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Showing posts from 2019

M.R.James - The Uncommon Prayer Book (read by Michael Hordern)

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BBC Radio: Ghost Stories of Walter De La Mare - Crewe

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BBC Radio: Ghost Stories of Walter De La Mare - All Hallows

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M. R. Jᴀᴍᴇs/Sʜᴇɪʟᴀ Hᴏᴅɢsᴏɴ ~ 'Sᴛᴏʀɪᴇs I Hᴀᴠᴇ Tʀɪᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ Wʀɪᴛᴇ' ~ Tʜᴇ Lᴏᴅᴇ...

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M.R. James - Canon Alberic's Scrap Book read by Michael Hordern

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M R James - Count Magnus (read by Michael Hordern)

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M. R. James - 'Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad' (read by Michael H...

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'Humbug' - The Christmas Carol Supercut

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M.R. James - Casting the Runes read by Michael Hordern

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M.R. James - A Warning to the Curious read by Michael Hordern

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Not Remotely Yuletide in Theme - The Vampire's Ghost

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This 1945 short feature is a very odd film indeed, combining the full-on vampire legend with the then fashionable jungle movie - all short in Hollywood, of course, on studio sets and with black actors dressed up as 'natives', broken English and all. Not surprisingly, the jungle genre does not seem ripe for revival. It's a bizarre but oddly compelling idea - a vampire in Africa. It's based on a story by the remarkable Leigh Brackett, one of the few female stars of pulp science fiction and a respected Hollywood scriptwriter. Brackett also gets a script credit, and you can see her intelligence and playfulness in the way she handles this strange hybrid tale. But hark! The jungle drums are beating, and the natives turn out to be more clued-up about this vampire malarkey than the hapless white colonials.

Bonkers Yuletide Viewing - Q - The Winged Serpent, 1982

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This is absurd in the best possible sense. I defy you not to love the premise and the way it's handled. If you're in the mood for gore, boobs, a diamond heist, terrible jazz vocals, and the return of an ancient Aztec god that roosts in the Empire State Building, this is the one for you.

Spooky Yuletide Viewing - Ghost Story (TV 1972) The Concrete Captain

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1970s TV (mild) horror with a remarkable pedigree - the writing team being Richard Matheson, Jimmy Sangster, and Elizabeth Walter (a Brit who also wrote for Rod Serling's Night Gallery).

Spooky Yuletide Viewing - The Cat Creature 1973

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Based on a story by Robert Bloch, no less, this is a typical TV movie of the week horror tale. Fun, with some groovy fashions and dialogue.

Spooky Yuletide Viewing - Carnival of Souls 1962

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Perfectly legal and free to view - if you haven't already seen it, this fun, influential, and very effective indie movie is well worth a watch.

Imperfect Democracy...

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I have tried and failed to find a better polling widget for this blog, so I'm giving up. There seems to be no way to embed a poll to the side of the blog posts so everyone can see it all the time. The last online poll - for best story in issue #41 - closes at the end of the year, btw, You can still vote here . From now on I'm just going accept votes via the comments, or email, or indeed carrier pigeon. Let me know in any way you like which story in the current issue, #42. Obviously, you should read it first. If you want to buy a copy, go to the 'Buy Supernatural Tales' page - the link's up above, under the title of this page.

Don't forget...

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The latest issue is available to buy in print or download as an e-zine . New stories by Steve Duffy, Jane Jakeman, Sam Dawson, Patricia Lillie, Mark Valentine, Lynda E. Rucker, and Helen Grant.

Legionnaire - New Sarob Title!

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Cover art by Paul Lowe An exciting package flumped onto my doormat today - a novella by C.E. (Clive) Ward , no less. Long a contributor to Ghosts & Scholars, Ward has been a much-valued author of traditional ghostly tales for many years.  This, his longest work, is doubly interesting because the author describes it as 'a most unlikely pairing and melange of the contemporary writers Montague Rhodes James and Percival Christopher Wren'. If you don't know who P.C. Wren was, go here . Short version - he wrote Beau Geste. So what we have here is a tale of the French Foreign Legion, with ghosts! Sounds spiffing to me. I will review Legionnaire as soon as I can, but I suspect it will sell out before I've read it. So, get yourself over to Sarob at the first link above if you want to bag a long ghost story for Christmas.

