Seventeen delightfully unexpected stories from Simon R. Green–including a brand-new adventure of the Droods–take us deep into the Nightside, embroil us in the Secret Histories, and lead us into the shadowy places where monsters and demons roam: Welcome to the worlds of Simon R. Green.
In this wide-ranging collection, the New York Times-bestselling urban fantasist opens doors into hidden places: strange realms bordering our own mundane existence and prowled by creatures of fancy and nightmare. Here are the strange, frequently deadly–and sometimes even dead–things that lurk in garbage-strewn city alleyways and grimy subway stations after midnight, visible only to the most perceptive human or inhuman eye.
In these tales, Green revisits the ingenious worlds within worlds that he created for his wildly popular novels. Take a stroll on the Nightside with a jaded street wizard, an underpaid government functionary responsible for keeping demons, vamps, and aliens in line. Enter the hidden recesses of Drood Hall, where the aging family member who creates powerful weapons that protect humankind recalls his long and bloody career. Join a squad of no-longer-human soldiers dispatched to combat the all-consuming jungle on a distant planet. Visit a house at the intersection of two realities that serves as a sanctuary from the evil of “all” worlds. Confront the unstoppable zombie army of General Kurtz in a brilliant homage to Apocalypse Now. And whatever you do, never forget that there are monsters out there. Really. Each story includes a new afterword by the author.
I’ve been a long-time fan of Simon R. Green’s, having read his Nightside series and sobbed when it ended. Mercifully, his Secret Histories series is still going strong, so I have something to look forward to from him. What I’ve marvelled, loved and laughed about in his writing is his enviable skill with humour most of all. He has a way of turning the most dire of situations into something that will make me laugh, and twist everything on its head.
Another enviable skill is his worldbuilding – it doesn’t matter if he’s writing about an alien world or a world inhabited by zombies, he brings these worlds to life with singular focus, creating them within the space of a short story and a few choice words.
My favourite books of his have always been the urban fantasy titles, which given his skill at moulding our world into something fantastical, makes sense. I think that’s why his Soho story, of a street wizard policing the streets of Soho is another favourite of mine. He wanders along what could be a normal night, but can see the streets and the people for what they really are. It’s supposed to show readers what inspired the Nightside series, but honestly, it reads like it could be a brilliant new series on its own.
Some of his stories here are like that, but more than anything there’s a thread of darkness running through them as he deals with death, age and characters who have lost their loved ones. I was surprised and touched at the stories for the Armorer, Jack Drood (Secret Histories) and Dorothy – yes, that Dorothy and Oz in a way I hadn’t thought of her before.
Granted, you have to be in the right frame of mind for these stories, for they are darker than his usual fare, and an unexpected introduction into his writing beyond what you may be familiar with. I did think that perhaps his older stories might have been better suited to be first in the book so we could see the progression of his voice, but it hardly matters. Some stories are not without their twists too, and they’re always, always worth it. I envy his ability to create a story in a handful of pages.
I don’t think fans of his full-length series will be entirely satisfied with these short stories, but if you’re looking for an introduction to the wealth of his sci-fi and fantasy writing, this is a good place to start. Each story comes with a little bit of an afterword, giving readers insight into how these stories came about.
Tales of the Hidden World will be released July 8.