Different Waves, Different Depths is a collection of nine stories, varying in style from the literarily weird (“Subletter,” “Hayseed, Inc.”) to the science fiction (“Drawn & Courted,” “Not a Day Goes By”) and in length from the flash (“Kiss Destroyer,” “Antecedent”) to the novella (“Fender the Fall”). There’s even a pilot script in here (“Post-Intelligence”).
There are time loops and time travel, reality television and big data, consultants who can make anyone a winner, a newspaper that’s just gone online-only, a band that never existed but is all too real, mistaken identities, roadtrips, drugs, guns, murder, and a love story or three.
Dive in deep, ease in the shallows, or just let the tide lap at your toes. Different waves are waiting.
Here’s an excerpt:
We met halfway. For the first time since meeting her, I knew definitively that she was with someone. She was engaged. The wedding was a few months off. We talked and we drank and we danced and it felt like it always felt. I was overwhelmed. The only thing that kept me grounded was knowing that in a few months, she’d be married to someone else. And I’d be gone.
I leaned in close to her ear and whispered, “this is nice.”
She stopped, stunned. She flashed a withering look and edged away from me through the crowd.
“Wait!” Hearing me behind her, she hurried on. I caught her in the bar. “I meant that it felt nice knowing—”
“No, I feel the opposite,” she turned and said. “It doesn’t feel nice knowing. It feels awful!”
“Well, I was speaking for you. I thought—” She put her finger on my lips to shush me. She was definitely angry but seemed ready to recover.
“Want some?” she asked, pulling a flask from her purse.
“What is it?”
“Have some or don’t,” she said over her shoulder, walking out onto the balcony.
“I didn’t think—” I said as she drank.
“You always knew.” She handed me the flask. I downed a gulp of sweet liquid. It tasted the way antifreeze smells, perhaps a flavored vodka of some kind. “I always hoped, but I never knew.”
“Is that why you’re here now, hope?”
“Well, all of your hopes are here, and they’re all shit. Sorry.”
As I took another swig, everything took on a fog, soft around the edges. I felt anger and disappointment sharpening in me. “Then why are we here? What is this?”
“Let’s dance!” She said, draining the flask.
“I don’t want to—” She grabbed my arm and dragged me inside. She kissed me deep, hard, obviously feeling the drink, and then pulled me onto the dance floor.
The music and the bodies blurred. We were together, then apart, then together. One minute, we were blended into one, the next, we were on different planets. Other bodies remained distinct, but ours melded and folded and separated like taffy. The music was one, long song, and it was always exactly the right one.
The melding continued when we finally made it upstairs to bed. I’m not even sure we had sex, but we were one many times over before we slept. We fell in and out of love over and over, fighting, folding, fucking. I wish I could remember it more clearly.
“Every time you make a decision, it’s like destroying a whole other world,” she told me earlier that evening. “I never wanted to destroy this one.”
“Working the borderlands between philosophy, sci-fi, and ultra-contemporary social critique, these stories illuminate our strange cusp moment in a deeply humanistic and bracing manner. A sharp, propulsive, and canny collection.” — David Leo Rice, author, Drifter
“In Roy Christopher’s inquiring, voracious tales, memory is a form of energy, and worlds emerge out of slippages, of which—ouch, there’s another—there are many more than we like to admit.” — Matthew Battles, author, The Sovereignties of Invention
“The stories in Different Waves, Different Depths showcase an impressive range of voice and style. They challenge without being difficult; evoke nostalgia without feeling rote. A fantastic collection.” — Joshua Chaplinsky, author, The Paradox Twins
“Hard-boiled strange loops in a froth of weird.” — Will Wiles, author, Plume
Table of Contents:
- Drawn & Courted
- Kiss Destroyer
- Not a Day Goes By
- Hayseed, Inc.
- Fender the Fall
Many thanks to Patrick Barber for all of his amazing work on putting this thing together, making it look so nice, and getting it out there. Thanks to Jeffrey Alan Love for the cover illustration, to The Little One for the title, to all the previous publishers of these stories for their support, and to you for reading.
Different Waves, Different Depths is dedicated to the memory of Kelly Lum.