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An Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery novella set on board an interstellar spacecraft

The U.N. Owen is adrift in interstellar space. With no lights, no life support, no help for ten trillion miles, it seems as though things can't get any worse. Then, Blore finds the body.

Ten Little Astronauts is Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None set in space. The novella takes the essence of Christie's murder mystery and condenses it down into a tense, hard sci-fi thriller.

Ten astronauts are awoken from suspended animation to deal with a crisis on board their ship. Selected from a crew of thousands, none of them knows any of the others: all they know is that one of their number is a murderer. And until they work out who it is, none of them can go back to sleep.

With the environment of the ship itself acting as an added threat, the story progresses at a faster pace with a more rapid series of twists. Setting the mystery in interstellar space – where a radio message could take years to reach anybody – also offers an immediate explanation as to why the characters can't simply call for help, eliminating a lot of the introductory scene-setting of Christie's original.

Despite the futuristic setting, the world of Ten Little Astronauts conforms as closely as possible to the scientific understanding of the present day, based on extensive research drawing on everything from the ion thrusters of NASA to the vessels preserved at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. Grounded in reality, the science fiction acts as a backdrop to a mystery that can be broken down and solved by conventional means. The characters and premise will be well familiar to fans of Agatha Christie, but the story itself is brand new.

Pledging to support Ten Little Astronauts at Unbound is more than just buying a book: it's an opportunity to bring that book into the world. The novella is already written, but it needs your help to make it into print. Of course, there are also rewards for supporters, ranging from digital copies of the book all the way up to a writing workshop with the author.

Damon L. Wakes was born in 1991 and began to write a few years later. He holds an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester, and a BA in English Literature from the University of Reading.

Every year since 2012, Damon has produced one work of flash fiction each and every day during the month of July. He usually writes humour and horror, occasionally at the same time. Tackling so many stories with such a short word count has given him a knack for well structured narratives formed of tight prose.

When he isn't writing, Damon enjoys weaving chainmail. He began making chainmail armour ten years or so ago, but quickly discovered that there was no longer much of a market for it and so switched to jewellery instead. He now attends a variety of craft events, selling items made of modern metals such as aluminium, niobium and titanium, but constructed using thousand year-old techniques.

Damon's other interests are diverse. He has at various times taken up archery, fencing and kayaking, ostensibly as research for books but mostly because it's something to do.

Eleven

Even before the alarm began to sound, Blore knew in his gut that something was wrong. It was only when he pushed open the hatch of the suspension tank, and a few drops of thick cryonic fluid drifted out into the pitch-black hallway, that he realised what it was: there was no gravity. That was why his stomach churned. The world, the tiny pool of light spilling from his tank, seemed to swirl.

“Owen, lights.”

The computer gave no response.

“Owen, turn on the lights.”

Nothing.

“Owen...” But there was something else now, beyond the cold tank and the dark hallway. Something that no crewman wanted to encounter anywhere, let alone ten trillion kilometres beyond Earth orbit.

It was the smell of burning plastic.

Blore hauled himself out of the tank and clawed for the rack of emergency supplies. Even the smallest fire could render the air unbreathable very quickly. Finally managing to find a torch, he tore it from its bracket and pumped the dynamo. A feeble light flickered into life.

Without gravity, every direction was down. Away from the wall of suspension tanks and handrails, the darkness of the hallway yawned like an endless chasm. Gradually the smell of scorched plastic grew stronger. The end of the passage loomed in the torchlight, and Blore pulled himself hand over hand towards the steel door of Computing Hub Five. He heaved it open, and the torch picked out a blizzard of extinguisher foam. Someone else was already here. Sweeping the torch across the room, he spotted a figure in the far corner, clutching an extinguisher, but the man hung motionless in the air. A ball of blood was forming on his back, held by surface tension to the axe planted between his ribs.

“In the event of an emergency, the ship defrosts ten crewmembers.”

Blore wheeled round to see a black-haired man, and a small group behind him, clinging to the handrails at the doorway to the next cryonic bay.

“With you and your friend over there,” the man continued, gesturing to the corpse, “I make that eleven.”

Read more...

