“Outstanding. . . . It’s a fascinating future, and Jude’s personal story is involving.” —Rich Horton, Locus Magazine
Jude Plane is not your typical teenage boy, even among the other kids in his cloistered religious enclave. He belongs to the Machinist Guild, a group that forbids the use of any technology more advanced than a doorknob. But advanced technology can be hard to avoid when you live in an overlooked corner of Netherview Station—a giant wheel in space, twelve light-years from earth.
Jude wants to live an obedient life, whatever that means, but his resolve is put to the test when his abusive father sends him to work outside the enclave, unloading freight at the station’s hub. There Jude will make friends stranger than any he’s ever known, and will find himself confronted by choices he never imagined. But will he solve the biggest mystery of all—the mystery of who he is?
“An intelligent, well-crafted piece. . . . Shunn’s elaborate details about the religious rules and philosophies of this group form thought-provoking parallels with some of today’s fundamentalist religious groups. It would not surprise me if this tale eventually finds a place in someone’s year’s best science fiction anthology.” —Jeff Cates, Tangent
“A well-considered examination of a basic SF concern: the clash of differing technological levels, and how this (especially now) can cause the lower-tech culture to retreat into fundamentalism. . . . Shunn gets a lot of good satirical digs in, and a contemporary dilemma is penetratingly illuminated.” —Nick Gevers, Locus Magazine
Since his first publication in 1993, William Shunn's short fiction has appeared in Salon, Storyteller, Bloodstone Review, Newtown Literary, Asimov's, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Science Fiction Age, Realms of Fantasy, Electric Velocipede, and various anthologies and year's-best collections. His essays have appeared in On Magazine and Sybil's Garage. His work has been shortlisted for the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. His chapbook An Alternate History of the 21st Century appeared from Spilt Milk Press in 2007, and his novella Cast a Cold Eye, a collaboration with Derryl Murphy, from PS Publishing in 2009. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Utah, he now lives and writes in New York City.
From Aurora and Sunburst Award nominee Derryl Murphy and Hugo and Nebula Award nominee William Shunn comes a chilling ghost story set in the aftermath of the worst pandemic the world has ever known.
1921. Rural Nebraska. In a region devastated by Spanish flu, where not a single life has gone unscathed by tragedy, 15-year-old Luke Bryant has lost more than most. Orphaned, Luke toils as a farmhand for his strict uncle and aunt, barely recalling a world not gray, deadening, and oppressive. Worse, he can’t so much as visit the graves of his parents without the statues in the cemetery opening their stony eyes and watching his every move.
Enter Annabelle Tupper, itinerant spirit photographer. Half-blinded by the chemicals of her trade, she travels the countryside in pursuit of the ghost of her dead husband. When a local pastor arranges for Annabelle to take on the boy as an apprentice, both find their every belief turned upside-down. For Annabelle, eking out a bare living while trying not to be run out of town as a charlatan, Luke represents a power she can only dream of. But for Luke—reluctant, resentful, and increasingly violent—the older woman stands for every nightmare that haunts his waking hours.
As more and more restless spirits converge on the unblinking eye of Annabelle’s camera, Luke’s only hope for peace will be to confront the most terrifying specters of all—the ones he carries inside.
“An archetypal American myth. . . . Any fantasy of a certain ambition set in the American Midwest in the late 19th through early 20th centuries must reckon with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, book and movie both, and Shunn & Murphy do so squarely. . . . Their depiction of 1921 Nebraska is vivid . . . but the real heart of the novella lies in the relationship between Luke and Annabelle, two strong but damaged characters who share an eerie bond.” —Paul Witcover, Locus Magazine
“Characterization is spot on, with no one who can be considered either evil or a criminal, just ordinary men and woman with all the flaws and virtues that implies. . . . I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it without reservation.” —Peter Tennant, Black Static
“The authors know how to tell a story. They have good narrative drive, they deliver strong characterization without a lot of exposition, and the supernatural elements of the story are inventive, building one upon the other. . . . Cast a Cold Eye is one of those stories that work on many levels. I've reread the manuscript a few times since I first received it, and every time I do, I find another layer waiting for me. It's past time for you to discover its treasures for yourself.” —Charles de Lint
“After reading Derryl Murphy and William Shunn’s Cast a Cold Eye, I felt as if I had just awakened from a lucid dream . . . as if I had just experienced their protagonist’s psychic adventure into deepening horror as my own. This is a book constructed with craft, sensitivity, and resounding talent. I have but one caveat: don’t start reading this book if you have other things to do. Murphy and Shunn are plotmeisters. Once you start reading, you won’t stop until you’ve finished the book. And then you’ll need to think about what the hell just happened!” —Jack Dann
“Cast a Cold Eye . . . creates a fantasticated interplay between the growth throes of a young man in  Nebraska and L. Frank Baum’s Dorothy.” —John Clute, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction