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I’m on a bit of a mission at the present time . . .

. . . which sees me attempting a cull as regards my extensive (and believe me, that is a massive understatement) paperback collection, now occupying many many MANY shelves and even, dear reader—and I suspect that many of you yourselves are similarly blighted with this disease—we are talking entire rooms.

Of course, it’s a joy to do, and I do not exaggerate but it’s a lengthy process . . . lengthy in its very nature but additionally laborious because of my dipping and diving into and out of often forgotten volumes, reading and re-reading flap-copy and chapter extracts, frequently consigning a book to the jettison button only to reconsider its fate scant moments later resulting in my rescuing said volume and restoring it to its rightful place.

The reason for first thinking a specific book could be released and, moreover, the reason why minutes later it came back to the fold are varied and various: a title might be a personal favourite in terms of content or the cover artwork could be particularly attractive to me, or it could have been a long-ago gift (I get a few of those—Nicky just bought me IF IT BLEEDS by Stephen King, for example).

It could even be a title in a much-loved imprint series (Pan Books, Corgi books, Armed Forces titles, Ballantine Adult Fantasy, Dell Map-backs, Pocket Books, Perma, Penguin, Boardman and yada yada yada. And then there are the complete obscurities that, surely, have survived earlier culls, and two such emerged from a pile in Mike’s hands—HILLS SPORTING NEWS ANNUAL 1956/57 and THE OXFORD INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH HISTORY (1954). Both have found somewhere to hang their respective hats. And there’s the reassuring point. Every book has a home and curse those who would have it otherwise. And you know, we’ve got a whole passle of homeless books just cryin’out for some hospitality. You know who we’re thinking of. Onwards.

You’ll recall that last week we showed snippets from Darren Speegle’s A FIERCE AND FERTILE TOMORROW . . .

As we promised here are some more choice clips from A FIERCE AND FERTILE TOMORROW, the follow-up collection to his 2016  A HAUNTING IN GERMANY.

Darren's tales span a myriad genre themes and he is equally adept in all. In particular, he totally understands the importance of strong opening passages to draw the reader in.

Take a look fro yourselves.

From ‘The Shades of New Geneva'

"This was one of the most difficult story to write of those in this collection. It required thinking way outside the box. The city is the story here. It takes, transforms, and creates new beings."

Funny, they had built the great triangular Prism in the center of New Geneva as a symbol of what they called “unity in diversity.” Now the dispersed bands of light melted into the miasma enveloping the city, creating a spectral stew. Like the population itself. Like the streets of the dreadful place.

As he stood looking down into the valley of the city, Lane didn’t want to go back in there. He would never speak those words to Leah, who stood tautly beside him, her temporarily concrete-colored eyes refusing to reflect the weird lights below. She had lost something to New Geneva, something intrinsic, and she had finally summoned the courage to go searching for it. He would not compromise that. The strange silence surrounding their merged roads, an infection of which she was the source, must end. The possibility of leaving her had long since evaporated. She had infected him too thoroughly.

"Darren Speegle's characters, and their situations—in his often brilliant stories—are brought vibrantly, horrifically to life, because he cares about his characters, the stories he tells through them, and the words he chooses, with such great care, to bring them to the printed page. He's among the best writers I've read .. ." —T.M. Wright

From ‘Gapping’

"I worked on this idea for well over ten years. It began with a vignette I published in an Australian mag in the mid 2000s—that early piece couldn’t have been longer than three pages and just touched on the concept—and became this novelette, a favorite personal work of mine."

The day the quickest of us died was the day the others finally started seeing things my way. It wasn’t only that Lynx was quickest; he was also youngest and most adored. Any number of superlatives made him the perfect instrument for the sort of shock treatment I’d secretly known we needed. It tore my heart in two that it had to be him, but then none of the rest of us would have had such a devastating impact. Not even Moon, who wasn’t as sharp as conditions required and always needed help of some kind.

