First Story: “Castor on Troubled Waters” by Rhys Hughes
He’s almost fifty years of age, Castor Jenkins is, which for a stereotypical Welshman must be reckoned venerable, if not ancient. Not that he takes kindly to being considered a stereotype. He likes to point out that real Welshmen don’t live exclusively on a diet of beer and chips, nor do they avoid exercise, work and responsibility every waking minute of the day; the fact he does those things is a mark of his uniqueness and it’s just a coincidence that the cliché and his individualism are the same.
Rhys Hughes was born in 1966 and began writing from an early age. His first short story was published in 1991 and his first book, the now legendary *Worming the Harpy*, followed four years later. Since then he has published more than thirty books and his work has been translated into ten languages and he is currently one of the most prolific and successful authors in Wales. Mostly known for absurdist works, his range in fact encompasses styles as diverse as gothic, experimental, science fiction, magic realism, fantasy and realism. His main ambition is to complete a grand sequence of exactly one thousand linked short stories, a project he has been working on for more than two decades. Each story is a standalone piece as well as a cog in the grand machine. He is finally three-quarters of the way through this opus.
His blog can be found at rhysaurus.blogspot.co.uk.
Second Story: “Lure” by Paul Collins
The metaverse had become a minefield.
The dossier in my hands made me want to puke. I popped a dozen ‘ludes’, the kind that fool you into thinking everything’s okay. The main question before me was whether or not it’s permissible by law to kill an avatar ─ a digital manifestation ─ and if not, can perpetrators be tried for murder.
Paul Collins has written more than 140 books and 140 short stories. He is best known for The Quentaris Chronicles (The Spell of Undoing is book #1 in the new series), which he co-edits with Michael Pryor; The Jelindel Chronicles; The Earthborn Wars; and The World of Grrym trilogy in collaboration with Danny Willis. Paul’s latest series is The Warlock’s Child in collaboration with Sean McMullen. (The Burning Sea is book #1.) He is also the publisher at Ford Street Publishing.
Paul has been short-listed for many awards and won the Aurealis, William Atheling, and the inaugural Peter McNamara awards. He received the A Bertram Chandler Award for lifetime achievement in Australian science fiction.
He has black belts in both ju jitsu and taekwondo – this experience can be seen in The Jelindel Chronicles and The Maximus Black Files.
Third Story: “A Guided Tour in the Kingdom of the Dead” by Richard Harland
‘The things I have seen!’ he croaked ‘You must hear everything, everything.’
He went off into a fit of coughing, as dry as sandpaper. In the short time I knew him, Gordon Sturman could never utter more than a few sentences without that cough rising up in his throat. Yet he was desperate to tell his experiences to an English-speaking listener. I think he expected me to envy his tourist marvels.
Richard Harland lives south of Sydney near Wollongong, between green escarpment and golden beaches, with wife Aileen and cat Habibi. He migrated to Australia at the age of 22, played folk-rock music around Sydney, lectured for ten years in English at the University of Wollongong, then finally fulfilled his oldest dream in 1997 and became a full-time author of speculative fiction. His seventeen novels have ranged across adult, YA and children’s, and across fantasy, SF, horror and steampunk. He achieved international success with his steampunk fantasy Worldshaker (2009-10), followed by the sequel Liberator. His latest novel, Song of the Slums, is a gaslight romance variant of steampunk, and is based on an alternate history premise “What if they’d invented rock ‘n’ roll way back in the middle of the Victorian Age?”.
Richard’s short stories have appeared in anthologies and magazines in Australia, US, Canada, and France. His story “A Guided Tour in the Kingdom of the Dead” was published in Jack Dann’s Dreaming Again anthology and re-published in David G. Hartwell’s Year’s Best Fantasy #9 from Tor (US). Richard has collected six Aurealis Awards for novels and short stories, the A. Bertram Chandler Award in Australia, and the prestigious Tam-Tam Je Bouquine award in France.
About the Narrators:
Alex Weinle (@alexweinle) writes short fiction for magazines and podcasts. His anthology of shock-comedic-tragic stories, The Decapaphiliac, is available now and his science fiction novel Border is currently in editing. A long-time Sofanaut, he has finally got up the courage to narrate. He lives in Fulbourn, England, in a cottage that consumes bulbs of unusual wattage.
With a background in theater and an English degree that didn’t lead to teaching or full-time novel writing, Kim Mintz turned to the persuasive arts known as sales and heard multiple clients say: “You have a great voice. I would listen to you all day!” Finally, she decided to marry these skills together and enter the world of professional voice acting. Employing a wide range of voices and expressions in commercial and narrative work, she contributed to the financial, travel, and health insurance industries, utilizing clear, direct articulation. She is currently expanding her repertoire with audio book passages by exhibiting a range of emotions, including warm, sultry, cheerful, sarcastic, and many others. She is also working on scripts with her writing partner for animated projects to which she hopes to give a voice.
For more information, please visit her website at kimmintzvoiceactor.com.
Josh Roseman (not the trombonist; the other one) lives in Georgia (the state, not the country). His writing has appeared in Asimov’s, Escape Pod, and the Crossed Genres anthology Fat Girl in a Strange Land. His fiction has been reprinted by the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine and StarShipSofa, and his voice has been heard on two Escape Artists and all five District of Wonders podcasts. He is a 2013 graduate of the Taos Toolbox writing workshop. When not writing, he mostly complains about the fact that he’s not writing.