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Songshifting is a speculative, dystopian novel by Chris Bell, the author of Liquidambar, The Bumper Book of Lies, Saccade, The Concentrated Essence of Any Number of Ravens, and numerous short stories (see his Amazon Author Page for more details).


“Part rock memoir, part densely-textured journey into a dystopian world as rich as Brazil, Songshifting is wise, elegiac and compelling. It speaks deeply to what music means to us – not just as an art form but as part of our emotional landscape. Wonderful stuff” Dave Hutchinson, author of Europe In Autumn (shortlisted for the John W. Campbell, Arthur C. Clarke and BSFA Awards) and Europe at Midnight, Solaris Books

“Songshifting occupies a unique place in modern fiction: a simple, elegiac story, fierce and uncompromising, it is at once a love letter to a forgotten era, a richly evoked dystopia, and an examination of memory, longing, and music itself. Speculative fiction needs more writers like Chris Bell, ready and able to interrogate our world on their own terms, and probe the darker recesses of our minds. Songshifting demands to be read.” Robert Dinsdale, author of Gingerbread, The Borough Press

Against the scuffed backdrop of an oppressive regime overseen by a shadowy body called the impresario, and set in a city that may be based on an alternative or future London, musicians have developed what seem to be supernatural abilities. During their concerts bands levitate, disappear or induce extreme physical reactions among the punters. The impresario has prohibited recordings. Home entertainment is considered treasonous. The state-sponsored Affable DJ Hologram gives the public a sense of freedom through a stylised form of entertainment while the impresario controls punters via its intelligence agents Raguly and Nebuly, who spy on the bands, punters and the media. An ability to songshift – a benign but 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 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. The managers attempt to delay the event’s cancellation using a taste of the authorities’ own medicine, and the pervading mood of darkness lifts as Raguly and Nebuly are thwarted by the power of music and strength in numbers.

Paperback: 316 pages
Publisher: wordsSHIFTminds (September 11, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1530872812
ISBN-13: 978-1530872817
Product Dimensions: 6x0.7x9 inches
Price: NZ$25
Contact: Email

Songshifting has been awarded the Gold Books Go Social Fiction Quality Mark. This mark combines the machine analysis of AutoCrit and the human analysis of an experienced editor to verify the quality of a written manuscript. The Quality Mark was established not only to help authors gain valuable feedback on their work but also to help readers find well-written, quality books. For further details, see: thebookpromoter.com/fiction-quality-mark.

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