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The Agony Column

July 19, 2001

Today I start the day with a whole new batch of books in hand and some promising new publishers, while awaiting the time to finish the badly reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle book that I'm really quite enjoying. So let's start with he last first, -- Elizabeth Redfern's The Music of the Spheres is really rather grim. I like that. We'll see how pr-pr-pre-posterous it turns out to be, but in the interim, I'm recommending it. Let's hope I don't make even more enemies in doing so.

And now on to the new arrivals. Mark Zeising has been telling me about this publisher, Ash Tree, but I've managed to avoid them thus far, as they are rather expensive and have to this point focused on older authors that aren't of immediate interest to YT. But his latest catalog had one that really caught my interest -- a second collection by Steve Rasnic Tem. I've liked his stuff for years. Heck I can probably even dig out a positive review I gave his only novel, Excavation, back in the dark ages, when you could not spend a shitload of money on books over by buying from the web. So this collection is titled The Far Side of the Lake, and has a beautiful DJ illo by Tony Patrick. It smells nice too. Yes, the rest of their list appears to be older writers that I think I might not be interested in. But given the quality of this book, and several thousand dollars to spend specifically on this publisher, I could easily do so. You know where to send the money.

Then there are the Delerium Press books. I bought two, reasonably priced and nice packaged. Gosh, by brothers, I guess. I have Jeffrey Thomas, Terror Incognita, signed, limited, with some beautiful color plates. The binding is a bit on the funky side, but otherwise we have what appears to be a collection of short stories with some Lovecraftian tinges. I'll read a few and report back to you.

Scott Thomas (Jeffrey's brother), writes in a different vein, as evidenced by the title Cobwebs and Whispers. The intro informs me that he's going for an MR James vibe -- to my mind an excellent target. First pages of several stories confirm this. The binding here is nicer, but the DJ is a bit funky. I believe that these guys are just starting, but their quality overall looks really good. Some of the volumes are cheaper, and if you want some collections with largely original short stories you haven't seen before, these appear to be good places to start.

And finally there is Stealth Press, which is re-issuing some classics; in this case Dennis Etchison's Talking in the Dark. This is a collection of 40 years of Etchison's fiction, with a string of greatest hits all the way and a beautiful JK Potter cover. I'm glad to see the partnership between Etchison and Potter continues. One wonders if either is particularly aware of it -- whatever. This books is a must buy even if you do have all the other collections. For one thing, you get a single new story, and for another, you get his best all in volume that you can loan to friends whom you want o alienate, because most people just don't want to be disturbed in the way the Etchison disturbs you.

Then there is Horror Garage magazine. They say they want to have a cover like Maxim on Acid, and they get pretty damn close. Not something that you want to wave in front of the wife and kids, but there you go. Original new fiction by Kim Newman -- something in the Anno Dracula series, no less. Stellar fiction, Fiona's on vacation, but you get some good reviews of good books. Cheesy punk and Goth rock adverts, then look at the cover again. More fun every day!