Tartarus Press


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Orpheus on the Underground


Rhys Hughes


With illustrations by Chris Harrendence


Orpheus on the Underground is the new Rhys Hughes collection from Tartarus Press, containing fifteen previously unpublished stories and ‘The Concise Picaresque Adventures of the Wanderlust Bridge’, which first appeared in Strange Tales II, 2008.  Ranging from the ghostly, through horror to the entirely fantastic, Hughes’ marvellously inventive tales steer the reader through the bizarre labyrinths of his unique talent for the strange.


In ‘The Upper Reaches’, two pilots discover a world beyond their mission, while the eponymous hero of ‘Orpheus on the Underground’ attempts to fit classical myth into the transport system of a modern metropolis. ‘Behind Every Ghost’ takes a conventional aphorism to its illogical limit, while ‘The Phantom Festival’ explores the history of music on various levels. In the ‘The Quixote Candidate’, a would-be film director is persuaded to give what may turn out to be an overly comprehensive interview.


In the twenty years since the publication of his first short story collection (Worming the Harpy, Tartarus Press, 1995) Rhys Hughes has become an éminence grise of the strange tale. He wears his reputation lightly, and it is the sheer fun and individuality of the stories in Orpheus on the Underground that make them so memorable.



"...one of the best new collections in the field that you could hope for." Teleread

"An antic spirit animates the 16 delightful fantasies in this collection, which gives the reader the literary equivalent of a wink and a rib nudge. ... In several of these stories, Hughes references the work of Saki, a 20th-century master of satirical fantasy, and readers will find his tales their contemporary equivalent." Publisher's Weekly

"... Nearly every story here is highly entertaining, filled with prose pyrotechnics and inventive verve, a joyful outpouring of literary madness and mayhem. ... Taken individually several of the stories here are outstanding ... Complementing the text are some splendid ink drawings by artist Chris Harrendence." Peter Tennant, Black Static

"A terrific showcase for this quirky writer's weird fiction. Occasionally horrific, but more often ... strange." Ellen Datlow, Best Horror of the Year, Volume 8

"A brilliantly inventive mix of stories from different genres, all entertaining and fascinating at the same time." Matthew Johns, British Fantasy Society


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