Matt Dovey

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Homebrew Wine Recipes for Favourable Effects, from the Regrettable Life of Mrs Poulman

Dandelion Wine, To Capture the Eye of A Gentleman

5 gill of twinkling dew from the petals of roses, tulips, peonies &c. as available in early Spring. The more admirable the flower, the greater the effect. Only to be collected on a clear morning when the sun shines down, for it is that glimmering essence you require to capture the eye of dashing Mr Poulman as he passes your market stall on a Saturday, and who sends his footman instead to purchase your jams and preserves when you are so anxious for a moment of his time directly.

Read the rest at Arsenika, Issue 2 →
(exclusive until 13th August 2018)

Fantasy; 997 words; first published 10th February 2018 at Arsenika, Issue 2 →; podcasted 10th February 2018 at Arsenika →

The Lies I've Told to Keep You Safe

I'm sure they're not a threat. Their ships probably need to be that big to travel so far across the stars and the spaces between. They don't mean them to look so dangerous.

They must be friendly. You wouldn't be able to build such things if you couldn't work together as a society.

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Science Fiction; 350 words; first published 19th October 2017 at Daily Science Fiction →

Winter Witch

I feel their grief moving through the forest. It is like a buried splinter tugging at my skin, working its way further inside. In part this is my deep intimacy with these woods, nurtured through all my thirty years, and in part it is the soft sound of their sobbing, carried through still air that is thick with pine and decay and more.

Their sputtering car could only bring them so close in these dense trees, and now they walk the narrow paths to my cottage. The cadence of footfalls on soft mossy ground tells of something small being carried.

There is only one thing so small and heavy with sorrow.

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Fantasy; 1473 words; first published 22nd August 2017 at PodCastle #484 →; podcasted 22nd August 2017 at PodCastle #484 →

To the Editors of The Matriarch, re: Allegations of Pressganging

42nd of Autumn, 16th year of Annabelle II

Regarding yr/ article of 37th of Autumn, and the ongoing judicial case around consent and "press-ganging":

I have served in Her Majesty's Air Navy for two decades now, and am considered one of the foremost Captains amongst that glorious sorority, so I write with authority on the topic of naval employment and sailor acquisition.

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Fantasy; 400 words; first published 1st June 2017 at Daily Science Fiction →

The Ghosts of Europa Will Keep You Trapped in a Prison You Make for Yourself

--then scooted her chair over to the microscope. Amira only needed a glance at the holographic zoom floating over the scope. The viral cells were replicating rapidly, budding and splitting at a phenomenal rate.

"Hey, Mariana, look at this." Amira indicated the hologram, then was struck, at once, with an overwhelming sense of déjà vu: something beyond the familiarity of her lab and its clean white surfaces, or the flat icy plains of Europa beyond the carbonglass windows. And more than the déjà vu, there was a feeling of instantaneousness, that this moment had arisen out of nothing, that nothing was all that had been there before, that everything had just--appeared.

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Science Fiction; 2128 words; first published 26th May 2017 at Escape Pod →; podcasted 26th May 2017 at Escape Pod 577 →


Maybe I should kill her, thought Michael, and a thrill ran through him at the idea.

He looked up from his untouched cold toast as Cathy walked back in from the garden, the winter sun picking out the stray silver hairs that had escaped from her ponytail.

"Not hungry, love?" She put a box of fresh eggs on the side.

Michael smiled weakly and pushed his plate away. "Apparently not."

"Fretting about your writing again?"

And just like that, his decision was made.

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Science Fiction; 984 words; first published 12th April 2017 at Perihelion →

How I Became Coruscating Queen of All the Realms, Pierced the Obsidian Night, Destroyed a Legendary Sword, and Saved My Heart's True Love

No shit, there I was, knee-deep in necromantic weasels in the lair of the mad wizard-king, when Korgar and Elutriel both decided it was time to win my affections once and for all.

Elutriel had summoned an aura of resistance, an iridescent bubble free of weasels. He struggled forwards, heaving against the weight of their wasted furry bodies.

"Push them into the flames!" I shouted, pointing with Hrrnngnngrrrndr, the Sword of a Hundred Thousand Agonies, at the fire-trap Korgar had triggered as we entered the room.

But Elutriel ignored me and waded toward Korgar instead. He used the aura to shove a wave of writhing, stinking flesh before him until it piled up and over the granite-slab shoulders of the Vhunken warrior.

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Fantasy; 5368 words; first published 15th February 2017 at No Shit, There I Was (Alliteration Ink, ed. Alex Acks) →; podcasted 25th April 2017 at Podcastle 467 →

The Increasing Necessity for the Targeted Inculcation of the Overview Effect

Content Warning: contains Donald Trump

Mikhail Padalka's hands danced on the joysticks, a syncopated routine of minor adjustments to bring the Soyuz in to the ISS. He moved automatically: if he considered his actions consciously he'd break the rhythm, overcompensate, and--well, he couldn't contemplate the consequences.

"If this was an American capsule," drawled the man to his right, "that automatic procedure would never have failed. Poor workmanship!"

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Science Fiction; 945 words; first published 9th January 2017 at →

There's a Starman Waiting in the Sky

The mushroom cloud blooms large and malevolent on the surface of the world, casting a long shadow westward to the tip of the island. The instrument of this destruction is inelegant and crude and unrefined, but it is only the first. Others, improved, will follow.

The Starmen watch from their silver machine high above.

