Category Archives: short stories

Publication day for Tony Ballantyne and Eric Brown’s Microcosms

Published today in print and ebook formats:

Microcosms: Forty-Two stories by Tony Ballantyne and Eric Brown

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Buy this book in print (ISBN: 0995752206): Amazon USAmazon UKCreateSpace – and other booksellers

Microcosms

Forty-Two stories by Tony Ballantyne and Eric Brown

microcosmsPhilip 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.

Eric Brown
Cockburnspath


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…

Tony Ballantyne
Oldham


Publication day for Garry Kilworth’s Best Short Stories, and a novel with an exceedingly long name

Published today in print and ebook formats:
The Best Short Stories of Garry Kilworth
and
The Sometimes Spurious Travels Through Time and Space of James Ovit by 
Garry Kilworth

 

We’re delighted to announce publication today of two major new titles from Garry Kilworth, a retrospective Best Of… and a high-energy science-fiction romp of a novel with an exceedingly long title.

The Best Short Stories of Garry Kilworth

The Best Short Stories of Garry Kilworth

Stories from the back of the brain.

These short stories span a period of 40 years. They are as eclectic as the insect world, ranging from the bizzare to the quixotic and back again. Plucked from an oeuvre of 145 stories, they are beautifully crafted tales, several of which have snatched awards from the jaws of oblivion or shouldered their way into short lists.

Though he writes longer fiction Garry Kilworth considers himself primarily a short story writer, which is his first and last love. There is science fiction, fantasy, horror, folk lore and legend within these pages. What does not fall into any of those categories is simply unclassifiable weird fish.

The first tale is a parallel world story in which we, the people who inhabit this planet, can walk on water. The last story involves the kind of madness which is brought on by too much discipline and good order. These two sandwich a vast array of brilliant and sometimes puzzling pieces of prose.

Cover by Dominic Harman; foreword by Claude Lalumière.

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Buy this book in print (ISBN: 154069271X): Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaCreateSpace – and other booksellers
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The Sometimes Spurious Travels Through Time and Space of James Ovit by Garry Kilworth

The Sometimes Spurious Travels Through Time and Space of James Ovit

A science fiction novel in three parts.

In which unstoppable time meets immoveable space…

James Ovit is a naive and slightly-lost maverick son of an elderly serial monogamist mother, whose mundane life is suddenly kick-started into headlong travel through time and space by a group of ruthless and callous scientists.

His journeys first take him spuriously into the near past and thence into the far future where, expecting to enhance his career, instead he finds other-worldly love. Finally, after tragedy causes him to cast off his loyalty to his superiors, he rejects the diplomatic corps for work as an assassin and is sent into the past to eliminate an illegal time traveller and a monster. However, things never do work out the way James believes they will and, when he finds himself researching the strangest biography of all time, he knows the authorities who gave him another chance will once again shake their heads in disbelief at his ability to ignore their orders.

Cover by piolka.

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwords

Buy this book in print (ISBN: 154069237X): Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaCreateSpace – and other booksellers
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“One is left in no doubt about the quality of the writing or of Kilworth’s talent…” Times Educational Supplement

“The tales are haunting, often almost poetic, but still chilling.” Fantasy Zone on In The Country Of Tattooed Men

“His characters are strong and the sense of place he creates is immediate and strong.” Sunday Times

“Kilworth is a master of his trade.” Punch

“Arguably the finest writer of short fiction today, in any genre.” New Scientist


Mementoes by Keith Brooke – due late 2016 from Newcon Press

Back in 2012 the fabulous Newcon Press launched a series of twelve single-author short fiction collections called ‘Imaginings’, each available in limited edition hardback and ebook versions. Each book contained a mix of reprints and original fiction, often with accompanying notes by the author, and the line-up of constributors was impressive:

  1. Tanith Lee: Cold Grey Stones
  2. Stephen Baxter: Last and First Contacts
  3. Tony Ballantyne: Stories from the Northern Road
  4. Lisa Tuttle: Objects in Dreams
  5. Nina Allan: Microcosmos
  6. Adrian Tchaikovsky: Feast and Famine
  7. Steve Rasnic Tem: Twember
  8. Eric Brown: Strange Visitors
  9. Adam Roberts: Saint Rebor
  10. Dave Hutchinson: Sleeps with Angels
  11. Liz Williams: The Light Warden

You might have noticed that the 12th volume is missing from the list…

On Saturday I attended a lovely gathering to mark Newcon’s tenth anniversary, and among other things Newcon supremo Ian Whates announced that the final ‘Imaginings’ volume, due later this year, is… Mementoes by me.

This is a special book for me, marking various anniversaries in the field, including almost 30 years to the day since I first sat down to try to write for professional publication, and 25 years since the publication of my first novel.

The collection includes the four-part serial Memento, first published in Aethernet and now compiled as a novella to form the first part of the collection; the second half of the book comprises six short stories, and a novelette. Two of the stories are original to the collection, one a big SF story the revisits the Fermi Paradox (as many of my recent stories have done), and the other a quiet and nasty little horror story (returning to the kind of writing I did when I was starting out). Others included a novelette about alien languages and mind-sets (a rare exploration for me, as up until recently I’ve shied away from aliens in fiction, for reasons explained in the story notes), and a near-future story that was shortlisted for last year’s Seiun Award.

It was fun to put the book together, revisiting the stories and thinking about what was behind them, and it’s a genuine honour to be part of such a series. And it’s the perfect landmark to celebrate all those anniversaries for how long I’ve been knocking around in science fiction and fantasy!


