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New Review Posted

Dark Scribe Magazine has posted my review of Justni Cronin's The Passage

You can find it at

http://www.darkscribemagazine.com/reviews/

Just have to scroll down a bit.

Sorry for the short posting - have promised the family that we will start a film shortly so have to rush

DemonMinds extra

Thought before I log this machine off for the evening it might be an idea to post the ful contents list for the DemonMinds antho I mentioned in the last post. So here it is

Daniel Robichaud - Jacket Ne Saie Quoe (Poem)Suzanne Sykora - Dandelion Seed (Poem)Jenna M. Pitman - A Girl and a Dog Walk Into A Bar (Story)Gustavo Bondoni - Happy Hour at Lilu's (Story)Kenneth Whitfield - Addictions (Story)April Grey - At the End of Day (Story)Chris Morey - Schism (Poem)Joyce Frohn - Little Coffins (Poem)Bernard J. Schaffer - The Kyoshi Scrolls (Story)MZ Hoosen - The Sleeper (Story)Bruce Memblatt - Bottle in Bordeaux (Story)C. S. Johnson - Seven Circles (Story)Gary McCluskey - Patches (Art)Zac Mauer - Good Grief (Art)David Pickering - Elegance (Story)KC Wilder - an unsuccessful writer relaxing at home (Poem)Tom Thornton - Dow Jones (Poem)I. E. Lester - Acting's A Hell of A Job (Story)John Grey - It's Not Like the Old Days (Poem)Michael Shell - I Have Seen A Gargoyle (Poem)Dark Matter -…

Recent times update

In amongst a few weeks of assorted craziness (I might blog about it later) I have had a couple of nice writing related moments. I received a copy of DemonMinds Halloween 2010 anthology magazine. It's a whopper - I think the format size is US Letter although being a Brit I might be wrong about that. And much more importantly to my writing ego, it contains a story of mine - Acting's a Hell of a Game. As well as lots of other short stories and poems from authors like Jeffrey Scott Sims, Daniel Robichaud and loads more.

And I also received a copy of Murky Depths issue 14 which contains three of my short reviews - for Lavie Tidhar's Cloud Permutations, W. D. Gagliani's Wolf's Bluff and the film Defendor.

And I have started writing again - sent in another review to Murky Depths this afternoon and will hopefully get some more done later...

Bathynomus giganteus

Forget all the drawings, paintings, models and computer generated imagery of what an alien race should look like. All you have to do is look up this creature - the giant isopod or Bathynomus giganteus. It is a very weird looking animal and you can find them in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
You don't need to go traveling to other worlds (of the imagination or otherwise) to see strange creatures.

Stephen Fry

I'm supposed to be reading all kinds of books at the moment. I think I must have about 20 or so review copies sitting on my to read pile. The only problem is that Stephen Fry has a new book out - his second volume of autobiography - and I simply have to read it. You see like a number of other English people (I can't claim this to be so for other nationalities - I've never asked) I like Stephen Fry.
I like his cleverness. I like his word use. I like his geeky enthusiasms. I could go on. He would. He's not the most modest of people - and I have to admit I can appreciate that. There are few things that annoy me more than false modesty. If you have a talent, an ability, why the hell not be proud of it and promote it, and hence yourself, as best you can.
Equally I like honesty. And in this book, The Fry Chronicles - I'd noticed I'd not mentioned the title earlier, Stephen Fry discusses his University life and early career in TV, radio, journalism, playwriting and all-…

Murky Depths #13

Just received my copy of Murky Depths #13 in today's post. It's a really good looking magazine and I'm looking forward to giving the stories a read later.

But I wanted to post a quick little blog entry about it as the issue contains three of my short (c. 250 word) reviews. There are two book reviews (for Dean Koontz's Relentless and Ronald Malfi's Snow) as well as a film review (for Stag Night).

If you feel like taking a look at their site - and preferably considering buying a copy of this fine mag (and I'm not just saying that because it features me) - then their website can be found at

http://www.murkydepths.com/

Oh and the site currently has the cover for #14 (really great cover too) which is available for pre-order and which I will also have reviews in. You could go buy both.

Enjoy!

Catch-up time

I've not been blogging much of late. Holidays and new bookcases have taken up a lot of my time. I spent a week based in Belgium and managed to go exploring in Holland, Germany, France and Luxembourg (in addition to Belgium itself). I still love Belgium. I think I may have to go back there many more times.

As for the book cases. Well we had a little bit of building work done earlier this year and some of the extra space was devoted to storing my books. And book cases arrived this last week. So I had the happy task of going through the boxes which have contained many of my books for the past couple of years and give them shelf space. Oh it was fun.

