Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Chance Meeting - Avram Davidson and Philip K Dick


The Avram Davidson Society, that haunt of savants and connoisseurs of rare fiction, has announced the publication in June of Chance Meeting, two uncollected pieces by Avram Davidson on Philip K. Dick. This includes Davidson’s perceptive review of The Man in the High Castle from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for June 1963 and his memoir of PKD from Locus 256, vol. 15, no. 5, for May 1982. The publication also includes a letter from Grania Davis from the same issue of Locus; with a short essay by the Society's leading light Henry Wessells. It will be in an edition of 150 unnumbered copies, stitched in Hahnemühle wrappers with letterpress label. This meeting of two of the most original and inventive minds in fantasy and SF will certainly be worth attention.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Compulsory Games by Robert Aickman


It is always a good thing to have an affordable sampler of the “strange stories” of Robert Aickman available again from a mainstream publisher.  I say sampler because this selection is not a “best of” volume. Indeed, Aickman’s most celebrated stories are not included here.  Compulsory Games contains fifteen stories, plus an introduction by editor Victoria Nelson. The story selection was limited, as Nelson admits, to stories not included in the Faber four-volume set issued in 2014; that is, stories not in Dark Entries (originally 1964), Cold Hand in Mine (originally 1975), The Wind-Dark Sea (a 1990 U.K. abridgement of the 1988 U.S. compilation, which was kind-of a posthumous best-of collection), and The Unsettled Dust (a 1990 U.K. compilation that takes the stories omitted from the 1988 The Wine-Dark Sea and adds to it).  These Faber volumes are devoid of bibliographical and copyright details.  So too Compulsory Games, the new compilation from New York Review Books, which confusingly claims the stories © 2016 by the Estate of Robert Aickman, yet notes the selection is © 2018 by NYREV, Inc.  This cavalier attitude towards essential information is really frustrating.

As to the stories themselves, four of them (“The Strangers,” “The Coffin House,”  “A Disciple of Plato,” and “The Fully-Conducted Tour”) come from the 2015  Tartarus Press volume, The Strangers and Other Writings, a kind of mop-up Aickman collection, including previously unpublished materials, limited to 450 hardcover copies. So it’s good to see some of this rare material made available again, and in a readily available trade paperback.

The presentation is nice, and the editor’s introduction is adequate, if a bit sniffy at times—Nelson begins with a claim that any Aickman story is “unshaped by the procrustian bed of genre”—something that is simply not true, for Aickman himself was clearly very well-read in the genre, though in his own writings he deliberately struck out on his own. He developed his own rules and style, but he was still certainly shaped by his thorough reading of the genre.  (The anxiety of genre also shows up in John Darnielle’s blurb on the rear cover of the book.) Nelson also  makes note of some interesting features in what she calls Aickman country. 

Nelson’s 2001 volume The Secret Life of Puppets (Harvard University Press) was an eclectic and interesting look at how views of the supernatural permeate modern culture. Nelson recently published a list of the "10 Scariest Horror Stories" which includes Aickman's "The Trains" as number 1.  Read the piece here.
 
Compulsory Games is published in the U.S. on May 8th and can be ordered from Amazon.com ($17.99), and in the U.K. on June 14th from Amazon.co.uk (£12.99).

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Dunsany's Lost Tales Volume 4

Pegana Press has recently published the fourth volume in their series of fine press booklets of "Lost Tales" by Lord Dunsany.  (I wrote the short Introduction for this one.)  It comes in paperback and hardcover versions, printed and bound by hand. The Pegana Press productions are elegant works of art.

This booklet contains nine stories, eight previously unpublished, and one previously unreprinted.  The three longer stories date from the last decade of Dunsany's life, while the rest are fables of the sort as those found in Fifty-One Tales (1915).  Dunsany was a master fabulist, so it's a great attraction to see more of his work in this area. 

This edition also has as a color frontispiece a previously unpublished work by S.H. Sime:

The Sime frontispiece: art from 1925.



For more details and ordering information, visit the Pegana Press website

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Some New Publications

I've just posted about three new releases from my Nodens Books imprint (for full descriptions see here).  Two of them are of particular interest to readers of Wormwood and Wormwoodiana.

The first is an expanded collection of my own Late Reviews, from Wormwood and other sources, plus newly written ones.

Late Reviews, by Douglas A. Anderson
Hardcover edition ($35.00), sold only directly via Lulu, at this link.
Trade paperback edition ($25.00) sold via Amazon (and European affiliates) ISBN 9781987512564. Amazon.com at this link. Amazon.co.uk at this link.
Trade paperback edition ($25.00) sold via Lulu, at this link.
Kindle edition, sold via Amazon and affiliates.


