It contains ten stories, among which are a few of my favourites: “The Miracle at Kallithea”, an unabashedly romantic tale about an artist on a Greek island, his grief for his dead daughter, and the scientist who offers the hope of bringing her back to life – after a fashion… Also set on a Greek island is “The Kings of Eternity”, the short story, first published in SF Age in 2000, which inspired the novel of the same title. It’s about an immortal man, and how he became immortal, and much more. “Deep Future” is unusual in that I don’t write many far, far future tales: this one is about a time, one billion years from now, when crab-like creatures are the dominant life-form on Earth.
From Keith Brooke’s introduction:
I first became aware of Eric’s work in the late 1980s when a mutual friend, the novelist Mike Cobley, mentioned Eric Brown among a few writers to watch. I sought out his early stories and was hooked – by the plotting and craft but, more than anything, by the deep compassion in the writing.
Those familiar with Eric’s work know that he is a writer who revisits and explores certain themes and moods: longing, loss, redemption; the lingering effects of events long past; the power of art to give life meaning; the quest for love and the questioning of love. This exploration and re-exploration gives his work tremendous resonance, unifying apparently disparate stories into a fictional universe that is as distinctive as any operating in the field of science fiction today.
In this collection you will find stories that range from the Victorian past to the far, far future, varying in setting from Eric’s native Yorkshire to Greece, Asia and the far-flung planets of his imagination. You will find a colourful, atmospheric travel story, which also happens to feature first contact; a gentle and poignant love story that happens to be set in virtual reality; alien structures looming on the horizon of a wintery, near-future Yorkshire. You will find all the trappings of both modern and traditional science fiction, but always it is their effect and impact on the characters that is paramount, not the exploration of neat ideas for their own sake.
None of this should be taken to imply that the science-fictional elements are incidental in Eric’s work: they’re not; the stories twist and turn and burst with ideas as does the very best SF. The point I labour to make is that these are real and humane stories that contain far more than just aliens and telepaths and fancy rocketships.