175 Supporter Draw

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

We all saw it coming cover

Ten Little Astronauts has reached 175 supporters, and so I've picked another name from the hat to get a free bonus book. This time around, it's the first ever paperback copy of We All Saw It Coming: a prize that's so rare and exclusive it doesn't even exist yet! The stories appearing in this anthology are already written, but so far I haven't put together the complete book: just the cover.

Pledge Party on Gower Street!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Single sided flyer

Back in June, Unbound started running Pledge Parties - a sort of literary Dragons Den where guests hear pitches from a range of Unbound authors and pick which they want to support - and since June I've been putting my name in the hat every time they run one. This month I got lucky, and so I'll be there pitching Ten Little Astronauts on Monday the 18th! It's coming up in just a week.

If you…

See me at the International Agatha Christie Festival

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

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Some exciting news: I've been invited to talk about Ten Little Astronauts as part of a Platform at the International Agatha Christie Festival this year! The event will take place at 6pm on the 14th of September in the Spanish Barn at Torre Abbey: the same place (and almost the same day) that I heard Sophie Hannah talk about her latest Poirot mystery, The Monogram Murders, last year at the Agatha Christie…

Ten Little Astronauts at 35%

Monday, 21 August 2017

Ten Little Astronauts has reached 35% funding, meaning that it's halfway towards the 70% at which a book on Unbound is more or less guaranteed to succeed. More immediately, that also means that I've released The Island and the Shapeless Beasts, a creation myth from the world of Face of Glass. If you're supporting Ten Little Astronauts and are signed into Unbound, you can find it here.

Also covered…

31 Stories for Flash Fiction Month 2017

Friday, 4 August 2017

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Over the course of July I was participating in Flash Fiction Month: a challenge to produce 31 stories in 31 days. Every year for the past five years I've completed this challenge and collected the stories up into a book.

As you can tell from the hastily mocked-up cover artwork above, this year's book isn't ready yet. When it is, I'll be sending the first ever paperback copy in existence to…

Ten Little Astronauts One Year On

Thursday, 27 July 2017

It's been one year since Ten Little Astronauts launched on Unbound! It's come a long, long way in that time, and with the level of support behind it now its prospects are looking better than ever. If everyone reading this shared the book with their friends, it would help get it out there a great deal sooner!

My next update is likely to be the milestone reward for 35%: a never-before-seen myth from…

Ten Little Astronauts has 150 Supporters!

Thursday, 13 July 2017

150 supporters

Well, this happened sooner than expected.

Ten Little Astronauts reached 150 supporters remarkably quickly after I announced that it was at a third of the funding needed to get it into print, so there's really not very much to add here! If you didn't catch the last update before this one came out, here's a link to get you up to speed.

The main thing to mention is that I'll soon be starting…

Ten Little Astronauts at 33%!

Thursday, 13 July 2017

One third

Ten Little Astronauts has reached 33% funding: a full third of the way towards making it into print!

This is quite a milestone, and the video above describes just a few of the rewards that I've released at various other milestones along the way. However, if you've recently put in a pledge and want to get right to the goodies, here are some direct links to those:

Flash Fiction Month 2017

Sunday, 2 July 2017

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July is Flash Fiction Month, and this year I'll be throwing my hat into the ring just as I have for each of the past five consecutive years. Every year I write one story a day for the month of July, and every year I bundle those 31 stories together as an anthology of flash fiction. If you were one of the first 100 supporters of Ten Little Astronauts, you might recall that the prize draw for that milestone…

Seedship: Sci-fi in a Really Big Space

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Seedship title screen

Back when I first had to come up with a tagline for Ten Little Astronauts, to put on leaflets and such, I thought about what really set my book apart from the other sci-fi stories - and the other murder mysteries - out there. In the end, I settled on:

1 killer

10 suspects

10,000,000,000,000 miles from help

Partly that was because "X of this thing, Y of that thing, Z of some other thing…

Girth Loinhammer Book Coming 2018

Sunday, 11 June 2017

It s not that kind of dungeon by joe wright d7yjh4w

You might be aware - perhaps through My Name Algernon or my work on Craft Keep VR - that I produce games and interactive fiction as well as books. If you've been following since November, you'll probaby have come across Girth Loinhammer's Most Exponential Adventure: the massively interactive fantasy parody that I’ve been working on for the past year and a half. Well, there's recently been some big…

