Dale L. Sproule

Years ago on my blogs I talked a lot about a new publishing paradigm. The big publishers are going down, I would say. Self-publishing is clearly going to be a part of whatever happens (or more accurately ”whatever is happening.”) It is a process. And it has continued apace throughout the lock-downs and post-Corona period, continually evolving to work within the different forces and protocols that defines our lives during these times.

Now, we’re gripped in the teeth of climate change much sooner than anyone had anticipated or prepared for. During the pandemic, people didn’t want to read pandemic stories. During times of war, we don’t want to read about war. What kind of distraction would be most effective for people facing fires, floods, blizzards, windstorms?

Some publishing predictions can be made;

Non-fiction diverts us and can prepare us better for whatever happens. Romances, fantasies, historical fantasies give us escape (much needed relief from stress).

Clearly survivor stories, hero stories, and saviour stories give us hope. By presuming there will be a future, post-apocalyptic fiction may be the best medicine for people in a funk. Imagining ourselves there enables us to believe that we will survive the challenges currently facing the human race.

In the future, we will be indomitable.

If we all had the ability and the inclination, we would each write our own stories. But, as has been the truth throughout history, the task of chronicling our future as it happens falls to only a few people. The books that make the greatest impact on readers will be those where reader reactions actually helped to shape the books we read and stories that speak most sensibly to us.

Public revision alters the course of a story, bringing it more in line with what the public needs to read. And self-publishing is a brilliant forum for that. Or at least – is becoming brilliant.  As writers release their self-published books, they become privy to the comments of reviewers, they get to have conversations with their readers and they get a rare chance to fix whatever is not working. The same process could repeat itself in subsequent books set in the same milieu, with the book getting better as it goes along.

From what I’ve read; Hugh Howey’s experience with Wool (AKA Silo) and Andy Weir’s experience with The Martian both drummed up support gradually by publishing their books as serials online. Numerous other authors employed their growing fan bases to help them perfect their books. Many other modern writers had similar trajectories on fan-fic sites and other public writing sites. It’s like having an army of beta readers who each have a vested interest in your work.

Everytime a writer succeeds through a route like this, hundreds of other writers try to emulate them, but this mostly just clogs up the path to success. So that’s the challenge in 2023 – use the internet in a new way, find a new path to success, find your own damned path! See you then.  

FOOTNOTE: I was saddened to learn that Dark Recesses Online, which published by story “Boomer Trap” in summer 2022 has gone on indefinite hiatus. Best of luck to everyone involved in making Dark Recesses one of the best markets for dark fiction!


A story that means a lot to me, “From Out of The Glamour” appeared in Issue XII of All Worlds Wayfarer magazine. Pick up a copy on Google now.!

And if you don’t yet have a copy of The Human Template, get your hands on the first edition before it’s replaced by the revised second edition in 2023.

A rare and wonderful book, though a tad cynical. It’s about us, after all. Be prepared to be shocked. And amazed.

Amazing Stories, Mar, 2021

Featured Story

Nunavut Thunderfuck

I was chillin’ solo at the club, three hours before opening, when I heard the brap of an iron dog on its last legs and went out to find Anyu Kigutaq just sittin’ there on his retro Ski-Doo in the middle of an ice storm. So I grabbed him by the hood of his parka and dragged him in the side door. “What the fuck you doin’ out there kid?”

Tell the truth, I knew Anyu was coming and had an idea why. Thanks to my bro, DJ Crispy Kay,  we got taps and spy-cams at three separate police detachments. He got access while workin’ security for Baffin Hydro when they were runnin’ the power lines from Jaynes Inlet – he da power bear. Even designed and installed our “industrial perimeter harpoon” rig round the welcome mat at the old lab. Durin’ the long darkness, if somebody we didn’t like came snoopin’ – ‘presto,’ they were on an instant fucking ice cube floating into Hudson Straight.  Smart motherfucker, my brother.  But still, he’s a polar bear, so his employment options are limited.

Dale’s Blog

Photo by Do-Ming Lum 2019
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1.1 – InDOCtrination  

“I think you’re finally ready,” said the Spectacular Doctor OWL to the photo-perfect avatar of Raine Naidu, who was spread-eagled in the air like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.

Having not yet been activated, Raine could neither hear nor respond.

Doc OWL’s lengthy immersion in the chore of collecting and reassembling all the stray file-fragments of the long-lost personality matrix had been so all consuming that Doc had given little thought to the question of what to do with Raine when he was ready to bring him to life.

Eventually, the avoidable became inevitable. Doc looked into the blank eyes of the future and said, “G2G or at least as good as it’s gonna get.”

The room shifted.

Although typical of new avatars, Raine’s unblemished skin and perfect features gave him all the apparent depth and gravitas of a newborn.

What insights, Doc wondered, could the rebirth of this literal ‘babe in the woods’ possibly contribute to the development of beings hundreds of years older and wiser than itself?

