Settling the World

Selected Stories 1970-2020

Format: Paperback
Book type: Short Story Collection
ISBN-13: 9781912697281
Published: 17 Sep 2020


RRP: £10.99

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From the winner of the 2020 Goldsmiths Prize...

NOMINATED for Best Single-Author Collection at the Shirley Jackson Awards 2020

Throughout his career, M. John Harrison’s writing has defied categorisation, building worlds both unreal and all-too real, overlapping and interlocking with each other. His stories are replete with fissures and portals into parallel dimensions, unidentified countries and lost lands. But more important than the places they point to are the obsessions that drive the people who so believe in them, characters who spend their lives hunting for, and haunted by, clues and maps that speak to the possibility of somewhere else.

This selection of stories, drawn from over 50 years of writing, bears witness to that desire for difference: whether following backstreet occultists, amateur philosophers, down-and-outs or refugees, we see our relationship with ‘the other’ in microscopic detail, and share in Harrison’s rejection of the idea that the world, or our understanding of it, could ever be settled.


Foreword by Jennifer Hodgson. 


Praise for Settling the World:

'Overall, there’s the abiding sense of a country, a culture, a way of living, that has run itself into the ground, the loss not only of a world but the whole apparatus of understanding it. But, again, that doesn’t quite account for it. Harrison is always gesturing at something moving underneath the water.' —Jennifer Hodgson

'All [stories] are elegant and inventive... Harrison writes memorably about people who are bewildered, sidetracked, trapped or on the lookout for opportunities to change.' - The Spectator

'Whether he's writing about holographic sex shows, or drywall and oven gloves, Harrison is a psychological writer whose fascination with trauma, repression and memory remains constant throughout his work.' - London Review of Books

'Harrison excels at evoking the deadened absurdity of the everyday.' - The TLS (on The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again and Settling the World)

'Settled... certainly doesn't mean being tucked up. Rather, again and again these works are about the settling of scores.' - The Scotsman

'The evolution of Harrison's prose can be traced across the stories, the steely, mannered prose typical of the British New Wave giving way to the warmer, more supple sentences that mark his late style.' - The Quietus 

'Settling the World is a brilliant labyrinth of tales by one of modern fiction's most distinctive voices.' - Locus Magazine
As featured on Locus Magazine's 2020 Recommended Reading List!

'Settling the World is a collection for enthusiasts of the contemporary weird. But it will appeal to anyone who loves elegant writing and new ways of looking at culture, philosophy and the contradictions of existence.' - Morning Star

'There is no doubt that Harrison is a master of his craft, and one cannot help but marvel at what he has produced.' - SFF Reviews

'In some mystic, agnostic equation, there is a link between degradation and the fantastic: here is the grim, dark sea of the possible.' - The British Science Fiction Association

'What unites all the stories is Harrison's delightfully sharp writing, every word placed with precision.' - The Publishing Planet

'Exquisitely crafted sentences distinguish M. John Harrison's prose...' - Fantasy Book Review

'"Settling the World" is a marvellous collection in every sense of the word; it's an excellent introduction to the range of M. John Harrison's writing' - Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings

'An anniversary that is definitely worth marking.' - Salon Futura 

'An unsettling, intriguing, imaginative and surreal selection of stories that are decidedly of written.' - Goodreads user

A deep dive into the collection by Martin Petto for Strange Horizons. 


Watch M. John read 'Land Locked', a new story in Settling the World, as part of the BSFA's Vector reading series.

Watch M. John speak to Blackwell's about his new collection, Settling the World.

Watch M. John speak to Gary Budden at the launch event, in collaboration with Housmans Bookshop.


Read 'Doe Lea', a new story by M. John Harrison in Settling the World, free at Granta (originally published as a limited edition pamphlet by Nightjar Press in 2019).

Read an interview with M. John Harrison about Settling the World at The State of the Arts.

Read an interview with M. John Harrison about Settling the World at Big Echo.

Read an interview with M. John about Settling the World and You Should Come With Me Now at Notes for the Curious

Read an interview with M. John Harrison ahead of his 2020 releases at SFX Magazine.

Read an interview with M. John Harrison ahead of his 2020 releases at The Bookseller.

Read an interview with M. John Harrison about his work and Goldsmiths-shortlisted novel The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again at New Statesman.


Listen to an episode of The Comma Press Podcast featuring M. John Harrison, Jennifer Hodgson, Adam Scovell and Andy Hedgecock discussing landscape in British SFF writing.

Listen to an interview with M. John Harrison ahead of his 2020 releases at The Coode Street Podcast.


Praise for M. John Harrison

‘The wit and effortless elegance of the writing are impeccable.’ - Ursula K Le Guin, The Guardian

‘Harrison’s most interesting work picks and chooses multiple genres, mixing them into fictional brews of dreamlike intensity that can haunt your mind for days after reading them...  a master of what Mark Fisher has termed the “weird and the eerie”.’ - The White Review

‘M. John Harrison’s sentences have the power to leave the world about you unsteadied; glowing and perforated in strange ways.’ - Robert Macfarlane

'A Zen master of prose.' - Iain Banks

'Austere, unflinching and deperately moving, he is one of the very greatest writers alive today. And yes, he writes fantasy and sf, though of a form, scale and brilliance that it shames not only the rest of the field, but most modern fiction.' - China Mieville

‘[A] quiet giant of British writing... extraordinarily flexible prose. It’s restrained and luminous...’ - The Daily Telegraph