Back in September of 2016, the undisputed Godfather of Pulp – Guy N Smith – hosted the 25th anniversary of his annual fan convention.  To celebrate the anniversary, and by way of hopefully showing Guy what his work means to his fans, a special never-to-be-published one-off hardback anthology containing seventeen short stories written by some of his most dedicated fans was put together.  The end result was ‘Hell Of A Guy: Fans On The Rampage’, a copy of which was handed to Guy at the convention as a gift for everything he’s done for his fans.  Although never to be formally released (only Guy and the contributors received a copy) DLS Reviews nevertheless offers up a full story-by-story dissection…

Foreword – J.R. Park – 3 Pages
Contributor, editor and main man behind the entire anthology – Justin Park – opens the collection with a wonderfully celebratory foreword, highlighting the inspirations for some of the stories, his experience of attending his first Guy N Smith Convention back in 2015, and thanking Guy and Jean for hosting the events year after year. Altogether a perfect foreword for setting the tone of the loving tribute that this book was designed to be.

The Gunman – Stuart Neild – 2 Pages
With his double barrel shotgun by his side, he stared down into the pit.  Starring back up at him were the faces.  Figments of his imagination.  Fiends and beasts from his past.  They represented a lifetime of work.  A well-trod path through the valley of darkness.  A history to be proud of...

What an opener!  Stuart Neild pretty much sums the entire collection up in just two tightly-packed pages.  This is what it’s all about.  Guy’s legacy.  His numerous beasts and badguys.  What a respectful homage.  Full of nice touches – such as the nod to the rat that was nevermore.  Love it.  Absolutely love it.

Night Of The Caracal – Adam Millard – 16 Pages
David had taken Alice away for their first camping trip together.  But he was already regretting it.  They just weren’t compatible.  He liked the outdoor life.  The challenge of the elements.  In fact he was a self-professed survival savant.  And he loved it.  Whereas Alice was clearly not enjoying her time in the rural outback.  He’d brought her along to hopefully teach her how to survive.  After all, he needed a companion when the world went to hell in a handbasket.  A prepper friend with benefits would be perfect.  But it was beginning to look like Alice wasn’t going to offer up any of those benefits now.  As soon as the weekend was done he’d let her know it wasn’t working.  And with plenty of wine down her, it wouldn’t be long before she’d be out for the count and he could get on with enjoying their surroundings.  Feeling like king of this particular jungle.  Little did he know that he couldn’t have been further from the truth…

Oh yes this is a good one!  Campers out in the wilderness, friction already in the air, and of course (as the story’s name so bluntly suggests) a ferocious caracal roaming around in the vicinity - a delightful homage to Smith
’s Caracal’ (1980).  Millard’s written his offering in two perspectives – that of prepper David as well as that of the flesh-hungry caracal that’s lurking around their campsite.  It’s a textbook plot, with all the elements you want in there for a fast-paced pulpy yarn.  And by god does Millard deliver.  With the backdrop and characters set in place, Millard gets straight on with capitalising on the escalating tension.  As the caracal gradually moves in for its first attack, the suspense is near palpable.  You know this isn’t going to have some Disney happy ending.  It just aint that kinda party.  And the story’s so much the better for it.  An absolutely corking first full-length contribution to the collection, to well and truly set the pulpy ball rolling with.

Locusts: The Return – Neil Davies – 18 Pages
It had been twenty-seven years since David Alton left The Granary.  Now he was on his way back there.  On his way back to Clun where his father, Alan, still lived.  Since Sheila died, Alan hadn’t looked after himself.  Nine years of slowly letting his life deteriorate around him.  He’d survived on his meagre pension.  Minimal food.  Minimal possessions.  Minimal outgoings.  That is, except for that one expensive item on his monthly bank statement.  But he considered that a necessity. Something that Alan had waited eagerly to show his son.  And that moment was now almost upon him.  He’d finally be able to reveal the one thing that had kept him going all those years.  The nightmares and harrowing flashbacks had been kept in check because of it.  The price for peace and security…

Set twenty-seven years on from Guy’s original swarming pulp horror novel ‘Locusts’ (1979), Neil Davies returns to the Shropshire Hills to show us what’s happened to Alan Alton and his son, David, since Guy’s original tale left off.  Alton’s life has deteriorated into that of a recluse.  Obsessed with the horror that befell them all those years ago.  His son, David, had since moved on.  But with him returning back to The Granary, it of course opens up that never-quite-closed doorway into the terrors that still haunt them to this day.  And it’s a remembered terror that author Neil Davies encapsulates with a masterful ease incredibly early on in his bleak and utterly downbeat story.   In fact the brooding air that saturates the short doesn’t once let up, only snowballing out of control once David arrives to the shabby cottage, finding his father a mere shell of the man he once was.  Of course there’s something else waiting for us.  This isn’t just a gloomy reuniting of father and son.  Davies tactfully keeps his terrifying secret until the very last moment, when he casually unleashes all hell with a grin-inducing signoff.  Nicely done good sir!

The Completist: A Cautionary Tale – Shane Agnew – 4 Pages
It was on the eve of the 2015 Guy N Smith annual fan convention that lifetime (obsessive) collector Shane Agnew hypothesised about the existence of ten levels of GNS collecting.  Since that day Shane has given the notion of these ten levels a great deal of thought, and now offers up his cautionary tale – detailing the specifics within each of these ten levels…

This is absolutely hilarious.  From one fan to another – there is just so much to relate to in this escalating list of Guy N Smith collecting.  We’ve all been there at Level One - picking up your very first shabby Guy N Smith paperbacks from a musty smelling charity shop.  From here it’s babysteps through the various levels, all of which (if you’re an avid GNS collector) you’ll recognise.  It’s honest and so utterly true – and it’s so much more amusing for it.  Indeed, laced with humour from the outset the ten levels are crammed full with so much dry wit that you’ll find reading them just as rewarding (and amusing) the second and third time around.  In fact, I’ve just reread Shane’s entire offering (again for like the fifth time or something) and still can’t wipe that silly grin off my face.  Every word he writes is so very very true.
The Festering Death – J.R. Park – 27 Pages
Curled up in the shadowy corner of the old outhouse, if you looked closely, squinting into the darkness, you could just about make out the rotting mess of the once handsome forester – Tabor.  The man was little more than a bubbling mass of festering flesh, oozing thick pus from the multitude of weeping boils across his body.  A highly contagious infliction which Tabor had contracted after leaving the small village of Garth for the hustle and bustle of London.  There he’d worked the midnight streets of the country’s capital city, raking dung off the roads from the horses and bedpans, cast out the windows of the tightly packed houses.  Not the sort of environment one would expect to meet a beautiful young woman in.  But that’s exactly what happened to Tabor that fateful night.  Her name was Cicell and their chance meeting would change Tabor’s life forever…

And all of a sudden the collection takes a dive into the utterly grim and nauseatingly revolting.  Of course it’s no surprise that Pulp Master General J.R. Park’s the man behind this pus-soaked smoking cannon.  But trust me it’s all good stuff here my dear friends.  For his first offering based on Smith’s ‘The Festering’ (1989) Park’s taken us back to the initial chapters of the book (17th century era) where we first witness the festering plague doing its nasty work on Tabor’s flesh.  We’re told he contracted this particularly aggressive disease from his visit to the Big Smoke.  In steps Mr Park.  How did Tabor contract said plague?  Well…through this delightfully dark and weirdly erotic tale we get to see exactly what dear old Tabor got up to.  Almost Barker-esque in places, this twisted little offering goes from dark and messed up to just plain grim.  Park’s done the collection proud.  This is horror.  This is pulp.  This is making me feel fucking queasy.

The story was later included within the limited edition chapbook 'The Festering Death & Contacts' (2016).

Redfields Lane – Joseph Freeman – 13 Pages
When the costumed crowds in The White Swan had thickened to the point where they couldn’t hear themselves think, Helen had suggested they liven up their Halloween night out with a drive into the countryside – up past the stone circle at Flack’s Farm and out along Redfields Lane.  It was only a handful of miles out of town, but the impenetrable darkness made it feel eerie and decidedly remote.  Of course they’d all heard the stories about the place.  About the Druids that used to perform sacrifices at the nearby stone circle.  And the landowner who went on a bloodthirsty rampage after finding out what his adulterous wife had been up to.  But these were just stories.  Old folklore designed to put the willies up the gullible.  There was nothing to be scared of along Redfields Lane.  Other than the odd rampant dogger that is.  At least that’s what the three girls thought…

Half-based on Guy’s short story, ‘The Black Druid’ (2011) and half based upon Guy’s wonderfully pulpish werewolf titles – Joe Freeman offers up a short, sharp and damn snappy story with more pulp in it than the dingy basement of secondhand bookshop in Hay-on-Wye.  The tale starts with plenty of grubby banter, perfectly in keeping with a textbook GNS novel.  As soon as the dark and isolated backdrop is set, Freeman launches straight into some outrageously entertaining werewolf savagery – with the three hapless females pretty much served up on a platter for our hairy long-toothed friend.  Boys and girls you know the score here – no fucker’s getting out of this thing alive.  So just sit back and enjoy the blood splattered ride.

