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I have a new short story out today. :-)

Not Quite Shakespeare cover art Bread and Butter Pudding. Erotic romance short story, 3,600 words, contemporary, m/m. First published in the Dreamspinner Press anthology Not Quite Shakespeare, which is now available at Dreamspinner's website in both ebook format (ISBN-13 978-1-63216-020-1) and trade paperback (ISBN-13 978-1-63216-019-5).

(It's not showing up on Amazon yet, but give it a day or two and it should be.)
julesjones: (Default)
Got home to an email telling me that the UK-themed Dreamspinner anthology "Not quite Shakespeare" is now available for pre-order from their site. I've got a short in the anthology, all about baking bread and what it can lead to. :-) The book is available on both dead trees and live electrons, and will be released on 2 June. I'm assuming that it will eventually show up on the third party distributors as well, but here are the purchase links for the Dreamspinner shop:

ebook - ISBN-13 978-1-63216-020-1
paperback - ISBN-13 978-1-63216-019-5
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Elin Gregory is interviewing authors with stories in the forthcoming Dreamspinner Press anthology Not Quite Shakespeare – my turn today:

Not Quite Shakespeare – Jules Jones
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52) John Carnell, editor -- New Writings in SF 20

One of the 1972 editions of the long-running science fiction anthology series. I was always very fond of this series, but I found it hard to connect with some of the stories in #20. In fact, half way through I was thinking that there was no point in keeping it once I'd read it, as even the ones I liked didn't make me feel inclined to re-read them.

Conversational Mode by Grahame Leman -- decidedly grim short which consists of a transcript of a conversation between an involuntarily committed patient in a mental hospital and a psychiatric program running on a computer. The story is really about the potential abuse of psychiatry rather than the mechanics of such a program, but even so I was rather distracted by early 70s mainframe computer output conventions in software that is clearly at least as sophisticated as any of the AIs running in Turing Test competitions in 2010. Not one I feel inclined to re-read.

Which Way Do I Go For Jericho? by Colin Kapp -- It's the middle of a war, and a scientist volunteers for a military intelligence operation in which he will be left behind as an apparent civilian refugee after a military pullout. The aim is to give him a chance to look at a new sonic laser weapon being used by the enemy. The catch is that he will have to be a very convincing refugee, to the point of making him so starved and ill before the pullout that he will barely be able to function. It's the sort of science/engineering problem in harsh conditions story that Kapp was so good at. I liked it but am not inclined to re-read it.

Microcosm by Robert P Holdstock -- an astronaut visits an alien planet and gets caught in two time streams. I didn't entirely understand it and didn't like it. A complete waste of time as far as I was concerned.

Cain(n) By HA Hargreaves -- long story about the rehabilitation of a young teen who has been caught for some crime which has been wiped from his memory as part of the rehabilitation process. It's clear from what he does remember that he has been homeless and living on the streets for years, and has no clear idea of what happened to his family. Beautifully and movingly written to show how he is slowly resocialised and comes to recognise that what he initially perceives as punishment genuinely is an attempt to rehabilitate him to the point where he is fit to serve his time.

Canary by Dan Morgan -- The canary in question is a human being used the same way that canaries were used in mines -- he's a psychic who's sensitive enough to the possibility of his own death that he can be used as an early warning of the outbreak of nuclear war. There's some nice discussion of the problems faced by the sane members of government on both sides of a cold war in trying to stop their hotheads from stirring up trouble.

Oh, Valinda! by Michael G Coney -- on an alien planet, icebergs are harvested for fresh water. Since the locals sold the rights to the icecaps to humans long ago before they realised there might be any value to them, it's the humans who transport the icebergs to the seaboard cities where they're needed. But the unusual mode of transport requires the help of a hired local -- some of the icebergs are inhabited by giant worms who ingest seawater and filter it for food before expelling it. Persuade the worm to point in the right direction and the water jet can propel the berg. But it's a complicated business finding a worm and keeping it going...

LibraryThing entry
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Book 3)

Anthology of 20 short stories with the theme of elf love, published by new small press Pink Narcissus Press. This is an ARC I received through the LibraryThing Early reviewers programme.

While the cover art suggests fantasy-subgenre romance stories, the contents are a good deal more wide-ranging. There's a good sampling of traditional themes about elves, some in modern settings and some not, and the endings cover the full span from happy through bittersweet hope to tragic. The genre styles vary considerably as well. And to go with the prose stories, there's one in graphic form.

Unfortunately the quality varied considerably as well, and for me a few of the stories were a waste of dead trees; but the best were well worth my time. There were several authors whose stories felt a bit unpolished but made me inclined to find more of their work once they've got a few more kilowords under their belts. Of particular note was Duncan Eagleson, who provided my two favourite prose stories in the anthology, together with the art for the graphic story (and the cover art, which I liked less than the graphic story).

