Fable Gazers…

gahiouwakyptaqhtr5ezSome friends are looking for funding for their literary podcast company, Fable Gazers.

Not being on any social networks, I’m limited to emailing a few people and putting the details here for both of my regular readers!

Fable Gazers was developed to produce crafted narrative podcasts with our own special twist. We plan to build stories from fact and vice versa – all with a journalistic edge and sense of fun that will inspire obsession in people who adore podcasts. If that’s you, and you love podcasts like This American Life, Serial, S-Town, then help us by donating or passing this page link on to your friends. We need your help to edit, produce and release our two podcast series.

With fab interviews with some incredible guests like Stephen Fry, romance author Harriet Evans, film producer Andy Paterson, as well as original music from a large community of musicians, we’re building our boutique podcast company and we want you to be a part of our journey.

Sounds interesting no?

Find out more and make a donation.
🙂

 

The prognostic quality of science fiction…

b4c742a6-1789-4d88-b315-ae3b1d2b76d5-450-00000029e03345efI’m currently halfway through J.G. Ballards The Drowned World.

Today’s title was taken from a list of essay titles way back when I was studying for my bachelor’s degree and always stayed in my mind. I’m sure it was also followed by the usual imperative to ‘discuss!’.

But, it seems that the best sci-fi does indeed become prophecy; his description of the lagoons and overwhelming tropical fauna in a future London seem to be features that will just appear in a matter of time in light of recent events around the world.

We’re not looking at the far future, we’re looking at the near now…

1971…

exorcistSomeone’s created a great page where you can look up the most popular book from the year you were born. Being born in 1971, I was pleased and surprised that that year’s was William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist.

My grandmother had a copy of the book and I’d secretly read a chapter or two each time I stayed over at her house. My parents didn’t like me reading horror books, so this was something that I usually only got to do if I took myself to the library on a Saturday when I could peruse the adult section without a teacher pushing me back toward the children’s books.

The Corgi Books edition that I got to read had what was, for me, the creepiest cover ever. There’s the strange outline of a face, taken almost like an x-ray image, or even a negative version of the Shroud of Turin. It just looked like a real image of a possession, a scientific recording, rather than a piece of art. I’d read a chapter or two and then place the book cover down before I attempted to get any sleep.

Apparently it was created by Frederick Cantor, about whom I’ve been able to find out very little, but who created a masterpiece of creepy design.

 

Portable magic…

IMG_0132I’m raking in the coals of memory again.

An aunt had given us books as presents for Christmas. I got Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

They were all abridged versions, and must have been from one of those cheap imprints where the classics cost a pound each. The covers were off-white and upon opening, already had that musty, ancient book smell – they must have sat upon a shelf in a warehouse for some time.

But the enchantment contained therein was rich and potent. I had classics in my hand and I would read them all. I would smell them and read them, and stare for what seemed like hours at the cover images before I even dared to open them and suckle at the dark nipple of gothic romance.

And, despite what christians will tell you, Dickens’ Christmas classic is the ‘Greatest Story Ever Told’ – a tale of self-discovery and redemption that never gets old, and which is constantly re-told and re-invented. Stephen King’s utterance on books being a kind of ‘portable magic’ never rang so true as in my days and weeks with those volumes.

While visiting my parents, I found two of the books amongst dozens, possibly hundreds from my childhood on some shelves in the basement. They were part of the ‘Minster Classics’ range, and my missing version of Frankenstein is still available online second-hand (just ordered myself a copy!).

Another realisation (for classic horror movie fans only), is that the cover image the Minster edition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde seems to be a combination of Fredric March’s Dr. Jekyll from 1932, and John Barrymore’s Mr. Hyde from 1920 – currently available to watch for free.

Formerly forbidden fruit…

asterixWhen at primary school, we’d visit the local library every two weeks. You could borrow up to six books, but only from the children’s section. This was good, as it contained all the Doctor Who novelisations and ghost story anthologies that I loved to read, but access to the adult and young adult sections was strictly forbidden. These contained the horror books that I craved, and also the comic books – specifically Asterix and Tin Tin. Marvel and DC were great for action, but if you wanted something funny and clever, then it had to be one of the aforesaid.

It’s taken about forty years, but I’ve finally got my own collection of Asterix books started with the first three omnibus editions that I received for my recent birthday. So I’ve matured (slightly!) since last reading them, but I’d managed to remember the names of all the main characters and the stories are still great fun (if filled with torturous Latin puns!). And, owning them now brings so much satisfaction after being repeatedly told ‘no’ at school. It was snobbery really – comics and graphic novels weren’t considered real books, and certainly weren’t recognised as literature.

Thankfully attitudes are changing…