Monday, June 18, 2007

Noctem Aeternus

Noctem Aeternus is a FREE quarterly PDF magazine where the reader will find science fiction, fantasy, western, or even mystery stories…but all tales will have an element of horror. The first issue (January 2008) will include a short story and interview from master storyteller Ramsey Campbell. Cherie Priest, Charles Coleman Finlay, Tim Waggoner, and Michael Laimo will have stories as well.

Interviews with filmmaker/musician Rob Zombie and featured artist Kuang Hong will also be found. Paula Guran, Michael Knost, and Jude-Marie Green will offer quarterly columns about the horror genre, reviews, etc.

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The 2nd BHF Book of Horror Stories edited by Christopher Wood

Cover Painting by Paul Mudie

BHF Books, 2007

Edited by Christopher Wood

In the Pipeline by Paul Newman
Show Home by Paul Adams
Romero and Juliette by Gareth Hopkins
The Blood Field by Derek Johnston
The Morris Men by Franklin Marsh
It is Written by Matt Finucane
Home Truth by Christopher L Jones
Roast Beef by Martin J Parsons
Almost Love by Rog Pile
Clean Living by Clare Hill
Still Life by Paul Newman
Separation by Charles Black
You can't sing, you can't dance, you look'll go a long way by Christopher Wood
A Little Dead Man on Clockchanges Road by Wayne Mook
When Hell Freezes Over by Neil Christopher
The Passage by Mark Ferguson
Appeal by Gareth A Williams
Obeahman by Maya McLaughlin
A (Something) in Wardour Street by Franklin Marsh
Jacob Raffles by James Stanger
The Inn by S F Stewart
Cattle by Richard Cosgrove
The Darklands Hall Legacy by Franklin Marsh
Cerberus Rising by Neil Christopher
Crowd Scene by James Brough
Portrait of a Young Woman by Carole Hall
The Oxford Vampire by Thirteen Ravens
The Sea Witch by Mike Ward
Children of the Summer's End by Sam Dawson
The Shadow in the Stacks by Daniel McGachey
Understanding by Jason P Burden

Verse: Tschaichowsky's Lonely Sympathy by Nadia Mook
Out Beyond the Clearing by Matthew Entwistle
Tey by Matthew Entwistle
The Necromancer by Matthew Entwistle
A (Helpful) Warning to the Curious by Mattew Entwhistle

Extract from forthcoming novel: Dead Weight by E H Bourne

The Inn by S F Stewart: Stewart effectively creates a sense of place and mood as his weary traveller breaks his stagecoach journey to spend the night at an inn "of horrid aspect. It stood quite alone, in great fields of darkness not yet scarred by roads or paths..." He is disturbed by the glimpse of a white face at an upper window. But soon he is in his room preparing for bed. He is not long alone...

Separation by Charles Black: The narrator of Charles Black's wicked little vignette is possibly taking his wife's suggestion of a trial separation a little too much to heart. I can't give away any more of this one, but it's one of Charles's best and how Charles dreamed it up is an interesting tale in itself (the behind the scenes stuff that I don't pass on is sometimes as good as the stories!)

Jacob Raffles by James Stanger: In the future "England had become a waste ground of social cripples and desperate solutions" where the narrator of the story lies in a cell, his punishment to hang from one of the trees in one of the country's battle-torn fields to "give back something to the world."

When the hangman appears, he introduces himself as Jacob Raffles and opening a suitcase shows the prisoner the tools of his trade: "He turns his attention to the face-shaped object in the suitcase and proceeds to unravel the silver ribbon. Gently he unwraps. It is a mask revealed before me with a gaping mouth of vine and leaves nourishing the cavity. The hollowed-out eyes are surrounded by thick and ripe foliage. They wrap themselves around the eyeholes like photosynthetic tendrils."

With this one, James Stanger presents a story of death in a bleak, apocalyptic future then reveals the story to be a strange fable where change and hope are possible. This author's Pith was one of the surprises to find its way into Filthy Creations 2.

The Shadow in the Stacks by Daniel McGachey: St Montague's is "one of our older and more forgotten colleges." Perdew is a young and enthusiastic librarian, but when Lawrence wants to find some old and obscure texts, he's puzzled by Perdew's reluctance to look in the cellars. At length Lawrence gets a strange story from him about some antique volumes found while rebuilding work was being carried out on the older parts of the library. The volumes had been curiously bound in a substance which even old Harkwell the bookbinder had been unable to identify, and shortly after their discovery a grotesque red form had been seen in the library.

"The impression that I had was of something crawling just out of sight, into the darkness. Something that was red and peculiarly glistening. Red and wet, like something that you might see in a butcher's display..."

I thought when I started reading this one that it would turn out to be a Lovecraft pastiche; but Daniel McGachey's story is closer in style and spirit to something by M R James, and there's a small tip of the head to Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book (if I remember right). I'd previously heard this one through a radio download, but although the broadcast was well-produced, I think it works much better on the page where details don't get missed through lack of broadcast clarity.

There are a lot more of these to go, and besides Paul Mudie's brilliant cover painting and some sketches, there are photos and illustrations by Lawrence Bailey, Paula Fay, Egerton and Christopher Wood (who has also revealed himself as a pretty impressive artist at the BHF site and contributes a story which will get written-up for the next of these posts). Plus the book contains a few pages of ghoulish poems and a preview of the first chapter of a novel planned for publication later this year.

Get the book here: The 2nd BHF Book of Horror Stories

Rog Pile

More from The 2nd BHF Book of Horror Stories edited by Christopher Wood

In the Pipeline by Paul Newman: Jess returns to the scene of his childhood adventures – and fears. The pipeline under the children's playground was The Dare. Jess's friend Richard had entered it long ago. Great status awaited those who braved its terrors to emerge on the other side of the ring road. But the pipe line is the lair of the Trash Man, and Richard had not come out. The inspiration for this story is obvious, but Paul Newman puts his own stamp on it, and his Trash Man is a grim creation.

Romero and Juliette by Gareth Hopkins: Research scientist George Romero is a dull and grey man, and aside from his research, the only two things of any interest about him are his pet frog Perseus and his seduction of the sexy Juliette (or perhaps she seduced him, which would be equally interesting and incomprehensible). His work interests him, involving watching rats race around mazes under the influence of new barbiturates until their hearts burst. Then comes the day when he absent-mindedly drops some of the mystery serum into Perseus's food. What happens then reminds me of the chapter where Philip Wylie's scientist in Gladiator feeds a trial serum to his pet kitten. This very black zombie comedy comes close to being a contender for Best New Horror. Really.

The Blood Field by Derek Johnston: Two walkers following the public footpaths in north Norfolk lose their bearings and find themselves in the middle of a large grassy area. The rustling and movement of the grass is weirdly hypnotic and soon Martin begins wondering if they have walked through here before – are they walking in circles? All they can see is the tall grass thrashing in the wind - but what wind? This one would provide a perfect plot for someone making a short film subject.

The Morris Men by Franklin Marsh: Billy is getting tired of the Little Dampton Carnival, the usual stalls and squalling kids, when "Ten scarecrows walked into view. Big but somehow decaying men." So begins this story which Franklin has probably grown tired of hearing cited as his best. Normality viewed through a distorting mirror, his usual humour kept well under control, this one's a winner with not a wrong word in it - it also reminds me oddly of Ramsey Campbell's writing.

The Stone Fountain by Billy Turner: "For many years Frank had wondered what it would be like to stare into the eyes of a killer, and now he knew. As far as he could tell, his eyes were no different to anyone else's...

You can : get the book here

Cover Painting by Paul Mudie

You can : get the book here