Forty-Two stories by Tony Ballantyne and Eric Brown
Philip K. Dick Award nominated writers Tony Ballantyne and Eric Brown bring together forty-two fantastical short-short stories, featuring new takes on every SF trope from alien invasion, robots, and time-travel, to stellar exploration, the future of computing, and the nature of the human soul.
Tony Ballantyne is the author of the acclaimed Penrose hard SF novels, Twisted Metal and Blood and Iron, as well as the groundbreaking and surreal fantasy novels Dream London and Dream Paris.
Eric Brown has written many SF and crime novels including The Kings of Eternity, Kethani, and The Serene Invasion.
Together they are a hundred years old.
“Eric Brown spins a terrific yarn” – SFX
“This is as strange and unclassifiable a novel as it’s possible to imagine, and a marvellous achievement.” – Financial Times on Tony Ballantyne’s Dream London
“British writing with a deft, understated touch: wonderful” – New Scientist on Eric Brown
“A new British star has arrived to join the likes of Hamilton, Reynolds and Banks.” – Vector on Tony Ballantyne
Introduction to Micro…
This volume came about one summer a few years ago when Tony came up to Scotland with his family. We were wandering around the pretty seaside town of North Berwick and talking about recent short stories we’d written. Tony happened to mention that he was working on some short-shorts, which he hoped to place with Nature, and I mentioned a short-short market that I’d recently sold to, Daily SF. I then suggested that, when we had enough tales to form a volume, we should gather them all together and attempt to find a publisher.
Years passed; we wrote short-shorts between bigger projects, and Keith Brooke who runs Infinity Plus Books expressed an interest in publishing Microcosms.
Tony Ballantyne is not only a fine novelist – as equally gifted in the Hard SF sub-genre as in Fantasy – but he’s a skilled short-story writer, with several of his stories gracing the pages of Analog and other top markets, and appearing in Best of the Year anthologies. He also excels at the short-short story, where originality and incisive vision are requisite. In his intelligence, playful wit and economy of language, the writer he most reminds me of is the late, great Robert Sheckley. This volume contains such gems as “Dear Burglar”, “The Cleverest Man in the World”, and “The Scooped Out Man” – the latter an alien invasion tale to end them all. But my favourite is the irreverent, witty, self-referential story about a writer, “Another (almost) True Story”, a tale which I would have given my right arm to have written.
And now, for fear of this introduction becoming longer than some of the short-shorts herein, I’ll sign off.
Introduction to …Cosms
Eric and I met at the 2Kon SF convention in Glasgow in the year 2000. We both had a short story up for the BSFA award. Eric won, I lost, but by way of consolation I made a great friend.
Friendship aside, I remain a massive fan of Eric’s. He has written an impressive number of novels and short stories; his output includes what is possibly my favourite short story collection ever: Kethani (Solaris 2008). As well as being a prolific writer he is an eminent critic with a deep knowledge of the genre. He is a keen champion of the new, the forgotten and the underrated, and is a valuable source of advice to writers no matter where they are in their career (he taught me the trick of just listening to the subconscious, of getting things down as quickly as possible on the page).
In this collection you’ll find scintillating flashes of his talent. His writing is by turns witty, melancholic, horrifying and deceptively gentle, but always imbued with his trademark sense of humanity. Take a look at “In the Recovery Room”, “Meeting Myself on Planet Earth”, “Memorial” and “The History of Earth” to see what I mean.
What the heck. Read them all, they’re all good. He deserved that award. And the other ones…