I have just finished reading my friend Jonathan Fisher's latest book, Where the Stars Be Still As Bright. An anthology piece featuring various genres. Inside, you will find Science Fiction, Adventure, Horror, biographical, comedy, and me. Yes, folks, Mr. Fisher has crafted a character based on myself in the book.
I will be forever immortalised in the annals of literature and each of his reader's hearts. For that I am grateful.
The book is recommended for its pacey fun and diverse writing styles. Grab a copy from the link below and support one of Northern Ireland's leading authors.
Jonathan Fisher's newest novel, Where The Stars Be Still As Bright has finally launched, the author's 3rd book, and 2nd sci-fi anthology collection. Unpacking this anthology is reminiscent of going through a boy's bedroom. Pulpy horror stories, sit on the shelves next to a child's baseball glove, a memory of days gone. Excitedly you have shown his favourite action figure, a poster for an upcoming movie he’s excited to see or listen to an album he’s decided is his new favourite. You try to keep up with the exciting play, and before long you’re drawn into a world you thought you’d grown out of, but never really left you. The collection is eclectic and fun, bursting with an appreciation for fantasy heroes of yore at one turn, and then spotlighting the tender human condition at another. The collection is wholly Fisher's, his taste, and interests on full display. It's less a case of him wearing his inspiration on his sleeves than making an entire suit out of them, proudly roaming the streets of Halloween town in it for the world to see.
A manic glee runs through the pages, it's hard not to imagine Fisher cackling away at the keyboard as one of his doomed characters meets a terrible end, or him let out a triumphant battle cry as Ragecarn beheads another foolish foe who met him on the battlefield. It's a passion project that concerns itself first and foremost with letting the author display proudly all his favourite tropes and tales from childhood, adding himself to the tapestry of literary heroes he idolises.
The strength of the collection however comes when escapism and reality clash in unexpected ways. A story about alcoholism told from the perspective of a recovering vampire can use the absurd to mask painful truths. At the other end of the spectrum, The President’s Soul being kidnapped and used for nefarious purposes can let us laugh at the chaotic quagmire of modern politics, reminding us of a simpler time when the world could be understood with the childish thrill of “who has the biggest ray gun?”. A sad nostalgia for those boyhood days pervades much of the collection. There is a tenderness on display which can surprise the reader, as the same author who wants to be a garish comedian takes time to reflect and notice the little people, right before taking us back into another sci-fi epic.
Fisher’s gaze is one that sees all, real and fictional, and through his lens, they’re blended to create a world that defamiliarizes the reader to create a truly unique and enjoyable reading experience. One can’t walk away from the collection without knowing a little bit of Jonathan Fisher, or the fictional version of him at least. Then again, in Halloween town, who can really tell the difference?
I’ll give special mention to the collection's title story “Where The Stars Be Still as Bright”, which in my opinion pulls a lot of the disparate elements together into a cohesive thesis for Fisher’s writing as a whole. It combines sci-fi high concepts with sombreness and tender reflection on the value of life. There’s a gentleness which reflects Fisher’s own. As much as he’d like to be the funny man, the comedian, and the entertainer, his writing can’t help but reveal his heart. The sadness and pain add salt to the steak and make the collection more than just the pulp fiction it emulates. The tenderest stories in the collection are when Fisher is at his most honest and strongest as a prose writer. One can’t help but imagine two versions of him (perhaps the evil version of John Calisto?) struggling for artistic identity over the work as a whole. In this story, however, they manage to shake hands and form a temporary truce in order to create something lovely. It’s a high point for the collection and Fisher himself, making me eager to dig into his next project.
Where The Stars Be Still As Bright is a collection which, on the first read, can seem jarring in its litany of content and various tones, but it is laser-focused in its depiction of the author’s mind and identity. It’s a boy's imagination told from the perspective of a man who wants to maintain that innocence but has suffered repeated attempts from the world to rob him of it. Fisher holds on to that seed of innocence and plants it in a beautiful collection that will make you laugh, cry, and hopefully be more aware of the world around you.
What can I say ? Another amazing book by an amazing author. Drawing from his love for and knowledge of "Halloween Town" from his previous book and again adding alsorts of delights and delicately woven short stories to compliment this.
Jonathan displays a real craft here , using his take on the genres from pure SF , to fantasy to the unnatural each story is interwoven with the fun and appreciation that speaks from the authors heart.
