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The Complete Binscombe Tales Omnibus Edition
John Whitbourn
Spark Furnace, 929KB

The Complete Binscombe Tales
John Whitbourn
John Whitbourn has had nine novels published in the UK, USA and Russia since winning the BBC & Victor Gollancz First Fantasy Novel prize with A Dangerous Energy in 1991. Most recently, his published novels include the Downs-Lord trilogy concerning the establishment of empire in an alternative, monster-ridden England, and Frankenstein's Legions, a sequel to Mary Shelley's novel, in which the techniques of creating life from the dead are turned to political ends.

Binscombe Tales Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Complete Binscombe Tales

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Maddox

"There is a real place called Binscombe, located in the South-East of England, but these tales are not about that Binscombe. Instead, they concern another Binscombe, linked to the first by subtle -- but invisible -- bridges of 'what if.'"

That's the premise of John Whitbourn's 1987 tales of a sleepy English town with far more than the dark and sinister going on beneath the surface. Recently published in eBook format by Spark Furnace, this new collection of The Binscombe Tales collects all 26 original stories, with the explanatory epilogue/prologue at the end.

The reader sees the oddities in Binscombe through the eyes of Mr. Oakley, a new resident of the village who is begrudgingly accepted into the strangeness of the town only because his family lived there in generations past. He seems to have taken the interest of Mr. Disvan, a mysterious old man who knows more of the history of the town than anyone alive probably should know.

From the Duke of Argyle, the local bar in town, Mr. Oakley tries his best to be a skeptic to the strange goings on, even with the amazing amount of evidence presented to him every tale. However, there is a profound malicious element to most stories, so don't expect happy endings for all the characters involved.

Through the course of the stories, Mr. Oakley confronts evil spirits in televisions, the lost souls who prowl the countryside around the motorway, faeries, alternate universes, holes in reality, and the soul of Oliver Cromwell. Everything is told with a very understated British feel, as if being trapped in the eternal, repetitious world of a photograph were akin to being out of Earl Grey Tea.

The stories are fun and rather compact, allowing for a quick diversion read, or, if you're up to the challenge, a marathon immersion of all 26 at once. Unfortunately missing is the story 'Up from the Cellar' which actually delves into the origin of the enigmatic Mr. Disvan. It's surprising the stories haven't been licensed as a television series in this day and age as they have the feel of some of the better Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episodes.

Overall, The Complete Binscombe Tales presents the reader with peculiar journeys into a world right next door to our own. For fans of dark humor fiction and the occasional warning tale, be sure to pay this sleepy English town a visit.

Copyright © 2012 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been Star Trek characters, the Riddler in a Batman stunt show and holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University. He has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider and the Star Trek Communicator. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories while acting on stage, screen and television. He can sometimes be seen giving tours at Universal Studios Hollywood and playing Norman Bates.

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