Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The 2012 British Fantasy Awards

The British Fantasy Society has announced the jury for the 2012 British Fantasy Awards. The jury will deliberate on a shortlist of nominations, determined by the members of the BFS. The jury shall also have powers to add nominations where it identifies an egregious omission. The British Fantasy Awards will be presented during FantasyCon in September 2012.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Satyr’s Head: new edition

The Satyr’s Head and Other Tales of Terror, edited by David A Sutton, is at long last available again. The book was originally published by Transworld/Corgi Books in 1975. This new edition, published by Shadow Publishing (£5.99), brings back into print ten chilling tales of the supernatural:

The Nightingale Floors by James Wade
The Previous Tenant by Ramsey Campbell
The Night Fisherman by Martin I Ricketts
Sugar and Spice and all Things Nice by David A Sutton
Provisioning by David Campton
Perfect Lady by Robin Smyth
The Business About Fred by Joseph Payne Brennan
Aunt Hester by Brian Lumley
A Pentagram for Cenaide by Eddy C Bertin
The Satyr's Head by David A Riley

The cover artwork is by Screaming Dreams' Steve Upham.

Where Are We Going?

Where Are We Going?, edited by Allen Ashley and published by Eibonvale Press, is officially launched on 2 March 2012 at the BFS Open Night (from 6.00 pm at The Mug House, 1-3 Tooley Street, London Bridge, London SE1 2PF. Their phone number: 020 7403 8343). The anthology’s theme is “Journeys. On Earth. No quests.” There are sixteen stories and one poem, all original to the book:

Dead Countries - Gary Budgen  
A Faraway City - Joel Lane
The Way The World Works - Ian Sales
A Guide to Surviving Malabar - Ian Shoebridge
The Human Map - Andrew Hook
 Journey to the Engine of the Earth - Terry Grimwood
The Discord of Being- Alison J. Littlewood  
Xana-La - Stephen Palmer
At the Rail - Andrew Coburn
The Bridge - A. J. Kirby
The Chain - Frank Roger
Our Island - Ralph Robert Moore
Underpass - Daniella Geary
Overnight Bus - Marion Pitman
Wake With The Light - Jet McDonald -
Future Prospects? - Geoff Stevens (poem)
Entanglement - Douglas Thompson

The book’s price is £16 hardback and £7 paperback on launch night, and all attending authors will be asked to sign copies of the book.

At some time between 6.30 pm and 7.00 pm, Allen Ashley will be announcing the “Postcard Competition”. This is a free to enter competition with simple rules - write an interesting postcard and win an Eibonvale prize.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Year's Best Science Fiction

The 2012 edition of Year's Best SF, edited by David G Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, is due this summer from HarperCollins. Between the covers you’ll find:

The Best Science Fiction of the Year Three -- Ken MacLeod 
Dolly -- Elizabeth Bear
Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Raindeer -- Ken Liu
Tethered -- Mercurio Rivera
Wahala -- Nnedi Okorafor
Laika’s Ghost -- Karl Schroeder
Ragnarok -- Paul Park
Six Months, Three Days -- Charlie Jane Anders
And Weep Like Alexander -- Neil Gaiman
The Middle of Somewhere -- Judith Moffett
Mercies -- Gregory Benford
The Education of Junior Number 12 -- Madeline Ashby
Our Candidate -- Robert Reed
Thick Water -- Karen Heuler
The War Artist -- Tony Ballantyne
The Master of the Aviary -- Bruce Sterling
Home Sweet Bi’Ome -- Pat MacEwan
For I Have Lain Me Down on the Stone of Lonliness and I’ll Not Be Back Again -- Michael Swanwick
The Ki-anna -- Gwyneth Jones
Eliot Wrote -- Nancy Kress
The Nearest Thing -- Genevieve Valentine
The Vector Alphabet of Intersellar Travel -- Yoon Ha Lee
The Ice Owl -- Carolyn Ives Gilman

New and forthcoming books

Blake Charlton – Spellbound (Book two, sequel to Spellwright) Harper Voyager £7.99
Ernest Cline – Ready Player One (“Willy Wonka meets The Matrix”) Arrow £7.99
Lauren DeStefano – Fever (Book two of The Chemical Garden) Harper Voyager £9.99
Raymond E Feist – A Crown Imperilled (Is this the end for the kingdom? Part of the Riftwar Cycle). Harper Voyager £18.99
Andrew Fukuda – The Hunt (“When the sun goes down, start running.”) Simon & Schuster £9.99
Aidan Harte – Irenicon (Book one. “Pavane meets The Sopranos”) Jo Fletcher Books £18.99
S T Joshi – Black Wings of Cthulhu (21 tales of Lovecraftian horror). Titan £8.99
Juliet E McKenna – Darkening Skies (Book two of The Hadrumal Crisis). Solaris £7.99

Friday, February 24, 2012

Black Wings of Cthulhu

If you missed out on the PS edition, you’ll be pleased to learn that Titan Books is coming to the rescue with Black Wings of Cthulhu, edited by S T Joshi (due in March at £8.99). Subtitled “Twenty-one Tales of Lovecraftian Horror”, you know exactly what to expect. The 21 contributors in this anthology include: Laird Barron, Ramsey Campbell, Caitlin R Kiernan, Norman Partridge, Nicholas Royle, Darrell Schweitzer, David J Schow, Michael Shea, Michael Marshall Smith and Brian Stableford.