Dacchas – David Owain Hughes – 29 pages
Ever since their nightmarish ordeal at Invercurie, Phil Drake had kept in contact with Frank Halsey - and then after Frank’s death to cancer - his daughter Vickie.  Over the following years Vickie and Phil had grown close.  But something still ate away at the ex-police officer.  He was convinced that the cannibalistic inbreds that had inhabited Blair Long we’re still alive and had been breeding, undisturbed for the past twenty years.  That the cannibals had found a new home somewhere.  So he’d gone to the isolated hamlet on the Scottish coastline to finally finish them off.  That had been a whole month ago.  Now Vickie feared the worst, and within a week, she’d made up her mind – together with her fiancée and his best friend, she was going to return to Invercurie to finish the slaughter once and for all…

Undoubtedly one of Guy’s most pulply of offerings, ‘Cannibals’ (1986) was crammed full of over-the-top horror and maniacal splattering s of bloodshed.  Furthermore, it was absolutely ripe with potential for a sequel.  With his offering, Welsh author David Owain Hughes has done exactly that.  Set some twenty years on, Hughes doesn’t hang around before he’s throwing (now grown up) Vickie Halsey back into the thick of the inbred cannibalistic mayhem.  Hughes lays down the foundations for the short story’s plot in a matter of a few quick pages, and then it’s on to the explosive bloodthirsty action and all-out vengeance-fuelled warfare.  This is undoubtedly the most ferocious and action-heavy contribution in the anthology.  Hughes doesn’t let up one second from the moment the Dacchas’ start to rear their ugly treble-eyed heads.  It’s manic and utterly entertaining.  Yeah you need to suspend all notion of disbelief in this offering – but who gives a flying fuck about that?  This is pulp horror entertainment pure and simple boys and girls.  And it’s one hell of a read.

Thirst For Life – Dave Jeffery – 113 Pages
In 1980 Birmingham suffered a devastating environmental disaster when the major city’s water supply was contaminated with thousands of gallons of the potent weed killer – ‘Weedspray’.  The result was far more catastrophic than anyone could have possibly imagined.  The consequences so unbelievable that even now it’s hard to fathom the magnitude of the entire epidemic.  The streets of Birmingham were turned into scenes of chaotic rioting.  Violence and murder took over.  The madness seemed contagious.  Nowhere was safe.  Britain’s second largest city had become gripped by a hellish blaze of mob warfare.  Of course the military had moved in – containing the spiralling chaos within the city boundaries.  The situation was eventually resolved over the course of the next few days.  The military kept most of the information out of the media.  But eventually, through the freedom of information act, reports started to emerge.  One such report was this one.  The story of a Birmingham jeweller who, after stepping outside his shop, was flung headfirst into the raging madness of a city turned into an inferno of violence.  This is his report.  This is his story…

I must admit I absolutely loved the first ‘Thirst’ (1980) novel.  It was raw and pulpy and pushed the threat to what seemed like almost apocalyptic proportions.  So much madness occurred in the novel which makes it absolutely ripe for an offshoot-cum-follow-on short.  And that’s exactly what highly revered horror author David Jeffery’s done.  Written as a fictional ‘case report’ from the perspective of a random Brummie flung into the rampaging violence that quickly exploded, the short story flies along at a mile a minute, with the events escalating at a  jaw-dropping rate.  Jeffery paints the picture with a brutal and uncompromising brush – detailing just one small pocket of violence which you know was being replicated throughout the city.  Quite simply put – a frigging great read.

The Soul Hunters – Hal C.F. Astell – 19 Pages
Ronald Duggan liked routine.  That was the main reason why he’d gone for the job at Johnson and Sons Medical Transcription Services.  It promised exactly that.  Routine.  But not today.  Today Jennifer Wright, his chubby blonde supervisor, had ruined his routine.  Thanks to a last minute batch of work she’d dumped on his desk, he’d now have to work late, and then he’d miss his bus home, and because of that everything else would be out of whack.  Of course when he eventually got home, he’d have to walk their blasted poodle – Pickles.  He’d still do it.  With a wholly insincere smile stretched across his face, he’d walk the dog his wife, Pauline, so cherished, if anything just to keep the peace at home.  And as tonight was a full moon, he’d take the longer way around the wood, as a small treat.  It would be a decision he’d soon regret…

Prolific online blogger Hal C. F. Astell starts off his contribution with a short introduction detailing what his contribution’s all about.  It’s an ingenious idea.  In a nutshell, he’s taken one of Guy’s old synopsis’ from one of his proposed but unwritten novels, and from that, written the first two chapters of the story (blurred together with a few altered details here and there).  He chose ‘The Soul Hunters’ as he felt that it was “quintessential Guy N Smith” stuff.  And, to be fair, it’s absolutely spot on.  Not only does the story read like the beginning couple of chapters of a classic GNS story, but Hal’s also managed to capture Guy’s voice perfectly in it – with the prose and dialogue all so wonderfully textbook GNS.  The story’s clearly the work of a devoted fan.  Someone who knows Guy’s mannerisms and his unique style of writing very well indeed.  For a fellow GNS fan this is an absolute treat.  And it’s something that Hal should be incredibly proud of.