Publication day for new infinity plus titles from Brooke & Brown

Today sees publication of two new titles from infinity plus, Keith Brooke’s epic fantasy novel Riding the Serpent’s Back and Eric Brown’s science-fiction story collection Deep Future.

Both are available at an introductory price of 99c/77p for a few days only (note: this price is only available at Amazon).

Riding the Serpent's Back - epic fantasy by Keith Brooke Deep Future by Eric Brown

Riding the Serpent’s Back by Keith Brooke
An old era is drawing to a close, a new era about to begin, and the great mage Donn has passed on his Talents to a new generation. When a rogue church leader threatens to set loose wild powers, Donn’s children must oppose him but, also, they must contend with Donn himself: the old mage has not finished with his children yet. A fantasy epic of revolution, jealousy and earth-shattering magic.
Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwordsWeightless Books
Print: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaCreateSpace

Deep Future by Eric Brown
Deep Future collects ten tales of the past, present and future by the award-winning author of the best selling Helix. Whether he’s writing about aliens coming to Earth, virtual reality, alternate worlds or immortal men, Brown imbues his fictions with a concern for character and an abiding passion for story, underlining his position as one of Britain’s finest SF writers.
Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwordsWeightless Books


Guest post: Jason Erik Lundberg on the strangest of mammals

Strange Mammals by Jason Erik LundbergHuman beings are strange mammals. Just thought I’d get that out of the way.

In the animal kingdom, all mammals eat, sleep, mate, and fight to defend themselves. (This, of course, applies to non-mammalian animals as well.) But human beings are the only type of mammal that also questions their own existence and identity. Who are we? Why are we here? What are we supposed to do with the limited time allotted to us?

Evolutionarily speaking, intuitively, this is exceedingly odd. On the face of it, wondering what you want to be when you grow up should actually interfere with, rather than aid with, your continued survival; debating the merits of becoming a fireman versus an astronaut is not entirely helpful if a lion is chewing through your stomach. But this strange and constant questioning has actually done the opposite, and led to human beings, as comedian Louis CK famously pointed out, successfully pulling ourselves out of the food chain. We have survived as a species not in spite of this preoccupation, but because of it.

These questions have spurred on both miraculous innovation and horrific atrocities, but regardless of the results, they are at the fundamental heart of humanity. Literature is one of the few avenues so thoroughly equipped to examine these questions, and speculative fiction is particularly keen, through its slanted focus, on transcending mere fact and approaching truth. (Although anyone with a definitive answer is selling something.)

My very first story was published ten years ago, but I was writing with the active goal of publication for the decade before that, and writing because it was a joyful and fulfilling activity for the decade before that. In all of that time, my fiction has approached these fundamental questions in various ways, lightly or heavily, obliquely or head-on. It is a life-long project, what Zoran Zivkovic calls “the noble art of fiction writing”.

Take the title story of my new collection, Strange Mammals (published this month in paperback and ebook formats by Infinity Plus). The central animals that the protagonist encounters over the course of the narrative—a wombat, an ocelot, a fictional Borgesian catoblepas—can be seen as various aspects of the narrator’s psyche, but the wonderful (and, yes, noble) thing about this kind of story is the ambiguity that allows for all these bizarre animals, and others besides, to exist independent of mere mental projection. This dual existence, which is only possible within the arena of the fantastic, opens up those fundamental questions to scrutiny. If an alcoholic talking wombat with a penchant for Greek food can take over our lives so completely with its forceful personality, where does that then place us on the food chain? Can we still think of ourselves as existentially superior in the face of such a creature? Or else, if it only exists as a hallucination, what does its presence mean for human consciousness itself?

This may elevate literature (and my own in particular) to too lofty a height. After all, stories have to entertain, right? (And, in all honesty, “Strange Mammals” is probably the funniest story I have ever written; it’s difficult for me to read it even silently without bursting into laughter.) One must be engaged with the story or else it becomes discarded in favor of an endless number of diversions and distractions. But this entertainment factor is what makes the fiction so profoundly lasting, that viral insistence which leads to the injection of higher considerations.

What could be stranger than that?

“Jason Erik Lundberg’s stories, launched from the real world on a trajectory to the surreal, fuse the idle daydream with the desperate heart. You should read them.”
John Kessel, author of The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories

The Strange Mammals ebook is available from: Amazon US – Amazon UK – Kobo – Apple – Smashwords

And the print edition: Amazon US – Amazon UK – CreateSpace

New: Strange Mammals by Jason Erik Lundberg

Strange Mammals by Jason Erik LundbergJust out, in print and ebook formats:

The fabulous Strange Mammals by Jason Erik Lundberg.

I really shouldn’t rave about individual titles – I genuinely love all the books we put out, otherwise why bother? But I did particularly enjoy this one – a real treat for anyone who loves stylish, strange contemporary fantasy.

Also out; new print editions of two earlier titles, Red Dot Irreal and The Alchemy of Happiness.


Great response to The Fabulous Beast by Garry Kilworth

The Fabulous Beast by Garry KilworthLovely review for Garry Kilworth’s new collection over at the Guardian:

“His forte has always been the short story. The Fabulous Beast, his eighth collection, gathers eighteen stories of horror and dark fantasy. They’re never less than entertaining, and all share startling initial ideas – what if Jesus had been known only for his ability to walk on water? What might happen to a captive vampire if deprived of human blood? – allied to a graphic and often grotesque descriptive ability.”

And on the back of that, the ebook edition has leapt into two Amazon top tens, and sneaked into another top hundred.

Fabulous Beast riding high at Amazon

Nice to see recognition for a writer I’ve always hugely admired.


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