Week 1, Story 61 by @dmv501 and @gmehn

Rounding off the main phase of the “first week” of SFSwap @dmv501 brings us a gritty tale of futuristic gang warfare. Even though it’s only a short story there’s some top notch world building to be had here.

Week 1, Story 60 by Anonymous and Anonymous

A doubly anonymous tale that shows us the true dangers of falling asleep on the tube. It’s thick with mystery and when it’s done you’re left with more questions than answers.

Week 1, Story 59 by @​mr​moth and @tambourine

The story from @​mrmoth has a bit of a Black Mirror feels to it, something which starts out a bit light-hearted but then starts to swerve rapidly towards Sinister Town, Population: A Terrifying Robot.

Week 1, Story 58 by @piratemoggy and @JimTheSG

This story is about jobs. It is also about the ever increasing likelihood that they will be taken over by computers and/or robots. It is a dark echo of a potential future. It also includes on of my favourite sentences to grace SFSwap thus far: Describing human endeavour as “the sheer fucking persistence of a species of hairless fucking disasters.” That sentence is a real keeper.

Week 1, Story 57 by @hobofood and @piratemoggy

Wow. I mean, just… wow. I’m finding it a bit hard to process how much I love this story. It’s an amazing spin on the classic “Grrr, grimdark communist dystopia.” We so often equate art with freedom and purity and a way to fight against oppression. But here? It’s become a tool of that very same oppression. A means by which the state keep people down and a populace in line. @hobofood could have written something happy, upbeat and utopian. But it appears that their response to that particular thought was “Ahahahahahahaha! NOPE!”

Week 1, Story 56 by @danbeames and @baboonicorn

This is a fairly short story, that is told as a back and forth. But for all its brevity, it doesn’t half hit hard. After I finished reading it I sat quietly mouthing “Daaaaaaaamn” to myself. Dark, sinister and mysterious themes: these are a few of my favourite things.

Week 1, Story 55 by @AdlaiM and @oxygenthiefyeah

This is a dark one. Dark to the point of deliciousness. Like that fancy organic, fair-trade chocolate that comes in those boutique cardboard packets. A little bit of mad-science and lashings of CONSEQUENCES make for a good read.

Week 1, Story 54 by @dorkomatic and Anonymous

This is not a story that should be taken seriously. Not at all. It’s a mash-up of two quite different things. I would tell you, but I feel that would rather spoil things. Needless to say, it should be readily apparent by the time you reach the end. @dorkomatic has a clear talent for levity and puts it to good use.

Week 1, Story 53 by @gileadamit and @thiefree

Of all the stories I’ve uploaded this is one of my favourites. Delightfully tongue-in-cheek, funny and rife with wordplay, @gileadamit makes a great job of @thiefree’s cracking prompt. I don’t like drawing comparisons to other authors, but this really has a Pratchett-esque air to it, with a tangy Douglas Adams after-taste.

Week 1, Story 52 by @danielmbase and @alexwattsesq

@danielmbase has written a great story with a cyberpunk flair. It would have been so very easy for this to be a run-of-the-mill affair, but @danielmbase’s interpretation of the prompt is as innovative as it is gritty. It unfolds really well, and finishes strong with an ending which makes you ask yourself what might happen next?

Week 1, Story 51 by @dangusset and @jonesthescribe

Due to ripple in the fabric of space-time we have had a case of convergent realities. Subsequently, this story by @dangusset shares the same prompt as Story 39. A nice take on the prompt, which stands on its own merits. It’s short, punchy and really quite fun.

Week 1, Story 50 by @froggensays and @Ch0l0k

Story number 50 is a great one. It’s another story which is told just through conversation. @froggensays puts the tiniest of spins on the prompt which sets it careening off in an entirely different direction. STORY NUMBER: 50 PROMPT PROVIDER: @Ch0l0k AUTHOR:...

Week 1, Story 49 by @benton_dan and @Kendersrule

I think this is our third story about “sea-creatures,” which I suppose is more of an obvious choice than “eggs.” @benton_dan’s piece starts off slow and then things start to get weird. They were given a very short prompt, but really got...

Week 1, Story 48 by @tom_mendelsohn and @ewasr

This story features one of my favourite tropes: dilapidated tech that is somehow still working on autopilot. @tom_mendelsohn’s description of an automated defence-grid falling apart at the seams is both charming and endearing. I just want to hug those poor...

Week 1, Story 47 by Anonymous and Anonymous

This is a story of unknown and mysterious provenance, both author and prompter choosing to remain swaddled in the cloak of anonymity. Number 47 focuses on “grey goo.” I know we’ve taken to obfuscating the content of the prompts for the stories, but...

