Saturday, October 01, 2016

The 3rd Spectral Book of Horror Stories – Table of Contents Announcement

SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

After announcing two days ago that submissions have officially opened for the 4th and 5th Spectral Book of Horror Stories, we’re proud to reveal the incredible Table of Contents for The 3rd Spectral Book of Horror Stories, edited by Joseph Rubas, with cover art by Holly Madew.

Let’s hand over to Joseph Rubas to announce the Table of Contents:


In April 2016, Gary Compton, of Tickety Boo Press, who had published my second short story collection After Midnight (2014) approached me about editing the third entry in the Spectral Book of Horror Stories series. “You’re kidding, right?” I asked. To me at least, the Spectral Book of Horror Stories is the top of the top. Sure, you might not get rich and famous after having your work in one, but growing up, I loved horror anthologies, especially the Pan Book of Horror Stories and the Zebra Book of Horror Stories. I read every single anthology I could get my hand on, and discovered work, by authors both known and unknown, that stays with me to this day. I loved the covers, the stories, the yellowed pages. The Spectral Book of Horror Stories has always reminded me of those old collections, and to be asked to edit it…it was like going from playing guitar in a suburban garage somewhere to playing Madison Square Gardens.

It was intimidating, but I think I did fairly well. Or rather, the authors did fairly well.

Okay, they did really well.

Here, then, is the table of contents for the Third Spectral Book of Horror Stories. It runs the gamut from psychological horror (“Portfolio’, “Disappearing in the Desert”) to supernatural horror (“It Knocks”, “Cotton Face”) to light science fiction (“The Eyes Have It”). Some of these writers have never been published before, and some have been in the business for over fifty years (William F. Nolan, who, with the late George Clayton Johnson, authored the novel Logan’s Run, will be 89 next spring). I am proud of them all.

Okay, enough. Here it is in all its glory:

Table of Contents

Foreword: A Word on Fear

Portfolio – A. H. Day

Dysfunctional – William F. Nolan

Playthings – Eugene Johnson

Beyond the Grave – Alex Marco

Three Twilight Zone Variations on a High School Reunion – Lou Antonelli

Sins of the Father – Mark Allan Gunnells

Cotton Face – Dan Weatherer

Disappearing in the Desert – Billie Sue Mosiman

It Knocks – Paul Longmate

The Eyes Have It – Tim Major

Boat Trip – David A. Riley

And the Woman Loved Her Cats – S. L. Edwards

Lacey – David Wellington

The Day the Leash Gave Way – Robert Clarke

The Door into Envy – Adrian Cole

Penelope’s Song – Samuel Marzioli

Government Work – Richard Farren Barber

Static – Dave-Brendon de Burgh

“Grave ‘Neath a Willow” – Alexander G. Tozzi

Trigger Fate – Lisa Morton

Coulrophila – Jason V. Brock


The 3rd Spectral Book of Horror Stories will launch on October 31st – keep an eye on this site and our Facebook Page for continuing announcements.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Blast from the past

The only time among my many writings for my college newspaper I did a book review, it was of James Gunn's "Alternate Worlds". I have cut and pasted it below.
It was originally published in the Columbia University Daily Spectator on April 28, 1977. If you would like to see the original issue archives on-line, here is a link (I shared the features page with Henry Kissinger and Iggy Pop?)

A guide to the cosmos
Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction by James Gunn (A&W Visual Library, $7.95)
The appeal of Alternate Worlds extends beyond the narrow confines of the science fiction genre. It is an interesting work of illustrated history by noted science fiction author, James Gunn. Though issued in hardcover in 1975, its lofty $29.95 asking price kept many from looking into this scholastic and philosophical work.
Since its issuance in softcover at a more reasonable figure, both science fiction buffs and the genre's casual readers can add the book to their shelves.
Gunn has done his homework. The book traces the origins of science fiction ideas from Homer to Vonnegut, and presents the basic concepts that led to the recognition of science fiction as a legitimate art form under the broader category of fantasy. It is also a graphically pleasing book, with 85 full color plates and 635 in black and white. The color illustrations are science fiction pulp magazine covers. (If you are old enough to remember when the science fiction pulps were in their heyday, you may recall that these covers could get bizarre at times, but were always interesting.)
The black and white illustrations are weighted heavily towards author's portraits, with many illustrations from famous science fiction stories thrown in. Gunn's opus is a celebration of the fact that in recent years science fiction has burst from the ghetto of pulp magazines and monster movies, and captured an ever-widening audience. But Gunn is a science fiction writer himself, and it becomes apparent that he is too close to properly assess the role of the genre in the modern world.
While it is true that science fiction has gained the recognition it so long deserved, it is pompous for Gunn to say "the world has finally caught up with science fiction" and that it is "the most relevant fiction of our time."
Once he draws away from philosophizing and turns to historical narrative, Gunn is on firm ground. He explores the development of the genre, particularly after the start of the industrial revolution, and offers solid opinions as the place of the authors in the development of the modern idiom. Only as he draws closer to the present era (and his contemporaries) does his narrative begin to falter, mostly because he refuses to objectively judge their place in the history of the genre. Finally, he resorts to an embarrassingly redundant listing of names, with no value judgments whatsoever.
Gunn is commendable in the degree to which he follows the true science fiction line in this history. Considering how indefinite the boundaries of the genre are, he does a wonderful job of separating the science fiction from the fantasy, so that writers like Vonnegut and H. P. Lovecraft are only mentioned in conjunction with the true science fiction they wrote.
Despite his weakness in placing the role of science fiction in modern society, his reluctance to judge contemporary authors and considering the size of the project undertaken, Gunn manages to produce a well-researched and coherent history. Alternate Worlds is likely to be used as a reference for years, and it is a piece of interesting reading, to boot.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Staying at home

