News and review

There’s a great deal going on here at Chateau Spectrale, so here we go:

"House of the Long Shadows" ©1983-2015  Michael Armstrong/London Repertory Company/Spectral Press. Artwork ©2015  David Chatton-Barker.

“House of the Long Shadows” ©1983-2015 Michael Armstrong/London Repertory Company/Spectral Press. Artwork ©2015 David Chatton-Barker.

First we have a review of House of the Long Shadows, the debut publication in the series of director/screenwriter Michael Armstrong’s screenplays. This is a review of the hardback edition, and appears on the Cult Horror Films blog/website – you can read that HERE.

PREORDERS FOR HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS AVAILABLE NOW (Paperback edition):

£12.50UK

£15.00EU

$40.00US & RoW

SUBSCRIPTION – FOUR BOOKS

£50.00 UK

£65.00EU

$115.00US&RoW

NEWS

The Quarantined City

Cover: Detail from Europe after the Rain, 1940–42 by Max Ernst (German, 1891–1976) Oil on canvas, 21-9/16 x 58-3/16 in. The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1942.281 Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

Cover: Detail from Europe after the Rain, 1940–42 by Max Ernst (German, 1891–1976)
Oil on canvas, 21-9/16 x 58-3/16 in.
The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1942.281
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

The next installment of James Everington’s eBook serial The Quarantined City: A Lack of Demons will be available within the next week or so. In the meantime, you can revel in the glorious Max Ernst cover shown above.

2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories edited by Mark Morris

Spectral Book of Horror Stories 2, edited by Mark Morris - ©2015 respective individual authors/Spectral Press. Artwork ©2015 Vincent Chong

Spectral Book of Horror Stories 2, edited by Mark Morris – ©2015 respective individual authors/Spectral Press. Artwork ©2015 Vincent Chong

Writers! You have until midnight tomorrow to get your stories in for the 2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories – send to spectralhorror2@gmail.com. More information can be found HERE.

We are the Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale edited by Neil Snowdon

"We are the Martians: the Legacy of Nigel Kneale" edited by Neil Snowdon. Artwork ©2014 David Chatton Barker

“We are the Martians: the Legacy of Nigel Kneale” edited by Neil Snowdon. Artwork ©2014 David Chatton Barker

Readers! Tomorrow, 12 midnight, is also the deadline for deposits for the hardback edition of the Nigel Kneale volume We are the Martians – from July 1st if you want a copy you will have to pay full price.

LIMITED HARDBACK EDITION – deadline for deposits is June 30th:

£20 UK & EU

$30 US & RoW

PAPERBACK EDITION

£15.00UK

£18.00EU

$45.00US & RoW

House of the Long Shadows: Update

"House of the Long Shadows" ©1983-2015  Michael Armstrong/London Repertory Company/Spectral Press. Artwork ©2015  David Chatton-Barker.

“House of the Long Shadows” ©1983-2015 Michael Armstrong/London Repertory Company/Spectral Press. Artwork ©2015 David Chatton-Barker.

There has been a long gestation period for this book, but ultimately we want it to be right. The aim now is to get this published by the end of July, beginning of August. In the meantime, David Chatton-Barton has provided us with a new cover design, which you can see above, fully approved by Mr. Michael Armstrong himself. We think it’s rather cool.

You can preorder either individual copies in the series (prices below include postage) OR you can subscribe on a four-book basis.

PREORDERS FOR HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS AVAILABLE NOW:

£12.50UK

£15.00EU

$40.00US & RoW

SUBSCRIPTION – FOUR BOOKS

£50.00 UK

£65.00EU

$115.00US&RoW

Spectral T-shirt Update: Hammer Time!

We have now added John Llewellyn Probert’s The Hammer of Dr. Valentine cover to our t-shirt range! 

THE HAMMER OF DR. VALENTINE

THE HAMMER OF DR. VALENTINE

Prices for all tees include postage, are £20UK/£25EU/$50US& RoW, and are available in sizes S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL. Choose from The Hammer of Dr. Valentine, Albion Fay, Bureau of Them, Leytonstone, and Whitstable (see more designs below).

WHEN ORDERING, PLEASE STATE WHICH SIZE AND DESIGN YOU WANT IN THE  ‘INSTRUCTIONS TO SELLER’ BOX ON PAYPAL. THANK YOU!

£20UK

£25EU

$50US& RoW

WHEN ORDERING, PLEASE STATE WHICH SIZE AND DESIGN YOU WANT IN THE  ‘INSTRUCTIONS TO SELLER’ BOX ON PAYPAL. THANK YOU!