There's some violence, and some sexually explicit and some erotic content (the two are not identical) covering a range of sexual orientations, mostly not gratuitous.

In spite of the uneven quality, this is a worthwhile anthology -- this is a good selection covering a range of story types, and I could have quite happily read the whole thing in one sitting without feeling that the stories were too repetitive. While my copy was an ARC, I personally wouldn't have been disappointed had I paid the full cover price of US$15 for the trade paperback. Whether other readers feel the same will really depend on how many of the stories work for them, and regrettably I have to say that the anthology is sufficiently uneven and unpolished that I can't wholeheartedly recommend it at that price.

I'll try to write up some detailed notes on individual stories later, but in general I'd agree with TPauSilver's comments on LibraryThing.


Released in February 2011, but available now for pre-order direct from the publisher.

LibraryThing entry.
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Book 61

This is the first of a 4 book anthology series, where the series concept is to have a set of four stories from each author, one per volume, which can each be read as individual stand-alone stories, but which together make up a story arc. It was published in 1974 and was edited by Roger Elwood, which is an entertaining and informative tale in itself.

I bought my copy of volume 1 about thirty years ago, and for various reasons (including the dreaded "it was only going to be in storage for a year or two") I probably haven't read it for close to twenty years. Nevertheless, I was surprised to find that I only remembered two of the stories -- the one by Philip Jose Farmer, which I don't actually like very much and don't think works as a standalone; and the story from Anne McCaffrey, which is the first part of what later became The Crystal Singer, and which I've thus read a fair number of times in the novel. The others seem completely unfamiliar to me. This is surprising, because there are some good stories in here. I read a library copy of volume 4 a few years after buying this volume, and can vaguely remember something about the closing stories of only those two authors as well. (I think I liked the Farmer sequence better for having seen the end of the arc.)

detailed story list under the cut )

LibraryThing entry
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Anthology of sf crime short stories from the prolific book packager Martin H Greenberg. I normally like the anthologies Greenberg puts together, in both sf and mystery, but I've got a bad case of "it's not you, it's me" with this one. I can see why other people might like it, but it doesn't quite work for me, and I think it's because I'm not quite keyed in to the relevant genre conventions. Half way through, and I still haven't encountered a story I'd regret not having read, and have read one or two that left me feeling I'd just wasted a small piece of my life -- even though I know and like the work of several of the authors (and indeed, bought the anthology specifically because it included a short by one of my favourite authors). I've finally learnt that I don't have to finish a book just because I've started it, so I'm bailing at this point -- but even so, I think this one could work for a reader with slightly different tastes to me.

LibraryThing entry
at Amazon UK
at Amazon US
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One of the 1968 volumes in the long-running sf anthology series. The highlights for me were a Sector General story from James White , and a novella from Colin Kapp that was definitely not an Unorthodox Engineers story, but which pressed some of the same buttons (at least for me). As usual with this series, I personally didn't like everything in the collection, but thought it was all well-written.


Vertigo -- James White

A Galactic Survey ship comes across a decidedly peculiar planet which the crew promptly name Meatball. While they debate how to recognise any intelligent lifeforms, the lifeform solves the problem for them by sending up a primitive rocketship. It appears to be in difficulty, so the survey ship rescues ship and pilot, and carts it off to Sector General for the pilot to receive medical treatment. It's up to Conway and friends to work out why the rescue seems to have made things worse...

It is in general a fun and interesting story, but I did find it rather implausible that the medics took so long to realise what the basic problem was, especially given the Great Big Clue in the initial encounter.

(Later included in the Sector General fix-up novel "Major Operation", which is where I first read it.)


Visions of Monad -- M John Harrison

Psychological study of a man who has been the subject of a sensory deprivation experiment. Well-written, but didn't work for me.


Worm in the bud -- John Rankine

Short story in the Dag Fletcher space opera series. Fletcher's on a diplomatic mission to a hostile planet. Part of that mission is a one-man geological survey with limited supplies in a remote part of the planet -- so why are the natives finding all sorts of ways to delay pick-up of the geologist past the safe time limit?


They Shall Reap -- David Rome

A young family give up everything to make a fresh start in a new community of farms founded by wealthy philanthropists. The valley is even more isolated than they realise, and with reason. While I liked the writing, John Wyndham had covered this territory a decade earlier, and to better effect.


The Last Time Around -- Arthur Sellings

Poignant exploration of the social and emotional effects of being a pilot on a relativistic ship, with your subjective time decoupled from the objective time of your society. This theme has been covered by many writers, but this is one of the best ones I've read.


The Cloudbuilders -- Colin Kapp

In a low-tech world, hot air balloons are the main form of long-distance travel. Jacobi the Journeyman joins Timor the master Cloudbuilder, bringing personal experience of new techniques developed by their Guild. But that's not all he brings.


LibraryThing entry

at Amazon UK

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