title for a forthcoming collection

I dithered so long about choosing a title for a forthcoming collection that the publisher finally chose a title himself, taken from one of the stories in the book. This is the first time this has happened and I am surprised at myself for having no desire to protest it…

In fact I am rather enjoying the relinquishing of control, at least temporarily. I guess even control freaks need the occasional break…

How the heck does one promote two books at the same time without appearing to show favouritism?

How the heck does one promote two books at the same time without appearing to show favouritism?

The only answer is to split into two equal halves and give a book to each of them…


THE LUNAR TICKLE for the ME on the left (my right)
CAPTAINS STUPENDOUS for the ME on the right (not politically)

Eternal Horizon

The September issue of Lightspeed Magazine has just come out in its ebook edition. This issue contains my story ‘Eternal Horizon‘ which is about what happens when the horizon gives birth and the sun starts to set behind the baby horizon instead of the real one, threatening to boil the oceans away, a disaster that can only be prevented by some pirates and a sea goddess…
http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/issues/sep-2014-issue-52

OK rain, you’ve made your point…

OK rain, you’ve made your point…
You are sky water. You fall out of big dark fluffy sky sheep called clouds. You give the plants a drink. You make overlapping concentric circles on puddles and ponds like a geometry lecturer explaining venn diagrams. You trickle down the back of my neck like the opposite of erotic fingertips. I understand you and your game. You can stop now. There is nothing more to teach me…

My so-called ‘smartphone’ broke again…

My so-called ‘smartphone’ broke again last night, just because it got a few drops of rain on it when I took the photos of the moon peeping through the clouds. What a pathetic piece of technology! When I bought it, people said to me, “Congratulations! You have finally moved into the 21st Century! It’s like a miniature portable computer” and they were right, it is like that — like a crappy miniature portable computer that’s a feeble sad wimp and a backstabbing traitor into the bargain!

Just finished writing my 742nd story

Just finished writing my 742nd story. ‘The Melon Seller’ is about what happens when Atlas is no longer required to hold up the Earth and needs to find another job. This tale was inspired by the time I bought a watermelon that was so large I had to carry it home on my shoulders, like a titan propping up a planet…

a story about polyhedra

Today I am going to start writing a story about polyhedra and each page of the story will be a pattern of creases that can be folded into a tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron, and when they are folded in this manner the words will join up properly and make sense…
It’s a silly idea and more work than it’s worth but I want to do it anyway…

Hughes, More Than a Feline (2014)

Touted as “an illustrated volume of cat stories and poems by cult author Rhys Hughes written over the past two decades and collected together for the very first time,” More Than a Feline is a sometimes irreverent, mostly fun book about cats. If you really like cats and have a generous sense of humour, then you will probably enjoy at least a few of the stories in this short collection (27 stories and poems, totalling 103 pages). I had brought More Than a Feline along with me while attending a conference in Orlando, Florida. The home-spun image on the front cover and a quick skim of its contents told me that this is the kind of book best meant for vacation reading.

Before I discuss the stories, I want to raise a small bone of contention about the “illustrated volume” claim. While there are indeed images of cats inside the book—by my count 9 (and one of those is technically a visual poem)—they are inconsistently placed throughout the pages and, with one or two exceptions, are clearly works of amateur artists. I don’t mean to slander the hands who created the images—because the joy in their creation is evident—but most are perhaps better described as “loving doodles” than proper professional book illustrations (from the dark aura surrounding several of the hand drawn images, it is clear that they were originally drawn on paper that was then photographed and then the photos included in the book). I admit that I was disappointed with the pictures, and I think the volume would be stronger without them.

Now to the writing: More Than a Feline is made up of a hodge-podge of short stories and poems about, obviously, cats. Many of the inclusions—such as “Autumn Cat,” “Silky Salathiel,” and “Bangers the Mash”—are sweet and silly poems and stories that would make excellent reading to/with a child. Other tales, however, are entirely adult in tone and content. The 1.5 page story, “The Cat,” for instance, is gruesome twist on the responsibility of neutering, and one of the longer pieces, “When Pushkin Came to Shovekin” is quite absurd and weird, so its humour might miss the mark with anyone who doesn’t enjoy word play as much as Hughes evidently does. My favourite story of the collection is “Cat o’Nine Tales,” about a cat named Herodotus who visits the filthy kitchen of an even filthier tavern cook, Giovanni. As Giovanni clangs around the kitchen, preparing food for “buccaneers and privateers of the port,” Herodotus regales him with recountings of how he used up 8 of his 9 cat lives, each death more fantastical than the last. There’s travel, sorcery, and a surprise ending—which makes it one of the more coherent stories in the book.

All in all, More Than a Feline is a book best enjoyed with company on a lazy Sunday or a similarly slow (or silly) day (but if reading with a child, make sure to read through everything first and skip the ones not appropriate for younger audiences). I already know that I will be passing this collection of absurd short stories and silly poems on to other cat lovers to read. Like our favoured whiskered companion, More Than a Feline is unpredictable, amusing, confusing, and best engaged with on its own terms.
Reviewed by Kathryn Allan