How I Spent February 2018

DorisFeb18Freezing myself numb, to be honest.

As I type, my home is surrounded by a lovely blanket of snow. Buses across the city have been cut, scuppering my planned trip to see Black Panther. So, aside from a quick trudge through my now rather Christmas card-like neighbourhood, I’ve been at home writing stuff and tidying up a bit.

But February’s been pretty productive for me, on the whole. I’ve been chipping away at a tidy set of writing projects, and my research has involved reading Jack Ketchum novels, ordering scripts for Universal horror films, digging up 1920s science fiction stories, and chasing after niche suppliers for obscure animated short films. A month well spent, I’d say.

Articles published elsewhere this month:

If you enjoyed any of the above pieces and would like to help me along my writin’ way, then a small donation to my Patreon would be very much appreciated!

Article topics for March and beyond:


Space Opera Archeology: A Few Short Stories

“Ross, it’s horrible. They’re from beyond our universe. Vegetablelike things…”

– Justin Nichols, “Invaders from the Outer Suns”

SpaceoperapackIf you want to see an overview of how space operas evolved over the decades, then the Space Opera Megapack is a cheap and tasty option. It’s where I came across Tarrano the Conqueror for the last post in this series, and right now I’d like to take a look at some of the shorter stories from the 30s and 40s that the anthology has to offer…

I noticed a few familiar names in the book, including Edmond Hamilton. I’d already covered his Interstellar Patrol series, but his story “The Sargasso of Space” (Astounding Stories, 1931) moves away from the weird aliens and colliding suns faced by the Patrol tales in favour of something a bit more down-and-dirty.

Continue reading “Space Opera Archeology: A Few Short Stories”

Belladonna: January/February 2018 Issue Out Now!

DWXKrsBUMAIDYRZSay hello to 2018’s first issue of the now-bimonthly Belladonna magazine!

The Horror Honeys have another round of goodness for all our readers. Some of the treats on offer: Slasher Honey Chass inspects Inhuman Resources and makes a date with; Musical Horror Honey Stella tunes into American Satan; and indie filmmaker BJ Colangelo reveals all in an interview.

These are just the starters. The main course this time is a celebration of haunted houses in all forms of horror fiction.

Continue readingBelladonna: January/February 2018 Issue Out Now!”

Early Man: Fred Flintstone goes to Cimmeria


When you think about it, The Flintstones and Conan the Barbarian have quite a bit in common. Robert E. Howard set the Conan stories in a prehistoric era which, like Fred’s world, mirrors later eras; but while Bedrock is a specific stand-in for postwar suburban America, Howard riddled his Hyborian Age with counterparts to various historical societies. You’ve got the Aesir and Vanir, who stand for Vikings. You’ve got the Stygians, who represent the ancient Egyptians. And you have the central power, Aquilonia, which was based mainly on ancient Rome but which Howard could use as a stand-in for other societies – most notably in the Western-influenced Conan stories, where white settlers became Aquilonians and Native Americans became Picts.

And lo and behold, with Aardman’s latest stop-motion feature Early Man, we have a missing link between the Flintstones and Conan.

Continue readingEarly Man: Fred Flintstone goes to Cimmeria”

My Ten Favourite Books About Horror

Nobody who knows me will be even remotely surprised that one of my favourite pastimes is reading books about horror fiction in all its manifestations. I’ve read quite a few of the things since my teenage years, and I felt it was time to celebrate the ten books that did the most to shape how I think about horror…

FearDanielsfor[Living in] Fear: A History of Horror in the Mass Media by Les Daniels (1975) 

Les Daniels is remembered mainly for his writing for and about comics, but he also wrote Living in Fear (title shortened to Fear for paperback), which is the single best overview of horror that I’ve ever read. Okay, it was published in 1975, so it’s a few decades out of date, but it more than makes up for this with its sheer breadth of scope in examining horror’s history. Daniels covers literature, cinema, television, theatre, music, comics and even religious tracts; his analysis kicks off in earnest with the gothic novels of the 18th century and continues up to the 1970s. Horace Walpole, Vampirella, Bram Stoker, John Zacherle and depressing pop songs about dead teenagers each have a part to play in the grand narrative.

Continue reading “My Ten Favourite Books About Horror”