Science fiction, as any enthusiast will tell you, is not just about gazing into the future but also about illuminating the present. In a new collection of short stories by the veteran sf author M. John Harrison, lurid visions of aliens and spaceships play second fiddle to melancholic snapshots of plodding suburbia. Many of the tales in You Should Come With Me Now (Comma Press, £9.99) are set in leafy south-west London, amid the banality of modest affluence: from Putney to Chiswick, Twickenham and St Margarets, and along ‘the endless heartbreaking sweep of the A3 to the sea’.
In ‘Cicisbeo’, a husband ensconces himself in his loft, and will only communicate with his wife via notes. ‘You found people like Tim all over London,’ the narrator explains.