ALBION FAY

ALBION FAY

BUREAU OF THEM

BUREAU OF THEM

LEYTONSTONE

LEYTONSTONE

WHITSTABLE

WHITSTABLE

Yellow Book interview

Sometime earlier this year I posted the news that Spectral is going to publish a pamphlet of poetry in April 2016 (via Theatrum Mundi), reminiscent of the Yellow Book journals of the late 19th century and based around the King in Yellow mythos, edited by John Allen, called Songs of the Shattered World: The Broken Hymns of Hastur. Here’s an interview with the editor, originally posted to Thomas Ligotti Online, which gives an interesting insight into the interpretation of Robert W. Chambers’ creation. 

king_ace

A King in Yellow Q & A With John Thomas Allen

John Thomas Allen is a part of the online weird fiction community, maintaining Facebook pages devoted to surrealism and Richard Chambers’ King in Yellow. As a result of this devotion, he and a group of fellow-minded writers now have an anthology of poetry centered around the Yellow King and all things Carcosian appearing in the near future. Over the course of our discussions, I had the opportunity to ask Allen a number of questions about everyone’s favorite golden-hued otherworldly monarch, to explore some of the mysteries, and explain his own fascination with the Yellow King.

Q: How and when did you first encounter The King in Yellow, and what sort of effect did it have on you?

I borrowed an edition that was a dark yellow hardback, no cover illustration, from a University library and I don’t think I ever returned it. I was feeling especially forgetful at the time. That got to be a big thing. I got in trouble for not returning the book, serious financial trouble.
It wasn’t just that book, but they almost brought me to court on that one and a few others. Let me tell you something, when you have a guy at your door with a ticket for a prospective court date and on the summons is something for the King In Yellow, you’ll think about it a lot more.

Q: At the time Chambers was writing, the color yellow had become associated with corruption and decadence ( The Yellow Book , etc.); what sort of significance, if any, does ‘yellow’ possess for you?
Yellow is an inherently fascinating color, I think. I don’t why, specifically, but when I hear about the word “yellow” I think of madness, decay, death before I think about anything beautiful in nature. I grew up reading decadent poets like Ernest Dowson, Thomas Beddoes, etc.
Like probably every other quote on quote “literary” person, I’ve fantasized about drinking absinthe with Verlaine or snorting something with Sara Teasdale in the rain or whatever and dying some fanciful death you can never really die.

Q: Speaking of the Decadent movement itself, do you think it shares any special connections or connotations with the King in Yellow mythos?
I’m in love the idea of the King In Yellow; there’s something of a color coordinated majesty about Chambers’ idea that synthesizes the blood starved, ghastly iridescence of the so called “Decadent movement”. I like my idea of the Decadent movement probably more than what I would see if I went back and saw Maurice Rollinat bang away on his piano or, tangentially, watched the habits of Isidore Ducasse for a few days. To answer your question I absolutely do see a connection between Chambers’ stories and the collection of individuals who were later negatively termed “decadents”.

Q: The creations of some authors of weird fiction, such as Lovecraft’s ‘Great Old Ones’ and Machen’s ‘little people’ for example, can be read as expressions or embodiments of the personal beliefs of their creators; did Chambers intend the King in Yellow to retain a similar meaning? If so, how do you interpret him?


As a person who aspires to be an individual artist and write supernatural prose (Though I’m ordinary and boring enough to have started a surrealist group and stood with that group as one of them; ergo I’ll never be cool as Paul Valery and his disciples.), I don’t believe you can write anything with that kind of sustained genius and not attach a personal meaning to it. For all I know, the King In Yellow might exist in a non ironic and non symbolic and non reductionistic way.

KIY01

Q: While The King in Yellow is typically categorized as ‘supernatural fiction’, Chambers’ stories also contain such elements as Poesque psychological horror, near-­future alternate history, symbolist/proto-­surrealist phantasmagorias, and the conte cruel; it is fair then to classify Chambers amongst the authors of weird fiction, or does he deserve a different place in the literary canon?
Whatever play is being read by the characters in Chambers stories is not something one could reproduce. It drives people mad (it doesn’t give them a mental illness treatable by a psychotropic; it drives them mad, a word brought into question by the NIMH) and creates a venereal, polluted atmosphere.
I couldn’t go buy that at Barnes and Nobles and no amount of discouraging logical positivism is going to drive one mad either. Therefore, I personally conclude it is supernatural..which is to say a phenomenon outside the bounds of space, time, and any kind of limitation whatsoever by physics or human and natural laws.

Q: Throughout its history, The King in Yellow has become a sort of collective creation; Chambers originally created the ‘Yellow King’ stories by dramatically expanding upon several short Ambrose Bierce pieces, HP Lovecraft in turn incorporated Chambers’ mythology into his own fictional universe, and numerous writers since have used these texts to build and flesh out further connections. What is it about The King in Yellow that lends itself to this sort of group effort?

To use a bit of hippy jargon, I think Chambers takes us for a moment into the forbidden zone philosopher Norman O. Brown wrote about and suggests what might happen if every degenerate, cackling impulse flew out of the ovulating giggles of our really strange, semiotically balanced psyches.
Mr. Castaigne, for instance, in “The Repairer of Reputations” is a hilarious caricature of a brain damaged nutcase. Ever met anyone with a brain injury who behaves quite like that? Probably not. But Chambers’ suggestion, that an event as simple and horrific as falling off a horse could bathe one in the fetid areas of the psyche permanently is so believable when you read the story.
He does what great horror writers do: he makes us fear ourselves, the world around us, and above all, the world within.
“In the Court of the Dragon” takes a bunch of young artists and makes their Sturm und Drang real. At first they have the average sort of ‘let’s paint something or do something but gave affairs first.’ Somehow, someone gets a copy of ‘The Yellow Book’ and boy, do things get real.

yellow-historical

Q: The King in Yellow is not just the title of a book; it is also the title of a play and the name of an otherworldly entity appearing within that book; what does this interplay of meaning and identities (potentially metatextual) suggest or conjure up for you?
I suspect that the color yellow is no more inherently disturbing than any other color, but I like to think it actually is because of my literary enthusiasms and the imaginative potency it now possesses. The King In Yellow could just as easily have been some obscure 60’s band, like The Crystal Chandelier or the Velvett Fog, or been a song lyric in one.
But Robert W. Chambers put this uncanny phrase into a series of powerful stories (as powerful, to my mind, as anything Lovecraft wrote) that Derleth later called mythos. Me? to me it suggests some sort of supernatural, immaterial, immanent antihero composed of spectral hues with an unfathomably disgusting book written in bitter calligraphy. I love it!

Q: Characters in The King in Yellow who read that titular play find afterwards find reality undergoing strange mutations; have you ever felt haunted by any of Chambers’ tales, and in what way?

Yes. Once, in college, I was watching a movie that every dystopic or antinatalistic or pessimistic would love called Pate by directorAgnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo.
It really should be on DVD, as it is a horrific and slow meditation on the nonsense of social mores and a sort of elegant, refined cannibalism–as elegant and refined as that can get.

A friend of mine who was slightly sinister offered me some Kava tea, claiming Kava was known to calm people down. I just had this thought: it’s kinda weird, us watching this beyond desolate movie and everyone being lulled to sleep with the herb which I hated. Then I noticed the 1989 Dedalus copy of The King In Yellow on his bookshelf. I got creeped, and I actually left after awhile…..with the copy of the book I’d given to him.

Q: Which of Chambers’ Yellow King stories and has had the greatest effect upon you, and why?
In the Court of the Dragon.”
Just how he rips away youth and innocence. It’s like someone threw acid on the immortal souls of everyone in the story.

Q: Many other notable weird writers, including the likes of Karl Edward Wagner and Joe Pulver, have also fallen under the spell of Carcosa; what is your favorite contribution to the King in Yellow canon not written by Chambers?
Hands down, Don Webb’s short “Movie Night At Phil’s.” That story explored this world where a fictional movie with Vincent Price entitled “The King In Yellow” drives a fairly normal household insane. It was perfect.
Don is going to be in our anthology Songs of the Shattered World: The Broken Hymns of Hastur, which has a stated release date of April 1st, 2016 from Spectral Press. Simon Marshall Jones is a warrior, one of the finest publishers I’ve ever worked with. He took this project on very short notice and displayed a generosity one rarely sees.
Yeah, Joe Pulver put that collection together, A Season In Carcossa, I just remembered. I enjoy fiction and poetry that’s more about suggestion and less about an outgoing, look at the violence here, that kind of thing, though of course that has a place.
And Karl Edward Wagner, definitely! I love what he did for Howard, who I think had a beatifically manic case of the crazies. He’s still not appreciated enough (though of course some of that is his own fault.) Wagner was like the Roky Erikson of the KIY “mythos”.

Q: What is the significance of the actual King in Yellow himself to you? What does he mean, and why is he frightening?
To me, he represents that which has absolutely no context. An embodied obscenity that embosses SIN across everything, like Mucha. He’s like Keyzer Soze in a less corny, postmod movie. Also I associate him more with poetry than macabre fiction, and I’m primarily a poet.

