No Future: Smashwords Review

No Future

No Future

So what do you do if you’re an author and your book has just been given a thoughtful and thought-provoking review that is by no means complimentary?

Well, I could do the obvious: which is ignore it or pretend that the reviewer was in some sense misguided, but instead I would urge everyone who’s interested in my rather long dystopian novel No Future to read the review by Jim Bade and draw their own conclusions.

The review can be found on the following link:

So, in true New York Review of Books fashion, I shall address Jim Bane’s criticisms.

First of all, it’s not all negative. He does say the following:

Mr. Stoke has a definite gift for writing. His phrases and terminology are both apt and well chosen to convey the intended meanings of his story, plot and characters. I found the book fairly easy to read and only a few spelling and grammatical errors. Not bad at all for a self published book.

And also since I’m pretty sure that I’m not “an over educated, narcissistic, foul mouthed, sex obsessed, drug addict with a paranoid irrational dislike of authority and a total lack of faith in humanity“, I guess I must therefore be what Jim describes as “just the opposite and one hell of a writer“. In fact, if I had no faith in humanity, I don’t think I’d ever write something which is intended to somehow counter its worst vices.

I’m no fan of any of “Isaac Asimov to James Michener to Tom Clancy to Danielle Steele“, although since I’ve not really read of any these writers I’m not saying that’s because I wouldn’t like their fiction if I did read them.

However, the main thrust of the criticism is that the whole enterprise is flawed by being unrelentingly pessimistic and even misanthropic. Jim says: “there was not one character that I could identify with. ALL of them were sex and drug obsessed, most of them swore in every sentence, most of them were hypocritical in an almost extreme sense, and oddest of all, most of the characters were very well educated, though pretty much every one of the female characters eventually became prostitutes and the men Johns. I guess my point is that nearly none of them were what most people would consider normal. None of them, to me, were people I would wish to be friends with.

This is criticism I won’t even try to counter. I think it’s absolutely spot on because it does highlight exactly the kind of people dealt with in the novel. These are not generally ordinary people in the normal sense of the word, although in their own milieu they would probably be considered normal enough. The most normal people, such as Alex, are pretty much flawed and the most moral people, with the exceptions of Roland and Diane, have to make unpalatable decisions to survive.

I can’t directly thank Jim Bade (as he doesn’t publish his e-mail address), but I would like to say that I am genuinely very grateful for his review and I hope he reviews my other novels.

However, although No Future is probably the most misanthropic and unpleasant of my novels, I suspect there is enough in almost all my novels that Jim will not like.

And for this I can only apologise.


Glade and Ivory: E-Books


Woolly Mammoth

Woolly Mammoth

As I’ve now finished publishing Glade and Ivory in serial form, I have now formatted the novel in proper book form, so it can no be downloaded in its entirety.

It can be retrieved in the following formats:

  1. Free PDF:
  2. Free e-books (3 separate formats):
  3. Kindle edition:
  4. Smashwords edition:

I’m not sure there’s anything like a definitive format, so I guess it’s a matter of taste which one you fancy. However, if you use an e-book reader, you can either download it from Amazon and Smashwords or, alternatively, download from my website and physically copy the MOBI file to your Kindle or the EPUB file to most other e-books. There may even be a few people using Microsoft’s Reader, which is actually rather better formatted than some of the others.

Whichever format you choose, I hope you enjoy reading the complete novel.

Glade and Ivory: Sequel?

017 - Dutkiewicz - WOLF SISTER - Derecha

Michael Dutkiewicz – WOLF SISTER

I’ve now finished posting all thirty chapters of Glade and Ivory to Literotica and Stories OnLine, and amongst the comments I got for the completed novel was the query about whether there would be a sequel.

The short answer, of course, is: No. There’s no plan to do anything of the sort.

I conceived the novel as being essentially cyclical where the end of Glade’s story joined up with the beginning of Ivory’s and the end of Ivory’s being at the same time as Glade’s demise.

However, it does make me wonder what sort of sequel there would be.

If, as suggested, I continued with the history of Ivory and Ptarmigan, it would be pretty much essential for there to be some kind of crisis in the small community the two young women are leading. And, furthermore, to be interesting it would have to explore a set of prehistoric issues that haven’t been covered already.

However, I think that there’s a lot else that could be written with a prehistoric setting. There are, after all, nearly a hundred thousand years of prehistory for our species alone (and many times that if I were to consider other hominid species or genera), and there are a lot of interesting subjects. There is, for instance, the initial colonisation of the Americas when the ice sheets receded at the end of the last Ice Age and the early native Americans were confronted with a cornucopia of large mammals who were, in a sense, ready for the slaughter. There are also the first few villages and cities in the prehistoric past that show a huge amount of sophistication only a few hundred years after the end of the Ice Age and before what we would now consider to be agricultural societies. And there’s also the more recent stories of the megalithic society that lived in the British Isles (including Ireland and the Orkneys) which showed a remarkable degree of cultural unity.

