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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old October 10 2007, 11:39 PM   #1
Spaceman Spiff
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Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

We had a thread about Hallowe'en books and stories last year. It was pretty interesting, so I thought we'd have another.

If Hallowe'en is your thing, what are you planning to read in the spirit of the season? What have you read in the past that you'd recommend? You get extra points if your suggestion is Hallowe'en-themed in some way, or if it takes place at this time of year and incorporates aspects of the holiday.

Last year, I was reading slightly older stuff, like Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, and some really old stuff in A Halloween Reader: Poems, Stories, And Plays From Halloweens Past.

Thanks to RJDiogenes and Cemetery Dance Publications, I have a pile of Hallowe'en books to get through. (I suspect they're conspiring.)

My first big recommendation is for Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge. I enjoyed the hell out of this little 176-page book. Here's the Publisher's Weekly synopsis/review from the Amazon link:

At the start of this mesmerizing new fantasy from Partridge (Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales), it's Halloween night in 1963 in Anytown, U.S.A., and the local teenage boys are ramping up for the annual hunt for the October Boy, a pumpkin-headed being cultivated by the town fathers to run the gauntlet each All Hallows' Eve. The boy who brings him down before he makes it to the local church wins a highly coveted ticket out of town and, as most believe, liberation from the stultifying ennui of small-town life that has crushed all ambition and dreams out of the adults. Pete McCormack is among the most determined boys on the hunt, but this evening he will learn horrifying truths about his town's tradition and the terrible price he must pay for his manhood. Partridge has always had a knack for sifting deeper significance from period pop culture, but here he brilliantly distills a convincing male identity myth from teen rebel drive-in flicks, garish comic book horrors, hard-boiled crime pulps and other bits of lowbrow Americana. Whether read as potent dark fantasy or a modern coming-of-age parable, this is contemporary American writing at its finest.
It's unusual in that most of it is written in the second person, which gives it a sense of urgency that pervades the whole book. It has a hard-boiled pulp feel to it, while slipping in some subtext about growing up male in America. But even taken on a surface level, it's still a lot of fun, and obviously very rooted (heh) in the Hallowe'en spirit.

The novel won the 2006 Bram Stoker Award for Long Fiction, and it's been nominated for this year's World Fantasy Award for best novella.

For a while, it was only available at the aforementioned Cemetery Dance website, but it's been reprinted in trade format by Tor. You can probably find it at your local bookstore, but Amazon's got it a bit cheaper.

Now that I've plugged that book pretty thoroughly, what have you got?
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Old October 11 2007, 12:42 AM   #2
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

I have a brand new signed copy of Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree ready for an October read, with Boy's Life set to follow.

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Old October 11 2007, 12:43 AM   #3
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

Spaceman Spiff said:
Thanks to RJDiogenes and Cemetery Dance Publications, I have a pile of Hallowe'en books to get through. (I suspect they're conspiring.)
I thought it was the other way around.

It's unusual in that most of it is written in the second person, which gives it a sense of urgency that pervades the whole book. It has a hard-boiled pulp feel to it, while slipping in some subtext about growing up male in America. But even taken on a surface level, it's still a lot of fun, and obviously very rooted (heh) in the Hallowe'en spirit.
That definitely sounds like a good bet. You don't often see the second person approach, especially in a novel. Plus which, I grew up male in America, so I can relate.

Well, I'm not entirely sure what I'm reading this year. I've got all my new acquisitions from Cemetery Dance, a stack of magazines and, of course, some old favorites that I wouldn't mind revisiting. Plus, I ordered the Vincent Price Collection from Amazon and now that I've got digital cable, I've got TCM's offerings. The only thing I'm really sure of at this point is that I'm determined to read Blackwood's The Willows this year; I didn't get to it last year. Also, I'm going to see Wicked that Friday night.

Actually, my plan is to take Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off (mostly) and have a Halloween mini-vacation.
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Old October 11 2007, 12:48 AM   #4
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

^ I swear, you need to read Dark Harvest. It's right up your alley.

jadcox@mindspring.com said:
I have a brand new signed copy of Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree
I wonder: Can you actually feel my envy?
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Old October 11 2007, 03:17 AM   #5
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

Whoa, hard to believe it's been a year since the last thread.

