Today is the release of my collection, Dead Americans and Other Stories.
It is a book made from around eighteen years of writing and publishing short fiction, and primarily draws from two strands of my work, the first being my Dead American stories, and the second being my Red Sun stories.
I picked the stories that appear here because I believe they provide the most complete vision of myself as an author while also keeping to the dark, weird fantasist vibe going through the book. It features stories where a band is named after the murderer of a dead president, where the work of Octavia E. Butler is turned into an apocalypse meta-narrative, and where John Wayne visits a Wal-Mart. It presents a world where a dying sun shines over a broken, bitter landscape and men and women tattoo their life onto their skin for an absent god. It has a girl who was in a band that wasn’t very good, Mark Twain dreaming of Sydney, and it answers a questionnaire you never read.
It is, I think, pretty cool, and it has something for everyone, and occasionally nothing for the rest.
However, like the majority of short story collections released in this day and age, it needs to be supported by people, and shared around. Dead Americans will succeed or fail on how you talk about it, especially at the start here, and so I ask you, if you’ve enjoyed the book itself, or enjoyed one of the stories when they first appeared, or anything else I’ve read, to please share the details of the book around.
Thanks for your support,
“Ten speculative fiction stories illuminate the talent of this Australian author… Failure is always an option for Peek’s protagonists, but even if they can never reach the heights to which they aspire, they can at least envision them, a rarity in a field that too often rejects progress. Although Peek’s appropriation of other people’s lives for his own purposes can be disquieting, readers will be seduced by the outrage that drives much of his fiction and Peek’s undeniable skills as a writer.”
–Starred Review, Publishers Weekly.
“The strange stories of Australian author Ben Peek resist categorization, freely sampling from elements of horror, postmodern metafiction, SF, alternative history, and fantasy. But then hybridization is one of his main themes, with different selves often occupying the same body, or, confusing matters even more, the same self in different bodies. Making things all the more difficult, and interesting, is the fact that in Peek’s world none of these mixed parts get along.”
“In some respects though, reading Dead Americans, which collects some of his best work over the last decade, is the best way to discover him. You get to see a good range of work and you get to see a consistent facility with words and style. I have no reservation in saying that he’d be one of Australia’s best writers. He demonstrates in Dead Americans, the ability to play inside the science fiction genre, riffing off it’s history or building dark futures so real that you shake the ash from your coat after reading. Then with seeming ease he will walk you into some fractured liminal zone between genres where you don’t quite know where you stand or what the rules are.”
–Adventures of a Bookanaut.
“Peek shows a good understanding of what it is to be human as well as the ability to shed light on the subject through the bizarre and absurd. Some of the stories, such as “There is Something So Quiet and Empty Inside of You It Must Be Precious,” did not work as much for me but they were still enjoyable to read for the writing ability that is on display with every word of the book. There are other stories, such as “The Souls of Dead Soldiers are for Blackbirds, Not Little Boys” and “John Wayne,” that are just masterful both in their concept and execution. It is clear from this collection that Peek is a literary force to be reckoned with.”