Again, a month’s readings interrupted by other things. Which is not a complaint, just a bit of scene setting. In April I’d intended to go ahead and read the other BSFA nominees that I didn’t managed during March (The Islanders and By Light Alone), but by the time my reading schedule had cleared I wasn’t in the mood, so I opted for something more clearly labelled “fun” instead.
Hell Train by Christopher Fowler (Solaris) is pretty much a love letter to Hammer films. It concerns an American screenwriter arriving at Bray Studios and given a week to write a screenplay that might just turn around the studio’s fortunes. The bulk of the book is made up of the story he comes up with which features the titular Train Of The Damned, its sinister Conductor and the challenge presented to all who board it – to survive a test in which their very souls are at stake. The cast, scenery and dialogue will all be familiar to Hammer fans, but there’s more to it than that. There’s a genuine affection for the studio behind one of the great quirks of British film history.
And as for shorts, I was really impressed by Priya Sharma’s “The Ballad Of Boomtown” in Black Static #28. It’s a spare, tight evocation of a sense of abandonment set in an Irish housing development rendered incomplete when the property market crashed. Really liked this one.