Friday, December 30, 2011

The BFS Journal

The British Fantasy Society’s Journal, dated winter 2011/12, is now available. The BFS Journal, incorporating the previous individual publications Dark Horizons and Prism, is edited by Peter Coleborn (fiction), Lou Morgan (non-fiction) and Ian Hunter (poetry). For more information on Peter Coleborn and Dark Horizons, visit his blog.

Fiction in this issue, several using seasonal themes, comes from Allen Ashley, Julian Baxter-Cockbill, James Brogden, Ray Cluley, Alister Davison, Stuart Hughes, Ian Hunter, Andy Oldfield, Rod Rees and Deborah Walker. Non-fiction includes items by or on James Barclay, Mike Barrett, Ramsey Campbell, Peter Crowther, Jo Fletcher, Mark Morris and others.

The cover art is by Vincent Chong, winner of the BFS Best Artist Award, presented at FantasyCon in September 2011.

The BFS Journal is only available as part of membership to the British FantasySociety.

The Faceless by Simon Bestwick

The Faceless is the new supernatural novel by Simon Bestwick, published by Solaris at £7.99.

“In the Lancashire town of Kempforth, people are vanishing. Mist hangs heavy in the streets, and in those mists move the masked figures the local kids call the Spindly Men.

When two year old Roseanne Trevor disappears, Detective Chief Inspector Renwick vows to stop at nothing until she finds her … [and] in the decaying corridors and lightless rooms of a long-abandoned hospital, something terrible is waiting.”

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The 2011 Xmas issue of Estronomicon now available

Pop over to the Screaming Dreams website and follow the links to download for free the latest issue of Estronomicon, edited by Steve Upham. Included are stories by James Bennett, Peter Coleborn, Neil Davies, Jan Edwards, Matt Finucane, John Forth, Stewart Horn, Ian Hunter, Mark Howard Jones, Bob Lock, Marion Pitman, Neil Williamson and Stuart Young.

You'll also find links to other Screaming Dreams titles, such as Phantoms of Venice edited by David Sutton and Fearful Festivities by Gary Fry.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rumours of the Marvellous

Rumours of the Marvellous by Peter Atkins: fourteen of the writer's best stories. Limited to 250 signed and numbered copies, features an introduction by Glen Hirshberg, a cover painting by Les Edwards. Co-published by The Alchemy Press and Airgedlámh Productions.

Price and ordering details are available here.

Also recommended: Peter Atkins' blog.

Sailors of the Skies

The Alchemy Press has published its first eBook in Kindle format: "Sailors of the Skies" by Mike Chinn (originally published in Dark Horizons in 2009). “Mix generous dollops of The Scorpion, The Shadow and Dominic Fortune, a taste for 1930s detective fiction, and the simple desire to tell a creepy tale…” Available via and

The Voidal returns!

Back in the late 1970s Adrian Cole created a fantasy character every bit as enigmatic as Moorcock’s Elric: The Voidal. I haven’t read one of these stories in a long while, perhaps too long. So the recent publication of Cole’s The Long Reach of Night (volume 2) and The Sword of Shadows (volume 3) (both just published by Wildside Press – no prices on the cover but affordable via Amazon UK) offers such an opportunity. Volume 1 of the Voidal stories, Oblivion Hand was published quite a few years ago.

The Long reach of Night includes nine stories, two originally published in 1979 and 1980. The rest are available here for the first time although Cole says that most were placed with magazines that sadly folded before the stories saw print. The dedication in this book is to Mike Chinn, Sean Williams & Phil Harbottle, Darrell Schweitzer and someone called Peter Colebourne (as misspellings go, not too bad: just an extra E and an unnecessary U).

Volume 3, The Sword of Shadows, includes eight stories of which three were previously published in the small presses. In fact, “At the Council of Gossipers” first appeared in Dark Horizons in 1980, and “Dark Destroyer” was originally published in the Alchemy Press/Saladoth anthology Swords Against the Millennium in 2000.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rumours of the Marvellous

The Alchemy Press in association with Airgedlámh Productions is publishing a collection of short stories by Peter Atkins this year. Visit the Alchemy Press blog for a look at the cover.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Northampton SF Group

The Northampton Science Fiction Group's blog can be found here:

The Walking Dead: yet more zombies

Cops A and B, sitting in their squad car, are discussing electric light switches -- which seems to be as relevant to the programme as a discussion on burgerjoints in Paris. Then A owns up to his marriage being in difficulty. There, that's the characters set up.

Immediately after, they rush off, sirens blaring, to apprehend some criminals and in the ensuing chaos cop A is shot and wounded and rushed off to hospital.

When he regains consciousness the flowers beside him are dead. He falls from his bed, ripping out IV feeds, and staggers into the deserted corridor -- where he sees a half-eaten corpse (human, of course), lots of debris and blood, and a locked room housing The Dead. Outside, shrouded corpses fill the car park. Through all this and along streets empty of life he heads for his home, wife and child.

A nod and a wink to the start of Day of the Triffids?

It turns out that he's been in hospital for about a month. Even if his nurses had left him just days ago, how come he's not covered in his own urine and faeces? The site of the IV drips would likely become infected. His muscles would be wasted (yes, I know he does stagger around a bit, but that's just for the first day or so).

Soon he is feeling better (thanks to another living person and his son), and armed (from the cop station's armoury). He heads off searching for his family -- who are most certainly still alive. To cut the story short, he rides a horse into a city and suddenly is surrounded by an army of the dead. Fortunately (?) he finds refuge in a tank -- but the poor old nag gets eaten.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the woods, a group of survivors have made camp. And guess what: there are his wife and son. And cop B who has the hots for her.

