The Tobacco-Stained Sky

tobaccoantho3dA couple of years ago, I read Andrez Bergen’s excellent post-apocalyptic sci-noir novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, and began a correspondence with the author, interviewing him for The Velvet and keeping in touch all friendly-like, as we do. A few books later, he re-approached Goat‘s publisher, Another Sky Press, about releasing an anthology of stories by other authors that he compiled (along with co-editor Guy Salvidge), all set within the well-developed universe of that first novel. I immediately jumped on board as a contributor, taking it as a challenge to write my very first story in that genre.

The Tobacco-Stained Sky: An Anthology of Post-Apocalyptic Noir
234 pp, available Sep 26 for <$10 inc. shipping

Here’s what you need to know. Melbourne is near-future Earth’s last city standing, where the ominous, ubiquitous Hylax (plastics) Corporation and its CEO Wolram E. Deaps are behind the push to apprehend, incarcerate, and even terminate Deviants for their behavior, enlisting Seeker Branch to police such matters. Affluent residents live in the Dome: an enclosed, city-center shopping/entertainment community that shields them from Melbourne’s post-apocalyptic atmosphere. Outside, under the ubiquitous toxic rainwater, Melbourne is inhabited by hardboiled dames, grifters, and gumshoes trying to get by. It’s Blade Runner meets The Third Man.

Short story contributors include:

Andrez Bergen – “In-Dreamed,” “Waiting for Sod All,” “We Are Not Afraid, We Serve”
Paul D. Brazill – “Murphy’s Bright Spark”
Julie Morrigan – “Sanctity”
Nigel Bird – “A Kick in the Googlies”
Gordon Highland – “Plan E”
Liam José – “The Holy Church of the Scalpel”
Kristopher Young – “Tomorrow Will Be a Better World”
Chad Eagleton – “Blood on the Milky Way”
Guy Salvidge – “The Dying Rain”
Gerard Brennan – “Frilly”
Josh Stallings – “Dream Juice”
Chris Rhatigan – “Wake Up, Time to Die”
Tony Pacitti – “Venus from Mars”
Chad Rohrbacher – “Picture This”
Devin Wine – “La Bomba”
Harvey Finch – “Identity Parade”
Jay Slayton-Joslin – “The Great Milko of the People”

Also featured are several collaborations, with stories by Andrez and artwork by Drezz Rodriguez, Andrew Chiu, Michael Grills, and Marcos Vergara.

In my story, “Plan E,” the Dome’s elite are known for their physical “enhancements,” so I thought a back-alley surgeon would provide a cool counterpoint-of-view to the crime focus of the original Goat. It’s also a vehicle for social commentary, while being a well-worn noir trope I could play against. I had a lot of fun devising technology and laws and playing within its existing geography, while working to keep such things in the periphery as if this were all routine. Being one who can’t resist a good twist, its framing device hit me over the head once I was nearly done, which hopefully earns a second read from a new perspective.

Get Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat as a free e-book or $5 paperback.
Buy Andrez Bergen’s other books from Amazon.

About Gordon

Gordon Highland is the author of the novels Flashover and Major Inversions, with short stories in such publications as Word Riot, Black Heart, Noir at the Bar Vol. 2, and Warmed and Bound, among others. He lives in the Kansas City area, where he makes videos by day and music by night.
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1 Response to The Tobacco-Stained Sky

  1. Cheers (as always), Gordon!

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