Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Spaceman Spiff, Oct 10, 2007.
I'll cross my fingers that Tivo got the right ones.
I hadn't caught that before. That is good news. Spall would actually be right at home in some of those old Hammer films. Come to think of it, Sweeny Todd got its fair share of comparisons to those movies.
Obviously, I hope it's good, but it'll be even better if this new incarnation of Hammer develops a stable of solid actors, like the old studio. Actors are a little more worried about getting typecast these days, but I miss that sort of feel.
It probably did. The description had the episode numbers. 101, 102, etc.
^^ Major development Friday night.
I have just ordered The Shadow Out Of Time, the third in the Dark Adventure Radio Theater series from the Lovecraft Historical Society. I just got an email from the guy today saying that it would ship tomorrow, so I should be able to tell you about it later in the week; but I expect it to be just as good as the other two shows and their movie.
It's an interesting one. I don't really look for spoilers, but I kind of knew it was coming in some form or another for a while from this early promo shot in Jay Stephens's blog.
It's funny, looking at the Secret Saturdays label on it shows a pretty long history behind the development of the show. Man, it takes a long time and a lot of effort to get one of these things going. Heck, the toy line won't be out until Fall 2009.
I definitely want to hear about that.
I'm almost done with Blood Red. I'm really enjoying it. It's got a Salem's Lot feel to it, while distancing itself enough from it to keep it from feeling like a retread. It's no classic of the genre, but it's a good read.
I downloaded the Kindle version of The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard last night, and I was surprised (and pleased) that it includes the illustrations.
Ah, so he's on the team; I was expecting him to have "helpful outsider" status. What surprised me, though, is that there is no young female character. Kind of an oversight these days.
It's gone through quite a few changes, too, according to that Wiki page. It's kind of encouraging, though, that the toys won't be out for a year; that means they have a commitment to it.
I've traded a few emails with the guy there over the past couple of days. Either he works 24/7 or it's a home business, or both. He seems like a nice guy and the HPLHS is definitely a labor of love.
Nice. I love it when they do that. I don't have that one yet-- the one I have is The Black Stranger-- so I added it to my cart.
Weirdly, I thought I was the last one to post in this thread. Maybe I got started on it, then had to dash out.
Here's a quick rundown of the horror stuff I've read since the last post.
Blood Red was a solid read. Nothing terribly groundbreaking, but it was fun and held my attention. It had shades of 'Salem's Lot, as I said, with a couple of interesting original bits.
For one, the main vampire is quite a bad guy, yet weirdly likable. Not really in an antihero sense, but you get the idea that he's simply doing what's in his nature to do, and if anyone manages to stop him, he'll be pleasantly surprised. Like F. Paul Wilson's Midnight Mass, James A. Moore includes both feral, creepy vampires as well as the intelligent Dracula types, and comes up with explanations for which way they turn out. In fact, the main vampire is in the process of experimenting with his progeny in the hopes of eliminating that feral nature altogether.
Speaking of vampires, I recently watched the recent-to-DVD Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, and it was fun. It's a horror-comedy from 1990 about a town in the West populated by vampires who are using thick clothing, sunglasses, sunblock and artificial blood in the hope that they can adjust and eventually reintegrate into society. Naturally, there's also a group of vampires who oppose such an idea, and the two groups collide in what's basically a vampire western.
It's surprisingly well-shot and scored, with a beautiful transfer. It's got Bruce Campbell as the latest in the line of Van Helsings, and David Carradine as Dracula. That's technically a spoiler, but 20 minutes in, they say "Count Mardulak ... or should I call you by your real name?" so it's not a huge one. Besides, one of the selling points is that not only is David Carradine playing the same role his father did House of Frankenstein / House of Dracula, but it's the only film I can recall where Drac's the hero.
I also have a weird personal connection to this flick, but that might be a story for another post.
To round out the rest of the horror books I've read since the last post:
Infected: A Novel by Scott Sigler. This was an intense little read, and one of my favorites of the year. It's about these spores that infect people and turn them into murderous lunatics. At first glance, that sounds like a 28 Days Later scenario, but there are no zombies here. The book follows poor, poor Perry Dawsey from the moment of his infection to the inevitable results. Some parts of this book were just brutal, but it was quite a page-turner, and Sigler's not afraid to go straight for pulp. He's sure to get a 2008 Stoker nomination for this one. He just put out a sequel a few weeks ago--Contagious--which I'm looking forward to reading in hopes that it's a similarly jarring read.
I re-read The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror for the holidays and enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time. I've enjoyed everything I've read from Christopher Moore, usually laughing aloud at least once per novel. If you want literary horror-comedy, he's got some great ones. Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story was fun, and I'm looking forward to reading its sequel, You Suck: A Love Story. You also can't go wrong with his first novel, Practical Demonkeeping.
A couple of days ago I finished Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, just because I like the show so much, and I was curious about the source. It's pretty good, and an interesting parallel to the show. I'd say the show is slightly better, though. It's one of those rare cases where the adaptation took the material and improved on it while remaining faithful.
Yesterday I started on The Taken by Sarah Pinborough, which has the makings of a decent ghost story.
Nuff said. That goes right into the Shopping Cart.
What a freakin' tease. If you tell me about your weird personal connection to Sundown, I'll tell you about my weird personal connection to Blood Scarab.
Well, this reminds me that I never Posted about how much I loved The Shadow Out Of Time episode of Dark Adventure Radio Theater (it looks like it's out of print, but it's not; you're buying it from the Lovecraft Historical Society via Amazon). Well, not surprisingly, it was as great as their other CDs and their DVD of Call Of Cthulhu. I'll just quote my Amazon review:
"The Lovecraft Historical Society has done it again-- The Shadow Out Of Time is a wonderful adaptation of classic Lovecraft. Like its two predecessors, it's done in the style of the old radio shows that I love; it's a show that should have existed called Dark Adventure Radio Theater. These HPLHS guys are so good at this I wish they could do it on a weekly basis. Certainly one of the multitude of channels on Sirius or XM has room for a program like this. Ah, but I digress. The Shadow Out Of Time is a very faithful adaption of the original story-- at 77 minutes long, nothing is left out (that I noticed) and only minor changes were made to bring HPL's prose off the page and into the mouths of the actors for the sake of the dramatization. Neither vocabulary nor syntax has been sacrificed in this labor of love; everything is 100% Lovecraft. If you're a fan of either HPL or Old Radio Shows, or both, you will love this CD (and its myriad of enclosures, such as a newspaper clipping, a page torn from a British medical journal et cetera). In fact, if you haven't already done so, I recommend that you also get the previous two Dark Adventures and HPLHS's silent-movie adaption of Call Of Cthulhu as well. Great stuff!"
Seriously, I can't recommend the HPLHS stuff enough. They are pure gold for the Classic Horror fan.
Here's what I've read since I last checked in.
Just After Sunset by Stephen King. This is King's latest collection. He's always been at his best in the short story form, and his previous collection Everything's Eventual was perhaps his best, so I was really looking forward to this one. It didn't quite meet my expectations, but it's a fine collection with a nice range of stories. There are understated, romantic ghost stories ("Willa" and "The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates"), short, dreamlike pieces ("Harvey's Dream" and "Graduation Afternoon"), action suspense stories ("The Gingerbread Girl" and "A Very Tight Place"), and a number of unclassifiable works. All these stories are well-crafted and do what they set out to do, and King has a good eye for character these days, but only a few are truly impressive. Among these is the Lovecraft-Machen homage "N.", a long paranoid horror story that manages to blend the styles of those two authors with King's own more immediate prose. It's the best story in Just After Sunset, and a great horror tale in its own right.
Alison Lurie's Women and Ghosts is an interesting little collection of psychological ghost stories with female protagonists. Lurie has a simple, clear prose style that's appropriate to classical ghost stories. There's not a lot here that's novel, but ghost stories need style rather than novelty, and Lurie has it.
Ellen Datlow's new anthology is Poe, a collection of stories in honor of the author's 200th birthday. These stories aren't cheap pastiche; they're loosely inspired by various works of Poe, but the authors went off in their own directions, producing a wide range of stories. My ridiculously long review is here; in brief, it's a strong collection with no duds and a couple masterpieces. Read it.
And then there's Gene Wolfe's An Evil Guest, which isn't really horror but which I mention because it has some interesting Lovecraftian elements. It's a slick, easy-to-read futuristic noir thriller, and worth a look if that convoluted premise excites you.
I definitely agree that King's greatest strength has always been the short story. I didn't know he had a new anthology out; I'll add that to my list. That volume of Poe homages sounds good, too.
The fourth CD installment of Dark Adventure Radio Theater is out from HPLHS; this episode is "The Shadow Over Innsmouth." I haven't had a chance to listen yet (probably tonight), but after the last three I have no doubt that it will be great.
Also today, I got the first volume of Eerie Archives. Classics to those who remember and better than new to those who don't. Creepy, by the way, is up to Volume 2.
Incidentally, I meant to Post an email I got from Wildside Press a while back, but I waited too long and it was purged. The essence of it is that HP Lovecraft's Magazine Of Horror has been "merged" with Weird Tales. The better to serve you. In other words, it's been cancelled and the excess inventory will be used in WT. WT is now not accepting submissions until the end of March.
This doesn't sound good. Even the major magazines are struggling, so I can imagine how bad it is for Small Press. To make matters worse, I've dealt with WT directly as a writer and an advertiser and they are incredibly disorganized behind the scenes. I'm worried about the future of the magazine.
I've got to get those Eerie and Creepy volumes. I'm hoarding cash a bit right now, but hopefully I'll be able to get them soon. I've been re-reading The Goon lately, as evidenced by my avatar. I just like Powell's drawing style; it inspires me to get to the drawing board.
I've been concerned about Weird Tales for a while now, too. At least they're able to adhere roughly to their schedule, though. Issues of Cemetery Dance are few and far between.
Wildside bought the rights just a few years ago, right? Hopefully, if times get too hard for them, they'll sell the rights to a more organized press.
The Goon is great.
Yeah, Weird Tales is the only Wildside Magazine that maintained anything like a regular schedule. Lovecraft and Adventure have both been delayed and erratic. Their planned Sherlock Holmes and cat-fantasy magazines were canceled before they came out and the stories published in paperback form instead (which is better than nothing, but I would have preferred the periodicals). As you say, other small press mags like Cemetery Dance are just as volatile. It's a shame.
The Creepy and Eerie books are great; you should move to the East Coast so I can loan you stuff.
So have we read any horror since our last update?
I've been keeping to mostly modern stuff of late, just to get in touch with what's going on in the market. I've got some interest in writing for it, so I figure it's a worthwhile exercise.
The last one I finished was Pet Sematary, which I've had forever and hadn't read. I think it was one of the stronger King novels I've read. Through all these years I've managed to somehow avoid spoilers, having waited to see the movie until last week, so I had a pretty pure experience with it. It's pretty solid stuff from King's heyday, the dread slowly ratcheting up throughout the pace of the novel.
I also read Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry, which was an interesting "zombie virus as terrorist bioweapon" idea, but it almost reads more like a police/counter-terrorism procedural than horror, which I wasn't expecting. If you're into that sort of thing, you'll probably like it. I'm not too big on it, though, so I didn't have as much fun with it as with Maberry's "Pine Deep" trilogy, which is much more straightforward horror.
It's well-done on a technical level, and feels like something thoroughly researched, thus made to seem as plausible as possible. I just don't really need my zombies to be plausible.
Before that it was The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. Between liking just about anything Gaiman does and the premise (a baby is raised by ghosts in a graveyard, hence the title similarity to The Jungle Book), I knew I'd enjoy the heck out of it. I was right.
I finally got to Johnny Gruesome by Gregory Lamberson, which I think I mentioned somewhere upthread. I've heard it described as an '80s horror flick in book form, and I think that's pretty apt. In fact, I'd love to see a film adaptation done in that style. It's a lot of fun. It's shown up on this year's list of Stoker nominees, which surprises me, because I assumed the print run was pretty low, and I've never seen it in any store. But apparently it got enough recognition for the Horror Writers Association to give it the nod.
Looking at past nominees now, I can see that they often award authors printed by smaller publishers, which is cool.
What's everyone else been reading?
Necroscope: The Lost Years Volume II by Brian Lumley.
Got it in a charity shop for 50p.
What'd you think of it? I see that series all over the place, but I've never read any of it.
I have a soft spot for the Necroscope series. It's not for everyone, though. Lumley can get a bit carried away with the explicit, visceral (literally, at times) horror stuff, but I think that the wild metaphysical side of it is great reading. The vampire legend is explored and expanded a great deal over the entire series - and there are many books in the series - and I find it compelling, exciting stuff.
Right now I'm reading Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters, John Langan's debut collection. Langan's story "Technicolor" was one of the best in Ellen Datlow's tribute anthology Poe, so I was looking forward to this one, and it hasn't disappointed. The first two stories, "On Skua Island" and "Mr. Gaunt," are top-notch classic horror stories with a few modern touches, while "Tutorial" is an unsettling satire on (of all things) the closedmindedness of creative writing professors and "Episode Seven" is a post-apocalyptic story with ferocious wolves, giant flowers, and a plague. I'm only a few pages into the final story, but it's promising so far.
Pet Sematary was indeed excellent, and a prime example of King's work when he was at the height of his powers. Sort of an expanded novel version of "Monkey's Paw." Horrific and disturbing. The Graveyard Book sounds interesting; that's quite an original idea.
Since I last Posted here, Weird Tales extended their moratorium on submissions to Memorial Day. Hopefully, next week I will be able to submit "Coyote Crosses The Ocean." They also have a couple of things on their website-- a very short form format and a contest-- that they are accepting submissions for. Luckily, the person in charge of story submissions is not the same as the person in charge of poetry submissions; I submitted "The Last Talbot" and never got a response, either to the submission or my follow-up inquiry. But the poetry guy is also the advertising guy, so I know first-hand how disorganized and unreliable he is.
It's not displayed on the site yet, but I just got the latest Rue Morgue (#90) in the mail, and it's got a great Harryhausen tribute.
Here's a sneak peek.
I'm planning to make another try for New England Comics today, so I'll see if they have it. Rue Morgue should actually be on my list, anyway; it's a good magazine.
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