"Number Ninety" & Other Ghost Stories by B.M. Croker

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This collection has a superb cover and boards, courtesy of Megan Kehrli, from artwork by Alan Corbett. As you can see, a map of India is prominent. Bithia Mary Croker (nee Sheppard) married an Irish officer who served in Madras and Burma. Many of her ghost stories deal with aspects of life under the Raj that are - to some extent - already familiar to readers of Kipling. The main difference is that Croker's point of view is more domestic - concerns over accommodation, servants, generally organising family life are central. In an excellent introduction the late Richard Dalby gives a literary biography of Croker, who wrote 42 novels and several short story collections. Colonel Croker, on half pay for many years, was no doubt pleased to have a wife who made a tidy sum from her writing. And Croker was popular, her novels combining romance and details of military life in India. But how was she at supernatural fiction? Pretty good, on the evidence collected here. She is a typical

'The Whisperer in Darkness' on the BBC

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The BBC has (for my money) badly bungled its TV adaptation of The War of the Worlds, which I gave up on after a feeble first ep. But over on BBC Sounds, the new and admittedly somewhat annoying audio app, comes an updated, British-set version of one of Lovecraft's best tales. Check out the trailer here . If you go to the programme web page here , you will notice that a previous adaptation by the same team at Sweet Talk is 'The Case of Charles Dexter Ward'. I rate that one as pretty good - again, an updated podcast version in the style of Serial etc. Worth a listen if you like audio horror.

That's telling him...

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Was she buying Supernatural Tales ? We may never know...

Supernatural Tales 42 is here!

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The new issue is now available to order online. Contents: 'The God of Storage Options' by Steve Duffy 'Flame Mahogany' by Jane Jakeman 'So Much Wine' by Lynda E. Rucker 'That’s What Friends Are For' by Patricia Lillie 'Cold as Night' by Sam Dawson 'The Seventh Card' by Mark Valentine 'Mrs Velderkaust’s Lease' by Helen Grant

Christmas Carol Cover

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This is the full-length illo by Sam Dawson. Unfortunately the exigencies of cropping the image mean that, on the cover of the next issue, you can't make out the children - Ignorance and Want - beneath the robe of the Spirit of Christmas Present. So I thought I'd share it.

'What, the one as big as me?'

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New stories by Steve Duffy, Jane Jakeman, Sam Dawson, Patricia Lillie, Mark Valentine, Lynda E. Rucker, and Helen Grant. As you might have guessed from the Dickensian cover (also by Sam Dawson) there are quite a few seasonal tales in this one. This is my attempt to get ST back on the three issues per annum track after a very bad year, hence the short period between issues.

Stranger Things

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I received a gift subscription from an old friend and found myself watching a lot of stuff on Netflix. Of the shows I've seen, Stranger Things is arguably the one closest to the fun horror movies I watched when younger. Certainly the show has tapped into a rich vein of nostalgia (it's set in the Eighties, before the web and mobile phones), and its creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, have made no secret of their admiration of John Carpenter, Spielberg, King and other iconic creators of horror. For those who don't know anything about it, the premise of Stranger Things is simple. Hawkins is a small town in Indiana. Nearby is a secret laboratory where paranormal research is under way. The scientists unwittingly punch a hole into a parallel dimension ('the Upside Down') and a boy, Will Byers, accidentally strays into this dark world. The first season of the show focuses on efforts by Will's friends and family to get him back. Also involved is the local sheriff, an al

'Green Tea'

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To mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Sheridan Le Fanu's classic story (in Dickens' magazine All the Year Round ) the Swan River Press had produced a lavish commemorative volume. Most of us already have the story in at least one anthology or collection. But this new edition is a very fine little book indeed, a real collector's item. Check out the details here . There are excellent illustrations by by Alasdair Wood, which capture the grim, disturbing essence of the tale while skirting overt horror. There is a subtly nightmarish quality about them - especially the last one. Wood also supplied the artwork for the excellent cover design by Meggan Kehrli. The book is accompanied by a CD containing an hour-long audio dramatisation of the story, written by Reggie Chamberlain-King and performed Belfast's Wireless Mystery Theatre, Regular readers of this blog will know how much I love radio drama, and this play does not disappoint,

'So Long at the Fair'

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A story written and read by me. More info at the video description.

