A monster glimpsed at the edge of a TV screen; a pandemic causing an outbreak of mutual incomprehension; planets being destroyed by peacekeeping missions; a sentient space craft. Ranging from portraits of a relationship in a time of space travel to tales of vengeful aliens, from dystopian visions to poignant evocations of loss, this collection of short stories and poems takes the reader on a journey to other times and distant lands.
Other Times, Distant Lands by Lee Garratt is collection of scifi short stories and poems, published by Dimensionfold in 2020.
Zarg looked at the moon above and spat. Generations beyond count, he and his people had lived on this planet and their hatred of it had only grown more fierce, more strong with each passing year. Lived here. Hah that was a joke. Survived here barely. Hid in caves away from the burning sun. Buried themselves deep into the earth to escape the freezing cold of the nights. Scrabbled at the red soil for miserable amounts of water which, no matter how much they filtered, still tasted like old metal. Ranged for miles and miles to hunt and kill the elusive garbs, beasts that ran without exhaustion, fought and kicked like devils when finally cornered, and tasted like hell itself when roasted.
Their numbers were few now. Fewer even, it was said, than when they initially arrived all those years ago, survivors of a brutal inter stellar war that saw their people exterminated and their planet destroyed. Somehow these few escaped and, their rockets, finally failing on them, landed on this planet. Their joy at being able to breathe this thin air soon turning to despair when repeated expeditions failed to find anything else other than the awful terrain they had landed on. No forests, no glades, no marshes. Nothing. Just endless scrubland and rocks stretching away to infinity. Some brackish saline lakes. A near dead sea. Thorn bushes, snakes, a few reptiles and the bastard garbs.
No, it wasn’t a nice planet. And their numbers had slowly dwindled despite their best efforts. Their advanced medicine had dealt with infection and injury but could do little about their terrible diet. The sun, so close, burned fierce and raw, caused cancers to bloom and spread (the only things that ever grew on this planet went the joke) and, it was thought, had affected their fertility. The cold too killed many every year. Those youngsters out exploring just too long. The old, those past 40, unable to keep it out no matter how many furs they wore. Not to mention the garbs too of course who exacted their annual toll of the too slow or foolhardy (their advanced weaponry having failed many hundreds of years ago they had long since mostly reverted to the spear and the chase).
Their culture too had suffered. For years beyond count, their brightest and best had strived in this alien landscape to retain memories of their home planet, its achievements and its glories. The magnificent prose sagas of Zing’s epic journey across the landscapes; Turg’s incredible landscapes on an almost one to one scale (the picture of a mountain the size of a mountain, imagine!); Jing’s music of the spheres so sublime, so affecting, that it transported the listener so fully and completely to other times and places (so witnesses had stated) that audience members had to be physically shaken to get their attention, even if there was a fire in the building, so deep was its hypnotic hold.
All this though, was but mere memory now. Each new generation, not being able to see any great paintings, hear any soaring chords, slowly started to turn away from these scraps of story from home, sullen, as if from a lie. Turn away and gaze out of their dismal caves, out to boulders and scrub, the ferocious glare that cast everything in such hideous clarity.
A Bite of… Lee Garratt
Do you see writing as an escape from the sorrows of existence, an exercise in futility, or an excuse to tell lies and get paid for it? Or is there another option…
Hmm good question. I’d say for the most part it is an ‘exercise in futillity’. Let’s face it, when a reader is faced with a choice of reading ‘Dune’, ‘The Martian Chronicles’ or my latest opus, I am facing an uphill task. That said, as every writer knows having something out there, in print, is probably the closest I will ever come to a (very meagre) form of immortality. So, I’ll take it!
Have you ever written somebody you know into a book? A lover? A friend? An enemy?
A lot of the characters in my stories are named after my son ‘Alfred’, so I often have him in mind. Other than that I suppose the answer is rather boring ‘no’. They are all just amalgams of myself and people I have met.
If you could meet one person (alive or dead) who would you choose? And what would you talk about? And what do you bring as a gift?
Ernest Hemingway. I’d like to meet him in a bar in Spain, get drunk with him. If he was in a generous patient mood, I’d like to get out my copy of his collected works and go through it very painstakingly, story by story. This could probably take months so i think he will have hit me long before i have finished. I think i would bring him some interesting craft beers and a book from his future that he hadn’t read. How about – ‘The rum diaries’ by Hunter S Thompson. I think he’d like that. Or something by Cormac Mccarthy. I think he would be interested in him.
Lee has been a kibbutznik, a Metropolitan police officer, has taken people up the Mekong River and hiking in the Polish mountains and is currently a middle-aged teacher living in the English midlands. Brought up on a diet of Tolkien, Hemingway and Le Guin, he writes a variety of poetry and prose. Lee Garratt’s work can be found in a wide variety of publications: these include ‘Starline’, the official journal for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, and ‘Mancunian Ways’, a recent anthology of Manchester based poems released last year by Fly on the Wall Press. He has had two collections of his short stories and poetry published by Dimensionfold Publishing: New Worlds and ‘Other Lands, Distant Times and, most recently, a fantasy YA novella, Remains. You can find out more about him from his publishers page and follow him on Twitter.