A Visit to the Sime Gallery, Worplesdon

June 12, 2018 § Leave a comment

I’ve been a fan of Sidney Sime’s art for a long time, since having first seen his fantastical illustrations for Lord Dunsany’s ‘The Gods of Pegāna‘, but it wasn’t until I started research for my essay on three of Sime’s paintings, an article which was eventually published in Dead Reckonings 22, that I realised how hard it was to find any information on him beyond the scant biographical details on his Wikipedia page and the single easily-acquirable book about his life, Simon Heneage and Henry Ford’s ‘Sidney Sime, Master of the Mysterious‘.

What I did find, however, is that a small band of devotees keep Sime’s memory alive at the Sidney Sime Gallery in Worplesdon, Surrey. Worplesdon has a great connection to Sime – he lived there after buying the still-extant Crown Cottage in 1904 and, after his death in 1941, his remains were interred in the graveyard of Worplesdon’s St Mary’s church – so it is a more than fitting place for his memory to linger.

Still, Surrey is a long way from my own home in Edinburgh…

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‘Undead, Forever’ – Ravenloft and the Gothic in D&D

April 15, 2018 § 1 Comment

This paper was initially presented at the Gaming the Gothic conference, held at the University of Sheffield on April 13th 2018. The intial CFP is available here.

This is a transcript of the presented paper, edited with some last-minute changes made during the presentation itself and, where appropriate, links to external material.

Ravenloft - Presentation.001

So begins our journey into the Dungeons & Dragons adventure of ‘Ravenloft’ where Strahd von Zarovich, a centuries old vampire-prince, rules his terror-haunted realm without pity or remorse. ‘Ravenloft’ is riddled with deeply gothic imagery from the flying buttresses of the eponymous Castle Ravenloft to the tortured, endless nature of Strahd’s vampirism. Yet, like all gothic fiction, there is more to ‘Ravenloft’ than simple theatrics. There is a deep sense of horror that comes not just from the story but from how the story is told and, crucially, how it is not told.

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Trembling With Fear, “The Ebbing Tide Calls”

January 23, 2018 § Leave a comment

Another drabble, a story of exactly 100 words, in The Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear blog, which makes it three for three submissions now. These are forming themselves into something of a related narrative so I’m looking forward to see where they take me…

He watches as the accusatory finger of the lighthouse sweeps across the harbour, in through the bottleglass window and onto the long, blank wall. Each pulse shines a zoetrope puppet-show onto the whitewashed brick.

Click here to read the full piece.

Dead Reckonings #22

January 23, 2018 § Leave a comment

I’m very pleased to once again be published in Dead Reckonings, this time the Fall 2017 issue, number 22.

Dead Reckonings #22

I talk about the nature of mystery and horror in some of the works of Sidney H Sime, an English artists most famous for his illustrations of Lord Dunsany’s fantastical work, and also cover Jeffrey Thomas‘s excellent collection of weird and eerie fiction, ‘Haunted Worlds

Death, exile and madness are all ultimate states of non-being that give the shape to our being. They are the black sea that define our islands of light and life. We experience them only at the very extremes of our lives, as we move from the obvious to the occulted, and it is impossible for us to truly imagine what that moment of transition will be like; before the transition we are as we have always been, afterwards we are fundamentally different.

Dead Reckonings is available directly from Hippocampus Press.

Old Style Tales, The Yellow Booke V

September 10, 2017 § Leave a comment

My homage to windswept vilages and ghostly pursuers, The Bridge At Barrowdale, has been published in Old Style Tale’s collection The Yellow Booke V. The collection can be ordered as a hard copy or downloaded as a PDF, and features illustrated stories from Ever Dundas, Thomas Olivieri and M. Grant Kellermeyer amongst others.

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I SPENT A UNSETTLED EVENING, sitting in a wooden chair by the drawing room’s single window and staring out at the phosphorescent sea. The quiet of the cottage, so inviting in the clamour of the City, now seemed haunted by a spectral silence. I lit a small lantern as night fell but the flickering flame jittered queasily against the warped glass of the window and eventually I pinched it out rather than suffer its fevered dancing. No moon rose into the sky but a bright scatter of stars shone their sparse light down to sparkle on the breaking waves. The eerie bark of a family of seals called from somewhere offshore, rising over the susurration of water on stone. Eventually I slept, fitfully, wrapped in coarse blankets and dreaming of sea-cold fingers reaching out of the night.

“How Do We Kill It?” – Thoughts on Alien: Covenant

May 18, 2017 § Leave a comment

I preface the following thoughts about Alien: Covenant by saying that I actually quite enjoyed watching it as a piece of entertainment; there’s a lot in it that’s well done, tense and exceptionally gruesome. However, while it could be said to be an average sci-fi film it’s a poor Alien film that plays more as fanfic than a studio blockbuster.

Even the soundtrack, good as it is, is essentially an homage to a better one.

There will be spoilers after the jump.

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Aether & Ichor

May 14, 2017 § Leave a comment

A previously unavailable story, A Guest In The House Of Ruin (a much-extended version of this fragment), has been published by Aether & Ichor.

Fitful dreams flickered through the mists of sleep, jumbled up across space and time. Memories floated to the surface of my unconsciousness until they coalesced into one image; Annabella. How she’d laughed with glee at a puppet show in Yellow Park, the jerking dances and squeaking voices making her clap her hands in delight. Her tears, hot and inconsolable, when the news was announced of De Pontellino’s death; days spent locked in her room, playing the master’s cascading etudes on her piano instead of eating; listening over and over to the little music box I had bought her. I saw the day she came to me in my rooms as I was reading my mail. The words she said, having undoubtedly been made to say them by her wretch of a brother. Her face as she turned to leave; her blue eyes, red-rimmed, refusing to meet mine. Her hair tumbling from its amber combs as she fell.

No, she said. Please don’t.

Immense personal thanks to the team at Aether & Ichor for their support and editorial rigour. This wouldn’t exist, certainly not in as complete a form, without them.

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