Michael Paul Marshall Smith (born 3 May 1965) is a British author of SF and horror.
His debut novel, Only Forward, concerns the search for a missing man through a City divided into numerous eccentric and often dangerous Neighbourhoods; it won the August Derleth Award in Britain and the Philip K. Dick Award in the US. His other novels include Spares, a novel about Walking Transplant clones which was optioned by DreamWorks for a while before they made The Island instead, and One of Us, in which a man who makes a living renting space in his head for other people's unwanted memories gets stuck with the memory of a murder.
His works provide examples of:
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In Only Forward: "On the balcony stood a man. He was a big man, wearing tired jeans and nothing on his feet. His torso was naked except for tiny whorls of hair, and he didn't have a head."
- City in a Bottle: Only Forward has a Neighbourhood that long ago sealed itself in and indoctrinated its residents to believe they live in the only surviving human settlement surrounded by a barren, irradiated wasteland (which always takes longer than the scientists thought to become safe again). Only the high-ups know that there's a perfectly viable world all around it. Worryingly, it's not the scariest Neighbourhood out there.
- Dream Land: Only Forward uses Jeamland [sic] as a major plot point/setting. The protagonist is a private eye, specialising in clients whose psyches are being poisoned by the denizens of Jeamland.
- Earth All Along: In Only Forward, The City was mistaken by the protagonist for a parallel dimension but turns out to be a future Earth. The Constant here is Nelson's Column.
- murder.com: In the short story "More Tomorrow", an abusive boyfriend forces a woman to pose for erotic pictures which he posts online...then the story ends with the next picture being titled "pretty_amputee".
- Neuro-Vault: In One of Us, the main character makes his living storing memories that others want to get rid of temporarily — for instance, a businessman about to screw over his partner hands over a memory of a moral lesson from his father. (Permanently destroying a memory screws up The Force.) Unfortunately for him, someone figures out that this can work as Laser-Guided Amnesia for the giver, and that the Big Bad only wants to kill anyone who remembers a particular secret.
- Running Gag: In Only Forward nearly every character compliments Stark's shirt.
- Verbal Tic: In Only Forward, Stark frequently says that he might tell us about things later, if they're relevant.
- Walking Transplant: The premise of Spares.