Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders

aw tinyKari Sperring  –  Introduction
Adrian Tchaikovsky – ‘Bones’
James Brogden – ‘If Street’
Shannon Connor Winward – ‘Passage’
Pauline E. Dungate – ‘One Man’s Folly’
Anne Nicholls – ‘Dragonsbridge’
Peter Crowther – ‘Gandalph Cohen and the Land at the End of the Working Day’
Misha Herwin – ‘The Satan Stones’
Lynn M. Cochrane – ‘Ringfenced’
Bryn Fortey – ‘Ithica or Bust’
Adrian Cole – ‘The Sound of Distant Gunfire’
William Meikle – ‘The Cauldron of Camulos’
John Howard – ‘Time and the City’
Selina Lock – ‘The Great and Powerful’
Aliette de Bodard – ‘Ys’

 edited by Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber – buy it here



Meet the Contributors!  In alphabetical order:
James Brogden was born in Manchester, grew up in Australia, and now lives with his wife and two daughters in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, where he teaches English. His short stories have appeared in the Big Issue, the British Fantasy Society’s Dark HorizonsGears Levers Volume One, and his first novel, The Narrows has just been published by Snowbooks. When he’s not writing, or trying to teach children how to, he gets out into the mountains exploring the remains of Britain’s prehistoric past and hunting for standing stones. Fortunately they don’t run very fast.
Aliette de Bodard lives and writes in Paris, France, in a flat with more computers than warm bodies, and two Lovecraftian plants in the process of taking over the living room, one tentacle at a time. In her spare time, she writes speculative fiction: her Aztec noir fantasy Obsidian and Blood is published by Angry Robot, and she has been a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and has won the British Science Fiction Association Award.
Pauline E Dungate, until recently, was a teacher at the local Museum and Art Gallery. Her stories have appeared in anthologies such as Skin of the Soul, Narrow Houses, Swords Against the Millennium, Beneath the Ground, Merlin, Victorious Villains and Under the Rose. She has won prizes for poetry and has been a judge for the Arthur C Clarke Award. She reviews for SFCrowsnest and runs workshops covering all areas of creative writing. She lives in Birmingham with husband and fellow writer Chris Morgan.
Lynn M Cochrane lives in the outskirts of Birmingham. She has been writing most of her life and has published three collections of poems. Her short stories have appeared in various SF and Fantasy Convention publications and also in Raw Edge, the West Midlands Arts magazine. She is a member of Cannon Hill Writers’ Group, leading writing workshops from time to time, and is currently editor of their showcase anthology Salvo.
Adrian Cole, a native of Devon, is the author of twenty-five novels, beginning with The Dream Lords in the 1970s, through The Omaran Saga and the Star Requiem to the Voidal Saga in 2011. He is also the author of numerous fantasy and horror short stories, and has been published in Year’s Best Fantasy and Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Forthcoming from Edge Books is the novel The Shadow Academy, and he has a short story in The Worlds of Cthulhu anthology due soon from Fedogan and Bremer. Adrian also has a story in The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes.
Peter Crowther is the recipient of numerous awards for writing, editing, and as publisher of the hugely successful PS Publishing (which includes Stanza Press, the Drugstore Indian mass market paperbacks, PS Visual Entertainment and PS Art Books). As well as being widely translated, his short stories have been adapted for TV on both sides of the Atlantic, and collected in The Longest Single NoteLonesome RoadsSongs of LeavingCold ComfortsThe Spaces Between the LinesThe Land at the End of the Working Day and the upcoming Jewels in the Dust. He is the co-author (with James Lovegrove) of Escardy Gap and The Hand That Feeds, and has also written the Forever Twilight SF/horror cycle. He lives and works with his wife and business partner Nicky Crowther on England’s Yorkshire coast. Pete’s story “Heroes and Villains” appears in The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes.
Bryn Fortey appeared in various anthologies during the 1970s, including: New Writings in Horror & the Supernatural and New Writings in SF. He was also published in various Fontana anthologies edited by Mary Danby (a GOH at Fantasycon2012). Bryn’s beat-styled poetry magazine Outlaw was Best UK Small Press Magazine of 2004 in the Purple Patch Awards. In the same year he won the Undercurrent Aber Valley Short Story Competition with “The Dying Game”In 2009 his “A Taxi Driver on Mars” was first in the Data Dump Awards for SF poetry in the UK. Bryn hales from South Wales.
