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Falling Into Heaven
L.H. Maynard and M.P.N. Sims
Sarob Press, 172 pages

Falling Into Heaven
L.H. Maynard and M.P.N. Sims
Len Maynard (born in 1953), and Mick Sims (born in 1952) have been friends since school where they met for the first time in 1964. Len Maynard now lives in Norton, Hertfordshire, and works as a precious stone dealer/lapidary in the jewellery trade in London. Mick Sims is a senior bank manager. They began writing supernatural stories in 1972 and their first published story was in 1974. A recent venture has been publishing chapbooks under the imprints Enigmatic Press and Maynard Sims Productions.
ISFDB Bibliography: L.H. Maynard
ISFDB Bibliography: M.P.N. Sims
SF Site Review: The Hidden Language of Demons
SF Site Interview: L.H. Maynard and M.P.N. Sims
SF Site Review: Darkness Rising

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

One of the great losses to the world of fantastic literature was the untimely demise of Enigmatic Press, surely one of the UK's most outstanding independent publishing houses. Like the dynamic Citron Press, it is gone, but, fortunately for the genre, the talents of L.H. Maynard and M.P.N. Sims are more dazzling and available than ever. In fact, Leisure Books has wisely bought the rights to their first novel, so we have that to look forward to. In the meantime, immerse yourself in their best collection yet... at least once.

Start with the pastoral, yet creepy, "Images." Discover a seemingly peaceful retreat with deadly secrets to hide an aching loneliness that can't be assuaged. Another chance for a new start, a chance to recapture happiness and love, appears doomed from the beginning in the unsettling surroundings of the hotel in "Dead Men's Shoes." But, then, how often do things work out for the lost, wandering characters in Maynard and Sims' hauntingly lovely fiction?

Perhaps you already know that there are those who suffer from a phobia of antiques. If you're already stricken, or are the suggestible type, it is probably better that you avoid "A Victorian Pot Dresser." With this vintage piece's history and the horrors hidden within the wood patina, the story is just enough to push anyone over the edge and have us all shopping at megastores. Another supposedly inanimate object becomes the twisted solution to a man's suffering as he comes to accept the offering of a new home in "Sand Castles."

The world -- and the world of Sims and Maynard -- is more inhabited with hopeless, lonely people than we care to admit most of the time. Every other person who passes us on the street is trying desperately to forget something too painful to carry around all their lives, someone they can never replace, some peace that cannot be theirs. In Falling Into Heaven, there are ways around this suffering, but they seldom lead where we and the characters hope. And pain has many more forms than we imagine.

Often their stories only hint at the agony and retribution, earned and unearned, their characters experience, but in one particular selection the stomach-churning violence is on full display: "Soaking Wet without a Boat." The menace is plain from the start in this piece, though the reasons are kept as much a mystery to the reader as they are to Thomas. Innocence, even relative, is no protection against the beings who lurk in the shadows of Maynard and Sims' tales.

In every collection of superb stories there is one that lingers on the fringes of your thoughts, that you can't quite shake when it is time to move on to another book, another author. In Falling Into Heaven that haunting tale is the eerily entitled "Flour White and Spindle Thin." Rather than describe it, I leave it to readers to visit Flatland Marsh and see what awaits.

It could be that the best thing to do would be to give as little information about this amazing collection as possible. Hints of plot and glimpses of setting are unnecessary once this book is in your hands. Even if your intention is only to dip into a few brief stories or just to get a taste of it, Falling Into Heaven will have you, ever so gently, by the throat; what started as a quick skim will find you hours later, eyes glued to the page, fingernails gouging into the magnificent cover. Maynard and Sims will have you and it is useless to struggle.

Copyright © 2005 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews, articles, and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction, horror, dark realism, and humour. DARKERS, her first novel, was published in August 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She is a contributing editor at SF Site and for BLACK GATE magazine. Lisa has also written for BOOKPAGE, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Science Fiction Weekly, and SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.

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