Final Staff

Editor-in-Chief:
Stacey Janssen

Managing Editor:
Dave Noonan

Editors

  • Mishell Baker
  • Bluejack
  • Amy Goldschlager
  • Emily Lupton
  • R. K. MacPherson
  • Scott James Magner
  • Robin Shantz

Copy Editors

  • Sarah L. Edwards
  • Yoon Ha Lee
  • Sherry D. Ramsey
  • Rena Saimoto
  • Paula Stiles

Editors-at-Large

  • Marti McKenna
  • Bridget McKenna

Publicity

  • Geb Brown

Publisher: Bluejack

March, 2005 : Feature:

2004 UK Small Press in Review

The year 2004 followed on from previous years with some good publications but no drastic changes. PS Publishing still dominates the scene, but there have been good offerings from other publishers, such as Telos, Elastic Press, Sarob, and others, including the new Crowswing Books. This year Worldcon is moving to Glasgow and this will be a good opportunity for the many visitors (from America and elsewhere) to sample firsthand some of those offerings, as many of the presses listed will also be present at the convention. The year in magazines has been dominated by news of Interzone changing hands and joining Andy Cox’s TTA Press stable, and of Peter Crowther’s launch of Postscripts, a paperback magazine. There is still a lack of professional publications, though at least one new such publication, Paul Brazier’s Quercus-SF, was announced in 2004. There were other new magazines launched, amongst them Horror Express, Thirteen, and Midnight Street (the successor to the long-running Roadworks), all featuring some good material but none paying a great deal, if at all. The state of play at the moment can be said to be healthy, but the field remains relatively small and this is unlikely to change in the near future.

Publishers

PS Publishing continues to release a steady stream of quality limited edition books. In 2004 publisher Peter Crowther was again busy picking up awards: both a British Fantasy Society Best Small Press award and a World Fantasy Award for PS, and subsequent awards for PS books by Ramsey Campbell (BFS Award), Elizabeth Hand (WFA), and for PS artist Les Edwards (BFS Award). This is the third year running that PS Publishing has dominated the BFS Awards.

There was a total of 12 book titles published in 2004: Jigsaw Men by Gary Greenwood, a steampunk alternative history; Changing of Faces by Tim Lebbon, a zombie sequel to his earlier PS novella Naming of Parts; The Overnight, a new novel by Ramsey Campbell; Michael Marshall Smith: The Annotated Bibliography by Lavie Tidhar; Banquet for the Damned, a horror novel debut by Adam Nevill; Gig, a double novella by the always-surprising James Lovegrove; Blood Follows by Steven Erikson, a reprint of this very successful novella first published in 2003; The Healthy Dead, another Erikson novella set in his world of the Malazan; Mayflower Two by Stephen Baxter, the story of a generation starship; No Traveller Returns by Paul Park, a novella; Out of his Mind, a collection by Stephen Gallagher; and Trujillo, a collection by Lucius Shepard. Note that some titles were announced for 2004 but released in early 2005: these included the novellas My Death by Lisa Tuttle, Under the Penitence by Mary Gentle, and Turns and Chances by Juliet E. McKenna. The list of contributors to Postscripts, meanwhile, reads like a who’s who of the field, including Ray Bradbury, Brian Aldiss, Peter Hamilton, Michael Marshall Smith, Jay Lake, Ramsey Campbell, Adam Roberts, Jeff VanderMeer, and many others.

David J. Howe’s Telos Publishing, meanwhile, has also been very busy despite losing the BBC license for their line of Dr. Who novellas. Original fiction published included George Mann’s science fiction novella The Human Abstract; Breathe by Christopher Fowler, a horror novella; Houdini’s Last Illusion by Steve Savile, an expanded version of a story that won the Writers of the Future contest; Alice’s Journey Beyond the Moon by R.J. Carter, an Alice pastiche; and Fallen Angel by Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, a sequel to the author’s earlier Telos title Guardian Angel. Under their crime list Telos has republished four Hank Janson books: When Dames Get Tough, a collection of novellas, plus the novels Accused, Killer and Frails Can Be So Tough. Janson was a successful British pulp writer whose racy books led to a widely-publicized trial in the 1950s. In addition to reprinting his work Telos have also published The Trials of Hank Janson, a biography by Steve Holland. There were two more nonfiction titles: Howe’s Transcendental Toybox—2003 Update Edition: The Unauthorized Guide to Dr. Who Collectibles by David J. Howe and Arnold T. Blumberg, first published in 2000; and A Vault of Horror by Keith Topping, a guide to eighty British horror films from 1956 to 1974. Finally, Telos released four novellas in the Time Hunter series. These were: Time Hunter 2: The Tunnel at the End of the Light by Stefan Petrucha; 3: The Clockwork Woman by Claire Bott; 4: Kitsune by John Paul Catton; and 5: The Severed Man by George Mann. Most books by Telos are available in both trade editions and as collectors’ limited editions.

