Monday, October 26, 2009
What would get if you crossed Derrick Jensen with Philip K. Dick and Stephen King? As far as I can tell, the answer just might be: David Agranoff. I just finished reading his latest fiction collection, Screams from a Dying World (Afterbirth Books). It’s a scathing critique/salient analysis of pre-collapse America...all dressed up in a sometimes gory and graphic horror/sci-fi cloak. Cell phone towers are downed, trees are clear cut, genes are spliced—and that’s just the beginning. Agranoff brings his vegan, non-sexist, pro-justice, anti-civ sensibilities to every story but best all, he’s an excellent writer and storyteller first and foremost. The closing story, “The Network,” is a tour de force not to be missed.
Highly, highly recommended...
-Mickey Z author of CPR for Dummies
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Sideshow P.I. - The Devil's Garden By Nathaniel Lambert and Kevin Sweeney
Graveside Tales 155 pages
Eddie Ghash is down on his luck, after losing his job in show business he spends two years drowning himself in drink before deciding he needs a new vocation. He is going to be a private detective. Eddie you see works the beat in New Ramoth, a freakazoid city filled with biazrro charcters. Perfect beat for a dog faced boy whose carnival freak show went bust. He learns everything he needs to know from THE IG'NANT ASS BITCHES GUIDE TO SLEUTHING.
This is high concept Pulp fiction noir style bizarro that only takes a few pages to build a universe that is filthy and disgusting. The pages are dripping with gore, goo and slime. It is so gross that it will take a reader with a healthy love of repulsiveness to be able to read it. If you can get with that you will find a lot to like this bizarro horror novel.
Introduced by the fantastic bizzaro literary flag bearer and horror master Gina Ranalli, that in itself is a sign that this good stuff. The two authors did a wonderful job of creating a mystery that involves a murder and conspiracy of biblical scope. Eddie and his former sideshow partners populate a bizarro city that is surrounded by rivers flowing with afterbirth. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments, and strange-ness but this short novel has several truly uncomfortable moments of effective horror.
This is one of the best novels to come out of the young literary movement bizarro. This is the first one from the growing movement where I could really see a series and lots of follow sequels coming naturally. The further investigates of the dog faced private dick are something I look forward. If you take my advice and make this book a hit!
Dark Discoveries #14 (special Twilight Zone issue)
This magazine gets better all the time. While the content of Dark Discoveries has always been pretty good, some of the early issues had wonky lay-out and alot wasted space. There are only three Horror magazines I think are must reads that come out consistantly. The Book of Dark Wisdom, Cemetery Dance and Dark Discoveries. I used to believe Cemetery Dance was the best, but Dark Discoveries is heading to the top with a bullet. It reminds more and more of the 1980's wonderful Twilight zone magazine and has become a must read. It became the first to get a full on subscription from me.
The Twilight Zone issue is a must have for fans of the greatest Sci-fi show of all time. Co-editor of DD Jason V. Brock is in a unique position to be all over this issue. He recently finished a film with his wife Sunni about the short life of Twilight Zone writer Chuck Beaumont. He interviewed several members of “the group” an elite force of fantasists living and working closely together in LA. Part of Brock's interview with George Clayton Johnson(Co-author of Logan's run / the kick the can episode of TZ) is in this issue and it is fantastic.
Richard Matheson(I am Legend)'s classic short story that formed the basis of the classic episode nightmare at 20,000 feet. Jason Brock also delivers a great Matheson Approved sequel to the classic story called Black Box. William F. Nolan (Logan's run/ Dark Universe) delivers a teleplay for a lost TZ episode based on a Charles Beaumont short story called “Free Dirt.” Apex press editor Jason Sizemore has a very short tale called City Hall and lots of TZ articles.
This is a great issue for any horror fans but essential for fans of the Twilight Zone. What is best about this issue is how little of a focus is put on TZ creator Rod Serling. We already have mountains of information about him. Up next Dark Discoveries #15 is the Lovecraft special issue. What's great for me is this magazine is produced by Vegetarian horror fans from just across the river in Washington. So I get to think horrifically, read locally.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Dark Entries By Ian Rankin
A John Constantine novel
DC Vertigo ( Vertigo crime line)
My favorite comic book of all time is Hellblazer, I followed the first 50 or so issues before I became a a broke activist and lost track. Over the last couple years I caught back with the occult magician John Constantine. Well I didn't think the movie was as bad as some people did I find the Americanizing of Constantine to be awful. Still it's not that bad.
Vertigo has done an amazing job of maintaining the quality of Hellblazer graphic novels and novels by keeping the caliber of his writers strong. Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Mike Carey, John Shirley and now international bestselling crime and detective author Ian Rankin. I have to admit I never heard of the man before getting this book in the mail. Best know for a series of books about a detective named inspector Rebus. I've been told by one friend that his writing is criminally good, another said he thought Rebus and Constantine would make great drinking buddies.
For those of you who don't know John Constantine began life as a small character created by watchmen author Alan Moore in an issue of Swamp Thing. A former Punk rocker and dammed occult magician, JC is a badass character - one of the best the genre has ever seen. The last new Hellblazer work I read was John Shirley's excellent novel Subterranean.
This is a very different Constantine book. It's small hardcover in Vertigo's new crime line it is a black white book with minimalist drawings. I am used to Hellblazer in bold colors, and since it is often gore drenched pages it took some getting used to.
Rankin weaves a patient Constantine tale but there is obvious love for the character, at first it seems like modern re-telling of a classic haunted house tale. John is asked to oversee a reality show that takes place in a haunted mansion. Things start taking life of their own and producers need John to go in and fix things. John suspects that the producers are not whom they seem to be, the stars of the show might not be who they appear to be. So what does our hero do but jump into the mystery.
There is an excellent twist that takes the book in a more classic Hellblazer path but Rankin does a wonderful job building up his story. Oh well I suppose I'm going to have to check out his books now. Hellblazer fans will really dig this different take on their hero. Pick up this book!
Choir of Ill Children By Tom Piccirilli
225 pages Paperback $5.99
I hate to say this but damn if this novel doesn't rise above the genre. I can't stand when science fiction (like Russell's the sparrow) or horror (Like Cormic McCarthy's Blood Merdian) are considered literature at not what they are – awesome works of genre. I suppose there are horror novels and there is horror literature, some authors do both at different times in their career. I admit before reading this book the only Tom Piccirilli I read before was his posts on shocklines (a horror messageboard). This short and perfectly paced novel is a fantastic southern gothic horror novel that creates great and memorable characters while at the same time creates a creepy and unsettling southern environment that feels both uncomfortable and super interesting.
Thomas runs the biggest employer in the southern swamp town of Kingdom Come, when he is not running the mill he is taking care of his three younger brothers. His brothers are a handfull since they are conjoined triplets who have one brain and three bodies. A great evil is coming to town and the grand old witches of kingdom come need Thomas to stop it.
Haunting childhood memories, southern magic and, murder, treachery and creepy characters make Choir of Ill children a must read horror masterpiece. Like most really great horror novels it is short. The novel comes together that a puzzle, Tom Pic did an amazing job of putting the pieces together at just the right pace so the mystery remains through most of the book.
I had heard over and over that this was a horror masterpiece and sertainly it has blurbs from just about everybody – Dean Koontz, Stewart O' Nan, Douglas Clegg, Thomas Liggoti, Gary Braunbeck, Ed Lee...well you get the point. If you like horror this is a great read. Wicked, funny, gruesome, lyrical all that stuff all the big names said it would be.