And the other is the first reprint in 115 years of Ferelith by Lord Kilmarnock, with a new introduction by Mark Valentine.

Ferelith, by Lord Kilmarnock. Introduction by Mark Valentine.
Trade paperback edition ($16.00) sold via Amazon (and European affiliates) ISBN 9781987736700. Amazon.com at this link. Amazon.co.uk at this link.
Trade paperback edition ($16.00) sold via Lulu, at this link.
Kindle edition, sold via Amazon and affiliates

More new titles are currently wending their way through publication channels.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Wormwood 30


Wormwood 30 has just been announced, with essays on Algernon Blackwood, Ambrose Bierce, Caitlin Kiernan, Margaret Benson, Ada Goodrich Freer, George Macdonald and Sara Coleridge.

From the editorial:

In this issue, William Charlton explores books by Sara Coleridge and George MacDonald that each deal in the world of fantasy, dream and fairy tale, and have certain apparent similarities: however, he argues that their differences are more significant. He also suggests that many of the dimensions they explore have still not been pursued by later writers, and there remains a rich seam within fairy lore yet to be mined.

Fairy lore is also present in Joseph Hinton’s study of Margaret Benson, a neglected member of the family that gave us the ghost story writers A.C., E.F. and R.H. Benson. Though she only wrote one volume of mystical and supernatural stories, these are vivid and unusual explorations of ancient Egypt interpreted through the motifs and symbols of fairy tales. She was one of the first women archaeologists in Egypt, and fused her experience of the country and its antiquities with an individual spirituality to create fervent prose evocations of the unearthly.

There is a fairy tale element also in Algernon Blackwood’s novel The Fruit Stoners, which has rarely received the attention given even to the better-known of his longer works, such as The Centaur. It has often been seen as an allegorical tale for children. But, argues Rebekah Memel Brown, it ought to be considered as one of his major works, a thoughtful meditation, informed by developments in science, on the nature of time and space.

Accounts of Hebridean folklore, including fairy tales, appeared under the name of Ada Goodrich Freer, who also compiled a volume of supernatural stories. But, as Peter Bell relates, a great deal of the folklore work was taken from another, more diffident, hand, who has only fairly recently been given due credit.

There are very modern and bizarre fairy forms among the altered humans of Caitlin R Kiernan’s work but, as James Goho describes, they are far from the genteel Victorian world of the children’s play-book. Her neo-Decadent fiction often involves extreme art and gruesome futuristic ‘atrocity exhibitions’, and echoes the original Decadents’ rejection of their society and its shams by depicting the outré outcasts of today. But, just as Decadence was one of the sources of Modernism, so Kiernan’s work is also characterised by experimentation with form and style.

Few have ever written more sardonic and macabre stories than Ambrose Bierce, but as Tim Foley recounts, he once led a fairly carefree life on a long visit to England, which afterwards seemed to him a charmed time. If his restless spirit haunts anywhere, it emerges that it may not be Mexico, where he disappeared, but leafy Leamington Spa.

We also offer our regular columns by Doug Anderson, John Howard and Reggie Oliver reviewing past and present fiction in the field of the fantastic.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

M. R. James Conference, 26th-27th September 2018, York


In the Autumn of 1898 M. R. James visited York, during the course of which he took copious notes on the painted glass of twelve of the city's mediaeval parish churches. One hundred and twenty years later, The Friends of Count Magnus are marking this event by holding a two-day conference in the city examining the connections between James's professional scholarly work and his ghost stories.

The event will include Robert Lloyd Parry performing 'A Pleasing Terror', two ghost stories by M R James; a presentation by Whitby actor and raconteur Patrick Smith; a walking tour of York taking in some of the churches James visited; talks by Gail-Nina Anderson, Peter Bell, Paul Chapman, Helen Grant, Terry Hale, Darryl Jones, John Reppion and Mark Valentine; panel discussions; together with an opportunity to meet many other Jamesian enthusiasts.

Full details and booking information may be found by visiting The Friends of Count Magnus.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Supernatural Tales 37


Supernatural Tales 37 has just been announced. It includes stories by Helen Grant, C.M. Muller, Jeremy Schliewe, Chloe N. Clark, and Mark Valentine, and reviews by the editor, David Longhorn.

"The Forwarding Agent", my story in this issue, is about a man who collects tickets as a hobby, industrial estates, a Roman mask and a figure on a motorway bridge. What discerning reader could ask for more?