This year like last year I'm reading a lot of work by late 19th/early 20th century authors. In what may be a stab at a holiday theme, a class I'm taking on "Literature and the Fantastic" is reading Dracula as well as horror short stories by J.S. LeFanu, Wilkie Collins, M.R. James, and Charles Dickens, so I have those on my mind. (I'd be reading James anyway because his work is fab.)

I'm also reading H.P. Lovecraft's Favorite Weird Tales; the title pretty much says it all. The most recent story I've read from it is Blackwood's "The Willows." It had a few effective moments but isn't a favorite of mine. On the other hand, Lovecraft thought it was probably the most effective weird tale he ever read, so I'm probably missing something.

Also from that volume I recently Robert W. Chambers's "The Yellow Sign," which was quite ominous and chilling, so much so that I sought out The King in Yellow, the book in which it appeared, at the library. The first four stories in that collection are linked by the motif of a fictional book, also called The King in Yellow, that brings despair into the lives of those who read it. None of the other three were as effective for me as "The Yellow Sign," though "The Repairer of Reputations" is fascinating in its oddness. I'm thinking of picking up a collection of Chambers' weird stories, though I've heard it's all downhill from here.
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Old October 11 2007, 03:21 AM   #6
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

I can't recommend Bram Stoker's Dracula enough to those who've never read or haven't read it in a long time.

I'm going to be teaching it to my English classes in a few weeks, to coincide with Halloween.

Also, there's a sequel of sorts to Dracula called The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova which I've heard is quite good. I'm going to be re-reading Dracula this weekend to prepare for teaching it.

Before I re-read Dracula, I'll be reading Raymond Florescu's fascinating In Search of Dracula, which I also highly recommend as good Halloween non-fiction.

So it's going to be In Search of Dracula, Dracula, and The Historian for me.

I also recommend the works of Poe and Lovecraft. You just can't go wrong with the classics during this time of year.

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Old October 11 2007, 03:30 AM   #7
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

Brendan Moody said:
I'm also reading H.P. Lovecraft's Favorite Weird Tales; the title pretty much says it all.
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Old October 11 2007, 03:32 AM   #8
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

Glad you liked DARK HARVEST, Spiff. I read it for Tor awhile back and really enjoyed it.
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Old October 11 2007, 06:08 AM   #9
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

Does that mean you read it in an editorial capacity, Greg?

(I dream of being an author, but I don't know very much about the industry.)
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Old October 11 2007, 06:10 AM   #10
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

I am reading the greatest horror book of all: West Business Law.

Around Halloween I'll pull out some of King's works and read. I think this year they'll be

1.) The Shining
2.) Pet Semetary
3.) Cell
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Old October 11 2007, 06:17 AM   #11
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

Anyone else reading Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories series?
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Old October 11 2007, 03:36 PM   #12
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

Spaceman Spiff said:

My first big recommendation is for Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge. I enjoyed the hell out of this little 176-page book.
I think I may have picked this up at a book sale in the summer (my to-be-read pile has grown into a mountain).

The only book I have pegged to read this season is The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. I'll let you know what I think after I've read it.
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Old October 12 2007, 12:42 AM   #13
RJDiogenes
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

Spaceman Spiff said:
^ I swear, you need to read Dark Harvest. It's right up your alley.
My dark alley. Bwahaha. It is now on order, along with the Blackwood book and a Lord Dunsany collection.

Superman said:
I also recommend the works of Poe and Lovecraft. You just can't go wrong with the classics during this time of year.
I have a great MP3 of Basil Rathbone reading "The Raven" that I'll be digging out as part of the evening's festivities.

Unicron said:
Anyone else reading Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories series?
Never heard of it. What is it like?
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Old October 12 2007, 01:31 AM   #14
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

^ It's mainly a collection of stories by Schwartz, who is a folklorist, and some of them are fairly well known. What really makes the books great, though, is Stephen Gammell's creepy illustrations. And I do mean creepy. They help create the books' atmosphere. You can see some representatives below.

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark
More Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones

Not every story is scary, either. Some are suspenseful or humorous.
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Old October 12 2007, 04:27 AM   #15
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Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

I haven't read the Schwartz books in years, but I still have fond memories of them, and particularly of the illustrations- I can still picture some of them vividly, which is not always an asset late at night. I should dig out my copies the next time I go home, which unfortunately won't be in time for Hallowe'en.
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