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A Slipstream Anthology of Railway Stories

Edited by David Rix (Eibonvale Press 2013)

My Real-time Review continued from HERE.


The Last Train – Joel Lane

He’d said Malcolm was remembering a dream, which was his way of saying lying.”

A dark Lane-like rite-of-passage where Malcolm needs to exorcise his adult madness by revisiting the train tunnel of youth – and he remembers, as it were, from the previous story, about kids’ naive exhibitionism and from the Ashley story about youthful railtrack sexual awakenings  – later of the Nina Allan diorama buffet car here represented by a teeming crystal globe and those remembered ‘lying-dreams’ trip up on a “loose sleeper” before Daniella Geary’s coffin train looms like King’s Blaine in its worst mood (with another version of Nina Allan’s passengers sitting chillingly inside)… The ultimate slipstream of stories on track.

As a singular, independently written story, ‘The Last Train’ works very well, in isolation. Nightmarish to the broken fingertips.

My previous reviews of Joel Lane work:  Black Static #28 – Beneath The Ground – edited by Joel Lane – The Terrible Changes by Joel Lane – The AUTUMN MYTH by Joel Lane – Instinct: ‘poems of desire’ by Joel Lane –  Never Again – Do Not Pass Go by Joel Lane – Black Static #34 – The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies and more



This real-time review will now continue in the comment stream below as and when I read each story.

9 responses to “*

  1. Writer’s Block – SJ Fowler
    “Ingenious nonsense…”
    A versionary, provoking (how I empathise with Freud!), still turning, word-engineered turntable between poetry and prose that brings into a synchromesh of points the extrapolated sayings about or by poets and other luminaries from the past with regard to the grim fateful irony of trains and other things. A train is a train is a train is a train…except when it isn’t.

    [Regarding ‘versionary’: please see my RTR of Star Kites and my link to Versionary SF.]

  2. Northern Line Tube Announcement – Anon
    “Thank you.”
    An unlevel crossing.

  3. The Path of Garden Forks – Rhys Hughes
    “Yes, you’ll be cast into the deepest dungeon for that, dear reader, and I doubt they’ll even let your skeleton out.”
    …to get on Daniella’s death train? This is genuinely the craziest Rhys Hughes story I’ve ever read*, and that’s saying something! Still, it has a variation on the theme of Allen Ashley’s version of the Christopher Priest Inverted World train…if I recall it correctly. But I’m only the reader and I’m apparently being taken off elsewhere by the author to exchange my atoms for ants. The Queen? She’s currently busy being made into a great-grandmother of the heir to the throne.

    *I am probably the only Rhys Hughes reader other than Rhys Hughes himself to be able to make that objective judgement, as you can judge for yourself by all these reviews (linked from HERE) that I’ve previously written about his work!

  4. District to Upminster – Marion Pitman
    “…maybe Turnham Green was closed.”
    Another turning turntable of a story. Over many years, I have had a fascination with the London Underground and Harry Beck’s map – an area where we now seem to be entering with this book – and I was intrigued that I had to climb down from the Underground to get to the new-fangled Overground when travelling to Peckham recently for this book’s launch!
    Here we have a wonderful extrapolative essay by Pitman (what an appropriate name for this underground work) about the tipping-point of reality that brings in GK Chesterton and echoes the Christopher Priest-type conceits of previous stories in this book …and the stovepipe hat ending reminds me of Nina Allan’s black mackintosh…

    [A very short piece that I had published in 1989 that I hope is relevant as well as entertaining: HERE.]

  5. Wi-Fi Enabled Bakerloo Sunset – RD Hodkinson
    “– a train, not close, but somewhere, pushing pillars of stale, warm air through miles of inky tunnels…”
    At first, I thought this was more ‘ingenious nonsense’, amenable enough. But, no, this turns into a remarkable take on seeking one’s compass of self, a trial goto home, while waiting for an underground train, extremely well written with illuminating slants that make you say “yes!”, that is exactly it, that’s how it is, VERY English, at times hilarious, at others angst-riddled, and it must be the tube mouses, I reckon, that provide the wifi so far underground…
    Can you tell I really enjoyed this eventual startlingly climactic gem by a writer whose name had so far escaped me?

  6. Stratford International – David McGroarty
    …everything was nawha’amean.”
    A grim but inspiring ‘life’s terrible landmark’ story over years that faces a self-grappling male protagonist (self-grappling like but so unlike the RD Hodkinson protagonist), years that are threaded through and by the layers of memory around Stratford, East London with that area’s own changing face (layers of architectural and landscape and time like but so unlike those in the John Howard story). This book no longer surprises me as one gem follows another, all skilfully chosen by the book’s over-arching force of creation.

  7. The Cuts – Danny Rhodes
    “…marvelling at the way a layer seemed to have been stripped away from the land, exposing scratched white bone beneath.”
    This tells of a civil servant – who is working on the Beeching cuts – travelling by train in North Wales in November 1963 to deal with each community’s objections. An atmospheric Horror story, an effective, stylistically secure nightmare that builds and builds from normal life to something very frightening… An effect similar to that of the accretive extrapolation of the earlier Geary Death Trains into a truly felt archetype – a gradual process like the self-seeking angst of the Hodkinson story – and again there are those ‘architectonic’ landscape layers, contrasting with Stratford just now where industrial land had turned to natural wetland, almost as if here in North Wales the process of direction is far more insidious than that…

  8. Sleepers – Christopher Harman
    “In an adjoining room a single garment hung from a hook.”
    I said earlier of a story that it would not be the last time you heard its title. I guarantee, here, that you will now no longer be able to disassociate the word ‘Sleepers’ and the name Christopher Harman. I have reviewed HERE a story by Christopher Harman before, i.e. ‘Deep Water’, and I thought then that this was a name to watch and how right I was!
    SLEEPERS is an unquestionable horror masterpiece, taking the feel of Robert Aickman – sown with a countrified version of David A. Riley’s ‘Grudge End’ – to realms of extreme extrapolation and nightmarish vision, where this book’s leitmotif of landscape-layering of industrial and countryside (here in the Pennines where Vince and drifty ‘non-coper’ Rory are touring together) is adumbrated with great force – plus a hotel that you will never forget, denizens that lurk, then a fully visualisable derelict station, too, and that land ‘layering’ shakes the book itself: and, at first, I wrongly assumed it was some form of fracking, but it’s really the trains that pass through its pages that shake my floor. Here a beast of a train rumbles utterly insidiously with significant implications for the humanity we have become in this country. I really don’t think I should dare to become a sleeper ever again in case I dream of what happened in this story, a story that is ever in an exponential overdrive of horror-generated stylistics.

  9. This real-time review continues HERE.

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