This is the start of the TV series. Pur-lease! Zombies are mindless creatures; they get bitten, come back and bite the next living thing. Ad infinitum. Some thrilling modus operandi?

Finally point for now: if a single scratch from a zombie can infect the living (suggesting a microbial explanation to the disease) how come one can shoot a zombie in the head and get splattered with their (infected) blood -- with all those microscopic droplets of blood flying through the air -- and be perfectly fine?

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Not really AWOL... I've just been so busy of late working on the British Fantasy Society and Renegade Writers websites, Dark Horizons and Wild Stacks (not to mention the day job) that I've neglected this blog for quitre a while. Sorry.

If you have a few moments why not visit the above links.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Zombies in New York and Other Bloody Jottings

New from Telos Publishing: Zombies in New York and Other Bloody Jottings. 

"Something is sapping the energy of the usually robust dancers of the Moulin Rouge … Zombies roam the streets of New York City … Clowns die in mysteriously humorous ways … Jack the Rippers crimes are investigated by a vampire …

Welcome to the horrific and poetic world of Sam Stone, where Angels are stalking the undead and a vampire becomes obsessed with a centuries-old werewolf. Terror and lust go hand in hand in the disturbing world of the Toymaker, and the haunting Siren's call draws the hapless further into a waking nightmare. Thirteen stories of horror and passion, and six mythological and erotic poems from the pen of the new Queen of Vampire fiction.

Chick-slash has never been so entertaining."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman. Canongate £10.99
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

I finally bought a copy of this book – it’s been on my wants list for a while. Although I’ve not read Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights series, I'm aware of the criticism he’s gathered due to their apparent anti-religious nature. The Good Man Jesus… is Pullman’s attempts to answer his critics – and to understand just how the Jesus myth could begin.

In this version, Jesus is born a twin – his brother is Christ. Jesus is the good, homely one, Christ the less comely son (but I think he's treated unfairly). As they grow older, Jesus finds himself at the forefront of the new religion. He gathers disciples and the crowds inevitably follow. But who documents all this?

It's Christ, of course. He's commissioned – he believes – by an angel to write the story, rather to write the truth of the story of Jesus’s teachings, not just the facts. Yet he – Christ – is duped. He thinks he's doing good but in the end it is he who betrays his brother and thus helps create the legacy of Jesus. I think that Christ is miscast as a villain; he isn't a scoundrel. He's a misguided, easily lead fool, lead by those with ulterior motives. I’ll let you extend the metaphor.

Overall, as much as I enjoyed the book, I was eager to finish it quickly rather because I got fed up with it and I began skipping chapters. It's not a bad book -- it's simply a reworking of the New Testament. Was there a need to seemingly revisit every incident and miracle?

I was, of course, reminded of that other famous and fantastical reworking of the Jesus legend: Michael Moorcock’s Behold the Man. If you want to read only one of these books, go for the Moorcock.

Choose: film review

Choose directed by Marcus Graves. Starring Katheryn Winnock, Kevin Pollak and Richard Short.
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

Here's another movie about another serial killer with a 'past'. He seemingly picks victims at random, giving them a choice about how they are mutilated -- or killed. For seemingly unknown reasons he's targeted a journalism student. He sends her clues which she follows up and arrives at answers quicker than her father -- who just happens to be a senior cop. It all seems to be linked to the suicide of her mother.

The story is full of the usual clichés: dark corners, sudden encounters, locked doors unaccountably opened, blah, blah. Why would a girl knowingly go alone to meet the killer? I just don't get it. The movie takes a nod at many previous slasher flicks -- and an obvious curtsy to Se7en. I guess there is a tension in the film but only if you can keep awake long enough to discover who did it and why -- and who survives. If you remember the gun on the wall rule, the ending isn't that much of a 'shock'.

So the choice is: would I watch it again, or not? I choose the latter. Choose is out on DVD on 24 January.

The New Uncanny

This anthology seems to have slipped quietly onto the shelves of Waterstone’s: The New Uncanny: Tales of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page was published by Comma Press (£7.95) in 2008 – see what I mean. I suppose a clue lies in the support the book was given by the Arts Council and Literature Northwest. It’s a shame that they didn’t make a bigger splash at the time -- that’s assuming I didn’t sleep through the launch and promotional tour, etc. But since the book did win the Shirley Jackson Award, it is likely that I was going through a somnambulist phase. Anyway, I saw it and bought a copy last month...

This book contains stories by ‘genre’ favourites Ramsey Campbell, Nicholas Royle and Christopher Priest. Other contributors include Matthew Holness, Sara Maitland, AS Byatt, and Hanif Kureishi -- 14 stories in all.

In the introduction, Ra Page explains the rationale behind this anthology. Sigmund Freud published an essay that listed eight irrational causes of fear, including being blinded and being buried alive. These stories are an attempt to explore these fears for the new century.

Another Year's Best Anthology

Prime Books has recently published The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2010, edited by Paula Guran. This is a fat, tasty treat: nearly forty stories culled from a range of sources, print and online, mainstream and small press. Authors include Kelley Armstrong, Peter Atkins, Holly Black, Ramsey Campbell, Steve Duffy, Joe Lansdale, Sarah Pinborough and Michael Marshall Smith.

The good thing about these ‘best of’ anthologies is that it helps the hard-pressed reader discover the quality material – and saves money in the long run. Here are 550 pages of selected works for around twenty dollars. Not bad at all. The only criticism I can make is: the cover is somewhat unimaginative.