Some of you may be aware that toward the end of this month — in some parts of the world — a popular festival is celebrated to mark the approximate birthday of a man whose life and teachings have great resonance within a well-known (if not universally-respected) spiritual paradigm. It is not a body of thought to which I personally adhere, but its influence on world history and culture is nonetheless hard to deny. 

Plus, people give each other stuff, which is awesome. 

And also my point. I’m going to ask you to remember for a moment a memorable Christmas gift you received: a thing you’d always secretly wanted, but never thought could be yours — or maybe a small but wonderful surprise that brought a beatific smile to your face — perhaps lost now, but warm in recollection. Got it? Good.

Now put all that out of your mind and imagine giving somebody one of my eBooks instead. 

Why on earth would you do that?

  1. Someone might actually like to receive the book/s. 
  2. Someone might hate them, and so this would be a weirdly passive aggressive way of getting at them during the holiday season, which is always fun and totally in the spirit of things.
  3. We live an increasingly virtual world. So why not give a virtual Christmas stocking? Not only will it be much easier to shove things into at the last minute, all your friends will be dismayed at how you’ve out-zeitgeisted them, and if Christmas isn’t about dismaying your friends then I don’t know what is.
  4. One of the earliest settlers in the Big Sur region was an illiterate prospector called Al Clark. Wild-eyed and shaggy of beard, he spent decades exploring the wilderness around Pico Blanco mountain, cited by local tribes as the birthplace of all creation. In addition to a now-lost and probably legendary silver mine, Clark claimed to have found a deep, hidden cave whose walls were covered in pictograms of long-extinct mammals — a find which predated the discovery of the Lascaux caves in France by some years. Before his death he allegedly used dynamite to block this cave up again, to save it from the depredations of mankind. Curiously, it was later discovered that Clark was far from illiterate, holding a degree from Columbia University, and also that in actuality he was (some claim) the scion of a prominent pretzel-manufacturing dynasty in Vermont. This cave has long been believed to be merely the fabrication of a bearded loon, but recently an expedition from UC Santa Cruz found it, and were amazed to discover not just pictures of animals on its walls but something that was clearly a prehistoric representation of an eBook, with the name “Michael Marshall Smith” on the cover. Next to it was a picture of some people not-buying it, and then an image that can only portray Earth cracking in two and the end of civilisation as we know it. As always one must be cautious about applying the interpretive preconceptions of modern man to the works of antiquity, but on the other hand, why take the risk?

Almost all of those are slightly true, and anyway that’s my best shot. Just go take a look at the damned site, will you? This kind of self-pimping makes my soul shrivel, and I can't afford that to happen. My soul is looking pretty wraith-like and dusty as it is. There's a cowled figure who hangs out on the crossroads downtown who keeps saying he could make use of it, and to honest, I'm tempted to do a deal where he could at least lease it. It’s not like I’m using it anyway. And he pays in Starbucks gift cards.

What's more, I’m marking the season by giving away another short story on the site. This time it’s UNBELIEF, which has a relevance to the time of year — and the cover features the poster for the truly excellent short movie version of it directed by Fabien Martorell. Please note that this tale is not suitable for children, those of a nervous disposition, or anyone who thinks Donald Trump would make a good president — because it contains polysyllabic words, and no pictures. 

No purchase necessary. T&C probably apply but I think I’ve said enough.

Go visit the ****ing site