My latest short story, Journal of a DNA Pirate, was published in the latest anthology AfroSFv3.


In 2010, while writing my speculative fiction novel, Soul Searching, and having sent it to a top SA publisher (waiting and waiting) I decided to carry on writing. But I wanted something simple and not as bogged down in size as a novel. I decided a blog style story would work to be able to write every day (almost every day) and rather than having a preconceived idea of where the story needed to go, I would take each day where I left off.
I left it for a while (no ending done) and then revisited it in 2011. And that was it.

During this time I had two large publishers in SA take the Soul Searching manuscript for two years each (with revisions done) before they finally rejected (first – 2009-2011; second – 2011-2013). I took that as a sign that my writing had something to it. I carried on tweaking the novel.

Then in 2014, Fox & Raven publishers in SA had a call for entries for their Havoc/Utopia themed Ravensmoot (volume 2). So I collated the story from the blog and submitted it.

It got in to the final list and came second in the competition. That was one of the first signs that my writing was worthy of publishing.

Unfortunately Fox & Raven closed down, but the Imagine Africa 500 call for submissions came along in 2015 and changed everything for me (Land of Light being my first published piece).

In 2016, Ivor Hartman had a call for submissions for the next installment of the very successful AfroSF anthologies and Journal of a DNA Pirate made the cut!

Find it here:

“Killing one person for the cause is a smudge on the tarmac. Killing a group of people causes a traffic jam—questions, answers, contingency plans, and paranoia. Kill a city and there’s global awareness in half a day. Kill a planet and the worlds go mental. That’s a message! Not a couple of post-it notes slapped onto the foreheads of passers-by. Small-time wastes Time. Time with a capital T-N-T!” – Stephen Embleton, Journal of a DNA Pirate

Reviews and feedback:

Brittle Paper:  Ikhide R. Ikheloa
“Stephen Embleton’s “Journal of a DNA Pirate” comes across as part short story and part movie script, but he pulls it off nicely. It is the liveliest and most engaging of the stories, a breathtaking narrative. Embleton is a brilliant mind on steroids. He defines and redefines the concepts of space and memory. The defiant insistence on writing his story on his own terms makes the reader envious.”

"Journal of a DNA Pirate by Stephen Embleton is a nasty, vicious, exciting tale – it shows how of group of extremists plan to ‘reset’ humanity, and works well enough despite what some may think is excessive swearing and, perhaps, the story’s setting. The ideas present and how they were explored have definitely put Stephen on my keep-a-look-out-for radar."

Andy Sawyer: The BSFA Review Issue 6 Spring 2019
Vector #289 - Summer 2019
Possibly the most effectively-written story is “Journal of a DNA Pirate” (Stephen Embleton). The narrator is part of an experiment in human transformation, an experiment which is actually a terrorist enterprise. With its fusion of discontent, anger, and fleeting human contact, this, along with “Njuzu” and Mame Bougouma Diene’s closing story, best gives what transforms entertaining fiction into something memorable: a genuine sense of difference in worlds carefully and coherently imagined.

Nerine Dorman:
"Journal of a DNA Pirate by Stephen Embleton takes us into the fevered ramblings of a madman with an agenda to unleash a deadly virus. Which is perhaps a story that isn't exactly comforting in present times."

Cynthia Ward – When we talk about Science Fiction: The Cascade Subduction Zone 2019 X Vol. 9. No. 1 
“Faith is also critical to South African author Stephen Embleton’s gripping “Journal of a DNA Pirate,” although its central technology is the use of DNA as “the ultimate mass storage technology.” The Mars-dwelling titular revolutionary’s belief is secular: unaltered genes must be preserved by any means necessary —means which include transmitting a radical new virus by touch."

Interzone #282 July/August 2019
Stephen Embleton’s ‘Journal of a DNA Pirate’ presents us with a group that has determined that the best way to draw attention to the way in which our DNA is being exploited is to kill Mars, all of it. This is biopolitics writ large, killing one world to make a point to another. The battle has escalated beyond anything we can currently imagine, but the arguments remain the same. This is the point made by so many of the stories in this collection.

The verve of Stephen Embleton's "Journal of a DNA Pirate" is--dare I say?--contagious.

An alright collection, but most were just a bit lacking.
Standout stories:
The Luminal Frontier by Biram Mboob, contractors on a transporter ship get flagged down for their cargo, revealing some complex time/space intercrew relations.
Journal of a DNA Pirate by Stephen Embleton, raging postcyberpunk in the vein of Lauren Beukes.

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