Saturday, February 18, 2012

Podcast: Bobby Joe, Intergalatic War Hero

David Agranoff author of the 'Vegan Revolution...With Zombies' reading his short story "Bobby Joe, Intergalactic War Hero." Warning this story has both adult and stupid language. Agranoff is the author of the Wonderland Award nominated 'Screams from a Dying World' (best collection 2009), and the Kungfu Dark Fantasy 'Hunting The Moon Tribe.' All available on Amazon.

Produced by Larry Hall for Langhorne Presents THE IGNORANT SLUT. (We recorded it in his garage) Larry had to stick his face in a pillow to keep from laughing and screwing up David's rhythm.

Podcast: Reading 'Grip'

David Agranoff author of Vegan Revolution...With Zombies, Hunting the Moon Tribe and the Wonderland award nominated Screams From a Dying World. Reading a dark Sci-fi short named Grip. It's previously unpublished or uncollected Copyright @2011 David Agranoff. Recorded and produced by Larry Hall.

Book Review: Clive Barker's HellRaiser; Pursuit of the Flesh

Clive Barker's Hellraiser: Pursuit of the Flesh Volume 1
by Clive Barker & Christopher Monfette, Leonardo Manco (Illustrator)
Boom! Studies 128 pages

During most of my life Clive Barker has been my favorite author, as far as professional heroes go he is one of them for sure. He has had a rough go of it lately. Lots of projects and books have been promised and only half of those (mostly films) have seen the light of day. Publishing wise Barker was dropped by his long time publisher after failing to deliver a collection of horror shorts called the Scarlet Gospels.

This collection has been rumored for almost a decade, and...more

During most of my life Clive Barker has been my favorite author, as far as professional heroes go he is one of them for sure. He has had a rough go of it lately. Lots of projects and books have been promised and only half of those (mostly films) have seen the light of day. Publishing wise Barker was dropped by his long time publisher after failing to deliver a collection of horror shorts called the Scarlet Gospels.

This collection has been rumored for almost a decade, and was said to feature Barker's return to the hellraiser-verse with a story about the death of it's villain Pinhead. Delay, after delay followed. In part because what was supposed to be a short story about Pinhead, became a novella, then as Barker kept writing it became a very, very long novel. The Scarlet Gospels became a separate project and different short story collection was said to be on the way.

Neither happened, I suppose Barker and the publishing powers that be had different ideas on how to market the work. The publisher claimed Barker couldn't stop revising it, or that he got distracted by other books(Mister B.Gone, Abarat 3) and film projects. Who knows for real.

Hellraiser is one of my favorite films ever, I am sure for Barker it has special place as it was his first film as director. So like many Hellraiser fans he helplessly watched as shitty sequel after shitty sequel was made with Pinhead that seemed to have little to do with his story. Personally I have found even Hellraiser 2 which Barker was somewhat involved with doesn't hold up well.

Barker clearly fell back in love with the story while workin on the Scarlet Gospels. Good thing because he decided to get involved in writing this graphic novel series. Not only does it return to the mythlogy of the story but follows the first stories heroine Kristy Cotton. After 25 years of haunting memories a trip to hell and back she has devoted herself to destroying the box and any gateway to hell.

Pinhead on the other hand is bored. The pain and pleasure is all getting to be tiresome. Barker seems to be building up the character for a rebellion against hell. This is classic Barker, weird tools and gadgets. Deep non-traditional mythos, and erotic horrors abound. This is the first Hellraiser story, since the first film that I could really get into. The art is perfect and disturbing.

Is it perfect? Besides a Pinhead that is a little to talkative and a throw-away lover for Kirsty it's pretty close to a perfect Hellraiser story

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Book Review: By the Time We Leave, We'll be Friends by J.David Osbourne

J.David Osbourne is an asshole. You know the type, The first time they
pick up a guitar they can play a power cord without any help. They
know how to ride a skateboard and do tricks the first time they try.
This is a first novel. An amazingly good, taunt fucked up mind binder
of Dark Bizarro that is so well crafted you wont believe it's a first
novel. I know, what an asshole. He should have to struggle through a
few good but not quite there novels before writing a masterpiece like
the rest of us. What a jerk. I am not the only author jealous of this
book, might the only one to come out and say it.