Q: A year after the whole True Detective affair, what do you feel about the show in connection to The King in Yellow ; has the effect it has had on the Carcosa mythos been negative, positive, or somewhere in between?
I certainly would not have seen a Barnes and Nobles edition of The King In Yellow without True Detective. That made my day, just seeing it there like that. The thing about True Detective I loved was that it brought that Ligottian feel in a way I hadn’t seen before anywhere.
The thing is when a philosophy–and I’m mostly friends with antinatalists, though I happen to be a Roman Catholic–tries to attach itself to everything, some of the pure magic of horror is lost. And while I loved a lot of True Detective, I don’t think everything always has to point to the perceived worthlessness of existence. It gets old. When we insist that this is what that writer meant by this story, etc etc, and everyone falls in lockstep, that dangerous magic get sealed up. Funny, one might think, or God forbid a Catholic talk like that. We are old enough!
But, like my friend Mark Samuels (also in the anthology), I feel mysticism has a place that can never be annihilated. One might say nihilism needs mysticism, and the reverse. Plus, Machen, Blackwood and James, you know, weren’t atheists or antinatalists or anything like that.
I personally wouldn’t want St. Thomas Aquinas to be the philosophical lynchpin of everything I read in terms of theology, you know? But Thomas Ligotti wrote such a great book with the Conspiracy. Every word weighed, everything taken into the most minute consideration.

People posting antinatalist videos doesn’t bother me a bit, even on my YouTube channel.

Q: Conceivably, what is the impact you would like to have this anthology to have, both as poetry and as a contribution to the Yellow King canon?

I hope this will be a fallback to Aubrey Beardsley’s Yellow Book; that’s the goal. An authentic Yellow Book filled with some of the most talented Yellow poets you could imagine, decadent as Mario Praz would have had it.
Thinking about this even makes a Coldplay song sound good. I want it to be an ultra-refined treat for fans of poetry AND fans of the macabre, as I think Chambers was thinking more of poetry than prose when he wrote his stories—or the spirit of poetry.
Speaking of music, I’m surprised none of the champions of the KIY have discovered an acoustic/ambient group entitled “Thus Sayeth The King”; you can download their first album on Bandcamp for 10 bucks.

crocKIY

Spectral T-shirts

Do you have a favourite Spectral book cover? More to the point, would you like to wear the design on your chest? Well, now you can with these fabulous t-shirts from Great British Horror. We have four designs so far, but we can add to them if have another cover design that you’d like to see on a shirt. The prices, including postage, are £20UK/£25EU/$50US& RoW, and are available in sizes S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL. Choose from Albion Fay, Bureau of Them, Leytonstone, and Whitstable.

£20UK

£25EU

$50US& RoW

WHEN ORDERING, PLEASE STATE WHICH SIZE AND DESIGN YOU WANT IN THE  ‘INSTRUCTIONS TO SELLER’ BOX ON PAYPAL. THANK YOU!

ALBION FAY

ALBION FAY

BUREAU OF THEM

BUREAU OF THEM

LEYTONSTONE

LEYTONSTONE

WHITSTABLE

WHITSTABLE

Deposit deadline approaching

"We are the Martians: the Legacy of Nigel Kneale" edited by Neil Snowdon. Artwork ©2014 David Chatton Barker

“We are the Martians: the Legacy of Nigel Kneale” edited by Neil Snowdon. Artwork ©2014 David Chatton Barker

Don’t forget, you have just 12 (TWELVE!) days to get your deposits in for We are the Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale, edited by Neil Snowdon – after 30th June full payment will be required if you’d like a copy. This is going to be an essential reference work for fans of Kneale’s work, as well as those interested in screenwriting and the history of genre TV and film. Secure your copy today!

LIMITED HARDBACK EDITION – deadline for deposits is June 30th:

£20 UK & EU

$30 US & RoW

PAPERBACK EDITION

£15.00UK

£18.00EU

$45.00US & RoW

A little self-indulgence

“Bibila Longcrofta” ©2015 Simon Marshall-Jones/Tickety Boo Press. Artwork ©2015 Jim Burns.

Remember a while back we told you that Spectral Press owner/editor-in-chief Simon Marshall-Jones would be having his debut collection of short stories published soon? Well, we can tell you that Biblia Longcrofta will be released into the multiverses on June 30th 2015 and that you can order copies if you so desire from HERE. In the meantime, feast your eyes on the splendiferous Jim Burns cover shown above….

