Wednesday 30 May 2012

Constant Reader?

For many years I worked in a recording studio, mostly as a reader of factual stuff - news, financial information, features, public service material - that sort of thing. But I also read fiction, and always enjoyed it. I thought I might liven up this blog by introducing some audio content, but of course people might not like the sound of my voice. 

At the moment I only have a cheap microphone that's nowhere near good enough for even amateur audio work. But I thought I'd record a brief sample of my voice so you could hear it and let me know what you think. If the consensus is that I sound okay I could go ahead, get a decent mic, and record extracts or even whole stories from ST, and of course other stuff. So, let me know what you think. 

(In case you were wondering about the video presentation - Blogger doesn't allow you to upload audio files but does allow you to include videos. Why? I've no idea, it's very stupid. However, for short pieces it's easy to use Windows Movie Maker to get them straight onto the blog. For longer pieces I suspect I'd have to set up a site to host files elsewhere and provide links, or maybe put some sort of player on this blog if I can figure out how to do it. End of boring aside.)

The piece I read is the introduction to 'Let Loose' by Mary Cholmondeley. Published in 1890, it's a Jamesian ghost story penned before M.R. James got going. You can find the story in quite a few anthologies or online here.

Le Fanu Pilgrimage

Friday 25 May 2012

The Very Old Grey Whistle (Test)

Apparently the world's oldest musical instruments are flutes or whistles made in Germany some 42,000 years ago.

Musical instruments may have been used in recreation or for religious ritual, experts say.
And some researchers have argued that music may have been one of a suite of behaviours displayed by our species which helped give them an edge over the Neanderthals - who went extinct in most parts of Europe 30,000 years ago.

The supposed magical properties of musical instruments may be one of the most fundamental 'thing-based' superstitions.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Epiphanies, vampires and airships

I'm not very well at the moment. Last week I took a trip to Lincolnshire with A Ghostly Company. It was all very nice - we saw the grave of E.G. Swain, the home of L.P. Hartley (from outside the walls) and probed various bookshops and a couple of cathedrals. And pubs. But while I was investigating the East of England, some germs were investigating me. I now have a throat infection of some kind, which I am feeding with medicated lozenges (as an English gentleman should). Loss of sleep means my brain is going a bit AWOL, too.

Anyway, I'm enjoying Strange Epiphanies by Peter Bell. I'm halfway through what may well be the most interesting and compelling short story collection of the year. However, Peter does have another book coming out from Sarob. I'm looking forward to it, to say the least.

Something else I do when I'm ill is watch any old stuff. I recently stumbled across a film that, while not explicitly supernatural, certainly pushes a lot of the right buttons. Perfect Creature is a New Zealand-UK production set in an alternate 'dieselpunk' world (with airships, as per usual) where mutated flu viruses threaten to wipe out the human race. Fortunately the world has an elite order of superbeings to defend it - the Brotherhood. Brothers (these beings are all male) live indefinitely, have the usual super-speed/strength and enhanced senses. And they live on blood. Put another way, this is a world where vampires are the high priests.

Oh, and one Brother goes bonkers and tries to usher in the viral apocalypse, and only Saffron Burrows can stop him. Sort of. Anyway, I enjoyed it. It's all remorselessly bleak and that kind of visual style has been overdone, but there's enough going on here to make it worth a watch. Oh, and there's a sly, blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to Richard Matheson, which gives a hint as to where the story will lead.

Friday 4 May 2012

Early Issues

Does anyone think there'd be any interest in compiling volumes (print on demand only) containing early, out-of-print issues of ST? I had in mind the first six or seven issues, which have been unavailable for years now. I would be prepared to publish compilations of these quite slim magazines, perhaps two per volume, on They contain some excellent stories. However it would be a bit of a job because firstly I'd have to track down writers and get their permission, and secondly I would have to go through each issue to proof them more carefully - early numbers were often rather flawed (and not just the early ones).

So, any thoughts? Or should I just leave well alone?

Thursday 3 May 2012

Say Hebbo! To Tarvuism

Strange religious cults feature prominently in supernatural fiction. This one is of course completely harmless.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Strange Epiphanies

Rising star Peter Bell has two new books out this year.

The first to reach me is Strange Epiphanies, from Swan River Press in Dublin. This is a beautifully produced hardback volume with dustjacket, and the contents are rather impressive too. Among the strange stories collected is 'Nostalgia, Death and Melancholy', which has been heavily revised since it's appearance in ST11.

I will of course have a review of the book in due course, but for those who admire Peter's work I understand that Swan River's proprietor, Brian J. Showers, has a few copies left. But I suspect they will be snapped up very quickly.

Werewolf alert!

The biggest full moon of the year occurs this week. And I'm all out of silver bullets. Better stay indoors until November, when the lycanthropes will be all feeble and droopy.

This month's full moon is due to be about 16 percent brighter than average. In contrast, later this year on Nov. 28, the full moon will coincide with apogee, the moon's farthest approach, offering a particularly small and dim full moon.

Remember when Disney made movies about black magic and Nazis?

Supernatural Tales 56 - contents

The next issue - due out in the autumn - will see a mixture of familiar names and some newbies. I hope, as always, that the stories find fav...