Friday, July 3, 2015


The Swan River Press have announced the publication of a collection of stories by Joel Lane. The Anniversary of Never offers thirteen stories (one with Mat Joiner), with an introduction by Joel's long-time champion, Nicholas Royle.

The announcement tells us: "The Anniversary of Never is a group of tales concerned with the theme of the afterlife,” observed Lane, “and the idea that we may enter the afterlife before death, or find parts of it in our world.” These stories of love and death, sex and solitude, decay and dementia will burrow deep into the reader’s mind and impregnate it with a vision often as bleak as the night is black."

It was a great privilege to know Joel and to publish some of his early stories in Aklo, the journal of the fantastic I co-edited with Roger Dobson. So I can't pretend to be objective here. For me, Joel Lane was one of the most thoughtful and questioning authors in the supernatural fiction field. Deeply versed in the traditions of the form - he contributed remarkably original and perceptive essays on many of its major figures to Wormwood - he also understood the need to give it a contemporary resonance.

His stories have all the brooding power of the most memorable classics, while also having an extra edge because they are about the world we live in now. They always make us think about that world, gently and allusively showing just how wrong things can be. But they are also movingly written meditations on perennial human concerns, in which fully real characters experience love, longing and loss. Joel's ghosts are the spirits of dust, empty houses, abandoned places, wastelands. Anyone who cares at all about modern dark fiction - or about our society today - needs to read his work.

Mark Valentine

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