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Slag Glass Lachrimæ

In Marked to Die, edited by Justin Isis

Rustblind and Silverbright

Snuggly Books

Cover Text

Mark Samuels—“the contemporary British master of visionary weirdness”, as Ramsey Campbell has called him—stands at the forefront of 21st century Horror, combining an unparalleled understanding of the Weird Fiction tradition with his own modern take on cosmic dread. An acknowledged influence on numerous writers in the field, his stories depict the isolation and despair of urban life giving way to vistas of universal alienation and, on occasion, spiritual transcendence.

Now, in this collection of original works inspired by Samuels’ writing, his characteristic themes are extended into previously undreamt-of settings: the hull of a Russian nuclear submarine headed to the heart of Chaos; the compound of a Japanese death cult with designs on the human race; a hospital run by the Men with Paper Faces; the Crying Rooms of London’s secret Reverse; the far reaches of the collapsed future and even the private thoughts of St. John of the Cross. Fed by the “strange tales” of the 19th and 20th centuries but firmly rooted in the present, Marked to Die is a digest of urban terror shot through with intimations of a monstrous Sublime.

Featuring contributions from: Mark Valentine, Reggie Oliver, Colin Insole, Daniel Mills, Adam Nevill, Justin Isis, DF Lewis, John Mundy, Kristine Ong Muslim, James Champagne, Brendan Connell, Quentin S. Crisp, Thana Niveau, Simon Clark, Stuart Young, John L. Probert, Ralph C. Doege, Yarrow Paisley, Jon Paul Rai and David Rix.

Slag Glass Lachrimæ is a novella about lots of things – living in London, suicide, grief, lapidary work, books etc. – all with a subtle supernatural overtone. It’s also the story where I came up with the concept of crying rooms – hidden places around the city of London where one can go to express the grief of living in this world – museums filled with trinkets and oddments and stories. Slag Glass Lachrimæ is a bleak piece, one of several I wrote as I climbed out of serious depression and I do feel that I managed to express a small part of that. Some small echo of my own desolation, yet shaped on the page (which is after all much larger than the creating brain itself) into something that can cut quite hard. I have no idea whether it will have that effect on anyone else – but it turned into one of the stories I feel most emotional about in my very small writing career.

Technically, it was a strange project to work on.  There was no word limit on the contributions for this volume, hence they got a full-sized novella out of me, a major project that took me over for quite a while.  It was also a very steep learning cliff since I knew very little about Mark Samuels at the time the invitation came in. I still don’t really, in all honesty!  This story reacts off my reading of him as a presence in the Wierd Tales scene, without my knowing anything about the man himself – probably my preferred way of reacting to any fellow writer, really!

In addition, this story is true on many levels – not least that the slag glass itself is very very real.   It really is weathering out of the Thames bank, as in the story - a glassy or obsidian-like byproduct of metal processing. 

It is hugely variable, sometimes coming in startling colours and patterns.  Above is an example of the black version that made its way into the story. My own polyhedral of the black tears!  However, in reality it is not restricted to black:

The book was available in a beautifully minimalist limited edition, now long sold out, and a trade paperback, still very much available.

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