The Ultimate Collector’s Piece – Chris Hall – 31 Pages
[Write-up by Justin Park]

The sun sets over Guy’s garden after another successful convention comes to a close. Super fan, Shane, had taken home all the spoils of the memorabilia auction following a windfall. With his new found wealth, Shane had collected everything there was connected to Guy N Smith. What was there left for him?

Meanwhile, late at night, Guy takes to his grounds, shotgun in hand, as he hears something prowling around outside. Could it be that pesky caracal that he swears he saw all those years ago? Or could an even more despicable fate await the Great Scribbler?...

Chris Hall, the man well known for his in-depth reviews came round the other side of the writing desk to honour one of his heroes, taking up the challenge and penning his own slice of original fiction. So how did he do?

The story is an excellent piece to have in the book. Its setting is of the celebrated convention, and initially draws on characters and events from the history of the conventions themselves (albeit exaggerated somewhat). For those regular attendees it provides a few good belly laughs, and for those not so acquainted with Guy’s auctions and the fan base that show up year after year, it provides an insight into the events and culture that has built up around it.

Chris has rather bravely written the story in present tense, this has the effect of standing out from the others and offering an intriguing break in narrative style. The tense is used to good effect, as the story careers along at a break neck pace, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat as to what will happen next.

The second chapter involving Guy prowling the night with his gun looking for an intruder is particularly effective in creating tension, whilst building up the character of Guy. This is important, helping us to care for the beloved writer, making us root for him during the rest of the tale as he faces atrocity after atrocity.

The Ultimate Collector’s Piece is absolutely riddled with nods and winks to Guy’s books – some subtle, some not so subtle – and is a pleasure for any fan to read; like some macabre Where’s Wally of pulp horror references. The enthusiasm for the subject matter literally bursts from the pages.

By the time we reach the end, we are left both disgusted and smiling with this entertaining read, and you can’t help but imagine what Guy and his wife, Jean’s, reaction to this story will be. It’s easy to picture them giggling away to this short story, clearly created by a super fan.

Beware The Moon – Graeme Reynolds – 9 Pages
Steve had insisted that Emma and him climb the rocky Shropshire mountain track so they could see the breath-taking views over Long Mynd – the area he had grown up in.  However, it wasn’t long before Emma had stumbled on the precipitous descent and twisted her ankle.  Steve had told her to stay where she was and had gone for help.  But that had been more than four hours ago.  Emma was now becoming increasingly concerned with her predicament.  What if Steve didn’t come back before nightfall?  There was no way she was spending the night up there.  She’d rather go through the agony of somehow making her own way down the rocky track.  But as she started to make her slow and painful descent, Emma noticed everything had fallen silent.  And then she heard the first howl…

Graeme Reynolds – the veritable master of the modern werewolf story.  What better man to pen a Guy N Smith inspired werewolf short?! And surprise surprise, it’s an absolute beauty.  A young couple climbing up the Shropshire mountainside run into a spot trouble – the result being the young female is left on her own up there with a twisted ankle.  You know what to expect.  The first howl in the disappearing daylight is no surprise.  Let’s be honest, she’s prime game for a blood-hungry werewolf.  Nevertheless there’s still plenty of escalating tension to keep you clinging to the pages.  But Reynolds has a small twist up his sleeve.  It’s not entirely unpredictable, but works well and wraps the short up very nicely indeed.  However it’s Reynolds’ seemingly effortless ability to draw the reader in with his storytelling that really makes the story work.  The man’s a natural.  Especially when it comes to werewolves.

Pact In Prague – Adrian Chamberlin – 26 Pages
Mark Sabat - ex-priest, SAS-trained killer turned exorcist – had been summoned by the British Intelligence to Prague.  A city of shadows.  And one that was now gripped by a terrible evil.  Upon arriving he was greeted by a Detective Jana Letensky.  A straight talking Czech policewoman who immediately took Sabat to the Old-New Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter Josefov, where his services were required.  This would be another mission done off the books.  Sabat’s presence in the Czech Republic’s capital was to be strictly confidential.  For what awaited him in the ancient synagogue was something the government had to keep off the records.  And that’s exactly how Mark Sabat liked it…

Adrian Chamberlin is one of those writers who just swallows you up as soon as you embark upon one of his tales, no matter how short the story is.  That’s exactly what happens here with his ‘Sabat’ short story.  We’re immediately flung into the streets of Prague, steeped in history and age-old beliefs.  The backdrop is painted to absolute perfection within just a page or two, and then it’s on to the gradually mounting terror of a true Sabat homage.  We return to the story from ‘Sabat 2: Blood Merchants’ (1982), with Lilith making a second appearance for Sabat to pit his wits against.  This really is one hell of a story.  And it really does do Guy’s original stories proud.

