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Ballardian.com presents the Savoy Books Microfiction CompetitionAuthor: Ballardian • Nov 5th, 2009 •
Lord Horror (1997). Image by John Coulthart.
Coinciding with our three-part interview with Michael Butterworth, David Britton and John Coulthart of Savoy Books, Ballardian.com is pleased to announce the Savoy Books Microfiction Competition.
Due to popular demand, the Ballardian/Savoy microfiction competition deadline has been extended to 15 December. Winners will be announced in early January 2010, coinciding with Part 2 of the Savoy interviews.
UPDATED RULES: The rules are very simple: write a 100-word (or less) short story on anything with a ‘Savoyesque’ or ‘Ballardian’ theme (note: hyphenated words count as one word). If you are unfamiliar with Savoyesque themes, please see the interview with Mr Butterworth. For the dictionary definition of ‘Ballardian’, please see here. And if you would like to know more about writing microfiction (a.k.a. ‘flash fiction’), we recommend checking these links for all the ins and outs. Remember, you can use significantly less than 100 words if you wish — the so-called ‘six word memoir’, inspired by Hemingway, is pretty popular right now.
Limit of 2 entries per person.
The prizes (for 1st, 2nd, 3rd) have been very generously supplied by Savoy and cover all their bases: novels, CDs, comic books. Prizes for first: David Britton’s notorious and long out-of-print Lord Horror novel (currently fetching over US$800 for second-hand copies), the almost-as-rare The Truth About Horror, and the A Tea Dance at Savoy book; prizes for second: the books A Serious Life and Sieg Heil Iconographers; prizes for third: the Savoy Wars and The Waste Land CDs, plus the Fuck Off and Die comic book. For more information on these prizes, see below. Entries will be judged by David Britton, Michael Butterworth and Simon Sellars, and the winning entries will appear on ballardian.com.
The deadline is
5 December 2009 15 December 2009. Please use this contact form to send your entry. Don’t forget to include your name, story title and email address.
But why a competition and not just a giveaway? Because the idea of humanoids competing for something as outré as Lord Horror has a certain black appeal.
And why microfiction? Because Ballard in The Atrocity Exhibition and Butterworth in his ‘Concentrate’ stories could be said to be early adopters of the form. Also, because (yes, you guessed it) microfiction is extremely ‘hip’, ‘trendy’ and ‘à la mode’ right now.
1) A copy of Lord Horror (yes, the very rare, extremely notorious and long out-of-print novel, currently fetching over US$800 for second-hand copies; Savoy has kindly decided to sacrifice a file copy for Ballardian.com);
2) A really special, rare Lord Horror book, The Truth About Horror (Savoy’s second-rarest gem, published for private circulation only);
3) A Tea Dance at Savoy, by Robert Meadley.
Only one alternate history series confronted Nazism with appropriate originality and passion. Published by the independent Manchester firm Savoy, David Britton’s surreal Lord Horror and its sequels entered the mind of a deranged surviving Hitler whose visions grew increasingly insane. Britton’s graphic novel Hard Core Horror turned William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) into Lord Horror, while James Joyce became his brother, and his rival for the hand of singer Jessie Matthews. Britton’s narrative moved inevitably towards Auschwitz. The novel’s final issue, with its deliberately blank narrative panels among pictures of the concentration camp (followed by actual photographs of victims), was a silent memorial to the murdered, an indictment of our own moral complicity. Soon after they appeared, Hard Core Horror and Lord Horror were seized by Manchester’s vice squad. The books were destroyed and their author went to Strangeways, suggesting that successful Nazi alternate histories must take profound psychological, moral and physical risks.
Michael Moorcock, The Daily Telegraph.
“At the end of the 1970s, among innovative fictions by the likes of JG Ballard, the literary journal New Worlds included a handful of mysterious, highly accomplished pieces by one RG Meadley. Some were short stories; others illustrative collages, oddly captioned, like Victorian broadsheets issued from some parallel universe. As far as the literary arts were concerned, RG Meadley might then have vanished into such a universe, so this first volume of his writing is not so much long awaited as a total surprise. Such a book, we might have hoped, would collect his early work. Nothing so straightforward. Gorgeously designed, lavishly illustrated, A Tea Dance at Savoy is a collection — but of what? Gonzo journalism? Hallucinatory rhapsody? A “stew”, its author calls it, and so it is: a paranoiac-critical gallimaufry.”
Colin Greenland, The Independent.
“The main voices in A Serious Life belong to David M Mitchell—his evaluation of the books, records and comics produced by Savoy Books over the last thirty years—and the company’s founders, David Britton and Michael Butterworth, publishers of the eclectic, the maverick and the marginalised. Here they give their first ever extended interviews concerning the company’s history, and state their aims and intentions from Savoy’s inception in the early 1970s to the present day. Topics featured include their personal creations Lord Horror and Meng & Ecker, the 20-year confrontation of the company with the Greater Manchester Police Force, and the involvement of Index on Censorship and Geoffrey Robertson QC in the same, culminating in the defence of their works at the Royal Courts of Justice in 1996. Designed by John Coulthart.”
Savoy press release.
“This beautifully produced oversize paperback [Sieg Heil Iconographers] is the third in a series of Savoy biographies, or ‘manifestoes’… Savoy’s wayward eclecticism means that the books don’t overlap as much as you’d expect, each author providing his own idiosyncratic take on the company’s origins, output and obsessions, and while Farmer shares the rambling tone common to all three books, his bold, opinionated prose, enlivened by occasional flashes of brilliance, makes this the pick of the bunch. You may not agree with what Farmer writes, but his approach is so ballsy that the book is never less than entertaining, even with the absurd enthusiasm informing references to ‘eager jig gash’ and the following paean to Fenella Fielding: ‘I would crawl ten thousand miles over ground glass because of that voice, just to wank in her shadow.’ It’s also perhaps the most beautifully designed Savoy production to date (no mean feat considering designer John Coulthart’s characteristically high standards), the bounty of Lash Larue western posters and James Cawthorn fantasy illustrations rarely bearing any relation to the text but providing yet another version of the Savoy story to run alongside Farmer’s celebration.”
1) Savoy Wars CD. Compilation of Savoy’s ‘greatest hits’.
2) The Waste Land CD, TS Eliot read by PJ Proby.
3) Fuck Off and Die. Another ‘luxury’ item from Savoy – a 160-page hardback comic book in b/w and colour, the follow-up to the notorious Adventures of Meng & Ecker. Written by David Britton and illustrated by Kris Guidio, with an introduction by Alan Moore and an afterword by Dr Benjamin Noyse. Jacket design by John Coulthart.
“Many of the songs [on Savoy Wars] are covers. But these are no ordinary covers. The original lyrics to Blue Monday are dropped in favour of Springsteen’s Cadillac Ranch, with Proby providing a deep Southern American drawl, as he does on the other tracks. Musically, there’s some amazingly seedy and muscular dance arrangements, which add a whole new spin to the songs. In particular In The Air Tonight, which actually sounds dangerously deranged and eminently listenable. Unlike the original. Savoy Wars is all the more fascinating by virtue of the people who crop-up on the various tracks: Melanie Williams (Sub Sub and now with her own solo deal), Rowetta (Happy Mondays), Denise Johnson (Primal Scream, Electronica, ACR and now also with a solo deal),Yvonne Shelton (Secret Society, Evolution, and another solo artist), Inner Sense Percussion, ’60s rock’n’roll vocalist Bobby Thompson and, of course, Proby. And regardless of Savoy’s joy of upsetting, shocking and generally winding people up, the label has produced some genuinely exciting, innovative and powerful pop songs. ‘Prime cuts of musical perversity’ is how Savoy describe it. A definition which is difficult to dispute.”
Chris Sharrett, City Life.
“PJ Proby’s collaboration with Savoy produced a number of intriguing recordings, including his versions of “Anarchy In The UK” and TS Eliot’s The Wasteland. “I had no idea who TS Eliot was,” says Proby. “But the more I do The Wasteland, the better I get.”
“One day the world will realise what a genius he is, and by then it will be too late,” Britton said. “Proby is a walking piece of art. His talent needs preserving for future generations.” After Britton’s mother died, the three gathered at her house at Saddleworth, overlooking the scene of the Moors Murders. There, with Proby larking about on the Zimmer frame that had belonged to the deceased, they worked on his single “Hardcore”, which, unless I’ve missed something, remains the most offensive record ever released. (“Everything y’all think is fun,” Proby once said, “I think is boring.”)
Butterworth says Savoy stopped working with Proby, “because he asked for £2,000 to read one poem. I said: ‘Jim: it’s only nine lines.’ He said, ‘Maybe – but you will have my voice forever.'”
Robert Chalmers, The Independent.
“[Fuck off & Die] is a black and excellent collection, sharp as gall, a fine display of Britton’s acid voice and splendid gallery of Guidio’s elegant and decadent designs. La Squab is a sophisticated howl of anger and disgust disguised as a Violet Elizabeth Bott tantrum, Minipops conceived by Bertolt Brecht with set designs by Harry Clarke and camera work by Leni Riefenstahl. A paedophobic gymslip gem, it should be on the shelves of anyone hoping to fathom the lurid, fractal mess of turn-of-the-century British culture, a must for those of us who cannot stomach Cute unless it’s gnawed down to the painful cuticle. Go out and order six more copies of this book immediately.
Tomorrow belongs to her.”
Alan Moore, from the introduction to FOAD.
Newer: “Driven by Anger”: An Interview with Michael Butterworth (the Savoy interviews, part 1) »