I never intended to write a series of science fiction stories about a robot butler called “Reeves”, but the tale of how it came about is, I suspect, emblematic of many a writer’s life.
The original story, Writing on the Wall, came into existence because of a writing contest. Back in 2011, New Scientist magazine was offering a cash prize for a story of no more than 350 words on the subject of Forgotten Futures, i.e. futures that seemed plausible at some point in the past, but never came to pass. At the time, I was at something of a low creativity-wise. This contest seemed like a good way to reconnect with my muse. Faced with such a restrictive word-count, I decided to depict my alternate future via an all-dialogue piece featuring just two characters, who would distantly echo much-loved models. I took great care to do my world-building in passing, as Reeves and his then unnamed master, conversed with each other about their day-to-day life. I rather liked the end result, but it got nowhere in the contest. Not to be discouraged, I sent the story to Daily Science Fiction, who accepted it. I was delighted, though frankly surprised, as few dialogue-only stories get published. And that, I thought, was that.
A couple of years later, my muse had fallen silent again. Recalling how I’d rebooted my creative brain the last time, I set myself the task of writing a sequel to Writing on the Wall. Thus Warbling Their Way to War came into being. Daily Science Fiction didn’t take it, but fortunately Plasma Frequency magazine did.
From then on, whenever I needed some light relief, I wrote another Reeves story. To my delight, the third story – Supply and Demand in the Post-War Economy, a title I was particularly pleased with – sold to Daily Science Fiction.
In due course, I wrote a fourth story. Needless to say, that one didn’t sell to Daily Science Fiction and, by then, Plasma Frequency magazine had, very sadly, gone out of business. Eventually I found a good home for Delicious Served Cold at Space Squid. I am, of course, exceedingly grateful to the editors of all three magazines for publishing my Reeves stories.
But no series should continue forever, particularly one that employs such a specialised story-telling device, so I felt the time had come to bring the adventures of Reeves and what’s-his-name to a close. Hence I have written a fifth and final episode titled Speak for Yourself, which is published for the first time in Reeves Indeed! I decided to go the self-published ebook route for this collection because I’ve already reprinted many of my stories in that way and I suspect that it is too niche to interest even a small-press publishing company. Also, it’s an excuse to work with my good friend Tony Hughes, who supplies all my cover art.
When I re-read the story notes I’d provided for Supply and Demand… to Daily Science Fiction, I was reminded that I’d hinted at revealing the name of Reeves’ master in some future story. I’ve treated that hint as a promise, but you’ll have to read the previously unpublished story that – definitively! – concludes this collection to learn that particular secret.
Reeves Indeed! is currently available to pre-order from all good online stores.