The Bloody Deluge Journal of the Plague Year Uprising Under the Skin Among the Missing Satan's Reach


“Plenty to write Holmes about… Holmes is like the Doctor – geeky, dangerous, supremely intelligent.” – SFX Magazine

"No one can deny the cleverness of this collection and as a casual fan, it has inspired me to read the original Doyle novels. 9/10" - The Cult Den

"It’s the sheer quality of this storytelling ability—by this handful of authors—that makes Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets a cut-above the rest" - Spec Fiction Hub 

"Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streetsis a worthy addition to the ever-expanding universe of Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation." - Criminal Element

"Precise and neat yet immensely engaging, it’s a great example of the craft of short story telling" - The Book Beard

"This anthology is for any Sherlock Holmes fan; there’s something here for everyone, and the writing is just that damn good." - Ventureadlaxre

"Two Hundred And Twenty-One Baker Streets has a story for everyone. It’s full of brilliantly written tales that any fan of Sherlock can appreciate." - Readingbifrost

"Excellent book written from a new angle. A really great book that keeps you wanting to read on until the end. The modern day setting gives the book a more realistic storyline that will be popular with readers of all ages in contrast to the usual Victorian London background." - Catherine Bryce, netgalley

"With such a wide array of stories about Holmes in this anthology there truly is something for everyone. If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes then I highly recommend that you check out this anthology ASAP." - Bibliognome

"Great addition to my Holmes collection!" - Lauren Koller, netgalley

"LOVED this book. As a fan of Sherlock Holmes, I enjoyed seeing him and Dr. Watson in alternate scenarios... Recommended for all lovers of Holmes & Watson!" - Kelli Kohrherr, netgalley librarian

"The imaginative stories about Sherlock Holmes and his down-to-earth counterpart, Doctor Watson, make for compelling reading." - L. Wayne Hicks, netgalley

"The quality of the writing is universally excellent" - Tea, Talks, Books

"A good selection of stories... I definitely recommend it to Sherlock Holmes fans." - Take a walk on the writeside

"All-in-all a fine idea, well edited and presented." - something interesting this way comes

"Most of the stores I was sad to see end so quickly. I have read all of the original Holmes stores written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and I found these to be complimentary of those original works. 4/5" - John Purvis

"With such diversity, there will certainly be something here for everyone. And so, whether you are a traditionalist or more experimental when it comes to the Holmes canon, you should definitely give this anthology a try." - Nicki J Marcus

"Highly recommended to all Sherlock fans, looking for something different." - Mark Coulter, netgalley

"What a great collection of short stories. The diversity of characters and settings is fantastic. This is a great resource for studies of reversioning. It's also very entertaining." - Trish Lunt, netgalley educator

"If you like all (or most) things Sherlock, then you'll want to read this book." - Second Bookshelf on the Right


Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets is OUT NOW


 
Hi, Lydia.

Here you are.  The first two paragraphs are optional (by which I mean, not for publication). Obviously.

Best,
James

David Thomas Moore is quite clearly the greatest man who has ever lived and will ever live, a colossus who bestrides the world of publishing and every other world, showering those around him, those lucky enough to know him, with his genius.  His talent for just about everything exceeds that of the foremost experts in any field.  He also has a beard.

But enough about David Thomas Moore.  Here’s a blog piece about my tale for 221 Baker Streets.
[ED: Err not sure this was meant to be included Gittins - have you been at Guy Adams' drink cabinet again?]

***

I'm a fan of superheroes. 

Always have been.  

I was into superheroes long before it was fashionable,long before Marvel movies were raking in billions at the box office and everyone knew who Green Arrow was thanks to the hit TV show.  Since the early 1970s I've eagerly followed the exploits of comic book costumed folk with super powers.  I've stuck with them through the lean years, when even the people responsible for writing and drawing stories about them seemed to lose faith and be overwhelmed with a sense of futility and despair, and will continue to stick with them despite the fact they’re now ubiquitous and big business.

I've also always been a massive Sherlock Holmes fan.  My father read me the Conan Doyle stories when I was little, and the character and his world have stuck with me ever since.  Holmes is, I would argue, a superhero himself, a prototype of the caped adventurer who rights wrongs and fights for justice with a loyal sidekick forever accompanying him.  Holmes’s super power is his brain, his amazing ability to analyse, deduce and ratiocinate, his unerring eye for the small, telling detail which leads him to unlock mysteries and collar crooks.  Like many a superhero he is flawed, sometimes insufferable, his main Achilles heel being his boredom-driven manic depressive episodes and his penchant for pharmaceutical stimulants – but you can still be sure that, come what may, he is staunchly, resolutely on the side of the angels and will never succumb to his dark side.

When I was asked by David Moore to contribute to an anthology of short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes in various different settings and configurations, my immediate thought was to write something which involved super powers.  From there it was a short hop to imagining a world where everyone had a power of some sort, a preternatural attribute which they could utilise to varying degrees.  There could be people who were extraordinarily strong, people who could fly, people who could swim underwater…  The setting would be the Victorian era, exactly as we know it, with this one major twist.

And then I thought, what if Sherlock Holmes was someone who lacked any such power?  What if he was a rare anomaly, born vanilla, without the abilities which everyone else took for granted?  How would that change him?  Would it alter what he does?  Would he still be the world’s first and only consulting detective?

Of course he damn well would!

And so I wrote “The Innocent Icarus”.  It isn't my first Holmes outing, not by a long shot.  I have written two novels featuring the character (The Stuff Of Nightmares and Gods Of War) with a third (The Thinking Engine) due out in 2015.  I have also penned a short story, “The Fallen Financier”, which appeared in George Mann's Encounters Of Sherlock Holmes anthology, and I am starting work next year on a trilogy which pits Holmes against creatures from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.

“The Innocent Icarus” is, though, I think the sheerest fun I've had with a Holmes tale.  It’s a fusion of classic detective yarn and superhero fantasy, and thus reconciles my two earliest and most enduring literary passions in a single, unified whole.  

You could say it’s a story I've been waiting all my life to write.

***

James Lovegrove (jameslovegrove.com) was born on Christmas Eve 1965 and is the author of more than 40 books. His novels include The Hope, Days, Untied Kingdom, Provender Gleed, the New York Timesbestselling Pantheonseries—so far Age Of Ra, The Age Of Zeus, The Age Of Odin, Age Of Aztec, Age Of Voodoo and Age Of Shiva, plus a collection of three novellas, Age Of Godpunk—and Redlaw and Redlaw: Red Eye, the first two volumes in a trilogy about a policeman charged with protecting humans from vampires and vice versa. He has produced two Sherlock Holmes novels, The Stuff Of Nightmares and Gods Of War.

James has sold well over 40 short stories, the majority of them gathered in two collections, Imagined Slights and Diversifications. He has written a four-volume fantasy saga for teenagers, The Clouded World (under the pseudonym Jay Amory), and has produced a dozen short books for readers with 
reading difficulties, including Wings, Kill Swap, Free Runner, Dead Brigade, and the 5 Lords Of Painseries.

James has been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the British Fantasy Society Award and the Manchester Book Award. His short story ‘Carry The Moon In My Pocket’ won the 2011 Seiun Award in Japan for Best Translated Short Story.

James’s work has been translated into twelve languages. His journalism has appeared in periodicals as diverse as Literary Review, Interzone and BBC MindGames, and he is a regular reviewer of fiction for the Financial Times and contributes features and reviews about comic books to the magazine Comic Heroes.

He lives with his wife, two sons and cat in Eastbourne, a town famously genteel and favoured by the elderly, but in spite of that he isn't planning to retire just yet.

James Lovegrove is the author of The Innocent Icarus in the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!


Order: UK | US
What can I say about David Moore, that giant among men? He knows his way around a pub and a book launch, for certain. So much so that, after a launch sometime in the distant past at Forbidden Planet he, after a few pints, thought it would be big and clever to ask me to write a story “anywhere in time or space except Victorian London” about Holmes and Watson.

I’m a fan, and I was all excited and rushed home and told my partner, and then waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Mostly during the waiting I thought “I really shouldn’t have told anyone. David probably thought I was James Smythe - the other tall writer, but the one with talent and craft. It was surely not happening. He must’ve been drunk. Other sightings of Moore at London literary events showed no evidence of the anthology or his kind offer.

Until months and months time later when I got an email inquiring as to whether I’d any idea where and when. Publishing: It does not move at any sort of speed, not even that of molasses.
I had, indeed, thought about my setting for Holmes and Watson and I thought I’d look at something medieval, in the Inquisition, and see if I could get up an earlier, more rational Holmes, but I’d been listening to some old punk bands - New York Dolls and Patti Smith and the Talking Heads - and so I said “Maybe 70s New York, the birth of punk” as well.

David was happy with whatever I’d do but said he was more keen on the 70s punk thing.
As happens when you dig into the early days of punk, you keep bumping into Lou Reed, John Cale, and Mo Tucker. They’re everywhere, and they lead you back to the Factory.


The Factory is this critical time and place in American history. Whether you’re a fan of Warhol’s or not, this coming together of culture, of exploration and change that’s very, very different in New York compared to San Francisco and the Summer of Love or much of what’s thought of as the 60s - the American war in Viet Nam, race riots, and the first wave of feminism.

I tried to imagine who these characters would be - despite the action in the story, I don’t tend to be someone who builds relationships between the two - but in this particular time and place, with the experimentation and the drugs going around, I thought that it actually made serious sense.

Valerie Solanas is famous, of course for two things: the S.C.U.M. Manifesto and for shooting Andy Warhol. The manifesto is brilliant and witty and incisive - absolutely worth a read - as is Solanas’ play Up your ass that Andy refused to produce. The shooting is blamed on madness, but I thought that there had to be more to it, and thus, a mystery was born.

As we know, there’s only one person for a mystery: That’s Sherlock bloody Holmes. Erudite. Educated. Here part of the American upper classes that sound - almost - English. Having dropped out of his life and spending it in search of something different, something meaningful, something diverting.


The moral of this story, if there is one, is to make sure you spend as much time drinking pints with David Moore, that giant of men. 

***

Glen Mehn (glen.mehn.net) was born and raised in New Orleans, and has since lived in San rancisco, North Carolina, Oxford, Uganda, Zambia, and now lives in London. He’s previously been published by Random House Struik and Jurassic London, and is currently working on his first hopefully publishable novel. 

When not writing, Glen designs innovation programmes that use technology for social good for the Social Innovation Camp and is head of programme at Bethnal Green Ventures. Glen holds a BA in English Literature and Sociology from the University of New Orleans and an MBA from the niversity of Oxford.

