Manual Strange Sci Fi Short Stories: The Supernatural Side

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I'm certain it will repay rereading as well, as the significance of certain earlier sections only becomes clear later on. I thought it outstanding. But that is the achievement of 'The Wanderer' by Timothy J Jarvis, an astonishing debut novel deeply infused with the traditions of supernatural and metaphysical fiction. Most of all, though, 'The Wanderer' is that rare thing, a thoroughly engrossing and exhilarating story, laced with playfulness, which also glimmers with intelligence and audacity. We should be wary, though. The book itself reveals a force seeking out certain artists, poets, and others, as prey it can pursue forever through the underworld — an infinitely dark and cruel game of the kind hinted at by Sarban in 'The Sound of His Horn', but vaster still in its remorselessness and terror.

In his introduction to the recent New York Review of Books edition of two horror novels by William Sloane, Stephen King writes that the books are 'actual works of literature,' in that slightly embarrassed way fans of genre fiction have of explaining themselves to others. This is approximately the sensation one feels when reading 'The Wanderer', Timothy J. This is an extraordinarily accomplished first novel, and readers of weird fiction have much cause for celebration at the prospect of a second. This review is a much-expanded version of a short post I felt I had to put on Facebook shortly after reaching the end of this brilliant, brilliant book.

This is an intelligent, ludic work, beautifully articulate and poetic, with respectful yet impish reverence given to the best writers of strange stories over the last few decades. The fact that it is a debut makes it all the more revelatory and I cannot recommend this book enough.

Jarvis is a novel, or a found manuscript, or a dream. It tells of those who have seen through rifts in the thin veneer of our superficial world and entered into a deeper, unfathomably dark meta-reality. The story or stories, as it contains many spans vast swathes of time, and equally traverses the geography of our globe's cities, shadows and far flung desolate spaces to tell its story of impending, unassailable terror.

This is the kind of novel that demands to be read again, and surely new aspects will then surface to delight and disturb. Who knows where I'll find myself re-reading this in the future though? In a cosy pub, on board a founded ship, at a Punch and Judy show, in Glasgow, London, or somewhere beneath them all? Imagine a novel that tries to define supernatural horror fiction while re-defining it for a modern sensibility. The nearest example I can think of is 'The Ceremonies' by T. Klein, a book many considered a qualified failure.

Well, a second contender has now emerged in the form of 'The Wanderer', a remarkable debut from a British author. As one review quoted in the book succinctly remarks, reading it is a little like wandering through a library assembled by some insane devotee of fantastic atrocities and excesses. If you love good old-fashioned weird stories or if you've ever considered yourself to be a fan of weird fiction, you must read 'The Wanderer'.

This novel is essential reading material for fans of the weirder side of speculative fiction, because it's an exceptionally good and well written novel. A few excellent weird fiction short story collections have been published this year, but 'The Wanderer' is without a doubt the best weird fiction debut novel of the year, so readers of weird fiction should put it immediately to their reading list.

In other words, it's weird fiction as it should be. It's a literary masterpiece that beckons readers to re-read it and enjoy its strange atmosphere time and time again. All production has stopped. Nobody can leave, except as a corpse collected for fuel.

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Wanderer, The

Anna buys a trolley and wanders the city, salvaging objects and information. She records horrific scenes, but also a deep capacity for love. This small hope flickers in a world where no apocalyptic event is specified. Instead, Auster creates his dystopia by magnifying familiar flaws and recycling historical detail: NC Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop.


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A modern-gothic tale of mutilation, murder and medical experimentation, Banks's first novel - described by the Irish Times as "a work of unparalleled depravity"- is set on a Scottish island inhabited by the ultimate dysfunctional family: Frank's victims are mostly animals - but he has found time to kill a few children … Phil Daoust Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop.

Space opera is unfashionable, but Banks couldn't care less. Consider Phlebas introduced the first of many misguided or untrustworthy heroes - Horza, who can change his body just by thinking about it - and a typically Banksian collision involving two giant trains in an subterranean station. PD Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop.

Life's rich tapestry is just that in Clive Barker's fantasy. A magic carpet is the last refuge of a people known as the Seerkind, who for centuries have been hunted by both humans and the Scourge, a mysterious being that seems determined to live up to its name. When it all starts to unravel, the carpet people's best hope is a pigeon-fancying insurance clerk and his half-Seerkind companion.

