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Showing posts from August, 2010

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 …