The first time I met Martin McGrath was at the 2005 SciFi London Film Festivals. I was there to present a documentary—Chasing God—directed by my sister, who lives in Melbourne (which is a bit out of the way from London). I was at the screening of a B-movie from a Canadian director, a film that was full of tongue-in-cheek references of the SciFi canon when Martin came to sit next to me. He mentioned—among many other things—that he watched genre movies indiscriminately, from A to Z.
We crossed paths at several conventions after that (and should meet again at the Odyssey EasterCon right when his story goes up), and at one he asked me to do a column about writing for Focus, the writing magazine of the BSFA, which he edits. (Unfortunately, I was so busy in the last year that I didn’t send him anything. I hope to pick it up again after most of the SHINE madness has calmed down.) Martin is very active in SF fandom and writing, not only with Focus, but also producing Illuminations—an anthology of the Friday Flash Fictioneers—together with Paul Graham Raven, and typesetting the BSFA’s last twenty year review, among many other things.
On top of that, he also writes fiction, and “Barcode Babes” is one of the last fruits of that labour. On the one hand it’s got its tongue firmly in its (barcoded) cheek, but on the other hand it’s also a rumination about the power of social media against the devious minds from the powers-that-be. 21st Century Grrrrl Power!
Cat woke up with an itch on the back of her right hand and a throat as dry and as that place in Patagonia where it hasn’t rained since before Elvis was born. Blearily, not quite half awake, she scratched the itch.
“Ow!” She leapt up in bed. “Shit!”
The back of her hand was red raw and burning. Continue reading