Something Remains: Joel Lane and Friends (edited by Peter Coleborn and Pauline E. Dungate) was published by The Alchemy Press in September 2016.
Information about the editors:
Peter Coleborn is the editor-in-chief of the award-winning Alchemy Press. He's also done stints as editor (Winter Chills/Chills, Dark Horizons, BFS Newsletter), British Fantasy Convention organiser, and takes the odd photo or two. He lives in an old house in Staffordshire.
Pauline E. Dungate is the author of many short stories and a plethora of reviews. She helps run Cannon Hill Writers' Group in Birmingham. Now she has retired she travels to exotic countries in search of butterflies; a number of her stories are based in places she has visited. When not writing, you may well find her in the garden.
Information about Something Remains: Joel Lane and Friends:
When Joel Lane died unexpectedly in November 2013, the literary world lost a remarkable talent. He left us too early, with so much unfinished as indicated by the copious notes and outlines of stories and poems he had yet to write. In these pages you will find stories inspired by and based on these notes, completed by many of his friends and colleagues - over thirty writers including Tim Lebbon, Steve Rasnic Tem, Alison Littlewood, John Grant, Simon Bestwick, Lynda E. Rucker, John Llewellyn Probert, Gary McMahon, Thana Niveau, Steven Savile and many others.
'"Little bits of midnight they forgot to sweep up when the dawn came," (Joel Lane). I think that's genius, and a reminder of what we've lost - what more there might have been. But though Joel has gone, his work still lives, and I believe its worth will only grow with time.' - Ramsey Campbell
A REVIEW OF SOMETHING REMAINS: JOEL LANE AND FRIENDS (EDITED BY PETER COLEBORN AND PAULINE E. DUNGATE)
Something Remains: Joel Lane and Friends (edited by Peter Coleborn and Pauline E. Dungate) is a well-edited anthology of stories and essays dedicated to the memory of Joel Lane. This anthology will be of interest to readers who enjoy reading literary speculative fiction, literary strange fiction and weird fiction. (According to the publisher's website all profits go to Diabetes UK.)
The stories in this anthology have been written in the vein of Joel Lane and have been inspired by and based on his notes and outlines of stories he had yet to write, and the essays reveal things about Joel Lane and his works. The authors have done their best to write good stories, poems and essays. Their contributions reveal how much they appreciate Joel Lane's stories and storytelling skills.
Because this anthology is dedicated to the memory of Joel Lane, I think it's good to say a few words about him. Joel Lane (1963–2013) was one of the most talented writers of literary strange fiction and weird fiction (he also wrote mainstream fiction). His unique writing style and his excellent prose have had an influence on many authors and many readers admire his works. He is the author of such short story collections as The Earth Wire and Other Stories, The Lost District and Other Stories, and Where Furnaces Burn. He received the British Fantasy Award twice and the World Fantasy Award in 2013.
Something Remains is one of the best and most impressive anthologies of the year (it's a worthy tribute to Joel Lane and his legacy). If you consider yourself to be a fan of literary speculative fiction, you owe it to yourself to read this anthology, because you'll love it.
This anthology contains the following stories, poems and essays:
- Introduction by Pauline E. Dungate
- Joel by Chris Morgan
- Not Dispossessed: A Few Words on Joel Lane's Early Published Works by David A. Sutton
- Everybody Hates a Tourist by Tim Lebbon
- The Conscience of the Circuit by Nicholas Royle
- The Missing by John Llewellyn Probert
- Charmed Life by Simon Avery
- Antithesis by Alison Littlewood
- Dark Furnaces by Chris Morgan
- Broken Eye by Gary McMahon
- Stained Glass by John Grant
- The Inner Ear by Marion Pitman
- Threadbare by Jan Edwards
- The Dark Above the Fair by Terry Grimwood
- Grey Children by David A. Sutton
- The Twin by James Brogden
- Through the Floor by Gary Couzens
- Lost by Pauline Morgan
- Fear of the Music by Stephen Bacon
- Bad Faith by Thana Niveau
- Window Shopping by David Mathew
- Clan Festor by Liam Garriock
- Sweet Sixteen by Adam Millard
- Buried Stars by Simon MacCulloch
- And Ashes in Her Hair by Simon Bestwick
- The Pleasure Garden by Rosanne Rabinowitz
- Joel Lane, Poet by Chris Morgan
- The Reach of Children by Mike Chinn
- The Men Cast by Shadows by Mat Joiner
- The Winter Garden by Pauline E. Dungate
- Natural History by Allen Ashley
- The Second Death by Ian Hunter
- Blanche by Andrew Hook
- The Body Static by Tom Johnstone
- The Bright Exit by Sarah Doyle
- You Give Me Fever by Paul Edwards
- The Other Side by Lynda E. Rucker
- Of Loss and of Life: Joel Lane's Essays on the Fantastic by Mark Valentine
- Shadows by Joe X. Young
- I Need Somewhere to Hide by Steven Savile
- Coming to Life by John Howard
- The Enemy Within by Steve Rasnic Tem
- Afterword: The Whole of Joel by Ramsey Campbell
Each of the above mentioned stories, poems and essays is worth reading, because they've been written well. The stories and poems feature excellent prose and the essays are informative and interesting.
