Thursday, December 30, 2010

Count Agranoff's Top Ten Books of 2010

The idea behind this post is to make a few suggestions that will benefit some struggling artists. But this is an honest top ten list of my favorite books I read this year that were released during 2010. You see that there are no authors or books on this list that are sold in airports or on the bestseller list. I didn't do this on purpose, but after I looked at I was excited that so many independent authors made this list. It's not that I didn't read any major authors this year. I read a few classics(they don't count) but I also read major releases from excellent authors like F.Paul Wilson (Ground Zero), Kaaron Warren (Slights) and David Morrell (The Spy who came home for Christmas) as great as all three were they didn't make my top ten.

The one thing I am bummed about is the lack of Non-fiction. I just read mostly fiction this year, and besides Jeremy Rifkin's disappointing new book there was much I was interested in. This is the list and believe me these days most writers depend on the independent press. You can safely bet the only authors making a comfortable living off their art are the ones you see in airports.

When you buy a book by a independent author, each sale means a lot to us. We get excited when we have sold 8 books in a month! Each one counts. So as a lover of books, storytelling and struggling artists I thought I would suggest some writers and books for you or for gifts. Dig deeper to find authors you that are not in the mainstream. So think of these as gifts that “give” not only to your friends and family but to the author and the independent press who published it.

A book is a gift that can pass on ideas, and hours of entertainment, but make sure the people you give these gifts too that that they understand why they are such wonderful gifts. Of course it's based on my tastes and opinions but I am going to tell you why with each one. Also if you bounce around my blog you will find interviews with many of the authors on the list that I did.

Honorable mention goes to Pandora's Seed by Spencer Wells. It is basically a study that lays out why civilization has been more negative than positive for our species. A little dry at times but mostly awesome.

Number Ten: Bizarro Starter Kit (Purple) Okay I have a bias because my novella, Punkupine Moshers of the Apocalyse is in this book. He is what you have 10 novellas by 10 bizarro authors including some of my favorites like Cody Goodfellow, Cameron Pierce (Lost in cat Brain Land), Jeff Burk (Shatnerquake), Garrett Cook (Murderland) and many more... 10 novellas from new authors basically one dollar a piece. This is the third bizarro starter kit. It is a great way to explore the authors outside the mainstream. Sample 10 authors for 10 bucks. Hard to fail if you like strange, out there fiction.

Number Nine: Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness by Robert Cheeke: If passion ever bled through the pages of a book about veganism, this is the one. While some of the information about bodybuilding competitions is not for everyone this is a great motivational book about veganism and fitness. Robert brings his trademark passion and energy to this excellent well thought out guide to vegan fitness. It works for both the newcomer and can also help vegan veterans.

Number Eight Werewolves and Shapeshifters Edited by John Skipp: This is a must read for fans of horror fiction. John Skipp has done here something that editors always try to do when they do a theme anthology. If this is not the ultimate collection of shape shifter stories I want to pointed to one that is better. Featuring classics from as far back as Hp Lovecraft’s Shadow over innsmouth to 80’s classics by David Schow and George RR Martin. The collection goes from strength to strength with original stories from some of my favorites like Cody Goodfellow and Jeremy Robert Johnson. Skipp combines classics and the voice of new bright stars in both the bizarro and horror movements. Fantastic anthology.

Number Seven Fistful of Feet by Jordan Krall: The best thing I can say about Jordan Krall's bizarro horror Spaghetti western is that I pictured it in my head with grainy old VHS look and the dialogue in the soundtrack was dubbed and slightly off. Got to love a western with Lovecraftian Cthulhu worshiping native Americans and saloons named after Charles Bronson characters. It's also well written and a heck of a lot of fun. Fistful of Feet is a excellent western that just happens to be amazingly weird as well.

Number Six Jade By Gene O'Neil:
A 101 page novella released by Bad Moon books is a charming post apocalypse story, yep you read that right. O'Neil is a talented story teller through and through and this story set in the ruins that had once been San Diego is emotionally gripping from the first page to the last. I read this on a flight in one sitting, only stopping flip down my tray for my drink.

Number Five Cursed by Jeremy C. Shipp: Nominated for the Bram Stoker Award this is the third fiction release of Jeremy C. Shipp who is quickly making a name for himself in two fields of dark medicine. A word surgeon with skills that cut like a knife across the genres of horror and bizarro. A first rate surrealist who is assured enough in his craft to throw out the rules completely. It takes amazing skill to weave a horror tale the way he has without the benefit of a standard structure. Disturbing and funny all at the same time, this is a first rate piece of bizarro as literature.

Number four Castle of Los Angeles By Lisa Morton
: She has won the Bram stoker award three times, and this is first first novel. Morton has packed in an unbelievable amount of story for it's length. She doesn't waste pages and paces the story so well the pages fly by. I read the book in 48 hours that included two work days. Lisa Morton takes a familiar riff, tuned slightly to her pitch and the result is a near perfect traditional horror novel. The first of three haunted house stories on the top ten list, each has it's unique take.

Number Three House of Fallen Trees by Gina Ranalli
: I can't say enough about Gina. Her books have crazy range from surrealist laughers like Wall of Kiss to political commentary of Mother Puncher. This year saw the paperback release a classic grade A horror novel. HOFT shows mastery of pace and deep knowledge of genre that Gina has never had chance to show off in her many bizarro books. A Creepy story with strong characters and a little early Stephen King influence. A short but effective read. Gina followed it up with a very original take on the zombie genre. A Vegan warrior and effective horror writer, if I had sister author it is Gina Ranalli.

Number Two Deadheart Shelters By Forrest Armstrong: I have actually delayed writing this review twice because I didn't believe I could do this novel justice. If you do the right thing and get this novel you will understand. I found myself, reading sentences and feeling compelled to read them out loud. DHS is a surreal novel filled with poetic prose that is disturbing and beautiful all at once. This story of an escaped slave is like a journey on a spiral staircase into another world, Armstrong creates a surreal landscape that is vivid, and the prose itself has to be savored like fine chocolate that slowly melts in your mouth. This is an amazing book, it deserves to be celebrated.

Number One Perfect Union by Cody Goodfellow:
Perfect Union is a weird masterpiece. Influences ranging from Cronenberg body horror, Evil Dead style gore comedy to a fascinating political dissection of Marx and Thoreau. The combo make this a genius horror novel destined to be mis understand by the the masses, but loved by the readers ready to get in the ring with Cody. It's not for everyone, The sex scene between tweakers in the opening chapter is beyond gross and a signal to potential readers....can you hang? Cody Goodfellow can disturb, offend and amuse in a single sentence, he has done all three to me in a speech tag before.
This is a book where a woman bites the heads of fetuses and throws them at people, but also intelligently explores the failings of communism. Cody leaves the rest of us in his dust, it is hard to describe Goodfellow's writing without sounding over the top or hyperbolic. The man is a diabolical genius.
As I said in my review of his short story collection...This is more than Lovecraft on acid, this is Lovecraft after a smack bender in Tijuana, one where he wakes up handcuffed to bed and covered in someone else's blood. Goodfellow's fiction has the otherworld -ness of Lovecraft, the sarcasm of Joe R. Lansdale, the mojo of a Motley Crue tell-all and best of all it's wrapped together with prose that would satisfy fans of high literature in horror.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Magazine Review: Dark Discoveries #17

Dark Discoveries #17

I posted a review of another horror magazine Cemetery Dance last month, now time for a review of my favorite. The locally produced Dark Discoveries. Editor James Beach and his partner Jason Brock have done it again, making each issue better than the last. Without a doubt this is my favorite issue so far. The Dark Science Fiction issue features stories by Ray Bradbury, John Shirley, Jeffery Thomas, Bruce Taylor and Portland’s own Jeremy Robert Johnson.

All the fiction in this issue is top notch in this issue. Jeremy Robert Johnson’s The Oarsman was exciting to read as he is a gifted author who has been in hibernation for the last few years. This is a short science fiction, but it doesn’t take long to show a growth in JRJ’s use of language. He was already a great writer but I loved this story.

John Shirley has an excellent short called “Raise Your Hand if You’re Dead.” This returns Shirley to familiar territory that will excite his fans it is cyberpunk with a subtle but effective environmental setting.As is the case with the best short stories I finished it wishing it were a novel. Bruce Taylor's tale of surrealist humor he is known for and the Bradbury piece is poetic.

