Monday, 19 June 2017

First Paragraphs - Stories from ST #35

You know when you do a bit of browsing in the bookshop, flip through a few pages to see what a book is about? Well, you just picked up the next issue and are about to peruse the first paras of each story. In what may become a hallowed tradition if I don't forget, here is a taster of what''s in store next month. Where the first paragraph is actually just a line I've added another para to give it a bit of context. Fasten your literary seat-belts, we're in for a wild ride.

When Bernard wasn’t concentrating, his wife Marianne bought a cottage on the Welsh Marches. Three months later, he was by himself in the half-timbered sitting-room, a stained copy of Country Life and Ch√Ęteau-bottled Bordeaux on the side table next to his armchair. The fire flickered and died down; earlier the central heating had failed. No sounds—apart from the scraping of minute creatures in the beams. The spiders came out at midnight.

'Absolute Possession' by Charles Wilkinson

“Poetry, pornography and prophecy,” said Charles Lickerish.
“What about pottery?” said Upshaw.
“Pottery?” we both echoed, incredulously.
“Yes,” he said, “you know, crack-pottery. Always plenty of that about.”
We threw things at him. Then we acknowledged the justice of his observation. But we thought this would be largely covered by prophecy. In the end, to stop any further pleading from him, we admitted the possibility of it as a sort of honorary category, if he could bring us some examples that didn’t fit the other three.

'The Scarlet Door' by Mark Valentine

What most people thought of as Frank’s right leg did not belong to him, but to the mouse that lived inside it. From Frank’s boyhood, the mouse had peered at him through the big toenail of that alien right foot. Frank, by contrast, could see the mouse only in his dreams. Dreams of swimming underwater in the pool his father had had installed in the yard, of crawling underneath his mother’s dining room table—it didn’t matter where.

'A Russian Nesting Demon' by Andrew Alford

It was on Lant’s last encounter with Haggerston at the pleasaunce at Greenwich (a former graveyard) that the black speck, the blemish, had first entered his vision.
On descending the hill Lant had thought he spied movement in the uncut grass, a thin and slipping bit of darkness it might have been. Not the sort of thing that one would normally take note of. However, when meeting with a self-confessed necromancer like Haggerston you could never be certain of what might be about.
'The Subliminals' Pt 1. by Michael Chislett

Stephen Lake watched the demolition of one library from the roof garden of another. That felt like poor taste; also a duty. Central Library was bisected now, machine-pincers plucking at concrete, exposing wires and cavities. You could see through to the Town Hall, the stilled fountain in Chamberlain Square. As if to compensate, water-jets arced to lay the dust. Stephen closed his eyes and reshaped the ruins: a Brutalist ziggurat turned upside down. He closed the gap, spun his projection round to add the curving lobby. He sketched in the mural on the east side—birds’ heads carrying cherries, a ribbon with EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE written in Spanish. If he stood there long enough he could add the interior, reverse the demolition…

'To Utter Dust' by Mat Joiner

Anything is possible at twilight. At least, that’s how it seems to me. The events of daylight have taken place, throwing their shadows in front of them. And night is still to come. Twilight is the uncertain borderland, the time when yearnings and desires can ebb with the afterglow or flower once more.

'The House at Twilight' by John Howard

Gold. That’s what’s in it for me.” The speaker himself had a gilded appearance: fair hair bleached almost white by the sun, tanned skin with a faint metallic sheen of perspiration. His green eyes were flecked with motes of gold, giving them an opalescent appearance, at once beautiful and cold.
Dekker knew him as Mertens, but that was probably not his original name.

'Gold' by Helen Grant


Cover illustration by Sam Dawson

2 comments:

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

What a splendid line-up! I've been wanting to read more Chislett ever since reading his excellent & haunting "Off the map."

When is it released?

Best,

Ibrahim

valdemar said...

Hi Ibrahim!

With luck the mag will be out in July, in both print and ezine versions. Watch this space, and all that jazz.

Glad you're a Mike fan. His story is a two-parter, so it will conclude in ST #36, due out this winter.