'Casting the Runes' by M.R. James - from Escape

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Josh Ritter - The Curse

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The Book of Shadows - A Hallowe'en Drama

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'October Dreams' by Michael Kelly - A Hallowe'en Reading

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'The Ghost on the Hill' by Kathy Stevens - A Hallowe'en Reading

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The Pendle Witch Child - Documentary

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'The Sundial' by R.H. Malden - A Hallowe'en Reading

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Service Announcement

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Problems this year meant that I fell way behind with publication of ST. Things have now stabilised a bit, and I am planning to publish another issue before the end of the year. It will be a 'Christmas edition' in that it will contain some stories of a seasonal nature. It's a Christmas cracker, in fact! I will keep you informed as to when it's available, as per usual. In the meantime, don't forget issue 41, which is still hot off the presses. Buy it , read it, vote for your favourite story in it .

The Nightmare Worlds of H.G. Wells

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I'm on a bit of a Wellsian roll at the moment (see previous post) but it's not necessarily a happy roll. This series produced for Sky Arts looked very promising, not least because the four adaptations of HGW stories are scripted by Graham Duff. Duff is a very good comedy scriptwriter - his radio series  Nebulous, starring Mark Gatiss as a futuristic boffin, is well worth seeking out. Like Gatiss, Duff seems to want to branch out into 'straight' genre fiction. But oh dear, what a career stumble this series represent. For a start, we have Ray Winstone as H.G. Wells. Ray Winstone. As H.G. Wells. So there's that. It's about as sensible as casting Sean Bean as Jane Austen. But it's the choice of stories and the liberties taken with then that really left me frustrated. The episodes are 'The  Late Mr Elvesham', 'The Devotee of Art', 'The Moth', and 'The Purple Pileus'. The first is certainly the best, as Michael Gough

The Door In The Wall - Part 1 (1956)

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An old-school adaptation of one of the greatest supernatural(?) tales of all time, by my favourite author! If you click through to YouTube you can see the second part.

Nine Miles Down (2009)

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Security expert Thomas 'Jack' Jackman (Adrian Paul) sets out into the Sahara to investigate loss of contact with an experimental drilling site. He finds the complex deserted, and signs of strange and disturbing events - including Arabic writing in blood on the walls, a jackal sacrificed inside a magic circle, and a flock of carrion birds circling a pit. Not surprisingly, he calls in an emergency. But personnel are stretched thin searching for the scientists involved in the project, so he'll have to wait a while. Then he encounters a young woman who claims to be the sole survivor - of what was officially a male-only project...

Vote for your favourite story/stories in ST #41!

Best Story in Issue 41? 'That the Sea Shall Be Calm' by David Surface 'Petrichor' by Sam Dawson 'Old Habits' by Stephen Cashmore 'The Sea Man' by James Machin 'Sorrow is the Mother of the World' by Jeremy Schliewe 'The Inheritor' by Peter Kenny 'No Passage Landward' by Steve Duffy Created with Poll Maker Poll ends in the New Year.

Issue 41 now available!

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Magical Superlink takes you to all available print-on-demand issues. You can find it on the UK Amazon site here You can find it on the US Amazon site here Here are the first lines of the stories, to give you a taste of what's on offer: 'Our fevered nights were hung with strange new stars' 'That the Sea Shall Be Calm' by David Surface The world is ending. 'Petrichor' by Sam Dawson On the day I first saw the man in demin clothing a flock of geese arrowed across the sky. 'Old Habits' by Stephen Cashmore It was a rather melancholy drive down to that obscure edge of Kent, thanks to both dismal February weather and the purpose of my visit. 'The Sea Man' by James Machin After long anticipation, Sorrow is the Mother of the World arrived at the local art house cinema and I found myself, much to my surprise, having the theatre all to myself with only minutes remaining before the featur

Tom Johnstone Collection - Out Soon!

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Tom has been kind enough to send me a PDF of his new book, which is published by  Omnium Gatherum . I will get around to reviewing it, honest. There's certainly a lot of it to read - knowing Tom's talent, any reader will find much to absorb and delight them. Wellsbourne’s a town like no other, an ordinary English seaside town where extraordinary things happen, a place of magic, mystery and madness. Here you’ll meet the woman stalked by drones and her own past, the politician who discovers the dark secret of the Green Man, the corpse collector with another self, the girl who menstruates yellow paint and the woman with the red, red hands. You’ll discover a garden that can disappear, boxes of books haunted by a dead writer and a 3D printer that can bring the dead back to life, though in a somewhat altered state. Wellsbourne welcomes careful drivers, but doesn’t necessarily let them leave again… I also have the table of contents - one title here should be familiar to ST readers