HWS Gala Evening and Winchester Writers' Festival (and Some Swag)

Friday, 2 June 2017

Writers' festival scholarship photo

There a couple of big events coming up in Winchester this month, so if you're in the area I really recommend dropping by! The first is the Hampshire Writers' Society Gala Evening, where I'll be setting up as part of their Members' Book Fair. It's free to come along, and if you do you'll also get a chance to hear talks by Guardian journalist Erwin James and novelist Claire Fuller whose debut book, …

Unbound Bithday Giveaway - Please Share!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

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Unbound's birthday celebrations continue, this time with a discount and a giveaway both running until the end of the month! The promo code MayDay will give you 15% off anything in the fiction list, and you'll get two free ebooks to boot. Which books you get depends which day you put in your pledge, so take a look at the selection on offer:

New Reward: Unearthly Sleuths Ebook

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Unearthly sleuths cover

Good news for lovers of speculative detective fiction! JayHenge Publishing has just released a brand new anthology, Unearthly Sleuths. In much the same way as Ten Little Astronauts takes the basic premise of And Then There Were None and moves it onto an interstellar spacecraft, every single story in this book follows a detective of some kind or another working in a very unusual setting: essentially…

Ten Little Astronauts at 30%!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Thirty percent

Ten Little Astronauts has now reached 30% of its goal! If you're one of the lovely people already supporting it, keep an eye on your inbox for Harvest Moon, the folk horror story I'll be sending out as the 30% milestone reward. There have been a lot of new pledges just this past week, so if you weren't around for the 20% and 25% rewards, you might like to check those out now: the former is an audio…

Free Shipping Until April 30th - Please Share!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

It's Unbound's sixth birthday and, in a really nifty turn of events, they're offering free UK postage on all titles with code FREESHIPPING. That code will actually knock £4  off the cost of international shipping as well, so it's still a really handy option even if you're outside the UK. This code expires at midnight on April 30th. Don't miss out!

There are two things I think it's really worth…

Winchester Comic Con and EGX Rezzed

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Winchester comic con author panel

Just a quick update to let everyone know that I'll be on the author panel of Winchester Comic Con this Saturday (March 25th). If you're nearby and fancy a day of sci-fi fun, do stop by and say hello! It would be great to see you (and, if you're supporting Ten Little Astronauts, to take the chance to say thanks in person).

It's set to be a busy day, particularly because advance tickets have…

125 Supporter Draw

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Kicking and screaming cover image

It's time once again to send one lucky someone a free bonus book! Ten Little Astronauts has reached 125 supporters, and this time around the reward is Kicking and Screaming, an anthology by A.T Douglas. This book includes (among many other excellent short stories) "Harvest Moon," a folk horror story that's most easily compared to The Wicker Man but isn't really all that similar overall. I struggle…

Ten Little Astronauts at 25%!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Kicking and screaming cover

Huge news! Ten Little Astronauts has reached 25% funding: one whole quarter of the way towards a super swanky trade paperback distributed by Penguin Random House, with even swankier first editions (among other things) going out to supporters. If you've already put in a pledge, you'll already have access to My Name Algernon: a work of interactive science fiction written for the very same MA course…

Brighton Global Game Jam 2017

Thursday, 26 January 2017

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Ten Little Astronauts is very near 25% now, and when we hit that milestone I'm planning a little something special just for supporters of the book: My Name Algernon, a work of interactive science fiction.

In some ways, this is kind of an obvious tie-in to Ten Little Astronauts itself. Both are sci-fi, both got top marks on the same MA course, and both are based on well-known works by other authors…

The Witness for the Prosecution

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

I first heard that the BBC were going to film an adaptation of Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution back when I visited Torquay for her birthday celebrations. It was aired in two parts on Boxing Day and the evening after, and if you didn't manage to catch it then, you've got three more weeks to watch it on iPlayer (provided you live in the UK and have a TV license).

The original Witness…

Robocopout Launch

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

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My flash fiction anthology for 2016 - Robocopout - is now available, and as promised I've sent one to Jo Bellamy, who won the 100 supporters draw. She's actually the very first person in the world to get a copy: I don't even have one myself yet!

