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Old April 15 2008, 12:44 AM   #121
Brendan Moody
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

It was an collection of excellent stories in the many varieties of modern horror. Which, given my rather limited and idiosyncratic tastes, means that there were only a few stories I really loved, but even the ones that didn't do much for me were usually well-constructed and original. Here's a review of it I wrote for LibraryThing:
I bought this book principally because it has a Glen Hirshberg story in it. Hirshberg is perhaps the best modern writer of ghost stories that I've encountered, and I'm interested in anything he's written. But there were other reasons as well. There's a story by Joyce Carol Oates, whose work I very much admire, and of course Ellen Datlow has a sterling reputation as an editor of horror fiction. Plus the guiding principle behind the anthology (stories that are so frightening they induce a physical response) was promising.

Overall, I'd say this is a strong anthology. No story in it is anything less than satisfactory, and there are a few real standouts. If in the end there were fewer stories that bowled me over than I might have hoped for, that probably has more to do with my idiosyncratic tastes than with any defect in the work.

I'm not going to comment on each individual story, since some of them inspired no particular reaction in me; instead, I'll pick out a few I admired and talk about why I responded to them.

Stephen Gallagher's "Misadventure" is a fairly traditional ghost story with an unusual setting and bit of a twist centered on the tale's narrator. I won't say more than that about the plot, but Gallagher's simple yet elegant prose is perfect for the mode in which he's working, and this is one of only a few stories that elicited a physical response from me. Well-done.

I see in researching Laird Barron that he is known for fiction that is Lovecraftian and uniquely modern. That's certainly the case with "The Forest," a story of mysterious scientific research in a secluded wooded area. The protagonist's unresolved romantic tension with a terminally ill friend contributes to the atmosphere of mystery and uncertainty that pervades the tale, and leads up to its shattering conclusion. Great prose here, unnerving and distinctive. Probably my second favorite in the collection.

"The Monsters of Heaven"- not what I would call horror (as if anyone can define the genre usefully), but a moving dark fantasy about the nature of grief.

"13 O'Clock"- a subtle and affecting story in which a father's overpowering love provides the basis for a series of eerie encounters that may or not have some unknown menace behind them.

"An Apiary of White Bees"- mysterious liquor with disturbing side effects and a protagonist with a damaging past. Not a favorite of mine, but definitely an accomplished story.

"The Janus Tree" is Glen Hirshberg's contribution, and it's another masterpiece. A decaying mining town provides the basis for some marvelous descriptions of a unbelievable yet real landscape and a couple deformed characters, but the story is truly about childhood and family, with a vintage Hirshberg ending.

Would I recommend Inferno? The thing about anthologies like this one is that they're so diverse you're sure to love some stories and hate others. Don't go in expecting every piece to amaze you- the collection that can do that is a rare and wonderful thing, and while this might be it for you it also might not. But if you want to get a sense of the shape of modern short horror fiction, give this a try.
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Old May 3 2008, 09:48 AM   #122
RJDiogenes
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

First, they gave us "colorized" old movies.

Then we got the "Special Edition" of Star Wars.

Encouraged, they gifted us with "remastered" Star Trek.

And now... this.

It's the end of the world as we know it. And I don't feel fine.
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Old May 3 2008, 10:15 AM   #123
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction



This is some sort of parody, right?

And by what do they mean:

In a rare example of life imitating art,
In context, it implies that life, which is writing horror stories, is imitating art, which is Hollywood movies. Er; which is suggesting that the fictive horror stories are somehow more real or what?

Ahem. To be fair, rewriting an older story is nothing new. But this marketing gimmick is.
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Old May 4 2008, 07:00 PM   #124
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Sadly, I do not believe it is a parody. Just as there are the people that Spiff describes who won't watch black-and-white movies, there are people who won't read old stories; this is designed to pander to that audience.

I swear the solar system is passing through an interstellar cloud of stupid these days.
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Old May 4 2008, 10:07 PM   #125
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Sadly, I do not believe it is a parody. Just as there are the people that Spiff describes who won't watch black-and-white movies, there are people who won't read old stories;
Really? To be honest, most horror fiction I read is nineteenth century Gothic; with early twentieth century authors thrown in for variety. I don't know, I'm particularly attracted to the classic age of Irish Gothic, with Charles Robert Maturin, Sheridan Le Fanu and Bram Stoker (not to mention some dabbling in the genre by Oscar Wilde; and I'm not sure what box, if any, Lafcadio Hearn goes in). But I gather I'm not that typical... pft...

