MY BOOK SHOP
An evolving library of history, of my development as a writer, and a way to connect up my personal story. And where I hope to sell my books and try to keep my publication dates accurate. The latter can change for a variety of reasons, such are the intricacies of the publishing process and my occasional whim.
I am one of those common phenomena: a writer who’s embraced technology for the democracy it has given many like me. It’s a determined writer who remains hidden, but it’s still an intrepid agent who finds the talent.
While I remain undiscovered by the mainstream publishing industry, I make sure of two things, which I will always maintain in any future commercial arrangement: My books are made available on public registers, so that they can be used in schools, and requested by local libraries for lending and reference. Libraries allowed me to read and write when I was homeless, and I like to give things back. I don’t covet wealth, and I write for enjoyment and therapy. I believe that if you’re allowed to be the best that you can be, at the thing which you enjoy the most, it gives much more back.
I make my books available for free, and I publish short stories on this blog, because I understand that a book is a financial proposition, and that to some it’s a luxury. In that spirit of honesty, I would say of my books to date, the latest is the best. My ‘sci-fi romcom’ is critically-acclaimed, and it’s the book I hang my writer’s hat on. Before that, was my anthology, which is the collected short stories I wrote when I was homeless, and becoming a writer. Many of the stories in there are also on this blog – some in improved form – so the book is a hindsight, albeit curated in a way which gives the whole volume a context. And even before that, I rushed out my debut sci-fi flash fiction novel, which I wrote in six weeks. It is a good story, but I may re-write it one day. As a first edition, it serves as a reference point, in particular in the Director’s Cut, which includes some of those early stories, placing that novel into context. Finally, there’s my award-winning children’s book, which has been used in family learning sessions, for parents with learning disabilities.
I’m an altruistic writer and I abhor wasted anything. My aim is to ensure that any of my books are bought by well-informed people.
I’m regularly published in web zines and magbooks, all available from Amazon.
One of my favourite wheezes in days past was asking book store staff if they had any books on shelves. My dream has always been for people to have my books on their shelves.
Cyrus Song (Paperback)
Simon Fry is convinced that the answer to life, the universe and everything, is in the earth itself. Specifically, he believes that if he could talk with the animals, he’d find the answers. Or at least, the questions which need to be asked for the answer to make any kind of sense. Doctor Hannah Jones is a veterinary surgeon. She has a quantum computer, running a program called the Babel fish: Like its fictitious namesake, the Babel fish can translate any language to and from any other.
Elsewhere, Mr Fry considers what might be possible if historical scientists were able to make use of all that would be new to them in the 21st century. Having watched Jurassic Park, he is fairly sure he knows how this works. So begins one man’s quest to find answers to questions he doesn’t know yet. Cyrus Song is the story of Mr Fry’s ponderous mission to find answers to questions he never knew he had, about himself, life, the universe and everything. What could possibly go wrong?
“An absolute joy to experience unfolding.”
“Enjoyable, inventive and thought provoking.”
“Douglas would love this.”
A review by Stephen Hernandez, book reviewer, translator and interpreter:
“…If this all sounds a bit weird, that is, because it is. But it all somehow works and knits together in the manner of surrealist writers like Julio Cortazar and Otrova Gomas, with a substantial nod, of course, to Douglas Adams, who can make the impossibly strange seem mundane and ordinary. Steve Laker pulls this extraordinary juggling act off admirably well, producing a very good, thought-provoking, page-turning, and also at times darkly comic read.
Who knows—if you are looking for the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, you might just find it here, or in the ‘Cyrus Song’ of our planet. In the meantime, taking Steve Laker’s and Stephen Hawking’s advice, we all need ‘to keep talking’, and as long as there are books like these—keep reading.”
The full review is here.
I just finished this, after three days of solid reading. It is a very clever book.
I loved the central characters: The chemistry was one of the most complex and believable relationships I’ve seen in a long time, only mired slightly in our protagonist’s mind by the main supporting character: A reluctant marriage of convenience and amusing tension.
It’s a story which develops slowly, but with varied pace moving the narrative along. It was only part way in that I realised there are so many tributes to people, living and dead, in the many passing characters of the people and animals passing through Doctor Hannah Jones’ animal hospital. There are some fascinating animal and nature facts sprinkled through the book and told in a QI style: It’s informative.
This book is deep. It has sad moments but it’s funny. It ends in a way as original as the rest of the story: Somewhat unusual, not entirely unexpected and very satisfying. It’s a book which doesn’t take itself, nor life, the universe and everything, too seriously.
