For a while now Unsung Stories have been publishing, quietly and without any fuss, some really great short stories and books. Their fiction titles are available to buy here and they run a really neat free-subscription service with a new, usually terrific, short story delivered to your inbox every other week. You can sign up for free - not that I'm going to labour that point, honest - by clicking through to here.
If that isn't enough to encourage you to sign up - for free, I remind you - to their subscription list, then being kindly and generous people they have now collected some of the tales that have appeared on their site (and in your inbox if you have already signed up) in a DRM-free ebook, for you to enjoy on your e-reader or device of choice. They're calling it the Best of Unsung Shorts So Far . . .
And you know what? They're giving that away free of charge too.
As they themselves say, "Unsung Stories publish speculative fiction. This means science fiction, fantasy and horror, but especially the fuzzy bits between these genres: hard and soft sci-fi, high and low fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, steampunk, cyberpunk, weird fiction and anything else that defies expectation."
If you like, they're offering the unexpected, something a little bit different. So I hear you ask, If it's unexpected, Mark, what can I expect to find in the book?
Here's the answer.
'Stabbed in the Neck by Dot Cotton' by Daniel Carpenter
'From the Neck Up' by Aliya Whiteley
'What the Light Washed Away' by Joshua Sczykutowicz
'Book Boy' by Zack Graham
'Ouroboros' by Cassandra Khaw
'Charmed and Strange' by Maggie Secara
'Build a Cat' by Peter Haynes
'Quert' by Matt Thompson
'Fashioning Trees' by Mark Patrick Lynch*
Sounds good to me.
If you fancy a free copy, in either mobi or epub format, just click here.
Did I mention it's free?
Oh, I did.
But, you know, just in case you missed that bit -- it's FREE!
* That last one's me. So this is my declaration of an interest. And while we're at it, a big hello to Jason Isaacs.
I have a new book out.
Anyway, it's called NO FIRE WITHOUT SMOKE (see what I did there?), and is one of the last titles to have been accepted and edited and printed and all the rest by Robert Hale Ltd. Hale had been going since the 1930s, and in that time published some names that the reader(s) of this blog will no doubt recognise, from Robert Heinlein, through Elmore Leonard, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, to David Stuart Davies.
With increasingly difficult market conditions (not helped by widespread library closures in the UK), they decided to cease trading last year. I don't think I was to blame for them shutting shop. . .though I certainly can't claim to have produced work of the quality of the aforementioned big hitters.
It's been an honour to have had my books put out by them and I thank all involved in bringing my little fictions into the wider world.
The Crowood Press have taken on distribution of the Hale titles and contracts that were intact at the end of Hale's trading. We wish Ken Hathaway and his team luck and hope they can step up to meet the standards Hale set and by which they had come to be highly regarded.
So my final book with Hale starts like this:
This is the story of the lady sharpshooter Smoke Winters, and how she went to Inferno, fought and died there, and then went back and fought all over again to save a child that was no blood relation to her and who held her to no promise that I ever knew about.
It ain't a ghost story, and it ain't nothing to do with ressurection either, at least not as it's written about in the Bible. It's not even about revenge. Or not in the way you might think.
The reasons Smoke did what she did ... well, I guess they're complicated, and you'll have to work them out yourself in the end. I have my own ideas, but the truth is I can only tell you what she did and just a little bit about why she did it.
Settle in and give me some of your time. This is what happened.
The book can be bought in its hardcover format online from Amazon Uk here and the Book Depository here. You can find it online in most stores around the world. You have been warned.