Thursday, January 31, 2013


My Twenty-Third Book

Twenty-three is a special number, but the only reason I believe this to be true is because many years ago I was a fan of Robert Anton Wilson and he invested that number with immense mystical significance, though whether he did so jokingly or seriously is impossible for me to know with certainty. That was one of the many great things about him. Was he a prankster or a guru? Perhaps both. Or neither. Or both and neither.

Anyway, my twenty-third book has just been published. Tallest Stories took, as I’ve stated many times, nineteen years to go from original concept to published product, though when I began writing the first tale I had no idea it was going to turn out this way. I envisioned merely a fairly compact sequence of a dozen tales. As it happened, the first story-cycle consisted of 20 linked stories and appeared as the middle section of my Nowhere Near Milkwood book in 2002. A couple of years later I put together a sequel; and a couple of years after that a third sequel. In 2006 I revised and reordered the entire thing and sent it to my agent but he had no success in placing it; so in 2009 I rewrote, revised and reordered it again and it was accepted by Eibonvale Press in February 2010.

And now, at last, it exists as a book! Such a long and tortuous journey, believe me! The contents are listed on my Aardvark Caesar site, if you are interested, as are the contents of all my published books so far.

The first 26 copies of Tallest Stories are a ‘lettered’ edition, signed by me and accompanied by various manuscripts, drawings and paintings. I have already made a list of what items accompany each letter (scroll down to the relevant blog post) but I have also successfully searched for more material since then and will add the following items to each letter (with the exceptions of ‘A’ and ‘Z’ which already have plenty of material associated with them):

B: ‘The Groin Scratcher’ (appeared in Mister Gum)
C: ‘The Rolling Hills’ (not yet published)
D: ‘The Trial Separation’ (appeared in The Sticky Situations of Zwicky Fingers)
E: ‘The Cowardly Custard Apple’ (not yet published)
F: ‘The Furry Godmother’ (appeared as part of the compound novelette ‘Fanny’ in The Brothel Creeper); and ‘Cutting Back’ (appeared in At the Molehills of Madness)
G: ‘An Ideal Vocation’ (my first published story)
H: ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’
I: ‘Shared House’ (incomplete)
J: ‘One Better’
K: ‘The Magic Lamp’
L: ‘Bone Idle in the Charnel-House’ (unpublished novelette, will probably be the title story of a future collection)
M: ‘My Bearable Smugness’ (will appear in The Lunar Tickle)
N: ‘Convergence’
O: ‘Multicoloured Leaves in Bright Spirals’
P: ‘Under the Tree’
Q: ‘Consolations of the Wild One’
R: ‘The Dungeon’
S: ‘Floodtide’
T: ‘The Cat’ (appeared in At the Molehills of Madness)
U: ‘Thinner Air’ (appeared in The Less Lonely Planet)
V: Hand drawn map of ‘Litalia’, the imaginary land that is the location for my ‘Sampietro Mischief’ sequence of stories.
W: Two notebooks containing the following stories from Mister Gum: ‘Plop Fiction’, ‘Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine’, ‘Cop Hospital’, ‘Plums and Oriels’ and ‘The Glue of the Scream’
X: A notebook containing the novella ‘Rommel Cobra’s Swimming Carnival’ that appeared as the last section of The Postmodern Mariner
Y: A notebook containing ‘The Most Boring Story’, ‘The Tallest Midget’, ‘The Six Sentinels’, ‘The Folded Page’, ‘The Surface Area of a Ghost’s Wanderings’, ‘The Man Who Gargled With Gargoyle Juice’ and ‘The Kissable Climes’ from Tallest Stories; and also ‘The Non-Existent Viscount in the Trees’, ‘In Moonville’ and ‘The City that was Itself’ from The Less Lonely Planet.

Some of these manuscripts are among my earliest surviving stories and date from 1992 and 1993. Despite being streaked with Tipex (anyone remember that stuff?) they tend to be a lot neater and perfectionist than my later manuscripts!

Incidentally, there is no good reason as to why I am wearing a bag over my head in the above photo. I just felt like doing so...

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Tallest Stories Proof Copy

David Rix of Eibonvale Press (who took this photo) reports that the proof copy of Tallest Stories arrived at his house the other day; so all that remains is for him to go through it looking for any errors we haven't already spotted, and if he doesn't find any he can give the go-ahead to the printers, and then it won't be long before copies are available and I can announce that the book has finally been published!

I'm still searching for extra manuscripts to add to the list of freebies to be given away with the first 26 'lettered' copies. When I have dug up enough material to add at least one item to every letter, I'll post a list of the additional items on this blog. It shouldn't take more than a few more days to find enough stuff. Several of the manuscripts I have recently found date from the early 1990s and include the manuscript of my first published story!

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Crisp Snow and Number Crunching

It snowed the day before yesterday, the first snowfall of winter, and a ‘red alert’ was issued by the Met Office for Wales. Red alerts are rare. When they are cooked they tend to be brown. People have been panic buying as consequence and the supermarkets are almost out of cartons of panic. However, a perfectly acceptable substitute for panic can be achieved simply by heightening some apprehension. Try this in the comfort of your own home!

Here is a wintry picture of the most recent BFS (British Fantasy Society) journal that slid through my letterflap last week. It’s the autumn issue, a complimentary copy despatched to me about four months late. I had to email five or six reminders to the official stockholder to receive it. The BFS seem to be damned incompetent at doing some simple things but because I have resolved not to get involved in spats this year I won’t say anything more along those lines. I’ll just remark that the organisation has been a bit tardy sending out copies of the journal to contributors.

The contents of this one include an interview with me that was conducted by ‘Old Peculiar’ himself, Mr Stephen Theaker, a wise and genial fellow. I enjoyed being lightly grilled by him. One of his questions is about how prolific I am, but the fact is that I’m not prolific really, not compared to many other writers out there. My annual rate of production did double in the past four years, but I feel sure it’s going to drop back again. So far this year I’ve only written two short-stories and both are less than 2000 words.

I’m rather glad about that. I fancy a more relaxed pace after the hectic flurry. I’ve just put all my completed fiction into a single massive document and done a word-count and the total is 2,662,990 words. Less than two years’ work for someone like Max Brand or Frank Richards! Extrapolating from this data, I have worked out that the average length of a Rhys Hughes story is 3893 words; and that Pandora’s Bluff (my integrated 1000 story cycle) will end up being exactly 3,893,260 words long. If I do ever finish it, I bet it won’t, though!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


First Climb of 2013

The weather here has been generally pretty terrible, but it cleared up sufficiently last week to enable my first climb of the year. I'm a bit stiff and clumsy after the Christmas break (in which I did virtually no exercise at all) but I'm sure I'll loosen up again soon enough. I rarely make New Year's Resolutions, but I did so this time, and one of those resolutions is to climb higher and harder than I ever have before. I'm becoming acutely aware of passing time. One day I won't be able to do stuff like this, so I have to grasp the yeti by the nettle, or whatever the saying is...

I would note down my other resolutions here, but I seem to have lost the list I made. Typical! I know that when it comes to writing, I made a pledge to myself to finish at least some of those projects that have been hanging about for years or decades... In the meantime I'm just concentrating on getting the Winter Issue of Sein und Werden out of the way. I have learned from this project that I'm not naturally cut out to be an editor. I found it hard work. Never again will I regard editing as a cushy nothingy job!

Monday, January 07, 2013


Lettered Edition Sold Out!

Thanks to everyone who ordered one of the 'lettered' copies of Tallest Stories. They sold out very quickly. More than half were ordered in the first fifteen minutes, then the speed of sales slowed dramatically, but they all went in a few hours. So now it's just a case of checking the final galley and the book will be off to the printers and then I'll have to sign it when it's ready and after that copies can be mailed to those who bought them, together with the manuscripts and paintings, etc.

I found a few handwritten stories dating from the early 1990s this morning in an old notebook, so I'm going to rummage through my boxes tonight for more manuscripts and if I find enough of them, I'll be adding at least one 'item' to the materials associated with each lettered copy of the book. So with luck, if you ordered a copy, you'll get more for your 'letter' than what was already on the list of items.

Saturday, January 05, 2013


Tallest Stories: Open for Orders Tonight

Don't forget... Orders for the first 26 'lettered' copies of Tallest Stories will be taken today starting at 6 PM... That's British time, by the way... Free manuscripts, paintings, drawings, etc, with every copy ordered... It's an investment of some sort (not sure what sort yet)! Check out the Eibonvale website for details.

