Week 3 in my ad hoc holiday gift guide brings us to a volume of short stories. And why not? I mean, it's the holidays, for crying out loud. Who's got time to sit down and read a whole novel?
Chris James has subtitled his Stories of Genesis "A New Kind of Fan Fiction." He is not wrong. Authors have used song titles and lyrics as springboards for their own creative endeavors for generations, but I don't know of anybody else who has taken the idea to such a fascinating extreme.
The five stories in this collection all have their, uh, genesis in one or another of the songs by the prog-rock group Genesis. And each story has something to recommend it. "Mr. Magrew's Incredible Journey" is a sci-fi coming-of-age story about why, sometimes, it's better just to stay home. "The Chat Show" features a conniving talk-show host who is determined to advance his career, no matter what it costs. "One Regret" is about a dying man who contemplates going to his grave with the biggest secret of his life. "The Final Battle" is full-on weird sci-fi, set in a world where special forces battle the Eternal Sanctuary Man. But perhaps my favorite is "The Agent Lunges," a bit of metafiction in which a copyright agent harasses an author very much like James himself.
The real Chris James needn't worry about that; Genesis lead guitarist Steve Hackett has endorsed the book. So do I. And if you read these stories and enjoy them, I have good news for you: James has written two more volumes of Stories of Genesis.