I have managed to find time to watch some movies too - so I thought I'd spend a few minutes giving some short comments.

1. Night of the Demons. I liked the original of this back in the 80s. It was a fairly tasteless, silly little horror comedy. It had all the elements you'd expect for a straight to video (remember pre-DVD age) releas…

Where did this month go?

I just noticed I haven't blogged since the 5th. Wow. Where have the last three weeks gone? Okay I think I can put some of it down to being on holiday in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France and Germany for ten days in there somewhere (I will add some blog entries about the trips at some point). But it doesn't account for all the gap. To be truthful I haven't written all that much in that time either - half a dozen reviews for Murky Depths is all.

Well the fact is I have had nine new book cases delivered and have spent a good deal of the time since getting back from mainland Europe sorting out the various boxes of books and getting books onto shelves. And it's been great fun. That may sound sad but it's true. I love books and a lot of these books haven't been out of boxes in years.

Good times.

New Review posted (New Myths)

My review of Harry Turtledove's Hitler's War has just been posted to sf website New Myths. If you want to check it out you can find it at

http://63.64.44.120/index.pacq?id=278&tier=2

Magners League

Anyone who's read any of the previous postings on this blog will be aware that I am a Europhile, and addicted to Italy in particular (and Belgium, Luxembourg, France - I could go on).

And I'm a rugby fan. A serious rugby fan.

Today saw two of these things come together. The Magners Leage which has featured teams from Scotland, Wales and Ireland, this year also features two Italian teams, Benetton Treviso and Aironi Rugby. Fantastic stuff.

And as a serious Venice fanatic I'm obviously going to sepnd the entire season, and hopefully many to come, supporting Terviso (Treviso is only just up the road from Venice).

Today Treviso played their first game against the Scarlets and they won 34-28. Yehay!!!

Two more submissions out there

I wanted to end the long weekend having done something positive writing wise and fortunately something presented itself in the form of page proofs from Demon Minds for my short story "Acting's a Hell of a Job" in their upcoming Halloween edition.

That and I found new potential homes for the two short stories rejected this weekend.

Review of Edward Lee - The Golem

I'd never read an Edward Lee novel before picking this book up. I'd heard they were gory, and many of the review quotes on the cover of and inside this book used phrases like "hardcore horror". I was expecting extreme horror.So it came as a bit of a surprise when this book wasn't an out-and-out gorefest, when it wasn't the loosely strung together sequence of gross-out horror violence I'd imagined. What it is, is a well-written, tightly plotted and entertaining, but decidedly mainstream, horror novel - with the kind of main plot you might imagine Stephen King producing.Games designer and recovering alcoholic Seth Kohn and his ex-junkie girlfriend Judy Parker have moved to Lowensport, Maryland to start a new life away from the reminders of their former addiction riddled lives. Their plans, though, are not going to work out, as the town is the home of a dark cult based on a twisted form of Judaism - a cult that controls a zombie-like golem.And, unfortunately…

Annoying weekend - writing wise

The last weekend in August in the UK means a three day weekend with a national holiday on the Monday. So it seems all the ingredients for a good time. Didn't quite happen that way though. Not writing wise in any case.

Firstly the weekend statrs with a rejection from Drabblecast and today it has ended with another rejection, this time from Neo-opsisfor a story I still feel is one of the best I've written. Although now that it has received six rejections maybe I should re-assess that belief. Mind you it has taught me not to write stories in second person narrative. Which is a great shame as I rather like second person tales. They make me feel as though I'm in the middle of the action.

And running all through the three days was the fact I had a lot of extracurriculur from the day job. I spent nearly all this weekend, including until 4am yesterday (on a Sunday) updating our software system. And sitting here now at 9pm Monday I have more yet to do.

I don't dislike my day job b…

Second Review of Wrath James White - Succulent Prey

After a number of years reading horror you begin to feel that you have pretty much seen it all. There's nothing left that will scare you or make you wince. Nothing an author can write that you will disturb you. Zombies - been there, ate brains with them. Vampires - heck they're pretty much PG these days. Witchcraft's gone cuddly, demons are just like regular people etc, etc.Even serial killers, with their advantage of being all too plausible, are sanitised somewhat - Hannibal Lector, Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers - are now more friends than feared enemies.Not so when you pick up a Wrath James White novel however. He still has the ability to unsettle you big time. He does this not only by the extreme violence of his books, but also by the context. The main character in this book is a cannibalistic sex-maniac - and, believe me, this is going to let you in for some pretty gory bits. Even for a long time reader/watcher of gory horror.He's achieved this by making his mon…