I have many friends in the s-f world who are having a good time at Fencon in Dallas this weekend. I attended five conventions this year, in Austin, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Chattanooga and Williamsburg, Va. and although conventions can be a lot of fun, I'm happy to be home this weekend.

I keep a busy schedule in my life, and often I need time on weekends to do personal things; when I travel to a convention I lose that time at home. Sometimes it causes personal projects to be put off for weeks.

I didn't attend Fencon last year; I went to so many conventions earlier in the year I didn't want to attend any after Labor Day. I didn't get an invite to be a guest this year.

I also didn't get an invite to be a guest at ConDFW, which was held Feb. 12-14, so this year marks the first time I didn't attend either Dallas convention.

One of my run-of-the mill lesser lasagnas.
My retro-futurist alternate history "Another Girl, Another Planet" should be out by the end of the year/start of 2017, so I will probably go to a bunch of conventions next year. So far I already have invites back to Ravencon in Virginia and LibertyCon in Chattanooga. I pretty much will accept any invites I get. If you have a recommendation for a convention, please let me know.

Those of you who attended Conquest in Kansas City may recall I brought home-made lasagna for the reception held in the con suite for the debut of the "Decision Points" anthology. That was on a Friday night; I've been told that for the rest of the convention people kept coming into the con suite asking "Is there any more lasagna?"

I will bring lasagna to any con I go to next year - unless I fly - so there is an incentive to invite me right there. If you have never tasted my lasagna, it's universally conceded to be the best in the world.
As we say in Texas, "It ain't bragging if you can do it."

Friday, September 23, 2016

Being fair

In the spirit of being fair, I want to make explicit my appreciation to Adam-Troy Castro for taking down his post about the claim I was the brilliant criminal mastermind who had Jim Wright's 9/11 post removed (temporarily) from Facebook.

I don't know where this rumor started, but I suspect it was projection by someone that was quickly reported as fact. I give Mr. Castro credit for having the integrity to concede his sources were unverifiable and to remove the posting.

I think his position could be summed up as - paraphrasing here - "Lou's done enough goofy crap to be lambasted about, let's not attack him for stuff he's not done."

Which is a perfectly reasonable position.

He also poked me quite fairly that in mentioning him I was being careless in inserting the hyphen between the "Troy" and "Castro" rather than between "Adam" and "Troy" - sloppy writing for someone who edits a newspaper.

Fair cop, there.

In my defense - by way of an explanation rather than a justification - I don't pay nearly as much attention to Facebook postings as what goes into a (pardon the expression) a real newspaper.
But he did give me a chuckle.

He was also good about - when some of his fans started "piling on" me - admonishing them not to go overboard. I had a twinge of recognition there, because I've dealt with the same problem with my fans, sort of on the opposite side of the street.a

Friday, September 16, 2016

A real mistake

OK, you know any time I express an opinion that someone like David Gerrold or Adam Troy-Castro disagrees with, their minions will mumble "That's a mistake. It will hurt your career."

Let me make my position clear. I don't have a science fiction and fantasy writing career. I'm a proud and happy small-town newspaper editor. I write fiction as a hobby, a sideline. I'm almost embarrassed sometimes that I've had more success as a talented amateur who writes sporadically than some people who tried long and hard for so many years. I suppose it's a testament to the utility of getting the English language into your bones. I've been writing for publication in community newspapers since I was 12.

For better or worse, whether anyone likes it or not, people like Gerrold and Troy-Castro are REAL s-f authors. It's their job, their metier, as the French say. Don't look to me as an opinion leader.

You want to hear a story about a real mistake? Back in the summer of 1975, I was working at a newspaper in Plymouth County, Massachusetts. I got a phone call from the custodian at the War Memorial Auditorium in Plymouth. He said he just learned of something that would be big news in a few months.

I was real busy at the time, and I asked him if I could call him back and get the details in a little while. And then I forgot to call him back.

Summer ends, I go off to college in New York City, I'm a freshman at Columbia University, walking down the street. I pick up a copy of the New York Post for Nov. 1, 1975, at the Mill Luncheonette, and there's a headline:

"Dylan make surprising start of Rolling Thunder Tour in Plymouth, Massachusetts."

THEN I remembered I never returned the call. That was what he wanted to tell me. That fellow was the guy who did the bookings at the auditorium.

I could have scooped the world on how the Rolling Thunder Tour was going to start by four months!

Now THAT'S a REAL mistake!

Latest reviews

"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be. Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

“Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act. This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read. Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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