2005 has been notable for hosting the first UK Worldcon in ten years (Interaction in Glasgow) but, with the exception of one magazine debut during the convention, there has been little change. Interzone survived in the capable hands of Andy Cox, who also continues to publish The 3rd Alternative (now Black Static), and a couple of new micro-presses have formed and released new titles. The field, however, remains fairly static, with PS Publishing remaining dominant in terms of both output and quality.
There were some ups and downs: Paul Brazier's ambitious Quercus-SF project seems to have been put on hold early in the year as the editor suffered health setbacks, but there are signs it is now set to continue. Gary Fry, who began editing with magazine Fusing Horizons, has now expanded into a full publisher, and the quality of production has gone up by several orders of magnitude: his Gray Friar Press is worth looking out for. New magazine Farthing is something of a curiosity: the debut issue was released at Worldcon, and was followed recently (after a long delay) by a second issue. It is hoped it will continue. Whispers of Wickedness's fanzine has changed into a slick, perfect-bound magazine, releasing one issue towards the end of 2005, with four projected issues a year. Des Lewis' idiosyncratic anthology/magazine Nemonymous released its fifth and final issue—at least until he sells out of back copies: they are available in the US from Project Pulp. There was also new magazine Scifantastic edited by Sarah Dobbs: this is rather amateur-looking but did feature fiction from John Grant in the first issue.
Overall, 2005 has been a year with some very good titles, a modicum of mediocre releases, but few surprises.
PS Publishing continues strong, with its associated magazine, Postscripts, doing well and many new books released during 2005. PS specialise in high-quality limited-edition books, and remain the leader of the British small-press scene.
Little Machines by Paul McAuley is an excellent SF collection (I reviewed it for Interzone and thoroughly enjoyed it); I also enjoyed Eric Brown's novella, The Extraordinary Voyage of Jules Verne. The highlight of the PS publishing schedule however is probably Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts, a remarkable collection of literary horror stories that have taken readers by surprise: Hill is emerging as the author to watch, with stories in various Year's Best anthologies and no doubt some awards in the works. His story Best New Horror in Postscripts was a delight.
The other highlight of the PS releases, this one for the hardened collector, is no doubt the double-volume Ray Bradbury collection, R is for Rocket and S is for Space (with a third volume, Forever and the Earth: Yesterday and Tomorrow Tales included as part of the set only). Featuring introductions by Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Harryhausen, Tim Powers, and Michael Marshall Smith, there are only 100 copies of the box set, selling for £295 and worth every penny. This is one to invest in.
Other titles were The Devil Delivered by Steven Erikson (whose previous novella for PS sold fast, and is now reprinted in the US) and Fishin' With Grandma Matchie, as well as Night of Knives, a first Malazan novel by Erikson's friend Ian Cameron Esslemont; the third At Night anthology from Stephen Jones, Don't Turn Out the Light; TWOC by Graham Joyce, a YA novel; Sanity and the Lady, a novel by Brian Aldiss; Secret Stories, a novel by Ramsey Campbell, the UK horror maestro whose last few novels were published exclusively by PS (though have now been picked up for mass market editions by Tor in the US); The Periodic Table of SF by Michael Swanwick (a collection of short-short stories first published online at Sci Fiction); and Nowhere Near an Angel, a novel by Mark Morris.
There seems to have been more of a focus on novels at PS this year. Of the novellas not mentioned above there were only The Cosmology of the Wider World by Jeffrey Ford and The Clock King and the Queen of the Hourglass by Vera Nazarian. PS also released two non-fiction titles and ephemeral material this year. These were The Wandering Soul: Essays and Letters by William Hope Hodgson, and The Lost Poetry of William Hope Hodgson, both edited by Jane Frank. Slow progress is still being made on the long-promised Tim Powers Bibliography, a book many, including myself, are looking forward to seeing in print.
David J. Howe's successful Telos Publishing, meanwhile, remained busy, and picked up a BFS Award for best novella for Christopher Fowler's Breathe.
In 2005 it published three originals: Approaching Omega by Eric Brown; Another War by Simon Morden; and Parish Damned by Lee Thomas. The first two are science fiction, the third is horror. There was also a classic reprint, Stephen Gallagher's Valley of Lights, a horror thriller also including, in this edition, a novella, a diary, and an interview with the author.