Review of Jacy Nova & Nick Nova - Vampress Girls: City of the Lost Souls (Graphic Novel)

In the fourteenth century, during the time of the Black Death plague in Europe, a deal is struck. The secrets contained in the Vampress Code were written down in a locked book, one that required two keys to be opened. One key was given to the High Priestess of the Vampire Clan (the good guys in the book) and the other to the High Priest of the Demon Clan (the Bad Guys).Not a totally original premise, but one that held a certain amount of promise. Nothing came of it though. The action soon moves forward in time to early twenty-first century California, but the promised epic battle between the supernatural forces of good and evil doesn't materialise. What we have is two girl-group pop bands, made up of American high school girls (one from each tribe) spending their time bickering at each other, going clubbing and being sick. It's all very superficial.Despite the simplistic art style and the speech bubbles dialogue being very prosaic, this could have been a great story. It isn…

Review of Brian Keene - Urban Gothic

Six suburban white kids venture into inner city Philadelphia because one of them "knows" where he can get good drugs. It's plainly not a good idea. One made all the worse when their car breaks down in a run down neighbourhood.When a group of black teenagers approaches them they fear the worse and panic, not waiting to see if the group was intending to rob/attack them or, perhaps, help them. They run, heading straight into an old, seemingly deserted house at the end of the street. Once inside they find themselves in a mutant nightmare, the house is populated by some of the most twisted, vile sub-humanoid creatures I've ever read in a mainstream horror novel.The danger is immediate. As soon as they close the door behind them they run into the first of the house's freak occupants - a giant, pus-oozing, brutal beast of a man carrying an un-really large hammer. From this point on they will undergo a terrifying ordeal, running, crawling, sliding, swimming through every…

Film Review - The Midnight Meat Train (back to posting old reviews)

Leon Kaufmann is a struggling photographer - determined to make it big without selling out. He prowls night-time New York in search of the iconic image of the city's dark side that could make him a household name.A chance encounter on a subway station platform with a well dressed, but hard-faced, man sparks an obsession in Kaufmann. He pursues the man, believing him responsible for series of disappearances from late night trains. His paranoia about the man is well founded. Mahogany (the well-dressed man) commits the most brutal of acts on the subway, beating his victims to death and then butchering them.Ex-soccer player Vinnie Jones is perfect as Mahogany. He has the perfect look for a deranged serial killer. But it's the focus on Kaufmann (Bradley Cooper) that makes the film work. Cooper plays the progression from career-desperation into obsession about the subway killer wonderfully.This is a film for the Saw fan, rather than the fan of psychological scares or Freddy-style to…

Demon Minds 2010 - Table of Contents

Demon Minds have posted the table of contents for their 2010 edition - out around Halloween. You can find it at the link below

http://www.demonminds.com/accepted.html

But it's posted in full below

Daniel Robichaud - Poem - Jacket Ne Saie QuoeSuzanne Sykora - Poem - Dandelion SeedJenna Pitman - Story - A Girl and a Dog Walk Into A BarGustavo Bondoni - Story - Happy Hour at Lilu'sKenneth Whitfield - Story - AddictionsApril Grey - Story - At the End of DayChris Morey - Poem - SchismJoyce Frohn - Poem - Little CoffinsBernard J. Schaffer - Story - The Kyoshi ScrollsMZ Hoosen - Story - The SleeperBruce Memblatt - Story - Bottle in BordeauxC. S. Johnson - Story - Seven CirclesGary McCluskey - Art - PatchesZac Mauer - Art - Good GriefDavid Pickering - Story - EleganceKC Wilder - Poem - an unsuccessful writer relaxing at homeTom Thornton - Poem - Dow JonesI. E. Lester - Story - Acting's A Hell of A JobJohn Grey - Poem - It's Not Like the Old DaysMichael Shell - Poem - I Have Seen …

Ray Bradbury Music Video (just a little rude)

I've just seen a pop video entitled F*** me, Ray Bradbury. One of my friends on Facebook posted the link and it's hilarious.

Just wnated to share the vid with anyone who doesn't mind adult language - if you do mind and you still visit the link, please don't blame me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1IxOS4VzKM

Third Dark Scribe Review (of recent times)

The third of my recent batch of Dark Scribe Magazine reviews (and fifth in total) has been posted. This one for George Mann's Ghosts of Manhattan, a 1920s Batman style story with steampunk stylings. Not a bad read.

Anyway you can find my review at http://www.darkscribemagazine.com/reviews/

Latest short story rejection

Everyday Weirdness just rejected my short story Chicken. Makes my batting average with them .500 (and yes I know being English I shouldn't probably use American sporting idioms but what the hell).