The book includes an introduction by S T Joshi, who is considered to be one of the foremost authorities on H P Lovecraft and is the author of the award-winning H P Lovecraft: A Life.

An added bonus: Black Wings volume two is also scheduled. HPL fans will be delighted.

Year's Best Horror & Dark Fantasy

The 2012 edition of The Year’s Best Horror and Dark Fantasy, edited by Paula Guran, (Prime Books) is due this summer. It’s a tasty ToC:

• “Hair” by Joan Aiken
• “Rakshasi” by Kelley Armstrong
• “Walls of Paper, Soft as Skin” by Adam Callaway
• “The Lake” by Tananarive Due
• “Tell Me I’ll See You Again” by Dennis Etchison
• “King Death” Paul Finch
• “The Last Triangle” by Jeffrey Ford
• Near Zennor by Elizabeth Hand
• “Crossroads” by Laura Anne Gilman
• “After-Words” by Glen Hirshberg
• “Rocket Man” by Stephen Graham Jones
• “The Maltese Unicorn” by Caitlin R. Kiernan
• “The Dune” by Stephen King
• “Catastrophic Disruption of the Head” by Margo Lanagan
• “The Bleeding Shadow” by Joe R. Lansdale
• “Why Light?” by Tanith Lee
• “Conservation of Shadows” by Yoon Ha Lee
• A Tangle of Green Men, Charles de Lint
• “After the Apocalypse” by Maureen McHugh
• “Lord Dunsany’s Teapot” Naomi Novik
• “Mysteries of the Old Quarter” by Paul Park
• Vampire Lake, by Norman Partridge
• “A Journey of Only Two Paces” by Tim Powers
• “Four Legs in the Morning” by Norman Prentiss
• “The Fox Maiden” by Priya Sharma
• “Time and Tide” by Alan Peter Ryan
• “Sun Falls” by Angela Slatter
• “Still” by Tia V. Travis
• “Objects in Dreams May Be Closer Than They Appear” by Lisa Tuttle
• “The Bread We Eat in Dreams” by Catherynne M. Valente
• “All You Can Do Is Breathe” by Kaaron Warren
• “Josh” by Gene Wolfe

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Reliquaries of the Dead

Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead is now available from Ulysses Press (at $14.95). Edited by Stephen Jones, the anthology includes over two dozen stories and poems, including new and reprint tales. Contributors include Sarah Pinborough, Christopher Fowler, Lisa Tuttle, Tanith Lee and Robert Shearman (all new stories); and M R James, Richard Matheson, Peter Atkins, Kim Newman and Karl Edward Wagner (reprints).

As ever in a book edited by Stephen Jones, this looks to be a fine collection of horror stories. He says in his introduction: “Sometimes the dead are restless. Sometimes they come back.” Read all about the dead here…

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

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.

You can read reviews of this excellent collection herehere and here.

Copies are available from here or Amazon UK.

Recent and forthcoming books

  • Gail Carriger – Timeless (An Akexia Tarabotti Novel) Orbit £7.99
  • Kate Griffin – The Minority Council (A Matthew Swift, Sorcerer, Novel) Orbit £8.99
  • Benedict Jacka – Fated (The first Alex Verus Novel) Orbit £7.99
  • Stephen Jones (ed) – Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead (new and reprint ghost stories) Ulysses Press $14.95
  • Ken MacLeod – Intrusion (echoes of 1984 and Brave New World) Orbit £18.99
  • T C McCarthy – Exogene (The Subterrene War, book 2) Orbit £8.99
  • Weston Ochse – Blood Ocean (The Afterblight Chronicles) Abaddon £7.99
  • Cherie Priest – Four and Twenty Blackbirds (An Eden Moore Story) Titan £7.99
  • Jacqueline Rayner – Magic of the Angels (Doctor Who story) BBC Books £1.99

The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett

The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett. Orbit £8.99

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

Teenager George runs off to join a vaudeville act in small town USA, with the greater intention to find his father, Silenus. George has strange memories of when Silenus last visited, of the vaudeville act that Silenus managed … and especially of the intoxicating music. They do meet, of course, and soon George becomes part of Silenus’ troupe – and learns secrets about the way things are, the way the world works: the magic behind creation. But dark forces are out to stop the song that holds it all together…

With all these elements, I was sure to be hooked, drawn in to this novel. Alas, I wasn’t. I read the first section (around 150 of its 480 pages) pretty quickly but then my enthusiasm waned. For sure, the concept, the ideas are intriguing. But great ideas don’t make a great novel on their own. It just didn’t grab me. I found the narrative too loose and in my opinion a thorough edit to tighten the text, to make the story taut, more dynamic, would have made all the difference.  Maybe because of that I didn’t find the characters convincing enough to wonder over their fate. All of which left me somewhat disappointed. This is a real pity because there is so much potential in The Troupe.