Contacts – J.R. Park – 21 Pages
Ever since his wife had run away with his best friend, taking with her the kids, the house and the final dregs of his self-respect, Andy had started doing whatever he could to pick himself up.  He’d stare at the women on the front of all those top-shelf magazines, fantasising about how he would make love to them.  But today he was after something more than just a glossy magazine.  He was after the real thing.  Her name was Joanna.  He’d found her in one of the ‘Contacts’ mags.  Even in the nineteen-eighties, prostitution was still a roaring trade.  And today he had another appointment with her.  The anticipation had been killing him.  The thought of her firm body.  He could hardly wait.  However, what Andy didn’t know was that the forty-five-year-old prostitute was going to give him far more than he bargained for.  Much, much more…

Eeewwwww…this is one hell of a revolting little tale.  Smith’s original ‘The Festering’ (1989) was grim enough, with all the weeping boils and dripping pustules making you feel decidedly queasy.  But Park’s taken the gross factor a good few steps further, giving a prostitute the highly contagious festering plague, and then letting the story play out with truly hideous results.  It’s as nauseating as you probably imagine it to be.  Furthermore, Park doesn’t hold back one bit with his graphic descriptions of the festering flesh.  And all the time the story’s racing along with a seemingly uncontrollable urgency.  The horrific events just escalating by the second.  Afterwards you feel desperate for a long, scolding-hot shower in order to scrub yourself clean.  Hats off to you Mr Park – you really made me squirm.

The story was later included within the limited edition chapbook 'The Festering Death & Contacts' (2016) as well as the re-released version of The Sinister Horror Company's collection ‘The Offering’ (2017).

Doomtrain – Daniel Marc Chant – 28 Pages
The bulldozers had already moved in, and despite the constant outcry from the tree-hugging community, George MacGrimond was determined to build his railway across Fradley Heath.  The recent double-murder of locals Lance Morton and his girlfriend Cheryl Kelly couldn’t dissuade him from his mission.  Even if the randy young lovers had been decapitated, dismembered and disembowelled mere metres away from the spot they were excavating.  It had taken a police investigation to still the bulldozer engines.  And now MacGrimond wasn’t happy.  He’d have his railway.  And no talk of missing body parts, or ancient sacrificial altars would stop him…

Guy’s original tale ‘Doomflight’ (1981) was a weirdly all-over-the-place story, with an almost haphazard stitchwork of parts coming together to form the overall story.  Daniel Marc Chant’s offering is far less so, but nevertheless incorporates a similar style of slotting together these strange parts.  Chant’s used the same basic plot for his tale, and taken it to equally odd and nightmarish places – with the build of a railway upon the ground of an ancient sacrificial site causing your run-of-the-mill horrific consequences.  Indeed, here we have a Great Cosmic Game being played out, with Cucullati’s Circle at the very epicentre of the action.  There’s plenty of weird stuff going on, with cloaked druid-like worshippers pitted against MacGrimond’s workforce.  This is cosmic horror meets good old fashioned pulp horror at its mindboggling finest.  There’s a heck of a lot going on in this weird and wonderful short, and by Cucullati’s mild temperament, if it’s not fantastically entertaining from start to finish.

Under The Grass – Ian Woodhead – 16 Pages
It had been exactly two weeks and three days since six-year-old Madeline Howarth’s dog had been buried in their backgarden.  Not that anyone was counting.  Other than Madeline that was.  She had been keeping tabs on everything her parents had been up to of late.  And she wasn’t going to let them get away with their crimes.  She knew they’d buried Mr Fluff out there by mummy’s roses.  She also knew they’d secretly being doing the work of Santa and the Tooth Fairy.  They’d obviously done away with both of them.  Just like they had with Mr Fluff.  And today, whilst they thought she was in school, she’d prove it.  All the evidence she needed was right there…under the grass…

This is one of the more unusual offerings.  The first three-quarters of the story – although entirely intriguing and crammed full of suspense – offers the reader no glimpse of which Guy N Smith story it relates to.  However, Mr Woodhead has one mother of a twist up his sleeve.  What appears to be edging towards a ‘The Walking Dead’ (1984) style storyline, suddenly (and no doubt entirely purposefully) derails itself – changing the entire scope of the story and instead bundling in a ‘Throwback’ (1985) style plot that completely throws you off guard.  And for all its unexpected suddenness, the abrupt shift in plot works pretty damn well.  I certainly didn’t see that one coming.  It’s a strange one, but it comes together nicely at the end and is just damn entertaining throughout.