Now to try to find it a new potential home

Latest Dark Scribe Review

Dark Scribe Magazine has posted my review of Edward M Erdelac's novella Red Sails - a bit of a pirate adventure piece. You can find it at http://www.darkscribemagazine.com/reviews/

On Dean Koontz's Frankenstein (written before book four had come out)

In the near two centuries since the publication of Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein has become almost synonymous with horror itself for many, with only Bram Stoker's Dracula being more widely known.But like Dracula, the years have not always been kind to Frankenstein - both are often considered fair game for authors; filmmakers; comic writers; games-designers and merchandising manufacturers - not all of whom have been all that concerned with maintaining the legacy of the original.In summer 2005 Dean Koontz became the latest author to take a stab at adding to the Frankenstein mythos, with the first of a series of novels based on his concept for a proposed, but never realised, TV series.Koontz's basic premise is an updating of the Frankenstein story, accepting the events of Shelley's novel but asking what would happen next.We find out early in Prodigal Son, the first book (co-written with Kevin J. Anderson) that Dr Frankenstein still lives, having prolonged his life by…

Better late than never I guess

I enjoyed reading. Okay a number of people may read much more than me but I do manage to get through two or three books in a week so I don't think I do too badly. And I will admit this is largely due to a liking for shorter books. I read a lot of novellas so I guess I get a bit of assistance from the books I choose to read.

Anyway I recently discovered a new way of adding to my reading tally. I take a book with me to work. Before you start accusing me of not actually doing anything for the day job, I want to say I restrict my reading to lunch hours only. But it does mean I can add an extra book into the reading schedule each fortnight. As long as I stick clear of fiction that is. I don't think I could ever read a novel in the middle of a crowded canteen.

But non-fiction. I can do that. So recently I've read a book about the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, Dava Sobel's Longtitude, a couple of travelogues and am currently reading a book on Fermat's Last Theorem…

Review of Bill Bryson - Shakespeare: The World as a Stage

Although best known for his travel books this is far from Bryson's first venture into other fields. He has written the obligatory (for a writer) book of personal memoirs ("The Life and Time of the Thunderbolt Kid"), a book or two on the English language ("Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words") and even one on the sum total of human knowledge ("A Short History of Nearly Everything"). And now he has turned his hand to biography with this book on the greatest of all authors.This feels remarkably well researched - despite being such a short book he lists three and a half pages of selected bibliography. This amount of available research material does not mean, however, that much is actually known about Shakespeare life - far from it. Bryson even makes fun of this fact throughout the book. The book explains the few known facts of Shakespeare's life and how they are known - his birth (or rather his baptism, the exact date of his birth being infer…

Review Posted

My review of Robin Becker's Brains: A Zombie Memoir has been posted on the horror website Dark Scribe Magazine.

You can find them at - http://www.darkscribemagazine.com/

The reviews section is accessible from the link on the right hand side of the screen, or you can get to it direct by clicking - http://www.darkscribemagazine.com/reviews/

Review of Richard Parks' Hereafter, and After

Jake Hallman is a dead accountant, and the afterlife's latest arrival, appearing at the start of the Golden Road to Heaven. Brendan, his own personal guide angel awaits him. Jake soon non-plusses Brendan however, when he questions the need to actually make the journey - can Brendan force him to go? With this simple revelation Jake becomes a Free Soul.As a Free Soul he begins to realise certain truths about the afterlife, and of the nature of the gods. Although such occurrences are rare, heaven has a mechanism to track them, and Jake finds himself from time to time in front of The Accountant, the being responsible for keeping score.Jake follows his own path, a ghostly free agent. He visits Valhalla where he discovers that hearing tales of even the most heroic and perilous adventures grows dull after an eternity of retelling, and the gods are bored. He teams up with a former Valkyrie and visits Hel, and all the time continues to see the truths about existence.This book is wonderfull…

Review of Mike Resnick's Starship: Pirate

For me I have always felt Mike Resnick is my guilty little secret author. Generally I like hard science fiction, I like high concept science in my fiction. Books concerning alternate-dimensions or time travel, genetic manipulations, major scientific advancement and the like written by Stephen Baxter, Robert Charles Wilson, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and others fill my bookshelves.Mike Resnick's fiction is not like this. His books are galaxy-spanning adventures, without the slightest care for how his starships, blaster pistols, gadgets and gizmos actually work. His worlds are frontier outposts, mankind on the edge, exploring and expanding into new territories. In short he is telling tales of America's old west transplanting the setting to the stars.This probably leads to another reason why I shouldn't like his work. I do not like western movies. I endured many of them as a kid as my father is a fan, and I would be perfectly happy not seeing another my entire life, and r…

...and a rejection

Encounters Magazine just returned my short story "What Do I Do Now". Never mind, eh?

