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The Invincible Kingdom

Rob Ryan (Author)

BORN INTO THE ROYAL FAMILY, John has always known he doesn’t want to be king. To escape his destiny he has run away and begun to build a different kind of future for himself.

But just when everything seems to be going right for John, his past catches up with him: Lord Von Dronus, the palace’s most senior courtier, is determined to hunt him down, believing that as long as John is alive, he is a threat to the nation’s security.

Forced into hiding with his best friend June, it seems as though John will never be able to live an ordinary life. Until one night he decides to return to the palace and put an audacious plan into action…

Inspiring, funny and moving, THE INVINCIBLE KINGDOM is about following your dreams and creating your own happily ever after.

My First Planet: Series 2

Phil Whelans (Author) , Full Cast (Read by), Nicholas Lyndhurst (Read by), Vicki Pepperdine (Read by)

Nicholas Lyndhurst and Vicki Pepperdine lead the cast of the BBC Radio 4 sci-fi sitcom set on a shiny new planet, as it returns for a second series.

With the leader of the interplanetary colony expedition dead, his Number 2 - Brian - is now in charge. He's a nice enough chap, but his desire to sort things out with a nice friendly meeting infuriates the colony's Chief Physician Lillian, who'd rather everyone was walking round in tight colour-coded tunics saluting each other. She's also in charge of Project Adam, the plan to conceive and give birth to the first colony-born baby.

Adding to the joie de vivre are an entirely unscrupulous Chief Scientist and an idiot maintenance man, who believes he's an "empath" rather than a plumber.

In these six new episodes the contents of Lillian’s freezer threatens to make the colony's men unnecessary for ever more; a dangerous snuffly cold is let loose; a pub quiz and a talking yam spell disaster; election time arrives; the discovery of a poet amongst the colonists sets off trouble; and a dangerous search-and-rescue mission is launched on the planet’s surface. Also featuring Tom Goodman-Hill, Phil Whelans, John Dorney and full cast.

Snuff Fiction

Robert Rankin (Author)

We read him for his exuberant salmagundi of old jokes, myths, urban and otherwise, catchphrases, liberatingly crazy ideas, running gags, recurring characters and locations, unreliable authobiographical anecdotes, and not forgetting the now legendary 'load of old toot'. He becomes funnier the more you read him' Mat Coward, Independent on The Dance of the Voodoo Handbag

Society's plug is about to be pulled, big time. At the stroke of midnight on 31 December 1999, computer systems all over the world will crash and plunge us into chaos. But so what if it's the downfall of civilization? These things happen. We'll just have to take it on the chin. Or at least up the nose. Because rejoice and give thanks, snuff is making a comeback. And who do we thank for this? Who is the man who brings joy to the nostrils of the nation? The tender blender with the blinder grinder? The master blaster with the louder powder? The geezer with the sneezer that's a real crowd pleaser? Mr Doveston, that's who, and this is his story. So forget about impending doom and enter the glamorous world of snuff-snorting. Oh, and don't forget to bring a hanky. Things could get a little messy later.

Robert Rankin's novel gleefully chronicles the collapse of civilisation, as the world slides into chaos with a smile on its face and a finger up its nose. Prophetic vision of an imminent dystopia? Or just the rabid ranting of a snuff-crazed technophobe?

The Fandom Of The Operator

Robert Rankin (Author)

'To call Rankin irreverent doesn't begin to describe just how good he is at playing with the rules' MIRROR

Gary Cheese is twenty-two years of age and works for British Telecom as an operator. Gary's hobbies include watching TV, walking his dog Princey, going down the pub with his mates, and attempting to re-animate the dead. He hasn't been having too much success with the latter so far. But Gary's heard a rumour. According to this bloke he met down the pub, there exists certain telecommunications technology that can actually let you speak to the dead. Apparently it's been in operation for years. FLATLINE, it's called, a chatline to the dead. They ran all these ads on the TV a few years ago to prepare the public for it. Those ones about having a one-to-one with famous dead people. But it seems something went very wrong: the dead had certain things to say to the living that the powers that be couldn't allow to be heard. Or something. Apparently. Gary's determined to find out the truth. Gary's a bit of a fan boy and Gary really wants to speak to all of his dead heroes. And Gary will have the time of his life when he talks to the dead.

The Lord Of The Rings Part One: The Fellowship Of The Ring

J.R.R. Tolkien (Author) , Full Cast (Read by), Ian Holm (Read by), Michael Hordern (Read by), Robert Stephens (Read by)

With its first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on March 8, 1981, this dramatised tale of Middle Earth became an instant global classic. It boasts a truly outstanding cast including Ian Holm (as Frodo), Sir Michael Hordern (as Gandalf), Robert Stephens (as Aragorn), Bill Nighy (as Sam Gamgee) and John Le Mesurier (as Bilbo). Brian Sibley's famous adaptation has been divided into three corresponding parts, with newly-recorded beginning and end narration by Ian Holm, who now stars as Bilbo in the feature films based on The Lord of the Rings. Part One, The Fellowship of the Ring, introduces us to Frodo Baggins. With his uncle Bilbo having mysteriously disappeared, Frodo finds himself in possession of a simple gold ring that has great and evil power. It is the Ruling Ring, taken long ago from the Dark Lord, Sauron, who now seeks to possess it again. Frodo must do everything he can to prevent this, and with the help of Gandalf the wizard and a band of loyal companions he begins a perilous journey across Middle-earth. Sauron's Black Riders are on their trail as they travel to Rivendell, attempt to cross the snow-swept Misty Mountains and, in desperation, enter the terrifying Mines of Moria.

4 CDs. 4 hrs.

Beowulf

Caitlin Kiernan (Author)

Written between 700 and 1000AD, the original 3,000 line poem is sometimes called 'England's national epic'. It recounts the story of a Scandinavian warrior, Beowulf, who pledges to save King Hrothgar's people from the monstrous creature Grendel that has been terrorising his kingdom. In the ensuing fight, Beowulf rips off Grendel's arm and the now-mortally wounded monster flees back to his lair beneath a mysterious lake. But Beowulf's work is not yet done: an even greater threat emerges from beneath the waters - Grendel's mother, bent on avenging the death of her son...

One of the great works of English literature, this classic tale of heroism and sacrifice has been transformed into a remarkable film. Directed by Robert Zemeckis from a screenplay by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, Warner Bros.' Beowulf boasts a phenomenal cast, including Ray Winstone, John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie. Employing cutting-edge technologies and dazzling special effects, this ambitious, dark, exciting film reimagines the story for the 21st century and a new generation. Opening in the UK on 16th Nov, the film will do for the story of Beowulf what '300' did for the Battle of Thermopylae. Award-winning dark fantasist Caitlin R. Kiernan's novelisation - with an introduction by Neil Gaiman - is both the perfect companion to the film and a compelling read in its own right.

Sunshine

Robin McKinley (Author)

There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it's unwise to walk.But the lake had been quiet for years. . . .She never heard them coming. Of course you don't, when they're vampires.

They took her clothes and sneakers. They dressed her in a long red gown. And they shackled her to the wall of an abandoned mansion - within easy reach of her fellow prisoner.

She knows he is a vampire. She knows that she's to be his dinner, and that when he is finished with her, she will be dead. Yet when dawn breaks, she is still alive. And now he needs her to help him survive the day...

Web Site Story

Robert Rankin (Author)

They wrote it off as a scare story. The Millennium Bug, the non-event of the twentieth century. But they were wrong, because the Bug was real. Is real. It's a computer virus and it's about to make the deadly species cross-over, from machine to mankind. The Black Death was spread by rats. But this plague will be spread by a mouse. The computer mouse. And do you know how many different kinds of computer viruses there are? And just what they do? And just what they might do to you if you become infected? No? Then read this book and learn the terrible truth.

Or perhaps you'd rather take a holiday in Brentfordland®? Formerly known as Brentford, this Thamesside Shangri La is now London's first ever suburban theme park and holiday village. A world of excitement, relaxation and fabulous fun, waiting just for you. To find out more, log on to the Brentfordland® web site. Just give your computer mouse a wiggle.

Go on.

What harm can it do?

A Dog Called Demolition

Robert Rankin (Author)

DANNY: PORTRAIT OF A SURREAL KILLER

Danny's not sad and lonely any more because Danny's got 'the voices'. Well, one voice. It's the voice of his dog. Not that it's a real dog, Danny's mother would never let him have a real dog, so Danny made up one for himself. And a fine big dog it is too, with a waggy tail and a nice cold nose. Danny was going to call it Princey, but the dog told him its name was Demolition. So that's what Danny calls it.

And the dog's told him other things too. Like how to adjust the bar-code reader in the shop where Danny works so that he can read the lines on people's palms and Danny can see what they're thinking. And which small ads in the comic books to send off to, so Danny can become irresistible to women, bend others to his will, gain vital inches and fear no man living.

No, Danny's not sad and lonely any more. Danny's barking mad.

Robert Rankin has been described variously as 'Funnier than Aleister Crowley, more dangerous than P.G. Wodehouse' (Cardinal Cox, EP Magazine), 'The drinking man's H.G. Wells' (Midweek) and 'An irregular genius' (David Profumo, The Daily Telegraph). His 13th novel is a nightmare journey to hell and back (with only a brief stop at a Happy Eater to use the toilet). Where Natural Born Killers and Silence of the Lambs merely dipped their toes in terror's icy water, Rankin boldly takes his lurex sock off and really puts his foot in it.