As for the non-fiction the highlight for this huge fan was Jason Brock’s excellent interview with John Shirley. A great introduction for readers unfamiliar with his work and for those of us who have read everything a peak a little deeper into the writer’s mind. I enjoyed Nolan’s piece about Phillip K. Dick and James Beach’s piece on Dark stories of Star Trek the original series. There were fascinating features abut J.G. Ballard (a writer I need to explore), Rod Serling and lots more.

Jason Brock continues to make the magazine look better with each issue. It’s clear he puts a ton of energy into the look and design of DD. It looks light years better than it did a few issues ago.

I only have one small problem with this issue and one with Dark Discoveries in general. The small problem first, I was excited about the David Cronenberg interview as it was the Dark Sci-fi issue. I was hoping for a look back at videodrome, scanners and the other fantastic films he made that crossed both genres. The interview was almost entirely about Eastern Promises. A good film, and a good interview but a small let down. I don’t blame The DD crew for including it, I just have to admit I was hoping for some dish on the early films.

Now for the only big, huge problem with Dark Discoveries! It’s so damn good I read it almost all in one sitting. Granted It was over a whole afternoon, but I slammed through this issue, and I did that the last two times as well. Now I gotta wait for another issue. I’ll be keeping my subscription.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Review: Slights by Kaaron Warren

Slights by Kaaron Warren
Angry Robot
498 pages (20 pages of extras)

This is a powerful first novel by Australian writer Kaaron Warren. This novel is marketed as horror, but as I read I had a strange feeling. This novel felt like the kinda of novel that is sold as literary fiction, when we damn well know its horror. For example American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis or in Science Fiction Mary Dorian Russell’s The Sparrow. Those are books that are clearly genre but we have to explain, argue and debate those titles into genre as if it’s a ghetto.

Slights feels like one of those novels, because while it is clearly horror it doesn’t follow any previously used horror structure. Those structures are often hidden to the reader, but to us students of the genre they are easy to detect.

It was a interesting read for me. I enjoy Slights a lot but because I am so comfortable with the structure that when it went off the rails it was a little off putting for me. I have had huge problems with the ways some books have unfolded but I could tell most readers would enjoy the book. Sometimes the missed chances for suspense drive me nuts but I know most readers don't know the difference.

When I was 300 pages into this book, I told my partner Cari that it was a good book but needed to lose two hundred pages. I was convinced that the story could have been told in much more streamlined way.

Thankfully I stuck it out, because I think the page count is paid off by the end.

Slights is disturbing and the most original psychological horror novel I read in years. It seems very Chuck Palahniuk influenced. A fasinating puzzle about Stevie a eighteen year old woman whose mother dies beside her during car accident. But Stevie died too, and before she came back she didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel She was in a dark room with as the people she had been bad to in her life.

Stevie is brought back to life and with each chapter when visit with Stevie a year older and more damaged. Early in the novel you have to wade through some jerky flashbacks, but dealing with Stevie's childhood is very important to the story.

The back of the novel sells a story of serial killer but that part of the story doesn't really become clear until you have read a novel's worth of pages. it doesn't matter the journey that makes this a must read book is the decent into maddness that drips off every single page.

Book Review: The Black hole of Carcosa by John Shirley

Kamus of Kadizhar: Black Hole of Carcosa
John Shirley
1988 St. Martin’s press
(Out of Print)

I have not worked my way through every book that cyberpunk and extreme horror pioneer John Shirley has written, but I have read the majority. Black hole of Carcosa is the most bizarro one I have read so far. 1988 is way before the bizarro literary movement kicked off but this book has more in common with the likes of D Harlan Wilson than it does the vulgar insanity of Carlton Mellick III.

Set on Darkworld a future human colony where technology doesn’t work but magic does. This is the surreal setting where noir style Kamus of Kadizhar is the world’s only detective.

I wouldn’t say this book is a satire, but it is as tongue and cheek of a science fiction novel I have read in a long time. So even though the plots are very different that is why it reminded me of D Harlan Wilson’s amazing science fiction surreal comedy Dr. Identity. If you compare the two Dr. Identity may seem a little bit more gonzo consider the time and place in his career that John Shirley was at.

Rudy Rucker was in a lot of ways cyberpunk’s comedian, and Shirley was at the time in the middle of a dark trilogy of world war III novels. The Song Called Youth Trilogy was a brutal look at the growing conservative fundamentals, so a whacky tongue in cheek surrealist comedy at the same time was a bold move in 1988.

Now there is a movement and peers that support this kind of off the wall novel, but at the time I think this was a pretty bold novel. Bizarro fiction fans need to find this book if they can. Maybe if its cult status grows Shirley can write sequel set on the punk rock planet mentioned on page 43. That would be awesome.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Special edition benefit sale! Exclusive deals!

Hey a quick update on the state of my novel The Vegan Revolution...with Zombies. Since day one the love and support this novel has received has been overwhelming. Thank You! News stories on websites ranging from ecorazzi, discovery channel's planet green, authors speak and NPR to name a few. It's been great. A large part of that is due to the fantastic book trailer that we made to promote the book. If you have not seen watch it again but make sure you read the rest of this message after you do...

The budget of the trailer was about $25 dollars for make-up and stuff. It was filmed by the amazing Tim Khan who have volunteered his services and equipment to film. He volunteers like this all the time has filmed the Let Live Animal rights conference, and also the Vegan Iron Chef. To get zombies I just made a facebook event and posted around the internet asking people to show up. And asked if anyone with a Prius could volunteer one for the key scene.

It was important to me to make a big splash with the trailer. The book was released in September and all author profits through the end of this year are meant to go to Try Vegan PDX. Try Vegan is a one on one vegan mentoring organization that has organized an Annual Try Vegan Week (with 30 events), Vegan prom, and Vegan Iron Chef here in Portland.

During the filming we did some cosmetic damage to the volunteered prius and it is going to cost a a few hundred dollars to fix it. I can't afford to fix it, but clearly I want to do the right thing and pay for it. Maybe you can help! I don't want to take it out of the money that would otherwise go to Try Vegan, but at home we need every dime.

I am hoping that if you enjoyed the trailer, and the novel that you will help us out by supporting this special sale.

I am selling four special edition packages with every dime going to fix the prius!

The packages include:

A Personalized Signed copy of “The Vegan Revolution...With Zombies.” signed by the author, and by Magik and Bru-Dawg – The real life inspirations of two of the major characters.

A Personalized Signed copy of the limited edition “Screams from a Dying World” Chapbook. Only 150 copies of this limited first edition zine style chapbook collection were ever printed. It has the first six stories from Afterbirth edition, and pretty full color cover. Super weird art by mister Rick Clarke. (I only have 5 of these left, so these are the last four for sale.)

An Exclusive unreleased short story. Each package will have a different original short story.

An Exclusive List of Bru-Dawg's approved zombie movies,including full reviews of Burial Ground and Nightmare City signed by Bru himself. If you have not read the novel yet, Bru-Dawg is a zombie movie expert inspired by a real life friend of mine. He also played himself in the Trailer

A signed exclusive 10 page preview of my upcoming Kungfu vampire monster mash dark fantasy novel Hunting the Moon Tribe. With full color Art work by Eisner award winning comic book Eric Shanower.

The price for this cool package is a $40 donation. Every dime goes to fixing the car and making sure I can make a complete donation to Try Vegan PDX.

I only have four of these to sell so if you want it, jump on it. Once they are gone they are gone. If you already have a copy of Vegan Rev. Donate it to the library, or pass on to a friend. If you are interested drop me an e-mail if you are interested.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book Review: Slaughterhouse high by Robert Devereaux

Slaughterhouse high by Robert Devereaux
Deadite Press

For most people high school is a painful experience, I am Keenly aware of this not just because I endured it myself but my day job as a para-educator in a high school gives me a daily view. It is a hard gauntlet that seems impossible to survive. When you are facing the four years of daily education and social indoctrination getting out alive can feel like struggle to survive a slasher movie. And what about the cream of the crop? The prom queen and king have mastered the bullshit that is high school. Worse yet those assholes often take a nosedive and end up crashing into a life of mediocre tedium.

This to me is the brilliant heart of the satire that is Slaughterhouse High by Splatterpunk’s saintly uncle Robert Devereaux, the man behind a pre-bizarro but very clearly bizarro classic “Santa Steps Out.” This book is four parts bizarro and one part horror but is an all around visceral and deadly satire.

It takes place in the Demented states of America, where the greatest spectator sport is the serial killing of the prom queen and king across the country. The plot circles around the functioning of a small town and the big night at Condrum high school.

Devereaux has wicked and dangerous imagination and this novel exists in fictional universe every bit as real and fully formed as the world in science fiction novels like Dune or fantasy like Lord of the Rings. But it’s demented take on our own world similar but messed in that sense to Phillip K. Dick’s “Flow My Tears the Policeman Said.” But this not like putting goatee on Spock, this is a deeply fucked-up alternate universe. Don’t enter this world unless you are ready for blood and guts dripping down the walls.

Now I have given you lots of reasons to get this book. All valid, is there a weakness? A small problem but the only one I had with the novel was a lack of strong POV. There is no character that I felt I could relate to strongly, and there are so many characters and shifting Point of views that I think the novel suffered a bit for it. The invention of the universe it takes place in more than makes up for this minor shortcoming.

In the scope of the whole novel that is a minor complaint. Slaughterhouse High is master work socio-political bizarro satire.

Book Review: John Dies at the End by David wong

John Dies at the End
Permuted Press

I heard this was re-printed by St. Martin’s press. So this novel began as an online serial, and it shows a little bit when you’re reading it. Lets get back to that. You can discount this review if you want because I admit I could not read it word for word after 150 pages. I began to skip and skip.

This is the story of two friends who get involved in a drug known on the streets as Soy Sauce. It causes an out of body experience. They fight meat monsters and travel around in time. There are tons of interesting ideas and lots of laugh out loud funny parts. Certainly David Wong has talent but this book needed a serious and strong editor.

The novel lacks serious structure, I know it started as a blog serial but the author noted that he did a pass before it got printed. Really? My biggest problem with the book was it seemed like Wong would take a page and half to describe what should have taken a single paragraph. It drove me nuts. (for the record this is problem I am trying to clean up and out of my early work)

I read it for the same reason several other people decided to do it in the last month. Don Coscereli director of Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep is currently filming an adaptation of the novel I was interested so I picked it up. I posted about it on Facebook and I had two other readers say they were having the same experience with the book.

Did I finish it? Sorta I started skipping huge chucks, a reading tactic that as an author I find disgusting but it was that was the only way to make it through. This book lacks rhythm so for all the funny and interesting moments it comes like a really awesome band with an awful drummer.

Magazine Review: Cemetery Dance #64

Cemetery Dance #64

One of my two favorite magazines in the world I was excited to see a new issue of CD on the shelf at the book corner in my hometown of Bloomington Indiana. I did chuckle at the stupid looking cover. I understand it was inspired by a Bentley Little novel but you know what it didn’t grow on me. Thankfully you can’t judge a book or a magazine by it’s cover.

This is the Bentley Little special issue, and I admit I don’t know his work as well as I should. I have read several short stories and only one novel. So I enjoyed the feature interview by author David Silva, and piece breaking down Little’s novels by Mark Sieber. There were a few other articles about Little and two excellent short stories written by the man himself. The first story was a strange story called “the wheel” that I enjoyed quite a bit.

CD has several regular features including mediadrome, news from the dead zone and so on. Those are all strong entries and something I look forward to as a horror reader. It’s hard to have relavent commentary when your magazine comes out a few times a year. Battling the internet would be impossible but CD manages to provide the deep commentary that justifies the wait.

I enjoyed the interview with Brian James Freeman (co-editor of CD) and he sold me on his novella The painted Darkness which is now on my mental “to read” list. I enjoyed the fiction in this issue with stand-out stories for me were “Long Black Coat” by Benjamin Percy and “Out of Touch” by Simon Strantzas

Thomas Monteleone gives us another hilarious piece about absurd Hollywood plot twists and probably the only let down comes from Stephen King. As you can see on the cover there is a sneak peek of King’s new limited edition novella Blockade Billy. It’s a baseball story and did nothing for me. That’s ok, I still love the man and hear that his new novella collection is quite good.

Bottom line…If you like Horror Cemetery Dance is a safe bet.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hunting the Moon Tribe will not be released by Afterbirth books

Art: by Eisner award winning artist Eric Shanower.

This is a bad news / good news post. I have decided to pull my novel Hunting the Moon Tribe from Afterbirth books. I had agreed to do my short story collection and my first novel with Afterbirth. I was super excited as I have alot of respect for Afterbirth and their catalog.

After the release of my wonderland award nominated short story collection Screams From a Dying World I expected Hunting the Moon Tribe to be released pretty soon after. Not long after Screams was released Karen let her author's know that she had decided to close afterbirth. I respect Karen's reasons and was thrilled that she had agreed to finish the books she had on her plate. After a long wait, Karen and I agreed to end the contract.

So here we are two years later, and the book is back at ground zero. That is the bad news. The good news I have a renewed commitment to see this book in print and soon. I have worked on this novel off and on since 1994, if it means I put it out myself I am going to make sure this book is available in the next couple months. Consider that a promise.

I say that is good news because three days ago I had no idea when or if the book would happen. So I am looking for a publisher for Hunting The Moon Tribe, but if it doesn't happen soon I am going to do it myself in the mean time. Keep your eyes peeled for that. Here are some blurbs so you know why you should be excited...

"David Agranoff's HUNTING THE MOON TRIBE mashes up Chinese mythology, some seriously unnerving horror, Maoist politics, a sweet coming-of-age story, dark magic, and high-kicking martial arts into a compelling and unusual page-turner. I've never read (or seen) anything like it, and HUNTING THE MOON TRIBE should mark Mr. Agranoff as one of the most original and exciting new voices to emerge in genre fiction in a dragon's age." - Lisa Morton Three time Bram Stoker award winning author of The Castle of Los Angeles and The Cinema of Tsui Hark.

“Remember that old Shaw Brothers / Hammer Studios flick The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires? HUNTING THE MOON TRIBE is what that movie should have been. It is an extremely entertaining epic of kick-ass martial arts and bloody horror. Agranoff not only dazzles us with breathtaking action scenes and vampire violence but also tugs at our heartstrings with realistic family drama and romance. It’s a scary martial arts fantasy that will please just about everyone. David Agranoff is a gifted storyteller.” - Jordan Krall Author of Fistful of Feet and Squid pulp Blues

“As terrifying as Richard Laymon, and just as good, David Agranoff reshapes the vampire mythos in ways never experienced. The horror is visceral, the action brutal, and at its core, there’s a poignancy typically left out of today’s horror. A circus between worlds, vampires, and martial arts aplenty – “Hunting the Moon Tribe” reads like “Brotherhood of the Wolf” encompassed in Chinese folklore and culture. One of the strongest new voices in horror fiction that I’ve read.” - Eric Mays author of Naked Metamorphosis and host of the Authors Speak Podcast

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Book Review: Super giant monster time! by Jeff Burk

Super Giant Monster Time!
By Jeff Burk (illustrated by Chrissy Horchheimer)
Eraserhead press

The third of the choose your mindfuckfest bizarro parody of the classic choose your own adventure novels this time written by Shatnerquake author Jeff Burk. You gotta hand it to Burk first and foremost he is a master at the high concept bizarro. Both of his novels just excite people when they hear the ideas behind them. This book is is not quite as funny as Shatnerquake but is still a really fun read.

You get to choose from three character's a scientist, a punk rocker, or an office drone. It's not long before the giant monsters show up to destroy earth. You make think choosing to be the scientist is the safest option but being in super secret lab wont protect you. As with many classic godzilla movies there are aliens around for some unexplained reason. They also have lazer guns that turn you into a punk rocker.

Look bottom line this is a giant monster novel, but not any giant monster novel, it's a one where not only do you direct the plot but you have chances to end up drowning in pool of monster sperm. What else would happen if a monster humped your office building? That is perhaps my favorite part of the book.

I could have been offended when my own subculture of punk rock (Vegan straight edge) is made fun of, but honestly if you read the book enough times and roll your dice( yes you have to roll dice) then you'll see Jeff makes fun of every kind of punk rocker you can think of.

You will laugh a lot and it will look great on the shelf next to Shatnerquake which is also super, duper funny.

Book Review: the Skinner by Neal Asher

The Skinner By Neal Asher
424 pages

My first time reading Neal Asher was a far future bizarro science fiction short novel called Africa Zero. This is a longer more epic tale, but it is also one of the most bizarro modern Sci-fi novels I have read. It has sold me on Asher as a bold new voice. Entertainment weekly called it Dune meets Master and Commander and I can't disagree with that. The plot and and setting are so strange that I struggled a little bit trying to explain it to others.

It takes place in the same “universe” as Asher's first novel Grindlinked, I have not read that yet, but I don't think I suffered much for it. This is a stand alone novel.

