29 February 2012

Mow Cop "Castle"

Jan and I almost bought a house in Mow Cop when we first moved to north Staffordshire. This is what we would have seen every morning when we looked out of the bedroom window. Oh, it's such a folly.


Do you know what zoopharmacognosy means? I didn’t, until recently. My friend Sarah Kinson told me: “Zoopharmacognosy is a behavioural science based on the observational research of animals self medicating in the wild. The term refers to the process by which animals self-medicate as they naturally forage plants for their essential oils, clay, algae and other natural remedies in the wild. It is this innate ability that allows them to be in control of their own health and prevent disease.”

So now you know, too. Sarah has trained with Caroline Ingraham and now has the letters IAZ and MICHT after her name.

I recently helped Sarah set up her blog site – it’s here – where you can read about her exploits on Jersey, in the zoo, treating a pair of Andean bears. And you can read all about these majestic animals here. As seems to be typical in this day and age, Andean bears are yet another endangered species.

24 February 2012

New book news...

Over on the Piper blog, I've posted some information about two anthologies due this year, two books that I'm looking forward to.

22 February 2012

Dark Horizons 52

In spring 2008 the 52nd issue of Dark Horizons appeared, again edited by Jan Edwards and me. We began the issue with a reprint of the traditional poem, “Twa Corbies”. Here’s the first stanza:

As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies makin a mane;
The tane unto t’other say,
‘Whar sall we gang and dine the-day?’

The magazine’s front cover was specially commissioned to illustrate this poem, of war and death throughout the ages. Dan Skinner (aka Cerberus), the artist, did a fine job representing this theme.

Besides the “Twa Corbies”, Dark Horizons contained:

The Gentleman Assassin – Richard Hudson +
A Dinner Party – Marion Pitman (v)
Star-Changer – Rebecca Lusher
Roots of the Writer: Charles de Lint – Jan Edwards *
Road to my Soul – Laura Willis (v)
Behind the Curtain – Joel Lane
Withered – Meaghan Hope
Flies – Jim Steel
Pain in Every Measure – Jo Fletcher (v)
The Bequest – David Riley
Walt Whitman did it for Me, and Continues to do It – Robert Holdstock (v)
Keep Off the Grass – Sally Quilford

(v) = verse, * = non-fiction, and + was subtitled “Being a Gothick Phantasy”.

Internal artwork and photos came from Chris Bell (“More Tea?”), MaryAnn Harris and Peter Coleborn.

DH52 was to be our last issue as editors, despite our original intention to be in post for a long run. This is because I found myself chairing the 2009 FantasyCon, and I decided that I couldn’t both edit DH and run a convention without adversely affecting either activity. Nevertheless, I popped back into the DH seat after it, New Horizons and Prism had been merged into the BFS Journal. More on this in a later post.

I mustn't forget to thank Joel Lane for selecting and editing the poems for my three issues of DH.

Meanwhile, the 2008 FantasyCon was held on 19-21 September, once again in the Britannia Hotel in Nottingham. The Guests of Honour were James Barclay, Christopher Golden and Dave McKean, with Christopher Fowler in the role of Master of Ceremonies.

19 February 2012

Dark Horizons 51

Issue 51 of Dark Horizons (again co-edited with Jan Edwards) appeared towards the end of 2007. The cover was a photograph taken and altered by a member of a local photographic society. Don Barker had created several fabulous Photoshopped images that were – it seemed to me – not fully embraced by many of the typically more conservative society members. Pity.

Anyway, contents wise, DH51 included a brief piece by H P Lovecraft! This was the vignette’s first UK publication.

And between DH’s covers:

What the Moon Brings - H P Lovecraft (introduced by Stephen Jones)
By Right of the Stars - Anne Gay
Roots of the Editor: Ellen Datlow - Jan Edwards *
In His Charge - Nicki Robson
Decayed Gentility - Marion Pitman (v)
The Invisible Prince - David Sutton*
The Perils of Pentavir - Allen Ashley
The Dullitch Assassins - David Lee Stone
Father’s Day - David Turnball
That was My Veil - Ian Hunter (v)
The Children of Monte Rosa - Reggie Oliver

(v) = verse,  * = non-fiction

David Sutton’s article was on the Irish fantasist J Sheridan Le Fanu. In the notes, Sutton said he began writing the piece in the 1970s for a book project that didn’t see completion.

Additional artwork and photos were by Bob Covington, Reggie Oliver, Glenn James, Peter Coleborn and Jan Edwards.

18 February 2012

Dark Horizons 50

After being away from BFS activities for some years, I was asked to once again edit Dark Horizon. So in spring 2007 issue 50 appeared, edited by Jan Edwards and yours truly. Of course, this being issue 50 we had to celebrate and so asked three past editors to help mark the moment: David Sutton, Debbie Bennett and Mike Chinn.

I note from the editorial that DH50 was a few months late, and this was blamed on my daughter’s broken ankle – she snapped the bones on the first day of a short “break” in Amsterdam. Jan and I had to drive up to Liverpool to collect her from the airport. It was a night of bad – seriously bad – storms. It took us three or four hours to drive 50 miles up the M6!

And to complete the circle: as I type this blog post I am recovering from a broken ankle. Like my daughter, I have a plate holding bones together. But I broke my bones in the less romantic city of Stoke-on-Trent.

Dark Horizons 50 included:

The Bookshop – Murray Ewing
The Roots of the Artist: Anne Sudworth – Jan Edwards *
Death’s Angel’s Shadow – Karl Edward Wagner (v)
In Lonely Places: The Essential Horror Fiction of Karl Edward Wagner – John Howard *
Midnight Sun – Kark Edward Wagner (v)
All Beauty Must Die – Mike Chinn
My Heart Laid Bare: The Work and Art of Joyce Carol Oates – Robert Parkinson *
Apoca ca lypse – Joy ce Car ol O a te s
Fantasycon GoH Speech – Juliet McKenna *
The Ice Game – Sue Anderson
Where the Dead Go – Ian Hunter (v)
Black Angel: John Connolly Interview – Marie O’Regan *
The Woman with the Hair – Ian Hunter
The Phoenix of Fantasy – David Lee Stone *
Murdoch Celeste – Allen Ashley

(v) = verse, * = non-fiction

The colour cover painting was by Anne Sudworth. Internal artwork was by Bob Covington, Stephen Jones and Peter Coleborn.

That year’s FantasyCon was held in Nottingham, over the weekend 21-23 September. The Guests of Honour were Terry Brooks, Michael Marshall Smith and Stephen Jones. Peter Crowther was the Master of Ceremonies. The FantasyCon 2007 Programme Book was edited by … Peter Coleborn (I’ll post details later).

Birthday by Mark Morris

In 1992 the British Fantasy Society decided, all of a sudden, to produce a one-off special for that year’s British Fantasy Convention (FantasyCon XVII). Birthday by Mark Morris was a slim booklet (16 pages plus cover). It was included as part of the BFS Booklet Series, number 18, and sold for £1.50 or $3.00. The cover artwork was by Jim Pitts.

Mark signed my copy thus: “… many thanks for getting this publication out in record time!” Maybe I was finding small press production much easier because I don’t recall being under any kind of pressure, despite the short notice. 

New book reviews

I've recently posted a couple of new book reviews (of All These Little Worlds and The Troupe) on the Piper at the Gates of Fantasy blog. And some of my older reviews are being reprinted on Shiny Shorts.