Category Archives: literary

Publication day for Anna Tambour’s Smoke Paper Mirrors: a short saga for our times

Published today in print and ebook formats:

Smoke Paper Mirrors: a short saga for our times by Anna Tambour

atspm-fb01

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Smoke Paper Mirrors

a short saga for our times

atspmFrom the totally not bestselling author of Crandolin (shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award), an extraordinary and moving novel that confronts and defies boundaries.

“Thank you,” said Arthur. “There’s always hope.” He’d always hated that facile truism, but said it because he’d thought it was expected. From the Croatian’s startled expression, he knew how gruesomely wrong he was.

That night Mrs Ma’s butterfly brooch came to him in a dream – flying in, pinless, through the open window. It landed on his open palm and closed its wings in repose. Such a comforting sign, Melmet would say. But she read Turkish coffee mud.

“a very curious writer” – Ian O’Reilly, British Fantasy Society review of The Finest Ass in the Universe

“Anna Tambour is an example of one.” – Ben Peek, The Super Obscure, Nobody’s-Ever-Read, You-Must-Read, Pimp-All-The-Books thread

 


New: The Quarantined City by James Everington

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The Quarantined City by James EveringtonThe Quarantined City: sealed off from the outside world, with only the sight of the ocean to remind its inhabitants of life beyond. No one knows why the city has been quarantined and conspiracy theories abound.

But for Fellows life continues largely as before. He walks the streets, hunts out rare books; the sun continues to shine and the gulls circle above.

There’s the small matter of the ghost haunting his house, but Fellows doesn’t let himself think of that.

But when he tracks down a story by the reclusive writer known as Boursier, his old certainties fade as he becomes aware that the secrets of the city, the ghostly child, and the quarantine itself, might be more connected than he thinks…

“There is an edge of Murakami here, we are in a world just slightly skewed from our own but all the more foreign for that. Everington has a crystal clear prose style, reminiscent of JG Ballard but, like China Miéville, twisted toward the gothic…” Damien G Walter

“Good writing gives off fumes, the sort that induce dark visions, and Everington’s elegant, sophisticated prose is a potent brew. Imbibe at your own risk.” Robert Dunbar, author of The Pines and Martyrs & Monsters

“Everington is excellent at evoking a mounting sense of unease, turning to dread, that close, oppressive feeling when everything is still and ordinary, but the whole world is filled with the sense that something huge and terrible is just about to happen.” Iain Rowan, author of One Of Us and Nowhere To Go

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Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes and NobleKoboApple – Smashwords

The Quarantined City by James Everington


Shahrukh Husain’s A Restless Wind: “A rare glimpse of what life may or may not be like for modern Indian royalty.”

Over at The Asian Writer Shahrukh Husain talks about the background to her novel A Restless Wind:

“The story had been gestating since I was a teenager fascinated by the family events of a close relative, the Sufism, a certain annual festival held in the grounds of the house that I’ve renamed Qila. That house and its backyard community played a massive part in the formation of my values. There was a solidarity there, a unity, that transcended barriers and survived all the tittle-tattle, minor resentments and disagreements to be expected in all normal communities…”

Accompanying the interview, there’s a lovely review:

“Husain deftly handles a feast of characters and twisting plots. This is a cleverly written, challenging novel which asks the question what does it mean to be happy and fulfilled? … A rare glimpse of what life may or may not be like for modern Indian royalty. A fascinating read.”

~

The book:

arestlesswind-fbgraphic

 

Zara Hamilton leads an apparently charmed life as a human rights lawyer in London – but she is haunted by questions about her past. Why did her mother disappear? What made her college sweetheart, the Maharaja of Trivikrampur, abandon her? Why did her husband renege on a plan to return to her native India? And why has she avoided visiting her much-loved family home in Qila, Trivikrampur? After ten years as a Muslim in Britain, bereft of a homeland, Zara finally seeks the answers. When she returns to Qila, her world is shatteringly different, her aristocratic family mired in complications and far-right politics on the rise. Amid the unrest of a changing nation, Zara seeks the key to her mother’s secret as contemporary resentments clash with a harmonious past.

