Tuesday 22 February 2011

Progress Report

Right, I had an interview today and was offered a job as a senior library assistant. This means that from April I will be in charge of my own pet library and can drive it all over waste ground, park it outside the pub etc. Something like that, anyway. Point is I now have a definite job for another 12 months,.

This means a load had been taken off what doctors think may be my 'mind'. So I can get on with ST19 without feeling a general sense of existential despair. Hurrah!

I think the whole process is going rather well, actually. Some very good stories, and a very diverse bunch of writers, several new to ST. It always surprises me (pleasantly, of course) by how excited people are to be published in my amateur mag. But there you go - I'm cheering writers up and giving them that wider exposure. Must be good.
This is who I will be working with, in my sad deluded dreams

Saturday 12 February 2011

Dracula 1968

More about the rather spiffing ITV series Mystery and Imagination. My opinion of the long-defunct Thames Television just went up considerably. To me, it's always been the Benny Hill channel, and therefore no great loss. But now, well, I know they did some darn good adaptations of classic Gothic texts.

Sometimes the casting is rather inspired. To be honest, when I saw the name 'Denholm Elliott' on the credits I assumed he'd either be one of the young chaps - Harker, Seward - or possibly van Helsing. Nope - he plays Dracula, and he does it rather well. Also, Corin Redgrave as Harker AND Renfield - the roles are conflated, rather brilliantly. This actually improves Stoker's story, because in the novel it's absurd to leave Harker trapped in the castle one minute, then mysterious escape the next. How did he do it? Erm, he escaped. In this version Harker is enslaved to Dracula, and brought to Whitby on the Demeter. Being stark staring bonkers by this time he ends up in Dr Seward's asylum.

Anyway, here's Mr Elliott, with evil Dracula beard, being charming to Lucy, played by Susan George.

Mystery and Imagination

I've just started watching a DVD boxed set of the above-titled Sixties TV series. It consists of feature-length (roughly 80 mins) adaptations of classic Gothic tales and ghost stories. As often happens with Sixties UK telly, a lot of the tapes were wiped/lost. So what's left? Well, quite a bit.

So far I've seen a lively version of Le Fanu's Uncle Silas and a cracking adaptation of Frankenstein. The latter is especially compelling because a young Ian Holm 'double stars' as the scientist and his creation. Yes, and the limited effects available at the time don't really mar the conceit at all.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

ST 19 - contents

Sorry I've not posted for a while. Things have been confusing and more than a little demoralising of late. Suffice to say I don't know where I'll be financially or otherwise in a month or two, but I'm battling on. The point is, what's going to be in the next issue of the magazine? The answer, in a nutcase, is this, or possibly these:

Colin Insole - 'Flower of the Sun'

Louis Marvick - 'Is for Ilinx'

Stephen Cashmore - 'The Ticket Collector'

Andrew Alford - 'China Doll Recall'

Gillian Bennett - 'Housing Problems'

Dave Siddall - 'Camilla'

David Surface - 'The Smell of Red Clay'

The ingredients of the above stories range from alchemy in Word War 2 to problems with public transport, by way of 18th century French entertainments, death and the maiden, some 'body horror', and a woman whose spirit ends up in a hoover. Then there are guest reviews, written by people who know what they're talking about, which is always nice. All in all it's shaping up to be quite a jolly little spree into the realms of darkness, madness and strangeness - favourite three nesses, after the Loch of course.

Thursday 3 February 2011

Rupert Degas reads Titus Groan

Titus Groan (abridged)

Peake is tougher going than Tolkien. Just because something is more difficult does not, of course, mean it is better. It is more difficult to capture a squirrel with a paper clip, a toilet roll and a lifetime subscription to the New York Times than using, say, a purpose-built squirrel trap. But in literature there has always been a tendency to dismiss books that are both off the beaten track and demanding as 'cult' fiction. The word is a killer - it implies the fanatical, unreasoning support of a few noisy cranks, while us sensible lads and lasses stick to our EM Forsters.

Anyway, for anyone who is daunted by Peake's prose - which is that of an artist and a poet, and is therefore intensely visual and lyrical - you could try to listening to an abridged reading. Naxos Audiobooks, a firm with an excellent track record on classic fiction, are producing the Titus trilogy during the course of this year. The first book is out now, or very nearly. Follow the link for a sample of Mr Degas' reading. And below, if I've got it right, is Peake's sketch of the Lady Fuchsia, one of the best characters in fantasy fiction.

ATARASHII GAKKO! - HANAKO (Official Music Video)

'Hanako of the Toilet' is a famous Japanese urban myth of a girl ghost that haunts... well, you can work it out for yourself.  (I th...