Congratulations to Eibonvale authors Allen Ashley and Nina Allan for making the BFS Awards shortlist for best Short Story Collection and best Short Story Collection respectively.
Both authors come under my self-imposed topic for this blog: of things that deserve to be better known!
Allen is that rarest of things these days: a writer of ideas, who constructs his stories as subtle knives with which to unpick the absurd weave of contemporary society. Among my favourites from his “Once and Future Cities” are the stories: “Flat Top”, “D-Leb”, “Shirts” and “Future Cities”. These stories are all funny, suprising, acerbic, and in the case of “Future Cities”: cuttingly melancholy, a lament for the technological future which humanity has thrown away over the last thirty years in favour of petty conflicts.
Nina has become a bit of a regular among the pages of Interzone and Black Static recently (where her “My Brother’s Keeper” appeared), but some of her finest work can still be found in her Eibonvale debut “A Thread Of Truth”. There are stories of quiet but intense genius to be found there like “Heroes” (a loving account of pigeon racing with surreal undertones) and “Queen South” in which all the angst of smalltown adolescence is refracted into a cryptic and haunting allegory. Nina’s writing moves in mysterious ways: endlessly inflecting and enticing while stirring our emotions below the radar of the conscious mind.