Just arrived in the post: complimentary copies of the slightly delayed special limited edition of my short story collection A Very British History, from PS Publishing. I've written some short stories because I've been asked to; I've written rather more for the fun and joy of it. Some have turned out to be the preludes to novels, but my personal favourites are those which are complete and self-contained. You get an idea, or a character, or a situation, and you explore what it means, or why they are who they are, or how it resolves, all within the compass of a tightly organised narrative. They can be about a small change in a human heart, or the end of the world. They can be about anything and everything. They give you the chance to stretch your limits, to experiment, to take risks (to fall flat on your face.) I've written and published about a hundred; it would lovely if I could write at least a hundred more. Hopefully, some good ones.
But they can be pretty ephemeral things. Written, published, read (hopefully), gone. How many SF and fantasy stories are published every year? Hundreds, easily. Maybe a thousand or more. And of those, how many last much longer than their first appearance in print? So I'm aware that I'm very lucky to have been allowed to select a bunch of my stories for this retrospective (1985 - 2022; let's optimistically call it the first half of my career) collection, and to have had them published by Peter Crowther and the rest of the PS team not only in a rather luxurious 'standard' format, but also in this rather sumptuous package.
At the top, front and back of the slipcase, with artwork by Jim Burns, illustrating 'The Choice.' Below, at the right, the main collection, signed by me, with special endpapers. You can find the table of contents here. And to the left of it, a small extra volume containing two stories 'Searching for Van Gogh at the End of the World' and 'Karl and the Ogre', and a biographical essay. The terrific cover is also by Jim Burns - I hadn't seen it before now. There aren't many copies available, so if you haven't yet ordered one yet, you had better hurry.
If you'd like tasters of my short fiction there are cheaper alternatives - although available only on Kindle, for now. Little Machines is an eclectic collection of science-fiction and some darker stuff. And Stories From The Quiet War and Life After Wartime are shorter collections of stories associated with my Quiet War future history (I've given links to the UK branch of Amazon, but they're also available in the US and elsewhere.)