The Best of British Fantasy 2019 - Table of Contents

I'm very proud to reveal the table of contents for the new volume of The Best of British Fantasy.

The Best of British Fantasy 2019 contains two dozen tales of the weird and wonderful: featuring pensive houses, angry gods, ghosts, monsters, living statues, were-creatures, sorcerers, swordsmen, spells, skeletons, and, of course, the end of the world. 

You can now pre-order your copy directly from the publisher.

Cover art by Jonathan E


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BOBF2019 Update

An update on the new volume of The Best of British Fantasy.

I received a shade under 200 submitted stories (excluding collections and anthologies), prowled around 82 different magazines and websites, and pored over 25 anthologies looking for British authors (ironically, I did a rubbish job keeping track of the anthologies, so I think that number is a little low...). 

I'm afraid that, like last year, the volume of submissions is simply too high for me to respond to everyone individually, or with personal feedback. 

  • All selections are made. Contracts are currently with the authors and/or their representatives.
  • I've also gathered a 'Recommended Reading' list of fifty additional stories that caught my interest (but, sadly, couldn't be included). As with last year, this will also be published online and printed in the book. I have not notified these authors, so, please, watch this space.
  • This year's cover artist is busy creating something spectacular

We'll announce everything when the moving parts have all successfully aligned.

As with last year, this year's selection is a combination of stories submitted and stories found. I'm glad to say that, unlike last year, the vast majority of this year's stories came from submissions. That bodes well for the sustainability of the project.

Thanks to everyone who got in touch. I appreciated the opportunity to read your work, and the past few months have been all the richer for it.

The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley (1863)

Let us understand a man by creating him.

The Water Babies
The Water Babies

We'll need a work space. A busy street-corner will do. There we'll study him as he studies others. London, why not. In the mid 19th century. Popular enough to easily picture; distant enough to give perspective.

Cobble together the corner of Fleet and Bridge. Drop St. Paul's Cathedral down the road. Thump! Spray the stench of the sewer-river Thames. Add a touch of horse shit, man-shit, fire-smoke, fresh bread. Now add noise! Wheels rattling on brick, hooves clattering on cobble, costermongers shouting, dogs barking, trains rumbling. Don't forget the church bells, the glorious church bells.

Excellent. Now we begin our Adam. Shape him on the curb, don't put him in cart traffic. Mold a tall thin fellow, leaning against a tall thin lamppost. Mutton-chop whiskers, sardonic smile. But that's mere container. What fills our man in? His stuffing must suit the time and place.

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Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986)

Howls Moving Castle
Howl's Moving Castle

I didn’t discover Diana Wynne Jones (DWJ) when I was a kid. Perhaps I got my timing wrong; DWJ’s first children’s book was published in 1973, but many of her works were quickly out of print, only returning decades later on the back of JK Rowling inspired popularity for all things wizard. Which, given JK and many other writers, including Phillip Pullman, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, cite DWJ as inspiration, would be ironic if it didn’t show how publishing skews the very markets it creates.

Howl’s Moving Castle (published in 1986, by which time I had already moved on from fantasy to science fiction and, um, Agatha Christie) did slow business on its initial release, winning the Phoenix Award twenty years later, a couple of years after Studio Ghibli turned it into a box-office success as an animated film.

I am only now making amends, with the lame and utterly transparent excuse that my teenage nieces are the real audience I’m eagerly snapping up DWJ’s books for.

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