"Have you ever been to Viborg?"
Thus begins John Llewellyn Probert's contribution to the Third G&S Book of Shadows. And with that straightforward question one might expect a fairly routine take on 'Number 13', perhaps involving a modern academic going to the Danish city and poking about a bit. Well, that does happen - but not in the way even the most ardent M.R. James fan might expect.
What Probert has done is rejig the original tale so as to make it a wonderful, madcap piece of old-school pulp fiction, straight out the pages of magazines with titles like Amazing Wonder Stories or Fantastic Tales of Spatial Adventure. On one level it's a flight of fancy, on the other it makes the valid point that the original 'Number 13' is founded on a series of assumptions that fall apart if you view the tale from a different angle. And I'm all for that kind of thing.
I can't really say more without giving the whole plot away, and I know some people hate spoilers. But if you want some idea of where the author is coming from, and how playful but erudite his take on weird fiction is, you could check out his film review blog. It's great fun, and very informative.
Tomorrow, I look at a very different kind of 'Jamesian' story...