Peripheral Visions ghost story collection by Robert Hood

Robert Hood‘s complete collection of ghost stories will be released in April 2015 by IFWG Publishing Australia, in paperback and ebook formats. It will also be available in hardcover, and most notably, IFWG Publishing Australia will produce 200 limited edition copies, signed by Robert Hood. The cover and internal artwork is created by the very talented, industry-respected artist, Nick Stathopoulos.

Robert Hood is a highly respected, award-winning author, considered by many to be one of Australia’s grand masters of horror and weird fiction. Though over his 40-year career (to date) he has published speculative fiction of all kinds, he has notably produced 43 short stories that feature ghosts, hauntings and spectral horrors. These memorable tales display his ability to make the fantastic real, to embrace weirdness, and create human characters whose inner and outer lives, haunted by mortality, are laid bare and revealed to be our own worst nightmares. Ranging from melancholy reflections on life and death, through disquieting tales of dark humour and vengeance, to chilling visions of ghostly apocalypse, Hood’s stories are sure to draw you into a terrifying world that in the end is revealed to be irrefutably our own.

Peripheral Visions is a one-of-a-kind reference collection that includes all of Hood’s 43 ghost stories to date, three of them especially written for this volume.

“Rob Hood is Australia’s master of dark fantasy, seducing the reader with stories that are lavishly grim and rife with a quirky, unpredictable inventiveness.” (Sean Williams)

“Rob Hood is so good at what he does, he’ll have you believing in ghosts by the end of the first story in this brilliant collection.” (Kaaron Warren)

Peripheral Visions is a large volume of work, with a word count over 220k. In trade paperback format it will be published in two volumes, spaced over a month. Here is the appearance of the two covers, when laid side-by-side.

Rob's cover LeftRob's cover right

A single volume hardcover edition will also be published, with internal illustrations by Nick Stathopoulos. The exciting part of this publishing effort is a signed, limited hardcover edition, which can be pre-ordered now. There are only 200 limited edition copies available (numbered), each of which includes a Nick Stathopoulos-designed signature page, and a bonus ‘chap-ebook’ containing several zombie stories, titled Haunted Flesh: Stories of the Living Dead. These editions will disappear quickly, so we recommend interested readers pre-order now. IFWG Publishing Australia will not be repeating this offer.

The offer:

  • Hardcover Book: 6.14″ x 9.21″ (156mm x 234mm), creme paper, plain cloth binding with spine imprint, and matt cover sleeve.
  • 43 stories: a mix of short stories, novelettes and a novella. Over 220k words of fiction, spanning the period 1986 to present. Three stories, including the novella, are new, published for the first time here.
  • The book will also contain extensive notes on all stories, and a table that registers the complete publishing history of each story, including all reprints, and any awards or short listing for awards.
  • An introduction by World Fantasy Awards winner, Danel Olson.
  • The book is divided into six categories of ghost stories:
    • Haunted Places
    • Haunted Families
    • Haunted Minds
    • Haunted Youth
    • Haunted Vengeance
    • Haunted Realities
  • Each category of the book will include an illustration by Nick Stathopoulos, as well as a frontispiece.
  • Each book will have a signature page (also illustrated/designed by Nick Stathopoulos), signed by Robert Hood, and numbered from 1 to 200. The sequence number provided will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. There will never be any other signed limited editions produced for sale, beyond this 200.
  • Each purchaser will also get, as an added bonus, a chap-ebook titled Haunted Flesh: Stories of the Living Dead, containing several zombie stories, totalling to approximately 20k in word count.


For Australian shipping addresses, the price is AU$75.00 (including shipping).
For Other countries shipping addresses, the price is US$85.00 (including shipping).

The Darkest Shade Of Grey by Alan Baxter – review, by Robert Hood

DISCLAIMER: Thirteen O’Clock is managed by Alan Baxter, Felicity Dowker and Andrew McKiernan as Contributing Editors. While the Contributing Editors’ roles at Thirteen O’Clock are editorial and critique, all three are primarily writers. It is inevitable that their own work will form part of the Australian and international dark fiction publications which are Thirteen O’Clock’s focus, and as such it is also inevitable that their work will be reviewed at Thirteen O’Clock (to prohibit this would not only be unfortunate for Baxter, Dowker, and McKiernan themselves, but for their hardworking editors and publishers).