Zombies By Moonlight – Greg James – 24 Pages
The rain was coming down in relentless sheets as Vera drove her Mini Cooper through the tree lined country roads.  She was running late.  Her family would be gathered and waiting.  Looking out at the rain drenched night sky wondering where she was.  Which is why she was driving so fast.  And it’s also why, when she saw a man swaying in the middle of the road with half his face missing, she barely had chance to react before it was too late.  As she lay unconscious by the roadside, her car next to her wrapped around a tree, she dreamt of escaping.  Retreating down a tunnelway which her father – Audric – had dug.  A dream which quickly turned into a horrific nightmare.  A nightmare which Vera was about to wake into…

Classic Greg stuff here.  Scary-ass nightmare-like sequences that mess with your head with the ambiguous nature of how the story’s pieces are dropped into place.  To quote the author “it’s more inspired by [Guy’s work] than actually using his characters.  ‘Sabat’ (1982-83), ‘The Wood’ (1985), ‘The Walking Dead’ (1984) and ‘Satan’s Snowdrop’ (1980) are all in the mix.  And having a female character called Vera driving a mini whose clothes fall off over the course of the story, I thought set things nicely within Guy’s milieu”.  And how right he is!  The story reads very much like a cross between the ending sequence of ‘Satan’s Snowdrop’ (1980), mixed with ‘The Wood’ (1985) along with a thick chunk of Amando de Ossorio’s ‘Tombs Of The Blind Dead’ (1971).  Oh yes - this is proper old school pulp horror.

Crabpocalypse – Nathan Robinson – 29 Pages
After the great flood what had once been man’s kingdom, was left ragged and destroyed.  The numerous inland waterways, carved out by the floods, meant that the crabs were never far from sanctuary.  This was their land now.  Humans had become the invading species.

Clint Steele led the troupe through the ravaged remains of urban life.  With him he had the famed nuclear physicist Professor Ricky Pookington, the group’s marine biologist Adam Rampton, and the three soldiers he’d been assigned with – Karlos Green, Callum Boreham and Mario Mihai.  Their mission was to reach the coast of Davenport where they believed a damaged and leaking nuclear facility was spilling out radioactive material, causing abnormal growth in crustaceans.  Crabs four times the size of those previously encountered had been reported.  Crabs so colossal they could easily destroy the very last outposts of mankind…

To quote co-editor Justin Park – the collection had to end with a crabs story.  I wholeheartedly agree.  And what a fucking story!  This is the one.  This is the story that just makes you want to pick up all of Guy’s crabs novels again.  It’s a masterpiece of pulpy-apocalyptic-crab-horror.  I don’t think I’ve ever grinned as much when reading a short story as I did when reading this absolute beauty.  In one fell swoop Nat Robinson has become a hero of colossal crustacean carnage.   Admittedly interweaving giant crabs (which are bigger and more brutal than ever) with a post-apocalyptic backdrop had sold it to me from the outset.  But upon reading the short I found that it was even better than it sounded.  I literally couldn’t stop grinning.  It’s got everything in there.  It’s pulp horror perfection.  I quite simply can’t praise this short enough.  I’m not individually scoring the stories in this collection, but screw it, this would have got a perfect ten skulls if I was.  In fact, I’d probably have been tempted to crank it up to eleven - Spinal Tap style.

What a story to end the anthology on.  Right – I’m off to pester Nat for more of his work…

Afterword – Chris Hall – 5 Pages
[Write-up by Justin Park]
And so the book comes to a close, with co-editor and compiler, Chris Hall signing off with the last few words. He begins with an account of his first visit to the convention in 2010. A very honest and open account, he describes his hangover, his meeting of Guy for the first time and his joy in rummaging around Guy’s collection for rarities.

This afterword allows one last moment to understand what the convention means to people on a personal level, how it helps to connect a reader even further with the author’s work, and the community that has grown up from his fan base and the conventions.

It is heartfelt, with a tone positioned just right to close the last few pages. With a nod to the hard work of all involved in creating the book, a thank you to all those fans that attend each year, and finally a thank you to Guy, himself.

The anthology runs for a total of 328 Guy N Smith adoring pages.

© DLS Reviews

After the unveiling of the book at the Guy N Smith convention in September of 2016, Guy wrote the following on his website regarding the gift:

“Then just as the occasion was drawing to a close, following a group photograph, one of the fans, Justin Park, stood up and announced that he had a presentation to make to me on behalf of all of my fans.

This was a beautifully produced hardcover book of over 300 pages entitled “Hell of a Guy”. The stunning cover depicted a decapitation of GNS by one of his own giant crabs, along with a caracal, a bat out of hell, snakes, locusts and many more. My creations, the figments of my imagination over the last 40 years were taking their revenge upon me.

