Search

WILLIAM MEIKLE

Genre Fiction

Category

Personal

BOOK REVIEW – 5/5 stars to OUR LADY OF DARKNESS by FRITZ LEIBER

Our Lady Of DarknessOur Lady Of Darkness by Fritz Leiber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OUR LADY OF DARKNESS isn’t an exciting read. It’s a slow burner, a mass of details, all seeming inconsequential at first, that build and grow into something that is ultimately rich and strange and terrifying.

There’s a lot going on here, in the range and depth of characters that remind me of some of Raymond Chandler’s or Ross MacDonald’s lost people in California, in the details of the occult nature of city building, and in the secret pasts of famous genre writers such as Jack London and Clark Ashton Smith among others.

It’s all wrapped up in a mystery being solved by a broken man, trying to put a jigsaw of pieces back into some kind of order that might make sense to him.

It’s compelling stuff, and the denouement is the stuff of nightmares for bibliophiles.

One of the great works of modern supernatural literature, it deserves to be much better known than it is.

View all my reviews

Captain’s Log – A commentary on the state of the world

 

“It appears to be organic, Captain,” the technician said. The huge viewing screen in mission control confirmed that there was indeed something new in the skies overhead. The ISS had spotted it first, some thirty minutes earlier—a darker patch in space almost dead ahead in their plane of orbit. It covered over a thousand cubic miles of space, and seemed to be getting bigger at an exponential rate.

“I can see that,” Captain Rogers said. “But what is it?”

“Spectrographic analysis coming in five, sir,” the technician replied, then, under his breath. “But I know what it looks like.”

Rogers had been thinking the same thing.

It looks like a wet cowpat. A bloody enormous wet cowpat.

The ISS comms link crackled into life.

“Houston, we have a problem.” Colonel Franks, the British head of the team, had lost some of his normal reserve. “It’s starting to smell like crap up here. We need to get to a higher orbit, and fast.”

That was the last broadcast of note from the vessel. Two minutes later they heard strangled retching. Franks shouted.

“Shit.”

The line went dead.

*

By the time Rogers got called into a command meeting five minutes later the phenomenon—nobody wanted to give it a name yet—occupied two thousand cubic miles of space. The ISS was lost, somewhere inside.

“Is it still showing up on radar?” someone asked.

“No,” Rogers replied. “All we can see is…decaying organic material.”

“What do you mean by that?” the General asked.

“Crap, General, to put it bluntly. As far as we can tell it’s a waste product emanating from a sub-space anomaly at its center.”

“A waste product? From where?”

“That’s what we’re trying to determine right now, sir.”

“And the station is somewhere inside this stuff?”

“We believe so,” Rogers said. “If it maintains orbit, it should come out the other side in ten minutes or so.”

“And if it doesn’t?”

If it doesn’t, we’re all in the shit.

*

The ISS was declared lost an hour later. The decaying organic matter—spaceshit as it had become known everywhere except the command room—now covered a huge expanse of space, currently in an almost geostationary orbit over North America.

“We should nuke it,” the General said. “Nuke it now, before it gets any bigger.”

“We risk turning one pile of crap into a million small piles of crap,” Rogers replied. “We’d all be up to our necks in it.”

“I’m there already,” the General replied. “The President wants answers, and he wants them yesterday.”

“Well here’s an answer for him,” Rogers said grimly. “Given its current rate of expansion, the whole planet will be engulfed in less than a day. It’ll blot out the sun completely.”

And when that happens, we really will be up shit creek.

*

Dawn brought with it a chocolate brown sky and an odor that drove everyone inside—but even there the stench pervaded everything and everywhere.

“It could be worse,” Rogers said, with a macabre sense of humor. “It could be raining.”

Thick brown droplets began to spatter out of the lowering clouds.

“Nuke it,” the General snarled. “Let’s nuke the bastards.”

*

The Russians and the Chinese had the same idea. Five separate nukes were sent up. The spaceshit swallowed them all without so much as a burp; the only outcome was an even faster rate of growth.

