Magazine articles on Natural History
The Author, Alan Graham, is an established writer in both fiction and non-fiction. Novels in the genres of science fiction and psychological thrillers, and factual articles relating to natural history and wildlife photography. Some of his many magazine by-lines can be found below.
Home – Non-Fiction – YA Sci-Fi – Fiction
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Inflight Magazine Front Cover by ALAN GRAHAM
LR Series III fan, Alan Graham, explains:
"The Road To Hell is not paved, as some have suggested. Far from it! The Road To Hell undulates across the north eastern plains of Ghana, West Africa, from Damanko Bridge over the River Oti to Nkwanta, nestled at the foothills of the mountains bordering Togo.
The corrugated washboard effect associated with many African dirt roads is so old and well established on this stretch that the distance between one corrugation peak to the next is about 72 inches - almost exactly two thirds the wheel base of our new-fangled LR 110.
We lurch and curse, rising and falling a foot with each passing peak. So if you do intend to take this road, don't have breakfast. I swear we travelled further vertically than horizontally. When a man on a bicycle overtook us, we began to cry..."
... (Land Rover Owner International) Issue 9. 1998
How 3 Pioneering Women Found Success In Belize:
A mile up from Sharon at Belize Zoo on the Western Highway, there is an equally famous establishment called Amigos, a rest stop and drinking hole built back in the late 80s by 'the third girl'. Formerly known as JB's, it is adorned with memorabilia from years of British Army invasion, local adoration and the cast and crew of “Mosquito Coast”, filmed on the Sibun River downstream from Donna's resort. Back then it was the only place for miles around where one could eat and drink, a dilapidated little thatched affair owned and leased over many years by a beautiful young woman simply known as Sue.
“A farmer walked into JB's one evening,” she told me with a chuckle, “And dropped his shotgun to the counter top (we are talking 1988). It went off with a bang, took out a beer mug near by and drilled a hole through my cash register... No one blinked. The man was served and on leaving I presented him with his bill which he paid without question: Stewed chicken, a handful of beers and a cash register.”
... (International Living Magazine) Vol 38 No 4. 2018
Flash Fiction title: "THE BLOKE WHO INVENTED TIME TRAVEL", very British humour.
A few of us in Effingham Lane, Slough, had just recently become rather upset with the bloke in Number 11. Besides the banging and thumping coming from the shed in his back garden, there were other disturbing noises, too: unpleasant gurgles and sort of, farting noises which, as far as we were concerned, was lowering the tone of our neighbourhood.
We decided to confront the bloke and find out what was going on. We had to put a stop to this. So, about five of us gathered together one morning and went to his front door. A frumpy woman opened up. We asked to speak to the bloke and she hollered over the shoulder: “SHIRT!”
A portly bloke arrived in a largely unbuttoned shirt. We explained our concerns and he ushered us inside. He was an older gentleman, maybe 65, with longish, thin white hair. Our party followed him back through his town house to the kitchen and a door to the back garden. We were led out down a lumpy, stone pathway that meandered for no apparent reason. The garden wasn't, really. It was simply bare, flat ground with no interesting features or shrubbery to catch the eye, though it did have some rambling roses tied up the walls. We arrived at his shed and he led us in. “OK,” he said with a wave of his hand, “This is what all the fuss is about, I suppose...”
We peered in, it was a standard, 'fifteen footer'.
In the middle of the floor was a dustbin half full of rubbish, surrounded by a one inch tubular, glass ring about five feet in diameter. To one side, against the wall, was an array of instruments and wires. The rest of the shed was bare. We – or at least, I – were expecting a 'man cave' type of thing: rows of tools all snapped neatly onto wall mounts; a dismembered lawnmower in the corner; a table full of incomprehensible junk; a scary shelf with half empty jars of gunk; but no, the place was practically abandoned. However it was clean, no spiderwebs – odd? Looking up we saw that the roof of his shed had a circle cut out of it, covered with a tarp. He pulled a cord behind the door and the tarp rolled back, revealing fluffy, white clouds. Well, it was July.