I was overcome, there were tears in my eyes and my voice shook as I thanked those concerned. What a magnificent gesture of their appreciation of my work. I would add that the short story contributions by 18 fans were exceptionally well written. Any one of them could have been standing in my shoes on that day. I’d better up my game!

My sincere thanks and congratulations to Justin Park and Chris Hall for a truly splendid book which will have pride of place in my collection.”

‘Hell Of A Guy’ turned out to be one of those once in a lifetime projects where everyone involved threw themselves into its creation with passion and a true love for the subject matter.  Accordingly, here’s what some of the contributors had to say about the project:
Justin Park:
Amongst all the anthologies I have worked on, this has been the most incredible. Hell Of A Guy is a book made from pure passion. No thought of a commercial release was floated in its concept, and yet everyone I spoke to jumped at the chance to be a part of it. I’ve never seen people work so hard for us to complete it in time. An absolute joy to be a part of, and just wonderful to see Guy so made up with his present.

Chris Hall:
I love Guy N Smith.  His novels make me grin from ear to ear with pulpish glee.  So when Justin Park approached me with the idea of putting together a secret anthology celebrating Guy’s work – to give to Guy at the 25th anniversary of his fan convention - I almost fell off my seat with excitement.  Admittedly I was incredibly nervous about writing a story for it.  I’m no writer.  That’s one of the reasons why I review – if you can’t write…review!  But I had to give it a stab.  Although I knew it wasn’t going to be for mass circulation, so I had the safety net that only a handful of people would ever read my attempt at a writing some fiction.  The cover artwork was my other main offering.  With a hefty amount of work commitments already sapping my time, I knew I couldn’t dedicate as much time as I would have wanted to on it.  Coupled with the fact that I hadn’t done any real artwork for probably close to ten years, I was apprehensive to say the least.  Nevertheless, over the course of a weekend I did the pen & ink drawing for the cover, which was then photographed in high resolution and sent over to the incredibly talented Jorge Wiles to masterfully photoshop on the colour – and in doing so – bring the beast to life.  The end result is something I’m (and we should all be) incredibly proud of.  ‘Hell Of A Guy’ was a work of love and a homage to an incredible writer whose work has resonated with so many of us.  A massive heartfelt thank you once again to all who contributed.

Stuart Neild:
Putting it as simply as possible, I just couldn't pick one Guy N Smith story subject. Where could I possibly start? I loved the werewolf books, adored the crabs books, the Sabat books were addictive and I wanted more, while I had no problems reading the sucking pit over and over again. It was so impossible to choose one subject, so I chose a fleeting glimpse of some my favourites. Probably cheating, I know, but fun, just like any Guy N Smith horror book.

Adrian Chamberlin:
I was overjoyed to be asked to contribute to this splendid project because Guy N Smith and his team published my first-ever short story back in 1998 in the magazine Graveyard Rendezvous as the winner of that year’s writing contest. That competition win gave me the confidence to write more stories; Guy N Smith set me on my writing career.

It was easy to decide which GNS theme/character to write about for Hell of a Guy: Fans on the Rampage. Of all Guy’s creations, Mark Sabat, the ex-SAS-trained killer and former priest (and unwilling host to the spirit of his evil brother Quentin) is my favourite. I wanted to pay homage to the second book in the series (The Blood Merchants) while setting a Sabat story in a new location. Prague is one of the most inspiring and beautiful cities in the world, and with the rich folklore from the tales of Rabbi Loew and his golem, I had the perfect setting and background for a sequel to The Blood Merchants. My only regret is that I couldn’t put more into the story – I’d intended to bring in the Hirschlanden Warrior of L’Impernal as well as some more astral plane sequences. Perhaps one day I’ll extend the tale to a full-length novel.

The book is a great production and showcases the remarkable talents of the horror writing community members who’ve been inspired by Guy N Smith, and I’m honoured to be sharing a table of contents with them.

Dave Jeffery:
I loved contributing to the ‘Hell of a Guy’ project. To be able to say thank you to one of the most inspirational authors from my childhood was both a dream and a great honour.  I read Night of the Crabs in the school playground at the age of twelve and remember being late for a maths lesson because I wanted to finish the last chapter! Thirst was always a favourite as it had both an apocalyptic refrain and it was based in my local city of Birmingham.

I am best known for my #1 bestselling Necropolis Rising series released through Severed Press.  In my eyes, Guy N Smith is the undisputed king of pulp fiction and his influence on my work in the horror genre can be readily seen.  None more so than the first book in the Necropolis Rising series which takes place in the city of Birmingham and uses some of the very locations used in Guy N Smith’s Thirst novel.