The Suburban Book Of The Dead

Robert Rankin (Author)

AT LAST!
The much-longed-for final part of the stupendous ARMAGEDDON trilogy.

And so it came to pass that on 27 July 2061 in the land of Eden, the money-free Utopia, Rex Mundi did toil mightily in his back garden. And he did excavate a cesspit like unto the one which his wife Christeen - the daughter of God and the twin sister of Christ - had been giving him GBH of the earholes regarding the need for therewith.

And verily in the midst of his labours did Rex's spade strike a buried object of not inconsiderable size.

And lo. It were a marble statue of Elvis Presley.

Oh yes siree!

For Elvis looms large here, much to Rex's discomfort, which is further increased when he discovers that the walls of Jericho fell to the strains of 'It's Now or Never' and that David slew the dwarf Goliath wearing blue suede shoes. When Rex is confronted with The Singular Case of the Purloined Presliana, and the Luminous Order of the Sacred Sprout, he realises things are getting out of control...

The Hive

Charles Burns (Author)

Doug is still in the netherworld. He's working a cleaning job in the Hive's stinking hallways, trying to ignore the screams, and reading romance comics to the breeders. But as the stories unravel on the page, frame by frame, mirrored memories plunge him back into his waking life. And that's where the real nightmare is.

In Burns's trademark hard-edged style, The Hive is horrifying and completely absorbing: an incredible new installment from one of the most exciting artists in the comics world.

Practical Magic

Alice Hoffman (Author)

Sisters Gillian and Sally Owens were brought up by their two elderly guardian aunts in a world of spells and exotica. As the magical charm of their childhood wears away, they escape from this mystical mayhem - one by running away, the other by marrying.

Many years go by before strange circumstances thrust them together again, and once more they are in a place that blends the mundane and mysterious, the familiar and fantastic. Three generations of Owens women are brought together in an experience of unexpected insight and revelation, teaching all of them that such perceptions are rare and wonderful and - to be sure - practical.

Runemarks

Joanne Harris (Author)

Seven o’clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the End of the World, and goblins had been at the cellar again.

Maddy Smith has always been an outsider. In a world ruled by the harsh and puritanical Order, she is shunned for the strange birthmark on her left hand. For this is no ordinary birthmark – it is a runemark, a sign of the old gods.

In fact, Maddy can do things that no-one else can, things that could be called magic. But not until she meets the old traveller One-Eye, an outsider like herself, does she learn what power she really has, and what she will be asked to do with it.

In Runemarks, Joanne Harris creates a world not unlike our own - if it had been shaped by the Vikings instead of the Romans - and colours it with her familiar blend of rich imagery and gritty realism. A disenchanted world, where the gods died long ago. Can Maddy bring them back to life?

Acorna's Triumph

Anne McCaffrey (Author) , Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (Author)

In Acorna's Triumph, Acorna faces her most difficult challenge ever. She has defeated slavers, a deadly international conspiracy, and the vicious alien Khleevi, only to endure the loss of her beloved Aari, distant in both time and space. Now, finally, Aari has returned, and together they can finish rebuilding their home world. But Aari is oddly changed, to the point where he barely remembers Acorna - much less their love - and his actions grow more and more sinister... As Acorna tries to stop a vicious criminal from destroying innocents, a new complication arises. Sensing the Linyaari weakness, the deadly Khleevi return, determined to take back the planet-for good. In this dark time, it will take all of the unicorn girl's courage and determination to rescue Aari and stop the alien menace once and for all.

Neil Gaiman's How the Marquis Got His Coat Back

Neil Gaiman (Author) , Adrian Lester (Read by), Bernard Cribbins (Read by), Don Warrington (Read by), Full Cast (Read by), James McAvoy (Read by), Mitch Benn (Read by), Neil Gaiman (Read by) , Paterson Joseph (Read by), Samantha Beart (Read by)

Paterson Joseph stars as the Marquis de Carabas in this brand new BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of Neil Gaiman's spin-off short story, set in the magical world of Neverwhere.

Returning us to London Below, this enchanting tale continues the story of one of the most colourful characters from Neverwhere – the cool, charming, resourceful Marquis de Carabas, who trades in favours and always has a plan...

The Marquis' coat is a thing of wonder and beauty. Sleek, stylish and 'the colour of a wet street at midnight', it has numerous pockets, sumptuous sleeves and the power to transform a young sneak thief into a nobleman.

And now it is missing, sold by the Sewer Folk. To reclaim it, the Marquis must venture into one of the most terrifying parts of the subterranean city, encounter an old enemy, face dreadful dangers and – worst of all – accept help from someone very close to home.