Not since Dune has the landscape and ecosystem of a world come to such vivid life. What is most exciting about that is Spatterjay, the planet where skinner takes is what a horrible place to be the planet is. It makes the novel feel icky in a way. This is not a world where you want to take a vacation. SpatterJay, named after Jay Hooper the human who found the planet is mostly ocean. But the planet is teaming with life, including leeches both giant and small. The ecosystem is so interactive after a few bites from the leeches human are integrated in way that makes them almost immortal. Jay was using this unique ecosystem to take murdered humans, re-animated and devoid of life to be sold to the Prador, a crab like race the humans were at war with.

Humans who live on the planet are called Hoopers, and most have lived hundreds of years constantly being rebuilt by the leeches. This is explained well as two hoopers in one part fight in a tearing each other up, their bodies keep repairing themselves.

The book opens following a few humans as they arrive on the planet. My favorite of the characters are Sable Keech And Janer. Keech is A monitor (Basically a cop) who has been hunting a this planet's funder for 700 years after his death. How is that you ask? He is cybernetic his dead body linked to computer that stored his mind. His target is not doing much better, Jay Hooper's (known also as the Skinner) body has been living with out his head. Spatterjay seas captains have been keeping it alive in a box.

As for Janer he is a human who was punished for killing a hornet after he served his time as host to a hive mind of sentient hornets. After his time is up he stayed with the hive mind and is traveling the universe looking for adventure.

At the same time the human race is in a time of peace after years of war with the Prador,but They also want to kill the skinner and any other witness to the war crimes they committed together. The only part of the novel I did not enjoy were the seemingly endless battles between the Polity A.I. Who oversaw the planet and the Prador. That stuff wore me down a bit in the last 100 pages.

None the less I loved this inventive, brutal and super fucking weird science fiction epic. Asher made a fan out of me with this novel and I'll check out his other work for sure. Along with Richard K. Morgan, Neal Asher and China Mieville it seems the most exciting speculative fiction belongs to england.

Classic novel Revisited: Space Vampires by Colin Wilson

Space Vampires AKA(Lifeforce) By Colin Wilson
216 pages
Out of print

This science fiction horror crossover is remembered mostly from the Cannon films adaptation of the novel. The film while produced by Cannon films the schlock studio behind the cinematic ascension of Chuck Norris and the Sho Kosugi Ninja trilogy is not that bad. They certainly hired excellent cast and crew. Directed by Texas chainsaw massacre director Tobe Hooper, adapted by Alien Screenwriter Dan O'Bannon and scored by Harry Mancini. Lead by an impressive bat shit crazy performance by Steve Railsbeck, a small role by the future enterprise captain Patrick Stewart and of course the naked space vampire who excited overly hormonal horror fans by walking around London naked played by Mathilda May.

It was sci-fi and horror so I have seen a few times over the years. Recently I saw a tie-in paperback on the shelf at powells and thought I would give the book a shot and re-watch the movie. The first 80 or so pages of the book I was impressed thought it was much better than my memory of the film. First off I think the novel takes place a little further in the future. The discovery of the “stranger” spaceship and the discovery of the vampires is handled excellently. The creepy-ness of finding a old dead space ship in space is well done and I felt the charcters nervous-ness come through the text.

“The stranger ship” in the novel has a very cosmic horror, lovecraftian-ness that exists in the novel but it is deeper in the book. One of the blurbs on the cover called it fast paced. Yes at times it was fast paced too fast paced, some times scenes and action transitioned so fast and I to go back and re-read sections. Wilson just skipped ahead if the part of the story bored him at least it seemed to me.

Any of my friends on Good reads might notice that I started this book in July and finished in October. I am a fast reader generally. But once this book hits the wall. For 20 or 30 thirty mind numbinging pages the main character Carlsen gets a history lesson on vampires. This is meant to connect traditional vampires to the three energy sucking space vampires. The major difference between the movie and the book is O'Bannon didn't use any of this material. Good on him, it is boring ireallavent and just straight ruined the main work of the first 80 pages.

The movie turned out a little better. Yep it's one of those rare cases like Children of Men or the English Patient where the film is much better than the book. While the movie comes off now as campy, and little over the top most of that is due to being out of date. Perhaps it seemed less cheezy in 1985,certainly when I watched it in the 80's it looked better to me.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Interviews and events About Vegan Revolution with Zombies

Lots going on with Vegan Revolution with Zombies. I didn't realize how many people read Ecorazzi! It started with a interview done by bizarro author and activist Mickey Z. It appeared on the discovery channel's planet green website with the title "The Vegan Revolution will start with Zombies." then it seemed a dozen other eco and veg websites reposted a full-up article on Ecorazzi. Cool, thanks to all the people who re-posted it. This is a DIY project, with a independent publisher so we need a the help we can get!

Check out the articles:

and there are a bunch more you can find by google.

Also this Sunday October 24th I've got a 20 minute interview on an El Paso Texas NPR radio show called Animal Concerns of Texas. We talk about my vegan story, Try Vegan PDX and how Vegan Revolution with Zombies happened.

Sunday night at 7:30pm Mountain time and can be heard by going to
After it airs it will be available in the archives at and be found
by clicking the 'listen to past shows' button and then going to Animal Concerns
of Texas.

Those of you in Indiana, my beloved homeland. I am doing two readings and book signings during halloween week.

In Indianapolis The reading will be Thursday October 28th at the Dojo, right before a hardcore show. 7 PM 2207 N College Indianapolis, In 46205

In Bloomington October 29th at 6:30 pm at Rhinos all ages club. (331 S Walnut St in Bloomington)

I'll have books for sale, will do a short readings and Q and A if anyone is interested.

Also remember if you enjoyed the book it really helps if you write reviews for Amazon and good reads. But I can't thank everyone enough for the help. I saw that the link to the book on amazon has been posted on Facebook 124 times.The trailer has been view 2,577 times as of this morning. Not to mention good reads,twitter and message boards. Thank you it all helps. Keep it up all sales through December benefit Try Vegan PDX and vegan mentoring in Portland.


Book Review: Lost in Cat brain land with Cameron Pierce

Lost in Cat Brain land by Cameron Pierce
Eraserhead Press
136 pages

There is a word you will hear over and over when talking about this short story collection and this author. Imagination. That is because Cameron's weird as hell imagination bleeds through every page with a syrupy thickness like no other author I've read.Culled from the pages of various Bizarro and horror zines, websites and such Pierce tells stories that are surreal, aburdist and sometimes disturbing. Unlike some authors that are just trying so very hard to be weird the strength of Cameron Pierce as a bizarro author is that he is excellent writer and most important it's natural.

Nothing feels forced in this collection. It doesn't have the "Look at me I'm weird and different feel that alot surreal fiction suffers from.

Take the title story Cat Brain Land or my favorite a flash piece A Scorpion in A Calfornia Town. the later story's opening paragraph made me laugh out loud and never did I feel like Cameron was writing with a neon sign flashing over his head that said "look at me I'm so weird." That is not to say that Pierce doesn't know what he is doing because he certainly does. A good example was a a sad little tale called the depressed man that really was a sad story to read and evoked sorrow for narrator in it's two and half pages.

I am sold on Pierce's skills as writer and not enough can be said about his imagination. I am interested in seeing if these types of stories can be extended into a novel. If anyone wants to find out he already has three novels, after this book they are on my list.

Book Review: Kaiki: Uncanny tales from Japan

Kaiki: Uncanny tales from Japan
Volume 1: tales of old Edo

Kurodhan Press
271 pages

This is a collection of weird tales, only a few of which I would consider horror that take place in ancient Tokyo that span the tradition of weird literature in Japan from 1776 to 2005. I am not sure this book is for everyone but those who are serious at knowing and understanding the roots of supernatural storytelling will learn a lot from this collection. I thought it was personally important not only as a fan of J-horror, and samurai movies but as a author who dabbles in stories that take place in this very era and region of the world.

Many of my favorite stories were about samurai, personal favorites included the 1928 story the face in the hearth by Tanaka Kotaro. I thought the best part of the book were the opening essays, “The origins of Japanese weird Fiction” and “the Value of the Supernatural in Fiction.” Don't get me wrong the stories were great, but the depth of knowledge and understanding I drew from these essays were the best value of the books.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book Review: Morning is Dead by Andersen Prunty

Morning is dead by Andersen Prunty
139 pages
Grind house press

Laugh out loud funny at times this novel is a surreal trip into the mind of Alvin Gentry who lies in coma in a Dayton hospital. Is it in his mind or has he been sent to a hell where there is no morning. The night never ends. Sex, violence and humor lace this nightmare of paranoid delusion. A short but effective little book that I enjoyed.

