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Archive for December 2014

       


SHERLOCK HOLMES & THE SMOKING POPE

To celebrate Christmas, we thought we’d offer up a festive tale in the time honoured tradition. Originally presented as a Christmas reading at Southcart Books in Walsall on 13th December, here is a short treat.

Christmas. That time of year when mid-season misery needs an infusion of hope and festivity. Where days of light have given way to the dark, where the winds are bitter and the cold rain bites. The snow, when it comes, is both another hazard and a source of relief—a distraction made better by the celebrations that have taken hold of this part of the year. As I cast my eyes over the white, frosted cobbles of Baker Street, I cast my mind back to the Dickensian Christmases of my boyhood. The city came to life back then, and as the people moved into the gas-lit capital from the moonlit villages they struggled to build a sense of community with neighbours they barely knew, and the penny post became a way to share their love for those with whom they had been parted. I wondered, at that moment, where it might end. Would our reliance upon brightly coloured cards and the giving of gifts perhaps spell the end for the values that had spawned them?
 My reverie was disturbed by the arrival of my good friend, Sherlock Holmes, who entered in his gown and bedclothes, risen late as is often his preference, while I had risen hours before, travelling by hansom from my Kensington practice, where Mrs Watson had entrusted me with a seasonal duty. She had, after some reflection, agreed to invite Holmes to join us for dinner on Christmas Eve, and I was under the strictest instructions not to brook his usual rejection.
 “Good morning, Watson,” he said in a lively tone as he picked up the mail which had been left beside the untouched breakfast left for him some hours before. “I trust your message from Mrs Watson is not so glum as the frown upon your face.”
 “My message? How could you possibly…”
 “Come, Watson, I know that look intimately. It is an expression you use exclusively when considering the best way to tell me something you are certain will meet with my disapproval. Given that you are here a good ten minutes later than is usual for this time of year I must consider what, exactly, might have delayed you. You are keen to complain about traffic delays, and such trivia causes you to pace, so I concluded that your delay was domestic. A ten minute discussion about your meeting with me is therefore the most apposite conclusion. Ah!”
 Holmes stopped abruptly. As he had been addressing me he was shuffling through the post, finally pausing at a Christmas card. Unlike the rest of the mail it was not in an envelope. “A card from Mrs Hudson!”
 “Oh?” The conversation was derailed by this. Holmes had long since impressed upon myself and the household staff that he had no truck with such greetings, and in our years together Mrs Hudson had always respected this.
 “It is more than just a Christmas card. It is an invitation to dinner!”
 “An invitation?” My heart sank as I realised that Mrs Hudson must have similar thoughts to my dear wife. Holmes had been quite preoccupied of late, and his raised spirits were quite atypical.
 “To dinner on Christmas Eve. Shall I be giving your apologies?”
 “You intend to go?”
 “Indeed. We are both invited, and from your face I now know that your message related to a similar invitation from Mrs Watson. You must of course have dinner with her, but I am afraid I shall have to accept this offer rather than your own.”
 “What is its importance?”
 “Mrs Hudson has never before made such an invitation, which in itself is unusual. However, her invitation includes a list of the other dinner guests, which piques my interest yet further.”
 “Why is that, Holmes?”
 “Well, being Scotch like yourself, Mrs Hudson is more likely to celebrate Twelfth Night. Christmas Eve is also the anniversary of Mr Hudson’s death. Not a time that our landlady would normally choose to hold a dinner. Upon seeing who else is a guest, I must conclude that the dinner has been foisted upon her, and that the invitation is an attempt to seek my assistance.”
 “Who are the guests, then?”
 “The first is Mr Andrew Trelawney, of the Portman Estate. As his lessee Mrs Hudson may be currying favour, although it is also possible that she is simply balancing the numbers.”
 “More likely she invited him for good luck,” said I. “It’s a Scotch tradition.”
 “The second is Miss Turner, her niece. The third is Mrs Bartholomew, who runs a lodging house three doors down. Like Mrs Hudson she is a widower, and from the times of her comings and goings a devout churchgoer, although her subscription to the Two Worlds newspaper marks her as a Spiritualist.”
 “How do you know what newspaper she reads?”
 “She is quite the gossip-monger, and often accosts the postman on the street so that she may extract whatever useful news she can from him. He has, on occasion, reported some of her gossip to me. She is of the view that your comings and goings—along with the many visits I receive from telegraph boys and the occasional Irregular—are not respectable, and that we may be performing unnatural acts that the police have chosen to turn a blind eye to.”
 “Good lord!” I ejaculated. “Why on earth would Mrs Hudson have anything to do with such a woman?”
 “I doubt she would share such confidences with our landlady. Pay it no heed, Watson. Idle gossip is for poets and actors, and your accounts of our exploits in the Strand are more than enough to set the record straight.”
 “Then I am glad I shall not be attending,” said I.
 “And I am glad that Mrs Watson shall not be joining you. She was also to be invited, and I have no doubt she would have brained the woman for suggesting she were married to a sodomite.”
 “Who else is on the list?”
 “Just two more. Mrs Barnard, another widow of the landlady’s acquaintance, and a Brother Makary, of whom I have read before. He is a Caucasian monk and a renowned medium on a tour of the country. I should be able to find a review of his method in one of the spiritualist papers. His invitation is almost certainly at Mrs Bartholomew’s insistence, and without a doubt the reason that Mrs Hudson is appealing for my assistance.”
 “Appealing? I should say it is a little more discrete than that.”
 “Indeed. Were this a proper case I should have no hesitation in exposing the man as a fraud in direct and unequivocal circumstances. On this occasion, however, we need to be more subtle. The man may well be a charlatan, but we have received no complaint and he has committed no crime. I shall therefore have to be more circumspect.”
 “In that case,” said I, “would you accept a friend in my place?”
 “A friend? This is a day for the unusual. It is rare for you to share an acquaintance with me.
 “Well, he—”
 “Tsh!” Holmes raised a finger to stop me. “Let me deduce it. If your friend wished merely to meet with me, you would have already raised the matter. It could be the opportunity to see a séance, but that seems unlikely unless it is to see me involved in a séance. Given you had no awareness of the other guests, the other possibility is the desire to meet with Mrs Hudson. Again, you would have raised the matter with her directly, so I must conclude that it is someone who wishes to meet both Mrs Hudson and myself, and who may wish to see my method in action. It therefore relates to your stories in the Strand—so, your publisher or your editor. A publisher would have foisted himself upon you long ago, which leaves your editor. As a fellow author and a medical man it is likely that you are better acquainted with Conan Doyle, and that he must be your proposed substitute.”
 “Astounding, Holmes. Doyle wanted to meet you both and to witness your method so he could gain a better perspective of my stories.”
 “Then he is welcome to join me,” said Holmes, taking up the bell and summoning the page boy. “In the mean time I shall dress, for we have a gift to secure for Mrs Hudson. Be sure to instruct Billy that I shall be glad to accept the invitation, and that Dr. Doyle will also be invited.”

***

The acquisition of a gift for Mrs Hudson was an unusual matter that had taken us to an old curiosity shop to the rear of Westminster’s Black Jack Inn. It was dark when we arrived, and closing time loomed. Here Holmes picked through a variety of odds and ends like a hawk seeking its prey. He finally descended upon a corner of the shop filled with what could best be described as alchemical paraphernalia. Here he picked out a weathered retort and a thick glass boiling flask with three stoppered necks.
 “Excellent!” he said, examining the object for any cracks. “This will do perfectly.”
 With our acquisition wrapped, Holmes led me back to Baker Street, stopping off to collect various ingredients—sour oranges, lemons, cloves, cinnamon, mace, ginger and a bottle of Burgundy, with which he announced his intention to make a celebratory concoction known as a Smoking Pope.
 When I reported the day’s events to Mrs Watson, I could see that she was relieved that my friend had declined to join us. The next day I arranged to meet with Dr. Conan Doyle, who was eager to accept the invitation, while Holmes disappeared for an appointment at Kew Gardens. I did not see Him again until after Christmas, although his account of the evening’s events—along with that of Dr. Doyle—provided me with more than enough information to recount them here.
 As the nearest guest Holmes was certain to arrive last. He was genial upon his arrival, carrying with him the boiling flask which he set upon the retort, and setting a candle beneath it while insisting that his gift would be ready to consume by the end of the evening. Mrs Hudson seemed quite taken with the gesture, and as part of his introduction Holmes chose to tell what can best be described as a tall tale.
 “This is no ordinary boiling flask,” he had explained. “It was once an alchemist’s homuncularium. Said to have been the property of Sir Isaac Newton himself, the homuncularium was used to mix his blood with various essential salts which, when combined and heated, are said to have formed an homunculus—a mystical spirit given material form.”
 “Nonsense, of course,” said Doyle, “although it is well known that Sir Isaac did indeed pursue alchemy as a means of understanding the nature of the elements.”
 “Do not be so sure, Doctor,” said Brother Makary in broken English. The monk was a portly man with a wild and ragged beard whose rural origins were reflected by the simple habit that he wore beneath a winter cloak. “As a medium I work with spirits of the earth and the air. Without their guidance I could not commune with the dead.”
 “That,” said Holmes as he coughed politely, “is also the case with alchemists. The homunculus is the physical manifestation of an air-spirit known as the Soror Mystica. It is her guidance that leads the alchemist towards enlightenment.”
 “It seems to have worked for Newton,” said Doyle, “although I’ll wager that a more scientific explanation will one day be forthcoming.”
 “You should see the Brother at work,” said Mrs Bartholomew. “I travelled all the way to Keighley to see him perform. My own husband spoke to me—the first time any medium achieved it, for Henry had been a reluctant man in life. Only drink would entice him to the table otherwise.”
 “So are we to be treated to a display of the Brother’s skills this evening?” Tremayne asked. “Given that Mr Holmes here is London’s foremost detective I am sure it will be a challenge for you, Brother Makary. I hear that little gets past the great detective.”
 “Rest assured, Mr Trelawney, I am here as a dinner guest, not as a skeptic; but I shall of course be fascinated to see how the Brother pursues his craft.”
 “You surprise me, Mr Holmes,” Trelawney said. “I had expected more. Still, I have no wish to spoil the fun. I look forward to the evening’s entertainment.”
 “Spiritualism is hardly a game,” said Doyle. It is a serious religion concerned with investigating the afterlife. I have heard something of Brother Makary’s psychic gifts, and I would love to see a demonstration.”
 “Thank you, Dr. Doyle,” said the Brother. “We shall see how the evening progresses. It is important to work with those who have an open mind, for the actively critical will deny all that they see, clutching at the most ridiculous excuses to justify their experience.”
 Pleasant laughter followed, and with the mood settled, attention was turned towards dinner. Mrs Hudson stuck to her Scotch roots by serving up Cock-a-Leekie followed by an impressive joint of Angus Beef with all the trimmings. For dessert the guests were treated to a generously infused Cranachan and shortbread.
 Rather than the traditional separation of the men and women, the evening took its expected turn, and Mrs Bartholomew again pressed for Brother Makary to demonstrate his skills. “We are three widows,” said Mrs Barnard, “surely you can entice at least one of our husbands to the table.”
 Mrs Hudson, whilst smiling, was clearly nervous by this turn of events, but when the Brother, flattered, demurred, her relief was barely concealed. Mrs Bartholomew, however, had other ideas, and pressed for the monk to reconsider.
 “Very well,” he agreed with faux reluctance. “We shall hold a séance. Place the candles upon the table beside the food. I shall need to leave the room to compose myself and shall return shortly. In the mean time can you douse the candles and that—thing.” He indicated the ‘homuncularium’ in which the Smoking Pope slowly bubbled.
 “I am sorry,” said Holmes. “It is a delicate mixture and the light is low. I am sure that putting out the candles will be sufficient.”
 “Very well,” said Brother Makary, checking the room before making his exit.

***

With the lights dimmed, the room was in complete darkness but for the flickering blue light of the boiling flask. There was a pregnant pause as the guests awaited the Brother’s entrance, which was heralded by three loud taps on the door.
 “Come in,” said Mrs Hudson, a nervous tremor in her voice.
 The door creaked open, and Makary stepped inside. His eyes—the only visible part of his body—appeared to be glowing with a pale luminescence. Oblivious to the darkness, he returned to his seat and joined the table.
 “Now, we must form a circle by holding hands. This will enable me to tap into the psychical forces that will bring forth my spirit familiar. I must warn you, he is an unruly spirit child. Once a student of mine, his soul was displaced by the demon which now inhabits his mortal form.”
 The group clasped hands, and as they did so a draught swept into the room and, one by one, the unlit candles burst into pale yellow flames. One of the ladies gasped as the Brother began a low chant in his native tongue.
 “Grigori, dukh proshlogo,” he began, “dvigat’sya sredi nas. We bring you gifts from life unto death. Be guided by this light to enter this world and visit upon us.”
 There was another pause, followed by the sound of convulsions as Brother Makary’s hands tugged at those that gripped him. Retching, a white mass protruded from his frothing lips as he gurgitated an ectoplasmic shape into the air before him. As he did so it took physical form, shifting from a rag-like strip into the head and shoulders of a white-faced boy that floated a good foot or two above the table.
 The Brother, his wretching done, whispered to the spirit. “Grigori, is that you?”
 The ghost boy responded by grinning and rolling its eyes, a lascivious giggle announcing its presence as it drifted around the table, pausing at the shoulder of each member of the circle. Beside the men, he merely glanced up and down, but with the women his actions were less appropriate, smelling their hair and getting close to their necks in a sexualised fashion that threatened to break the circle.
 “Grigori, vesti!” Brother Makary snapped.
 “Svin’ya!” The apparition replied curtly. “Sdelat’ ikh razdevat’sya!”
 “Grigori is an earth-based spirit,” said the Brother. “He invites you to explore your corporea forms and prove to yourselves just how very real you are. This will help him to manifest, and to tune into your desires.”
 On cue, Mrs Bartholomew and Mrs Barnard began to writhe, breathing heavily and squirming in their seats. Trelawney seemed bemused, while Doyle and Holmes looked on with a mixture of uncertainty and interest as the spirit child hovered over the women. Then, noting that Mrs Hudson was not similarly compliant, Grigori moved towards her. As he neared the landlady there was a loud thump in the centre of the table, which shook for a moment as the candles and the blue light of the burner guttered. A moment later there was a flash of blue light as the Smoking Bishop ignited and flooded the room with a brilliant azure light.
 Hands snapped open and the circle was broken. The spirit, however, was transfixed, the brilliant light exposing not just the head and shoulders but the entire body of a boy.
 “Iisus Khristos!” Grigori screamed, backing away from the table on very real legs.
 “Rasputin!” Shouted Brother Makary. “He is materialising. He is made real by that crazy flask. He is becoming corporeal!”
 The boy bolted towards the door, tugging it open and running from the room as Brother Makary abandoned his seat and raced after him. As he disappeared onto the landing outside the sound of feet clattering on the stairs echoed around the room.
 “A real boy,” said Trelawney with a trace of humour in his voice. “Who would have thought…” Sherlock Holmes, meanwhile, erupted into laughter.

***

“Holmes, how could you?” I chided him as he completed his tale.
 “I could hardly let that wretched boy compromise Mrs Hudson. It was as subtle an expose as I could muster, and they were all more awed by the boiling flask than by the dear departed medium and his errant ward. Especially when the light subsided and we all shared an excellent cup of mulled Burgundy.”
 “How did you achieve it?”
 “You will recall my visit to Kew. They have an algae there with curious properties. Quite harmless, but in the dark–when exposed to something acidic–it is prone to flaring up with a brilliantly luminous glow. While the liquid is still it is invisible, but when the water is made to suddenly ripple, as it was when I kicked the table, a chemical reaction ensues.”
 “Well Dr. Doyle was quite shaken by the matter. I fear you may have spooked him a little too much.”
 “Oh? I confess to being surprised by how open he was to the idea that Spiritualism might be real. I’d have expected him to see through my expose, but I rather fancy that he fell for my Newtonian lie.”
 “Yes, well it might have done more harm than good. He said you were quite an insufferable fellow.”
 “Oh dear,” said Holmes. “Have I soured your relationship?”
 “I think you might have,” said I. “He doesn’t want to edit my stories any more. Or if he does he intends to kill you off!”
 “Well that,” said Holmes, toasting me with a charged glass full of brandy, “is a gift that I might truly appreciate. A return to anonymity will do us both the power of good. Merry Christmas!”

