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MERRY CHRISTMAS, MISTER WOLF (short stories) by Steph Bennion



It is the twenty-third century and scientists, dreamers, crooks and believers have bridged the vast cosmos, staking their claims where distant suns burn fierce in the sky. Yet for all of humankind’s technological marvels, life for many is far from a wondrous fairytale.

What is the connection between a mysterious sleeping woman and a gangster with a penchant for snakes? When the power fails when parents are out for the night, is it wise to be wandering the forest with vicious robot wolves on the loose? Can a young boy change his destiny with the help of a fraudulent wizard and draw the sword from the stone? Brought to a lonely tower for his safety during wartime, should a prince really be talking to a mysterious stranger bringing him gifts? What horrors lurk in the basement for a young woman betrothed against her will to a tyrant? Are the city streets paved with gold for the lowly detective and a stolen brass clockwork cat? Who will help a downtrodden shopping mall Santa Claus to win back the spirit of Christmas? Can a lost little girl defeat the evil ruler with the help of her seven diminutive miner friends? It is supposed to be the season of goodwill!

This collection brings together the main-sequence seasonal tales from the space-opera Worlds of Hollow Moon:

Published for the first time are the timeline interviews, a light-hearted look at how the various novels and short stories fit together. In this volume, Ostara Lee and Zotz Wak talk about events from Hollow Moon onwards...

HOLLOW MOON CHRISTMAS SHORT STORIES have been published every December since 2011. These are generally science-fiction reinterpretations of traditional tales popular in the British tradition of pantomime, while fitting into the overall story arc of the novels. This volume was updated and reissued in December 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2023.

(First published 12 December 2017. Last updated 19 December 2023; approx 83,000 words.)

Cover artwork by WyrdStar; 'Moon and Tree' image by Alexas-Fotos on Pixabay.

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Book 1
Book 2
Book 3
Book 4
Book 5
Main Sequence
Intro Anthology

Timeline Interviews, part 2: Main Sequence

So how do the novels and short stories in the Hollow Moon series fit together? Via the wonders of extra-dimensional time portals, author Steph Bennion interviews detective Ostara Lee and intrepid inventor Zotz Wak, former residents of the eponymous hollow moon...

AUTHOR: ...It was that same Christmas that young Artorius enters the story. His tale is even more strange than Ravana’s.

OSTARA: It’s hard of me to admit this, given what we know now, but growing up an orphan on the holovid sets of Avalon can’t have been nice. Especially being homeless and living where they film Gods of Avalon, that awful bloodthirsty show for third-rate celebrities (“A Wizard, A Sword And A King”). The Avalon Broadcasting Corporation does whatever it likes on that moon! Life in the black is dangerous enough without inventing more horrors.

ZOTZ: Hey, I see you’ve got another story that Christmas from Yuanshi. When we evacuated the hollow moon, Maharani Uma and Surya ended their exile and returned to their home moon in Epsilon Eridani. The peace conference had failed, of course. Que Qiao were bombing Lanka again and so the Maharani sent Surya away to a secret base for safety (“The Ivory Tower”). A prince in a tower, rescued by a girl! That’s funny.

OSTARA: What’s funny about that? Just because you play being a superhero sometimes…

ZOTZ: Yeah, yeah, whatever. Anyway, we were talking about Artorius. I met him a few months later. The Dhusarians had taken him to Falsafah in Tau Ceti. It so happened that Ravana was there also, with a team of student archaeologists from Bradbury Heights, digging up what looked like an ancient alien temple. Ravana went missing, so I went with her dad Quirinus and a grumpy pilot called Momus to find her. What was the stupid title you gave to your second book? (Paw-Prints Of The Gods).

AUTHOR: Ravana talked a lot about gods as aliens. She said the watcher Athene sometimes appeared as a cat. I’ll have you know I was spoofing Erich Von Däniken’s book Chariots of the Gods? and trying to be witty.

OSTARA: It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.

ZOTZ: Ravana made out there were aliens everywhere! She'd been kidnapped by the Dhusarians but escaped with Artorius and two greys. Actual real-life alien greys! I was there and all I managed was a far-too-close encounter with weavers, those horrible giant spiders. That was the first time any of us saw one of those ancient alien portals. It was also when we first met Commander Kedesh of the Grand Priory. That’s where we found the cryogenic capsule from the lost USS Constellation...

Read the full interview with Ostara Lee and Zotz Wak in MERRY CHRISTMAS, MISTER WOLF!

Short stories in this volume...

ebooks Individual short stories are also available for free...
If you enjoy these offerings and wish to support the work of the author (beyond buying books, of course!), it is really appreciated if you can find time to spread the joy to friends and family, or via a quick review at your favourite ebook website. Alternatively, you may wish to leave a PayPal tip on the way out... Steph.

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Gangster Chinese Santa has a box of slithering surprises for a forgotten 'Sleeping Beauty'. Epsilon Eridani: Two months after HOLLOW MOON.

NEW! Interplanetary smugglers Hanuman and Ganesa are ferrying a party of gangsters and cargo of exotic snakes through Epsilon Eridani's asteroid belt to a festive get-together at a crime-lord's secret hideaway. A distress call leads them to a crashed spacecraft and a mysterious young woman, asleep in a medical pod within an overgrown biological photosynthetic garden. Then someone releases the snakes...

(First published 19 December 2023; approx. 9,000 words.)

Read "Snakes On A Spaceship" now! (Free ebook, single story only).



Robot wolves were no match for this 'Little Red Riding Hood'. Barnard's Star: Two months after HOLLOW MOON.

Christmas at the exclusive ski resort of Kirchel, high in the New Malverns on the planet of Ascension, was a tedious affair. The concrete log cabins, artificial snow and holographic trees were all as fake as the robot security wolves that patrolled the dome at night. But the wolves were rejects from the brutal Gods of Avalon game show. When the power fails, with their parents out for the night, Hestia and her friends would soon wish they had never ventured into the forest in search of park ranger Granny.

(First published 1 December 2012; approx. 8,000 words.)

Read "Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf" now! (Free ebook, single story only).



A bloodthirsty holovid show becomes 'The Sword In The Stone'. Alpha Centauri: Same Christmas as "Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf".

On the moon of Avalon, Alpha Centauri, the young orphan Artorius is resigned to spending Christmas alone, wandering the snowy streets of Londinium just as a new series of the bloodthirsty holovid show Gods of Avalon is about to start. As the medieval tournament gets under way, he finds that the alien-worshipping nuns encamped in the fake Temple of Mithras are taking more notice of him than usual. Not only that, but the man playing wizard Merlin was not the usual company cyberclone!

(First published 15 December 2013; approx. 8,000 words.)

Read "A Wizard, A Sword And A King" now! (Free ebook, single-story only).



Surya is sent to the tower like 'Rapunzel'. Epsilon Eridani: Same Christmas as "Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf".

Civil war might be raging on the moon of Yuanshi, but Raja Surya did not think that justified spending Christmas stuck in a room at the top of a tower in the middle of nowhere. Worse still, caretaker Amashilama was making him do exercise. But who was the mysterious secret agent, lured by his terrible singing and bringing him gifts?

(First published 17 December 2022; approx. 10,000 words.)

Read "The Ivory Tower" now! (Free ebook, single-story only).



An arrogant bishop is 'Bluebeard' with a horrible secret in his basement. Tau Ceti: Four months after CITY OF DECEIT.

In the town of Saguenay on Aram, fifteen-year-old Tréphine has been chosen against her will to be Bishop Malebête's next wife. Three years ago the misogynist bishop lost the vote to be mayor, but with his right-hand man Doctor Falacer seized power and made his word the law. Malebête's previous brides have all disappeared without trace. As the town prepares for the Festival of the Star, can Tréphine escape her marriage and the horrid secret lurking in the basement of the bishop's château?

(First published 9 December 2020; approx. 10,000 words.)

Read "Festival Of The Star" now! (Free ebook, single-story only).



If 'Dick Whittington' was a detective. Barnard's Star: Four months after CITY OF DECEIT.

Ostara Lee, Newbrum's premier private detective from Paw-Prints Of The Gods, is lured to the wealthy city of Bradbury Heights by a message from the mysterious 'Lestrade', asking for her help on a case. Captain Nyx of Newbrum police is in league with businessman and sometime smuggler Bouki Moritasgus. Can a brass clockwork cat, stolen by street urchin Tomtem from the Dickens Christmas Fair, really save the day?

(First published 16 December 2017; approx. 10,000 words.)

Read "The Clockwork Cat" now! (Free ebook, single-story only).



Bad Santa is 'Goldilocks' in 'Three Billy-Goats Gruff'. Solar System: Same Christmas Eve as in "The Clockwork Cat".