All of the stories contain fluent descriptions of urban alienation, isolation and everyday life. They have creepy and slipstreamish elements, which emphasise weird happenings, and the characters are realistic. It's great that the authors have paid attention to creating an unsettling and uncanny atmosphere, because it's an essential part of the charm of the stories.
The authors fluently explore such things as everyday life, relationships, love, loss, homosexuality, longing and passion in these stories and they do it well. It's great that they touch upon many themes and issues, because it brings diversity to this anthology. The authors offer intriguing glimpses into the private lives of different kind of people and reveal what happens when people experience extraordinary and unexpected things.
I was deeply impressed by all of the stories and I enjoyed reading the essays. Although I don't call myself an expert on Joel Lane's fiction (I've only read a couple of his collections), in my opinion all of the stories could easily have been written by Joel Lane himself, because they're exceptionally good and they reminded me of his stories.
Here's a bit of information and my thoughts about some of the stories:
"Everybody Hates a Tourist" by Tim Lebbon is a story about Jenny who has come from London to Birmingham to start a new life. She visits her friend, Emily, who's the only person she knows in the city. She feels that she doesn't belong where she is now. This story is an unsettling and memorable vision of alienation with an excellent ending.
In "The Missing" by John Llewellyn Probert, the protagonist has suffered a cerebral trauma and has lost many memories. The author writes atmospherically about the protagonist's condition and feelings.
"Dark Furnaces" by Chris Morgan reminded me a lot of the stories found in Joel Lane's excellent Where Furnaces Burn. I was very impressed by this story, because its protagonist is a DS who begins to investigate a strange case.
"The Dark Above the Fair" by Terry Grimwood is an interesting take on the Mods and Rockers phenomenon. This story is told captivatingly from the point of view of a young man called Michael. The author's vision of the world and life in the 1960s is realistic and striking.
"Grey Children" by David A. Sutton is a story that begins with Robert being in a hospital that used be a workhouse in his grandfather's days. From then on the story grows weirder and more unsettling towards the ending. This is a powerful story that will truly stick to your mind.
"Through the Floor" by Gary Couzens is a story about Bridget and the bisexual James and what happens between them. The author explores intriguingly the characters' feelings and how their relationship develops.
"Fear of the Music" by Stephen Bacon is a powerful story about Gary and James, a one-night stand that becomes something more and dancing. The author writes perfectly about the characters and how they interact with each other.
"And Ashes in Her Hair" by Simon Bestwick is a story about Gray who sees a girl near a fire and dreams of her. I liked this story very much, because it was a well written story with strange happenings. The author writes fluently about Gray and how he feels about what's happening to him.
"The Winter Garden" by Pauline E. Dungate is a fascinatingly written story about Matt, who's an alcoholic. One day, at the bottom of the stairs of the building where he lives, he wanders into a garden that he has never visited before. There he meets a mysterious fey youth who tells him about the bodies that are in the garden. I enjoyed reading this story, because it has an excellent atmosphere.
In "Natural History" by Allen Ashley, an unemployed man spends time at the Museum of Archaeological Finds and Natural History and tries to save and bring its stuffed and dead creatures to life. The author writes excellently about the man's life and feelings. This is one of the best and most memorable stories in this anthology.
"Blanche" by Andrew Hook is a story about a young gay student, Gavin, and his meeting of Blanche who has a spectral face. I enjoyed reading this story, because it's something a bit different. I like the way the author writes about Gavin, his feelings and his life.
"The Body Static" by Tom Johnstone is an interesting story about a woman who has lost her son due to a firm's negligence in machine maintenance. It was intriguing for me to read about the woman and her feelings when she met a man who told her about 'the first people'.
"The Other Side" by Lynda E. Rucker is an intriguingly written story about Mark whose ex-lover, Adam, has disappeared. He gets a call from Adam's twin sister, Lauren, who tells him that she has seen Adam. Adam used talk to Mark about edgelands that are liminal places. This is a wonderfully atmospheric and a bit melancholy story with an excellent ending. This is one of the best stories I've read this year.
"The Enemy Within" by Steve Rasnic Tem is a fascinating and extremely well written story about Ian who works at the factory and his relationship with Paul. The descriptions of the canals add a satisfyingly creepy atmosphere to this story.
I want to mention separately that "The Inner Ear" by Marion Pitman, "Lost" by Pauline Morgan and "The Bright Exit" by Sarah Doyle are beautiful poems. They add a nice touch of style to this anthology.
The characterisation is excellent in all of the stories, because the authors have managed to make the characters realistic and believable. It's genuinely interesting to read about how the characters struggle with their feelings and lives, because they could be real people.
The atmosphere is also excellent and wonderfully uncanny and at times sufficiently creepy. I have to admit that I was surprised by how well the authors succeeded in creating a Lane-like atmosphere.
By the way, if you happen to become intrigued by Joel Lane while reading this anthology, I strongly urge you to take a look at his stories, because they're excellent. They're among the best speculative fiction stories published during the recent years and deserve to be read.
If you are looking for beautifully written literary strange fiction and weird fiction, Something Remains is what you have been looking for. It contains excellent and impressive stories that surprise, thrill and shock readers in equal measure. Something Remains is something different for those who want to read quality fiction, so please, take a look at it and let yourself be charmed by uncanny stories.