Monday, February 6, 2012

All These Little Worlds

All These Little Worlds edited by Rob Redman. The Fiction Desk £9.99
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

I read this anthology last year – probably around September – but for a variety of reasons didn’t get around to reviewing it. And then, just recently, the book resurfaced amongst the detritus in my study. All I knew, all I could remember, was that I thoroughly enjoyed All These Little Worlds, but not in enough detail to write a review. And so I re-read it and, again, found the anthology engrossing and …  well … thoroughly enjoyable.

All These Little Worlds is published by The FictionDesk, one of their quarterly anthologies. Ten pounds might sound a lot, at first, for 170 pages but a subscription cuts a marvellous deal: £30 a year. Check their website for details.

There are nine stories in this volume, mostly by British and American writers, and all share a high level of quality. Those readers looking for yet more horror may not be impressed, but readers with a broader taste should be delighted. Nevertheless, despite the quality of prose, some of the stories felt incomplete, too much like an anecdote rather than a tale with a – you know – beginning, middle and a suitable conclusion. But that’s a small quibble.

The book kicks off with “Jaggers & Crown”, a story that sometimes mirrors the career of a certain real-life comedy double act. Jaggers is already a comic performer during WWII when he encounters Crown, who soon becomes Jaggers’ straight man. But Jaggers falls prey to various addictions and rent boys (this is before homosexuality became legal), and in the end it is Crown who saves the act’s bacon. The story is told in retrospect, beginning when Crown opens a newspaper and reads his own obituary. But even knowing where the story will end, it is a moving account of the two character comedians who began treading the sleazy boards before the fame of television.

The next story reminded me of Rick Kleffel’s “The Pet Peeve” from Chills (reprinted last year in Dark Horizons). This is “Swimming With the Fishes” by Jennifer Moore. Here, a mother buys a miniature diver for her children’s aquarium. Daughter loves the little man with his red costume, but son wants something more exciting, such as a crab or an electric eel – with the inevitable consequences. Darkly comic.

“Pretty Vacant” by Charles Lambert, the third story in the book, is pretty damn good (and where did that title come from?). An Italian rich kid, Francesca, is sent to a private girls’ boarding school in England by parents splitting up – she was getting in the way of things. There, she meets Pilar, a similarly rich kid this time from Spain. Francesca is bored – really Bored – with the whole thing, and this leads her into dubious activities, including befriending low-life Gary and then kidnapping Pilar. The consequences are never realised… Lambert captures Francesca’s personality perfectly, amazingly so. She is a spoilt brat, but at the same time vulnerable to the things tearing her life apart in Italy.

Story number four is “Room 307” by Mischa Hiller. Here, a travelling salesman with problems back home (they haven’t had sex since their child was born months ago and neither will discuss it; yet both love each other) meets another rep, a beautiful woman who seems to pick him out for her own sexual needs. I didn’t buy the conceit, but I bought into the story; yet another writer who is able to get under the skin of his/her protagonist.

These, plus “Dress Code”, “Glenda” and “After all the Fun We Had”, are the book’s highlights for me. Worth the asking price. But if I were editor, one of the first four stories would have tailed the volume. But that’s the nature of anthologies: every editor and reader has their own preferences. Anyway, to end on a positive note: an exceptional collection of stories, the perfect antidote to many of the horror anthologies that cross my desk.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Recent and forthcoming books

James Barclay – Elves: Rise of the TaiGethen (Elves book 2) – Gollancz £12.99
Cinda Williams Chima – The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms book 3) – Harper Voyager £14.99
Alison Goodman – The Necklace of the Gods (Sequel to The Two Pearls of Wisdom) – Bantam £8.99
Jonathan L Howard – Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute (Johannes Cabal novel) – Headline £7.99
Stephen Hunt – Jack Cloudie (“An airborne adventure of epic proportion”) – Harper Voyager £7.99
Stephen Hunt – From the Deep of the Dark (“Who knows what may emerge?”) – Harper Voyager £12.99
David J Kowalski – The Company of the Dead (“Can one man save the Titanic?”) – Titan £8.99
Melissa Marr – Grave Minder (“Normal towns don’t lure you back”) – Harper £6.99
Sarah Pinborough – The Chosen Seed (The Dog-Faced Gods book 3) – Gollancz £14.99
Cherie Priest – Four and Twenty Blackbirds (An Eden Moore Story) – Titan £7.99