I’m delighted to say that a new collection of my short stories is being released through PS Publishing. Titled Growing Pains, the book contains all previously uncollected stories including two that are wholly original to this volume. In addition to the title story, the book includes “The Assistant”, which was shortlisted for the BSFA Award and given honourable mention in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best SF.
The book will enjoy launches at Eastercon in Bradford (Friday March 29th) and also at Forbidden Planet in London, on Saturday 6th April. It would be lovely to see you there (not to mention bloody lonely if nobody turns up!).
The ToC is:
1. Growing Pains
2. The Assistant
3. Walking the Dog
5. Peeling an Onion
6. A Question of Timing
7. Coffee Break
8. The Outsider
10. Shop Talk
11. Piano Song
To give the contents a little more context, here’s a brief summary of each story:
Growing Pains: A single father fruit farmer and his son must suffer the company of his sister and her family for the weekend. Father and son share an ominous secret, one which causes mounting tension as the weekend progresses. A first contact story with a difference.
The Assistant: Long after the office workers have gone home, cleaners and maintenance crew arrive at a corporate headquarters for the night shift, but they are far more than they seem, protecting the company from cyber-attack and hi-tech incursions.
Walking the Dog: A man walks his beloved dog through the idyllic English village where he lives. Along the way he encounters neighbours and other pooches, in a world that, on the surface, seems much like our own, but which has in fact been deeply scarred by pandemic.
Morphs: Set in Glasgow; a youth battles against Morphs: homicidal body-stealing demons – creatures he seems to have become a magnet for. An American heiress recognises the pattern and tracks him down, but has she come to save him, or to kill him?
Peeling an Onion: An ambitious man joins a cutting-edge genetic research team, one that seems on the brink of discovering a deeply hidden secret of human evolution. But was he recruited by chance or by design?
A Question of Timing: A teenager struggles to cope with the death of his brother, aided by an invisible friend who may be far more real than he seems. (Previously unpublished)
Coffee Break: Bud Walker is an off-duty police officer whose only ambition is to enjoy a simple cup of coffee. Unfortunately, aliens choose that moment to attack his home town. Nothing is going to keep Bud from his coffee, and he takes them on. Think Die Hard with added aliens… and coffee.
The Outsider: An alien entity comes to Earth to usurp the identity of a recently deceased man. To do so, it travels back to the man’s birth and follows his timeline, reliving all the significant emotional events, a process that has unforeseen consequences.
Hobbies: A man loves to pursue his hobby, which involves using a sniper rifle to kill unsuspecting passers-by. The police are baffled, and it seems his killing spree will continue unabated. Until, that is, he meets a youth with a hobby of his own. (Previously unpublished)
Shop Talk: In a far-flung future where shops jump from high street to high street (stores going to shoppers instead of the other way round), a spoilt teenage girl discovers a new arrival that captivates her: a boutique stocking clothes unlike any she’s ever seen before. But the shop is far more than it seems, harbouring a secret that will change her life forever.
The Piano Song: Following the death of her mother, Kim inherits the family home, returning there for the first time in many years. This opens the door to a welter of memories; among them, a long-forgotten melody which provided the soundtrack to her youth; a tune that Kim has never been able to identify or, despite many attempts, play. Until now.
The book has benefited from some fabulous blurb from Tanith Lee, Paul di Filippo and Adrian Tchaikovsky (thank you, guys!), and features stunning cover art by Tomislav Tikulin
Growing Pains can be preordered now from the PS Publishing website: