REVIEW: Robert Hood’s Peripheral Visions

peripheralvisionsPeripheral Visions – The Collected Ghost Stories, Robert Hood

Release Date: 06 April 2015
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-925148-65-7
E-book ISBN: 978-1-925148-68-8
Publisher: IFWG Publishing Australia
Website: ghoststories.roberthoodwriter.com

Sometimes, books are more than the words they contain. Sometimes they are art, they are artefacts. Before we’ve read a single word, just the look or the weight can act as a promise and begin the process of drawing us in. Such is the way with Robert Hood’s Peripheral Visions: Collected Ghost Stories, the first collection from IFWG Australia‘s new dark-fantasy and horror imprint Dark Phases.

I have the single-volume hardcover edition. It is 44 stories, 800 pages, 22,000 words, and as big and heavy as a housebrick. It is a beautiful thing to hold and to behold. The cover and internal illustrations — an eerie combination of photography and digital manipulation — by renowned artist Nick Stathopoulos, only add weight to the care and professionalism afforded this volume by IFGW Australia and Cohesion Press (who did the design and layout).

Why so much trouble for a single-author collection? Well, a short biography on Robert Hood might help answer that question… Robert Hood’s writing has been pushing the bounds of science fiction, fantasy and crime for the past 40 years. He has published five YA novels, an adult epic-fantasy novel, fifteen children’s books, four collections of short fiction, he has written plays, academic articles, poetry and co-edited anthologies of horror and crime. He has won seven Ditmar Awards and a Golden Dagger Award, and published over 120 short stories in anthologies and magazines all around the world.

That’s a resumé worthy of respect, and this collection shows it.

What then of the stories?

Peripheral Visions, as the full title suggests, collects all of Hood’s ghost stories published during the period 1986-2015. That includes 41 previously published stories and three written specifically for the collection. The quality varies from good to brilliant, some being more to my taste than others, but not once was I disappointed by a story or its outcome.

Not all tales are ‘Ghost Stories’ in the M.R.Jamesian sense, though the style is well represented, and not all are as obvious as others. Indeed some I would hesitate to call ghost stories at all, but definitely agree with the repeated use of the term ‘Haunted’ in each of the six sections that divide the book — HAUNTED PLACES, HAUNTED FAMILIES, HAUNTED MINDS, HAUNTED YOUTH, HAUNTED VENGEANCE, HAUNTED REALITIES — because many of the characters are haunted not by ghosts, but their pasts and by places and in some cases haunted even by themselves. But all the characters are indeed haunted in various ways and I found this link between the stories much stronger than any offered by the presence of mere spirits from beyond the grave.

Favourites? Surprisingly, I found some of the oldest stories to be amongst those that most impressed me. “Necropolis”, published in 1986, is a tale strong with the nuclear fear of the late Cold War, and “Grandma and the Girls” (1989) comes across as a strange but pleasing blend of Robert Aickman and Flannery O’Connor. The highlight of the book for me was the 2008 novelette “Kulpunya”, where the beauty and horror of Australia’s outback are rendered in exquisite prose more than worthy of the ancient spirits Hood evokes. Indeed, with many of the stories, it is the strong Australian ‘sense of place’ that makes them most satisfying.

There is, predictably in a collection of this size, some repetition in the themes and even the characters we encounter. But overall, there is enough variety to keep the mind enthralled without getting bored or feeling like you’ve read it all before.

Available in a variety of formats — single-volume deluxe hardcover, 2 volume trade paperback, and a digital version — I’d certainly recommend shelling out for the complete hardcover package. The stories are well worth it, and the expert presentation along with Nick Stathopolous’s stunning illustrations, make it something you’ll want to pull from the shelf time and time again.

Peripheral Visions by Robert Hood is out now

The last element of the publication of Peripheral Visions: The Collected Ghost Stories (by Robert Hood) is now completed, with the release of Volume 2 of the trade paperback version. The 800+ page cloth bound volume and equivalent two-volume trade paperback versions are now available, as well as ebook formats of each. The hardcover (cloth bound) version has internal illustrations by Nick Stathopoulos, and is the premier title in IFWG Publishing Australia’s Dark Phases series of excellence in horror and dark fantasy. Curiously, the single volume ebook version has the same illustrations, but are treated differently – collectors note this if they want the complete experience. Nick was also the genius behind the cover art and designs for all the editions.

Peripheral Visions by Robert HoodThe first wave of the numbered limited edition has been shipped, but until all 200 copies are purchased, the offer will continue. Bonus material is offered with the limited edition, including Robert Hood’s dark YA title, Backstreets (paperback) as well as the chap-ebook Haunted Flesh, a collection of zombie stories by Robert Hood.

Peripheral Visions by Robert Hood

Without a doubt, the hardcover version of Peripheral Visions has been an outstanding success – proven by its sell out at Supanova Melbourne (the Melbourne Launch of the title) last April, as well as great sales at Continuum 11 a few weeks ago. Robert Hood will be turning up at Oz Comicon Melbourne on 27 and 28 June, where he will sign any purchases. We will have plenty of the cloth bound editions available.

Also, stay tuned – the Sydney Launch will occur in July and a formal announcement will be forthcoming very soon.

Rob and Nick (plus an uninvited guest) [Photo courtesy of Cat Sparks and Nick Stathopoulos]

Rob and Nick (plus an uninvited guest) [Photo courtesy of Cat Sparks and Nick Stathopoulos]

Cohesion Press upcoming releases

Cohesion Press continues to be busy and shows no signs of slowing down.

FUBAR by Weston Ochse has just been released. Print and ebook are now live, and the ordering period for the signed/limited edition is open until September.

“A wild blend of nail-biting thriller action and out-of-the shadows horror. This is the supernatural thriller at its most dynamic. Perfect!” —Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling-author of Dead of Night and The King of Plagues

FUBAR Weston Ochse


Also, Cohesion Press has just signed Patrick Freivald for the final three books in his Matt Rowley series. The first two were released by Journalstone, but Cohesion has them from now on.


Their next release will be The Road to Golgotha, through the Cohesion Comics imprint.
For sale online (print) in a week or two, with the official release at Melbourne Oz Comic Con June 27-28. Amanda J Spedding and GN Braun will be there all weekend for signing.


After that, in July and August, they will release the first two of a projected seven-book series (Secret Files of the League of Silence series) by Jack Hanson.
July – Cry Havoc by Jack Hanson
August – Forlorn Hope by Jack Hanson

comingsoon


Their complete release schedule for the near future is:

June – The Road to Golgotha (Cohesion Comic #1)
July – Cry Havoc by Jack Hanson
August – Forlorn Hope by Jack Hanson<
August – SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest
September – Blurring the Line (ed. Marty Young)
October – TBA
November – SNAFU: Hunters featuring James A Moore and Patrick Freivald
December – [Untitled] (Cohesion Comic #2)
January (2016) – TBA
February (2016) – SNAFU: Future Warfare featuring Weston Ochse and Brad Torgersen
March (2016) – TBA
April (2016) – [Untitled] by Patrick Freivald (Matt Rowley 3)
May (2016) – TBA
June (2016) – TBA
July (2016) – TBA
August (2016) – SNAFU: Creature Feature

Cherry Crow Children is now available

By Deborah Kalin
Volume 12, Twelve Planets Press
ISBN 978-1-9221010-9-9
Cover design by Amanda Rainey
Also will be available as ebook
Published April 2015

For full details, including ordering information, go to Twelfth Planet Press.

Introduced by Kate Elliott.

Cherry Crow ChildrenTulliæn spans a fractured mountaintop, where the locals lie and the tourists come to die. Try the honey.

Briskwater crouches deep in the shadow of a dam wall. Ignore the weight of the water hanging overhead, and the little dead girl wandering the streets. Off with you, while you still can.

In Haverny Wood the birds drink blood, the dogs trade their coughings for corpses, the lost children carve up their bodies to run with the crows, and the townsfolk stitch silence into their spleens. You mustn’t talk so wild.

The desert-locked outpost of Boundary boasts the famed manufacturers of flawless timepieces; those who would learn the trade must offer up their eyes as starting materials. Look to your pride: it will eat you alive.

Sooner or later, in every community, fate demands its dues — and the currency is blood.

—–

The Female Factory by Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter, has also since won the Aurealis Award for Best Collection.

In The Female Factory, procreation is big business. Children are a commodity few women can afford.

Hopeful mothers-to-be try everything. Fertility clinics. Pills. Wombs for hire. Babies are no longer made in bedrooms, but engineered in boardrooms. A quirk of genetics allows lucky surrogates to carry multiple eggs, to control when they are fertilised, and by whom—but corporations market and sell the offspring. The souls of lost embryos are never wasted; captured in software, they give electronics their voice. Spirits born into the wrong bodies can brave the charged waters of a hidden billabong, and change their fate. Industrious orphans learn to manipulate scientific advances, creating mothers of their own choosing.

From Australia’s near-future all the way back in time to its convict past, these stories spin and sever the ties between parents and children.