“Since the dustman's strike I have had no alternative but to dispose of my rubbish, here.” He picked up the dustbin and emptied the contents on the floor inside the glass ring. “It's just a temporal exchanger, what you younger lot would call a time portal or some such sci-fi nonsense, I suspect. Anyway, the rubbish is transported 20 years into the future.” With that he flicked a switch on the wall and before our eyes we watched as a black, chasmous shaft appeared within the glass ring and all his rubbish seemed to evaporate within it. Air was whipped up in the little shed for a moment - those of us with hair noticing immediately - and a grotesque squeal together with a tummy rumbling growl echoed all around, before the commotion abruptly subsided.
Very slowly we all looked around at one another...
“Er.., wow!” I managed, then trying to sound smart: “Why into the future? I mean, in 20 years your garden is going to be a giant rubbish dump.”
“Well,” he said, “I can't send it back into the past, I've been living here for 50 years. Besides, I'll be dead in ten.”
Marty, my neighbour asked, “Yes, but, why not send it back 50,000 years, or something?”
“The old man scoffed, “Takes too much electricity to go that far back, idiot.”
We all looked back at the glass ring on the floor, except Pauline, my other neighbour. “What's with the hole in the roof,” she asked, looking up.
“Oh, that, he replied. “The temporal effect is focused upwards, I haven't been able to figure out a suitable means to cap it. First time I turned it on my roof disappeared. I'm working on an anti-mirator configuration which should counter and balance the ephemirator there on the floor,” he indicated at the glass ring with a hairy eyebrow.
We left his house in a bit of a daze, hoping that the dustmen would soon be back on the job. We'd always had our suspicions - well Marty mostly - that the Americans had built a time machine which they'd pilfered from the Roswell spaceship, a conspiracy that was all hushed up in Area 54, or whatever. So it was only a matter of time.
A couple of days later Marty comes bouncing into my living room, Pauline in tow, all a fluster. “Have you seen the news?” he exclaims. “Quick, put it on.”
I turn on the telly and find a news channel. A garbled voice: “... still trying to establish how a modern workhorse like the Airbus A350,” says a baffled newscaster, “Could simply vanish out of the sky on approach to Heathrow Airport.”
We ran upstairs with a gut feeling, raced to my bedroom window and reached our necks out as far as we could, peering across the row of back gardens in the direction of number 11. The shed was gone, not a trace of it, just bare ground where it once stood and the bloke's wife, standing in the middle of the garden, scratching her head.
Pauline went first. Pulling herself back in, saying, “Guess that defibrillator thingy didn't work, then?”
“Shh ... We'd best say nothing,” Marty whispered, “Or they'll put us away. Yeah, let's just wait twenty years, then we can tell 'em what really happened.”
“Hmm. Twenty years is one hell of a delay,” I muttered, “Even by Heathrow standards ...”END
Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Snake?
"GO ROUND, go round, quickly," we both shouted in unison. Our boatman, Saliff, was laughing but only until he realised we were actually serious. His smile melted, the following expression of protest was quickly replaced by one of hopelessness - and then, HORROR!
Saliff, it seemed, didn't like snakes. As he brought the skiff around we caught a glimpse of the monster: A brown and white and twisted beast, perhaps 12 feet long, writhing about on the surface of The Gambia River. "It's a python," Solomon, our guide, said. "It's probably just eaten and can't swim so good."
But Saliff was pointing to a small plastic bottle in the reeds on the far bank and it was then that we realised the python was entangled in a fishing net - it was probably drowning. "Come on, we've got to rescue it," shouted my wife. We Who? I thought, looking at Saliff and Solomon cowering in the stern. We Two, dear! Is she serious? Look at it, it's very angry. Oh no, the odds of success seemed really bad. All I had was a headful of panic and a blunt, Swiss Army knife...
... (BBC Wildlife Magazine) Volume 25 No 7. 2007
From trip to film strip, wildlife movie-maker, Alan Graham, reveals the secrets of shooting and editing the ultimate creature feature.
"You'd think I would have learned my lesson by now having trekked through rural Africa just months earlier in search of the perfect wild animal sequence. Tough as it had been then, oh no, here I was back at it again.
Six weeks later we returned to the sanctuary of The Golden Tulip Hotel in Accra. We were blistered, dehydrated and malnourished. We had spent all that time in either dugout canoes or wet boots, either bug-ridden tents or seering sunshine. Ice cubes? You wouldn't believe how hysterically stupid we became over them..."
