Gamebook store

Friday, 26 October 2012

Agreeably scary

It's almost Halloween, and if you're stoking up the fire (or even just upping the brightness on your PC's fireplace screensaver) you may be casting around for delicious fictive chills to run a teasing finger of fright along your spine.

Fans of John Whitbourn's classic Binscombe Tales stories will know that few experiences can be quite so disturbing and at the same time strangely comforting as dropping in at the Duke of Argyll in the company of Mr Oakley, our hapless narrator, and the mysterious Mr Disvan. It's what autumn, imagination, log fires and real ale were created for.

The Binscombe Tales are hard to describe. Possessed of great human warmth and yet often coldly heartless. Sometimes scary but just as often more in the way of startling and thought-provoking. Science fictional except where they're fabulous, fantastic, whimsical, spooky or simply bizarre. Thrilling yet often delightfully leisurely. Terrifying or mind-bending - but always funny with it.

In short, they're the very best of English weird fiction, and if you haven't encountered them yet then you're missing a treat. Fortunately, Jamie and I think ahead so that stuff like the equinox, tax demands and the release of Witcher sequels don't take us by surprise, and this year we had the foresight to prepare an omnibus paperback edition of the complete Binscombe Tales from our Spark Furnace imprint.

Herein you will learn about: the man who spent a lifetime waiting for a bus; the suburban kitchen cupboard that is a gateway to another world; the whispering voices that force a nightclub owner to keep the music turned up loud; the incredible reminiscences of an antique writing desk; and all about the mythic threat lurking under Binscombe's electricity substation. I have previously blogged about the first of those stories, which gave me an authentic shudder as John read it out at a ghost story evening chez Morris, and if you want to try "Waiting for a Bus" then it's available as a free PDF - but only until Halloween.

As well as all twenty-six tales, many of which have garnered awards such as the Year's Best Fantasy, Binscombe Tales: The Complete Series includes a long essay by John Whitbourn in which he reveals that oft-asked authorial secret - to wit, where he gets his ideas from. The whole book is 660 pages so there's no danger of running out of gruesome entertainment before the days start getting longer. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's the perfect present for those long dark evenings ahead.


  1. Thanks for that recommendation - I immediately bought the eBook edition and after one story I can tell that this is right up my supernatural alley. :)

  2. Hope you like the rest of them, Peter. Jamie lives in a little Sussex village just like Binscombe, and every time he goes out the door he now asks himself, "Which Barcombe am I in?"