The Adventurists (Preorder)

Richard Butner

March 22, 2022

trade paper · 320 pages · $17 · 9781618731944 | ebook · 9781618731951 | Edelweiss

A collection of stories written over a lifetime of looking forwards and backwards and sometimes even at the now.

March 2022 readings coming.

Remember the girl you once knew, the theater kid? Now she’s become the Queen, and you might need to rescue her. There’s the historic house, where someone once saw a ghost and you almost fell in love. An ornithopter hangs in the lobby of your corporate workplace: your co-worker thinks he might be able to operate it. Once you found a tunnel under your old high school, and couldn’t resist going to see where it led.

Sometimes a door will open into a new world, sometimes into the past.
Putting on a costume might be the restart you are half hoping for. There are things buried here. You might want to save them. You might want to get out of the way.

Butner’s allusive and elusive stories reach into the uncanny corners of life—where there are no job losses, just HCAPs (Head Count Allocation Procedures), where a tree might talk to just one person, where Death’s Fool is not to be ignored.

Read a story: Circa


“Landscapes and memories alter, gentrify, and crumble in Butner’s flawless debut collection, which wends ghosts, virtual futures, and the intricacies of friendship into 16 breathtaking, intimate stories. “Holderhaven” slowly unfurls a country house museum’s ghostly mystery into a multifaceted examination of recreation’s limits, who is allowed agency, and the impossible truth behind the legend. “Ash City Stomp,” about an encounter with the devil, and “The Ornithopter,” set in a high-technology future, both imbue their speculative setups with vital humanity. The delicate “Adventure” holds a mirror to the aging process while still honoring a vividly alive present, and in “Sunnyside,” exes attend a successful artist friend’s virtual-reality wake in a breathtaking commentary on the act of remembering. Butner pairs clean, elegant prose with keen and generous human insight, unique imagery, and a broad range of interests, treating Renaissance faires, 1980s counterculture, and rich small-town worlds with the same loving deliberation. Readers of John Crowley, Ray Bradbury, and Sally Rooney alike will find a home in this beautiful, grounded exploration of pasts and futures—and the people suspended between them.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Advance Praise for The Adventurists

“My heart isn’t large enough to contain all these stories at once.”
— Christopher Rowe, author of Telling the Map

“Richard Butner has taught me so much about the art of short fiction, and The Adventurists is an essential travelers’ guide to packing a small space with all the wit, craft, invention and heart needed for the journey. Thank you, Richard Butner — once again!” — Andy Duncan, World Fantasy Award-winning author of An Agent of Utopia

“Richard Butner’s stories are funny, scary, personal, dispassionate, satirical, and heartfelt, if those incompatible adjectives can be assembled to describe the same work. He writes about the subtle losses we suffer (often without noticing) as we get older, about love and loyalty, about how the past is never completely past and can come sweeping back over you at the slightest opportunity like a tidal wave, so you’d better be ready lest you drown.” — John Kessel, author of Pride and Prometheus

“At last, one of the contemporary masters of the uncanny and darkly humorous, Richard Butner, has his stories in one place where we can get at them. With a toe (just a toe) in the literary pool, and the rest of him splashing happily in the spec fic/sci-fi/surreal swimming hole, Butner’s tales deal in the deadly habits of nostalgia, and the surprises waiting for the wistful and the obsessive whose march forward obliges a look backward. Linkean, Barthelmean, Saundersean . . . hm, okay, these guys do NOT lend themselves to sonorous adjectivization but, nonetheless, they’ll have to welcome a new storyteller beside them on the shelf.”
— Wilton Barnhardt, author of Emma Who Saved My Life and Lookaway, Lookaway

“A Richard Butner story is an invitation to discovery alongside his characters. It’s a left turn off of reality’s highway and into its old business district: defiantly shabby, casually weird, and occasionally surreal, perfect in every grounding detail. Every story zigs when you expect it to zag. You only think you know where they are going, but it turns out you are on the same adventure as the protagonist, discovering as you go that the world is stranger than it was the minute before, and the minute before that. Well worth the journey.”
— Sarah Pinsker, author of We Are Satellites

“Richard Butner writes gorgeous, heartfelt stories that are completely his own, each propelled by an inner logic that may or may not match consensus reality, each ringing utterly true. He is unafraid of tough questions and even tougher answers. His characters sweat, grieve, exult, and struggle for understanding, and even when they terrify, they never fail to touch me.”
— Lewis Shiner, author of Outside the Gates of Eden

Table of Contents

Scenes from the Renaissance
Ash City Stomp
Horses Blow Up Dog City
The Master Key
At the Fair
Pete and Earl
The Ornithopter
Delta Function
Give Up
Chemistry Set
Under Green

Reviews of Richard Butner’s stories:

“Captivating and gripping.”— Bookotron

“In the face of even the most absurd scenario, Butner’s writing remains cool and understated; he treats the bizarre as if it were commonplace, eventually convincing the reader that nothing is too far from the real. Indeed, many of the stories’ most bizarre moments are simply exaggerations of the inanities of our world, thrust into the forefront of the plot as a sort of social criticism. . . . Butner picks up the absurdities of high-speed America and throws them back in its face, reveling in the wild, wonderful mess he creates.”— New Pages Review

“A powerful story of obsession.” — Lois Tilton, Locus

“The saddest ghost story you’ll read this year.” — Charlie Jane Anders, Gizmodo

“Haunting and heartbreaking.” —

“Wry, caustic, calculated, impulsive…. Gems of gorgeous weirdness.”— Asimovs

“Finely wrought fiction that earns its effects. Evocative and passionate, meaningful and filled with wonders.” — SF Site

“Butner’s meticulous prose lays a cool surface over some twisty terrain. Understated and profound, deft and smooth, these stories sneak up on you and then don’t let go. Boxes within boxes, wheels within wheels.”— Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

“If you let Richard Butner’s sideways fiction into your brain it will slice you to ribbons so quietly that you won’t even know why you’re laughing, or crying. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” — John Kessel, author of Pride and Prometheus

“In the work of writers who have truly burrowed in, often I’ve a sense of there being not many stories but one continuous, ongoing story, ever growing, ever increasing, turning this way and that in shifting light — which is how I feel about Richard Butner’s.” — James Sallis, author of Sarah Jane

Richard Butner‘s short fiction has appeared in Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, been shortlisted for the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Fountain Award, and nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award. He has written for and performed with the Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern, Aggregate Theatre, Bare Theatre, the Nickel Shakespeare Girls, and Urban Garden Performing Arts. His nonfiction, on topics ranging from computers to cocktails to architecture, has appeared in IBM Think Research, Wired, PC Magazine, The News & Observer, Teacher, The Independent Weekly, The North Carolina Review of Books, Triangle Alternative, and Southern Lifestyle. He lives in North Carolina, where he runs the annual Sycamore Hill Writers’ Conference. He and Harry Houdini have used the same trapdoor.


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