The Grid

“The prevailing wisdom among today’s planners is that it is important to honor the land’s contours, which only goes to show how visionary the city fathers were: they created a New York as eccentrically “intentional” as St. Petersburg, a madly rational scheme imposed on nature. Nor did they have any use for the circles, ovals, and other geometric interventions so loved by Europeans. The commissioners loved the ninety-degree angle, the forthright, egalitarian plod of rectangle after rectangle, extended indefinitely: they would have gridded the sea and stars if given the chance.

One reason the city fathers liked the grid was that it facilitated the orderly sale and development of property. While one hears the Manhattan grid disparaged today as merely a capitalist device for real-estate speculation, to me it is a mighty form, existential metaphor, generator of modernity, Procrustean bed, call it what you will, a thing impossible to overpraise. The architect Rem Koolhaas called it “the most courageous act of prediction in Western Civilization.” It inspired Mondrian, Sol Lewitt, Agnes Martin, and that’s good enough for me.”

Phillip Lopate in  Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan (2004)

Locations in Mark Samuels’ In the Face of Twilight

Mark Samuels’ bleak novella of urban horror, In the Face of Twilight, is set in London. Living in London, and being somewhat familiar with the settings in this story, this created a unique opportunity to see what places in his book actually do exist.

What follows is a selection of photos taken of locations that feature in In the Face of Twilight. Although some of the names of the real locations may be different from the story, based on all information given in the book, I am confident that these are the places that were portrayed.

‘Ivan Gilman had little choice when it came to deciding to rent the studio flat on the Archway Road.’ [page 3]

‘No more than twenty paces from his front door, the Rochester pub occupied the northern corners just south of his new flat.’ [page 6]

A luxuriant array of plants and flowers hung in the baskets around the walls and along the fire escape which one had to descend to reach the courtyard.’ [page 12]

‘He had also developed a strange fascination with nearby Archway Bridge’. [page 15]

‘The first portion of the approach ritual required him to begin from Archway Underground station.’ [page 18]

‘It was first required that one contemplated the Archway Tower, a great black monolith that had gone up in the 1970s above the Underground Station.’ [page 18]

‘Gilman trudged up Highgate Hill, passed ….., and the great eponymous hospital on the hill.  [page 19]

‘… this time on the approach to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Its great green dome dominated the skyline,…’ [page 19]

‘In front of the church building was a statue of the Saint,…’ [page 19]

‘As he forced himself up Swains Lane he could almost believe that he was in some remote part of the countryside.’ [page 20]

‘To Gilman’s right was the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution, a two storey whitewashed Georgian Building.’ [page 20]

‘Now, once Gilman stood within Pond Square itself, the spire of the television mast that was his destination was clearly visible.’ [page 20]


‘He took shelter in the middle of the square underneath the overhanging roof of an abandoned public lavatory. ‘ [page 21]

‘He decided to make his way to the Sceptre Tavern in darkest Holborn.’ [page 27]

‘After a minute or so he saw the archway with the sign, just before Holborn Circus. It was fixed on a Victorian street lamp that had been converted to run off electricity instead of gas, and it read “The Sceptre Tavern”.’ [page 28]

‘Just around the corner, under a low doorway, was a snuggery bearing the legend “Ye Closet” in which Gilman’s crowd met.’ [page28]

‘Gilman looked west; to his left were the tottering Tudor buildings that had lasted for hundreds of years…’ [page 53]

‘The train drew to a halt at Goodge Street Station,…’ [page 70]

‘Gilman found himself on Malet Street and saw that the book emporium on the corner with Gower Street was open for business.’ [page 84]

‘Gilman was amazed and terrified when the bus drew alongside what had formerly been the disused Underground station York Road,….’ [page 104 /105]

‘Although at first bewildered, he quickly realised that he had somehow staggered into the old West section of Highgate Cemetery after last night’s debauch.’ [page115/116]



London’s abandoned underground stations

Like Fritz Leiber and Thomas Ligotti, the setting for the weird fiction of Mark Samuels is often an urban environment. The British horror writer Ramsey Campbell describes Samuel’s stories as ‘Urban Tales of Terror’ in the introduction to Samuel’s  latest collection of short stories, ‘Glyphotech and Other Macabre Stories.’

The setting for these urban tales of terror is usually London, where the writer was born and still lives. A disturbing example of this type of writing is his debut novella The Face of Twilight.

‘Sentinels,’ one of the stories in Glyphotech,  features the fascinating world of abandoned London Underground Stations. The main character investigates the disappearance of a tube train driver riding the very last train of the night, on a line that passes these abandoned Underground Stations.

If you ever visited or lived in London you may have seen remnants of these old Underground Stations, either the abandoned entrances visible from the streets or while being on the Underground. On some lines you can catch a glimpse of these abandoned stations. Supposedly there are more than 40 abandoned or relocated stations and it is a fascinating world far away from the busy streets of London, but unfortunately well monitored and fenced off to keep the interested away.

York Station - One of London's abandoned stations