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Posts Tagged ‘anthology’
Today we launched Escape Velocity: the Anthology. At least it was for the e-book version. The print comes out later in the month. Strange and unique day. I spent most of the morning sending PayPal payments to authors who’d contributed to the EV antho – not done that before! It felt soooooo good adding the paypal message to thank them for their stories.
I was frustrated at not finding the paypal emails or addresses (for cheques) for some contributors – I’d sent emails requesting such weeks ago but no response. Tonight, I was still working on tracking missing authors and responding to facebook and email requests when my wife pulled at my elbow. “We’re going to the pub.” I tried to say no but remembered we’d arranged a retirement evening for a colleague. Damn. But it was great in the end to chat with not-wriitng friends. I’ve given up mentioning my writing to them and talk about our kids, holidays etc. One is an English teacher but although he enjoys our chats about Chekhov, he seems to switch off if I talk about science fiction or fantasy. Oh well, we are an esoteric lot, aren’t we?
Science Fiction reviewers please get in touch with me at geoffnelder(AT)yahoo.com
The Occult Files of Albert Taylor: A Collection of Mysterious Cases from the World of the Supernatural
Author: Derek Muk
Reviewed by Geoff Nelder
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (October 1, 2009)
This is an anthology of eleven stories of the occult ranging through ghostly apparitions, Jack the Ripper visiting the present in San Francisco, to UFO landings. They are written through the perspective of a professor of the occult, Albert Taylor – a single mature teacher with an open mind to whatever oddities his students and friends engage with him. In many ways this is a travel book – one of the best features of the stories are the interesting locations from desert towns to mountain caves. It is also a broad sweep of the major issues you’d hope and expect to find in an occult collection: Big Foot, Boogey Man, The Spanish Inquisition, séances and unsettled souls in purgatory.
The format is interesting in that although they are as narrated tales, they are also case studies from the prof’s files. As an academic I would have expected him to be less accepting of what he and others see and hear. The kindly Taylor rarely uses any scientific rigour such as multiple repeat experiments in controlled situations, checking equipment calibration, and ruthless cross-examination of witnesses. Nevertheless, I fell into liking his manner of accepting accounts of people who had been scared witless: he put them at their ease and gave them credence where I would have asked for tests for hallucinogens and illusory tricks.
Some of the stories seemed simplistic though I might have missed hidden meanings. A good one is The Exhibit, which features the fifteenth century Spanish inquisitor, Tomas de Torquemada. Some relics of his are collected for a museum exhibit in a desert town, and the torturer becomes resurrected. I would have had him use his famous torture methods on the hapless citizens (maybe not to sort Jews from Catholics as was his career mapped out by Queen Isabella) but there I go re-writing again.
Jack the Ripper aficionados will enjoy his reappearance in a San Francisco Bay version in the short story, Dear Boss though it was a scalpel too far-fetched for me.
Producers take note: most of the case studies in this collection would make a popular TV series, say – Most Haunted meets The Twilight Zone.
Collectors of stories of the occult will find something in this anthology to appeal to them.
The Amazon link is: http://www.amazon.com/Occult-Files-Albert-Taylor-Supernatural/dp/144954195X/
And Now the Nightmare Begins: The Horror Zine
An anthology of horror stories edited by Jeani Rector
Reviewed by Geoff Nelder
Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Bearmanor Fiction (Dec 2009)
Jeani Rector edits and started a monthly online zine of horror featuring fiction, articles, images and poetry many years ago and the current website is at http://www.thehorrorzine.com Twenty of the finest stories and twenty-one poems have been collated into an anthology published in December 2009. I leave a review of poetry to those who understand the good and the bad of it.
This collection is a patchwork quilt of horror, with a mix of writing styles and plots to please all aficionados of the genre. For me, some are merely very good while a handful are outstanding.
Folks Don’t Always Come Out of Ratwitch Cave The Same by Lawrence Barker
Maybe it was the sadist in me but as a geography teacher I loved to take groups of teenagers into an abandoned slate mine near the Welsh town of Blaunau Ffestiniog and creep them out. I needed to do no more than walk them in a mile, divert them into a side adit then get them to turn their lights out. Some screamed, others laughed. The laughers probably turned into readers of horror. This story by Lawrence Barker took me back to that cave, added more rats, a witch and, writing with stylish sensual Show, threw in a hellish emotion roaring through the protagonist, Hargus, as he fought his demons with murderous results. I like long titles but this one lacked the subtlety of the narrative and was too much of a spoiler in my opinion.
I’m Coming To Get You by Jason D. Brawn
Simon watches a 60s film on TV, The Devil’s Shadow, but the ending isn’t as he expected resulting in him experiencing the horror of his family being hacked. Or does it? There is a way out, but will he accept it? The premise of pacts with the devil isn’t new but the treatment is unique. The writing could be tighter with the occasional dangling participles, but the mood of the piece is cleverly scary.
The Dead Wall by David Byron
The early mention of unprotected sex betrayed the likely consequence. However, the ghastly nature and revelation of that consequence unsettled me all the way to a compelling finale.
The Hands by Ramsay Campbell
I always relish reading the master of fantasy, and pleasurably recall hearing his FantasyCon readings in the UK. It is the archetypal corridor horror where the reader feels ill following the protagonist through the realistic grim interior of a dilapidated building, initially following someone in, then desperately seeking a way out. One of the reasons Campbell is a multiple-award winning writer is the way he masters description. For example he doesn’t Tell us it’s raining he Shows us with a signpost dripping like a nose. Every time I read The Hands I find nooks I’d missed earlier, yet I am surprised at the lack of the use of smell and taste. However, Campbell says he uses each story to try new things and plenty of full sensory Show is used in his stories in the quarter of a century since The Hands was first published.
