Interzone Readers’ Poll

With Suzanne Palmer announced recently via social media as the winner of Interzone Readers’ Poll 2014, and the full results available imminently as the latest issue rolls out, I thought I’d post my votes here. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Interzone is a fantastic magazine. If you like speculative fiction in all its forms but don’t already subscribe you should give it a go. Click here to check it out and follow the links for subscription options.

Anyway, my favourites from last year…

Issue 250

Lilacs and Daffodils, by Rebecca Campbell

A beautiful story about memory that isn’t memory, fragmented but linked in that associative way our minds work, emotive yet calculating, human and artificial and everything all at once. I loved this and read it again immediately upon finishing. This particular issue of Interzone had a few stories that played around with memory and perception but ‘Lilacs and Daffodils’ has a warmth to it that resonated with me more than the others, a quietly understated and very evocative piece and just the sort of thing that keeps me buying this magazine.

Issue 251

Ghost Story, by John Grant

Wonderfully intriguing from the outset, and a beautiful portrayal of a strong relationship. What could have been a frustrating domestic story focussing on trust is quickly bypassed so that we can focus on a different relationship and the story’s oddity, a situation involving past love and the passage of years with just a dash of skewed timeline and/or parallel universe. I love the concept here, the universe rewriting itself, but most of all I love its bitter-sweet poignancy.

Issue 252

The Posset Pot, by Neil Williamson

One of the best apocalypses I’ve read in a while. Parallel universes passing, fizzing with the friction, the bubbles giving and taking. The taking is what gives this story a sharp sense of loss, the narrator’s loneliness painful to read but compelling thanks to a small degree of hope. I loved this.

Two Truths and a Lie, by Oliver Buckram 

Wow, where to start? This is a fantastic story, using a narrative technique that surpasses the gimmicky so that the reader plays a very active part in the story-telling, which is exactly the sort of fiction I adore. The first person perspective with its direct address of a specific intended reader provides an effective voyeuristic pleasure and its brevity, with ambiguous absences, makes it all the more striking. Weird and wonderful and original, and bloody brilliant.

Issue 253

Chasmata, by E. Catherine Tobler

A very personal, intimate story (with bracketed asides to make it more so, drawing attention to necessary half-truths and ambiguities) with some erotically-charged language that blurs the alien landscape with the physical bodies of the characters. This explores both the mysteries and the appeal of a different planet and a different person. There’s a lot of desire, not just of the physical but the desire to explore, move, leave, break away, with much of the focus on distance and fracture, still mixing planets and people with a prose style that is often poetic. A beautiful story.

Beside the Dammed River, by D. J. Cockburn 

Beautifully effective in its casual tone, with a touch of the exotic in its foreign (to me) locale and culture, the mystery of what lies under the tarpaulins is revealed with little fanfare so that the focus is on the human story. Petty rivalries are made dramatic yet remain understated, though they can easily be extended to global bureaucracies. The characters are wonderfully full for such a short piece, thanks in part to the observations of the narrator but also the roadside conversations. He has the wisdom of an older man but faces the same temptations of one with youth, making him all the more believable. There’s a deceptive simplicity to this story, the random, somewhat mundane, encounter loaded with much more so that the theft of a set of tools can reflect the theft of millions carried out by an entire country. This won the James White Award, and I’m not surprised. It’s brilliant.

Issue 254

Songs Like Freight Trains, by Sam J. Miller 

An incredibly relatable story dealing with the magic of music and how it can take you back, both metaphorically and literally. The relationships are presented convincingly, be it that of marriage, friendship, or the one between mother and daughter, with the claim that “time takes so much away from us” counterbalanced by how much it gives as well. It’s a story about growing up, about change, and is as much about the future as it is the past. The distances between the two are perhaps best represented in the mother daughter dynamic: as a dancer, the daughter is fully immersed in a world the mother has given up or lost, and yet music allows the mother to live again as a teenager. There’s a longing here but not necessarily regret, and the story is all the sweeter for it.

