Short Fiction

Angry Robot, Competitions, Fan stuff, Short Fiction, Sneak Peek

WIN: A Signed ARC of Jeff Noon’s A Man of Shadows

A Man of Shadows by Jeff Noon

In case you’ve yet to hear, we’re publishing Jeff Noon’s highly anticipated new novel A Man of Shadows this August.

Now, we don’t often do physical advanced reading copies (ARCs) of our novels but, as a special treat, we did arrange for a limited run of physical ARCs for the novel. These were snapped up in record time, but we did manage to wrestle a single copy from the grasp of a desperate, ravenous reader. We’ve been told they’re recovering and managing well without their arms, which is lucky, as we were loathe to give up our fancy new office ornaments.

Our question is, do you want the ARC signed by Jeff (possibly (but probably not) in his own blood)?

If so, we’re going to run a competition over the next week. Here’s how you can enter:

Jeff is known for his novels Vurt, Automated Alice, Channel Sk1n, Pollen and a whole host more, but also known for his amazing Twitter feed full of strange, dreamlike tweets that read like stories in themselves. For example:

What we want you to do, dear Robot horde, is to create your own dreamlike story in 100 – 140 characters and tweet it to us (or email penny.reeve@angryrobotbooks.com, if you don’t have love for Twitter). We’ll pick the winner – and by that we mean the author of the strangest, weirdest and smartest story – next Thursday at 12 noon, UK time.

What are you still reading this for? Better get crafting that story!

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Short Fiction

The Chiswick Cannibals – A Christmas Story by Ishbelle Bee

We’re starting to get all Christmassy on the orbital death platform. We’ve strung up vile humans fairy lights, wrapped tinsel around the lasers, hung a wreath over the mainframe and even attached a single, tiny bauble to each end of editorial assistant Nick’s moustache. It’s all looking rather festive!

We hope you’re all feeling similarly jolly. If not, here’s a Christmas story by Ishbelle Bee, author of dark fairy tales The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath and The Contrary Tale of  The Butterfly Girlto get you in the deathly festive spirits.

The Chiswick Cannibals

A mini peculiar Christmas adventure of John Loveheart Esq.

Christmas Eve, London

This entire blasted Christmas holiday, Constable Walnut and I have been investigating a nefarious flesh eating cult located within Chiswick, a west district London slum pit whose residents have become deformed over centuries of interbreeding and tripe worship.

This particular cult has proved tricky to catch, despite several ingenious attempts to lure the acolytes out- one such being, Walnut disguised as a poor Little Match Girl selling her wares on the steps of Chiswick town hall. Unfortunately this plan was abandoned as Walnut proved surprisingly popular as ‘rough trade’ to the locals; the ensuing fracas ended in several arrests including that of Walnut who in the defence of his innocence had head-butted a local dignitary. Read More

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Short Fiction

Matthew De Abaitua Writes Short for New Scientist

If Then by Matthew de AbaituaAuthor, lecturer and all-round ridiculously intelligent man Matthew De Abaitua is lending his voice to New Scientist, with a festive short story to be featured in its December issue.

The story takes place in the same brilliant post-emergence universe as Matthew’s If Then and The Destructivesfinally bringing readers to the University of the Sun (the new home of the AI ’emergences’, far away from their sort-of parents, humanity).

While you’re eagerly waiting the short, take a look at some of the reviews Matthew has received for both If Then and The Destructives, and if you haven’t read them yet, well –  this is the perfect time:

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Angry Robot, AR Authors, Books, Interesting Stuff, Short Fiction, Writers

New Wesley Chu novella

The Days of Tao (ebook cover)As a mark of his great success with his three Tao novels for Angry Robot, that man Wesley Chu has been invited to pen a novella with a new story from that world for the prestigious Subterranean Press. At the end of April they will be issuing The Days of Tao in the USA as an exclusive limited edition.

However, we didn’t want UK and Australian fans to miss out, se we’ve arranged with Wes to offer the novella as an ebook through Angry Robot. For all readers in the UK and Commonwealth (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and beyond), The Days of Tao will be available from 5th May in your favourite ebook store. Read More

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Angry Robot, Short Fiction

Lying Like Cards: A Marius don Hellespont fix, by Lee Battersby

Gentle readersThe Marching Dead by Lee Battersby, April 2013, on this, the eve of the official publication date of The Marching Dead – sequel to The Corpse-Rat King and therefore the second novel to recount the misadventures of renowned scoundrel Marius don Hellespont, as told to us by the greatly esteemed and utterly unscoundrely Mr Lee Battersby – Angry Robot is delighted to present this short tale, by way of aperitif before tomorrow’s main event… enjoy!

Lying Like Cards

An hour ago there had been six at the table. Now there were two. Marius don Hellespont, late of His Automancer’s Court of Taslingham, even later of the cells beneath the court, took a moment to glance down at his cards before casually flicking over a stack of riner coins so they splashed across the green paper tablecloth.

“Whatever that adds up to,” he said, deliberately yawning. The fat Tallian across from him pursed his lips.

“That is bad etiquette, sir.”

“In this fine place?” Marius waved a hand at the shabby, peeling wallpaper, the warped floorboards, and the boarded up windows that surrounded them. “Where are my manners?” He nodded at the coins. “Whatever that adds up to. See it or raise, tubby.”

The fat man waited enough that Marius knew he was beaten. The game of Kingdom was a complex one, if you paid attention to the cards, and it became more difficult the fewer players were at the table. Ostensibly, the object was to build the hand most closely resembling the current ruling class: Royal family, if you were in Scorby, Council of Elders in Zerpha, Automancer’s Cabal in Taslingham, and so on. If you were paying attention to the cards. Only the most trusting of beginners did that.

Real players, and Marius was a real player, knew that the object of the game was much simpler: to take your opponent’s money. The cards were immaterial. What counted was keeping your opponent off-balance– learning their tells, their psychological weaknesses, and then exploiting them. Like all truly great sports, Kingdom was won by the one who best played the man. The Tallian hesitated the tiniest smidgeon, and Marius had him.

“Gods damn it.” The fat man blew out his cheeks, aiming to recover lost bravado. “Gods damn.” He made a show of counting the coins, then counting them again. Marius very deliberately did not leer like a greedy baby snatcher. “All right,” his victim said. “All right.” He riffled his stack, came to the decision Marius knew he was coming to all along. “All in.” He moved his pile into the centre of the table.

Marius didn’t count them. He had no need. He knew he had the bet covered. He paused just long enough to make him sweat, then casually smiled and laid his cards face down before him. “Call.”

A queen, a prince, a knight, three nobles, a peasant. Pretty close. Good enough to win most hands. The fat man stared at them for several seconds, then raised his gaze to Marius.

“One peasant.” He snapped the card onto the table. “Three nobles.” Snap. “One knight.” Snap. “One prince.” He held up the last card, turned it so that it faced Marius. “One King.” He laid it down with a grin, slid it into place with the others. “My hand, I think.”

He reached out to draw in Marius’ coins. To their right, a door crashed open.

“What the fuck?” Both players reared back from the table as if stung. A soldier was standing in the doorway.

“The King!” he roared. “The King has been killed!”

“What?”

“Assassins from the house of Belchester! The King is dead!” He flung himself back out the door. The room erupted in a mad scramble to follow him: off duty guardsmen and civil militiamen hurling themselves towards distant guardhouses, to swords tucked over lintels, to scythes and halberds and sharpening wheels in front yards. As the room emptied, Marius raised a sympathetic eyebrow at his stunned opponent, and began scooping coins into his pockets.

“Tough timing,” he said, and rose before the fat Tallian could recover himself enough to object. “Still, the cards never lie.”

# # #

Marius sat in a booth at the back of ‘The Hauled Keel’ and watched his young apprentice Gerd weave through the crowd, two tankards of Krehmlager in his beefy fists, plonking down opposite his master and passing one over. Marius raised it in salute, and took a long swallow.

“You hid the armour?” he asked, once he’d recovered his breath. Gerd took a sip, and choked.

“In a barrel on Pudding Alley.”

“Good. Good.” Marius removed a short stack of coins from a pocket and slid it over. “Your share.” Gerd accepted it without counting. Trusting lad. Stupid boy. Marius felt the weight of all the winnings secreted around his body, and took another swallow to help ignore a sudden pang of conscience. From outside came shouts, and a clattering so loud that even the seasoned drinkers within the pub were silent for a moment.

“What’s that?” Gerd stood, and turned towards the window. Marius tilted his head.

“Soldiers,” he said after a moment. “Forming up in front of Traitor’s Gate.”

“Isn’t that the…”

“Road to Belchester?” Marius nodded. Gerd slowly sat down.

“You don’t think..?”

Marius took a long draught of his lager, shook his head, and signalled a passing girl for another while he recovered the feeling in his face. Krehmlager was traditionally strong. The Hauled Keel’s brewing room deserved its own hospital. “No,” he said, finally, flipping a coin through suddenly-clumsy fingers. “And even if there’s a little skirmish or something, nothing will come out of it but opportunity.”

The new pints arrived. He picked his up and gestured to Gerd to do the same. “Drink up,” he said. “We’ve got to get our stuff and be ready to follow them.” He smiled, thinking of the riches to be had on the battlefield to come. “I’m going to teach you how to be a corpse-rat.”

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Angry Robot, Guest Posts, Short Fiction

The Alchemist’s Friend, by Emma Newman, a Split Worlds Short Story

We’re delighted to present a brand new short story by recently-signed Angry Robot Author Emma Newman.

Emma has been writing and releasing a series of completely free short stories set in The Split Worlds, as part of the build-up to the release of her Angry Robot debut, Between Two Thorns, which we’re publishing in March 2013.

This is the twenty-seventh tale in a year and a day of weekly short stories set in The Split Worlds. If you would like Emma to read it to you instead, you can listen to a recorded version at SoundCloud.com. Read More

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