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You know, the first time he mentioned it as an idea for a major anthology, I had my doubts about Stephen Jones’s proposed THE BEST OF BEST NEW HORROR Volume 1

I mean, you know what I’m getting at here: a volume of the best stories from a volume already boasting the best stories gathered from those stories’ respective years picked lovingly from that first magnificent first decade edited by Steve and, for volumes 1 through 5, co-edited by Ramsey Campbell, each of which, in itself, is a worthy inclusion. So what we have is unquestionably the definitive ‘double-whammy reference tome as regards short horror fiction in its first decade. But don’t take my word for it, go take a look at the line-up.


Of course, just choosing the tales themselves is something of a huge undertaking as Steve explains in his Introduction to volume 1.

With so many superior stories and talented authors to choose from, and with the number of tales necessarily constrained by the word- length of a single book, I decided to limit my choice for this anniversary edition to what I considered to be one of the best stories from each volume.
     When it came to my definition of “best”, I considered whether a particular story was the most effective, stylish or simply influential in any individual volume. As a consequence, this led to some juggling of titles and authors until I felt that I had achieved a representative selection of ten superior horror stories (and don’t expect me to define my “various notions” of what constitutes “horror” here—this book speaks for itself).
     Unfortunately, because I also decided to only allow one story per author, by necessity some very fine tales and their creators have had to be left out of this anthology.
As a result, many excellent writers who have regularly contributed to the series over the years are not represented in this current volume. There is nothing to say that these and other equally talented writers could not be included in another compilation using the same criteria at a later date. There is certainly a wealth of talent and some extraordinarily powerful material to draw upon throughout the distinguished history of this anthology series.

     But until then—like the series itself—this current volume should be considered a representative sampling of some of the finest work that was included in Best New Horror during the anthology’s first ten years.
     Is it actually the best of the Best? I’m not so sure . . . but I do know that these tales and the authors who crafted them represent the pinnacle of the horror genre between 1989 and 1999. And that can’t be a bad thing for any “Best of ” compilation.

Way to go, Steve.


Well, boy, did we get Fantastic Response to my suggestion to hear from readers about reissuing some forgotten classics.

First this from Karl Evans. Take it away, Karl.

'Hi. Yes, please please please reissue Robert Holdstock’s MYTHAGO books.' Karl Evans

And Bruce Chrumka says Y'es, I'd like to see THE OPHIUCHI HOTLINE.' Cheers, Bruce

While Neil Shapiro endorses another of my suggestions—a quick vote for HIGHWAYS IN HIDING! 'One of the pivotal books in my own reading experiences. I recall I was nine or ten the first time I read it. And I must say I still think about it every motoring road trip (maybe sixty years later) when I see a road sign that just is a little off. Put me down for number 1! And remember to go with the Gnome Press original publication and avoid the Avon Books abridgment! Best,'  Neil Shapiro

Thanks, Neil. Here you can see me with my own Gnome copy, now residing beside my bed.

And another Evans—Colin this time—who has this to say: 'In the newsletter you asked for suggestions for reprints. Mine is ORPHAN PALACE by Joseph S. Pulver. It’s currently out of print or for £700-plus in  Amazon marketplace. Wonderful prose amazing cover. Warmest regards,' Colin.

Plus this plea from close to my heart regarding Jonathan Carroll.

'Hi PS gang, Was reading the newsletter and thought I'd throw my tuppence in on the suggestions for possible PS issues of out-of-print books. Top of the list, probably because I think he would get the most orders in for you, would be Jonathan Carroll's early work, especially THE LAND OF LAUGHS, BONES OF THE MOON and SLEEPING IN FLAME. First (and only hardcover) editions (LAUGHS especially) still command high prices on the second-hand market.'

For something more obscure, and to my mind, an absolute lost modern classic would be Haydn Middleton's MORDRED Cycle fantasy trilogy. Ironically, considering it was written to be read in any order, this retelling of THE MATTER OF BRITAIN, comprising the books THE KING’S EVIL, THE QUEEN’S CAPTIVE and THE KNIGHT’S VENGEANCE, actually works best when the books are read in the order they were published. Unfashionably short for fantasy novels, they would work well gathered together as one of PS's thick tomes. (If you haven't read them, please give them a try—the second book, in particular, is so beautiful and hypnotic it matches the best of John Banville's THE SEA for my money.)

And finally, because I really am restricting myself (otherwise I would be wanting to see Stephen Laws's SOMEWHERE SOUTH OF MIDNIGHT and MACABRE back in print), here's another lost one. THE DEATH PRAYER by David Bowker. Somehow, when the 1990s horror cull was underway by major publishers, Bowker managed to sneak out this weird York-set supernatural police procedural. It really does deserve to be rediscovered.
 Anyway. There we are. Be interested to see what any other PS customers have suggested.

Yes, I do recall reading and enjoying David Bowker’s novel . . . perhaps even reviewing it for David Pringle (INTERZONE or MILLION). In fact, I’ve just spent almost an hour trying to hunt down Bowker’s book with no success. And my love for the work of Jonathan Carroll continues unabated so all I can say on that score is watch this space. In closing this section of the Newsletter you may recall seeing Jonathan’s letter following my reviews of his first three novels in the much-missed STRANGE THINGS ARE HAPPENING magazine—it’s here once more for your interest and you can google the actual magazine under its title. Meanwhile, rest assured that I’ll be checking all your suggestions (including those received this past week) for availability. By golly, I will!

