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.