I owe a lot to Joel Lane, who supported ST in its early years, and wish I could have known him well. In the meantime this excellent book, with a moving introduction by Nicholas Royle and wonderful cover art by Polly Rose Morris, is a literary memorial service I can attend.
Of the fourteen stories here, three are original to this collection. The rest appeared in anthologies and magazines, with a roll-call of editors such as Andy Cox, Ellen Datlow, Peter Crowther, and D.F. Lewis. Joel Lane's range as a writer was far greater than some of us realised. I certainly associated him, at first, with a particular sub-genre of Brit horror often called 'miserablist'. But in fact, as this book quietly demonstrates, his approach ranged from science fiction horror to the subtleties of modern ghost story. His interests were as broad as his creative imagination was profound.
Thus the first tale, 'Sight Unseen', is a Lovecraftian work with echoes of Stephen King's 'I Am the Doorway', A man learns that his estranged father has died, and tries to make sense of the apparent madness that gripped the man. A journey back to Manchester is also an expedition to the wilder shores of his father's imagination. As in all Lane's work, the visionary and the mundane are combined to powerful but understated effect.