Week 1, Story 46 by @mikeisbrill and @problemsdog

@problemsdog’s prompt could have been used to churn out a bog-standard “oh woes the folly of man” story, but @mikeisbrill’s tongue is lodged so firmly in their cheek that the two have merged into a single fleshy mass. This one’s a giggle...

Week 1, Story 45 by @mattround and @wheatles

This one’s a corker of a crime story, with a bit of a noir flair. It’s got mystery. It’s got suspense. It’s got a slightly unhinged baddie. It’s also got a dog. (I like dogs.) the fact that all of this is somehow crammed into the word...

Week 1, Story 44 – by @ntrophi and @aaronweight

Hello my fellow humanoid meat-creatures! Our benevolent Over-Tyrant, RULES STALIN has dragged me from the deathless slumber of hyper-sleep to help out with the uploads. @ntrophi has taken a prompt which was ripe for sly shenanigans and joyous japes, hollowed it out,...

Week 1, Story 43 – by @SMDeeee and @upsteeplebat

I have no idea how to introduce this one without giving crucial details of the plot away, so I shall just say that I read the prompt with glee and then the story with more glee (gleer?). This is ace. STORY NUMBER: 43 PROMPT PROVIDER: @upsteeplebat AUTHOR: @SMDeeee...

Week 1, Story 42 – by Anonymous and Anonymous

A doubly anonymous story! It’s a shame because I really like this one. It takes what is, on the face of it, a reasonably light-hearted prompt and turns it into something much darker; a disturbing Them and Us tale with a nod to American Psycho. STORY NUMBER: 42...

Week 1 Story 41 by @edjeff and Anonymous

Hah! I have to admit, I cheated slightly and read the prompt before reading this story (sorry RULES STALIN!). The story is delightful and funny and a bit icky, but what I love most about it is that it almost uses the prompt as a finishing point, rather than a starting...

#SFSwap: the plan from here

Hello m8s, frog here, Following a meeting of a dozen or so people in a pub basement, we’ve arrived at a sort of definition for What #SFSwap is, and what’ll happen to it in future. I’ve got a notebook full of all kinds of garbage, but these seem to be the main points....

Week 1 – Story 40 by @jamesk and @afrohorses

STORY NUMBER: 40 PROMPT PROVIDER: @afrohorses AUTHOR: @jamesk TITLE: The Other Milk But where does it come from, that’s what I want to know It’s milk, where do you think it comes from? Well, cows, usually, or maybe goats, the alternatives are a bit fucking...

Week 1 – Story 39 by @GinBroguesHats and @jonesthescribe

STORY NUMBER: 39 PROMPT PROVIDER: @jonesthescribe AUTHOR: @GinBroguesHats TITLE: Untitled The object boiled through the clouds over Cairo. Even people who had been excited and positive about its arrival screamed with fear as the dark shape was finally visible to the...

Week 1 – Story 38 by @mullane45 and @mrmoth

STORY NUMBER: 38 PROMPT PROVIDER: @mrmoth AUTHOR: @mullane45 TITLE: Untitled It was a normal Tuesday that changed everything. Matt had spent the morning and early afternoon wandering the grey and drizzly streets of central London, killing time and shooting the breeze...

Week 1 – Story 37 by @JimTheSG and Anonymous

STORY NUMBER: 37 PROMPT PROVIDER: Anonymous AUTHOR: @JimTheSG TITLE: Untitled The genetic clone of Bruce Lee mounted the hoverbike. In his mind, he summarised the operation: Phase 1, claim the far side of the moon in the name of China; Phase 2…he couldn’t remember;...

Week 1 – Story 36 by @oxygenthiefyeah and @jonnywaistcoat

STORY NUMBER: 36 PROMPT PROVIDER: @jonnywaistcoat AUTHOR: @oxygenthiefyeah TITLE: Should Have Bought A Better Alarm Clock Woken every few hundred years to mop up the strange luminescent slime that accumulated all over the ship, a by-product of hyper speed travel which...

Week 1 – Story 35 by @howliet and Anonymous

STORY NUMBER: 35 PROMPT PROVIDER: Anonymous AUTHOR: @howliet TITLE: Untitled “FUCK YOU. FUCKING, FUCKING, FUCKING, FUCK YOU, YOU BASTARD.” It achieved, really very little, to scream and rage at the heavens, like an over-acted am-dram Lear; but in some small way it...

Week 1, Story 34 – @ewasr & @notquitecool

I love it when these stories come in in weird formats, and @ewasr may have taken the cake here with this tale in the format of a government information pamphlet. With a huge portion of cold war-era nuclear survival advice, and some subtle yet massively weird...

Week 1, Story 33 – @eph_bee & anonymous

Subversions of the alien invasion trope where roles are reversed are not a new idea – but this story by @eph_bee puts a spin on the idea that I’ve not encountered before. Perspective was a major factor in the prompt, and I really like the way it’s...

