Time travel has long been a staple of science fiction. Removing the bonds of time on a story allows for many interesting possibilities, but it also presents complicated problems and paradoxes. In this collection, featuring stories from the 1880s to the 1960s, we are taken to the remote future and back to the distant past. We are trapped in an eternal loop and met with visitors and objects from the future. We come face to face with our past selves, and experience the chaos of living out of sync with everyone else in the universe. These are just some of the thrilling narratives to discover as we unwind the constraints of time.

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A personal and global history in objects, Gillian Tindall traces the memories and meanings that accrue to the artefacts of human lives through time. Before ordinary doctors had access to accurate pocket watches, they timed a patient’s pulse with a 30-second sandglass. A ‘pulse glass’ was a functional piece of medical equipment, designed to measure a life, never intended to survive for centuries. But Gillian Tindall inherited her great-great-grandfather’s pulse glass, which holds the heartbeats of many by-gone generations and offers a portal to nineteenth-century Anglo-Irish life, to her grandmother’s marriage and the assorted fates of the next generation.

Most of the objects that surround us, no matter how important in their time, will eventually be lost and forgotten. … More

It’s been said Janis Joplin was second only to Bob Dylan as the ‘creator-recorder-embodiment of her generation’s mythology’. But how did a middle-class girl from Texas become a ’60s countercultural icon? Janis’ parents doted on her and promoted her early talent for art. But the arrival of a brother shattered the bond she had with her intellectual maverick of a father, an oil engineer. And her own maverick instincts alienated her from her socially conformist mother. That break with her parents, along with the rejection of her high school peers, who disapproved of her beatnik look and racially progressive views, & wrongly assumed she was sexually promiscuous, cemented her sense of herself as an outcast. She found her tribe with a group of offbeat young men a year ahead of her, who loved her intellectual curiosity, her passion for conversation, & her adventurous search for the blues.

Although she never stopped craving the approval of her parents and hometown, she left Port Arthur at seventeen determined to … More

First heard on BBC Radio 4. Water is commodified. The Water Train that serves the city increasingly at risk of sabotage. As news breaks that construction of a gigantic Ice Dock will displace more people than first thought, protestors take to the streets and the lives of several individuals begin to interlock. A nurse on the brink of an affair. A boy who follows a stray dog out of the city. A woman who lies dying. And her husband, a marksman: a man forged by his past and fearful of the future, who weighs in his hands the possibility of death against the possibility of life.

From one of the most celebrated writers of his generation, Stillicide is a moving story of love and loss and … More

Kafka meets The Thick Of It in a bitingly funny new political satire from Ian McEwan. That morning, Jim Sams, clever but by no means profound, woke from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed into a gigantic creature. Jim Sams has undergone a metamorphosis. In his previous life he was ignored or loathed, but in his new incarnation he is the most powerful man in Britain – and it is his mission to carry out the will of the people. Nothing must get in his way: not the opposition, nor the dissenters within his own party. Not even the rules of parliamentary democracy. With trademark intelligence, insight and scabrous humour, Ian McEwan pays tribute to Franz Kafka’s most famous work to engage with a world turned on its head.

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When a thirty-something portrait painter is abandoned by his wife, he holes up in the mountain home of a famous artist. The days drift by, spent painting, listening to music and drinking whiskey in the evenings. But then he discovers a strange painting in the attic and unintentionally begins a strange journey of self-discovery that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt and a haunted underworld. A stunning work of imagination, Killing Commendatore is a surreal tale of love and loneliness, war and art.

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In the summer of 1959, an Antiguan immigrant in north west London lives the last day of his life, unknowingly caught in someone else’s story of hate and division, resistance and revolt. A mother looks back on her early forays into matters of the human heart – and other parts of the human body – considering the ways in which desire is always an act of negotiation, destruction, and self-invention. A disgraced cop stands amid the broken shards of his life, unable to move forward into a future that holds no place for him. Moral panic spreads like contagion through the upper echelons of New York City – and the cancelled people look disconcertingly like the rest of us. A teenage scion of the technocratic elite chases spectres through a premium virtual reality, trailed by a little girl with a runny nose and no surviving family.

We all take a much-needed break from this mess, on a package holiday where the pool’s electric blue is ceaselessly … More

What happens when we leave the places we’re from? What do we lose, and who do we become, and what parts of our pasts are unshakeable? Linda Mannheim’s second short story collection focuses on people who have relocated – both voluntarily and involuntarily. Opening with Miami-set political thriller, ‘Noir’, this exquisitely rendered set of stories will leave you reeling. THIS WAY TO DEPARTURES is a deeply affecting portrait of American society and the constant search for a place to call ‘home’.

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Drawing on myth and fairy tales found across Europe – from Croatia to Sweden, Ireland to Russia – Sharon Blackie brings to life women’s remarkable ability to transform themselves in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. These stories are about coming to terms with our animal natures, exploring the ways in which we might renegotiate our fractured relationship with the natural world, and uncovering the wildness – and wilderness – within. Beautifully illustrated by Helen Nicholson, Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women is Blackie’s first collection of short stories.

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From the National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids and M Train, a profound, beautifully realized memoir in which dreams and reality are vividly woven into a tapestry of one transformative year. Following a run of New Year’s concerts at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore, Patti Smith finds herself tramping the coast of Santa Cruz, about to embark on a year of solitary wandering. Unfettered by logic or time, she draws us into her private wonderland, with no design yet heeding signs, including a talking sign that looms above her, prodding and sparring like the Cheshire Cat.

In February, a surreal lunar year begins, bringing with it unexpected turns, heightened mischief, and inescapable sorrow. In a stranger’s … More