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Tuesday 22 March 2022

Comparative Anatomy: for preorder

With an introduction by Stephen Volk

“Magic always stops at midnight,” says the doomed narrator in the title story of Stephen Gallagher’s career-spanning collection, Comparative Anatomy, but while that may be true, the reader will find no end to the magic in these thirty astonishing tales by one of Britain’s most distinguished writers.

From the inimitable postwar melancholy of a forlorn ghost bound to the house in which it died in “Twisted Hazel,” and a common man’s misguided attempt to temper grief in “Shepherds’ Business,” to the unsettling demands of an overbearing family desperate to reap the rewards of vicarious fame in “Little Dead Girl Singing” and the collision of disparate personalities among wicked children and bizarre religion in “The Butterfly Garden,” Comparative Anatomy is as much a meditation on what it means to be alive as it is an exploration into what may await us when we die. 

Herein you’ll find stories that explore the very nature of ghosts and how often it is us, and not those we’ve lost, who do the haunting, as the lines blur between the paranormal and the pathological, and all manner of characters from time travelers to clairvoyants, priests to serial killers, and thieves to ventriloquists, find their souls laid bare by spectral encounters and the sinister desires of man’s own fractured psyche to know what comes next. 

Comparative Anatomy includes two original tales, a novelette, “The Backtrack,” and a short story, “Live from the Morgue,” written especially for a collection by an author at the height of his power as one of the premier dark fantasists of his generation. 

Limited: 1000 signed numbered hardcover copies. Available for preorder.

Special Offer: Those who preorder Comparative Anatomy from SubPress will receive an ebook of the original novelette, "Hounded," about which the author writes:

A big old house with a private forest; what better place for Charlie to play host to his godson, their partner, and two dogs in their time of need? But Charlie should beware. The rescued know that security, once found, is not to be given up lightly.

 To preorder from Subterranean Press, click here

Saturday 19 March 2022

Well, this looks rather fine

Thursday 17 March 2022

Everything But The Doc

My spot on the guest list at Gallifrey One came about through my association with Cutaway Comics, a sprung-from-lockdown publishing house featuring creator-owned material in a Doctor Who splinter universe; characters, monsters, villains and others all licensed from their individual rights holders or, in some cases, their estates. I was there with publisher Gareth Kavanagh, writer/editor Ian Winterton, and artist Martin Geraghty as part of the launch of Cutaway's Gods and Monsters megaproject.

Gods and Monsters comprises a set of one-shot comics based around individual characters followed by a six-part limited series. The series draws all of them together in a single narrative. It's been supported by a crowdfunding campaign that was launched at the convention and which met its target within twelve hours. By the time it ended, the Kickstarter was funded almost four times over with numerous stretch goals triggered.

(If you missed out, the one-shots and series will be available through the usual retail outlets.)

It's a vast project but the part I tend to bang on about is the first of the one-shots, Faustine, because that's the one I wrote. Faustine herself is a new character but the backdrop to this two-parter - if a one-shot can be a two-parter - is the human slave uprising that played a significant role in the Tom Baker Season 18 story Warriors' Gate.

The story's in the late stages of production now with art by Martin Geraghty, colours by Andrew Orton, design and lettering by Colin Brockhurst. I've watched it all coming together and it's looking great.

Meanwhile, at Gallifrey, the Cutaway stand sold out all of its stock of current titles. We managed to escape the hotel for a few hours either side of the weekend, first navigating the LA transport system for a visit to Santa Monica Pier and a walk down to Venice Beach, and later with a rental car for a whistlestop tour where I got to show some favourite spots of mine; the view from Mulholland Drive, the House of Secrets comic book store, the '60s TV Batcave in Bronson Canyon, the Music Box steps, the Bradbury Building as featured in Blade Runner and Harlan Ellison's Outer Limits episode Demon With A Glass Hand (closed to the public due to Covid restrictions, but I could offer a squint through the windows).

Faustine will be available soon and Gods and Monsters will follow. Watch this space for more.

Sunday 13 March 2022

Gallifrey One 2022

It's now more than two weeks since my return from the all-vaxxed, all-masked 32nd Gallifrey One, the big annual Doctor Who convention in Los Angeles. They had to skip last year because of Covid and capped this year's attendance at 2,600 to reduced crowding. After two transatlantic flights and a weekend spent mingling with more people than I've been close to in the past 2 years, I'm still testing negative. The Con itself was one of the most enjoyable I've attended, down mainly to the calm efficiency of the organisation and the relentless good spirits of the attendees.

There were no noticeable problems over mask compliance and the requirement for proof of vaccination or infection-and-recovery meant that dropping the masks for food and drink felt like a low-risk move, allowing for sociable evenings in the bar. Guests onstage could choose whether to remove masks, which most of us did. Microphones and seats were wiped down between panels. There was no masquerade but cosplay was in evidence throughout. I lost count of the Jodie Whittakers (of all ages) but it was the three identical David Tennants that messed with my head.

The general endorsement of the measures has to be qualified by the fact that those with objections stayed away, while the organisers could point to city ordinances to back up Convention rules. Despite that I understand that they took some online abuse. No one present considered this a 'new normal', but a transitional stage on the way back to it. Last year I was writer GoH at the all-online World Fantasy Convention, where the move online was one of the first, bold steps in keeping the flame alight. We didn't kid ourselves that we could replicate the presence and conviviality of the live event, but the Con committee pulled off a remarkable feat.

I will say that Zoom's brought a permanent new element into fandom. My local SF group, well into its fourth decade, moved entirely online in the first weeks of lockdown and we've been meeting virtually twice a week ever since. The big advantage; several of those who've moved away (and in a couple of cases left the country) get to join in again. When we go back to something more approaching normal we plan to have one live pub meet and one online, to keep everyone onboard.

Tuesday 1 March 2022

Auction for Ukraine: Warriors' Gate in rare hardcover

Johnny Mains is running an auction of books, scripts, and other genre-related goodies, many of them donated or signed by the creators, to raise funds for Red Cross humanitarian aid in Ukraine.

That's a screenshot but you can click here for the actual link.

 Among the lots on offer is this:

One of a short run of hardcovers produced for library issue, this copy's been in shrinkwrap for 30 years so condition's as good as it gets. You're unlikely ever to see an example that isn't ex-library. It's from my personal archive and I wasn't intending to part with it, but these are exceptional times.

Johnny's taking bids via the comments section of his blog, so without the involvement of eBay or any other auction house 100% of the money goes to the Red Cross. The winning bidder on March 12th makes the payment to Red Cross Ukraine and on proof of receipt the item's donor will send it directly to the winner.

Johnny originally specified UK bidders only, but is making exceptions for those willing to bear the cost of overseas postage. 

If you want to put in a bid on this lot, Lot 40, go for it. And look at the other lots as well, there's some great stuff in there. Otherwise please consider passing this information along, particularly to any Doctor Who fan, newsgroup, blog, website or other outlet you think may care to know about it. We have until March 12th. There was considerable interest when a clean copy was offered on eBay last April; without that platform we can't hope to achieve the same reach, but we can try.

UPDATE: A successful fundraiser. Thanks to Johnny, and to all who bid.