This coming weekend sees the publication and launch of Elasticity: The Best of Elastic Press, edited by myself for NewCon Press. To promote the book in this blog I'm going to include extracts from the introduction and from each of the stories. For those reading this prior to Saturday 8th July, feel free to pop along to the Star of Kings in London from 1pm to 5pm where the book is being launched alongside Best British Science Fiction 2016.
The book is published in both paperback and limited edition hardback and can be bought from the usual outlets as well as direct from the publisher here. If you need proof of me signing, here it is:
From the intro: I expect most readers of this book will be familiar with Elastic Press, the independent publishing company I ran from 2002 until 2009. The remit was simple: to publish mixed genre short story collections by relatively unknown writers. It wasn’t quite a sound business plan, as unknown authors, mixed genre and short stories generally are renowned as hard to sell. But that was a challenge, not an obstacle. I chose the name Elastic Press through an unwillingness to burden the company with a restrictive genre title. Whilst I might have written science fiction, fantasy, horror and – as they like to call it – literary fiction, I tended to prefer the all-encompassing ‘slipstream’ moniker and wanted the press to reflect this and have the elasticity to publish whatever genre I enjoyed (often within the same book).
Over seven years Elastic Press won seven separate awards (two Best Small Press awards and three Best Anthology awards from the British Fantasy Society, one East Anglian Book Award, and the Edge Hill Prize for short fiction for Chris Beckett's The Turing Test). Whilst shedding the press was a relatively easy task, it was always at the back of my mind as to whether I would revitalise it, and I was surprised and delighted when Ian Whates of NewCon Press telephoned me to enquire if I would be interested in editing this book. It was a great honour not only for Ian to acknowledge Elastic’s influence on his own publishing company, but to have someone other than Elastic Press publish an Elastic Press book. I had no hesitation in accepting the task and immediately began to consider the contents...
From "Grief Inc" by Andrew Humphrey:
Then she became soft, pliant, folded against him. And he felt the usual slow warmth and tasted something dark and bitter at the back of his throat. She murmured, ‘My God, my God,’ into his chest and he held her, stroked the top of her head, and felt something tender, something close to love. Even though he charged for this and although he didn’t actually give a shit, Carter was suddenly imbued with a tainted, accidental, sense of virtue.
From "The Tower" by Brian Howell:
Instinctively, she drew her legs up to the sofa and watched as the creature scuttled towards the skirting board, as if drawn there by the surface tension of water in a puddle. She would wait until it stepped off the carpet before she crushed it.
From "Evelyn Is Not Real" by Mike O'Driscoll:
A man in a black leather sports jacket was standing at my shoulder. Before I could say anything, he gestured at the DVD I held and said, “Nobody ever died of sadness watching Grant and Hepburn.”
From "Amber Rain" by Neil Williamson:
“Col,” she said. “It’s no use. I think it’s different for everybody. Maybe some people do see little green men, and maybe some see God, and some Yogi-fucking-Bear. But not me. I think whatever it is – whatever they are – looks into people and finds something that no-one else has, perhaps the single element that makes them an individual, and then they tweak it to see what happens.”
From "351073" by Jeff Gardiner:
Eloise saw me shaking my head and squinting.
“You see, men have wisdom, but women have understanding.” She smiled as if this explained all my doubts and frustrations.
It was from then that things started getting really strange.
From "Four A.M." by Gary Couzens:
She smiles and blows out the flames one by one, sucking on her fingers to douse the smoke. Her fingers are clean, freshly washed pink, unscorched and unblistered.
From "When We Were Five" by Marion Arnott:
Her memories still squat like lodgers in my mind, as at home as my own: the 150 bridges spanning the Neva and the roiling sea; in winter, the restless waves frozen in silent glistening peaks; in spring, the ice cracking with a roar; in summer, the white nights when the sun never sets and the city drowns in the scent of lilacs.
From "Shopping" by Antony Mann:
Ronald Reagan mask
Speaking of shopping, here are the endpages of the hardback to whet your appetite:
From "Somme-Nambula" by Allen Ashley:
I felt Snapper’s strong arms around my somnambulant shoulders preventing me from raising my bare head above the parapet. His onion and tobacco breath was pungent in my nostrils as he pleaded with me to return to the land of the conscious.
From "Visits To The Flea Circus" by Nick Jackson:
One of the deer stood awkwardly. It opened its great brown eyes and in the black centre of the pupil she saw a distant image of herself in her yellow dress.
From "Alsiso" by Justina Robson:
The seeds of life fell on Teriapt as on a thousand other worlds, scattered by the Hand of Gaia Obasi Nsi, The Tortoise-Shelled. She was the first, the last and the only daughter of Earth gifted with the grain of DNA, nanoreplicators and the capacity to leap to any known space in the hopes of bringing forth other worlds fit for humans.
From "Jasmine" by Andrew Tisbert:
I had come across a universe for this chance to meet her. I wasn’t about to turn shy and passively let my opportunity slide by. I swallowed and took a deep breath, and this time I did smile.
From "Televisionism" by Maurice Suckling:
I once had a girlfriend who was famous. I suppose she still is in a way, but I can’t really say she’s my girlfriend anymore. At least we don’t go out and we don’t see each other, and people tend to see that as significant.
From "The Marriage Of Sea and Sky":
He emerged to an astonishing sight. Over at the eastern horizon, the enormous moon was rising over a returning sea. Brilliant turbulent water, luminous with pink moonlight, was sweeping towards him across the vast dark space where the women had yesterday hunted for crabs.
From "fight Music" by Tim Nickels:
I look out and down on the scattered shoes: hundreds or thousands of mismatched pairs clouding the wasteland as far as the shrunken river. All of them waiting for feet that will never be born.
"Elasticity: The Best of Elastic Press", is available in both paperback and limited edition signed hardback from NewCon Press.