Ruptured World “Exoplanetary” album release

I have released an album under the name of my dark ambient music project, Ruptured World, called “Exoplanetary”.

It was released on the dark ambient music label Cryo Chamber on 7 August, 2018.

My deepest thanks to Simon Heath of Cryo Chamber for all his guidance, help and support in putting the album together.

Reading and Panel at Fantasycon 2017

I’ll be doing a reading from BleakWarrior at:

Fantasycon 2017

2.00pm – Saturday, 30 September

Sandringham Reading Room

The Bull Hotel

Peterborough, UK

I’ll also be on the panel of “The Weird in Weird Fiction”, with Phil Sloman (mod), Paul Woodward, Tim Major, Stephen Laws and Helen Marshall, at:

Fantasycon 2017

11.30am – Sunday, 01 October

Burley Panel Room 3

The Bull Hotel

Peterborough, UK

Walk on the Weird Side

My story “The Fear Seeker” will be appearing in the forthcoming anthology edited by Joe Pulver, Walk on the Weird Side.

The anthology is being produced in association with NecronomiCon Providence and will be released at that event on 17 – 20 August, 2017.

Table of Contents:

Nadia Bulkin – Empire Down
S.P. Miskowski – 140 x 76 (A Tour of Griffith Park)
Kristi DeMeester – A Sound from the Earth
Matthew M. Bartlett – The Two-Wheel System
Ann K. Schwader – Haunted Innsmouth
Michael Griffin – Everyone Gathers at Haystack Rock
Craig L. Gidney – Eidolon Realty, LLC
Farah Rose Smith – As Unbreakable as the World
Peter Rawlik – The Final Days of Der Zirkus LAvenza
Ashley Dioses – Daemonolatry
– A Sea of Snow and Frost
Daniel Braum – Goodnight Kookaburra
Nathan Carson – Divine Providence
Jon Padgett – A Little Delta of Filth
Rebecca J. Allred – Lambda 580
Alistair Rennie – The Fear Seeker
S M Wright – Night Gaunts, Too (On reading sonnet XX in H.P. Lovecraft’s *Fungi from Yuggoth* cycle)
Rhys Hughes – The Bannister
John Claude Smith – Eouem Chumkpaa
Ashley Dioses – Hollow King
Michael Bukowski (Illustration for Michael Wehunt text)
Michael Wehunt – The Loved One (being among the Thousand Forms of Nyarlathotep)
Anna Tambour – The Godchildren
Christopher Slatsky – The Anthroparian Integration Technique
Scott Thomas – The Red Gryphon
Lynda E. Rucker – Stolen
Tom Lynch – Release
Cody Goodfellow – He Opens a Window
Robert Levy – This is Love
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy – The Night Of Maya
Philip Fracassi – ID
Ann K. Schwader – Tomb-Feasters
Maura McHugh – Impossible to Feign

Cover art by Nick Gucker:


The latest edition of IF Magazin, produced by Whitetrain, features part II of the German translation of “The Gutter Sees The Light That Never Shines” (Der Gutter seiht das Licht das niemals scheint/Teil2) and also an extract (in English) from the next BleakWarrior novel.

My deepest thanks to Birute Rosemann (translator) and Tobias Reckermann (editor) for arranging this.


The WhiteTrain Endeavour

A guest post by Tobias Reckermann of WhiteTrain.

Since we recently published part of Alistair Rennie’s BleakWarrior plus an essay by and an interview with him, he asked us to tell some artsy half lies about our endeavour to his blog’s audience. Humbly we accepted, hence the following words:

There is an infinite rail,
spanning all of the universe.
The Train is on the track
and the track is made of tale.

– so says Dylan’s Song of the Manifold

WhiteTrain is a small press endeavour, born out of a loose writer’s and illustrator’s collective in 2010. At home in all fields of fantastic literature and recurrently grazing philosophy, WT organizes public readings with a slope to scenic enactment and publishes the fiction magazine “IF”, alongside novels and story collections.

Why we do what we do

What do we do?

1. WT celebrates radical fictionalism. That is because there is nothing but fiction. We love the word. We love tales. We are fictionauts.

2. We reject rule of ideology over art. That is because we are literal anarchists.

3. We do publish our own works of fiction and illustration among that of others. That is because we work the fringe and in our prime language, which is German, there are few publishers on the fringe.

4. Even though our work as publishers concentrates on works in German language, we also publish articles, interviews and more in English. That is because we pierced this barrier long ago.

5. We advertise, mostly for free. Yes, we advertise books and publishers, art and artists and projects that we think are worthy to advertise – independents and such enterprises who publish from the backlist, books long out of print and so on. That is, because there are others quite like us, who we like to support and because we know that many of the best books have already been written and should not be forgotten.

6. We publish “IF – Magazin für angewandte Fantastik” (which translates best into “… for the applied fantastic”). IF is a strange pulp thing, thrusting its quill, which is also a javelin, into every matter of fantastic genres, subverting clichés, aiming for the big scope of relevance, not triviality.

Applied is the fantastic mainly in stories and illustrations, but also in every form of imagination, that gives form to the unformed imagination, that is a true virtue of the pure mind. Therefore IF is open for near to every form of text or graphic content, that deals with the previously unformulated, be it social Utopias, architecture, music, metaphysics or civil disobedience.

7. We took the White Train for a sigil. That is because … well there is no short answer to this question.

It is true that there once was a White Train, which also has been called the Armageddon Train, for it did transport nuclear weapons throughout the United States of A. It is also true that Lucius Shepard once wrote a poem called White Trains, which foreshadowed our coming into existence without us even knowing about.

It is true, there have been Black Trains mentioned in works by Grant Morrison, Neal Gaiman and others. All of these carried their passengers to detention camps and were run by evil government officials. This may seem as a derivation of the Black Helicopter myth held alive for a long period of time now by the overseas militia movement, until at last and most oddly it became true. It is all the more true that Woody Guthrie once wrote a song, titled Little Black Train, and that black trains often have been used as a symbol for death. Hence we chose our White Train as a symbol for life and for freedom of art.

WT is an underground train slipping through the holes within its own rail network of flaring synapses, thus piercing the unknown in unforeseen ways. WT carries its passengers to Utopia, but notice: It does so whether their topia it is a good topia or not. That is because after all, truth is a manifold thing.

8. We wrote a manifesto in the form of a tale. That is because story mode is the only mode that can make White Train real. This manifesto even has been translated into English, but said translation still awaits its exact location in spacetime for publication to be revealed.

9. We shape ourselves as seemingly mythic figures. That is because myth is all this is about and we like to live in a dream.

10. We believe WT to be open for everyone decent to come aboard. That is because as yet many decent people have already done so and all have called WT a most gentle being. So, if you like – or need – to step off the station platform, you can do so at any time. Either your work shall be published by us, or you will like to delve into our fiction. Just use one of the portholes we installed in the spiders web: / WhiteTrain on Facebook / furthermore all our books and the magazine, available most easily on

For Alistair Rennie’s contibutions to IF Magazin, check out issue #4, which is all about Sword & Sorcery and has been illustrated magnificently. Rennie’s essay and interview are presented in the original English versions.

After all is said, goodbye.

Author: Tobias Reckermann, WhiteTrain operator, 2016.

IF Magazin (Germany)

Several pieces by me feature in the latest edition of German genre outlet, IF Magazin, produced by Whitetrain. These include:

  • BleakWarrior trifft auf die Söhne des Brawl (BleakWarrior Meets the Sons of Brawl)
  • Der Gutter seiht das Licht das niemals scheint/Teil1 (The Gutter Sees The Light That Never Shines – Part 1)
  • Sword and Sorcery: essay by Alistair Rennie
  • Meta-Warrior: Interview with Alistair Rennie

My deepest thanks to Birute Rosemann (translator) and Tobias Reckermann (editor) for organising this.

Sword and Sorcery article in XB-1 (Czech Republic)

A Czech language version of my Sword and Sorcery article appears in the November edition of leading Czech genre outlet, XB-1. Many thanks to Roman Tilcer (translator) and Martin Šust (editor) for organising this.

I’m thrilled to be featured in this edition alongside Priya Sharma, a brilliant writer and wonderful person who I was fortunate enough to meet at this year’s Fantasycon by the Sea. More about Priya’s fiction can be found here.


Zahraniční SF

Vandana Singhová: Sómadéva: Sútra Nebeské řeky

(A Sky River Sutra, 2010, překlad Jitka Cardová)

Anil Menon: Do noci

(Into the Night, 2008, překlad Jiří Engliš)

Priya Sharma: Hadry, kosti

(Rag and Bone, 2013, překlad Ivana Svobodová)

Indrapramit Das: Múzy Šujedanu 18

(The Muses of Shuyedan-18, 2015, překlad Daniela Orlando)

Domácí SF

Ľudovít Plata: Nevěsta chladného severu

David Šenk: Instantní jogíni, instantní budoucnost

Pavel Urban: Tři kapky denně

Julie Nováková: Spiknutí hrdliček


Dr. Sami Ahmad Khan: Cesta světem indické science fiction

Jan Toman: Život, vesmír a vůbec. Co je vlastně život…

Alistair Rennie: Meč a magie

Tomáš Miklica: Česká filmová fantastika na přelomu věků

Fantastická věda

Eta-Carinae – hvězda převlečená za supernovu;

Jak přečíst zavřenou knihu; Curiosity pojede objížďkou;

Proč přibývá bílých kosatek


Filmové premiéry; Neon Demon; Želvy ninja 2;

Návštěvníci 3: Revoluce; Železný obr; Klapka!


