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A couple of new e-book anthologies are of some interest, at least to my relatives and those hoping to borrow money/scrounge free drinks from me.

First up is the e-book edition of Mike Allen's celebrated anthology Clockwork Phoenix, which won all sorts of accolades despite including my story "All the Little Gods We Are". The digital Clockwork Phoenix can be found (so far) at Amazon and in the Mythic Delirium/Weightless Books store.

The other just-published e-anthology to contain a story of mine is called Past Future Present 2011, is edited by Helen E. Davis (or should that be Helen e-Davis?), and is a great big bumper volume of sixteen -- count'em, sixteen! -- hitherto-unpublished stories by the likes of Keith Brooke, Vera Nazarian ([ profile] norilanabooks), Mike Allen (him again), and Catherine Mintz. My own offering, so as you know what to avoid amongst all this good stuff, is a longish novelette (~10,500 words) called "The Girl Who Was Ugly"; unusually for me, it's a piece of straightishforward SF rather than fantasy or slipstream or noir or genre spaghetti or . . .

UPDATE: UK Kindlers can download Clockwork Phoenix here and Past Future Present 2011 here.

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Mike Allen ([ profile] time_shark), editor of the Clockwork Phoenix anthology series, has announced that ARCs of Clockwork Phoenix #3 -- which contains a story by me but is otherwise good -- are now available for purposes of review. In the usual way, there are limited quantities of the physical ARCs, theoretically infinite supplies of the PDF version.

For further details, see the announcement on Mike's LJ.

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My short story "Where Shadows Go at Low Midnight" has sold to editor Mike Allen (
[info]time_shark) for Clockwork Phoenix #3. It's essentially a far-future fantasy, with links (although these won't affect most readers) to my 1992 novel The World and its prequel: it's a vignette of one of the World's possible futures.

Obviously I'm delighted: Clockwork Phoenix has got to be among the very front runners of current anthology series, and I'm immensely honoured to be included a second time. (My story "All the Little Gods We Are" was in CP#1.)

realthog: (city in pages)

I've just heard from [ profile] hutch0 that three of the stories I published last year have received Hon Menshes in Gardner Dozois's Best New Science Fiction 26. The three are

"Will the Real Veronica LeBarr Please Stand Down?", published in Postscripts #16 ed Peter Crowther and Nick Gevers

"All the Little Gods We Are", published in Clockwork Phoenix, ed Mike Allen ([profile] time_shark)

The City in These Pages, published solo by PS Publishing

Since I think it's the case that I published only four stories last year, I feel I've achieved a fairly high batting average . . . especially since I'd been under the impression that The City in These Pages was published in January '09. (The copyright date reads '08, but I think the book may not have been physically published until '09.)

Also, to my very great delight, Gardner mentions my novel Leaving Fortusa, published by [ profile] norilanabooks, in his introductory Summation of the year's sf.

And we have no beer in the house . . .

The fourth story, by the way, was "Always More than You Know", published by Des Lewis in his anthology Cone Zero. I'm not sure whether or not Gardner would have seen this book, which could easily -- coming from an exceptionally small UK outlet (it's just taken me several minutes to track down an appropriate URL for the link) -- have flown below his radar. A pity if so, because it's an excellent antho . . . yes, even despite my presence.

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There's a new review up of Mike Allen's anthology Clockwork Phoenix (Norilana Books, hurry out and buy right now!), done by Michael M. Jones as the SF Site's lead review. The important bits go something like this:

John Grant's "All The Little Gods We Are" is a powerful, tragic, magic tale in which a man named John makes a fateful phone call one day, and reaches himself. The bizarre call stirs up memories of John's past, bringing back a time when he and his best friend Justine were inseparable. But what happened to tear them apart? How close was their relationship, and how did it end... or did it? Whatever you think the truth is, it's weirder. One of the most emotionally powerful stories in the collection, it really needs multiple readings to understand its depths. . . .

This is not an easy anthology to read, and it was even harder to review, simply because it stretches out of the usual comfort zone, offering up entire new worlds and concepts to play with. However, that's a good thing. Without collections like this to make us actually work at understanding, comprehending, and enjoying, we'd never know where our limits are. . . . I expect to see a few of these stories gracing assorted "Best of..." lists come next year. If you want something new, different, and challenging, this is an anthology worth checking out.

What I'm personally singing and dancing about, aside from the obvious, is that here in Jones we have a reviewer perceptive enough to realize that "All the Little Gods We Are" isn't an alternate universe story. "Whatever you think the truth is, it's weirder" -- precisely.


