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Old June 18 2008, 02:53 AM   #136
Spaceman Spiff
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

I like Bentley Little a lot. I keep meaning to re-read The Revelation. I haven't read The Store. Maybe I'll pick it up.

His new one, The Academy, comes out on August 5th.
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Old June 20 2008, 12:08 AM   #137
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
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.
That would be important, because I have a huge number of PDFs; and some of them, like the old pulp facsimiles, have graphics, so they would lose something if converted to txt.

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.
Well, that sounds good. Not that I'd want to listen to music and read at the same time, either, but for that price the thing should do some tricks. Wiki (and general web) access, photo storage and music are all useful. If it could support a USB keyboard and word processing software, that would be nice, too.

Theonethatis wrote: View Post
I really liked The Store by Bentley Little. Its about a evil Walmart type store that takes over a small town in Arizona.
Is it fiction?
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Old June 20 2008, 08:11 PM   #138
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
That would be important, because I have a huge number of PDFs; and some of them, like the old pulp facsimiles, have graphics, so they would lose something if converted to txt.
I've tried it with black and white comics, and they turn out okay. It works best with stark contrasts, as I think it's only got about four shades--black, white and light/dark gray.

Well, that sounds good. Not that I'd want to listen to music and read at the same time, either, but for that price the thing should do some tricks. Wiki (and general web) access, photo storage and music are all useful. If it could support a USB keyboard and word processing software, that would be nice, too.
I could see something like that happening. It's obviously got the USB port already, though I'm not sure I would use it for something like word processing. But the option would be nice.

Some of the experimental features are interesting, the weirdest being "Kindle NowNow," which is a free "human-powered search query system." So I guess if you go "What's the registry number for Captain Kirk's U.S.S. Enterprise?" some person at Amazon looks it up in Google, then replies.

Heh. In fact, I'll give it a try right now and post their reply.*

Here's a list of 100 Kindle Tips to give you more of an idea of what it can do.

For horror thread legality, I recently picked up The King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories by Robert W. Chambers. Cool Weird Tales-y stuff. Although now that I think of it, he's public domain, so now I wish I'd waited until I got the Kindle. Oh well, at least it's a nice-looking book.

Also, I noticed at Barnes & Noble that Tor has reprinted lots of Richard Matheson novels for $4.99 a pop. I picked up Earthbound, The Incredible Shrinking Man, A Stir of Echoes, and What Dreams May Come.






*I got three replies before I finished this post. Here they are:

"Registry # is NCC-1701" and a link to a Wikipedia article on the Enterprise.

"The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) under the command of Captain James T. Kirk" and the same link as above.

The last is by far the best response :

"USS Enterprise NCC-1701. (Is it sad that I didn't even have to research that online?)" He/she then copies a bit of text from the Wiki article.
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Old June 20 2008, 11:53 PM   #139
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
I've tried it with black and white comics, and they turn out okay. It works best with stark contrasts, as I think it's only got about four shades--black, white and light/dark gray.
Yikes. It never even occurred to me that it was in black and white. So much for the photo album.

I could see something like that happening. It's obviously got the USB port already, though I'm not sure I would use it for something like word processing. But the option would be nice.
Well, I could see myself taking it on a hike up the Blue Hills or on vacation or something and using it to do some writing.

Some of the experimental features are interesting, the weirdest being "Kindle NowNow," which is a free "human-powered search query system." So I guess if you go "What's the registry number for Captain Kirk's U.S.S. Enterprise?" some person at Amazon looks it up in Google, then replies.
Weird indeed. That doesn't seem very efficient.

Here's a list of 100 Kindle Tips to give you more of an idea of what it can do.
Cool, thanks.

For horror thread legality, I recently picked up The King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories by Robert W. Chambers. Cool Weird Tales-y stuff. Although now that I think of it, he's public domain, so now I wish I'd waited until I got the Kindle. Oh well, at least it's a nice-looking book.
That went right into my shopping cart. While reading Forbidden Planets and Tales of Mars, I'm also reading a reproduction of Tales Of Magic And Mystery from 1928. Very cool. It's also got three extra stories in the back to pad out the page count; two are from the 20s and one is from 1918!

*I got three replies before I finished this post. Here they are:

"Registry # is NCC-1701" and a link to a Wikipedia article on the Enterprise.

"The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) under the command of Captain James T. Kirk" and the same link as above.

The last is by far the best response :

"USS Enterprise NCC-1701. (Is it sad that I didn't even have to research that online?)" He/she then copies a bit of text from the Wiki article.
That's fantastic. I wonder who these people are. Just regular customer service people? They do their best to insulate their customer service from human contact, so it's kind of amazing that they'd have them doing Google searches for people.
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Old July 1 2008, 08:58 PM   #140
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

In the past couple weeks I've finally been reading some horror that I haven't already mentioned in this thread.

I read Stephen King's latest, Duma Key, a couple weeks ago. Here's the review I posted on my LiveJournal:

Stephen King is something of an albatross for certain devotees of horror fiction; his willingness to be crude offends those for whom horror should only be about subtler terrors, and his success stymies those who fetishize the marginality of the genre. But I've always admired King's work. As with most prolific writers, the quality of his output is variable. He has a weakness for bloated prose and excessively colorful characters. But the best of his horror stories are genuinely terrifying masterworks of the form, and over the years he's demonstrated a real capacity for emotional range and insight. His 2006 novel Lisey's Story, perhaps his best book to date, was a meditation on the power of marriage and on the line between genius and madness, showing the dangerous otherworld to which a bestselling writer goes for inspiration. And here now is Duma Key, another novel concerned with art and its power for both good and evil.

Edgar Freemantle was a very successful Minnesota contractor until he lost his right arm in an accident with a crane. Moving to a remote Florida island after the breakup of his marriage, Freemantle begins to experiment with painting as a way of keeping himself from despair. The resulting art is good, in fact astonishingly so. But why does Freemantle's missing arm seem to tingle? Why does the elderly woman who lives nearby think his work might be dangerous? And what long-buried secret is Duma Key hiding?

You will perhaps have gotten the sense from all this that Duma Key is a pretty traditional horror story, and you're right. It's ultimately one of its author's minor works, albeit a well-crafted and frequently one. At over six hundred pages, longtime readers of King may fear his trademark bloat, but if it's present here it's only barely so. It's true that not much happens in the first two hundred pages, but King uses that space to set up his characters and offer the subtle hints of encroaching evil that define any good horror story. Unfortunately, the characters in question are not among King's best. The portrayal of Freemantle's recovery from his accident is effective-- that pernicious master, biographical criticism, suggests that King's own road back from his 1999 car accident-- but there's not much else going on in his life. His neighbor, Elizabeth Eastlake, is battling Alzheimer's, and while her struggle is presented with some degree of pathos she's not well-drawn enough for it to resonate much; instead it feels vaguely manipulative, like a bad movie of the week. Her caretaker, Wireman, is another of King's excessively "clever" characters who overload us with their tedious sayings and homespun wisdom. No one ever quite springs to life.

The horror elements are strong, though. King has never been a great prose stylist, but his eye for disturbing imagery and his control of pace more than make up for this deficit. The malevolent force that's behind it all is explored but never really explained, and that's all to the good: it is more potent as a mysterious evil than it would be if wrapped up in some of King's clunky, quasi-philosophical world-building. (I'm thinking here of books like It, Insomnia, and From a Buick Eight, all of which I do like.) The supernaturalism is generally quite minimal, as it happens; the antagonist tends to act through human agents, which provide a nice counter to its noncorporeal presence. I can't say that Duma Key is a terrifying novel, but it's genuinely unsettling at times, and that's enough for me.

As with Lisey's Story, the novel's metaphorical treatment of the power of art is rather transparent. Unlike with Lisey's Story, however, the insubstantial characters diminish the impact of the metaphor by separating it from human realities. The earlier novel works because Lisey and Scott Landon are well-drawn enough that one believes in their struggle to strike a balance between Scott's talent and the darkness from which it derives. And Duma Key falls flat because it's hard to care about the double-edged sword of Freemantle's art. Another problem is one that often strikes when writing about characters who discover their talent-- there's a sickly-sweet feel that's hard to get past. Whenever Edgar shows his paintings to someone, he expects to be laughed at, but instead the audience thinks that they're awesome, and that he's awesome, and that life in general is awesome. It's all so deathly earnest and nice that I start looking for a basin. (There's a similar problem with the characters of King's novella "The Colorado Kid.") The reader knows that Edgar's paintings are going to be wonderful, so going through the farce of pretending they might not be approved of is tedious.

Duma Key fails as a character story and as a meditation on art, but as low-ambition, traditional horror, it's fairly successful; certainly it's more carefully-crafted than a lot of horror fiction out there. Once you've finished the book it'll probably slip easily out of your mind without making much of an impression, but over the course of the six hundred pages it's a fun ride.
I picked up the omnibus of the first three volumes of Clive Barker's Books of Blood short story collections from the library. So far I've made it through the stories in the first volume, and I'm not sure whether I'll continue. Barker's a great prose stylist with a wild imagination, but his style of horror is one I don't have a whole lot of sympathy. I find myself getting caught in the language and rocketing through a story, only to reach the end and find myself disappointed in the content. I feel sort of guilty about not being motivated to finish something that is so obviously good, but I don't generally force myself to read things either. Anyway, it's obvious from this book alone why Barker is so widely appreciated, and anyone looking for something new in horror should give it a look.