Glen has been a bookseller, line cook, lighting and set designer, house painter, IT director, carbon finance consultant, soldier, dishwasher, and innovation programme designer. One day, he might be a writer. He lives in Brixton, which is where you live if you move from New Orleans to London. He moved country five times in two years once, and happy to stick around for a while.

Glen Mehn is the author of Half There/All There in the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!


Order: UK | US

I was encouraged to go to my first WorldCon this past year (September 2013) by prolific author L.E. Modesitt, Jr. We had a long discussion about the pros and cons of going, and Lee certainly made the pros sound far more exceptional than the cons.

So, because I’m a girl who’s definitely able to follow instructions (you know, when I wanna), and because Lee gave me quite a long list of benefits I could expect to reap by dint of attending and participating on panels and such, I headed off to San Antonio for what was a really wonderful convention experience.

It was the last day, and so far, everything Lee had said would happen had so happened, other than one thing: I hadn’t run into an editor and had them invite me into an anthology. Oh sure, Lee hadn’t said that this was a given, but he’d made the point that many times one only got invited into an anthology if one was right in front of an editor pulling said anthology together.

I was in the middle of the dealer room, chatting with Ellen Datlow, Carrie Vaughn, David Lee Summers, and a variety of attendees, when two tall men with British accents came up and started to talk to Ellen. As often happens when there are a lot of people around all talking to each other in a fluid group, people move off in and out of smaller groups, still there but talking amongst themselves. This happened here, leaving one of the Brits and me standing near each other and yet alone.

So, I introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Gini Koch, I’m an author.”
 “I’m David Moore,” he replied pleasantly. “I’m an editor.”
“Oh? What do you edit?”
“WELL, I’m working on an anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories.”

At this moment I began to geek out like David was One Direction and I was a preteen girl. “Oh my GOD, I am a GIGANTIC Holmes fan!”
David, whose expression had been normally pleasant until now, got incredibly animated. “Me, too! Which Holmes do you like?”
“All of them! I used to swear I was a purist, that I only wanted ‘real’ Holmes, but now I realize it was a lie – I love any and every Holmes there is.”
“ME TOO! My anthology is going to put Holmes and Watson any time, anywhere, and in any way.”

At this point, David and I were both geeking out at the same level, having our own private Holmesian convention – albeit a convention of two, but two really PASSIONATE attendees – while everyone else was still enjoying WorldCon. However, as excited as we were, I’m sure we weren’t jumping up and down. Okay, not much jumping. Okay, we probably were, but I don’t believe there’s photographic proof, so it didn’t happen.

We were sharing our thoughts on every Holmes we could think of. “Sherlock”, “Elementary”, the Robert Downey, Jr. steampunk versions? Check. Jeremy Brett as possibly the best screen Holmes ever? Check. The awesomeness of Lucy Liu as a female Watson? Yep. Older Holmes movies? Naturally. Obscure Holmes movies only David and I had ever heard of? Double check.
By this time, I was squealing, “I HAVE TO BE IN THIS ANTHOLOGY!” And David was saying, “YOU’RE IN!”

I gave him my card and then spent the next week terrified that I’d somehow given him someone else’s card.

But I had not. And the rest is history.

Or rather, the rest is my story, “All the Single Ladies”, with a Holmes and Watson I’m really proud of. David was a joy to work with, the book is chockfull of great stories from wonderful authors, the cover art is beyond beautiful, and I’m still excited every time I think about the whole experience.

By the way, the moral of this story? Do whatever L.E. Modesitt, Jr. tells you to do – apparently he’s never wrong. And the other moral? One can never, ever, have enough Holmes.

***

Gini Koch writes the fast, fresh and funny Alien/Katherine “Kitty” 
Katt series for DAW Books, the Necropolis Enforcement Files series, and the Martian Alliance Chronicles series for Musa Publishing. Alien in the House, Book 7 in her long-running Alien series, won the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award as the Best Futuristic Romance of 2013. Alien Collective, Book 9, released in May, and Universal Alien is coming this December. 

As G.J. Koch she writes the Alexander Outland series and she’s made the most of multiple personality disorder by writing under a variety of other pen names as well, including Anita Ensal, Jemma Chase, A.E. Stanton, and J.C. Koch. Currently, Gini has stories featured in the Unidentified Funny Objects 3, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens, and Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthologies, and, writing as J.C. Koch, in Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters, The Madness of Cthulhu, Vol. 1, and A Darke Phantastique anthologies. She will also have a story in the first book in an X-Files anthology series coming out in 2015. 

Gini can be reached via her website: www.ginikoch.com

Gina Koch is the author of All the single ladies in the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology out now from Abaddon Books!



Order UK | US


I’d never done a pastiche before. I’d read plenty of them, heard them discussed quite often, but it wasn’t something I had considered trying until David gave me the opportunity. I found it to be a more difficult type of writing than I had previously experienced. (Though everything has its own challenges)

 I felt a real responsibility to do it correctly, to honor the original characters and stories in a way that felt authentic. In the end, this may have added more pressure than was required. I realized early on there was no way I was going to capture the voice of the British Victorian era, so it was better to make it a present day experience using a character that was distantly related.

I suppose the idea to make it a patchwork killer came from my recent interest in knitting. I was working on a square, a knitting thing, and thought how fascinating it would be if someone had human skin rather than yarn. I actually didn’t focus on the mystery so much as the attempt to show the bond between the characters. Some people like this approach, some don’t. I always found that personally I cared less about the puzzle at hand and more about how the characters interact. Now, after having lived with those guys a little while, it seems like it might be fun to try again with another mystery.

***

Miss Jenkins took a bow, lingered as her head tipped downwards and her breasts fought to stay tucked into her burgundy corset. She moved offstage, but for the life of me I couldn’t see that her feet had even made contact. She moved like a crowd of men followed behind her. Most times, they did.

As the whistles and claps faded into the black behind her, she found herself at the lighted mirror where she had prepared only hours ago. She released the black clip which held a feather band to her head and shook loose her fire-red locks. Stuck in the corner of the mirror was a small white envelope. She peeled it open and smiled.

It was him again.

This time, though, something was different. He seemed more urgent, desperate to see her. He was going to have to wait. Men don’t want a woman who comes running every time they are called. He had a wife for that. This, this was something else. It meant more to him than it did her, but she didn’t mind. He was sweet and reliable and she got free botox out of the deal so it seemed like a win win.

Now changed and fresh faced, she shoved her stilettos into the bag flung over her shoulder and exited out the rear door into the alleyway as the door slammed shut behind her.

Tonight the crowd that waited for her out back was smaller than usual. Actually, it had been like that the last few times, but she couldn’t let that get her down.

“I still got it,” she said to herself as a sudden thud caught her attention.  

She could see the workers at the ice cream parlor down the way through the glass windows. Buzzing around, rushing to close up shop.

She signed a few autographs and posed for a few kissie-faced pictures as she walked to the parking lot that housed her new black Mustang convertible. She’d worked a long time to afford a car like that, and then just three weeks of being with him, she had it. All her own.

She stopped outside the vehicle under the street lamp which flickered above when she heard another loud noise. This time, she felt a sting in the back of her head.

She opened her eyes and the world spun. On the ground now, gravel embedded into the backs of her thighs she reached around to touch her head. It was wet, and the smell of dirty copperwas strong. There was so much blood.

The spinning began to lessen and through the beams of light she could make out a figure standing over her.

“You’re gonna be famous forever,” said the voice.

Jenkins let out a whimper, and then the world went black.

***


First published at the tender age of 8, Kasey Lansdale is the author of numerous short stories as well as editor to several anthology collections. Her most recent project, Impossible Monsters, was released from Subterranean Press summer of 2013. A full time singer/songwriter, she has also just completed her first novel. She is the daughter of acclaimed author, Joe R. Lansdale.

She is the author of The Patchwork Killer in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!


Order: UK | US



Originally aired 11th October 1962 on the BBC Light Programme.
Available on the double-CD box set A Little More Sherlock and John (BBC Music, 1997).

ANNOUNCER: This is the BBC Light Programme.

GRAMS: [HOLMES AND WATSON OPENING 1by Willy Scott]

ANNOUNCER: We present Sherlock Holmes and John Watson with Gordon Lestrade, Martha Hudson and Billy Page in

GRAMS: [HOLMES AND WATSON OPENING 2by Willy Scott]

HOLMES: The Adventure of the Wrong-Headed Blog.

EFFECTS: Establishing sounds. Baker Street buzzing with life, news boys holler, cart wheels clatter. We fade into the contemplative world of 221b, a grandfather clock ticks, a match is struck, pipe tobacco crackles.)

HOLMES: What do I say about David Moore, this giant among men?

WATSON: (STRAINED) You tell him to sit in another chair, the colonial colossus is crushing me to death.

MOORE: Sorry, didnt see you there.

(MOORE gets up. It sounds like the entire contents of a butchers shop being moved three feet to the left where it is dumped on another ungrateful armchair.)

HOLMES: There certainly is plenty of him. Wheres thewhat should we call him?

WATSON: Author?

HOLMES: Thats stretching things too far.

WATSON: Writer?

HOLMES: No. No. We mustnt devalue words. That would compound his crime.

WATSON: Hack?

HOLMES: Agreed, let us be gracious, he is, after all, a guest.

ADAMS: (MUFFLED) Im having the will to live squeezed out of me by my editor.

MOORE: Sorry, didnt see you there.

ADAMS: Its fine, it wasnt an entirely new experience.

(MOORE moves to another chair, it explodes in a huff of suicidal leather and oak.)

MOORE: Im not this massive in real life, why are you being so mean?

ADAMS: You suggested Holmesopening line, what else did you expect me to do? Pander to your ego?

MOORE: I think Lydia was just joking.

WATSON: (LIKE A STARVED DOG BEING SHOWN A MAP TO AN ELEPHANTS GRAVEYARD Lydia? Theres a woman here?

(There is the rushed sound of suit brushing, splashed cologne and plucked roses.)

HOLMES: Easy Watson, shes married.

WATSON: Not for long!

HOLMES: Shes the PR for the publisher. Shes the one who asked Adams to write this meandering nonsense.

WATSON: (IMMEDIATELY DEFLATED, HIS COLOGNE EVAPORATES) She works in publishing? (SIGHS) Never mind.

HOLMES: Indeed, shes taken up residence in the drinks cabinet and is likely no longer capable of coherent conversation.

(EFFECTS: HOLMES opens the drinks cabinet, there is the sound of raucous German Beer Hall dancing, he immediately slams the door shut again.)

HOLMES: A sight beyond words. I will never be able to enjoy walnuts again. Do pass me that padlock, WATSON, for all our sakes.

(EFFECTS: HOLMES chains up the drinks cabinet.)

HOLMES: So gentlemen, other than incarcerating your inebriated staff, what can we do for you?

MOORE: We were hoping youd help promote the new book Ive edited. Its called Two Hundred and Twenty One Baker Streets and its an anthology of Holmesian tales across time and space. A selection of stories offering an unusual take on the characters of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.

WATSON: Two hundred and twenty one of them?

MOORE: Sorry?

WATSON: Two hundred and twenty one stories?

MOORE: Ermno. Theres fourteen actually. From people like Adrian

WATSON: Then it should be called Fourteen Baker Streets shouldnt it?

MOORE: Ha! (OFFERS THE SORT OF LAUGHTER PEOPLE EMPLOY WHEN THEYRE BUSILY TRYING NOT TO PUNCH PEOPLE). That doesnt sound quite as good.

WATSON: But it would have been more accurate.

MOORE: I dont think people would expect there to be that many stories.

WATSON:  Unless theyd read the title.

MOORE: Even then. As I say, we have writers like Adrian

WATSON: I suppose it would be bad for the wrist.

MOORE: Im sorry?

WATSON: A book containing two hundred and twenty one stories. Nobody wants to publish a book that makes readers wrists ache.

ADAMS: I dont know, Ive enjoyed a few in my time

HOLMES:  I fear were straying off the point a little.

WATSON: I suppose you could do two hundred and twenty one extremely short stories.

MOORE: Much better to do fourteen really good, satisfying stories, from people like Adrian

WATSON: Once upon a time there was a small duck called Sherlock Holmes and he lived on the river with his friend John Watson, an otter.

MOORE: There are no otters in our book.

WATSON: Dont blame me. One day Holmes the duck found the body of a dead moor hen. Curious!he quacked, someones killed this moor hen.

MOORE: Yeah, thats not really the sort of thing

WATSON: It was me Holmes!cried John Watson the naughty otter, I stabbed him with this sharpened reed.

MOORE: Not much of a mystery is it?

WATSON: Shows what you know. Its brilliant and intriguing. WHY did the otter kill the moor hen?

ADAMS: Because he really hated the pompous, quacking git?

WATSON: Perhaps the otter and the duck could plunge off a weir at the end.

MOORE: Why would they do that?

WATSON: Its worked before. Drama. Self sacrifice. The noble duck sacrificing himself to rid the world of this bastard of an otter.

(EFFECTS: A loud crashing sound. MOORE has left the room, taking most of a wall with him.)

HOLMES: If youre going to storm out, Mr Moore, might I ask that you stoop when you negotiate the doors?

(EFFECTS: A distant crash followed by the sound of screams and veering carriages as the behemoth MOORE attempts to navigate the street outside. Eventually the chaos subsides.)

HOLMES: What are we going to do with the sauced-up loon in our drinks cabinet? I was hoping he was going to take her with him.

WATSON: More to the point, why is this entire thing written like a particularly stupid radio programme?

ADAMS: Thats my fault Im afraid. In my story Holmes and Watson are actors, comedians who play the characters we know from Doyles original stories as part of a long-running radio comedy series.

WATSON: Absurd.

ADAMS: I know. Its actually a far more serious story than this old waffle would suggest but, you know, guest blogsalways hard to think of something to do.

(EFFECTS: The rattle of a chain as ADAMS unlocks the drinks cabinet.)

ADAMS: Ill be in here if anyone needs me.

(EFFECTS: A burst of German Beer Hall music stifled as ADAMS closes the door behind him.)

WATSON: A brave man. So what do we do now? This has gone on far too long as it is.

HOLMES: (RE-LIGHTING HIS PIPE) Tell me more about this naughty otter.

WATSON: Well! He is the Napoleon of River Based crime! He strikes fear into the hearts of badger and water boatman alike

(EFFECTS: We fade out on their conversation, moving outside to where the screaming continues as MOORE makes his slow way back to his Oxford office, muttering to himself about the perils of working with stupid authors.)

MUSIC: [HOLMES AND WATSON CLOSEby Willy Scott.]


***


Guy Adams(guyadamsauthor.com) has written far too many books. In recent years these have included: the Heaven’s Gate Trilogy for Solaris; the Deadbeatbooks for Titan and the Clown Serviceseries for Del Rey UK.

He has, as yet, not written far too many comics but he’s working on it: he’s written a number of strips for 2000 ADincluding a reinvention of Grant Morrison’s Ulysses Sweet: Maniac for Hire, scripted The Engine for Madefire and is the co-creator of Goldtiger with artist Jimmy Broxton.

A lifelong fan of Sherlock Holmes (once playing him, rather badly on stage) he has written two original novels, The Breath of God and The Army of Dr Moreau, as well as a couple of non-fiction books.

He is the author of A Study in Scarborough in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!


Order: UK | US



When the indomitable David Thomas Moore and his epic beard approached me to participate in his Sherlock Holmes alt-anthology, I couldn’t say no. (Seriously, the beard held me at gun point.) His instructions were posed as questions: What would Holmes and Watson be in a different time and place? Would they still solve mysteries? Would they even be friends?

And so these are the questions I asked myself when putting together “A Scandal in Hobohemia”.

Truth be told, I jumped at the chance to be a part of Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets. I have always enjoyed the stories of Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. John Watson. Be they the original Doyle works or the modern film adaptations, the mysteries are not what keep me riveted, but the relationship between the two lead characters. I’ve always loved the strange, inexplicable friendship Holmes and Watson share. They are from disparate backgrounds and Sherlock can be so maddening that sometimes the true mystery is not who done it, but how do these two men not kill one another?

This relationship is what I chose to focus on in my story, answering the question originally posed by David Moore, “Would they even be friends?”

I drew inspiration from many Sherlocks: the Doyle works, the Robert Downey Jr. films, and the BBC series. While I do draw on canonical details and character traits, I wanted to distance my work from Doyle’s. So, I chose to rename my characters. In “A Scandal in Hobohemia” readers will meet newly minted Pinkerton Agent Jim Walker, our Watson. A veteran of the Great War, Jim was an army medic who served largely in France. His partner is Agent Adele Trenet, a Pinkerton officer who happens to moonlight as a mole for Leland Haus, the head of the Secret Service. While Agents Trenet and Walker are on a case for Pinkerton, Mr. Haus has sent his spy to look in on his wayward little brother Sanford. Both missions lead them to the Soggiorno Brothers Traveling Wonder Show in the dusty Midwest of the United States. The circus and Ms. Trenet’s cases are the backdrop of what I feel is the true story: the meeting of our Sherlock and Watson.

I had immense fun writing in this world with these characters, and hope to revisit the Traveling Wonder Show in the future. While you enjoy Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets, I do hope you enjoy your time at the circus. 


***

After a misspent adulthood pursuing a Music Education degree, Jamie Wyman (www.jamiewyman.com) fostered several interests before discovering that being an author means never having to get out of pajamas. She has an unhealthy addiction to chai, a passion for circus history, and a questionable hobby that involves putting a flaming torch into her mouth. When she’s not traipsing about with her imaginary friends, she lives in Phoenix with two hobbits and two cats. Jamie is proud to say she has a deeply disturbed following at her blog.

Jamie’s debut novel Wild Card (Entangled Edge, 2013) is available wherever ebooks are sold. You can also find her short story “The Clever One” in the anthology When The Hero Comes Home 2 (Dragon Moon Press, August 2013). Look for Unveiled, the follow-up to Wild Card, in November 2014. 

She is the author of A Scandal in Hobohemia in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!


Order: UK | US

It all started one chilly morning while keeping Sarah Lotz company outside the Metropole Hotel in Brighton, while she sucked some nicotine into her lungs, during the World Fantasy Convention in 2013.

I was just an innocent bystander, watching others smoking and trying to pretend that I wasn’t freezing my arse off. I hadn’t seen Sarah in ages and wanted to catch up – she’s always a good laugh and probably one of my favourite writerly types, so she’s worth enduring a little cold weather for and at least I didn’t get frostbite. Bear in mind that I’m South African so anything under 20°C is considered cold and the weather that weekend in Brighton was well below that.

Somewhere along the line David Thomas Moore, the bearded, crazy, genius, joined the conversation. Sarah said something about my writing being twisted and that I was sick in the head. In any other circles that would probably be considered an insult, but not in the horror writing world. Someone saying that about you in the horror world is probably the greatest compliment a writer can get. I duly blushed. David had a strange evil glint in his eyes as he turned to me and asked if I’d be interested in writing a story for his Sherlock Holmes anthology. I thought he’d lost his mind or had a few too many pints at the bar. Who in their right mind would ask me to write a story about Holmes?

I think I may have had a few too many glasses of wine at the bar and said yes. Because, hey, I love Sherlock! I did, however, add a disclaimer and warned him that, as Sarah had pointed out, it was likely to be bit twisted. He seemed pleased by that idea, which left me wondering just how twisted was I allowed to be … I had a feeling he wouldn’t have a problem with my writing something as twisted as I could possibly get.

By the end of the convention I’d convinced myself that there wasn’t a snowballs chance in hell that I would ever hear from Mr Moore again, but a few months later there was an email in my inbox from David asking if I was still interested. I almost shat myself. I was now actually going to have to produce something that was worthy of Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. I knew there was no point in trying to reproduce the original stories and plus that wasn’t what David wanted. I also realised that an editor wouldn’t ask a horror writer for a story unless he wanted a horror story, so that’s what I set out to do. I also wanted to have a bit of fun with it.

Pretoria is my home town and Mamalodi, the township, informal settlement, ghetto, or whatever you want to call it is only about a ten minute drive from my front door. It’s the type of setting that most people living in first world countries would find alien, but is common place anywhere in Africa and other developing countries. I wanted to put Sherlock and Watson outside of the readers comfort zone and away from the normal settings. Pretoria and Mamalodi are also not the typical settings you find in most South African novels. Most South African authors seem to set their books in Johannesburg or Cape Town or in more exotic locations, but I prefer to set my stories in places that I know well.
Mamalodi may not be as dangerous as some of the other informal settlements that they have in Johannesburg, but it has a character all of its own and makes for an interesting backdrop for Holmes and Watson and a muti murder.


I’m incredibly grateful for having had the chance to spend some time with Holmes and Watson and for working with David. It’s been one hell of a fun rollercoaster ride. I can’t wait to see what else David and the Abaddon team do next. 

***
Joan De La Haye(joandelahaye.com) writes horror and some very twisted thrillers. She invariably wakes up in the middle of the night, because she’s figured out yet another freaky way to mess with her already screwed up characters.

