Friday 21 June 2013

Randalls Round by Eleanor Scott, reviewed by Harsh Grewal

Randalls Round (Oleander Press, pb, 176pp) collects several well-written tales of horror and suspense. They were written by Helen M. Leys, under the pseudonym Eleanor Scott. They were first published over eighty years ago and feature highly articulate posh people being scared – or worse. The stories were apparently inspired by the author’s dreams, though one suspects the sexual aspects of the dreams have been somewhat diluted.

The author isn’t as fascinatingly keyed-up as Poe, nor as brilliantly off her rocker as Lovecraft, and there is generally little to distinguish her from other writers in the genre, but the last two tales, with female protagonists, are interesting. Honor Yorke and Annis Breck are smart and cool, shrewd, with a dislike of girls who get giddy and terrified and scream for help. It’s a shame there isn’t more like this here from an author who was herself an emancipated Oxford woman.

Monday 17 June 2013

British Fantasy Awards 2013: the nominees!

I'm back running the British Fantasy Awards this year, and the nominees have just been announced:

Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award)
Blood and Feathers, Lou Morgan (Solaris)
The Brides of Rollrock Island, Margo Lanagan (David Fickling Books)
Railsea, China Miéville (Macmillan)
Red Country, Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz)
Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)

Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award)
The Drowning Girl, Caitlin R. Kiernan (Roc)
The Kind Folk, Ramsey Campbell (PS Publishing)
Last Days, Adam Nevill (Macmillan)
Silent Voices, Gary McMahon (Solaris)
Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)

Best Novella
Curaré, Michael Moorcock (Zenith Lives!) (Obverse Books)
Eyepennies, Mike O’Driscoll (TTA Press)
The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine, John Llewellyn Probert (Spectral Press)
The Respectable Face of Tyranny, Gary Fry (Spectral Press)

Best Short Story
Our Island, Ralph Robert Moore (Where Are We Going?) (Eibonvale Press)
Shark! Shark! Ray Cluley (Black Static #29) (TTA Press)
Sunshine, Nina Allan (Black Static #29) (TTA Press)
Wish for a Gun, Sam Sykes (A Town Called Pandemonium) (Jurassic London)

Best Collection
From Hell to Eternity, Thana Niveau (Gray Friar Press)
Remember Why You Fear Me, Robert Shearman (ChiZine Publications)
Where Furnaces Burn, Joel Lane (PS Publishing)
The Woman Who Married a Cloud, Jonathan Carroll (Subterannean Press)

Best Anthology
A Town Called Pandemonium, Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin (eds) (Jurassic London)
Magic: an Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane, Jonathan Oliver (ed.) (Solaris)
The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women, Marie O’Regan (ed.) (Robinson)
Terror Tales of the Cotswolds, Paul Finch (ed.) (Gray Friar Press)

Best Small Press (the PS Publishing Independent Press Award)
ChiZine Publications (Brett Alexander Savory and Sandra Kasturi)
Gray Friar Press (Gary Fry)
Spectral Press (Simon Marshall-Jones)
TTA Press (Andy Cox)

Best Non-Fiction
Ansible, David Langford
The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn (eds) (Cambridge University Press)
Coffinmaker’s Blues, Stephen Volk (Black Static) (TTA Press)
Fantasy Faction, Marc Aplin (ed.)
Pornokitsch, Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin (eds)
Reflections: On the Magic of Writing, Diana Wynne Jones (David Fickling Books)

Best Magazine/Periodical
Black Static, Andy Cox (ed.) (TTA Press)
Interzone, Andy Cox (ed.) (TTA Press)
SFX, David Bradley (ed.) (Future Publishing)
Shadows and Tall Trees, Michael Kelly (ed.) (Undertow Publications)

Best Artist
Ben Baldwin
David Rix
Les Edwards
Sean Phillips
Vincent Chong

Best Comic/Graphic Novel
Dial H, China Miéville, Mateus Santolouco, David Lapham and Riccardo Burchielli (DC Comics)
Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
The Unwritten, Mike Carey, Peter Gross, Gary Erskine, Gabriel Hernández Walta, M.K. Perker, Vince Locke and Rufus Dayglo (DC Comics/Vertigo)
The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (Skybound Entertainment/Image Comics)

Best Screenplay
Avengers Assemble, Joss Whedon
Sightseers, Alice Lowe, Steve Oram and Amy Jump
The Cabin in the Woods, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro

Best Newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award)
Alison Moore, for The Lighthouse (Salt Publishing)
Anne Lyle, for The Alchemist of Souls (Angry Robot)
E.C. Myers, for Fair Coin (Pyr)
Helen Marshall, for Hair Side, Flesh Side (ChiZine Publications)
Kim Curran, for Shift (Strange Chemistry)
Lou Morgan, for Blood and Feathers (Solaris)
Molly Tanzer, for A Pretty Mouth (Lazy Fascist Press)
Saladin Ahmed, for Throne of the Crescent Moon (Gollancz)
Stephen Bacon, for Peel Back the Sky (Gray Friar Press)
Stephen Blackmoore, for City of the Lost (Daw Books)

Thanks to everyone who voted and all the jury members. The winners will be announced at the Fantasy Awards banquet at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton on Sunday, November 3, 2013.