Where Shadows Gather - Review

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Another excellent cover by Paul Lowe The very first issue of Supernatural Tales featured a story by Michael Chislett. Since then nary a year has gone by without at least one more tale from him. He's a remarkable author, but one who is not easy to categorise. The fact that he has been published many times in Ghosts & Scholars proves that he often works in the M.R. James tradition. In this volume 'Th Whistle Thing' confirms his love of and technical proficiency in this sub-genre. Yet his stories are not always tales of ghosts, as such. By the same token, he is not a horror writer, but his work can offer deeply horrific scenes. He is, however, unquestionably a London author, and his work - while not always set in what was once known as the Smoke - has a sensibility that, like London, is both cosmopolitan and very specific. Which brings us to this new-ish collection from Sarob Press. Here are a baker's dozen stories, five previously unpublished, that provide

London Particular - Review

The latest poetry pamphlet from Cardinal Cox stems from work he produced while poet-in-residence for the Dracula Society (2015-17). In thirteen poems he draws on 'the lore of an alternate London, while in the background a mounting horror looms'. Well, I like a good looming horror, and this one does not disappoint. As always, the poet's notes to each poem are as entertaining as the work itself. We begin at 'Thutmoses III Needle', and a concrete poem in the shape of the obelisk (more or less). This needle 'sews memory into future'. In the note we read that Fun Manchu had a doctorate from Mistakonic U., among other fine institutions. The spirit of old London - the London of mystery and horror, often linked to exotic outsiders - is nicely evoked. The next two poems concern a book Cox found entitled London Scene and London People. The mysterious volume inspires two sonnets, the first concerning 'The Old Devil Inn, Fleet Street', the second on 'Tem

Splendid in Ash - Review

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This new volume from Egaeus Press collects seventeen stories by Charles Wilkinson. Two - 'Absolute Possession' and 'The Ground of the Circuit' - first appeared in Supernatural Tales . In his  introduction John Howard rightly observes that Wilkinson was a published author (of short fiction and poetry) in the Nineties but seemed like a new arrival a few years ago when his weird fiction started to appear. These stories show the polish and finesse of an experienced writer, replete as they are with sound detail and well-turned phrases. Before I go on to look at some of the stories, though, I should not that this is a beautifully produced volume. The cover and endpapers are adorned with details from a Breughel painting, Children's Games. On the fact of it is, a rather cheerful subject for tales of the disturbing and uncanny. But in fact Breughel's approach has some parallels with the author's, as there is something rather odd and uneasy about the faces and post

Themed issues

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Do you think themed issues of ST might be a good idea? Just mooted the idea with a friend on Facebook, and came up with the following themes - curses, witches, monsters. Obviously ghosts are another possibility. Would a theme be too restrictive, or might it stimulate authorial creativity to re-examine familiar tropes, ideas, imagery etc? Also, might themes be extended to include more general terms like 'islands' or 'travel'? Over to you.

Woah! ST author (and long-serving assistant editor) shortlisted for sci-fi award!

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Old-time science fiction fans like me may recall James White as the author of the Sector General books - tales of space medicine that were way ahead of their time. Well, I've just been informed that there's a James White award for stories by non-professional writers, and Stephen Cashmore has just been shortlisted! Stephen has served heroically as proofreader for many issues of ST, and deserves some kind of campaign medal. But a literary award would be nice, too. The winner of the James White Award - and let's hope it's Stephen - will be published in the prestigious UK magazine Interzone . Congratulations to Stephen on this well-deserved accolade. You can find out more about the James White Award and see the shortlist here .

At the proofing stage...

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The Pyramid (2014)

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So a friend regularly buys me a Netflix subscription for my birthdays and Christmas, and I spend a lot of time searching for decent horror films (among other things). My God, there's a lot of mediocre stuff out there. And yes, I know there always was, but today the not-very-good horror movie seems to be undergoing a revival. I suspect this is precisely because online streaming sites demand industrial-scale production of so-so movies with nothing new to say and no great chops in the scripting/acting/directorial areas. The Pyramid is a good example of the 'meh' school of modern horror. It's not a cheapo thing cobbled together by some students. It's a 20th century Fox production, some money has clearly been thrown at it, and the cast do a decent job. What's more the subject matter - archaeologists locate mysterious pyramid, get trapped inside, stuff happens - is very appealing. I love me a bit of killer mummy, ancient curses, mad reincarnation stuff, Valerie Leo

Short Story - It's Free!