Sarob Press, dedicated to “dark mystery and supernatural fiction,” has released three titles in 2004. Tony Richards’ Postcards from Terri, a novella by this British small-press regular; Darker Ages, two novellas by Paul Finch; and Falling into Heaven by L.H. Maynard and M.P.N. Sims, a short story collection. All come as limited edition hardcovers.

Meanwhile, Tartarus Press has been busy. Another specialty press with a focus on ghost stories and the supernatural in well-crafted, limited editions, most of its books are issued in 300-400 copy editions. 2004 saw the publisher scoop up two World Fantasy Awards and release the following: The Purple Cloud by M.P. Shiel, with an introduction by Brian Stableford; The Haunted Woman by David Lindsay; Morbid Tales by Quentin S. Crisp, with a foreword by Mark Samuels; Miss Hargreaves, by Frank Baker; Ritual by Arthur Machen; The Golem by Gustav Meyrink; The White Hands by Mark Samuels, a paperback reprint of this title; Black Spirits and White by Ralph Adams Cram, with an introduction by Stefan Dziemianowicz; and The Suicide Club and Other Dark Adventures, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Two issues of Wormwood magazine were also released (see Journals section for details).

Elastic Press, begun in late 2002, continues strong with a line of short story collections by individual authors. 2004 saw publication of four author collections and one anthology, The Alsiso Project. Originally a typo on a message board, Alsiso features stories from writers such as Conrad Williams and K.J. Bishop and has had a good critical reception. The collections were: Jung’s People by Kay Green; Brian Howell’s The Sound of White Ants, stories set in Japan; Somnambulists by Allen Ashley (who is also editing Elastic’s forthcoming anthology The Elastic Book of Numbers); and finally Angel Road by Steven Savile (who also has a novella out from Telos).

Good news for the small press in 2004 came in the form of the relaunched Pendragon Press, first established by Christopher Teague in 1999. Its first book was Steve Lockley and Paul Lewis’s novella The Ice Maiden, released in a signed limited edition of 250 copies, which was followed by Paul Finch’s collection The Extremist and Other Tales of Conflict and The Man Behind the Face by Stuart Young, a collection comprising one novella and three short stories. These are high-quality paperbacks that deserve to do well. Mark Samuels, a fast-rising star of British horror, provides the introduction for Young’s collection.

An interesting new addition to genre publishing is Crowswing Books, started in 2003. It has so far concentrated on the novels of Sean Wright—children’s and YA crossover fantasy which has been quite successful in the UK—and in 2004 released The Twisted Root of Jaarfindor, The Vampire Vault, The Golden Glow and The Curse of Caldazar, all by Wright, and in a variety of editions, some limited. The publisher looks set to diversify, however, with promised collections by Andrew Hook and Allen Ashley and a speculative fiction anthology.

Immanion Press, launched in 2003 by Storm Constantine and Gabriel Strange, was initially set to provide a UK outlet for Constantine’s back catalogue of Wraeththu novels and others, but is now expanding into publishing other authors' out of print books and some new writers. Current authors whose back catalogue is being published by Immanion Press include Ian Watson and Freda Warrington, while original titles, some quite arcane, were: Digging Up Donald by Steven Pirie, a humorous fantasy; Prince of the Lake by Roger Butters, “from the Saga of Beowulf”; Iron Mosaic, a short story collection by Michael Cobley; Oliphan Oracus by Neil Robinson, an SF novel; Charlemagne: Man or Myth? by J.A. Coleman, a “dictionary of Carolingian Lore”; Pop Culture Magick by Taylor Ellwood, “an exploration of modern magick”; and Breeding Discontent, a novel set in Constantine’s Wraeththu mythos by W. Darling and B. Parker.

Meanwhile, Rainfall Books’ web site seems to have fallen into disarray but the company still managed to put out four books in 2004: Charnel Wine by Richard Gavin, a short story collection; The Waldorf Street Paradox by Sue Phillips, a short story collection; Terror Tales no. 2, an anthology with stories by Michael Marshall Smith, Jeffrey Thomas and others (this is possibly a mixture of reprints and originals: Smith’s story at least has been published before); and The Haunted Ocean by John B. Ford. These are limited editions, the first three in paperback, the other in hardback.