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Science Fiction; 888 words; first published 27th December 2016 at →

Quartet of the Far Blown Winds

Silence is the great divider. Perhaps that is why Melinda wields it so effectively against me.

In the silence of space, solar winds flash green, pink and yellow across the gas giant before me, the aurorae twisting like sea worms. Folded nebulae of colour and gravity stretch across the darkness behind it, unimaginable arms of light like grasping gods. Dust twinkles all around me as it vaporises in the antimatter field of our ships.

My own daughter. Alien to me now.

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Science Fiction; 980 words; first published 1st November 2016 at Flash Fiction Online →

Squalor & Sympathy

Anna concentrated on the cold, on the freezing water around her feet and the bruising sensation in her toes. So cold. So cold. So cold, she thought. A prickling warmth like pins and needles crackled inside her feet. It coursed through her body to her clenched hands and into the lead alloy handles of the cotton loom. Each thought of cold! kindled a fresh surge of heat inside and pushed the shuttle across the weave in a new burst of power. Anna's unfocused eyes rested on the woven cotton feeding out of the back of the machine. It looks so warm.

The constant clacking of looms that filled the factory changed tempo, quieted slightly. Anna glanced to her right, where Sally White worked.

Sally was standing, her feet still in her water bucket, and talking to herself. "Sodding thing, gone and jammed on me again. No wonder I can't meet numbers." She was peering into the loom at where her shuttle must have caught.

"Here, let me help." Anna took her bare feet out of the bucket and stepped over. Her own shuttle slowed and stopped as she released the handles.

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Fantasy; 9096 words; first published 3rd May 2016 at Writers of the Future v32 →; podcasted 2nd August 2016 at Podcastle #427 →

The Lady & the Moon

Ella raced up the forest path and dropped her armful of branches and twigs in the firepit. Granddad was still a ways down the hill, his creaky legs making him slow, so Ella lay down on her front at the cliff's edge, where the long grass tickled her chin. The salty summer wind blew her hair into twists like rope as she looked out over the sea. Small white clouds floated beneath her, skimming over the surface of the water, their tops picked out in copper by the setting sun.

A huffing and a puffing behind her meant Granddad Judd had made it to the clifftop, so she sat up and turned to face him. He eased himself onto a weathered log by the firepit. A large conch shell on a length of twine swung loose from his baggy shirt as he leaned forward and took a bottle of seaweed wine out of his bag.

"Ella," he said, bottle shaking in his hands, "how old are you now, girl?"

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Fantasy; 2115 words; first published 28th April 2016 at Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores (subscription required) →

This is the Sound of the End of the World

This is the sound of the end of the world: a billion voices raised in song, a harmony twisting and ululating around the colossal vibrating bass of the core immolators, twelve shining lances of light from the Yattari ships that pierce the now-dying planet of Korthia at equidistant points and pin it in space like a dissected animal on a metal tray.

Captain Jann Yo watches from her bridge. Doubt gnaws at her, and so she connects to the colonial beacons. She needs to hear the hate and violence of the insurrection. She needs to remember her reasons.

The beacons transmit everything. They fulfil their function blindly and faithfully, unable to question their purpose, only to follow it.

They make Captain Jann Yo uncomfortable. She wonders if she is only a beacon to the Empire.

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Science Fiction; 992 words; first published 1st March 2016 at Flash Fiction Online →

Elm & Sorrow

I am waiting for you. In the grove where you made me, in the tree I am carved in, I stand and I wait. The season turns to autumn and the leaves gather round my feet, but I will not forsake you.

My first sensation was the touch of your fingers on my face as you drew me from this living elm. You stroked and caressed and shaped the wood with tools of burnt Indian rosewood, sculpting my body into the trunk. I could not yet see, speak nor hear, but I could feel your hands on me even as I became me, brought forth beneath your fingertips.

You fetched two acorns from the oak on the hill, and with them you gave me eyes. I saw you, beautiful in the golden summer light of this vale, your delicate face lit by slanting rays of sunlight.

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Fantasy; 2112 words; first published 29th October 2015 at →; podcasted 17th November 2016 at →



Matt Dovey is a professional writer of short science fiction & fantasy, and the Golden Pen winner for Writers of the Future v32. He is very tall, very English, and probably drinking a cup of tea right now. His surname rhymes with Dopey, but any other similarities to the dwarf are purely coincidental. More →

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Pick only the ripest, blackest berries, the ones that leave kisses like blood on your fingers, the ones that hide in the shadows of leaves, behind spiders' webs you will tangle and destroy in your fury and haste.

Homebrew Wine Recipes for Favourable Effects, from the Regrettable Life of Mrs Poulman


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Mark's next door neighbour and business partner Pat kept telling him that power flowed through his veins. He took a breath and closed his eyes, trying to will the power back out again and into the ash wand in his outstretched hand. He pointed it at Pat's door. A narrow beam of blue light squeezed out of the end and hit the lock. Nothing happened. Sighing, he folded the wand and put it in his pocket. He took out his key and let himself into her house.

Psychopomps by Judith Field
Far Fetched Fables #181


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"Call me Ronald," he interrupted, brash and loud--uncomfortably so in these cramped quarters. His blonde combover floated ludicrously in the microgravity. Abigail greeted him and started to talk through the history of the space station, the international co-operation, but he cut her off. "I don't want to know any of that. I want to get a good look at America. Great nation!"

The Increasing Necessity for the Targeted Inculcation of the Overview Effect