Sunday 5 October 2008

Theaker's Quarterly Fiction #25

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Happy Days!

"Stephen, you’re absolutely correct. Reading any part of your work is indeed an embarrassment."

When someone said that to me recently, it happened to be a case of mistaken identity, but anyone who has read past issues of TQF will know that the comments are, by some strange cosmic coincidence, entirely accurate!

That’s one of the things that makes this issue so great – there is less Theaker than ever! In fact, looking back, only one issue of TQF out of the previous seven has had any of my fiction in. Bad for me, but good for the magazine, I think, even if it means it is straying distressingly far from its original purpose.

My goal here was always to put together a makeshift magazine, one in which I would do every job until someone better came along to do it instead. And so it began with my fiction, my illustrations, my reviews and so on. The first thing to be replaced was my fiction, as my ramshackle efforts were replaced by real live contributors. In recent issues we’ve seen what proper reviews look like, thanks to the pen of Rafe McGregor. Now we’re just waiting for someone to relieve us all from the agony of seeing my illustrations in most issues! This issue I’ve dug into my box of Corel clipart to find lots of lovely photos, but I'm going to run out of avoidance tactics soon.

My ultimate dream is to be displaced as editor. Nothing would make me happier than to see Theaker’s Quarterly continued by other hands while I enjoy my dotage!

Coming up soon is National Novel Writing Month – or NaNoWriMo. I think I’ll probably be writing novels in November as long as I live, regardless of whether the actual event is still going on. It's such a wonderful idea, and one that suits my approach to (and reasons for) writing perfectly. This magazine wouldn't exist without it. But I’m not an ML (a local organiser) this year: I stepped down last December. It’s been many years since I’ve taken part without being an ML, and I’m looking forward to it a lot. Let someone else worry about where to hold events; I’ll just worry about where to put my characters!

This year’s ML’s Guide to Life says: “MLs are ambassadors for the Office of Letters and Light in the forums. … We’ve had a few instances, however, where MLs have used the forums as a battleground, squabbling with participants or belittling other MLs and decisions made by staff.”

I couldn’t help wondering if they meant me (though for all I know that comment might have been in there for years), and I was a tiny bit hurt by the thought – most particularly because I thought such criticism would probably be fair! I got into a couple of fairly frisky arguments when moderating the Rules & Regulations forum for a couple of years, and I might even have described it as a battleground at one point: it certainly felt like one.

It takes a lot of patience to deal with the type of person who turns up in the rules forum of a novel-writing event to ask if it’s okay to knit a scarf or learn to juggle instead of writing a novel, and I wasn't too bad at that. What I wasn’t really prepared for, in my first spell as a moderator on a forum, was the astonishing anger of some people when someone says something is against the rules. What really baffled me was that they were never happy to just do their own thing and ignore the rules: they really needed someone to say, “You’re eating a pie a day instead of writing a novel? Well, of course that’s okay.” What kind of rebel asks for permission?

This year there’s a NaNo Rebels section of the NaNoWriMo forum, which is a great idea. But of course it’s full to bursting of people saying things like, “I’m glad they’ve changed the rules” or “I’m hula hooping this November, but that’s not against the rules” or, even more annoyingly, “I’m writing a novel about cats, which breaks all the rules ‘cos I’m crazy”. My favourite post so far was by someone who said something along the lines of, “I’m glad they opened this forum, because I wanted to sign up for this event but I hate writing fiction.” If you hate writing fiction, what attracted you to a novel-writing challenge? Jeepers.

I wonder if the 24 hour comics challenge is besieged by people who want to make films, darn socks and train monkeys…

I’ve just returned from Fantasycon 2008, organised by the British Fantasy Society, which was great fun. I wish I hadn’t had to go on my own, but it’s hard to find babysitters for an entire weekend. Still, everyone was very, very friendly. Going to an editorial panel involving the likes of Jo Fletcher from Victor Gollancz and Pete Crowther from PS Publishing was both an education and a sheer pleasure, while listening to people like Ian Watson and Dave McKean talk was marvellous. Plans are already afoot to make next year’s event even bigger and better, and I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone.



  • Happy Days, by Stephen Theaker
  • Contributors

News & Comment

  • Dave McKean and Grant Morrison Might Work Together Again, Maybe, One Day, If We’re Lucky
  • Death to Our Rivals!
  • New Elric Novels – in French?
  • Comics Exhibition at Harrods


  • Jack, by Bob Lock
  • Strangers Wear Masks of Your Face, by Ralph Robert Moore
  • Mississippi Sunshine, by J.R. Parks
  • In the Vale of Pnath, by John Hall


  • Murder in the Minster, by Rafe McGregor
  • Naked Before Mine Enemies: a Tale of Tiana, by Richard K Lyon & Andrew J Offutt

Science Fiction

  • Newton Braddell and His Inconclusive Researches into the Unknown: In the Mountain of Sanity; Bombshells; and The Start of a Long Descent, by John Greenwood

