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 Post subject: So Far, So Near
PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 2:56 pm 
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SO FAR, SO NEAR - my first collection of SF (and fantasy, horror, slipstream and allied trades) stories - was published on 1st February 2007 by the superb British independent publisher, Elastic Press. I’m very excited about this book; it’s something I’ve longed to do for years. For ordering details, to read an extract, and to have a look at the wonderful cover by Mike Fyles, go to www.elasticpress.com/discus/messages/1/ ... 1164126049
The stories included are: By hand or by brain; Clean and bright; Early retirement; Jilly’s fault; Knee deep; Little green card; Now I know its name; Offenders; One box of books; Remote viewing; Room to move; The second question; Those things; Time spent in reconnaissance; We all saw it; We have fed you all for a thousand years. Each story is followed by a brief afterword, in which I discuss its origins.
The book is published in two, beautifully produced editions: as well as the paperback, of 212pp at £5.99 plus p&p, there’s a limited edition, lettered hardback (26 copies, at £15.00 each plus £1.50 p&p). The hardback is likely to go quickly, so if you want a copy, get onto Elastic double-sharpish (elasticpress@elasticpress.com). The first 50 paperbacks are signed and numbered. (Signed by me; numbered by someone who can count.) The ISBN for both is 978-0-9553181-0-8.
Each of the 26 A-Z hardbacks, incidentally, has a different word printed on the signature label - “A is for ... ” and so on. Each of the words appears only once in the text of the book.
Two leading SF writers were kind enough to provide blurbs for the book:
"I was thrilled to find 'We All Saw It' in this collection. It had stuck in my mind ever since I first read it. All the stories here have that distinctive tang, of the intrusion of the alien or fantastic on the ordinary, that we remember from some classic SF and are delighted to find again. Better yet, we find it fresh, and with a sharp philosophical and political mind behind observant eyes. Humanist SF with Martian cool!" - Ken MacLeod
"Even with extremely humorous booby-traps lurking for anyone with the ability to laugh, Mat Coward cannot disguise his basic humanity – nor can he hide his consummate skills at writing, damn fine story-telling, and dialogue to kill for. Read this book.” – Jon George.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2007 5:07 pm 
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At last - the first review!

“I got to review Mat Coward's collection - So Far, So Near (Elastic Press - £5.99 ISBN 978-0-9553181-0-8) and cannot recommend it too highly. He is one of those writers of whom I was aware during my time away from it all without actually reading him. My loss. I love his voice. I find him working in an area that I recognise as being similar to what interests me. He is subtle, angry, passionate, insightful and very, very funny in a way that comes up and clips your ear some time after you read the story, leaving you wondering why you didn't realise it was that funny when you read it. There is none of the weak, obvious punnery that so often passes for humour in the genre. Neither is there anything Pratechettian or Rankinian about the humour - which isn't to denigrate Pratchett or Rankin, just to emphasise the personality of the humour.

As you'll gather, I'm very much enamoured of this collection. I'd even suggest you buy it, with your own money. What higher recommendation do you need?”

- http://martyn44.livejournal.com/47007.html


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 1:58 pm 
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Another review of Mat's So Far, So Near can now be read at Sci-Fi online. The reviewer gives the book 10/10 which can't be bad!

Full review can be read in the book review section of their website. For some reason, I can't post the direct link.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2007 1:37 pm 
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The Morning Star says:

“IF Mat Coward's publishers had got their timing right, they could have been onto a winner for any festive period, because the stories in So Near, So Far are great stand-alone adventures.
As it was, thousands of people across the land were given hugely inferior tomes, which were soon discarded and left to gather dust.
But there is no danger of dust collection with this collection of short stories. Coward provides us with the disparate adventures of a whole host of eclectic storytellers, all hosted under one cover. Really though, they are living in separate worlds, if not different universes.
Coward starts with a premise, sometimes mundane, then follows it towards is conclusion, natural or otherwise. Whether it is aliens, witches, boxes of books or just empty space, the story will hold your attention.
Each yarn is followed by a note explaining the origins of the idea and where it was first published. At times useful, this does have the habit of removing the sense of wonder about whether a story might just be true.”


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2007 7:28 pm 
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Another review of this book can be read online at The Harrow.

It concludes: "Speculative fiction fans will be missing a bet if they don't pick up this collection."


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 10:26 pm 
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My review has just been posted at Whispers of Wickedness (www.ookami.co.uk).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:02 pm 
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Great review, Pete - thanks. Can certainly tell you’ve read the book!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2007 3:15 pm 
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Here are two more enthusiastic reviews:

“Funny, touching, intelligent and challenging” - www.strangehorizons.com/reviews/2007/05 ... ear_.shtml

and “For anyone seeking a lesson in bona fide originality and narrative verve, this is the book for you.” - http://futurefire.net/2007.08/review/teb-coward.html


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2007 2:50 pm 
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Another review:

“Mat Coward creates exceedingly good aliens ... there are enough bright, shiny jewels to make this collection well worth acquiring, and remarkable value for money ... Elastic Press is one of the small presses where the discerning reader can find distinctive voices ... you will be rewarded, mostly with laughter at unexpected moments.”- Vector (the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association), which listed the book as a “Recommended Read.”


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 9:57 am 
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Another very thoughtful review at http://www.magicalrealism.co.uk/issue1/review.php

Incidentally, this reviewer writes at one point: “Then you get a story like ‘Room to Move,’ which is technically mimetic, though the thought processes of its protagonist are strange enough that it has the feel of fantasy.”

What does that mean? I’ve looked up mimetic in a dictionary, and that was absolutely no help at all. So - anyone reading this who speaks College, and is able to translate into English ...?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 10:21 am 
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I think if one were less scientifically minded, they might use the word 'allegorical', instead of mimetic. Having just looked up the word myself, mimetic seems to be the process of representing a complex problem in more simple terms in order to understand/solve it. So, I'd say broadly 'allegorical'.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 2:20 pm 
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Ah, splendid - thanks, Foxie. The dictionary I was using (Oxford - always rubbish, in my experience) made no mention of that meaning, so I was entirely baffled.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 8:25 pm 
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'Mimetic' (adjective derived from 'mimesis') refers to imitation (mimicry). The term was used in Aristotle's Poetics, in which he counts it as one of the characteristics of tragedy (something like 'art imitating life'). In modern lit. theory it refers to an attempt to represent reality truthfully - in other words, realism. (But why use a simple English word when an arcane Greek one will do? :wink: )

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 9:53 am 
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Ah, all is clear! Thanks, Mike. So the reviewer was saying that the story in question was non-genre, inasmuch as that everything in it could happen within the rules of the present world.

(Though, as you say, a little plain English wouldn’t hurt ... )


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 4:56 pm 
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Hi Mat,

Your Serendipity reviewer here. I know I'm a bit late replying to this thread, but I only just found it...

Mike is right, I was using 'mimetic' as an opposite of 'fantastic'. It's a bit obscure, but I think 'realistic' is too much of a loaded word when it comes to talking about fantasy (I'm thinking of arguments like 'if it's fantasy, it can't be real' -- which I would disagree with, for a particular definition of 'real'). 'Mimetic' is the most neutral word I could think of that carried the meaning I wanted.

Glad you liked the review, though -- and it's a great book!

Cheers,

David

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