Stan Nicholls

News Archive 2018 - 2020



The longest-running regional science fiction convention in the UK, Novacon should have celebrated its fiftieth year on 13th-15th November. Of course, like so many other events, the pandemic meant it had to be cancelled, and it’s now re-scheduled for November 2021. The guests of honour - Chris (Fangorn) Baker, Emma Newman, Claire North (a pseudonym of Catherine Webb) and Christopher Priest - have all confirmed attendance.

Meantime, the organisers have re-titled their website Novacon + and are in the process of expanding the content. Online now, or upcoming, are reminiscences by former guests of honour (including Anne Nicholls and myself), a photo gallery, reviews and the first two progress reports. You can access the site here.

Here we are as joint GoHs at Novacon 45 in 2015:



In the October update I posted a recently discovered photograph of Forbidden Planet London’s very first author signing, in 1978, with Philip Jose Farmer. I was FP’s manager at that time, and thought this little story might be of interest.

We brought over Farmer and his wife, Bette, for a week. I’ll always value the fact that during their stay I got the chance to have several in-depth chats with Phil Farmer about his work, his inspirations, and the stories he hoped to write, particularly in respect of several ideas he had for “side-stream” stories spinning off from his most popular creation, the Riverworld series.

Philip Jose FarmerFarmer was keen to visit the resting place of Victorian explorer and Riverworld protagonist Sir Richard Burton. We located Burton’s tomb in the churchyard of St Mary’s Roman Catholic church in Mortlake, near Richmond Upon Thames.

The tomb, designed by Burton’s wife, Lady Isabel Burton, is extraordinary - a marble and stone depiction of an Arabian tent.

There’s an iron ladder that takes you to a window on the roof, where you can look down into the tomb and make out the lead coffins of Burton and his wife lying side by side, with a small ornate table between bearing an Arabic coffee pot and cups.

The cemetery was neglected and very overgrown, and the tomb was in disrepair. We managed to arrange an interview with Farmer for The Times, in which he mentioned the sorry state of the tomb, and a campaign by Burton enthusiasts eventually led to its renovation.

Here’s how the tomb looks today:

There’s also a stained glass window in the church commemorating Burton.



When I co-owned and managed West London bookshop Bookends, in the 1970s, we imported various American items other than books, magazines and comics. One example was a series of posters/prints by underground artist and illustrator Vaughn Bode, and not long ago I found this ad for the first of them:

The ridiculously low price gives some idea of how long ago this was!

Bode was a unique talent. His best known work was probably the Cheech Wizard strips, and he was acknowledged as influencing Ralph Bakshi’s animated version of The Lord of the Rings. Bode (shown below with some of his characters) who described his sexuality as "auto-sexual, heterosexual, homosexual, mano-sexual, sado-sexual, trans-sexual, uni-sexual, omni-sexual”, died at only 33 in bizarre circumstances, and is sadly almost forgotten these days. His idiosyncratic work is well worth seeking out.


A rummage in the Nicholls vaults revealed this: the partial contents of a box sealed for decades, which I must have packed in a hurry as it’s such an assortment. It’s funny what slips your mind until there’s a memory trigger - I’d forgotten having most of this. The book about chess, incidentally, is of interest as it’s (lavishly) illustrated by comic book artist John Bolton. To its right is the souvenir programme for the stage musical version of Flowers For Algernon, starring Michael Crawford.



A snow scene seems appropriate in December, but as we’ve not had any snow recently this shot, taken locally, is from three years ago:


Given all that’s happened in 2020 I think most of us are going to be relieved to see the back of it. Let’s hope ’21 treats us more kindly.
Here’s to a merry Christmas, for those who celebrate it, and a much happier, less stressful New Year.
Here are a couple of images from more innocent times:




As you’ll have noticed if you’ve seen previous updates, I’ve been excavating photographs and other memorabilia that’s lain in storage for years. Here are some recent finds.

First up is this photo taken at Forbidden Planet, London on 2nd October 1993 during a signing for the graphic novel version of David Gemmell’s Legend, which I adapted:

L-r: David Gemmell, artist Chris Baker ("Fangorn"), me, letterer Elitta Fell.

Here’s a flyer for the event:


And the graphic novel cover:


I’d left my job as Forbidden Planet’s manager some thirteen years prior to the graphic novel signing. But when I was employed there one of my proudest moments was organising the first signing Douglas Adams undertook, for the publication of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy novelisation, on 10th October 1979. We had Douglas back to sign the second book, The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, on 6th December 1980. Both events were massively well attended. I don’t have any photos from either signing to hand - sadly, few were taken - but I do have the flyers I helped put together to advertise them:

Another fantastically well-attended occasion, you won’t be surprised to hear, was our Star Wars event on 22nd May 1980, which stopped West End traffic and needed a police presence:

Dave Prowse was good value and very genial. In the event Anthony Daniels couldn’t make it - he injured his foot - and we got Mark Hamill instead. Hamill was great, extremely friendly, no airs and graces. He dropped into the shop again the next day to thank us and for a bit of a chat. Definitely one of the good guys.

Here’s a photo of Mark and Dave on the day:

On the art front, one of the most memorable signings was for The Studio, a superlative, beautifully produced book featuring work by legendary comicbook illustrators Jeff Jones, Mike Kaluta, Barry Windsor-Smith and Bernie Wrightson, on 27th October 1979:

L-r: Windsor-Smith, Kalutta, Wrightson, Jones.


That’s all from the archives this month. I’ll post anything else I unearth in future updates.



I’ve been banging on about this upcoming batch of speculative fictions, due to launch in June next year, for some months now. The idea is that the titles will be produced in a format that’s particularly accessible for people with dyslexia - with specially chosen fonts, etc - while being equally comprehensible to general readers. The first seven titles in what’s hoped will be a continuing series are -

The Breath by Joel Cornah
Ultrasound Shadow by Thana Niveau

The Clockwork Eyeball by Steven Poore
At Midnight I Will Steal Your Soul by John Llewellyn Probert

Sherlock Homes and the Four Kings of Sweden by Steven Savile
The House on the Old Cliffs by Adrian Tchaikovsky

And my own contribution, Anchor Point:

There’s more about these titles, and BOTH Publishing, here.



It seems like no time at all since I announced these re-packaged French paperback editions of my first Orcs trilogy with new covers:


They were published on 17th October, 14th November and 28th November 2018. Maybe I should bake a cake.



We’re into full Autumn now, with its lush colours and heady scents. A very beguiling time of year.



Just in: copies of a new 800 page German omnibus edition of my first Orcs trilogy from Piper/Heyne (published in August). This is the fifth omnibus edition of the trilogy, all with different covers, from my German publisher. You can view the previous covers in the Orcs Series section.


And someone recently reminded me about a rather clever “fictional trailer” for the first Orcs trilogy a German reader posted on You Tube back in 2011. It uses, among other images, clips from the Lord of the Rings films, although my orcs in no way resemble Peter Jackson’s interpretation. Still, it’s well done and I appreciate the tribute. You can see it here.


While we’re on the subject of things orcish, I’ve unearthed copies of a number of pages of artwork from the graphic novel, Orcs: Forged For War, by the artist, Joe Flood. This is the pure artwork, so to speak, before colouring and lettering was applied. Here are a couple of examples:

Here’s the wraparound cover in its original form, followed for comparison by the colourised version with just crude lettering. Note how some of the details changed:



Several times this year I’ve mentioned a series of specially commissioned stories that will be formatted for readers with dyslexia, including one by me, Anchor Point. All eight of the stories should have been issued by BOTH Publishing some months ago but the publication date had to be put back because of the pandemic. I’ve now been told that publication day with be 12th June 2021.

Here are some POS (Point of Sale) items that have been prepared for the book trade and libraries:



A bunch of photos have come to light from my days as manager of Forbidden Planet’s first London store, and I thought I’d share them.

This one is from the very first signing Forbidden Planet had, in 1978, with Philip Jose Farmer, being bored here by me:

This is from a signing by legendary comicbook artist Will Eisner on 21st June 1980:

l-r: Mike Lake, Denis Kitchen, Eisner, me, and kneeling, Nick Landau

I don’t think I’d ever seen this first one before my old friend and fellow FP staffer Guy Lawley recently drew my attention to it. Taken on 4th July 1981 it shows Nick Landau, Frank Herbert and myself outside the original Denmark Street shop.

I believe all the above photos were taken by Paul Hudson, who managed FP’s comics department.


Here are flyers for the Eisner and Herbert signings. Sadly, I don’t seem to have one for Farmer’s.


Pertinent to the above. Not long ago this piece of nostalgia fell out of an old magazine I was flipping through. Battered, crumbling and coming apart after all these years. Not unlike myself.

You can see all the Photographs of the Month in this site's Photo Galleries here. There are also galleries devoted to The David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy and Conventions.



Autumn. Mellow colours seeping in, leaves beginning to drop.



An awful lot of work’s been going on behind the scenes on this site, thanks to my webmaster, Harry Knibb. You’ll probably notice changes here on the opening page, but let me point out some other improvements. The menu up on the left-hand corner will lead you to overhauled and updated versions of the Biography, Nightshade Chronicles, Quicksilver Trilogy and Orcs Series sections, along with a new department, Other Publications, which lists my non-series titles. The Gothique & Stardock section has also been added to. I’ve been meaning to refresh the site for ages, and I’m grateful to Harry for getting me to finally pull my finger out.



Not in the mask and cloak-wearing, brooding over Gotham City sense. Or in the orderly assigned as a servant to a commissioned officer sense either, really. More personal assistant (official title: Editorial Consultant). Which is the role I fulfilled in the 1970s when I was taken on to assist in putting together The Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult, a (very) ambitious series of fiction and non-fiction titles intended to be the definitive collection of occult literature.

Why am I bringing this up now? Well, because Al Redbeard Richardson, a knowledgeable enthusiast of popular genre fiction, recently posted a You Tube video critiquing the series, which is here. I found Al’s assessment fair, informative and entertaining. There’s one error, concerning whether it was Wheatley or me who came up with the original list of titles to be considered for publication. Al assumed it was me; it was actually Wheatley. I’ve put Al right on that and he’s going to amend the video accordingly. He’s posted several other videos on various genre authors, which are also well worth watching.

I wrote a couple of articles about my experience of working with Wheatley, and thought I’d reproduce one here. It’s from the first issue of David Pringle’s Million magazine (January/February 1991).


The Dick Francis interview mentioned on the cover here was also by me. Million was a fascinating publication, which sadly ran for only fourteen issues.

It’s definitely worth seeking out second-hand copies, if you can find them.



Below is a repo of the Dennis Wheatley piece:

There’s an error in this article, too, and I’m pretty sure it was mine. Despite what it says, there were 45 titles, not 42. I don’t know how I managed that. To keep the record complete, the tiles missing from the above list are:

43 Jack Williamson: Darker Than You Think (f)
44 Charles Williams: War in Heaven (f)
45 John Cowper Powys: Morwyn (f)

Here are a few covers from the series, chosen at random:





Just unearthed after literally decades in storage (the sterling price gives you an idea of how long): newsagents/bookshop promotional posters for the fanzines Gothique and Stardock, which I co-edited/published ... a long time ago. You can learn more about these titles in the Gothique and Stardock section, accessible via the menu over on the left-hand side of this page.

Gothique art: Robin James; Stardock: Moy [Moira Read].)



England in Summer. This was shot in Oxfordshire.


Stan Nicholls




In last month’s update I featured three of my books whose Kindle edition prices had been reduced. We’ve been seeing price reductions across the board since VAT on e-books was finally abolished in May. I think the lockdown has played a part too, in the sense that bookshops were closed for months, and with that outlet denied them, publishers have been using lower prices to stimulate online sales. Sales of books in all formats online are certainly up due to quarantine; whether the increased numbers of e-books being downloaded will see a permanent jump in digital reading remains to be seen.


The Legends series of anthologies, edited by Ian Whates and published by NewCon Press, to help financially support the now defunct David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy, have also had their Kindle prices reduced. The stories in these volumes are by some of the leading names in fantasy fiction, and all were specially written for the anthologies.


David Gemmell - Legends Kindle

Book 1, now £3.99 here.

1. Introduction – Stan Nicholls
2. Or So Legend Has It - James Barclay
3. A Blade to the Heart - Gaie Sebold
4. Return to Arden Falls - Ian Whates
5. The Drake Lords of Kyla - Storm Constantine
6. A Tower of Arkrondurl - Tanith Lee
7. Who Walks With Death - Jonathan Green
8. Skipping Town - Joe Abercrombie
9. The Land of the Eagle - Juliet E McKenna
10. All Hail to the Oak - Anne Nicholls
11. Swords and Circle - Adrian Tchaikovsky
12. Fairyland - Jan Siegel
13. Mountain Tea - Sandra Unerman
14. The League of Resolve - Stan Nicholls
15. About the Authors



David Gemmell - Legends Kindle

Book 2, now £3.49 here.

1. Introduction - Stan Nicholls
2. The Blessed and the Cursed - Gav Thorpe
3. A Rescue - Mark Lawrence
4. The Lowest Place - Edward Cox
5. The Giant’s Lady - Rowena Cory Daniells
6. An Oath Given - John Gwynne
7. The Singer - Stella Gemmell
8. Sandrunners - Anthony Ryan
9. Smokestack Lightning - Gavin Smith
10. Oak - Lou Morgan
11. An Owl in Moonlight - Freda Warrington
12. Heaven of Animals - John Hornor Jacobs
13. The Iron Wolves: Retribution - Andy Remic
14. About the Authors



David Gemmell - Legends Kindle

Book 3, now £4.99 here.

1. Introduction by Stan Nicholls
2. Blood Debt - Gail Z. Martin
3. A God’s Mercy - Richard Webb
4. Berserker Captain - Neal Asher
5. The Price of Passage - Keris McDonald
6. Summoner - Danie Ware
7. Pelicos the Brave and the Princess of Kalakhadze - Steven Poore
8. The Timekeeper’s Tarot - Den Patrick
9. Her Grail - Ben North
10. Piercing the Mist - Shona Kinsella
11. Chosen of the Slain - K.T. Davies
12. The Dying Land - Nick Watkinson
13. A Hero of Her People - Anna Smith Spark
14. All Deaths Well Intention’d - RJ Barker
15. By Any Other Name - Justina Robson
A Note from the editor
About the Authors


I’ll take this opportunity to mention that two of my wife Anne Nicholls psychotherapy self-help books are also currently being offered at bargain prices in their Kindle editions:


Anne Nicholls - Is Your Family Driving You Mad? Kindle

Now £2.99 here.

Now £2.99 here.



I make no apology for again drawing attention to this anthology, in which both my wife and myself are proud to have stories. All proceeds from the sale of Stories of Hope and Wonder  are being donated to support NHS staff and other healthcare workers, and several thousand pounds have already been raised. 53 stories, 253,000 words of fiction, featuring some of the finest writers of science fiction, literary fiction, fantasy, horror, and more.


Available as an e-book here at £5.99.



This is the time of year when many of us might be expecting to holiday abroad, if circumstances hadn’t made that impractical. So let’s do it vicariously with a glimpse of foreign climes - a small waterfall in one of the less busy corners of Majorca, shot three years ago.


Stan Nicholls


In the March and April updates I mentioned my specially written story Anchor Point, which is part of a publishing venture aimed at readers with dyslexia. 


The seven stories comprising the first batch of titles (the others are by Joel CornahThana NiveauSteven PooreJohn Llewellyn ProbertSteven Savile and Adrian Tchaikovsky) should have been released about now.


But as with so many other ventures, the Corona virus put paid to that. Consequently, the launch has now been postponed until 2021, the exact date to be announced.


The project is the brainchild of Alistair Sims, co-owner of Books on the Hill, an independent bookshop in Clevedon, North Somerset.

It’s worth taking a couple of minutes to watch this clip, in which Alistair talks about the shop and outlines his plans for the dyslexia project.




Still in lockdown and looking for reading material? Then you might like to know that at the moment the Kindle editions of three of my books are just £3.99 each:

Orcs: First Blood. Omnibus edition. The first trilogy, along with a short story. At 700+ pages this is particularly good value. View here.


Orcs: Tales of Maras-Dantia. A collection of prequel stories set in the Orcs universe, specially written for this volume; along with some bonus extras, including an interview with me conducted by David Gemmell. View here.


Shake Me To Wake Me: The Best of Stan Nicholls. Includes a story specially written for this collection. View here




Actually, postponed would be a better word as in most of these cases the organisers intend staging the events next year. It’s very sad to see conventions cancelled/postponed, but realistically it’s the only sensible decision in the present circumstances.


Novacon’s the UK longest-running regional science fiction convention and should have run in Nottingham 13th-15th November. It’s especially tough having to be cancelled in its fiftieth anniversary year. 

Here’s the committee’s statement:

“Due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding Covid19, the committee feel that we will not be able to run the kind of inclusive convention that Novacon is known for and have reluctantly decided to postpone the convention until November next year.
­“There are a few reasons why we made this decision. There are a number of members, and indeed committee who are, or live with people who fall into the vulnerable category and it would be difficult for them to attend.
“We don’t know if the hotel will be up running properly, particularly if there is another outbreak of the virus. Also if social distancing is still in effect it would make it impossible to hold the convention with the numbers we would want.
“A big factor being as it is Novacon 50 we want you to enjoy the celebrations without having to worry about making the decision to attend or to attend and worry about having to keep your distance from each other.
“This was a hard decision, but we really want to celebrate Novacon’s big birthday in a way it deserves.”

Novacon 50’s website is here.


Fantasycon, the annual gathering held under the auspices of the British Fantasy Society, was due to be held in London in September. London will now be in 2022, while a Birmingham venue is being sought for 2021. Fantasycon’s website is here.


Bristolcon, scheduled for 30th October, has cancelled, and will be staged again in 2021. The Bristolcon website is here


StokerCon in Scarborough, which had already been re-scheduled from June to August, would have been the first time this horror convention had been held outside the United States. It’s now been pushed back to January 2021. The StokerCon website is here.


The World Fantasy Convention, which should have been held in Salt Lake City 29th October to 1st November, has cancelled and will be staging a virtual event instead. The WFC statement is here


CoNZealand, the seventy-eighth World Science Fiction Convention, will also offer a virtual event on the weekend of 29th July-2nd August 2020. CoNZealand’s website is here.

I think it’s likely that we’ll see more conventions scheduled for the rest of this year been cancelled/going virtual. Hopefully 2021 will see a return to some kind of normal.



I thought something with a literary connection might be appropriate this month, so here’s a shot of Stratford-Upon-Avon. This was taken last summer, before we all went down the rabbit hole. 


Stan Nicholls



Or that you’re in Quatermass’ laboratory, or on Blake’s 7’s Scorpio deck. 

Dr Who (1983)

Quatermass and the Pit (1958)


During the Covid-19 lockdown, which is ongoing as I write this, many of us are communicating with family, friends and work colleagues via Skype, FaceTime, Zoom and the like.


To make it more interesting you can upload your own backgrounds, and the BBC have released a batch of possibilities consisting of photographs of empty sets from TV programmes. These are divided into genres - Entertainment, Sitcoms, Children’s shows and, as here, Science Fiction.


You can browse and download the sf offerings here.


Blake’s Seven (1981)




Talking of the lockdown, the sifting of layers of artefacts that’s been going on here during quarantine has revealed these interesting items - all 31 issues of The Science of Life, a part-piece magazine published 1929-1930, written by HG Wells, Julian Huxley and others. (A kind of distillation of the content later appeared as a book, credit principally to Wells.)


I recall buying this set at some point in the ‘70’s, though I’m damned if I can remember who from or what I paid. Not very much, I suspect. Several issues, including the first, are a little tatty, but most are in good to VG condition, though there is some dreaded staple rust. Binders (at 3/- each, plus 6d postage) to collect them into three volumes were available at the time of publication, but unfortunately, I don’t have those.




I took this photo in mid May (while keeping a safe distance from the few other people around) when we were starting to see the first signs of Summer. It looks almost Mediterranean but was in fact shot in the heart of England.



Stan Nicholls

We all want to show our appreciation of the UK’s National Health Service and other healthcare workers during this pandemic.

Thanks to the Herculean efforts of NewCon Press Ian Whates, you can do just that and enjoy 253,000 words of sf, fantasy, horror and literary fiction for less than the cost of that lunchtime coffee and sandwich you might have been having. 

Ian put this mammoth fund-raising anthology together in under a week. My wife, Anne Nicholls, and myself are proud to have had stories accepted for inclusion.


Tales of Hope and Wonder was published on 20th April, and within 24 hours had this Amazon rating:
#537 Paid in Kindle Store
#3 in Short Stories (Books)
#1 in Science Fiction Anthologies (Kindle Store)
#1 in Science Fiction Anthologies (Books)


You can download the book here ...

... and read 53 stories donated by RJ Barker, Stephen Baxter, Chris Beckett, Lauren Beukes, Eric Brown, Ramsey Campbell, M.R. Carey, Simon Clark, Paul Cornell, Jaine Fenn, Gary Gibson, Lesley Glaister, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Peter F. Hamilton, Frances Hardinge, Cat Hellisen, Emmi Itäranta, Gwyneth Jones, Kim Lakin-Smith, Mark Lawrence, Tim Lebbon, Alison Littlewood, Ian R. MacLeod, Ken MacLeod, Tim Major, George Mann, Ian McDonald, Juliet E. McKenna, Mark Morris, Blake Morrison, Anne Nicholls, Stan Nicholls, Reggie Oliver, Jonathan Palmer, Tim Pears, Christopher Priest, Adam Roberts, Michèle Roberts, Jane Rogers, Priya Sharma, Robert Shearman, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Natalia Theodoridou, Tade Thompson, Lavie Tidhar, Lisa Tuttle, Ren Warom, Ian Watson, Mark Wes, Ian Whates, Aliya Whiteley, Neil Williamson, Nick Wood.




2020’s Eastercon having understandably been cancelled, there was an online vote from registered attendees on 12th April to decide the location of the 2021 convention. Birmingham, which was where 2020’s con should have been held, was again chosen. So Eastercon 2021, ConFusion, will be held between 2nd and 5th April at Birmingham’s Metropole Hotel. The convention has a website here and a Facebook page.

A committee has been formed for Eastercon 2022 and negotiations for a suitable venue are ongoing.




I’ve discovered a cache of photos from 2010’s Neuchâtel International Fantastic Films Festival in Switzerland, where I was one of the guests of honour in the literary strand. Anne and I also visited Maison d'Ailleurs ("House of Elsewhere") the museum of science fiction in Yverdon-les-Bains, along with film strand guest of honour special effects wizard Douglas Trumbull. The museum has probably the world’s most comprehensive Jules Verne collection. Here are some photos of all that, along with Anne being interviewed and me pontificating.






13 Blenheim Road, Minehead, the birthplace of Arthur C Clarke.

And the plaque above its door.


I have no date for these photos except that it was some time in the mid to late 90s, and I was still wearing my Nostromo cap.





If you like to fill your hours in isolation listening to science fiction, fantasy and horror stories but don’t want to folk out for audiobooks, there are a number of free Internet radio stations. Here are three I recommend.

Sci-Fi Old Time Radio:

Roswell UFO Radio (Don’t be mislead by the name; it’s nothing to do with UFOs):

Amazing Tales:

Just in the past week, as I type this, these stations have broadcast episodes of Dimension X, X Minus One, Twilight Zone, The Shadow, Mindwebs, Inner Sanctum, The Sealed Book, The Hermit’s Cave, The Creaking Door, 2000 Plus, Beyond Tomorrow, Space Patrol, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Alien Worlds, Bradbury 13, Quiet Please, Tales of Tomorrow, The Quatermass Memoirs, Challenge of Space, Exploring the Unknown, SF 68, Radio Mystery Theatre, Crisis, Escape, Suspense and many others.

Or you could download the Tune-In Radio app and have access to 30,000+ online radio stations (not all sf, obviously). There are free and premium versions of the app, but the free one’s all you really need.




Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland. A very impressive shoreline fortress occupying a site where citadels of one kind or another have stood for many centuries. The castle’s been used as a location for a number of historical films and television series. I took this photo well before the current lockdown.


Stan Nicholls




In last month’s update I announced that my fantasy short story Anchor Point was going to be one of seven specially written tales, with more to be announced, supporting the Dyslexic Friendly Books for Adults project.

The stories will be available as individual downloads and as part of a print anthology. (Scroll down to the March update for more details.)

The intention was to officially announce the project at Eastercon, which has now been cancelled (see the next item) and to release the stories later in the year.

Understandably, given the Covid-19 pandemic, no publication date can be nailed down at this point.

Meanwhile, here are the “covers” for the other six stories:





With everything in lockdown because of Coronavirus, and likely to be for the foreseeable future, it’s disappointing but no surprise that Concentric, this year’s Eastercon, has had to be cancelled. Here’s the announcement from the co-chairs:

We have now taken the hard decision in conjunction with the hotel to cancel Concentric 2020 for the health and safety of all of our members. This is not a decision we have taken lightly as there has been a lot of hard work put into the planning thus far, however the committee and the hotel feel that this is the right thing to do. The recent mandate to close restaurants and bars made it impossible for the hotel to continue to use their meeting and conference space.
As you can imagine it will take time to unwind all of the preparations for the convention. We will be in touch with you regarding membership refunds and also about some of the traditional Eastercon business such as bid sessions, award ceremonies, etc. We ask that you bear with us as we work our way through this. We will continue to communicate with you as we have information to share.

The Hilton will be in touch with those members who booked with them in regard to those room bookings.

We realise that some of you may receive multiple copies of this. We apologise for this but we want to ensure we reach all of our members.

In the meantime, please look after yourselves and each other and we look forward to seeing you at Eastercon next year wherever that may be.
Thank you for your support,
Vanessa and John,
Co-chairs, Concentric 2020


Eastercon is the UK’s national science fiction convention and was first staged in 1948. It actually took place at Whitsun until 1955 when it switched to the Easter slot, though the Whitsun gatherings are designated Eastercons. I think the only year Eastercon didn’t happen was 1950, but I’m happy to be corrected on that. More details on Eastercons here.


Sadly, Eastercon isn’t the only event forced to cancel:

StokerCon, organised under the aegis of the Horror Writers Association, was due to take place in Scarborough shortly after Eastercon. It would have been the first time the con had been staged in the UK.


And at time of writing it’s just been announced that the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, slated for July/August in New Zealand, had also been cancelled. The first WSFC was in1939, and apart from a break during World War 2 (1942-45), it’s run every year until now. The CoNZealand website is here.


However, the organisers have also announced that they intend running the convention virtually. You can read about those plans here:


In the present climate the viability of other conventions - Fantasycon, Sci-Fi Weekender, and even as far as November’s Novacon, to name a few - has to be in doubt. Conventions are planned and run by unpaid volunteers. What they do is incredibly time-consuming, often exhausting and not always appreciated. The current situation must be heart-breaking for them, and they don’t deserve that. What they do deserve is our respect and thanks for all their hard work.





Those in enforced isolation and feeling bored might be interested in a new Facebook page - Short Stories For The Stuck At Home - where writers are posting free sf, fantasy and horror stories - both as videos of them reading and as text files. I’ve posted a text story there myself. If you’re on Facebook do take a look, and if you’re a writer please think of submitting a story. The page is here.




