Reviews
Fiction
Non-Fiction
Film

Other
Commentary
Review Index
 

 

2015: The Year in Horror Publishing

As always, 2015 was a good year for readers--provided they knew where to look. While there were a number of worthwhile books put out by the big publishing houses, the majority of the really good stuff, in my view, came from the so-called small presses like Pushkin, Centipede, Eibonvale, Vertical and others. Contrary to what many have claimed, finding those books wasn’t especially difficult (online at least), one just had to venture a bit outside the mainstream to do so.

     What follows is the latest installment of my “Year in Horror Publishing” overview of the previous year’s books. It’s an unfortunate reality that I wasn’t able to read every worthwhile genre publication of 2015 (I missed Stephen King’s latest offering), but did manage to peruse some good books, starting with…

 
Standout Fiction

     BIOGENESIS Those familiar with the medically informed horror fiction of Michael Blumlein will find a most welcome equivalent in this collection by a heretofore untranslated Japanese author. That TATSUAKI ISHIGURO has an extensive medical background is evident in these tales, nearly all of which take the form of medical journals. See the opening story “It Is With the Deepest Sincerity that I Offer Prayers…,” presented as a formal inquiry, complete with graphs and photographs, into the unexplained deaths of two doctors who were researching the extinction of a winged mouse. The prose never loses its clinical edge, yet the story is unerringly gripping, horrific and deeply sad.
     Nearly matching its power is “Midwinter Weed,” about a plant that lives on human blood and a man who during WWII became dangerously obsessed with it. Another standout story is “Snow Woman,” about a seemingly cold-blooded lady who may have inspired the well-known Japanese legend of the snow woman. The tale is once again notable for its mock-medical journal format, while the final story, “The Hope Shore Sea Squirt,” is related in a more conventional manner. It is, unsurprisingly, the weakest of the book’s contents, marred by an underdeveloped narrative involving the apparent healing properties of the titular sea squirts. Nonetheless, the tale contains the same oft-kilter readability of its fellows, and even if it doesn’t match their power is stronger than most anything else you’ll read these days in the horror or science fiction fields.

    SLADE HOUSE written by literary darling DAVID MITCHELL (Random House), proves two things: 1). That non-genre affiliated writers can bring a unique and vital energy that sets their work apart from that of career horror scribes, and 2). That writing genre fiction can free up literary authors in a good way.
     The setting is the same universe of Mitchell’s previous book THE TIME CLOCKS, a novel whose every chapter was marked by a different year and protagonist, which is also the format of SLADE HOUSE. The subject, as the title infers, is a country house, accessible through a tiny door in an incredibly narrow London alley.
     The five part narrative begins in 1979, with Nathan, a Valium addicted teenager, narrating his experiences in Slade House together with his mother. Part two occurs in ‘88, with Gordon, a police inspector searching for Nathan and his mom, taking over narration duties. In part three the twentyish Lucy, who’s part of a paranormal society investigating the disappearances of Nathan, his mother and Inspector Gordon, takes the narrative reigns, and in part four Lucy’s older sister investigates her sibling’s disappearance. I’ll refrain from giving any info about part five, as doing so would ruin the mystery whose unraveling is integral to the book.
     The novel is enhanced by David Mitchell’s talent for characterization, with five first person POVs that all feel extremely distinct, and also his genius for inventive plotting, resulting in a narrative that never takes an expected turn.

     THE BOY WHO STOLE ATTILA'S HORSE, from Pushkin Press, is yet another example of the truism that the most potent horror fiction isn’t always classified as such. This ostensibly literary novel, the first English translation of the fiction of Spain’s IVAN REPILA, is an example of such, being one of the most purely horrifying novels I encountered in 2015.
     The premise is diabolically simple: two boys, identified as Big and Small, find themselves at the bottom of a well. As their weeks, and possibly years, in the well stretch on the boys fall prey to starvation, infighting, madness and hallucination. Big, we learn, has a plan to get them out, requiring great strength on his part and equal fortitude on Small’s.
     This is first and foremost a very European account, drafted with a total absence of sentimentality; this means there are none of the requisite dramatic appeals to God or teary declarations of love. Unfortunately, the novel’s European orientation extends to its prose, which often leans toward the pretentious. What ultimately resonates, however, is the relentlessness of the story--warm and cuddly it certainly isn’t.

More Good Fiction

     TEACHING THE DOG TO READ (Subterranean Press) by the incomparable JONATHAN CARROLL opens in characteristically unassuming fashion: Tony Areal, an office drone, gets an unsolicited package containing an expensive watch he’s long coveted. Next he receives a Porsche, another long-desired acquisition.
     From there the narrative launches into a sustained flight of fancy involving the office hottie Lena, a more outgoing version of the protagonist who dubs himself “Night Tony,” a dream-dwelling seductress named Alice and a thousand year old ape creature. It all adds up to a superbly imaginative and enjoyable read, marred only by the fact that TEACHING THE DOG TO READ is a short story packaged--and priced ($40.00!)--as a novel.
 

    Regarding  THE SCARLET GOSPELS by CLIVE BARKER (St. Martin's Press), disappointment was inevitable. The novel’s publication has been teased for well over a decade, and now that it’s finally here one thing is immediately apparent: the novel is far from the “epic summation” of Barker’s work that was promised, despite the fact that it marks the first (and last?) pairing of HELLRAISER’S “Hell Priest” Pinhead and LORD OF ILLUSIONS' virtuous P.I. Harry D'Amour.
     It certainly opens on a high note, with a group of ghosts, all of whom joined the afterworld after unwisely calling up Pinhead and his minions, getting dispatched in spectacularly gruesome fashion by the object of their veneration. From there we’re reacquainted with Mr. D’Amour, who finds a Lament Configuration, or puzzle box, that summons Pinhead. This sets in motion a fantastic series of events that include a literal trip into Hell--which as rendered in these pages is essentially another of the supernatural netherworlds that typify Barker’s fiction (be it Weaveworld, Quiddity, Imagica or Abarat).
     It’s all set down in Barker’s immaculately refined prose, which combined with his richly described B-movie imagery and cinematic pacing make for a book that’s quite engrossing. The problem is that, again, this is nothing Barker hasn’t already done before, and better.

 

Anthologies of Note

     The Eibonvale published SENSORAMA, edited by ALLEN ASHLEY, is all about the five senses and our relationship to them. The opener is “Blinding A Few Dogs” by Gary Budgen, a story whose sense of choice is sight--specifically that of a man with macular degeneration that causes a tear shape to obstruct his vision. Then there’s “The War Artist,” a highly elliptical reverie by Tim Nickels about a man who, we gradually learn, is invisible. Invisibility is also the subject of Mark Patrick Lynch’s more straightforward “Making See,” whose narrator has to deal with his girlfriend turning see-through.
     “Stain” by Ian Hunter, involving a man with an irresistible compulsion to lick the stain on his bathroom ceiling, is a story that starts out in comedic fashion but turns VERY dark. Of a similar hue is “Little Fingers” by Christine Morgan, about a woman who feels tiny fingers kneading her body inside and out.
     One of the most memorable stories here, “Graft” by Adam Craig, concerns the process of regrowing one’s skin, an uncomfortable sensation that’s “like being wrapped from neck to toe in coarse wool, each strand flexing.” I also appreciated Douglas Thompson’s “Musk,” whose narrator finds he has an unnaturally acute sense of smell.
     “Maneater” by David Gullen is notable for its gender-neutral protagonists, identified as “em” or “ey,” who are hunting sensory-impaired “Onca” men on a distant planet. As for the completely outrageous “Bang, Bang, Thud” by Ralph Robert Moore, it takes into account all of the senses in its tale of a working stiff and his struggles with a perverted window washer(!).
 

     SEIZE THE NIGHT, edited by CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN (Gallery Books), seeks to restore the vampire to its rightful place as a figure of horror. This means you won’t find any romantic or vegetarian bloodsuckers in these pages, and I say great!
     “Up in Old Vermont” by Scott Smith starts things off with a richly atmospheric depiction of a rural Vermont community harboring a most horrific secret. A highly unique take on the vampire myth occurs in “Paper Cuts” by Gary A. Braunbeck, about centuries-old bloodsuckers turned into books, although the effect is lessened by a lame ending.
      “The Neighbors” by Sherrilyn Kenyon is a throwback to horror tales of old, with a rousing twist ending that caps off an otherwise clichéd account of a boy who’s suspicious about his new neighbors. “Blood” by Robert Shearman is about a British teacher in Paris, together with a girlfriend who happens to be underage--and a you-know-what, a fact revealed in perhaps the first depiction I’ve encountered of blood eating. “What Kept You So Long?” by John Ajvide Lindqvist is an absorbing account of a vampirized truck driver who meets a woman who happens to also be a vampire.
     “Separator” by Rio Youers is set in a Filipino village where an American developer learns of the folkloric figure of the vampiric Aswang…which of course turns out to be not so folkloric after all. This tale, I should add, has an unusually high sexual content in addition to its splatterpunk excesses, which are considerable (sample: “She gobbled his testicles, then thrust her hands into the wound between his legs and tore upward, unzipping him to the sternum”). There’s something for everyone in these pages. No, this isn’t the greatest anthology I’ve ever read, but I promise it will keep you occupied, and do so without any mushy stuff.

 

Centipede Press

     2015 was the year I “discovered” Centipede Press. Yes, I knew about this publisher in prior years, and even purchased a few of its publications, but it wasn’t until last year that I took a concerted interest in Centipede’s output. How could I not, in light of a publication slate that included the first-ever American printings of ANNE HEBERT’S CHILDREN OF THE BLACK SABBATH and DAVID J. SCHOW’S THE SHAFT? Even more intriguing to me was Centipede’s “Vintage Horrors” series of hardback reprintings of pulp classics, which in ‘15 included ORGY OF THE DEAD by ED WOOD, QUEEN OF BLOOD by CHARLES NUETZEL and THE SLIME BEAST by GUY N. SMITH.

     In ORGY OF THE DEAD, originally published in 1966, a young couple crash their car on a mountain road. There, in the light of a full moon, the couple are made witness to a ceremony performed by a werewolf and the Princess of Darkness, who, as is apparently their custom when the moon is full, are entertained by confessions of the dead. The latter come to include a banshee, a mummy, a voodoo practitioner, a debauched undertaker and a kindly man buried in an accursed burial ground.
     In the hands of a competent writer all this might have added up to something semi-profound, but the scribe here was the widely hailed Worst Filmmaker of All Time. This novel has the same mind-roasting charge as Ed Wood’s “best” movies, with all of his widely publicized obsessions on full display--note the oft-mentioned angora sweater worn by the heroine, and the fact that said heroine’s is called Shirley (the name of Wood’s female alter ego). Furthermore, Wood isn’t above layering in some straightforward sexploitation, as in a passage in which Shirley has her blouse ripped open to expose “the milk-white mounds…the rosebud tips so inviting.”
     Rounding out the package is an introduction by Forrest J. Ackerman, a.k.a. “Dr. Acula.” Ackerman doesn’t appear to know quite what to say about this book other than “If you’re not scared to death of being scared to death, if cannibalism is your idea of strong meat, if you’re prepared for a reading experience you may never forget…then turn the pages and commence reading”, which may indeed say it all.