Joan is interested in some seriously weird stuff. That’s probably also one of the reasons she writes horror.

Her novels, Shadowsand Requiem in E Sharp, as well as her novella, Oasis, are published by Fox Spirit (foxspirit.co.uk).

You can find Joan on her website and follow her on Twitter @JoanDeLaHaye.

She is the author of The Rich Man's Hand  in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!


Order: UK | US

New York, 1977

Following the events which I have chronicled in ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Bandana,’ Holmes seemed to descend into depression, as he often did after a case which tested the glittering heights of his deductive prowess.

            One evening when I called on him in Bleecker Street, I found him slumped in his armchair with the telltale glassy-eyed expression which I had seen before. His violin hung listlessly from one hand, and beside his chair was a plastic Baggie half-filled with white powder.
            ‘Enough,’ I said. ‘I will not allow you to wallow in his apartment, taking drugs. You are coming out with me right now.’
            ‘What’s the point? Everything is so dull.’
            ‘It’s New York, man. The world is at our fingertips. A concert, a movie. Actually, yes—a movie would be perfect. You need a more wholesome escape from your own mind.’
            He fluttered an indifferent hand. ‘Movies are for the simple-minded. I need a case, Watson. And perhaps some more—’
            I snatched the bag of coke and flushed it down the toilet.

            Half an hour and some harsh words later, we were sitting in the third row of The Strand theatre, watching the opening credits scroll across the screen. Holmes looked supremely bored, but I was quite excited. I’d seen Star Wars before and I was delighted to be seeing it again.
            Most of my attention was taken up by the thrilling events on the screen (and the smart-mouthed charms of Carrie Fisher), but I did notice that Holmes was gradually sitting upright, his keen eyes focused on the film. By the final scene, he was positively on the edge of his seat, his hands clasped, his mouth quirked into half a smile.
            ‘So you enjoyed it,’ I said to him as we left the theatre into the neon Manhattan night.
‘Surprisingly so.’
‘Even though movies are for the simple-minded, and science fiction is utterly implausible?’ I couldn’t resist repeating his own words to him. ‘What did you like the best? The space battles, the light sabres, the Death Star?’
‘It gave ample scope for observation and deduction. Of course it was obvious that C3PO was suffering from backache, but less so that Grand Moff Tarkin was wearing too-tight shoes. Or that two thirds of the cantina band had recently given up smoking.’
‘Holmes, I rather think you have missed the point.’
‘I miss nothing. Surely even you must have noticed that the Imperial Stormtroopers were nearly all left-handed, due, no doubt, to the magazine on the modified Sterling L2A3 submachine guns they used.’
I threw up my hands. ‘But what of the story?’
‘Stories are for children, Watson. All the same, I thought the twist was moderately cleverly done.’
‘What twist? When Han Solo returns, you mean?’
‘I mean the fact that Darth Vader is both Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia’s father.’
I stopped on the sidewalk, flabbergasted. ‘Holmes…that’s not in the film.’
‘I think you will find that it is.’
He lit a cigarette and drew the smoke deep into his lungs, like a man who has found a new zest for life.


‘Overall, this has been a most invigorating evening. I think we should watch another film. What say you to Smokey and the Bandit?’


***

J. E. Cohen
’s (julie-cohen.com) life changed at age eleven, when she bought The Complete Sherlock Holmesbecause it was the biggest book in the shop. She joined the Baker Street Irregulars at sixteen, and at age twenty-two moved to England to study Arthur Conan Doyle’s involvement in the Cottingley fairy photographs. Despite not being able to draw, she is an official cartoonist for The Sherlock Holmes Journal, with her feature “Overrun By Oysters.” Under the name Julie Cohen she writes novels which have sold nearly a million copies worldwide. Tweet her @julie_cohen.

She is the author of The Adventures of the Speckled Bandana in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out on Abaddon Books October 9th


Pre-order: UK | US
























Sherlock Holmes was inhabiting a part of my brain when I travelled to Aradale Asylum in Ararat, Victoria. The story needed to be written and I was looking for clues.



 I found them at Aradale. This cluster of buildings is 150 years old, built to house those considered ‘insane’ in the late 1880s. These days, of course, most of the inhabitants would be considered ‘us’. Strong-minded women, men with grand ideas, women who wore red, people with epilepsy. All locked together in this imposing, disheartening and at times frightening institution.

On the second night we went ghost hunting with The Australian Paranormal Society and Allen Tiller, who is in the program Haunting: Australia. They did an Aradale episode.


All was fine until we got locked in the high security men’s ward. This was where they locked up the spree killers, the blood-lusters, the cannibals, including one so desperate for human meat they had to lock him in a cage out in the yard.


Did we see ghosts? I didn’t think so. But I did take this photo of one of the cells. Is that a man in a suit on the right?


We also visited the morgue. There was less atmosphere here than elsewhere, though it was cold and the air had a hint of...something.

Outside the morgue stands a massive pink peppercorn tree. Our guide told us it was planted to cover the smell of the morgue, so the stench didn’t waft over the buildings, into the wards, the kitchens, the dining hall.

Photo by William Tabone, Australian Paranormal Society.

Later, I sat under another peppercorn tree, looking over the “Married Staff Quarters” (considered by some to be the most haunted building) and I began with the question: How can this peppercorn tree, pink and pretty, help Sherlock? How might he engage with it? And the idea for Sherlock as architect came to me.

You can see how the mood of Aradale affected me. The sense of lost souls, of lost lives, of secrets and lies. Hopefully I’ve captured some of this mood in The Lantern Men.

***


Kaaron Warren(kaaronwarren.wordpress.com) has lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Fiji. She’s sold many short stories, three novels (the multi-award-winning Slights, Walking the Treeand Mistification) and four short story collections. Through Splintered Wallswon a Canberra Critic’s Circle Award for Fiction, an ACT Writers’ and Publisher’s Award, two Ditmar Awards, two Australian Shadows Awards and a Shirley Jackson Award. Her story “Air, Water and the Grove” won the Aurealis Award for Best SF Short Story and will appear in Paula Guran’s Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. Her latest collection is The Gate Theory. Kaaron Tweets @KaaronWarren.

She is the author of The Lantern Men short story in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out on Abaddon Books October 9th.



Pre-order: UK | US



Greetings Abaddonites!

You may have noticed that we've been a bit quiet recently, for that we can only apologise and offer up the humble excuse that we were gearing up for this year's FantasyCon (because someone had to lead our far more sensible colleagues over at Solaris Books astray).

To that end the last fortnight has consisted of a rigorous training routine that saw Team Abaddon arise at the crack of noon almost every day, to a packed schedule of vocal warm ups (we take our karaoke very seriously, thank you very much), pint carrying practise, disco stretches and panel wit-sharpening exercises.

There were rumours going around the office that Abaddon Dave may also have done some "Editorial-ing" during this period too, but we're not convinced.

But anyway, as the saying goes a picture is worth a thousand poorly written words, and a shakily taken mobile phone picture is about on par, but far less tedious to glance over. So without further ado a brief snap shot of what went down:

FRIDAY:


Team Abaddon arrive and head straight to the bar start to hand out copies of the exclusive Abaddon-zine The Afterblight Chronicle 


Karaoke time! Here we have the lovely BFA shortlisted Libby McGugan taking on the challenge.

SATURDAY:
L-R Adrian Tchaikovsky, Julie McKenna, David Moore, Fran Terminello, Clifford Beale

"I am the emergency moderator hologram. Please state the nature of your emergency moderation.": 

Abaddon Dave steps in to help moderate the popular Pen VS Sword panel on Saturday morning. Initially we were suspicious that this was a clear ploy to trick people into believing he's a lovely human-being, and not a tyrannical editorial overlord, hell-bent on world domination... 

Fran Terminiello and Clifford Beale

...until the action spilled out into the halls, steel-on-steel, and we realised he was just picking up tips...

Adrian Tchaikovsky
...and recruiting allies.


Next up was the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets launch. Sadly due to the blinding sunshine this is the only picture we have that demonstrates that it was indeed attended by real, actual people and not terrifying dark shadow monsters. 

Here you can see the classic British pastime "The Queue" as some of you lovely people wait to allow a few of the contributors to scrawl all over the beautiful, pristine pages of the advanced copies we had available on the day *sob*.

SUNDAY:

After a brilliant Saturday night disco hosted by Marc Gascoigne and Guy Adams (don't worry we're not cruel enough to subject you to photos of us throwing any kind of shapes on the dance floor) we hope you'll excuse us skipping over the morning's activities with just a brief shout out to the fantastic editorial panel, and getting to the main event of the day... 

The British Fantasy Awards!

A full list of winners can be found here and we would like to offer our congratulations to all the winners and short-listed nominees. It was an incredible line-up this year and there was some fierce competition on all sides. But, we do of course want to make a special shout out to our colleague Jon Oliver for his win in the Best Anthology Award 2014!


And here he is in (blurry) action collecting it from the wonderful Paul Cornell

We could rave about the weekend to a length that would rival Alan Moore, so before that happens we will sign off with a huge thanks to chair Lee Harris and the wonderful Team of Red Cloaks who made the weekend possible. Thank you guys and see you next year!













So what exactly happened with Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in the past few months? It all starts with the eccentricities of US copyright law, in which a standard international “creator’s life plus seventy years” term sits uneasily alongside a fixed “ninety-five years from publication” term (this is due to what are sometimes known as the “Mickey Mouse Laws,” as they were pushed pretty hard by Disney’s lobbyists). Arthur Conan Doyle died in 1930; in the UK and most of the world, his work entered the public domain in the year 2000. But in the US, with that fixed-term copyright, not all the stories went at the same time. The Holmes stories were published from 1887 to 1927, with the last ten stories appearing as a block in The Last Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, and for the last few years, while dozens of stories and all four novels have been public domain, the Doyle estate has held on to that last collection. It only really applies if you’re selling books in the States, but that’s a pretty big market.

So that just means you can’t publish The Complete Sherlock Holmes in the States without permission, right? Not quite. The Doyle estate has aggressively pursued every publisher, TV company and film-maker trying to use the characters, threatening legal action if they don’t pay a licence. And since the licence fees weren’t onerous, most people have paid rather than fight (this happens in copyright disputes more often than you think). Most people, that is, except Leslie Klinger, whose collection of new Holmes stories, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, is due out this November. Klinger called shenanigans and went to court. The Doyle estate’s argument? That Holmes and Watson are “round” characters, and unlike “flat” characters, who are fully formed when they first appear in writing, the famous detective and his friend didn’t become fully “round” until the last stories were published. Ergo, anyone using the characters is drawing on those last few stories and infringing copyright.