If you’re cool enough to know where your towel is you’ll be aware that this year is the forty-second anniversary of the original radio broadcast of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. So this might be a good time to link to an interview I undertook with Douglas Adams, entitled ‘Comedy Engineering’, which appeared in issue 188 of American magazine Starlog (March 1993). Here’s the opening page and the cover of the issue:


You can read the whole thing online, for free, here.


While on the subject of interviews from the vaults, here’s another that’s come to light - Sylvia Anderson, first wife of Gerry Anderson of TV puppetry fame. This one appeared in Starlog 184 (November 1992) and again can be read for free here.





I also mentioned last month that I’ve been going through a large number of old photographs I’ve had boxed for in some cases decades. Here’s a batch with genre interest I’ve come across so far.


Dark They Were and Golden-Eyed

The staff of Dark They Were, Berwick Street, 29th September 1976.

Back row: Dave Baldock-Ling, Daniel O'Grady; front row: Mike Lake (who went on to be one of the founders of Forbidden Planet), me, Davy Gordon; kneeling: owner Derek Stokes.


Dark They Were and Golden-Eyed

Also Berwick Street and 1970s but I have no precise year, though it would have been on or around 31st October.

We had a fancy dress Halloween party in Derek’s flat above the shop, and this is how Dez Skinn turned up.

Forbidden Planet

21st July 1979, Denmark Street. It was the shop’s first anniversary, and we had a small party to celebrate.

Nick Landau, Mike Lake, me, Paul Hudson.

That’s a Forbidden Planet themed cake, with a Robbie the Robot and a flying saucer on top. But no monster from the id, alas.

Forbidden Planet

The same party.

With the comics department crew:

Guy Lawley, Asher Rospigliosi, me, and Paul Hudson, who was the manager of the comics section and my Assistant Manager overall.

We were all young then and still putting things in our mouths.

World Science Fiction Convention 1987, Brighton

Relaxing with author, anthologist and screenwriter the late Michel Parry, a sorely missed old friend.

With the Beast of Beauty and the Beast fame.

An excellent example of cosplay, though I’m afraid I’ve no idea who he was.




I don’t know if spending a lifetime reading, and occasionally writing, dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories is any kind of antidote to the difficult times we’re all going through. Probably not. This pandemic’s unprecedented, unless you go back at least a century, and its arrival’s been so unexpected and rapid it feels surreal.

But Spring doesn’t care about all that. When it’s time, it arrives. I took this photo on the first day of our self-imposed isolation, and without intruding on anyone else’s personal space.

Stay safe.



Stan Nicholls



Anchor Point is a specially written 8000 word fantasy short story forming part of a project under the umbrella of Dyslexic Friendly Books for Adults. (A snappier name is in the pipeline.)

Seven stories have been confirmed so far, which will be published as individual downloads as well as being contained in a print anthology. As someone who wants the world of literature to be available to everyone, this is an enterprise I’m happy to support.

The project has been instigated by Alistair Sims, owner of independent Somerset bookshop Books on the Hill, who has created an offshoot, Both Publishing, as a vehicle for the stories.

In Alistair’s own words:
Books on the Hill is passionate about helping people who have dyslexia, or have any difficulty with reading, to access the joy of good fiction. There are great books out now for children with dyslexia, but not for adults. As a bookseller who is also dyslexic, I know there is a large gap in the market that needs to be filled. This has inspired us at Books on the Hill to extend our bookselling and become a publisher of quality fiction for dyslexic adults. We want to achieve a range of adult dyslexic friendly books available in every local bookshop and library, which we firmly believe will make a real difference to people’s lives.”

It’s important to stress that the stories have been written conventionally and are accessible to readers of all kinds.

The dyslexic friendly aspect is to do with presentation and formatting, which includes:

Cream paper rather than white;

A sans-serif font, or other specific dyslexic friendly font;

Extended spacing between paragraphs, sentences and words.

The other confirmed titles are:
Joel Cornah, The Breath
John Llewellyn Probert, At Midnight I Will Steal Your Soul
Thana Niveau,Ultrasound Shadow
Steven Poore, The Clockwork Eyeball
Steven Savile, Four Kings of Sweden
Adrian Tchaikovsky, The House on the Old Cliffs

Publication date is to be announced, but will probably be late Summer/Autumn. Some details can be found here, and I’ll post more as known.





Now we’ve finally got our library together (and the new curtains are up!) enough space has been freed that I can start digging into storage and unearthing boxes that in some cases haven’t been opened for decades. I’d like to share some of what I found, starting with this, which has only ever been seen by a handful of people:


This wraparound cover artwork’s by David Britton, for a magazine that should have been published in 1970. You’ll observe that being (very) pre-digital it’s been pasted up camera-ready for offset-lithography. And despite being in black and white the finished cover would have been in colour, using a technique that overlaid rainbow-like swirls. The intention was that, like the previous issues of Gothique and Stardock, this amalgamated title would have newsstand distribution. But the distributor went bust, we were never paid what we were owed, and it entered the realm of might have been.


If you want to learn more about Gothique and Stardock, which I co-produced/edited, see the G&S section link on top the left of this page.




I’ve not finished yet. Here are some more discoveries ...


The somewhat awkwardly entitled Supernatural Horror Filming ran for just these two issues, in 1969. I had an article in issue 1 (“Television Fantasy”) and it was one of the first, if not the actual first piece of writing I was paid for. Ramsey Campbell was another contributor. Most of the content of the first issue was actually written by the magazine’s editor, the late Tim Stout, who was a journalist at the time and later went on to write a number of short stories and at least one horror novel (The Raging, 1987).


Such is the state of our crammed house that I’d been looking for this for literally years.

And here’s the title page annotated and signed by FM editor and sf super-fan Forrest J Ackerman:

I met Ackermann at the first con I attend, Loncon II, the World Science Fiction Convention held in London in 1965. If the above repro’s difficult to read it says: “It’s nice to see such a nice copy of #1 so long after its original publication. Hope you’ll still be interested by the time of issue #100. Thank you. Forry Ackerman - London 1965.”


Many hold that Christopher Reeve was the best on-screen Superman. I certainly had the impression of an extremely nice, genial man, with no “side”, when I met him at another World sf con, in Brighton in 1979.


You have to look closely at this because it’s very faint, but you should just be able to make out his autograph.


So that's what I was doing on May 6th 1980. But they missed a trick by not having the screening two days earlier ...



Here’s a batch of programme books for plays with genre connections that I attended:

What’s interesting about Thark, an entertaining farce with supernatural elements (which ran in August 1965) was that it starred Peter Cushing. Here are the principal players from the programme:


This production of Dracula, with Geoffrey Cheshire playing the part of the Count, had a short run beginning on 21st September 1965.

This production of Daniel Keyes 1960 Hugo Award winning story was staged in London in June 1979. The songs weren’t very memorable but Michael Crawford, in the lead role of Charlie Gordon, was outstanding and his performance packed a real emotional wallop. In one remarkable scene he and a live mouse danced together. I still don’t know how they pulled that off. Maybe they paid the mouse really well.

Ken Campbell’s July 1980 stage version of Hitch-Hiker’s Guide (actually his second version) had a huge cast and was as eccentric and colourful as you’d expect. I had the privilege of being an acquaintance of Ken’s and wish he was still around. I‘d love to know what he’d make of the current state of the world.


I’ve also been going through the massive amount of pre-digital photographs I’ve been meaning to sort for years and turned up that rare thing - a photo from our wedding (we have very few).

Here’s bride Anne Nicholls, best man David Gemmell and Reverend Pat Nimmo, who conducted the ceremony. 30th March 1996.




Unlike most of the photographs I’ve been posting here, this month’s isn’t that new. In June 2014 I was pleased to be the guest of honour at the first Pandino Fantasy Festival in Lombardy, 50 kilometres from Milan. Here’s a photo of me cutting the tape to open the festival:

After the festival we were fortunate enough to spend time exploring Milan - a beautiful city - and I got this shot of the cathedral:


Stan Nidholls




I’ve had libraries in several of the homes I’ve occupied in the past. Though in one or two cases “library” might have been a fancy word for book storage room. But we’d never got round to having a proper library in all the years we’ve been at our present address, with books all over the house and filling a self-storage unit a couple of miles away. So when a room became available early last year we decided to take the plunge.


I could write a book - well, a thickish pamphlet - about all the trials and tribulations that followed. The mishaps are too numerous to mention in detail, but included finding out that the room had rising damp just before the carpet was due to be laid, getting that dealt with and having to completely redecorate (again); and the shelves in the alcoves having to be put up no fewer than five times before they fitted properly. I won’t weary you with a list of the other, admittedly lesser, problems but will say that more than once I half jokingly referred to the room having a curse on it.


I looked at lots of ready-made bookcases and shelving units, but couldn’t find any that utilised all the available space or that I thought particularly attractive. To cut a long story short, I ended up commissioning a very talented young(ish) artisan carpenter who’s as much of a perfectionist (or fussbudget) as me and we set to designing the shelving. All the shelves are extra robust and adjustable, to be flexible enough to handle any size of books, and the shelves in the main run along the wall (see the photo above) are double depth to accommodate two rows of books, one in front of the other. Not ideal, I know, but necessary to get everything in. The only store-bought shelving in the room is the glass cabinet, which houses the very rare items - signed first editions, etc.





It’s taken the best part of a year but now it’s more or less done except for minor jobs like hanging new, heavy curtains - our first attempt having brought down the existing curtain rail. (The “curse” strikes again.) Ironically, despite having quite a cull to weed out duplicates and unwanted titles, there are still hundreds of books in other parts of the house, principally my workroom. Not to mention the loft, that’s crammed with mostly magazines, fanzines and ephemera. I can’t face that at the moment.





During the upheaval of getting the library together I was surprised to be reminded of books we’d forgotten about and disappointed not to have books I thought we had. One thing that turned up was an autograph book I kept as a kid, and I thought I’d share a few of the entries.

This first signature is Peter Cushing’s. I got this the first time I met him, at the stage door of a West End theatre where he was appearing in a farce.


I also have a signed copy of the play’s programme. Somewhere. Probably in the loft.

This one is Christopher Lee, again from the first time I met him. That was at the first convention I attended, Loncon 2.


Amusingly, I saw him again a week or two later in another hotel a stone’s throw from the con venue, where he was hosting a charity event for the Blood Transfusion Service!

And this is the autograph of Tom Lehrer, undoubtedly one of the 20th Century’s leading satirists:


Lehrer had a London concert and, along with two friends who were equally passionate about his songs, I was lucky enough to get tickets, albeit we had to stand at the back.

At the stage door he signed the concert’s programme for me. Guess where that is? Yes, the loft.

In that programme book I noticed an ad that said he was making a personal appearance the following day at the Boosey & Hawkes shop in Marylebone Lane. At that time I’d recently started my first job with a book exporting company just around the corner, and as my lunch break coincided with his slot I decided to take a look. The Boosey & Hawkes shop, now long gone, was vast. It had a whole section of grand pianos, and acres of sheet music and vinyl. And it was completely deserted, except for Tom Lehrer, sitting at a desk way over in the distance, accompanied by a rather embarrassed looking shop manager. Considering that I was a nervous, awkward fifteen year-old, Lehrer was very kind to me and we chatted for about twenty minutes. I said I was a little disappointed that he hadn’t performed two of my favourite songs the night before. He told me that the theatre management had insisted he didn’t include them. If you’re unfamiliar with Lehrer’s work, check them out - Be Preparedand My Home Town. Oddly, they had no objection to him performing one of his most controversial numbers, The Masochism Tango. Lehrer had lots of problems with censorship over the years, and the BBC banned his songs for decades.

Anyway, I got him to sign my autograph book, as above, and was about to leave when the manager asked Lehrer if, given the notorious reputation of his songs, he ever got abusive mail. “Not too much,” Lehrer answered, “but I’m hoping it’ll pick up.”




I’m going to remind you one more time about two conventions Anne and I will be attending this year:

Website here.


Website here.




Things can seem pretty bleak at this time of year. But when the sun shines and the skies are china blue you can get a very attractive play of light and shadow.





Here it is, 2020, and we’re still waiting for our jet packs, moon colonies, flying cars, alien buddies and domestic robots. Then again, futurism and, in particular, science fiction was always pretty poor at predicting the future. Not that prophecy was ever really sf’s raison d'etre, of course. Though it does feel strange that 1984, 2001 and the worlds of Blade-Runner, Dan Dare, Back To The Future, Destination Moon and many others are now in our past. But it’s still fun to look back at how yesterday thought tomorrow would be. Here are a few of my favourites.






Whatever your expectations of the future I wish you a very happy and imaginative New Year.




A reminder that my wife Anne and myself are hoping to be part of several conventions this year.

The two definites are:


Concentric, Eastercon (10th-13th April; Birmingham Hilton Metropole Hotel.)
Website here.


Novacon 50 (13th-15th November; Mercure Nottingham Sherwood Hotel).
Guests of honour: Chris (Fangorn) Baker, Emma Newman, Claire North and Christopher Priest
Website (still under construction at the moment) here.


We also support the bid for the World Science Fiction Convention to be held in Glasgow in 2024
You can find details here.




I started this back in January 2019, and here are thumbnails of the dozen photographs I’ve posted. (You’ll have to scroll down if you want to view them full size.)


The photograph this month, just taken locally, pays tribute to that wonderful Victorian legacy the canal system. I think this shot has a slightly unsettling, MR James kind of aura about it.




Stan Nicholls




Last month’s Novacon (the 49th) was, as usual, one of the year’s genre highlights (for which all thanks to the hard-working committee and volunteers).


Mike Carey was an excellent guest of honour and the various programme items were judged a great success. The art show was one of the biggest for some years, occupying two rooms.


Anne Nicholls was one of the exhibitors, and here she is with part of her display:


Anne Nicholls Novacon 2019


Alex Storer, an artist (and musician) himself, has a con report, with photos, here.



