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Merry Ememess


Merry Ememess

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


Ememess 2.0


Ememess 2.0

No, it’s not me that’s been improved, I’m afraid. Still the same. Nothing’s changed. The on-boarding experience remains prone to diffidence, the API is inexplicable to almost everyone, and the overall product is glitchy in the extreme. 

This is by way of announcing, however, that has been significantly groovified. Yes, that’s a word. Or it is now. In addition to looking slightly less like it was designed by an intern in 2008, it now offers the opportunity to purchase key volumes directly from the site — and in all major eBook formats. I know, I know. Truly this is all the best of all possible worlds after all. 

As a launch special, we are offering the two eCollections — MORE TOMORROW and EVERYTHING YOU NEED — as a bundle for the gasp-inducingly low price of $8.99. That’s all the weird fiction you can uncomfortably handle, for less than the price of… well, for less than something that’s exactly $9.

When I say “we”, I mean “me”. I set this up all by myself, as a chance to give my inner dork a run in the pasture. Aspects of it were gnarly. So if you get a bunch of weird emails implying you've just shipped 10,000 Kalashnikovs to Bakersfield, or the Feds swoop and accuse you of money-laundering for the Marin Symphony Orchestra, we never spoke, and I don't know you, okay? 

Otherwise, if something goes wrong with your order or your book’s wonky or your cat starts staring into space for no reason, feel free to let me know and I’ll fret about it. 

Though to be honest, I’m surprised and a little hurt you’re here still reading this.



ememess square logo.jpg



EVERYTHING YOU NEED eBook available now...

This is by way of an announcement that my 2013 collection, EVERYTHING YOU NEED, is now available as an eBook (US) or here (UK). For the time being it's only Kindle-format, though that should change soonish. In addition to the stories in Earthling Publication's splendid print edition of the collection, this Book edition includes THE GIST, a long story published in a complicated way as a handsome chapbook by Subterranean Press, as detailed here. In a special launch promotion, Earthling Publications, Subterranean Press and Ememess Press are offering a deal where, if you buy either the print edition of EVERYTHING YOU NEED or THE GIST (for yourself, or as a present for someone else, say, in light of any upcoming festivals or holidays traditionally involving the exchange of gifts or tokens), you get a copy of the eBook of EVERYTHING YOU NEED for free...

To put 'free' in context, it means 'for nothing'. Zip. Nada. Zero. The amount of affection I have for Russell Brand's oeuvre. That kind of thing.

Are they crazy?

They must be. We must all be. But before they come for us with butterfly nets, go to Subterranean's site here, Earthling's site here, or for the ebook alone go straight to Amazon here (US) or here (UK). Go now.

Seriously — why are you still here?


“It’s not the craft and skill that Michael Marshall Smith displays in his short stories that I object to. It’s not the easy wit, or the comfortable way he deploys language as a weapon. It’s not even that way that he can conjure people so real in so few words. It’s that, when a Mike Smith short story is over, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be some moment, scene or revelation frozen in the back of my mind that I’ll never be able to get out of my head, not even if I scrub it with wire wool so it bleeds.” —Neil Gaiman

“Michael Marshall Smith’s short stories are consistently sharp, slick, original, witty, disquieting, entertaining, and plain brilliant.” — Graham Joyce

"Michael Marshall Smith writes the kind of dreams we don't like to talk about, but can't get out of our minds once we've had them." — Jonathan Carroll

"If any reader unfamiliar with Smith’s work needs proof that he is one of the more entertaining and creatively imaginative writers working in fantasy and the macabre, this fits the bill." — Stefan Dziemianowicz, Locus

"Michael Marshall Smith is the most consistently brilliant short story author I have worked with over the past twenty years. He continues to amaze and delight me with the wit, intelligence and sheer creativity of his writing." — Stephen Jones



Before the intruders... there were THE STRAW MEN

So. INTRUDERS has finished in the US. For now, anyway... do feel free to start lobbying your congressman for a second season. No, I mean it. DO IT NOW. Actually, probably lobbying BBC America would make more sense. But give your congresswo/man a kick anyway. They likely deserve it. On the upside, this does mean you get a break from the dark machineries of my so-called mind. And to assist with that, I thought I'd warn you that you'll want to avoid the STRAW MEN novels, even though they are now electronically available in the US again, in new editions. (Currently only on Amazon, though ePubs are coming soon).

Be careful. Whatever you do, don't click any of the links below...


In this New York Times and internationally-bestselling novel of suspense, Michael Marshall's unique voice adds a chilling intensity to the serial-killer plot, combining dazzling narrative, a white-hot pace and introduces a deeply disturbing backdrop of conspiracy.

The Straw Men. They kill people. Any people. And soon they’ll get around to you.

"Just when you think there’s nothing new under the sun in the world of the suspense novel, along comes one hell of a nasty spider called The Straw Men. It’s brilliantly written and scary as hell. Be the first on your block to stay up all night with this one; it’s a masterpiece, reminding us that even paranoids really do have enemies." — STEPHEN KING




THE LONELY DEAD (second in series, previously published in the US as THE UPRIGHT MAN)


BLOOD OF ANGELS (third in series)


All jacket images created by the fantastic...

[No, physical copies are not available at the moment in the US, unless second-hand. It's a publishing thing. Don't even start me.]