And the final two mentions in this week’s Newsletter begin with a timely re-issue of Basil Copper’s THE CURSE OF THE FLEERS

This time, available in Drugstore Indian Press’s trade paperback line having made a popular appearance in hardcover some years back.

When Captain Guy Hammond, on convalescent leave from his regiment, is contacted by his old friend Cedric Fleer, he finds himself plunged into a treacherous web of deadly intrigue and unimaginable horror surrounding a noble Dorset family.
    Cedric’s father, Sir John Fleer, is being driven to the brink of madness by the ghoulish apparition of the ‘Creeping Man of Fleers’ which haunts the battlements of Fleer Manor. Is the bloodied and dying figure the fulfilment of the gruesome ancestral curse laid on the family, or is there a yet more sinister explanation for the horrifying deaths that follow Hammond’s arrival at the ancient mansion?
     As the mysterious deaths mount up, Hammond must unravel the family feud that has raged down the centuries between the Fleers and the Darnleys, born of appalling crimes in the bloody past. Is Sir Jeffrey Darnley, the Fleers’ hated neighbour, responsible for these terrible events? Or could The Great Waldo, a celebrated actor who is also a master of disguise, also be implicated? Then there is the grotesque menagerie at Fleer Manor containing Konga, a huge ape that is capable of tearing a human being apart, and the sinister catacombs beneath the house which hide an ancient and deadly secret.

    But with time fast running out, can Captain Hammond brave death and danger long enough to discover what that terrifying secret is?

Published here in the version the author originally intended, THE CURSE OF THE FLEERS is a “lost” Victorian Gothic novel by one of Britain’s acknowledged masters of the macabre.

And almost finally . . . closing off as we started out, I hand the reins over to my chum Stephen Jones.

As discerning as Aidan Chambers is as an editor of anthologies—and that alone would ensure his place in our genre—he is perhaps even better known for his atmospheric retellings of traditional tales of “true” hauntings, to which he brings an erudite knowledge and a natural storyteller’s skill.

Starting with Haunted Houses in 1971, Aidan published a string of story collections that combined his fascination for real-life apparitions with the occasional new ghost story of his own. These included Ghosts 2 (1972, with Brian Morse), More Haunted Houses (1973), Aidan Chambers’ Book of Ghosts and Hauntings (1973), Great British Ghosts (1974), Great Ghosts of the World (1974), Ghost Carnival: Stories of Ghosts in Their Haunts (1977), This Place is Haunted (1990) and Great Ghosts (1991). A number of these purportedly “true” encounters are included herein, although—given the quality of Aidan’s storytelling abilities—some readers may have trouble deciding between which tales are the “true” ones and those that are purely fiction!

This present volume came about when I contacted Aidan about another book project I was working on. He proved to be an enlightening and affable correspondent and, in the course of our discussions, he happened to mention to me that he would like to see a new collection of some of his best ghost stories. 

I needed no further encouragement and immediately started putting together a proposal for DEAD TROUBLE AND OTHER GHOST STORIES. I grew up with these tales—as I’m sure many other readers did—but for those who are coming to these stories of sinister shades and shrill spectres for the first time, then my hope is that you will find them every bit as entertaining as I still do.

This collection, featuring a Les Edwards cover and interior illustrations by Randy Broecker, is available as an unsigned Jacketed Hardcover [£25] and a slipcased hardcover signed by Aidan Chambers, Stephen Jones, Les Edwards & Randy Broecker (limited to just 100 copies)  [£45]

Yes, Steve, you’ve topped and tailed this week’s Newsletter with style. Many thanks. Just one thing left to do now and we all know what that is. Don’t we kids! Yessir . . . it’s  . . .

Nicky’s Newsround

Hello everyone. These are strange times and no denying. But things continue and we just keep a grip on things as much as we can.

The second signing sheet for MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS REVEALED edited by Darrell Schweitzer continues to gather signatures and you will also be pleased to hear that we have almost completed collecting signatures for one of the signing sheets for THE UNQUIET DREAMER edited by Preston Grassman. The other sheet continues with its travels.

All the books that you have pre-ordered have been uploaded to the printers and they will be working their way through them.

I’ve just spoken to Nigel at Biddles and he tells me that the signed edition of TEN-WORD TRAGEDIES edited by Tim Lebbon and Christopher Golden will be delivered next week.

The long anticipated THE BROOD from Steve Bissette will also be arriving . . .

Along with a signing sheet signed by Cindy Hinds and Art Hindle plus the fact that you will also receive one of the special movie tickets signed by Steve Bissette that go inside the Electric Dreamhouse Movie Monograph series. We only have a certain amount of signature sheets so it will be a case of ‘first come first served’ for this one. We are not publishing two editions.

Finally, as soon as Mike has put the last title for STOKERCON to bed he will be taking a little rest mainly to catch up on sleep as he’s been burning the candle at both ends. As soon as he feels a little more rested he will set to and complete a few loose ends of various titles that have been languishing for a little longer than we planned. So watch this space.
More news next week.

Thanks, Nicky.

Okay folks, that’s it for now but we’ve got lots more items for you to purchase either direct from the website or standing in front of our tables at the upcoming World Horror Convention (aka StokerCon) in Scarborough. Check out our launch timetable—lots of opportunities to buy or take PS titles purchased in the dealers’ area and have them signed and even inscribed by authors on hand. But don’t fear, we got a few more weeks to keep you posted . . . and lots more wonderful books to recommend. Look after each other, enjoy the weekend (looking more and more summery every day) and happy reading.

Best wishes from the greensward . . .


PS Publishing

Grosvenor House, 1 New Road, Hornsea
United Kingdom

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