As 2020’s Novacon celebrates its fiftieth year there are going to be no less than four guests of honour - artist Chris (Fangorn) Baker and authors Emma Newman, Claire North and Christopher Priest.


The venue’s the same - Mercure Nottingham Sherwood Hotel - and the date’s confirmed as 13th-15th November.


The official website, basic at the moment, is here.






My UK publisher Gollancz has launched the BAME SFF AWARD to support writers of colour in science fiction, fantasy & horror. Submit 5k-10k words to them by 31st Jan 2020 to be in with the chance of winning £4,000 and a mentorship. Full details on how to apply here.




Alan Moore


I came across an interview with Alan Moore from Comic Book Artist issue 9. Talking about the genesis of his ground-breaking graphic novel Watchmen, Alan says:

“I remember at the time - this would’ve been when I was just starting to get involved in British comics fandom - there was a British fanzine that was published over here by a gentleman called Stan Nicholls (who has since gone on to write a number of fantasy books). In Stan’s fanzine, Stardock, there was an article called “Propaganda, or Why the Blue Beetle Voted for George Wallace.” This was the late ’60s, and British comics fandom had quite a strong hippie element. Despite the fact that Steve Ditko was obviously a hero to the hippies with his psychedelic “Dr. Strange” work and for the teen angst of Spider-Man, Ditko’s politics were obviously very different from those fans. His views were apparent through his portrayals of Mr. A and the protesters or beatniks that occasionally surfaced in his other work. I think this article was the first to actually point out that, yes, Steve Ditko did have a very right-wing agenda (which of course, he’s completely entitled to), but at the time it was quite interesting, and that probably led to me portraying [Watchmen character] Rorschach as an extremely right-wing character.”


The article in question was by the late Michel Parry, and below is the cover of the issue of Stardock it was in. I know Michel would have been chuffed, as I am, to have played a small part in inspiring a character in Watchmen.


You can read the full text of the CBA interview with Alan here.


Stardock 2 cover  Alna Moore interview


If you want to know more about Stardock hit the Gothique & Stardock. follow the link on this website.




It’s kind of customary to shoot snow scenes in black and white, and that does usually yield the best results. But sometimes colour can be effective too. This was taken a couple of years ago when we had a heavy downfall. I opened the door to our back garden one morning and ...



A reminder, for anyone interested, that I regularly post photos on my Facebook page.





It’s that time again, although it doesn’t seem too long ago when I last said it. But to all who celebrate ...

And to everyone: A happy, productive and peaceful New Year


It used to be traditional for the digest science fiction magazines to have seasonal covers at this time of year, and I thought it’d be nice to reproduce a few:




See you on the other side.





It’s the eleventh month so it must be Novacon, the UK’s longest-running regional sf convention (and the second oldest science fiction con in the country, after Eastercon). This year’s guest-of-honour is writer Mike Carey, and Anne and I will be there.


I’m on one programme item this year, entitled ‘Is YA Just For Kids?’ at 1pm on the Saturday. My fellow panellists will be authors Helena Bowles, Anne Nicholls and Elizabeth Priest, with Carol Goodwin moderating.


Novacon takes place at Nottingham’s Sherwood Hotel between 8th and 10th this month, and you’ll find all details, including the three progress reports, here.

I guess I’m on the panel because I wrote a number of YA novels (and short stories) earlier in my career, including ...






I suppose I could have called this Things You Find In the Back of a Cupboard That You’d Forgotten About and Which You Thought You’d Share Even Though You’re Not Crazy About the Accompanying Photo Department. But that would have been a bit long-winded.


It’s from The Times of 11th January 2005. As The Times was a broadsheet back then I had to scan the piece in two halves, so this is a less than perfect reproduction. You’ll probably have to zoom in if you want to read it.





Recovery of another relic. My pal David McDonnell, editor of much-missed US genre magazine Starlog, recently reminded me of this interview I conducted with late horror author James Herbert. It appeared in issue 248 of Starlog, in 1998. Again, you’d need to zoom in. Or you might prefer to view it in the Internet Archive, here.





In last month’s update I posted some promotional posters, etc, from my bookselling days. I think this transitory material has some cultural importance and should be preserved. So here are two more posters I’ve come across advertising London sf/comics bookshop Dark They Were and Golden-Eyed, where I was manager before moving on to the same role at Forbidden Planet.

I’ve no idea who the artist was on the first one; the second was by Bryan Talbot.



The Autumn colours continue to beguile, and if in addition a swan perfectly frames itself you have a pleasing scene.

A reminder, to anyone interested, that I post my photos fairly regularly on my Facebook page.



Another example of time flying by. The first of these French re-packaged paperback editions of the first Orcs trilogy was published on 17th October 2018 (books two and three came out on 14th and 28th November respectively). I’ve had a number of French editions of both trilogies with different covers, and these, although not my absolute favourites, seem to have proved quite popular.




I’ve always worked with books in one way or another, and before I took the plunge and became a full-time writer in 1980 I acted as manager in three London bookshops. (We’re talking the 1970s here. Time flying again.) The first, Bookends, in Notting Hill, I co-owned with partners Richard Lawton and the late, much missed Steve Moore. After that I managed Dark They Were and Golden Eyed, at that time Europe’s biggest sf/comics store, and finally I became Forbidden Planet’s first manager at what was then the sole branch, in Denmark Street.

Ephemera is defined as “transitory and without lasting significance”. I don’t agree. I think that the paraphernalia of an era is culturally important in a number of ways, and I’ve accumulated quite a bit of it over the years. (And also let a lot pass through my hands and into obscurity, I’m sorry to say.) So by way of preserving a little of this stuff here’s a small selection of ads, posters and fliers from those three bookstores.



Autumn, the most atmospheric time of the year, whose sights and fragrances somehow evokes nostalgia. It’s also a gift for photographers.




In last month’s update I celebrated the fact that my first Orcs novel, Bodyguard of Lightning, had clocked up twenty years since its original publication. I forgot to mention that back in July it was six years since Gollancz made The Complete Orcs e-bookavailable.

The Complete Orcs contains both trilogies and a short story; 800+ pages (4396KB) for around the same price as a single volume of any of the novels. Details of the Kindle edition are here.


The 77th World Science Fiction Convention was held in Dublin on 15th to 19th August.

It was apparently very successful, but unfortunately, we couldn’t make it.

Ever seem that everyone’s at a party except you? Then you’ll know the feeling.

However, we will be at this year’s Novacon (8th-10th November; Nottingham) and plan to be at Concentric, next year’s Eastercon (10th-13th April; Birmingham).


There’s also a bid for the World Science Fiction Convention to be held in Glasgow in 2024. You can find details, and support the bid, here.



When I took a crack at listing all my published books here last year (scroll down to the March through December 2018 news updates below) I might have missed a title. Well, sort of. And not by any stretch “my” book.

Let me explain. My friend, the artist Chris Baker, who uses the nom de plume Fangorn, was keen to produce an illustrated children’s book. The result was Little Horrors, a highly imaginative, beautifully rendered work. Picture-driven, the text was fairly minimal, consisting of essentially captions accompanying each, mostly full-page, illustration. Chris wrote these himself, in verse. The publisher, mindful of foreign editions, pointed out that verse is very difficult to translate meaningfully to other languages. So I was asked to take the essence of the verses and turn them into prose.

Intended as what was hoped would be the first in a series, Little Horrors came out in May 2000. The publisher, a small independent specialising in children’s books, decided to re-write much of my text. They also did little in the way of promotion or distribution, and the information they provided to the trade wasn’t always accurate. For example, their catalogue, and subsequent Internet listings, credited the book as “by Stan Nichols (Author), Fangorn (Illustrator)”. Apart from the fact that Chris, who conceived the idea and did 99.9% of the work, deserved sole credit, note that they spelt my name incorrectly. Not long after the book appeared the publisher went out of business.

As I say, my involvement was tangential and I cannot stake any kind of claim.

My point is that Little Horrors is a gem, and if ever a book deserved a reprint, this is it. Hopefully a more competent publisher might pick it up one day.
It’s long out of print now, though secondhand copies do turn up. But prices can be eye-watering.




The Rollright Stones are one of several Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments sited close to the village of Long Compton on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border. This photo is of the best preserved of the cluster of monuments, the stone circle known as The King’s Men. I took it on a mid-Summer’s day.



For me, that is. Because 2019 marks the twentieth anniversary of the UK publication of the first two volumes in my Orcs: First Blood trilogyBodyguard of Lightning in April 1999 and Legion of Thunder in October. The third volume, Warriors of the Tempest, appeared the following year. I can’t believe that two decades have shot past so quickly.

Here are the covers of that original printing of the trilogy, with art by Chris (“Fangorn”) Baker, and the cover of the omnibus edition:


There have been many editions, domestic and foreign, of the two Orcs trilogies, short story collection and graphic novel.

If you’re interested in more details, scroll down this page to the July 2018 news update.



A reminder that Anne Nicholls and myself will be attending this year’s Novacon on 8th to 10th November 2019 at the Nottingham Sherwood Hotel (formerly the Park Inn), Nottingham. 

Here’s how the organisers describe the event:

“Novacon is the UK's longest-established regional science fiction convention, held every autumn since 1971. It's built around a single-stream programme mixing both literary items and more informal events, with deliberate emphasis on social contact between sf fans and genre professionals.”

We hope to see some of you there. The Novacon 49 website is here.



As I write, we’re in the middle of an uncharacteristic UK heatwave (at one point yesterday it reached 38c in our part of the country). So, it seems appropriate that this month’s photo should reflect a Summer scene. I took this in the Javea area of Spain.



There was a bit of a mix up at Amazon when I featured the publication of Legends 3 in last month’s update - the listing for the book hadn’t properly gone live. (It didn’t show up in Amazon searches.) But it was soon sorted and can be found here.

Legends 3, almost certainly the last volume in this popular series, contains stories by Neal Asher, RJ Barker, K.T. Davies, Shona Kinsella, Gail Z. Martin, Keris McDonal, Ben North, Den Patrick, Steven Poore, Justina Robson, Anna Smith Spark, Danie Ware, Nick Watkinson and Richard Webb, with an introduction by me.

The book, edited by Ian Whates, is available as an A5 paperback, a special edition hardback signed by all the authors limited to just 100 numbered copies, and as an e-book. You can find the website of publisher NewCon Press here.



While we’re on the subject of short stories, let me remind you about The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors, published last November, which contains 25 tales of the weird and macabre, including one by me entitled ‘Deadline’. A second volume appears next Spring (without a story by me) and it’s hoped the anthology will become an annual event.

I also have a story in Art of War, as does my wife, Anne, which contains specially written stories by 40 leading fantasy writers, each accompanied by a black and white interior illustration. All proceeds from Art of War go to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) so it’s well worth a punt.


I might as well push on and blatantly plug two of my collections. Shake Me To Wake Me is sub-titled The Best Of Stan Nicholls, which more or less sums it up. A story specially written for the book, ‘The Gripes of Wrath’, is also included.

Orcs: Tales of Maras-Dantia is a collection of novellas and shorts (all original, with one revised reprint) that take place before my first Orcs trilogy. The book also contains an alternate opening chapter of Weapons of Magical Destruction, the first volume of the second Orcs trilogy; and an interview with me conducted by David Gemmell.


And just to show that I’m not all me, me, me (honest) here’s a shout out for my wife Anne’s Nicholls collection Music From The Fifth Planet, a mix of reprint and new stories with a splendid cover by David A. Hardy.



Not long ago, Anne and I realised an ambition to visit Hong Kong (we also took in Macau). It was an amazing experience. We found Hong Kong to be a fascinating mixture of the exotically traditional and an almost Blade Runner-ish vision of futurity. Here’s a not particularly great photo of the latter:

But my choice for photo of the month is this shot of a Taoist temple:




This Newcon Press anthology of original fantasy stories was released on 28th May in paperback, e-book, and as a limited edition hardback signed by all contributors - available from the usual online retailers and specialist booksellers. Details here. Here’s the finished wraparound cover:

And note that volumes 1 and 2 are still available.




Also in May, influential sf author William Gibson was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is one of the highest, most prestigious honours in the sf field, and Gibson is only the 35th writer to be presented with it. Details here.

I interviewed William Gibson back in 1997, and a version appeared in issue 244 of US magazine Starlog. The interview can be read in the Internet Archive, here, and this is its opening page:



A reminder that Anne Nicholls and myself will be attending this year’s Novacon - 8 - 10 November 2019 at the Nottingham Sherwood Hotel, Nottingham. In the words of the organisers:
“Novacon is the UK's longest-established regional science fiction convention, held every autumn since 1971. It's built around a single-stream programme mixing both literary items and more informal events, with deliberate emphasis on social contact between sf fans and genre professionals.”
All details, and the first Progress Report, are here.




Sunrises and sunsets are a gift to photographers, and it’s hard to take a poor shot of either. I photographed this sunset locally, and in common with my other photos it hasn’t been Photoshopped or enhanced in any way. The most I ever do is crop a picture, if necessary.




Rhyming Rings, the “lost” crime novel by fantasy author David Gemmell first published in the UK in September 2017 after the manuscript was discovered by Dave’s widow Stella, will appear in a French edition this month. I had the honour of writing an afterword to the book, and Conn Iggulden supplied an introduction. The French edition, released on 15th May, has been re-titled Le Masque de la Mort
(The Mask of Death). More details of the French edition here.

Here are the front and back covers of the British edition:




So it’s appropriate to mention again that Legends 3, an anthology of original fantasy stories written in honour of David Gemmell, is also due for UK publication on 28th May. I have an introduction in this one. Details here.




Real life locations can often be an inspiration for an author when world-building. I’ve not actually used this one in my fiction, though it certainly has an air of fantasy about it. It’s part of a high-end hotel complex I shot in Dubai, though we didn’t stay there. It’s very close to the restaurant I mention in my tribute to the late Dave Reeder in last month’s update. There was a definite Arabian Nights quality to the place, although it was built early in this century.




Over the last decade, the David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy have honoured the best in fantasy fiction and artwork as chosen by the readers. With a roll of honour taking in current genre luminaries such as John Gwynne, Robin Hobb, Mark Lawrence, Peter Newman, Brandon Sanderson, Andrezj Sapkowski, Brent Weeks and many more, with all of these winners chosen by a public vote, the awards have brought focus to some of the most exciting books, authors and artists in recent times.

Unfortunately, after ten years, the Gemmell Awards will draw to a close with immediate effect. With a lack of suitable volunteers to take on current committee roles, and insufficient manpower to deliver the wide range of tasks involved, the present team has been left with no choice but to wind up the awards.

The remaining members of the team would like to thank everyone who has supported the awards, including the publishers that have worked with us, our past committee members and volunteers, all the authors and artists who have offered their support, the events and venues who have hosted our ceremonies, everyone who has ever voted on the awards over the last decade and all the fans who have helped share and spread the word on the awards.

Departing Gemmell Awards Chair Stan Nicholls said: 'This is a decision that has not been taken lightly, and indeed is one that myself and my committee members make with a heavy heart. It was always important to us to do things to a high standard, and in the current situation I don't think that we could deliver something befitting the reputation the Gemmell Awards has. I hope that the awards will be remembered for the good work they have done in supporting and championing the cause of fantasy fiction over the last ten years, and that we've left a legacy behind that people can look at fondly in years to come.'

However ...


The third and probably final volume in the series of Legends anthologies, which have helped to financially support the Gemmell Awards, will be published in late May. Containing all new, specially written stories, and edited by Ian Whates for NewCon Press, the book again features a cover by Dominic Harman. I’ll post the exact publication date when known. Meanwhile, here’s the table of contents:

1. Introduction by Stan Nicholls
2. Blood Debt – Gail Z. Martin
3. A God’s Mercy – Richard Webb
4. Berserker Captain – Neal Asher
5. The Price of Passage – Keris McDonald
6. Summoner – Danie Ware
7. Pelicos the Brave and the Princess of Kalakhadze – Steven Poore
8. The Timekeeper’s Tarot – Den Patrick
9. Her Grail – Ben North
10. Piercing the Mist – Shona Kinsella
11. Chosen of the Slain – K.T. Davies
12. The Dying Land – Nick Watkinson
13. A Hero of Her People – Anna Smith Spark
14. All Deaths Well Intention’d – RJ Barker
15. By Any Other Name – Justina Robson

More details here.  

And please note that volumes 1 and 2 are still available.



More sad news. Anyone with an interest in the UK horror/dark fantasy scene, or the worlds of film criticism and culinary journalism, will likely have been aware of editor/writer Dave Reeder. Dave had been unwell for some time, and passed away last November, but the news didn’t come out until late February of this year. I’d known Dave since the early 70’s, and was privileged to have been commissioned by him to write for several of the magazines he edited. Here’s what I said on my Facebook page when the news hit on 25th February:

RIP Dave Reeder. I was afraid of this. Dave had been uncharacteristically silent on his Facebook page for some months, and there were no replies to messages. I hoped that he was finally devoting himself to sorting out the lifetime collection of books and magazines whose boxes jam-packed his Exeter cottage. Or, worse case scenario, that the several debilitating illnesses he suffered from had temporarily kept him offline and he was still planning retirement in his beloved Paris. Now we know that he passed away in November.

I can’t remember where or when I first met Dave. He lived close to our Notting Hill bookshop when Steve Moore and I were running it in the 70s, and was a regular visitor. But I think it went back further than that. (Curiously, we discovered, years later, that we had both been born and brought up in the same part of North London, just a few streets from each other, but had somehow never met, despite knowing several people in common.) In the late 80s and 90s my relationship with Dave took on an editor/writer aspect when he commissioned pieces from me for his magazine Skeleton Crew, and the several film magazines he subsequently edited. Those commissions weren’t on an “old mates” basis. Far from it. He expected total professionalism, and if you got a tiny fact wrong or he could see a way that something could be expressed more clearly he’d tell you in no uncertain terms. Whatever you’d written was the better for it.

Dave could be famously ... outspoken would probably be the best word. If you said something he considered dumb about a subject he was passionate over he rarely held back. But that was just Dave, and he somehow managed it without rancour.

If I can’t recall first running into Dave I can certainly remember the last time we met in the flesh. We connected in Dubai in the Spring of 2012. I said let’s have lunch, my treat. As he was resident in Dubai at that time, and a food critic, and I was just visiting, I asked him to suggest a good restaurant. I should have known we’d end up in one of the most exclusive eateries in the city, the sort of place where they have separate waiters to serve bread, to pour water, to drape a serviette over your lap, and where, when the bill arrives, you think they’ve accidentally put their phone number where the total ought to be. But seated in front of a vast picture window overlooking the Gulf, speckled with white-sailed yachts, discussing fiction, politics and food, it was worth it. That’s a memory I'm glad to keep.

Dave wasn’t one to be overawed by the many celebrities he met professionally. He took everyone in his stride. Here he is with Paris Hilton:

You can find an obituary at the Down The Tubes site, here.



The photo this time is another one I took locally.




I’m grateful to David McDonnell, editor of iconic and much mourned Starlog magazine, for reminding me of this interview I conducted with bestselling fantasy author David Eddings back in 1995 (issue number 210).

If you’d like to read the entire interview it’s online here. Just increase the zoom.

Here’s the opening spread:


Where Anne Nicholls and myself will be again this year.

Novacon’s 2019 guest of honour is author Mike Carey. Here’s how the organisers describe the event:

Novacon is the UK's longest-established regional science fiction convention, held every autumn since 1971. It's built around a single-stream programme mixing both literary items and more informal events, with deliberate emphasis on social contact between sf fans and genre professionals.

Novacon follows a long tradition of sf conventions held in the UK since the late 1930s. Back in those days it was a proud and lonely thing to be an sf fan and the main source of their interest was the written word.

So at Novacon you probably won't find people dressed up as a Dalek or Darth Vader, but you will find:

SF authors, many of whom have come up through the ranks of sf fandom.

A dealers room where you can find a wide selection of new fiction, second hand books and collectable books, books about sf and even graphic novels.

A bar filled with like minded people happy to chat for hours about anything under the sun, even science fiction.

Serious science talks from professionals who know what they are talking about.

An art show featuring original work by both professional and amateur artists. Many of the works shown are available to buy.



The photo this time has a faint fantasy tinge to it. In fact it’s Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, as the morning mist begins to clear.

If photography’s of interest to you, I regularly post my photos on my Facebook page, here.




I’m pleased to hear that the charity anthology Art of War, edited by Petros Triantafyllou, and in which Anne Nicholls and myself have stories, has won in the best anthology category of 2018’s Fantasy Stabby Awards.

The full results are here.

The book’s Amazon listing is here.



The all-time bestselling science fiction and fantasy books. I’m still hanging on in there, though my entry hasn’t been updated since 2010 and only covers the first Orcs trilogy, so it’s not entirely accurate. I really must send in an amendment. 

It’s a fascinating list, and I’m at number 224, should you be interested.

You’ll find it here.



Actually they’re probably a lot older than that, but it’s twenty years since my orcs first appeared, when the initial volume in the series, Bodyguard of Lightning, was published. I find it hard to believe that it came out in 1999 - time seems to move at warp speed. (If you scroll down to the July 2018 update you’ll come across more info about the series.)

Here’s the cover of that first edition, with art by Chris (“Fangorn”) Baker

Chris provided the covers for all three volumes of the first trilogy, and the short story collection Orcs: Tales of Maras-Dantia. We also worked together on my graphic novel adaptions of David Gemmell’s Legend and Wolf in Shadow. (More details about these in the April 2018 update, below.)



Bearing the above in mind, here’s one for your diaries -

The RBSA is located at 4 Brook Street, St Paul’s, Birmingham B3 1SA, and their website is here.




Continuing the series I started last month, here’s one of my photographs, again in keeping with the season. I don’t muck about with photos - no Photoshop or any other manipulation/enhancement - except to occasionally crop them. It’s all about light and patience, and I might take several shots of the same scene. Though sometimes you have to grab an opportunity and, as with this one, shoot fast and just once.




As I mentioned in the November 2018 update, the three mass-market paperback editions of the French re-packaged first Orcs trilogy have been published.

I’m now able to credit Paul Mafayon as artist, and to reproduce the artwork of volumes 1-3 without over-print:






I’m trying something a little different for this year’s updates. I should stress that I’m a writer, not a photographer, except in an amateur snapper sense. But once in a while fortune favours perseverance and a reasonable photo results. So I thought I’d post one a month, just for the hell of it.

It seems to me that there’s a kind of affinity between playing with words and playing with pictures. For me, photography started to make some kind of sense when I looked at a subject and thought, “What’s the story here?”

Not unlike having an idea for a piece of fiction and posing the same question to yourself. And I have a fairly “visual” imagination when writing, in that if I can inwardly “see” a scene I can usually depict it. So there’s a sort of connection.

Where possible I’ll post photos relevant to the season holding sway in the month of the update. This one, which I took locally, seems to fit the bill:



28.12.22 - 12.11.18

As it happened, at the time I first met Marvel’s Stan Lee my girlfriend’s name was Joan. And, of course, that was the name of his wife, too. When this came up in the conversation he thought I was kidding. Once he realised it was true he found it hilarious. “Tell you what,” he said. “I’ll be Stan one and you’re Stan two. The girls can slug it out.”

A lovely man. RIP, Stan. Number one, always.


Novacon 48/49

This year’s Novacon, held 9th-11th November and celebrating its forty-eighth year, was the usual mixture of interesting programme items, good fellowship and general conviviality. Here are a few photos, taken by excellent photographer Al Johnston, showing Anne Nicholls and myself during our “Saturday Night With Stan and Anne” slot, and as part of the panel Creating Imaginary Societies.

Novacon 49’s website is here. Roll on Novacon 50!



Now published:

Alchemy Press here; UK Amazon listing here.



This is for a good cause. My wife Anne Nicholls card is in aid of the Lawrence Home Nursing Team, which provides community nursing care for the terminally ill.

You can purchase Christmas cards - by Anne and other artists - and learn about the charity’s work, here.



This is my last post on the subject for the time being. If you’re coming to this display of my book covers for the first time you might like to scroll down to the March update, where it started. By necessity I’ve not included various covers of foreign editions in these posts simply because I don’t possess copies - as I’ve mentioned before, publishers aren’t always scrupulous in supplying them. There have even been editions of my books I didn’t know about until after the event. If any of these turn up in future I’ll post them.

First off this month, we’ve finally reached the final two Orcs titles.


When I was invited by New York publisher First Second Books to produce an Orcs graphic novel I wanted to write a new adventure, not adapt any of the existing novels. I went about it in a slightly unusual way. Rather than going straight into a script I wrote it as a fully rendered short story, to give the publisher and the artist the best feel for what I intended. The book is a prequel, taking place before the first trilogy. My title was Fit For Purpose. The publisher wasn’t keen on that and suggested changing it to Orcs: Forged For War.

The artist chosen was Joe Flood, and it was his first graphic novel. Joe’s since gone on to produce several more fine illustrated books.

Orcs: Forged For War was first published in the US; Pan Macmillan published the British edition (an import essentially, identical to the American edition) and Les Editions Gallimard issued a French edition. The book entered the New York Times bestseller list.  It won the 2011 Geek Life Award for Best Comic Book of the Year, and was awarded a Great GN Accolade by Graphic Novel Reporter, all of which was very gratifying. 

The cover was a wraparound, shown here before the final lettering was added:

And here’s the cover of the French edition, published as a hardback:

Some sample pages:

This piece of art by Joe, which I really like, unfortunately didn’t make the final cut.

I draw some consolation from owning the original.

Orcs: Tales of Maras-Dantia, published by Newcon Press, is a collection of novellas and short stories, again prequels to the original trilogy, Orcs: First Blood. I included Fit For Purpose, the story that the graphic novel was based on, and which differs from it.

The cover’s by Chris (“Fangorn”) Baker, which squared the circle nicely as Chris provided the covers for the first printings of that trilogy (which you can see down in the July update).

Here it is, with and without lettering:

The table of contents:

The Taking
Fit For Purpose
Paid in Blood
A Night on the Tiles
Bonus # 1: Weapons of Magical Destruction Alternate Opening
Bonus # 2: David Gemmell Interview Stan Nicholls [about the Orcs series]
About the Author

And that’s the last of the Orcs titles.

Shake Me To Wake Me, again from Newcon Press, is a “Best of” collection, with one specially written new story (The Gripes of Wrath). It’s a book I’m particularly proud of.

The table of contents:

Introduction: Sleeping With The Writer
Picking Up The Tab
Throwing A Wobbly
We Are For The Dark
Three Whimsies:
1. Falling in Love
2. If You Can’t Do It With The Lights On You Shouldn’t Be Doing It At All
3. Good Brown, Charlie Grief
Polly Put The Mockers On
The Gripes of Wrath
About the Author

Here’s the cover, by Andy Bigwood, and the cover art without over-print:

That’s it for now, except to wish everyone who celebrates it a very merry Christmas; and a happy, peaceful and productive New Year to all. See you on the other side.



The French editions of the first Orcs trilogy have been re-packaged with these new covers. Book 1 (Bodyguard of Lightning) was released on 17th October, book 2 (Legion of Thunder) is due on 14th November, and book 3 (Warriors of the Tempest) on 28th November.

I don’t know who the artist is so I can’t credit them at the moment.

I wish I’d known about these new editions when I posted the various French covers of the first trilogy in the September update (scroll down for that) but better late than never.

The covers gallery continues this month - see the end of this post.