The Doyle estate lost. They went to appeal, in the Seventh Circuit Court (beats me what that actually is) in June, and lost hard. Judge Richard Posner wonderfully called their argument “novel,” suggested their appeal “bordered on the quixotic,” and said that as long as you don’t mention anything from those stories (basically, Holmes’s feelings about dogs, his experience playing rugby, and Watson’s second wife), you’re fine. Then Klinger countersued for legal expenses, and Posner granted them this Monday, putting the boot in a little deeper, accusing the estate of “extortion” and suggesting they’d violated antitrust laws by instructing Amazon to pull sales of disputed titles. There’s still the Supreme Court to go, but basically, Posner’s saying: “You’ve lost, guys. Stay down.”

What does this mean for us? To be honest, we’d made the decision to go ahead with Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streetsbefore this even happened. “Flat” or “round,” the characters in our collection are pastiches, and we’re pretty sure the Doyle estate’s arguments would struggle to apply to our versions of Holmes and Watson. More importantly, though, we’re big believers in the act of creation and – although as publishers we should be all about the IP control – we know that creation has a lot to do with homage, reinvention and revision. Let a creator exploit his work for a fair period, but then allow it to become part of the weave that other creators draw upon. This is a great step forward, and our support goes out to Klinger and his publishers for having the courage to balls it out.

Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets publishes October 2014 from Abaddon Books.
Pre-order it now: UK | US
Check out some of the nice things people have been saying and request a copy to review on netgalley.
There are lots of reasons for creating speech patterns for characters. Sometimes it’s simply to differentiate one from another. It might be to imbue someone with a particular trait, say of annoyance or dizziness or of being an intellectual. Speech patterns maketh the man or woman in some instances.

Inventing a dialect for an entire community or race is something else, but can be key to the reader’s understanding, or can, at the very least help it.

Writers often invent dialects when more than one community appears in a novel, or, in SF or Fantasy, more than one race: dwarves and orcs speak differently from one another, as do humans from elves.

Dan Abnett & Nik Vincent 
Sometimes only one race inhabits a book, but in that instance it is too easy for the reader to automatically read that race as human. Give it a dialect and the problem is solved. Invest that dialect with nuance and describing the race is also a problem solved. They describe themselves in the language they use.

There are any number of ways to do this.

We begin by limiting or expanding vocabulary, by choosing particular words, which might, for example, be arcane and not in common use. We might make up words or use compound words. We might also choose specific forms of words not usually used. for example, we would usually refer to  a ‘speaker’, but for the purposes of a particular dialect we might choose to use ‘sayer’ instead.

We might choose never to abbreviate or use contractions for words like ‘not’ or ‘have’, so ‘wouldn’t’ becomes ‘would not’ and ‘could’ve’ becomes ‘could have’. We might go further still and never use negatives of any sort.

We might decide that a race has no words for things we take for granted so, for example, if something cannot be literally touched there might be no word for it, so ‘air’, ‘sky’, ‘breath’, ‘steam’ etc might be out.

There’s a great deal that can be achieved with tenses. Primitive races might use only two or three tenses. There is a lost language where the speakers referred to the future as being behind them and the past ahead of them. That would be an interesting way to write a race, and, now that I think of it, something that I’m not sure has ever been done in a novel. It’s an interesting philosophy, too, and instantly tells the reader something about that race.

A primitive culture in a novel might use only limited pronouns. They might never specify gender, for example.

It’s all about making choices.

Having made those choices, it’s about being consistent.

That’s the real trick, and that’s the difficulty, particularly when we’re narrowing the vocabulary and the tenses. If we limit ourselves it becomes harder to say all the things we want our characters to say, and it becomes tougher to differentiate between one character and another.

In those instances it’s useful if there’s a rhythm to the direct speech and forms of repetition. It’s important that the reader catch a refrain, becomes familiar with what is likely to come next.

Everything in writing has to be transparent to the reader. Nothing must seem difficult to understand on the page.

That of course, is where a good editor can be a huge help, making sure that the language is consistent, that nothing jars, that where tenses are limited there is no deviation. That there is music in the language of speech, because that’s what it is, after all... It is speech.

People, in the real World don’t speak in sentences. They don’t speak formally. They repeat themselves and hesitate and make a lot of unnecessary sounds that have little to do with words, and that’s not always possible in the written word.

Patterns and rhythm and shared words and phrases arepossible, and those are the things that families and communities share. So, those are the things we try to use when we’re building a dialect.

Then the language that the races in the novel use must sit comfortably within the language of the book itself. While the voices of the characters of the races must be distinct there must be some echo of them in the text, some sense of their rhythm in the rhythm of the prose and in the story as a whole, otherwise the novel ceases to be about those characters.

It can be a bit of a balancing act and there’s a fine line to tread. And sometimes it’s possible to produce a book that is deceptively simple and linear from quite a complex set of experimental rules.

We hope we’ve achieved something a little like that with the Aux in the novel Fiefdom.

Fiefdom is out now in the US in paperback and kindle

Pre-order for the UK in paperbacklimited edition hardback and kindle



Recently the PR minions approached the editorial throne (think Iron Throne if it was made of red-inked manuscripts and crushed dreams) of David Thomas Moore with a small request:

"Oh great editor," we cried "in your divine wisdom please bestow upon us the definitive list of reinvented Sherlock Holmeses."  

And from his great throne he looked on in silent contempt. Scared, we fled back in to the darkness, vowing never to ask Dave for a favour again. But we were foolish. We did not take in to account the power of The Omniscient Beard, and moments before the confirmation that Sherlock Holmes truly does belong to his public broke, the following transmission was delivered by the editorial flying monkeys.

Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you Editor David Thomas Moore's all time favourite Holmeses: 

Heyho kiddywinks,

So, since Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets is all about different takes on Sherlock Holmes, I’ve been asked for my favourite reinvented Holmeses to entertain and slightly mystify you. They are as follows:

5. Robert Downey, Jr. in the 2009 steampunkorama. So, okay, it’s steampunk, it’s stupid, it’s an action movie. Fuck it. Downey’s portrayal perfectly balances Holmes’s disdain and his wildness alike, Jude Law’s Watson captures the good doctor’s long-suffering devotion brilliantly, their chemistry is just right, and the film hits a note – lightly comic, serious when it needs to be – that makes it a ton of fun to watch. More than anything, though, it’s the fight scenes: that wonderful device where Holmes predicts the fight to come and plans out his moves. As a device on its own it’s brilliant, and the way the second movie turns it on its head in the final showdown at Reichenbach is brillianterer.





4. George C. Scott in the delightfully quirky 1971 comedy They Might Be Giants. To be fair, I may be biased by my slight obsession with the nerdrock band of the same name. Scott plays Justin Playfair, a former judge who somehow forms the delusion that he is the great detective, and that Dr. Mildred Watson, the psychiatrist sent to certify him insane, is the Dr. Watson of his adventures. It’s a wonderful little comedy, and I urge you to check it out.



3. Michael Caine in the 1988 comedy Without A Clue. Holmes is a struggling actor hired by John Watson (the true genius) to be the face of his detective business. Caine is wonderful by definition, and the denouement in which he (without Watson’s help) battles his way through the clues and works out how to rescue his genius partner using his acting experience (and gets it right entirely by accident) is lovely. The bit where you’re certain he’s about get skewered and he turns out to be a brilliant fencer (because Victorian actor, obvs) is also very cool.



2. Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC series Sherlock. Because you’ve got to, haven’t you? A near-perfect modernisation of the stories, with one of the best Holmes/Watson pairings in Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, a tirelessly tactless Holmes (borderline autistic rather than “high-functioning sociopathic,” whatever he may claim), just about the creepiest Moriarty you could imagine and cheekbones any man or woman would die for. Mostly, though, it’s the way Moffat uses modern technology, with the text messaging and onscreen text effects that really sells it for me. Clever, slick, sexy and modern.

  

1. This. Because fuck you; I can’t stop watching this fucking thing.




Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets edited by David Thomas Moore releases October 2014. 


Pre-order it now: UK | US
Check out some of the nice things people have been saying and request a copy to review on netgalley

About the Editor:
Born in Australia, David Thomas Moore has lived and worked in the UK for the past twenty years, and has been writing for roleplaying magazines, fiction websites and short story anthologies for eight years. The Ultimate Secret is his first long work. He lives in Reading with his wife Tamsin and daughter Beatrix. You're glad you met him.

You can follow him on @abaddondave
Dan had set quite a precedent when he named the Aux he wrote about in Kingdom. I loved Gene the Hackman.

He had a cast, but, in comics, casts are often small, and Gene was soon alone. 


Out now in print & kindle (US)
Writing a novel is an entirely different prospect, and with not only one Aux tribe, but several and with an ensemble cast, and with no pictures, so many more characters have to be named. It was a much taller order to come up with a convincing cast list.

Needless to say that cast list was my job.

Naming characters can be a lot of fun, and names are important for lots of reasons. I’ve named characters before, my own in my independent fiction and I’ve named characters in tie-in fiction, too. 

Fiefdom is set in a different time and on another continent, so while it was fine for me to name some of the characters after movie stars, I wanted to bring in other cultural reference, and, because Fiefdom is set in Europe I thought it might be nice to look at Art and Literature. It didn’t hurt that those are two areas in which I also have a pretty keen interest.

Of course, the names also had to have some significance of their own, and they all had to show some qualities related to the Aux as a race. Gene the Hackman was, quite literally, a Hack Man, after all.

Oberon and Evelyn War, father and daughter were named after Evelyn and Auberon Waugh, the writers, father and son. War was an obvious choice, the spelling of Oberon was changed to reflect the King of the Fairies and, of course, we wanted a key female character. For what it’s worth, Evelyn also means ‘life’.

On the one hand, naming the leader of the Aux after the poet Ezra Pound was a simple choice, because the name conjures both the act of pounding the enemy to death and a dog pound. On the other hand it was a complex choice because the poet was a controversial literary figure. For those who are interested, a look at the poet’s biography explains it, for the rest the simple knowledge that Pound wrote a poem entitled In a Station of the Metro is probably enough.

All of the Aux characters in the novel were named in this way, for artists, writers, characters in novels, films, tv shows and so on. They all bear some reference. Some will seem obscure. 

Some readers will not have heard of Frank Brangwyn, (BrangWIN, because who wants to lose?) who produced over 80 WWI poster designs, despite never being an official war artist. Austin Spar (SPAR as in practice fighting) was named after Austin Osman Spare, another favourite artist, who was employed as a war artist during WWI and who remained in London throughout WWII after trying to enlist, but being deemed too old. His home was bombed and all his work destroyed as a result, but he continued, regardless, and by the end of the war he was living in a cellar with two chairs for a bed and a number of stray cats.

