Posts

Showing posts from November, 2015

Algernon Blackwood with 'Pistol Against a Ghost'

Image

HWA Bram Stoker Award

Image
The reading list for the Bram Stoker Award in the Short Fiction category includes two stories from ST#30. They are 'Even Clean Hands Can Do Damage' by Steve Duffy, and '30' by Helen Grant. I am very pleased that two excellent authors are in the running for an award because I think good writers deserve publicity. Oh, and I hope lots of people buy the magazine, of course. It's interesting to note that, while both stories are very traditional in some regards, they also manage to be genuinely original in some important respects. They're also very different in tone, with Helen's story somewhat playful and knowing (almost the very end) while Steve's is more sombre, as befits the subject matter. If you feel the urge to peruse those excellent tales, you can find it in print and ebook from here . Go on, get stuck in - it's quite cheap and a good read. Cover art by Sam Dawson

The Wicker Man and the Lambton Worm

Image
One of the first tales of weird fiction I learned wasn't from the pages of Edgar Allan Poe or M.R. James, but from English medieval history. Where I grew up in Sunderland one of the few local legends - perhaps the only one of note - is that of full-on monster v. hero action. The Lambton Worm is a ballad that tells a familiar tale. A foolish person makes a blunder that unleashes a dangerous entity upon an unsuspecting world. Well, County Durham, anyway. The worm in question starts of small, gets bigger, and eventually becomes a major nuisance that can't be killed by regular warriors. So a hero arises and - thanks to advice from a witch, no less - kills the monster. Unfortunately, the witch's bargain brings a curse upon the hero's line... If you want to read the story, the traditional ballad is here . There are some interesting twists, not least the fact that young John Lambton, the hero, is also the twit who unleashes the worm in the first place. But what's all t

Punctuation, People

Image
Oh, Monty - you and your promiscuous young people. Why couldn't you just write about genteel scholars looking for old books 'n' that? Gleaned this online, so I'm not sure of the source, but it looks (and reads) like the dear old Grauniad.

Lego Hell!

Image
Yes, Lego Hell. Or, more precisely, a young Romanian artist's interpretation of Dante's Inferno, as rendered in Lego. It's strong stuff, though I think he missed a trick in not having some group of offenders (old drunks going to the bathroom in the dark, perhaps?) fated to step on Lego bricks in bear feet - forever! Gluttony - a high-protein zone Heresy - God just doesn't like your opinion, dude Limbo - where's the bar?

Across the River (2013)

Image
This Italian movie was recommended to me by author Steve Duffy, and - as usual - he was right. It's a simple horror flick that exploits, but doesn't depend upon, the found footage approach. It's one of those films that manages to achieve all it sets out to do - create disturbing world of shadows, mystery, and terror within a fairly familiar landscape. The premise of Across the River is very simple. A naturalist (Renzo Gariup) sets out to conduct a wildlife survey in northern Italy, near the Slovenian border. He drives an RV into a fairly desolate, hilly, forested region and sets up night vision cameras to monitor deer, wild boar, and other fauna. He also captures a fox and attaches to it a camera plus GPS tracker. He watches as the fox ventures into a deserted village, not marked on his map, where it is attacked by an unseen beast. His curiosity piqued, he ventures across the river. Most of the film is set in the lost village, which is a character in itself

Supernatural Tales 31

Image
Coming soon! An issue literally packed with supernatural fiction, because that's what it's for, really.  Here are the contents: 'Deletion' by Stephen McQuiggan A man with a bad reputation in a small town finds himself the focus of unwanted attention. But why do so many people have trouble remembering his name? 'Before the Days of the Urban Fox' by Malcolm Laughton 'Suddenly Alyn looked back at the wall. A creature sat atop it—exactly where the dog stared. It was man-shaped, and it murmured and murmured.' 'Krogh's Remains' by C.M. Muller Bereavement drives a woman to seek out a lost uncle, but he proves elusive. His obsession with books, on the other hand, is all too evident... 'What I Found in the Shed' by Tom Johnstone 'It had that strange, half-human, keening quality. But I knew it was a baby.' 'In Loco Mortis' by Mike Chinn 'What’s your name, by the way? I may have known once—

Malevolent Visitants! News from Sarob Press

Image
Sarob Press has announced a new title, and it's a doozy. Malevolent Visitants will be a new collection of stories by C.E. Ward, one of the best writers of the traditional ghostly tale. Clive Ward's fiction appeared regularly in Ghosts & Scholars magazine during the Nineties and he established himself as a direct descendant of M.R. James thanks to his style and erudition. His tales of the supernatural offer erudition, humour, and chills in roughly equal proportion. I'm a fan, in case you hadn't guessed. As you can see from Paul Lowe's covert art, Clive's work tends to focus on rural and historical themes. The bloody heritage of England crops up in various forms in his first two collections, Vengeful Ghosts, and Seven Ghosts & One Other (both published by Sarob, and long out of print). Here's some more information from the Sarob announcement: Be prepared for a restless night when every small sound will have you staring into the deeply shad

November Nunkie!

Image
Last night my old friend Mike and I went to the Lit and Phil in Newcastle to hear Robert Lloyd Parry of Nunkie Theatre perform 'A Pleasing Terror', one of his now extensive repertoire of shows based on the works of M.R. James. Last night's show featured 'Canon Alberic's Scrap-book' and 'The Mezzotint', but during this autumn/winter tour Rob is doing other stories, among them 'Casting the Runes' and 'A Warning to the Curious' - it depends on the venue. Rob played to a packed house, having built up a considerable following over the last few years. He was always a confident performer, of course, but his mastery of his material was never more apparent than last night. He switched from humour to horror and back with great aplomb, drawing attention to the way in which Dr. James made those two effects complementary, rather than contradictory. (I should emphasise again that these are performances of the stories, not simply readings. RLP uses M

The Kibbo Kift - Mystic Folksy Weirdness

Image
An interesting Guardian article looks at a British political movement that's almost forgotten, yet produced some of the most striking ideas and images of its time. The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift was formed after the Great War to revitalise an exhausted, demoralised nation and - by extension - the entire world. Its founder, artist John Hargrave, styled himself White Fox and exhorted people to go camping, learn craft skills, and breed superior beings. If that sounds a bit proto-Nazi, well, associated groups in Germany were assimilated by the National Socialists. But to be fair to Hargrave, he seems to have been equally opposed to communism and fascism, eventually forming his own 'Green Shirts' and arguing for peaceful coexistence and a world government. That rational, if highly idealistic, objective was married to some quasi-mystical notions. 'Hargrave held that the postwar reconstruction was doomed “because the rulers have not the courage to abandon the mechanical

It Follows (2014)

Image
This American horror movie may have slipped by some folk, which is a pity. It's an excellent reworking of a familiar theme - one used in at least two classics of the genre and quite a few lesser movies. It Follows is the story of Jay (Maika Monroe), a teenager enjoying her summer who goes out on what becomes a very bad date. She is drugged and strapped to a wheelchair, then confronted with what she is assured is a shape-shifting entity that is going to kill her, if it catches her. The twist is that the thing, which only its 'targets' can see, can only move at a walking pace. In theory, you can always stay one step ahead. In practice... As in Night of the Demon, the very first sequence in the film has already shown us that something truly disturbing is going on. So the film wastes relatively little time on the notion that Jay is crazy or the victim of a sick prank. Instead she and her friends try to find out what they're up against and how to evade or defeat it. It