Dirty Work by Chris Farnell

November 21, 2014

“I don’t normally talk about work.”

A call handler for an insurance company that offers out of this world cover, a broker of Faustian pacts, the best man at a doomed stag night, a PR consultant who’s way out of his depth, and a ninja: everyone has a job to do.

Eight stories, eight people, eight jobs: some find their work takes them just beyond reality; for others, “beyond reality” is just another day at the office.

A lot of us never quite manage to achieve our dreams when it comes to our careers. Rather than doing what we want to do, we do what we need to do in order to pay the bills, to get by and cover the basic necessities. When you’re a cubicle monkey like me, you wish for escape. Like Sam Lowry in Brazil, you dream about getting away from it all and never having to come back. This short story collection by Chris Farnell plays with the theme of work and how it makes us feel.

The Broker – If you are going to make a deal with a devil it only makes a certain amount of sense to have professional available to ensure that said transaction runs smoothly. Timothy Marlowe is the man for that job.

Flipped – Do you remember Night of the Dolphin in The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XI? This tale (or should that be tail?) follows a similar vein. The dolphins are coming and they are far from happy. Teri, a survivor, battle against the greatest threat humanity has ever faced.

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor – In a world where corporate sponsorship rules the day, Andy wants a job more than anything. The big question, just how far is he prepared to go, and what exactly is he willing to do?

Just For The Taste Of It – Sometimes ignorance is bliss, especially when it comes to caffeinated beverage production. A short sharp shock of a story that is more than enough to put you off partaking in soft drinks for life. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Right First Time – Faulty microwave ovens, popcorn and time travel. Sounds like the perfect combination to me. Seth is about to have the weirdest day he has ever had, multiple times over. This was my favourite story from the entire collection. It’s weird, funny and has a killer premise I really liked. Part of me wanted a whole book based just around this idea, but another part of me thinks it’s absolutely perfect as a short. I’m always pleased when an author causes such delightful inner turmoil.

Recorded For Training Purposes – When you are buying insurance, the key lesson is ALWAYS read the small print. Oh, and ensure you’ve done that before you call the customer care line.

8 Bit – Having reached a certain age, I can appreciate the halcyon days of 8-bit gaming. Not a massive surprise that I can also appreciate a story built around it. The world was a simpler place and the console games weren’t nearly as clever or complex as they are now…or were they? What happens when the character in a game starts to fight back? Thomas, Keiran, Doug and Leanne are going to find out. Another standout.

Monday Morning at Ninja HQ – When you are a ninja like Fred, even getting into the office on a Monday morning can be the deadliest of tasks. A nice darkly comedic touch round of the collection.

I had great fun with this particular anthology. Blending together elements of science fiction, action and even some horror there are some cracking stories and a few absolute corkers. I was reminded of the early short story collections from Michael Marshall Smith. I can’t really fault anything, I only wish there had been more. I would have gladly continued reading.

Dirty Work is published by the author and it is available now. This is a great little collection and I highly recommend it. I’ll most definitely be looking out for more fiction from Chris Farnell in the future.

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