Lockdown Stories No 24 – Slay Ride

This is number 24 in my lockdown stories – Slay Ride. I’ve always wanted to do a Christmas story, and although this is a bit late, here it is.

It features the Monster Club who were also in Necrocomicon and are junior members of the London Institute of Parapsychology.

There are a couple of more stories I am in the process of writing, but if you have any suggestions for future stories – a lead character, location and genre – I would be pleased to receive them. Plan is that I will edit all the stories in February and then produce them in book form with profits going to a local food bank.

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Lockdown 23 – Crossed Lines

This is number 23 of my lockdown stories – Crossed Lines. It features Simon and Tom again from the London Institute of Parapsychology but only in the framing story. The Crossed Lines were a real thing in the days of turn dial phones and those switchboards where they would put plugs in and out of a big board to connect you.

The plan is still to publish all of the stories as a book with profits going to a local food bank. If you would like to help, you can give me a suggestion of lead character, genre and location which I can turn into a story. Just email me at timnewtonanderson@gmail.com or comment on this post or message me at my Facebook page Tim Newton Anderson.

Lockdown Stories No 22 – The ‘Pataphysical Detectives

This is the latest of my lockdown stories – The ‘Pataphysical Detectives.

It is one of my stories of the London Institute of ‘Pataphysics – not the real organisation of which I’m a member, but what it could be in an ideal world. Although I’ve tried a bit harder to use some of the pioneering techniques developed by pataphysical writers it’s still a bit of a grab bag of jokes, cultural references and random ideas I can’t be bothered to develop properly, so it doesn’t pretend to be a proper story.

Like all of the other lockdown stories it will be published when revised in a book whose profits will go to a local food bank. I’m still open to suggestions for other stories if you email the genre, main character and location to me at timnewtonanderson@gmail.com or comment at the bottom of this post.

If you do enjoy the story there are more in my e-book The Cat Factory and Other Stories.

Lockdown Stories No 21 – The Portrait of Damian Black

This is the 21st of my stories for Lockdown. There has been a bit of a gap due to family issues, but I’m now back writing and here is The Portrait of Damian Black.

This features the London Institute of Parapsychology – which is also in Necrocomicon and The Vanishing Countries of Middle Europe as well as my to be edited novel Masonic Fire or Chasing the Dragon.

I’m still open to suggestions for further stories. Just email me at timnewtonanderson@gmail.com, comment on this page or send me a Facebook message with a character, setting and genre and I will do my best to create a story based on them to be included in the collection of Lockdown Stories which will come out later this year as a book with profits going to a local foodbank.

Lockdown Stories No 20 – The Brasher Bat

This is number 20 of my lockdown stories: The Brasher Bat. Sorry this is a week late, but life intervened, and in any case it is twice as long as the usual stories.

This is a Wold Newton story. Author Phil Farmer extended the Game played by Sherlock Holmes scholars of pretending the stories and characters were real by adding dozens of other characters in popular fiction and claiming they are all members of an extended family. This has since been extended enormously by other authors – visit the Wold Newton website for more details or buy the classic reference books Crossovers, Cr ossovers expanded, Shadowmen and Myths for the Modern World.

MY starting point was the fact that P G Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler attended the same school – Dulwich College. Wodehouse left in 1900 and Chandler started the same year. Although there is no evidence they met, I’ve imagined Chandler starting early and Wodehouse staying on for a cricket tournament.

Knowing Wodehouse had written a story The Gold Bat based on Dulwich, which had characters called O’Hara (KIpling’s Kim’s surname) Moriarty, and Ruthven (the vampire in Polidori’s story) allowed me to add in lots of other fictional characters including and ancestor of Giles from Buffy, several people from the Holmes canon, and the cast of the Billy Bunter stories. I won’t say any more to take away the fun of finding the references yourself.

If you like this sort of story look at the Tales of the Shadowmen series published by Black Coat Press.

Lockdown 19 – Famous Last Words

Number 19 in my lockdown stories. This is one I wrote earlier and have just revised: famous last words. It’s a tribute to all of the post war writers who were lucky enough to have lots of options for their stories and who wrote quickly and efficiently to fill the voracious columns of papers and magazines. Some of them are mentioned in the story and if you want to learn more look at biographies of Gerald Kersh or Jack Trevor Story or read Mike Moorcock’s  semi autobiographical fantasy The Whispering Swarm

The option is till open if you want to suggest ideas for future stories – which will be published in book form post lockdown with the profits going to a local food bank. Just send a genre, character and location to me via timnewtonanderson@gmail.com or my facebook page tim newton anderson.

Lockdown 18 – Necrocomicon

This is the 18th of my Lockdown stories : Necrocomicon. Another story that comes from an idea of my own – particularly the pun in the title. I have a few ideas for other stories featuring the same  characters.

Hope you enjoy and if you want to request a story to be dedicated to you just send me a genre, character and location to my email timnewtonanderson@gmail.com or via my Facebook tim newton anderson.