It’s an engrossing and entertaining read. And a special mention must go to Charles (the rabbit) and Captain Mamba 😊 (5/5 stars).
The Perpetuity of Memory (Paperback)
The Perpetuity of Memory is a collection of short stories, some written in libraries, cafes, bars and on park benches, and anywhere warm, dry and light by day. Others were written at night, by street light or candlelight.
In 2013, an addiction to alcohol saw the author lose his family, home and business. With nothing else to do without going insane on the streets, he begged money to buy exercise books and stole some bookies’ pens.
These are the stories written during a period on the road; in squats, doctors’ surgeries, court waiting rooms and hospital beds. Some were written in relatively safe surroundings and others, while in a state of vulnerable and anxious terror. Sometimes, there was plenty of time to write. Often a flash fiction story was all that time permitted.
Ranging from humorous science fiction to psychological horror, these short stories are a glimpse of what goes on in the mind of an alcoholic with depression, out on the streets.
“A great debut anthology from an emerging talent.
The short stories in this collection are many and varied, ranging from the wonderfully weird Cyrus Song, then sublime escapism in stories like Echo Beach, to some real dark matter in stories like COGS and The Perpetuity of Memory itself. But the stories have been curated in a way which takes the reader slowly from one genre to the next. At the end of the last story, it’s as though a journey has been completed: The sum of the parts is a great book, especially when taken in the context it was written.
There is light-hearted science fiction, tangible horror and whimsical fantasy, all tied together in one bigger story. A really strong and intelligent debut anthology.”
Just finished reading the book and I loved every page I turned…
Just finished reading the book and I loved every page I turned. Steve has the ability to make you laugh, cry and wet your pants all in this one book. My favourite Stories are COGS, which shouldn’t be, because it’s just so wrong in just about every way. Then it is a toss up between The Cyrus Choir and Echo Beach: Both got to me in different ways, but Echo Beach had me have tears trickle down my face. Go out and buy one to see for yourself how good it is. (5/5).
It’s great to get 5/5 ratings (“No, really?”) but to get a 4/5 from someone who clearly knows their subject is just as gratifying, especially when I’m compared to peers whom I admire:
… endings (perhaps it’s a genre/age/technology thing) but I have enjoyed the writing style very much.
I cannot pretend to understand all the endings (perhaps it’s a genre/age/technology thing) but I have enjoyed the writing style very much. Do I detect the influence of H.P Lovecraft, Kafka, Stephen King and of course…Edgar Allen Poe? Would certainly recommend ‘The Perpetuity of Memory’. Steve Laker is a writer to watch out for. (4/5).
A compelling collection of short, twisted stories.
It’s hard to know where to begin with The Perpetuity Of Memory, only because the stories it contains takes you to a vast number of places. Like a Black Mirror for the page, these stories flit between dark sci-fi and psychological horror but are always underlined by a salient sense (and deep understanding of) the human condition.
In fact, these wickedly creative and deviously imaginative tales are a bleak reflection of society, humanity and the way of the world. The way Steve Laker makes the absurd and disturbing seem entirely real and convincing is testament to the power of his wild and often macabre imagination. That’s what makes this collection so compelling – these are all fiction, but you get the sense Laker has tapped into a dark premonition of the future, and it’s pretty terrifying. That makes this a wonderful read if you just want to scare yourself, but it also gives you pause for thought about your place and role in the world, and how we can avoid the apocalyptic visions of humanity outlined herein – if it’s not already too late… (5/5).
The Paradoxicon (Original novel, paperback)
You are free to choose but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.
This is the story of a life which hasn’t happened yet. A life that could have been, given the chance. It will happen. In time.
Does anyone deserve a second chance at life? Who plays judge? Is it possible to make amends and right one’s wrongs, so that one may clear the slate with life? To live again? Can someone put everything behind them and move on? Is the remorse they feel sufficient punishment for their past deeds? Are the constant memories a punishment, to live with us until the day we die and beyond?
Travel with Victor Frank in a search for knowledge and the ultimate answer to the ultimate question: that of life. Why are we here?
The Paradoxicon is a semi-autobiographical novel: A journey through time, space and dreams. A trip through the past, present and future. A journey into the unknown but where knowledge lives.
“Steve writes in a certain way: The Paradoxicon is a page-turner but at some points, you wonder if you should turn the page. “They” are engaging and compelling, yet terrifying. There are interesting parallels between a search for greater knowledge and a battle with one person’s own demons. A great read and thoroughly recommended.” Niki B.