The stories all are bound by the realism behind them, you could imagine yourself in each one as they reflect on how life could be for any of us if we take the different road.It may hark back to the old pulp novels of the past ,perhaps even the EC books of horror tales but every story is worth a read. I don't want to pick a particular story to focus on because each reader will have their own which is personal to them. There are tremendous highs and lows in the book it is a rollercoaster of emotion but that emotion is the one we all have from first discovery of the fantasy world that lies within a book , to the grown up seeing the day to day minutiae however stark , and yearning to be list again.
Definitely a good read and highly recommended!! I shall await the next book with an appetite!!
Outstanding sci-fi fantasy that everyone can enjoy
Another tour de force by the Lisburn author who has really found his form with this second collection of fantastical short stories.
The unnervingly familiar Halloweentown of 'Ten Minutes on Mars' makes a welcome return with a host of larger than life characters, and brand new stories that you won't see coming.
As with all of Jonathan's work, keenly observed commentary on the human condition is woven through the tales, in all of its horror and heroism.
Highlights for me are of course the eponymous story, offering a brand new futuristic perspective on one of our greatest artists; The Cherub which gave me pulp noir horror vibes; and The President's Soul for its chilling prescience (the book was completed early 2020)
I said this about Ten Minutes On Mars and it holds even more true for Where the Stars Be Still As Bright - this is a book for everyone (everyone 18+ that is...) If you are a die hard sci-fi and/or fantasy fan, this book will be a joy, laced with clever nods, winks and Easter eggs. If you've never read or watched sci-fi and fantasy but love a great story, you will find this book a joy. It has love, war, sex, passion, vampires, spaceships, monsters, heroes, anti-heroes, sentient Cherub dolls...... but I've said too much.
10 / 10. Can't wait to see what this writer does next.
WHERE THE STARS BE STILL AS BRIGHT by Jonathan Fisher is a colllection of short stories I found to be unpredictable. A bit like Bradbury. While I usually go for horror, there were some stories in here that I enjoyed quite a bit even though science fiction dominated this anthology.
I found Jonathan's writing style to be straight forward and simple in a refreshing way. Theres no overuse of words as he gets straight to the plot, which I appreciated. I enjoyed how some characters were revisited in subsequent stories, too.
THE ASTROLOGER: The zodiac has changed, there are now 13 (!) signs. Read how this disrupts things for local astrologists in Halloween Town...
VAMPIRES....ANONYMOUS: Vampires have problems too. It isn't ok to imbibe human blood any more. There's rules to follow! (And the poltergeist dad is hilarious)
I liked what this book had to offer overall, though it was not as dark of a read as I'm used too, but it was still entertaining!
I've read everything that the illustrious Mr. Fisher has created, and I have to say this may be my very favorite so far. He has a gift for crafting stories that refuse to leave your head, and many times over the past few months I've found myself staring at the ceiling at night, pondering the plot lines and characters. I think he just gets better and better as a writer with every book and every story. I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes next.
A brilliant collection of stories that will not disappoint. A mix of horror, adventure, sadness, and humour with hidden messages is enveloped in this book. The writer has created fantastic characters and places to take you on your journey. This is his 3rd book and displays how his creativity and imagination have enabled him to become a remarkable author.
I picked up my copy of “Where The Stars Be Still As Bright” in Waterstones after reading much about our local author. The book was proudly perched on the top shelf in the Science Fiction section. This is the first novel that I have read by Jonathan Fisher; I will now be making my way through all his publications!
This book is a collection of unexpected, out of this world(!), short stories that are quick and fun to read. Jonathan’s style of writing really pulls you into the story and you feel like you are completely immersed in the world he has created on paper. After a long day at work, I loved nothing more than starting a new story and transporting myself into a different world.
The collection of stories are completely unpredictable; you just do not know what world you are about to be transported into next! We journey to a world where the zodiac has changed in “The Astrologer” to a world of horror (in my favourite story!) to “The Chiropodist” (where those little piggies probably should have stayed at home!) to the dying planet Earth where “The President’s Soul Is Missing”. There really is something for everyone!
Jonathan’s stories have really stayed in my head. These short stories are a perfect read for traveling on public transport, reading in a waiting room or for a quick “goodnight” story. I also purchased this book on Audible so that I could listen to the stories while washing the dishes, doing the ironing and traveling in the car. The narrator was brilliant! A deep and mysterious (slightly sinister!) voice that further immersed you into the storyline. I always recommend Audible to anyone who doesn’t have a minute to sit down and read.