A few years ago my wife introduced me to the concept of ‘Fan Fiction’. This is where fans of particular TV series write their own stories involving the characters, and share them in on-line forums. They seem to be quite popular, and Jude has written a few tales about Horatio Caine and co from CSI: Miami.
Recently an advert popped up on my Facebook wall for a book that described itself as ‘a new kind of fan fiction’: ‘Stories of Genesis, volume 1’ by Chris James. It contained a collection of five short stories based on characters from songs by Genesis, and, as a long-time fan of the band, I found it a fascinating read.
The first story, inspired by the title track of the 1976 album ‘A Trick of the Tail’, tells of Mr Magrew’s big adventure away from the City of Gold, meeting people unlike himself, who were all without horns and tail, and of his journey home. There’s a nice twist at the end, too, but I won’t spoil it by telling what it is.
Next is ‘The Chat Show Host’, which relates the dreams of Jason Jones (‘JJ’), the eponymous host stuck in provincial TV waiting for his big break, and of Duchess, a fading star hoping to resurrect her career. JJ’s dreams of success hang on his ability to humiliate Duchess live on air, and the story shows how sometimes our plans can be interrupted by events.
My favourite story in this collection is the next one – ‘One Regret’, inspired by ‘Dreaming While You Sleep’ from 1991’s ‘We Can’t Dance’. This is one of the better late-period Genesis songs, in my opinion, and James brings a wonderful depth and poignancy to this tale of guilt and inner torment following a hit-and-run accident.
The longest story is ‘The Final Battle’, taking up more than half of the book’s length, and is the one which most closely follows the ‘plot’ of the song that inspires it, the monumental ‘Supper’s Ready’ from 1972’s ‘Foxtrot’. For those who know the song, you will know how complex the tale is, with its apocalyptic imagery and scriptural allusions. James’ tale, with a strong sci-fi feel to it (his usual genre for writing, it appears), tells of the struggle by an angelic army against the Eternal Sanctuary Man, and gives an interesting modern slant to ancient concepts and themes.
From the longest to the shortest tale in the fifth and final chapter – ‘The Agent Lunges’, inspired by ‘Down & Out’ from 1978’s ‘And then there were Three’. I must confess that this is a strange tale, and almost comes across as an afterthought, but it rounds off the book nicely. Again, no spoilers!
Overall, the stories are engaging without being direct re-tellings of the songs, and a second volume is planned for later in the year. Fans of Genesis’s music and lovers of a good yarn will enjoy these tales: I certainly did.