It is hard to talk about this book without giving away the plot or the twist, but it involves two storylines and depending on your interpretation, which time line is reality and which is a nightmare is in question throughout.

I'm back in Dayton Ohio, where the last noevl I read was also written. I read Prunty’s book right after another Dayton author Tim Waggoner's Like Death. I set out not to compare them but i don't see how I can avoid it. I got Morning is Dead because Jordan Krall(Bizarro author of the amazing Fistful of Feet) described it as Phillip K. Dick-ish horror. With that idea in my head and the fact just enjoyed Waggoner’s novel that I would describe as mind fuckingly PK Dick-ish I might have seen it more than way.

They both feel Dick-ish in different ways. The twisting of reality to me was more effective in Like Death, but Prunty captures the hilarious dialogue wry sense of humor Dick was underrated for. Morning is Dead is a nightmare and a great little bizarro read laced with laugh out loud moments. Very entertaining, nice little book and reason enough to support the cool line of books Grindhouse press has starting putting out. I am also looking forward to reading Slag Attack by Prunty.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Book Review: Like Death by Tim Waggoner

Like Death by Tim Waggoner

I have read lots of short stories by Mister Waggoner but this was my first time reading a full novel. I have very mixed feelings on the book. I personally loved it, thought it was an excellent mind fucking horror novel, but it goes off the rails a little bit at the end.

Some of the reviews I read on line have complained that the book doesn’t have enough plot, the people who say that didn’t read far enough. Infact if I had any problem with the book is that the plot becomes far too complicated towards the end. With too many threads and ideas. I didn’t mind but I could see how casual reader might get confused by the knotting twists and turns the book takes. The last 100 pages of the book introduces many interesting concepts and ideas, but i just thought a simpler approach to end would have helped.

The story is about Scott Raymond a man recently separated from his wife and son. He is crime writer who throws himself into his work, investigating the case of missing young girl Miranda Turner. While looking into the case he meets a girl by the same name who is a few years older. She seems oddly obsessed with Scott. His marriage is getting worse not better and he can’t seem to stop helpself from flirting no matter how wrong he knows it is. The young woman who seems interested in his case, and doesn't seem to mind dragiing him closer to the frayed ends of sanity.

Scott begins to have delusions and as this slow burn horror novel starts unfold the reality of comes into question. This is one of the best unreliable narrator novels I have read in some time. For the first two thirds of the novel it felt like horror novel written by Phillip K. Dick and then the last third felt like Clive Barker trip into a dark fantasy realm.

I feel like Waggoner tried to pack too many ideas into the last act of the novel, I still enjoyed it and would recommend it to serious horror fans. I think a simpler end while less surprising could have felt a little more solid and in some ways more horrific. Find out for yourself. It’s one of the best novels Leisure put out. This is also a rare case where i really liked the cover art of this Leisure edition. Most important is Waggoner sold me on his other books as I intend to read more.

Book Review: ALIENS: No Exit by Brian Evenson

Aliens: No Exit by Brian Evenson

Brian Evenson is currently one of my favorite writers. Dark horse has been doing a good job getting some pretty high class acts to write Aliens and Predator novels over the last few years. John Shirley who is my favorite author wrote excellent books in both universes, Jeff Vandameer a Predator novel and now Brian Evenson, the respected international horror guild award winner author and head of the creative writing program at Brown university. I was very interested to see what the department head at an ivy league school did with the Aliens universe.

I loved this novel, Alien tie in or not the first chapter was powerful, a scary powerful suspense piece heightened by our knowledge and deep understanding of the Alien-verse. Evenson has skills to bring the chills and seems to really enjoy playing in this setting. While mid-chapter flashbacks are often discouraged Evenson seemlessly weaves in the main character's back story and uses it greatly enhance the suspense.

The story is about a Detective Anders Kramm who specializes in Xenomorph encounters. After his family is killed he has himself put in hypersleep, with orders to only be woken if there is an alien emergency. Thirty years go by and then he is brought in to investigate the deaths of the companies top scientists. On the surface it looks like an alien attack, but something is a little off. Anders gets the feeling the company wants you to believe it was the work of Xenomorphs but Anders doesn’t believe it.

This book is excellent, the human characters are well drawn and Evenson elevates the tie-in novel to art as only a few authors have. If you’re an Alien fan you should read this but if your not check out Evenson’s novel Last Days which is one of my favorite novels of the last few years.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book review: Software by Rudy Rucker

Software by Rudy Rucker
176 pages Paperback
Eos publishing

This 1982 cyberpunk classic is a must read for Science fiction fans. I am not sure why others read science fiction but I read it because the ability for the stories to expand my thinking. Out of date in some ways Software holds up very well and that might be because Rudy Rucker is a genius, for real a genius. A mathematician and computer scientist Rucker writes science fiction novels no one else could match. Inventiveness, radical thinking and pretty comical through out.

Software is closer to traditional Science fiction or cyberpunk than some of Rucker’s other books like White light, Space Time Donuts or Mathaticians in Love which exist in Rucker’s own invented sub-genre of Transrealism. Rucker brings a tongue in cheek sense of humor to his work, while software is not quite as knee slapping as others it is a great work of Sci-fi.

The story of an aging hippie Cobb Anderson a anarchist revolutionary who is dying in 2020 Florida, to poor to afford a new heart he is saved by his creations. Boppers are robots, that evolved to have artificial intelligence thanks to upgrades designed by Cobb. He wanted to create a revolutinary type of robots that resisted being slaves to human. The renegade Boppers live on the moon intend to give Cobb immortality, in the body of a robot.

The questions of what is reality? What does life really mean? They are all here is the first book of four in Rucker’s most popular series. Software does dip it’s toes in the trans real water, as Cobb’s major contribution to the robot revolution is teaching one of his 12 orginal boppers to overwrite Asimov’s laws. In a sense that in the most important thing cyberpunk and Rucker are doing here is breaking Asimov’s laws, which are often enforced throughout science fiction.

Another one of my favorite parts is when one human character watches the process of another human's body being taken apart and being mechanical. Rucker does a great job in the scene of making Organic life as we know seem totally disgusting.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wetbones revised and re-issued.... Tribute Part 1

I have been reading horror novels for a quarter of a century now. Since I discovered Clive Barker and Stephen King in the 7th grade I have read several hundred horror novels and equal number of science fiction. I have read horror novels that effected me emotionally like the family tragedy in King's The Shining, terrorized me like McCammon's vision of nuclear aftermath in Swan Song, Poppy Z. Brite made me squirm in disgust with Exquisite Corpse, and Barker expanded my thinking of the fantastic with The Great and Secret Show.
One novel has affected me on all those levels deeper than any other. John Shirley's 1990 masterpiece Wetbones. I think of this book as Requiem for Dream written by Lovecraft and directed by a young David Cronenberg.
John Shirley is a master at using the horror and science fiction novel as means of making a socio-political point. Wetbones is very much a horror novel about addiction, and while it drags the reader through a disgusting and hurtful gutter that reflects real life all too well it also has monsters.
Freaky as hell monsters, probably one of the sickest and most awful serial killers in print, without a doubt my favorite horror novel ever written. How about some other opinions...

"John Shirley is an adventurer, returning from dark and troubled regions with visionary tales to tell. Wetbones is a wild and giddy ride, confronting the reader with marvels and horror in equal measure. I heartily recommend a journey with John Shirley at your side."- Clive Barker

"In Wetbones John Shirley serves up the bloody heart of a sick and rotting society with the aplomb of an Aztec surgeon on dexadrine..." --ALA Booklist

"Some of the most gruesome imagery ever placed between two covers to catalyze a potent tale of physical, psychological and spiritual depravity and redemption...This is horror at its most visceral and true." Publisher's weekly

"Utterly convincing and terrifically fascinating...Wetbones is a knock-down, kick-ass piece of writing." -- Ed Bryant, Locus

"Wetbones is one of the reasons that John Shirley is one of my favorite authors of all time. He not only gets under your skin, he forces your mind to go to places strange and uncomfortable, yet unquestionably familiar. He scares me to my soul." - Filmmaker Sunni Brock

"When I was just out of high school I was a rabid fan of horror. I was already a John Shirley fan because of novels like Dracula in Love and Cellars, but, in my mind, horror was mostly about what what was done to people by others. Wetbones introduced me to a new concept - the horrors that people visit on themselves, and allow themselves to be subjected to. - Musician El Queso

"I've been reading John Shirley since his earliest stories and novels. I still have my Mark Ziesing Books edition of Wetbones. It's a great --and truly scary -- horror novel. One of the things that gives it it's power is that John keeps one authorial foot firmly planted in reality -- something that infuses gritty strength through much of his work, right up through his latest novel, BLEAK HISTORY." - Long time Shirley fan Robert Curry

"Wetbones has undoubtedly joined the pantheon of my favorite horror and science fiction works. John Shirley seamlessly blends social commentary with his horrors, without sacrificing fright or being heavy-handed and overly didactic." Ian Duncanson Librarian

Wetbones revised and re-issued.... Part 2 The Author interviewed...