Expanded and dramatised for Radio 4 by the award-winning Dirk Maggs (Neverwhere, Good Omens, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and co-directed by Dirk Maggs and Heather Larmour, this spine-tingling production features a star cast including James McAvoy, Adrian Lester, Don Warrington and Bernard Cribbins, with a cameo appearance by Neil Gaiman himself.

Contains 15 minutes of additional unbroadcast material. Duration: 60 mins approx.

Raiders Of The Lost Carpark

Robert Rankin (Author)

Hugo Rune returns. And just in time, for the evil fairies of Brentford are planning to conquer the world. To publicise his mission, Hugo plans to kidnap the Queen while she addresses the world before a gig by the greatest rock band on earth, Gandhi's Hairdryer.

The Box Of Delights

John Masefield (Author) , Celia Imrie (Read by), Donald Sinden (Read by), Full Cast (Read by), Lionel Jeffries (Read by), Spike Milligan (Read by)

When Kay Harker meets a mysterious Punch and Judy man on his way home for Christmas, he little realizes that he is about to be plunged into adventure. The old man entrusts Kay with a strange puzzle box - the Box of Delights - before suddenly disappearing. Kay soon discovers two things: the box can transport him through time and space, and there is a plot to steal it. He must battle heroically against terrifying forces of evil in order to win the day... This thrilling BBC Radio adaptation boasts a stellar cast, including Donald Sinden, Lionel Jeffries, Spike Milligan and Celia Imrie.

3 CDs. 3 hrs.

The Ice Queen

Alice Hoffman (Author)

Alice Hoffman is at her electrifying best in this fairy tale for grown-ups. The story begins with a little girl who makes a wish one snowy night and ruins her life. She grows up with a splinter of ice in her heart until one day, standing by her kitchen window, she is struck by lightning.

Instead of killing her, this cataclysmic event sparks off a new beginning. She seeks out Lazarus Jones, a fellow lightning survivor. He is her opposite, a burning man whose breath can boil water and whose touch scorches. As an obsessive love affair begins between them, both are forced to hide their most dangerous secrets - what turned one to ice and the other to fire.

The Ice Queen is a haunting story of passion, loss, second chances and the secrets that come to define us, if we're not careful.

Waiting For Godalming

Robert Rankin (Author)

The Jehovahs have always been a tight-knit family and one of the biggest names in universal property development. The driving force behind them is the old boy, God, although in recent millennia he has ceased to play an active role and has become something of a recluse.

Now tragedy has struck the House of Jehovah. God has died in mysterious circumstances, leaving his beloved planet earth to his youngest son, Colin, which seems deeply suspicious, as everyone felt certain that the meek were supposed to inherit it. Colin is all for flogging off the planet to the highest bidder, and this looks like being the Jehovahs' arch rivals, the Lucifer Consortium. If they get their talons on old Mother Earth, they're likely to adopt a much more hands-on style of management. The people of Earth could well find themselves in deep trouble and they're going to need friends in very high places to get them out of it.
It's Dallas meets Deuteronomy in a Divine Comedy to out-Apocalypse them all. And if you thought Robert Rankin had blown his chances of tea with the Pope when he published Armageddon: The Musical, just wait till you read this one.

Nostradamus Ate My Hamster

Robert Rankin (Author)

DO HOLOGRAMS DREAM OF ELECTRIC CINEMA? He wanted Hollywood. He got Brentford. He wanted Spielberg. He got Fudgepacker. He got who?

Fudgepacker. Ernest Fudgepacker. Directed all those weird B-movies back in the Fifties. Whatever happened to him? He retired. Opened Fudgepacker's Emporium, a prop house catering to the more bizarre needs of the film industry. Amazing place. There you could hire anything from shrunken heads to a pickled homunculus. Trouble is, they just don't make that kind of movie any more. Ernie's going bust. In fact, if he can't come up with some big bucks pretty damn quick, he's going to lose the business. It will take a miracle to save him now.

Young Master Robert believes in miracles. He has a dream. He wants to star in movies alongside The Greats. The Golden Greats. The dead Golden Greats. He's a boy boffin with computers and he's invented this system that could put the stars of yesteryear right back up there on the screen. Next to him. He's written a script and he's got piles of money (his dad owns the brewery), but Hollywood isn't keen. And Mr Spielberg didn't ring back. The lad needs a director and Ernie needs the dosh, and Ernie only lives up the road. Could this be the perfect partnership?

Well, it could be...but then this is Brentford and when you make movies in this neck of the woods, you can be sure of a BIG surprise. And when Brentford takes on Hollywood, then Hollywood had better pack up and head for the hills.

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