A plane ride to the east coast yielded significant reading time, which resulted in finished reads of two novels and a short story collection. The latter was the first read on the outbound flight, its mathematically precise cover drawing the eye like a child to breakable objects. Jurassic London’s Irregularity, edited by Jared Shurin, is one of the most cohesive short story collections I’ve ever encountered. Sandwiched between a bizarre foreword from Nick Harkaway, that details a time traveling collection of stories, and an afterword from a physics professor, insisting that such a thing could never happen, Shurin pulls together fourteen original stories from a range of authors including Claire North, Adam Roberts, James Smythe, and E.J. Swift.
In the Age of Reason courageous men and women were compelled to catalog the world around them, to explain the mysteries, to the unknowable into knowable with empirical precision. These minds bargained order from chaos, except where they didn’t. Irregularity is all about those moments. Where in the quest to make all things mundane, our thinkers encountered something they could not entirely reconcile. The finest story in the volume is from Smythe. Titled ‘The Last Escapement’, it tells the story of a watchmaker competing with John Harrison to complete the marine chronometer. So committed to his endeavor the watchmaker begins to harvest from his own body for the mechanism. It’s a disturbing tale that calls to mind the styling of KJ Parker, whom I consider to be one of the finest living purveyors of short fiction. < Read More >