SPECIAL DISCOUNT FOR URBAN FANTASIST VISITORS!
As a visitor to our Urban Fantasist site, we are offering you a special discount on Charles Christian’s new collection of short stories THIS IS THE QUICKEST WAY DOWN.
Usually priced at £8.50 inc p&p, if you buy via this site see Shopping Gallery, this excellent collection of 11 new urban fantasy and sci-fi stories (144 pages, paperback, Proxima Books 2011) can be yours for only £6.50 inc p&p.
Each copy can also be signed by the author if requested.
THIS IS THE QUICKEST WAY DOWN has already been listed for two book awards and received multiple 5 star reviews on Amazon.
Treading the line between normal and fantastic
Set mostly in the present day, the eleven stories give everyday existence a gentle nudge into the realms of the weird, the supernatural, the horrific and the surreal.
These stories tread a fine line between the normal and the fantastic, where a casual encounter can embroil a person in dangerous liaisons with ghosts, aliens or even vengeful gods. Yet also the bizarre can be found lurking just around the corner, across a cup of cooling mocha in a suburban coffee shop, over a glass of chilled rosé wine in a beachside cafe on the Cote d'Azur or in the next message to arrive on your mobile phone.
Gothic tales for the 21st century - with a sense of humour
THIS IS THE QUICKEST WAY DOWN takes the traditional English recipe for science fiction, dark fantasy, horror and urban gothic tales and gives them a topical twist, reinventing them for the digital age of the 21st century and the sensibilities - and sense of humour - of the modern reader.
Quotes from reviews:
"Christian's strength is the abandon with which he brings together the fantastic and the mundane..." David Hebblethwaite in the British Science Fiction Association's Best of 2012 issue of Vector magazine.
“Christian doesn't f*** about; there's not a hint of postmodern malaise or feigned sub-Hollywood angst in this book. Christian delivers the goods economically, effectively and with immense dignity and compassion. In a nutshell; the man can write!”
“Christian has put together an intriguing collection of stories here. Its a short book, with eleven stories, but its a classic example of quality over quantity.”
...R B Harkness
“And then we get to The Hot Chick. In this story Charles effortlessly strides in to a world of sci -fi fantasy I am sure every teenage male sci-fi geek on the planet inhabits or wishes they did! If any of the stories in this book were to be made in to a short film for channel 4 then I think it should be this one....with Ben Miller as the male lead. It would be comedy gold although I am sure the more energetic bits would probably need to be toned down for terrestrial TV!”
“The book transported me back to Kuttner, Sheckley, Ellison and Pan Horror anthology stories. Ballard in the last one. Even a flavour of Kipling spooky stories. A real pleasure and a fine tradition.”
...Louis P W
“Overall the themes - many in that gritty urban hinterland of post 9/11 and tsunami disasters - have much in common with J G Ballard (including the latter's sometimes bleak approach to sex) with pacy, sometimes gritty writing for the modern age. Christian's style is sparse and urgent and makes me, for one, wish he would now tackle a crime novel. Norfolk noir anyone?”
...Trevor Heaton, EDP Weekend supplement
“These are magnificent short stories by a master of the genre, and they beg to be read many times. There is a lightness of touch in these tales, but there is no superficiality. There are many familiar tropes, but they've been turned on their heads and given a stunning reworking. Cataclysms lead to a weird sort of utopia. Redemption is found unexpectedly. Murders, sexual encounters, tsunamis, explosions and foiled suicide attempts are played out against the backdrop of a cup of mocha slowly cooling.
"I love these stories. Absolutely love them. There are hints of Asimov, of Hemmingway, of - I don't know, everyone from the Strugatsky brothers to Neville Shute via James Joyce and Evelyn Waugh. They are stories overflowing with intelligence, with wit, and with keen observation of human foibles. I want to know when the next collection is coming out, and the novel - preferably the series of novels. How about it, Charles?"
"Christian’s style is far from hard, drawing the reader in with an easygoing narrative, plenty of dialogue and buckets of wry humour. But what I found most was heart. You’ll smile as you read these stories, not least the first and last entries, a two-parter end of the world tale which sets the tone perfectly for what’s to come, as well as what’s been, leaving the reader surprisingly uplifted at the book’s conclusion."