There’s so much to write and so little time.

Jean M. Auel and ‘Glade and Ivory’

Stone Age Village

Stone Age Village

It has been a thoroughly dispiriting exercise for me to post Glade and Ivory on Literotica. This is no fault of the site itself, but rather the response I’ve had from the readers.

Although I consider Glade and Ivory to be one of the best and most mature novels I’ve written, the response from Literotica readers has been at best underwhelming. For instance, within seconds of a chapter being submitted it always earns a very low vote from (I suspect) the same dissatisfied reader, which obviously doesn’t help the novel gain new readers. And the comments I’ve received have been discouraging.

The following is the latest comment I’ve received on Literotica for the first chapter by the ubiquitous Anonymous:

I’m  very surprised that you didn’t at least give an acknowledgement to Jean Auel for ripping off much of the theme of her book series, even though you’ve changed the name of some of the characters! Out of good manners I would have thought that you would at least thank her for the inspiration!!

Well, there’s one very good reason why I didn’t and won’t follow this advice and that is because I’ve never read any of Jean M. Auel’s novels.

And I’ve most certainly never ripped off the theme of her book series or changed the name of some of her characters.

Obviously I’ve heard of Jean M. Auel and because I’ve long had an interest in prehistory I’ve been tempted to read her novels. However, I’ve had a skim through her novels and although I can see some areas of overlap between Glade and Ivory, (in the sense that Hilary Mantel’s recent novels and Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons have significant overlap) I’d contend that there’s no real sense that Glade and Ivory is a copy of Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series of novels.

In fact, I’ve not really been tempted at all to read Jean M. Auel’s novels for pleasure, let alone inspiration.

Glade and Ivory is a much more savage view of Stone Age life than anything Jean M. Auel’s written. It has much more sex, violence and deviant behaviour, and very soon wanders into territory which I can see from the synopses of the novels and a skim through the prose, would be something Jean M. Auel would probably very much prefer not to be associated with.

My main concerns in Glade and Ivory, as well as trying to get a feel for a period of prehistory not often written about, are related to political satire, sexual identity and a certain view of historical processes. I get the feeling that Jean M. Auel is mostly interested in an essentially rather conventional set of romantic tales (with a very contemporary, even American, view of sexual love and what makes an ideal man or woman) framed around accounts of Palaeolithic technology and life-style that emphasise, for instance, such familiar themes as human heroism, triumph through adversity and all that sort of stuff. I may be wrong, of course, but I expect that her novels are essentially unthreatening to any reader (especially ones from New England and Illinois) and this is one of the secrets of her huge success.

In the meantime, I have just three more chapters of Glade and Ivory to post and I expect that as far as Literotica readers are concerned I shall be quite relieved to have got them out of the way.

Ruthie’s Club


New Summer Outfit / Hung Over / Frank Sinatra

The above image is one of several dozen illustrations that were made for my fiction while I was actively contributing short stories to the now defunct Sex Story site called Ruthie’s Club. I can’t actually recall the name of the artist, but the above illustration is one of the better pictures that accompanied my short stories. It was put together to illustrate a set of three shorter short stories I’d submitted to Ruthie’s Club which were published on the same day as each other in January 2004.

The three short stories were New Summer Outfit, Frank Sinatra and Hung Over. They were all included as part of a Bradley Stoke Festival that was featured on the site to showcase the fiction I’d written.

Ruthie’s Club was a sex story website that emerged at the start of the last decade and was founded by the eponymous Ruthie. She was a professional author and editor who wanted to provide a more flattering presentation of the kind of sex fiction that was being featured on when the news group wasn’t synonymous with spam and the moderated off-shoot when the number of submissions per day was dramatically greater than it is today. I was paid a modest amount to submit short stories (of a sexual nature) for which several artists of varying degrees of talent submitted illustrations.

After Ruthie died in 2005, the website continued for several more years under the guiding influence of Desdmona and her husband until their ill-health led to the website closing down altogether in about 2010 or thereabouts.

I only mention it because I have started submitting some of my short stories to the website Lush Stories and, because the facility exists, to upload the illustrations that originally accompanied the stories. I’m doing this because I think it’s the only way to give the illustrations some sort of continued existence now that the website where they’d originally appeared no longer exists.

I haven’t used any of the illustrations on my website, though I wonder whether I might not change my policy there. After all, the illustrations exist and many of them make little sense unless accompanied by the story with which it is supposed to be associated.

What do you think?