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Showing posts from 2009

Spare Chinns

So there I am - Sunday evening, vegging out in front of the idiot box, when the phone rings. I answer it.
After a brief pause, a woman says "Is that Mr Chinn?"
Wary that this is another of those damned cold-callers, I reply, "Yes."
"Mr Michael Chinn?"
"Yes - who's this?"
"Lorna." says the woman. I don't say anything at this point - but my mind's going: Who? Lorna? Lorna who? "Lorna Chinn," she adds - just to make things more confusing.
"Who?" I finally get to say out loud.
"Your niece - Lorna!"
At this point my brain goes into overdrive, and I'm beginning to think I've accidentally stepped across into some parallel dimension. The woman's still talking, saying something about how difficult it's been to get my number. I didn't doubt that for a second.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" I finally get her to stop. "I don't have a niece named Lorna."
It's her turn to pause - I…

What a way to spent a Saturday

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Rain. Cold. A June Saturday more like one in late autumn. Were we downhearted? Never! Not when there are huge South African two-foot gauge Garretts to be pored over and photographed, and all that North Wales scenery.
The day didn’t get off to the liveliest of starts (4:30am on a Saturday – never thought there was such a time!) but once we were safely ensconced in our Pullman seats and our train was on its way from Tyseley (and I was on my second coffee), the world was coming into something like focus. It was an organised trip – run by Vintage Trains of Birmingham – up to visit the Welsh Highland Railway in North Wales: a narrow gauge line that will eventually run from Caernarfon to Porthmadog (and link up with the Ffestiniog Railway), via Dinas and Beddgelert. The trip was originally advertised as a chance to run all the way down from Dinas to Portmadog before the route officially opened; however, problems with the right of way towards the line’s terminus meant that we got no further t…

World Horror Convention 2010 Announces Special Guest of Honour

World Horror Convention 2010 is proud and delighted to announce that our very Special Guest of Honour is Britain's most influential and successful horror writer of all time -- JAMES HERBERT. 

James Herbert created the modern mass-market horror genre with the publication of his first ground-breaking novel, THE RATS, in 1974 (for the record, Stephen King's CARRIE was published a few months later). Since then he has reigned as Britain's undisputed #1 author of chiller fiction, with more than 20 novels to his credit -- which have sold more than fifty million copies world-wide. His books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages, including Russian and Chinese. 

THE RATS has never been out of print, and Jim's list of best-selling titles includes THE FOG, THE SURVIVOR, FLUKE, THE SPEAR, LAIR, THE DARK, THE JONAH, SHRINE, DOMAIN, MOON, THE MAGIC COTTAGE, SEPULCHRE, HAUNTED, CREED, PORTENT, THE GHOSTS OF SLEATH, '48, OTHERS, ONCE, NOBODY TRUE and THE SECRET OF…

DC Showcase Presents: The War That Time Forgot

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DC Comics’ Showcase Presents library is – let’s face it – an exercise in nostalgia. Something for those of us who remember the days when just about every newsagent had a revolving stand of US comic books and which – long before the rise of specialist outlets – were the only sources for your monthly Superman and Spider-Man.
The Showcase Presents books contain 500 pages of black and white reprints from DC’s past: Green Lantern, Atom, Metamorpho, Aquaman, Superman, and Justice League ofAmerica among others – often in multiple volumes. For anyone who wants to revisit their childhood – or just to see what the Silver Age of comics was all about – it’s a cheap way to do it. But it can also be a chastening experience – a reminder that you really can’t go back…
The War That Time Forgot is a case in point. The title is an envelope term that covers a series of short comic strips originally published in Star-Spangled War Stories in the 1960s – off-kilter tales that sat oddly alongside your usual Al…

More Starblazer Adventures

Argentinean artist Enrique Alcatena has come on board the Starblazer Adventures - Legends ofAnglerre RPG supplement. He drew all of the original Anglerre-themed issues - so he should know just about as much as I do about the place.

Sadly, the budget probably won't stretch to any new artwork - but they'll be using some of Quique's panels as spot illustrations (we're presently charged with going through past issues and picking out our favourites and/or ones that give a feeling for the fantasy world that Anglerre inhabits). Almost like old times.

The Return of the Paladin

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I can't believe it's been over ten years since my collection THE PALADIN MANDATES was published by The Alchemy Press: six Pulp-inspired tales set in mid-1930s America in which Damian Paladin and his adventuress sidekick Leigh Oswin take on vengeful spirits, banshees, ghosts and undead pharaohs. During the intervening years, I've not written any Paladin stories - other than continue to wrestle with a novella that includes Nazis, the Grail and Knights Templar, and kid myself I'm going to write a novel - but recently, the muse must have come back. I banged out one all about zombies and a mad scientist (as you do) and another concerning an ancient church in The Bowery which grants hints of the future.

A third was born when I read a review of the collection in Stephen Theaker's THEAKER'S QUARTERLY DIGEST in which he complained that - writing as a Biggles fan - he didn't think there was enough flying (one of the continuing themes of the Paladin stories is our hero…

Go to Starblazers

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The Cubicle 7 RPG Starblazer Adventures - based around the old DC Thomson digest-sized comic Starblazer is due to start publishing supplements to the core - most SF - game. As someone who scripted over 20 issues of the much-missed comic, I agreed to give a hand, where I could.

Earlier this month, I got the call.

Flatteringly, I was told they intended to base much of the first Fantasy supplement on 5 of the issues that I'd written: a sword & sorcery soap opera featuring three generations of the d'Annemarc dynasty of Anglerre. Recurring characters, recurring themes - over the top in the extreme. First I provided a breakdown of characters, and then the storyline for the whole five issues (today we'd call it the story-arc). Of course, there wasn't an overall, continuous story for those issues - originally they weren't even written in the fictional chronological order; but I'd always been careful not to introduce too many contradictions, so it wasn't hard link…

Hello world

Everyone's doing it, so I thought: "Why not?" No doubt the weeks that follow will answer that question only too clearly...