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A comedy cyberpunk – parallel universes, zero point energy, kamikaze druids & Welsh world domination

Stay-at-home deadbeat Kevin Jones finds himself kidnapped to an alternative reality where Wales is the single global superpower. Abducted from his mundane existence by the mysterious Gwen, she tells him powerful forces seek his destruction – he has to run or die. ‘The Tafia’ is after him, and they want to do more than leave a sheep’s head in his bed.

Gwen is a trans-world courier, a freelance operator surfing the backwaters of the Multiverse for the highest bidder. She’s a girl well used to breaking legs, as well as hearts – a girl with a past racing to catch up with her. Can she overcome her conscience, complete her mission and serve Kev up like a Christmas turkey for her dark clients to devour?

Kevin’s shady family are a whole flock of black sheep. Back in our world they’re small town criminals – gangsters straight out of Trumpton. Like most everything else in Gwen’s world they’ve had an upgrade. The mighty Jones Corporation runs a monopoly controlling the most valuable invention known to man. They’re not going to give it up without a fight. Meanwhile global Deep State rivals have other ideas.

Kevin learns his geriatric grandad is central the fork in destiny’s road. Back in the dying days of World War Two Isiah Jones lived through a bizarre chain of events, as the Third Reich crashed down around him. It’s up to Kevin to help Gramps confront the past, perhaps even to relive it. Turns out Kevin and Isiah’s story holds the key to why all worlds but ours turn out the way they do – Pax Cambria.

Ever wondered why there's not more Welsh comedy cyberpunk? Featuring a host of mysterious characters, cheese-on-toast based fast food, alt-right druids and a sprawling crime-family from hell, 'Anthracite' begins the long battle to set this travesty straight. Swansea has never looked more like Blade Runner’s L.A. It's already got the rain.

Matt Thomas grew up in Port Talbot, South Wales. He worked for 15 years in the computer games industry all of the UK and now runs a successful computer graphics business. He’s one of the top all-time sellers on 3D data stock-site Turbosquid.com. If you ever need to digitally simulate the Chinese Navy, he’s your man.

He’s the author of two previous books, Before and After (1999) and Terror Firma (2001), both published by Harper Collins/Voyager. His work has been compared to the likes of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. Anthracite is his first new fiction in 18 years. Just where that time went is anyone’s guess. He now lives in Berkshire with his wife and three sons, a cat and a dog. No sheep.

The sound of the samba drifting up from Aberdare’s Latin Quarter filled the bar with its contagious rhythm. It was hard to stop my feet matching the beat, but this was no time for dancing. Someone was trying to kill me. 

With an outward calm that concealed my pounding heart I studied my surroundings. The bar was all greasy neon and steam shrouded duct-work, dingy and dark despite the swarm of plasma screens overhead. They pumped out a bewildering torrent; W-Pop, sports news and frenzied Welshperanto coverage of the mardi gras below. On one big screen a holographic Tom Jones gyrated his hips, as a line of dancers in shawls and stove-pipe hats twerked themselves into a frenzy. For once I had to disagree with Uncle Tom, this whole thing was most definitely ‘unusual’.

The bar’s patrons appeared unimpressed by the show. Not big fans of the samba, blurry x-rated tattoos and thatched body hair seemed more to their liking. They sat nursing kaleidoscopic drinks and perfecting an air of barely suppressed menace. Some of them were very good at it.

In one corner a group of druids in full ceremonial dress sat hunched over their mead muttering through thick beards. One of their number must have been communing too deeply with the spirit world – he lay face down in an ornate cauldron bubbling over with green foam. No amount of mistletoe waving by his sniggering friends could seem to revive him.

A group of gaudy party-goers stumbled through the doors, clad in nothing but thongs, feather boas and jaunty smiles, blowing whistles and clicking castanets. How they managed in this climate I didn’t know. The rain tumbling from the granite sky was the only familiar thing from home. Gwen had told me the Mardi Gras was an annual event, the biggest this side of Fishguard. It celebrated The Revolution, and the liberation of Patagonia which came soon after. That didn’t make it any easier to accept – that it took place at all, here amidst this nondescript dead-end town. Except of course, it wasn’t.

I don’t mean the carnival wasn’t carving its colourful, nipple strewn path along the boulevard somewhere far below. I sat in the towering jungle of steel and glass comprising the gleaming Upper-City only too aware of the delirious fiesta taking place beneath my feet. I only had to glance up at a plasma screen to witness the vast beached-whale of an event, driven by explosive sexual tension and crowds resplendent in bulging lycra and day-glo face paint. And the women weren’t much better. What I mean is this wasn’t the Aberdare I’d grown up in. In fact it wasn’t anywhere I’d grown up in or ever hoped to visit. I’d never understood the term ‘culture shock’, but it seemed I’d signed up for a crash course. This place would do that to you – Under Milk Wood meets Bladerunner, but with more rain and sequins. No, this wasn’t the Aberdare I was familiar with. This Aberdare was slightly different.

In a vain attempt at distraction I cast my eye over the cocktail menu. I didn’t like the sound of the Tonnapandy Hand Shandy, so had ordered another Leek Daiquiri instead. At least four parts Brains Bitter, to which I had developed a passable tolerance over the years, it came with a real leek stirrer, and a miniature parasol in the shape of a witch’s hat. Gwen got it for me, before disappearing into the night to ‘organise the next leg of our journey.’ Where had my mysterious guide vanished to? The first drink had left a ringing in my ears and a coating on my tongue like industrial disinfectant. At least it took my mind off the surroundings.

In a nearby booth a fight broke out. Insults where thrown, then drinks, finally punches – the traditional sequence of escalation. The drinks were likely the most dangerous part. Few other patrons paid the brawlers any heed, just another day in the life and death of Aberdare. Some things never change. With a start I realised I had company.

‘Here ewe goes dalin.’

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A Huge 'Thank You'

Friday, 19 July 2019

I just wanted to say a massive 'thank you' to everyone who's helped support Anthracite so far.  After less than three weeks we're already a quarter of the way there.

Very soon I'll be using this channel to let you know about some of the inspirations and influences that helped me come up with the ideas behind Anthracite, and how I came to write it.  For too long the world’s been suffering from a…

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