This one doesn't really fit anywhere else so I thought I'd post it here. Dive Buddy It's murky down here. The water's thick with ooze and muck and particles of nondescript crud that block my view in all directions. Look up, and I can just see the shimmer of the surface, a sheet of uncertain greenish light. Ahead of me and all around is a liquid fog born of the currents and the tides. Down, then, keeping hold of the guide line, until I see the wreck. There it is, seeming to rise out of the murk like a ghost ship. Which I suppose it is. It's nothing special, a coastal cargo vessel that went down in a minor storm thanks to shoddy seamanship some fifty-odd years back. Just another number in Lloyd's long list, another ding on the old Lutine Bell. But it so happens this ship settled down gently, sinking so slowly that it came to rest upright and almost intact on the flat, sandy bed. And that makes it a good dive site. So I'm told. I'm new to a

Santi - Raw Dinner (The Movie) feat Kida Kudz

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'Martin's Close' - A Ghost Story for Christmas

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'1684. John Martin is on trial for his life. Facing him, the infamous ‘hanging Judge’, George Jeffreys. But this is not a cut and dried murder case. Because the innocent girl Martin is accused of killing has been seen after her death…' Yes, it's arguably Monty James's best 'historical' ghost story. Script by who else but Mark Gatiss, who also directs. What's more, it stars Peter Capaldi, formerly the Doctor (i.e. Who) and a good choice for this sort of thing. With wigs and that. Capaldi will play Dolben, the barrister prosecuting Mr Martin for the crown, while other cast members include Game of Thrones’ Wilf Scolding as George Martin, Upstairs Downstairs’ Simon Williams as Stanton, EastEnders’ Sara Crowe as Sarah, Cucumber’s Fisayo Akinade as William, James Holmes (Miranda) as Snell and Elliot Levey as Judge George Jeffreys. More info here .

A Flowering Wound - Review

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This new-ish Swan River Press collection of John Howard's tales seemed to me like suitable summer reading. Many of the stories concern overlit urban landscapes not unlike those in the stories of J.G. Ballard, though the mood is very different. Howard is more humane than Ballard, more interested in the minutiae of history. What the two authors do have in common, however, is a refusal to resort of conventional gimmicks to neatly 'round off' stories, preferring to present instead a vision, an incident, a sense of dislocation or doubt. The stories fall into several broad categories. There are contemporary tales of somewhat alienated and lonely gay men who struggle to make connections. 'A Glimpse of the City' sees an Englishman in contemporary Berlin becoming fixated on a young man who appears in photographs from different periods of the city's history. 'The Man Ahead' is a similarly enigmatic figure glimpsed at a Pride march in Birmingham. 'We the Re

The Science of Unvanishing Objects - Review

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  Chloe N. Clark's stories have appeared in Supernatural Tales for some years now. T his slim pamphlet shows another side to her talents, but most of the poems here could be classed as supernatural tales or weird fiction. The feel is darkly humorous, sometimes confessional, always alert and interested in a world infested with strange ideas and even strangers people. Ghosts are common but not commonplace. 'The Apparitionist' runs through fragments of autobiography, from the ex-boyfriend into Japanese ghosts to childhood rituals invented to keep spirits away. 'Tricks to Keep Away the Dark' and 'A Spell That Uses the Blood of Oranges' have similar themes, recalling the intense beliefs of the young and the way they haunt our older selves. 'Rural Routes in Iowa' sees the poet consult a palm reader, only to be told she has no lines, no fortune. Like many inclusion, this one reads a little like notes for a short stories. Missing women and girls hau

Life Goes On...

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I'm slowly adjusting to the new normal, and contemplating the next issue of ST. I hope to publish it before Hallowe'en and the impending Brexit lunacy. In the meantime here's a nice horror story.

Announcement

Due to bereavement I'm putting ST on hold  for now. I'm not sure when things will be back on track. I hope you will bear with me at this difficult time.

'Wailing Well' on BBC Sounds

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Here you can find a new reading of M.R. James' classic tale that he read to the Eton Scout Troop - presumably to scare them witless. No, of course boys enjoy grisly tales, and this is one of his nastiest. It's part of a series on the new BBC Sounds app in a series called Classic Stories, and subtitled Stories for Summer. Another tale by Monty in the same series is... 'Rats'. No prizes if you said 'Mice'. I think both readings are okay, certainly not old-school fulsome, but perfectly acceptable.  The whole series offers a ton of good stuff, much of it spooky or otherwise weird.

Glorious Victory

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Steve Duffy won the Readers Poll for ST 40. He pipped Helen Grant by 19 votes to 17 - a close run thing. Congratulations to Steve, and well done to Helen and the other authors. He wins the princely sum of twenty-five British pounds, a sum that will continue to be worth something for several months, in all likelihood.

