Showing posts from April, 2014


One of the things you're supposed to do when you publish an ebook is provide an ecover. Instead of simply using the print covers, I went a bit mad and tried to create new covers so downloaders would feel they're getting a distinctive product. Or something. Anyway, here are some of the ones I made using Sam Dawson's artwork. The second one is a new picture not used in the print version. It just happened to be there, so I thought I'd bung it in. A traditional haunted house image, I think it looks rather good. Is the fact that it's not 'book-shaped' important? I'd guess not with an e-reader. Or am I wrong?

ST for Kindle and other e-readers

Okay, here's an experiment. You can download the latest issue from Smashwords on a 'pay what you like' basis for the next week or so. Available formats are epub, mobi, pdb, and other random lumps of alphabet. And here's the cover! UPDATE: Several issues are now available. Recent ones are pay-what-you-like, older ones are set at a price of $3.95. Is that price too high or too low for a magazine running to just over 30,000 words? Regular ebook downloaders, please let me know!

Some films I've watched lately

Films that have a supernatural bent, that is. We begin with one I should have watched a while back - I could kick myself that I missed this when it came out. What impresses me about The Devil's Business? Well, almost everything. For a start, it's intelligently scripted. That's no small thing in low-budget horror, where the script sometimes seems to have been cobbled together at the last minute. Here the way the telling of a 'ghost story' leads into some extreme occult action is brilliantly handled. The lead performances range from fine to superb, and the effects, lighting, camerawork and soundtrack are outstanding. Oh, and there's a genuinely original (and yet entirely traditional) monster. It's rare that I finish a horror movie thinking what a splendid motion picture I've just seen, but that was how I felt with this one. Dennis Wheatley meets  Not nearly so good, but still entertaining in many ways, is this Korean horror.  Possessed

The Master of the House

John Gaskin's third collection from Tartarus is also his last, according to the author's introduction. Gaskin, a retired professor of philosophy who lives in Northumberland (not too far from where I'm typing this) has, presumably, written himself out. This is a pity, as at his best he is a masterly storyteller in the great tradition of the British weird tale. The subtitle 'Tales of Twilight and Borderlands' sums up the appeal of the strongest stories collected here. The Borders, the region that was once the northernmost frontier of the Romans and later became the nucleus of the kingdom of Northumbria, is little-known and ill-defined. It has a rich and strange history. Gaskin captures the beauty and the oddness of the border landscape, as Sarban did in 'Ringstones'. And like Sarban Gaskin tends to shun the obvious horror story device of 'monster and/or maniac' as menace in favour of less well-defined entities. Thus in 'Night Music&#

MRJ doc

Codex Yuggoth

What connects Doctor John Dee the Elizabethan alchemist with the Selenites of H.G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon ? Can you recall the hideous experiment of Andre Delambre? (Clue: 'Heeeelp meeeee!' in a tiny voice.) And why is St John of Patmos in the mix? Answers to these and other impertinent questions may be found in the latest pamphlet from Peterborough's power-packed poet Pete 'Cardinal' Cox. Regular readers will know that, down the years, the Cardinal of the Arcane has striven personfully to tie together all the disparate strands of weird fiction, plus a bit of folklore, Forteana and even your actual history. It's an exercise that would be laborious and unconvincing in prose, but works brilliantly in what seems like light verse. I say seems, because while the mood is usually playful, there is a dark thread that runs through a tapestry that is often bright with an old-school sci-fi 'sensawunda'. Anyway, his latest mini-opus deals with the

Astral Zombies! Baron Blood!

Due to an editorial oversight, none of the above appear in the latest issue of Supernatural Tales. For which I can only apologise. Better luck next time.

Issue 26 is now available

You can buy the latest issue of ST via the link to the right. People in the UK who have postal subscriptions should receive their copies by next week at the latest. Those who live overseas must place their trust in the gods of the postal system, so it'll take a bit longer. But please let me know when your copy arrives so I can gauge how efficient things are.

Dancing Dracula

There's something about Bram Stoker's classic that works on stage. In a film or TV version, no matter how enjoyable, I'm waiting for something to fail, for the inevitable sense that this story is very, very silly indeed and doesn't hang together at all. But in live action it always seems to work. I had no idea there was more than one ballet version of Dracula, but then I know next to nothing about ballet. Anyway, this looks interesting. As does this, taking a much more trad approach. Then there's what might be termed the West End option. Nice to see the Count and his pals can still inspire the young folk.

Building a Spooky Library - H.P. Lovecraft

Very few writers are influential on society in any way whatever. Successful authors influence their accountants. Acclaimed literary authors win awards and merit serious obituaries. Howard Philips Lovecraft was a commercial failure and never won an award, but his influence on popular culture is significant. His ideas have become part of the DNA of our strange world, especially in films and games. Millions who've never heard of him have encountered Lovecraftian images and ideas, most obviously in films such as Alien . This in itself makes him exceptional. He set out to try and change the nature of horror fiction, and succeeded in opening up new possibilities for those who came after. 

'The Road' Recreated

This is an amateur production of Nigel Kneale's 1963 television play 'The Road'. The BBC wiped the videotape so the original version is lost. Fans can only do so much, of course, but given the constraints on broadcast drama at the time of writing I think it's closer to what Kneale had in mind than anything the BBC might attempt today. See what you think.

The Moment of Panic

'The Marginals', the first story in this book , neatly sums up Steve Duffy's very British brand of horror. In this tale a man who has made some bad life choices (or fallen victim to circumstance, or both) gets a strange job. It involves observing what appear to be rather dull men standing about in lay-by.  These men are not ghosts or zombies, but partake of some of the qualities of both. They are at once real yet nonexistent: 'they were given over to the margins, to the space around the edge of things. In this way, they became the sort of creatures for whom these places - these inhospitable thresholds they're forever on the verge of crossing - might have been invented.'  It is this marginal land that most of Steve Duffy's characters inhabit, explore, or blunder into. It is recognisable as Britain (most of the time), but it is certainly not the country described by corporations, the media, or politicians. This is in part because it is the land that


I've posted about Dunwich before, somewhere, but here is an interesting film about one of the sunken towns of England. Recently the country has suffered heavily from flooding and coastal erosion, during a very stormy winter. Dunwich is a warning from history that nature is not easily thwarted, and then only for a while.

Poe Statue

And about time too. The Edgar Allan Poe Foundation (based in Boston) has raised enough cash to put up a statue to the author, complete with added raven. Story is here . This is what it'll look like. It will cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Ironic when you consider that Poe spent much of his life scrabbling for much smaller sums. I can't see M.R. James getting this kind of treatment any time soon. But all credit to the weird fiction fans of America - and beyond - who've got behind this project. Inscriptions don't seem to be fashionable in these post-literate times, but perhaps exceptions can be made for statues of writers? Anyway, I'd suggest the following, from 'Alone': From childhood's hour I have not been  As others were; I have not seen  As others saw; I could not bring   My passions from a common spring.