The Open Pen Novelettes #10
Max Sydney Smith
Robin plays the Game in a club on the top floor of a converted warehouse. Every week Robin’s Halflings do table top battle against Daemons, Dwarves, Elves, Orcs, Humans and the forces of Undead. And every week he loses.
But when the twin who collects Elves announces the club is closing and their weekly games night is on the verge of being lost forever, the seven friends decide to enter the National Masters Tournament and so immortalise the club name in the national rankings.
Will Robin overcome his lifelong losing streak and how much is he prepared to risk to lead his Halfling army to victory?
Set against the backdrop of a sub-culture under threat, this sharp-edged story-in-miniature is an ode to friendships and the secret languages that bind them.
Max Sydney Smith was born in 1986 in London. His flash fiction pamphlet, 'Without Seeming to Care at All' was published in 2019 by Rough Trade Books as part of the Rough Trade Editions series and longlisted for the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award in 2020.
His short story ‘Something Less Than Our Best’ was broadcast by BBC R4 as part of their Short Works series in 2020.
His short stories have also been selected for publication in the Open Pen Anthology in 2016 and he was longlisted for the Cambridge Short Story Prize in 2019.
"I, Nerd is as fascinating a tour through a niche pastime as any sports novel or work of historical fiction, but with the universal appeal of a story about isolation, friendship and the long tail of adolescence. Some of its characters focus on their fantasy wargame’s technical aspects they call ‘crunch’, others on its lore they call ‘fluff’. In this novelette Max Sydney Smith shows he’s a master of both: the crunch of plot mechanics and the fluff of vivid characters and their sad sweet backstories. I, Nerd plays like a dream." – Mazin Saleem, author of The Prick
Rel Date: February 24, 2022