is the head of a rogue state being naughty? Is an ally refusing to play nice? With SLAY, the solution is in your hands.
‘They’ll soon know who’s coming to town. By deploying SLAY, you send a powerful message to those who would oppose you: We know when you’re sleeping. You’d better watch out.
‘And to your allies: Be good, for goodness’ sake.
‘You’ll be wondering about the technical details of the SLAY system – the history of its development, its deployment in the civilian arena, the specifications of SLAY’s eight individual component systems. For that I’ll have to hand over to my colleague. It’s his first time at IDSS and he’s not accustomed to the cut-and-thrust – excuse the expression! – of our industry.
‘He was reluctant to be here today, in fact, before we explained to him the consequences for his workforce if he were to refuse. He’s operating in our world now, though, so please be gentle with him. At least at first!
‘Ma’am, gentlemen – please welcome my good friend Nick Claus...’
©Philip Purser-Hallard 2008