Author of Sci Fi & Speculative Fiction
Dean’s got a bit of a problem.
Just three days into his stint minding the family shop and already there’s a jagged hole in the wall where the new smart-drugs vending machine used to be, courtesy of the local psychopathic heavy. But as the clock ticks down on his father’s return, hope appears in the guise of an enigmatic beauty, a girl stepped straight out of Dean’s dreams, proposing a wild and improbable plan that could just change all their lives – maybe even for the better.
Pale Kings is a sharp-witted and comical journey into the crazy world of contemporary fine art, the illicit potential of virtual reality gaming, and the neurotic susceptibilities of robotic guard dogs.
Like a 21st century ‘Only Fools and Horses’. I give this terrific novella 4.5 stars. … I really enjoy author Southwell’s writing style and this imaginative plot is witty and amusing. The quirky cast of characters are finely observed and they bring their crazy idea to fruition brilliantly. Towards the end there were two or three unexpected twists which I did not see coming but were very satisfying. The entire plot put me in mind of the iconic British comedy TV series ‘Only Fools and Horses’, and it was equally as entertaining. Perhaps author Southwell should try his hand at screenwriting, too. A thoroughly enjoyable read. (Amazon UK reviewer, 4.5 stars)
This is what happens when you let philosophers write fiction. And I mean that in the good way. What can you do with a hole in the wall? Well, more than you might think. The premise for this very clever novella is perfect for this day of NFTs and the buying and selling of non-things. The characters are interesting and well developed given the short format. In this case the sci-fi (as it was in Gareth Southwell’s Novel Munki) is only ever-so-slightly extrapolative. It’s set in the future, but only just. The only caveat I would issue is that the writing is elevated. Be sure to limber up your lexile and syntactic muscles before you plunge in, lest you should strain a synapse. (Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars)