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Michael Gomez is thirteen and he is a chess prodigy. He has no experience of losing until now, and as he struggles to come to terms with a major defeat, he finds himself drawn into a world he thought existed only in the movies.
The woman of his dreams is Ruby Castle, a charismatic beauty famous for her roles in horror films and then notorious for murdering her married lover in a jealous rage. Ruby’s glory days are long behind her, but for Michael she is the only escape he knows from the world of chess. Walking home across Blackheath Common he is apprehended by the Puppeteer, the evil genius of the film that made Castle famous. The man should not exist and yet somehow he does.
The stories collected in Stardust are themselves the story of Ruby Castle, told in snapshots and fleeting glimpses and secret histories, in tales repeated and reinvented by those who fall under her spell: her childhood sweetheart, an antiquarian bookseller with a passion for magical artefacts, the mistress of the poet who was once Castle’s lover, a young girl in a future Russia who dreams of the stars. Worlds collide, and the boundaries between the real and the fantastic begin to break down. Is Ruby Castle a living person or a collective fantasy? By the time the final page of Stardust is turned, the world that Castle created through her films has become dangerously indistinguishable from our own.
Stardust is the lure of fame, the fallout from a burning rocket, the evanescent glister of a vanished dream.
Nina Allan Biography
I was born in Whitechapel, London, grew up in the Midlands and West Sussex, and studied Russian Literature at the universities of Exeter and Oxford. The language of a story is deeply important to me, and if I had to describe my writing in just a couple of words I would probably call it visionary realism. Recurring obsessions include old clocks and empty houses, forgotten manuscripts, reclusive scholars and the psychogeography of both urban and rural landscapes. The many writers who have inspired and continue to inspire me include Iris Murdoch, J.G Ballard, Vladimir Nabokov, Hilary Mantel, Joyce Carol Oates, Carol Emshwiller, M.John Harrison and Christopher Priest.
My fiction has appeared regularly in magazines such as Interzone, Black Static and Albedo One and has featured in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year Volume 2, Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best SF #28 and Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Fantasy and Science Fiction 2012 as well as in the anthologies Catastrophia, House of Fear, Dark Currents and The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women. I have been shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award twice, the BSFA Award three times, and my story ‘Angelus’ was named the winner of Ireland’s Aeon Award in 2007. My debut collection, A Thread of Truth, was published by Eibonvale Press in 2007, followed by my story cycle The Silver Wind in 2011. I live and write in Hastings, East Sussex, where I am currently completing work on my first novel.
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2013 PS Publishing hard cover, Signed.