Sunday, 20 February 2011

As Black As Hell

As Black As Hell
Written by John Lambshead
Illustrated by David Daniel
"For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright, who art as black as hell, as dark as night."
Sonnet 147, William Shakespeare.

Porky - of Porky's Expanse! - has reviewed As Black As Hell.

ABAH was the first story of mine that was published - in Baen's Universe Magazine.

It came about because I invented two characters, which had a two page existence at the back of my first novel - Lucy's Blade. They were called Jameson and Karla, and were the top torpedoes of a shadowy intelligence department simply called the Commission. The Lucy's Blade plot implies that the Commission traces its origin back to Elizabeth 1st spymaster Walsingham.

The characters took on a life of their own in my head and I wrote their story. For some reason the story captured the imagination of fans, and it is still probably my best known work.

Everyone reads something different into it. Baen’s Bar Forum saw it as a discussion of slavery and degrees of freedom. Porky sees it as about inclusion and exclusion. I am not sure what in intended when I wrote it but it was about London and its people – the society I have spent my adult life in.

I have written three short stories since set in the world of the Commission, even if the organisation is not mentioned in any way. They are Night of the Wolf, Siren Tears, published by DAW, and the new one, Beauty is a Witch, which will be published soon by Baen in an anthology called The Wild Side (from the song Walk on the Wild Side).

I have to say that Porky is an astonishingly sophisticated reviewer who gets right under the skin of a story. So many reviewers now simply judge a work against the ‘rules of writing’ expounded on creative writing courses.

[Advert] You can buy any of my stories following the link on the sidebar top right.


  1. Phew!

    'Astonishingly sophisticated' could just as well apply to the story. I'm certainly no fan of rules of writing.

  2. It was a very good review and got me interested.

  3. Dear porky
    There are no rules. Whatever works, works.