This photo shows the notebook of handwritten stories that will be given away free with letter 'A'. This notebook contains 26 short-stories, including one that appears in Tallest Stories itself and also six out of seven of the 'Hogwash & Bum Note' tales (the same six that appear online here, as it happens).

Nineteen years from original conception to finished book... Don't miss out on this great promotional offer!

Friday, January 04, 2013


Manuscripts, Paintings & Drawings for Free

Tallest Stories is going to the printers very soon. It will be published later this month. The first 26 books sold will be 'lettered copies' and will be accompanied by a selection of items that may accumulate in value from 'worthless' to 'priceless', depending on what happens to me and my reputation in years to come; or they may remain worthless. Only time will tell!

A short pre-order period will open on January 5th (tomorrow) at 6:00 PM London time. Click on this link to check out the publisher's webpage relevant to this. Here is a full list of what items will accompany each lettered copy...

(A) Red hardback notebook containing the following 26 stories (title of story followed by title of book they appear in, or will appear in):
* The Mistake (The Just Not So Stories)
* The Violation (Tallest Stories)
* Trenchfoot (not yet placed)
* The Ugliest Idol in Christendom (The Just Not So Stories)
* Moonchaser (not yet placed)
* Discrepancy (Link Arms With Toads!)
* My Biological Prism (The Just Not So Stories)
* The Censor (The Just Not So Stories)
* The Porcelain Pig (The Lunar Tickle)
* The Blue Jewel Fruit (The Just Not So Stories)
* The Tale That Never Got Told (The Just Not So Stories)
* The Integers (The Lunar Tickle)
* The Great Bicycle Migration (The Just Not So Stories)
* The Esplanade (The Lunar Tickle)
* The Rotten Otter (The Lunar Tickle)
* The Ducks of Hazard (The Lunar Tickle)
* The Cheeky Monkey (The Lunar Tickle)
* The Melody Tree (The Lunar Tickle)
* The Notorious Unclemuncher (The Lunar Tickle)
* Read All About It (The Lunar Tickle)
* Putting Things Off (The Lunar Tickle)
* The Canapés of Wrath (The Lunar Tickle)
* The Plug (The Lunar Tickle)
* Fossils (The Lunar Tickle)
* The Tools (Better the Devil: Revised Edition)
* The Locksmith (written especially for the owner of the ‘A’ copy of Tallest Stories)

(B) Slim orange exercise book containing the following 5 stories:
* Climbing the Tallest Tree in the World (Tallest Stories)
* Islands in the Bathtub (Tallest Stories)
* The Television (The Lunar Tickle)
* Butterbrow (The Just Not So Stories)
* The Lock of Love (The Lunar Tickle)

(C) Four loose manuscripts, namely:
* Anton Arctic and the Conquest of the Scottish Pole (Tallest Stories)
* The Mirror in the Looking Glass (Tallest Stories)
* Wood for the Trees (Tallest Stories)
* Gaspar Jangle’s Séance (Tallest Stories)

(D) Three loose manuscripts, namely:
* Encore (Tallest Stories)
* The Crab (Stories From a Lost Anthology)
* Finding the Book of Sand (A New Universal History of Infamy)

(E) Three loose manuscripts, namely:
* The West Pole (Tallest Stories)
* The Innumerable Chambers of the Heart (Link Arms With Toads!)
* The Mice Will Play (The Less Lonely Planet)

(F) Three loose manuscripts, namely:
* All Shapes Are Cretans (Link Arms With Toads!)
* Robin Hood’s New Mother (Stories From a Lost Anthology)
* The Unsubtle Cages (A New Universal History of Infamy)

(G) Two loose manuscripts, namely:
* The Marsh Callow (Stories From a Lost Anthology)
* Accordion Beach (The Less Lonely Planet)

(H) Four drawings, namely:
* The Pizza Demon
* Kojakalhu
* Twisthorn Bellow (with his sword)
* Janrel MacScabbard

(I) Two loose manuscripts, namely:
* The Lake of Flavours
* The Inflatable Stadium

(J) Two loose manuscripts, namely:
* Bitter in Sour
* Shipyards on Saturn

(K) Two loose manuscripts, namely:
* The Lute and the Lamp (Stories From a Lost Anthology)
* All for Nothing

(L) Two loose manuscripts, namely:
* The Gunfight (The Just Not So Stories)
* The Dwarf Shortage (The Just Not So Stories)

(M) Three drawings, namely:
* Petrified Monsters
* Entangled Monsters
* Chimney Monsters

(N) Two loose manuscripts, namely:
* 333 and a Third (Link Arms With Toads!)
* The Apple of My Sky

(O) Green exercise book containing:
* Below the Carnival (The Less Lonely Planet)
* The Cargo Cults of Salty Kiss Island
also: the beginning of *The Silver Necks (Tallest Stories)
and two poems (Monkey From a Cannon and Acrophobia in Acre)
plus the start of one other poem.

(P) Small blue notebook containing:
* The Leveller of Neptune (The Just Not So Stories)

(Q) Two loose manuscripts, namely:
* The Queue (The Lunar Tickle)
* Vanity of Vanities

(R) Two loose manuscripts, namely:
* The Armchair Generals
* The Sweetheart Rosary

(S) One loose manuscript:
* Poorly Dawkins (retitled as Hangfire Bubbler for The Truth Spinner)
plus: very rare limited edition chapbook containing *Cat O’Nine Tales (opening story in Worming the Harpy)

(T) Slim notebook containing:
* Ictus Purr (A New Universal History of Infamy)
plus the openings of *Jellydammerung and *Tin in the Soul (both in Stories From a Lost Anthology)

(U) Three loose manuscripts, namely:
* On the Shoulders of Pipsqueaks
* Buffoons of the Moon
* The Curdling of the Milky Way
(These stories are all linked and appear in Young Tales of the Old Cosmos)

(V) Three loose manuscripts, namely:
* Personification (The Just Not So Stories)
* The Maze (The Lunar Tickle)
* Hatstands on Zanzibar (The Lunar Tickle)

(W) The Advanced Uncorrected Galley of:
Link Arms With Toads!

(X) Two paintings:
* Boris Lovetrap
* Tallest Stories background

(Y) Two paintings:
* Hairless Yeti Bedtime
* Giant Percolator

(Z) One painting: *The Writer
One drawing: *Possible Lives
Last known copy of chapbook The Skeleton of Contention
Last known copy of chapbook The Fanny Fables
plus three handwritten manuscripts:
* Doom it Heavenwards (my 666th story)
* The Days of the Turbans
* The Pig Iron Mouse Dooms the Moon


Wednesday, January 02, 2013


Tallest Stories: Manuscripts Offer

When I began writing fiction in the early 1980s I wrote it exclusively longhand. Even when I managed to get hold of a typewriter a few years later I still wrote stories in longhand and then typed them up. I can’t recall if I ever tried to write a new story by directly typing it onto a page. I’m fairly sure I didn’t. The amount of correction fluid required would have been prodigious.

I acquired a fairly basic word processor in 1993 and that’s when I finally began writing stories using a keyboard instead of a pen; and as a consequence my stories became longer. I switched to using a proper computer in 1998 and the vast majority of my fiction has been composed on a keyboard. However, I still haven’t entirely abandoned writing stories longhand.

I’m not sure what motivates me to write certain kinds of tales the old-fashioned way. Maybe a desire for relative simplicity (I tend to be less wordy when using a pen). But the upshot of all this is that I have plenty of handwritten manuscripts lying about, filling boxes and stuffed into cupboards or chucked into dark alcoves and all but forgotten about.

Some of these manuscripts are tales that are due to appear in my forthcoming collection Tallest Stories. Publication of this book is imminent, I’m happy to report. And it occurred to the publisher that it might be a nice idea to give away a selection of manuscripts with the first few books sold. Indeed, he has decided to issue a “collector’s edition” of 26 lettered copies.

I agreed this was a good idea and so I have put together 26 ‘lots’ of material to be offered. As well as handwritten manuscripts, I am also making available some of my paintings and drawings, plus a few rare chapbooks and also an advance galley of one of my other books. I’ll put a full catalogue of items on this blog very soon. The publisher will start accepting orders on January 5th at 18:00 GMT.

A lettered edition won’t cost any more than a normal copy. It’s just a case of first come, first served. Each one will be signed and personalised (if desired). Check out the Eibonvale website for more details. By the way, the above photo shows the manuscript of a story dating from 1993. In financial terms, at the moment, my manuscripts are fairly worthless, but in the future... who knows?

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