Monday, February 11, 2013


The Cisco Kid and Dark World

Sometimes I wait weeks for a parcel, then suddenly two come at once. But it doesn't logically follow that parcels are buses or any other kind of vehicle. Two days ago I picked up a big box that contained a heap of books from the remarkable Centipede Press in the USA, chief among them being this Michael Cisco box-set of five novels. The set is worth $250 and I was given it gratis in return for writing the introduction to The Tyrant. Seems like a good deal to me!

Personally I regard Cisco as one of the finest weird writers currently working in the world today. In terms of imagination and invention he's in the stratosphere, way above most of his contemporaries. Someone coined the term "dark jazz" to describe his work. As a jazz fan myself, I think this comparison is accurate and apt. In my introduction to The Tyrant, I draw a comparison between Cisco's prose and the music of the composer Conlon Nancarrow, in the sense that Cisco often seems to be telling more than one story simultaneously and Nancarrow created player-piano rolls that played 'impossible' music that were beyond the abilities of any human player and mixed many tunes at once, utilising many different time signatures for each one.

Here's a typical Nancarrow piece. At first it sounds like over-enthusiastic early jazz, then the madness starts to set in, then the feeling of being horribly overwhelmed. But listen to it a few times and the individual elements become discernible and then the way they mesh together becomes enthralling. Most of his music functions in this manner. And I believe that Cisco's prose does too...

The other parcel I received on the same day contained this anthology of ghost stories for a good cause. Published by Tartarus Press, all profits from sales of Dark World will go to the Amala Children's Home. I have a story in it, which is why I was sent two free copies. My story is far more conventional than the majority of my work (parts of it were written as long ago as 1988 and then lost until last year, when I decided to finish the piece.)

In 2013 I have decided to write the occasional 'orthodox' weird story in similar style to this one and when I have written enough of them I hope to maybe issue a collection in the future that is relatively 'normal'...

THE DIVINITY STUDENT will always have a place in my heart, and THE GREAT LOVER just shows Cisco is getting better
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