The first half of the book is where the shorter stories reside and these range from true horror to some more light hearted fare. My experience with horror fiction is neglectfully limited, in fact if I exclude Neil Gaiman’s excellent “Smoke & Mirrors“, then the closest thing I have to horror on my shelves is a copy of “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies“. These stories made me want to read more horror and I don’t think I can conjure up a greater compliment. The lack of cliches was refreshing and the ideas incredibly unique, often with a very British feel to them – especially strong to me in “Moonlighting” and “Record Collector Blues”. These stories cover a vast range of horror styles and themes from demons to vampires as well as more science fiction elements. There are a few longer tales in here as well; “Goodbye Rembrandt” is a full length Doctor Who story featuring the Fourth Doctor and his female Timelord companion Romana. It echoes strongly of an old favourite TV series of mine, the woefully under-appreciated British show Sapphire and Steel which David refers to as being an influence on the story. “Blackfriars” is another longer tale which puts a new horror perspective onto one of my favourite genres – outrageous archeology.
Part two of the book contains the scripts for David’s 2004 short film Daemos Rising and the unmade “Face of The Fendahl”. Both are Doctor Who spin-offs following the adventures of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (daughter of the good Brigadier) and former UNIT operative Douglas Cavendish. “Daemos Rising” is a sequel to the Third Doctor serial “The Daemons” and sees Kate and Cavendish fighting against a terrible potential future with the help of a friendly ghost. The same characters re-appear for “Face of the Fendahl”, a Roger Corman inspired piece which manages to pre-empt Doctor Who‘s “Vampires of Venice” by several years with it’s classic vampire settings mixed with an alien foe, this time the Fendahl which were once fought by the Fourth Doctor.
The only disappointments for me in this collection were the two novel ideas but my feelings stem not from a lack of quality in the stories themselves, but in the fact that they remain incomplete. Both are the opening chapters to longer novels, thus they lead you in to a promising story that you cannot complete. “Barkio” is today completed but lies unpublished whilst “The Cemetery” is unfinished and not currently being worked on any further.I hope that one day David is able to complete and publish these two stories to bring us some much needed resolution.
As a whole, this is a great collection with something for most horror and fantasy fans. Doctor Who fans, especially those from the classic pre-2005 era, will doubtless find the Who-verse tales of great interest but there is more to this book than just the Doctor’s world, and the other short stories are all worthy of your time and attention. As a horror story novice I found this a great introduction to a variety of styles, allowing me to get a bit more understanding of the genres I am drawn to and as such talespinning will sit well on the shelves of horror, fantasy and science fiction fans alike.
talespinning is published on Friday September 30th by Telos Publishing.
A copy of this book was provided free for review by GeekMom.