John Shirley is the author of close to thirty novels and collections. He is most well known as the co-screenwriter of the The Crow. But his classic 1990 Horror novel Wetbones is what we are gathered here to discuss.

I first read Wetbones in 2007 after author Cody Goodfellow told me it was John Shirley's horror masterpiece. It was the first novel I read living in the pacific northwest, on bleak rainy nights I was in it deeply from page one. At the time I was already active on author John Shirley's message board. While he was always friendly about it, there seemed to be a hesitation on John's part to talk about Wetbones.

Stephen King had been the same way with one of his horror masterpieces Pet Semetary and if the rumors are true King had not wanted to finish the book at all. A few months back John said he was revising and releasing Wetbones and I saw a unique opportunity. I wanted to talk with John about this fantastic masterpiece of horror fiction 20 years later, with it now fresh in his mind. Thank John for doing this brutally honest interview...

David Agranoff: You have said before that you were using this novel as catharsis, and you were going through a crisis in your life. What can you tell us about that time personally and how influenced the direction of Wetbones?

John Shirley: I had been clean from drugs for a long time,then had a relapse, when some harsh stuff happened in my life, and the relapses got more frequent, and it got very bad. I had no dignity in my life. I wasn't living on the streets but nearly got killed and it was very hard on anyone close to me. So the addiction framework of Wetbones, the whole Akishra metaphor, was a cathartic effort to deal with that, to make myself see the fullest, ugliest truths of addiction clearly and straight on and without any rationalization. Also the book, as Robert Palmer (the critic) noted, is a very angry one and it released all kinds of pent up anger in me. It's also about Hollywood--well, I had unpleasant encounters working in the cinematic and television vineyards, under the lash of the overseers, and I vented about that too. So I was able to meld all this together pretty well into one horrific story...

DA: You said when you were editing it you had a hard time re-reading it. What feelings did it bring up for you personally?

JS: Since I wrote it at that time in my life, re-editing it brought up memories of the context, in my life, in which it was written. There were feelings of shame and sorrow and anger and horror. I don't think it'll affect a reader that way! I assume the reader will feel some emotional involvement, and a good deal of horror. I hope the reader's pulse will pound...We want to give them that energy...

DA: You have been open about the fact that you were in recovery from addiction. Was Garner's journey in the novel your worst nightmare?

Garner was partly me, and partly people I knew. In a way I went on that journey, without all the bloodshed, though I found myself in very intimate circumstances with murderers, with psychopaths. I felt, afterwards, like Dante, a bit...

DA: How hard was it for you to write about a killer like Ephram?

JS: VERY hard. He is just one of the horrific aspects of the novel--there are all kinds of horrors in it, but he is a serial killer and I do not write about them easily, I am a person unable to deal with the idea of killing for pleasure, I find it difficult to identify with someone capable of suppressing all empathy for others. I did make a point of showing more than one side of that character, of showing that he is lonely, that he is desperately trying to make some kind of connection, that he is trapped. It's as if he's a ravenous, starved caged beast, and he tricks people into coming into his reach,pulls them into his cage--but someone has put HIM in the cage in the first place and made him what he is...But writing from his point of view--very difficult for me. I tried to leaven it with some morbid humor at his expense..

DA: The re-print comes with a short sequel Sweetbite Point. Can you tell us a little about it?

JS: It's a short story I wrote for an obscure anthology soon after Wetbones. The street minister character and his daughter seemed to have life left after the novel was done and wanted to resolve their lives a bit more. So they had to do it through that story. That character, the Street Minister, Garner, is also based on a side of me. I do identify with him--and his relapse.

DA: Now that you have re-lived this novel, that many call your masterpiece, Re-reading did you think about extending the story with a full sequel?

JS: No, it was hard enough to go back to it! I was just glad to be able to revise it, somewhat, and do some judicious editing. It's a much stronger book now.

DA: I talked to a friend who compared this novel to Clive Barker's work. Barker indeed blurbed it, but many don't realize you wrote a psycho-sexual horror novel in 1980 called Cellars long before anyone had heard of Barker. He seemed to revisit sexuality and horror often. For you Cellars, Wetbones and maybe Dracula in Love seemed to explore this issue do you see a strong connection between sexuality and extreme horror?

JS: There is, I guess--perhaps because I had been molested as a child, perhaps because I had difficulty with my own subsequent sexuality. I never imposed it on anyone in the sense of rape or stalking or something, I just had difficulty with fidelity, a tendency to sexual addictive behavior. . .And to me not being in command of myself is a horrific thing, it makes me feel like being possessed. Also in that whole scene, I often mixed drugs and sex and it got very nightmarish. Additionally I visited some pretty, well, outre underground sexual scenes...I remember meeting some "vampires"--they were not supernatural, just people into sexual "blood play". I didn't participate. I am all for sexual freedom between consenting adults and am not against "wild" sexuality. I just like to be in command of my own sexuality. For myself I have chosen monogamy at this time in my life.

DA: This is a very angry John Shirley, Demons while very funny at times and often tongue in cheek is also an angry book. On the other hand you recently wrote what I consider to be a very hopeful masterpiece the Other End. How much do these emotions drive you as an artist?

JS: What is that line from John Lydon and Public Image Ltd, "Anger is an energy". And it is, it stoked my writing, and it has something in common with punk rock, and I was a punk rock singer ( and in that anger and creative energy were almost one unified thing. The Other End (which is being re-released in a newly re-edited-by-the-author form by eReads) was sparked partly by anger at the writers of the Left Behind books and people like Glenn Beck who exploited apocalyptic fantasy. Why should an apocalyptic, judgment day scenario be "owned" by the right-wing? Why should they revise the world according to *their* lights? Made me angry to think about and I saw a chance for a great little allegory...

Interview with spoilers continues in part three...

Wetbones revised and re-issued.... Part 3 The spoiler interview...

In this part of the tribute John and I continue our discussion of Wetbones with spoilers. I think this is important. I certainly don't want to ruin the experience of reading Wetbones for anyone. However for those of us who have read this masterpiece I think we need to explore this work deeper. Certainly I believe young horror authors could learn a lot from this interview.

David Agranoff:Ephram is one of the most disgusting serial killers I have read about in fiction. He controls his victims psychically, by feeding them pleasure. Is Ephram or Akriha addiction itself?

John Shirley: He uses a method that combines the AKISHRA methods and his own techniques--there was in fact some kind of Hindu myth about "soul worms" that feed off people who are addicted to things. That was the inspiration for the book. They are the Akishra. Ephram's power is to make you take pleasure in doing things you hate. Which is itself a metaphor...and he takes ordinary pleasure, which is fine, and twists it, into something monstrous.

DA:An early scene that really hit me was when Ephram tells Constance to leave, he knows she wont, the addiction to him is too strong. When he twists her pubic hair and tells her to like it is one of the most painful scenes I have ever read. Is this the nightmare of knowing you're in pain but don't have the ability to escape essence of addiction?

JS:Yes in true hardcore addiction there are few, if any, who don't know they're hurting themselves by it, and eventually most lose interest in the "romantic" side of it (as in Lou Reed's beautiful and powerful but perhaps unfortunate song "Heroin") but they still can't stop. "You'll destroy yourself and like it" the addiction tells us. "YOu'll hurt yourself and beg for more". It's not masochism per se--it's beyond that. It's uncontrolled self destruction. Suppose you had a powerful corrosive acid, stronger than hydrochloric acid, and somehow managed to combine it with a pleasure inducing drug so that if you dumped it on your flesh the pleasure overwhelmed the pain and as your flesh burned away before your eyes you felt enormous pleasure...till you died. It's sort of like that. However, it's also true that after awhile, the pleasure part stops--but you can't stop doing it somehow. You keep going long after it ceases to feel good...It's the rat pressing that lever...