Of course, names have been altered to fit the purpose, so that brothers Peter and William Blade derive from Peter Blake and William Blake, for example, Damien Hurts from Damien Hirst and Dorothy Barker from Dorothy Parker.

Naming the female characters was tougher than the males. We all look forward to a time when women are the equals of men in the arts, or at least when they are equally represented. It was never clearer that this has never been the case than when I was looking up eighteenth and nineteenth century artists and writers. Some men’s names sounded sufficiently feminine to be borrowed for female characters, hence Singer Sergeant after John Singer Sargent and Somerset Mourn after Somerset Maugham. But I wish there had been more great women to draw upon. 

I did enjoy using Becky Sharp. Long may she reign!

Fiefdom is out now in the US in print and on the kindle.




Coming Winter 2014

Gods & Monsters: Myth Breaker


As a child Louie had conversations with "invisible friends" and could see patterns in the world no one else could see.

In other times he would have been a prophet - someone to make people believe in the gods.

But he grew out of the visions and into a life in the underworld as a drug runner.

Now thirty-five and burnt out, he's had enough. With access to the mob's money he plans to go out in a big way. Only he can't. A broken down car, a missed flight; it's bad enough being hunted by the mob, but now the gods - kicked out of the Heavens - need someone to tell their stories, and they aren't letting go.

Caught between two warring factions of gods and the mob Louie hatches a plan to get out, if it doesn't get him killed first.


Gods & Monsters: Myth Breaker by Stephen Blackmoore 
Out December 2014

Pre-order for the UK and US today.
Available on the Rebellion Store from December 4th 2014.

To celebrate last week's UK release of The Journal of the Plague Year we sat down with Abaddon Editor David Moore to work through the chronology of The Afterblight series so far.*

In the Beginning

1. Orbital Decay by Malcolm Cross. This one’s easy, as it starts as the virus is just getting started.

=2. School’s Out by Scott K. Andrews. Exactly where to place Scott’s opening novel is tricky, as Lee flashes back to the early days of the Cull and the story runs out over the course of a year, but I’m going to pin this one down as at least starting within a few months of the virus breaking out.

=2. Dead Kelly by C. B. Harvey. Colin’s contribution is explicitly placed six months after the Cull hits, which makes it more or less contemporary with the start of School’s out.

One Year on

3. The Bloody Deluge by Adrian Tchaikovsky.Adrian doesn’t pin Katy’s and Emil’s flight across Germany down, but it seems to begin between one and two years after the Cull.

Year Two
Editor-in-Chief Jon Oliver's
favourite Rebellion cover.

4. Death Got No Mercy by Al Ewing. Al’s actually quite specific; Cade’s rampage begins two years after the dyin’ started.

5. ‘The Man Who Would Not Be King’ by Scott Andrews.This short story, included with Paul Kane’s Broken Arrow (and the collected School’s Out Forever), bridges School’s Out and Operation Motherland and is set around two years after the Cull.

Year Three

6. Operation Motherland by Scott K. Andrews.Set a while after the end of School’s Out, as the new school has had a chance to settle in, Motherland takes place around three years after the Cull.

Year Four

7. Arrowhead by Paul Kane. Paul and Scott, I gather, sorted out between themselves that de Falaise’s invasion occurs after the destruction of the base in Salisbury plain, explaining why there was no organised resistance. Around Year Four.

Year Five

=8. The Culled by Simon Spurrier. The nameless soldier of Simon’s book explicitly gives the date as five years after the Cull.

=8. Kill or Cure by Rebecca Levene. Jasmine leaves the secret facility at Lake Erie at the same time as her loverThe Culleds nameless hero – sets out to find her.

=8. Children’s Crusade by Scott K. Andrews.Lee and Matron clash with the Neo-Clergy’s child-snatchers, suggesting that this book is contemporary with The Culled.

9. ‘The Servitor’ by Paul Kane. This short story – published in Death Ray #21, Oct/Nov 2009 (and collected in the ebook edition of Hooded Man) – introduces the sinister new cult that kicks off the action in Broken Arrow. Between Years Five and Six.

Year Six

10. Broken Arrow by Paul Kane. It has been some while since Arrowhead’s RobStokes settled Nottingham and established his Rangers, putting this book around Year Six

11. ‘Perfect Presents’ by Paul Kane. A charming snapshot of life in Afterblight Nottingham, this short story – featured in Abaddon Books’ A Very Abaddon Christmas blog event, 2009 (and collected in the ebook edition of Hooded Man) – is set the Christmas after Broken Arrow.

Year Seven

12. ‘Signs and Portents’ by Paul Kane. This short story – included in Children’s Crusade (and collected in ebook edition of Hooded Man) – sets the scene for Arrowland, and takes place in about Year Seven.

Year Eight to Year Nine

13. Arrowland by Paul Kane. A little while has passed since the rise and fall of the Tsar, putting this book at about eight or nine years after the Cull.

One Decade on

14. Dawn Over Doomsday by Jasper Bark. Some years have passed since the Apostolic Church of the Rediscovered Dawn was crippled by the nameless soldier of The Culled in Year Five, placing it about one decade in.

Twenty Years on


15. Blood Ocean by Weston Ochse. This one’s made fairly easy by dint of sheer scale. It’s not clear when exactly the events occur, but it’s clear that people have been born and grown to adulthood never knowing a world before the Cull. Blood Ocean’s set at least twenty years after the virus.

With each new title and each new author bring a whole new perspective and history to the world of The Afterblight we're already really excited to see what the next wave of books brings. Let us know where or when you'd love to see the next title set, either in the comments below or @abaddonbooks on twitter. Plus, why not take advantage of our current Afterblight sale to explore the series more - titles start from just £3 until July 17th 2014.

Journal of the Plague Year is out now in the UK in print and kindle edition, as well being available worldwide through the rebellion store

Out in the UK now
*For those new to Afterblight a quick explanation: the series is shared world writing experience. Each book or story contributed is a stand alone title in its own right and you can start the series anywhere you like. As more and more authors contribute to the series new points in the history of The Afterblight are uncovered around the world that may affect future stories. Malcolm Cross, author of Orbital Decay, discusses the experience of contributing to Afterblight in more detail here.

‘DRM Free since 2006!’ It falls some way short of being a sexy headline, but how do you compete with other publishers apparently news-worthy headlines about going DRM-free in 2014, when it’s been 8 years since Rebellion took that decision?

Rebellion Publishing may not be one of the instantly recognisable names in the UK book trade, but for fifteen years we've been the home of the British institution 2000 AD, and first published our perennially bestselling graphic novel collection, Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 01 back in 2005 (we publish volume 23 this summer). The following year we founded our first fiction imprint Abaddon Books. And in those pre-Kindle, pre-Twitter days, when digital rights management was something most publishers assumed was a music industry issue, Rebellion also started selling digital files for download with no DRM.

How was it that we took the step that most digitally-savvy publishers came to many years later? We had one big advantage, Rebellion is also a tech company, one of the leading computer games developers and publishers in the UK (our latest, Sniper Elite III, is out at the end of June). Our founders and owners Jason and Chris Kingsley understood how important ownership was for a digital consumer, how being able to buy something and keep it was a vital part of the trust relationship between publisher and reader, and gamer. You bought the digital copy? Well that’s yours to keep forever, and not just until you change device or operating system. It can be put  like this: we value the support of legitimate customers more than we hate the activity of people who steal from us.

In the years since 2006 we've acquired the SF imprint Solaris books; begun simultaneous publishing in the UK and North America; launched the children’s and YA literature imprint Ravenstone; started our standalone ebook shop rebellionstore.com to go alongside 2000adonline.com; and have seen our books feature on the best-seller lists time and time again.

So, as a leading publisher of comics and genre fiction in the UK it’s great to have had Tor and others join us in the DRM-free world. The others will be along soon, we're sure.


Hello again friends, and welcome back to final part of our Journal of the Plague Year interview series. I'm sure you all know the drill by now, but just in case you ended up here by taking a wrong turn somewhere between google and facebook (we've all been there, don't worry - you're safe now) please do pull up a chair and catch up with part one and two in series first. We'll give you a moment, there's no rush.

All good? Fantastic, then let me pass you on to the more than capable hands of Abaddon editor David Moore and Adrian Tchaikovsky, author of the The Bloody Deluge.

DM: Eastern Europe is an area not well represented in English-language fiction. What does the region have to offer to English readers?

AT: Eastern Europe (or, from the Polish perspective, Central Europe) is a cornucopia of history that simply doesn’t filter much into English sensibilities. There are centuries of struggle and tragedy and heroic incident east of where the Iron Curtain once stood that people in the West simply don’t hear about, unless they’ve read Michener or Zamoyski, say. And some of it is frankly a gift for a writer of speculative fiction. The siege of Jasna Gora during the original Deluge – the Swedish invasion of Poland – is like something out of David Gemmell – the single monastery holding out against the invading army until the people rise up and drive them out – ok, that is a massively simplified summary, but still. And in Russia, of course, you’ve got Alexander Nevsky and his fight against the Teutonic Knights – the battle on the ice, all of that. For a writer, there is an enormous store of material there waiting to be tapped, that is going to be unfamiliar and fresh to most English-language readers. 

DM: Faith versus scepticism is a big theme in your story, represented at the extremes by Rev. Calumn and Dr. Weber and by more moderate voices among the inmates at Jasna Góra. Is this an important subject for you? Where do you stand?

AT: Is it an important subject for me? I guess I would be very happy to live in a world where faith wasn’t a constant source of global friction, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. In Deluge I’ve tried to provide a range of possibilities rather than casting the debate in black and white. Calumn is a TV evangelist, an opportunist fopr whom religion is a way of holding on to power and influence, both before and after the fall, and needless to say he’s not a very nice man. Abbot Leszek is more complex, and I can’t really say too much about him without spoilers, but he’s certainly not an unblemished soul by any means. Emil Weber, though... I mean, to a certain extent, Weber is a Dawkins-style figure. He is an atheist who sees the rational world being overtaken by a new wave of religious extremism in the wake of the plague. He has the good of humanity at heart, but he has no compromise in him, so he is constantly striking sparks from anyone who disagrees with him. And he’s right. Weber is absolutely right in his concerns about the way the future could go, and I think in his position I would have exactly the same fears – of a new dark age of ignorance – I just wouldn’t necessarily have the utter – and sometimes insufferable – courage of my convictions in the way that he does. 

