20 October 2012

Book: Burning

I seem somehow to have neglected to mention here that Burning with Optimism's Flames, the Faction Paradox anthology in which my short story "De Umbris Idearum" appears alongside the work of numerous exciting authors, is actually out in ebook format, and can be bought from Obverse Books, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. The hardback is expected soon, although I believe there's some kind of delay at the printer's.

The redoubtable Andrew Hickey has already reviewed the book in glowing terms. I'm nearly halfway through, and while it's obviously not a disinterested opinion, I entirely agree with him.

I've had an absurdly unpleasant and stressful week, or I'd certainly have mentioned on Wednesday that the previous Faction Paradox collection, A Romance in Twelve Parts (including my short story "A Hundred Words from a Civil War"), was going free on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com that day. Even without my tireless self-promotion, though, it briefly reached the dizzying heights of number 4 in Amazon's SF and fantasy download charts.

In City of the Saved news, Tales of the City has had a moderately approving review from no less reputable a source than The British Fantasy Society. I've also put the Background Notes which I prepared some time ago for prospective authors of future City of the Saved stories up on my website. This is the generic City background material, not the stuff relating to any particular anthology, but still, you may find it of interest.

Incidentally, I'm doing some more editing, and so far I'm enjoying it as much as I did last time. I'm not mentioning the project in question publicly at the moment, so the connection between this paragraph and the preceding one is left as an exercise for the reader.

07 October 2012

A Man of Substance

Here's some of the thing I'm writing at the moment:
     Señor 105 grunted. He was a man of immense solidity, his gray-blue business suit packed with granite-hard muscle tissue. He looked as if he could absorb the impact of a medium-sized family saloon car and stay standing, though possibly slightly dazed. His face was obscured by a grey mask, with huge black ovals concealing his eyes, two tiny nostril-holes and the number 54 stitched across its forehead. The frightening effect was mitigated, partly by the way it disclosed his mouth and grizzled goatee beard, but mostly by the brown fedora he wore over the top of it.

     Above his right shoulder bobbed a delicate shell-pink balloon.

     ‘I don’t know,’ the Señor admitted reluctantly. Linguistics, like most areas of human knowledge, were something of a specialty with him. ‘The writing system is like nothing I’ve seen before. Some of the symbols could come from ancient languages, though not the Roman alphabet we in the West use. Others seem new.’ Though built like the wrestler he was, Lori’s friend was also the scientist and scholar which his masks, each themed around one of the 105 known elements in the periodic table, would suggest. He had told Lori that the one he wore today represented xenon, whose name came from the Greek word for ‘alien’.
Señor 105 is a masked Mexican wrestler, or luchador. He wears 105 masks, and is known as Señor 105, because he lives in a perpetual early 1970s where seaborgium and its successors are as yet unheard of [1].
As well as being a wrestler, 105 is a scientific genius, a polymath, a man of peace though capable of great violence, a friend to children and to stray balloons housing sentient isotopes of helium [2]. He regularly fights to save Mexico City and the world from such threats as aliens, monsters, giant robots, jackalopes, dinosaurs and men with dangerously enthralling moustaches.

Like many of the central characters in the stories I've written, Señor 105 isn't my creation. He was invented by Cody Quijano-Schell (who also produced the splendid cover for Tales of the City) for his story "Iris Wildthyme y Señor Cientocinco contra Los Monstruos del Fiesta" in Iris Wildthyme and the Celestial Omnibus. In his first appearance, Señor 105's job was essentially to welcome Iris -- a personal friend of, among others, Carnacki, Professor Challenger, Santa Claus and Doctor Who -- into the weird genre world of Lucha libre. Even here, however, the wrestler comes across as the hero of his own adventures: already the story reads as a crossover with a series which hasn't happened yet.

Which, at the time, was true. Since then, however, the Señor has reappeared at novella length (also written by Cody) in Miss Wildthyme and Friends Investigate, starred in his own volume of the Obverse Quarterly, Senor 105 and the Elements of Danger (which allowed six other authors to provide their own takes on the character), and most recently spun off into his own range of e-novellas, The Periodic Adventures of Señor 105 from Manleigh Books (by diverse hands -- one of which, it would now appear, is mine).

I love Señor 105's surreal, pulpy world, which is explicitly posited on the fact that anything can happen at any time with no particular need for scientific explanation (frustrating though the latter fact often is to the rational-minded 105 himself). It's why I've chosen one particular old, rejected proposal, whose opening chapter I posted here quite some time ago, to form the basis of the story.

I have to admit that Mexico, and the Lucha libre genre particularly (which, outside the Señor 105 adventures, I've only ever encountered through that Angel episode), are some distance outside my usual comfort zone, which is probably why my story takes the luchador and his friends to the relatively neutral territory of the United States. It's also the first time I've written somthing for e-publication only, which feels a little odd.

It's not necessarily a final title, but so far my novella's called The Ghosts of Odin-Hotep. I'll keep you posted as it progresses.

Incidentally, there's a fine gallery of Señor 105 fan art here.

[1] If he remains active to the present day -- which is doubtful, as he's in his 50s in 1970 -- he's presumably be known either as Señor 114 (in which case his highest-numbered mask will confusingly be 116) or Señor 116 (in which case he'll be two masks short).
[2] Her name's Sheila, incidentally. Lori, the Señor's other friend, is a freelance detective with a totally explicable penchant for dressing up as a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman.