Monday 20 April 2020

Stories Of Hope And Wonder: For The NHS

As the country moves into another week of lockdown, the pressure on our frontline workers (across all areas) is all-encompassing so when Ian Whates (a fine friend, who not only runs the writing group I belong to - the NSFWG - but also the excellent NewCon Press) asked me if I'd like to contribute to an ebook charity anthology he'd planned, I didn't hesitate.  This was last Thursday and the anthology is here, a 695 page collection of 53 short stories from some of the best names in sci-fi, fantasy and horror writing today.

Table Of Contents

Introduction by Ian Whates
Last Contact – Stephen Baxter
Slink-Thinking – Frances Hardinge
Gossamer – Ian Whates
The Feather Dress – Lisa Tuttle
The Man Who Swallowed Himself – Chris Beckett
A Fat Man in the Bardo – Ken MacLeod
Kings of Eternity – Eric Brown
Muscadet Kiss – Michèle Roberts
Dead Space – George Mann
The Trace – Christopher Priest
Golden Wing, Silver Eye – Cat Hellisen
The Golden Nose – Neil Williamson
On Ilkley Moor – Alison Littlewood
About Helen – Tade Thompson
Iphigenia in Aulis – M.R. Carey
Just Watch Me – Lesley Glaister
The Family Football – Ian R. MacLeod
The Grave-Digger’s Tale – Simon Clark
The All-Nighter – Mark Morris
Her Seal Skin Coat – Lauren Beukes
A Conclusion – Paul Cornell
Liberty Bird – Jaine Fenn
The Ki-Anna – Gwyneth Jones
Scienceville – Gary Gibson
The Sphere – Juliet E. McKenna
An Eligible Boy – Ian McDonald
The Quick Child – Jane Rogers
Trademark Bugs: A Legal History – Adam Roberts
Working on the Ward – Tim Pears
During the Dance – Mark Lawrence
Out of the Woods – Ramsey Campbell
Trick of the Light – Tim Lebbon
Roman Games – Anne Nicholls
44: Digits – Robert Shearman
The Fox Maiden – Priya Sharma
Roads of Silver, Paths of Gold – Emmi Itäranta
All Deaths Well Intention’d – RJ Barker
Epilogue: England, Summer 1558 – Jon Courtenay Grimwood
The Christmas Repentance of the Mole Butcher of Tetbury – Aliya Whiteley
Gulliver’s Travels Into Several Remote Nations Of The World, Part V: A Voyage To The Island Of The Wolves – Jonathan Palmer
Barking Mad – Ian Watson
Lady with a Rose – Reggie Oliver
Missing – Blake Morrison
What We Sometimes Do, Without Thinking – Mark West
Events – Stan Nicholls
Wars of Worldcraft – Adrian Tchaikovsky
Fixer, Worker, Singer – Natalia Theodoridou
Witness – Kim Lakin-Smith
Unravel – Ren Warom
Like Clockwork – Tim Major
A Million Reasons Why – Nick Wood
The Road to the Sea – Lavie Tidhar
Ten Love Songs to Change the World – Peter F. Hamilton

As the anthology is digital and the writers have contributed their stories freely, every penny NewCon Press receives will go straight to the NHS.

All politics aside, our wonderful NHS is clearly straining at the seams at the moment.  I have three dear friends working at the frontline (my best friend of 44 years - Nick Duncan - is a fireman who's also now volunteering with the NHS) and the Roberts, David & Julia, who are nurses.  David, who helps me plot the thriller novels as we go for 8 or 9 mile walks weekly with his dog Pippa, is currently recovering from Covid-related symptoms (though hasn't been tested) and it's been frightening to see how hard it's hit him, my friend who's fit and healthy and got me into Park Running.
My personal faces of the pandemic (I daren't include a pic of Julia, she'd kill me):
(left) with Nick in Bristol, August 2019 - (right) Irchester Park Run January 2020 with David (photo by John Woods)
We're in unprecendented times and people are doing what they can - rainbows and toys in windows, making PPE, helping friends and neighbours - and most of it restores your faith in the wonder of human nature, giving us all a chance to help.

On the subject of that, I'll take a moment to point you towards the Just Giving campaign for Captain Tom Moore, the 99 year old war veteran who aimed to raise £1,000 by walking 100 laps of his garden and achieved that on Thursday 16th April.  As I write this, he's managed to raise over £26m for the NHS.

* * *
My contribution, What We Do Sometimes, Without Thinking, was written in 2010 and came about directly because of Ian.  I'd just joined the writing group and he told me NewCon was planning to put together an anthology so, if I wanted to contribute, I needed to get a story to him within a week.  And I managed it.

Even better, the story was good enough he accepted it which led me to attending the launch party where Alan Moore (a rather famous writer and Northampton resident), who'd written the introduction, was in attendance.  I remember thanking him for his kind words and he shook my hand heartily and said "keep it local, boy!".

The story features fictionalised versions of me and Nick and an actual location, the bridge at the end of the Headlands in Kettering, from where Dude & I did used to go train chasing (I wrote about it here).  I like the story a lot and I'm proud to be included.

* * *
The book, all 695 pages of it, is listed at the NewCon site here

Captain Tom Moore's Walk For The NHS

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