Yes, it sounds twee, but as Barker himself said, "the Seerkind fornicate, fart - they're very far from pure". Nicola Barker has been accused of obscurity, but this Booker-shortlisted comic epic has a new lightness of touch and an almost soapy compulsiveness.

Set in Ashford, Kent, the kind of everytown that has turned its back on history, the novel dips into the lives of a loosely connected cast of everyday eccentrics who find that history - in the persona of Edward IV's jester - is fighting back. A jumble of voices and typefaces, mortal fear and sarky laughter, the novel is as true as it is truly odd, and beautifully written to boot. Justine Jordan Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop.

He sends him back to the far future in an attempt to save the Eloi woman Weena, only to find himself in a future timeline diverging from the one he left. Baxter's extraordinary continuation and expansion tackles the usual concerns of the time-travel story - paradox and causality - and goes on to explore many of the themes that taxed Wells: Bear combines intelligence, humour and the wonder of scientific discovery in a techno-thriller about a threat to the future of humanity.

A retro-viral plague sweeps the world, infecting women via their sexual partners and aborting their embryos. But the plague is more than it seems What might in other hands have been a mere end-of-the-world runaround is transformed by Bear's scientific knowledge into something marvellous, as reason overcomes paranoia and fear.

Somehow surviving, he swiftly gets down to it. Bester's novel updates The Count of Monte Cristo with telepathy, nuclear weapons and interplanetary travel. Those who stumble across it are inevitably surprised to find it was written half a century ago. Brite's first novel, a lush, decadent and refreshingly provocative take on vampirism told in rich, stylish prose, put her at the forefront of the s horror scene. It's the story of Nothing, an angst-filled teenager who runs away from his adoptive parents to seek out his favourite band.

Along the way he joins up with a group of vampires, finds his true family and discovers what he really values, amid much blood, sex, drugs and drink. Keith Brooke Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Al Barker is a thrillseeking adventurer recruited to investigate an alien labyrinth on the moon. Everyone who enters the maze dies, so Barker's doppelganger is transmitted there while he remains in telepathic contact. Barker is the first person to survive the trauma of witnessing their own death, returning again and again to explore.

Rogue Moon works as both thriller and character study, a classic novel mapping out a new and sophisticated SF, just as Barker maps the alien maze. KB Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. When the Devil comes to s Moscow, his victims are pillars of the Soviet establishment: This is just a curtain-raiser for the main event, however: For his hostess, his satanic majesty chooses Margarita, a courageous young Russian whose lover is in a psychiatric hospital, traumatised by the banning of his novel. No prizes for guessing whom Bulgakov identified with; although Stalin admired his early work, by the s he was personally banning it.

This magisterial satire was not published until more than 20 years after the writer's death. In this pioneering work of British science fiction, the hero is a bumptious American mining engineer who stumbles on a subterranean civilisation.

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The "Vril-ya" enjoy a utopian social organisation based on "vril", a source of infinitely renewable electrical power commerce promptly produced the beef essence drink, Bovril. Also present are ray guns, aerial travel and ESP. Ironically, the hero finds utopia too boring. He is rescued from death by the Princess Zee, who flies him to safety. The novel ends with the ominous prophecy that the superior race will invade the upper earth - "the Darwinian proposition", as Bulwer-Lytton called it.

John Sutherland Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. One of a flurry of novels written by Burgess when he was under the mistaken belief that he had only a short time to live. Set in a dystopian socialist welfare state of the future, the novel fantasises a world without religion. Alex is a "droog" - a juvenile delinquent who lives for sex, violence and subcult high fashion.

The narrative takes the form of a memoir, in Alex's distinctive gang-slang. The state "programmes" Alex into virtue; later deprogrammed, he discovers what good and evil really are. The novel, internationally popularised by Stanley Kubrick's film into what Burgess called "Clockwork Marmalade", is Burgess's tribute to his cradle Catholicism and, as a writer, to James Joyce. JS Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop.

