20th Century Ghosts is Joe’s first published book-length work. A collection of short stories, it was first published in October 2005 in the United Kingdom and released in October 2007 in the United States.
• Best New Horror
• 20th Century Ghost
• Pop Art
• You Will Hear The Locust Sing
• Abraham’s Boys
• Better Than Home
• The Black Phone
• In The Rundown
• The Cape
• Last Breath
• The Widow’s Breakfast
• My Father’s Mask
• Voluntary Committal
• Bobby Conroy Comes Back From The Dead (U.S. print and audio book editions)
• The Saved (only in the U.K. slipcased edition)
• The Black Phone: The Missing Chapter (only in the U.K. slipcased edition)
• Scheherazade’s Typewriter (“hidden” in the Acknowledgements)
The book/story is published with these cover(s):
(Click image to see full cover)
Information about edition(s):
· The US 1st/1st hardcover was issued without a dust jacket. The Book Club Edition, with the same ISBN, has a dust jacket.
PS Publishing limited editions:
Information about edition(s):
· This short story collection was released in a limited edition format only. The three formats available before publication were: Deluxe slipcased signed limited hardcover edition signed by Hill and Christopher Golden (introduction author) and #200, signed limited edition hardcover signed by Hill #500 and a trade paperback unsigned at 1,000 copies printed.
PS Publishing 10th anniversay:
‘Last Breath’ Hardcover
Information about edition(s):
· The 10th anniversary edition by PS Publishing was also released in three formats: A trade hardcover in a plain blue slipcase with two different dust jackets by artist Vincent Chong: #378 ‘Last Breath’ and #378 ‘Cinema’, a signed by Joe Hill edition of #200 plus #26 (subscribers) in a printed slipcase and a DVD with the short movies: Pop Art and Abraham’s Boys plus a envelope with seven postcards with Vincent Chong illustrations and a lettered #26 in a traycase signed by Joe Hill, Vincent Chong, Dorothy L.Street and Amanda Boyle plus also the DVD and postcards.
|Postcards by Vincent Chong
10th Anniversary edition
|DVD with Pop Art & Abraham’s Boys
10 Anniversary edition
Information about edition(s):
The story starts as follows:
Best New Horror
A month before his deadline, Eddie Carroll ripped open a manila envelope, and a magazine called The True North Literary Review slipped out into his hands. Carroll was used to getting magazines in the mail, although most of them had titles like Cemetery Dance and specialised in horror fiction. People sent him their books, too. Piles of them cluttered his Brookline townhouse, a heap on the couch in his office, a stack by the coffee maker. Books of horror stories, all of them.
20th Century Ghost
The best time to see her is when the place is almost full.
There is the well-known story of the man who wanders in for a late show, and finds the vast six-hundered-seat theatre almost deserted. Halfway through the movie, he glances around and discovers her sitting next to him, in a chair that only moments before had been empty. Her witness stares at her. She turns her head and stares back. She has a nosebleed. Her eyes are wide, stricken. My head hurts, she whispers.
My best friend when I was twelve was inflatable. His name was Arthur Roth, which also made him an inflatable Hebrew, although in our now-and-then talks about afterlife, I don’t remember that he took an especially Jewish perspective. Talk was mostly what we did – in his condition rough-house was out of the question – and the subject of death, and what might follow it, came up more than once. I think Arthur knew he would be lucky to survive high school. When I met him, he had already almost been killed a dozen times, once for every year he has been alive. The afterlife was always on his mind; also the possible lack of one.
You Will Hear The Locust Sing
Francis Kay woke from dreams that were not uneasy, but exultant, and found himself an insect. He was not surprised, had thought this might happen. Or not thought: hoped, fantasised, and if not for this precise thing, then something like it. He had believed for a while he would learn to control cockroaches by telepathy, that he would master a glistening brown-backed horde of them, and send them clattering to battle for him. Or like in that movie with Vincent Price, he would only be partly transformed, his head become the head of a fly, sprouting obscene black hairs; his bulging, faceted eyes reflecting a thousand screaming faces.
Maximilian searched for them in the carriage house and the cattle shed, even had a look in the spring house, although he knew almost at first glance he wouldn’t find them there. Rudy wouldn’t hide in a place like that, dank and chill, no windows and so no light, a place that smelled of bats. It was too much like a basement. Rudy never went in their basement back home if he could help it, was afraid the door would shut behind him, and he’d find himself trapped in the suffocating dark.
Better Than Home
My father is on the television about to be thrown out of a game again. I can tell. Some of the fans watching at Tiger Stadium know too and they’re making rude, happy noises about it. They want him to be thrown out. They’re looking forward to it.
The Black Phone
The fat man on the other side of the road was about to drop his groceries. He had a paper bag in each arm, and was struggling to jam a key into the back door of his van. Finney sat on the front steps of Poole’s Hardware, a bottle of grape soda in one hand, watching it all. The fat man was going to lose his groceries the moment he got the door open. The one in his left arm was already sliding free.