Rogers’ estimate was proved right. Within a day the planet was completely engulfed. The brown rain fell over everything, too thick to run off to sewers and rivers. It just lay there, stinking and putrid.

The President demanded results, and Rogers’ team was expected to deliver. Rogers held a command meeting, but the outcome was less than edifying. Beyond sending up more nukes the best minds at NASA came up blank.

“We can’t exactly hose it all down,” someone said, but nobody laughed.

“We should try communicating with it,” one of the scientists said, his voice little more than a whisper.

The General barked a laugh.

“If you think I’m going to try to talk to shit…”

Rogers put up a hand.

“Maybe he has a point. This stuff is coming out of a sub-space anomaly. Whatever’s on the other side might be capable of listening.”

The General sighed.

“Nothing else has worked. Do what you can. But best make it fast. We’re two feet deep outside the door already, and rising fast.”

*

“Just to get this straight. We’re using the most sophisticated, most powerful piece of broadcast technology on the planet to talk to a pile of shit?” the General said as they prepared the message.

Rogers nodded, unwilling to reply, as that meant opening his mouth and tasting the air—it had become noticeably more foul in the past hour or so, almost palpably so.

“Make it so,” he said.

The message got delivered.

The world held its breath, for several reasons.

The response came as a string of beeps, whistles and static—a message, of sorts, but one that was going to take a while to decode. All Rogers knew was that they had been right.

“It’s slowing down, sir.”

*

The cleanup operation took several years, and the smell lingered for a long time afterwards. At the same time, teams of interpreters and code-breakers from all over the world attempted to decipher the message that had come out of the anomaly.

When Rogers finally saw the translation, he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

“We’re terribly sorry. It was a genuine mistake. We saw what you were doing to the planet and thought we’d come to the right place.”

 

New Release info – Deal or No Deal

My latest novella, DEAL OR NO DEAL is out today, and is a return to the world of Derek Adams, the Midnight Eye, and the streets of Glasgow

Three beers and a packet of crisps is a tempting offer for your soul when you don’t really believe you have one. But when it comes time to pay up, suddenly it doesn’t seem like such a sweet deal. You’re going to need help, but who are you going to call?

I read widely, both in the crime and horror genres, but my crime fiction in particular keeps returning to older, pulpier, bases.

My series character, Glasgow PI Derek Adams, is a Bogart and Chandler fan, and it is the movies and Americana of the ’40s that I find a lot of my inspiration for him, rather than in the modern procedural.

That, and the old city, are the two main drivers for the Midnight Eye stories.

When I was a lad, back in the early 1960s, we lived in a town 20 miles south of Glasgow, and it was an adventure to the big city when I went with my family on shopping trips. Back then the city was a Victorian giant going slowly to seed.

It is often said that the British Empire was built in Glasgow on the banks of the river Clyde. Back when I was young, the shipyards were still going strong, and the city centre itself still held on to some of its past glories.

It was a warren of tall sandstone buildings and narrow streets, with Edwardian trams still running through them. The big stores still had pneumatic delivery systems for billing, every man wore a hat, collar and tie, and steam trains ran into grand vaulted railway stations filled with smoke.

Also by the time I was a student, a lot of the tall sandstone buildings had been pulled down to make way for tower blocks. Back then they were the new shiny future, taking the people out of the Victorian ghettos and into the present day.

Fast forward to the present day and there are all new ghettos. The tower blocks are ruled by drug gangs and pimps. Meanwhile there have been many attempts to gentrify the city centre, with designer shops being built in old warehouses, with docklands developments building expensive apartments where sailors used to get services from hard faced girls, and with shiny, trendy bars full of glossy expensively dressed bankers.

And underneath it all, the old Glasgow still lies, slumbering, a dreaming god waiting for the stars to be right again.

Derek Adams, The Midnight Eye, knows the ways of the old city. And, if truth be told, he prefers them to the new.

He’s turned up in three novels so far, THE AMULET, THE SIRENS and THE SKIN GAME, all out now in ebook at all the usual online stores and in shiny new paperback and audiobook editions from Gryphonwood Press.

THE AMULET is also out in a Portuguese language edition from Retropunk Publicadoes (with the other 2 to follow) and there’s a German language edition of THE AMULET from Blitz Verlag.

There’s also an ever growing list of Midnight Eye short stories and this new novella, DEAL OR NO DEAL.

Derek has developed a life of his own, and I’m along for the ride.


Coming up from me…

After a relatively quiet patch on the publications front, I’ve got a lot of material coming out in the rest of 2017 and through 2018.

On the longer works side I have the following:

  • Songs of Dreaming Gods, a Sigils and Totems novel from DarkFuse
  • The Boathouse, a Sigils and Totems novel from DarkFuse
  • Ramskull, a Hammer horror homage novel from DarkFuse
  • The Ghost Club, a Victorian supernatural short story collection from Crystal Lake Publishing
  • Carnacki: The Edinburgh Townhouse, a short story collection from the Lovecraft ezine imprint
  • The Job, a Sigils and Totems novella from DarkFuse
  • Deal or No Deal, a Midnight Eye novella from Gryphonwood Press

As for stories in anthologies, there’s these to look forward to:

  • The Root of All Things / By the Light of Camelot / EDGE Publishing
  • The Last Quest / Through a Mythos Darkly / PS Publishing
  • Blacktop / I Am The Abyss / Dark Regions Press
  • Nocturnes and Lacunae / Transmissions From Punktown / Dark Regions Press
  • Call and Response / The Arkham Detective Agency / Dark Regions Press
  • The Longdock Air / Shadows Over Main Street 2 / Cuttingblock Press
  • The Pied Piper of Providence / Once Upon An Apocalypse / Crystal Lake Publishing
  • Outposts / Further tales of Cthulhu Invictus / Golden Goblin Press
  • Tumshiehied / Between Twilight and Dawn / Golden Goblin Press
  • The Needs of the Many / The Stars at Our Door / April Moon
  • The Mouth of the Ness / Cryptid Clash / 18th Wall Productions
  • Carnacki: The Lusitania / Fearful Fathoms / Scarlet Galleon

There’s also a whole load of German Language editions of my books in the works at Blitz Verlag and Voodoo Press, with THE INVASION from Blitz Verlag being next in the pipeline.

So there’s that lot, a couple of secret projects I can’t talk about, and a load of other things currently out on submission. More than enough to keep me busy well through 2017 and past my 60th birthday in January.

If you want to keep up to date with publication dates and releases of the above, announcements will be made first on my newsletter.  ( there’s a free ebook of my HOME FROM THE SEA collection in it for you too if you sign up ).

Onward!

 

And now for something completely different…

I don’t think I’m going to be writing any straight horror fiction for a wee while. I looked my worst nightmare in the face a couple of weeks back (those of you who need to know, already know ), and came out the other side of it with a different perspective on life, and how I want to spend the rest of it.

I won’t be giving up writing – I don’t think I could at this stage – but my focus will be different.

Quite how that will manifest itself is yet to be seen. I certainly envisage writing more Carnacki tales, and I can’t quit weird fiction entirely, as it’s in my blood. But as I said, I’ve faced my real horror; the written thing isn’t going to cut it for me, at least for the time being.

So right now I’m reevaluating the way ahead. A big project has fallen in my lap that gives me some breathing room, a sprawling, epic, historical thing with only hints of the supernatural, and I’m going to dive into that to see where it takes me.

There’s a couple of invitation stories I need to write first, but neither of them are straight horror either, so they’ll get done in the next week or so. Then it’s head down and head first into something different.

I think that’s what’s needed about now.

I probably won’t be on social media all that much for a while either. If you want to follow irregular updates on progress, sign up for my newsletter. 

Onward.

Sherlock Holmes: The Dreaming Man, out now.

My new Sherlock Holmes novel, THE DREAMING MAN launches today from Gryphonwood Press.

