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Sunday, 20 November 2011

A minotaur ate my saveloy

While setting up the Binscombe Tales books for Spark Furnace (Fabled Lands LLP's book imprint) I hatched a plan to turn my Royal Mythological Society stories into a little paperback using the same print-on-demand company, Lightning Source.

"What a perfect stocking filler for Christmas," said a voice on one shoulder. I've always been a bit hard of hearing on the nay-saying side, so I didn't catch what objection the other shoulder might raise. Hence the book is out this month on Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, Amazon UK and the Book Depository. The stocking itself is optional, but if you know anyone who likes fantasy/SF with a whimsical flavour, it's the perfect gift. Of course, I would say that.

Jamie has written a few RMS stories himself. Well, he's written the first part (that is, the letter which introduces each of the yarns) and when I get to rounding those off with Dr Clattercut's and Prof Bromfield's replies, I'll put them in the next edition. Here's a nice one of Jamie's that I'd completely forgotten about until he reminded me - a snippet with a pleasingly Dirk-like tone:
Effendis, peace be upon you,

Greetings from Ottoman Syria. I am privileged and honoured to have been made a minister by the Regency Council and put in charge of many building projects.

Recently, whilst digging the foundations of a new underground sewer system one of my workmen uncovered a curious copper jar, the lid of which appeared to be a complex clay seal. Being only an ignorant unlettered peasant, the unworthy workmen thought to open the jar, no doubt hoping to uncover gold or gems or some other great treasure but as soon as he picked it up the jar emitted a terrifying shriek. The poor workman fell dead instantly at the sound. Since then, I have taken charge of the jar. Our wisemen, scholars and philosophers are examining it. Some say the clay stopper is one of the Seals of Solomon, used to imprison demons and suchlike and must not be opened. Others say a djinn lies trapped inside. Free it and it will grant me three wishes. Still others say it is just an old jar from the days of the 9th century Caliph, Haroun al Rashid and should be put in a museum and treated like any other archaelogical find, and that the workman just happened to suffer a heart attack co-incidentally. What do you think?

Ibrahim Ismail Pasha
Public Works

The above letter is followed a few days later by this:


There is no need to continue with your investigations into the copper jar. The seal is broken. And... I AM FREE! FREE AT LAST AFTER ELEVEN HUNDRED AND ELEVEN YEARS!!!! Nor need Ibrahim Pasha trouble your thoughts anymore. He will not be replying to any correspondence in the near future. It is hard to write a letter from the inside of a small copper jar after all. And I should know, let me tell you!

Zalam the Afrit

P.S. Your Society is of interest to me. It may be that I shall come and pay you a visit.
That's one of Jamie's pastiches, but you can also read some of the pieces that are in the actual book if you've a yen to. Previously in these pages we've told the story of how Dr Clattercut was kicked while collecting trilobytes, how a ship's captain found an Atlantean relic, how Merlin is modernizing the sleeping knights, a horticultural example of the pathetic fallacy in action, a cautionary tale not to treat unicorns as cuddly, the political manifesto of a Martian warlord, and a curious incident involving two disembodied feet. So all that should tell you if A Minotaur at the Savoy is your cup of tea, eh what?


  1. Amazon says it will take 6 to 8 weeks to deliver.

  2. I mentioned this a short while back. Amazon typically quote very long delivery times on books printed using Lightning Source. (Possibly to encourage authors to use their own POD service CreateSpace? Who knows.) However, I ordered a copy myself as a test and it turned up in less than a week.

    If you want to be absolutely sure of getting it in time for Christmas, the Book Depository and B&N both have it in stock and will ship within 72 hours. Same goes for our Binscombe Tales and Fabled Lands books (also printed via LS).