Feb. 19th, 2009 08:30 am
realthog: (city in pages)

Over the past few weeks Rich Horton ([ profile] ecbatan) has been publishing on his The Elephant Forgets LJ blog his annual roundup reviews of short fiction. A couple of my own offerings have recently come under his eyeglass.

Of my Ed McBain-homage novella The City in These Pages (PS Publishing) he said:

John Grant's "The City in These Pages" is a sort of McBain style police procedural, with some fascinating main characters, that I thought got a bit out of hand with its philosophical conclusion, but that was fun to read on the way.

I'm very pleased with the "got a bit out of hand with its philosophical conclusion" remark because this was the general intention: that the final stages of the piece be (to use the technical term) a bit mind-buggering.

And my story in Mike Allen's ([ profile] time_shark) anthology Clockwork Phoenix (Norilana Books), "All the Little Gods We Are", got a nice mention too:

The best stories included Vandana Singh's "Oblivion: A Journey", which uses Indian mythology in service of a Science Fiction story of epic duration, as the protagonist pursues revenge against an AI; John Grant's "All the Little Gods We Are", about a man regretting his lost opportunity to be with the woman he truly loves; Catherynne M. Valente's "The City of Blind Delight", a wildly weird story about a mysterious train traveling to mysterious cities; and Leah Bobet's "Bell, Book, and Candle", about a trio of people summoned over time again and again for dark purposes. Other nice work came from Tanith Lee and Laird Barron.

All in all, then, it's another of those insufferability moments here at Snarl Towers, especially since Horton earlier -- on Christmas Day, no less! -- gave my "Will the Real Veronica LeBarr Please Stand Down?" (in Postscripts, Autumn 2008) a very kind thumbs-up. [ profile] pds_lit is doing her best to keep the derisive upchucking relatively quiet.

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This time by Mario Guslandi over at The Harrow . . . and a very, very nice review it is, too! Here are the best bits:

[S]et somewhere between fantasy, SF, and something else, the stories selected by editor Mike Allen have an unique property: they are never tedious. Some are beautiful, some alien and odd, a few irritating, several too incredible to be taken seriously, but none leave the reader indifferent or bored. This is no minor accomplishment for any anthology, so praise to Allen who, incidentally, is already assembling a second volume that should be available soon. . . .

The best tale in the book is, by far, John Grant's "All the Little Gods We Are," an outstanding piece of fiction in which the special, perfect spiritual link between a boy and a girl wavers between the dream of an impossible future and the actuality of a lonely existence. Can the two distinct realities coexist in two different levels? Thought-provoking and compelling, the story proves once more Grant's uncommon talent as a storyteller.

. . . I highly recommend the book to anyone looking for top-notch fiction irrespective of genre labels.

Huge congrats to Mike, whose editorial acumen is praised throughout the review. Modesty restrains me from comment on the remainder of the excerpts above.

realthog: (leavingfortusa)

Ian Randal Strock has just posted on SFScope a review of the recent Mike Allen anthology Clockwork Phoenix, in which I'm lucky enough to have a story. A couple of objectively selected extracts:

As Editor Mike Allen said in this interview, he was looking to put together an "offbeat literary anthology" with no theme. Specifically, he was looking for stories that came at him from "askew angles." Overall, he got what he was looking for.

[. . .]

I found John Grant's "All the Little Gods We Are" the most captivating piece in the book. While its story qua story isn't Earth-shatteringly new, the addition of a hint of parallel worlds is a good touch, and his imagery, his description of what it means to be soulmates, two halves of one whole, is absolutely wonderful.

realthog: (real copies!)


The Mike Allen anthology Clockwork Phoenix, containing my story "All the Little Gods We Are", was published yesterday by Norilana Books, and is already bringing in the reviews.

The Fix has
Elizabeth A. Allen (no relation, one assumes!) reviewing the book; as befits The Fix's policy, she reviews the individual stories -- and mostly very favourably -- rather than the anthology as a whole. Her comments on my own contribution start in such fashion that I was bracing myself for a panning, but in fact she seems to like the piece:

In “All the Little Gods We Are” by John Grant, John loves Justine. They feel utterly familiar to each other, as if they are two halves of the same organism. (To Grant’s credit, he describes John and Justine’s intimate fusion with such precision and matter-of-fact familiarity that the concept of soul mates, upon which this story hangs, feels fresh, original, and convincing.) They grew up together, but time parted them in their adulthood…that is, until John, single now, gets a call from himself in a parallel universe in which he has married and had children with his other half. As single John reflects on his past, we learn what happened to separate him from Justine. Like the authors he follows in this anthology, Grant takes an old trope of science fiction and refurbishes it on two levels. The parallel universes work as an SF construct and also as a powerful metaphor for the strength of wishes, denial, and memory. Another sad and satisfying story.