UPDATE: If any nominees would now like to attend WFC, the banquet, or even just the awards ceremony, a small number of places have been reserved for a limited period of time. Email me via for details. Information about the convention here:, and about the awards banquet here:

Friday 14 June 2013

Double Feature: Rise of the Guardians and Hotel Transylvania, reviewed by Jacob Edwards

Double Feature: Rise of the Guardians / Hotel Transylvania. Accentuate the positives. Whether from the last, clutching vestiges of British Empire, the nearer, star-strangling embrace of Uncle Sam, or merely the white-capped tyranny of distance, Australian accents seem particularly susceptible to being subverted and then cinematically or televisually remodelled. House’s Jesse Spencer just about held his own as Chase (although, given that producer Bryan Singer didn’t realise at first that Hugh Laurie wasn’t American, the “Australian-ness” of Spencer’s character equally could have been recognised only after the fact, and so necessarily made more subtle than the quintessential Ozzie Norm), but for the most part there have been only Rolf Harris and Crocodile Dundee-styled tyre marks to follow, and so Australian personas have tended to be about as true to life when depicted abroad as are the on-screen dead-pigs-in-pokes that seems to constitute your average writer/producer/director’s conception of an intellect-defining game of chess… Brisbanite Janet Fielding, for instance, drawling the short straw as Tegan Jovanka in Doctor Who (Seasons 18.7 through 21.4); or crocodile hunter Steve Irwin as— well, okay, he really was like that; but now Hugh Jackman, his born-and-bred Australianness belied by an injection of “strewth” serum and the poor man being forced to wrap his Adam’s apple in coloured foil as a rough-as-guts Easter Bunny from Down Under.

Friday 7 June 2013

Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 – reviewed by Douglas J. Ogurek

The filmgoer hoping to evade Edward Cullen’s (Robert Pattinson) constipated-while-sucking-on-a-lemon smile or Jacob Black’s (Taylor Lautner) shirtless torso in Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 (directed by Bill Condon) is out of luck. However, despite those and a few other minor irritations, the film combines suspense, violence and commendable acting to gracefully conclude the Twilight saga.

Heroine Bella Cullen (Kristen Stewart) must hone her newly-acquired vampiric powers. That means not only resisting the intense desire to drink human blood, but also keeping safe her newborn daughter Renesmee. The Volturi, an Italy-based coven of vampire rule enforcers, erroneously suspects that Renesmee is an immortal child (i.e. a human child turned vampire) with the potential to go on a bloodsucking blitzkrieg. That threatens the secrecy the Volturi strive to maintain among vampires. However, with their black cloaks and cadaverous faces, the members of the Volturi are not exactly the epitome of inconspicuousness.

Monday 3 June 2013

Martian Sands by Lavie Tidhar, reviewed by Stephen Theaker

In Martian Sands by Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing, hb, 224pp), Mars has been settled. The New Israelis are governed by a succession of simulacra, Jewish leaders of the past recreated to act as figurehead prime ministers, but their new Golda Meir isn’t sticking to her programming. “Something is fundamentally flawed with reality,” she tells Miriam Elezra, the woman who commissioned her. There are rumours of time travel experiments, rumours the reader knows to be true having already seen Bill Glimmung in the Oval Office on December 7, 1941, the day before the first death camp opens, offering weapons to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in return for preventing the Holocaust. And yet on Mars we see that Bill Glimmung is a character from the film Martian Sands, “Elvis Mandela’s second masterpiece”. Carl Stone, who built the Golda, has four arms, two extras grafted on to reflect his status as “a Martian warrior, reincarnated in an alien world”. His Revolutionary Brotherhood of Martian Warriors share Barsoomian dreams, visions supposedly sent by their emperor. The most mysterious beings on Mars are the Others, artificial intelligences sometimes ferried by compliant humans, sometimes controlling host bodies. All roads lead to a remote kibbutz in the FDR mountains, the same kibbutz to which Josh has just made the kind of manure sale that could do wonders for his career.