Wednesday, April 13, 2011

From My Red Left Hand

I'm pleased that most commentators took my previous post in the satirical spirit in which it was intended.  It's true, as Ilya2 remarked that you can find no (or hardly any) SF novels written after the 1980s entirely constructed from cliches, but plenty of movies (movie directors and producers are always about thirty years behind the bleeding edge of written SF, perhaps because they are inspired by the SF they read in their childhoods). But as others point out, these kind of cliches do keep recurring.  The problem with cliches is they're strange attractors.  They're the first thing you think of when constructing a scene or a scenario. They're seductively simple to use. The trick is to turn them upside down and take them apart and put them back together in a new an interesting way. Make it bigger and noiser. Go back to the reality, instead of a blurred fourth-generation photocopy.  Or do something else instead. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to construct similar very short novels out cliches mined from fantasy, horror, literary and other genres. Or as per Lois Ava-Matthew's suggestion, to extend this one into a trilogy.

Onwards. Two of my horror short stories have been taken up for reprint inside a week.  One, 'Inheritance', was my ninth published story, appearing in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction no less; it will appear in Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead, edited by Stephen Jones, and will be published by Ulysses Press in the autumn. The other, 'Take Me To the River', will appear in New Cthulu: The Recent Weird; edited by Paula Guran, it's due to be published by Prime Books in November.

I've always loved the horror genre; in the my formative years in the 1960s and early1970s, I read every one of Herbert van Thal's anthologies, tried to catch every Hammer film that appeared on TV, and was so thoroughly chilled by Jonathan Miller's TV adaptation of M.R. James' 'Whistle and I'll Come to You' that I chased down everything by James that I could find. Writing horror stories isn't merely an homage to these primal influences; it's also a kind of left-handed exercise that allows me to flex a different set of writing muscles.  Most especially, it allows me to write something contemporary, and to draw on stuff from my life 'Take Me To The River', for instance, is set in Bristol - where I lived for seven years - during the long, hot summer of 1976, and recasts some of my experiences of the free festival scene.

Oh yes, here's the list of contributors to Paula Guran's anthology.  I hope old H.P. would approve:

The Crevasse, Dale Bailey & Nathan Ballingrud
Old Virginia, Laird Barron
Shoggoths in Bloom, Elizabeth Bear
Mongoose, Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette
The Oram County Whoosit, Steve Duffy
Study in Emerald, Neil Gaiman
Grinding Rock, Cody Goodfellow
Pickman's Other Model (1929), Caitlín Kiernan
The Disciple, David Barr Kirtley
The Vicar of R'lyeh, Marc Laidlaw
Mr Gaunt, John Langan
Take Me to the River, Paul McAuley
The Dude Who Collected Lovecraft, Nick Mamatas & Tim Pratt
Details, China Miéville
Bringing Helena Back, Sarah Monette
Another Fish Story, Kim Newman
Lesser Demons, Norm Partridge
Cold Water Survival, Holly Phillips
Head Music, Lon Prater
Bad Sushi, Cherie Priest
The Fungal Stain, W.H. Pugmire
Tsathoggua, Michael Shea
Buried in the Sky, John Shirley
Fair Exchange, Michael Marshall Smith
The Essayist in the Wilderness, William Browning Spencer
A Colder War, Charles Stross
The Great White Bed, Don Webb
Newer Posts Older Posts