Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Spaceman Spiff, Oct 10, 2007.

  1. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    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:

    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? ;)
     
  2. jadcox@mindspring.com

    jadcox@mindspring.com Commodore Commodore

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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.

    John
     
  3. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

    I thought it was the other way around. :lol:

    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. :D

    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. :)
     
  4. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

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

    I wonder: Can you actually feel my envy?
     
  5. Brendan Moody

    Brendan Moody Vice Admiral Admiral

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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.
     
  6. Superman

    Superman Fleet Captain

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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.

    \S/
     
  7. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

    We needs it. We wants it.
     
  8. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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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.
     
  9. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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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.)
     
  10. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

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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
     
  11. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

    Anyone else reading Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories series? :D
     
  12. DBR

    DBR Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

    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.
     
  13. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

    My dark alley. Bwahaha. :lol: It is now on order, along with the Blackwood book and a Lord Dunsany collection. :)

    I have a great MP3 of Basil Rathbone reading "The Raven" that I'll be digging out as part of the evening's festivities. :cool:

    Never heard of it. What is it like?
     
  14. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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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.
     
  15. Brendan Moody

    Brendan Moody Vice Admiral Admiral

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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.
     
  16. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!


    I didn't edit DARK HARVEST, but I wrote the back cover copy. (This has been a sideline of mine for years, ever since I started out writing the cover copy for men's adult westerns for $80 a pop.)
     
  17. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

    That's a good-looking book. I've read The Willows, and I liked it, but I like Blackwood anyway. The funny thing about that story is the sense of weirdness and tension contained in it, despite the fact that nothing really happens. I wonder if that's what Lovecraft liked about it so much; cosmic horror packed into something as mundane as a camping trip.


    It's a good book, though in some ways I kind of blame it for the recent trend of tying the character so closely to Vlad III the Impaler. While everyone knows at this point that Stoker took the name and backstory from Vlad, the character was never really intended to be Vlad.

    I'm sure you know all that, being so into the character. It's just one of those things that I wish moviemakers and fiction writers would ease up on; the idea that Vlad Tepes died in 1476, only to rise and become the Dracula in the novel. But I know it's not going away anytime soon.

    That said, I'm still looking forward to reading The Historian. In fact, my most recent copy of Dracula is the edition that's sort of a companion to Kostova's novel. I just liked the cover.

    I hope you like it. I'm kind of afraid of overhyping it, especially with all the award talk. But I know you like your pulp, so there's a good chance you'll enjoy it.


    Thanks for explaining. I've always kind of wondered who wrote those sorts of things for publishers. Cool gig, if you can get it.


    Now I'm reading Trick or Treat: A Collection of Halloween Novellas, published by--guess who?--Cemetery Dance Publications.

    The Cemetery Dance books are a little pricey, with their being an independent publisher, but the quality of the books is top-notch. RJDiogenes and I both bought several books from one of their recent (and frequent) sales, and we commented to each other about just how new the books seemed when they arrived. The books look like they roll right off the press and into the box to be shipped to your house.
     
  18. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

    Ah, folklore. :cool: And those are nice illustrations. I'll have to add them to my list. :bolian:

    I'm sure I will (and if I don't, that's life in the big city :)).

    Yeah, we both thought the same thing: It was that same feeling you got when you were a kid and you got a brand-new book. Good stuff. :)
     
  19. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

    You won't be disappointed. I wouldn't say most of the stories are hugely scary, but they're good and the pictures definitely add a lot - I think that's one reason the books became so popular. If they didn't have the illustrations, it would probably seem like another ghost collection. The only illustration that creeped me out as a kid was The Thing. It's not among the samples in my links, but when you read it you'll understand.
     
  20. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Re: Hallowe'en Reading 2007!

    Yeah, I don't really care if they're scary; just if they're cool. :cool: I love folklore, especially when it comes in a classic antique format like that.
     

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