is a Maths teacher with a love of English Literature. His own success
began in his school days, causing him to cherish a dream of
publication. A wide range of hobbies including football, horticulture
and bookbinding occupy him in rural South Cheshire, where he lives with
with Steve Morris
remember it was one of those miserable murky nights in December. The
only thing that stops people becoming any more miserable than they
already are at that time of year is the thought of Christmas. Then,
when it is all over with; it is back to the murk until spring. One of
these years I’m going to hibernate all through. "
Reviewed by Sheila Cornelius
Fiction has comforted travellers since the days of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
Nowadays the daily commute’s most likely to demand distraction, and
Steve Morris’s diverse collection of short, quirky tales seems
purpose-made. Foreshadowed revenge, driven characters and bizarre
happenings quickly engage the reader’s imagination. At the same time
they encourage empathy with all-too-common setbacks in ordinary working
Many of the 30 stories’ effects depend on off-key interventions in
otherwise low-key, situations. Remarkably, two or three pages manage to
convey time passing, as Morris’s introverted heroes worship women from
afar, brood on regrets or embark on prolonged investigations. Then
events take a sudden turn, usually for the worse.
Morris’s urban milieu is populated by men trapped by boring routine,
plagued by bad weather. Typically, his narrators, whose troubled pasts
motivate their actions, are long on memory, short on forgiveness. Luck
is never on their side in these tales of failed romance, frustrated
careers and unexpected downturns.
A woman glimpsed on a TV screen will be tracked down to a surprise
conclusion; a police officer allows a killer to escape at the last
minute because of a childhood incident, a false identity is unmasked by
a forgotten acquaintance.
Within these downbeat tales swindlers and greedy overreachers meet
ironic justice. In The Remainder,
for instance, a dishonest financier is ruined by his conscientious
That said, there’s a wider social awareness evident in stories about
subliminal advertising, press hysteria, climate change and ecological
issues. For me, the futuristic stories are the most remarkable. In Memories are Made of This,
for instance, a machine converts memories into photographic images,
Winston Churchill has experimenters reviving dead celebrities, while
the apocalyptic Signal
features messages from a distant planet. Dreams, confused identity,
ghosts and odd imaginings bring the reader close to the underlying
surrealism of everyday life.
In recommending this collection from a writer with a distinctive, often
disturbing, imagination, I have a reservation: Morris is ill-served by
his editor/publisher. These stories could have had more thorough
proof-reading. Occasional repetitions or awkward sentences, uncorrected
spelling mistakes and even a change in the main characters name in one
of the stories are distracting.
Despite this, readers will be beguiled by Morris’s vision of an
everyday world where probabilities turn out to be different from the