Smithereens gathers 19 stories of misfortune, madness and malady, including ‘The Man Whose Head Expanded’, set in a world where it is ‘undisputed’ that ‘if you tape the average man’s mouth shut he’ll lie through his nose’. Heads are no longer fashionable and are instead encased in ‘headgloves’, which turn out to have undesirable effects, as Brank realises when one day his head expands exponentially … that is, until a train shoots up his nose.
Meet ‘Download Syndrome’: ‘Symptoms: 1. Constant talking with aid of cell phones and email; 2. near-zero memory retention; 3. dead-stare; 4. blithely confident attitude.’ Aylett points the finger and asks, ‘when the majority of the world population suffers the same condition, does it become the “new normal”?’
‘The Burnished Adventures of Injury Mouse’, the full text of ‘Voyage of the Iguana’, the last ever Beerlight story, ‘Specter’s Way’, ‘Horoscope’ and the closest thing Aylett has ever written to a traditional science-fiction story, ‘Bossanova’ (featuring a robot and two spaceships) are amongst the tales from beyond any existence you can possibly imagine.
Smithereens is Aylett’s most recent collection, one in which he outstrips his reputation – ‘He has made a career out of redefining the boundaries of science fiction – and sanity.’ (Barnes & Noble Spotlight Feature).