Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Year's best

I can't find a good image of the cover, but the Twenty Eighth Annual Edition of the Year's Best Science Fiction, edited by Gardner Dozois, is now out in the States.

It contains my long story from "The Mammoth Book of the End of the World", "Sleepover". Sleepover attracted almost zero attention upon its original publication (I know, moan moan moan), so I'm very grateful to Gardner for picking it for reprinting. As always, it's a blast to see my name inside the Year's Best, let alone on the cover.

Here's the opening:

They brought Gaunt out of hibernation on a blustery day in early spring. He came to consciousness in a steel-framed bed in a grey-walled room that had the economical look of something assembled in a hurry from prefabricated parts. Two people were standing at the foot of the bed, looking only moderately interested in his plight. One of them was a man, cradling a bowl of something and spooning quantities of it into his mouth, as if he was eating his breakfast on the run. He had cropped white hair and the leathery complexion of someone who spent a lot of time outside. Next to him was a woman with longer hair, greying rather than white, and with much darker skin. Like the man she was wiry of build and dressed in crumpled grey overalls, with a heavy equipment belt dangling from her hips.

‘You in one piece, Gaunt?’ she asked, while her companion spooned in another mouthful of his breakfast. ‘You compus mentis?’

Gaunt squinted against the brightness of the room’s lighting, momentarily adrift from his memories.

‘Where am I?’ he asked. His voice came out raw, as if he had been in a loud bar the night before.

‘In a room, being woken up,’ the woman said. ‘You remember going under, right?’

He grasped for memories, something specific to hold onto. Green-gowned doctors in a clean surgical theatre, his hand signing the last of the release forms before they plumbed him into the machines. The drugs flooding his system, the utter absence of sadness or longing as he bid farewell to the old world, with all its vague disappointments.


  1. Get the YBSF every year through the SF Book Club, and I've not read (or previously heard of!) "Sleepover", so I have a treat in store, it appears.

    So you know, it was a previous edition of Dozois' series that turned me on to your work, when I chanced upon "Beyond the Aquila Rift" in one of its edition's many pages. . . .

  2. I'm surprised it received little attention. I thought it was great. Tsk. Should have sent some fan mail. Gardner Dozois has impeccable taste.

  3. I have a copy of "The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic SF" purchased specially for Sleepover. I am yet to read it but it's in the queue. I have also just recived copy 316 of the limited run of Troika from Subterranean Press which I am excited to read.

    In fact I am almost upto date with your writings(since reading RS a few years ago I have been trying to catch up :) and just recently read a copy of Deep Navigation.

    I am about to start House of Suns but am listening to the audio version from the Subterranean website as I couldn't find an easily obtained print copy in the UK.

    This has turned into a bit of a fan outpouring I think, but anyway... I'll just finish by saying that Chasm City is now one of my all time favourite books.

  4. yours is/was the story i always read first when the new YBSF comes out, if you are in it. it was the YBSF which caused me to buy Revelation Space and every book since.

  5. It deserves to be, it was very good.

  6. Hi Al,
    Congrats on another "Best of" publication. I have yet to read the story but am searching for it now. On a semi related note a question for you.
    Do you keep a definitive list of your published history, every story, every book?

  7. Hi Matthew - thanks. I mean to update the list on my website one of these days, but it's quite out of date now. Wikipedia isn't too bad as a reference - I don't think it misses anything that's already been published. But I really must update the website.

  8. ps - thanks everyone else, hope you enjoy the story.

  9. I have read all your novels, and hope that this one will be just as good, maybe a beginning of a series set in the same universe like revelation space?

  10. Hi Al,

    Just finished reading the story after you mentioned it on this site. I was gripped and felt kinda sad leaving the world and the characters. Any chance of you revisiting this universe again some time? hint hint : )

  11. I just read 'Sleepover' in the "The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic SF" about 2 weeks ago, and I thought it was a great story, and would love to see a novel in the same universe. One thing about 'Sleepover' though is that it is one good story in a lot of good thought provoking stories. Maybe that's why there wasn't much comment on it. I have also just read the Subterranean Press - Troika (the nice leather bound one, they really do do justice to the story) and it was excellent. Looking forward to you next Sub Press. Book.