Posts Tagged ‘Rustblind and Silverbright’

Final Cover copy

http://www.eibonvalepress.co.uk/specials.html

I think it is time for another sale here at Eibonvale Press – to clear some space and make a little cash ready for our next two titles. This time, if you buy the hardcover of one of our three latest titles, you can choose another three books for a special bundle price. That’s any eibonvale book you fancy! So here’s a chance to stock up a bit.

Our three latest titles are Miss Homicide Plays the Flute by Brendan Connell and the anthologies Rustblind and Silverbright and Caledonia Dreamin’. All three of these are up there among the most exciting titles we have ever released, I think. ‘Homicide’ is our first ever luxurious limited edition, a beautiful book and a unique and strange read. Rustblind and Silverbright has been attracting rave reviews – one of our most successful titles. And in the short time since publication, Caledonia Dreamin has proved one of our best sellers.

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Click here for more info: http://www.eibonvalepress.co.uk/specials.html

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Pauline Masurel has handed in a rave review of Eibonvale’s railway anthology ‘Rustblind and Silverbight’ over at The Short Review website. Pauline writes:

“There are twenty-four stories in this chunky book, which is billed as A Slipstream Anthology of Railway Stories. Many of the stories take liberties with reality, slipping effortlessly into fantastic worlds, but many of them are also quite strongly rooted in reality. This seems appropriate, given that railways are part of the edgelands, borderline places that divide landscapes. The book isn’t a cyberpunk, geek-fest of futuristic fiction but more of an insidious virus eating away at veracity. If ‘strangeness’ is the primary defining feature of slipstream literature then this collection has it by the carriage-load…

…This book may not be the ideal Christmas gift for a trainspotting old buffer (although it might be just the ticket if he or she has suitably open-minded, eclectic reading tastes). But I think it could induce at least a modest portion of train-appreciation in the most vehement rail-deniers. Reading this anthology I became convinced that every story should have a railway in it somewhere; it’s just that no one has realised this before. Try it out for yourself, but don’t forget to mind the gap…”

Our thanks to Pauline. Please do support her website by reading the review in full.

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Posted: September 7, 2013 by douglasthompson in Reviews, Rustblind and Silverbright
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The second review of our railway anthology ‘Rustblind and Silverbright’ appeared this week over at the SF Revu website.
Seasoned short story connoisseur Mario Guslandi says of the book:

“The stories, interwoven with insightful commentaries by editor David Rix, offer a variety of atmospheres and situations, making the book a compelling and satisfying mix of reading material. Obviously, not every tale is accomplished or memorable, but some are truly excellent…”

Mario singles certain of the stories out for particular mention, but we’ll let you click on the link yourself to find out who. One of the many fascinations of anthologies (speaking from some experience here!) is the way different readers and critics will warm to certain stories that others pass by.

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Good news – the specials and extras from Poppet have finally arrived safe and sound, in spite of going off the radar (apparently the tracking number went dead for a while). So i will be getting all the preorders packed up and mailed out starting from Monday.

To make up for the delay for some of you, I will be popping an extra Eibonvale paperback in as many of them as i can. It will be a bit random, but i only have a certain number to hand!

Before all that though, there’s just time for a bit of book porn. One of the perks of this business is that i get to play with them en mass. Most of you you only get one copy. I get to roll in them (metaphorically – usually)! Heheh! So here they are!

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With our next two books well in preparation now, we are announcing a new special offer on pre-orders of both these titles. Like Tallest Stories, this will be a time-sensitive special! The first 26 copies of both books will be hand-lettered, 25 of which will be available to the public and ONLY via pre-order. In addition, Poppet will be putting together a set of special personalised sheets for inclusion with Moonshine Express, as well as a few other specials (free book and a charm bracelet) for the FIRST person to order. I am also currently planning a nice treat for the person who orders the first copy of Rustblind and Silverbright – watch the blog for details. There will also be a nice discount for customers who purchase both books together or add another Eibonvale title to the order.

Here’s how it works. I am opening the books up for ordering on Saturday the 22nd June at 6PM London time. At that moment, I will launch a link to the ordering buttons on this page (you may have to refresh your browser). Letters will be allocated in precisely the order that orders are received, so you will have to be very quick if you want to bag the coveted first copy. Even before I have publicly announced it, it is clear that there is going to be a scrum at 6pm!

Please click here for more info – and bookmark this page ready for the fight on Saturday!

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In the hectic time leading up to the publication of Rustblind and Silverbright, our anthology of railway-themed slipstream and horror, I have invited short blog contributions from the authors included in that book, which I will be publishing at irregular intervals over the next month or two.  Next in the series is Eibonvale regular Douglas Thompson with a characteristically metaphysical and thoughtful musing on the nature of the familiar railway station . . . 

Stations are How Towns Dream.

by Douglas Thompson

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Stations are how towns dream.

If you are lucky enough to have one of those Victorian ones left over, not crushed and brushed away under the onslaught of sixties modernism and brutalism that swept through our world like a rabid brontosaurus and lurched off around the corner of our minds in a hazy childhood cloud of half-remembered concrete dust. If you have a real station building with timber trellised eaves and cast-iron fretwork of interlacing beams like corset work, you’ll know that you are licensed to dream there, and that as you do: the town and all the long-dead men who built it are dreaming with you.

At its station, the limits of a town’s identity cease in a wistful demarcation, a petering out, and the town dreams of being by the seaside, or at the foot of a Highland glen. The station dreams of being Euston, Paris Gare Du Nor, Istanbul, a gateway to the Orient, its cool marble slabs spattered with the exotic spices of foreigners gabling in obscure tongues like music. The word ‘gay’ becomes somehow innocent and playful again under the canopies of a true station, built in the golden age when the world first became aware of itself and its true extent. There is something forever festive and celebratory in the architecture, like frozen flags and buntings. We are all going somewhere, or someone much beloved is coming home again after a long trial. An exciting beginning or a happy ending.

In stations, the buildings themselves dream that they are not bound to the ground by foundations, that like us they might up sticks, gird their loins, and shimmy off towards the far horizons drawn by the sight of a wistful puff of summer cloud that says “Escape”. Station architecture dreams of timber bathing huts by the seaside, of Alpine villas and the bracing air of snowfields and natural springs.

And what of the towns themselves that we glimpse from these stations as we pass on through in the train? We see them from above, we see their roofs beneath which their citizens sleep in harmonious rows like well-behaved children.  Their dead sleep there too, in their graveyards, and the dead have left their stories woven around the thousand chimney pots like drifting smoke. The living citizens each think they are unique and new as they walk around like little toy soldiers and dolls in their perfect town that the dead have left them. But bit by bit, the buildings themselves and the stories they have encoded, re-take the citizens in their dreams as they sleep at night, and make them one with the town itself, the town’s true, immortal character. History repeats itself like a stained-glass window through which each day’s new sun must shine. The colours change but the pattern is so beautiful that it creates itself, it seems always to have existed, as all great art must.

A town is a living entity, which while its citizens themselves must know birth and death, it can know neither. People are like light bulbs, newspapers, matches, a tide of necessary ephemera which comes and goes, swept in and out at its stations. What is left behind and what endures is the town, its spirit and character and hope, the character of humanity and of the earth itself, which is indomitable and indestructible. Therefore never despair of your own life and fate, but know this: that you are not the matches burnt or the paper discarded on the wind. You are the town itself, its very bricks, part of it and all of it.

A town is a living person, and its station is where it dreams.

Visit Douglas Thompson at http://www.glasgowsurrealist.com/douglas

In the hectic time leading up to the publication of Rustblind and Silverbright, our anthology of railway-themed slipstream and horror, I have invited short blog contributions from the authors included in that book, which I will be publishing at irregular intervals over the next month or two.  Next in the series is David McGroarty, author of the story Stratford International, who points to the strange parallel world of the London railways that you might be forgiven for never even noticing . . . 

 

The Gibson Square Vent

by David McGroarty

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If you ever visit Gibson Square in Islington, you will see a cute little neoclassical structure in the centre of the north lawn. For a while last year I would take my two sons through the square on our way to school and nursery. I didn’t pay much attention to the building until my eldest tugged my arm one day and asked if he could go inside it to see the butterflies. I had been thinking it was a particularly ornate toolshed, and I told him so. “What are those?” he asked me. The roof of the building is a mesh dome, like you might see on an aviary. What had taken my son’s interest were the small, dark fluttery shapes clinging to the wire. But they weren’t butterflies.

The stretch of the Victoria line that runs between Highbury & Islington and Kings Cross station is unusually long, and runs directly beneath the residential areas of Pentonville and Barnsbury. The ventilation shaft at Gibson Square was intended to be a more utilitarian affair, but the local gentry formed a pressure group and petitioned the London Transport Board to produce something more in keeping with the area. The folly – not a butterfly house – was designed by Quinlan Terry in the style of a Greek temple.

The Victoria line is a mighty piece of railway. The most intensively-used rail service in the UK, it carries more than 30 trains per hour at peak times – and 200 million passengers per year. It connects three major mainline terminals and the commercial centre of London’s West End. And it is almost entirely invisible. Standing among the town houses of Barnsbury, the swanky offices of Fitzrovia, or the tall trees of Green Park, you tend to forget it’s right under your feet. This is true of London’s public transportation system more generally. It is a marvel: a vast, intricate people-moving machine which keeps itself largely hidden from view until it is needed. It exists almost as a parallel city, one with an entirely transient population, that weaves itself in and out of the one in which people live and work.

Those dark, fluttery shapes caught in the mesh roof of the building that isn’t a butterfly house in Gibson Square… from time to time one shakes itself free and lands nearby on the lawn. They are pieces of newspaper and leaflets and crisp bags, torn, shredded and black with soot. I imagine that these artefacts have escaped through this hidden fissure between the two places and have been somehow unable to survive the transition.

If you find yourself in London, it’s worth staying attuned to these parallel cities and the places where they intersect. I once stood waiting for a District Line train, convinced I was underground until flakes of snow began to drift from somewhere above onto the platform. The two worlds leak into each another in surprising ways.

Find David McGroarty at www.davidmcgroarty.net 

In the hectic time leading up to the publication of Rustblind and Silverbright, our anthology of railway-themed slipstream and horror, I have invited short blog contributions from the authors included in that book, which I will be publishing at irregular intervals over the next month or two.  First up is Nina Allan, who starts things off with a brief examination of the magic of trains . . . 

 

Of Trains and Books and Stories – Haunted by Rail

by Nina Allan

Strangers on a Train, Anna Karenina, Murder on the Orient Express, Railsea, The Taking of Pelham 123, The Station Agent, The Manchurian Candidate, The Lady Vanishes, Horror Express, The Glamour, Brief Encounter, 3:10 to Yuma – you’ll immediately spot what these classic films and novels all have in common, and no doubt you’ll have your own favourites to add to the list. And once you’ve done that, you can perform an interesting experiment: try and replace the train in your favourite railway story with a motor car.

You’ll find that you can’t do it. Even if you can, you’ll sense that the character of that book or movie has been altered in some fundamental way, and at great detriment to the atmosphere of the story. If Anna had travelled between Moscow and St Petersburg in a chauffeured limo she’d never have met Vronsky. Guy would certainly never have been inveigled into a murder plot by the obsessive Bruno if he’d driven to meet his wife instead of taking the train, and whoever heard of hunting giant moles from the back of a Nissan Micra?

Taken simply in terms of plot, railways offer a whole variety of opportunities for drama that are denied to you as a writer if you take to the road. The opportunity for encountering total strangers, for one. The time for idle fantasy about your travelling companions, the chance to gaze out of the window at the passing landscape and the architecture of unknown towns, to study the people, clustered closely together on the station platforms. You can write letters on trains, read on trains, have conversations, discard contraband, secrete monsters, murder guards, hide from your pursuers. As with the list of train books and stories itself, the possibilities are endless.

It is a lot more than simple mechanics though. There is a poetic grandeur about trains that is almost entirely absent from road transport. You might use a sports car to indicate the arrogance of a character, or financial impetuousness, or sexual garrulousness, but aside from Stephen King (Christine, From a Buick 8, ‘The Road Virus Heads North’) I can’t think of many writers who have cared enough about cars to make them the linchpin of their stories. Cars are prosaic, pragmatic, a convenient means of transport from A to B but little more. A train is a complex milieu, a contained hierarchy, a world in miniature. In Christopher Priest’s novel Inverted World, a city becomes a vast train travelling on rails that have to be laid perpetually in front of it as it goes along, rolling forward towards an unreachable destination. In Robert Bloch’s story ‘That Hellbound Train’, the train that carries the night mail becomes a metaphor for eternity in the company of the devil.

When you travel by road, there’s no time to think. Conditions inside a car are cramped and oppressive, the view is mostly restricted to the oil-streaked, potholed surface of the tarmac strip you’re travelling on or the rear bumpers of the vehicle in front. The landscape of motorways is the landscape of ruination, of defeat, of service stations and superstores and ubiquitous brand names. Revelling in homogeneity and the deadpan of concrete, the destructive, invasive architecture of roads is by its very nature ugly. The repetitious drone and grind of cars moving along a dual carriageway beats inside the skull like the noise of a hammer drill. Your temper rises, your desperation for fresh air increases, your head is filled only with thoughts of escape, of how long it will be before you reach your destination.