Film Review - The Midnight Meat Train

(Again, allow for the time between this being written and resurrected for this blog)Leon Kaufmann is a struggling photographer - determined to make it big without selling out. He prowls night-time New York in search of the iconic image of the city's dark side that could make him a household name.A chance encounter on a subway station platform with a well dressed, but hard-faced, man sparks an obsession in Kaufmann. He pursues the man, believing him responsible for series of disappearances from late night trains. His paranoia about the man is well founded. Mahogany (the well-dressed man) commits the most brutal of acts on the subway, beating his victims to death and then butchering them.Ex-soccer player Vinnie Jones is perfect as Mahogany. He has the perfect look for a deranged serial killer. But it's the focus on Kaufmann (Bradley Cooper) that makes the film work. Cooper plays the progression from career-desperation into obsession about the subway killer wonderfully.This is a …

Short Review of Richard Satterlie - Imola

(Review written in 2009)Last year Satterlie introduced us to an insane serial killer with a difference. Agnes Hahn a shy, retiring type, scared of much of the world around her. But she was a split personality, and her other self, Lilin, was a sadistic killer who liked pleasuring herself on the severed members of her victims. This being the follow up has no reveal to build up to, and for that it lacks something.Agnes starts the book in control, a resident of Imola, a mental asylum. But slowly her murderous alternate is beginning to work her way back to the surface. Lilin takes control and escapes the asylum, intent on mayhem and the love of Agnes's life - Jason Powers, the reporter who helped catch her in book one.This book really does suffer from being a sequel. It's well written, the characters are good, the plot adequate. But there's little suspense or mystery. How can there be? Right from the off we know what Agnes/Lilin is all about.Satterlie writes a good tale and has…

Short Review of Brian Keene - Urban Gothic

Trapped in the wrong part of town when their car breaks down and confronted by a group of, what they believe are gangbangers, six friends decide to seek safety in a seemingly abandoned house. They soon realise their mistake, discovering the house is a filthy hovel with every kind of slime or secretion coating the walls and floors as well as home to a family of cannibalistic mutants, one of whom seems very keen on, quite literally, "f***king-your-brains-out".This is one of the biggest gross-out books I've seen from a mainstream publisher. Almost every page dips with one bodily excretion/fluid or another. Okay, there might be little in the way of character-building, minimal background and little plot development, but you have to consider the timeline. The whole thing takes less than an evening from start to finish - maybe two hours of story time in total. In that time you would learn much about anyone.In some ways you might consider it a one-dimensional slime-fest, but in …

Review of Stefan Petrucha - Teen, Inc

Jaiden Beale is in nearly every way a typical teenager. He is starting to becoming aware of himself and his place in the world. He has been going through the changes of puberty, becoming an adult. His hormones are racing, bringing with them a growing sexual awareness and all the insecurities these changes bring.Jaiden's life is a little more complicated than most. Whilst still a baby Jaiden's parents were killed due the negligence of a large company, NECorp. The company sought to regain some PR points by adopting him and offering to raise him in place of the parents he had lost.Although initially a media sensation, his celebrity has grown quiet and he believes he has the chance of at least some normality, the chance to be an ordinary kid. He convinces NECorp to allow him to attend a regular high school.However, each incident or opportunity in his life has to be passed by a committee, the corporation being paranoid against future potential lawsuits. Their obsession with guiding…

Three more review sales

I received email this evening that horror website Dark Scribe Magazine will be featuring another three of my reviews.

These are for Robin Becker's Brains: A Zombie Memoir, George Mann's Ghosts of Manhattan and Edward M. Erdelac's Red Sails.

I'll post links when the reviews are live

Review of Robert Edric - The Mermaids

Early one morning a group of five girls from a small fishing village encounter three mermaids in a cave by the sea's shore. No real interaction occurs between the girls and the mermaids. The girls though are mesmerised by the creatures and begin telling their tale to whoever would listen. They are not believed. The majority of this book focuses on Sarah Carr, the eldest of the group, and the town magistrate and church minister who are questioning her about these events, trying to get her to admit that the girls had invented the whole thing.The magistrate is particularly venomous in his questioning, interrogating the girl as though she had committed mass murder. In his eyes Sarah is bringing ridicule down upon the town, especially as she told her tale to a newspaper reporter.For a fantasy novella there is very little actual fantasy in this tale. Indeed if you consider that the mermaids only appear in the retelling of a tale by the girl at the centre of the story you could say there…

