Sunday 20 November 2016

A Philip K Dick Rarity

This will take a little explaining, but the bottom line is that, if you're a Philip K. Dick or Blade Runner completist, I'm betting you've never seen one of these before, and you may well never see one again.

In the UK, so-called 'part works' are popular on the newstands, and via subscription. They are a series of magazines which each come with something - often a piece of a huge model, which builds up week by week (for example the Titanic, or the Millenium Falcon, or 007's Aston Martin), and often a book, building up into a library of a certain author or genre.

Part works are very expensive to launch, so publishers usually do a 'regional test' of a new part work idea: they print up a few copies if the first 2 or 3 issues and put them on sale in just one region of the UK for a few months. If the sales are good, they will start again on a national basis, with attendant TV advertising, the works.

What you have here is the magazine from issue 3 of a 1997 part work from Fabbri called 'Science Fiction Classics'. It originally came with a copy of Dick's 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' - an edition which turns up for sale very occasionally, and commands high prices. I don't have the book (though I have had one in the past), but I do have the even scarcer/more ephemeral magazine. It's particularly hard to come by because, as far as I can ascertain, the 'Science Fiction Classics' part work never went beyond the regional test phase. Sales obviously weren't good enough, so the few copies of issue 3 that were printed for the region in question were all that ever made it to the shelves. The promised issue 4 (featuring Ender's Game) never appeared at all.

This copy is not mint, but its 24 pages are full of interesting articles (as you'd expect with John Clute as a contributor) and especially commissioned art and visuals, including a striking double-page piece by Lee Gibbons, a section of which was used as the cover for the accompanying book.

One of the rarer entries in the PKD bibliography, soon to make its way to eBay...

Sunday 13 November 2016

Remembering Saki on the Centenary of his Death

Hector Hugh Munro died 100 years ago tomorrow. I'm pleased to say that I'm far from the only one marking Saki's centenary.

The BBC put together an excellent 3-hour celebration of stories and new documentary material on Radio 4 Extra. It's available on iPlayer for the next month, and, as is the way of Radio 4 Extra, will probably pop up again and again in the months to come.

You can listen to it here.

Since 2007, Richard Crowest has been uploading his readings of Saki's stories to the web. They're also available as free podcasts, and from a quick sampling, they are very good indeed. They are available on iTunes, or via his website here. Mr Crowest is doing a live show of Saki stories on the centenary itself, at the Leicester Square Theatre:

A Century of Saki, Leicester Square Theatre, Monday 14 November 2016, 7pm

You can book tickets here, and read the press release here. (I've only just found out about this event, otherwise I would have been plugging it for a while! I wish I could be there...)

The Guardian noted the centenary in their Week in Books column on the 12th, and made this laudable comment:

"If only Saki were still alive. The age of Trump needs his brutal dismantling of human stupidities."

The Guardian's piece also has quotes from two famous fans, worth repeating here:

"In all literature, he was the first to employ successfully a wildly outrageous premise in order to make a serious point. I love that. And today the best of his stories are still better than the best of just about every other writer around." – Roald Dahl

"Saki's stories are highly relevant to any society in which convention is confused with morality, and all societies confuse convention with morality, so he'll always be relevant." – Will Self

Kirkus Reviews remembers Saki here.

The Saki Centenary Facebook page is here.

Details of a 'lost' Saki story now reprinted as a limited edition are here.

The blissfully perfect combination of Tom Baker reading Sredni Vashtar can be enjoyed here.

Sunday 6 November 2016

Rediscovered! A forgotten Saki/Alice in Wonderland short story





November 14th this year is the centenary of the death of Hector Hugh Munro, better known as Saki. He was killed at the Somme, where he was serving as a Corporal, having refused a commission. He was forty-five.

To commemorate the centenary, I'm pleased to announce a limited edition booklet, which returns a previously forgotten Saki piece to print, for the first time since it was originally published in 1902. Whether you're a Saki aficionado, or an Alice/Lewis Carroll collector, it's definitely something for the completists!

It was The Westminster Alice that introduced Saki to the world. The Wonderland-inspired skewering of the political scene, together with the perfect illustrations by F. Carruthers Gould (with apologies to Tenniel) was a huge hit for The Westminster Gazette, which soon brought the series of vignettes together in a paperbound edition. Possibly to coincide with this collected edition, Munro and Carruthers Gould produced an encore appearance for their Alice, in an issue of the Westminster Gazette offshoot publication Picture Politics, several months after the last instalment, ‘Spade in Wonderland’ had been published. This piece, ‘Alice Wants to Know’ — complete with its illustration — was destined to be forgotten, and has never been included in any subsequent collected edition of The Westminster Alice. It is returned to print now for the first time, along with another never-reprinted, non-Alice political squib by Saki, ‘Government By Picture-Postcard’. 

Thanks to the talents of Martin Stiff at the design studio Amazing 15the booklet has been beautifully laid out to mimic the design of the original paperbound collected edition of The Westminster Alice, right down to the contemporary ads on the back cover. The booklet is printed on heavy, 160gsm uncoated paper, 8pp plus the colour cover, printed on 250gsm Rives Shetland paper.

There are 45 hand-numbered copies for sale.

Copy number 1 *only* is sold together with an original copy of the paperbound edition of The Westminster Alice (pictured).
PRICE: £45 (including UK P&P) NB: THIS HAS NOW SOLD.

Copies 2-45 (Booklet only)
PRICE: £7.50 (including UK P&P)

TO ORDER: Please email me at:

I will reply to confirm availability, and to process payment (which will be by PayPal only: when you email me, if you confirm your email address connected to your PayPal account, I will simply send you a Paypal invoice, subject to availability of course).

Copies will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. For non-UK orders, please supply me first with your address, so I can give you a postage-inclusive price.

Saki fans should also feel free to take a look at the Saki Centenary Facebook Page.

Saturday 5 November 2016

Saki's Centenary

It's very nearly 100 years since the death of one of my favourite writers, Hector Hugh Munro, aka Saki.

He was killed at the Somme on November 14, 1916. His work is not exactly forgotten (it's never been out of print since he died), but it deserves a wider audience.

If you're new to Saki, his Wikipedia entry will give you the basics.

I've also set up a Saki Centenary Facebook page which will be posting various Saki-related links from now on.

I'll also shortly be announcing a very limited edition new Saki publication, returning a lost story of his to print for the first time in over a century...