Anyway, I don't mind the idea in theory. Many of the stories by these and other authors are less than original. And plenty of classic horror stories have been retold time and again. But to market them as 'remastering' just seems crass.
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Old May 5 2008, 04:10 AM   #126
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Kegek wrote: View Post
Anyway, I don't mind the idea in theory. Many of the stories by these and other authors are less than original. And plenty of classic horror stories have been retold time and again. But to market them as 'remastering' just seems crass.
In theory, I don't mind the idea either. I've actually thought for a while that Shakespearean English will someday become so foreign that Shakespeare's plays will require translation into modern English, just as they require translation into French, German, etc.

I even think that it would be interesting to do this today: get some of today's greatest poets to translate Shakespeare in the same way that Seamus Heaney translated Beowulf.

I'm just not convinced that nineteenth-century prose is archaic enough to require 'translation'. Anything written after about 1750 reads like modern English to me. As a consequence, this sounds suspiciously like 'dumbing-down' rather than 'translation'.

But I'd be willing to give them a try. *shrug*
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Old May 6 2008, 10:38 AM   #127
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is a case of "dumbing down."
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Old May 23 2008, 01:40 AM   #128
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

When that Waldenbooks was closing down, I cleaned up and vowed to post my haul in here. I got lazy, however, and now I don't feel like playing catch-up. So I'll post recent purchases as they occur to me.

One weird thing about The Ruins that I forgot to mention: It hasn't got any chapters. It's got little breaks here and there to indicate the passage of time, but no numbered chapters. I think that had something to do with how hard it seemed to put it down.

I enjoyed Heart-Shaped Box. It was more sentimental than I had expected, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Not all of these things have to give you a shiver when you close the cover.

A few weeks back, I posted this thread looking for werewolf books. I wound up reading Shapeshifter by J. F. Gonzalez, and man, was it bad. It was the worst book I've read in recent memory. I could almost appreciate that the author was going for a pretty straightforward werewolf story, but between the repetitive prose and the fact that he seems to think his audience has a maturity level of about thirteen, it was pretty much a waste of time. The best thing about it is that it's not very long.

A couple of good things came out of that thread, though. I picked up a copy of Dog Soldiers, and despite their being out of print, I managed to get decent copies of The Wolf's Hour by Robert McCammon and The Return of the Wolf Man by Jeff Rovin.

I'm looking forward to both, but I couldn't resist looking at the Wolf Man one to see how long before the beast shows up. I had to laugh, because the first sentence turned out to be "The autumn night was thick with clouds as the Wolf Man pushed on the half-open door." I think it might be next on my list. Since it sounds like most of the Universal monsters are in it, I'm hoping it'll make up for the lackluster ones from DH Press.

Currently, I'm reading Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry, and I'm enjoying it quite a bit. It's the best modern one I've read since Simmons's Summer of Night (buy that one, dammit, RJD), and better still, it's the first in a trilogy that supposedly gets better with each book (Dead Man's Song and the recent Bad Moon Rising). Maberry got a "First Novel" Stoker for Ghost Road Blues.

Actually, Joe Hill just got one for Heart-Shaped Box, come to think of it. It's good to have decent books to cushion the badness of Shapeshifter.
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Old May 24 2008, 12:09 AM   #129
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
One weird thing about The Ruins that I forgot to mention: It hasn't got any chapters. It's got little breaks here and there to indicate the passage of time, but no numbered chapters. I think that had something to do with how hard it seemed to put it down.
I'll have to remember that little trick.

A few weeks back, I posted this thread looking for werewolf books.
And I'll have to go through that when I have time; I love werewolf stories, but good ones are hard to find.

I'm looking forward to both, but I couldn't resist looking at the Wolf Man one to see how long before the beast shows up. I had to laugh, because the first sentence turned out to be "The autumn night was thick with clouds as the Wolf Man pushed on the half-open door." I think it might be next on my list. Since it sounds like most of the Universal monsters are in it, I'm hoping it'll make up for the lackluster ones from DH Press.
Ah, I'll need to track that one down as well. From a brief glimpse at the Amazon reviews, this is exactly what I was hoping the DH series would be like.

Simmons's Summer of Night (buy that one, dammit, RJD)
How can I say no? It will be in with my next order.
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Old May 24 2008, 07:45 AM   #130
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
One weird thing about The Ruins that I forgot to mention: It hasn't got any chapters. It's got little breaks here and there to indicate the passage of time, but no numbered chapters. I think that had something to do with how hard it seemed to put it down.
I'll have to remember that little trick.
It was pretty effective, in its way. You finish a section on a bit of a cliffhanger, then you see the next part just half an inch below that. I kept thinking, Well, just a little bit more.