Review of Robert Edric - The Mermaids

Early one morning a group of five girls from a small fishing village encounter three mermaids in a cave by the sea's shore. No real interaction occurs between the girls and the mermaids. The girls though are mesmerised by the creatures and begin telling their tale to whoever would listen. They are not believed.
The majority of this book focuses on Sarah Carr, the eldest of the group, and the town magistrate and church minister who are questioning her about these events, trying to get her to admit that the girls had invented the whole thing.
The magistrate is particularly venomous in his questioning, interrogating the girl as though she had committed mass murder. In his eyes Sarah is bringing ridicule down upon the town, especially as she told her tale to a newspaper reporter.
For a fantasy novella there is very little actual fantasy in this tale. Indeed if you consider that the mermaids only appear in the retelling of a tale by the girl at the centre of the story you could say there…

Review of Nate Kenyon - The Bone Factory

As we pick up the action, David Pierce is in a hole. Unemployed since a bust up with his previous boss, and with a young family to support, when he is offered a job at a remote hydroelectric project deep in the Canadian forest, he has no option but to accept.However things are not quiet and peaceful as he might hope in the remote community he and his family are about to join. A local farmer was discovered dead, missing his head, and a young girl and cop have recently disappeared. David, his wife Helen and their daughter Jessie are about to move into Ground Zero, the centre of the killing fields.There's a quote on the front of this book likening Kenyon's writing to early Stephen King. On the strength of this book I have to agree with this - although maybe it's a little too similar.A number of the elements of this may be familiar. We have a couple whose marriage has problems, with a slightly weird kid who seems to have some psychic ability, moving into the middle of nowhere …

Review of Charlie Huston - Half the Blood of Brooklyn

None of the major elements of this series are new. Vampirism caused by a virus (been there), healing quickly so not worried about being injured (done that), clan wars between different undead factions (seen it), depravity and a disregard for regular standards of human decency whilst still showing signs of a conscience (bought the T-shirt for that one).But despite these familiar ingredients Huston's books feel fresh. That's possibly because he puts a bit of twist on all of them. Joe Pitt is callous one minute, whilst agonising on whether he should infect his human girlfriend, making her a vampire to save her from dying of AIDS.The clan wars are spun by introducing a family of ultra-religious Jewish vampires -intent on pursuing their vampiric goals whilst still obeying Jewish law. Throw in a group of misfits who have decided that the best thing to do with vampirism is to stage a freak show. The only difference is that the blood and gore are real, rather than staged, with the per…

Review of Phoebe Wray - Jemma 7729

Jemma 7729 has the misfortune of being born into a very dystopian North America, one devastated by earlier war. The government of this time has twisted history, using their biased version of to justify their subjugation of women. This causes a serious problem for Jemma, a wilful, independent girl who refuses to step into line and accept the lowly position of being female.She fights back, refuses to allow boys to bully her, and in one case rape her, and the authorities put the blame squarely on her shoulders - after all she should have allowed the boys to beat her, should have submitted to their naturally aggressive nature and kept quiet.When she doesn't she is punished, imprisoned in a correction facility facing just the prospect of being altered - chemically stripped of her will and emotions.Where most would give up, Jemma continues to fight back. She escapes from her prison and begins a campaign of resistance, dedicating herself to destroying as many of the facilities producing …

Review of Simon Clark - Ghost Monster

Pel Minton is a young American woman with a mission. She wants to see the world, working her way around the globe. Six months into her trip and she's got as far as England and is still there, working as a field archaeologist. She has decided, however, that her current dig, at a cemetery in the coastal village of Crowdale will be her last before moving on.What she hasn't counted on though, is the Murrain curse. Centuries earlier Crowdale was terrorised by Justice Murrain and his army of the insane. Murrain was eventually defeated and his ghost and those of his Battle Men are trapped in a mystical prison controlled by a mosaic in the family mausoleum. The town is safe as long as the mosaic remains intact. Unfortunately, though, the cemetery is falling into the sea, a victim of rapid coastal erosion and the spirits of Murrain and his followers are beginning to break out. So, unless the archaeologists can convince the authorities that their site is worthy of protection, the necess…

