The Ace of Lightning is a series of interconnected stories focused on a turning point in Western history: the assassination in Sarajevo that led to World War I, and the mysterious circumstances that led Gavrilo Princip to shoot and kill the heir apparent to one of Europe’s most powerful empires.

Far from being a conventional work of historical fiction, Stephen-Paul Martin’s collection asks readers to think about what truly constitutes history. What would the past look like if history was written under the influence of Mad Magazine and The Twilight Zone? What happens when the assassination in Sarajevo becomes “the assassination in Sarajevo,” when Gavrilo Princip becomes “Gavrilo Princip,” when the past and the present shape a textual future that looks suspiciously like a past that never was and a present that never is?

Stephen-Paul Martin is editor of Central Park, a journal of the arts and social theory, and author of several collections of fiction, including Changing the Subject, The Possibility of Music, and Instead of Confusion. Martin’s writings have appeared in more than 200 periodicals over the past 30 years, in several different languages. One of his short story collections, The Gothic Twilight, was nominated for the National Critics Circle Fiction Award in 1993.

“Stephen-Paul Martin is a longtime, masterful postmodern storyteller, whose characters’ meditations often blend together with his narrators’ essay-like ruminations in unexpected, comic, recursive, explosive, and subtle ways. Delineating a sinister, deeply absurd world which has both annihilated the capacity for laughter and repeatedly, urgently demands it, The Ace of Lightning takes us inside historical necessity, where time is fluid and Martin’s comic imagination runs wonderfully rampant.”
—Mel Freilicher, author of The Encyclopedia of Rebels and The Unmaking of Americans: 7 Lives

“Welcome to the explosion/implosion of your mind. The world addressed in Stephen-Paul Martin’s fiction blandly offers itself as a seemingly reasonable reflection of our consensual social/identity formation: the news media polluted by babbling celebrity, electronic instantaneity, narcissism, stupefying wealth, crass display; late capitalism gone hog-wild scooping up and rendering (as in a slaughterhouse) the last remnants of Enlightenment humanity; maniacal laughter as the car plunges over the cliff; the shredding of history through time warps and aggressive stupidity. No escape. You are IT! Don’t read this book; it will read you!!! Stay in your hole.”
—Harry Polkinhorn, author of Raven and Analysis

304 pages
ISBN: 978-1-57366-058-7
Paper $19.95