25 May 2013

More Tales of the City: Trailer #6

Meet Isabelle Gebhart:
     The woman introduces herself as Isabelle. Setting her sunshiny countenance next to Arianrhod’s icy visage makes them look like drawings of the seasons on a medieval map.
     She launches into her tale: ‘I walk into a bar carrying all of creation enthroned in a hollow. A tomb already raided and looted of treasure. I’m taking it out for sleazy one-night stand.
     ‘“So, what’s your passion? What do you totally love to do?” asks Gemini.
     ‘I call him Gemini because of the hair. Part of it is gathered onto the top of his head in fat-rat tubes of a dirty straw colour. The underneath and sides are shaved and dark brown. He’s got Gemini written plain as day in the dreads on his head and the clean-cut nape of his neck. He’s dabbled in veganism, but (judging from the Nachos Grande platter in front of him) feels no moral obligation to avoid strange meat. A deep thinker too. Mostly about pot I imagine.’
Isabelle is the primary narrator of Kelly Hale's "The Isis Method", the final story in More Tales of the City.  Here's Kelly:
Kelly Hale’s contribution to twenty-first-century Earth’s human social welfare was a practical fairy-godmothering network serving children in foster care. She lived in quiet, vaguely contented poverty during which she raised children and authored several works of fiction for small-press publishers. Her first novel, Erasing Sherlock – a fantasy about a time-travelling maid-of-all-work whose case study of the real Sherlock Holmes goes terribly awry, resulting in all sorts of madcap adventures, exciting chases, kidnappings, various acts of reckless passion and an actual volcanic eruption – was awarded a prize for literary awesomeness. Imagine her surprise and delight when, some several years after Resurrection Day, her very own version of Sherlock Holmes walks into her little espresso bar in New London having found her through CreatorMatchCreation. They’ve been creating together ever since. Their critically acclaimed series The One and Only pits Sherlock against Sherlock in a race to beat the clock as these great detectives and chosen contestants chase after clues and each other to solve mysteries spanning every District and to the farthest reaches of the City of the Saved.
I was enormously pleased to get Kelly to write a City of the Saved story -- though selfishly so, as she's an outstanding writer who deserves far wider recognition than she'll get from the small-press circles I move in. Erasing Sherlock is the standout novel of the Mad Norwegian Faction Paradox range, published both before and since as a non-series novel. Her other works (including Grimm Reality, co-written with fellow Tales of the City contributor Simon Bucher-Jones) demonstrate her to be a quite brilliant author. For my money Kelly's one of the two best prose stylists to have written for either Faction Paradox or Doctor Who, and her characters are vivid, conflicted and always utterly convincing. Seriously, I can't praise her work enough, and if I tried this post would get quite boring very quickly.

"The Isis Method" is about how the patterns of the past can dog the present; about the developing relationship between two damaged people; about healing, renewal and rebirth; about the investigation of a macabre crime. It's gorgeous, and I love it to pieces.

Oh, and just in case that doesn't make it sound cool enough-- it's got Nikola Tesla in it.

The City of the Saved logo

07 May 2013

More Tales of the City: Trailer #5

Here's the preamble and beginning of Richard Wright's "The Mystery of the Rose", the fifth story in More Tales of the City:
     ‘Enough of idling! Let the show go on!’ a voice cries, smooth yet commanding. It is the trenchcoated man, fedora in his hand now, revealing slicked-back hair. ‘My lady –’ he smiles ingratiatingly at Arianrhod ‘– I beg leave to tell my tale.’
     Arianrhod nods. ‘It would be... apposite to recommence.’
     The other patrons settle, as the mikedrone rises from its charge-port on the bar, and the man begins his soliloquy:
     ‘Now immortality makes malcontents of men once neutered by the threat of death, and schemes erst fettered by a mortal dread now flower through the City of the Saved. Released from Time’s restrictive, crushing grip, with all infinity to realise its dreams, mankind’s potential is exposed as nothing grander than it ever seemed. Eternity must rue the trick of fate that locked it to our tawdry monument.
     ‘So my eye perceives, yet may I trust it? I am no more than I was writ to be, remaining a most dutiful cynic.’
Richard is one of the most prolific of the (admittedly only twelve) authors I've acted as editor for to date: his CV looks like this, and spans an impressive range of publishing models. Here's what his contributor biog has to say:
Richard Wright's pre-Resurrection life was spent fielding questions about why he wasn't the African-American author of novels such as Black Boy and Native Son, the keyboardist in Pink Floyd, or the goalkeeper who played for Manchester City. When not denying that he was any of these people he managed to scribble some short stories and novels of his own. Residing for much of his life in the United Kingdom, Richard met an early end shortly after moving to India, where he discovered that snakes found him even less charming than humans did. Since Resurrection Day he has shared a house with Richard Wright, Richard Wright, and Richard Wright. He has waited centuries for one of the other Richard Wrights to be asked by a stranger whether they are that one who wrote those Iris Wildthyme short stories for the Obverse MegaText Conglomerate. To date, only Ms Wildthyme herself has done so, and as she seemed rather annoyed about the whole thing he kept his head down and pretended to be Dave Gilmour.

I first encountered Richard's work in the Doctor Who anthology Short Trips: Transmissions, and subsequently in the Obverse Books anthologies Iris: Abroad and Wildthyme in Purple. All of these stories are disturbing and profound: the last, "The Many Lives of Zorro", shows the titular masked swordsman succumbing to mental breakdown as he tries to reconcile the multiple conflicting narratives which have built up around him.

"The Mystery of the Rose" is also about fictional identities and the struggle against them: like several of the stories in the volume, it deals with themes of duality, of predestination and free will, and of the search for a meaning in paradise. Specifically, it's about the kind of life a villain can expect in the City of the Saved, and the accommodations he might need to make in order to live there.

A careful reading of the excerpt above may tell you who his protagonist is. Alternatively, you could read Richard's own blog post on the subject.

The City of the Saved logo