Joseph Freeman:
Guy N. Smith was the first writer I got to know in person. This was at the age of 11, and we’ve been friends ever since. At that impressionable age, I couldn’t get enough of his short, fast-paced books – full of sex, imaginative horror, and the countryside (things which fascinated me and still do). And of course there were so very many of them to be had. As you may have guessed I read widely and voraciously from an early age – graduating from Enid Blyton almost immediately into standard classics of literature (Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson etc) and shortly afterwards reading widely in the fertile field that was contemporary horror in the late 80s/early 90s. It was a great time to be discovering the genre. I now own all of Guy’s novels and am still working my way through them. And he shows no sign of easing off on his output to let me catch up either, which is fine by me.

Guy’s approach to writing is, for me, hugely refreshing. He gets on with the work without making the process any more mystical or complicated than it needs to be. Too many writers (or even worse – would-be writers) are self-imposed tortured artists. And too many writers are insufferably arrogant and pompous in person, whatever their level of achievement (or lack of it), socialising only with a small circle of peers who tell them how very wonderful they are, in return for them doing the same. The best thing any writer can do is experience life away from his desk – to live out in the world, see what it has to offer, have a variety of interests and acquaintances. It makes their work richer, and it makes them richer as people. Guy is a pleasure to spend time with. When we get together our conversations roam freely across the subjects of horror writing, antique collecting, ghosts, nature, smoking, shotguns, and heaven only knows what else.

Though I hadn’t written much fiction for the past few years, I was happy to help out with this project. The previous autumn I’d had an idea for a story shortly after reading Guy’s ‘The Black Druid’. It wasn’t wholly inspired by the tale, but certainly shared its themes and atmosphere, which had struck a chord with me. Being asked to contribute to the anthology left me with no excuse not to finally get to work on it.

The finished book looks great, and everybody has really pulled together to make a worthy tribute to a great man, and in most cases a great friend. I look forward to reading it by the fireside on these darkening autumn evenings ahead.

Neil Davies:
When I first heard about the idea for the book, I thought it was a great way to give something back to a man who welcomes fans into his own home each year, and is so warm and friendly to everyone (even an awkward, embarrassed, star-struck fool like me!). When I realised I had an opportunity to write a story for inclusion in the book I was overjoyed. Guy was nice enough to provide a short cover blurb for my book Hard Winter: The Novel a few years back, but this was even better. A chance to write a story based on one of Guy’s own works, to show him how much he has influenced me, and repay him a little for all the pleasure his books have given me. Choosing The Locusts as my book was easy. It’s one of my all-time favourites, and this gave me an excuse to re-read the book and imagine where the main characters were now. What might they be doing, and what effect had those traumatic events had on their lives? One thing was certain… they wouldn’t have been able to just forget them.

Hal C.F. Astell:
I thought long and hard about what I could write to contribute to this wonderful project.  I have four million words online and four books in print, but it’s all non fiction, which takes a very different skill to writing fiction. I did write some short stories decades ago, some of which found publication in Graveyard Rendezvous, but they didn’t quite work the way my non fiction would do.

In the end, I thought about the stack of synopses for proposed novels that Guy wrote and pitched to publishers, but which never came to anything. I’d often wondered what some of those novels would have been like, not just the next few Sabat novels or more Crabs books, but the odd stuff too that was unrelated to anything else Guy had written, like Zombie Apache!

I read through what I have and, realising that I’ve never written a novel and so have no idea where to break for chapters, focused on a few that Guy had already broken down into sections by chapter.

I wanted to choose The Succubus, the first in a proposed Witch-Hunter series that would continue with Island of the Damned and more, because these were novels that I was keen to read. However, I felt that this book was beyond my meagre talents as a fiction writer.  So, I ended up with The Soul Hunters.

It’s not as enticing a novel as a complete entity, its later chapters descending into a notably depressing tone, perhaps one reason why nobody hired Guy to write the actual book. However, the opening chapters leapt out at me as something I could write. They felt like quintessential Guy N. Smith, a simple but universally accessible idea to be brought to life by his uncanny ability to get inside the heads of his characters and tell us what they were thinking. I saw it like a silent movie, with one pained howl to pierce the silence!

I didn’t change much from Guy’s synopsis, even leaving the names of the characters intact. My first two chapters in this otherwise unwritten novel are his first two chapters, albeit blurred together somewhat and altered in little details here and there. I even tried to write in the sort of style in which Guy would have written and I hope I was at least mildly successful.

At least I had fun and I look forward to reading the rest of this fantastic volume. Congratulations, Guy and I hope you enjoy reading the start of a novel that you created but never actually wrote, The Soul Hunters!

The Full Hardback Cover:

It's been a blast!


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