***

      Copyright ©2014 Adrian Middleton

Posted by Fringeworks in Fringeworks News on Wednesday, December 24th 2014 at 8:23 PM
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DECEMBER 2014 NEWSLETTER








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DECEMBER 2014 NEWSLETTER
 
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM FRINGEWORKS

Fringeworks is back!

 
You may have noticed we’ve been a little on the quiet side during the last 12 months. This has been due to some necessary reorganisation – the disposal of our Knightwatch Press imprint and the putting together of a new management team. Well, all of that is done now and we are launching our new schedule.
           
But first, our new titles. In the last couple of months we have launched several new books and revised a couple of our earlier ones. First up, our Christmas fare… Ain’t No Sanity Clause and Sanity Clause is Coming…
 
The holidays are coming… and so is the horror. Our Christmas offerings bring the dark nights, the demonic shadows, and the psychopathic celebrants just that little bit closer to home.

Ain’t No Sanity Clause
Edited by Theresa Derwin
 
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . . so what better way to celebrate the season than to read an anthology of twisted Christmas tales?
           
Part horror, part thriller, part comedy, this collection features thirteen stories from some of the best writers in the business, including Mike Chinn, Joel Lane and Jonathan Green (Pax Britannia).
           
There is a whole host of psychopathic adventures to enjoy; an encounter with monstrous mistletoe in the Deep South, Satanic rituals in the 17th Century, a kidnap caper involving light elves and dark elves and seasonally sinister goings on in deepest, darkest Birmingham. And that’s just for starters. Either way, this collection of stories revels in subverting the traditional Christmas. It will thrill you, scare you and even make you laugh.

Enter if you dare . . . the winter wonderland of Ain’t No Sanity Clause.

Print: £5.80
Kindle: £2.01
ISBN: 148125457X

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Sanity Clause is Coming…
Edited by Theresa Derwin

Sanity Clause is coming… for more than cookies and a glass of milk in this second collection of twisted Christmas cautions in which we see Santa and Satan face off in an epic battle – on Mars – or discover what happens when zombies duel on Christmas morn.

Read about pantomime gone mad(der) and discover there are some presents which should simply never be opened. So sit back and get ready to consume this disturbing, funny, scary and sometimes unsettling festive feast.

With stories from Ed Beat, Spencer Carvalho, Colleen Chen, Brandon Cracraft, Uz Eliserio, Colin Fisher, Stewart Hotston, Carl Lambein Jr, Andrew Lawson, Fiona Moore, Sean T Page, L F Robertson and David Williamson.

Print: £5.80
Kindle: £2.01
ISBN: 1909573140
 

And there’s more…

As well as our Christmas books, we have also release a few others. Willie Meikle’s Generations, which was already available as an ebook, Stille! Untoten!, the second in our series of Nazi undead stories, Eliminating the Possible – a completely revised version of our introduction to the Moriarty Paradigm, and The Scoundrel of Bohemia, the first official volume in our steampunked Sherlock Holmes series.
           
In addition to these we are working furiously on a handful of books for imminent release in the coming weeks. These include Grimm & Grimmer #3, Grimm & Grimmer: Red, NeaDNAthal, Dead Men’s Tales, The Lavender Men and our SF anthology, Andromeda’s Children (previously known as Andromeda’s Offspring).

But more on those later. First….

GENERATIONS
by Willie Meikle
 
September saw the print release of William Meikle’s Generations, our first new print edition since August 2013.

With a new cover from artist Wayne Miller, this edition kickstarts our return to publishing after a twelve month hiatus (busy arranging the transfer of our KnightWatch Press imprint to a new publisher). When we discussed the book with Willie, he had the following to say to us:
           
This one is a homage to several things.
           
Big beasties fascinate me. Some of that fascination stems from early film viewing. I remember being taken to the cinema to see The Blob. I couldn’t have been more than seven or eight, and it scared the hell out of me. The original incarnation of Kong has been with me since around the same time. Similarly, I remember the BBC showing re-runs of classic creature features late on Friday nights, and THEM! in particular left a mark on my psyche. I’ve also got a Biological Sciences degree, and even while watching said movies, I’m usually trying to figure out how the creature would actually work in nature — what would it eat? How would it procreate? What effect would it have on the environment around it?
         
On top of that, I have an interest in cryptozoology, of creatures that live just out of sight of humankind, and of the myriad possibilities that nature, and man’s dabbling with it, can throw up.
           
I also like British mad scientists, who have a long lineage in both science fiction and horror, in books and movies, THE FIRST MEN ON THE MOON and QUATERMASS being particular favorites.
           
When I had the idea of the magic growth elixir these ideas all collided and young Tom started to babble excitedly to me about what his Granddad was up to. GENERATIONS grew from there.
           
There’s a big blob in here – several of them in fact, and more giant ants than you can shake a stick at. There’s also a definitely mad scientist, some plucky kids, a  newt with big plans, and a pony.
 
But mostly its about the bugs. Big bugs. On the rampage.
 
What’s not to like?

144 pages                        
Print: £7.95
Kindle: £1.94
ISBN: 1909573124
 

STILLE! UNTOTEN!
Edited by Matthew Sylvester
 
The Nazi Zombie trope, genre even, has become firmly entrenched in the public’s mind.

Films and books have saturated the market to the extent that Nazis are synonymous with Zombies. Vampires have also come to the fore in recent years and have, to the stunned horror of horror fans, become sexy in a faintly necrophiliac manner.

But Zombies and Vampires are just two of a myriad of undead horrors waiting to come lunging out of the shadows to slash out throats, suck our eyes from their sockets and scoop our warm brains into their gaping, fang-lined maws.

The Raus! Untoten! Series addresses this imbalance.

Following on from last year’s Raus! Untoten comes our second anthology of Nazi undead short stories.
 
Resurrections gone wrong. Black Magic. Airborne Ops. Alternate Histories. Undying Nazis.
 
Shh! Stille! Untoten!
 
A truly unique collection of horror stories from some of the best established and new  authors in the field, from Gave Thorpe to Alex Helm, Nas Hedron to Jamie Mason, Ian Hall to Stewart Hotston, every author has written a tale that will thrill and entertain. Readers will take part in night-time  airborne drops, face French zombies, stand in court as the result of an experiment and quiver in fear as they must watch Nazi fanatics consume their victims, free the Gestapo and experience a father’s love.

116 pages
 
Print: £6.85
Kindle: £1.94
ISBN: 1909573213
 

Raus! Untoten!
Edited by Matthew Sylvester

Still available in print and ebook format is the first volume, Raus! Untoten!
 
 It has zombies, vampires, French grey puppets, Jewish golems and even vengeful spirits. So, make yourself comfortable, pour yourself a glass of your favourite tipple and let yourself be taken away to worlds of horror.
 
94 pages 
                 
Print: £6.85             
Kindle: £1.94
ISBN: 1909573213

THE SCOUNDREL OF BOHEMIA
By Adrian Middleton and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
 
Following the reissue of our teaser volume, Eliminating the Possible, we commence our steampunk’d Sherlock Holmes series with a retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia.
           
Originally intended as a tête bêche volume (in the style of the old Ace doubles) combined with the next volume (The Lavender Men), Scoundrel containing a respectful mash-up (if such exists) of the first of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes short stories. Supported by some original content that includes essays, a letters page, a crosswordplus and even a new short story (that will tell the continuing adventures of Professor James Moriarty as he reshapes Victorian history into a world that exemplified his personal ideals), we hope to capture the age of pulp detective adventure, creating a new canon for steampunk fans.
 
When a masked Count hires Sherlock Holmes to retrieve incriminating evidence, he is plunged into a world of fraud, political intrigue and armed assassins. Will the scoundrel regain his property, or will Miss Adler become the first woman to truly outsmart the great detective? Meanwhile, thirty years earlier, a time traveller arrives in the slums of Old London, intent on exacting the most daring masterplan in history. His name… Professor James Moriarty.
 
Conspiracies. Assassins. Time Machines.
 
The Scoundrel of Bohemia begins a new journey for Sherlock Holmes, reinventing his career in the Moriarty Paradigm–a very different British Empire where the words of Conan Doyle stand alongside the science of Wells and Verne in the first of a series of mash-ups set to reimagine the original canon as it would happen in a steampunked world.
 
Eliminating the Possible            
92 pages   
Print: £5.00                          

Kindle: £1.97     
ISBN: 1909573051         
   
The Scoundrel of Bohemia         

102 pages
Print: £5.00                          

Kindle: £1.97   
ISBN: 1909573191  
Coming soon….THE LAVENDER MEN by Adem Rolfe

 

In the wake of The Scoundrel of Behemia we will be releasing our first original steampunk adventure for Holmes and Watson. The Lavender Men explores a common steampunk trope—the zombie. Although in a gritty, realistic steampunk universe, thinks aren’t always what they seem…

OUR NEXT BATCH OF BOOKS

 
With some amazing covers on their way from Ben Baldwin, Jim Burns, Darrel Bevan and Martin Reimann we have six books currently in process. While it has been our fervent hope that we will get some or all of these released by the end of the year, there are no guarantees. The necessary delay caused by various negotiations and internal restructuring has now been overcome, and we are focused on fulfilling our existing commitments before moving forward on other projects. Our priority this year is on: Grimm & Grimmer#3 (edited by Colin Fisher), Grimm & Grimmer: Red (edited by Christine Morgan), Andromeda’s Children (edited by Theresa Derwin), Dead Men’s Tales(edited by Melissa Black), NeaDNAthal (edited by Chris Amies) and The Lavender Men by Adem Rolfe.
           
We can also confirm that we will also be releasing the first of our steampunked Sherlock Holmes novels, A Study in Steampunk and Vallis Timoris in the first quarter of 2015.
           
Beyond this we will be continuing to publish future volumes of Grimm & Grimmer, the Moriarty Paradigm and the Raus Untoten series, along with new products as they emerge. Because we continue to work on existing volumes we are putting submission deadlines for new projects back to the end of March 2015.

(Covers not final)

A NOTE ON REISSUES

 
We are also undertaking a programme of reissuing our early books with improved content and formatting. Ain’t No Sanity Clause has a new and improved interior format. Similarly, our taster volume of The Moriarty Paradigm series, Eliminating the Possible, has been reissued with both a new cover and a new interior. Each of our Grimm & Grimmer volumes will have new content supplied by Lesley McIntee—a series of essays that investigate and consider the evolution and legacy of the fairy tale in literature. These will be included from Grimm & Grimmer #3 onwards, although we will also be adding new essays to our first two volumes, as well as revisiting their interiors. As we strive to move forwards, Fringeworks is committed to improving the quality and brand of our books while retaining the style and flavour of the originals.
           
It is also our intention to reissue Machina Mortis (edited by Sam Gafford), for which we intend to produce a second volume. The original MM was released under the Knightwatch Press imprint. In its new form we shall be revising the cover, the interior format and adding some additional content to improve the reader experience.
 

All of our books can be found online at www.amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.com.
FRINGEWORKS SUBMISSIONS

 
We have sought submissions for a number of anthologies with deadlines ranging from November 2014 to January 2015. Because we want to get the best submissions possible, and because we will not be looking at these books until our existing commitments are met, we are extending all deadlines to 30th April 2015 in all cases. Details can be found at www.fringeworks.co.uk, but formal calls will be made available on Duotrope by the end of the year.
           
Our current submissions windows are for the following:
 
ABNATURALS: THE SCIENCE OF MYSTERY & HORROR: Based on the works of William Hope Hodgson, we need original stories to establish a Hodgsonesque mythos where mystery and horror is either of entirely natural and mundane origin, or else follows laws far beyond the understanding of mortal men. Editor to be confirmed.
 
FOREFATHERS: From heroic ancestors to iconic founders, local legends to urban myths, everyone has tales to tell about their forefathers. We need stories in the tradition of Bernard Cornwell’s Pagan Lord stories, set within a historical context where protagonists are loosely based on  real-life characters or pre-existing legends, dipping, perhaps, to into the realms of urban fantasy. Editor to be confirmed.
 
