I’m delighted to announce my story ‘Beauty’s Sister’ has been selected as one of the first four pieces for Penguin’s Shorts program, which launches today.
Designed to offer quality fiction and non-fiction able to be read in a single sitting in digital-only formats, Penguin Shorts are also an attempt to create a space in which new and established writers can experiment with work that’s too short for a book and too long for a magazine. The number of works available will grow over time, but for now there are four titles available: two exclusive short works from Women of Letters curators Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire, Nam Le’s story, ‘Love and Honour and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice’ and ‘Beauty’s Sister’. Full details of all the titles are available on the Penguin Shorts website.
‘Beauty’s Sister’ is a bit of a departure for me. A reworking of Rapunzel, it’s the first of a collection of tales I’ve been working on (and which I’ll hopefully find a way to publish in the next year or so). It’s also a bit more substantial than the other pieces I’ve published recently – in SF/Fantasy terms it’s a novelette – but I think it whips by all the same.
You can read the blurb below, but if you’d like to grab a copy it’s available for Kindle, iBooks, Google Play and Kobo.
“Juniper, living deep in the forest with her parents, is stunned to discover that the beautiful girl living isolated in a nearby tower is her sister. When the two girls meet, what begins as a fascination and a friendship ultimately develops into something truly sinister.
“A story of jealousy, passion and power, Beauty’s Sister is a dark and gripping reimagining of one of our oldest tales, Rapunzel, from acclaimed novelist James Bradley.”
Think for a moment about the silly page-turning animations ereaders insist on inserting: aren’t they really the textual equivalent of curtains on a television? Indeed why do we need to retain the notion of the “page” at all? Why can’t text just continue down as we read, like a scroll? And if it did, what would this do to the metaphors and devices we use to shape and organise information, the chapters and sections of the analog world?
There’s a certain circular conversation a particular friend and I have reasonably frequently. It begins with him asking me whether some new eReader app for the iPhone is any good. I tell him the Kindle one is okay, but reading books on the tiny screen is a pretty ordinary experience. We then talk about eReaders for a while, and about the relative merits of the Kindle and the Iliad and the Sony machine, agreeing as we do that it’s stupid that they’re all non-convergent, and that while the new Kindle pulls in blog content and newspapers, it’s still doesn’t let you browse the internet. Usually we then pause to diss that other non-convergent cul de sac, the Blackberry, and for him to tell me again how much he hates his iPhone. Then I do my speech about how there’s a device waiting to be made which is somewhere between a tablet computer, a Kindle and a netbook, a networkable device capable of managing all types of media including ebooks. Sometimes I digress a bit into the question of how such a device will necessarily drive changes to the interface of ebooks, allowing publishers to embed video and sound and animation. And then, finally, he complains that all he wants is something he can read on the crapper that will let him check his email and take calls if he needs to (I always wish he hadn’t added in that final detail).
Anyway, it seems Japanese author Koji Suzuki (author of the books The Ring movie was based upon) may have come up with a novel solution to my friend’s dilemma. Crunchgear is reporting his new book, Drop, won’t be published between covers, but on a roll of toilet paper. Apparently the “book” is being marketed as “Japan’s creepiest toilet paper”, and is being sold through supermarkets rather than bookshops, and while it won’t check email or take calls, it’s probably easier to read than the Kindle app for the iPhone.
(Thanks to Janiece for the heads-up)