Saturday, 24 June 2017

'The Last Reel'

Over at the splendid Pseudopod you can hear a reading of a story from ST #10. It's 'The Last Reel' by Lynda E. Rucker, which went on to feature in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #18 (2007). So there. It's one of those cracking stories where people chat about movie endings, and end up facing a real life situation even more fraught than any on celluloid.

Working in a kitchen had left her inured to minor cuts and burns. ‘Let’s see what’s in the box.’
Let’s not, he wanted to say, but what came out when he followed her back to the bed was, ‘Three movies featuring a head-in-a-box. Name them.’
‘God,’ she said, ‘do you have to be so morbid? 'Seven'.’ She lifted the lid.
‘That’s one,’ he said, so he wouldn’t shout something stupid and hysterical like Don’t look inside!
‘It’s filled with photographs,’ she said. ‘'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia'.’
‘That’s head-in-a-bag, not head-in-a-box,’ he said desperately.
‘Oh, for God’s sake. Picky, aren’t we?’ Her voice changed. ‘That’s weird.’
‘What?’
‘I don’t know how she got hold of these. It’s all pictures of me.’ 

Friday, 23 June 2017

Publicity!

Over at the 9th Story Podcast, author Helen Grant talks about writing books, and short stories, including her work for ST. She says nice things about me and my 'warped little mind', showing what an excellent judge of character she is. She discusses specific tales written for ST. That bit begins around 47 mins, but the whole interview is fascinating. Insights into a writer's life, and all that.

Helen's story 'Gold' will appear in the next issue. Here is an imaginative representation of her plumbing the depths, or something along those lines.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Iron, Cold Iron

GOLD is for the mistress - silver for the maid" -
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade! "
" Good! " said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
But Iron - Cold Iron - is master of them all."
Rudyard Kipling, there, proving yet again that he delivered more interesting facts per stanza than any other British poet, with the possible  except of Isidore McClunky, the Actuarial Bard of Berwick. What am I on about? Well, it's mostly down to the heat and lack of sleep, but I'm not just rambling insanely. Iron is traditionally the enemy of occult forces, far more versatile than a mere silver bullet or wooden stake. Iron sorts 'em all out - witches, fairies, the whole supernatural shebang. But why?

Well, here's an interesting essay on that very subject!
The use of lightning rods caused a furor of conflicting arguments from different factions of the Church. Some priests thought that they demonstrated the Church’s ability to control the elements in the name of God. Others argued that they demonstrated a lack of faith in the power of prayer as a form of protection. Some thought the Church was actually endorsing, and dabbling in, what may be a form of witchcraft! Some believed that their use attracted God’s wrath, causing churches to be struck by lightning much more regularly. Others thought lightning strikes occurred because they frustrated the Devil and his followers, making them lash out angrily, though ineffectually. It was claimed that lightning rods also caused earthquakes. However, it seems that bell ringers all said, ‘Thank God!'
And if you want to give it a go, my latest book - due out soon - contains a part of that Kipling quote, for occult reasons!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Interesting Long Reads

Over at The New Yorker we find an intriguing, very detailed item on 'The Occult Roots of Modernism'. It does that thing I like, informing me about a significant figure I'd never heard of. In this case it is a mad French bloke of the Decadent era. Yeah, what are the odds?
Péladan was born in Lyon, in 1858, into a family steeped in esoteric tendencies. His father, Louis-Adrien, was a conservative Catholic writer who tried to start a Cult of the Wound of the Left Shoulder of Our Saviour Jesus Christ. Péladan’s older brother, Adrien, was the author of a medical text proposing that the brain subsists on unused sperm that takes the form of vital fluid.
I'll just leave that there. The other article is equally thoughtful and looks at an interesting kinship between two of my favourite authors. Check out 'The Corner of Lovecraft and Ballard'. It's very detailed but rewarding, not least in its analysis of corners. Yes, those square things in rooms. I was surprised by the amount of attention they've got down the decades.
For H.P. Lovecraft the corner is a gateway to the screaming abyss of the outer cosmos; for J.G. Ballard it is a gateway to our own psyche. In Lovecraft’s universe, science was making man irrelevant, shunting us into a corner. Ballard takes the corner and turns it inside out, again making us the very center.