Dominic Harman is an illustrator and graphic designer who is best known for his science fiction, fantasy and horror book jackets and CD covers. He has won many awards for his paintings and designs in the UK and the USA. Dominic’s work can be found on the book covers for Harper Collins, Subterranean Press, Quercus, Dell Rey/Ballantine, Macmillian, Simon and Schuster, Penguin, Gollancz, Orion, Orbit and Little, Brown amongst many others.
Misha Herwin has been writing since she could first hold at pen. At twelve she wrote and staged her first play in a theatre made from a cardboard box. Since then her plays for teenagers have been performed in schools by the Stagefright Theatre Company and at the Canadian High Commission in Jamaica. She has published the Dragonfire Trilogy for kids and her stories can be found in a number of anthologies and magazines including Hens, Bitch Lit and Ghostly Reflections.
John Howard was born in London. He is the author of the collection The Silver Voices and the novella The Defeat of Grief. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies, including Beneath the GroundNever Again, and The Touch of the Sea. John has collaborated with Mark Valentine on a number of short stories, six of which featured Valentine’s long-running occult detective The Connoisseur, reprinted in The Collected Connoisseur. Most recent to appear is Secret Europe, (written with Mark Valentine) to which John contributed ten of the twenty-five stories, set in a variety of real and fictional European locations.
Selina Lock is a mild-mannered librarian from Leicester. In her alternative life in comics she edits The Girly Comic, and has written strips for Ink+PAPER #1 and Sugar Glider Stories #2. She also helped organise the Caption comics convention between 2006-2011. Her short stories have appeared in Alt Zombie and The Terror Scribes Anthology. She is one half of Factor Fiction alongside her partner Jay Eales. Her daily life is spent in service to the god Loki, who currently inhabits the body of a small, black, scruffy terrier.
William Meikle is a Scottish writer with fifteen novels published and over 250 short story credits in thirteen countries. His work has appeared in a number of anthologies; recent short stories were sold to Nature Futures, Penumbra and Daily Science Fiction. He now lives in a remote corner of Newfoundland, Canada, with icebergs, whales and bald eagles for company. In the winters he gets warm vicariously through the lives of others in cyberspace. William also has a story in The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes.
Anne Nicholls, author, journalist and counsellor, has had ten books published in SF and the self-help field, with sales from Sweden to Mexico, the USA to China, plus a ten-year Internet presence as agony aunt for Tiscali and the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Her highly acclaimed novels Mindsail and The Brooch of Azure Midnight appeared under the name of Anne Gay, and Dancing on the Volcano was entered for the Arthur C Clarke Award. For four years she was also the editor of LineOne’s Science Fiction Zone, which had around 140,000 readers every month. She is currently working on a YA fantasy trilogy. Anne also features in The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes.
Kari Sperring grew up dreaming of joining the musketeers and saving France, only to find they’d been disbanded in 1776. Disappointed, she became a historian and as Kari Maund published six books and many articles on Celtic and Viking history, plus one on the background to her favourite novel, The Three Musketeers (with Phil Nanson). She started writing fantasy in her teens, inspired by Tolkien, Dumas and Mallory. She is the author of two novels: Living with Ghosts, which won the 2010 Sydney J Bounds Award, was shortlisted for the William L Crawford Award and made the Tiptree Award Honours’ List; and The Grass King’s Concubine.
Adrian Tchaikovsky was born in Lincolnshire, studied and trained in Reading and now lives in Leeds. He is known for the Shadows of the Apt fantasy series starting with Empire in Black and Gold, and currently up to book eight, The Air War. His hobbies include stage-fighting, and tabletop, live and online role-playing.
Shannon Connor Winward’s writing has appeared in many venues including: Pedestal Magazine, Flash Fiction Online, Strange Horizons, Illumen, This Modern Writer [Pank Magazine], Hip Mama Zine and the anthologies Twisted Fairy Tales: Volume TwoJack-o’-Spec: Tales of Halloween and Fantasy and Spectacular: Fantasy Favorites. Her poem “All Souls’ Day” is nominated for a 2012 Rhysling Award.



reviewed by Rebekah Lunt  HUB 146 Dec 2012
I generally enjoy short story collections as I feel they can give you a great choice of a wide variety of authors whose writing you may not have come across before. These two collections give exactly that opportunity, with a wonderful taster menu of some excellent quick reads.
The first is stories themed around pulp fiction, and the second around ‘ancient wonders’ which seems to generally relate to mystic locations, encompassing mythologies, time travel and so on.  Both collections have some interesting and gripping stories; although I more naturally lean toward the type of stories in the second book, I also found plenty to keep me reading in the first. In some cases the stories made me wish there was more – a particularly good example is the first story in ‘Ancient Wonders’: Bones by Adrian Tchaikovsky has an intriguing mythology, and the world hinted at seems mysterious and curious in its seemingly alien yet quite familiar way.
Many of the stories in each collection have led me to look up other examples of the author’s work. All of the stories are quick and easy reads, but maintain the quality throughout. I would highly recommend both of these books for a really enjoyable read.

The introduction says that “the human mind can make almost anything wondrous” and this anthology aims to do just that. The themes are varied, such as the workmanlike writing in William Meikle’s ‘The Cauldron of Camulos’, a sword and sorcery tale exploring Arthurian themes in Celtic and Saxon England. Superior to that is Adrian Tchaikovsky’s futuristic fantasy ‘Bones’, concerning an archaeological dig for some monstrous bones. Two of the better stories of ancient wonders explore what happens when the ancient world impinges on ours. In Pauline E. Dungate’s ‘One Man’s Folly’, during a visit to a tower in Birmingham that inspired Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings, an Asian student glimpses far-off worlds through its windows. This seems to offer her an escape from her strictly religious Muslim upbringing. James Brogden’s ‘If Street’ is set on The Wrekin hill in Shropshire and its historic world impinging on the modern day is that of the Romans. Again the ancient world seems to offer an escape, in this case for a boy with an unhappy home life. Both of these tales are well written and explore their intertwining themes effortlessly. This is also true of ‘Ys’ by Aliette de Bodard, which takes Breton legends for its subject, along with a young woman who has been made pregnant by the goddess, but whose unborn child has a congenital heart defect. But far and away the best tale in the book is Peter Crowther’s ‘Gandalph Cohen and the Land at the End of the Working Day’. Stream of consciousness writing gives this unusual story set in a New York bar a sense of some great and unfolding mystery. Amongst the foibles and anxieties of its disparate characters, the city itself materializes as a player in its own right. Great writing and well drawn characters make this is story you won’t forget in a while. A varied selection of fourteen stories, plenty for the reader of dark fantasy to enjoy.


“Entertaining, fresh and easy to read “– Fortean Times  feb 2013
Review in  SFCrowsnest by Rod McDonald  here  March 2013“Being an old alchemist myself who took some time to get over the phlogiston theory, I was intrigued to see what was going on at The Alchemy Press. If you have not encountered them before, I would check out the website. This isn’t a weird and wonderful collection of 1960s hippies with crystals, wind chimes and astrology charts. Nothing like that here! Rather, it’s a site where you’ll find lots of interesting collections of stories and articles which have as a basis our past, our culture and the more mysterious aspects of our lives. I was actually quite impressed!
This particular collection contains 14 stories which have as their basis our history, sometimes with archaeological connections and stone circles with Celtic beginnings. You’ll be travelling back to ancient Rome, New York and even an Ithaca in space. However, the main link between all the stories was the quality of the writing which was very good. In selecting the works, the editors must have looked to readability as a major facet. They are all certainly very readable.
To give an example, ‘If Street’ by James Brogden was all about a couple of childhood friends living near the site of a Roman settlement in Britain. As boys who investigated everything, they were intrigued by an old Roman road. One of the characters disappeared, to come back many years later. He had been living in the past as a Roman soldier fighting against invaders.
Bryn Forley’s ‘Ithaca Or Bust’ is a parody of the legend of Troy, only the characters are vastly different. Taking place in a stellar empire, the beings have two heads, four arms and legs and are about 5m tall. Much of the conversation is between the two heads, one logical and thoughtful with the other forthright and adventurous. It makes for interesting reading.
It would be difficult to pick out a favourite story from out of the 14 available due to the fact that they are distinctly different despite having a common theme as their basis. Alchemy Press seem to have a large number of anthologies and according to their website, they are actively looking for new writers. This may represent a good opportunity for aspiring and established writers. I’m not sure what terms and conditions apply, so it would be best to make enquiries first. They do, however, have a comprehensive list of writing requirements.
This volume was produced in hardcopy a few months ago and now it’s available in Kindle and other formats. Being available from Amazon, it should probably sell reasonably well. It’s a sort of book you could carry about and dip into at any time and if you like this type of fiction, it represents a good purchase and one to recommend.”
1st Sept 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders (Kindle Edition)

Thoroughly enjoyed this compilation of 14 short stories, which blend modern day reality with myth and magic from different cultures – although with a distinct tilt towards ancient Albion.

Written by different authors, each piece has a distinct style and tone. Some lean towards the fantastical, magical or sinister, while a few get to grips in gritty fashion with the rites and rituals of times gone by. The action switches between eerie fields of standing stones to woad-soaked warriors; from meandering students in the 21st century to bronze age burial barrows and worlds that have long since been washed away. It’s not all ancient history, however: one of the best tales takes place after-hours in a New York gin joint in an episode of inspired urban fantasy. Sometimes we meet the gods face to face: in other episodes we’re only vaguely aware of supernatural forces seeping into our existence.

None of the stories is particularly long – all are easy to absorb and most proved pretty enjoyable. The one or two which I didn’t like (the towers tale didn’t really work for me) were more than compensated for by the other dozen which I did like. Pleasingly, the editor/s selected stories which work well as stand-alone segments. Too often, short stories are just tasters which leave the reader unfulfilled – almost all of these contain a complete narrative, a satisfying set-up and resolution (although some intriguing aspects inevitably retain their mystery – as they should!)

An entertaining escape into ‘what if’ worlds. I’ll look out for other compilations from this publisher in future.

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