Wasps at the Speed of Sound — (2005) Publisher: In over a decade of writing short fiction, Derryl Murphy has consistently and poignantly examined the human experience, in relation to other people and to the environment. There are eleven stories in this collection, ten of them gathered together for the first time and one making its debut in these pages, and all of them examine our experience with the world(s) around us, anticipating Dread and Disaster with every turn, even while Hope is sometimes allowed to win out. Come witness: the destruction of the Earth; an alien tourist and the death of a species; Earth at the end of time, coming back from a very long trip; a man and his father, lost in time; sailing on seas of garbage; an insect rebellion; a virtual future that creates an unrealistic past; water, politics, and a big machine; monkeywrenching taken to a new level; lessons in photography; and rebellion on a distant world. Eleven stories that take you into the future even as you wrestle with the present.
Cast a Cold Eye — (2009) With William Shunn. Publisher: 1921. Rural Nebraska. In a region devastated by Spanish flu, where not a single life has gone unscathed by tragedy, 15-year-old Luke Bryant has lost more than most. Orphaned, Luke toils as a farmhand for his strict uncle and aunt, barely recalling a world not gray, deadening, and oppressive. Worse, he can’t so much as visit the twin graves of his parents without the statues in the cemetery opening their stony eyes and watching his every move. Enter Annabelle Tupper, itinerant spirit photographer. Half-blinded by the chemicals of her trade, she travels the countryside in pursuit of the ghost of her dead husband. When a local pastor arranges for Annabelle to take on the boy as an apprentice, both find their every belief turned upside-down. For Annabelle, eking out a bare living while trying not to be run out of town as a charlatan, Luke represents a power she can only dream of. But for Luke — reluctant, resentful, and increasingly violent — the older woman stands for every nightmare that haunts his waking hours. As more and more restless spirits converge on the unblinking eye of Annabelle’s camera, Luke’s only hope for peace will be to confront the most terrifying specters of all — the ones he carries inside.