Mark Samuels - Glyphotech (PS Showcase #4: September 2008) £10.00 [$15.00]
Cover Artist: Jason Van Hollander
Ramsey Campbell - Introduction
Glyphotech Sentinels Patient 704 Shallaballah Ghorla Cesare Thodol: Some Lines Written on a Wall The Cannibal Kings of Horror Destination Nihil by Edmund Bertrand The Vanishing Point Regina vs. Zoskia A Gentleman from Mexico
The fourth in our series of PS Showcase mini-collections of short stories from some of genre fiction's best up-and-coming writers.
In the introduction to this collection Ramsey Campbell states that the two modern masters of urban weirdness are Thomas Ligotti and Mark Samuels. Inside this book you will find weird things indeed, not least the likes of:
The fungus-riddled mannequin in the lunatic asylum The reconstruction company that works with life and death The legal nightmare where the sane are guilty A horror writing convention taken over by black magic cannibals The Punch and Judy show broadcast live after death The strange fate of the reincarnation of H.P. Lovecraft
Black Book of Horror, Best New Horror's 17, 18 and 19, Summer Chills and now a bootleg Word document - it's like i've been collecting Glyphotech in installments. Anyway, yesterdays unforgettable encounter with the beyond cantankerous horror legend Edmund Bertrand in The Cannibal Kings Of Horror has reminded me that i've been meaning to splash out on Glyphotech ever since I read the ghoulish Death Lines for the noughties, Sentinels, way back in the previous Best New Horror, so some other poor sod will be due more Postal Order fun and games shortly! Delighted to see that the collection reprints an original from the admirably sociopath Mr. Bertrand and am looking forward to a return match with Regina vs. Zoskia from Charles' first Black Book as the final, terrible revelation made a deeply unpleasant impression at the time.
As with previous PS Showcase editions, the print run is limited to 300 copies: order direct from P.S. Publishing.
Mr. Samuels reads an extract from his Lovecraft lives! chiller, A Gentleman From Mexico, HERE
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty. - Christine Campbell Thomson
Mark Samuels - Glyphotech (PS Showcase #4: September 2008) £10.00 [$15.00]
The lead story 'GLYPHOTECH' itself is a very effective, disturbing Dickian treatment of the Credit Crunch insidiously starting with ostensible building works not a million miles from sub-primate mortgages. The toxicity of office life absorbed by collapsing floors of confidence. Belief the false bargain. Hedge fund faces and fingernails.
The 2nd story in MFS's 'Glyphotech and Other Macabre Processes' is SENTINELS. A run-of-the-track zombie story or something far deeper?
Loved PATIENT 704 - combining a mix of Tarr & Fether, Big Brother Celebrity Reality TV, Andy Warhol, Aickman, dubious or dimmer-switch identities... Still not fathomed 704, but something I meant to mention before after first reading it: the expression: 'the space left behind by the contraction of omniscience'. This seems very related to my own concept of Nemonymity.
Des "Patient 704" was the only tale that I wanted salvaged from the Black Altars collection. Did you spot why it was 704 and not another number? It's a bit of cheat, admittedly, but I'm interested that no-one has picked up on this aspect to the tale at all. Mark S.
I thought it would be too obvious to mention. '704 pixels' is a measurement in standard definition television.
I didn't know that. Good answer. But it's not the right one.
Got it! I've just read SHALLAHBALLAH (the 4th story in the book) which seems to be a sister story of PATIENT 704 (i.e. more Big Brother Reality surveillance in a clinical setting, TV sets, 'The Prisoner' or 'Lost' TV vibes (as well as Ligottian puppets)) - and there is a Studio 7 with a four-frequency tone. Not the 704 pixels of SDTV after all or even 8 x 88. Omniscience weakens even further, I guess. :-) Great story, btw.
GHORLA - a relatively long tale - with (again!) the theme of between TV-channels static (the man at the *reception* desk), yellow wallpaper, transvestism, third-eye theosophy, transmgration of souls, Aickman-like bus journey, old-fashioned story-telling devices -- wow! Just that. Wow!
CESARE THODOL: SOME LINES WRITTEN ON A WALL: sibling symbiosis as with the Ghorla story written in a charming Lovecraftian Poesqueness - weaving a phantasmal cancer of an audit trail, reminding me inexplicably of Quatermass. PS: Any news on 704?
Mark Samuels: A=1, B=2 and so on. So, 7=G and 4=D. When it comes to "0" this is the cheat. "0" is really the letter "O". Patient 7"O"4= GOD. Patient 704 is God. ;;;
THE CANNIBAL KINGS OF HORROR: Seriously - this is a work of 6-21-3-11-9-7 genius, you 3-21-14-20 ! But did you make the ending so silly that people wouldn't take the rest of it seriously? And did you criticise Abaddon on this thread because you knew someone just might be commenting on this story later in the same thread? And will TL still be friends with you after mentioning 'bungalow house' in connection with Ed Bertrand? ;-) And why is it dangerous to sign your name? My copy of this book is signed. Perhaps it's not yours. Seriously, this is one of those GREAT stories!
The next story - 'DESTINATION NIHIL by Edmund Bertrand'. I couldn't keep my eager reading-eyes off it till tomorrow. Supposedly written by a character in the previous story, this is an excellent Grabiñski-like dream-conundrum with REAL earth in which to delve one's half-formed reading-fingers. Reminds me of the train I had as a child in the Fifties. This book's as yet half-formed gestalt is slowly shaping up... Can you please ask Bertrand what he thinks about the Intentional Fallacy.
THE VANISHING POINT is a brilliant story. Very much in tune with my own themes of TV reality / non-reality (if you see my work over the years) and my comments on the recent 'Big Brother / Dead Set' zombie film (which the story uncannily prefigures) and my comments on the philosophy of the 'Big Brother' programme itself. A good coining: sham existence. The gestalt of this book is now surely almost fully formed? I won't prejudge but I think this book is an original classic so far assuming we have already reached its tipping-point?
Des Bertrand said, of the intentional fallacy, that he was in favour of anything that killed authors. Mark S.
Thanks, which does shed some light on the next story; REGINA VS. ZOSKIA Jarndyce & Jarndyce taken to Tarr-&-Fetherian (again), decadent, relicular, Kafkaesque heights or depths - mirror-images, indeed, Bertrand & Bertrand.. The killing of authors by insanity. Innocent sex via flirting. Plus this book's perennial: transmission static (this time on the car radio) as the eighth type of ambiguity. I intend to read the last story in this book later today. Before I too grow insane.
A GENTLEMAN FROM MEXICO Like 'Cannibals', this is a (meta-)story for readers in the 'horror genre' know. For me, its ethos resembles Brigid Brophy's theory that Bierce was replaced by Borges in South America. A well-written story I really enjoyed especially as it had the line: "What is certain is that the D.F. would rise again, as filthy, crazed and glorious as before." ;-) ===============
THE WHOLE BOOK There is a thread of fungus/cancer, inspiraton, insanity, sleeplessness, creative transmission that weaves through nemonymous labyrinths (paradoxically) of many souls and one soul. Them and me. Static yet vibrant (again paradoxically). Both old-fashioned and revolutionary fiction (again paradoxically). Ligotti, Grabinski, Dickens, Lovecraft, Poe, Kafka, Borges, Machen, but essentially Samuels, the good old-fashioned Mark of Genius who knows not what lies within him... It was a privilege to read this book.