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Old June 5 2011, 11:09 PM   #630
Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Goliath wrote: View Post
Okay--I just finished reading Hands of Lucifer by John Tigges. And I think it may actually be the worst novel I've read in my life.
That's noteworthy. My personal worst so far is probably Rogue Moon. I'm reading Varney The Vampire right now, which is probably technically worse-- tense changes in a single paragraph, for example-- but it was written in the 1850s and is far more entertaining.

To be fair, Tigges does do one thing well: his descriptions of supernatural occurrences are sometimes quite effective. There's a scene in which a woman is beaten to death by a demon which is especially freaky. So, full marks for that.
That's noteworthy, too. It's hard to do.

The problem with the book is--well, everything else. To begin with, the writing is just bad. It commits the cardinal sin of the novelist, by telling, instead of showing. And I found some actual grammatical mistakes in a few places. For example:

"I've been thinking about what Father Gorkland said. He seems to feel that I've imagined a lot of the stuff that went on around here. The smells. Contributing normal things like the water pipes breaking and things like that to some devious entity or person."
'Contributing' is the wrong word: he meant to say 'attributing.' In another passage, Tigges actually says 'nothing' when he meant to say 'something.'
That's interesting. Are these errors all in dialogue, and are they consistent from character to character? Errors like that can be forgiven if they are an intentional part of a pattern. Otherwise-- ouch!

That first passage above highlights another problem: Tigges seems completely incapable of writing believeable dialogue. Who the hell uses words like 'attributing' in real-life conversations? A lot of the dialogue would have sounded stilted and phony, even coming from an academic--instead of, say, a TV announcer, as in this case:
Well... I don't know. Again, is it consistent and is it entertaining. Technically, the same criticism could be made of Rod Serling. Or Shakespeare. Is it ignorance or affectation?

How do I know this? He actually includes advertisements for his own books in his book! For example:

Never--not once in all the years that he had been a priest of God and Jesus--had the idea of possession ever been mentioned to him by anyone outside ordinary conversation. He had even read the more lurid novels concerning the subject. The Exorcist had caused quite a flap when it was published, but the one he had enoyed the most had been Garden of the Incubus, which had seemed the more accurate and better researched of the two.
I suppose it's possible that an editor inserted this passage, and others like it, but I would have thought even a hack writer would have more self-respect than to allow something like that.
Now that's just awesomely bad. I've never heard of anyone doing anything like that before; it never would have even occurred to me.

Add the cheap final 'boo!' at the end, and you have a book that's almost completely lacking in redeeming qualities. Maybe not quite the My Immortal of horror fiction, but close. What a steaming heap of shit.
So the Plan 9 of Horror then? I guess the question is, was it entertainingly bad, like Varney is, or torture to slog through, like Rogue Moon?
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