So you want to here more about the novel. Lets start by saying this
won the 2010 Wonderland award for Bizarro novel of the year. It is the
story of a Russian gulag in 1950's Siberia. The story follows a couple
different characters but focuses much of it's attention on Former
thief and prisoner, Alek Karriker. things change for Alek when he is
promoted from prisoner to being a guard.

This gulag setting is perhaps one of the most bleak locations for a
novel you copuld possibly pick. So of course that interested me the
first time I heard about this novel. Are you really goign to escape
when hundreds of miles of tundra are on the otherside of the fence?
This is a miserable place and opium is one of the few things that
helps to take Alek's mind off the conditions that he and prisoners
alike deal with. One problem he has is a hole in his neck is talking
to him. At the same time the prisoners are losing their minds to drugs
and depression.

So why not try to escape? It's insane right? There is no vegetation or
food in sight for hundreds of miles. That sets of the kick in the
pants that Karriker has in mind for making it to freedom.

Well this novel is total insanity and I will only fail to give it
justice. It's all well researched and written. It's compelling and
impressive in every way. Swallowdown publisher Jeremy Robert Johnson
has an amazing eye for dark horror themed Bizarro and so far batting
five for five on masterpieces.

As often happens with masterpieces it's only weakness is also a
strength. I admit I have no idea what happened at the end. Of course
the first time I saw Muholland Drive I was totally confused, second
time I totally got it. the fact of the matter is I will read this
novel again someday and I predict I will feel like Moron for not
getting it the first time. Either way J. David Osbourne will still be
an asshole for writing this amazing first novel

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Vegan Revolution...With Zombies T-Shirts SALE!

Hey folks I am trying to unload some stock I have hanging around the house so I am running an everything must go sale before this weekend. I have 4 copies of Vegan Revolution...With Zombies and two copies of Hunting the Moon Tribe.

So here is the deal. Vegan Rev T-shirt + a personally signed book (Vegan rev or Moon Tribe) for $22 + 3 for shipping. Sales through my Paypal:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Book Review: The Devil's Coattails Edited by Jason V. Brock and William F. Nolan

The Devil's Coattails Edited by Jason V. Brock and William F. Nolan
Hardcover 288 pages
Published by Cycatrix Press

Featuring: Ramsey Campbell, Jason V Brock, Dan O'Bannon, John Shirley, William F. Nolan, Melanie Tem, Jerry E. Airth, J. Brundage, James Robert Smith, Norman Corwin, Steve Rasnic Tem, R. C. Matheson, Earl Hamner, Sunni K Brock, Nancy Kilpatrick, Paul J. Salamoff, Marc Scott Zicree, W. H. Pugmire & Maryanne K. Snyder, Richard Selzer, Gary A. Braunbeck, and Paul G. Bens, Jr. Illustrated and with a cover by Vincent Chong.

There are thousands upon thousands of horror fiction anthologies featuring over a bazillion horror stories. What separates one book from the masses, that is what editors should consider before starting one of these projects. During the 80's (the publishing glory days for horror) some of the best anthologies were classics like Doug Winter's Prime Evil, Kirk McCauley's Dark Forces and the Night Visions/Shadows series edited by Charles Grant were among the best.

The Grant anthologies come to mind here, when I was a young horror reader I got excited each time I went to horror section and saw the latest edition of Shadows or Night Vision ( which continued for a few editions after Grant's death). I couldn't wait to open the book and see who was in the table of contents. After reading the first anthology (the Bleeding Edge) edited by Brock and Nolan I was excited when they said they were already working on a second book.