Nightfall

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BBC Radio 4 Extra is currently running a short series of five episodes of the classic Canadian (CBC) series Nightfall. Here is a link to the web page and list of eps. A lot of people have very fond recollections  of the series, but sadly it was not broadcast in the UK despite being ideal BBC radio fodder. From what I've heard it's very good, and well worth a listen.

Don't forget to vote in the reader poll!

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If you still haven't voted in the reader poll for best story in issue 40, go here and click away. NB - I have decided to end the poll on 30th June, so if you haven't voted yet, vote now. Or soon. You know.

Ghosts (BBC 2019)

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In every generation there must be a silly TV series about the supernatural which does not aspire to be anything other than entertaining. Or at least there ought to be one. Ghosts, which is available on the BBC iPlayer here , is a good example of a comedy that plays with familiar haunted house tropes and pretty much gets it right. It's not scary (because it's a comedy) but it is enjoyable if you put your brain in neutral and simply watch what happens. If you've seen Horrible Histories, it's the same kind of thing only with a slightly more adult slant, hence it's relatively late time slot. The premise is the time-honoured gimmick whereby a very, very distant relative of a deceased toff inherits a big country house. Alison (Charlotte Ritchie) is the inheritor of the crumbling Button Hall. She and her boyfriend Mike (Kiell Smyth-Bynoe) plan to renovate the hall and turn it into a posh hotel. But Alison has a near-death experience that leaves her able to see ghosts - a

Not to Be Taken at Bed-Time & Other Strange Stories - Review

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This fairly new volume from the Swan River Press is a very beautiful book. I need to make that clear from the outset - I have never seen a better-looking small press volume (and I've seen a few in my time, missus). The dustcover design by Megan Kehrli, from artwork by Brian Coldrick, is superb, and perfectly suited to the contents. A ghostly apparition is at the centre, surrounded a rather attractive design of roses and a small bird. The art on the inside cover is equally fine, with its ladder placed at an open window and more beautiful foliage around it. I mention this because Rosa Mulholland's stories are fine examples of Victorian Romantic fiction in both senses of the term. The original meaning of Romantic was dangerous, Gothic, weird, not quite respectable. By the time Mulholland (1841-1921) started writing for Dickens' famous magazine All the Year Round the sharper edges of Romanticism had been dulled a little, but despite her Victorian sensibility the author stil

The Devil Commands (1941)

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William F. Sloane's second and last novel, The Edge of Running Water , is a neglected classic that could arguably be classed as a Wellsian scientific romance. It has none of the feel of pulp magazine sci-fi/horror, instead offering a fairly sedate narrative with well-rounded characters and a striking central premise. Like Sloane's first book, To Walk the Night , it's a slow-burner with a lot of style, and key scenes stick in the memory.

'The Detective' by Cardinal Cox

I'm trying to get my reviewing mojo back, and it's not easy. However, one item I'm always pleased to see is a slim, intriguing poetry pamphlet from Cardinal Cox, formerly Poet Laureate of Peterborough. His latest pamphlet is the twelfth in his retro-futurist series, which intersects with the Gothic, along with sci-fi and general weirdness. As usual, the poems are short, pithy, interesting, and the footnotes are a veritable cornucopia of interesting ideas. So, what's it about?

Reader Poll for Issue 40

Best story in ST #40? 'Chambers of the Heart' by Steve Duffy 'Mortimer: The Husband's Story' by Jane Jakeman 'Sargasso' by Laura Lucas 'Inside Out' by Tracy Fahey 'Legends of Claudia' by S.P. Miskowski 'Atmospheric Disturbances' by Helen Grant 'Red Lion Rising' by Mark Valentine Created with Survey Maker

Where Are the Bones? A Reminder!

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Where Are the Bones? & Other Stories by Jacqueline Simpson is still available, and still eminently readable! Stories of the strange and supernatural by one of Britain's leading folklore experts. Contents: "Introduction" by Jacqueline Simpson; "Three Padlocks"; "On Danish Dunes"; "Where are the Bones...?"; "Vampire Viking Queen"; "Dragon Path"; "The Trophy"; "Rowland's Hall"; "Purty Liddle Dears"; "The Game of Bear"; "The Guardian"; "The Pepper-Pot"; "Afterword" by Gail-Nina Anderson; "A Note on Will Stone" by Rosemary Pardoe

Issue 40 now available for Kindle

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You can find it on the UK Amazon site here . You can find it on the US Amazon site here .