Week 1, Story 32 – @wightandwrong & @ka_bradley

Oof. This one is HORRIBLE. There’s no blood and no violence, but the concept alone (thank you @ka_bradley) was enough to make me uneasy. @Wightandwrong certainly didn’t shy away from its implications either: this story, presented entirely as dialogue, has...

Week 1, Story 31 – @glempy & @seanfsmith

#SFSwap story 31, by @Glempy, is one of RULES STALIN’S favourites. The pacing and scope is perfect for the length, the writing is tight, and the natural humour of @seanfsmith’s prompt is deployed with sufficient timing to have made me bark out an actual...

Week 1, Story 30 – @seanfsmith & anonymous

This one really reminds me of stories I read as a kid, where stories about children discovering unexpected consequences to futuristic consumer technology seemed to be a staple. @Seanfsmith has clearly thought through the tech on display here very thoroughly, and has...

Week 1, Story 29 – @Wobbington & @jamesk

We’ve had some dark comedies so far in #SFSwap, and this one is properly pitch-black. The prompt from @jamesk was powerful in itself, and @wobbington made it all the more so for tackling it directly. There’s no last-minute twist here – the reality of...

Week 1, Story 28 – @donaldosaurus & @dangusset

This one takes a cracking turn. The prompt alone, from @dangusset, made my brain hurt, and the story that @donaldosaurus has crafted from it gave me a headache half as bad as the protagonist’s. Also, it is the third story so far to mention eggs. STORY NUMBER: 28...

Week 1, Story 27 – @captainraz & @wobbington

Some #SFSwap stories are dark. Some delve deep into hard science, and harder questions about being human. Altogether, lots of them leave you with a stimulating sense of unease. Not so this little treat from @captainraz & @wobbington, which is a straight up tribute...

Week 1, Story 26 – @problemsdog & @mattround

WOOooOOOOooOOOOO! RULES STALIN wishes to offer you a FRIGHTENING HALLOWEEN TREAT involving SENTIENT DOORS! The story below is a perfect example of a prompt being assigned to exactly the person for the job – the prompt from @mattround was delightfully whimsical...

Week 1, Story 25 – @notquitecool & @brainmage

A typically dark prompt from @brainmage led to an equally dark story from @notquitecool in this #SFSwap entry – I won’t say much more as the prompt here had an implicit twist, but hopefully it’ll make you do a little shudder! STORY NUMBER: 25 PROMPT...

Week 1, Story 24 – @misterkeefe & @edjeff

AND NOW FOR ANOTHER STORY ABOUT EGGS. I really love this one. @misterkeefe got potentially the most ludicrous brief in the pack, and developed it into something utterly straight-faced, and totally gripping. If Michael Crichton had been really into eggs, I could...

Week 1, Story 23 – @thebrainofchris & anonymous

  EGGS.   STORY NUMBER: 23 PROMPT PROVIDER: anonymous AUTHOR: @thebrainofchris TITLE: Perfectly Natural Considering how much time we spend in school being told about puberty, it’s amazing all the details they leave out. They’re dead quick to tell you about...

Week 1, Story 22 – @stefmowords & @danielmbase

While some #SFSwap prompts (I’m looking at you, ‘Alien Booze’) leave enormous room for interpretation, others are highly specific – such as this one from @danielmbase. And while author @stefmowords may have followed the brief to the letter,...

Week 1, Story 21 – @ka_bradley & @howliet

With some touches of intrasolar social friction that reminded me of James S. A. Corey, a richly villainous narrative voice, and a moth skin suit, here’s a splendid story by @ka_bradley that turns @howliet’s gadgetry prompt into a playful – and...

Week 1, Story 20 – @james__clayton & @_TK_O

This story, written by @james__clayton on a prompt from @_TK_O, does exactly what it says on the tin. And despite being one of the most straightforward, easily readable, and lighthearted stories in the collection, it manages a concise and clever piece of satire to...

Week 1, Story 19 – @aspeed & @GinBroguesHats

PULP! PULP! PUUUULP! RULES STALIN adores a good pulp story, and this little treat by @aspeed and @ginbrogueshats could be right out of a 1960s paperback. I can almost see the cover; a man with immaculate hair and a jaw like an anvil, fighting off waves of crabs with...

Week 1, Story 18 – @thiefree & @glempy

What if first contact with an intelligent species made humanity feel more, rather than less, alone? In this powerfully melancholy story, @thiefree makes something heartbreaking out of @glempy’s prompt. While the idea of emotionless aliens is an idea older even...

Week 1, Story 17 – @amuchmoreexotic & @frogcroakley

You might want to sit down with a cup of tea for this one; it’s immense. RULES STALIN is fascinated by the idea of alien religions, so he threw this prompt into the pack to see what would happen. The result, by @amuchmoreexotic, is one of my favourite #SFSwap...

