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The Forbidden Planet of Faerie

24 Sep

There’s a street in London called Shaftesbury Avenue, which runs though some of the most glamorous parts of the British capital – Oxford Circus, Covent Garden and Leicester Square – but is otherwise unremarkable, save for its length and how busy it is. There is little to signify the fact that secreted somewhere along this road (you have to look really hard to find it) is one of the best bookshops in the world – Forbidden Planet. American readers will probably be very familiar with the name already, as there are several large stores that are part of the same chain in the States (the one in New York is particularly famous). For those of us who live in England, however, Forbidden Planet is particularly to be treasured because there is virtually nothing like it anywhere else in this country (and believe me, I’ve looked). Even ignoring the vast collection of graphic novels and associated memorabilia within these hallowed walls, this bookshop is home to by far the largest, most varied and most eclectic selection of fantasy, science fiction and horror to be found in the UK. I stumbled across the place quite by accident while trying to find a spot to avoid the rain and for a book lover like me, it felt like coming home! I mean, this place had everything – brand new best-sellers from the USA in their original covers (several months before they were available in any other store), old favourites which weren’t stocked anywhere else, genuine collector’s items which had been out of print for years (or in some cases decades), works by authors whom I’d never heard of before but devoured eagerly nevertheless, magazines, journals, hardbacks, paperbacks, fiction, non-fiction, illustrated books and absolutely everything in between. Needless to say, I’ve been back on a regular basis ever since and London’s Forbidden Planet has been a never-ending treasure trove of reading material for me for many years now.

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