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UK

Buy this book in print (ISBN: 1515075699): Amazon USAmazon UKCreateSpace – and other booksellers
~

A Restless Wind piques the reader’s interest from the very beginning with fine details and a strong and engaging protagonist.” The Deccan Herald

“A fascinating emotional narrative of an expatriate, A Restless Wind intertwines the old with the new in modern India.” Muneeza Shamsie, Newsline (Pakistan)

“When India Exotic meets India Embattled a great new transcontinental heroine is born. Husain has put the characters together with great care. But it is Zara who is the novel’s anchor and her confusion over her identity propels the plot.” Kaveree Bamzai, India Today

“One intriguing trait of Husain’s narration is its delicately filigreed details. Her descriptions are graphic, colourful and semiotically nuanced. The semiotized narrative brings home to the reader the contrasted cultural set-ups, or, in phenomenological terms, the conflicting ‘lifeworlds’ that the different characters in the novel inhabit.” Arnab Bhattacharya, The Telegraph, India

~

Shahrukh Husain writes fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She has written four themed retellings of folklore and myth for Virago and worked on scripts commissioned by Merchant-Ivory and Buena Vista among others. Currently, she is developing TV projects for SKY, KUDOS and BENDIT FILMS while working on her second novel.

She is a practising analytical psychotherapist and has worked extensively with asylum-seekers and PTSD survivors.

She was born in Karachi, Pakistan and divides her time between northwest London and East Sussex.


New: A Restless Wind by Shahrukh Husain

arestlesswind-fbgraphic

restlesswind-ebook-coverZara Hamilton leads an apparently charmed life as a human rights lawyer in London – but she is haunted by questions about her past. Why did her mother disappear? What made her college sweetheart, the Maharaja of Trivikrampur, abandon her? Why did her husband renege on a plan to return to her native India? And why has she avoided visiting her much-loved family home in Qila, Trivikrampur? After ten years as a Muslim in Britain, bereft of a homeland, Zara finally seeks the answers. When she returns to Qila, her world is shatteringly different, her aristocratic family mired in complications and far-right politics on the rise. Amid the unrest of a changing nation, Zara seeks the key to her mother’s secret as contemporary resentments clash with a harmonious past.

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon Canada – FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Buy this book in print (ISBN: 1515075699): Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaCreateSpace – and other booksellers
~
A Restless Wind piques the reader’s interest from the very beginning with fine details and a strong and engaging protagonist.” The Deccan Herald

“A fascinating emotional narrative of an expatriate, A Restless Wind intertwines the old with the new in modern India.” Muneeza Shamsie, Newsline (Pakistan)

“When India Exotic meets India Embattled a great new transcontinental heroine is born. Husain has put the characters together with great care. But it is Zara who is the novel’s anchor and her confusion over her identity propels the plot.” Kaveree Bamzai, India Today

“One intriguing trait of Husain’s narration is its delicately filigreed details. Her descriptions are graphic, colourful and semiotically nuanced. The semiotized narrative brings home to the reader the contrasted cultural set-ups, or, in phenomenological terms, the conflicting ‘lifeworlds’ that the different characters in the novel inhabit.” Arnab Bhattacharya, The Telegraph, India

~
Shahrukh Husain writes fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She has written four themed retellings of folklore and myth for Virago and worked on scripts commissioned by Merchant-Ivory and Buena Vista among others. Currently, she is developing TV projects for SKY, KUDOS and BENDIT FILMS while working on her second novel.

She is a practising analytical psychotherapist and has worked extensively with asylum-seekers and PTSD survivors.

She was born in Karachi, Pakistan and divides her time between northwest London and East Sussex.


in the bundle: Little Sisters of the Apocalypse by Kit Reed

In July 2015 infinity plus and Storybundle offered a special deal for a set of nine literary fantasy books, including Kit Reed’s Little Sisters of the Apocalypse. The deal is no longer available but Little Sisters of the Apocalypse will be available in September as a standalone book. 