In one of the first split-screen narratives, Burgess juxtaposes three key 20th-century themes: Trotsky's visit to New York is presented as a Broadway musical; a mournful Freud looks back on his life as he prepares to flee the Nazis; and in the year , as a rogue asteroid barrels towards the Earth, humanity argues over who will survive and what kind of society they will take to the stars. JJ Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. John Carter, a Confederate veteran turned gold prospector, is hiding from Indians in an Arizona cave when he is mysteriously transported to Mars, known to the locals as Barsoom.

There, surrounded by four-armed, green-skinned warriors, ferocious white apes, eight-legged horse-substitutes, legged "dogs", and so on, he falls in love with Princess Dejah Thoris, who might almost be human if she didn't lay eggs. She is, naturally, both beautiful and extremely scantily clad Burroughs's first novel, published in serial form, is the purest pulp, and its lack of pretension is its greatest charm.

Disjointed, hallucinatory cut-ups form a collage of, as Burroughs explained of the title, "a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork". A junkie's picaresque adventures in both the real world and the fantastical "Interzone", this is satire using the most savage of distorting mirrors: Only Cronenberg could have filmed it in , and even he recreated Burroughs's biography rather than his interior world.

Butler's fourth novel throws African American Dana Franklin back in time to the early s, where she is pitched into the reality of slavery and the individual struggle to survive its horrors. Butler single-handedly brought to the SF genre the concerns of gender politics, racial conflict and slavery. Several of her novels are groundbreaking, but none is more compelling or shocking than Kindred. A brilliant work on many levels, it ingeniously uses the device of time travel to explore the iniquity of slavery through Dana's modern sensibilities.

Derelict - Alan E. Nourse

The wittiest of Victorian dystopias by the period's arch anti-Victorian. The hero Higgs finds himself in New Zealand as, for a while, did the chronic misfit Butler. Assisted by a native, Chowbok, he makes a perilous journey across a mountain range to Erewhon say it backwards , an upside-down world in which crime is "cured" and illness "punished", where universities are institutions of "Unreason" and technology is banned.

The state religion is worship of the goddess Ydgrun ie "Mrs Grundy" - bourgeois morality. Does it sound familiar? Higgs escapes by balloon, with the sweetheart he has found there. He ends up keeping his promise, witnessing the French revolution and its Napoleonic aftermath from the perspective of the Italian treetops. Drafted soon after Calvino's break with communism over the invasion of Hungary, the novel can be read as a fable about intellectual commitments. At the same time, it's a perfectly turned fantasy, densely imagined but lightly written in a style modelled on Voltaire and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Mercer's November Night Tales. Clark was born in County Durham. Since first emerging in surrealist journals and exhibitions throughout the s his fiction and illustrations have appeared in publications by Fulgur Limited, Ex Occidente Press, and Side Real Press. Helen Grant - www. John Kenny - johnrichardkenny. He also edited The Best of and Box of Delights , an original horror anthology.

As a freelance editor, he has worked on both novels and short stories. Gary McMahon - www. His stomping ground is often the alienating urban sprawl of modern life, but the horrors he meets there are timeless and very, very hungry. Elizabeth Miller - www. Together this super-duo have written award winning comics such as Albion and Raise the Dead. The future of comics has nothing to worry about. Rosalie Parker - www. Rucker is an American writer born and raised in the South and now living in Europe.

Her stories have appeared in dozens of magazines and anthologies. Russell is an English author, born in Sussex, who has a fondness for old books and vinyl records.

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Russell is co-proprietor of the independent publishing house Tartarus Press. Showers is originally from Madison, Wisconsin. Steve Rasnic Tem - www. The Endless Bookshelf - endlessbookshelf. The Pan Review - panreview. Andersen is a published author and guest speaker on English Literature in the Media. Speculative Fiction Junkie - www. The Supernatural Tales Blog - suptales. Tartarus Press Blog - tartaruspress.

Tartarus Press is an international award-winning, independent small press run by R. Russell and Rosalie Parker. Twilight Ridge - twilightridge. Weird Fiction Review - weirdfictionreview. Anderson columnist and Mark Valentine editor , along with friends, to present relevant news and information of similar interest. Since , they have published stories of both Irish and international authors which push at the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

The newsletter is edited by Rosemary Pardoe. Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies - irishgothichorrorjournal. They are currently seeking submissions. Le Fanu Studies - www. It also seeks essays about works of drama, literature, and film related to Le Fanu. Rue Morgue - www. Supernatural Tales - suptales.