Weekend links: Ghosts, Spooks and Spectres edition


Cover design by Philip Gough.

Ghosts, Spooks and Spectres (1972 reprint). Editor Charles Molin collected nineteen ghost stories by writers including Oscar Wilde (The Canterville Ghost), Charles Dickens (The Signal-Man), J. Sheridan Le Fanu (Madame Crowl’s Ghost) and HG Wells (The Inexperienced Ghost). This was one of my favourite books when I was ten-years old. There’s nuffin like a Puffin. Puffin Books’ parent company, Penguin, is 75 this year.

• The good people at the Outer Alliance have posted an interview with me here in which I talk about the subversive sexualities of sf in the 1970s and also admit to writing fiction.

• There’s just time to mention It Came From Pebble Mill, an event which includes another screening of David Rudkin’s Penda’s Fen.

• “In our society, there has tended to be a very strong compartmentalization of different experiences, different cultural forms, different genres. We can talk in a very broad sense and say art is separate from science, for example, or body is separate from mind, or we can talk in a specific sense and say one certain form of dance music is separate from one form of, say, heavy metal. I don’t really buy those compartmentalizations. I understand why they exist, how they’ve come into being and why they’re convenient, but it’s not the way I think, it’s not the way I experience the world, it’s not the way I believe things should be.” From an interview by Colin Marshall with David Toop at 3QD. Toop’s latest book is Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener.

The Kingdom of the Pearl by Léonard Rosenthal, illustrated by Edmund Dulac.

Ghost Stations by Dollboy, a CD package. And then there’s the Ghostly Bento.

7 Inch Cinema are Birmingham-based cultural historians.

• Mark Pilkington’s Mirage Men now has its own site.

Borges on Pleasure Island: JLB and his love of RLS.

• RIP Arne Nordheim, Norwegian composer.

• Charlie Visnic’s Modular Ghost Synth.

On the trail of Tutankhamen’s penis.

Photos by Thom Ayres.

Ghosts by Japan | Spooky Rhodes by Laika | Purple Dusk by Spectre.

4 thoughts on “Weekend links: Ghosts, Spooks and Spectres edition”

  1. That’s a great interview at Outer Alliance! I smiled with recognition at your reluctance to claim to be a writer. Those all too familiar sensations of not wanting to invite scepticism. When it finally became clear that I was in the process of becoming a painter, I felt equally uncomfortable. When asked that standard opener at parties, ‘What do you do?’, I’d become hopelessly tongue-tied and my partner Peter would have answer for me while I floundered about stammering and blushing! It was years before the words ‘I am a painter’ sprang easily to my lips. There’s something in the British character, I feel, that is tad disapproving of anyone who crosses disciplines. A fixed notion of identity being encoded into profession seems to underlie the unspoken accusation that if you wander slightly off-piste, then you’re a Jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none.

    It was interesting too to read of the literature that you were drawn to as a young gay man, and that science fiction as a genre was where you found a more relaxed and matter-of-fact attitude toward sexuality. I too searched for sexual role models in literature that felt comfortable, and found them in the novels of Mary Renault.

    Good work John. You covered a lot of ground in the piece, and expressed ideas in ways that I found to be refreshingly clear-sighted. No self-promoting ‘guff’, which is the bane of so many ‘and-what-are-you-doing-next’ interviews.

  2. Hi Clive, and thanks. And yes, I think this is a problem whatever you do, especially in Britain for some reason, that unspoken sense that people are supposed to stay in the area where they’ve established themselves. Brian Eno points this out in his diary book (which I quoted here) when discussing one of my favourite living artists, Tom Phillips. The problem seems to have grown worse in recent decades. In the Victorian era no one minded if an artist wanted to write, as Rossetti and Beardsley did, or a writer wanted to paint, as Victor Hugo did. And if you were a writer you could venture wherever you wished, there wasn’t the strict taxonomy of marketing categories dividing the bookshelves.

    I’ve never read any Mary Renault but my interest was piqued recently when reading discussion of her work after Fire from Heaven was nominated for the Lost Booker. Historical fiction certainly shares with science fiction that remoteness which allows it to portray different ways of living in a matter-of-fact manner. The great thing about those books was they were easy to find and, if you didn’t want to draw attention to yourself, they could be read openly without worry. For the most part, they were also easy to read. Burroughs was bewildering on first encounter (but I persevered), and I would have found Genet too dense, I think, although later on that density was just the kind of thing I was looking for.

  3. Those Moorcock novels are also some of my first encounters with sexuality in fiction – i was very young – and they impressed me immensely. I really thought that was what the world was like, if you found the right people – freewheeling polysexuality with no responsibilities. Boy, was i dissapointed!
    I too followed that route – Moorcock/Delaney to Burroughs and then Genet and Bataille ect.
    ( On a side note, a friend was trying to convince his new girlfriend to read some of his favourite authors – Philip k Dick – and she said something like “oh no, i couldnt read anyone with a name like that….” ,to which he replied, in all innocence, “How about michael MOORCOCK then?” The relationship didnt last long…)
    Hope you get those novels published, John. and that Reverbstorm book that ive been waiting years for. Id love to read them.

  4. Heh, Moorcock’s name has elicited ribald comments from gay friends when I’ve mentioned his work. Doesn’t help that there’s that Joe Phillips film, The House of Morecock (which the author knows about, incidentally).

    The books will appear one way or another even if I have to do them myself, although that’s obviously an option of last resort. Publishers provide you with distribution and marketing and many other things which you need to reach an audience. Even if I am fortunate enough to find a publisher I’ll want to do a limited edition at some point, something I’ll pay for and design myself, and which I can sell here.

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