‘Callan’: Television’s First Anti-Establishment Spy Series

By Joseph Oldham

He was a working-class loner, with roots in the social realist British New Wave of the late 1950s and early 1960s—plays, novels, and films associated with the “angry young men” exploring the very class tensions that Wilson’s “New Britain” had ostensibly smoothed over. Callan occupied a violent and grubby world, with one foot in the sinister bureaucracy of a professional intelligence service, and another in the criminal underworld of London…

Death at the Fair: Britain’s Ghost Trains

By Richard McKenna

The itinerant fun fairs that stalked the British Isles, descending at regular intervals upon some desolate local field like shoddy Fortean dream cities, were once a major part of the informal national calendar. As a child growing up in the hinterland of the world’s most beautiful town—the gleaming futurist metropolis known as Doncaster, South Yorkshire—I was lucky enough to live near a fuck-off massive one…

Squaring the Circle: An American Becomes One of the ‘Children of the Stones’

By Michael Grasso

I’m not likely to add much to the thousands upon thousands of words penned over the past decade or so on how formative an experience watching Children of the Stones (1977) as a kid was. Now considered one of the signal works forming the foundation of the British folk horror and hauntological aesthetics, the series is a brilliant melding of folk memory and technological aspiration, of magic and science, of tradition and progress, done in that ineffable way that only the British seem able to express satisfactorily…

“You Owe Me Awe”: Culture, Class, and the New South in Thomas Harris’s ‘Red Dragon’

By Michael Grasso

Thomas Harris’s sophomore novel Red Dragon (1981) introduced the world to iconic serial killer and cultured cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and arguably set the gold standard for all serial killer fiction to follow. But Harris’s novel is more than just a taut true crime thriller that first popularized the archetype of the serial killer profiler. It is also a methodical, deliberate exploration of the class anxieties…

“Going At Ghosts With Science”: ‘Into the Unknown: The Fantastic Life of Nigel Kneale’

By Michael Grasso

Legend of 20th century science fiction Nigel Kneale (1922-2006) would likely bristle to be described as such. Andy Murray’s terrific biography, Into the Unknown: The Fantastic Life of Nigel Kneale, readily conveys Kneale’s sometime ambivalence at being pigeonholed as a genre writer. But the full parade of Kneale’s fascinating life gives perspective to the inseparability of the mundane and the fantastic…