That was great news to me, the Bleeding Edge was in many ways the most solid and ground breaking anthology in the genre of Dark and weird fiction in some time. First it was amazing quality of paper and production. It is the kinda of book you want to take care of, It looked the treasure that it was. Second, the authors represented spanned several generations ranging from 60's favorite Ray Bradbury to 80's fav John Shirley, but don't worry young hip-snappers like Cody Goodfellow and Lisa Morton are also represented. Last and probably more importantly was the bold decsion to include several formats from Screenplays, teleplays, poems, fragments and not slaving simply to the idea of a straight prose collection.

The second book by the duo is not as diverse in formats (it does have a poem by Nolan and teleplay by Twilight Zone expert Mark Zicree). Almost the entire book is filled masterpieces, and I can only say two stories didn't work for me, both by authors whose work I respect. I love Gary Braunbeck, and consider his horror novel Prodigal Blues to be a masterpiece, but his story in this book lost. I admit it probably went over my head, and that being at the end. The WH Pugmire appears to be set in his personal mythos and I felt a bit lost, I intend to go back and read it after I have explotred more of his work.

The three best stories in my opinion were “Best Firends” by Melanie Tem, "Invisible” by Nancy Kilpatrick and "If you Love Me" by Paul Bens Jr. Tem's “Best Friends” is a Stoker award worthy Ghost story about a woman haunted by the ghost of someone who is still very much alive. Kilpatrick's “Invisible” is a good story for people who complain about the service at restaurants might give them a lot to think about. “If you Love Me” is a deeply haunting tale about changing attitudes about AIDS in the gay community, it is a a brutal heart breaker and perfectly caps off the end of the book.

This is a beautiful, amazing and special book. The problem is this is a serious collectors item. It is a $150 dollar book and it looks like it. It ain't cheap. Not sure if Brock and team are planning Trade editions ever. I hope so because the masses should read this book.

Book Review: Primal Screamer by Nick Blinko

You may not have ever heard of Nick Blinko, but he is well nown and
popular in certain circles. He was the guitarist of Rudimentary Peni,
a popular crust punk band. (crust punk is a subgenre of a subgenre,
anarcho-political punk) besides their fellow British standard Crass -
Rudimentary Peni is one the most popular bands of the genre 30 years
after they started.

Since the band recorded a tribute to HP Lovecraft I think the idea
that the novel was a twisting of Crust punk with Lovecraft vibe was a
little over sold on the back of the book. Besides a single reference
to the Necronomicon, and standard Gothic feel this thin but powerful
novel didn't feel Lovecraftian to me, and the horror aspect is a bit oversold.

The more you know about this pioneering band, the more likely you
are to enjoy this novel, which is a paper thin autobiography. The
novel follows the event of Blinko and the band's life with only a few
names changed and a few horrific visions added. the rumor is that
Blinko himself has been committed, but I don't know if that is just
legend. It's true that the band's bass player died of cancer.

One very bold choice was to tell the story through the eyes of Nat
(although it's clear he represents the author)'s psychotherapist. As
he gets to know Nat he feels his dreams slipping into insanity, this
and the method of regressive therapy which takes you back under
hypnosis to feeling of being in the womb. This is a great analogy
considering the name of the band the characters and the author were
in. In Maximum RocknRoll, issue #237 (February 2003), the bass player
Matthews explained how he came up with the name of the band: "When I
was at school studying biology, we were told that in the fetal stage
the clitoris is a rudimentary penis."

Over all I personally enjoyed the novel, but I didn't exactly think it
was a masterpiece. As a history of the band and a dark artist knowing
so much of this experience is true makes for a compelling read. At the
same time as a horror novel I don't think it would work for anyone who
was not already a fan of or interested in Blinko's music. The
therapists descendent into madness to me feels short and rush at the
end, happening most clearly in the last five pages of the novel.
Events of the story while interesting and gothic were not strong
enough to carry it as a horror novel.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Book Review: The Complete Strain Trilogy

The Complete Strain Trilogy

In Hollywood terms writing and directing an Oscar nominated film gives you the weight to throw around and get the projects made that you have been dying to make. Guillermo Del Toro was one of my favorite directors long before Pans Labyrith. I think he is one of the most exciting directors working in genre today. Since his huge surprise Spanish language hit Del Toro has failed several times to get projects off the ground, some were to grand in scope (At the Mountains of Madness) or to delayed in production (The Hobbit). He has still been up to some exciting things including producing films(Don't be afraid of the Dark) and co-writing a trilogy of vampire novels called the Strain.

