Book of the Dead reviewed

The Book of the Dead 2021, compiled by Stephen Jones, has been reviewed in the Birmingham SF Group‘s Newsletter:

There are some genre yearbooks which I’m sure most of us would love to find our way into. The variously titled Year’s Best… or Best New… for instance, collections that reprint the editors’ personal choices from the previous year’s published short fantasy, horror or science fiction. However, it’s a fair guess that The Alchemy Press Book of the Dead is unlikely to be one of them.

The first volume was published in 2021, collecting obituaries that Stephen Jones had begun posting on Facebook during the Covid-19 pandemic (which had a hand in far too many of the deaths posted), announcing the passing of well-known (and often not so well-known) names from film, television, music, the written word and genre fandom. Volume two continues this exhaustive pattern (there are 537 entries by my count), illustrated with black & white photographs and the occasional piece of film or DVD/Blu-ray artwork (in colour).

I say exhaustive, and I think that’s a fair assessment. Most of us will be aware of names such as Anne Stallybrass, John Challis, David G Barnett, Sally Ann Howes, Chris Achilleos, Langdon Jones and Jean-Paul Belmondo (to pick just a few at random). But what of Viktor Yevgrafov (played Professor Moriarty in two separate TV productions)? Or Hugh Lund (appeared in early Doctor Who episodes and A For Andromeda)? Or Peter Harris (directed The Muppet Show)? We are used to reading the obit column in Ansible newsletter (David Langford is one of many who are acknowledged for their assistance), but this book gives a face to the name (for those of us whose memory could use a friendly nudge).

Although it does cut a little close to the quick when you turn a page and see such faces as Storm Constantine, Darroll Pardoe or Bryn Fortey looking back at you.

A quality production from Peter Coleborn’s The Alchemy Press, all of the images are crisp and clear, printed on quality paper, and with a lovely glossy cover (an Italian poster for Dracula, Prince of Darkness on the front, Enzo Nistri artwork and thumbnail reproductions of posters for Blood of the Vampire and Curse of the Crimson Altar on the back).

A book to occasionally browse through rather than read cover to cover (that would be a bit much), it’s good to see so many lives celebrated for their contributions to the genres, be it big or small.

Available from all the usual suspects.

Reviewed by Mike Chinn

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