Monday 4 October 2004

Theaker's Quarterly Fiction #3

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This issue, with the second instalment of Quiet, the Tin Can Brains Are Hunting!, brings to an end our three retrospectively-created issues of reprints. I hope you have enjoyed them. From this point on, this publication will provide all-new material (unless the deadline is crashing over my head). We shall see how it goes.

In theory, this is the Autumn issue of TQF, and I am in fact writing this at the end of September, so for once my editorial is contemporaneous with our supposed date of publication. No need to falsely cast a scrying eye into the future – I can just throw it out of the window to see brown leaves, grimy skies and drizzling rain. It doesn’t look kind out there, reader, so stay inside and snuggle up with Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction! This issue, as will many in the future, ends with a traditional slap-up dinner, so you are guaranteed a warm feeling in your tummy when you get to the end. To get the most from this issue, I recommend that you take it to a nice place to eat, perhaps your favourite pub on a Sunday afternoon, and ask your friends to meet you there, perhaps friends that you have not seen for a few months, who have travelled just to see you, and when everyone is sitting comfortably, having filled their bellies to the utmost extent, get to your feet and read a few chapters out loud. I recommend that it be read in a pseudo-declamatory style, with a touch of pomposity and self-importance. If other diners can hear you, take a moment to gauge their mood. If they appear receptive, kind, open-hearted, sweet-natured and intelligent, read a little louder, and when you are done, accept their plaudits and tell them where to purchase a subscription. If, on the contrary, they seem pugnacious, unpleasant and uneducated, walk over to their table and raise your voice even more; it will do them good. – The Editor

Theaker's Quarterly Fiction #2

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This issue concludes the story of Professor Challenger in Space, and begins that of Quiet, the Tin Can Brains Are Hunting!

Originally, this second novel was to be a more direct sequel to the first, and it would have featured Malone’s eyes being stolen by aliens. As a novice novelist, this device appealed to me because describing what each of his eyes saw would allow me an excuse for describing galaxy-wide events in the easy-to-write first person. In the event, I did not rely upon this crutch, but I still like the idea that the first part of the novel would have recounted what the left eye saw, the second part would have told what the right eye saw, and the third part would have been seen through a mechanical eye crafted for Malone by Professor Challenger as they battled to rescue Malone’s other eyes and save the universe.

At one point I also considered revealing the Grim Thinker, who will appear in the portion of this story reprinted next issue, to be actually a far-future version of Malone himself – this idea was dropped, as was that in the above paragraph, due to Malone not featuring in the novel.

If he had appeared in it, the following scene would have been used at an early point. It is included here for completeness. – The Editor

A few years following the adventure of Rarraak-Ra, Professor Challenger and I were taking a rest in the park. He was sitting beside me on the park bench, as usual, scratching away at the junction of his head and his body.

“Is it still bothering you,” I asked.

“What do you think?” he asked, as if I were an idiot asking the way to his own nose… “A severed head is never pleasant.”

“I imagine not,” I said, taking him not at all seriously. I was not in the mood for one of his tantrums. The sun was shining far too brightly for that! “Especially when soup pours out of the joint, ha ha!”

He clouted me on the back of the head.

“Ow!” I exclaimed.

“How do you like those apples?” he asked.

“I don’t like them very well at all,” I replied. “Please keep them to yourself in future.”

“Ha ha,” he laughed.

I decided not to pursue the matter. At least he was smiling.

“Do you see much of the Mechanical Housewife these days?” he enquired, after a few moments’ reverie.

The Mechanical Housewife was an extremely delightful creature with whom I had been fortunate enough to forge an acquaintance during our adventure in space. Sadly, the demands of living in different dimensions, and different eras of history, had made it difficult to continue the relationship.

“I’m afraid not, Challenger. How are things going with Anna and yourself?”

“Well, she is pretty busy nowadays,” he replied. “She often has universes to save, that kind of thing… She is always back in time to cook Sunday dinner, mind.”

“Well, of course,” said I. “There are limits, after all…”

“If only there were,” said Challenger. “I used to feel one step ahead of things, you know,” he said ruefully. “I used to be the man in charge, the fellow making all the running. Look at me now, nothing to do but sit wasting the day away with an idiot like you…”

Theaker's Quarterly Fiction #1

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This first issue of Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction is dedicated to anyone who ever cried because they felt sad.

Being sad is a feeling, and the stories in this magazine will often be about feelings. Feelings. The way people feel, and the way that some people don’t. If you have ever had a feeling you will understand what I am talking about. If you have never had a feeling maybe the stories in this magazine will awaken one in you. That feeling might be disgust, boredom or ennui, but it might just as well be desire, excitement or amity. We shall find out together.

In this first issue of TQF I am pleased to present the first portion of my second-favourite ever novel, Professor Challenger in Space. It is not the first time it has seen publication, having previously seen print as a special folderback edition, then as a paperback, and then as a rocket ebook. But I make no apologies for recycling the same old material – this is after all one of three issues of TQF being produced retrospectively for the year of 2004, in order to bed down the format and give us all a running start at the first issue proper.

I could have course have pretended that these issues had been produced at the appropriate points of the year gone by, and thus given myself the opportunity to be regarded as a great prognosticator in the mould of Arthur C. Clarke. For example, in this spring issue, I could predict that, against all the odds, the European Championships this year will be won by footballing minnows Greece. But I won’t, because the theme of this issue is honesty – honesty and trust – and feelings.

I have another excuse for re-using my crusty old Professor Challenger novel, and that is that it finally went out of print last year, and so is at the moment only available second-hand (there are usually a couple of copies available via

I will not go into too much detail here about the aims of this magazine – that should really be saved for the first bona fide issue – but this issue might still be the first for someone, and to that person I say, “Hello. This is a slightly silly magazine, full of stories which may not be to your taste, and for that I make no apology. The only true purpose of TQF is to make me smile. If it makes anyone else smile (for whatever reason), that is wonderful. Smiling and happiness are good things, as long as they are not at another’s expense. But I make no allowances for you, either in my writing or in my editing of the stories selected for publication herein.”

One might hope that the person in question has the patience for long expository speeches, but that would of course be to set us on the road of making the allowances proscribed by my own exposition. Perhaps I have been too harsh. – The Editor

This issue is also included in the bound volume of the 2004 issues: Theaker's Quarterly Fiction: Year One (#1-4), available to buy now!