New Collection - EVERYTHING YOU NEED #sasp

VERSION 2 OF BLOG Welcome to my second attempt at writing this blog. I wrote something yesterday and, while it's technically okay, it just seemed a bit stiff (I've appended it at the end, so you can make your own judgement). Writing's like that, as you doubtless know. Sometimes you're able to say what you mean, but at others the words dutifully plod out onto the page instead, conveying information rather than sense, sturdily doing their job rather than making anyone give a crap about what's being said. I'm not sure this version is going any better yet, to be honest, but...

By way of introduction, I'd like to suggest a new Twitter tag. The tag is #sasp - short for 'shameless act of self-promotion'. The idea is that it should be used when self-pimping your product or services. Deploying it will mean (a) readers can choose whether to read the tweet, and (b) users will feel less of a tool for doing part of what they're supposed to be doing - i.e. convincing poor unsuspecting people that it's worth spending their cash on the products of their so-called minds. I'm hoping the term can also be introduced into common parlance, thus:

"I'll get down to some actual work in a few hours, but first I've got to do some SASPing."

"I unfollowed her. Never tweeted anything interesting. Total SASPer."

To save someone else from pointing it out, it's already occurred to me that trying to promote a tag could be seen as a back-door way of promoting myself, but that's all too ironic and post-modern and recursive for my brain to comfortably handle, so let's just let it go, eh?

And anyway, my real point is this: I'm hysterically pleased to announce that my new story collection, EVERYTHING YOU NEED, is now available from Earthling Publications. And for once, I don't feel bad self-promoting. Why the heck should I? Not only did I spent quite a while writing these pieces of fiction in the hope that people might like them, time I could otherwise have fruitfully spent in the pub, but others — namely the exceptional Paul Miller — have taken the risk of making the stories up into a book (an actual one, that exists in three dimensional space and possesses mass) in the hope that at least some copies of it will wind up being moved from his warehouse and into people's homes, in return for instruments of monetary value.

Sure, I could be all "Aw, shucks, you don't want to read that nonsense...", but frankly, you could do worse. If the alternative is being repeatedly punched in the face by stern men called Alexei or Big Pete, then seriously, give the collection a chance. On the other hand, if you suddenly have the chance to hang out with polar bear cubs, then by all means put it aside for later. Your call.

Actually, I'm not sure this is going so well after all. Maybe you should read the first version instead...

VERSION 1 OF BLOG I'm delighted to announce that my new short story collection, EVERYTHING YOU NEED, has just been published. It's ten years since the last one came out, also from Earthling. Comparing the two, I see some differences. But I'll come to that..

Fans of dark and disconcerting fiction are very lucky in that short stories have always been a core strength of our genre/s, a delivery system for real narrative in addition to attractive groups of words. Sure, there are lots of 'literary' collections out there, but have you tried them? There are admittedly extremely gifted exponents, but so many of these slim, attractive volumes seem to contain little more than slices of languid posturing, pieces that feel like they fell off some more major work, or else are practice sessions for one. Maybe it's just me, and I do try not to be an utter Philistine, but after a few samples of these ending-less meanderings I yearn for something with focus and bite... and a story.

Dark fiction and SF shorts by contrast are often even more powerful and complete than novels: a sense of wonder and a twist of terror are both short-lived emotional states, and tales of restrained length can sometimes be the best way of injecting their payload deep into someone's mind. What a Bradbury, King, Dick, Poe, Matheson, Campbell, Ellison, Lovecraft or Asimov can do in the short form - to barely start on a list, and ignoring the great new practitioners out there right now - defies belief. It's in short stories that the new and interesting stuff usually first arrives, too, re-enlivening and re-inventing the genres in the face of periodic over-exploitation by the mainstream. We're very fortunate to have these writers and these stories, and also owe a huge debt to the editors and publishers out there keeping the form alive, often with very little financial incentive for themselves.

Nobody gets rich out of short fiction. That's not the point. We read and write and publish these stories because we know they're what actually counts, understanding that - especially in genres that touch so closely on our key fears and hopes and concerns - they're the sharpest knives for peeling away the layers of custom and everyday and getting to the truth inside. Don't get me wrong - I love novels. I spend the majority of my life working on them, and a good novel is capable of wonders no other art form can aspire to. People wouldn't have sat around a campfire twenty thousand years ago and told each other novels, however. It'd take far too long, and involve too much time spent on material that's enriching and thought-provoking for people with the leisure to enjoy those added benefits... but isn't really the STORY.

What's a story? It's a series of events that happen to people, real or imagined, after the telling of which you have — to however small a degree — changed. Changed either because you've felt something new, or imagined a circumstance you had't before, or merely because you are one chunk fuller of the ways in which people and incidents and ideas can be placed in relation to one another, one step further along the infinite journey of trying to understand what it's like to be alive. Tales of wonder and unease do this better than any other type of fiction, I believe, and that's why these genres will always be my home.

Having said which... Comparing EVERYTHING YOU NEED with MORE TOMORROW & OTHER STORIES, I perceive I may have gone just a tad more literary in the last decade, at least when it comes to short fiction. There are fewer long narratives. There are more stories which revolve around a particular feeling, or notion. They're more experimental in tone overall. Some of what's between these covers is me playing, trying to capture new things. Don't be alarmed, they have beginning-middle-end, and shouldn't have you frowning and muttering 'And what the hell was the point of that, exactly?' - and actually I believe there are pieces which are as good as anything I've ever done, for what that's worth, including stories which are new to the collection.

Anyway. I'd like to thank Paul Miller at Earthling for being the perfect publisher, and Vinnie Chong for the perfect jacket illustration. I'll be interested to hear what you think of the result of our labours. I can't guarantee it'll be everything you need, but I hope it has something you like.