“Biblia Longcrofta by Simon Marshall-Jones, publisher and editor at award-nominated Spectral Press, is a series of connected short fiction stories, semi-autobiographical in nature, set in the imaginary town of Longcroft. Although it has no precise geographical location in the ‘real’ world, nevertheless it is located somewhere on the northern coastline of Britain. It exists contemporaneously and separately in a different time stream from the rest of the world, the reasons for the split lost in the mists of time.

It is no ordinary town, however – here miracles happen on an everyday basis, and the numinous and marvellous sit side-by-side with the banal and mundane. Into this wonderland comes a tattooed stranger called Simeon, a man bored of his old life, but still unsure of what his place in the world is, who he is, and what purpose he has. Through a series of connected incidents, he comes to understand the world around him, and the person he is. Along the way he meets wonders and living myths and, through interacting with them, he finds his true destiny – however, it’s not what he was expecting nor what he would have chosen for himself.”

Simon will also be happy to sign copies for anyone who asks – we will have copies for sale here as well. Contact Simon at spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com for payment details.

And the winner is…

Three weeks ago we ran a competition to name a new science fiction imprint we will be setting up in the next year or so, for which we received a lot of entries amongst which were some truly brilliant suggestions. Unfortunately, as great as they were (which made choosing one extremely difficult), there could only be one winner and one runner-up. So, in reverse order as is customary, the runner up was:

KATE PROBERT with Distant Earth (inspired by Arthur C. Clarke).

Congratulations – Kate wins a signed copy of the very publication to be issued under the new imprint.

The grand prize winner though is JAY EALES (who wins all the imprint’s output as it gets published) with:

rEvolution SF

This perfectly encapsulates the aims and ambitions of the new line: fiction which provokes a response – cutting edge, adventurous, arcane, challenging, boundary-pushing, and genre-busting. Fiction that ventures into unexpected areas, and delves into places not traditionally associated with science fiction. Thinking people’s science fiction – in other words, the EVOLUTION of science fiction through REVOLUTIONary literature.

Well done and congratulations to Jay!

NEWS

"VURT" by Jeff Noon

“VURT” by Jeff Noon

And, in further rEvolution SF news, we are proud to announce that sci-fi alumni Jeff Noon (Vurt, Pollen, Automating Alice) will be the first author published by the imprint. Expect it within the next 12 months. 

Bits and bobs

Quite a bit to get through this morning, so let’s get right into it:

Spectral Book of Horror Stories 2, edited by Mark Morris - ©2015 respective individual authors/Spectral Press. Artwork ©2015 Vincent Chong

Spectral Book of Horror Stories 2, edited by Mark Morris – ©2015 respective individual authors/Spectral Press. Artwork ©2015 Vincent Chong

The 2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories has received quite a large number of submissions but if you are still thinking of sending a story in then you only have TWENTY-FIVE DAYS left in which to do so – the final deadline is 30th June. Get writing and submitting!

THE SPECTRAL BOOK OF HORROR STORIES vol 2 – PRICES INCLUDE POSTAGE!

£12.50 UK

£15 EU

$30 US & RoW

THE SPECTRAL BOOK OF HORROR STORIES VOL 1

£12.50 UK

£15 EU

$30 US & RoW

"We are the Martians: the Legacy of Nigel Kneale" edited by Neil Snowdon. Artwork ©2014 David Chatton Barker

“We are the Martians: the Legacy of Nigel Kneale” edited by Neil Snowdon. Artwork ©2014 David Chatton Barker

Also, the same date is the deadline for getting your deposits in for We are the Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale – after 30th June full payment will be required if you want to reserve a copy. This is going to be an essential for fans of Kneale’s work, as well as those interested in screenwriting and the history of genre TV and film. Secure your copy today!

LIMITED HARDBACK EDITION – deadline for deposits is June 30th:

£20 UK & EU

$30 US & RoW

PAPERBACK EDITION

£15.00UK

£18.00EU

$45.00US & RoW

OTHER NEWS

The fourth episode in James Everington’s Spectral serial The Quarantined City will be appearing at the end of this month, to be followed at the end of July by a bumper double ‘issue’ of parts five and six. We would like to apologise to customers for the delay in getting the episodes out.

Lisa Hannett’s Smoke Billows, Soot Falls, the latest in Spectral’s chapbook series, will be out as soon as possible – currently the signature sheets are en route from Australia. Please bear with us on this. Thank you!

Also, eBook and paperback editions of Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow by Ray Cluley and Ricochet by Tim Dry, (and very soon The Hammer of Dr. Valentine by John Llewellyn Probert) are available from Amazon UK & US.