Chapbooks

The only dedicated publisher of chapbooks in the UK remains D-Press, a nonprofit venture from enigmatic editor “D," who runs the successful online community Whispers of Wickedness. The site has grown considerably, now publishing a steady stream of short stories and poetry and a much expanded review section edited by Peter Tennant that focuses mainly on small press publications. The print outlet D-Press has seen an increase in chapbook production this year with ten new titles. The focus is on short story collections, publishing The Heisenberg Mutation and Other Transfigurations by Steve Redwood; When the Mist Clears by L.J. Blount; Breaking Hearts by Gary McMahon; The Dark Within by Paul McAvoy; The Skeleton of Contention by Rhys Hughes; and Demons and Demons by Terry Gates-Grimwood. Other chapbooks included Because I’m Not Sane, poetry by Jeremy Ewing; There Will Be Time, a short play by Lavie Tidhar; and Foreign Parts, a short story collection by Gavin Salisbury that came in a signed, limited edition with color plates. There were also four issues of a quarterly print magazine, Whispers of Wickedness. Chapbooks are sold at cost, while the magazine itself is free.

The magazine Horror Express issues limited edition chapbooks with its magazine. These were Come On In and Join Us by Guy N. Smith, limited to 100 signed copies, and The Forest by Marc Shemmans (also the magazine’s editor) limited to just 50 signed copies. More chapbooks have been announced for 2005.

Magazines

Interzone, following a couple of years of financial uncertainty, has been acquired by Andy Cox and joins the TTA Press stable, which also includes The Third Alternative magazine. Interzone #193 was the last to be published by David Pringle. Issue 194 (September/October 2004) was edited by Cox and featured new-style cover artwork and design and some changes to its nonfiction (though Nick Lowe’s film reviews and David Langford’s “Ansible Link” remain). The magazine seems to be bimonthly at present. The long-running The Third Alternative magazine, meanwhile, celebrated its tenth year and featured the usual high-quality fiction with stories by Lucius Shepard, John Grant, Jay Caselberg, Andre Humphries, Jay Lake, and others. The increased workload had meant that Cox’s The Fix, a print magazine dedicated to reviewing short fiction magazines and anthologies, has been halted, at least temporarily, after one issue in 2004, while Crimewave, the crime fiction magazine/anthology from TTA is much delayed. TTA also released Mat Coward’s Success...And How To Avoid It, a refreshingly different book about being a freelance writer.

The only other professional genre magazine in the UK is currently Peter Crowther’s Postscripts, published by PS Publishing in paperback format, with a special hardcover edition signed by all the contributors. The first issue was an interesting mixture of old and new authors, featuring contributions from Ray Bradbury, Brian W. Aldiss, Jay Lake, and James Lovegrove, and many more. Issue two—published towards the end of the year—has amongst others stories by Rhys Hughes, Zoran Zivkovic, Michael Marshall Smith, and Robert B. Parker—in all, Postscripts is the most diverse of the British magazines, and, due to its format, also the largest.

Two new magazines from 2003—Ian Redman’s Jupiter SF and Gary Fry’s Fusing Horizons are both continuing strong. Redman’s—the only dedicated SF magazine in the UK other than Interzone—released four issues in 2004 and now offers electronic editions as well. Regular contributors included Neil K. Henderson, Andrew Darlington, Russell Chambers, and (in poetry) Lee Clarke Zumpe. Fry’s Fusing Horizons—dedicated to dark fantasy and horror stories—had three issues in 2004, including stories by Joel Lane, Nicholas Royle, Greg Beatty, and Jay Caselberg. While the design on the magazine seems even worse than in 2003, the content is strong, and Fry has recently announced plans to expand into anthology publishing in 2005.

Nemonymous, the eclectic anthology/magazine (or “megazanthus” as its editor would have it) released its fourth edition of anonymously published short stories. Edited by D.F. Lewis, authors so far revealed—or “denemonymised”—include D. Harlan Wilson, Gary McMahon, and Andrew Hook.

Another magazine still around is Here and Now, which began in 2002. Edited by Jenny Barber (it used to be co-edited with Helen Barber), it seems to have managed only one issue in 2004, number four, with stories from Brian Stableford, Rhys Hughes, and Allen Ashley.

The long-running Scheherazade magazine, edited by Elizabeth Counihan, dedicated to “fantasy, science fiction, and gothic romance” has released a couple of issues again in 2004. The latest issues contained stories by Alexander Glass and Martin Owton.

Supernatural Tales, edited by David Longhorn, published issues 7 and 8 in 2004, with stories by Joel Lane, Simon Bestwick, and others. A change to an annual paperback anthology is expected for 2005.