 

 

Little Sisters of the Apocalypse

“Reed has a prose style that’s pure dry ice, displayed in dystopian stories that specialize in bitterness and dislocation.” – The New York Times Book Review

Kit Reed: Little Sisters of the ApocalypseA motorcycle gang of nuns rides out on a mysterious rescue mission in this dazzling work of metaphysical fiction by Kit Reed. This scarifying trip into the near future provides an extraordinary look at women in the contemporary world. Marooned on Schell Isle in a pre-apocalyptic near future, the women are waiting. The men have all gone to war – the ultimate sexist act. When he comes back will he be welcomed? It’s an open question. But today is the day everything begins to change. What unknown force is rushing towards the island? What do the women have to fear? Is it the murderous Outlaw family, riding their way and bent on revenge, or the men, or an enemy within? But the bikers are coming: sixteen in all, in black helmets emblazoned with a silver cross, metaphysical infonauts who run computer programs in a ceaseless search for the name of God. They pray for the dead and when they have to, they ride out on their bikes to defend the living. Until they lift the face plates you will not know who they are. Watch out for them. The Little Sisters of the Apocalypse.

“A touching tribute to the author’s mother, a bittersweet space-age tale on the nature of women and loss.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Her stories are sharp, transgressive and full of the unexpected, with enough keen social observations to launch a thousand dissertations. ” – Chelsea Cain in The New York Times Book Review

“The Story Until Now unleashes new and classic stories fired by a radiant imagination.” – Elissa Schappell in Vanity Fair

A personal note from bundle curator Keith Brooke

Of all the notes I’ve written on books in this bundle, this has been the hardest, with far too many false starts followed by deleting everything and starting again. As befits her ‘transgenred’ label, Kit Reed’s work defies categorisation and tags. Little Sisters of the Apocalypse raises all kinds of questions about society, women’s roles, and the political of the everyday, but above all, for me, it’s one of the most moving stories I’ve read in a long time. And there are biker nuns. This is its first ebook publication, exclusive to this bundle.

Extract

And in a ruined city so remote from Schell Isle that Chag has never heard its name, sixteen bikers roll out of an underground garage and into the cold morning. Their black helmets are bisected by sleek crosses in silver. Warm breath mists the smoked face plates. The leader raises her gloved hand.

Ready?

The sixteen dip their heads briefly and cross themselves. In ordinary times the bikers dazzle with new software at the top of the Pearson Tower in the blasted city, but today they have business elsewhere. In ordinary times the women are brilliant hackers, who market technology to support their mission to the homeless. They pray together four times a day and when circumstances permit, they meditate. In gentler times they would have been contemplatives.

But in this continuum the savage world demands more. When people are starving you can’t just turn your backs and pray for them. Right now life is uncertain and time is short. There’s too much to be done here.

The women pursue their God at lightspeed. Brilliant, driven, the bikers devise computer programs in an attempt to address the Almighty. Like divers they are poised for the ultimate leap. Let the computer vault everything that’s gone before, leapfrogging millennia of prayer and effort; let the analog mind pursue possibilities at speeds it’s impossible to comprehend; let it take them to the new jumping-off point. Then let it begin. For the gifted ones, who come closest to pure contemplation, time spent any other way is a necessary sacrifice. Love-struck and drawn, the women yearn only for the Presence, but even among themselves these bikers will not acknowledge which of them has come close, for fear God may hear them trying to describe what has been given and take it away.

They raise their own vegetables in the city park behind their office block. They celebrate the Sacrament of the Eucharist with the occasional transient priest; they try to do God’s will and they try not to resent the male hierarchy that tells them they are only women, and therefore not fit to be His priests.

They pray for the dead and when they have to, they ride out on their bikes to defend the living.

Their legend precedes them: crimes interrupted by the mysterious riders; lives saved at the last minute by bikers roaring to the rescue, robberies thwarted, murderers stopped; children rescued from floods or snatched from under the wheels of runaway cars at the last possible minute; householders saved from foreclosure by an astonishing gift of money; evildoers foiled and the helpless— helped. Picked up from the gutter and handed new lives, the blessed run to the door—too late—in an attempt to say thank you.

