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Showing posts from January, 2017

Aickman On Audible

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Some time ago I purchased the audiobooks of Robert Aickman's stories read by Reece Shearsmith. The books are the paperback selections Cold Hand in Mine, The Wine Dark Sea, and The Unsettled Dust. You can find them all on the Audible site here . So, what do I think of them? Well, as an admirer of Aickman's work I was worried that they might prove difficult as readings. But in fact, as I listened to the stories, I was struck by how straightforward much of Aickman's prose is. Compared to a lot of modern horror writers he is restrained, rather humorous, somewhat elegiac. But not difficult. Shearsmith, an Aickman fan, resists any temptation there might have been to do 'funny voices' for the many strange and often rather unpleasant characters that populate these stories. Far from it. His approach is restrained and measured, keeping the pace reasonable but not too sedate. He tackles some more complicated sentences effectively and doesn't stumble (so far as I coul

Valancourt Interview in the Weird Fiction Review

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Valancourt Books is a small press doing a sterling job of bringing obscure and neglected authors to a wider audience. It publishes good quality paperbacks and I've got more than a few of them. Here's an interview with the co-founders, who explain how they select titles. And it's not easy to get 'em into print again. There are a ton of obstacles! The most common one is that sometimes it’s difficult — or even impossible — to locate the rights holder. Copyright now lasts 70 years past an author’s death, and it’s quite common to come across an author who died in, say, 1965, and whose work would thus be in copyright until the end of 2035, but the author died unmarried and childless. Who controls the estate?

Robert Westall Radio Adaptations

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I've been feeling distinctly low energy since well before Christmas, so posting here has been desultory. Sorry. I have been listening to a lot of old radio stuff on YouTube, acting like hi-tech fogey. Here are two BBC radio plays based on stories by Robert Westall. Having read them both I can testify to their faithfulness. 'The Wheatstone Pond' is the story of an antique dealer who hopes that the eponymous pond will yield a few interesting items when it is drained. Instead, horrors of the past are dredged up. The story was originally published alongside 'The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral' in a single volume. The latter story is also about ancient horrors striking deep into modern lives, and concerns a steeplejack and a very unpleasant gargoyle. Both are good winter listens. The poster has added commercials, but I don't think they are overly intrusive.

Leslie Nielsen plus M.R. James

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This has been around on the interwebs for ages but in case you haven't seen it, here it is. This is a Fifties US adaptation of 'The Tractate Middoth' entitled 'The Lost Will of Dr. Rant'. It stars Leslie Nielsen of Naked Gun fame as the hapless librarian. It's part of the series Lights Out, which began on radio and was immensely popular. It routinely featured adaptations of classic tales. Anyway, I think it's rather good for its time. If only more of these rarities survived from the early (and not so early) days of US and UK television.

'The House Opposite' Wins Readers Poll!

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Congratulations to Tim Foley, whose story 'The House Opposite' is the clear winner of the reader poll for issue 33. Well done to Tim, who wins the princely sum of £25. ST 33, with a slew of cracking stories, is still available in print of e-book form. Check out the 'Buy Supernatural Tales' links above.

Phantasms

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The latest collection of stories by Peter Bell is published by Sarob Press, and as always comes with a splendid dust-jacket illustrated by Paul Lowe. Subtitled 'Twelve Eerie Stories', this book represents a good investment for anyone who enjoys the traditional ghost story. There are five new stories here, The rest have been published elsewhere and in several cases been praised here. Many of these stories were published under the auspices of M.R. James expert Ro Pardoe, either in her Ghosts & Scholars newsletter or the Sarob G&S Books of Shadows. So it's not surprising that Monty casts a long shadow over both style and content. Thus 'Glamour of Madness' (a fine title) takes another look at 'A Vignette', suggesting a convincing and tragic backstory for the haunting. 'The Island of One Sheep' and 'Party Line' offer Jamesian stories against the setting of the Hebrides. Bell, like James, is very good on topography and the byways o

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

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'One day I was selling my wears, and I walked past this old creepy castle. And I look at it and think, 'Very old and creepy!'. And then this creature... flies at me! It dragged me back to this dark dungeon. And bit into my neck. And just at the point of death; this creature forced me to suck its foul blood. And then it opened it's wings, like this. And hovered above me. Screeching. 'Now you are vampire.' And it was Petyr. And we're still friends today.' House sharing is always fun, especially when you all have something in common. Like being vampires. Deacon is the bad boy, but loves knitting. Gentle Viago is in love, but is taking decades to pluck of courage to pop the question. Vladislav is a stylish medieval warlord, but he's never been the same since his clash with The Beast. And in the cellar in 8,000 year old Petyr, who bears a remarkable resemblance to a certain Mr Barlow from the TV adaption of Salem's Lot. Sometimes a good film slips