Simon Bleaken was not one of the people I invited to submit to Full-Throttle Space Tales #4: Space Horrors. However, based on the great response I’ve received to his story “The Sigil of Komashin” in Tales of the Talisman volume 5, issue 4, he probably should have been. The thing is, “The Sigil of Komashin” was the first story I’d purchased from Simon and the issue with his story came out after the invitations for Space Horrors had gone out. Fortunately, Simon sent a story called “Natural Selection” to Tales of the Talisman. It was one of the most effective, atmospheric horror pieces that had ever been submitted to me and it fit the anthology so well, I asked if I could use it in Space Horrors. Without further ado, I’ll turn it over to Simon so he can tell you a little about himself and the story.
My story is called “Natural Selection” and is essentially a tale about a lone zoologist who has been sent to study the indigenous ore-eating beetle population of a charted, but mostly unexplored, alien world – and who ends up getting more than she bargained for in the process, although you’ll have to read the story to find out exactly what.
The tale actually came to me in a dream way back in 1999. I don’t often remember my dreams, but this one was especially vivid (albeit brief) and stuck in my mind. I was on an alien world under a strange-coloured sky and I was apparently some kind of a shepherd for a large number of large alien beetles that were roaming around the rugged hillside under my watchful eye. That was the genesis of the story – that, and possibly also the fact that I had recently rented Gorillas in the Mist on video and had thoughts inspired by that floating about in my mind too.
As I started writing I recall the first image that came into my mind was of a woman crouching low and taking images of these beetles, and so that was how the tale opened. The rest just fell into place as I took it from there, although the bulk of the dream and the elements of shepherding the beetles never made it into the tale, and the story quickly took on its own direction in that strange way that stories often have a habit of doing.
The finished tale then lived in a drawer for a few years in a rough state, and occasionally I would drag it screaming into the light to polish and add to it, until the story as it appears in the book was born.
As for myself, I come from just outside Bristol in the UK. I have long been a fan of such authors as H. P. Lovecraft, Stephen King , Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E Howard and Terry Pratchett, and have always loved reading and telling stories, especially of the fantasy, horror and sci-fi genres.
My other interests include Egyptology and ancient history, role-playing (Call of Cthulhu especially), a love of Star Trek and Star Wars, and I’m probably guilty of spending far more time playing Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion than I should. I’m also a keen supporter of environmental causes, and also a member of the friends for both the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London, and the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle.
I’m currently returning to writing after taking a break of about five years, but I’ve had work appear in Kracked Mirror Mysteries (now sadly folded), Lovecraft’s Disciples, Strange Sorcery, in the 2008 Lovecraftian anthology Eldritch Horrors: Dark Tales and in Tales of the Talisman. And I hope to have more work appearing soon.
– Simon Bleaken