Before they can be identified, the mystery riders are on their bikes and gone, whisked away with a roar, disappearing in a cloud of oily exhaust.

Householders stand in the doorway, baffled. Who was that … What do we have to reckon with?

Riding with black scarves streaming, the bikers do not advertise. Surprise gives them the advantage. Mystery makes them powerful; they give their lives to it. Pressed to name the source of their strength, they can only partially explain, although they’ve spent a lifetime trying to comprehend it.

They are riding out for a reason, and if only the leader knows what it is and she only imperfectly, no matter.

It’s enough to know something needs doing.

So it is over the lakebed that the motorcycles will come, pulverizing the cracked earth and raising a terrible dust. They will come in a roar of souped-up engines and a cloud like an approaching sandstorm. Until they thud to a halt in a tight half-circle and the whirlwind stills, you will not be able to see the riders clearly, and this is the way they want it. Until they lift the face plates you will not know who they are. Even then the riders’ features will be obscured, frosted with desert sand, so that until their leader speaks you will not know her, and the lettering on the helmets? Not yet clear.

Bikes start: HUDN-HUDN. RMMM RMMM RMMMM. The leader raises a gauntleted hand: everybody here? Fifteen other bikers raise their hands for the count. Ready.

RMMM RMMMM RMMMMMMM. Watch out for them. The Little Sisters of the Apocalypse.

(end of extract)


in the bundle: Hairy London by Stephen Palmer

In July 2015 infinity plus and Storybundle offered a special deal for a set of nine literary fantasy books, including Stephen Palmer’s Hairy London. The deal is no longer available but Hairy London can still be bought separately:

 

 

Hairy London

“Stephen Palmer is a find.”—Time Out

Hairy London by Stephen PalmerWhat is love?

One evening at the Suicide Club three gentlemen discuss this age-old problem, and thus a wager is made. Dissolute fop Sheremy Pantomile, veteran philosopher Kornukope Wetherbee and down-on-his-luck Velvene Orchardtide all bet their fortunes on finding the answer amidst the dark alleys of a phantasmagorical Edwardian London.

But then, overnight, London Town is covered in hair. How the trio of adventurers cope with this unusual plague, and what conclusions they come to regarding love is the subject of this surreal and fast-paced novel.

And always the East End threatens revolution…

“Stephen Palmer’s imagination is fecund…”—Interzone

“… (a) supremely odd yet deeply rewarding experience.”—CCLaP

“…a tour de force in imagining possibilities that lie beyond our information age… If you enjoy the full immersion experience of neo-magic, you’ll [like] Muezzinland.”–Gwyneth JonesNew York Review Of SF, on Muezzinland

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaBarnes and NobleKoboApple – SmashwordsGumroad

A personal note from bundle curator Keith Brooke

Although not an out-and-out comedy, I actually laughed out loud at some of the puns and witty observations in this satirical and incisive romp when I edited it for its first publication at infinity plus. Hairy London takes the known and twists it into odd shapes, an alternate-London fantasy that paints an extraordinary backdrop to an adventure story that puts love and society under the microscope in a novel quite unlike anything else you will have read before.

Extract

There were so many horseless carriages outside the Suicide Club that Sheremy Pantomile found himself pushing between lampblack-stained running boards, so that to his horror his trousers became blemished below the knee. He clicked his fingers at the doorman and shouted, “Gentleman! Find me a passage between these smoking wrecks, or I’ll have you cashiered.”

Gentleman Smyth adjusted his turban, glanced this way and that, then descended to street level. “My apologies, sir. There is talk of one of our explorers returning from furthest Oriental reaches. It seems news has spr––”

“Just find me away in, fellow. Then find me new trousers. I take a thirty four inch waist.”

Gentleman used his rear to nudge aside one of the horseless carriages, allowing Sheremy to squeeze through, then led him up the steps and inside the great marble edifice that was the hall of Bedwards House, Chancery Lane. Sheremy hurried into an ante-chamber, not wanting any of his peers to see his embarrassment. Gentleman followed. “I will go at once to the Trousery,” the doorman said, “then return with a fresh garment. What colour, sir?”

“Same as these. And don’t go, run.

