The Penny Dreadnought Files: Transcript of the Debriefing of Agent #742C – a guest post by Mr Everington

“So, what can you tell us about these so called ‘Abominable Gentlemen’, Agent #742C?”

“It’s worse than we thought, sir.”

“What do you mean? I thought they were just writers?”

“Well sir…”

“And not even proper writers, but – and I can barely bring myself to say this – genre writers. People fixated not just on what isn’t, but on what can never be.”

“I’m not sure how we could ever truly know what can never be, sir”

“This isn’t a philosophy class Agent #742C. This is you telling me whether these Gentlemen really are Abominable. Or Gentlemen. What are they each like individually, when they’re not calling themselves damn silly names?”

Alan Ryker is a cad, Sir, and Iain Rowan a rotter; Aaron Polson is a ruffian, and James Everington a n’er-do-well.”

“Hmmm. And are they really writers, or is it all just a cover for nefarious activities?”

“Well they do publish fiction sir. Both separately, but also as a group in a series of themed anthologies called Penny Dreadnought…

“Well, it’s a nice title I give ‘em that. But no – genre writers. Can’t be any good.”

“And they’ve recently published all sixteen stories from the first four volumes in an Omnibus volume, sir. You can buy it on places like Amazon and Amazon UK – I’ve checked and it is legitimate sir. Proper artwork and formatting and all that. But…”

“But,  Agent #742C?”

“But I don’t believe a word of it sir! They’re supposed to be horror writers! This Penny Dreadnought thing should contain stories about zombies or romantically inclined were-bats! That’s what horror readers want, isn’t it? It’s what Mrs #742C reads sir, and…”

Penny Dreadnought“I have no desire to learn the squalid secrets of your marriage, Agent #742C. So if it’s not that sort of thing, what sort of stories does this Penny Dreadnought Omnibus contain?”

“There’s ambiguity sir. Things that are unclear and make you think, long after you’ve finished the story… and… ”

“Don’t falter now Agent #742C.”

“And strong prose and characterisation – like real books! There’s even stories based on the theme of ‘epistemic doubt’ sir! They reference Descartes.”

“Good Lord!”

All the stories are like that sir. Literate and street-smart”

“You’re right, these can’t possibly be horror writers! What possible justifications can they give?”

“They claim they are part of a long line of ‘literate horror’ sir…”

“Wash your mouth out Agent 742C!”

“… which includes such people as Shirley Jackson, T.E.D. Klein, and Algernon Blackwood sir. They claim they grouped together as the ‘Abominable Gentlemen’ because they all shared similar sensibilities as writers, and wanted to band together to put out the best of their stories…”

“I don’t think I’ve ever come across a case as bad as this before. I don’t mind admitting to feeling some nausea.”

“They claim publishing their work together in this way allows them to increase their audience and allows their readers to find new and exciting authors. Further issues might even feature guest Gentlemen sir, of either gender, who are also writers of unashamedly high-brow horror…”

“I think I’ve heard enough. You’ve read this abomination – what do you suggest we do Agent #742C?”

“Nuke the site from orbit Sir?”

“Oh, you will go far Agent #742C.”

The first Penny Dreadnought anthology is available now and more information is available on the PD website. The Gentlemen themselves have been conspicuous by their absence since this debriefing took place, but hope to be bringing you more tales of nefariousness soon.


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About Keith Brooke and infinity plus

Keith Brooke is a writer of science fiction, fantasy and other strange stuff, and editor and reviewer of same. He is also the publisher at infinity plus, an independent imprint publishing books by leading genre fiction authors. View all posts by Keith Brooke and infinity plus

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