Disclaimer: I’ve known Dean Webb for mumble years, in an on the internet way of knowing. We’ve done email, though not so much in recent years.
Anyway, mumble years ago, quite early this century, I read some of Dean’s fiction online. Most of what I recall reading at the time showed the clear influence of HP Lovecraft, which is the sort of thing that appeals to me, which is probably why I recall reading them. Well, that and a character by the name of Cthulhu Jones who popped up here and there…
So, when Dean announced he’d published a book of his short fiction on Amazon, I was more than happy to buy it, and indeed read it. There’s a nice range of stuff here – some inspired by HP Lovecraft, but with a nice twist, some inspired by nothing more than Dean’s own way of looking at things, which makes for interesting reading, and more than a few laughs.
I won’t talk about every story in the book – but here are a few that particularly appealed to me:
On the Unanticipated Consequences of My Friendship with Nate – Time travel can get very awkward, especially if multiple timelines come into it. It can also be very funny, though not necessarily for the people involved. Nicely done.
The Frog’s Promise – You know all those fairy stories which involve princesses kissing frogs? Dean takes that idea, runs with it, jumps up and down on it, twists it, and generally has a whole lot of fun with it. I don’t want to tell you more, because that would spoil the fun, wouldn’t it?
Smackdown – OK, this one works for me on several levels. It involves a sort of detective who just happens to be called Dean Webb, who has to deal with troublesome fictional characters. It also sees the return of one of Dean’s phrases that I’ll never forget. And Cthulhu, so there’s something for everyone. Great fun, and more of the same would be a Good Thing, so it’s a good job that Ship of Fools is a sequel. Huge fun, and even more would be welcome.
Then there’s the series of stories about the inventions of Dr Negron-Omikon, which tend to have unforeseen consequences, in the finest tradition of the kind of pulp sf I grew up on, and which hardly anyone writes these days. Good stuff.
And finally, I’ll mention Laser Gun Training, Day One, a fine tale of paranoia and lunacy in a society that Big Brother could only have dreamed of creating.
There’s more, of course – eighteen stories in all, mostly short and to the point, and pretty damn good. One or two didn’t push my particular buttons, but they may well push those of people whose taste doesn’t run to fictional characters causing trouble, not to mention Great Old Ones.
It’s well worth a read, and it’s available from Amazon in the US, the UK, and quite likely other places too. US purchasers have the option of a dead tree version as well as the Kindle one. And if you don’t have a Kindle, there are free apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, and the Kindle Cloud reader works in Chrome.
 See my recent and not so recent Charlie Stross reviews.
 In a way that’s quite different from Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series which I mentioned recently
 All over it like a donkey on a waffle
 Which makes as much sense as most of my interactions with Dean, come to think of it