The project that began as a TV series pitch by Del Toro (who pointed to HBO's The Wire as influence) with the structure of the novels following three possible seasons of the show. It is really to bad that idea never became reality, but Del Toro was not prepared to put this idea to death. Del Toro is a talented writer and storyteller who knew he needed help with some of procedural details that were important to the first book. So he teamed up with noted crime fiction author Chuck Hogan, known for his bestselling novel Prince of Thieves (made into the film The Town).

Depending on who is commenting on the novels, you'll see comments suggesting that “it is clear that” Del Toro or Hogan did more of the writing. Both authors went at length to suggest that neither did heavier lifting during the writing process. The only thing we know for sure is that elements of both authors show up and the duo made for a great story telling team.

The first book in the trilogy starts as a slow burn, focused on the mystery of a plane that lands in NYC with a load of dead bodies. It is a great set-up for a medical mystery thriller, similar to Andromeda Strain or an early Robin Cook novels. During this first act Hogan's skills for unfolding a mystery, and GDT's monster and mythology skills are perfectly balanced to give the book a very strong atmosphere. A lot of this first book is setting the rules, mythology and characters.

I have seen a few reviews that said the characters were lacking and that was not the case for me. The novel is told through several very notable and likable characters. The hero of the story or focus is a recently divorced father and CDC investigator Eph Goodweather, but other characters included an old world vampire hunter Setrakian , a Mexican wrestler, a rat exterminator Fet and several Mexican gangsters trying to survive the end of the world. Not to mention the vampires which included the only half breed naturally born vampire referred to by the vampire master as “The Born.”

I enjoyed the characters and thought they were developed with such a slick touch that (screenwriters have to rely on) most readers might not have noticed. Some authors writing epics will spend a hundred pages building characters that can be established in less than page. This is the case here.

All of this sets up the story of The Fall, which lends itself to kicking ass. The first book filled with world building and information dumps, but it's a lot of stuff as a novelist you have to do. How do the Vampires work? Who are the characters? What are the rules. So for book two we have all those things established and we are ready to rock. Even though I knew it was an end of the world story involving vampires I found the process still included a deeply shocking ending.

I knew I would dig this book, I love a great end of the world apocalypse novel, McCammon’s Swan Song is perhaps my favorite and while it’s not as sprawling as Swan Song or as intimate as I Am Legend, The Fall strikes perfect balance. Not too long, not a lot of wasted fat, the story cooks along at a great pace. Del Toro's cinematic editing and pacing skills became clear towards the end of this second book which worked very well with Hogan's skills for writing action. At the end I was left stunned and dying to read the third book.

Building an epic is easier than ending one. Ask most fans of Stephen King's the Stand or IT which are crazy long well told stories that left most readers unhappy. They still love the books, but something about the end has not sat well with most readers. From a lot of the fan reaction to the Night Eternal it is clear that a few fans felt let down.

I think the second part is the best of the Trilogy, but the Night Eternal to me was a satisfying entry into the series. I think there were a lot of interesting ideas and creative issues that the authors touched on that could have been expanded, but for the most part the story is told with a tight focus. I was impressed with the tiny moments from the first two books that payed off here, IE the international space station.

My only problem with this entry in the trilogy was a misguided attempt to connect the story to judeo Christian myths, to me this undid some of the power of the first two books and almost contradicted the story. In the end I am was happy the trilogy and think it is a major accomplishment that should be enjoyed by all horror fans. My hope is that Hogan and GDT will work together again and if not that we have not read the last Del Toro novel.