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
A few weeks back, I posted this thread looking for werewolf books.
And I'll have to go through that when I have time; I love werewolf stories, but good ones are hard to find.
There are lots of suggestions, and I appreciated them all. I'd heard of Return of the Wolf Man, but since it's out of print, I kept forgetting to check eBay for it. I'm glad the thread prompted me to check on it again, because I spotted an auction that only had a day or so left, and I only paid $24 for it. Which is a lot to pay for a mass market paperback, but since the lowest seller's price on Amazon is $47, I feel pretty fortunate. I guess you just have to be patient and keep watching.

I kind of did that with The Wolf's Hour by Robert McCammon, too. It's also out of print, but the prices are much more reasonable. But I still shelled out a bit ($15 or so) to get a nice copy. I have to admit that I'm surprised at the shape it's in, given that it's a 20-year-old book.

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
Simmons's Summer of Night (buy that one, dammit, RJD)
How can I say no? It will be in with my next order.
I don't want to oversell it, but it's a just plain good read. It sort of captures an era, with the main characters being boys in the early '60s, which is before my time, but there's something about being a kid that he gets just right. Plus, I just like horror stories that feature well-drawn kids pitted against some sort of evil. That must be why I like The Monster Squad so much.
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Old May 24 2008, 10:12 AM   #131
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
There are lots of suggestions, and I appreciated them all. I'd heard of Return of the Wolf Man, but since it's out of print, I kept forgetting to check eBay for it. I'm glad the thread prompted me to check on it again, because I spotted an auction that only had a day or so left, and I only paid $24 for it. Which is a lot to pay for a mass market paperback, but since the lowest seller's price on Amazon is $47, I feel pretty fortunate. I guess you just have to be patient and keep watching.
Holy Toledo, I didn't even look at the prices. On Alibris, they're going for $99 and $235! And the book is only ten years old. You'd think they'd keep it in print.

I don't want to oversell it, but it's a just plain good read. It sort of captures an era, with the main characters being boys in the early '60s, which is before my time, but there's something about being a kid that he gets just right. Plus, I just like horror stories that feature well-drawn kids pitted against some sort of evil. That must be why I like The Monster Squad so much.
It's slightly before my time, too, but I came in at the end of that Drive-In movie generation, so it should work for me. Anyway, that edge-of-puberty age is pretty much Prime Time for that kind of story, so anybody should be able to relate. This one certainly does sound a lot like It-- and, like It, is incredibly long; I think horror writers have a lot of childhood issues to work out.
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Old June 17 2008, 02:21 AM   #132
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry was pretty good, though it ends with something of a cliffhanger. That's always frustrating, but he'll definitely get me to pick up the sequel.

It'd be a good one for Hallowe'en, actually, since that's when it takes place, and it's got some of the window dressing. Its protagonist is a pretty die-hard Hallowe'en enthusiast, basically turning his hobby shop into Hallowe'en Central for the town. He also manages the town's Haunted Hayride. Fun stuff, and a pretty strong debut novel from Maberry.

As for right now, well, a $40 price drop and an additional discount convinced me to buy a Kindle. I know it's a bit controversial in techie crowds, but other than a few minor nitpicks, I really like it.

In fact, it's saving me some space, because I've packed up all of my books which are in the public domain and put them in the garage for that "someday" when my wife and I move into a house. I was pretty surprised to see how much of what I own is in the public domain, and how easy it all is to find online. Project Gutenberg alone has more than you can possibly read. Between that and legal torrents, the wireless capability almost seems unnecessary.

That said, I enjoy browsing the Amazon store with it, especially for new releases. The horror section is still a little slim (1,413 titles, as I type this), but it slowly increases. It's got some that I'm looking forward to reading, including the third part of Maberry's trilogy.

But it's fun to browse, and you can have it send you a sample chapter to see if you really want to buy the book. It has a "save for later" option that works kind of like an Amazon wish list.

Anyway, I don't mean for this to be a Kindle review (but if anyone's got a question about it, I'll answer), but I felt like "breaking it in" with a classic, so I'm re-reading Dracula. It's been a while since I've read it, and this edition has lots of interesting footnotes about things in the book I wouldn't have known.

So what else are you ghouls reading? This thread has gone a while without mention of Dean Koontz, which may be a good or a bad thing. I've only read one Koontz book (Frankenstein: Prodigal Son), and it was co-written with Kevin J. Anderson, who I don't really care for. The book was pretty mediocre, and I don't know which to blame.
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Old June 17 2008, 09:43 AM   #133
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
t'd be a good one for Hallowe'en, actually, since that's when it takes place, and it's got some of the window dressing. Its protagonist is a pretty die-hard Hallowe'en enthusiast, basically turning his hobby shop into Hallowe'en Central for the town. He also manages the town's Haunted Hayride. Fun stuff, and a pretty strong debut novel from Maberry.
Interesting-- sounds like Ray Bradbury and Stephen King had a child.

As for right now, well, a $40 price drop and an additional discount convinced me to buy a Kindle. I know it's a bit controversial in techie crowds, but other than a few minor nitpicks, I really like it.
It's good to see the price coming down, but it still seems way over the top; I don't know how they justify it when an iPod does far more for less. Anyway, I'm waiting for someone to come out with a large screen version that looks like a nice leather-bound book.

In fact, it's saving me some space, because I've packed up all of my books which are in the public domain and put them in the garage for that "someday" when my wife and I move into a house. I was pretty surprised to see how much of what I own is in the public domain, and how easy it all is to find online. Project Gutenberg alone has more than you can possibly read. Between that and legal torrents, the wireless capability almost seems unnecessary.
Oh, yeah. I just downloaded Gullivar Of Mars last week or so. If you like Victorian-era or early 20th century literature, you can find a lot of legally free stuff. Pulps, too.

That said, I enjoy browsing the Amazon store with it, especially for new releases. The horror section is still a little slim (1,413 titles, as I type this), but it slowly increases.
Well, that's good to know. They keep asking me to turn my book into a Kindle edition-- maybe it would be worth it.

Anyway, I don't mean for this to be a Kindle review (but if anyone's got a question about it, I'll answer)
I can probably think of a few. How do you get your own e-books on there? USB? What are the range of formats that it supports?

So what else are you ghouls reading? This thread has gone a while without mention of Dean Koontz, which may be a good or a bad thing. I've only read one Koontz book (Frankenstein: Prodigal Son), and it was co-written with Kevin J. Anderson, who I don't really care for. The book was pretty mediocre, and I don't know which to blame.
I've actually been in more of a Sci Fi phase lately; I've been reading some old James Schmidt (Hub of the Federation stuff) and Forbidden Planets, an SFBC original anthology. Schmidt writes excellent, classic SF-- if you like Asimov or Heinlein, you'll go for him-- and FP is pretty good, too.
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Old June 18 2008, 02:31 AM   #134
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

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Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
As for right now, well, a $40 price drop and an additional discount convinced me to buy a Kindle. I know it's a bit controversial in techie crowds, but other than a few minor nitpicks, I really like it.
It's good to see the price coming down, but it still seems way over the top; I don't know how they justify it when an iPod does far more for less. Anyway, I'm waiting for someone to come out with a large screen version that looks like a nice leather-bound book.
The additional discount factored into it for me, but it's a totally different experience than reading on something like a PDA or a laptop, just because of the screen. The e-ink/paper/whatever is pretty easy on the eyes, and it doesn't take very long to forget you're reading on a device. Sometimes I think it should be backlit, but I imagine that could cause some eyestrain, so I just use a booklight if I'm reading in the dark.

The benefit I hadn't expected was the built-in dictionary. I have a bad habit of intending to look up a word later, then forgetting to actually do it. You just scroll up to the line, select the word, and there you go. The access to Wikipedia's been handy, too.

The battery life is pretty crazy if you only use the wireless aspect when you're downloading something. I've had it on for 3-4 days straight this week, and the indicator is just past the halfway mark.

As for the leather-bound book, it kind of feels that way in the case. The only bad thing about the case is that it could hold onto the Kindle better. I took the advice of some of the owners and put in some Velcro, and it feels pretty solid.

I thought I'd want the "book look," too, but I've found that it's most comfortable to fold the cover back when I'm reading, sort of like a magazine. It makes the whole thing easier to hold.

I can probably think of a few. How do you get your own e-books on there? USB? What are the range of formats that it supports?
It can do TXT and HTML, and I'm pretty sure it does Word docs, though I'd have to check. They're experimenting with PDF, but so far it seems to work just fine. I don't think chapter links work in PDF, but that may change. It remembers where you left off, anyway.

You can put it on with USB, or if you're lazy you can email the document to your Kindle, and the next time you turn on the wireless, it'll download. They say that they charge ten cents per email, but I've had it for a couple of weeks now, and they haven't charged me. I don't know if you get a few freebies or what.

I don't know how it compares to other eBooks. Like I said, I gravitated to this one because of the discount, and I'm pleasantly surprised by the wireless shopping, Wikipedia, etc. It's even got an experimental Web browser, and I checked out TrekBBS. They've still got a ways to go on that, though, if a site has a lot of graphics.

If you have a big enough SD card, you can put mp3s on there and listen to them. That's not really for me, though; I have a hard time listening to music as I read. I usually get too into one to notice the other.
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Old June 18 2008, 02:49 AM   #135
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

I really liked The Store by Bentley Little. Its about a evil Walmart type store that takes over a small town in Arizona.
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