The Real-Time Boogey Man by Chris Castle
I wasn’t surprised to learn that Chris Castle is also a poet: this story has that kind of fluidity. Listen – ‘There was a moment when his smile was lit too brightly and she had to close her eyes and when she opened them again, he had faded from view.’ This, when Martha finds a ghostly friend who is to Halloween her evil father to hell. She is remarkably composed yet with an eerie air, obliging the reader to read on.
The Pass by Simon Clark
This must be a good story because I squirmed in my desire for the wrong ending. The hogs, or were they, coming to kill the community, felt real and dangerous, but then the alternative threw up pathos equally stomach churning.
Venus by Connor de Bruler
I suppose a young writer is allowed to let exuberance for the art trample the mature niceties of point of view adherence, dangling participles, and such. The many sections doesn’t allow readers to engage as much as they should. Nevertheless, in spite of the predictable outcome, the story has colour and setting descriptions that took me there. I look forward to reading more of Connor de Bruler’s work.
The Silent Hours by Trevor Denyer
A cunning ghost story from the point of view of a young lad thrown into the care of his grandparents (one of whom is not alive) while his parents recover from a car crash. My only criticism is that it finishes too soon.
The Rattling Man by Alan Draven
There are many Halloween stories, and this has too much Tell in my opinion. However, it is different, one for collectors, maintaining its tension and challenging the reader with the identity of the villain until the last sentence.
What The Dead Are For by Terry Grimwood
I collect in limbo stories and though this starts oh so religious, I was caught out and enraptured. I have the feeling Terry didn’t know how to end it but the story is worth the read anyway.
The Man With The Crocodile Eyes by Kyle Hemmings
Written with the eye of a poet though in my opinion it could have ended three paragraphs earlier. Marvellous wordcraft - example: a reason Carly says no to a joint is how could she explain the ‘never ending dance of giggles’ to her parents?
My Mother’s Knives by Christina Hoag
Mary Grace is disillusioned turning her from a latent sociopath to bloody butchery. Not to be read if you live in an apartment, hotel, block of flats, a shared house, anywhere except an isolated cottage. Even then… Yes, scary – rather obvious – but well written.
The Dream Catcher by David W. Landrum
Victims speaking from their grave giving away their murderer always makes for an interesting and macabre plot, especially when elaborated with Native American lore. Too much Tell spoilt it a little for me, but the moodiness is captured well.
The Demon Smiles by Rick McQuiston
I would have engaged more with this night-exploring-an-empty-factory tale if it didn’t head hop so much. Having said that it is spooky with an unpredictable ending.
Outside Her Bedroom Window by Brian Medof
I feel for Linda, trying to slip into escapist sleep yet disturbed and perturbed by unnatural sounds. Conflict, resolution – or is it? A worthy read.
On One Condition by B. A. Sans
An inheritance to dream of, but the dream turns to a nightmare but with a fiendishly unusual endgame. Well-written – a keeper.
For Rachel (With special thanks to Ed Gorman) by Brian J. Smith
In my top three in this collection. Great use of all the senses and one of the few employing colour. Action combined with sustained tension, and it isn’t quite finished. Well done.
Halloween Lights by Anna Taborska
The plot isn’t new but the writing of it is unique and intriguing. Written as if Anna wore a camera on her shoulder, the reader is there all the way. Exquisite.
Delete Contact? by E. J. Tett
Clever pacing and avoiding the obvious ending added to the pleasure of reading this gem. Poignant for me with my inability to delete my departed father from my contacts.
Ghost of Roses by Debra Young
When Kyle’s soul mate lover died his mind plays tricks making him unapproachable to concerned friends. But this is no soppy story, it is superbly written, evidenced by clever sensual Show especially in the use of sense of smell and in colour. Thank you, Debra! Also in the metaphors: guilt, an iceberg in his soul, vast, slow, and deeply buried…
In my top three in this anthology.
The Bus Station by Jeani Rector
A humdinger of a ghost-or-is-it tale. A young man kills, but nothing is simple as people, or their bodies, come and go. By the end it becomes clear –mostly. The narrative is engaging along with an expert employment of pace. A terrific read.
Cockroaches by Jeani Rector
It seemed to me that cockroaches deserved my respect for being able to outlive humans, and all mammals, in the event of a global catastrophe such as nuclear war. Luckily, I don’t live in a number 17 as do the unfortunate characters in this story. Capturing the exuberance of youth, Jeani Rector masterfully crafts this story so that it is more than just a horror tale,
If you recall I was the fiction judge for the prestigious 2009 Whittaker Prize. There were 9 rounds and so 9 winners of fiction and 9 of poetry. They are collected into an anthology. Remember – all the stories in the competition were excellent – this anthology are the stories of the winners. Imagine how wonderful a reading matter this is! My small contribution is a piece on what I learnt as a judge and so advice to competitors in the future. And so to the advert:
NOW AVAILABLE! “The Rhinoceros and His Thoughts: short stories & poetry – the best of the Whittaker Prize 2009″ http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/the-rhinoceros-and-his-thoughts/8043864
Bill West a short story reviewer of note has reviewed the Twisted Tails III: Pure Fear (ed J Richard Jacobs and published by DDP) in his The Short Review here:
Of my contribution to that exciting anthology, Bill says:
“Geoff Nelder, who contributes the nail-biter Abandoned to this collection, is an award winning thriller writer. He is British and a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society which may be why bad weather features so prominently in his vertiginous thriller set five hundred feet in the air above a flooded London.”
If anyone wants to read my story, Abandoned, and the other excellent stories by excellent writers such as Marilyn Peake, Kim McDougall, J. Richard Jacobs, John Klawitter, K.L. Nappier and others then click on