We had a fab week in the Yorkshire Dales last week . . .

. . . calm in the confidence that Mike and Tamsin were keeping things moving. And boy, did they ever . . . which has allowed me to do a little catch-up reading, long overdue.

To kick off with, one of the books I’ve been reacquainting myself with—

—and one of the key titles we’ll be launching at FantasyCon—is  Mark Lumby’s excellent DARK PLACES, EVIL FACES edited by Mark with all profits to go to MacMillan Cancer Support.

Here’s Mark’s pitch to me a year-plus back:

Hello Mr Crowther, 
I was ask to email you because I was told that you may be able to help. I am putting together a horror anthology in aid of MacMillan cancer support so all profits made will go to this cause. I have many authors helping with story contributions. At the moment the book will be in digital format although I really need to find a good publisher. This is where you come in! Any help you could offer would be amazing. Either publishing or editing. Or if you could guide me down the correct path?
Regards
Mark Lumby  

Well, you know, there are times when you just have to step up to the plate and start swinging the bat.

And this is one of those times. I figure there’s not many of us who have not been touched by cancer and even fewer who will completely avoid it in their lifetimes. Among several friends and relatives—not to mention relatives of friends—it took Nicky's dad and my own mum when their defences were down, and the lovely folks at MacMillan made her final days pretty damn near pleasurable. Money is tight for everyone—heck, you won’t get any arguments from me on that score—but this is a book that deserves your support. It already has the support of PS and our printers (way to go, TJ International!), and Mark himself (of course) and artist Tomislav Tikulin . . . plus the following gang of cool dudes and dudettes:

  • Introduction—Shaun Hutson
  • I Love You—J.R. Park
  • Late Shopping—Brian Lumley
  • Lady in Waiting—Ken Goldman
  • At the Patio Door—Vincent V. Cava
  • The Box—Richard Chizmar
  • Rabid Squirrels in Love—Jack Ketchum
  • Tube Head—Lee McGeorge
  • The Cure—Elizabeth Engstrom
  • Underbed—Graham Masterton
  • The Good Father—Mark Lumby
  • The Straw Man and a Murder—Jeff Menapace
  • Apartment 11—Michael Bray
  • In Sheep’s Clothing—Alex Laybourne
  • Eater—Peter Crowther
  • Worse Than Bones—Ramsey Campbell 
  • To Catch a Killer—Matt Hickman
  • The Dark Net—Jeff C. Stevenson
  • Thank You, Thad—Susan Murrie MacDonald
  • The Keeper—Edward Ahern
  • Upping the Production Values—Ken MacGregor
  • No Tomato—Jeff Strand
  • Wendall Lane Diaries: You Shouldn’t—Vincent V. Cava
  • Seek—Stuart Keane
  • To Forget and Be Forgotten—Adam L.G. Nevill
  • Born Bad—Mark Parker

So all it needs from you folks now is to buy copies. End of plug!

Another title we’ll be launching at FantasyCon is R. B. Russell's SHE SLEEPS.

Ray is a regular in the PS firmament and last year's THE STONES ARE SINGING in which he suggested that 'even the smallest of changes in our world can hint at parallel existences, and the ability, for some to move between alternative realities' demonstrated a mastering of novella length fiction.

This time out, Ray has delivered a novel SHE SLEEPS describing it as 'A murder mystery with the slightest hint of the supernatural'.

It is 1989 and Lawrence Moore  has left University and is working in a record shop. He has written a series of lyrics that have come to the attention of Richie Young, a faded pop star attempting to make a come-back. The lyrics are inspired by dark and unexplained events from six years before, when Lawrence had been at school: a disappearance, a suicide and a  hit-and-run. When the record is released Lawrence is accused of exploiting these tragedies and is attacked by the newspapers as well as by friends and family. The past returns to haunt Lawrence Moore, but the attendant publicity also brings developments. 

And just as he did so eloquently with THE STONES ARE SINGING, Ray has given us a taster of SHE SLEEPS with this video trailer.

Here’s a nice letter from Alastair Reynolds regarding my mention of Steely Dan last week.

