Monday, 23 January 2012

Pestilence of the past, plague of the future

I’m very chuffed to announce that KING DEATH – my story published in stand-alone chapbook form by SPECTRAL PRESS at the end of last year – has been selected for the next edition of Paula Guran’s annual YEAR’S BEST DARK FANTASY AND HORROR anthology, to be published later in 2012 (pictured left is the 2011 volume).

There’s no point my going into any more detail about KING DEATH here as I’ve blogged about it frequently in the past, except to say that it’s a tale of real-world horror – in the form of the medieval Black Death, meeting fantastical horror – in the form of … well, if you haven’t already read the chapbook, I guess you’ll just have to read Paula’s anthology and find out for yourself, won’t you?

But I’m very pleased for various reasons over this, not least because it’s something of a feather in the cap for Simon Marshall-Jones’s SPECTRAL PRESS , the relatively new and self-styled publishing outfit, who had sufficient faith in KING DEATH to release it last December.

In fact, the YEAR’S BEST DARK FANTASY AND HORROR will be something of a double-whammy for Simon and his team this year, as another of the authors who’ll be appearing in its line-up, Angela Slatter, will also soon be writing for SPECTRAL PRESS .

It’s always nice to see people’s efforts get deserved recognition, and the efforts of guys like Simon Marshall-Jones are still the lifeblood of the horror/dark fantasy genre in my opinion. Anyway, here’s the full table of contents, from which it’s pretty plain to see that we’re in good company:

Hair by Joan Aiken
Rakshashi by Kelley Armstrong
Walls of Paper, Soft as Skin by Adam Callaway
The Lake by Tananarive Due
Tell Me I’ll See You Again by Dennis Etchison
King Death by Paul Finch
The Last Triangle by Jeffrey Ford
Near Zennor by Elizabeth Hand
Crossroads by Laura Anne Gilman
After-Words by Glen Hirshberg
Rocket Man by Stephen Graham Jones
The Maltese Unicorn by Caitlin R. Kiernan
Catastrophic Disruption of the Head by Margo Lanagan
The Bleeding Shadow by Joe R. Lansdale
Why Light? by Tanith Lee
Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee
A Tangle of Green Men by Charles de Lint
After the Apocalypse by Maureen McHugh
Lord Dunsany’s Teapot by Naomi Novik
Mysteries of the Old Quarter by Paul Park
Vampire Lake by Norman Partridge
A Journey of Only Two Paces by Tim Powers
Four Legs in the Morning by Norman Prentiss
The Fox Maiden by Priya Sharma
Time and Tide by Alan Peter Ryan
Sun Falls by Angela Slatter
Still by Tia V. Travis
Objects in Dreams May Be Closer Than They Appear by Lisa Tuttle
The Bread We Eat in Dreams by Catherynne M. Valente
All You Can Do Is Breathe by Kaaron Warren
Josh by Gene Wolfe

And now for something completely different … from the plague-ravaged rural wastelands of 14th century England, to the rationing-ravaged urban wastelands of 1950/1960s London.

It gives me great pleasure to finally reveal that I’ve written one of the pilot-episodes for a new DR WHO spin-off series, COUNTER-MEASURES, the first four episodes of which will be released in a CD box-set from BIG FINISH this coming July.

This series is set just after the classic 7th Doctor serial REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS, and concerns the formation of a special counter-intelligence group, whose job it will be to tackle strange phenomena and dangerous technology.

The elite scientific/military unit (who will actually be a forerunner of the official UNIT of a decade later) is comprised of several characters whom Who fans will instantly recognise from REMEMBRANCE, including Doctor Rachel Jensen, Group Captain Ian Gilmore and Doctor Allison Williams, all played by the same actors who portrayed them on television back in 1988: Pamela Salem, Simon Williams and Karen Gledhill.

My episode is the opening one, and is entitled THRESHOLD. It concerns ghostly activity in a Bermondsey warehouse, which leads to the disappearance of a leading scientist and the discovery of a science which should not exist.

Following this comes Matt Fitton’s ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, an investigation into a mysterious suicide and the uncovering of a devastating new weapon; Ian Potter’s THE PELAGE PROJECT, which tells the tale of a pollution crisis, at the heart of which lies something even more sinister; and Justin Richards’s STATE OF EMERGENCY, which features intruders from another dimension and treachery in the halls of Westminster

For those who think there might be a kind of Quatermass vibe going on here, you’re essentially right. This is definitely Britain of the Cold War, a black-and-white, bombsite-strewn landscape, with fear and paranoia abounding at every level of society: reds under the bed, flying discs, nuclear power, science out of control, etc.

But above all, it’s reminiscent of early DR WHO. Think of those evocative names – Totter’s Lane, Coal Hill School – and I surely need say no more.

How will you be able to resist it?

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