THE BATTLEAXE – by Alex Voakes

It’s important to have an angle. To really know what it is you’re selling. But in the end, I think it all came down to the tits. When the first series was being developed, they hadn’t even decided what kind of person they wanted to cast. I found that out at the end-of-shoot wrap party when a research manager’s PA showed me the list. She was drunk, and thought it was hysterical. Urban Buddhist: Not religious, promotes meditation, organic, etc. Will train somewhere India-like – has Sri Lanka been done? White male, 34-55. Possible strapline ‘Set your pulses racing’. Regional Jim: From Wales/Scotland/Ireland/the North, etc. Travels the country – think road trips with competitive element. Scope for sidekick, upper-class apprentice, Read More

The Good Deed by Alex Voakes

“Francis?” Janice hitched up the folder in her arms, and pushed the door open with her shoulder. “It’s only me. Time to rise and shine.” She stepped into the hall and pulled the door behind her. Why did this house always smell? Francis had care-workers who cleared the fridge, washed the dishes and hoovered the thin carpet, but somehow a wet stink seemed to permeate, unplaceable. It was like sour milk, or the liquid that collects between bag and bin. Janice had a sudden flash of Francis deliberately hiding something rancid somewhere around the flat, his pouchy, greying face set into the gleeful leer she had seen so often. Although he always insisted on leaning on her arm to shuffle Read More

LISTED by Alex Voakes

  Permission. What a bitch. Jonathan Stride, Mr Stride to you, or maybe even Sir to be on the safe side, glanced down at the thick sheaf of paper on his desk. The final deeds for Lot 2574, West Acorn Street had been his for over a year, but wrangling an agreement for its development had taken all his patience and guile, as well as a few less noble qualities. Still, the residents’ petition had been finally silenced, the local Council placated, Government regulations for affordable housing circumvented, and now all that stood between him and a dozen luxury apartments was this guff from the Historic England Society. Whoever the fuck they thought they were. With the agreement that all Read More

TOMTECH, INC. by Alex Voakes

  “Thanks for this interview. Our readers are very interested in all things organic.” Janet glanced down the gleaming-white corridor. She knew that the word ‘organic’ conjured up a very different picture in the minds of the subscribers to Renewable World. “Our methods are impeccable – we recycle the majority of our water, our solar panels actually feed excess energy into the national grid, and in the past we used natural biological controls on pests.” Dr Bryan smiled. “Ladybirds. Ideal for removing aphids. But since we really locked down on physical interfaces, very little has been getting in or out. We aim for only two organisms in this entire complex. Humans and tomatoes.” “Physical interfaces?” “Where the outside world meets Read More

How to Break Through Writer’s Block by Alex Voakes

Writer’s Block. It sounds almost reassuring, doesn’t it? You may not be actually producing anything, you may be knotted up and despairing, or guilty and restless and convinced of your own worthlessness as both a creative and a human being, but at least a) there’s a name for it and b) that name includes the word ‘writer’. It could be caused by all sorts of reasons – writing is, if not exactly hard labour, then definitely time-consuming and difficult, and it could be that the writer is too worried about money, or is wrestling with a bout of TB, or has to look after six children under five, or is dealing with PTSD from a recent event, or any one Read More

Hasta La Vista, Lady: Is Sarah Connor a Female Action Hero?

Any film which includes a woman suddenly busting out a roundhouse kick or making a withering remark about penis size risks getting hailed as a beacon of feminism, even if her character is otherwise paper-thin or disposable. Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton in the first two movies in the Terminator franchise, is sometimes held up alongside Ripley from Aliens and GI Jane as an example of a female action hero. But is the fact that ‘there’s a woman in it and she kicks some ass’ really enough? At first blush, it doesn’t seem that Sarah Connor has any of the qualities you’d expect of an action hero. Her value lies not in what she herself is going to do, Read More