There’s a paperback too for anyone who prefers hard copy.

THE DREAMING MAN is a novel length expansion to my earlier novella, REVENANT ( that makes up about the first 1/3 or so of this new story.)

Cover art once again by the great Wayne Miller.

AMAZON    SAMPLE

Meikle’s authorial voice is a thing of wonder as you find yourself drawn into the story and racing along after clues with Holmes and Dr. Watson, sometimes losing sight of the fact that this is a horror/armchair mystery mashup created by William Meikle and not one of Doyle’s own creations. – Hellnotes

After being called to help Mycroft with a case in the House of Lords, our duo find themselves on the run, pursued by the law and beset by a foe who cannot be traced.

The clues lead Holmes and Watson to an alchemist in Scotland, and deeper mysteries where they find their case linked to the quest for immortality, and a plot that might bring down the British Empire.

But even as the case appears to reach a conclusion, a series of seemingly unrelated robberies proves that the matter is larger – and more personal – than even the great detective can imagine.

A dreaming man, lost in a fugue, leads them down dark passages, through the streets of London – and underneath them.

Soon Holmes’ brother, Mycroft has to become involved, and the details of a fiendish plot become clearer when Mycroft is abducted.

A friend is lost and found again, an old enemy resurfaces and Holmes must walk perilous paths for a second time.

A fall is coming, a fall that has haunted Holmes’ dreams, and now must be faced again, in the place where past and present become one, and two old foes meet for a final battle.

Sign up, get a free ebook

Okay, lets do this one more time…

My mailing list is starting again from scratch on my own domain. If you signed up previously, please come over again and rejoin me.

As a reward and a celebration of the renewed list, I’m offering a free download of my HOME FROM THE SEA short story collection that contains 14 reprints of my personal favorite stories of recent years, including a couple of Carnackis, a Holmes, a Challenger and several stories originally from Chaosium anthologies.

You get the link in your welcome email after signing up…

Please sign up here: http://www.williammeikle.com/newsletter.html

Back in Glasgow with The Midnight Eye

I still can’t settle on my next big project.

Part of that is because I have so many things out in the pipline already sold and waiting to be published, and part of it is that I overloaded my brain last year in a frenzy of writing that seems to have, temporarily I hope, emptied me out a bit.

At times like this, I fall back into old patterns, familiar characters. The last time it happened I ended up writing a Carnacki collection.

This time, I’m back with Scottish P.I. Derek Adams. I wrote a novella back in early March that’s out on submission, and I’m working on a new story right now that’s growing like Topsy. It was just going to be a short story, but it’s just crested 10K words and gaining plot as it goes. It’s definitely going to be another novella, and might even be a novel if the stars are right.

I’m going way back to my roots with this one. I began it after a Facebook thread about selling my soul for three pints of beer and a packet of crisps, and I wondered, ‘what if…’

Derek came along, said he’d take it from there, and away we went.

Stepping into his shoes is like putting on a favorite jacket; it just feels comfortable to me, and I fall quickly into the voice and speech patterns of the Glasgow man.

The Glasgow in my Derek Adams stories is an idealised one, more the place I lived in forty years ago than it is now.

But as I said, I’m comfortable there, and so is Derek.

I’m excited to see where this one goes from here.

Book Review: 4/5 stars to GHOST TRAIN by Stephen Laws

Ghost TrainGhost Train by Stephen Laws

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my introduction to Stephen Laws way back when, and led me to seek out everything he has written.

It’s based on a great premise… that the main East Coast rail line from London to the North of England is on a ley line that can channel power to the London End, with a view to waking an ancient demon.

Strange deaths abound on the line. Our protagonist, himself a survivor of a strange experience on a train, has to try to stop the energy building up.

The climax is a tour-de-force as the train hurtles to London, the demon grows ever more powerful, and the deaths pile up.

Laws has a wild imagination, and he likes to kill people in very gruesome fashions, but if, like me, you like your horror fast and action packed, then he’s the man for you.

View all my reviews

WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: