Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Now if you're anything like me, the thought of some mucking about with a magic sword, crossing words with greybeard wizards and ducking blasts of dragon-fire holds a deep and long-lasting appeal. Yes, we've all set off with Frodo and Sam many a time now, shadowed Conan as he pillages the Tower of the Elephant on more than one occasion, can sing along with the daemonic howls of Stormbringer, and  know the streets of Lankhmar and Anhk-Morpork by heart. Furthermore, I'm also guessing that I'm not the only one who has spent a great many hours exploring perilous dungeons, tumbling through the shady streets of thieves' dens, looting forgotten temples and walloping assorting monsters with a variety of medieval weapons, either through the arcane rituals of miniatures and dice or the weaving of code and pixel. 

However here's the rub, I'm also guessing that despite devouring the collected works of luminaries such as Tolkien, Howard, Leiber, and Moorcock, you generally give the heaving fantasy shelves in your local book-store a miss, at least until the next  volume of George RR Martin's modern classic A Song of Ice and Fire comes along. And why is this? Well, because we've all been burned too often in the past by bloated fantasy epics, titanic series of books that go steadily downhill and yet insist on adding trilogy after trilogy to the sequence until A) carrying the complete collection would give a Frost Giant a hernia and B) you'd happily side with the Dark Evil Overlord just to stomp that stupid green and pleasant kingdom flat.   

Yes, it's a regrettable legacy of Tolkien, that so many fantasy authors seem to think that not only it is mandatory to pen a trilogy but try to trump old JRR and churn out something five times longer. And this has always struck me as somewhat odd, for the other great heroes of fantasy, Conan, Elric, and Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser have flourished in sequences of shorter self-contained works like novellas and short stories. And indeed for fantastic and weird fiction of all flavours, the days when short stories and novellas were served up by a host of magazines and periodicals, from the Victorian penny dreadfuls to the pulps through to cheap paperback boom of the mid 20th century, were a golden age when many of the classics of fantasy, horror, and scifi were penned. 

Of course, partly the current state of affairs is to do with the mechanics of modern publishing; novels sell but the market for short stories is a shadow of its former self, and as Stephen King remarked in his afterword to Different Seasons, the novella is deeply unpopular all publishers of all stripes. However the exciting digital frontier of publishing is breaking down this status quo dictated by the logistics of print and paper, and once again a story can be only as long as it need to be. But hopefully that's not the only revival that will be brought by the rise of the ebook, for I'm hoping for a return of short form weird fiction, an age of digital pulps if you will, where a host of new talents can spin us tales of heroes, spacemen, and monsters... 

...And the good news is it has already begun! For all of you who fancy a rip-roaring adventure in magical lands, where beneath benighted ruins ancient sorceries and dire beasts guard long lost treasures, I present to you, The Copper Promise: Ghosts of the Citadel, a deliciously old school fantasy novella from the pen of Jennifer Williams.

Just released for the Kindle, and any electrickery such as your PC or phone that can pretend it's a Kindle, The Copper Promise: Ghosts of the Citadel is the perfect antidote to all those tedious multi-book less-than-epics. There's no pages of greybeards waffling on, no garrulous wizards who spend all their time yapping rather hurling spells,  and no reams of charts, genealogies and glossaries you need to flip through every five minutes just in order to work out whose doing something to someone else some where else. Instead we have a proper fantasy adventure, packed with action and wit, where a motley crew embark on an extremely hazardous bout of dungeoneering in the edifice of the title.

It's a proudly pulp caper, and I mean that as a high compliment - a tightly crafted tale that effortlessly carries you away to a land that never was where arcane adventures dwell, delivering the kind of fantastic thrills that so many of the elephantine endless tomes of modern fantasy are so sorely lacking. It's exciting and well paced, steering well clear of both the ponderous and the twee, serving up a slice of gritty and dynamic questing  And it's not just on the action front where this story has the edge on its thousand paged brothers.

To begin with we have characters who talk naturally rather than sounding like a bunch of hams who didn't get into the Royal Shakespeare company. And unlike the massed ranks of fantasy ciphers who are always po-facedly pouting thees and thous, this bunch banter and bicker, even cracking a joke or two and ribbing each other, lightening the dangerous darkness they are descending into  in a very human fashion.

But also our lead characters in The Copper Promise: Ghosts of the Citadel aren't the usual virtually super-powered fantasy heroes; much like Mr Fritz Leiber's heroes Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser of his Lankhmar stories, our not-so merry band come across as real people rather than pumped up stereotypes, complete with quirks, flaws and their own individual reasons for adventuring into the dangerous depths of the labyrinthine ruins of the Citadel.

Furthermore this fascinating band inhabit a concisely sketched but believable fantasy world. The world of The Copper Promise isn't the usual tired old pleasant lands menaced by dodgy monstrous foreigners from over the nearby mountains. Instead we have a medieval world of city states and kingdoms caught up in a more realistic march of history i.e. just getting on business of developing their civilisations. And most refreshingly these newly imagined lands that names like Creos and Crosshaven, that sound geographically authentic, rather than the usual failed attempts at exotica that read like random selections from a Scrabble bag. We don't get to see much of this world in this particular story, but there are hints and tantalizing details aplenty to build landscapes in the mind.

Finally it has to be said that The Copper Promise: Ghosts of the Citadel is beautifully written. Again Williams agilely steps over the usual fantasy pitfall of writing in a mock archaic idiom, and keeps her prose tight but evocative, and sporting an very distinctive and entertaining turn of phrase. But don't take my word for it, check out this illustrative excerpt -

The passageway was narrow, the steps uneven, the walls damp. Gallo brushed his free hand against the stones and his fingers came away covered in a thin green slime. Ahead there was a darkness as deep and complete as anything he had ever seen; it was like a solid thing, so that he almost feared to go too quickly lest he hit his head on it.

As you have probably gathered, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this little novella. And I'm certainly looking forward to a second adventure in the world of The Copper Promise; indeed the tale ends not quite on a cliff-hanger but at point where it's clear there is more to come. For this is but the first in a quartet of novellas that will link together, with the second instalment coming in February all going well.

The Copper Promise: Ghosts of the Citadel scratched a fantasy itch I've had for a long time - to read a tale of high adventure and sword and sorcery in the classic pulp vein, a story free of the usual cut-and-paste borrowings from Tolkien and D&D. Hence there are no Dark Lords with the clich├ęd hordes of goblin analogues and no bloody elves waving twigs and crystals about like medieval New Agers. Instead we have split blood and death in the shadows, treachery and torture, thrills and spills, and more than a twist or two along the way. It simply packed with all the fun, excitement and intrigue you want from an old school  fantasy adventure.

And the wonderful thing is that thanks to the marvels of this age of digital downloads and electronic-librariums, this fine tale will only set you back a mere £2.99 - around the same price as a cup of  franchise coffee or a chain pub pint! Seriously how can you resist! In a couple of clicks time, you too could be venturing into the perilous dark...

Buy The Copper Promise: Ghosts of the Citadel here

You read a preview extract of The Copper Promise here

And check out Jennifer's blog here

Monday, 26 December 2011

DOCTOR WHO - The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe

TARDIS scanners indicate an absence of spoilers!

Well than another year, another Doctor Who Christmas Special! And as usual, the normal rules of the show are somewhat altered by the festivities. For as I have previously remarked (see Doctor Yule - Christmases in the TARDIS), having a prime spot in the Christmas Day schedule means that the now traditional hour long  episode must be geared up for an audience sated with food, drink and general merriment. 

When he brought the show back our screens and netted the honour of an extended episode to go out on December 25th, Russell T Davies was very clear that a Christmas special should be, well, Christmasy. And this is something that Steven Moffat has maintained as now the festive episode of Doctor Who is something of a tradition and so every year we enjoy an often light and daft romp sprinkled with some Yuletide magic. 

But also these seasonal outings have spawned another tradition - the annual argument over the quality of the episode. For often, these Christmas Day episodes tend to divide the fans - there are those who enjoy their seasonal silliness, and those who insist on judging them as an ordinary episode for the Doctor. Now I am very much somewhere in the middle; that often the Christmas Day specials make for good festive television but aren't necessarily prime cuts of the show we love. 

But I'm cool with that, as in the world of television it is something of a tradition that a Christmas special can cut loose and deliver something as much festooned in silliness and sentiment as it is in tinsel and softly falling snow. And at the end of the day, I'll accept the bargain that we get an adventure which will play well to a family stuffed with turkey, booze and chocolate but won't necessarily stand up outside the festive season. For like Messers Davies and Moffat, I believe that a Christmas Special should be brimming with the spirit of the season and that if it is doing it job right, it should fall flat when viewed in July! 

And needless to say all the above applies in spades for The Doctor, The Widow & The Wardrobe. Now this year, Mr Moffat promised us another special that tipped its hat to a classic Christmasy tale, and you don't need to be the mercurial mind of Mr Sherlock Holmes to guess that this episode has something of a Narnian flavour to it. So then it's no spoiler to say that we have a tale of enchanted portals and magical snowy forests here. 

However whereas last year's festive outing perhaps sailed too close to the work it was homaging, namely Dickens' A Christmas Carol, this story feels more balanced. Yes, it is clearly referencing CS Lewis' The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe but the shape of the story isn't just the plot of that enduring children's favorite bedecked in Who shaped baubles and scifi trimmings. And in this respect, the tale is all the stronger for it. 

Now looking at the cast list, which includes British comedy luminaries such as Bill Bailey, Alexander Armstrong and Arabella Weir, you might be expecting an adventure high in laughs and wearing its funny bone on its sleeve. However, although there is a sprinkling of giggles, by and large this is more weighted to the heart-warming sentiment side of Christmas rather than the camp and silly. And indeed, judging from many of reviews, a common complaint about this episode is that we don't actually see that much of our comedy triumvirate. However Armstrong largely in a straight role and when Bailey and Weir do appear alongside the equally funny Paul Bazely, they are gold, and the fact that we're left wanting more of these characters is surely a credit to the script. 

Also subverting expectations is the fact that this story doesn't deliver a huge, bombastic threat to either the Earth, the universe or life itself. It's a remarkably small scale tale, and to be honest that's a refreshing change.  Similarly although there twists and turns, this is another patent Moffat timey-wimey head bender either. And again that sits very well with me for this festive outing. Yes, it's a simple story, and yes, you can see the ending coming a mile way. But this is a Christmas story and complaints that you can see the happy ending from the get-go are somewhat irrelevant as any Yuletide special worth its salt has everything magically working out for the best in the end. 

And yes, it's not the greatest Doctor Who story told - but it was a wonderful Christmas special. And although it's hard to judge right now in the Boxing Day haze, I do rather think it might be one of the best ones yet. While some may have wanted something bigger or more complex, I think the story's tight focus, intimate scale and general straight forward nature made for an ideal festive episode, which delivered the fun and warm feelings without disappearing over the top into indulgent nonsense. 

It was perfectly pitched, with enough comedy to tickle the ribs, and the sentiment rooted in simple but solid drama rather schmaltz. But there was also some memorable and nicely realized monsters, a good mystery for the Doctor to solve, and bags of festive atmosphere in the way the story revolved around a certain Christmas icon. And there were a delightful couple of Christmas presents for both fans new and old too, in the shape of references to the Eccleston and Davison eras. In short, one the better judged Christmas presents we've had from the Doctor Who team. 

Thursday, 22 December 2011

HYPNOBOBS 61 - Christmas Spirits Part III - Our Victorian Ghost Party

It's Christmas Eve at Hypnogoria Towers, Mr Jim Moon is throwing a Victorian style party and you're all invited!  Featuring music, laughter and recitations!  Mr Ian Hayles drops by to perform his Dickensian wonder Chains and Mr Moon regales you with readings of Jerome K Jerome's Our Ghost Party and MR James' The Story of A Disappearance and An Appearance...

DIRECT DOWNLOADChristmas Spirits Part III - Our Victorian Ghost Party

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CHRISTMAS SPIRITS - A Gazetteer of British Televisual Ghosts Seen At Christmas

As a textual companion to HYPNOBOBS 60 - Christmas Spirits Part II : The Ghosts of Christmas Television Past, as promised in that epic length 'cast, here is an equally lengthy article setting down all the details and some alternative remarks the spectral productions which have graced the idiot lantern in Blighty over Yuletide...

Click here to take the ghostly tour!

We've also opened up a new section of the Library, a Christmas shelf as it were, collecting together assorted festive scribbles! Find it here!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

THE BOX OF DELIGHTS - How To Make A Posset!

A favourite part of the Yuletide festivities here at Hypnogoria Towers is revisiting The Box of Delights, both as the original novel by John Masefield and the 1980s BBC Television six part adaptation. Indeed I have waxed lyrical about this seasonal classic several times on the Christmas editions of my podcast.

And aside from being a truly magical tale, it's a well-named one too. For as well as adventure, festive thrills, and lashings of snow, it contains a generous helping of legend amd lore. And one little hidden treasure is the marvellous recipe recounted by the Police Inspector at Condicotes, han hofficer of the law who habitually adds hextra aitches hall over the place! Hand, I mean, and, over the last few years when the cold and frosty nights have come, I have greatly enjoyed this vintage nightcap! I speak, of course, of the the wondrous posset! 

But what I hear you cry is a posset! Well, I shall hand you hover, I mean over, to the Hinspector...

But you young folks in this generation, you don't know what a posset is. Well a posset," said the Inspector, "is a jorum of hot milk; and in that hot milk, Master Kay, you put a hegg, and you put a spoonful of treacle, and you put a grating of nutmeg, and you stir 'em well up, and you get into bed and then you take 'em down hot. And a posset like that, taken overnight will make a new man of you!

Now then, if you were wondering what 'a jourm' is, it is a large bowl, often with handles, for drinking out of! But, don't fret if you don't have a jorum, any ordinary mug will do! 

Furthermore, you may replace the treacle with brown sugar or golden syrup, depending upon your taste. Personally I also like to add a generous dash of cinnamon for that extra Christmassy flavour! And I can personally attest to the revitalising powers the Inspector refers to! 

Monday, 19 December 2011

CHRISTMAS SPIRITS - The Origins of Christmas Ghost Stories

There'll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And carolling out in the snow
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories
of Christmases long, long ago…

So sang Andy Williams back in 1963 in his festive favourite It's the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. And the lyric quoted above has caused much scratching of heads over the years, as not every one is aware of the old tradition of telling spooky tales upon a Christmas night. Indeed some have wondered whether the lines above are merely referring solely, in a hap-hazard fashion, to Dickens' A Christmas Carol. 

But of course there's more spectres abroad at Yuletide other than just Mr Marley and his crew. To begin with some of the finest ghost stories ever written were produced by MR James who notes in the preface to his first collection of tales, Ghost Stories of An Antiquar(1904) - 

I wrote these stories at long intervals, and most of them were read to patient friends, usually at the seasons of Christmas ...

And indeed from surviving diaries, letters and other items of supporting evidence that famous tales of his, such as Number 13, Oh Whistle & I'll Come To You and A School Story were first read aloud to friends over the festive season.

Furthermore, a little earlier at the turn of the century, Henry James began his classic novella of spectral terrors, The Turn of the Screw in the following fashion which shows the old tradition in action...

The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child.

And certainly the Christmas spirits enjoyed a veritable heyday in Victorian times. Supernatural fiction as a whole was immensely popular with the Victorians. Now we tend to think of the ladies and gentlemen of that period as being stolid, stuffy types, however this is something of a fallacy. For as Matthew Sweet makes clear in his excellent book Inventing The Victorians(St Martin's Press 2001) actually the contrary was closer to the truth - rather than staid and prim prudes, our bewhiskered ancestors were thrill-seekers. 

Victorian entertainment and popular culture was very much geared towards the concept of new sensations such as death-defying acrobatics, the delights of the music-halls and new pleasures ushered in by that era's boom in technology such as magic lantern shows and the pioneering stagecraft of magicians such as John Nevil Maskelyne and David Devant.

The Victorian period was an era of public crazes and fads, as the denizens of what was actually a forward-thinking and visionary society eagerly lapped up a succession of new thrills. With industrial technology, making printing cheaper than ever before, literature and the pastime of reading, once the preserve of the monied classes, boomed across all sectors of society. And coupled with crazes for esoteric subjects such as spiritualism, ritual magic and all things Egyptian, it is hardly surprising that this was a golden age too for supernatural and weird fiction.

In addition to an embracing attitude towards death, that to us who are uncomfortable with contemplating our own mortality, seems exceedingly morbid, it is no surprise that ghosts haunted all walks of life. For example, you may be surprised to learn that spooks and spectres were even a staple of Victorian pantomimes, alongside the traditional versions of fairy stories that are performed today. As William Makepeace Thackeray notes in his Roundabout Papers (1853) -

Bob and I went to two pantomimes. One was at the Theatre of Fancy, and the other at the Fairy Opera, and I don't know which we liked the best. At the Fancy, we saw  "Harlequin Hamlet, or Daddy's Ghost and Nunky's Pison ", which is all very well - but, gentlemen, if you don't respect Shakespeare, to whom will you be civil? The palace and ramparts of Elsinore by moon and snowlight is one of Loutherbourg's finest efforts.

Considering this popularity of all things spectral and the lasting influence of A Christmas Carol, many commentators and scholars noted Dickens' role in the association of Christmas and ghosts. In the anthology collection Ghosts For Christmas (Michael O'Mara Books Ltd. 1988), editor Richard Dalby notes that -

He began with a segment of the Pickwick Papers, 'The Story of the Goblins who Stole a Sexton' (told by Pickwick's friend Mr. Wardle of Dingley Dell), a prototype of the later full-length story A Christmas Carol with the immortal and repentant Scrooge based upon the sexton Gabriel Grub.

The immensely popular Christmas Numbers of Household Words and All the Year Round, both edited by Dickens, really popularised 'Ghosts at Christmas' as an annual event in the minds of the reading public.

Certainly Mr Dickens can be seen as the architect of many of the elements we most closely associate with the festive period today. For example, our idealised white Christmases, draped in snow and frost, originate with his stories about Yuletide, for while he was a child Britain suffered a mini-Ice Age and hence Dickens' formative Christmases were indeed white.

So then it is no surprise then that many have made the claim that the link between the spectral and the festive was forged by the great writer himself. As Mr Peter Haining, in the introduction to his collection of festive chillers Christmas Spirits (William Kimber & Co 1983), notes -

Yet despite the seeming timelessness of this tradition, it has to be admitted that the idea of creating ghosts stories especially for telling at Christmas goes back no further... than the time of Charles Dickens.

And indeed, many have claimed that there is no evidence of the tradition of Christmas ghosts stories existing prior to Dickens. However like the blankets of snow, surely this association was not the invention of Mr Dickens himself but another element of Christmas he grew up with. However according to scholars there is little evidence to substantiate this theory...

However some carefully searching of the shelves in my library uncovered a source that makes clear the tradition of telling strange tales of the supernatural around the Yule hearth did indeed exist well before Mr Dickens enshrined it in the Victorian Christmas.

Washington Irving in his 1819 book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., has his literary alter-ego visit an Englsih country house over the festive period in a section entitled Old Christmas. At one Bracebridge Hall, Crayon enjoys the hospitality of the Squire and enjoys a traditional English Christmas with all the trimmings. And amid the Christmas Day festivities is this -

When I returned to the drawing-room, I found the company seated around the fire, listening to the parson, who was deeply ensconced in a high-backed oaken chair, the work of some cunning artificer of yore, which had been brought from the library for his particular accommodation. From this venerable piece of furniture, with which his shadowy figure and dark weazen face so admirably accorded, he was dealing forth strange accounts of popular superstitions and legends of the surrounding country, with which he had become acquainted in the course of his antiquarian researches.

So then we can see that Christmas ghost stories would have been a traditional pastime in Dickens' childhood. But how much further back does the tradition go? 

Now for those who do not buy the Victorian/Dickensian origin theory, the competing contention is that telling ghostly tales at Yuletide is a surviving echoing of ancient Celtic rites. Now as I'm sure most of you will be aware, much of what we take to be part and parcel of Christmas comes not from the Christian religion but from a variety of pagan festivals that took place on the winter solstice such as the Germanic Yule and the Roman Saturnalia. Indeed when one begins to examine the ancient past, it seems that there has always been a holiday on the shortest day of the year which has involved fires, feasts, gift giving and bringing evergreens into the house. 

Now all these festivals revolved around the theme of bring light and life to the darkest time of the year, and as Terry Pratchett's memorable phrased it in his novel Hogfather, 'to persuade the Sun to do a decent day's work for a change'. Now it is assumed that during such ancient festivities, stories were told of gods and monsters which explained why the days would grow so dark, and our telling of ghost stories is an echo of these spiritual and religious recitations and rituals. 

However as plausible as this ancient pagan theory of Christmas ghost stories is, unfortunately any proper evidence to support it has melted away like snow on Boxing Day. And the standard scholarly view is that there is nothing to point to the existence of the tradition in pre-Victorian times. 

However as we have already seen, evidence from Mr Washington Irving shows that ghostly tales were being spun by the fireside of a Christmas night be nearly two decades before Victoria took the throne. Furthermore in his story, The Christmas Tree (1859), in a section often collected separately as Telling Winter Stories, ironically enough Mr Dickens himself gives us a clue to where we may discover how many Christmases ago the tradition truly stretches - 

There is probably a smell of roasted chesnuts and other good comfortable things all the time, for we are telling Winter Stories - Ghost Stories, or more shame for us - round the Christmas fire.

Now the important term in that above quote is Winter Stories, for this is no mere idly coined epithet but a specific phrase that has fallen into disuse and whose meaning has been forgotten. For a 'winter story' refered to a fantastical story and this term was in usage for centuries before Dickens. For example, a 17th century century philospher Joesph Glanvill, in his most famous work, the treatise on witchcraft (referenced by Poe in Ligeia and by HP Lovecraft in his Yule horror tale The FestivalSadducismus Truimphatus (1681) had harsh words for those who dismissed the existence of unearthly powers as "meer Winter Tales, or Old Wives fables".

Rewinding at little further back into the past, we discover this usage of the term was around in William Shakepeare's time. And this is why he titled his strange fable of magic and transformations, A Winter's Tale (1623).

For as Shakespearian scholar Catherine Belsey, in a fascinating article which considers Hamlet as a ghost story, notes -

Among the terms in circulation in the period for far-fetched narratives and improbable fables, one favorite was “a winter’s tale.” In the long, cold evenings, when the soil had been tilled to the extent that climatic conditions permitted, the still predominantly agricultural community of early modern England would sit and while away the hours of darkness with fireside pastimes, among them old wives’ tales designed to enthrall young and old alike.

Shakespeare even has one of characters in A Winter's Tale make the title's meaning clear, with Prince Mamillius proposing to tell the court a story -

A sad tale's best for winter: I have one
Of sprites and goblins...

And as it happens this tale which begins 'There was a man dwelt by a churchyard...' is clearly going to be a ghost story. And indeed many years later, that master of the Christmas ghost story, MR James made an educated guess as to the exact tale the young prince was to recount, penning a story of the same title (the text of which you can find here and my audio reading of it here) and appropriately enough was first published in the December issue of an Eton magazine Snapdragon in 1924.

Alan Koszowski's illustration for MR James' There Was a Man Dwelt By A Churchyard

And looking back to the century previous, we find the Bard of Avon's predecessor Christopher Marlowe using it in the same fashion. In his play The Jew of Malta (1589), he has a character Barnabus saying -

Now I remember those old women's words,
Who in my wealth would tell me winter's tales,
And speak of spirits and ghosts that glide by night

So then we can definitely date the telling of ghost stories as a popular winter past-time to the 16th century. And it seems a safe assumption that the spinning of such winter's tales was a popular part of the Elizabethan Christmas festivities.  And of course, considering the slower pace of cultural progress and linguistic evolution in Tudor times, we might posit that for the term 'winter's tale' to become synonymous with weird stories of the fantastic and phantasmagoric that the tradition probably stretches back at least a century further... 

However as yet I have not found any further historical evidence to determine this exactly. But regardless,  we can with a reasonable degree of certainly pronounce that the Christmas Ghost story has been with us at least since the times of good Queen Bess. And incredibly the tradition is now entering it's fifth century.

Of course these days it's a very different flickering light we gather around, late at night to experience the pleasant terror of a spectral tale at Christmas-time.... television.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

HYPNOBOBS 60 - Christmas Spirits Part II - Ghost of Christmas Television Past

In the second part of our Yuletide festivities, Mr Jim Moon takes an epic length look back at all the various ghostly tales that have haunted our televisions in Christmases past. Featuring productions by luminaries such as Lawrence Gordon Clarke, Dr Jonathan Miller, Nigel Kneale and Mark Gatiss, plus many diverse adaptations of classics by MR James and old favourites like The Turn of the Screw.

DIRECT DOWNLOAD - Christmas Spirits Part II - Ghost of Christmas Television Past

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Friday, 16 December 2011

Stars Fit For A Snow Queen

Once again the Mystic Ones make various dire pronouncements and terrible puns in the name of fortune telling...

Monday, 12 December 2011

HYPNOBOBS 59 - Christmas Spirits Part I

In the first part of this year's festive celebrations, Mr Jim Moon discusses ghosts and Christmas and presents a seasonal chiller penned by Mr Charles Dickens, The Signalman...

DIRECT DOWNLOADChristmas Spirits Part 1

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Monday, 5 December 2011

HYPNOBOBS 58 - Christmas With Frankenstein

In a change to the announced schedule, Mr Jim Moon represents a suitably seasonal tale on the perils of Christmas toys. Coming from the pen of forgotten author Tim Stout, Christmas With Frankenstein is a gleefully ghoulish yarn about some pint-sized replicas of the most famous of the Universal Monsters...

DIRECT DOWNLOAD Christmas With Frankenstein

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Saturday, 3 December 2011


The Mystic Ones beam down once to deliver knowledge, wit and wisdom... And over-taxing the machine that goes 'bleep' too...

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Is Alien Undead (AKA The Dark Lurking) really part Alien, part Evil Dead? Or is it just a low budget knock-off of Aliens?  Click below to beam over to GeekPlanetOnline and find out!