Blind Voices reviewed

Blind Voices by Tom Reamy

“In that long-ago summer afternoon in southern Kansas, when the warm air lay like a weight, unmoving and stifling, six horse-drawn circus wagons moved ponderously on the dusty road.”

1930s Small Town America. It’s summer – it’s hot, dry and so hot. Into this town the freak show arrives, enticing residents to become voyeurs for an evening, to view the Snake Queen, the Medusa, the Minotaur, Tiny Tim, and Angel, the Magic Boy. With this kind of set up you’d expect things to go wrong – and they do. A teenage girl is raped and murdered, and further deaths soon follow.

Continue reading here.

 

 

2017 BFS Awards – short list

The nominees for the 2017 British Fantasy Society Fantasy Awards has been published. As usual, it’s  list of many categories, of which The Alchemy Press features in three of them: Best Independent Press; Best Anthology (Something Remains, a tribute to the late Joel Lane, edited by Peter Coleborn and Pauline E Dungate); and Best Short Story (“Charmed Life” by Simon Avery from Something Remains). Fingers crossed.

The winners will be announced at FantasyCon at the end of September. The full list is available here.

 

 

Celebrity Frankenstein

The way I read collections and anthologies is to pick and mix. I may read just one story from a book before looking elsewhere – and I have many, many books on the go at any one time. In order to share my reading pleasure I will, from time to time, highlight a particularly strong story in a thread I’ve termed Tell Tales.

Stephen Volk is one of the finest writers of short horror stories (or weird fiction, whatever) writing today. His latest collection, The Parts We Play, was published by PS last year. The first story is “Celebrity Frankenstein”, and a very good story it is.

Continue here.

 

Invaders

The way I read collections and anthologies is to pick and mix. I may read just one story from a book before looking elsewhere – and I have many, many books on the go at any one time. In order to share my reading pleasure I will, from time to time, highlight a particularly strong story in a thread I’ve termed Tell Tales.

“Invaders” by John Kessel begins in November 1532 and the Incas are about to face the force of a superior European army lead by Pizarro. Then it’s 2001 and we are in the modern world, albeit one in which aliens have landed, bringing their superior technology. The story then continues in alternating sections, following the two eras, the two invaders – the first bunch stealing Inca gold, the second offering wonders. Such as time travel.

Continued here…

 

Tell Tales

The way I read collections and anthologies is to pick and mix. I may read just one story from a book before looking elsewhere – and I have many, many books on the go at any one time. In order to share my reading pleasure I will, from time to time, highlight a particularly strong story in a thread I’ve termed Tell Tales.

“Tower of Babylon” by Ted Chiang can be found in his collection Stories of Your Life and Others (Picador £8.99). This is the lead story in the book and was originally published in Omni in 1990. Like almost all stories from Omni (the ones I’ve read, anyway), it is an outstanding and powerfully written tale. As one would expect, coming from such a publication. Read more here.

 

Hekla’s Children reviewed

 

Hekla’s Children by James Brogden. Titan £7.99

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

Quite simply, I was captivated by this novel almost instantly. I admit that some may think I’m somewhat biased: I’ve known James Brogden for many years and have included some of his short stories in the magazines I edited for the British Fantasy Society, as well as publishing a collection of his finely crafted short stories (Evocations, The Alchemy Press). However, and trust me in this, if I hadn’t enjoyed Hekla’s Children I wouldn’t have read it so quickly and you wouldn’t be reading this review.

Nathan is a teacher who has a simple task, guide four teenagers round Sutton Park as part of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. Except that he’s too infatuated with Sue and hangs back observing them from a distance. As the children cross a stream and continue trekking, he sees the terrain alter. The stream is now a river, the ground becomes a wooded hill. Yet within moments the real world returns – all except the four kids.

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Helen’s Story reviewed

helen-s-story-hc-by-rosanne-rabinowitz-out-of-print-1660-p

Helen’s Story by Rosanne Rabinowitz. PS Publishing 2013

A retro-review by Peter Coleborn

I read Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan a long, long time ago and sadly I can’t recall the details. Having just read Helen’s Story I think I should find my copy and re-read it. This is because Rabinowitz takes Machen’s novella as her starting point and looks afresh at one of the characters in Pan – Helen Vaughan – and tells her story. The good thing is, you can read Helen’s Story without prior knowledge because the writer so ably immerses you in her tale, dipping into the now and the then with consummate ease.

Helen lives in London, an artist of massive canvasses, painting landscapes that tell her story, attempting to capture everything that happened to her, attempting to find a way to join her companion – a creature that morphs into whatever shape or gender it chooses, including a certain being that is – well – Pan. She stages showings in her studio, using some of the raw responses the paintings cause in the viewers to embellish, enhance and further her work. Among the audience is a man who bears an uncanny history with hers.

Helen’s Story is so well written the novella flows effortlessly through the reader’s mind, subsuming him or her into this exotic and very erotic tale. Helen Vaughan is a strong character yet at times suffers from self doubt – a result of her strange upbringing, in a house with a cold scientists, in boarding schools in which she is the outcast, and in the woods with the creature who becomes her life-long companion, even if it neglects her for decades at a time. Helen is a timeless woman, born in the 19th century, her appearance evolving to remain youthful. The final scene in Helen’s studio is a set piece in which she and the audience become subsumed into her work, chasing the elusive companion.

This novella is another exemplary publication from PS, beautifully produced and designed, from the gorgeous cover art (by Erika Steiskal) right through to the final endpapers. Helen’s Story is a tour de force of one woman’s fight to understand her nature – and is quite simply a masterpiece. I’d place it in the same class, the way it mixes the real and the myth, as Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock, Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce and Among Others by Jo Walton. I saw a post online that the book is now out of print. Let’s hope some other publisher picks it up so everyone can read and enjoy it

 

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