The Gourmet

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Issue 40 is now available

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You can buy it online here . Stories by Steve Duffy, Mark Valentine, Tracy Fahey, S.P. Miskowski, Helen Grant, Jane Jakeman, and Laura Lucas. Here are the opening sentences. It had often been said of Olivia that she trusted too much in the generosity of the men in her life. 'Chambers of the Heart' by Steve Duffy Jack rolled over and pushed something out of the way. 'Mortimer: The Husband's Story' by Jane Jakeman  Toby is married to Lana. 'Sargasso' by Laura Lucas  All through that last, unending winter, she bites her tongue. 'Inside Out' by Tracy Fahey  If you don’t mind, I find it advisable to schedule activities early in the day. 'Legends of Claudia' by S.P. Miskowski  It was the flash that woke him. 'Atmospheric Disturbances' by Helen Grant  When he saw the headline at the newspaper stand he had a brief flicker of unease. 'Red Lion Rising' by Mark Valentine

Another Fine Book

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As I've written here before (and I won't bore on about it any more) I've been tired and stressed out for a long while now, and not in any condition to give thoughtful, considerate opinions on other people's writing. So I'm not able to posts proper book reviews. At the same time, I was sent some new books after things went pear-shaped, and I should at least draw attention to them. So... Bending to Earth is a Swan River Press collection of old but little-known 'Strange Stories by Irish women'. I have read most of the stories and can testify that there are well chosen by editors Brian Showers and Maria Giakaniki. Here you will find fairy tales, ghost stories, horror, and much else that is Gothic and, yes, strange. If you go to the link at the start of this para you will see an extract from the introduction, The present volume is subtitled “Strange Stories by Irish Women”, and its authors populate the better part of the nineteenth century. One might rightf

This Looks Good...

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Dust-Jacket art by Paul Lowe Sarob Press is publishing Their Dark & Secret Alchemy , an anthology of three novellas/novelettes by Richard Gavin, Colin Insole, and Damian Murphy. RICHARD GAVIN ~ TEN OF SWORDS: RUIN ... Secret things, furtive silent rituals, and the revealing of darker truths. COLIN INSOLE ~ THE DEAD OF MARIDUNUM ... A strange inheritance, a terrible tragedy, and the return of a sinister and ancient terror. DAMIAN MURPHY ~ THE AXIS OF THE LODESTONE ... Arcane ceremonies, the search for esoteric knowledge, and a sacramental descent into the depths.  I expect it will sell out very quickly - all Sarob titles do.

Ghost on Lake Como

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This is a wonderful wooden sculpture of a ghost at the Castle of Vezio. Check it out here . Nice to see spooks getting out in the fresh air, enjoying the sunshine. All s/he needs now is a nice bowl of pasta and some decent wine.

Pet Sematary (2019) - Final Trailer - Paramount Pictures

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Censored Rod Serling

Rod Serling's decision to make The Twilight Zone was influenced by the fact that his attempts to tackle controversial issues in realistic drama were thwarted. An interesting article, here . Serling wrote a radio drama based on the notorious lynching of Emmett Till, but commercial sponsors - the effective censors of network TV in the Fifties - vetoed it. Soon after the trial concluded, Serling, riding off the success of his most well-received teleplay to date, felt compelled write a teleplay around the racism that led to Till’s murder. But the censorship that followed by advertisers and networks, fearful of blowback from white, Southern audiences, forced Serling to rethink his approach. His response, ultimately, was “The Twilight Zone,” the iconic anthology series that spoke truth to the era’s social ills and tackled themes of prejudice, bigotry, nuclear fears, war, among so many others. With Jordan Peele's relaunched TZ in the offing, it's an interesting read.

