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He thought and looked back at the wallThe shadow was still thereHe looked back at the fence then again at the wall in a doubletakeStill there was no cat anywhere And now he realised – there was no angle that could have put a cat’s shadow on the wall Not in that wayFear A pulse of it hit him surprising him and leaving him breathless An icy chill had crept down his back and he felt his hair standing up his heart pounding In the back room of his mind a voice had whispered • Black PrinceA disillusioned man's life is turned upside down when he walks out his back gate one night What he finds cannot be there cannot have stayed hidden for so long and cannot be so smart • The Ghost Of René MagritteA team has nearly achieved full realism Virtual Reality. Five Stars for Stories of an Awkward Size by Jonathon Swords Holdsworth So how does one approach reviewing a book of five imaginative uniue intrinsically different and exceptionally well written short storiesThis uestion germinated when I finished the second story and was in full bloom midway through the fourthChucking my typical format I believe I will relying on my own instincts and imagination just have to Wing it Stories of an Awkward Size by Mr Swords Holdsworth may not only be the best book I ve read by a contemporary fiction writer it may also be the best compilation of shorts I ve read to dateThe author blends a superb writing style with his vivid imagination and tosses in the perfect serving of credible science and technology The writer obviously has a background in a tech field that makes each story resound with a thumping bass line of plausibility Warning Spoilers ahead The Black Prince Story oneHenri Roseboro s marriage ended three months earlier He ruminates on the sour feeling he now has for his house Directionless and disconsolate he ventures into his alley where he encounters the shadow apparition of Rufus a long deceased cat on a Graf Wall a white anti graffiti stretch of masonry in his alleyThe apparition of the cat consumes Henri as it responds to him as he passes as he approaches as he attempts to communicate with it first with visual gestures and later with direct Wi Fi communication via a tablet computer and an obscure terminal buried within the wallHis research will bring him to Viktor a neighbour his son Erik and an elegant story of the wall s designer Alley Ellie who he concludes may have designed RufusThere is also a tale of an unsolved crime which Rufus may have observed adding to the mystery and allure but as this part is integral to the story I ve chosen to omit it from my review The Black Prince is nearly flawless The detail is laudable and the author s stylistic writing is inspiring Mr Devries Red Bowler Hat Story twoHow does one assert an argument with an imaginative story that opens with I died This in my opinion was the author s attempt at writing a story guaranteed to bend the minds of even the hardest of hard Science Fiction readersJon dies in an automobile accident then wakes and meets Gwenn who died falling from a balcony Together they meet Tom who has also recently perished Then of course they meet a road which takes them to where else The Conference Centre I mean where were you thinking you d end up after this life on Earth thing wound downFrom there the author delivers up a brilliant and creative smorgasbord of mind rattling fantasy surreal imagery and afterlife hypotheticalsFrom The Numbers who endlessly walk the Conference Centre s grounds to The uiet the purported afterlife s boundaries to Mr Devries himself who as it will turn out may have this entire afterlife Realm manifesting in his mindAnd there s oh so much Including some of the cleverest albeit modestly abstruse dialogue I ve yet found in a fiction workHere is one passage I highlighted 20 as I read of the author s writing prowess Four hundred years passed Yes I know that sounds flippant but there really isn t much about that era to report Well Ok Maybe a few thingsBeautiful This one story would make the book a worthy purchase if the others were complete rubbish They aren t Come Silent Winged Sleep Story threeIn story three the author shifts gears and takes us into a crime investigation with elements of an Arthur Conan Doyle mysteryDetective Andrew Mahoney witnesses a military grade drone missile strike that takes down a hotel casino Was it terrorism If so why that hotel and why was the determined target the 31st floorAnd as they will later discover why were two city councillors and a local media tycoon meeting with the minister for air safety On the 31st floorThis story goes deep into drone technology special interest groups and an undisclosed entity or organisation This part is left unclear intentionally with unthinkable power wielding it for some assumed greater goodSpectacular writing superb pace plausible plot and again just enough science and technology to make the story real and compelling The Ghost of Magritte Story fourAs this was my favourite story of the book and one I would label a Must Read to anyone I will trim my review as to avoid spoilersFiction writing in my opinion doesn t get much better than thisThe theme is enhanced VR Virtual Reality experimentation and the company is called Pacific Dwarf and some test subjects are having disastrous residual effects causing them to blur the line between actual and artificial realityThe author in story four The Ghost of Magritte reaches into the world of mind science and something AI designers have termed Phenomenal Consciousness and pulled out a thought provoking winner Elsewhere the VR world essentially a construct is un real but at which point does the mind decide what is real And if our minds have the ability to create reality out of the un real will we one day see reality as something producible or in this case programmableWill reality one day evolve into something flexible Less defined Less definiteGreat great storyThis one scores slightly above my highest recommendation Read it The Thousand Yard Stare Story fiveThe subject in story five is the uest for longevity and in a sense immortalityThough my least favourite of the five this story with admirable depth touches on the uestions that have plagued mankind from the Sumerians and Egyptians to the 17th century European alchemists who searched inexorably for the elusive Elixir of life Why do we age And is there a way to reverse the process thus making us essentially immortal beingsHere in The Thousand Yard Stare we have technology replacing Egyptian mummification and misguided 17th century Alchemy in the form of manually imprinting cellular technology and 3d cellular printingPeople are having tissue skin organs and their skeletal structure re layered And as a result reversing the aging processThe author also does something rather crafty and decidedly clever He touches on the potential societal and political conseuences People are living longer How many people can the Earth support Tolerate With so many elderly people Voters hanging around how will this affect the political climateAnd what about the young What will their response to this be as they see themselves at a potential disadvantageAs I stated in my preface this story may have the most depth and relevance to our present world environment There are also some rather clever twists near the end with one that put an almost painful grin on my face SummaryBrilliant selection of stories Almost phenomenally imaginative and the author s style is as I stated earlier unrivalled by the current authors I ve readCriticismsRemarkably I have not a single oneRecommendationBuy the hard copy This is a book you ll want in your library as you WILL be reading it multiple times I m currently rereading it myself This time just for fun Review by TE Mark Author24Jan2018

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Stories Of An Awkward Size

Swords Holdsworth has a lot of talent The stories were well written and I couldn't put them down San Francisco Book ReviewThe stories were varied captivating enthralling and uiteimmersivein one notable case and it was not uncommon for my legs tofallasleep because I sat reading too long and lost circulation KIWIreviewsnzVolume One of the Awkward Stories collectionYou can read most of the story 'Black Prince' for FREE Just click 'Look inside' on the Kindle edition book coverAn excerptHe noticed a movement out of the corner of his eye He looked down and beheld the shadow of a cat moving on the white of the wall“Heh Kitty” he said aloud turning and searching for the original He scanned along the top of his fenceThere was no catDamn things move too fast. A great set of lean taut and compact near future SF stories with a cynical Australian worldview Including Some hard boiled cops in a NoirSF crime story with drones no UAVs as the delivery method A story of unintended side affects of a new VR technology being developed by a scrappy new start up that delves into the nature of perception Meditations of the effects of anti aging technologies on society wrapped in a corporate intrigue story A mysterious active graffiti concealed in an alley turns out to have even hidden depths A dreamy post death experience that looks at the nature of consciousnessI m a great fan of Permutation City by Greg Egan and other similar books of that ilk and uite enjoyed this volume Let s hope the author can extend out to longer books in future

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Directly interfaced to the nervous system But one of the team discovers that when push comes to shove reality isn't what we expect• Come Silent Winged SleepTwo homicide detectives are drawn into an investigation following a shocking incident They soon find what lies behind it is far frightening than random violence or terrorism And to make matters worse now their supposed allies seem to be keeping secretsHere are five 'long' stories by Australian author Jonathan Swords HoldsworthThese tales embrace both the new genre of 'Slipstream' and of hard near future Science Fiction They speculate on subjects from electronics and bio tech to deep metaphysics and cover locations from Australia Europe and Asia to beyond our world as they pull you into the unexpect. I was Privileged enough to get my hands on this in the final stages of editing and was simply amazed at the variety of content yet all fitting under the Slipstream genre The Black Prince was definitely my fave but I enjoyed the author s style across all stories Very Australian very readable and very well written Can t wait to see what JSH does next


7 thoughts on “Stories Of An Awkward Size

  1. says:

    Five stories from a new Australian writer All have an interesting bent and will grab the grey cells for cogitation afterwards Jonathon has a clearly Australian voice and an easy to read styleBlack Prince Artgraffiti that interacts with its v

  2. says:

    A great set of lean taut and compact near future SF stories with a cynical Australian worldview Including Some hard boiled cops in a NoirSF crime story with drones no UAVs as the delivery method A story of unintended side affects of a new VR technology being developed by a scrappy new start up that delves into th

  3. says:

    Five Stars for ‘Stories of an Awkward Size’ by Jonathon Swords Holdsworth So how does one approach reviewing a book of five imaginative uniue intrinsically different and exceptionally well written short stories?This uestion germinated when I finished the second story and was in full bloom midway through the fourthChucking my typical format I believe I will relying on my own instincts and imagination just have to ‘Wing it

  4. says:

    This is a great read uite surprising that this is the authors first that I know of full release the concepts and narrative in this book are excellent Swords Holdsworth is definitely 'onto something' here with his gritty futuristic sci fi set in the backstreets of Melbourne Australia Swords Holdsworth paints a wonderful just exactly over the horizon future with a healthy small dose of Aussie cynicism and takes you along

  5. says:

    I was Privileged enough to get my hands on this in the final stages of editing and was simply amazed at the variety of content yet all fitting under the Slipstream genre The Black Prince was definitely my fave b

  6. says:

    Excellent hard sf Well written and with well conceived science and technology and topics runming everywhere from virtual reality to the surve

  7. says:

    Good science fiction is thought provoking It makes us reconsider our place in the world in ways that is often dram

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