Monday, 15 January 2018

Voyage to the Bottom of the Barrel

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 recently, I was struck by the (speeded up) image of a sea cucumber stuffing its maw with prey the tentacles on the tips of its arms had snared. I had to use that in a story somehow, and within a day I knew it was going to be a Damian Paladin tale; and there was going to be a submarine in it. An experimental one: bigger and able to dive deeper than any other sub that existed in the 1930s.

A while back I was playing around with the idea of writing an adventure novel featuring a boat based on the French submarine cruiser Surcouf. It was a big old thing: armed with a twin 8 inch deck turret (the largest allowed by treaty at the time) and a variety of machine guns, along with a hanger abaft of the conning tower that housed a reconnaissance seaplane. That vessel fed into my new US Navy boat and became the blueprint for it – just a little longer, and minus the hangar (which had caused the Surcouf no end of trouble). And just for my own amusement (and because I like to have help visualising stuff) I adapted an image of the Surcouf: trimming back the hangar, altering the colour scheme, and replacing the French Naval ensign with the US flag.
As for the story, “Cradle of the Deep” – I even lifted that from a VttBotS episode – of course there’s a huge sea monster, and crew members being thrown about inside the boat.

The submarine SG-1, under the able command of Captain Bannon and Lieutenant Commander Munrow, will be back: helping Paladin in another adventure, and maybe even plotting its own future course.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Monday, 1 January 2018

That Was The Year That Was

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 Incursions was 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, and a science fiction short, “More Than Meets” in Nebula Rift vol.4 #11.

The middle of the year saw me drifting further into the world of Pulp fiction when I wrote a digest novel, The Griffon: Renaissance, for Pro Se. An updating (and well ahead of Doctor Who, a sex change) of the Arch Whitehouse character into a modern, shared universe, it involves plenty of intrigue, air battles and fire fights (all with technology just a shade more advanced than our own – well, it is Pulp adventure stuff). Great fun to write and, I hope, to read, when it’s published.

And for 2018? The above novel, fingers crossed, along with two more from Pro Se. There’s a post Civil War Western, Revenge is a Cold Pistol and if all goes well, a revised and expanded reprint of the first Paladin book, The Paladin Mandates. There are a couple more short stories due to see print – one SF, one Lovecraftian – and partway through a new Paladin story I realised that the experimental US submarine and crew I’d created would definitely be back in a later adventure, maybe even spun off into their own series. The Paladin universe expands apace. I also have a Holmes novella to finish – one set in the same Steampunk universe as Vallis Timoris – and a Fantasy novella to rewrite and update (which already got put back last year, so I need to focus), tentatively entitled Warriors of the Endless.

I’m sure that won’t be the end of it: life takes odd, unpredictable turns (this time last year, if you’d said I’d be writing a Griffon adventure, I’d have patted you on the head and advised taking more water with it). But for now, it’ll do.

Happy New Year.


Weirdbook has existed, in a variety of iterations, since the late 1960s, coming into its own in the mid-1970s. It was a quality small pre...