Collecting short fiction

When it came to launching the infinity plus ebook imprint, I had to decide which titles to launch with. I already had interest from a number of fine authors, but in the end decided to put my own five volumes of collected fiction up first: I was new to this, and it only seemed right to use some of my own work for the trial run.Embrace by Keith Brooke

And so it was that Embrace was the first infinity plus ebook. All went very smoothly, and soon I had five volumes of my own collected stories available, along with titles from Eric Brown, Anna Tambour, Kaitlin Queen and John Grant.

The thinking behind my collections came one very cold evening while I sat with a large coffee outside the O2 arena. My partner and her daughter were in there for a gig, but for a variety of complicated reasons we only had two tickets, so I sat outside working on various book proposals (including my current novel, but that’s another story; literally).

It was a productive evening, and by the time the gig was over I had split short stories written over the previous twenty or more years into five loosely-themed collections. The stories just seemed to fall that way:

  • the first obvious grouping was my darker fiction, gathered in Embrace; this was when I decided to go for semi-explanatory subtitles, so this one was appended with tales from the dark side;
  • the next clear group was the overtly science-fictional, which I gathered in Liberty Spin: tales of scientifiction, the subtitle a nod towards Hugo Gernsback’s original name for the genre;
  • Faking It: accounts of the General Genetics Corporation is a book I’ve wanted to do for a long time, pulling together stories that feature GenGen, the brash company that moves from 1990s bio-engineering start-up to (in my Expatria novels) a galaxy-spanning religion;
  • and that just left a gathering of my fantasy tales together in Segue: into the strange, and some downright weird stories which happened to be about strange transformations, which slotted into Memesis: modifiction and other strange changes (that subtitle another nod to Gernsback).

Could it really be that easy? Other than shuffling a handful of stories around for the sake of balance, it all just slotted into place. What remained was the task of writing an afterword for each of something like 60 or so stories. That took some time, but was interesting to do: revisiting old stories, remembering what it was that inspired them, what problems I hit and so on. In some cases it was easier than others, and there were even stories I’d completely forgotten, but which came rushing back on re-reading.

The covers were produced as a set by my partner, Debbie. She’s an excellent web designer, so it was a matter of transferring these skills to ebook cover design – just another form of screen design, with its own special requirements. I love them, and it’s only marginally frustrating when the covers get more praise than the books…

Segue by Keith Brooke Embrace by Keith Brooke Liberty Spin by Keith Brooke Faking It by Keith Brooke Memesis by Keith Brooke

Feedback has been great, with reviews saying things like, “As usual with Keith Brooke, there are some excellent, clearly-written stories here… if ‘Passion Play’ is not a warning against the dangers of unprotected sex in an sf milieu, then I don’t know what it is”, “very inventive and clever… five stars for entertainment value”, and “If Roald Dahl had written science fiction, he would have written this kind”.

All that remains, now that I’ve filled up five volumes, is to write some more stories! The question is, should I try to theme them, so that they fall into a coherent sixth volume, or will I have to wait another twenty years until I have enough to split up in this way again?

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About Keith Brooke and infinity plus

Keith Brooke is a writer of science fiction, fantasy and other strange stuff, and editor and reviewer of same. He is also the publisher at infinity plus, an independent imprint publishing books by leading genre fiction authors. View all posts by Keith Brooke and infinity plus

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