Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The 2nd Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories

Robert Aickman
Fontana Books

Robert Aickman "Introduction"
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle "Playing With Fire"
Edith Nesbit "Man-Size in Marble"
Robert Hichens "How Love Came to Professor Guildea"
Elizabeth Bowen "The Demon Lover"
Sir Max Beerbohm "A. V. Laider"
Edgar Allan Poe "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar"
Lord Dunsany "Our Distant Cousins"
Robert Aickman "The Inner Room"
Perceval Landon "Thurnley Abbey"
John Metcalfe "Nightmare Jack"
Ambrose Bierce "The Damned Thing"
Edith Wharton "Afterward"

It's been a while since I stuck my head into one of these Fontana anthologies but tonight I had the craving.

Aickman has put together an admirable collection with only 3 of the 12 stories being of the 'Oh, it's that one again' variety; E. Nesbit's 'Man Size in Marble', Elizabeth Bowen's 'The Demon Lover' and Edith Wharton's 'Afterward'. All great tales and all solid choices but one's I've become very accustomed to skipping past.

Lord Dunsany
A few of the stories here proved to be an absolute delight; Conan Doyle's 'Playing With Fire' with it's cautionary tale of reaching beyond ones abilities, Robert Hichens' superbly crafted 'How Love Came To Professor Guildea' and Aickman's own supremely creepy 'The Inner Room' are all deliciously bewitching,

A few others, such as Lord Dunsany's 'Our Distant Cousins', with it's odd little scfi-fi tale very much in the spirit of both Wells' 'Time Machine' and C.S. Lewis' 'Out of the Silent Planet', and Poe's 'The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar' provided an enjoyable distraction. Whilst others like Sir Max Beerbohm's 'A.V. Laider', Perceval Landon's ghostly 'Thurnley Abbey', John Metcalfe's almost Sherlockian 'Nightmare Jack' and Ambrose Bierce's 'The Damned Thing' filled both time and pages without too much complaint or distraction.

As with the other volume - I have them all here but am eking them out - Aickman proves himself the consummate anthologist. Each story, even the ones I didn't overly enjoy felt as though they belonged, as though they were at home in the collection and it proved for the most part to be a hugely enjoyable read.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Doctor Who: Short Trips: Snapshots

Joseph Lidster (ed)
Big Finish

Throughout his adventures in time and space, the Doctor meets so many people and each one is affected in some way: the waiter who keeps a special table for the Time Lord's granddaughter, Susan; the American student who befriends lost Lucie Miller; the teenage girl who discovers that she may be something more than human. What is it like when that strange blue box appears in your life? What is it like when your eyes are opened to so much more? What is it like when everything changes?

I've eyed up a couple of these BF anthologies a few times over the years but even 2nd hand the price tag has been too high for me so spotting this in a junk shop recently was a real treat.

As was usually the case with BF (it's changed lately) the stories feature Doctors 1 to 8 and in this case in pretty tiny little escapades...escapadettes perhaps...or not.

James Goss
The book is crammed and the highlights are many. James Goss' 'Indian Summer' featuring the First Doctor, Susan and a lifetime of strange events for a restaurant waiter / maitre d / manager / owner / manager again Suresh Parekh is a particular favourite and being second in the contents means the bar is set high and early. Fortunately there are a few that are up to it; Simon Guerrier provides an intriguing serial Doctor adventure featuring a young girl with a big problem, Brian Dooley gives us a delightfully bickery tale between the Fourth Doctor and Romana and the Eighth repays a favour in Joseph Lidster's 'Salva Mea'.

There are plenty of others both fun and funny and some that just drift past and the book ends oddly with Paul Magrs' 'Fanboys' which feels like it's been printed in the wrong book but I'm pleased to have finally tracked one of these collections down, it certainly didn't disappoint.