Gentleman bowed. Sheremy waited, his annoyance fading as the sounds and smells of the Suicide Club calmed his mind. This was home. Here, he could be at peace, be free of the noise and stink of London; and here he could exercise his talents in the service of his fellow men. Damn, that Sikhish fellow was taking his time…

At last, as the Belladonna Clock struck nine, and then a few seconds later the great Tibetan dinner gong, Gentleman returned. Sheremy whipped off his trousers, adjusted his leather undergarment, then pulled on the clean trousers. “Excellent,” he said, “though they smell of lavender.”

“We use it to drive away moon moths,” Gentleman explained.

“What’s on the menu tonight?”

“A deviled tartar of yak, sir.”

Sheremy departed, hurrying up the stairs that led to the dining room. Before entering it he checked his appearance in the mirror held upright by the statue of Turkman Hi retrieved from the ruins of Constantinople by Pharaday Lemmington. Aha… tall, dark eyed, black hair slicked down, a subtle moustache on his upper lip. No wonder the girls loved him.

He walked into the dining room and at once saw several of his associates seated at a pentagonal table; one chair free. He strode forward.

“Friends!” he said, allowing a servant to pull back the vacant seat.

“You are a minute late,” said Velvene Orchardtide, examining a gold chronospiel that hung from his waistcoat spigot.

“An unpleasantness outside the building,” Sheremy explained, “caused by news of some import – or so I believe.”

Sheremy glanced at the other two diners: Sir Hoseley Fain, white-bearded Treasurer of the Suicide Club, and Lord Blackanore of Highgate, the Secretary. He enjoyed exalted company tonight. “Frankly,” he said, lighting a cigaroon, “I’m getting rather tired of dear Lemmington’s comings and goings. Can’t we find a higher calling than shooting exotic animals and returning them to London?”

A few embarrassed titters rose from the table. Sir Hoseley sniffed, then said, “What did you have in mind, mon ami?”

“Oh… just something better, I suppose.”

“Then you must think of something,” said Velvene, glancing again at his chronospiel. “Where is that soup, eh? It is Arctic onion, and if they do not bring it in soon it will go warm.”

“This place goes to hell if Pharaday’s around,” Sheremy muttered. “It’s just not good enough.”

Sir Hoseley shrugged, the ghost of a smirk on his face. “Complain to Juinefere,” he said.

Sheremy scowled. All here knew of his feelings for Lady Bedwards, though he had done his utmost over the years to conceal them. Sir Hoseley was an impudent weasel. “Very good,” he said. “Meanwhile, perhaps you should comb your beard before the birds start nesting in it.”

“Now, now,” said Lord Blackanore. “The soup arrives.”

As he cracked the surface of the soup and began cutting it up, Sheremy’s mind turned to the situation he found himself in, which some might call unfortunate, though he termed it unjust. “You see,” he explained, “I didn’t know she was married. I swear I didn’t know. How could I? She was just a freed slave, little more than a maid. Who’d have thought her husband would be so… well connected?”

“It seems you protest too much,” Sir Hoseley observed.

Yes, they all knew the tales here. He hated that. When people discovered his failings, he hated it. He loathed being talked about. Pushing aside his empty bowl he said, “You all think you know me, don’t you? You don’t. Only a lover truly knows their lover.”

There came laughs from the other four. “Well, we certainly all know you, Pantomile,” said Velvene.

“Alas rather too well,” Sir Hoseley added. ”Tu me décois.”

Sheremy felt his face flush. He had gone too far; spoken out of turn. “You are buffoons,” he said.

“Rather a buffoon than a lovestruck bumpkin,” said Sir Hoseley.

Sheremy felt his embarrassment turn to anger. “You’ve never married, have you?” he said, staring across the table. “Perhaps that is because you prefer the monocled post–”–”

“Enough!” Lord Blackanore cried. “Enough, please, all of you. We diminish ourselves with this horse banter.”

Sheremy nodded at his associate. “Thank you,” he said. “But you will admit it’s true. Nobody here knows love. Mankind does not know love, it doesn’t even have an explanation yet. We live in pandemonium because of that lack.”