There were also two Time Hunter novellas: #6: Echoes, by Iain McLaughlin and Claire Bartlett and #7: Peculiar Lives, by Philip Purser-Hallard, and three non-fiction titles: Beautiful Monsters: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Alien and Predator Films, by David McIntee; The Handbook: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Production of Doctor Who by David J Howe, Stephen James Walker and Mark Stammers; and Back to the Vortex: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who 2005 by J Shaun Lyon.
Finally, Telos' Hank Janson crime reprints line, which has been welcome in returning these fascinating novels into print, was unfortunately inactive in 2005 but is set to return with two more titles in 2006.
Long-running Sarob Press continues strong, with five new titles in 2005 and a newly-acquired World Fantasy Award. They specialise in small print-run, limited editions which sell out quickly. Titles released were The Dark Destroyer, a novel by John Glasby; Ghost Dance by Tony Richards, a collection (following last year's novella Postcards from Terri, also from Sarob); Solar Pons: The Final Cases by Basil Copper, a collection of well-known Sherlock Holmes pastiches; and Ghosts And Family Legends by Catherine Crowe, a collection of Victorian ghost stories which is the seventh in Richard Dalby's Mistresses of the Macabre series.
Tartarus Press, another long-lived, respectable press that specialises in fine limited-edition books, released several titles during 2005. These included the very useful Guide To First Edition Prices, 2006/7, by R.B. Russell; Where Nothing Sleeps, by Denton Welch, a slipcased 2-volume collection; Beresford Egan, by Adrian Woodhouse; Heathcliff's Tale, by Emma Tennant, an ambitious, suitably-Gothic retelling of Wuthering Heights; Life Of Arthur Machen, by John Gawsworth, edited by Roger Dobson and published in association with the Friends of Arthur Machen and Reino de Redonda; and—in association with PS Publishing—The Wandering Soul, by William Hope Hodgson, Compiled and Introduced by Jane Frank. Tartarus also released two issues of their Wormwood magazine.
Elastic Press specialises in single-author collections and some anthologies. It scooped a British Fantasy Award for best small-press in 2005. They published the critically-acclaimed anthology The Elastic Book of Numbers, edited by Allen Ashley, with stories by Joel Lane, Neil Williamson, Eric Shapiro, Marion Arnott, and others, and four collections: the intriguing Visits to the Flea Circus by Nick Jackson, which has gotten good reviews; The Life to Come by TTA regular Tim Lees; Trailer Park Fairy Tales by Matt Dinniman; and The English Soil Society by Tim Nickels.
The 2004 re-launch of Christopher Teague's Pendragon Press seems to have been successful, with three new titles in 2005 and an increased output promised for 2006. Pendragon, like many other of the small presses, began offering signed and numbered copies of the (small) first printing, aiming, at least initially, at potential collectors; they also received several British Fantasy Award nominations. Their first title was a novel, Double Negative by Robin Gilbert, a humorous fantasy billed as "The First Book in the Serendipity Trilogy". It was followed by Mark West's horror novel In the Rain with the Dead, and my own novella, An Occupation of Angels, at the end of the year. Projected titles for 2006 include a Rhys Hughes collection and an original anthology, Choices, and others.
Crowswing Books, started in 2003, was initially set up to publish the works of its publisher, Sean Wright, but soon expanded into other areas. They publish well-designed limited editions in hardcover, and some trade editions. They are popular with collectors. In 2005, Crowswing published two titles by Wright—Wicked or What and Dark Tales of Time and Space, both YA novels. Perhaps more interesting, however, were Andrew Hook's collection Beyond Each Blue Horizon, and the anthology New Wave of Speculative Fiction: The What If Factor (edited by Wright) which includes stories by Hook, Allen Ashley, Paul Finch, and others. In 2006 Crowswing is poised to release several single-author collections from authors such as Ashley, David Sutton, and Gary Fry.
Immanion Press, launched in 2003 by Storm Constantine and Gabriel Strange, was initially set to provide a UK outlet for Constantine's back catalogue of Wraeththu novels (which it continues to do), but has expanded rather dramatically into publishing other authors' out-of-print books (including major names such as Michael Moorcock) and some new writers. They have also began focusing on non-fiction titles, some rather esoteric. Titles published in 2005 were Necromantra by Philip Emery; School: The Seventh Silence by Craig Herbertson; The Translation of Bastian Test by Tom Arden; Hinterland by David Barnett; Ghosts of Blood and Innocence by Storm Constantine; The Hienama by Storm Constantine; Storm Constantine's Wraeththu Mythos: Terzah's Sons by Victoria Copus; A Dark God Laughing: Book One of the A Dream and Lie Series by Fiona McGavin; Jerry Cornell's Comic Capers by Michael Moorcock; Curse of the Coral Bride by Brian Stableford; Blackbird in Amber by Freda Warrington; Pytho by Philip Ward; and Gathering the Magic: Creating 21st Century Esoteric Groups by Nick Farrell (non-fiction).
Rainfall Books had three titles in 2005: Rule Dementia! By Quentin S. Crisp, a short story collection; Tell Me When It's Over, edited by Clive Jones, an anthology subtitled "Notes From the Paisley Underground"; short story collection The Evil Entwines by John B. Ford and others (a revised edition). They also announced a new Lovecraftian fanzine.
Gary Fry's new Gray Friar Press released two intriguing anthologies: these were Poe's Progeny, with stories by Ramsey Campbell, Simon Clark, Tim Lebbon, and many more, and the seven-author collection Bernie Hermann's Manic Sextet, with stories by Andrew Hook, Rhys Hughes, and others. Fry announced a collection by Stephen Volk, noted UK television writer, for 2006.
Finally, Lighthouse Media One, featured in last year's review, publishes a mixture of anthologies and magazines focusing on horror. Information was not available at the time of writing, but it may be worth checking out.
On the Edge
New publishers Humdrumming were launched in 2005 and seem to be genre-slanted, at least to some degree: I have not included them in the round-up, but they are worth mentioning. In the same vein, long-running Dedalus Books are on the edge of genre, describing it as "own distinctive genre, which we term distorted reality, where the bizarre, the unusual and the grotesque and the surreal meld in a kind of intellectual fiction which is very European."
D-Press is still the only dedicated chapbook publisher in the UK that I know of, though this year it has slowed down in favour of its re-launched Whispers of Wickedness print magazine. Nevertheless, it released several interesting chapbooks. First was Night Country, a collection of stories by Mark Howard Jones, and it was followed almost immediately by Bloodshot, a story collection by John Saxton that features an introduction from notable UK horror writer Simon Clark. This was followed by another collection, Gameplayers by John Dodds, and a collection of genre poetry, The Rain Boy, by Donna Taylor Burgess. An interesting departure for D-Press was the publication of Neil Ayres's anthology, The Minotaur in Pamplona, as a two-chapbook set. It features contributions from Brian Aldiss, Rhys Hughes (the title story), Catherynne M. Valente, and others, with stories featuring beasts from Greek mythology in contemporary settings around the world. Profits were given to charity. The last chapbook came in August: Whispers in the Dark, a short story collection by Liza Granville. There were three issues of the Whispers of Wickedness magazine in chapbook format, which has now changed to a slicker, larger format, and may well be the UK magazine to watch out for in 2006. D-Press remains one of the most eclectic and interesting of the British small presses, and there was at least one new chapbook released in 2006.
The magazine The Horror Express was featured in last year's review with two handsome chapbooks. There were none in 2005, but editor and publisher Marc Shemmans expects to continue with at least one new chapbook in 2006. It would be worth looking out for.
The highest-paying magazine in the UK at the moment remains Peter Crowther's new (it was launched in 2004) Postscripts, which comes in two editions: a newsstand paperback edition and a collectors' edition of signed, numbered hardcovers. It remains, however, essentially a small-press publication, if an excellent one: there were three issues in 2005, featuring stories by the cream of the SF&F world, including Gene Wolfe, Alastair Reynolds, Ramsey Campbell, and many others—not least of whom is the remarkable Joe Hill, whose Best New Horror in issue #3 is a quiet masterpiece.
The longest-running, and most widely-distributed genre magazine in the UK, however, remains the excellent Interzone, edited by a team of four (Andy Cox, Peter Tennant, David Mathew, and Jetse de Vries) and now belonging to the TTA group of magazines. With a radical new design and editorial policy, Interzone—now published bi-monthly—continues to be the British magazine par excellence, and publishes much by new and upcoming names; I particularly enjoyed Jeremy Tolbert's Kansas Jayhawk vs. The Midwestern Monster Squad in issue #199.
TTA also released the long-awaited eighth volume of Crimewave (subtitled "Cold Harbours"), its critically acclaimed crime magazine/anthology. Issue #8 featured stories from Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Stephen Volk, Joe Hill (who is everywhere these days!), Steve Rasnic Tem, Jay Caselberg, Scott Nicholson, and others.
