Biblia Longcrofta by Simon Marshall-Jones, publisher and editor at award-nominated Spectral Press, is a series of connected short fiction stories, semi-autobiographical in nature, set in the imaginary town of Longcroft. Although it has no precise geographical location in the ‘real’ world, nevertheless it is located somewhere on the northern coastline of Britain. It exists contemporaneously and separately in a different time stream from the rest of the world, the reasons for the split lost in the mists of time.
It is no ordinary town, however – here miracles happen on an everyday basis, and the numinous and marvellous sit side-by-side with the banal and mundane. Into this wonderland comes a tattooed stranger called Simeon, a man bored of his old life, but still unsure of what his place in the world is, who he is, and what purpose he has. Through a series of connected incidents, he comes to understand the world around him, and the person he is. Along the way he meets wonders and living myths and, through interacting with them, he finds his true destiny – however, it’s not what he was expecting nor what he would have chosen for himself.
The protagonist’s arrival into Longcroft.
The Black Ship
Wandering down to the harbour one fine morning, Simeon witnesses an imposing sight: the arrival of the Black Ship, a mighty sea-borne behemoth, carrying a mysterious cargo. He also meets the Warehouse Guardian, an old sea-dog who is a lot more than appearances would suggest.
When the Gods Meet
What happens when deities from various panthea get together to socialise? Our hapless hero is asked to organise the ten-yearly convention GodCon, and he sees first-hand what sometimes happens. During his adventures, he meets the Co-ordinator for the first time...
Going home after work one evening, Simeon suspects he is being followed home, but fails to see anyone. Later that night, he discovers that he WAS being followed, but by someone utterly extraordinary...
The City that Whispered
Simeon’s new friend takes him to an unexpected part of Longcroft, somewhere hidden away from prying eyes containing a whole culture unto itself.
The House of Glass Jars
The Co-ordinator has a secret which he’s kept for millennia, but now he feels it’s time to let it go and redeem himself. He asks Simeon to be his witness, in the process revealing yet more wondrous aspects of the otherwhere known as Longcroft.
In which we learn that Longcroft’s very existence, as well as the universe’s, is in peril. Simeon and his appearance in the town turns out to be no accident, and he ultimately learns his fate. But that’s not all he discovers – he finds out what brought him to Longcroft in the first place, and that his life is about to be transformed in a way he’d never imagined. Ultimately, in order to gain happiness and save the universe, he has to sacrifice something precious, but what he gets in return is the last thing he expected.
This collection may just surprise people - Spectral Press normally publishes ghost and horror stories, and these tales are distinctly different from anything I've published by other people. Nevertheless, I hope people will find them intriguing...
Simon Marshall-Jones (aka The Tattooed Head) is editor/publisher at award-nominated Spectral Press, Theatrum Mundi, and rEvolution SF, a writer, reviewer, columnist, and blogger: a book lover, of course, but also likes French cheeses and wines rather too much, as well as rum, a collector of vintage commercial vehicle magazines, and is heavily covered in tattoos. He lives with a wife, six cats, six guinea-pigs, five chickens, and two rabbits (but no partridge in a pear tree) somewhere in the Midlands, UK.