The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors, which contains my story ‘Deadline’, is published on 1st November in print and e-book editions. The book’s Amazon UK listing is here. Alchemy Press details here.


9 - 11 November 2018
Park Inn Hotel, Nottingham

A reminder that Anne Nicholls and I will be attending Novacon – the longest running regional sf convention in the UK – where author Chris Beckett is this year’s guest of honour. Details here.



Well, half forgotten. This item is something I’ve been meaning to post for several months, ever since I unearthed it. Gothique was a fanzine I co-edited in the 1960s, and this is the premiere issue. When in my early teens I attended my first convention, Loncon II, the 23rd World Science Fiction Convention, I had the pleasure of meeting Forrest J Ackerman, who signed this copy.

Forry Ackerman, for those who don’t know, was a significant figure in the science fiction and horror communities. Editor, writer, literary agent, mega-collector, inveterate punster, he’s credited (for good or ill) with coining the phrase “sci-fi”. Perhaps his most influential contribution was founding and editing Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, which debuted in 1958 and, under a number of different guises, has continued until the present, clocking up approximately 300 issues. I had my copy of issue 1 of Famous Monsters when I met Forry (or “4E”) at Loncon II. He signed that too, with a long dedication, in his favoured blood red felt tip. I haven’t disinterred that particular rarity from the overstuffed bowels of our house yet, and I’m getting a little nervous about where it might be ...
Your can learn more about Forry Ackerman here. And if you’re interested, there’s a history of Gothique and sister magazine Stardock, along with contents listings, here on this website. Hit the link in the menu on the left side of this page.




We’ve finally made it to the second trilogy, Orcs: Bad Blood, consisting of Weapons of Magical Destruction, Army of Shadows and Inferno. (If you haven’t been following these posts about my book covers they start down in the March update.) Here are the covers of the UK editions of Bad Blood, from Gollancz:

The trilogy appeared in hardcover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, e-book and book club editions with these covers. Here’s the omnibus edition cover, and the cover of the e-book edition of the combined first and second trilogies:

There was also a limited number box set:


United States

My American publisher, Orbit, wasn’t keen on the title of the first volume, Weapons of Magical Destruction, and changed it to simply Bad Blood - which was slightly confusing as that’s also the overall name of the trilogy. But, as with the first trilogy, they produced some of the best covers for the series. As here:

Tantor issued audiobook versions in the US, again read by John Lee. Here are the covers of the first two. I don’t have the third, and don’t even know if it was ever issued.


Covers by Didier Graffet:

I’m very fortunate in that I own the original artwork for book one. Here’s a less than brilliant photo, next to a promotional poster for the book, among others:

The French publisher preferred the overall title Revenge of the Orcs for the second trilogy. There were three omnibus editions:


Here’s the German omnibus edition, and the artwork for a variant, unused book three cover:


The Dutch omnibus:


The situation with my Italian publisher was a bit strange and rather disappointing. As I understand it, after books one and two were translated their principal translator sadly died. By the time they finally found a replacement there had been such a big gap after book two’s appearance that they decided not to publish book three. I get irate messages from Italian readers about it to this day. Here are the covers of the pair of volumes they did publish:


I don’t know if more than the first volume was published in Bulgaria. In any event it’s the only volume I have.

To its right is a copy of the map that appeared in almost all editions of the first trilogy and most of the second. This is from the UK editions.

That’s it for this month. In the December update I’ll cover the Orcs graphic novel and short story collection, along with my “best of” collection Shake Me To Wake Me. And maybe a few other things.



As I mentioned in the August update, I have a story in this anthology, which the publishers intend to make an annual series.

The book’s published on 1st November, in print and ebook formats, and can be pre-ordered via Amazon here

Those attending Fantasycon (19th-21st October) can purchase a copy early as there’s a pre-publication launch event at the convention.

The other contributors to The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors are Gail-Nina Anderson, Jenny Barber, Suzanne Barbieri, Debbie Bennett, James Brogden, Ramsey Campbell, Mike Chinn, Ray Cluley, Adrian Cole, Storm Constantine, Cate Gardner, John Grant, Stephen Laws, Samantha Lee, Keris McDonald,
Gary McMahon, Ralph Robert Moore, Marie O’Regan, Marion Pitman, Madhvi Ramani, Tina Rath, Tony Richards, Phil Sloman and Peter Sutton.  With interior art by Jim Pitts. 

The Alchemy Press are soliciting submissions for book 2, against a January 2019 deadline. Details here.

And here’s a provisional cover for the second volume:



This artwork by Anne Nicholls, entitled Starwhal Nebula, is one of a number she’ll be exhibiting at this year’s Novacon (9th-11th November).

Anne has a website for her art here, and a Facebook art page here.




If you haven’t been following this series, in which I’m posting covers of my books, you might like to scroll down to the March update and work your way up from there. We’re still on the initial Orcs trilogy, Orcs: First Blood, and this month I’m featuring covers of the Brazilian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Dutch, Polish, Romanian, Russian and Spanish editions.

As I’ve mentioned before, publishers are not always scrupulous in providing authors with copies of their books, particularly translations, and there are editions I’ve never seen, let alone possess. Consequently, I’m not able to post everything I’d like.


Brazil and Bulgaria

Here’s the Brazillian cover of the first volume in the trilogy, Bodyguard of Lightning, along with a promotional poster. I don’t even know if volumes 2 and 3 were ever published.

The trilogy was published as an omnibus in Bulgaria, on the right here:



Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder and Warriors of the Tempest with uniquely Chinese covers, followed by a promotional poster sans overprint:



The Dutch editions of the first trilogy, and the omnibus edition:





The first trilogy and a promotional banner. The Orcs short story ‘The Taking’ was included in volume 3.



In Russian I’m Стэн Николс. All the Russian editions are nicely produced hardbacks.

Here’s the artwork for volume two, Legion of Thunder, without over-print:

There were two Russian omnibus editions of the first trilogy. I’ve always felt that the cover of the second, repackaged, one resembles Mad magazine’s
Alfred E. Neuman ...

Here’s the artwork for the first version of the omnibus (by Keith Parkinson) without over-print, alongside the Russian version of the map that appears in the books:



The situation in Spain was a little odd. A publisher took on the first volume of the trilogy (on left below) but decided not to publish the other two. Fortunately the publisher Marlow later stepped in and issued the trilogy in an omnibus edition:

That gets us to the end of the various editions of the first Orcs trilogy that I have (unless I’ve overlooked anything). Next month we’ll feature the second trilogy, and if there’s room, the Orcs graphic novel and short story collection. But we’ve still got quite a few covers to go and might not wind this up until the end of the year.




I’m going to prison.

I’ve been invited to visit one of HM’s jails next month to talk to an inmates’ literary group. This is a first for me. I won’t name the particular institution as that wouldn’t be appropriate, but apparently fantasy is their favourite genre and they want to meet a working writer. As a believer in the curative and occasionally redemptive power of reading and writing it’s something I’ve long wanted to do. I just hope they let me out again.






Continuing posts of my book covers that started with the March update (scroll down for that) we’re still on the first Orcs trilogy, this month focusing on the French, German, Italian and Czech Republic editions.

Here’s how Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder and Warriors of the Tempest first appeared in France, in trade paperback editions with cover art by Didier Graffet:

The subsequent mass market paperback editions had covers that were variants on the above:

There have been several French omnibus editions of the first trilogy, as here (the first one shown as both front cover and wraparound):

The first cover below was an early, unused version of above. The second is the cover of a re-issue, the third an e-book edition:

A limited edition tenth anniversary edition, a set of promotional bookmarks and a poster:

In Germany the trilogy was published as an omnibus edition, not individual volumes, first as a trade paperback and later in mass market pb with variant covers; and there was an unexpurgated audiobook, read by Erik Schaeffler:

I like what my Italian publisher did for the covers:

There’s also an Italian omnibus edition (actually a box set) with three variant covers:

The covers of the Czech Republic editions were quite different, and imaginative:

Here they are without over-print:

I’ll be posting more covers next month.




The winners of 2018’s David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy, as announced at our ceremony at Edge-Lit 7 on Saturday 14th July, are:

Legend Award (best novel): Assassin's Fate, Book 3 of Fitz and The Fool by Robin
Hobb (HarperVoyager)

Morningstar Award (best fantasy debut): Kings of the Wyld, Book 1 of The Band by
Nicholas Eames (Orbit)

Ravenheart Award (best cover art/design): Richard Anderson for Kings of the Wyld
by Nicholas Eames Designed by Lisa Marie Pompilio (Orbit)

Stan & Anne Nicholls: hosting

(L) Phil Lunt: opening reading. (R) Andy Remic: memories of Gemmell.

(L) Anna Stephens presented the Ravenheart. (M) Nazia Khutan (Orbit) & Stan Nicholls , (R) Gav Thorpe presented the Legend  Award, accepted by RJ Barker on behalf of Nicholas Eames.

Robin Hobb couldn’t attend the ceremony, but sent this response to her win:

“The candidates for the award this year were especially strong ones, so I am very honoured to see Assassin’s Fate chosen for the Gemmell Legend Award. I wish to convey my thanks to all the readers who voted for the award, including those who voted for other works. I feel the Gemmell Awards have done a great deal to bring strong works of fantasy to the attention of readers. A large amount of the credit should go to Jane Johnson of HarperCollins Voyager. For over a quarter of a century, she has edited every one of the Realm of the Elderlings books and helped keep a very long tale on track to reach this concluding volume. For Assassin’s Fate to be singled out this way makes me extremely proud. Thank you.”

Photographs by Peter Coleborn.

Here’s the cover of this year’s awards programme book, edited and designed by Anne Nicholls



I mentioned this anthology, in which I have a story, back in March, and now we have the full table of contents and a publication date. The book is scheduled for publication in both print and e-book format on 1st November, and they’ll be a pre-publication launch event at Fantasycon, 19th-21st October.

Here’s the final line-up:
Ramsey Campbell: Some Kind of a Laugh; Storm Constantine: La Ténébreuse; Samantha Lee: The Worm; Stan Nicholls: Deadline; Marie O’Regan: Pretty Things; Gary McMahon: Guising; Peter Sutton: Masks; Debbie Bennett: The Fairest of Them All; Mike Chinn: Her Favourite Place; Phil Sloman: The Girl with Three Eyes; Tina Rath: Little People; Madhvi Ramani: Teufelsberg; Jenny Barber: Down Along the Backroads; James Brogden: The Trade-up; Marion Pitman: The Apple Tree; Tony Richards: The Garbage Men; Stephen Laws: Get Worse Soon; Ralph Robert Moore: Peelers; Gail-Nina Anderson: An Eye for a Plastic Eye-ball; Keris McDonald: Remember; Adrian Cole: Broken Billy; Cate Gardner: The Fullness of Her Belly; Suzanne Barbieri: In the Rough; Ray Cluley: Bluey; John Grant: Too Late. Interior art by Jim Pitts. Cover art by Peter Coleborn.

Details of the book and Alchemy Press here. The book’s Amazon listing here.




My wife, Anne Nicholls, has stories in the anthologies Infinite Dysmorphia (available now) and Dark Voices (forthcoming), a charity project supporting breast cancer research. While I’m at it, I thought I’d remind you of Anne’s collection Music From The Fifth Planet, which has an introduction by Justina Robson and a David Hardy cover.



I’m grateful (I think) to Richard Burton for posting this photo, which I hadn’t seen before, from the opening day of Forbidden Planet’s first shop, where I was the manager, on 22nd July 1978.

That’s me on the left (looking like a cross between Art Garfunkel and Harpo Marx) pouring a glass of champagne for FP co-owner Nick Landau. Forty years. It’s hard to believe.




As with last month, when I featured UK editions, we’re still focusing on the original trilogy, Orcs: First Blood. This month we’re moving on to the American editions, published by Orbit US.

The first trilogy was published as an omnibus edition in the US. Here’s the front and back cover of the proof/ARC issued to the trade and reviewers pre-publication, alongside the finished cover:

I love that cover, and the covers Orbit created for the individual volumes of the second trilogy, which I think come nearest to the way I see my orcs. The effect on this and the subsequent covers was achieved by having a prosthetic bust built and photographed. Here are some photos of the process:

The omnibus is published in hardback, trade paperback and e-book editions. There was also an American Science Fiction Book Club edition and an unexpurgated audiobook, from Tantor audio, read by John Lee:

A magazine ad/poster for the US book club edition:

Orbit promoted the books in a number of ways, including a bookmark and even a Christmas card:

Promotional banners/posters:

Here are a couple of photos showing the window display at Barnes and Noble on 5th Avenue, New York, when the omnibus launched:

At this point I should say something about the Orcs short story ‘The Taking’. I wrote the story, a prequel to the first trilogy, for the anthology Swords Against The Millennium, published in 2000. ‘The Taking’ was a finalist in the following year’s British Fantasy Awards, short story category. When Gollancz, my UK publisher, issued the first Orcs trilogy as an omnibus and wanted a bonus for the book we added the story. Some foreign editions of the omnibus included the story, others didn’t. To make things a little more complex, the story was subsequently published in a number of anthologies and magazines, both in English and in translation. It’s my most reprinted story, having appeared in various publications around twenty times.

Here’s the original anthology that carried ‘The Taking’, and as examples of reprints, French, Czech Republic and Dutch anthologies, a Belgium magazine and a French e-book version:


We still have a long way to go with the Orcs series. Next month I’ll start tackling the non-English editions.



In the April update I recalled a strip I wrote for the Future Shocks section of the British comic 2000AD called ‘The Rescue’. What I didn’t know was that the publisher, Rebellion, had scheduled the first volume collecting all the Future Shock strips.
The Complete Future Shocks 01: 1977-1981 has now been published, containing my modest contribution. Future Shocks were short, always had a twist in their tail and remain very inventive and entertaining.
The way the comics industry worked in those days meant that writers and artists consigned all rights to the publisher in perpetuity for the initial fee. So no residuals/royalties then, but we all knew that. Still, it’s nice to be in a volume alongside some of the finest comicbook writers and artists.