Finally, TTA's flagship publication, The 3rd Alternative, has published two issues in 2005, then went on a hiatus as it is being re-launched and re-branded (following much debate) as Black Static. It should continue to be published four times a year, and authors featured in 2005 included the prolific Elizabeth Bear, Conrad Williams, Vandana Singh, and others. It also won an International Horror Guild Award.
The three-year old Jupiter SF, edited by Ian Redman, continued on schedule with four issues in 2005. This is low key but rather enjoyable science fiction with a Golden Age tinge. Authors featured last year included Neil Ayres, Allen Ashley and Andrew Hook, and Israeli author Guy Hasson.
Gary Fry's Fusing Horizons, meanwhile, which also started in 2003, went on a hiatus during 2005 but returned in early 2006 with a new issue.
Nemonymous, the eclectic anthology/magazine (or "megazanthus" as its editor would have it) released its fifth and final edition of anonymously-published short stories. Editor D.F. Lewis has announced the termination of the critically-acclaimed series and revealed the names of the authors in the final issue on his message board and mailing list: they are unlikely to be "denemonised" in a future issue, though Lewis has not ruled it out entirely. He is looking to sell out of back stock in the meantime.
Edited by Jenny Barber, Here & Now is still around, and published two issues (one of them a double-issue) in 2005. Issues #5/6 and issue #7 contained much material, including stories from Brian Stableford, Rhys Hughes, Stuart Young, and others. It is good to see it continue.
The long-running Scheherazade Magazine edited by Elizabeth Counihan, has announced that 2005 was the last year under the present editorship; what changes there will be have not so far been announced. This has been a nice, "slick" magazine with some noteworthy content; two more issues previously put-together by the current editors are scheduled to appear in 2006.
Supernatural Tales, edited by David Longhorn, changed into an annual anthology format in 2005. Authors featured included Tina Rath, John Llewellyn Probert, Gary Fry, Paul Finch, and others.
Marc Shemmans' The Horror Express, a professional-looking (though still non-paying) horror magazine, continues strong, publishing a mixture of new stories (mainly by newer writers) and reprints from 'name' authors. Two issues were released in 2005, and contributing writers included Neil Gaiman, Dean Koontz, Graham Masterton, and many others. Issue #4 was a Tim Lebbon special. It is a magazine worth looking out for.
Launched in 2004, Thirteen Magazine, edited by Andrew Hannon—and which claims to have over 1000 readers—continued in 2005, but slowed down following flooding in the editor's house. Like most British magazines, it is non-paying; it publishes both original and reprinted material.
Despite illness, there were two issues in 2005 of Trevor Denyer's Midnight Street Magazine, the successor to his earlier Roadworks. Issue 4 featured Rosanne Rabinowitz, issue 5 Tim Lees, and also came with a limited edition chapbook of a Simon Clark bibliography (not to be confused with Paul Miller's earlier, classy chapbook from Earthling in the US). The usual British small-press authors contributed stories.
The Whispers of Wickedness magazine, edited by the ever-enigmatic D, meanwhile, has changed from a free staple-bound format to a perfect-bound magazine to be released quarterly. The first issue featured work by the ever-prolific Rhys Hughes, Peter Tennant, and others. This is one to look out for.
The 2004 re-launch of Premonitions Magazine, edited by Tony Lee, did not last for more than an issue, with none released in 2005. It may—or may not—continue.
New magazine Scifantastic , edited by Sarah Dobbs, released three issues in 2005 with stories by John Grant, Rhys Hughes, and others.
New magazine Farthing, edited by Wendy Bradley, released one issue in 2005, with stories by Melissa Mead and Cherith Baldry, and others.
Finally, there is Dark Tales, with two issues released in 2005, making a total of seven in three years. The magazine, edited by Sean Jeffery, runs a competition (with an entry fee) with winners published in the magazine. Stories continue to be mainly by unknowns.
The long-running Foundation , "the international review of science fiction" edited by Farah Mendlesohn, released the usual three issues, including a special "celebration of British science fiction" issue. It is now up to a respectable 94 issues!
Tartarus Press's Wormwood Magazine, edited by Mark Valentine and began in 2003, saw two issues, numbered #4 and #5, with articles by Joel Lane, Brian Stableford, and others. It is worth looking out for.
I have attempted to cover as much of the UK small press as possible but some publications inevitably escape notice. I have focused on genre print publications, excluding on the whole web-only publications and the wide plethora of non-genre publications. Finally, I am indebted to Peter Tennant for helping identify many of the more obscure publications and for casting a critical eye over the completed list.