It is over twenty years since John Whitbourn started chronicling the strange experiences of Mr Oakley and Mr Disvan in a village on the outskirts of "Goldenford" - a skew-whiff, deliciously depicted, slightly eccentric parallel to the real-life county town of Guildford. The tales are a uniquely inventive mixture of New Worlds-y science fiction, contemporary fantasy, classic ghost stories and cold horror, all served up with the urbane wit for which Whitbourn is renowned.
So what are the Binscombe Tales like? Well, imagine a surreal English TV series like The League of Gentlemen crossed with Out of the Unknown, The Twilight Zone, or The Outer Limits. Or, if you seek literary parallels, conjure up an imaginary collaboration between M R James (for the matter-of-fact ghostliness), Mervyn Peake (for the disturbing edge-of-sanity touches), Roald Dahl (for the dry black humour), Nigel Kneale (for the mastery of pace and suspense), Kingsley Amis (for the narrative warmth and affability) and wrap it all up with the sharp brilliance of an Iain Banks or a China Mieville.
Too many comparisons? I agree; John Whitbourn's talent is one of a kind, and really you must experience it for yourself. As the original 1990s Binscombe Tales chapbooks are now selling on Amazon for around Ã???Ã??Ã?Â£30 each, these Kindle editions are an incredible bargain, and provide the ideal opportunity to discover why enthusiasts consider these stories to be some of the best in modern English weird fiction. Well, just look at some of the comments:
"Whitbourn's wit is both unforced and splendidly droll." -The Daily Express
"These stories are not comfortable to read, but they still bring enjoyment of good company and the vicarious chill of a good fright at someone else's expense, and as such are to be heartily recommended." - Interzone
"Original and intriguing." - Starburst
"Pulled off with panache and no small amount of humour." - The Daily Express
"He doesn't cheat, and he doesn't soften the edges." - Mary Gentle
"Marvellously inventive." - The Timesshow more