Lockdown 17 – Across the Border

This is the 17th of my lockdown stories: Across the Border. It doesn’t come from someone else’s suggestions but from thinking about how unexpected consequences flow from things – in this case the social isolation of Coronavirus, the hollowing out of cities as people work from home and the consequent changes in property values – especially in big cities like London – and the opportunities those bring for different types of community.

If you would like to give me a suggestion for a story let me have a genre, character and location and I will see what I can do. Email it to timnewtonanderson@gmail.com or message me via my Facebook page Tim Newton Anderson.

Fantasy Roots

I remember the controversy by people who had grown up reading Harry Potter and suddenly found there were other books about magical education in the world. Their first assumption was they must have stolen the idea from J K Rowling, even though many of the books predated HP.

The truth is that many fantasy books accidentally or deliberately take elements from those who went before, but that does not make them guilty of plagiarism. Fantasy as a genre builds on elements of folklore and myth and often has at its route what Joseph Campbell calls the Hero With Thousand Faces – the Ur myth which exists in not only many traditional tales, but many religions.

Tolkien was lauded for inventing modern fantasy by many, but that ignores earlier writers like E R Eddison, and also the template for much of Tolkien’s work in northern European sagas and medieval romances.

This implicit criticism of genre authors who use parts of fantasy’s shared landscape (or science fiction’s, or crime’s) doesn’t seem to extend to mainstream novels who will, of course, use the world about them. It seems strange to criticise writers for lack of originality who go to the effort to create their own world  rather than just using the one we live in.

Reading some recent books with elements reminiscent of earlier classics I wanted to draw out some of these elements.

The first is the trilogy by James Stoddard who produced the final volume Evenmere in 2015 – 15 years after the first two volumes The High House and the False House. The setting is a house which contains an entire universe inside which regulates the one we live in. The idea is explicitly linked back by Stoddard to William Hope Hodgson’s House on the Borderland and also C S Lewis’ world inside a wardrobe through the names of characters and locations in the trilogy. To a large extent the series is homage to the books Stoddard read and loved  in his youth, while standing on its own two feet as a narrative and world well worth exploring.

For some reason, while Tolkienesque blockbusters are constantly in print Stoddard’s first two books went out of print in their original paperback version quite quickly and have only been reprinted by a small press to coincide with the third volume’s publication by them. Well worth searching out on Amazon.

The second book you may have missed is Tim Clare’s The Honours. A young girl growing up in a Norfolk Country House discovers her host is conspiring to bring creatures from another dimension to help him take over the world. Set between the wars, the similarity to the rise of the Nazi’s in Germany and British Fascism are deliberate and telling.

I don’t know if  Clare’s had this in mind, but for me the closest classic author template is T H White. Best known for his retelling of the legend of King Arthur in The Once and Future King (and Disney’s version of the first book The Sword in the Stone) White also wrote other fantasy novels that have disappeared from the radar. Characters in his Arthurian novels have walked straight out of Victorian huntin’ shootin’ and fishin’ country houses and again the spectre of the looming second world war hangs over them. Clare’s heroine could have walked out of many of White’s novels including Mistress Masham’s Repose and The Master.

A gateway to another world with strange creatures on the other side and plots to use them to take over also feature in Andrew Caldecott’s recent Rotherweird trilogy, although the obvious comparison here is to Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast as the titular town has been cut off from the rest of the UK and is ruled by books of restrictive rules. Like Peake, Caldecott’s characters also have apt and evocative names although both may well have lifted this from Dickens.

Peake’s Titus Groan trilogy (quartet if you count his wife’s recent posthumous volume Titus Awakes) was also written in the shadow of WW2, when Peake worked as a war artist including in the liberated concentration camps. Its subtext is the potential for change in society in the aftermath of the war and the loosening of the class and rule driven structures which preceded the conflict. The (literal) social climber Steerpike is one example of this and young Titus’ rebellion is another.

This shadow of World War II has also been observed by M John Harrison in Lord of the Rings – all of the nations get involved in fighting total evil but it is the plucky working class equivalents (hobbits) that win the day and the posh people (elves) then withdraw and leave them to it.

For me the least enjoyable part of Caldecott’s trilogy is the lack of a theme. The characters are mostly well written and realistic and the plotting is clever and well done, but I didn’t really engage with any of them – possibly because none of them really changed internally during the experiences, no matter how much they changed physically.

For me a fantasy novel is never spoiled because the setting has elements that are similar to another one. It is spoiled because the characters’ journey doesn’t touch me, even if the world building does.

Lockdown Number 16 – The Elephant and the Sweater

This is the latest in my lockdown stories: The Elephant and the Sweater, based on a suggestion from Mia Rose of an elephant a sweater and a thunderstorm. I hope you enjoy it.

The stories will all be published in book form at the end of Covid 19 with profits going to a local foodbank. If you have any suggestions for stories I just need a genre, main character and location. You can email me at timnewtonanderson@gmail.com or message me via my Facebook page Tim Newton Anderson.