Waiting for my Mocha to Cool has a killer first page, and is a primer for the themes explored in the rest of the book.
Already Gone is a sharp piece of of flash fiction.
Kastellorizon is a good solid traditional sci-fi story.
More Important Than Baby Stenick has the vibe of an early Michael Moorcock.
The End of Flight Number 505 has the feel of an old-fashioned piece of sci-fi, a bit like The Twilight Zone.
This is the Quickest Way Down is a sharp Harlan Ellison type story, dark and sexy.
A Beretta for Azrella is a kind of ‘cybernoir meets the devil’.
The Hot Chick is a funny and naughty satire on sci-fi authors and conventions.
Confessions of a Teenage Ghost-Hunter is a neat and pleasant ghost story.
By The Steps of Villefranche Station is a great long-story to end the collection. A gentle apocalypse, very J.G. Ballard, that combines many of the themes that run through the book.
To take advantage of this special offer, buy direct from the Shopping Gallery on this site for £6.50 (inc p&p) payment via PayPal. You can now buy copies of this book direct from the Shopping Gallery on this site for £8.50 (inc p&p) payment via PayPal. If you have any questions about the book either use the Contact Us link on this site or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The book can also be bought via Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Quickest-Way-Down-Proxima/dp/1844719235/ref=sr_1_17?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317755793&sr=1-17
LONG LISTED FOR TWO BOOK AWARDS
This is the Quickest Way Down was longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2012 - the field that year included Edna O'Brien.
This is the Quickest Way Down was longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award 2012.
* LATEST REVIEW
Wayne Simmons, February 2013
THIS IS THE QUICKEST WAY DOWN 5 STAR REVIEWS
Quirky, and beautifully written
5 star Review on Amazon by R B Harkess 14/10/2011
Christian has put together an intriguing collection of stories here. Its a short book, with eleven stories, but its a classic example of quality over quantity. Particularly worth noting are Waiting for my Mocha to Cool, Already Gone and Empire State of Mind but I'm not going to tell you anything about them. Its too easy to accidentally give out spoilers on short stories, but the book is a great collection of ghost stories, supernatural and sci-fi.
What I will say is I love the way Christian writes. It is smooth and elegant without being overly literary. Sometimes it feels as though literary authors can be shoving how clever they are down your throat, but Christian eases you along and makes it very difficult to put the book down.
Old School is the Best
5 star Review on Amazon by Dave Kelso-Mitchell 02/12/2011
In these days of what appears to be the death throes of the 'entertainment-business-as-we-knew-it' and more specifically the 'publishing-industry-as-we-knew-it', it seems that the small men have over-ridden the great, the talentless successfully shouted down the talented and genuine artistry is rarer than rocking horse doo-doo. It's refreshing then to discover that there are still people like Charles Christian.
Christian doesn't f*** about; there's not a hint of postmodern malaise or feigned sub-Hollywood angst in this book. Christian delivers the goods economically, effectively and with immense dignity and compassion. In a nutshell; the man can write!
A great man once said that comparisons are odious but as they can be helpful when unsure of how to approach and unfamiliar book and whether to dip into one's wallet or not, I'll make some anyway. Brian Aldiss (60s), Keith Roberts (Chalk Giants), Fritz Leiber (Our Lady Of Darkness), Phillip Jose Farmer.
Well, they are a few of my favourite writers with whom I wouldn't mind being likened, so I hope Mr Christian will forgive me my indulgence. I hope this book is followed by many more equally as good. That would go a ways to restoring my faith in humanity. Yes - if you're wondering - I think you should shell out and buy this book!
He kept me waiting but it was worth it !
5 star Review on Amazon by Rob Lancashire 03/01/2012
Having read and enjoyed a couple of the short stories contained in this book when they were published previously on various blogs prior to this larger collection being published I awaited the release of Charles' first book with anticipation. I was not disappointed!
Before I go in to detail on why I liked this book I should set the record straight and say that Charles is a good personal friend of mine who has over the years taught me a lot about copy writing in his day job capacity as a tech journalist. With that said one thing I have always taken as read and appreciated greatly is Charles' journalistic integrity. I know full well he will critic whatever I write with diligence, honesty, fairness and occasionally a gentle but deserved slap. I have approached this review with the same respect and so I hope you take it for what it is. If you don't believe me buy the book and decide for yourself!
As a collection I felt the stories fit neatly in to the genre I have enjoyed previously from authors like Neil Gaiman (Good Omens with Terry Pratchett and Anansi Boys) and Douglas Adams (Dirk Gently series). A mixture of sci-fi, gothic horror and some fantasy thrown in for good measure. In my opinion Charles executes this extremely well with the pace of each story keeping you held in the story. I accept that short stories will probably always have pace because they are short and need to move along however to me a good short leaves you desperately wishing the author to go on when the story ends. This is how I felt with the stories in book.
Waiting for My Mocha to Cool and Kastellorizon provided my first introduction to Charles' work when I read them previously on blogs so to read them again was like greeting old friends with Waiting once again resonating some of the more terrifying events in recent history intertwined with reminders of the fragility of everyday life. The character called Jeremy Mills reminds me of someone but I can't quite put my finger on it.
Intersecting these two pieces is Already Gone which neatly dovetails the two with a creepy tale well-grounded in the fatal reality of life for anyone that knows that part of rural Norfolk. Baby Stenick quickly gives us a sanity check in our modern world of faraway wars and celebrity status culture before the End of Flight number 505 plonks us firmly back in the conspiracy theory world of X-Files. As previously commented each story so far leaves you wanting more. That is until to you get to Empire State of the Mind where Charles stops teasing you for just a moment and soothes your fevered brown with a gentle bend of your mind. In this case I felt Charles takes the layer upon layer story concept similar to that used in Inception and masterfully weaves it in to a complete story in a can. This is probably a story that could be expanded in to a more comprehensive text but I finished this one like any good story should feeling satisfied that it had unravelled to deliver the main characters conundrum. That was enough for me as anything else would have spoilt it.
After this small rest we then rush down the next section of the slide with This is the Quickest Way Down. The question you need to ask yourself at the end is could your own murder really be the biggest erotic thrill you will ever have? A Beretta for Azraella is another story which ends reasonably neatly once again suggesting this is a text that could be filled out with more back story but then again you get to imagine lots of extra detail as Charles quietly leaves you to fill in the gaps which is half the fun.
And then we get to The Hot Chick. In this story Charles effortlessly strides in to a world of sci -fi fantasy I am sure every teenage male sci-fi geek on the planet inhabits or wishes they did! That is not to liken to Charles to a 15 year sexually frustrated sci-fi geek but just to applaud his wit in pointing out that we may or may not be alone in the universe but at the end of the day every species in the universe probably enjoys a late night knee trembler. If any of the stories in this book were to be made in to a short film for channel 4 then I think it should be this one....with Ben Miller as the male lead. It would be comedy gold although I am sure the more energetic bits would probably need to be toned down for terrestrial TV!
Confessions of a Teenage Ghost Hunter takes us through an MR James style winter's evening fireside ramble travelling from that irrational creepy feeling of isolated countryside or a lonely beach through an almost romantic ghost hunt to a warm and fuzzy conclusion that takes an interesting twist on James' view that the story must "put the reader into the position of saying to himself: 'If I'm not careful, something of this kind may happen to me!'"
Finally we get to By the Steps of VilleFranche Station. As a previous reviewer has commented this story seems very marginally not quite as polished as the other stories but it doesn't detract from either the book or Charles' style so is quite readable as an end story.
As I said at the outset I was not disappointed by this book. I have now reread it a few times and each time couldn't put it down. There are lots of books of the same genre you can download for free on Kindle so why should you buy this one. Well when it comes to free books like the saying goes, when something looks too good to be true it usually is. I may be Charles' friend but I paid hard earned moolah for this book and like a very good wine got exceptional enjoyment from it, something which is rare in today's world of books. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys this genre and in fact to anybody else who just enjoys a good read. I firmly believe Charles' is a name we will see a lot more of in time to come. I hope so as then I can say my friend is a famous author!