I'm a little startled (though I'm certainly not grumbling!) to find that "All the Little Gods We Are" is a parallel-universes story, since that wasn't what I thought it was; I thought it was about "the strength of wishes, denial, and memory" to create realities -- an interpretation with which Nick Gevers seems to agree in his exceptionally glowing (and as always neatly perceptive) review of the anthology in the latest edition of Locus. Here are extracts:

. . . a very strong first volume, Clockwork Phoenix, edited by Mike Allen. Established writers and new names all are in good form here . . .
       "All the Little Gods We Are" by John Grant is a rich meditation on the vagaries of romance. The protagonist met a girl at school he was convinced was his other half; and two possible lives unfold for him, one in which he remains inseparable from this heaven sent partner, the other in which he is single, lonely, unfulfilled. One day he makes a phone call, and lines cross between existences, selves are in impossible communication. This prompts deep reflection, a trawling of memory, an inner dispute over how one's will relates to reality, how we make our fates. [. . .]
       These and other contributions mark Clockwork Phoenix as a series of great promise.

All in all, both Mike Allen and Norilana must be feeling very pleased with themselves, especially since the two pre-publication reviews of the book -- by Charles Tan and by Publishers Weekly -- were likewise extremely positive.

realthog: (real copies!)
Over at his Bibliophile Stalker blog, Charles Tan has posted a very favourable review of the anthology Clockwork Phoenix (edited by Mike Allen 
[[profile] time_shark], published by Norilana Books [[profile] norilanabooks]). Here's an extract:

. . . stellar cast of contributing authors. . . . Eighteen stories all in all and one element I found in common among all the stories is that they were comfortable to read, usually going for an elegant and minimalist writing style rather than verbose, choking paragraphs. A recurring theme of this anthology is that it attempts to evoke the reader's sense of wonder.

Here are the top three stories that caught my attention: John Grant's "All The Little Gods We Are" utilizes various techniques to dissect our protagonist and he does an effective job at characterization. And while he uses an old science-fiction/fantasy trope, his execution is excellent and gives it his own twist in the end. Ekaterina Sedia's "There is A Monster Under Helen's Bed" delves into horror of various sorts but combines it with beautiful prose and even a wondrous scene or two. "Oblivion: A Journey" by Vandana Singh gives us a science-fiction mini-epic that while predictable, was an enjoyable read nonetheless as the author infuses it with Indian influences.

You can read the full review at Charles has posted really a bundle of his perceptive reviews on Bibliophile Stalker (three new ones today alone!), so it's worth spending a bit of time trawling around the blog for others.

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Mike Allen's ([profile] time_shark) anthology Clockwork Phoenix (published by Norilana Books; [profile] norilanabooks), in which I'm lucky enough to have a story, has been reviewed very favourably indeed in this week's Publishers Weekly ( The review reads in part:

Author and editor Allen (Mythic) has compiled a neatly packaged set of short stories that flow cleverly and seamlessly from one inspiration to another. . . . In “All the Little Gods We Are,” Hugo winner John Grant takes a mind trip to possible parallel universes. . . . Lush descriptions and exotic imagery startle, engross, chill and electrify the reader, and all 19 stories have a strong and delicious taste of weird.

As Arthur Schopenhauer might have put it: Yahey!

realthog: (Jim's bear pic)

Editor Mike Allen ([profile] time_shark) and publisher Vera Nazarian/Norilana Books ([profile] norilanabooks) have already posted the ARC cover for this forthcoming anthology, but it's a pretty splendid piece of a/w so let's see it here as well! 


Meanwhile, apologies for the lack of much by way of posting on this blog this week: the to-be-read-urgently PDF proofs of my book The Dragons of Manhattan arrived on Sunday night from publisher Screaming Dreams at roughly the same time that Pam and I were at the emergency vet's watching one of our cats, Strider, breathe his last. It has been a busy but not very happy few days. Normal service will be resumed soon, honest.

realthog: (sunset)

More on the precise title later, but I heard this morning from Mike Allen, who's editing the anthology Clockwork Phoenix, that he'd like to include the 7600-word story I submitted to him. Great joy, obviously.

Concerning publication date for the anthology, Allen wrote to me that "It's currently scheduled for publication in July and we hope to have it ready for ReaderCon" -- a nice short lead time compared to many other anthologies. The publisher is Norilana, about whom more can be discovered at There's a cover rough for the book at

March 2013

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