Now I'm reading Peter Straub's Ghost Story. I haven't read much Straub because I've never gotten the impression there was much substance to his work (though I did think The Talisman and Black House, his collaborations with Stephen King, were entertaining), but I heard good things about Ghost Story somewhere, so I'm giving it a whirl. I'm only about fifty pages in, and not much has happened so far. I don't mind a slow, subtle approach to the evocation of horror-- I'm a fan of Ramsey Campbell, after all-- but there isn't even any evocation so far, just an occasional vague hint.

It's not horror by strict definitions, but I also read Shirley Jackson's collection The Lottery; or, The Adventures of James Harris. Jackson's mastery of social unease and the sense of tilting reality makes her stories feel like horror fiction even when they deal with something as mundane as new neighbors or an ill-behaved dog. I plan to read more of her work; it's been years since I read The Haunting of Hill House, so I may also give that another go.
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Old July 2 2008, 09:41 AM   #141
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

I read some Straub years ago; I forgot every word within weeks. Well, not every word; I still recollect 'and' and 'the.'

Stephen King is a puzzle. He was amazing in his prime, and he has an enviable prolificness. And I always loved his local color, being from New England myself. But I lost interest in him years ago. Part of it is his tendency to be so long winded. Even at the height of his powers, he was better at the short form than at novels. Part of it is the sameness, and that his postmodernism and crudity seem quaintly 80s. I really wish he would stretch his legs more. The stories collected in Different Seasons, which are among the best things he ever wrote, show that he has the potential to do more than crank out The Latest King Novel every few months. It's not like he needs the money-- he should experiment!
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Old July 2 2008, 10:07 AM   #142
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
The stories collected in Different Seasons, which are among the best things he ever wrote, show that he has the potential to do more than crank out The Latest King Novel every few months. It's not like he needs the money-- he should experiment!
What's even more puzzling is that he retired primarily because he was afraid that he'd run out of original things to say, and was now just "talking because the silence when [he] stops is just too spooky." The he unretires, and what does he do? Go back to writing exactly the same types of novels with exactly the same sets of concerns and conceits that he'd always been doing! When I read "Lisey's Story" I was hoping for some variation, but got another "artist-who-doesn't-understand-his-own-genius-and-whose-work-is-an-alternate-reality-that-is-horrifying-but-somehow-rejuvinating-so-it's-all-okay-MONSTER!" story. Like the zillion others he'd written.
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Old July 2 2008, 05:06 PM   #143
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

I think there's a lot more experimentation and range in King's recent work than he gets credit for. Sure, he still writes "The Latest King Novel" type books, like Duma Key or Cell or (God help us) Dreamcatcher, but there's also less classifiable work like Hearts in Atlantis, From a Buick 8, the end of The Dark Tower, and some of the more literary stories in Everything's Eventual. Like any writer he reuses some motifs and themes, but there's plenty of variation within them too. At any rate, I think he writes what he wants to write, and if he produces a lot of standard fare that's because he believes in that kind of story.
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Old July 2 2008, 07:06 PM   #144
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
I read some Straub years ago; I forgot every word within weeks. Well, not every word; I still recollect 'and' and 'the.'
Not Shadowland or Floating Dragon, apparently.
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Old July 2 2008, 08:02 PM   #145
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

That's a great review, Brendan. I think our opinions on King are pretty similar, so I might give Duma Key a look. I thought about waiting for the paperback in October, but now I see it's on Kindle for $9.99, so I'll probably snatch it up that way. Same for 20th Century Ghosts, which you mentioned earlier.

Dracula was fun to read again, and the annotated version was pretty educational. Stoker wasn't an especially good writer, and the novel has some pretty weird flaws and lapses in logic, but I like it.

I read Ghost Story a couple of years ago, and while I mostly enjoyed it, the last third/quarter kind of ruined it for me. I'll hold off on that until you've finished it, but I'm sure you'll see what I mean when you get there.

I think it's one of those rare cases where the movie outshines the book, at least from a story/structural perspective. Without spoiling anything, I'll just say that the movie had the good sense to just stick to, well, a ghost story.

I'm not certain what I'll read next. I'll either read Return of the Wolf Man or another recent purchase, Jane-Emily: And Witches' Children by Patricia Clapp. The latter is kind of exciting, because I've heard about it for a while, but it's been out of print for thirty years. This new reprint is pretty sharp, and the reader reviews are overwhelmingly positive. I've been in the mood for "young adult" read, so I think it will fit the bill nicely.

Here are a couple of recent DVD purchases that aren't quite horror, but they're sort of peripherally related:

Houdini: The Movie Star. This set is great if you're a bit of a Houdini buff, like me. It's got all of the films in which Houdini starred, from 1919 to 1923, including the serial The Master Mystery. It's packed with additional bits, like some of his filmed escapes, and the only known audio recording of his voice, from a wax Edison cylinder. (The same clip heard here.) It's just a great little set from KINO.

Icons of Adventure Collection. Ignore the crappy cover art, this is is a great two-disc collection of four of Hammer's adventure films. All four movies look pretty good, and you've got three of them with Christopher Lee, but it's actually The Stranglers of Bombay that had me most excited about this set. These are very rare films, so it's great to see such beautiful transfers. And if you don't want to see Christopher Lee playing a pirate, odds are I just won't like you very much as a person.
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Old July 2 2008, 08:20 PM   #146
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

M'Sharak wrote: View Post
RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
I read some Straub years ago; I forgot every word within weeks. Well, not every word; I still recollect 'and' and 'the.'
Not Shadowland or Floating Dragon, apparently.
I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Are you recommending these two books?

I've almost picked up Shadowland a couple of times.
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Old July 2 2008, 11:45 PM   #147
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Gep Malakai wrote: View Post
What's even more puzzling is that he retired primarily because he was afraid that he'd run out of original things to say, and was now just "talking because the silence when [he] stops is just too spooky." The he unretires, and what does he do? Go back to writing exactly the same types of novels with exactly the same sets of concerns and conceits that he'd always been doing!
Yes, exactly; it's a bit cynical of him to charge for reruns-- like I said, he doesn't exactly need the money.

Brendan Moody wrote: View Post
but there's also less classifiable work like Hearts in Atlantis, From a Buick 8, the end of The Dark Tower, and some of the more literary stories in Everything's Eventual. Like any writer he reuses some motifs and themes, but there's plenty of variation within them too. At any rate, I think he writes what he wants to write, and if he produces a lot of standard fare that's because he believes in that kind of story.
I guess, but he has proven that he's equally adept at writing other genres. It's funny that you mention From A Buick 8, because I believe he mentioned that book's similarity to Christine as an example of why he wanted to retire. I do own Everything's Eventual, though; maybe I'll dig it out and take a look-- anyway, like I said, I've always found him to be superior at writing short stories.

M'Sharak wrote: View Post
Not Shadowland or Floating Dragon, apparently.
I think one was probably Floating Dragon; I was hanging out in Connecticut a lot in those days, and I think I remember that connection. The other was The Talisman, which I don't think I even finished.

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
Houdini: The Movie Star. This set is great if you're a bit of a Houdini buff, like me. It's got all of the films in which Houdini starred, from 1919 to 1923, including the serial The Master Mystery. It's packed with additional bits, like some of his filmed escapes, and the only known audio recording of his voice, from a wax Edison cylinder. (The same clip heard here.) It's just a great little set from KINO.

Icons of Adventure Collection. Ignore the crappy cover art, this is is a great two-disc collection of four of Hammer's adventure films. All four movies look pretty good, and you've got three of them with Christopher Lee, but it's actually The Stranglers of Bombay that had me most excited about this set. These are very rare films, so it's great to see such beautiful transfers. And if you don't want to see Christopher Lee playing a pirate, odds are I just won't like you very much as a person.
Wow, those are two nice finds, especially the Houdini DVD; I love that cool old stuff.
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Old July 3 2008, 06:12 AM   #148
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
It's funny that you mention From A Buick 8, because I believe he mentioned that book's similarity to Christine as an example of why he wanted to retire.
That's... odd. Apart from both having supernatural events centered around a car, they're nothing alike. He's said in more recent interviews that the "retirement" had more to do with (temporary) pain, frustration, and depression after his accident than with any real change in how he thought about writing.
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Old July 3 2008, 06:32 AM   #149
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
M'Sharak wrote: View Post
RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
I read some Straub years ago; I forgot every word within weeks. Well, not every word; I still recollect 'and' and 'the.'
Not Shadowland or Floating Dragon, apparently.
I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Are you recommending these two books?

I've almost picked up Shadowland a couple of times.
I would recommend them, in fact -- I'd put them on a par with Stephen King's better stuff.. I haven't read much else by Straub, though I do recall his collaboration with King on The Talisman getting mixed reviews when it came out.

The two titles I named were both nicely spooky, I thought, albeit in different ways; the first deals with magic and degrees of reality and the second with laboratory experiments and altered perception. It's been many years since I've read either one, and I'd very likely read them differently now, but I certainly didn't find either of them forgettable. (In fact, I distinctly remember reading the last several chapters of Floating Dragon in one go; I was up late, couldn't put the book down and had all of the lights in the room on because it was too freaky to read in the dark. )
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Old July 3 2008, 08:31 AM   #150
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
It's funny that you mention From A Buick 8, because I believe he mentioned that book's similarity to Christine as an example of why he wanted to retire.
And not because From a Buick 8 was a dull, terrible novel where nothing happened?
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