Now get on and publish the next book Charles as I need something else to read.
Magnificent Short Stories by a Master of the Genre
5 star Review on Amazon by Catherine Edmunds 20/03/2012
One of the basic rules of novel-writing states that if you set something up in chapter one, don't let it slip away and be developed no further. Finish it. Give it a conclusion, ideally at the end of the novel so that the gestalt is complete. Short story collections are different of course. Or are they? On finishing the last story in Charles Christian's new collection This is the Quickest Way Down I suddenly had a light bulb moment and went back to re-read the first story. Yes. I was right. I'm saying no more on that subject for fear of spoilers, but I salute whoever it was, whether editor or author, who decided on the order of the stories in this collection.
Re-reading the first story has got me hooked once again. These are magnificent short stories by a master of the genre, and they beg to be read many times. What genre, though - there's the question. `Short story' in itself isn't a genre. The settings in these tales range from Norfolk to Aldebaran; from Nottingham to Villefranche; and all points in-between. These stories are fantasist but not fantasy - you'll find no elves and goblins. Sci-fi then? Yes, but firmly rooted in reality - the Klingon warrior maid, complete with fearsome bat'leth blade, actually hales from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Magical realism? Not really. Slipstream? Yes. That's it. Slipstream with ghosts, but such a firm grip on reality anything paranormal becomes essential and unsurprising; an integral part of the world that requires no further explanation.
There is a lightness of touch in these tales, but there is no superficiality. There are many familiar tropes, but they've been turned on their heads and given a stunning reworking. Cataclysms lead to a weird sort of utopia. Redemption is found unexpectedly. Murders, sexual encounters, tsunamis, explosions and foiled suicide attempts are played out against the backdrop of a cup of mocha slowly cooling.
I love these stories. Absolutely love them. There are hints of Asimov, of Hemmingway, of - I don't know, everyone from the Strugatsky brothers to Neville Shute via James Joyce and Evelyn Waugh. They are stories overflowing with intelligence, with wit, and with keen observation of human foibles. I want to know when the next collection is coming out, and the novel - preferably the series of novels. How about it, Charles?
Continuing a fine tradition
4 star Review on Amazon by Louis P W 13/01/2012
The book transported me back to Kuttner, Sheckley, Ellison and Pan Horror anthology stories. Ballard in the last one. Even a flavour of Kipling spooky stories. A real pleasure and a fine tradition. A bit of a holiday to have that whole part of my psyche re-activated for a couple of hours - doesn't happen often these days. Look forward to the next collection/first novel.
Pacy writing for the modern age
Trevor Heaton, Eastern Daily Press EDP Weekend supplement 31/12/2011
Norfolk-based Charles Christian moves into the realms of modern-gothic and post-apocalyptic dystopia with this collection of short stories.
The 11 stories touch on various genres, with sci-fi the most common. Christian sets out his stall in Waiting for my Mocha, in which a self-obsessed writer (who we'll encounter later in the book too) gets a lesson in life from a ghost. That story's startling introduction (hint: it might make your great-aunt Nelly drop her toast) establishes that adult themes are going to be explored here.
The End of Flight Number 505 plays neatly upon those 'Men in Black' and alien abduction stories with a twist in the tail account of a stricken teenager making a last trip to the US, while The Hot Chick is a, ahem, rather naughty satire on sci-fi conventions. If you've ever seen the great comedy film Galaxy Quest you'll probably have an inkling where this one is going but you'll enjoy the journey.
The best piece is the finale, By The Steps of Villefranche Station, exploring a world where people are suddenly dying for no reason, leading to a rapid collapse in society. The story picks up on characters introduced earlier but is strong enough to stand on its own.
Overall the themes - many in that gritty urban hinterland of post 9/11 and tsunami disasters - have much in common with J G Ballard (includinh the latter's sometimes bleak approach to sex) with pacy, sometimes gritty writing for the modern age. Christian's style is sparse and urgent and makes me, for one, wish he would now tackle a crime novel. Norfolk noir anyone?