“Then you have your higher calling,” Velvene said.

“What do you mean?”

“Explaining the inexplicable.”

“My dear fellow,” Sheremy said, “those long mornings you spend bathing have done something to your mind.”

Velvene shrugged. “Explain it for us and you will both solve the inequities of your life and do mankind a service.”

Sheremy felt he was being mocked by the urbane Orchardtide, whose family were well known eccentrics. “I won’t humour you,” he said.

“I mean it.”

Sheremy sat back. The deviled yak supper was approaching. “Then we’ll have a wager,” he declared, “all of us sitting here at this table. If, one season from today, one of us returns to the Suicide Club with an explanation of human love that mankind – from East to West – can accept, they will take the pot.”

(end of extract)

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwordsGumroad


in the bundle: Facade by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

In July 2015 infinity plus and Storybundle offered a special deal for a set of nine literary fantasy books, including Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Facade. The deal is no longer available but Facade can still be bought separately:

 

 

Facade

“A joy of clarity and lyricism.  She is a new breed of writer: a Renaissance woman.” —Charles de Lint

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: FacadeThomas fell in love with the Oregon Coast while filming his signature role as Anthony Short. Then his estranged daughter Heather died there, and Thomas fled.

Now he returns, not to solve his daughter’s murder, but to see if he can live with himself and his past.

Only someone leaves mysterious notes signed Your Daughter, and birds die on his porch. Strangers report a man in a cloak who looks just like Thomas, but the fans who follow him everywhere don’t see anyone.

But Thomas knows something strange lurks in the shadows. Then more people die and Thomas realizes he holds the key to it all. He alone can solve the crisis, if he only dares…

“Rusch’s [Façade] is an exceptionally effective casebook of abnormal psychology…Rich and revelatory. The ending is perfect.” —Locus

“Like early Ray Bradbury, Rusch has the ability to switch on a universal dark.” —the Times (London)

“Kristine Kathryn Rusch is one of the best writers in the field.” —SFRevu

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UK

A personal note from bundle curator Keith Brooke

Kris Rusch is both versatile, working in a number of genres, and phenomenally productive. Neither of these things is particularly noteworthy, of course. What makes Kris stand out is that she maintains such a staggeringly high standard, repeatedly lauded by critics and fans alike, regularly hitting the bestseller lists, and gaining her top awards across the genres. Facade is a fine example of her ability to take a genre – in this case dark fantasy suspense – and proceed to dissect it, reassemble it, and make it her own.

Extract

 

TAKE ONE
(NOW)

FADE IN:

EXT. VILLAGE STREET ALONG ROCKY SEASHORE.

OPEN with water breaking along the rocks, surf splashing over the edges of the cliff, spraying passersby on this street in a small seaside town. In the distance, a lighthouse looms. Gray clouds overhead, old gray buildings weathered by the ocean—even the passersby are gray. The entire area evokes a mood of gloomy darkness. Shoot almost FILM NOIR, gritty and shadowy, à la 1930s B movies.

ANTHONY SHORT and his cat, RUMBLES, stroll across the road. Rumbles is half Siamese, half everything else, all mouth and no substance. Short is tall, lanky, and very impressive. His rain cape billows out behind him, making him look as if he is flying.

“CUT! CUT! Dash it, Thomas, the coat is supposed to billow out behind you. You’re supposed to look important, not like the Wicked Witch of the West after she’s met with a bucket of water.”

Thomas shakes the moisture out of his black hair. Skizits, the cat, easily drops her Rumbles role and runs for a drier section of road.

“Sorry,” Thomas says.

The camera crew relaxes. One of the grips reaches beside his chair for a thermos. The assistant director checks the script as if it is at fault for the flub instead of Thomas.

“Sorry? Sorry?” Michael takes a step closer to him. “We only have the morning to do the damn opening scene, and all you can say is sorry?”

Fifteen people wait for him. The cameras and equipment hide the road. Thomas turns away from them, and gazes at the lighthouse, half lost in the morning mist. “I’m not much for grimy seascapes,” he says.

(end of extract)

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UK


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