The Marriage of Sky and Sea

Published in Interzone, March 2000

(This story is collected in The Turing Test from Elastic Press)


  • Year’s Best SF 6, edited by David Hartwell and published by Harper Eos, 2001


“The writer and traveler Clancy, who has built fame and fortune on selling his accounts of foreign lands and exotic experiences to his native Metropolis, discovers that “The Marriage of Sky and Sea” may hold more wonders than even he can capture. This tale presents his attempts to construct a narrative that will be faithful to his latest trip, one to a primitive and possibly idyllic planet, while at the same time recounting those experiences directly. But unlike the dozens of times he has followed the same process before, Clancy now struggles to provide a commercially viable work that will be snapped up by the masses. His difficulties supersede the ordinary art-versus-commerce polemic, delving far deeper into his psyche and his predicament. In a delightful twist, his creative process is brought to life by his dictation to Com, his artificial assistant. Beckett’s ambitious story works on all fronts, fully rendering a complex individual, intermingling past with present, commenting on tropes like the “stranger in a strange land” or the “noble savage,” but never reducing itself to them. It’s a superlative, unexpectedly lyrical story and the perfect choice for a final piece: the ideal marriage of idea and execution.” – Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (as part of a review of The Turing Test short story collection), The Fix

The Welfare Man

Published in Interzone, August 1993; 3rd place in annual Interzone reader’s poll.


  • The Best of Interzone, edited by David Pringle and published by Voyager (HarperCollins) in 1997
  • (A truncated version of the story was also reproduced in Health and Disease: a Reader, published by Open University Press, 1995)

La Macchina

Published in Interzone, April 1991

(A prototype for the novel The Holy Machine; this story is collected in The Turing Test from Elastic Press)


  • Year’s Best Science Fiction # 9, edited by Gardner Dozois (it appears in the UK as “Best New SF”), published by St Martin’s Press, 1992
  • Gedanken Fictions: Stories on Themes in Science, Technology and Society, edited by Thomas Easton and published by Wildside Press, 2000
  • Robots, edited by Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann and published by Ace Books, 2005