... (Video Camera Magazine) Issue March, 1998
Efforts are being made to protect them, but will this be enough? Report by Alan Graham:
"West Africa is home to a large proportion of the continent's primates. Sadly they are relatively unknown to all but a few. 12 monkey species alone roam the forests and savannahs of Ghana, and many are quite accessible for viewing.
With such diversity one would have thought West Africa a 'mecca' for primate enthusiasts. Not so! It is only recently that these distant relatives of ours have come to the attention of travellers.
Primates are not unlike us: Dexterity; social order; a keen memory and plenty of cunning all give rise to highly structured discipline. It is not surprising, therefore, that just as we humans were able to adapt and extend our range on foot, so too did many of our cousins. But in the dwindling forests of the Gulf of Guinea it is a very different story..."
... (Travel Africa) Edition 7. Spring 1999
The Flash Fiction below, "SHARKFIN SOUP, ANYONE?" has adult content - beware!
In 2012, the joke around Base Station was that, in case of a major planetary catastrophe, all males should go out onto the ice and ejaculate. In that way, our future humanity might survive for a few million years, in deep freeze.
Cummings, a newbie staffer, was persuaded, more for the dare than for reason. He left the common room, geared up for the cold with various layers of synthetic clothing, boots, gloves, donned a mask and goggles, then opened the door to Antarctica: dry, white and windy. He ambled a few hundred yards off base, blindly through a whiteout, towards a glacier and knelt down. He knew he could not whip out his penis, as it would turn blue in a second and fall off; it was -40 degrees Fahrenheit. So he began to fiddle with himself inside his garments, imagining sex with that short, round faced galley girl, Felicia, the one with the enormous grin that seemed to cut into her cheeks.
Upon reaching a climax he got to his feet, hastily unzipped his orange parka but found - having not rehearsed this part of his plan - that the various layers between him and it were inhibiting under the constraints of time. He came, stumbled forwards in ecstasy and confusion, tripped and unceremoniously dropped into a deep chasm in the ice, 500 feet below.
Two thousand years later, a trading vessel from the other side of our Galaxy happened to alight near Ronne Ice Shelf, looking for profitable merchandise. A probe was picking elements from the exposed wall of a glacier that were considered biological in origin. An orange ball, about 6 inches in diameter, caught its attention. The object was brought in to the pre-fab lab, sampled, then swabs smeared on gel in a plate-sized petri dish.
A few minutes later Cummings was standing, naked on a plate. He was confronted by two beautifully rotund femanoids. He got an erection. The aliens approached, he was ushered to sit down, while one began blowing into his ear. His legs were spread either side of the corner of the table, his manhood proudly displayed between, when the other alien lifted a clever and dropped it sharply between them.
His penis flew off the corner and landed neatly in a tray. He flew backwards, screaming in agony, his legs flailing. The table was upended and he was dispensed out a rear door on to a frozen mound of others. The pain in his groin subsided within seconds, his life within just a few more.
Back inside the lab his penis was laid out on a board and sliced in half, longitudinally. The urethra was expertly pulled out and foreskin removed before the two fillets were thrown into a large vat with hundreds of others. On the side of the merchant vessel later taking off read the words: “Catering Suppliers of Culinary Delicacies from around your Galaxy,” in an unintelligible, foreign language...END
What is Time? For if there were none such a question could not be asked:
"Where is it taking us, or are we leading the way? How does it work? - or, does it? Why are we aware of something that does not appear to exist? And yet, in the same breath we ask: does it go on forever?
Fundamentally, time is about change.
There is a difference between the past and the future. From one minute to the next, things are altering their position, their form and their state, be they great celestial bodies or tiny atomic particles. If no change occurs, there is no need for time. In other words, if the past and the future are identical, existence does not occur, because there is no point nor reason for it being, and no place for it to be...."
... (Time's Paradigm) 1985-2020. Published online.
BROWN HARES: A Devon Dilemma, by Alan Graham
"A fine, long ear protrudes above the grass, as if an artist's brush tipped in black paint. Now there's another, twithching this way and that. A muzzle appears, momentarily poised in contemplation, wide eyes wandering about the horizon.
And then in an instant, before we are even witness to this most ellusive of all British mammals, an apparition has skimmed off across the field and is lost to sight..."
... (Devon Life Magazine) Volume 4. Issue No 9. 2000
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