Dear Pete

I had a slightly weird Steely Dan moment last week.
I've been a huge fan ever since my dad exposed me to a ‘greatest hits’ album during car drives in the 80s. I got into them big time during my college years and quickly amassed most of the albums on vinyl. I have all the spin-off stuff as well: Fagen's solo stuff, Becker's solo stuff, even albums where there was only a peripheral Steely Dan connection, such as the China Crisis stuff produced by Becker, the Rosie Vela album etc. I saw them twice, as well.
A few years ago I uploaded all my Dan CDs onto a harddrive, and on Sunday it was on random play, cycling through more than 3000 songs by many artists. I was pleasantly surprised when ‘With a Gun’ came up because I hadn't heard it in a while, and isolated from the rest of PRETZEL LOGIC, I realised it was a song I hadn't paid much attention to before. Anyhow, I paused it because I wanted to listen to Johnny Walker's Radio 2 program, one of my Sunday habits. Half way through that program, JW mentioned WB's death, clearly a shock to many, myself included. It was only later that afternoon that I went back to my harddrive and remembered the song I'd paused . . .
Now, I'm not superstitious, BUT . . .

Al

Great stuff, Al—thanks for sharing it with us.

More great stuff from two early reviews—both from LOCUS magazine—for Nick Gevers’s EXTRASOLAR.

First off is Gardner Dozois. Go, Gardner:

For the last several years, I've proclaimed one book or another by Jonathan Strahan to be the Best Science Fiction Anthology of the Year, but this year EXTRASOLAR edited by Nick Gevers may give Strahan a decent run for his money. Unlike many of Gevers’s past Postscripts anthologies, which have tended toward slipstream and soft horror with only a smattering of SF, EXTRASOLAR is all core SF, its writers taking us on a “tour of the stars in our galactic neighborhood,” drawing on the knowledge about exotic stars and extrasolar planets derived from more than twenty years of observation by the Kepler telescope and other space telescopes, knowledge that paints a very different picture of what a solar system can be like than that which was gained by observing our own—and which has thrown new fuel on the fire of the debate about the Fermi Paradox. (Basically, if the universe is full of intelligent life and alien civilizations, where is everybody? Could it be that the Earth is the only planet where intelligent life has evolved and survived?—to date, anyway.) You'll find arguments on either side here, as well as some ingenious compromises; like any good theme anthology, some of the stories here stretch the margins of the theme, some quite a bit, but for the most part Extrasolar delivers just what it says it's going to deliver

(Subscribe to Locus and read the full review.)

And here’s Rich Horton, once again from the review pages of the September issue of LOCUS.

Another thumbs up for Nick’s anthology plus exceedingly enthusiastic doffs of the cap to two PS stalwarts in the shape of the indefatigable Lavie Tidhar and one of my fave short story writers, Kathy Goonan from whom I took a triptych of fine stories back when I was just starting out on this editing game. Take it away, Rich:

EXTRASOLAR is a new anthology from PS Publishing on the theme of extrasolar planets, concentrating mostly on planets discovered via our current (or near future) telescopes. One interesting story that doesn’t hew that closely to that theme is Lavie Tidhar’s “The Planet Woman by M. V. Crawford”, which presents three linked short-short stories supposedly written in the ’70s by Crawford, a very obscure writer. Tidhar nails the period pretty well (the stories, for example, are said to be from THE ALIEN CONDITION—a book I remember well!), the July 1974 Analog (last issue before I started buying it – that must be why I missed Crawford’s story!) and THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS). The pieces themselves are pretty effectively reminiscent of, say, Tiptree – set in a future where all men are forcibly given sex changes, then proceeding to a transcendent and somewhat mystical conclusion.

My real favorite in the book is the last and longest, “The Tale of the Alcubierre Horse”, by Kathleen Ann Goonan. Speaking of ’70s stories from Analog, this to a small degree has echoes of Frederik Pohl’s “The Gold at the Starbow’s End,” though only to a small degree. It’s told mainly through the eyes of Pele, an older woman serving on a space station of sorts that is eventually intended to become a starship. As the story opens, it seems more of an entertainment facility, complete with reality TV. One set of guests is a group of super-brilliant children – many of whom are on the autism spectrum, as is Pele. She works closely with them, and is willing to help when the children, impatient with the lack of progress on the starship, hijack the station, expel everyone else, and head for whatever promising extrasolar planets they can find. The center of the story is in Pele’s life story – her origins as a homeless orphan, her adoption by a family that understands her Asperger’s, and her love of stories, especially fairy stories – which then informs the human understanding of the strange journey of the starship, and the strange effects of the Alcubierre drive. The narrative strategy is ambitious, and ultimately quite successful and quite moving. 