In The Rundown
Kensington came to work. Thursday afternoon with a piercing. Wyatt noticed because she kept lowering her head and pressing a wadded-up Kleenex to her open mouth. In a short time, the little knot of tissue paper was stained a bright red. He positioned himself at the computer terminal to her left and watched her from the corners of his eyes while he busied himself with a stack of returned videos, bleeping them back into the inventory with the scanner. The next time she lifted the Kleenex to her mouth, he caught a direct glimpse of the stainless steel pin stuck through her blood-stained tongue. It was an interesting development in the Sarah Kensington story.
We were little.
I was the Red Bolt and I went up the dead elm in the corner of our yard to get away from my brother, who wasn’t anyone, just himself. He had friends coming over and he wanted me not to exist, but I couldn’t help it: I existed.
I had his mask and I said when his friends got there, I was going to reveal his secret identity. He said I was lunch meat, and stood below, chucking stones at me, but he threw like a girl, and I quickly climbed out of range.
A family walked in for a look around, a little before noon, a man, a woman, and their son. They were the first visitors of the day – for all Alinger knew they would be the only visitors of the day, the museum was never busy – and he was free to give them the tour.
He met them in the coatroom. the woman still stood with one foot out on the front steps, hesitant to come in any further. She was staring over her son’s head at her husband, giving him a doubting, uneasy look. The husband frowned back at her.
It has been argued even trees may appear as ghosts. Reports of such manifestations are common in the literature of parapsychology. There is the famous white pine of West Belfry, Maine. It was chopped down in 1942, a towering fir with a whit smooth bark like none anyone had ever seen, and with pine needles the color of brushed steel. A tea house and inn was built on the hill where it had stood. A cold spot existed in a corner of the yellow dining room, a zone of penetrating chill, the exact diameter of the white pine’s trunk.
The Widow’s Breakfast
Killian left the blanket on Gage – didn’t want it – and left Gage where he lay on a rise above a little creek bed somewhere in eastern Ohio. He didn’t stop moving for the better part of a month after that, spent most of the summer of 1935 riding the freights north and east, as if he was still headed to see Gage’s best cousin in New Hampshire. He wasn’t though. Killian would never meet her now. He didn’t know where he was headed.
My Father’s Mask
On the drive to Big Cat Lake, we played a game. It was my mother’s idea. It was dusk by the time we reached the state highway, and when there was no light left in the sky, except for a splash of cold, pale brilliance in the west, she told me they were looking for me.
‘They’re playing-card people,’ she said. ‘Queens and kings. They’re so flat they can slip themselves under doors. They’ll be coming from the other direction, from the lake. Searching for us Trying to head us off. Get out of sight whenever someone comes the other way. Quick, get down. Here comes one of them now.’
I don’t know who I’m writing this for, can’t say who I expect to read it. Not the police, anyway. I don’t know what happened to my brother, and I can’t tell them where he is. Nothing I could put down here would help them find him. And anyway, this isn’t really about his disappearance… although it does concern a missing person, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think the two things had anything to do with each other. I have never told anyone what I know about Edward Prior, who left school one October day in 1977, and never arrived home for chili and baked potatoes with Mom.
Bobby Conroy Comes Back From The Dead
Bobby didn’t know her at first. She was wounded, like him. The first thirty to arrive all got wounds. Tom Savini put them on himself.
Her face was a silvery blue, her eyes sunken into darkened hollows, and where her right ear had been was a ragged-edged hole, a gaping place that revealed a lump of wet red bone. They sat a yard apart on the stone wall around the fountain, which was switched off. She had her pages balanced on one knee – three pages in all, stapled together – and was looking them over, was waiting with concentration. Bobby had read his while he was waiting in line tot go in to makeup.
Jubal Scott and Drake Hough were at the side of the road a little before noon, holding their shovels but not putting them to any use, when the foreman Tuerney came upon them.
“Scott,” he said to Jubal. “You better get on now.”
“I said I’d wait till three.”
Tuerney pointed a finger straight up, at the low and overcast sky. The bottoms of the heavier looking clouds were streaked with a color like that of fresh turned earth. Here and there a little round fleck of snow dropped spiraling from above.
The Black Phone: The Missing Chapter
An Introductory Note
“The Black Phone” kept trying to spin itself out into a novel, only I wouldn’t let it. I had set out to write a short story, and I meant to finish with one? Publishers think readers don’t want short stories, only novels. But that isn’t right. Really, what readers want is a story so intense they can’t put it down, and stories like that never go on one word longer than they have to. Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove have one thing in common, that they were both as long as necessary and no longer, and it makes no difference that one was 15 pages and another was 945.
Elena’s father had gone into the basement every night, after work, for as far back as she could remember, and did not come up until he had written three pages on the humming IBM electric typewriter he had bought in college, when he still believed he would someday be a famous novelist. He had been dead for three days before his daughter heard the typewriter in the basement, at the usual time: a burst of rapid bang-bang-banging, followed by a waiting silence, filled out only by the idiot hum if the machine.
[ps2id id=’nominations’ target=”/]Other information:
· All stories are included in later prints.
· The collection was first presented to Richard Chizmar at Cemetery Dance but he forwarded it to Peter Crowther at PS Publishing in the UK because he guessed that it could be Stephen King’s son.
· Bradbury Fellowship
· Bram Stocker Award for Best Fiction Collection
· British Fantasy Award for Best Collection
· British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story for ‘Best New Horror’