Resonance & Revolt - Review

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On the 30th October last year I received a request to review a new collection that was emailed to me as a pdf. I said yes, of course, happy at the prospect of reading stories by a writer new to me. Then, a few days later, my 82 year-old father fell seriously ill, and this set off a chain reaction of problems that culminated in his leg being amputated a couple of weeks ago. During the last four months I've had precious little time for reading, and things are not set to change any time soon. So I must apologise profusely to Rosanne and write a partial review, giving my opinion only on the stories I've managed to read. Sorry. Rosanne Rabinowitz is one of the rising stars of British fantasy/science fiction/genre spanning stuff, and this remarkable themed collection shows why. Resonance & Revolt explores history history in a way that only a well-informed writer can. The author also offers convincing glimpses of possible futures. The theme is always rebellion, in some se

The Birth of the Modern Ghost Story - Article

Nice piece at CrimeReads by Leslie S. Klinger and Lisa Morton. They rightly point to the link between the emergence of Spiritualism in the late 19th century and the rise in the popularity of fictional ghosts. While they cover familiar ground for fans of the genre, it's always good to see the 'right stuff' laid out in the one place like this. Just as wealthy Victorians on both sides of the Atlantic were flocking to séances in hopes of seeing a table levitate or hearing a dead loved one miraculously channeled by an attractive young medium, so at home they consumed ghost stories in the pages of the magazines that had become popular thanks to new printing technologies. Klinger and Morton have edited an anthology , and claim that they have collected 'ghost stories that have been overlooked by contemporary readers'. I would say that rather depends on the readers in question, as most of the stories are well-known to me. But it's a handsome volume and might well be

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As if you needed reminding... Unless of course you did

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Stories of the strange and supernatural by one of Britain's leading folklore experts Contents: "Introduction" by Jacqueline Simpson; "Three Padlocks"; "On Danish Dunes"; "Where are the Bones...?"; "Vampire Viking Queen"; "Dragon Path"; "The Trophy"; "Rowland's Hall"; "Purty Liddle Dears"; "The Game of Bear"; "The Guardian"; "The Pepper-Pot"; "Afterword" by Gail-Nina Anderson; "A Note on Will Stone" by Rosemary Pardoe

Lovecraft Country

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An interesting article about a new, radical approach to horror/fantasy that's informing a HBO series. Atticus Turner, one of Lovecraft Country’s central heroes, is a young, science fiction-loving black veteran recently back from time in the Korean War. He soon realizes that his service to his country doesn’t actually mean all that much back home because of the color of his skin. While Atticus’ family and friends love him dearly, the racist micro and macro-aggressions he faces on a daily basis are a constant reminder of what it means to be black in America. Racism is a demon all of Lovecraft Country’s characters must face, but they there are also actual demons out there in the world they cross paths with, and its when these literal and metaphorical evils intersect that Lovecraft Country begins to really shine. The series is an adaptation of a novel by Matt Ruff, which comes highly recommended by Neil Gaiman. And the show is being co-produced by Jordan Peele, and sci-fi blockbust

Happy St Patrick's Day!

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Here's an Irish ghost story by one of the masters of the genre. 

Mister Peele, You're Needed

My title is for old folk who watched old British telly, that is all. The important point is that Jordan Peele, writer-director of the excellent Get Out , has a new horror movie on the way. And according to this article , he's 'one of us', someone with a genuine feel for horror, a love of the genre.  Get Out is existentially terrifying; Us is spill-your-soda scary. It’s the tale of a family facing off with unsettling doppelgängers of themselves, which Peele calls the Tethered — he means them to be a “monster mythology,” in keeping with Universal’s Frankenstein/Dracula/Wolfman tradition. He’s taking some mischievous pleasure at the prospect of freaking out some of Get Out ’s more genteel fans.

Tom Johnstone - Book Launch!

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ST contributor Tom Johnstone has a new novella coming out this week, and if you're in or near Brighton you could be part of the launch. Tom writes: 'My debut novella has just come out from Omnium Gatherum Books. Entitled The Monsters are Due in Madison Square Garden, it's been described as 'a noir narrative rich with history and atmosphere, steeped in cinema and the dark genres' by Rosanne Rabinowitz. Come and join me downstairs at Bom Banes for a drink and some readings to celebrate its publication. There'll be copies of the novella and other publications for sale. See you there! The event begins at 7pm on Wednesday!

Art and Monty James

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An excellent item here looks at some of the early illustrations provided for M.R. James' stories. As the author remarks: The effectiveness of M.R. James’ghost stories owes much to the author’s ability to create sensations of physical unease in the reader, particularly through the sense of touch. He never relies on merely visual effects, such as the sight of a grisly spectre or the shock of recognising a dead ancestor. Many of his stories were, of course, written in order to be read aloud rather on the printed page. One might therefore question the purpose of illustrations for his stories; can they enhance the reading experience, or might they prevent the text from guiding the reader’s imagination in the way that James intended?  In the end, though, illustrations were seen as necessary to short stories in magazines and indeed books. So here we find young Stephen asking Mrs Bunch a significant question in 'Lost Hearts'.