Review of Mike Resnick - Starship Mercenary

You know what you will get with a Mike Resnick novel - a galaxy-spanning backdrop, larger than life characters and above all else action. Resnick is not an author who will spend time convincing you of his scientific credentials - you are not going to need to wade through page after page of technical specifications. Nor are you going to receive exquisitely woven intricacy - rich background detail is not Resnick's speciality. After all when you think about it, both of these things would get in the way of the action. And the action is superb.Wilson Cole and the crew of the former Republic Navy Starship the Theodore Roosevelt (Teddy R) are continuing their attempts to make a life for themselves on the Inner Frontier, outside the reach of the Republic. This is not easy; Cole and his crew are military men and women. They have always lived ordered lives, ruled by discipline and law. The inner frontier, however, is a much different place.Having tried their hand at ethical piracy - and rea…

Review of Ray Garton - Bestial

In horror movie-land sequels are pretty much a par for the course. You make a good horror film, it seems it only makes sense to go back and milk the idea a second time. In the world of horror books (note - not dark fantasy or paranormal romance, I mean HORROR) this has been less common.I'm not saying they don't exist - Graham Masterton's Manitou and James Herbert's Rats both started series - and sure you get books set in a repeated environs - take Gary Braunbeck's Cedar Hill short stories and novels, and Stephen King's version of Maine. But straight sequels, picking up the action from the end of the prior book or soon after, haven't filled the shelves in bookstores.I guess part of the reason for this is the rather final end that most horror books have. Zombies are destroyed, vampires staked, demons exorcised, witches burned etc, etc. Okay, Dracula can be resurrected over and over but mostly you get to the end and that's it.Recently though this seems to …

Review of Ray Bradbury - Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Wine in many ways is a coming of age story for its most frequently occurring character. The book starts with the start of the summer of 1928. Doug Spalding is twelve; his younger brother Tom is ten. Doug has made an important and quite revelatory discovery about himself - he is alive! And he intends to celebrate and relish every minute of it and of this summer.Unlike many of Bradbury's books this is not science fiction or horror, or at least not overtly. There are some hair-raising moments and more than one of the stories concern death - even going as far as Green Town having its own serial killer.One of the most wonderful imaginings in this book concerns and old civil war soldier, and his tale telling, the rapt attentions of the young listening to stories so far removed from their present they could almost be in another country. But this is far from the only highlight, we read of friendships, hopes and dreams, treasured items, and above all regular folk adapting to chan…

New Short Story Sale

Demon Minds have just sent an acceptance for my short story "Acting's a Hell of a Job". It will be appearing in their Halloween issue.

If you want to check out their site you can find it at - http://www.demonminds.com/

Review of Will Elliott - The Pilo Family Circus

There are a number of things that children love but adults can find creepy, disturbing or just downright scary. Think of puppet shows, balloon animals, ice-cream truck jingles and worst of all clowns.One night on his way home from work Jamie almost runs over a clown standing oblivious to his surroundings in the middle of a Brisbane street. He thinks little of it. The following night he encounters more of them, all seemingly out of it. When Jamie recovers a small bag one of them drops - believing it contained drugs as they had to have been on something - without realising it, he has put himself in great danger. For now the clowns are aware of him. And now he has a simple choice - pass an audition to join the circus or die. Unfortunately for him he passes the audition.This particular circus is a little stranger than most, more sinister and definitely more dangerous. Jamie, now re-christened JJ the Clown, finds himself a member of an antagonistic troupe. There's none of the famous ca…

Review of Chris Roberson - The End of the Century

Strand One - Galaad, a young man from Wales, has been having visions of a woman in white trapped in a glass tower on a remote island. He journeys to Caer Llundain (London) to tell of his visions to Artor (Arthur to you and me). Artor believes his visions to be true and organises a quest to rescue the woman in white.Strand Two - Sandford Blank is a Victorian Private Investigator with a mysterious shady past. (Yes he does sound a little like Sherlock Holmes.) Together with his associate Miss Roxanne Bonaventure he is called in to investigate a series of murders in London threatening to disrupt the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria.Strand Three - Alive Fell is a teenage American who suffers from temporal lobe epilepsy. She's run away to London, following clues given to her in hallucinations during epileptic attacks. Once there she encounters a former spy from a secret British Intelligence organisation MI8 - tasked with pursuing supernatural foes. She also discovers that …

Review of Brian Keene - Castaways

Okay - I'm going to post another couple (maybe three) this evening. Here's the first...Many matches can be considered as made in heaven - strawberries and cream, hot dogs and mustard to name but two. Brian Keene has introduced another - Reality-TV show contestants on a tropical island and a tribe of previously unknown pygmy cannibals.You just can't go wrong with a combination like that. Except that is if you are a contestant, cut off from your only means of escape by a tropical storm that has grounded the helicopters. Fortunately amongst the ranks of stereotypically vapid wannabe celebrities are one or two people you will actually like - and feel may have a chance of surviving the show.This book is well balanced. It has a great concept, an element of gore (although not overdone), a few good scares and a band of disparate powerless underdogs facing seemingly insurmountable odds and a good touch of humour. It has its flaws, a pointless subplot concerning terrorism, and unnec…

A horror film top tip

This weekend I watched a relatively new release horror film that I feel I need to mention to anyone who happens to read this blog.

