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Songshifting
is a new novel by Chris Bell, published by wordsSHIFTminds.
 
Nothing is as it seems. Recordings of your favourite music are banned and confiscated by a repressive regime. You can still see state-sanctioned bands play but at their gigs you’re likely to be administered Sentimental Hygiene: a top secret psychotropic substance with unpredictable and occasionally fatal effects. Of course, you won’t know it; although you may wonder why the musicians have developed supernatural abilities, levitating, disappearing or worse. Raguly and Nebuly, the state’s sinister spies, are everywhere; out to put a stop to anything not controlled by a shadowy head of state, the impresario. And should you manage to evade them, Hector, Scuttler, Mohock, Ugmo and Mentull gangboys are lurking, ready to do you damage and steal your gadgets.

Meanwhile, music journalist Rarity Dean is on a deadline: The Grid, the paper she writes for, is a relic of a past age, still attempting to champion the new music although all home entertainment is considered treasonous. 

‘Songshifting’ is set in a city that may be an alternative or future London. The state-sponsored Affable DJ Hologram gives punters a sense of freedom through a stylised form of entertainment while the impresario controls them through its insidious crowd control techniques and censorship. So an ability to songshift – a clandestine and elusive form of time travel that enables listeners to slip into the relative safety of their pasts with the help of their chosen music – is highly prized and jealously guarded by punters and musos alike.

Fraser Carlyon is bassist with Scrooch, whose music falls outside the spirit of the times. Dean suffers from worsening musical hallucinations and relies on the Grid Encyclopaedia of New Music to refresh her memories of tours past as she tries to dodge the impresario’s agents. 

As the state’s experiments in mind, mood and crowd control ratchet up a notch, rebellious musos, songswappers and rival gangs fight the system. Dean inadvertently discovers more than she’d bargained for: a more worrying explanation for the musos’ supernatural onstage ‘shtick’ and the ban on recorded music. Meanwhile, a power struggle rages between Scrooch and their biggest rivals, the Dust Bunnies, who eventually call a truce and join forces for Imprimatur, an event to protest the ban on recorded music.

The managers attempt to delay the event’s cancellation using a taste of the authorities’ own medicine, and the benighted mood lifts as Raguly and Nebuly are thwarted by the power of music and strength in numbers.


“Bell is very, very good indeed. His work is smart, mythical, intimate and wonderfully international in flavour”
TERRI WINDLING
The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror

“Chris Bell’s ‘Saccade’ is a beautifully constructed, heartfelt work … He has a gift for emotionally loaded, short, concise statements”
SOPHIA IOANNOU
Seven Stories Press

“Exhibiting a tremendous facility with style and form, Bell can produce everything from vigorously plotted cyberpunk narratives to whimsical daydreams … Powered by his torrid love affair with fantastic literature and pop music, Bell’s stories fully succeed in their stated intention of being ‘incantation[s] to summon an atmosphere, in the way the best songs and most potent perfumes can do’. Highly recommended …”
PAUL DI FILIPPO
Asimov’s Science Fiction

“Chris Bell’s short stories [have] appeared regularly in the UK independent press … fusing ideas of time, meaning, and a filmic atmosphere that placed them firmly at the quality slipstream end of the spectrum”
ANDREW HOOK
Infinity Plus


 

Rarity Dean and the
mysterious fake book

Fraser Carlyon is the bassist with the band Scrooch, whose music falls outside the spirit of the times. The band survive by squatting in untenanted houses and gigging hard in front of small and occasionally hostile audiences. Rarity Dean, a freelance new music ‘journo’ who writes for the Grid, the impresario-controlled music paper, suffers from worsening musical hallucinations and relies on the Grid Encyclopaedia of New Music to refresh her memories of tours past as she tries to dodge Raguly and Nebuly.The state’s experiments in mind, mood and crowd control ratchet up a notch when the impresario begins to administer a psychotropic drug called Sentimental Hygiene in clubs and venues. As rebellious musos, songswappers and rival gangs fight the system, Dean inadvertently discovers more than she’d bargained for: a more worrying explanation for the musos’ supernatural onstage ‘shtick’ and the ban on recorded music. Meanwhile, a power struggle rages between Scrooch and their biggest rivals, the Dust Bunnies, who eventually call a truce and join forces for Imprimatur, an event to protest the ban on recorded music. But before Scrooch can play at the event as planned, Rarity has to deliver a vital document to Fraser at Chalkhill Stadium.




Subpages (2): Links The book