Thirteen O’Clock will always have a third party contributor review the Contributing Editors’ work. Such reviews will be unedited (aside from standard corrections to typos and grammar), posted in full (be they negative or positive), and will always be accompanied by full disclosure of Baxter, Dowker, and McKiernan’s place at Thirteen O’Clock. At no point will Baxter, Dowker or McKiernan review their own work.

DSOG-coverThe Darkest Shade of Grey
A novella by Alan Baxter

Reviewed by Robert Hood

“Noir” is a term that is somewhat loosely used these days, especially as cross-genre experimentation continues to attack whatever subgenres hold still long enough to get suitably mugged. Naturally, authors cherry-pick individual aspects of the noir form’s “original” manifestation (essentially 1940s and 50s “film noir”) to apply to their own work, thereby blurring the edges of the definition somewhat — the most common ingredients being a tone of dark, urban cynicism and tough-talking PIs (or some other investigative types) vaguely reminiscent of Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe or Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade. But however loose the definition might become, there’s no denying the appeal of the shadowy crime-based format. Whether it melds with zombies, ghosts, robots, future dystopias (as in Blade Runner), Batman sweeping through the dark streets of Gotham City or re-worked fairytales, combining fantastical elements with the noir tropes and their air of claustrophobic darkness has proven extremely popular.

Alan Baxter’s novella The Darkest Shade of Grey, serialised on the Red Penny Papers website and now available as an ebook, boasts many of the key elements of noir fiction, adroitly combining them with other tropes – in particular the currently popular stereotype of a troubled protagonist with a psychic “ability”. David Johanssen is a journalist whose life has been rent asunder by his own flirtation with the supernatural, in the form of a Ouija board and an entity by the name of Lamashtu. Lamashtu’s femme fatale presence has tempted him into a mire of obsession, prescient vision and failed relationships, just as the noir hero becomes a victim of his own moral failures and is led astray by a sexy female client or victim. Now, living a despairing existence in a Sydney cityscape filled with demons (mostly of his own making), Johannsen struggles to find a way out, only to slide deeper and deeper into the quagmire. In true noir fashion, only bourbon offers him momentary escape from his self-loathing.

The novella begins with the bloody murder of a young woman in a Kings Cross backstreet – a murder which Johanssen’s intuition tells him is the tip of a Big Story that will put him on a better footing with his increasingly impatient editor – and leads him via a potentially insane hobo and much death to a reality he never expected to find and may not survive. The story has a strong tidal flow that drags the reader through to its imaginative climax. The investigative groundwork of the plot runs smoothly and without overt contrivance, and the revelations of the end don’t disappoint. Like the classics of film noir, which were filmed in black-and-white, Baxter’s noir plot teaches his protagonist that what seems to be black can in fact be merely the darkest shade of grey.

As good pulp fiction should be, Baxter’s story is fast-paced, yet the author maintains a noir atmosphere effectively, not simply via plot maneuvers and archetypal characters, but through snatches of effective description and a dark sensibility that is integrated into the details. He’s not afraid to stop and smell the waste run-off occasionally. If Baxter’s use of language can veer toward bare cliché at times, it is a form of genre-based cliché that mostly feels authentic and you go with it easily. Indeed Baxter gives enough individual distinctiveness to his secondary characters to make us accept them, and though Johannsen himself is a stereotype (the classic noir loner, lost to a dark, and ever-darkening reality), Baxter develops the elements that make up that stereotype into a character who is at least as believable and pitiable as your standard noir hero. Then there’s the City – an important character in noir stories. As a Sydneysider it is fascinating to watch Baxter transform Sydney into a noir hell. Indeed it would have been a bonus to see him develop this element further, if he’d had the space to do so.

In the end, The Darkest Shade of Grey may not be the ultimate example of supernatural noir, but it is certainly a good example, an enjoyable and engaging pulp-inspired read that fulfills the promise of its evocative cover and its effective title, with some ideas that linger in the mind long after the lights go out.


Robert Hood is a writer of speculative fiction in all its forms, though he veers to the dark side more often than not. He loves noir fiction and mixing-and-matching the genres. Check out some of his collected stories in Creeping in Reptile Flesh (Morrigan Books, 2011). A dark fantasy novel, Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead, is due out in 2012 from Borgo Press (US). His website can be found at and he occasionally posts reviews there and on his blog, Undead Backbrain.