The Quarterly Review


  • All Known Metal Bands
  • Anno Dracula
  • Fear of Music: 261 Albums
  • Ghosts in Baker Street
  • The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
  • The Man in the Picture: a Ghost Story
  • Seagalogy
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Hentzau Affair
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union


  • Aliens vs. Predator Omnibus Vol. 2
  • The Authority: The Magnificent Kevin
  • Conan: The Tower of the Elephant and Other Stories (Vol. 3)
  • Doctor Who: The World Shapers
  • Fruits Basket (Volume 3)
  • Hellblazer: Papa Midnite
  • Hellboy: The Troll Witch (Vol. 7)
  • Hellboy Junior
  • Hellboy: Weird Tales, Vol. 2
  • JLA: Rules of Engagement (Vol. 13)
  • JLA: Syndicate Rules (Vol. 17)
  • JSA: Savage Times (Vol. 6)
  • JSA: Lost (Vol. 9)
  • JSA: Black Vengeance (Vol. 10)
  • The Lost Colony: Snodgrass Conspiracy
  • The Savage Sword of Conan, Vol. 1
  • Starman: A Starry Knight (Vol. 7)
  • Stone Island
  • Superman: Red Son
  • Terminator Omnibus Volume 2
  • Ultimate Galactus Trilogy
  • Vertigo: First Cut
  • War Stories, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
  • Zot! 1987–1991


  • McSweeney’s 28


Allow us to introduce this issue's willing victims…

Ralph Robert Moore’s fiction has been published in America, England, Ireland and Australia, and translated into Lithuanian. He has been anthologised in the nineteenth edition of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, edited by Ellen Datlow; Ten Years of the Best of Sign O’ the Times; Darkness Rising; Revelation III; Dark Distortions; and Read By Dawn (edited by Ramsey Campbell). An interview with him, as well as a bibliography and new story, is in the seventh issue of Midnight Street (edited by Trevor Denyer, famous – of course! – for his contributions to our own New Words). His story "The Machine of a Religious Man" was nominated as Best Story of the Year in the 2006 British Fantasy Society Awards. Other magazines that have published his fiction include Albedo One, Collages and Bricolages, ChiZine, fugue, Lullaby Hearse, Lunatic Chameleon, Porcupine Literary Arts Magazine, Redsine, Revelation, Roadworks, Sein Und Werden, Sign O’ the Times, Songs of Innocence (and Experience), Space and Time, The Los Angeles Times Calendar Magazine and Thirteen. His novel Father Figure was published in 2003. He recently completed his first play, Duck Eggs. His website SENTENCE features a wide selection of his writings.

J.R. Parks is a professional writer of children’s graphic novels. His works of fiction and poetry have been published in such anthologies as The Northridge Review, I Am This Meat, The Bandersnatch Vol. II, Centres of Expression, Parade of Phantoms, San Jose Zine, and others. He is also the author of Machine Town: Flight of the Sky Captain, as well as a graphic novel adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. Two of his pieces have been professionally recorded into audio editions, and can be heard on his website (

John Greenwood has made contributions to most issues of TQF following his return from a round-the-world trip, and was ultimately made co-editor in recognition of his efforts. To this issue he contributes an astonishing three episodes in the life of the Newton Braddell!

Rafe McGregor is a crime fiction author who spends far too much of his time rereading the work of H.P. Lovecraft and M.R. James. He lives with his wife in a village near York. More details can be found on his website ( To this issue he has contributed both a short story, "Murder in the Minster", and a number of reviews.

John Hall is best known as a Sherlockian scholar, and a member of the International Pipe Smokers’ Hall of Fame. His numerous literary interests include Raffles (this one, not this one) and Sexton Blake, and he shares with his friend Rafe McGregor a keen interest in the stories of H.P. Lovecraft and M.R. James. He is the author of Special Commission, a medieval murder mystery. A previous story by John, "Shaggai", appeared in TQF#23.

Bob Lock is a Welsh writer of science fiction, fantasy and horror, whose debut novel Flames of Herakleitos was published in March 2007 by Screaming Dreams. His work has also appeared in Cold Cuts 1 & 2, and Cone Zero, edited by D.F. Lewis, and online at Whispers of Wickedness, Sfcrowsnest, Scifi UK Review, Alienskin, Sams Dot Publishing, Fiction Online, Sffworld and his very own Bob Lock blog. To this issue he contributed a short Halloween tale by the name of "Jack".

Richard K Lyon is a semi-retired research scientist/inventor whose hobbies include collecting pulp SF magazines and writing. He has also published numerous short stories and novelettes. A collection of the latter, Tales From The Lyonheart, is available from Barnes and Noble, etc. In collaboration with Andrew J Offutt, famed author of My Lord Barbarian, he wrote the Tiana trilogy (Demon in the Mirror, The Eyes of Sarsis and Web of the Spider), and Rails Across the Galaxy for Analog. To our magazine they have contributed "The Iron Mercenary" (TQF#19), "Arachnis" (TQF#22), "Devil on My Stomach" (TQF#23), "The Hungry Apples" (TQF#24) and, this issue, "Naked Before Mine Enemies".

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