     QUEEN OF BLOOD , a movie novelization, deserves credit for being as readable as it is, given that it was cobbled together from a screenplay in an extremely short timeframe (so claims author Charles Nuetzel in a newly written introduction). The flick in question was a low budgeter conceived around footage filched from a couple of Soviet sci fi epics by writer-director Curtis Harrington.
     It’s set in the “future” year 1990, when an extraterrestrial device is found containing a video recording of an alien ship crashing on Mars. A band of astronauts are dispatched on a rescue mission to the red planet, where a comatose green skinned “Queen” is discovered aboard the downed spacecraft. Once ensconced among the astronauts the Queen comes to life, revealing herself as a space vampire.
     Nuetzel adds far more technical jargon than was present in the film, and also intensifies the sexual angle in sentences like “Her space suit, unlike that of Earth astronauts, was skin-tight, accentuating the bulge of brimming breasts that heaved with her every breath” (fact: this novel was initially classified as an adults-only publication). Unfortunately enough, the romantic angle that was only suggested in the film has also been beefed up, to none-too-agreeable effect .

     I admittedly haven't perused the Centipede Press edition of THE SLIME BEAST, but I am familiar with the text. It’s certainly one of the wildest of Guy N. Smith’s early novels (no small claim!), a concentrated stream of unadulterated pulp packed with copious amounts of sex and gore.
     It centers on Professor Lowson, an archeologist afoot in The Wash, a desolate marshland, together with the studly museum curator Gavin and Lowson’s 20-year-old niece Liz. They’re in search of the priceless King John’s treasure, which is said to be interred somewhere in The Wash. What they find instead is the titular beast, a slime-oozing reptilian monstrosity. The Wash’s locals grow suspicious, believing a sea monster guards King John’s treasure, and that said monster is now on the rampage--and what a rampage it is, with heads crushed, entrails exposed and a guy’s penis ripped from his body.
     No, this novel will never be mistaken for WAR AND PEACE, but for what it is it works quite well, and, at a quick 113 pages, won’t take you more than an hour or two to read.

     Of Centipede Press’s other 2015 releases, THE SHAFT was a definite stand-out. The first-ever American printing of this 1990 publication, it’s an attractively packaged hardcover containing an introduction by F. Paul Wilson, the original short story that inspired the novel and a newly written afterward by David J. Schow that outlines the book’s tortured publication history.
     As for the book itself, I’ve always found it to be something of a flawed masterpiece, an attempt at grafting A-level writing onto a B-movie storyline. It starts off with a bang, with a derelict’s penis forcibly amputated by a shadowy something in a bathtub. From there we get to know Jonathan, a sensitive artist fleeing a bad relationship; Cruz, a drug dealer; and Jamaica, a hooker with a heart of you-know-what. All are drawn to the Chicago-based Kenilworth Arms apartment complex, which is home to a mutant tumor that, having escaped the building manager’s stomach, has literally taken over.
     Schow’s writing is, as always, graphic and in-your-face. What THE SHAFT has in excess is grit, with the Kenilworth Arms coming off as the single skuzziest residence this side of Detroit. The writing, unfortunately, can also be extremely self-indulgent: it takes nearly the first 200 of THE SHAFT’S 361 pages for the story to really get moving, with endless verbiage devoted to describing characters’ eating, drinking and sexual habits. But Schow was making a sincere effort to break new ground, and succeeded in creating a novel that remains quite resonant in spite of its bloat.

     CHILDREN OF THE BLACK SABBATH is another example of a Centipede Press publication I didn’t actually peruse, but which I feel safe in recommending, as I’m already familiar with and quite partial to earlier editions of the text. It’s an excellent “nunsploitation” novel with all the fixings: demonic possession, torture, shape shifting, levitation, black masses, perverted sex, a mutant birth and (of course) an exorcism. It’s also a heartfelt love story...albeit one between a nun and her long-lost brother, with whom she shared an incestuous relationship.
     It seems that said nun, Sister Julie of the Trinity, is possessed by Satan, who speaks to her in the form of “visions” that are in fact mental flashbacks to her decidedly unorthodox childhood, where she and her bro grew up in the shadow of a perverse couple living in a mountain shanty. Back in the present (the year 1944) Sister Julie’s visions come to infect her entire convent, leading to mass hysteria.
     Be advised that despite such outrageousness the book is anything but an exploitation quickie; rather, it’s a grim and self-conscious meditation on faith and ritual. Yes, it sounds obnoxiously highbrow, and indeed it is in spots, but for the most part the author finds a comfortable middle ground between art and sensation--and does so in under 200 pages.

