01 April 2013

More Tales of the City: Trailer #2

Here's Hal Benson, the narrator of Simon Bucher-Jones' story in More Tales of the City, seen through the eye of Akroates the cyclops barman:
     To his surprise, though, after the obligatory foot-shuffling and eye-contact-avoidance, it is one of the stag party – a lean young man in a natty houndstooth suit, with a slightly puzzled look in his blue eyes – who is inveigled into telling the evening’s third story. His protestations that he ‘was just about to get a round in’ are met with scant sympathy from his peers, who are braying, ‘Tell ’em the one about the bodysnatchers, Hal!’
     Arianrhod nods graciously, and the mikedrone swoops across to hover next to the young partygoer.
     ‘My turn to tell a tale then? That’s fine, if you can get the drinks in. I think I’ve got them pegged, but I can barely afford the ink to jot them down for you.
     ‘A rum and splash, a finnegan’s slake for the corpusclevore, two whampagne fizzles, a G.&T. and a Castrol GTX. And for me?
    ‘Well that’s kind, a glass of Worpelston’s finest ale. It’s good of you to stand the round. I would get these if a recent investment on the racecourse hadn’t let me down in the handicap. I mean, I should have known Shergar wouldn’t turn up to a face-off against Red Rum...’
Simon's one of the most outrageously creative talents to emerge from the Doctor Who novels of the 1990s and early 2000s, a writer of enormous invention, verve and erudition. His novels are full of brain-stretching concepts like a 'haunted' dolls' house whose unique properties are the result of a colony of quark-sized lifeforms taking up residence, or a community of poets who progressively lose the faculty of language as a 'memeovore' eats their alphabet, or the revelation that fairytale giants are of no fixed size.

Here's his biog:
Born in 1964, Simon Bucher-Jones worked for the Old United Kingdom Civil Service in the years 1988-2030, before his retirement at age 66. He also augmented his eWorth on the then primitive YouExchange by writing, and originating the Oceanic Ocelot Meme. A conscientious objector to the Proactive DeAging of 2037, which applied a post-SNPD Solution to the ‘pensions time-bomb’, he remained a Natural Ager until his death in prison at 78. A woolly-thinker, then a Christian, then an atheist, then a surprised atheist, since Resurrection Day Simon has been a writer-librarian and is presently dedicated to reading every book ever written. His most notable work (with Jonathan Dennis) remains the unfinished and cursed The Brakespeare Voyage, which he is promising to complete soon. At the last count it has now had the highest number of prospective publishers of any long-awaited twenty-first-century novel.
Simon's also an astonishingly literate man, one of the most voracious readers I know, and his story for More Tales, 'Double Trouble at the Parasites on the Proletariat Club', reflects his reading of the works of P.G. Wodehouse in particular (though it by no means stops there). Faced with the challenge of writing a story set in a world where the threat of physical violence is absent, Simon has turned to a literary world where (although sometimes present) it's never actually put into practice, and where loss of status, social ostracism and sheer overpowering embarrassment are the chief motivating factors.

Like Ian Potter's 'The Long-Distance Somnambulist', 'Double Trouble at the Parasites on the Proletariat Club' was originally submitted for Tales of the City last year, but I kept it back confident that it would sit very happily in a second volume. And so it does.

The City of the Saved logo

(Incidentally, that's a first glimpse of the wonderful Cody Quijano-Schell's fantastic cover for More Tales above. I'll be posting a fuller version on my website in the fullness of time.)  

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