The Rime of the Postmodern Mariner

More ramblings of Rhys Hughes.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

D.F. Marenghi?

The first time I heard the name Garth Marenghi was when the creators of the character, Matthew Holness and Richard Ayoade, were being interviewed in the wake of their Perrier Award winning show, Netherhead. The interviewer became increasingly exasperated at their refusal to act out of character and eventually turned to the camera and growled, "That's not real comedy!" A few years later I chanced on Garth Marenghi's Darkplace on Channel 4. With very little publicity surrounding the show, it suffered from low ratings and was discontinued after only 6 episodes. And yet those episodes are true gems. Garth Marenghi is a horror writer who describes himself as "the dream weaver" and "the titan of terror". The main conceit behind Darkplace is that it was made in the 1980s but considered too mindblowing to broadcast and has lain the vaults ever since.

Although Garth Marenghi's personality and style are obviously a spoof of such abysmal 1980s horror authors as Clive Barker, Guy N. Smith, Shaun Hutson, James Herbert, Graham Masterton, etc, I was more struck by his physical resemblance to the prolific short story writer D.F. Lewis, to the point that I actually half-believed that Garth was based on him. I waited for others to point out the resemblance. No one did. Almost six years have passed and still nobody has commented on the likeness. Could it be that I am grossly mistaken? It therefore seems only proper to let the public decide the truth. Here are two photographs of the celebrities in question, but I haven't labelled them. It's up to you to work out which one is Garth Marenghi and which one is D.F. Lewis...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Meme What You Say

The latest edition of Estronomicon has appeared online. This free webzine is edited by Steve Upham of Screaming Dreams fame. Steve is a superb designer and illustrator, one of the best in the independent press. I have been privileged that two of my book covers are his work (The Postmodern Mariner and Twisthorn Bellow) and I'm always highly impressed by his dedication, his perfectionism and inventiveness.

Today is Epiphany, which means that Twelfth Night was last night, and all Christmas festivities should have ended on the stroke of midnight. Failure to take down decorations will result in the Devil eating your head. However, the tradition has become a bit muddled and many sane humans believe that Twelfth Night is tonight. So let's be liberal and allow ourselves one last Christmas-related fling...

For myself, this modest last seasonal gasp consists in plugging the Christmas-themed edition of Estronomicon, which contains three of my stories, all very short. The first, 'Christmas Overtime', dates from 1992; the third, 'Stale Air', was written in 2007; but it's the second one I want to draw special attention to. 'The Precious Mundanity' was written last month, but I feel (perhaps mistakenly) that's it on a higher level than the others. This is because it utilises a conceit that is very simple and obvious and yet to my knowledge has never been thought of before.

And that's the hardest kind of writing to do, isn't it? Indeed, I have secret hopes that 'The Precious Mundanity' is a meme or that it will eventually become a meme; in other words a story that will be transmitted like a virus, orally or in written form, maybe mutating in the process but retaining its essential core. Stories can turn into memes, although it's a rare phenomena. I doubt my effort will ever prove as contagious as Fredric Brown's 'Answer'.