Nifty. Thanks, Rich and thanks to Gardner—and, of course, to Locus. If you don’t already subscribe then you’re missing all that’s good—both classic and new—in the SF firmament.

Now, following on from Mark Lumby’s DARK PLACES, EVIL FACES, over to Nicky for the latest on the rest of the books we’re preparing for FantasyCon plus a few others.

We have just taken delivery of the seven SOLAR PONS paperbacks by Basil Copper edited by Stephen Jones. The storage rooms in the mailing area now have approaching twenty five thousand books and, at one time this morning, for a while, Mike and Pete were fearful that they had lost Carole. However, they found her on her hands and knees making for the door: needless to say, Pete has hidden her shoes and car keys.

A copy of THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST by Claire North is now with the slipcase makers so that they can get the correct dimensions for the slipcase. Both Mike and Pete have started dipping into it again—it’s a beautiful book, thanks to artist Chris Roberts, with whom I love working. He always manages to come up with a totally different approach, and Claire’s story clearly inspired him greatly.

Also just in are copies of THE BIG, BIG GIGGLE, the small book that will join the signed edition of WE ARE THE MARTIANS in an illustrated slipcase.

All elements are now with the slipcase makers so they can get the correct dimensions.

The next four ILLUSTRATED LOVECRAFT books (13 through 16) have been uploaded to the printers . . . plus Pete ‘Gomez’ Von Sholly has devised a 17th book upon which he has already commenced new artwork. Here’s a taster. It’s titled THE CURSE OF YIG AND SELECTED GHASTLY GHOSTWRITINGS.

Finally, the signed edition of TALES FROM THE MISKATONIC LIBRARY is about to be printed. We’ve had a few problems and hold-ups but we are almost sorted.

A huge thank you to all of you who are being very patient waiting for books. The unsigned editions are completed quite quickly but the deluxe signed/slipcased copies always take much longer. The good news on that score is we just heard from Blissetts that tomorrow we’ll be receiving traycases for Joe Hill’s THE FIREMAN and Ramsey Campbell’s THE SEARCHING DEAD—and it’s worth noting that work has started feverishly on Ramsey’s second non-fiction volume: RAMSEY CAMPBELL, CERTAINLY. Well, what else was it going to be called.

Thanks, Nicky.

The huffing and puffing that goes with pre-Convention nerves and jitters seems to have passed the fever pitch . . . probably just as well, seeing as how we’re only one week from ‘blast off.’

So, just to remind you, here once again, is the full launch line-up:

  • DARK PLACES, EVIL FACES edited by Mark Lumby;
  • seven paperback volumes of the complete SOLAR PONS stories;
  • BORN TO THE DARK by Ramsey Campbell—check out the Big Man’s video right here RAMSEY READING
  • DARKER COMPANIONS edited by Scott Aniolowski and Joe Pulver; 
  • SHE SLEEPS by Ray Russell—you've seen the video now get a sneaky peak extract here PS BLOG
  • DEATH LINE by Sean Hogan.

It’s worth mentioning here that there will be signees galore on hand to scribble in your purchases (whether new releases or not)

And they’ll be delighted and even thrilled to ‘leave their mark’ . . . like a couple of small well-placed pinprick holes in the jugular.

But, gee, we all hope you can make it, particularly after Mike has sorted out 350 PS books—and no, Maurice, NOT the launch titles!—to go into the Convention goodie bags. So do stop by the PS stand or corner us in the bar and talk awhile.

But first things first: there’s this weekend to deal with, and the forecasters are saying it’ll be a mini heat-wave. Well, we’ve all of us heard that before but you never know. Either way, there’s not likely to be any heat-wave at FantasyCon. So make the most of whatever you get—look after each other! And happy reading.

Best

Pete

 

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