THE REVENGERS: Think swash-buckling adventure with a hint of murder, mystery, fantasy and horror. Shakespeare meets Boccacio’s Decameron, or The Revenger’s Tragedy meets Da Vinci’s Demons. The Revengers will  tell gripping tales of conspiracy, treachery and revenge set loosely within the confines of Renaissance Europe. Edited by husband and wife team, David and Lesley McIntee.
 
WORKING CLASS HEROES: Ever wondered why fantasy favours the privileged? From princesses to pirate captains, learned wizards to chivalrous knights? Where are all the working class heroes? The protagonists of these stories will be the salt of the earth, the hard working common folk who struggle against adversity and overcome the most challenging disadvantage of all: being of the wrong class.
 
 

EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST

 
In addition to submissions, we are looking for expressions of interest for the following books and series, for which stories will be commissioned:
 
BLACK BESS: Taking inspiration from Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, the life of Lady Katherine Ferrers and the legend of Dick Turpin, Black Bess tells the story of a slave turned highwaywoman whose life has been immortalised in stories about Dick Turpin and a horse that never was. We are looking, in particular, for writers of colour or writers interested in Black History.
 
ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN LONDON, UNDERGROUND: We need expressions of interest for a series of historical young adult tales set in London c.1858, telling ‘the adventures of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Henry Mayhew’s London Underworld, with a hint of Oliver Twist thrown in for good measure. We are looking, in particular, for writers children’s authors and writers interested in 19th century history.
 
BLACK KNIGHTS, WHITE HEAT: A shared world SF series set in an alternative world where Britain led the space race. Think classic Dan Dare meets Quatermass mixed with James Bond and a healthy nod towards Warren Ellis’ Ministry of Space. We are particularly looking for writers interested in old style adventure and science fiction.
 
THE EXTENDED DRACULA: Based on Stoker’s own notes, we will are commissioning novellas that expand and reinterpret the original novel, restoring many of the themes, characters and events omitted from the published novel. Instead of seeking submissions, we want to cast our authors, matching each to the view-point characters and themes of the episodes in which each plays the leading role.
 
HOLMES vs. ZOMBIES: We have half of the stories we need for this book, which we aim to publish in early 2015. The title speaks for itself: we need zombie stories involving Holmes and Watson as well as Holmes pastiches involving zombies.
 
THE MORIARTY PARADIGM: We seek expressions of interest for our continuing series of steampunked Sherlock Holmes stories. We are looking for steampunk mash-ups of the Doyle canon and for original short stories and novelettes set within the shared world we are creating.
 
RED WEED: We seek expressions of interest for a series of post apocalyptic stories set in the wake of H G Wells’ War of the Worlds. In 1894, the Martians ruled the Earth. They came, they conquered, they began  terramorphing, introducing Martian flora and fauna, and then, as quickly as they came, they died. We want stand-alone novellas, set in 1895, which consider the various impacts a Martian invasion during the Victorian era might have had.
 
SIMON RAVEN PRESENTS: We seek expressions of interest for a new stories set in the utopian future presented in H G Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come. While the original novel was a grand vision of the Earth’s future under a World State, we want original stories – retrofuturist novellas set between 1933 and 2106—set within the world that Wells built, challenging utopian ideals to pain a more politically and ideally challenging view of the future.
 
Submissions guidelines for all of our calls for submissions or expressions of interest are available online at www.fringeworks.co.uk.
 
Fringeworks is a Midlands-based indie publisher focused on doing things differently to everybody else. We like to experiment, and we like to export the things that work (And own up to the things that don’t).
 

WHAT DO WE PUBLISH?

 
Speculative fiction, with a particular focus on Cultural/Historical Fantasy, SF, Fantasy and SF Comedy. In particular we will be focusing on:
 
SERIAL FICTION: As kids, we grew up reading serial adventures, which have since been replaced by trilogy and the multi-part epic. Well, we want to bring these adventures back, and many of our books  appear as serial volumes intended to establish a brand whose stories are both new and also comforting for our readers.
 
TRADITIONAL & SHOWCASE FICTION: We consider pitches for  more traditional novels and novellas, so long as they fall into our preferred genres.
 

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Posted by Fringeworks in Fringeworks News on Friday, December 19th 2014 at 6:04 AM
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