Sharkpunk edited by Jonathan Green
SHARKPUNK: an anthology of killer shark stories. Sharks – the ultimate predators, masters of their watery domain, a world that is entirely alien and inhospitable to man. So many aspects of the shark are associated with humankind’s most primal fears. The tell-tale dorsal fin slicing through the water, the dead eyed-stare, the gaping jaws full to unforgiving teeth, the remorseless drive to kill and feed…Inspired by such classic pulp movies as Jaws and Deep Blue Sea – as well as such ludicrous delights as Sharknado and Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus – the stories contained within are rip-roaring page-turners and slow-build chillers that celebrate all things savage, pulp and selachian. Covering the whole range of speculative fiction genres, from horror and Steampunk, through to SF and WTF, these are stories with bite! Come on in. The water’s fine…
Dur duh… dur duh…dur duh, dur duh, dur duh, dur duh, duh duh dah! I’m so sorry, I couldn’t resist, I just had to get that out of my system before I could even begin to start discussing this new anthology from Snowbooks.
Sharks have always fascinated me. Ever since I first saw a certain movie as a child, I have been utterly terrified yet drawn to these awesome beasts. Years later I read Meg by Steve Alten, and I was reminded of just how magnificently deadly many of the shark family are. When I heard Jonathan Green, he of Pax Britannia fame, was putting together a collection of short stories with a distinctly sharky theme, I was sold from the get go.
Put simply, Sharkpunk is twenty unique visions of what it means to be either predator or prey. This anthology contains stories that don’t just feature sharks, they also dissect the mind of a perfectly evolved killer. Nestled deep in the pages of this collection you’ll find everything from stories set in feudal Japan to tales featuring men with an impressive olfactory sense. Steampunk, horror, science fiction and thriller blend together to create a collection that revels in the raw, bloody savagery of an apex carnivore.
Now a few words about some of my favourites from this collection
Shirley by Amy & Andy Taylor – In the future, wars are no longer fought by armies. Instead, they are held in secret using technology to pit a country’s chosen animal representative against one another. The United Kingdom’s latest champion is Shirley the shark. It has been decades since the UK has won a war. Can Shirley stand tall against the might of America and their chosen combatant?
Deep Black Space by Toby Frost – Huzzah! A Space Captain Smith short story. What a wonderfully unexpected, yet welcome addition to the collection. The intrepid space captain finds himself and his motley crew squaring off against the self proclaimed robot emperor of all space and his army of void sharks. Like the books that have preceded it, this is a great fun mix of steampunk and nonsense. Beware the traumas of marmite in space!
Deep Red Bells by Josh Reynolds – Card carrying Royal Occultist, Charles St Cyprian, and his apprentice Ebe Gallowglass, find themselves in deepest darkest Dorset dealing with a most unusual and distinctly fishy case of possession. Can St Cyprian and associate save the day?
Sharkcop 2: Feeding Frenzy by Alec Worley – Meet George Chum. Part man, part shark – all cop. Like a classic eighties action movie brought to life on the page, this is hugely silly and loads of fun. I fully expect to see The Asylum making the movie version of this next week. Hell, if they can make Sharknado and Sharknado 2, they can sure as heck make this.
Sharkbait by Richard Salter – A couple of jewel thieves plying their trade in the Mediterranean islands meet their match; a nine year old girl with the strange ability to control sharks.
Blood Relations by Andrew Lane – A convict named Thorpe is given an opportunity that seems too good to be true. The job? Find a missing girl. The catch? Non-negotiable surgery that has the potential to change Thorpe forever.
The Serial Killer Who Thought She Was A Shark by Jenni Hill – In world where serial killers are allowed their freedom so they can be observed in their natural habit, Courtney has learned the valuable skill of blending in. The big question is can she resist her natural urges or not? I’ll be honest, I suspect that it may be the latter.
Rise of the Übershark by Rob Spalding – It was only a matter of time until the seas turned against us. Sitting somewhere between Pacific Rim and the Night of the Dolphins episode of The Simpsons, this story gets extra points for a cheeky little Jaws reference.
Swimming With The Fishes by Steve Saville – Monsters, mobsters and a good old-fashioned twist of the traditional gangster tale (…or should the be tail?).
Ambergris by Kit Cox – Major Jack Union, monster hunter by royal decree, faces off against the might of the Megalodon. You’re probably not going to be massively surprised when I tell you that things are going to get bloody.
Guess what? I’ve only mentioned half of the stories in the splendid collection. Half! That means there are another ten that I’ve said nothing about. Also featuring stories from Jonathan Oliver, Den Patrick, David Lee Stone, Ian Whates, David Tallerman, Kim Lakin-Smith, Ian Whates, CL Werner, Laurel Sills, Gary McMahon, Al Ewing and Sarah Peploe you can rest assured that you are in safe hands. With so many top authors in this anthology you could easily be forgiven for thinking “we’re gonna need a bigger book”.
As an aside, for those with a musical bent, can I suggest the music of John Williams as a suitable auditory companion to this collection. Perhaps something along the lines of Jaws: The Collectors Edition. From a personal standpoint, I found that this captured the tone of the entire anthology quite nicely.
I posted the following tweet while I was in the midst of reading Sharkpunk.
You may be curious how nutty “deliciously nutty” is? Put it this way, if Sharkpunk was a bar of chocolate it would be a Snickers. We’re talking a whole lot of nuts here people.
In all seriousness this collection is well worthy of your time. Every story is a winner in my opinion and they are all a great deal of fun. In all honesty I’d have great difficulty picking a favourite.
I await Sharkpunk 2: The Second One with baited breath (yup, the shark related puns just keep on coming). Heaven knows what will come after that* Sharkpunk is published by Snowbooks and is available from 1st May. If you’re an apex predator fan then this is the book for you.
* Can I make a suggestion Beepunk? No, wait, even better – Amphibious Beepunk! or perhaps Aqua Bees? Let’s get plotting. I’m sure we can work something out. Stop, don’t run away…come back….please.