DA:Who is the More Man in the novel? And is he based on someone you knew in Hollywood?

JS:No he's based on *types* of people. Maybe some of Kenneth Anger's "Hollywood Babylon" was infused into him...There are people that corrupt and venal but it's mostly hidden away inside them. With him it's wormed (as it were) from the inside, to show itself on the gangrene from a bullet wound spreading from inside to show on the flesh...

DA: The chapter where Garner has to identify the finger is heartbreaking, for me it is up there with the death of the dog in I Am Legend, one of the most heartbreaking moments in the genre. How did you get to core emotion of that moment?

JS: It fit with the story--it set Garner up for his relapse, which was something I wanted to describe. God knows what he went through is very vivid to me, and a writer likes what's vivid. But also I felt that Ephram would make a move like this and it's a pretty good plot twist too...

DA: Sam Denver and the Doublekey ranch has an old time Hollywood meets Eyes Wide Shut kind of thing going on. But it was written years before that film. What was your inspiration for the part of the novel?

JS: Well I did go to Plato's Retreat and the "Hellfire Club" in NYC a bit, and saw some heavy duty scenes, and then in the punk rock scene, you know, things happen, but some of it was research, based on reading, and some of it was "what if" thinking based on the idea of the Akishra...

DA:The Akisha is a very Lovecraftian entity, but your creation. An unseen evil creature that feeds off our addiction. If that creature was real would it be behind all addiction?

JS: The Akishra as imagined here is my creation, though, as I said, based a little on a Hindu story. To me it was mostly allegory but the idea in the book is that our brains are somewhat primitive and wired for addiction, and the Akishra take *advantage* of that weakness and encourage it and thrive on it and make it far worse and more prevalent. So it'd be sort of like a meth dealer. He's not the drug but he sells the shit...

DA: As dark and brutal as this novel got it seems important for you to remind readers considering the book there is a hopeful ending. Is that a statement about recovery?

JS: Yes I was in recovery and I have seen lots of people recover. I've said before that some of the worst people I've met were addicts in full bloom of their using, and some of the best people I've met anywhere are *former* addicts or anyway people in recovery (some like to insist that you're always an addict, you're just not using for ten, twenty, thirty years at a time). They have to be better people to stay clean. It's not just a case of let's pull a happy ending (all things being relative--it's not totally happy), out of the book, it's that I do see hope and I want to point to that light at the end of the tunnel.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book signings, readings and appearances to promote Vegan Rev!

Wow! The love and support people have shown for the Vegan Revolution...with zombies in the first couple of days has been amazing. Over 600 views of the trailer in 36 hours. That's great! The sales have also been good. Which is great because the profit goes to Try Vegan PDX to support vegan mentoring and events around Portland.

So I have some events planned to promote Vegan Revolution...with zombies. I also have my fingers crossed that I'll have copies of my novel Hunting The Moon Tribe at some of the events. If you want to stay posted on all this stuff look up my author fan page and "like" it.

Portland Vegfest 2010

Saturday & Sunday, September 18 & 19
Oregon Convention Center - Exhibit Hall A
777 NE MLK, Jr. Blvd. Portland, OR 97232
10am - 6pm $5 Admission per day
I'll be selling and signing books at the Try Vegan table!

There are tons of great speakers,and food samples. Come by our table get a book and find out about the great work the book is supporting!

Uncensored Celebration
9/29/10 7:00 pm
Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, Portland (21 and over)
I'll be reading from The Vegan Revolution...with zombies
There will be four other authors reading and tickets are $5. This hosted by and benefits the ACLU of Oregon.

HP Lovecraft Film fest Portland

October 2nd
I'll be hanging around the Eraserhead Table Signing copies of Vegan Rev, You should go there are always great films and readings, panel discussions and so on.

Reading and Vegan Potluck in Indianapolis, Indiana
Thursday October 28th Location: TBA

Reading and Signing in Bloomington Indiana

Friday October 29th Location: Rhino's all ages club
Celebrate Halloween in my home town with a reading from Vegan Revolution...with Zombies. there might be some other authors and speakers I'm still working that out.

3rd annual Bizarro con
The world's largest gathering of weird authors happens. This is held at the beautiful edgefield hotel outside of Portland, Oregon. It last several days and if you are planning on a career telling weird tales you should go to all the panels and workshops. The Saturday pass is $25 dollars and includes a dozen or more reading and the wonderland awards dinner. This year my short story collection is nominated for best collection. So I'll be there with fingers crossed. check out the details on (November 11-14 2010)

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Vegan Revolution...with zombies unleashed!


"Vegan Revolution..with Zombies is my kind of zombie apocalypse. A perfect blend of horror, humor and animal activism. Destined to become a favorite among zombie fans and vegans alike." - Gina Ranalli Author of House of Fallen Trees, and Chemical Gardens

"David Agranoff's satirical zombie novel presents hope for the future of humanity and animal life; it's a world where both handlebar mustaches and bacon are forgotten. This witty novel celebrates everything I love about vegan Portland and kills everything I hate!" Jess of Portland's Get Sconed vegan blog

Book trailer cast:
Dani - Nicole Vanderhoff
Magik - Himself
Bru-dawg - Himself
Mark - Ed Bauer
Mosspatch the Freegan - Jeff Burk
Random Meat-eater - David Agranoff
Special thanks to all the Zombies, Food Fight, and the rest of the vegan mini-mall.

Tim Kahn
Jason Ptaszek
Joseph Batdorf

Music by Rat courtesy of Hardline records.

Some samples courtesy of

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Behind the scenes on Vegan Revolution with zombies...the trailer!

Jeff Burk one of my editors over at Deadite (Eraserhead press's horror imprint) did a more extensive write up of the filming and has the final back cover text.

When there is no meat in hell the Vegans will walk the earth!

Read his full report here:

That's me and the cast!

I'll post it as soon as we have the post production done!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Vegan Revolution with zombies Cover art!

There will still more blurbs and stuff to be added, so this is not absolute final, but yeah you get the idea. The book will be unleashed at the Portland Vegfest September 18th and 19th and available on amazon around the same time. As for the book...

After a long day of editing classic literature (with zombies) Portland editor Danielle Joanna hits the Portland hipster bar scene. She hates her zombie obsessed 9-5 day job, she hates the Portland hipsters with their fixie bikes and ironic mustaches. She is not happy and needs a change.

When an animal rights activist gives her a flyer promoting a vegan lifestyle, she embraces it and for once things look up.

But nothing is ever perfect for Danni, as her life at home gets better her days at the publishing house are getting worse. She is behind on Of Mice and Men with zombies, She already has The Zombie War and Peace and four more like it on her plate. Her boss is making them watch Italian zombie movies for team building exercises and she sees flesh eating hordes everywhere.

Dani hates irony so she has trouble accepting the walking dead. Huddled together in the world's only vegan mini-mall the survivors realize the only thing they have in common is what they didn't eat.

"Vegan Revolution..with Zombies is my kind of zombie apocalypse. A perfect blend of horror, humor and animal activism. Destined to become a favorite among zombie fans and vegans alike." - Gina Ranalli Author of House of Fallen Trees, and Chemical Gardens

"David Agranoff's satirical zombie novel presents hope for the future of humanity and animal life; it's a world where both handlebar mustaches and bacon are forgotten. This witty novel celebrates everything I love about vegan Portland and kills everything I hate!" Jess of Portland's Get Sconed vegan blog.

Details coming soon my debut novel Hunting the Moon Tribe which will be coming out soon...

Aug. 29th! Be a zombie for the Vegan Revolution!

The Vegan Revolution Adopt - a- Zombie and casting Call

Aug. 29th 4 PM at the vegan mini-mall SE 12th and Stark! Filming starts at 5 PM! You don't have to be a vegan to be zombie! all are welcome. Dress like a total zombie hipster and you will get lots of love from the camera. read all the details below about casting!


In September 2010 I am releasing a novel with Eraserhead press called “The Vegan Revolution With Zombies.” It is a bizarro satire take place here in Portland. I'm not going to get to into the plot just yet, but we have some awesome plans for the book. It's really funny and I think everyone will enjoy it.

The book is about veganism...well it has a lot of zombies in it too. I wanted to do something to help give back to the vegan community with the book. So for the first four months the book is out I donating all my proceeds to to Try Vegan PDX. Try Vegan organizes events in portland like Vegan Iron chef, Vegan prom and of course our flagship event Try Vegan Week. We also run a year round vegan mentoring program here in Portland.