Train journeys we remember as rites of passage – it’s no accident that JK Rowling has her young wizards make the journey to Hogwarts by rail rather than by road. The train passes through the human landscape not as a thief but as a guest, its hypnotic clack-clacking insinuating itself inside the spaces of the mind like a mantra for dreaming. The railway’s architecture of bridges and tunnels, stationmaster’s houses, viaducts and depots and platforms and level crossings are part of the language of poetry and above all, memory. Even the rails the trains run on are of a pleasing design, silvery in the moonlight, glistening snakes of time, economical both in terms of the space they occupy and the cost to the environment.

The opening of a new railway line is an opening up of new opportunities, not just for physical travel but for the life of the mind.

  • The longest railway bench in the world is on Platform 1 at Scarborough (152 yards)
  • The longest railway bridge in the world is the Danyang-Kunshun Great Bridge, a viaduct on the Beijing to Shanghai high speed railway in China (540,000 ft)
  • The longest station platform in the world is at Gorakhpur Station in Uttar Pradesh (1,324 m)
  • The longest freight trains in the world are to be found in North America and often approach 4km in length
  • The longest passenger train in the world is the Ghan, the 1,200 m train that runs the north-south route between Darwin and Adelaide

Statistics like this haunt the imagination. They command attention. They demand story.

The very first train journey I remember was on the London tube. I was four years old or thereabouts, travelling with my mother and two-year-old brother between Euston and Victoria on our way to visit my grandmother in Goring-by-sea. My brother dashed out on to the platform two stops early and my mother had to dash out too, to yank him back. It’s difficult to remember when I realised I was in love with trains, not just with the business of travelling on them but with the paraphernalia that we call Railway – route maps, platform tickets, trackside buddleia and cow parsley, the sharp tap-tap-tap of a pair of smart city shoes traversing the platform of a suburban station on a baking afternoon in mid July. Edward Thomas’s lines on Adlestrop, Richard Rodney Bennett’s music for the Orient Express as it rattles out of Constantinople at the start of its fatal journey into crime. All these things and many others. Model trains too, with their miniaturized perfection, their cool iron heft, their secret, steamy delight at being held in the hand. I never owned a model railway but I had friends who did, who allowed me to access their made-to-measure kingdoms of scaled down rails, of papier maché fortresses and moulded housing stock, who showed me how, if you pull the attic trapdoor firmly shut behind you once you’re inside, you can persuade yourself that you’ve entered another world.

The story I’ve written for Rustblind and Silverbright opens a window into just such a world. It also reveals the dangers that lie in closing that attic door too tightly, in forgetting that there is a world beyond it after all, that by being in thrall to one you run the risk of losing your place in the other.

Mainly though it’s a story about magic, because trains are magic in motion. It’s a story about being haunted by rail.

Visit Nina’s blog at http://www.ninaallan.co.uk/

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Well – it’s just a fortnight to go until the gates close on the Rustblind and Silverbright anthology.  December 31st is the day I will blow my whistle on this one, the central locking will engage, the engines will drone into sleek electric life, and this book will start out on its strange journey . . .

Or to put it another way, the submission period will come to an end!

It has been a long sub period I know – ever since June wasn’t it?  But it’s part of the Eibonvale way to take things slowly, to make sure things have time to build and mature.  Personally, I have been having great fun, both reading the stories you have sent and also allowing my own train-love to kick into a higher gear for a while.  After all – I now have an excuse.  It is ‘literary research’!  And I doubt I would ever have managed quite so much railway photography and research if it wasn’t for this book.  And talking of reading, I think I have been pretty lucky with submissions so far.  Maybe it is because I set a closely defined theme but so far nearly all of them have been at least good stories and nicely focussed on the subject.  That makes choosing all the more challenging, but I aim to read through the final submissions and finally make up my mind in the first weeks of 2013.

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But now, with just a fortnight to go until departure time, there is time for just one last reminder.  This is a last call for train-related stories.  Not for anoraks and trainspotters, but for anyone with an awareness of the place trains play in the human psyche.  This great archetype of journeying and coming together – of the fundamental human need to explore and move.  Of what has to be the noblest yet most down to earth form of travel we have invented yet.  So, any eccentric and unusual, ludicrous and experimental, tormented or demented train-related stories of horror, sf, bizarro, slipstream . . . send em over to Eibonvale Press! It’s already shaping into a cracking book but there’s always room for more . . .

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Guidelines: http://www.eibonvalepress.co.uk/infoforwriters.htm