10 March 2012

Trailers of the City #2

Second in an occasional series publicising the forthcoming Tales of the City anthology -- although yes, I have to admit I haven't posted anything here since the last one.
Elizabeth Evershed is a freelance writer based in London. Since graduating from Durham University in 2009 with a PhD in late medieval and early Renaissance literature, she has worked in various capacities as a tutor and researcher, proofreader and copy-editor, and freelance consultant on plain English in the public sector. She is a regular contributor to Literature Online, where she has written critical biographies of a wide range of science fiction and fantasy authors from JRR Tolkien to China Miéville. The world of the City has provided her with a rare opportunity to combine science fiction, quasi-historical and campus fiction in ‘The Socratic Problem’, as well as have some fun sending up famous philosophers. Elizabeth writes comic literary fiction in her spare time and has just completed her first novel.
I've known Liz for a while: she was one of the founder members of a writers' group called Subway to which I belonged in the early noughties. (The group produced an anthology, Emerge, which included 'Scapegoat', my second published piece of fiction.)

Though Subway was a product of the internet era, we occasionally met in person for readings, workshops and social events, and I knew from these that Liz was a gifted, witty and highly intelligent writer. When pondering which authors I might bring in as contributors from outside Obverse Books' usual talent pool, Liz was one of those at the top of my list. I was delighted when she said yes, and I very much hope it won't be the last work she does for Obverse.

'The Socratic Problem' is, as I expected, a very clever and funny piece. It's a campus story, dealing with academic rivalries and clashes of ideas as the City's University of the Seven Ages appoints a historical celebrity as its Visiting Lecturer. Here's the first sentence:
     No doubt about it: Inigo Faber was having a dog of an afterlife, and, as dog days went, this was an uncommonly hairy one.
To read the rest of the story, order Tales of the City from Obverse Books.

07 March 2012

Trailers of the City #1

Here's what Blair Bidmead, whose Happily Ever After is a High-Risk Strategy opens Tales of the City, has to say in his author biog:
Blair Bidmead, author of 'Happily Ever After Is a High-Risk Strategy', has had three short stories published previously – 'Party Kill Accelerator!' (in The Panda Book Of Horror), 'Now Or Thereabouts' (in Faction Paradox: A Romance In Twelve Parts) and 'Are You Loathsome Tonight?' (in Señor 105 & the Elements of Danger). He has a novel on the go, another in mind and a webcomic in his not-too-distant future. A musician, an artist and a (semi-) retired hedonist, Blair lives in London with his wife and two young children and is tired, but sickeningly happy. He thinks that talking in the third person only feels right when the Rock does it.
Blair was an unpublished author a few years ago, but his three published stories have been excellent, and are getting better. I'm particularly fond of 'Are You Loathesome Tonight' -- a smackdown between a Mexican masked wrestler and a dinosaur version of Elvis, taking place in 1970 Las Vegas and with a narrator who may well be Hunter S. Thompson -- which manages to be even madder than that brief synopsis makes it sound.

What really sold me, though, on the idea of getting Blair to write a City of the Saved story was his guest drabble in 'A Hundred Words from a Civil War', which convinced me in the space of 100 words that he understood and loved the City as a setting. (It's drabble number XXX, on p209 of the print edition of A Romance in Twelve Parts.)

A mix of not-necessarily-obvious genres was one thing I was keen to see in Tales of the City, and Blair's is a road trip story, with a hitchhiker cadging a lift with a surprising pair of travelling companions. Here's the first sentence of 'Happily Ever After is a High-Risk Strategy':
     So there I was; dawn at the truck stop by the ziggurat at the mouth of the Mesopotamian Interstate.
To read the rest of the story, order Tales of the City from Obverse Books.


If you've been keenly following the progress of Tales of the City, the City of the Saved anthology I'm editing, you may be pleased to know that the book is now available for pre-order as an individual title from the publishers, Obverse Books.

You can also subscribe to year 2 of the Obverse Quarterly at that link, of which Tales of the City is the second volume -- the others being a collection of Iris Wildthyme stories themed around David Bowie songs, the adventures of some time-travelling policemen and an anthology of unrelated detective stories. Individual titles are £9.99 while a year's sub comes in at £28... so, if only three of those sound worth buying to you, it's cheaper to get the subscription to all four books.

I'm going to be posting sporadic teasers for Tales of the City every month or so between now and when it's published. Since our rumoured eighth contributor sadly never materialised, the final lineup of stories is as follows:
Akroates by Philip Purser-Hallard
Happily Ever After Is a High-Risk Strategy by Blair Bidmead
The Socratic Problem by Elizabeth Evershed
Lost Ships and Lost Lands by Juliet Kemp
Highbury by Helen Angove
About a Girl by Dale Smith
Bruises by Dave Hoskin
Apocalypse Day by Philip Purser-Hallard
Leaving my own endpieces aside, each teaser will focus on one of these, taking them in the order they're presented in the book (which is also chronological order). The first one follows...