Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Dead Man's Waltz

This is awesome:

Emmeline - The Dead Man's Waltz from William Johnstone on Vimeo.

And I'm not gonna say any more than that. I'm too busy listening to the band's other stuff on SoundCloud.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vellum, Vélum, Pergament

In the process of spring cleaning the study -- and yes, it appears my flagrant disregard for the diurnal cycle has scaled up to the seasonal; Calendar, you may now join your brother Clock in kissing my hairy arse -- it's become obvious that I have, well, rather a few copies of editions of this book or that in various languages other than English. Like, enough to build a small book fort with and have the toy soldiers I got in one of the Four Piñata of the Apocalypse (War, duh,) at my birthday bash last year defending an Ink-style Haven from the onslaught of a (relative to them) giant statue of the Virgin Mary repainted in Whore of Babylon scarlet and purple -- representing Phreedom, I guess, and thereby comprising a dramatic rendition of apocryphal storylines taking place in the twenty years between the two books. Not saying I've actually done this, but I kinda could.

So, having set my brag shelf copies on my brag shelf in said study (and... um... my public brag shelf copies on the public brag shelf in my living room... cause I'm shallow and vain and all "LOOKA MY BOOKS! LOOKA! MY BOOKS!") I casually half-joked on Twitter the other week that if anyone wanted to buy a signed copy, just let me know. I wasn't really expecting a response, but a couple of people did actually take me up on it. Which was nice, even aside from the wee bit extra dosh, in clearing out the space occupied by those copies and the boxes used to send them. (I'm one of those people who can't just throw out a box or a padded envelope cause they might come in useful, you know... even if it's five years later and they haven't actually come in useful at all.)

Anyways, I figured, what the fuck, why not just do it properly and have a wee virtual garage sale -- offer up the foreign editions, signed and sent off to the address of your choice, for anyone who cares to buy one. So what do you have? I hear you say. Well, what we have going is:

  • A shitload of the US edition of INK (seriously, I've got, like, two dozen of the fuckers)
  • 2 hardback UK first editions of INK
  • 4 French (Denoël) editions of VELLUM
  • 3 French (Denoël) editions of INK
  • 5 French (Folio SF) editions of Escape from Hell!
  • 3 Finnish editions of VELLUM
  • 3 Finnish editions of INK
  • 4 Finnish editions of Escape from Hell!
  • 3 German (Heyne) paperback editions of VELLUM
  • 3 German (Heyne) paperback editions of VELLUM
  • 2 Spanish editions of VELLUM
  • 2 Spanish editions of INK
  • 7 Bulgarian editions of VELLUM

Given the way I worked with, respectively, Florence Dolisi, Nina Saikonnen and Hannes Riffel on the French, Finnish and German editions of VELLUM and INK, and given the accolades those editions have received both formally and informally, with awards/nominations and just plain readers-coming-up-to-me-and-saying-this-is-an-awesome-translation, I can safely say that those translations are fucking top-notch. The French and Finnish are also gorgeous in terms of art and design.

So yeah, if you fancy helping me clear some space in my study (and helping Phreedom bring down the Haven of Fort Babel where, deep in the Hinter, the evil Duke Snuffkin Plushy rules with an iron fist over his domain, with Team Rock Star Karate Action Heroes -- Iggy and Elvis -- locked away in his darkest dungeon, awaiting their rescue!) drop us an email at All copies are in straight-off-the-bookstore-shelf condition, so they'll be priced accordingly, with postage & packing on top, but I'm not going to slap on some huge sum over the odds just for my scribbles. So it should be, I hope, worth it.

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Monday, September 24, 2012


Yes, I'm still here. Sorry, I seem to have let the blog sit idle for a bit, but all's been busy as hell here the last few weeks. With the online sale of The City of Rotted Names, which turned out more successful than I'd even dreamed of -- with a huge thanks going out to one mate who donated big time and a complete stranger who, I gotta say, smacked my gob, dropped my jaw and took my fucking breath away with their staggering generosity -- Lady Luck seems to have decided that the rollercoaster's heading up for now.

("Seems," I say, "seems." No need to smack me down for tempting fate, M'lady. Seriously, no need. You can see me touching wood here, right? Coolio for Katzenjammers.)

So, not too shortly after that, I gots an email through from Steve Berman at Lethe Press with some potential cover art for the short story collection. I recognised the rather handsome young man bedaubed with paint but otherwise bare-ass nekkid from a cover of Icarus -- recognised it as from the same photoshoot indeed. Steve was clearly holding back on his Icarus subscribers, I have to say, cause I reckon the shot I like for the collection is better than the one on the magazine. Anyways, that got me thinking, hey, I should actually send Steve some stories and start pondering about which we might use and what order to put them in and whatnot. You know, like actually make with the short story collection that's going behind the cover. Time to get some shit together.

So, I've been furiously organising -- importing all the old Word docs into Scrivener, using the corkboard function to huchle them around this way and that, proofing against published versions, destroying inverted commas in a story here, chunking and titling passages in a story there, and generally trying to thrash it all into a single, consistently-formatted, coherent shape. (Interestingly: I'm more convinced than ever that white space is Teh Shizz, after reworking "The Death of a Love"; it totally draws out the structure and brings the stealth plot up in the mix to where it should be.)

What with The City of Rotted Names out in the wilds now via its limited release, and someone asking on Twitter about the potential of all four stories in that cycle being available together, I ended up getting stuck into that too -- organising, consolidating, re-formatting, tweaking. And did so just in time for a tentative enquiry from abroad. I'll give no more detail than that as it's early days yet, and given the Joycian wordplay in the CorRN, PoET, WatCH, ToMB cycle, it may turn out to be a bit too much work to be worth it when translation is required, but I'm liking the result for a chapbook or ebook. I've made a first tentative enquiry meself to one indie press, will start noseying around elsewhere if their plate's too full or they just don't fancy it. Ultimately, I'll get it out as an ebook if nothing else, but I do think it's the sort of project that wants to be physical, so I may even look at IndieGoGo and PoD before going totally virtual with it. Either way, watch this space.

Strangely, this sorting-shit-out palaver seems to be infectious, seems to have spread beyond fiction and into my daily life. In between all the collection malarkey -- e.g. giving Steve kittens, I think, with an appallingly pretentious title idea for the collection that doesn't really fit the vibe given the stories most likely to make the cut (I'm still gonna use it elsewhere though, poncy-ass motherfucker that I am) -- I've been fiendishly cleaning and re-organising the flat. My study is now a study rather than a storage room. I'm about to take a sackful of old clothes down to Shelter. I HAVE HOOVERED!

 Quake with fear, for the End Times are nigh!

Otherwise, you might remember me posting a whiles back on a couple of Lethe titles that I got through. In between sorting shit out, I've somehow even managed to make the time to read Jim Elledge's H:

And well worth a read it is too. A collection of prose poems comprising a lyrical biography of Henry Darger, with beautiful design work by Alex Jeffers, it fits well with the publisher that also gave us Peter Dubé's Subtle Bodies, but it also reminds me a little of the sort of story Guy Davenport would write on historical figures. It's got the clean-lined elegance of economy, ergonomics, in its language, passages cut sharp into facets of a life, snapshots of moments brought together in cubist collage. Well, of course, I was bound to like it, wasn't I? Anyway, it's definitely recommended.

And while I'm showing the pretties off, it turns out the Gallimard Folio SF editions of Vélum and Encre are due out in the next week or so. Take a look at this:

And this:

Aren't they just lovely. And they come as a gorgeous boxed set, the two images joining into a wraparound cover. Sweeeeet!

So, yeah. Update done, I'm gonna love you and leave you. I got to get to Shelter before it closes and, besides, I still got shit to sort.


UPDATE: Oh, I forgot! I'm also now offering One-to-One Creative Writing Tuition for those in the Glasgow area. That's another thing I've been busy with the last few weeks, trialling it with one of the members of the GSFWC. We met in the pub for an initial sortie two weeks back: he sent me through a copy of the first few chapters of his novel-in-progress; I read it and made notes; we sat in the pub and went through the opening, line-by-line, opening out into a more general chat about what he was aiming for; he kept me supplied in beer for the duration. I'm reckoning that's likely to be the shape of an introductory meeting/session for anyone interested: they get a taster without shelling out the full £20 per hour sight unseen; I get compensated in Guinness; we both get to figure out if we want to work together in a less formal setting. It seemed to work; my first pupil came back for more, and we had our first proper session last week, round at mine -- laptop hooked up to telly for real-time editing and everything!

And many thanks to the various members of the GSFWC who chipped in with feedback on the advert, which I'll be punting up on Gumtree and Craigslist presently, and plastering up in various venues soon as I get the print version with the little tear-off email addresses photocopied for distribution.

So, yes, if you're in the Glasgow area and fancy a bit of mentoring, drop me an email and we'll chat.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Delany Interview

Damn, but I need to read Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders.


Monday, September 03, 2012

Showtunes 4 Sanity!

A huge thanks to all those who bought their copies of "The City of Rotted Names" over the weekend, and to all those who spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, blogs or whatever. To celebrate the resolution of a cashflow crisis that would otherwise have been rather... awkward, let's say, have a wee (rewritten) showtune from Les Mis sung by some Broadway stars. Or not, if Broadway isn't your bag and/or you're a proper old school anarcho-socialist who finds Obama not a whole lot better. Whatever. I'm a sucker for a good ensemble number, and if it's got a bit of satirical bite all the better. Skip the party political broadcast if such ain't your thing. If it is, enjoy.