Monday 29 April 2019

Where Are the Bones? A Reminder!

Where Are the Bones? & Other Stories by Jacqueline Simpson is still available, and still eminently readable!

Where Are The Bones?

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

Sunday 21 April 2019

Issue 40 is now available

Supernatural Tales 40

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

Wednesday 17 April 2019

Another Fine Book

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 rightfully wonder if such a joined-up tradition can be delineated, and if the tales in this anthology constitute part of a literary continuum. In his essay on Irish literature for Supernatural Literature of the World (2005), Peter Tremayne makes the helpful observation that “Practically every Irish writer has, at some time, explored the genre for the supernatural is part of Irish culture.” Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find an Irish author who did not, at some point, include elements of the fantastic in their work — be it supernatural, folkloric, surrealist, or something else. Naturally, this makes broad declarations a particularly challenging endeavour.
I think that Showers and Giakaniki have done a splendid job of collecting such a wide range of tales, and anyone who likes weird fiction will find a lot to entertain them here.

Saturday 13 April 2019

This Looks Good...

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.
... Secret things, furtive silent rituals, and the revealing of darker truths.
... A strange inheritance, a terrible tragedy, and the return of a sinister and ancient terror.
... 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.

Thursday 11 April 2019

Ghost on Lake Como

Castle of Vezio ghost Varenna Lake Como

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.

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Pet Sematary (2019) - Final Trailer - Paramount Pictures

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.

Friday 5 April 2019

Resonance & Revolt - Review

Eibonvale Press - Resonance and Revolt by Rosanne Rabinowitz

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 sense, but there is nothing repetitive about the way Rabinowitz explores what is to be oppressed, to be free, to be human. As Lynda E. Rucker notes in her introduction, the tales offer 'a cyclical sense of the ebb and flow of power and tyranny and resistance'. Heavy stuff, you may think - but these stories are fun to read, as playful and intelligent as anything you will find elsewhere.

The first story, 'In the Pines', is a novelette set in the US in three different historical periods, all linked by the eponymous folk song. Part 1, 'The Longest Train', reminded me of watching 'Casey Jones' on TV as a sprog, as it concerns the wonderful folklore of American railroads. In 1875 in rural Georgia woman grieves for Sam, killed driving a goods train to Tennessee. 'Your head was in the driving wheel, your body was never found.'

Part 2 is 'Jersey Devil', set in New Jersey in 1973. A young woman attends a rock concert in the Vietnam/Watergate era, and hears 'The Longest Train' sung. Linda also learns a harsh lesson about youthful infatuation, and retreats into the woods. There she encounters the actual Jersey Devil (not the spurious, if interesting, one from The X-Files) and discovers that sometimes a monster is easier to deal with than supposedly cool people.

Part 3, 'High Lonesome Frequency', is set in Cornwall in 2015. A famous scientist is interviewed by a middle-aged reporter - it is Linda from the previous chapter. Experiments in music lead to time travel, of a kind, and we discover the Jersey Devil's taste in snack food. There is, perhaps, a nod to Lovecraft's 'From Beyond' in the idea that music can re-tune the mind to experience other realities overlapping with our own.

Tuesday 2 April 2019

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 a valuable primer for someone new to the ghost story and wondering just where it all started.

Helpmeet - a brief review