The film has a really fun title - Backwoods Bloodbath and a cool silhouetted scythe on the cover. Ok, the plot is a little familiar - group of city folk head to a remote cabin in the woods in a region where there's your stereotypical local legend (can't really call it an urban legend in the middle of nowhere) and encounter a mad man (yeah, the one the locals went on about) armed with a scythe who proceeds to start killing.

But an overused plot is nothing a well made horror film can't overcome. Good directing, halfways decent acting (screaming doesn't have to be Oscar winning level to be effective), and some kick-ass effects and you can have a really good gory scarefest out of this much-used scenario - after all they wouldn't keep using it if it didn't work.

However this film isn't all the things you might hope - and certainly not w…

Review 3 of L.H. Maynard's and M.P.N. Sims's Black Cathedral

In case you haven't heard of buzzword bingo - here are the rules. The players enter a business meeting with a card with a number of buzzwords written on it. Then these words and phrases are crossed out as they as spoken in the meeting (but not by the person whose card features the word). The first person to complete their card wins.With this book you could almost play X-Files Buzzword Bingo - Secret Government Organisation - check!Psychic Powers - got that one too!Ley lines - and that!Big Brother Style Corporations - on a roll now!Mysterious deaths on a deserted island and a satanic cult - you better call the scorer over now. I think I have a winning card.But what prize might it have won me? Well you would be forgiven for thinking a book combining all of these different plot elements (and I haven't named them all by any means) would be confusing at best - downright unreadable at worst.Well, it actually isn't that bad. Despite the myriad overused plot hooks, the stereotypic…

Review 2 of L.H. Maynard's and M.P.N. Sims's Black Cathedral

What do you get if you throw a secret government ghost-hunting organisation, psychic powers, ley lines, a maverick investigator who hates his boss, sinister multinational corporations, satanic cults, a secret Vatican order and a remote, deserted Scottish island into a pot and stir.Well by rights it should be an ungodly mess, a disjointed novel crammed to overflowing with so many overused dark fiction stereotypes you wonder how they managed to close the book's covers. It almost reads like a season trailer for the X-Files.Somehow though Maynard and Sims have managed to make all these pieces fit together into a cohesive whole. Not perfect by any means but it is entertaining. The characters are engaging; the plot is well paced; the organisation (Department 18) has sufficient promise to sustain the promised series and the cult at the crux of the plot is original enough to keep your interest. Not a bad start - let's see where book two goes.Book DetailsISBN: 08439-6199-6Page Count: 2…

Review 1 of L.H. Maynard's and M.P.N. Sims's Black Cathedral

This next one is a bit odd. I read this book when it came out and wrote three reviews, each targetted at a different magazine. Guess how many of them sold - yep, none. So here's the first. I'll post the second and third straight afterwards...

---------------------------------------Most of the elements of the book will seem familiar - even too familiar. We have a secret government department operated by psychics, all of whom are feel as though they've been dragged out of 1960s-90s TV spy/cop shows and liberally dosed with special mind-powers, investigating paranormal events - not exactly a fresh idea. Add to this a powerful loose-cannon top operative with a knack of pissing off his boss - a boss who finally had cause to fire him only to see him brought back for one last mission. We also have mysterious secret religious organisations, including a satanic cult and a secret Vatican order, and a remote island location, which has been the centre of spooky goings-on that just happ…

Review of Zoran Živković - The Bridge

This is a difficult book to fully describe. If you'll indulge me I believe I know the best way of summarising The Bridge.Imagine a drunken conversation between Franz Kafka and Salvador Dali, one in which Dali challenges Kafka to write a book based on a few compulsory elements suggested by the painter. Firstly each of the three linked stories must start with an impossible encounter (a man meets himself, a woman meets a dead former neighbour and a teenage girl meets her future son). Each story must feature an antagonist with red hair, a mismatched item of clothing, a pursuit (mostly on foot) and all must end at the same place - on the bridge of the book's title. Oh, and nothing in any of the stories must make any real sense, although the main characters must, in the end, accept everything.That just about sums this book up. It gives a better overview than a direct explanation of the plot could.For all its weirdness it is beautifully written - Zoran Živković's prose is always …