Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Ghosts & Scholars Book of Shadows Volume Three!

In the latest G&S newsletter, Ro Pardoe announces a third opportunity for you to craft a story based around one of the classic tales of M.R. James. I'm pleased to be able to reproduce Ro's announcement in full, as she's much better at the detailed stuff than I am. So take it away Ro...

I'm very pleased to say that The Ghosts & Scholars Book of Shadows Volume Two has proved to be just as successful as Volume One, and it was already out of print by the beginning of December. So Sarob's Robert Morgan and I have agreed to go ahead with a third volume to complete the sequence and include prequels and sequels to some (hopefully all) of those M.R. James stories which were not covered in the first two collections. Admittedly it could be a problem in that there are only a limited number of MRJ stories remaining - twelve to be precise - but I think there are still plenty of possibilities (still no one has attempted to explain what was going on in "An Evening's Entertainment"!), and even now I know some of you have started working on or thinking about submissions (I've already accepted one!). So here's the full list for you to take your pick from:

"Lost Hearts"
"The Ash-tree"
"Number 13"
"The Rose Garden"
"The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral"
"Martin's Close"
"An Episode of Cathedral History"
"A View from a Hill"
"A Warning to the Curious"
"An Evening's Entertainment"
"There was a Man Dwelt by a Churchyard"
"The Fenstanton Witch"

You may be wondering about the inclusion of "The Fenstanton Witch". This isn't among the stories published in, or just after, MRJ's lifetime, and is sometimes listed with the unfinished drafts. But unlike the rest of those (with the exception of the comic "A Night in King's College Chapel") it is a completed story, just one which MRJ never really polished to his own satisfaction.

The deadline for submissions to the third Book of Shadows is December 31st. Send them to me preferably in the form of a Word or RichText e-mail attachment (or in the body of an e-mail or on a CD-ROM), but typed hard-copy is acceptable too. As ever (to repeat the rules for the other two volumes): "any submission which is just a revamp or parody of the plot of the chosen story is unlikely to be selected. I'm looking for something more original than that, and, indeed, there is no rule that a story has to be in the James tradition itself. I will not look kindly on entries that have been simultaneously submitted elsewhere. The word count is entirely up to you (within reason!). You can submit more than one story if you like."

The current plan is for the book to be published around the middle of 2016. Last issue I mentioned the idea of also including prequels and sequels inspired by some of MRJ's other works such as The Five Jars, Abbeys, The Apocryphal New Testament and Suffolk and Norfolk. I haven't made a final decision on this, but I'm open to the possibility, especially in relation to The Five Jars (you'll remember that MRJ himself was considering a sequel at one point). So if you have something you'd like to do along these lines, contact me and we'll discuss it.

The Sea of Blood

Reggie Oliver's latest collection is a retrospective from US publisher Dark Renaissance Books. The Sea of Blood contains Reggie's 'greatest hits' from his many earlier volumes, plus some new stories.

Needless to say it's a substantial volume, and as it just landed on my humble doormat with a major thud this very morning I will need a while to craft a review. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say it looks good. DRB are a new outfit to me, and judging by this volume they are serious players.

Oh, and I was pleased to see that this collection kicks off with 'Beside the Shrill Sea', which first appeared in ST4 a long, long time ago.

The Sea of Blood

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Mysterious Crate News!

Best steer well clear of this one...

Well, not really news, as it's from the spoof site The Onion. But having said that, it captures the essence of Victorian Gothic rather wonderfully, complete with the ominous headline Mysterious Crate Arrives From London.

Shipman and stevedore alike confirmed that the crate is unpleasantly cold to the touch, and none reportedly wished to remain in its presence for long. 
According to entries in the captain's log, when the puzzling cargo was first brought aboard in Liverpool, the ship's cat would not cease in its hissing and hid amongst the ballast the journey entire; and indeed, all aboard the Redoubtable were, to a man-jack, loathe to pass near the crate.

Selling a rare-ish book

Not sure how rare it is, really, but I need to free up some shelf space. Anyway, if you're interested I've offered a book for auction on eBay.


This is one of 200 numbered copies, published in 1995. It was one of the first Tartarus Press publications. It's a very nice volume in very good condition i.e. I have not spilled anything on it or otherwise damaged it over the years. I cannot, of course, speak for the condition of its soul...

Monday, 20 April 2015

Jamesian Movie Posters!

If only these movies had been made...

I like these posters. They appeared on a Facebook page dedicated to M.R. James. They are the work of a very talented artist called Alan Brown, who has a page here. Unfortunately, the actual posters were part of a project based on MRJ's work, and the resulting book is now sold out. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Codex Jermyn - the Cardinal Goes Ape!

I hope you'll excuse a post that isn't, strictly speaking, about the supernatural but is about the weird. Cardinal Cox's latest poetry pamphlet is inspired by one of my favourite H.P. Lovecraft stories - 'Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family'.

The central premise of the Lovecraft story is that there is no clear line between ourselves and our ape-cousins, and that interbreeding is possible. (Well, that's my reading of it, anyway.) In his new pamphlet Cox takes this idea and runs with it, creating a series of poetic mini-sagas featuring many of the most fascinating (and hirsute) characters from English literature. The over-arching theme is that Homo erectus, an ancestral species, never really died out, just retreated to the mountains and wildernesses of the Earth. And there they lurk, emerging now and again to become the stuff of legend...