27th May 1934 - 27th July 2018

Now we’ve lost Harlan Ellison. He was a true one-off, a unique voice in the sf genre and the field’s most outspoken controversialist. Despite his somewhat fearsome reputation, on the few occasions I met him - hosting a signing by him back in my bookselling days, brief chats at conventions and so on - I always found him genial and kind. And he once went out of his way to praise something I’d written - a little squib of a piece really, defending copyright when online piracy was becoming an issue - which meant a lot to me, and still does. His passing leaves an unfillable void in the sf community, and we’ve had too many of those lately. RIP HE.



The nice thing about Novacon, the UK’s longest-running regional science fiction convention, is that it focus on science fiction literature, spiced with items on actual science, and that’s increasingly rare. I’ll be there along with Anne Nicholls, and if you want further details, go here.




There have been so many foreign and variant editions of this eight book series that I have no idea how many parts this is going to run to.
To start at the beginning. The series, which has sold well over a million copies worldwide, began with the original trilogy, Orcs: First Blood. Published by Gollancz in the UK, it consists of Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder (both 1999) and Warriors of the Tempest (2000). They appeared in trade paperback, mass-market paperback and hardback book club editions with these covers by Chris (“Fangorn”) Baker:

The trilogy was subsequently collected in an omnibus edition, and also appeared as an unabridged (24 hours, 48 minutes) audiobook, read by John Lee:

Several items were produced to promote the trilogy to the trade, including an orcs ale (!) and coasters, with art again by Chris Baker:

Chris also painted these studies of the five principal characters as part of the trade promotion:

The first volume was launched at 1999’s Fantasycon, in Birmingham, and the organisers kindly agreed to turning their traditional banquet into an orcs-themed feast. I was asked to rewrite the menu accordingly, and here it is:

Next month I’ll start going into the many foreign editions of the first trilogy. Once that’s done, the second trilogy, graphic novel and short story collection. This is going to take a while.



Ravenheart trophy by Lee Blair (left), Legend trophy by Simon Fearnhamm (middle), Morningstar trophy by Lee Blair (right)

With the winners of the three categories of the Gemmell Awards now known - the Legend Award (best novel), Morningstar Award (best fantasy debut) and Ravenheart Award (best cover art/design) - our attention turns to the presentation ceremony. (Scroll down to last month’s update for the shortlists.)

The ceremony takes place on the evening of Saturday 14th July, as part of Edge-Lit 7 in Derby, UK.

Details of the venue are here.

Edge-Lit is a one day event devoted to fantastical literature.



Here’s the latest version of the schedule (which might be subject to minor changes):

10am Imposter Syndrome: At What Point Do You Become ‘A Proper Writer’?
(Panel) Rod Duncan (Chair), Fran Dorricott, Zoe Gilbert, Roz Watkins, Micah Yongo.

11am Modern Ghosts: Is The Ghost Story A Nostalgia Act or More Relevant Than Ever?
(Panel) James Everington, Mark Latham (Chair), Marie O’Regan, Laura Purcell, Paul Tremblay.

12pm Promo 101: What Really Works To Market Your Book?
(Panel) Julie Crisp, Penny Reeve (Chair), Gav Thorpe, Adrian J Walker, Jen Williams.

1pm New Worlds: Is Fantasy Slowly Becoming A Broader Genre?
(Panel) Zoe Gilbert, CF (Conn) Iggulden, Anna Smith-Spark, Anna Stephens, Gav Thorpe (Chair).

2pm Shivers: Creating Suspense and Fear In Your Fiction
(Panel) James Everington (Chair), Jo Jakeman, Laura Purcell, Paul Tremblay, Roz Watkins.

3pm The Rule Of Three: What Is The Appeal Of The Trilogy, And Will It Ever Fade?
(Panel) Rod Duncan, Frances Hardinge, Vic James (Chair), Mark Latham, Jen Williams.

4pm Black Mirror: Is The Boom in Dystopian Fiction Down To The World Around Us?
Heather Child, Vic James, Paul Kane, GX Todd, Adrian J Walker.

5pm Guest of Honour Interview and Q+A: Paul Tremblay.

6pm The Edge-Lit 7 Raffle Presented by RJ Barker and Anna Stephens.

8:00pm-9:00pm approx. The David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy Prizegiving Ceremony

9pm onwards Gemmell Awards Celebration (post-ceremony party)

A second programme stream includes:

10am Guest of Honour Reading and Q+A: Adrian J Walker

11am The Life and Work of David Gemmell Julie Crisp (Chair), Andy Remic, Anna Smith-Spark, Gav Thorpe

12pm Guest of Honour Session: CF (Conn) Iggulden

2pm Guest of Honour Session Interview and Q+A: Frances Hardinge

There are also a number of book launches, and an expanded dealers’ room (10am-6pm) with at least 17 vendors.

The David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy website is here, and the official Facebook page here.


GARDNER DOZOIS (1947-2018)

I’m sad to hear that Gardner Dozois, one of the science fiction field’s most accomplished and celebrated editors, passed away on 27th May.

A recipient of no less than fifteen Hugo Awards for his many anthologies and his eighteen year stint as editor of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, he was also a skilled author and respected genre critic. RIP.

I interviewed Gardner back in 1992, and a version that appeared in Starlog issue 177 can be read here for free. (You’ll need to increase screen magnification).



This month, the coverage of my published books reaches ...


This series, published in the UK by Harper Voyager, consists of Quicksilver Rising (2003), Quicksilver Zenith (2004) and Quicksilver Twilight (2006) which appeared in hardback, trade paperback, mass market paperback, book club, large print and e-book editions.

The covers, which I think are outstanding, were by talented British artist Dominic Harman. It’s rare for an author to be invited to submit ideas for the covers of their books, but in this case I was, and in consultation with Dominic I suggested using the emblems of the three main groups that feature in the story - a dragon, an eagle and a scorpion.

Here’s how they came out:

Some of Dominic’s sketches and development artwork for the covers:

When the books were issued in mmpb editions there were some typographical changes to the covers of books 2 and 3:

The French editions were beautifully rendered by Didier Graffet:

The artwork without over-print:

Two French omnibus editions, and two promotional bookmarks (frustratingly, I’m missing one!):

The German editions had covers by Geoff Taylor:

There are no artist credits on the Russian editions:

My American publisher requested changes to both the series name and the names of the individual volumes. This was because the same month the first volume was published in the US they were also putting out a book by another author that had Quicksilver as part of its title, and they feared confusion.

After some thought I came up with The Dreamtime Trilogy as the overall title. Quicksilver Rising was re-named The Covenant Rising, Quicksilver Zenith became The Righteous Blade and Quicksilver Twilight became The Diamond Isle. The trilogy appeared in hardback, trade paperback, mmpb, book club and e-book editions.

I was again very well served with covers, this time by British artist Jon Sullivan. These are among my most favourite of all my book covers.

Jon’s artwork without over-print:

When it came to the mass market pb editions, the American publisher decided to change the covers of the first two volumes. Here they are, with volumes one and three as wraparounds:

An unused variant of the above:

Two pieces of unused wraparound artwork for the mmpbs of volumes one and two:

Next month I’ll start to cover my Orcs series. Given the number of volumes and editions that’s likely to spread over several months.



Voting on the shortlists for 2018’s David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy opened on 20th March, and runs until 1st June, here.

The awards are determined by an open vote - no registration necessary.

The shortlists are ...

Ravenheart Award (best cover art/design)

Richard Anderson for Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames (Orbit)
Design by Lisa Marie Pompilio.
Kerem Beyit for The Fall of Dragons by Miles Cameron (Gollancz)
Design by Sidonie Beresford-Browne, Abi Hartshorne, Sue Michniewicz
and Jamie Tanner.
Sam Green for Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz)
Design by Tomas Almeida.
Jackie Morris and Stephen Raw for Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb (HarperVoyager)
Design by Dominic Forbes.
Kerby Rosanes for Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff  (HarperVoyager)
Design by Micaela Alcaino.

Morningstar Award (best fantasy debut)

RJ Barker: Age of Assassins, Book 1 of The Wounded Kingdom (Orbit)
Melissa Caruso: The Tethered Mage, Book 1 of the Swords and Fire Trilogy (Orbit)
Nicholas Eames: Kings of the Wyld, Book 1 of The Band (Orbit)
Ed McDonald: Blackwing, Book 1 of The Raven's Mark (Gollancz)
Anna Smith-Spark: The Court of Broken Knives, Book 1 of The Empires of Dust


Legend Award (best novel)

Miles Cameron: The Fall of Dragons, Book 5 of the Traitor Son Cycle (Gollancz)
Robin Hobb: Assassin's Fate, Book 3 of Fitz and The Fool (HarperVoyager)
Mark Lawrence: Red Sister, Book 1 of Book of the Ancestor (HarperVoyager)
Steve McHugh: Scorched Shadows, Book 7 of The Hellequin Chronicles(47 North)
Brandon Sanderson: Oathbringer, Book 3 of The Stormlight Archive (Gollancz)

This year’s ceremony, the tenth, takes place on the evening of Saturday 14th July as part of Edge-Lit 7 in Derby, UK.

Details of Edge-Lit and the venue here.

The awards’ official Facebook page - a good source for news about the awards and David Gemmell’s fiction - is here.



Starlog was an American multimedia science fiction magazine. Established in August 1976, it ran until April 2009, clocking up 374 issues before its sad demise.

I contributed quite a few pieces to Starlog, and recently its editor, David McDonnell, reminded me of two of my interviews in the magazine - with legendary sf/fantasy artist Frank Kelly Freas (issue 291) and Arthur C Clarke (issue 200).

Many, if not all, issues of Starlog are now available in the Internet Archive and can be viewed for free. The Freas interview is here and the Clarke here. Note that you’ll need to turn up magnification to read them.



This month I’m continuing coverage of my published books with ...

The Nightshade Chronicles trilogy

I wrote this YA series for Scholastic’s Point Fantasy imprint which, along with the equally short-lived Point SF, was launched in the wake of Point Crime’s massive popularity.

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of “forbidden” or lost books - HP Lovecraft’s Necronomicon being a prime example - and I made the quest for a fabled magical tome the driver in this series. Here are the UK covers of The Book of Shadows (1996), Shadow of the Sorcerer (1997) and A Gathering of Shadows (1998).

Art (L-R): Paul Young, David Wyatt, David Wyatt

There were also UK hardback large print editions:

My French publisher wanted to publish the books for the adult rather than YA market, and had me “beef up” the text to some extent - the only time I’ve done such a thing. The covers of the French editions were by Didier Graffet:

Here’s the central artwork for volume one, and volumes one and two without overprint:

Below are the French omnibus edition, the tenth anniversary omnibus, and an edition combining the Nightshades with my first Orcs trilogy:

French promotional bookmarks:

The trilogy was also published in Poland and Spain. As I’ve mentioned previously, publishers aren’t always meticulous in sending authors foreign editions of their books, and I have only volume one of the Polish edition and volumes one and two of the Spanish, as here:

There’ll be more covers of my books next month.




Voting on the longlists for 2018’s David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy closed on 30th March.

The shortlists will be announced and voting opened at midday (GMT) on Friday 20th April (until 1st June). 

The presentation ceremony will take place as part of Edge-Lit 7 on the evening of Saturday 14th July. Details of Edge-Lit and the venue are here.

The awards’ website is here, and the official Facebook page, which is a good source of news about the awards and David Gemmell’s fiction, here.



This painting is one of many that my wife, Anne Nicholls, will be displaying at her exhibition, INVISIBLE: A NEW LOOK AT M.E. Here’s a description of the exhibition in Anne’s own words.

Admission to the exhibition is FREE, at Artrix, Slideslow Drive, Bromsgrove, B60 1GN (01527 577330) which is open10am-4pm Monday to Saturday.

Details of the venue here.

Anne has a Facebook page for the exhibition here.



I just noticed, to my amazement, that a script I wrote for the Future Shock segment of 2000AD celebrates its mumble mumble anniversary this year. Entitled ‘The Rescue’, with art by Vanyo, the story appeared in prog (ie issue) 82, on 16th September 1978, as above. To say time flies is an understatement.

Here’s a panel from the strip:



In last month’s update I began to work my way through the covers of the thirty plus books I’ve had published. This time I’m featuring my sole crime novel and two graphic novel adaptations.

Fade To Black

This YA novel, and a handful of short stories, comprise the only crime fiction I’ve written. Fade To Black was published by Scholastic/Point Crime in 1997, and is essentially in the classic whodunnit tradition, as you can see from the blurb:

“The house Ben remembered with such affection now seemed sinister. Maybe it was the fact that he was here because of a death ...

“Silvester Whitbourne lived and died for the movies - literally. Now his family are eagerly gathering in his strange old house for the reading of his will. You’d almost think some of them would kill for Silvester’s priceless collection of movie
memorabilia ...

“And soon one of them does. Ben Whitbourne feels he’s walked on to the set of a horror film. But will anyone be left when the final credits roll ... ?”

Here’s the cover, alongside the hardcover large print edition, and the French edition:

These are the German, Italian and Spanish editions:

David Gemmell Graphic Novels

Working with David Gemmell in adapting his novels Legend and Wolf in Shadow was a pleasure, not least because while overseeing the projects he more or less gave me free rein as far as the scripts were concerned. I greatly appreciated that trust. The graphic novels, published in 1993 and 1994 respectively, were superbly illustrated by Chris Baker, the artist also known as Fangorn, with lettering by Elitta Fell. They were published by Random House, under its Legend imprint (named after Dave Gemmell’s novel, which was quite an accolade).