Launched in 2004 was The Horror Express, a professional-looking (though nonpaying) horror magazine edited by Marc Shemmans that included stories from Graham Masterton, Storm Constantine, Shaun Hutson, Guy N. Smith, and Tom Piccirilli alongside many new names in the horror scene (at least some of the “name” stories are reprints). There were three issues in 2004.

Also launched was Thirteen magazine, edited by Andrew Hannon, which now claims to have over 1000 readers. An attractive if amateur production, the magazine set out to publish 13 stories per issue, and 13 issues annually, and seems to have done so. Authors included Paul McAvoy, Aliya Whiteley and many others.

Meanwhile, Trevor Denyer’s Midnight Street, the successor to his earlier Roadworks magazine, launched in 2004 and three issues were released. Each issue contained feature writers: these have been Andrew Humphrey and Antony Mann in no. 1, Peter Tennant in no. 2, and Joel Lane in no. 3. Other authors appearing in the magazine included Jay Lake, Quentin S. Crisp, Antony Mann, and Paul Finch.

Also relaunched in 2004 was Premonitions magazine, edited by Tony Lee. The fifth issue, for example, contained stories by John Paul Catton, Antony Mann, and others.

Another new magazine publisher is Lighthouse Media One, helmed by Paul Calvin Wilson. First launched in 2003, it seems to be building a stock of publications, with plans to branch out into anthologies. In 2004 they released issues nos. 2 and 3 of the amateur-looking magazine Media One. The third—and final—issue had a story by Poppy Z. Brite. Also released were Lighthouse Magazine no. 3—which included stories by Brite, Brian Lumley, and Robert Weinberg—and the paperback anthology Maelstrom no. 1, which featured stories by Lumley and others. LMO also announced yet another new magazine, Nocturne, and a couple of anthologies for 2005.

Finally there is Dark Tales, launched with three issues in 2003 and managing two more in 2004. The magazine, edited by Sean Jeffery, runs a competition (with an entry fee) with winners published in the magazine, though it has recently opened to non-competition submissions. More issues are promised for 2005. Stories are mainly by unknowns.

Journals

Foundation, “the international review of science fiction,” released the usual three issues, featuring articles and reviews by Justina Robson, Elizabeth Hand, John Kessel, Nalo Hopkinson, and Andy Sawyer. Issue 91 was a special Commonwealth issue.

Tartarus Press’s Wormwood magazine, begun in 2003, published its second and third issues, with articles by Andy Sawyer, Joel Lane, Brian Aldiss, and Jeff Gardiner, among others.

Haunted River Publications have released the second issue of Weirdly Supernatural (first issue was 2002), a magazine devoted to the discussion of ghost and supernatural stories. It was limited to just 125 copies and contained material by Joan Aiken and others.

Disclaimer

I have attempted to cover as much of the UK small press as possible but some publications inevitably escape notice. I have focused on genre print publications, excluding on the whole web-only publications and the wide plethora of non-genre publications. Finally, I am indebted to Peter Tennant for helping identify many of the more obscure publications and for casting a critical eye over the completed list.


Copyright © 2005, Lavie Tidhar. All Rights Reserved.

About Lavie Tidhar

Lavie Tidhar grew up on a kibbutz in Israel, lived in Israel and South Africa, travelled widely in Africa and Asia, and currently lives in London. He is the winner of the 2003 Clarke-Bradbury Prize (awarded by the European Space Agency), was the editor of Michael Marshall Smith: The Annotated Bibliography (PS Publishing 2004) and the anthology A Dick & Jane Primer for Adults (The British Fantasy Society, forthcoming 2006), and is the author of the recently-released novella An Occupation of Angels (Pendragon Press, Dec. 2005), a supernatural cold war thriller which Adam Roberts called a "powerfully phantasmagoric fantasy... Sharp, witty, violent and liable to haunt your dreams." His stories appear in Sci Fiction, Chizine, Postscripts, Nemonymous, Infinity Plus, Aeon, The Book of Dark Wisdom, Fortean Bureau and many others, and in translation in seven languages. His non-fiction appeared in Locus, Foundation, Interzone and IROSF.

Lavie's web site is at http://www.lavietidhar.co.uk

COMMENTS!

Feb 28, 19:38 by Bluejack
Lavie's back with his look at the British scene. Add, amend, dispute.

(Lavie Tidhar's article is here.)

Want to Post? Evil spammers have forced us to require login:

Sign In

Email:

Password:

 

NOTE: IRoSF no longer requires a 'username' -- why try to remember anything other than your own email address?

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now!

Problems logging in? Try our Problem Solver