DM: Katy Lewkowitz is an awesome hero, at a time when female characterisation is very much a hot topic in genre. What makes a good female hero? What do you look for?

AT: What makes a good female hero: depth, strengths, weaknesses, moments of testing, doubts, triumphs and failures. And being female. For a male hero, the same, but substitute “male” for that last. I write a lot of female protagonists, which at base I think is probably a reaction to fantasy fiction having a preponderance of male protagonists, because I’m awkward like that. I probably write about heroic insect-characters for the same reason. I have seen various pros and cons advanced for male or female protagonists, and mostly these get mired very quickly in gender stereotyping. I don’t think there’s any barrier to having female characters – heroes, villains or spear-carriers - especially in fantasy where the author controls so many more of the variables. Once you’ve uncoupled yourself from that standard image of the hero as automatically male (white, able, cis, etc.), it allows for much more diverse writing – and I don’t mean diverse in a ‘politically correct’ sort of a way, just diverse. As a writer, there’s never a downside to having more options.

DM: You’re best known as a fantasy author. What was it like, writing in the post-apocalypse genre?

AT: Challenging. I’m very used to playing in a world where I get to call all the shots. Suddenly I’m writing in the real world, even if it’s a real world that’s gone completely to hell. There are all sorts of pre-set constants I’ve got to work with. I had to scrabble around for material on Jasna Gora, for example, to get the physical layout as accurate as I could (and I’m sure that people will find stuff that’s wrong anyway, and then I’ll never hear the end of it) – and that’s harder than you’d think because most of what people write about it focuses on small details – particular relics and treasures – rather than giving you a wargames-ready battle map. I also spent far too long with Google Earth working out roadmaps and routes over the German-Polish border.

DM: And was this your first work in a shared world? What are the pitfalls?

AT: Well, I got a good brief and a chance to ready some of the earlier novels, and I think that gave me a sufficient mental toolkit to approach the series. Also, of course, one of the reasons I took the action to Poland was that nobody else had been there, so I had a freer hand than if I’d wanted to set things in the US or the UK. From the brief, I saw that there was an existing mention of right-wing extremism erupting in Germany, but no hard details, and so I took that and ran with it, hopefully in a direction other than the obvious. 

In Adrian Tchaikovsky's The Bloody Deluge, Katy Lewlowitz and her friend and old tutor Dr. Emil Weber, fleeing the depredations of the so-called New Teutonic Order, take refuge among the strangely anachronistic survivors at the monastery of Jasna Góra in Western Poland. A battle of faith ensues, that could decide the future of humankind...

The Bloody Deluge is the third novella in the coming post-apocalyptic omnibus collection Journal of the Plague Year out 3rd July 2014 (UK) and 12th August 2014 (US).


Pre-order: UK | US or purchase the eBook on The Rebellion Store from 3rd July 2014

You can keep up to date with all things apocalyptic over at the Abaddon twitter feed, do stop by before it's too late.*



*In the case of an apocalypse Abaddon Books, its authors and staff take no responsibility whatsoever for any injuries, fatalities or general embarrassment suffered from recreating any advice or content found in either our twitter feed or publications, all of which is a work of fiction with the exception of David Moore who is part fiction and part grammar-droid. - LG

Hello and welcome back to the second instalment of our three part interview series with the great minds of the Journal of the Plague Year. Without further ado let's pass on to series editor David Moore and author of Dead Kelly C. B Harvey.

DM: What made you decide to set your novella in Australia?

CH: I guess the main reason was that I lived in Australia for a year and a half in an absolutely amazing place called the City of the Blue Mountains, just up from Sydney (I known, it sounds like something out of Tolkien). My wife got a job in Sydney and we shipped our two kids out there, plus all our stuff because we weren’t sure how long we were going to be there. So one minute we’re in Lewisham, south London, living the urban life, the next we’re gallivanting around this absolutely breath-taking scenery on the edge of an Australian national park. We spent the first month being terrified of the flora and fauna, which is compulsory for all wimpy British people upon arrival.

While I was there I got talking to some friends about Ned Kelly, a figure who’s interested me for a long time. There’s a Wild West and steampunk vibe to Ned Kelly that fascinates me. The Afterblight novels are pretty globe-trotting so I thought why not pitch something to David Moore that’s set in Australia. The novella takes place in Melbourne as I wanted to acknowledge its connection to Ned Kelly’s mythology. But beyond the armour and the similar sounding name the connection to Ned Kelly’s story pretty much stops there.

DM: Is this your first post-apocalyptic story? What was it like working in the genre?

Yes, this is the first time I’ve written anything in a post-apocalyptic setting. The hard part was anticipating which things would fall apart and which things would stay the same, and how quickly that would happen. Dead Kelly is set fairly soon after The Cull has happened, so while some things have decayed others are pretty familiar. In fact, that was the vibe I went for throughout the novella. Having never lived through an apocalypse, I’m guessing that it would be fairly surreal, so I snuck in a few strange juxtapositions to hopefully give that feeling of unease to the story.

CH: Dead Kelly is a classic revenge drama; McGuire really doesn’t have any higher purpose (or redeeming features!). How do you feel modern audiences respond to this style of story?

McGuire is quite clearly psychotic, but he does have a motivation. He’s the ultimate Darwinian. He believes in himself and only himself, and he’ll make sure he survives at any cost whatsoever by killing anyone who might possibly have wronged him. And to him surviving means not just him surviving, but his legacy too. When I was writing it a certain high-profile politician had died and I was interested in the way in which this individual’s legacy was stage-managed in order that certain narratives could dominate, and others could be excluded. 

Personally I really admire stories in which we’re forced to empathise with the villain or anti-hero. I think a lot of us do: I can think of quite a few contemporary examples where that’s the case. There isn’t really a heroic character in this story, but then I’m not sure a post-apocalyptic world would really need (another) hero. At the risk of sounding like Tina Turner in shoulder pads.

DM: The novella’s more than a little reminiscent of the “Ozsploitation” genre of the ’80s. Are you a fan?

Given my previous comment you might have guessed I’m a huge Mad Max fan. My older brother and sister were totally obsessed by the films and that was a massive influence on me growing up (not that I was allowed to watch it at the time, you understand – I would have been far too young and that would have been very wrong). In fact, Jon Oliver name-checks Mad Max 2 at the beginning of the America Afterblight omnibus, so it’s not just me it’s influenced. Can’t wait to see what they’ve done in terms of the new film and game, by the way.

CH: You’re SFX Magazine’s first Pulp Idol alumnus. How’s that affected your life?

Massively. It led to me getting my first licensed commission, a Doctor Who short story for one of Big Finish’s licensed anthologies (thank you Joe Lidster and Ian Farrington) which in turn led to a variety of other commissions. Plus, winning something like that gives you an enormous boost of confidence which, let’s face it, writers can always do with. I also work part-time as a university academic and publish a lot of stuff about pulp fantasy and shared worlds – winning Pulp Idol and the commissions that came subsequently have all fed into that. 

DM: This isn’t your first experience working in a shared world. How does working within the Afterblight world compare with the tie-in fiction you’ve done?

When I got the commission I did momentarily freeze and think lawks, look at whose footsteps I’m following in: Scott Andrews, Simon Spurrier, Rebecca Levene, Jasper Bark, Al Ewing, Paul Kane… I mean, that’s a pretty impressive group of wordsmiths. But once you’ve got over that nerve-juddering feeling of intimidation, you get to see the advantages. One is that the Afterblight world has been very carefully carved by these people, and that a lot of the key details are in place. Sure, they take the world in very different directions, but the building blocks are there. 


At the same time, I had a lot of flexibility with Dead Kelly, more than I’ve had with the various licenses I’ve worked on. While the jumping-off point is the same – The Cull – my story is set in a geographically distant location. So early on in the story’s chronology there are some sly references to the same phenomena that have occurred in some of the other stories, because early on the Internet, the global media would still have been functioning, so I thought there would inevitably be parallels with what was happening elsewhere on the planet. But quite soon we’re on our own merry, murderous path. 

Dead Kelly is the second novella in the coming post-apocalyptic omnibus collection Journal of the Plague Year out 3rd July 2014 (UK) and 12th August 2014 (US).

Pre-order: UK | US or purchase the eBook on The Rebellion Store from 3rd July 2014

Over the next three days Team Abaddon will be picking the brains of the three authors contributing to Journal of the Plague Year with questions courtesy of Abaddon editor extraordinaire David Moore. 

Taking "one small step" for author-kind and first up in the firing line we have Orbital Decay's Malcolm Cross; over to you David and Malcolm.

DM: So, space: pretty fucking terrifying, judging by Orbital Decay. We’re guessing that must have been a sobering bit of research?

MC: Space is terrifying. It's one of the relatively few environments in which humanity has no business being. We can climb mountains unaided, we can free-dive to incredible depths, with training we can go almost anywhere on our little world with virtually no tools whatsoever, and the penalties for failure start with discomfort, not death.

It doesn't just start in space, either. Some of the earliest deaths in space exploration took place on the ground, fires during equipment testing. There were the shuttle disasters, Challenger and Columbia. Hell, the first attempt to dock with the first space station (Salyut 1) failed, and the second attempt, successful, killed the entire crew of Soyuz 11 through depressurization during their re-entry burn after a problem undocking from Salyut 1. All of these men and women were being supported by superpowers, assisted by hundreds (if not thousands) of engineers. None of them had a chance.

But, thankfully, there are more successes than losses, more close shaves than catastrophes. Some of them hilarious, turds floating around the Apollo 10 capsule, some of them scary, like the fire aboard Mir.
Space exploration is a potentially lethal game, even when everything goes right.

DM: Orbital Decay digs pretty deeply into the epidemiology of the Cull. Is that a particular area of interest for you? Did the series canon present you much difficulty when writing these parts?

MC: Ooof. The series canon is a topic in itself -- I wound up reading the entire series (eleven books, back then) in a little over three weeks, specifically to figure out what was going on. The Afterblight Chronicles, and the Cull, have passed through a lot of hands over the years, and I have to say, there have been some dissenting viewpoints on how it all went down.

I've always enjoyed trying to figure out just how seemingly impossible fictional things might be real. I think my first semi-plausible crack at it was when Street Fighter 2 was brand new, and I wasn't quite ten years old. You know how they throw fireballs around in that game? Yeah, well, when space shuttles come back to Earth they get surrounded by fire just like that because they're moving so fast the friction burns the air and obviously that is how the Street Fighter characters can throw fire around. Obviously. (Footnote: Actually the air ahead of the spacecraft is massively compressed by the shockwave of its motion through the atmosphere, and that causes far more heating than friction does, but I had no idea about that as a kid.)

