Everyone who’s ever done anything creative will have reached that point where the phrase, “I wish I’d never started this!” comes to mind. Luckily for students of the weird and the eerie, Stephen Prince has crossed that Rubicon time and time again, delivering a series of explorations into the haunted worlds of film, television, music, and literature that have become the set texts for the folk horror and hauntology connoisseur.
Lost Transmissions is Prince’s fourth compendium of essays collected under the A Year in the Country umbrella, pieces which spun out of a blog of the same name, following quickly on the heels of last year’s Cathode Rays and Celluloid Hinterlands. He digs at the same rich seam he’s been extracting for the last decade, occasionally finding new treasures (the chapter on Rollerball is surprising but also stunningly apposite), but always taking a keen eye to his subjects, regardless of whether they’ve crossed his gaze before.
The book’s sixteen chapters cover ground that includes A Year in the Country regulars such as Ghost Box, the Radiophonic Workshop, Nigel Kneale, and Burial, but also take turns down unexpected paths. Thus, Paul Weller, 1984, and Castles in Space can be found alongside Gattaca, Network, and the work of Natascha Khan in a collection that is somewhat music-heavy but never unbalanced for being so.
While the fifth book proper is still someway off, Prince has already released a slim intervening volume – Threshold Tales – and shows no sign of stopping his excavations into the uncanny. Far from wishing he’d never started, there’s now a faithful following hoping he never stops.