     The final entry in this category is STANLEY KUBRICK’S THE SHINING: STUDIES IN THE HORROR FILM, a DANIEL OLSON edited anthology that can be safely termed the definitive resource on Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING, a gorgeously designed tome whose contents are drafted with a thoroughness and attention to detail worthy of the famously exacting Kubrick himself.
     It begins with a lengthy excerpt from John Baxter’s 1997 biography on Kubrick, followed by 10 learned essays by various film scholars and a selection of interviews. The latter include a 2009 chat with Jack Nicholson, in which he claims he improvised much of the dialogue in the famous bathroom scene, and a more recent interview with Shelley Duvall, who’s surprisingly upbeat about her experience making THE SHINING. The late Scatman Crothers, in a 1980 interview, is likewise quite upbeat about Kubrick and THE SHINING, although he does admit to being disappointed that his character gets killed off. Then there are Lisa and Louise Burns, the creepy twin girls, who recount their two scenes in the film in extremely minute detail, while Stanley Kubrick himself is represented by a 1980 interview with Michel Ciment.
     Rounding out the book are extensive stills, behind the scenes photos, conceptual artwork inspired by the film and pen-and-ink caricatures of the cast and crew. I think it goes without saying that this volume is a treasure-trove for fans of THE SHINING, and Stanley Kubrick buffs in general.

     That ends my section about Centipede Press, but brings up another category that figured heavily in my 2015 reading…
 

Books About Movies

     As a longtime film buff I always enjoy books about moviemaking, and few such books are more enjoyable, or bizarre, than A KIM JONG-IL PRODUCTION by PAUL FISCHER (Flatiron Books), a true story that often reads like an especially outrageous flight of fancy. It relates the 1978 kidnapping of the South Korean film director Shin Sang-Ok and his actress spouse Choi Eun-Hee by Kim Jong-Il, who forced them to make a string of North Korean propaganda films (including the notorious GODZILLA wannabe PULGASARI) before they managed to escape to America in 1986.
     Author Paul Fischer relates this account with a great deal of storytelling flair, fashioning a narrative that’s gripping, suspenseful and ultimately quite moving. Fischer also answers all the questions you might have about life in North Korea, where citizens are arrested for not keeping their portraits of the “supreme leader” dust-free, propaganda is blared through loudspeakers 24 hours a day and the prison system makes that of MIDNIGHT EXPRESS seem like a model of humane restraint. It’s an unforgettable setting to a story that I strongly doubt anyone would believe were it not based on documented fact.

     THE MAKING OF HITCHCOCK'S THE BIRDS by TONY LEE MORAL (Kamera Books), is a thorough recounting of the production and reception of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic THE BIRDS. The book’s exhaustive coverage is not an entirely good thing, as the making of THE BIRDS, which took place largely on location in Bodega Bay, CA, was frankly not all that invigorating. Like most of Hitchcock’s productions the film was crafted with a great deal of forethought and discipline, meaning the BIRDS shoot was a smooth and not especially exciting one.
     In this book we hear from nearly everyone involved in THE BIRDS, including its star Tippi Hedren, her co-stars Rod Taylor, Susanne Pleschette and Veronica Cartwright, screenwriter Evan Hunter, matte artist Albert Whitlock and (via archival interviews) Albert Hitchcock himself. Among the tidbits gleaned are the fact that Hitchcock was inspired by the French New Wave films of the late 1950s and early 60s; that the tension between Hitchcock and Hedren that famously came to a head on the set of MARNIE began during the making of THE BIRDS; and that the film’s 1963 release, while lucrative enough, was far from the monster success of Hitchcock’s previous film PSYCHO.
     We also get plenty of info on the film’s incredibly complex special effects, which were unprecedented for their time. Again, however, this doesn’t make for a terribly exciting read, unless you happen to have a fetish for the minutia of outdated visual trickery.
 

Reprints of Note

     Perhaps the most vital publishing imprint to appear in 2015 was Pushkin-Vertigo, which put out a handful of trade paperback editions of suspense classics from around the world, starting with SHE WHO WAS NO MORE by PIERRE BOILEAU and THOMAS NARCEJAC.
     The novel is best known as the source material for Georges Franju’s suspense classic DIABOLIQUE, although the text is quite divergent from what ended up onscreen. In contrast to DIABOLIQUE, in which a married woman is tormented by what she thinks is the ghost of her murdered husband, the protagonist here is a man, one Fernand Ravel. He’s a suburbanite engaged in a torrid affair with the scheming seductress Lucienne. The two decide to poison Fernand’s wife Mireille so they can collect her insurance money. That killing goes through as planned, but a host of unforeseen problems inevitably pop up.
     I’ll refrain from giving away any more of the narrative, which pivots on a succession of ingeniously conceived twists, and culminates in a final revelation that’s not as shocking today as it probably seemed back in ’52, but still packs a punch. Equally important to the novel’s effect is its core of aberrant psychology. Fernand’s strained mental state is arguably where the real action occurs, and the authors evince a disturbing grasp of the vagaries of insanity.

     Regarding Tor's 2015 reissue of the DAWN OF THE DEAD novelization by GEORGE ROMERO and SUSANNA SPARROW--complete with a newly written introduction by Simon Pegg--I have mixed feelings. I’m happy to see Romero’s still-subversive 1978 masterpiece getting renewed attention, especially in light of all the cookie-cutter zombie media to which we’ve been subjected, but that doesn’t change the fact that this novel is little more than a minor redrafting of Romero’s 250-plus page screenplay for DAWN.
     It’s certainly not unusual for movie novelizations to be fashioned out of screenplays (see my summary of QUEEN OF BLOOD above), but this is a special case, as the DAWN script happens to be one of the most fascinating and unorthodox screenplays I’ve ever read. Why no-one has ever thought to publish it I’ll never understand, as it’s the DAWN OF THE DEAD script that really deserves the deluxe treatment given this novelization.

     1962’s THE CASE AGAINST SATAN by RAY RUSSELL (Penguin) was as important in its own way as more celebrated horror novels like I AM LEGEND, ROSEMARY’S BABY and a certain other highly influential book (and movie) that came along many years after this one, and shared many plot points.
     THE CASE AGAINST SATAN centers on 16 year old Susan Garth, whose acting out goes beyond the bounds of traditional adolescent misbehavior. As Susan’s naughtiness grows increasingly severe--she literally runs from churches and makes sexual advances to a priest--it’s deduced that she’s possessed by Satan, and an exorcism is performed by Bishop Cummings and Father Gregory Sargent, a hipper-than-average holy man with some decidedly unorthodox ideas about sex and faith.
     This novel was apparently quite the envelope-pusher in its day, although now it seems quite restrained, particularly when contrasted with its most famous offshoot THE EXORCIST. You’ll find no public urination or crucifix masturbation in these pages, as author Ray Russell’s main concern was in contrasting the medieval-oriented horror of satanic possession with more modern, human-based evils. Another way in which this novel differs from THE EXORCIST is its refusal to ever confirm whether Susan Garth is truly possessed. This may seem like a cop-out, particularly in today’s more-is-better climate, but I say such indecision is emblematic of the author’s intelligence, which recognizes that when pondering the Big Questions (i.e. ones involving faith and divinity) no easy answers are forthcoming.
    
 

Recommended Non-Horror Publications

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME By BURT REYNOLDS, JOHN WINOKUR
Quite a few juicy Hollywood stories are related in this memoir by Burt Reynolds, who is also laudably honest about his own bad behavior.

GILLIAMESQUE By TERRY GILLIAM
“Gilliamesque” is definitely the word for this memoir by Monty Python alum/renegade filmmaker Terry Gilliam, whose absurdly comedic prose is as distinct as his moviemaking.

ORSON WELLES’ LAST MOVIE: THE MAKING OF THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND By JOSH KARP
You don’t have to be a film nerd to enjoy this altogether fascinating account of the rocky production of Orson Welles’ unreleased final film.

WE DON’T NEED ROADS: THE MAKING OF THE BACK TO THE FUTURE TRILOGY By CASEEN GAINES
A fun, user-friendly look at the making of BACK TO THE FUTURE and (unfortunately) its two sequels.
 

2014 Publications I Missed the First Time Around

     PRISONER 489 (Dark Regions Press) is a recent effort by JOE R. LANSDALE, who has been concentrating on westerns and thrillers lately, but proves here that he can still deliver the scary stuff. Furthermore, the wonderfully profane, hard-bitten prose that distinguishes Lansdale’s finest work is very much in evidence.
     The setting is certainly among Lansdale’s most memorable: a tiny island adjacent to a much larger one containing a prison. Evoked by Lansdale with ominous grandeur, this smaller island is where the grizzled Bernard looks after The Lot, a graveyard where executed prisoners are buried. The Lot currently holds 488 cadavers. The 489th is on the way, but from the start it’s clear that this burial will be different from all the others, as Prisoner 489 was a mighty unique individual.
     I’ll leave Prisoner 489’s background and identity for readers to discover on their own, as the revelation of that identity provides the story’s most jaw-dropping surprise. That Lansdale is able to maintain the gritty atmosphere even after this folkloric personage overtakes the narrative is another of the many marvels of this first-rate horror story.

     SONGS FOR THE LOST by ALEXANDER ZELENYJ (Eibonvale) is a most fascinating and evocative collection of hallucinatory fiction. In the Brian A. Dixon penned forward the name Ray Bradbury is prominently evoked, and the burnished prose of these tales is indeed very reminiscent of Ray B.
     The stories take place more often than not in strikingly desolate settings, with eccentric romance and fraught father-son relationships being constants. “The Fire That We Deserve” starts the book out; like many of the succeeding stories it’s a highly atmospheric science fiction-tinged mood-piece, with a brother and sister pondering the onset of some unspecified catastrophe. A more basic, plot-driven entry is “A Roman Plague,” about Roman soldiers confronting an ancient sorceress, while “Far Beneath Incomplete Constellations” provides an impressively sustained evocation of erotic delirium experienced by a college professor in love with an eccentric girl.
     Not too many other writers could pull off such an amazing compendium of imaginative richness spread out over such an expansive canvas, but Alexander Zelenyj, obviously, can.

Looking Forward...

ALBINA AND THE DOG MEN by ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY
From the incomparable Alejandro Jodorowsky, a "supernatural love-and-horror story in which a beautiful albino giantess unleashes the slavering animal lurking inside the men of a Chilean village."

CINEMA ALCHEMIST by ROGER CHRISTIAN
A memoir by the art director of ALIEN and STAR WARS, and director of BLACK ANGEL and BATTLEFIELD EARTH.

FEAR IS THE RIDER By KENNETH COOK
A newly discovered novel by Australia’s late Kenneth Cook that’s been a described as "a chillingly brilliant short novel that’s part WOLF CREEK and part DUEL."

THE FIREMAN By JOE HILL
A new novel by Joe Hill. Need I say more?

MAD-DOCTOR MERCIFUL By COLLIN BROOKS
A Ramble House reprinting of a forgotten 1930s-era horror novel that’s said to combine paranormal mystery and gross-out horror.

THE MASTER OF THE DAY OF JUDGMENT By LEO PERUTZ
One of the most mind-roasting mysteries of all time is set to be given a 2016 reprinting by Pushkin-Vertigo. You need one, pure and simple!

A SHADOW ALL OF LIGHT By FRED CHAPPELL
One for the too-intriguing-to-be-ignored category, a horrific fantasy by the brilliant and eccentric Fred Chappell.


 

--2/9/16 

     

HOME   MOVIES   STORIES   COMIX   NEW   FAQ   CONTEST   GAMES   ADAM'S BIO