There was a limited hardback edition of the graphic novel of Legend, restricted to 200 copies, signed by David, Chris, Elitta and myself. Its cover’s identical to the paper edition (as below, with the back cover blurb) so I haven’t reproduced it here. Next to it is the German edition, published by Verlag Thomas Tilsner and translated by Fred Fliege.

And here’s a rarity. The publisher produced an edition of four copies just for the creators - hardbound, with high quality slick paper, gold tooled lettering and a silk bookmark. We all signed each copy.

A campaign book was produced for the retail trade:

The Wolf in Shadow cover, back cover blurb, and the cover without over-print, which formed the basis of a promotional poster:

There’ll be more covers in next month’s gallery.



The longlists for this year’s David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy opened for voting on 16th February.

Voting is free and open to all for the Legend Award (best novel), Morningstar Award (best fantasy debut) and Ravenheart Award (best cover art).

The number of nominations in each category is as follows -
Legend Award: 58 titles
Morningstar Award: 20 titles
Ravenheart Award: 67 titles

You can view the nominations and vote here.

Voting on the longlists closes at midnight (GMT) on Friday 30th March.

The shortlists will be revealed and voting opened on 20th April.

Ravenheart and Morningstar trophies by Lee Blair. Legend trophy by Simon Fearnham/ Raven Armoury.



I’m very pleased to have had a story accepted for this excellent looking anthology.

The authors included are Gail-Nina Anderson, Jenny Barber, Suzanne Barbieri, Debbie Bennett, James Brogden, Ramsey Campbell, Mike Chinn, Ray Cluley,
Adrian Cole, Storm Constantine, Cate Gardner, John Grant, Stephen Laws, Samantha Lee, Keris McDonald, Gary McMahon, Ralph Robert Moore, Stan Nicholls, Marie O’Regan, Marion Pitman, Madhvi Ramani, Tina Rath, Tony Richards, Phil Sloman and Peter Sutton.

The publication date is to be announced, but indications are that the book will be launched at this year’s Fantasycon (19th-21st October; the Queen Hotel, Chester).

There’s a full list of contents, and details of Alchemy Press, here.



In recent months I’ve posted several times about the e-book of this massive anthology, in which I have a story, and I’m now pleased to report that the print edition became available on 13th February.

Art of War contains specially written stories by 40 leading fantasy writers, and in the print edition each story is accompanied by a black and white illustration. All proceeds from sales go to Doctors Without Borders.

The Amazon listing is here.



I was recently asked exactly which books I’ve had published - a question that turns up fairly regularly in my inbox, on social media, and in interviews - which gave me the idea of posting the covers here in monthly instalments, along with some brief explanatory notes. (There are too many titles to feature in one go.).

I’ve had 32 books published that I’ll admit to. By which I mean there were titles in the early part of my career that were published pseudonymously or where I acted as a ghost writer. Confidentiality agreements preclude them being listed. So I’ll only include books that credit me as author. I’ll also try to include covers of alternate and foreign editions, which is going to make entries for some of the later titles (particularly my Orcs series) quite lengthy. I’ll probably have to spread those over several months.

I’m starting here with some ...


Gladiators Game Book No 1 (Boxtree, 1992)
In the writing profession your credits are your collateral, so to speak - having a few books on your CV puts you on the industry’s radar and makes subsequent commissions a little easier to secure. So when you’re starting out you tend to take what you can get. Which is not to demean the Gladiators TV show; a quiz book might not have been something I was ambitious to write but I was grateful for it, and you always have an affection for your first published book.
As is common with tie-in projects like this, I’d written the book from a summary of the show before it aired and without seeing a single episode. I wrote it for a flat fee, no royalties. A couple of months after it was published my then agent mentioned that it had sold over 100,000 copies, if memory serves. But that was the deal and I went into it open-eyed.

Tom & Jerry: The Movie (Boxtree, 1993)
I wrote this from the shooting script and turned it in well before the film was released. The movie wasn’t anywhere near as great as we all hoped - I think that having the characters talk, and making it a musical, were perhaps not the wisest decisions - but, hey, I got to work with two legendary cartoon characters. Due to an oversight by the publisher my name didn’t appear in the book, despite a contractual obligation that it would. I was promised this would be rectified in later printings but I don’t know if it ever was. Welcome to the zany world of publishing.

Wordsmiths of Wonder: Fifty Interviews With Writers of the Fantastic  (Orbit, 1993)
This was one of my early titles based on my idea and not someone else’s. I’m proud of all my early books - you put heart and soul into everything you write, whatever the source material - but I’m particularly proud of this one. The interviews were all originally published in magazines and newspapers, and many were expanded for the book. I liked the idea of a book title with the acronym WoW! Wordsmiths was (very) longlisted for the World Fantasy Award. It’s sad that fourteen of the interviewees are no longer with us.

Cool Zool (Boxtree, 1994)
Zool was a popular arcade game character back in the day. As the book wasn’t based on a film or TV series I was allowed a lot of leeway in doing more or less what I wanted with the cast of characters and the premise, which was fun. The only thing was that the publisher had a bunch of black and white illustrations they’d bought, none of which had anything to do with Zool, and they wanted what they depicted worked into the story. Which was an interesting challenge.

Strange Invaders (Point SF/Scholastic, 1995)
Considering that science fiction is a lifelong passion with me, it’s perhaps strange that this YA title is the only sf novel I’ve written, though I have penned short stories in the genre. I wanted to call it simply Strangers, but the publisher preferred their choice of title. Scholastic had enormous success with their Point Crime imprint, and launched Point SF and Point Fantasy on its back. Sadly, neither line lasted very long. (I also wrote titles for Point Crime and Point Fantasy, and they’ll be covered in the coming months.)

Spider-Man: The Hobgoblin (Boxtree, 1996)
There are iconic characters I’ve always wanted to work with - I’d kill to write Batman or Dr Who, for example - so even though this was YA and based on the animated TV series I still jumped at the chance to play with the web-slinger. I understand there was a French edition of this book, but I’ve never seen it. Publishers aren’t always meticulous in sending authors foreign editions of their books.

Dark Skies: The Awakening (Bantam Books, 1997)
This was a bitter-sweet experience. Dark Skies was an American series commissioned in the wake of The X-Files’ enormous popularity. As with the tie-in titles I cover above, I wrote the book based on the scripts before the series was shown in the UK. About halfway through I was supplied with all the episodes - on VHS - minus music and special effects, which made for strange viewing. Literally a couple of weeks after I delivered the manuscript the series was cancelled. My book covered the first four episodes of the series, and the plan was to tackle the remaining episodes in subsequent books if it went well, but the cancellation scuppered that. The book was too far into production to be stopped and the publisher went ahead and released it. Dark Skies was far from a perfect series, but the concept was good and I think it would have improved if it was allowed to carry on. But the TV business, like publishing, can be hard-edged.

I wrote several “official” biographies/autobiographies (see my mention of ghosting up above) and here are two that credited me as author.

Ken and Me (Simon & Schuster, 1993)
I think I got this commission because of my work as a journalist, where interviews were one of my specialities, and exhaustive interviewing of the subject are the bedrock of biographies. I believe I’m right in saying that Coronation Street’s Ken Barlow (as played by William Roache) is the world’s longest-running soap character. There was at least one more subsequent autobiography of Roache - celebrities tend to clock up several - but I wasn’t involved with it.

Here are the covers of the paperback and large print editions:

Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Biography (Legend/Random House, 1996)
This project was born of tragedy. Simon Archer was a local radio presenter and a huge fan of Gerry Anderson’s TV series. Gerry agreed to Simon writing his authorised biography, but shortly after he began, Simon lost his life in a car accident. I worked from Simon’s notes, coupled with my own interviews with Gerry, and turned in the book against what had become a pretty tight deadline. As with William Roache, there was another Gerry Anderson authorised biography a couple of years later by another writer who incorporated elements of my work and Simon’s. I wasn’t involved in that.

I’ll cover some more early titles in next month’s gallery.



I posted about this anthology last month, and now, courtesy of editor/publisher Petros Triantafyllou, here’s the splendid finished cover.

As you can see, Art of War has some pretty impressive contributors, and every story has its own interior illustration.

All proceeds go to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

Publication date: 13th February.

Pre-orders for the print edition aren’t being taken just yet, but details of the e-book edition are here.



I also mentioned this megazine last time, which is now available. Conceived, edited and published by David Hathaway-Price, Fanscene runs to 324 pages and it’s FREE.

The contributors include:
Kyle Andrews, Enrico Ariis, James Bacon, George Barnett, Mark Wayne Barrett, Robert Lee Beerbohm, John Bishop, Brad Brooks, Ewan Brownlow, Nick Buchanan, Paul Chester, Paul Chokran, Brian Clarke, Mike Conroy, Mal Earl, Phil Elliott, Tony Esmond, Glenn B Fleming, Martin Forrest, Tony Foster, John Freeman, Bambos Georgiou, Dave Gibbons, Jamie Grey, Phil Hall, Martin Hand, Rob Hansen, Peter Hanson, David Hathaway-Price, John Higgins, Dave Hornsby, Paul Hudson, Iskander Islam, John Jackson, Ralph Kidson, Gerard Kingdon, Rob Kirby, Nigel Kitching, Jonny Kurzman, Geoff Lamprey, Guy Lawley, Victor Marsillo, Joe Matthews, Harry McAvinchey, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Robert Menzies, Alan Moore, Bill Naylor, Nick Neocleous, Stan Nicholls, Steve Noble, Colin Noble, Tony O’Donnell, Steve Poulacheris, Nick Prolix, Luke Rainford, Murti Schofield, Richard Sheaf, Dez Skinn, Lloyd Smith, Richard Z Starbuck, Lew Stringer, Mike Teague, Bob Wakelin, Andy Williams, Russell Willis, Dave Windett, Hass Yusuf.

You can download a copy now. Just select the file of your choice -

For PCs and laptops:

FANSCENE Download and read -…/1v4htUqh7voJY4pNB7z7LrPLNZ…/view…

For mobiles and tablets (in 3 parts):

FANSCENE Part 1 -…/1yWMNKgZ1JRUZIcOwHP3atz8qR…/view…

FANSCENE Part 2 -…/1kabtbEb8lSXQYmOgOyC10LfdL…/view…

FANSCENE Part 3 -…/1XylwKSbYbeNnpCQU80oMVdThm…/view…

FANSCENE print version (1.8 Gigs. Zip file) -



The current state of play for the David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy, of which I’m Chair.

Nominations from publishers and the public closed on 31st January.

The next stage commences on Friday 16th February when the longlists are published and voting begins on our website.

Voting on the longlists closes on Friday 30th March.

Friday 20th April: The shortlists are published and voting begins on our website.

Friday 1st June: Voting on the shortlists closes.

Saturday 14th July 2018: Winners revealed and trophies presented at Edge-Lit 7.

To celebrate our tenth anniversary we’re planning a lengthier than usual ceremony with a number of special guests. I’ll post details here as confirmed.

The David Gemmell Awards website is here. And the Facebook page is here.



We’ll be at Novacon again this year, which runs between 9th and 11th November at The Park Inn Hotel, 296 Mansfield Road, Nottingham. NG5 2BT.
The Guest of Honour is science fiction novelist Chris Beckett.

Full details on the con’s website, here.


Admission to this exhibition, by my wife Anne Nicholls, is free.

Details of the exhibition, and venue, are here.



I'm very pleased to be part of this project, conceived, edited and published by David Hathaway-Price. My contribution, entitled ‘In Memory Still Green(ish): Comics in the Capital’, deals with the early days of comics retailing in London. A great line-up (see below) and the magazine is FREE from 31st December – Google the title on or after that date.


Art of War

I mentioned this in the news update back in June, and now I have full details.

My wife Anne Nicholls and myself are proud to have stories in this anthology, set for publication on 13th February 2018. Edited by Petros Triantafyllou and containing forty original stories, all proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders.

The contributors are J.P. Ashman, Dyrk Ashton, Graham Austin-King, RJ Barker,
Zachary Barnes, Charles F Bond, Nathan Boyce, Christian G. (Miles) Cameron,
Sebastien De Castell, Brandon Draga, Nicholas Eames, Michael R. Fletcher,
Ben Galley, Tom Gaskin, Ed Greenwood, John Gwynne, Rob Hayes,
Mitchell Hogan, Laura M Hughes, Steven Kelliher, Mark Lawrence, Ulff Lehmann,
Ed McDonald, Michael R. Miller, Dominick M. Murray, Anne Nicholls, Stan Nicholls, David T. Palmer, Benedict Patrick, Charles Phipps, Steven Poore, Andrew Rowe, Anna Smith Spark, M. L. Spencer, Brian Scott Staveley, Sue Tingey,
Anna Stephens, RB Watkinson, Timandra Whitecastle, Mazarkis Williams.
Foreword by Brian D. Anderson.

More details about The Art of War, and an interview with Petros Triantafyllou, here.
The book’s Amazon page is here.



Photo courtesy of Danie Ware/Forbidden Planet

A reminder about this year’s Gemmell Awards ceremony, which celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2018.
The presentation is going to be held as part of Edge-Lit 7 on the evening of Saturday 14th July.  (The venue’s website is here.)

The awards’ three categories are: the Legend Award (best novel), Morningstar Award (best debut) and Ravenheart Award (best cover art). All are decided by open vote.

Voting schedule:
Requests for publisher and public nominations went out on 4th December.
The deadline for publisher and public nominations is 31st January 2018.
(Please note that public nominations should be emailed to Include author, title, publisher.)
The longlists go up on our website and voting begins on Friday 16th February.
Voting on the longlists closes on Friday 30th March. 
The shortlists go up on our website and voting begins on Friday 20th April.
Voting on the shortlists closes on Friday 1st June.

The awards’ official website is here, and the Facebook page is here.


News Archive 2017


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