Issue 255

The Calling of Night’s Ocean, by Thana Niveau

An awesome story. Sections told from a dolphin’s perspective are convincingly ‘alien’ yet familiar enough to remain recognisable. The relationship between the dolphin and the human is endearing but this is really a story about our relationships with each other as humans, or rather it’s about how poor those relationships are, as the Vietnam war context highlights. We are so eager to communicate with animals, with aliens even, yet we remain unable to communicate effectively with ourselves, our inability to ‘feel’ each other very much the point of the story. “Existence is joy” the dolphin tries to teach us but we can’t hear the message. In fact, as the dolphin learns, we seem intent on making the opposite true, a realisation so distressing that the dolphins call to a darkness between and behind the stars to give the story a terrifying Lovecraftian finale, at least for this reader. Absolutely wonderful stuff, and I hope it gets picked up for various ‘best of’ anthologies.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nowhere is safe – zombies in the desert

My story ‘Bone Dry’ is now available as ‘Curse of the Zombie’ as part of Hersham Horror’s ‘The Cursed’ series. Here’s the blurb:

“Louisa is in Algeria to cover a celebrity wedding for the BBC, but an encounter with a strange American in a hotel bar reveals there are far more interesting stories out there, in the Sahara, waiting to be unearthed. Stories about the lost ones, the tenere medden, desert men cursed with an undying thirst… The fourth in a series of six novelettes reviving the golden age of the monster from Hersham Horror Books.”

I wanted to do something a bit different to the usual zombie story, and I’m thankful to the ever-wonderful National Geographic for inspiring me as to how to go about that. In particular, articles relating to oil mining in Algeria and the Tuareg (pictured below).

tuareg-sahara

You can grab a copy of ‘Bone Dry’ aka ‘The Curse of the Zombie’ from Amazon by clicking here. Another click once you’re there should take you to the kindle version.

IMG_0872

IMG_0873

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monster competition

With Probably Monsters now a reality I thought I’d run a competition. To win a copy of the collection, simply tell me your favourite monster from the world of film and horror fiction, with a brief explanation as to why they’re your favourite. I’ll choose a winner randomly from the entries.

You can leave your favourite monster in the comments here, or on my Facebook post, or via twitter @RayCluley with the hashtag #probablymonsters

Closing date: end of April

PM box

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Coming out of the dark (and the drawers)

At last, it’s here. Well, very very nearly. It’s here if you’re in Canada and the US. BUT it’ll only be a few more weeks before Probably Monsters is slithering on British soil. You can order it from ChiZine if you can’t wait that long.

Don’t they look pretty? My beautiful monsters…

Probably (lots of) Monsters

 

It means a lot to me, of course, getting this collection out, and I’m very thankful to ChiZine for giving me such an opportunity. I’m also thankful to Michael Kelly for championing it so enthusiastically. Hell, there’s a whole load of thanks in the book. I’ll stop babbling.

I’m just very excited.

I’ll keep you posted as to its progress towards Britain…

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Snow Business

Just a quick post to draw your attention to a couple of new reviews for Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow.

The first is from Erik Hofstatter’s blog. He uses words like “impressive” and “astounding” and that makes me happy. He seems to have liked it.

The second is courtesy of DLS Reviews. Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow is “deeply evocative and wonderfully atmospheric” and it’s “relentlessly bleak and cold”. The verdict? “The story Cluley tells is stark and honest and in some ways cold-hearted and brutal… an enchanting and strangely moving story”.

What I also really like is that each of the bonus stories is also covered in the review: ‘It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like…’ is “nothing short of chilling”, ‘The Rain Deer’ is “weird” and “suggestive”, ‘Mistletoe Wine’ is “clever clever clever” and ‘Turtledove’ “is a truly superb piece of short fiction”. ‘Hans’, the final story in the mini-collection, is “strange but incredibly atmospheric”, which was exactly what I was going for, so that’s good. It’s a great review and I’m delighted – you can read the full review here.

If you want to order a copy of Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow, simply click here.

Within the Wind wrap

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coming out of the cold

I’m very pleased to share a couple of very good reviews of Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow.

The first is from Anthony Watson over at his blog Dark Musings. He calls it a “sublime tale of winter horror” and seems to have really enjoyed it, so that’s good. He even includes a Sigur Rós song at the end of the review – a particularly relevant bonus as they provided the entire writing soundtrack for that story.

James Everington says some very good things too, over at This is Horror, calling it “a classic piece of Arctic horror” and making some very flattering comparisons. He also gives a special shout-out for one of the bonus stories, ‘Turtledove’, which makes me very happy.

If you want to grab yourself a copy, Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow is available to order from Spectral Press.

Within the Wind wrap

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An interview

The wonderfully talented Priya Sharma took the time to interview me over at her blog, which you can read by clicking here. It focuses on my latest effort, ‘Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow’, available from Spectral Press here.

Priya writes brilliant stories (check out this list) so track some down if you haven’t already. I reckon you’ll love them too.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment