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Voyage to the Bottom of the Barrel

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I’ve always been a ridiculously big fan of the 1960s Irwin Allen TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (this will come as no surprise to those who know me). Submarines, sea monsters, aliens – what’s not to like? And for years I’ve wanted to write a kind of tribute story, without actually delving into fan fiction. 
My first attempt, “Welcome to the Hotel Marianas”, appeared in The Bitter End: Tales of Nautical Terror (Pill Hill Press, 2009), and later republished in my first collection, Give Me These Moments Back (The Alchemy Press, 2015). I say attempt, since at some point it drifted away from a VttBotS tribute into slightly more Lovecraftian territory. Still, the clues were all there: character names, sub with a glass nose. More recently I submitted another underwater tale for The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors, and again, although that was set in an underwater habitation there was nothing about it to suggest an old, cheesy TV series.
Then, while watching Blue Planet II on BBC TV…
Courtesy of Pablo Cheesecake at The Eleoquent Page: a great review of Walkers in Shadow.

That Was The Year That Was

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A new year, and inevitably thoughts turn to what’s going to happen over the forthcoming months, as well as back at what was achieved in 2017.

I had two books out – treading on each others’ heels, it felt like – quite early on. Radix Omnium Malum & Other Incursionswas a collection of horror tales from Parallel Universe Publications, while Damian Paladin – my 1930s, New York based occult detective and monster hunter – reappeared on the scene in the collection (or portmanteau novel, if you prefer), Walkers in Shadow, courtesy of Pro Se Productions. Paladin also made his presence felt in issue two of Occult Detective Quarterly in “The Black Tarot”; which was a backdoor way of introducing a new masked character to my fictional universe: the eponymous Black Tarot. Expect to see more of him in the future.


On the short story scene I had a Sherlock Holmes tale, “The Adventure of the Haunted Room”, published in the The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part VII: Eliminate the Impossible

Thoughts on 1968 movie HANG 'EM HIGH

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Watched the Clint Eastwood Western Hang ’Em High (1968) last night – only the second time I’ve seen it. The first time, some decades back, I was sorely disappointed; I think I was expecting something more like the Dollar films, or High Plains Drifter, while this offering is more traditional (although I’ve seen it described as revisionist, which I’d dispute). I thought I’d be fair and give it another go.

It’s not as bad as I remember it – but it’s a long way from good. With an almost 2 hour (sometimes too leisurely) running time it could benefit with at least half an hour snipped off. The mass hanging scene, especially, feels interminable. I appreciate the director wanting to convey some of the inappropriate carnival atmosphere such an event would have generated, but it could have been conveyed just as well – or maybe better – with the judicious application of scissors. The story line meanders too, and feels unfocused.

There’s a parade of familiar and famous faces – such as Dennis Hop…

MY FANTASYCON 2017 SCHEDULE

Somehow, I find myself on three panels in this year's convention. And all on Saturday. What did I - and you, dear attendee - do to deserve that?
OCCULT DETECTIVES Saturday 12 Noon (Panel Room 1) With Dave Brzeski (mod), Mike Chinn, John Linwood Grant, Chico Kidd, Autumn Barlow, A. K. Benedict, Ben Aaronovitch. Arthur Conan Doyle popularised the concept of the series character in detective fiction with Sherlock Holmes. It wasn’t long before authors of supernatural fiction swiped the idea and invented their own investigators, who didn’t share the Great Detective’s disdain for all things paranormal. There are now as many variant types of these ghost-breakers and monster hunters as there are ab-natural threats (as Hodgson’s Carnacki would have put it) for them to protect humanity from. Our panel discusses these variations and their experiences. Join us for an enlightening conversation.
PLAYING WITH THE REAL Saturday 1.30pm (Panel Room 3) With ​Peter Coleborn (mod), Andrew Hook, Tej Turne…

THE RETURN OF THE PALADIN - PART TWO

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Back in 2009 I wrote in this ’ere blog about it being over ten years since THE PALADIN MANDATES was published by The Alchemy Press, and how a review of same in THEAKER'S QUARTERLY DIGEST provoked me into writing a sparkly fresh Paladin story: “Sailors of the Skies” for DARK HORIZONS #55 (The British Fantasy Society, 2009). Paladin himself had been born many years earlier, in “Death Wish Mandate” published in KADATH #5, by Francesco Cova. He’d had a long gestation.
Ever since he drew SWORD OF SORCERY for DC Comics (1973), I’ve been a fan of Howard Chaykin. In 1975 he wrote and drew the first two issues of THE SCORPION for Atlas/Seaboard Comics. Set in the 1930s, it pitted an apparently immortal character – Moro Frost – against slightly more mundane villains. At the time I didn’t know much about the rich history of masked avengers who had graced the pages of pulp magazines back before the Second World War (with the exception of Doc Savage and the Shadow), so I was pretty ignorant o…

Collective Lunacy

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Up until three years ago it had never crossed my mind to have a collection of my short fiction published. Over the decades I’ve sold something like sixty-plus short stories, but even my closest friends – at their most charitable – would agree the earlier stuff isn’t worth collecting.
Yet, in a moment of uncharacteristic optimism, I selected eighteen pieces and approached The Alchemy Press. In 2015, GIVE ME THESE MOMENTS BACK was published (a title which, I am told, Alchemy Press supremo Peter Coleborn keeps wanting to correct to something less poetic and more grammatical). The contents were, typically, somewhat – shall we say, eclectic? I’ve always been something of a gadfly: hopping from one genre to another without any obvious plan or direction, and the collection reflected that. I’ve no idea if, from a marketing standpoint, it was a good thing or not.
Then, as 2016 tailed off, it occurred to me that I actually had sufficient material for a more horror (or dark fantasy, if you pref…