‘Wooden Horse’ by John Grant

All of the stories here matter to me, but some of the authors are particularly important. I came across John Grant’s name in various ways: books on mythology in the school library, novelisations of the adventure gamebooks that I read as a teenager… As I read more of his work, though, I discovered what fantasy could do when it engaged with the nature of reality. I found that Grant was also a critic and reviewer (co-editor of the 1997 Encyclopedia of Fantasy) and his approach was key to my developing understanding of what I read. Ultimately these were my first steps on the journey to where I am now as a reader.

‘Wooden Horse’ is one of my favourite stories by Grant; I remember it fondly for the way it turns, and brings together disparate aspects of the author’s work. It’s narrated by a film critic who tells how he gained a love of the cinema while watching old war movies at a run-down theatre as a student. He loved them so much, he started to feel that the world of those movies was more real than the one he lived in… and, as I hope you’ll be intrigued to read the story, I should probably leave it there.

(Read and first published in The Third Alternative #32, Autumn 2002. Available in the collection Take No Prisoners (Willowgate Press, 2004), and to read online here)