Doc’s anxiety was in the red. What it was about to do would change the course of everything.

Diving as deeply into Raine’s psyche as it was possible to get, Doc found dozens of fragments of early Doctor OWL memories and steered them from that point onward.

Through the magical fusion between Raine’s Kinder Implant and the hospital’s ChildMinder, five year old Raine watched Doc OWL stand at the foot of the bed. The air was filled with antiseptic smells. Beeps from other rooms provided a faint and random soundtrack. Tall figures in white whizzed past in a hazy blur through the open door. Voices occasionally rose above the din in the hall. Raine heard his mother yelling about taking him to a country where her celebrity could buy him better treatments.

“Why don’t you do that, then,” said a different woman’s voice. “Save the health care for someone who couldn’t afford it otherwise.”

In that instant, Doctor OWL flapped up onto the foot of the bed and began to dance. Unlike a real owl, Doc OWL was an amazing dancer. Raine giggled as Doc did a pirouette, spreading its wings and rising into the air. Digging it’s talons into the soft yield of his pillow, it bent over and whispered to him like it often did. But instead of the usual, “Woo-Whoo, little squirrel!” to get Raine’s attention back into the lesson – today, Doc OWL said, in a very adult and, in fact, doctorly voice, “We need to talk. But not here. Come with me.”

“Come with you…?” Raine said in a child’s voice, but the final word, “Where?” came out in a clear baritone. He pushed aside a pang of panic. There was no entity that Raine trusted more than Doc OWL.  

The hospital bed grew icy cold beneath him, and Raine turned his head to see Doc tap-dancing on galvanized steel. They were inside Doc’s Two Hoots Treetop Laboratory.

Only that’s not what Doc said.

Instead, it said, “Welcome to the BioGrid.”

As Raine sat up, the first thing he noticed were his massive hands – as big as Doc OWL’s wings. He lifted them, wriggling the huge fingers and staring. He touched his face with one, pulling his hand back when his fingertips were prickled by the stubble on his chin. It was almost familiar; teetering on the verge of making sense. The words “Frankenstein’s monster” occurred to him but didn’t seem quite right. Closing his eyes, Raine damped down his panic, but still felt breathless. He fought to inhale.

You don’t need to breathe in this virtual environment, instructed a thought that somehow didn’t feel like his own.

“But I like to breathe, I want to breathe.” As he tried to wrap his head around what he heard himself saying, Raine placed a giant hand on his chest. “Can’t I breathe if I want to?” a strange warmth arose from the deep sonorous vibration in his chest. Aloud, he said, “I’m in a grown-up body. I’m a grown up aren’t I?”.

And you don’t need to talk either, added Doc Owl, continuing aloud,“although sound is one of the senses with which trees are most familiar. We love to talk because it makes us feel more human. That’s why the boles and host corridors are such noisy places.”

“Bowls?” asked Raine. Various sorts of bowls went through his head.  But, “Host corridors?” That was a new one.

“I’ll show you,” hooted Doctor OWL, growing from a tiny cartoon bird into a full- size man in an owl costume. It took Raine by the hand and guided him along a wide path that ran between featureless bunker-like structures, each with a single door opening into the corridor. The major differences between the structures were the doorways themselves, which ranged from cavern entrances to ornate gateways to energy portals.

“Technically, you never need to walk, stop, or loiter in a host corridor,” Doctor OWL was telling him. “Most guests travel straight from their door to their host’s door and just use the corridor as a throughway. Although it has become trendy for guests to scope out the host’s neighbourhood before dropping in.

Small groups of people in elaborate costume gathered in front of an elaborate iron gateway. Walking past a knot of armoured samurai and a rag tag assortment of what looked like bandits and cat burglars, they came to a group of aristocrats in long, frilly gowns with prominent decolletage, white wigs, and fluffy cravats – gathered in front of an open castle drawbridge. They spoke to Raine in French and he understood every word of their small talk.

“Is this the one?” A white-faced woman with a towering pouf of silver-blue ringlets asked Doctor Owl.

“He doesn’t know up from down yet, but yes.” Doc responded, before turning and leading Raine back down the corridor to the cubicle from which they had emerged a few minutes earlier. Or was it days? Time in the Bio-Grid was particularly hard to gauge.

Back in Doc’s treetop lab, Doc said to him, “As fascinating as all this may be, the varied intricacies and manners of arboreal society can wait. The best way for you to get orientated is to remember where you came from and how you got here.”

Raine felt as if he’d just staggered, drunk, into his Calculus and Vectors class and was forced to take a finals exam at a moment when even staying upright was a challenge. As he struggled to make sense of his new environment, his head was whirling and reality dissolving around him.

Giving into the vertigo, Raine was aware of Doc lowering him back down onto the examination table, explaining. “Your brain is trying to process and assimilate all this new input as though you still had a human brain. That’s unnecessary. I’ll teach you to store it properly soon enough. But for now, I need you to think about where you are and remember how you got here. Try to remember your upload.”


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