John Berlyne on "The Secret History of Secret Histories"
Joey Hi-Fi's Weirdness Rodeo

Secrets and mummies and package slips

Cover - book of the deadWhat a week! Even the postman looks exhausted - actually, especially the postman, as we had a stack of package slips so large it probably qualified as a package in its own right.

First, if you missed it, we've had five days of guest posts on the theme of "Secret Histories" - including reviews, lists and essays from Alexis Kennedy, James Wallis, Arin KominsRob Berg (twice!), Lavie Tidhar and John Berlyne. Plus the traditional introductory ramble from yours truly. An index to all their work - plus other online resources on the topic - can be found on The Kitschies' page. All leading up to Monday night's (packed) (sold-out) (super-exciting!) event at Blackwell's!

Second, MUMMIES. The first two reviews are in for The Book of the Dead and they're both great! In the immortal words of publishers, authors and editors everywhere: "whew". 

"An eclectic assortment of shorts that cumulatively recast the classic narratives we have come to expect from stories out of the mummy mold.... Shrouded in history and mystery, complete with curses, canopic jars and a surprising quantity of cat-fancying, The Book of the Dead is as ambitious an anthology as The Lowest Heaven, and every bit as successful." -

"The Book of the Dead starts strong and finishes stronger.... with a few unquestionable gems dotted about." - This is how she fight start


The Book of the Dead is out on Tuesday from Amazon, Spacewitch and Kobo. Unearthed, the companion volume of classic mummy stories, is also out on the same day. If you're lurching about on Tuesday night, why not join us (and a ton of authors and Egyptologists!) at the launch?

Third, books! A few new titles for our over-burdened shelves:

The-GoldfinchAriel Winter's The Twenty Year Death. A Hard Case Crime - a proof, in fact - making it a nice addition to the collection. (Quinto)

Poul Anderson and Kenneth Bulmer's Star Ways / City Under the Sea. An Ace Double (D-255). One of my best (if I do say so myself - and I do!) collections - it is getting increasingly difficult to find new Ace Doubles to plug the gaps. So when the chap at the bookshop actually pulled this out of a case, thinking I might like it, I was pretty overjoyed. (Charing Cross)

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. Ok, I've broken the no-Amazon rule... but this is a copy of the special edition that, as far as I can tell, is only available on Amazon. It is nice to know the exact limit of my moral principles. But, er... limited edition The Goldfinch! This may be one of the best books I've read in 2013 - if not the best. I'm sorry that there's no hint of the speculative or fantastic, else I'd start campaigning for it for every genre award. As it is, she'll have to settle for those inferior literary prizes. Poor lady. (Amazon)

Astounding Science Fiction (August 1949). So one thing that we don't collect? Magazines. I have a ton in storage someplace (I bought a massive collection once at a flea market, and then spent a summer blissfully immersed in them). But down the path of magazine collecting lies only madness. That said, whenever I spot a neat pulp or a cool cover or, say, a story by John D. MacDonald... ("Trojan Horse Laugh")

Margo Lanagan's The Brides of Rollrock Island, Malorie Blackman's Hacker and E.W. Hornung's Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman. All handy second-hand finds. I've already finished Hacker (amazing, if silly - but despite the dated technology, it still works as a YA 'thriller') and Raffles (also amazing and silly, with a fantastic command of language - written in what is essentially period slang but still manages to flow perfectly). (Charing Cross)

Lloyd Alexander's The Book of Three (as good as I remembered) and Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (even better). Nostalgia! (Charing Cross)

What is interesting - and, in some ways, a little depressing - is, across Hacker, The Book of Three and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, I've found three science fiction and fantasy young adult titles that, if published today, would still be considered progressive. This thought needs a little more unpicking, but... hmm. Is the category more conservative than I thought? Or is it that great books are simply, well, 'great'? Not sure what the answer is here.

I suppose the next one of these posts will be post-World Fantasy... might need to clear some more shelf space!