It is Christmas Eve and Zotz Wak (the intrepid Flying Fox from City Of Deceit) and girlfriend Aurora (streetwise hacker from the same novel) are stuck babysitting toddler Meuler in a Cayenne shopping mall. Their terminal boredom is shattered by the arrival of Chia, the mall's world-weary Santa Claus, who is definitely not in a festive mood. Zotz and Aurora hatch a plan to help Chia bring a proper Christmas to the poor children in town.

(First published 12 December 2018; approx. 5,000 words.)

Read "Santa Claustrophobia" now! (Free ebook, single-story only).



'Snow White' with a bite and an army of saboteurs. Epsilon Eridani: Part 1, eight years before HOLLOW MOON; Part 2, same Christmas as "The Clockwork Cat" and "Santa Claustrophobia".

The notorious prison of Feng Du was no place for Psyche to spend the first fourteen years of her life. When her mother passes away, she escapes to the mainland and finds sanctuary with a group of young miners. Meanwhile, Governor Malingee of Taotie has ambitions to be number one in Epsilon Eridani and nothing will stand in her way!

(First published 18 December 2016; approx. 11,000 words.)

Read "Psyche's Seven" now! (Free ebook, single-story only).


“I built this world on blood, sweat and tears! Not my own, admittedly,” she conceded.
[Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf, "Psyche's Seven"]

Alpha Centauri Barnard's Star Epsilon Eridani Solar System Tau Ceti


Do you have the latest version? Ebooks are periodically revised to update endpapers following new releases and to correct any errors...

EBOOK: ISBN: 978-1301604357 (Smashwords); ASIN: B07881R31T (Kindle).


DECEMBER 2017 - First ebook edition (approx. 140 pages).

DECEMBER 2018 - Updated to include new short story and revised timeline interview.

DECEMBER 2020 - Updated; new short story, editorial refresh and revised timeline interview.

DECEMBER 2022 - Updated to include new short story and revised timeline interview.

DECEMBER 2023 - Updated to include new short story and revised timeline interview.

[NOTE: Publication date on Smashwords is that of earlier single-story edition, i.e. December 2012.]


DECEMBER 2023 - First ebook edition (WyrdStar pdf); published in Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf anthology.


DECEMBER 2012 - First ebook edition (WyrdStar pdf, Smashwords ebook and Three Tales For Christmas anthology for Kindle).

OCTOBER 2016 - Smashwords ebook revised: 'Ebook Extras' added.

DECEMBER 2016 - WyrdStar pdf ebook reissued with new font and layout.

NOVEMBER 2017 - Second ebook edition (WyrdStar pdf and Three Tales For Christmas only).

DECEMBER 2017 - Smashwords ebook withdrawn and replaced with Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf anthology.

NOVEMBER 2020 - WyrdStar pdf version reissued with updated endpapers.


DECEMBER 2013 - First ebook edition (WyrdStar pdf only).

DECEMBER 2017 - Text corrections; published in Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf anthology.

NOVEMBER 2020 - Second ebook edition (WyrdStar pdf).

DECEMBER 2020 - Second edition published in Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf anthology.


DECEMBER 2022 - First ebook edition (WyrdStar pdf); published in Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf anthology.


DECEMBER 2020 - First ebook edition (WyrdStar pdf); published in Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf anthology.


DECEMBER 2017 - First ebook edition (WyrdStar pdf); published in Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf anthology.


DECEMBER 2018 - First ebook edition (WyrdStar pdf); published in Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf anthology.

NOVEMBER 2020 - WyrdStar pdf version reissued with updated endpapers.


DECEMBER 2016 - First ebook edition (WyrdStar pdf only).

AUGUST 2017 - Text corrections.

DECEMBER 2017 - Published in Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf anthology.

NOVEMBER 2020 - WyrdStar pdf version reissued with updated endpapers.

NOTE: If you obtained this ebook from Smashwords, you can download subsequent updates at no extra cost.

Ebook stores and Digital Rights Management (DRM) - Ebooks distributed from Smashwords are DRM-free, which means that once you have purchased a title, you can download it as many times as you like (and in whatever format you like) and make back-up copies if necessary (for personal use only!). WyrdStar's preferred sales outlet is Smashwords, not least because the author gets a larger slice of the list price there than anywhere else! WyrdStar ebooks downloaded from third-party partners (Amazon, Apple Books, etc.) are subject to the vendor's terms and conditions.