Still, it was Lynx’s quickness, his proficiency in the sport, that most qualified him for martyrdom. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t aware he was dying for a cause. What mattered was that it was him, the ace, the one the game couldn’t beat. We’d all tried to emulate him. Hell, Rigs even changed his name to Dancer, after a move he took from Lynx. I too have my game name – Hawk. With the exception of Moon, we all think of ourselves as fleet. Swift. Agile. It’s who we are. What we do. Or at least did. Without meaning to be, Lynx was responsible for much of that. He was our idol. Our hero. The pioneer. Oh, he didn’t start the game – he was far too young at the beginning – but he made the game. He was its soul.

"Fiendish ingenuity." – Asimov’s Science Fiction

From 'Ash'

A world whose atmosphere so closely resembles that of Earth, it can’t be possible? That’s where this one went, with a race resembling humans having left its stamp.

The team of four had been hiking for three days in the humidity and heat when they came upon the first sign, aside perhaps from the path itself, of intelligent life. A single limestone pillar, about ten meters in height, stood on a bald hillock rising out of the jungle. Its octagonal shaft maintained a diameter of perhaps a meter and a half until a point near the top, where it appeared to have once tapered to a sharp tip. That tip was gone now, leaving a rough, slanted gouge, bite mark of a giant. Much of the monolith was blackened by weather, particularly the sides facing north and east, where the steaming volcano that one of the data readers back on the ship had designated Hell’s Cauldron loomed over the sea.

The world had been given an equally uninventive name, Greenworld, for the lushly vegetated land that constituted approximately half of its surface. The planet was smaller than Earth, but denser. Its gravity, like its air, was so similar to the home world’s that its visitors required no apparatuses and experienced no discernible discomfort as they went about their mission. Which was what had made Greenworld such a find to Probe’s explorers. There were few enough semi-habitable planets in the galaxy. To find one that needed no terraforming at all was, in a word, incredible.

And now, here’s Nicky with her regular Newsround.

As I reported last week, the slipcase manufacturer MacCarthy’s have not started making our slipcases yet, although they have been taking all the artwork in readiness. As soon as they open their doors again I will let you know.

Fortunately, the Biddles gang are still busy.

And now (as of yesterday) they should have received two parcels to weave their magic with signing sheets that they will now start tipping in. Nigel has promised to let me know as soon as possible when he will be sending me signed editions for a few titles that I mentioned in last week’s newsletter.

This week we posted out Volume 1 and 2 of THE BEST OF BEST NEW HORROR edited by Stephen Jones which look wonderful and also the unsigned editions of the anthologies APOSTLES OF THE WEIRD and HIS MOST FANTASTIC CREATION both edited by S.T Joshi.

The unsigned edition of WARTS AND ALL a fantastically huge collection by Mark Morris arrived at the unit two days ago so you know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

I think that’s about it for this week, definitely short and sweet.

But one final note about the current delivery situation.

I’m receiving loads of emails every day enquiring about the delivery of parcels. Please bear with the Royal Mail and all delivery companies. They are doing their best under very trying circumstances. Hopefully as  the weeks go by there will be some improvement.

Reclaiming THE BROOD

Hosted by Doug Holm and produced by KBOO, Film at 11 is back, with a lengthy discussion of David Cronenberg's early film The Brood which is now the subject of an 800-page book by comic book artist and writer Stephen Bissette.

The audio will be added on Friday after 11 AM pacific standard time, after the program airs. Here's the link:

NEW in from Cemetery Dance

We've had a flurry of new titles come in from our chums across the water at Cemetery Dance. We've just a handful of each so I promise not to fill my boots until you've all had first pick.

That's all folks . . .

A busy weekend beckons for us here at the Towers: me near on buried by thousands of vintage paperbacks (Oh, the joy, the wonderful joy)—and I'm betting you and yours have jobs aplenty set out demanding time and energy. But make sure you treat yourselves and have some fun—heck, you guys deserve that and more besides. But please play sensibly and do as you've been told.


PS Publishing

Grosvenor House, 1 New Road, Hornsea
United Kingdom

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