News hot off the presses: Dead Letters, published by Titan Books, has been shortlisted for the 2017 British Fantasy Awards (Best Anthology). I couldn’t have had a happier time editing this book. All of the contributors were a pleasure to work with and their stories were outstanding. I’m thrilled their collective efforts have led to this recognition.
The winners will be announced on the weekend of September 29th. Good luck to all the nominees!
Writer and editor Gary Fry has posted a glowing review of Dead Letters at his website.
Ledge Bants, Maria Dahvana Headley & China Miéville
Scores of aspects of my memories, my strength, my powers, were exiled from the world. Which turned out to mean that they were hidden, camouflaged in matter, in lost places, fabled gulleys, reachable only by impossible ways. Hence those years of monster-hunting.
You should never underestimate the magic of magic’s passing. The strength of the death of that strength. Eventually, I came to clock that the things I found – eggs and jewels and chains and trinkets that were, in part, me – I found in more and more quotidian places and forms. Protected by forces that would have raised fewer eyebrows, less high, among populace by now utterly skeptical of the sort of mythic shenanigans with which I used to divert myself. Each piece shifting with the epochs, each still some snide material joke, a pun or a prod from my missing ex, but now camouflaged not in the hearts of dragons, but in shapes and places appropriate to the age. All without breaching the terms of the spell.
I hunted them, and I hunted her too, but of my Nyneve, there was no word or sign. I was convinced that I couldn’t find her because I’d lost my powers.
Is-and, Claire Dean
His room was frustratingly bland. She’d expected posters, old CDs, plastic figurines, some traces of him having grown up here. There were just the paintings, more crochet and a crooked twig and wool cross above the bed. She’d read about the crosses, crosh cuirns they were called, in the guidebook. They used to be put up as protection against fairies. His mum obviously had a thing for them because they were all over the house. On the living-room mantelpiece there was a line-up of family photos including several of his brother and him as children, and also his wedding photo. His ex looked young and elegant. They looked happy. Next to it was one of a newborn baby in a blue hat. ‘He’s beautiful,’ she said. ‘Why didn’t you tell me you’re an uncle?’ He’d clattered the plates on to the table and gestured for her to sit.
Cancer Dancer, Pat Cadigan
The thing about London is, it has no grid. Streets wind and wander; you can start out thinking you’re going one place and end up somewhere completely different, with no idea how to get back. It’s part of London’s charm and it can drive visitors crazy, particularly those from the US. After twenty years, I was used to it. I still got lost, I just didn’t stress about it.
I thought for sure I’d get lost looking for the Eternity Club. It was in a nookish cranny called a close (as in close by, not close the door), the kind of place you could walk past dozens of times and never notice. But I went right to it, as if I’d been there a thousand times before. The outside of the building was painted dark brown, with equally dark windows too high up for me to try peeking through. No street number, no doorbell, not even so much as a discreet “Members Only” sign.
Wonders to Come, Christopher Fowler
When he looked down from the glass stairwell wall he saw that the stage had been vacated. At its back, the immense high-definition screens were black and dead. The movement of the crowd was increasing as those at the back started to push forward. The security teams were trying to herd them toward the service exits, but instinctively the guests were trying to return to the electronic gates through which they had entered.
He felt the plate glass reverberate from an explosion. Running to the next stairwell window, he followed the direction of everyone’s turning heads. The first of the fountains, a great concentric circuit of pipework set in the baroque concrete turrets of an artificial lake, had blown itself apart under the unregulated pressure. Shards of stone and steel were raining down on those caught at the back of the crowd.
Ausland, Alison Moore
Over dinner, Karla told Lukas about her life in London, her secretarial career and her late husband, and Lukas told Karla about his work as a physicist, the research he had done, the papers he had published in scientific journals. ‘I knew it!’ she said. ‘Please tell me you have an inventing shed!’ and he told her that he did. ‘I remember all the things you wanted to invent,’ she said. ‘You wanted to make a robot that would do your homework for you.’ Lukas laughed, nodding. ‘You had plans to build all sorts of machines.’
In Memoriam, Joanne Harris
First I open, and read, and sort the letters containing valuables. Cheques and cash we return, if we can. Sometimes you can find an address if you open the envelope. Things of intermediate value – clothes, trinkets, toys, books – we keep for six months, then dispose of. Watches, jewellery, artwork, we tend to try to keep longer. Perishable items we get rid of at once. Birthday cakes; live bait; garden plants; groceries; and once a box of soft, pale moths, drowsy in their wrapping of banana leaves and rice paper, which, slipping through my fingers like dusty old transparencies, came back to life in the clear, cold air, and flew up into the overhead lights, where they remained until they died, dropping one by one to the floor in clusters of brownish blossom.
The Green Letter, by Steven Hall
I’d like to warn you that the attached footage is very distressing. As you’ll see for yourself, Captain Wayne made fourteen requests for the test to be aborted, which were not observed despite clear and increasing levels of distress. I consider this inexcusable and will implement whatever reprimand you consider appropriate without hesitation, including my own resignation from the project and the department, if you feel this to be appropriate.