Week 1, Story 16 – @allwrongthink & @mikeisbrill

This prompt by @mikebrill was beautifully brutal (brutiful?) in its simplicity, and I knew it was going to lead to something fun. It could not have fallen into better hands than @allwrongthink. The story that follows is deliciously overloaded on a conceptual level, in...

Week 1, Story 15 – @whimworm & @benton_dan

Last story, we saw an author pull out the stops to sidestep the purpose of their prompt. This time, @whimworm shows us an entirely different strategy, charging headlong into a brilliantly ludicrous brief by @benton_dan and tackling it with a straight face. The...

Week 1, Story 14 – @jonnywaistcoat & @eph_bee

RULES STALIN appreciates cunning and guile, and so enjoyed this story by @jonnywaistcoat which – aside from being a solid tale of struggle against an alien invasion – was a wilfully cheeky attempt to subvert the genre expectations of the prompt. When you...

Week 1, Story 13 – @kendersrule & @tom_mendelsohn

Ah, the mysteries of Love! Trainwrecks like Interstellar might lead one to believe the subject is best left to the Literary genre, but here’s a lovely bit of old-school space opera by @Kendersrule that tackles the issue AND uses the word...

Week 1, Story 12 – @Ch0l0k & @thebrainofchris

RULES STALIN has a confession. He doesn’t really like Time Travel stories. All too often the conceit outweighs the entertainment value, and they rarely sit comfortably even when the plot holes are ironed out. It shows the quality of both prompter...

Week 1, Story 11 – @dedbutdrmng & @aspeed

You’ll love this one. It’s essentially Wall-E by way of Terminator 2 and Red Dwarf, and @aspeed’s prompt has been treated with the definite tinge of Douglas Adams humour it was asking for.  @Dedbutdrmng has – like many #SFSwap authors –...

Week 1, Story 10 – @baboonicorn & @AdlaiM

I love Mars stories, and especially those dealing with colonists’ relationship with Earth, so I was excited to receive @AdlaiM’s prompt for the story below. @Baboonicorn does it proud – the flavour of the characters and the corporate logic of the...

Week 1, Story 9 – @tambourine & @Lydnicholas

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a feeling of deep unease. Here’s a great prompt from @lydnicholas that got exactly the sort of story I was hoping it would, courtesy of @tambourine. What follows is subtle and playful, with some eerie turns...

Week 1, Story 8 – @afrohorses & @Sasooli

There’s something very British about the tone of this #SFSwap entry – @afrohorses has very much gone full on with the psychological connotations of @sasooli’s setting, and there’s a horrible inevitability to the story in more ways than one. As...

Week 1, Story 7 – @iucounu & @SMDeeee

Story 7 is one of RULES STALIN’s favourites from the frist batch of #SFSwap stories. @iucounu has taken the huge setting potential offered by @SMDeeee and run with it like a dog with a mouth crammed with sausages. There’s so much more to be explored here,...

Week 1, Story 6 – Anonymous & Anonymous

In this instance, both the prompter and the author wanted to remain anonymous and, while RULES STALIN will of course respect this, it’s a shame: this is a Dying Earth story in the truest sense, and is written with a sort of breathless, frantic invention that...

Week 1, Story 5 – @jonesthescribe & Anonymous

Our fifth #SFSwap story is horror of a different kind – @jonesthescribe has used his prompt as the start of a black comedy with some commendable noir embellishments. There’s a little of the Sopranos to this, and a fair bit of cyberpunk too – too...

Week 1, Story 4 – @Aaronweight & Anonymous

Our fourth #SFSwap submission is from @aaronweight, and deals with a prompt that crosses the genre boundary into supernatural horror. While this story obfuscates the science behind its premise in order to focus on its effects, I really like the effect – to me at...

Week 1, Story 3 – @Wheatles & Anonymous

Our third story is from another prompt I loved: I’m always a sucker for galactic communities and biochemistry, and @wheatles has done both justice with a tight narrative set in a backstreet clinic. I really like this one as it takes something that’s an...

Week 1, Story 2 – @_TK_O & Anonymous

In complete contrast to our first story, this #SFSwap entry paints a sobering picture of the near future and – in classic SF style – looks at today through the lens of a single invented technology. One thing RULES STALIN has really enjoyed about reading...

Week 1, Story 1 – @frogcroakley & @gileadamit

Our first #SFSwap story is my own, and – in an unconscionable act of corruption – was plucked from the list of prompts before the randomisation process because I loved it so much. @Gileadamit’s prompt was pure pulp, and gave me a free pass to spew...

Greetings from RULES STALIN

Ha! Ha! I am in control of a website! Of course, there are very few vegetables in this patch at present, but let us see what sprouts from the black loam as the day progresses. For 64 seeds were sown, and soon they will bear fruit… congratulations to all those...