Month: July 2013

Get Crosby


lynton crosby

Lynton Crosby, received wisdom has it, is something of a wizard. The bruiser of an electoral genius who put former Australian PM John Howard in the top office, and helped Boris “£250k is chickenfeed” Johnson win the mayoralty in a traditionally Labour London bleeding under Austerity.

The fact that he failed to spin similar magic for Michael Howard at the 2005 election in a particularly nasty campaign is usually — and conveniently — left out of this estimation, but it’s hard to argue that his co-option for David Cameron’s ailing and divided Conservative Party hasn’t given the rank and file footsoldiers a little more confidence.

So when they harp on that Labour is being foolish by focusing on the question of his involvement in the controversial decision to drop plain packaging for cigarettes, it should be viewed in light of this state of affairs.

Read on…

“The Unspoken” ed. William Meikle – A Review


the unspoken

(Karoshi Books, 140pp, eb £2.88 pb £8.99)

These days I tend to get quite a few books and anthologies to review. Which is nice. Free reading material, and clearly someone somewhere cares what I have to say about it. Which, as I say, is nice.

“The Unspoken”, however, is a bit different than most of the stuff that I get. For one thing, it’s a charity anthology. Billed as horror authors fighting back against cancer, it has seventeen stories from some of the big names at the ragged edge of modern horror (and, yes, some names I’m not familiar with too).

As far as pedigree goes, you don’t get bigger than Ramsey Campbell, the mainstay of British horror himself, writing the introduction. Ramsey rights about his own brushes with cancer within his family — a testament to how deeply its tentacles snake — and how people are never really gone as long as we hold onto their memory.

And roll on the stories, seventeen wordsmiths fighting back with their pens.

Read on…

Chips and Gravy


chips and gravy

I worry that I don’t read enough.

It’s not a new worry, or even strictly simply that I don’t think I do enough reading. I have always been plagued by a fear that I do not read widely enough, that the books I pick up aren’t varied enough. And as a writer, it’s one of a clutch of fears which pursue me like the hounds of hell.

A great man once said:

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

And whilst as a breed I regard so-called writing rules as largely hokum, but this one rings true. This one I would put my faith in.

Read on…

The Soundtrack of Life


sunshine

My music tastes are not what could be described as “current”. I don’t tend to focus in on the trends of contemporary music, but my tastes are fairly wide-ranging and eclectic. As an example, the last two concerts I went to were German industrial metal band Rammstein, and ageing Californian funk rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

But what I do have a soft spot for is TV and film soundtracks. I watch a lot of both, and the scores are something which I tend to notice, how they underscore the themes and moods of the scene, how they fit the story to bring out the emotion. As largely lyric-less music, they make particularly good music to write to — selected to fit whatever I’m trying to write at the time.

So since I’m musing on the subject, I thought I’d share with you my top five soundtracks for general listening.

Read on…

Black Static #34 – A Review


black static 34As with my Interzone review last week, I’m afraid I have missed an issue of Black Static in my reviewing quest. Unforgivable, I know. But I’m back to it this month, and ready to give my thoughts on the stories and non-fiction within.

One thing I will say first, though, is just how striking the artwork is. Black Static usually does showcase some of the very best each and every week,  but to my mind issue #34 is particularly bold. From the electrically chilling cover artwork (by Ben Baldwin), to the images for each if the stories. Joachim Luetke’s deeply chilling KKK-esque image for Sean Logan’s story “The Tower of Babel” is particularly deserving of mention, especially from a name I don’t think I’ve encountered before — and worth checking out.

But anyway, you all came here for the reviews of the stories, didn’t you? So let’s get on with the show!

Read on…