Čtenáři čtenářům; Tom Perrotta: Pozůstalí;

Sarah J. Maasová: Dvůr trnů a růží;

Neil Smith: Třinácté nebe; Ruth Hatfieldová: Kniha bouří;

František Kotleta: Velké problémy v Malém Vietnamu;

Vladimír Šlechta: Kukaččí mláďata; Christopher Row: Sfinga;

Peter Newman: Tulák; Caroline Wallaceová: Nalezení ztracené Marty; Nové knihy

Autor obálky
: Jan Štěpánek



Weird in Nature

The Weird begins in the ancient tales of our forebears, told around campfires, in the caves, in the earliest settlements – tales of beasts and supernatural dangers, many of them cautionary, perhaps aiming to protect the young and reckless from adventuring too close to natural threats or the territories of rival tribes.

Or perhaps it was a way of acquiring the light of understanding for a species trapped in the darkness of a hostile world – a way in which to explain an existence which was otherwise inexplicable, or of describing the marvels and mysteries that inhabited its every physical aspect, open space or geographical contour.

The Weird, in this sense, is a projection of human fear and wonder onto the suspected or actual perils of the natural environment, which are ultimately conceived in supernatural terms, so that the supernatural is essentially a creation of the human reaction to the natural, which makes nature itself the first cause of the propagation of the Weird and its perpetual outbreak over time (the Weird never goes away. It just reforms itself in relation to the perceived dangers and wonders of the epoch in which its executors dwell).

Nature, then, is the first and foremost creator of the Weird, the instigator of these existential terror blocks, where the sky, the mountains, the rivers and seas, the woodlands and the boggy tracts were latterly conceived as the primary sites of sublime or nightmare visions of actual supernatural import.

Because that’s what makes this all the more startling: that these sublime or nightmare visions were conceived as real.

Everyday Weird

Even in our lifetimes, the ancient Weird permeates the hearsay of oral accounts, fed through the generations with as much efficacy as an inherited life skill, a local knowledge or an episode of family history.

Only recently, for the first time, I discovered a written account of a story that has been familiar to me since I was a child – the tale of The Wizard of Skene – a story told to us by grownups (by the local minister, old farmers and teachers, as I recall), then relayed among our peers with appropriate responses of fear, awe and a reverence for the genii locorumwe knew to exist because we had been there.

The legend concludes with a caveat of terrifying proportions because it encourages you to participate in the outcome of the legend itself:

“Sheena Blackhall, a poet and historian in north-east Scotland, spent part of her childhood in Skene and remembers local children saying that if they ran 100 times round the Wizard Laird’s gravestone he would rise from the dead.”

Blackhall is right. That’s how it was and is today. I know where the Wizard Laird’s gravestone is – it’s still there. I can take you there, if you like. But don’t ask me to run around it 100 times. I wouldn’t do that – none of us would who come from the area – because we believe in what the story tells us. That’s how powerful the Weird can be. It is powerful enough to be believed in because of what it stirs inside of us – ancient terrors and wonders that first took hold of us around the campfires of our prehistory.

This is the kind of Weird that is intimately bound up with human experience to the point that it is a part of our everyday lives. It is not the excursionist Weird of reading books, watching films or taking up temporary residence in the imaginative worlds of modern fiction.

It is the Weird at the core of our being – preliterate Weird that works its way through our collective and individual psyches, that finds its articulation through the domain of written words, which has propelled us to our current state of modern Weird renaissance . . . and beyond.

The Weird Inscribed

The advances of the Weird through the written word have been dramatic and long-lasting, if persistently downtrodden by the patriarchs and pragmatists of the Enlightenment – and the po-faced perpetrators of common sense who followed thereafter.

The Weird was inscribed in our mythologies, was asserted in the records of the archivists and folklorists. It was driven with force through the innovations of the novel – through the Gothic Romances of renegade women, who orchestrated its presence within the canon as a permanent fixture.

Walter Scott nailed it to the mast of fiction through his virtuoso restorations of the folkloric, legendary and Gothic elements; and, since then, the journey has been one of an undulating mix of conventional elements buffeted and reshaped by the innovations of the avant-garde.

In all its varieties, the Weird is the transubstantiation of the imagination into something real. Not real in the sense that it exists in the physical world; but real in the sense that it is believed to exist (hypothetically, at least) in any world of our choosing.

Such beliefs are as real as anything in determining the motivations of human behaviour that constitutes history. Religion, for example, uses the Weird to achieve its target of securing the convictions of the masses and mustering faith (through fear and awe) upon which the whole of Western civilisation (so-called) is founded.

Perhaps this is the key to understanding the indelible contribution of the Weird: it distorts the history from whence it came and confuses reality with strangely fanciful notions which are acted upon as being truer than truth itself.

Perhaps it is the role of the Weird, then, to destroy truth – to replace it with something far more engaging than the blankness of nature, which is far more terrifying to the human mind than anything.

“It is the preserve of the Weird that it lies at the very core of all storytelling” – Minstrel’s motto.



Diversity in Unity

In the post What Is Horror? #1, propositions were made in favour of Horror as subversive, as anarchic – as a celebration of the perverse and the sordid enterprises of the human imagination as worthwhile causes. But, as opinions, as impressions, they cannot be applied universally or administered uniformly across the board.

To apply such conditions as compulsory definitions would be limiting to the point that it would strangle the genre and condemn its perspectives to repeated themes whose purposes would wilt in terms of critical value, becoming a sort of literary tokenism, rather than a living, breathing organic body of transformative works.

Horror is much more than token gestures, which leads me to asserting something that perhaps cannot be disputed so easily – that the greatest strength of Horror, barring its endurance over time, is its diversity; which is to say that its diversity is a consequence of its endurance over centuries of evolution and revolution combined.

In the spirit of contradiction, then, it has to be asked:

What Else Is Horror?

What Is Horror? #1 deliberately overlooks a key element of Horror which many of us would describe as its foremost attribute – the fear factor. In that post, Horror isn’t described as being particularly horrifying. It is attractive, rather than repulsive, and seductive rather than terror-inspiring.

Clearly, Horror fiction has a purpose of giving credibility to the nightmare, of exhibiting deranged possibilities from which nothing of positive value can be gained. Such Horror aims at applying hypothetical scenarios to imagined worlds where – in consideration of the unthinkable – fear, terror and hopelessness are the only logical outcomes.

Similarly, What Is Horror? #1 sees Horror as a means of exercising the perversions of the species without considering the alternatives: what happens when those perversions are clinically staunched, unsatisfied, repressed, or tortuously prohibited and denied altogether?

What happens if the refreshing zeal of anarchic stimulations is displaced by abhorrent conditions of mental stupor we cannot, through any measure of existential forbearance, accept as palatable within our regimes of thought? Especially so if they’re applied, as they often are, under the most fraught conditions of persecution or duress imaginable.

Along these lines, and in response to What is Horror #1, a fellow Horror enthusiast writes:

“Horror as imperfection/anarchy completely ignores the horror of perfection and a completely ordered state of existence, something I would argue as being worse as it is a horror of permanence. Chaos always allows change and, to a degree, hope whereas an enforced perfection is the dead end of stasis” – Dan Pietersen (Thinking Horror facebook page): See more from Dan at Research Archives of the Constant University.

It is a point well made. The horror of perfection, of permanence, of a completely ordered state of existence, implies a range of perfectly unsettling Horror scenarios – perhaps most especially in relation to the imposition of a totalitarian order over the vicissitudes of free will – the assimilation of the human individual within forced constraints, where individuality is wholly vanquished – or in situations where the suppression of anything distinctly human is all-encompassing.

The stimulus of terror may be there – an excitement generated – but it is more in contemplation of the imposition of a stifling uniformity against the free, spontaneous, disordered tendencies of the human spirit. It is the exact opposite of the Horror of emotional indulgences. It is the Horror of prevention and the suffocation of desire – of dehumanisation and the removal of selfhood from the sovereignty of human agency.

This is where Horror often finds common ground with Science Fiction – in the dismal utopias of The Time Machine, The Stepford Wives or Topeka in Harlan Ellison’s A Boy and His Dog.

Horror, however, takes this further.

Losing It

The eradication of agency and its reduction to a shared instinctive automaton of controlled, non-consensual behaviour is a characteristic of the zombie apocalypse, where the emotional conditions of our existence, and the desires that underlie them, are obliterated and replaced by a zero instinct, whereby desire is satisfied without the accompaniment of its conscious gratification.

The same is true of possessions or descents into madness, or of Cronenbergian body invasions or the alien infiltrations of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Alien or Who Goes There?/The Thing.

The effect, in such cases, is not the stimulation of emotions, but their arrival at an impasse of nihilistic seizure, where terror is invoked through a loss of self-control that, ultimately, leads to a loss of self.

The anarchic stimulations of subversive Horror cannot work without a conscious appraisal of their emotional consequences. The annihilation of agency presents a condition of horror where desires are unregistered and, from a human point of view, utterly pointless.

Pointlessness (and the absence of purpose and meaning that comes with it) represents an existential causatum that is unthinkable to humans. It is not a basis for stimulation but a denial of it, whereby the horror of permanence presents a model of oblivion that is uniquely terrifying, grimly inescapable and emphatically dire.

“Perfect organisms consume without giving” – old proverb



It is an inescapable fact of Horror and Fantasy that it must wrap itself up in cloths of blood.

It must conjure the spectre of outrage and over-saturate the sensitivities of its readership with the resplendent gush of gore and a plethora of depictions of horrific acts.

Not gore in the sense of graphic detail (necessarily) but gore in the sense of enabling the violent damage and destruction of the human body as a core element of its dramatic impetus. Suffering becomes a fulcrum around which the drama is turned, the engine room in which the emotional objectives of the narrative are effectively generated.

For those of us (most of us) who crave the excitement of violence and death in fiction, questions need to be asked. What sort of creatures are we that derives enjoyment from the imagined bloodletting of members of its own species? What sort of species asserts bloodletting as a compelling feature of the narratives it habitually consumes?

Slaughter, torture, punishment or the degenerative impacts of sorcerous enterprises – in Horror and Fantasy, these are legitimate forms of titillation and the basis upon which the pleasure effects of narrative are given wings.

Torturing Ourselves

In Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself, a character is created who considers these issues in fascinating detail.

Sand dan Glotka, the torturer, is both a victim and a perpetrator of horrible ills. This puts him in a unique position for questioning the legitimacy of his actions which, on successive occasions, leads him to conclude the same thing over and over again.

It is a conclusion that is marked by his submission to a rhetorical hall of mirrors where he is forced to ask “Why do I do this?” with a repeated emphasis that, while it indicates a certain amount of failure on his part (to come to terms with why he does it), also affirms the inevitability of what he’s doing as something he must do, simply because of what he is.

As readers, we sit on the shoulders of Glotka while he plies his trade of hideous abuses against others. At no point are we urged to make a moral judgement about his motivations, his actions or his character (indeed, Glotka is portrayed as strangely likeable). And, to this extent, Glotka becomes a reflection of ourselves as we follow his progress through one violent intervention to another, whereby we enjoy the spectacle of torture with the same numb curiosity and muted excitement as he does.

Glotka, to my mind, is an important figure in fiction (aside from the fact that he’s a brilliant piece of characterisation). He possesses the same capabilities as any villain but is not villainous, and he is certainly not an anti-hero. He is unalterably human. His flaws become a sort of strength. He is, in fact, the perfect reflection of the reader who finds him or herself caught in the act of enjoying narratives of violence and death without knowing why – simply because of what he or she is.

In the end, we can only ask, like Glotka, “Why do we do this?”

And the answer comes – “Why do we do this?” – over and over and over again.

Reasons to be Direful

There are several reasons why we might be able to justify these indulgences as necessary (even healthy) aspects of our psychology. Perhaps they provide an opportunity for a cathartic release of forbidden desires that require their exorcism from the better portions of our being. Or perhaps they provide a means for facing up to our innate fears of violence, offering a device for flushing them out of our system and clearing away the anxious thoughts that populate our fragile minds.

My own favoured explanation, however, is this:

We are a violent species, a species that desires violence as much as it desires food or sex. But, in real life, the desire for violence is mitigated by fear – a fear of coming off worse in the encounter, or of being arrested for committing crimes of grievous bodily harm.

Fear is the prevention – not moral restraints or ethical considerations – but fear.

In fiction, the fear factor as a superior emotional quality that quashes the desire for violence is almost completely redundant. We are able to indulge our passion for violence, to let it run loose, without the prohibitive mechanism of fear to discourage us from enjoying it, in a way that can’t happen in real life scenarios.

It seems to me that the only thing we fear more than violence is the fear of admitting that we enjoy it. Surely, then, our willingness to read fiction that accentuates violence as part of its appeal is a manifestation of this admission, in this case made in actions rather than words.

It is the legacy of Horror and Fantasy fiction that it does this openly, that it is a particularly honest form of fiction, which says more of us than perhaps we’ll ever know.