Rab Foster clears the foliage


© Jim Pitts / Parallel Universe Publications


Rab Foster, the pen-name under which I write fantasy fiction, has just had a short story published in the collection Swords & Sorceries: Tales of Heroic Fantasy, Volume 3.  This is the tenth piece by Mr Foster that’s seen publication in recent years, which I’m pleased, but also surprised about.  I’ve always enjoyed reading fantasy literature by the likes of C. L. Moore, Karl Edward Wagner, Fritz Leiber and Michael Moorcock, but for most of the 21st century I’d assumed there were few outlets where you could get works in the genre published – at least, in its short-story form, which is my speciality.  However, lately, there seems to have been a surge in the number of magazines, ezines and anthologies devoted to fantasy fiction, which has created many new opportunities.  Maybe this is due to the popularity of the Games of Thrones TV series (2011-19).  If so, thanks for that, George R.R. Martin.


I’m particularly happy to have a story published in this collection because it’s been put together by David A. Riley and Jim Pitts at Parallel Universe Publications.  Lancastrian artist Jim Pitts has illustrated the volume and I well remember his artwork from 40 years ago when it appeared in a magazine called Fantasy Tales.  As I said in a recent blog-entry, Fantasy Tales was the first publication that I, as a young, aspiring and acne-ridden writer, submitted stories to.  While they weren’t accepted, one of Fantasy Tales’ editors, Dave Sutton, was decent enough to write back and offer advice about how to make my work more organised and presentable.  He told me to leave spaces after punctuation marks when I was typing my manuscripts, so that my sentences didn’t turn into typographical pile-ups.  Also, in an effort to build tension, I employed a lot of one-sentence paragraphs, which hit the protagonists with one revelation after another.  Probably not a good idea, he pointed out, to have six or seven one-sentence paragraphs in a row…


I remember Fantasy Tales as a gorgeous-looking little magazine, with Pitt’s colour artwork adorning its cover and his intricate, atmospheric black-and-white illustrations on the pages inside.  Here’s a few examples.


© Jim Pitts / Fantasy Tales

© Jim Pitts / Parallel Universe Publications


Anyhow, I’m chuffed that one of my stories is sharing a book with Jim Pitts’ artwork at last.


Rab Foster’s story in Swords & Sorceries: Tales of Heroic Fantasy, Volume 3 is entitled The Foliage, and I suspect it’s no coincidence that I started writing it soon after watching the movie In the Earth (2021), a forest-set piece of sci-fi / horror eco-weirdness from filmmaker Ben Wheatley.  The story also owes something to a 1976 Doctor Who adventure called The Seeds of Doom, which featured Tom Baker as the Doctor and a marvellously-deranged Tony Beckley and John Challis (who later became a much-loved comedy actor and who, sadly, died in September this year) as the villains.  I know nerds between the ages of 15 and 70 will argue till the cows come home about what the scariest ever Doctor Who adventure is, but for my money, The Seeds of Doom is the one.


Swords & Sorceries: Tales of Heroic Fantasy, Volume 3 is currently available at amazon.co.uk here and at amazon.com here.

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