In late August we are planning on filming a trailer to promote the book, it will be filmed on zero budget but we intend to put some love into and make it look like a movie trailer. You can help us promote veganism and the book all while having fun.

Donate to our Adopt – A – Zombie program. For a $3 dollar donation to Try Vegan we will paint you up like zombies so you can join the zombie hordes trying to eat our vegan heroes during the trailer. This will be on the day of filming Exact date will be set soon. We will have vegan potluck on the set and a short preview reading from the novel. Plus you get to be a zombie in the book trailer! How awesome.

You can of course do it up yourself for Free.

The two best zombie voted on by a panel of experts will win prizes including Books, food, gift certificates and more.

We are still casting a few speaking roles:

Dani Joanna – the main character. Late twenties, early thirties woman. She is an editor by profession.
USDA food sampler – This character is giving away samples of “stress-free” label meats and might argue with the vegan a little.
Samantha – the abolitonist animal rights activist
A Prius – Yep the car, a Prius plays a major role in the book, Sun roof is super extra awesome. The provider of the prius gets door prizes.

The roles of Freegan, Hamburger eater, Mark, Magik, and Bru-Dawg have already been cast.

Most important:


We need tons, and tons of zombies, be a zombie!

Friday, August 6, 2010

New Skipp and Goodfellow in december, and new Cody reading up!

Check the extremely creepy cover to the new John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow Marvel Team-up. Here is what I know, it involves thanksgiving and zombies. and it's due to be released on amazon on Nov.23rd, So my suggestion is pre-order this book and Skipp the ritual slaughter of the innocent Turkey. Ok my worst pun ever.

I wasn't a picture fan of the cover art at first but once I pictured holding it on the bus and random people looking at it. I liked it more. Bottom line it's a good year for original zombie novels, between Spore,Praise the Dead by Gina Ranalli and my Vegan Revolution with Zombies things are coming to together for zombie Autumn. Each are trying to breath a fresh voices to the sub-genre.

There is a new podcast of Cody reading his very strange gonzo sci-fi horror tale Atwater which also appeared in his collection Silent Weapons for Quiet wars.

Cody says:

Transmissions From Beyond features my reading of Atwater from Black Static #4. Thrill to new audio dimensions of shock ("what the hell is he sucking on?"), repulsion ("are there crickets in his pants?") and suspense ("when will that dog stop barking in the background?")

It's a great reading download and listen to it on commute to work.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Classic novels revisted Part one: Logan's Run!

Logan's Run By William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson

I read Logan's Run many years ago and decided to revisit the classic for several reasons. Least of which has been getting to know Bill Nolan who lives across the river in Vancouver now. The main reason I wanted to re-read this classic and and comment on it is the looming re-boot. Every year or so a new Logan's Run movie is discussed. For awhile Bryan Singer(X-men, Superman Returns) talked about making it. For one reason or another it has not happened and it's too bad because a modern take on the classic Science fiction novel is overdue.

Recently Bluewater comics have been working with Bill and his editing partner Jason V. Brock to Logan's Run back into comics. They look great and have been selling well. So I am sure that doesn't hurt the movie happening. Nolan worked with the Bluewater artists to give an idea where the author thought the look of Logan could go. Certainly a more realistic and less psychedelic look than the 1976 movie would help.

Recently super producer Joel Silver (the Matrix, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon movies) took over the production. Akiva Goldsman is also producing, I have liked some of Goldsman work even though he often blamed for the worst batman movie ever(Batman and Robin) I think Goldsman's writing on I, Robot and Constantine were solid, the finished products suffered from casting problems not the script. Alex Garland, the screenwriter of the amazing Sunshine and 28 Days Later has been hired to write the script. He is a great character based writer who is also a novelist. Great choice, I hope that bodes well for the film.

Back to the novel...

The novel is tightly constructed minimalist science fiction adventure which is short in word count but long in ideas. It is amazing how much story is conveyed in 130 or so pages. You get your money's worth that is for sure. It has been suggested in many articles about the novel that Nolan did the bulk of the writing and the concepts were largely those of George Clayton Johnson who often remembered for Kick the Can twilight zone episode and being the original screenwriter of Ocean's 11.

I don't know how the division of labor went, I know that the novel is masterwork of science fiction. The story of future where population is controlled by the age 21 term limit. At the end of your twenty first year you have a last day to celebrate before going to “sleep.” Logan's job is to run down the people who will not accept there fate on last day. Of course as his Last day approaches Logan takes on the mission to find the elusive Sanctuary the runners seek. He tells himself that it is just a patriotic mission but is Logan questioning society?

Logan's Run as science fiction could not be more out of date. That is one of it's best charms. As statement about the times in which it was written Logan's run is genius. Released in 1967, during the times of flower power and protests. It was a time when the young said “never trust anyone over thirty,” and add to it the first real concerns about the population growth on earth. What would happen if the youth had there way?

What happens if a world evolves where no one grows older and wiser? If the novel lacks anything it is a deeper look into those issues. I am hoping the comics or the film really takes a look at that. Certainly if I were making the film I would cast actors who were really teenagers, young people, who look and feel young. The world should feel young, and if the actors don't look like kids some of the power of the concept for me is lost.

The 1976 movie is terrible in my opinion, it doesn't help that I re-watched it after re-reading the novel. The last act of the movie drags and that is sad because the novel is so amazingly paced. The scene with Carousel is plain weird and makes a statement about the utopia society having some kind roman like amphitheater that makes no sense with the utopia they were trying to envision.

The action scenes are goofy and hardly exciting, again that might be my disappointment after reading tightly written novel. Johnson and Nolan created an enduring classic that is treat for for Science fiction fans the the first time or being re-visted. Fans of the film will be surprised how different the book, it is not faithful adaptation so there is still a story to discover.

Up next part 1.5 a brand spanking new interview with author William F. Nolan.

The next novel in this series will be John Shirley's horror masterpiece Wetbones in honor of it's 20th anniversary re-issue.

Classic novels revisted Part 1.5 : William F. Nolan interview!

Part Two - interview

How much did the times of the late sixties influence the novel Logan's Run?

George Clayton Johnson and I were very concerned with overpopulation at that time, as were many people. There was also a big youth movement in which people didn’t trust anyone over the age of 30. Fortunately, the overpopulation crisis was somewhat averted by the Green Revolution. You see the themes that were prevalent in the late 60s and early 70s such as the sexual revolution and focus on the pleasures of the individual reflected in the novel and the movie. This was frightening as we felt that people would not reach a higher level of wisdom.

I think the 1976 movie made a mistake raising the age to thirty what about the last day being at age twenty-one is important to you?

MGM raised the age due to casting problems. They felt they didn’t have enough young actors to fill the parts in their opinions.
I think the age of death at 21 is extremely important, due to the fact that we are merging into maturity. It is a cusp year, and therefore carries much more impact.

The 1976 movie was not exactly the most faithful adaptation, I am hoping the new film will follow the novel more closely. Has the new producer asked your opinion? How would you like to see the story re-booted?

Obviously, I would like to see the film story follow the novel more closely. That’s what seems to be happening, but I have not talked to the producer. We can just keep our fingers crossed. I enjoy aspects of what Paul J. Salamoff and Jason V Brock have come up with for the Bluewater Comics adaptation, and would like to see some of that incorporated into the movie.  I really hope they hire good actors – in my opinion, that’s what saved the MGM movie.

The 1976 film seemed obsessed with this idea that they lived in a utopia, and that everything was care free. When I re-read the novel the idea that these people never get older or wiser seemed tragic. No matter how nice their lives are for twenty years isn't Logan really a dystopia?

MGM dropped the entire subtext of the novel. It was all Happyland until age 30. Certainly, Logan’s Run is an anti-Utopian novel, but the film dumbs it all down.

You wrote two sequels to Logan's Run, will the new Bluewater comics series follow that extended story line?
Who knows. I am reading it issue to issue as is everyone else. What Jason Brock and Paul Salamoff do with the plot will be a surprise. But I trust both of them.

Your name is often associated with this novel, but you have written so much else in so many genres. Do you feel Logan's Run is your masterpiece if not what out of the 2,000 things you have written are you most proud of?

The Marble Orchard is my best novel, followed by Logan’s Run. But Logan’s Run is certainly my iconic calling card.

Middle: Jason V.Brock and William F. Nolan @ our last solstice party, Hey Logan fans that couch is now for sale!
Bottom: Myself and William F. Nolan at the 2009 HP Lovecraft film fest here in Portland