Also available as a hard cover, first edition (proof copy) with six further short stories, which place the novel into a context. The Paradoxicon: The Director’s Cut (The Consequence of Choice) contains material and suggestions which may not be suitable for sensitive readers.
A Girl, Frank Burnside and Haile Selassie (Children’s fiction)
Sometimes, the end of one story is just the beginning of another. A Girl, Frank Burnside and Haile Selassie was written when a family member was lost: A dog.
This is the award-winning story of Ellie (“Sparks”), aged 9 ¾: A girl dealing with life changes with the help of her talking dog (Frank Burnside), and both of them ever aware of the family cat (Haile Selassie).
“Everyone wishes for things. That didn’t work for me, so I wish for not things. When I wish for not things and things don’t happen, that’s wishes coming true.”
“…The best thing, I thought, was the Voice. I don’t mean the voice of your character (Ellie), although that was brilliantly well done. No, I mean your Authorial Voice. Of all the books I’ve read over the years, whether they were classics or popular fiction, the stories that have stayed in my mind have all been written by authors who had a distinct, individual style …Jane Austen … Charles Dickens… Agatha Christie…the Brontes… Enid Blyton… many others… and there was a heart in their writing that captivated the reader. Well, I found that your story captivated me in much the same way as theirs.” – Amanda Carlisle, Warner Publishing.
A touching, philosophical musing on life & loss through a child’s eyes
A poignant little tale that conveys the heartfelt philosophies of life, faith and loss through the eyes of a child. Large, easy-to-read text makes it suitable for either reading by adult to child or for beginner readers to read alone. Its combination of realism, imagination and a style of writing that doesn’t patronise, makes this a perfect choice for children needing reassurance following the loss of a loved one. (5/5)
A meaningful children’s story
A lovely little story with nice illustrations which can be enjoyed by adults and children. A good way of introducing the concept of ‘loss’ to children, and I think it will encourage them to ask questions when reading the book together as a family learning activity. (5/5)
Silent Gardens (March 2018)
The journey of two people who would otherwise have gone unnoticed, but who made such a difference.
The Unfinished Literary Agency (January 2018)
A second anthology. 17 longer stories, written in different personal circumstances from the 25 in The Perpetuity of Memory: 42 in total.
Cyrus Song II (December 2018)
Infana Kolonia (2019)
Jess is lost, in three places at once: The city around her; whatever is outside the dome which has enclosed the city of Infana Kolonia since “The Event”; and in her own mind. She plays the MMORPG, Cxielo: No Heaven Above; and within that virtual universe, she is companion to a space-faring leviathan, “Goose”; part intergalactic bird, part weaponised raptor. Goose and Jess explore the universe, picking up passengers along the way.
Within the virtual universe, Jess and Goose decide to travel to Infana Kolonia, only to find that the city Jess escapes with the giant bird is also enclosed within an invisible dome in the game. In the real city now made virtual, Jess is able to explore what she may not otherwise. But in turn, virtual becomes real, and Jess is trapped in her home city with an alien bird larger than any passenger airliner anyone in the real world could imagine.
In this clashing of worlds, with characters collected as passengers aboard the leviathan now inhabiting Jess’s home city, she realises that something is at work outside of the dome enclosing the real and virtual worlds. The very name of the city is Esperanto for “Infant colony”: An experiment beneath the dome.
The arrival of the mysterious Iron Knights, human-machine steam-powered hybrids, into the merged city, leads Jess to a personal event on the scale of that which probably enclosed her world. She is taken underground by the Iron Knights, where she meets Skar, and his band of imperfect friends, The Bloodstained Knaves.
In their subterranean base, Jess, the knaves, and Goose’s passengers, arrive at conclusions about what’s in their world, in the world above ground, the universe outside the dome, and how they are all connected by what’s in their minds.
Something is coming. It’s happened before, but no-one remembers. No-one is supposed to remember, or it wouldn’t be able to happen again. But it will, unless someone can make the connections.
A sci-fi epic inspired by the stories of many young adults. Follow the Facebook page for updates.
Forgive me No-one (May 2020)
My uncensored autobiography, if it’s noteworthy. And that all depends where eight published books gets me if I make 50. I don’t seek forgiveness from any false deity, nor do I repent for my sins in the eyes of an unseeing God. My debts on Earth are repaid to the humans who matter, and those who will come after them.