Posts

Showing posts from March, 2019

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

Image
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

Image
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!

Image
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!

Image
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

Image
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'.

Bones!

Image
Just your regular reminder that Jacqueline Simpson's fine collection is available to order, print-on-demand, from the Lulu website.  Go here to order it. 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.

Russian Doll (Netflix 2019)

Image
One of the best TV series of recent years, arguably the Buffy for the Trump era, Russian Doll is about choices, loneliness, and exploring what it is to be human. Sort of. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure, but I do know that this comedy-drama manages to achieve a great deal in eight short episodes. For a start, it's very funny. It is also strange, falling into the general realm of the weird, fantastic, and to some extent the Gothic. While not exactly supernatural in the familiar sense, it hints strongly that there may be some higher purpose to what happens. The story begins with Nadia Vulvokov's thirty-sixth birthday party. Nadia is in the bathroom, looking into the mirror. Someone is knocking at the door. Nadia goes out and greets various guests, and then her friend Max, whose is actually throwing the party for Nadia in her New York apartment. Max gives Nadia a joint laced with cocaine. Later, after making some questionable choices, Nadia is hit by a taxi, dies, and fi

Hugh Lamb

Image
I was sorry to hear that Hugh Lamb has passed away. He was one of the leading anthologists of ghost stories and related fiction for many years. You can read a lot more about him here , and buy some of the books he edited. There is also a moving tribute by his son Richard . At a time when it was not easy to obtain ghost stories outside a few much-reprinted classics, Hugh Lamb sought out lesser-known tales of quality. He helped revive interest in the macabre tales of E. Nesbit and Jerome K. Jerome, and also brought almost forgotten authors like Barry Pain and Bernard Capes to readers like me. Using the inter-library loan service and the Joint-Fiction Reserve of London libraries, Hugh had accumulated an impressive collection of tales. In fact, this turned out to be an inspired method for searching old editions and unearthing rare treasures ripe for republishing. He estimates that around 5,000 books crossed his path this way. That's dedication.

Ngram Fun

I've been playing with this Google thingy that lets you graph the number of mentions of particular words/names/terms in books published in a given period. As you can see from the above, it lets you compare the relative fame of writers. Good showing from Monty after a slow start, I think. It takes a bit of mastering, but once you've got the hang of it you can muck about for ages. Here's a bit o' crime fiction. A battle between some favourite fictional characters, now...