If you've only discovered my writing through Ten Little Astronauts, you might be surprised to learn that most of my short fiction is actually quite…

Anodised Aluminium Necklaces: See How They're Made!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Anodised aluminium necklaces

I felt as though I hadn't really done all that much to talk about the anodised aluminium necklaces I'm offering to supporters, not least how I make the things. Since it's even harder to describe than it is to do, here's a video by Alex Carter (Lexica Films) about the design and how it's made!

If you're interested in a necklace of your very own to commemmorate the publication of Ten Little Astronauts…

Ten Little Astronauts has 100 Supporters

Monday, 5 December 2016

Robocopout cover

Ten Little Astronauts has reached 100 supporters and, as promised, I'll be sending a signed copy of my 2016 Flash Fiction Collection, Robocopout, to one of them.

Using the age-old method of names in hats, and recorded for posterity in the hastily-recorded video above, I have determined that Jo Bellamy is the winner! I'll be in touch to sort out how to get your book to you, so if you're reading…

Ten Little Astronauts Gift Card

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

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Christmas is coming, and since putting in a pledge for a crowdfunded project is a nifty gift option, I thought I'd put together a card for anybody who's planning to back Ten Little Astronauts for a friend or relative. A gift like this is great because whoever you give it to knows that they're playing a part in bringing a book to life as well as simply getting one to read, but it's still nice to get…

Girth Loinhammer's Most Exponential Adventure

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Exponential adventure wip flowchart

With  My Name Algernon lined up as the 25% milestone reward, I thought it might be worth sharing my current project for National Novel Writing Month with everbody here. Like My Name Algernon, this is an interactive story in which your choices dictate the path it takes. Unlike My Name Algernon, however, it makes no use of complicated state-checking and conditional text: instead, each passage simply…

Graduation Day

Sunday, 23 October 2016

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Before Ten Little Astronauts was launched by Unbound - submarine promo video and all - it formed the bulk of my work for an MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester. The way the course was weighted, that one project was just about as important as every other module combined. On top of that, in a move that I can only assume was intended to keep postgrads up all night to finish…

Milestone Rewards

Saturday, 1 October 2016

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You might recall that I promised to release My Name Algernon - a never-before-seen work of interactive science fiction - if Ten Little Astronauts reached 25% of its goal by the end of September. Well, that hasn't happened. Partly I think that might be because I underestimated how much of an influence the initial surge of pledges had on the book's overall progress so far (20% would probably have been…

Happy Birthday, Agatha!

Monday, 19 September 2016

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On Thursday I got up at 6 and hopped on a four-hour train to Torquay. The reason? Agatha Christie's birthday celebrations! Also, the event marked 100 years since the creation of (perhaps) her most famous character, Hercule Poirot.

There were a fair few Poirots at the festival itself, which reminded me somewhat uncomfortably of Stevyn Colgan's A Murder To Die For, in which a murder takes place…

September Bonus Reward - My Name Algernon

Monday, 5 September 2016

The campaign to get Ten Little Astronauts into print has now hit 15% of its goal! A strong start, but to keep up the momentum I've got something new in mind: if we hit 25% by the end of September, I'll reward all supporters with a new, polished work of fiction immediately.

Ten Little Astronauts might have been the final project for my MA in Creative Writing - and it was definitely what earned me…

Ten Little Astronauts at Ten Percent!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Ten Little Astronauts has hit 10% funding. Double digits!

Everyone who's pledged so far has done their bit to get the book to the stage it's at now, and you've all earned my eternal gratitude. Still I'd like to thank The Writers at Lovedean in particular for having me over to speak and to run a little flash fiction exercise at their group: their very short stories had me very impressed! While I…

International Pledge Levels Now Available

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Everybody likes a paperback. As handy as ebooks are, and as great as it is to be able to walk around with an entire library in your pocket, when it comes down to it most people still prefer to have a good old fashioned paper book in their hands.

However, paperbacks have to be physically sent through the post, and if you live a long way away then that can be a problem.

Until now, if you wanted…

Why Sci-fi?

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Every book needs an "elevator pitch": a tiny handful of words that immediately convey precisely what that book is. It's the description of your book that you'd provide to any given big-shot if you found yourself travelling in an elevator with them, and it usually involves bringing in another, well-known work for comparison. These things are notoriously difficult to come up with, but for me it was…

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