Thursday 29 April 2021

The Curse of the Longhorns!

In fiction, curses tend to be rather dramatic and subtle. In life, sad to say, they are more predictable and boring. In my case, the arthritis that has afflicted my knees for some years has finally found it way to my right arm and shoulder, rendering me less able to type and work online (all those mouse clicks etc). 

This should not have too serious an effect on ST but I am of course having to put paying work ahead of the magazine and this blog, which are essentially hobbies. However, sweet are the uses of adversity, as Shakespeare remarked at some point. I have been experimenting with dictation software, and while it often has hilarious results, it is good enough to get me back on track. 

Just thought I'd mention it in case there are fallow spells here in future. It's not the spirit that is unwilling, etc. 

Now, back to your regular viewing.

Support Small Press Publishers!

I just thought I'd give a shout-out to some - by no means all, sorry - of the excellent small press publishers that keep the weird, Gothic, and ghostly fiction traditions alive. 

Tartarus Press was almost single-handedly responsible for the revival of interest in Robert Aickman, but they have produced a vast array of superb books from a remarkable range of writers. There are famous names, new names, neglected names. Their web site is always worth exploring.

The same can be said of Sarob Press, which has been producing a steady stream of orig
inal story collections and anthology for many years. Their latest title is by ST veteran Steve Duffy, no less!

In Dublin we have The Swan River Press, focusing (but not exclusively) on the Irish Gothic tradition, they specialise in high-quality anthologies and story collections.

In Canada we find Undertow Publications, dedicated to new genre fiction. As well as many high-quality hardbacks they also publish Weird Horror Magazine.

'The Wildness' by Iain Rowan

Friday 16 April 2021

'End Game' by David Longhorn

If you can ignore the crappy webcam and the evil curtains, you may enjoy me reading a story wot I wrote. It is a live recording by Loretta Nikolic of A Ghostly Company, a British literary society for fans of spooky fiction. Thanks, Loretta! Pity you couldn't put a clump of those wobbly squares over the face. 

Saturday 10 April 2021

David McCallum reads 'The Haunter of the Dark' by H.P. Lovecraft

One of the most familiar TV faces and voices of my childhood, reading a story Lovecraft wrote as a response to Robert Bloch's 'The Shambler from the Stars'. Wonderfully nostalgic for me and I hope you like it too.

Crooked Houses - 'The Piner House' by Timothy Granville

So we come to the end of this lockdown review of a book about being indoors - Crooked Houses from Egaeus Press. And what an intriguing anthology it is. We conclude with a tale not of some ancient and stories Gothic mansion, nor yet a grim tenement harbouring a  dark secret. No, the Piner House of Timothy Granville's tale is an ultra-modern design, likened to a flying saucer mounted on metal legs. It reminded me slightly of the kind of premises J.G. Ballard describes in his Vermilion Sands stories. And, like those once-futuristic structures, it turns out to be far from pristine in spirit.

The house in question exerts a strange power over its residents. A woman visits her brother and his and finds the normally energetic couple somewhat torpid. The same strange lethargy begins to affect the woman, and eventually she is possessed by the house. The story raises the question of how power the spirit of place might be, hinting at a haunting by the architect (who was apparently rather unpleasant in unspecified ways). My takeaway from this was that the house is in a sense the ghost, a very substantial echo of human depravity.

So we have come full circle, from the traditional haunted house of urban legend to something altogether stranger. It's been an interesting journey down some strange byways. I enjoyed it, and I would recommend that you get hold of this fine anthology if you can. 

*Note, I received a pdf of the book from one of the authors.

Saturday 3 April 2021

Alec Guinness reads "The Nameless City" by H.P. Lovecraft

No, not really. This is one of the minor miracles of computer software. Harmless in this context, of course, but very dangerous when used with malign intent. 

Friday 2 April 2021

Crooked Houses - 'Mythology' by Jane Jakeman


This penultimate story in Crooked Houses (Egaeus Press) takes us to the many-storied Wales, and a house in a former coalfield. The setup is a familiar one - the relatives visiting a property that's been left empty for a long time. But the twist, if that's the right word, is that this is a working class home. This adds an extra frisson to strange incidents, as the visitors speculate on the life of the long-dead Blodwen, whose name means White Flower and who was possessed by the legends of her homeland. A mirror seems to act as a portal to a lost realm of kings. The house is haunted by longing, by the mythology of the title, by the deep yearning the lonely and the downtrodden and the marginalised feel for other, better worlds. 

'Had Blodwen/White Flower seen the glorious hero, Owain, walking in his famous shoes with golden fastenings in the form of lions? And understood he would never walk here to rescue her from this blackened cave of a house?'

A story as slender and beautiful as any maiden of legend, this.

Supernatural Tales 56 - contents

The next issue - due out in the autumn - will see a mixture of familiar names and some newbies. I hope, as always, that the stories find fav...