Rhys Hughes' Slap-on-the-Wrist Stories was published by Gloomy Seahorse Press in August 2019.

About Rhys Hughes:

In his own words:

"I am a writer of Fantastika and Speculative Fiction.

My earliest surviving short story dates from 1989, and since that time I have embarked on an ambitious project of writing a story cycle consisting of exactly 1000 linked tales. Recently I decided to give this cycle an overall name -- PANDORA'S BLUFF.

My favourite fiction writers are Italo Calvino, Stanislaw Lem, Boris Vian, Flann O'Brien, Milorad Pavic, Milan Kundera, Alvaro Mutis and Jorge Luis Borges, all of whom have a very well-developed sense of irony and a powerful imagination. I particularly enjoy literature that combines humour with seriousness, and that fuses the emotional with the intellectual, the profound with the lighthearted, the unfettered with the precise.

My first book was published in 1995 and sold slowly but it seemed to strike a chord with some people. My subsequent books sold more strongly as my reputation gradually increased. I have been told that I am a "cult author" and I'm pleased with the description, but obviously I also want to reach out to a wider audience!"

Click here to visit his official website.

About Slap-on-the-Wrist Stories:

Numbers control the galaxies and atoms of the universe but they don't always control us. Freedom lovers seek to break out of the mathematical prisons. There are a certain number of us. Perhaps you are one of them. We go on journeys and have adventures. But our adventures generate new numbers and we only learn this truth later. The stories in this book are guided by numerological constraints but paradoxically they find a greater freedom as a result. And so do we.

REVIEW: SLAP-ON-THE-WRIST STORIES BY RHYS HUGHES

Rhys Hughes' Slap-on-the-Wrist Stories is an enjoyable and entertaining collection of tales controlled by numerological constraints. I was impressed by this collection and found the stories captivating, imaginative and fascinatingly original.

Before I write anything else, I'll mention that Rhys Hughes is an author whose fiction I've come to enjoy and love, because he has an ability to charm the reader with inventive stories that often explore and push the boundaries of fiction and swiftly break out into exciting and unexpected directions. When you begin to read his fiction, you don't know what you'll find in his stories, because a seemingly normal story can suddenly become intriguingly fantastical and refreshingly surreal. If you haven't read anything by Rhys Hughes yet, I strongly urge you to take a look at his stories, because you'll be charmed and fascinated by them.

This collection is one of the author's best and most imaginative works to date. It's an extraordinary reading experience for everybody who loves beautifully written fiction that is strictly controlled by numerological constraints. The contents of the stories range from literary fiction to speculative fiction. On the whole, the stories can be classified as original contemporary fantasy fiction, but they're much more than fantasy, because they're also experimental, strange and surreal, not to mention whimsical.

This collection contains the following four stories:

- "Only Sixty-Nine Whims Away"
- "Postcards from the Hedge"
- "Trouble with Drabbles"
- "Ten of Our Trombones Are Missing"

"Only Sixty-Nine Whims Away" tells of a bicycle trip to cover half the world in 69 chapters that are each exactly 69 word long. When the bicyclist starts his journey, he experiences all kinds of adventures and meets intriguing and unique persons. For example, he experiences a sudden night of passion with an astronomer and meets a pre-dead ghost.

"Postcards from the Hedge" tells of people who have survived a bus crash. The survivors have taken up residence in the hedge and write messages on postcards and leave them for passersby to find. Each of the messages is 50 words long. These postcards tell about what has happened to the survivors and how they are coping with their new lives, because they indentify themselves with animals and plants. The postcards don't reveal everything about the survivors, but they're intriguing snippets filled with amazing things that will both astound and fascinate the reader.

"Trouble with Drabbles" is a story about an alliance of Cupid and Death in 100 one-hundred word stories (by the way, if there are readers out there who wonder what a drabble is, it is a story that is exactly one hundred words in length). All of these drabbles are mostly independent tales, but are linked in various ways. They tell - among other things - of such amazing things as snakes on Medusa's head, a haunted house, the thirteenth labour of Hercules and how to protect oneself against vampires.

"Ten of Our Trombones Are Missing" tells of two musicians (trombonists) who are neighbours and practice their instruments at the same time. This story features 66 tales each 66 words in length. The tales tell of such things as Aztecs and what happens when one plays arcane melodies. This story also has a dragon in it.

Rhys Hughes has often challenged the reader with his witty stories and this collection is no exception. These clever and well-constructed stories will tease and poke at the reader's imagination and intelligence in the most effective and pleasurable way possible.

I was positively surprised by how much depth and insightful commentary these stories have, because they're surprisingly deep. When you read them carefully and let their contents sink into you, you'll be rewarded with fascinating glimpses into the human condition and you'll find yourself thinking about what you've just read.

I love the author's prose and his writing style, because he has his own unique way of writing about the events and the characters. His prose is beautiful and vivid, and his expressions and sentences are nuanced and often border on the line of being poetic.

One of the best things about Rhys Hughes' Slap-on-the-Wrist Stories is that the stories are genuinely entertaining, amusing and highly inventive. When you begin to read this collection, you'll find yourself utterly immersed in the stories and will marvel at their contents, because they will charm and surprise you in equal measure.

Highly recommended!

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