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Stories Of An Awkward Size: A Slipstream And Hard SF Anthology Paperback – January 15, 2015
About the Author
Jonathan Swords-Holdsworth – JSH – is an Australian author of Slipstream and hard Science Fiction. Having grown up in the city of Melbourne's suburbia, JSH now lives in the Australian bush with his partner and a small menagerie of animals and wildlife. A former musician, software engineer and computer scientist by training, he has shifted back to writing full time. His other passions include astronomy, photography and travel.
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Australian writer Jonathan Swords-Holdsworth lends a talented hand to the genre he grew up loving and clearly illustrates through his first collection, Stories Of An Awkward Size. The former software engineer, who now dedicates himself to writing full-time, shares five tantalizing tales that take place in the near future and offer the kinds of subtle plot twists, tech developments and creepy catharsis that television-savvy readers at first might rightly compare to the Netflix series Black Mirror.
However, unlike the world-building in Black Mirror that is ultimately immersed in disappointment, setbacks and satire — with the intellectual terror and gallows humor such a treatment of characters provides its audience — the short story collection written by Swords-Holdsworth glimmers with a slightly more promising vision of the future. In it, readers slowly acquire the astonishing sense that humankind might – just might — succeed in making a damn of a difference solving the myriad of problems and tackling the grave threats to survival on this planet it has caused.
Thus, to be fair, then, when considering the finely written tales of Stories of an Awkward Size, it might be best to imagine an updated version of The Twilight Zone, delivered as episodic narratives of the mind, often based on hard science, and presented with the deadpan tenderness of your favorite friend from down under.
To quote a character from Swords-Holdsworth’s metaphysical romp, “Mr. Devrie’s Red Bowler Hat,” which concerns the misadventures of a man who discovers an odd afterlife awaiting him after a car crash … “Bugger this … let’s explore.”
On that note, the four other stories in the collection include:
“Black Prince” – Try not to be too superstitious after reading about what happens when a digital black cat crosses the protagonist’s path.
“Come Silent Winged Sleep” – Be careful of eyes watching you in the sky. Great story that would make a great drama.
“The Ghost of Rene Magritte” – Virtual reality sometimes sounds better than promised. You’ll see.
“The Thousand Yard Stare” – What youth wishes for isn’t always a waste, or is it?
These stories would be great shorts developed for TV or film, a more upbeat series in the tradition of Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone. Maybe for us lovers of science fiction, one day they will be adapted for our screens, big or small. Until then, they remain great reads worthy of your time and space.
"Black Prince" : Art/graffiti that interacts with its viewers in interesting ways. This story opens the anthology and grabs the reader straight away.
"Mr. Devries' Red Bowler Hat" : an interesting exploration of what may happen when we finally "sleep; perchance to dream."
"Come Silent Winged Sleep" : Watch the skies and watch your back. Great story that would make a great drama.
"The Ghost of Rene Magritte" : And you thought totally immersive virtual reality would be the bees knees. Let's think about this for a moment.
"The Thousand Yard Stare" : Yes, youth is wasted on the young. But will they learn this lesson?
These stories lay down a promising foundation and I look forward to what this Jonathon builds upon it.
2nd story - What is reality, anyway? Well thought out and with a great twist... Jonno, I err, tip my hat to you
3rd story - With drones slowly becoming more common, what makes us assume "slowly" is correct? Or that we would see it? Near future gear tech that's exciting to read - Jon shows a great ability to visualize this stuff, and the skill to help others do the same. That bit where the street youths approach the protagonist was freakin awesome.
4th story - VR tech development and morre gadgets! As we build our world image - some of us lose the plot. But if we lose the plot in a virtual world - who or what is to blame? Awesome angle on a much visited subject.
5th story - The immortality loop.. Longevity tech & the things it could drive people to do - another near future work that makes it's way to the distant future.
Please make more.. so, so good
"Come Silent Winged Sleep" and "The Ghost of Rene Magritte" were definitely a hit for me
That’s why collections like “Stories of an Awkward Size” are so valuable. The author has created a style that combines what’s great about slipstream fiction (a philosophical engagement with society at large and an interest in the direction of history) with what’s great about literary fiction (an attention to the sound of the sentence, the flow of the paragraph, and the poetry of the story).
Of the stories in the volume, the strongest is probably “Mr. Devries’ Red Bowler Hat.” An evocative take on the surreal and a strange addition to the cannon of slipstream fiction, it’s a story that entrances from beginning to end.
Most recent customer reviews
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