Thankfully, the real science behind viruses and the seemingly impossible horror of the Cull are far easier to meld together for a plausible explanation. One of the key mysteries behind the Cull -- how it so selectively attacks almost everyone bar those with O-Negative blood -- was one of the most focal.

To grossly oversimplify, if you're AB-Positive, you have no blood-group relevant antibodies, and you have all three antigens -- A, B, and Rhesus -- on the cell-walls of your red blood cells, which act as a kind of flag to tell your immune system that this is one of your cells, not something invading your body. If you're O-Negative, you have none of these antigens, and you have every single one of the antibodies that attack the antigens as if they're an infectious substance. You're protected. (You also can't receive a blood transfusion from anyone else, but you can give blood to just about anyone -- so do consider blood donation if you're so fortunate!)

Now, when you learn that some viruses tear a piece out of its host-cell's walls and wrap themselves up with it, effectively camouflaging it against the body's immune system... well. It doesn't take a microbiologist (and I'm not one) to see the potential mayhem if this trait had to arise in one of the viruses which alter a cell's DNA specifically to change how it divides and what kind of tissue it produces -- some of these are the oncoviruses, responsible for some types of cancer. It could be something very much like a burglar armed with a set of keys to your house, trying each one in turn until something fits!

DM: On which note, what was it like working in a shared world?

MC: I mentioned reading all eleven books in three weeks-ish? No world bible back then.
That part was exhausting. Like wandering into the minotaur's maze, but thankfully I left a thread marking my path for others to follow, in the form of a lot of clippings and some other notes which David Moore's now the custodian for. But it's also a lot of fun, adding your own little branch to what is now a very large (if scabrous and plague-ridden) tree.

It's not your usual series, either. We meet many of the characters once, or over the course of a trilogy, and then move on to some other part of the post-apocalypse. One of the reason the series title -- 'The Afterblight Chronicles' -- is so very apt. It's like working on a collaborative history of the world's end. Almost a communal meditation on what it is to lose everything.

Certainly, it's unique. I spent a lot of time worrying about getting something 'wrong', early on. Some misplaced detail or element of timing that'd ruin it for the fans, doing something that'd tread on another of the authors' toes, something like that. But, in the end, by stepping carefully and becoming a fan of the series myself, it became quite a lot of fun to add a bit on to what's already there.  

 DM: Orbital Decay is arguably unusual among post-apocalypse stories in that it occurs right at the very outset of the apocalypse. Does that change the tone much?

MC: There are a few other stories that do it, some recent zombie books, and Mira Grant's 'Parasite' is certainly set in what seems to be the early phases of a unique little apocalypse, but it is definitely unusual. Most works take the apocalypse for granted, or at the very least skip over it to get to the good parts.

As a result, I think a lot of post-apocalyptic literature counterintuitively focuses on growth. What we gain, how we fill the now empty gaps, how we survive, how we (hopefully) find a new way to thrive. The single seedling sprouting from a cratered landscape. A new equilibrium with the world around us, holistic and all that, yeah?

Orbital Decay is about being stuck in a tiny little can hundreds of miles over the ground while everything you ever knew, friends, family, and nations, die choking on their own blood and all you can do is watch.
It's very heavy metal.

More seriously? I think it's about mourning and redemption. Looking loss in the eye and coming to terms with it on that basis, rather than the long and gradual process of putting it behind you, finding closure, and moving on -- which has been done very skilfully in the two Afterblight trilogies, Scott K. Andrews's School's Out books and Paul Kane's Hooded Man series.


In Malcolm Cross' Orbital Decay, the team in the International Space Station watch helplessly as the world is all but wiped out. Exiled from Earth by his blood-type, astronaut Alvin Burrows must solve the mystery of the "Pandora" experiment, even as someone on the station takes to murdering the crew one by one...

Orbital Decay is the first novella in the coming post-apocalyptic omnibus collection Journal of the Plague Year out 3rd July 2014 (UK) and 12th August 2014 (US).

Pre-order: UK | US or purchase the eBook on The Rebellion Store from 3rd July 2014
We are DELIGHTED to reveal that the incredibly talented Adrian Tchaikovsky will be the final author contributing to Journal of the Plague Year, the latest omnibus in the Afterblight Chronicles series. He joins fantastic new talent Malcolm Cross and C. B. Harvey.

The Cull swept the world in the early years of the twenty-first century, killing billions and ending civilisation as we know it. Only those fortunate to be blessed with the right blood were spared. In the latest instalment to the shared world of Afterblight Chronicles three fantastic authors lead us further into the apocalypse: 

In Cross’ Orbital Decayastronaut Alvin Burrows watches helplessly as the world collapses, and the crew on board the Space Station are murdered one by one.

In Harvey’s Dead Kellyfugitive Kelly McGuire returns to the lawless city of Melbourne seeking revenge on his old gang mates.

In Tchaikovsky’s The Bloody Deluge (previously unpublished) biochemist Katy Lewkowitz and her friend Dr Emil Weber seek refuge from the deadly cult of the New Teutonic Order.

Journal of the Plague Year is an omnibus collection of three unique novellas; it will thrill, enthral and horrify you in equal measures.

Publishing Summer 2014. 

Pre-order it today: UK | US 
 Available from the Rebellion Store from July 3rd. 

Check back soon for more information, news and reviews.
Releasing today for the US market we have the sublime Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising by Sarah Cawkwell.

England bleeds. Magic is forbidden, Richard III’s corrupt dynasty must fall.

Mathias Eynon’s dreams were small. A dabbler in magic, he expected to live in obscurity in his home in the Welsh hills. But fate has other plans for him. It is the Year of Our Lord Fifteen Eighty-Nine, and a revolution is quietly brewing. Richard the Fifth has overstayed his rule, some say; the line of Demon Kings must be burned out. When the Inquisitor Charles Weaver comes to Mathias’ village, he is thrust into events beyond his understanding.

Sarah has been relentlessly taking over the internet this month, and now you can read her eagerly awaited new title in paperback(amazon)*, on the kindle or in eBook format directly from the Rebellion store.

*You can also purchase Uprisingfrom your local book emporium – give them a call today and check they have it in stock.



So, 'What If?'…

I have just surfaced from reading Richard J. Evans’s opinion on ‘what-if’ speculations in history, published in The Guardian on 13th March 2014. His thoughts are very heavily based in fact, rather than fiction, but there is a certain relevance to the theme of my upcoming novel, Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising. Thus, it seemed appropriate to spark off something of a debate on the subject of  historical ‘what-if’.
“Perhaps it's because we're living in a postmodern age where the idea of progress has largely disappeared, to be replaced by uncertainty and doubt, and where linear notions of time have become blurred; or because truth and fiction no longer seem such polar opposites as they once did; or because historians now have more licence to be subjective than they used to. But it's time to be sceptical about this trend. We need, in this year especially, to start to try to understand why the first world war happened, not to wish that it hadn't, or argue about whether it was "right" or "wrong". In the effort to understand, counterfactuals aren't any real use at all.”
- Richard J. Evans
Let’s see. To me, this reads in a manner which suggests Evans is clearly not a man who has any interest in speculation. None whatsoever. He deals in the currency of cold, hard fact, not the airy-fairy world of daydreaming and imagination. I have a lot of respect for that and what happened in history is what happened in history. Short of owning a TARDIS (or, for preference, a De Lorean) there’s not a lot we can do about that. What has happened has happened. We, as a species exist for the now and for tomorrow. We can’t change what has been and why should we?

This is why. Because we are also a species of dreamers and we have been gifted with something extraordinary. Something unique. Something that those embedded in the world of fact can sometimes lose sight of. We are storytellers. From the Viking skalds through to the parent sat reading a nursery rhyme to their infant child, we tell one another stories. We invoke fear, excitement, pleasure, laughter, tears with the written fictional word and to be able to read and write stories is a remarkable gift. I wonder if Mr. Evans reads fiction? I do hope that he does, although from the terse nature of his article (interesting and relevant as it is), I would think that if he does, he avoids the ‘historical fiction’ shelf in his bookshop. For my money, that’s his loss.


To spend hours or even a lifetime debating in earnest fashion the ‘what if’ scenarios outline by Evans in his article seems to me to be bordering on the wistful and in that, I see eye to eye with the author. But yet I disagree that ‘counterfactuals’ aren’t any real use at all. They encourage a deeper understanding of the historical events that surround an outcome. If you can take someone with only a passing interest in an event that changed the world – let’s say the first world war – and ask them what the world might have been like if xx had or had not happened, there’s a good chance they might go away and learn more about the actual facts. In that, you educate people. They learn. They gain interest. And that is a wonderful, extraordinary thing.

But at the same time, it’s human nature to have regret. It’s in our psychological make-up to wonder how things might have been different if we had only taken the other route to work the morning of that car crash, for example.

History is a living thing. We create history every day. It may not be earth-changing or world-shattering, but every action has a consequence. If you were to stop and consider all the actual possibilities of an action, you’d never do anything for fear of heading down the wrong pathway. 

There are so many theories on this, the most well documented being that for every decision we make, the alternative decisions are played out in parallel dimensions. That somewhere, there exists another you who decided to actually sit down and revise for that exam actually then went on to university, then became the world’s expert on your chosen subject. Owns a beach house in the Caribbean. Drives a Lotus Elise.

Man. I hate that version of me.

Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising is speculative, what-if historical fiction with a twist. It has fantasy elements thrown in. There is magic. There are demons. There are most definitely consequences for actions. It is not in any way meant to be an academic study of ‘what would have happened if Richard III had won at Bosworth’ but it sure as hell makes me wonder.

Is that so very wrong? I don’t think it is.



Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising will be published in paperback and ebook in North America on May 27th and in the UK and Ireland on 5th June.


Author Sarah Cawkwell recently wrote a piece for the Abaddon blog about her forthcoming new novel, Heirs of the Demon King, which is set in an England where Richard III didn't die at Bosworth Field and instead founded dark and despotic dynasty that rules the nation with terror and magic...

Someone else connected with Abaddon also spent the weekend proving that you can't keep a good king (bad king, shurely? - Ed.) down - Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley!

Those who've heard of Jason before will know that he enjoys donning armour, getting onto a horse, and galloping at a similarly attired gent with a long stick in his hand - but it turns out he also does a mean impression of the last King of the Plantagenets:


Here's some video of him charging around like a madman and no doubt we'll see the fruits of his battle-hardened labour soon.

You can keep up (if you dare) with Jason on his Twitter feed, plus Heirs of the Demon King is out in June and can be pre-ordered through Amazon in the UK and North America.