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Book review

Book review: The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All: Stories, by Laird Barron, Night Shade Books
October 27, 2014 | 2:25 pm

Laird Barron's third and most recent short story collection, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All almost needs no introduction: it's Laird Barron's third collection. For many enthusiasts and proselytes of the current renaissance in dark and weird fiction, that's all they will need to know. Superlatives fall from its hide like Geatish spear points from Grendel's. And such wide, and wide-eyed, acclamation might seem open to question if it weren't for the (almost) uniform excellence of the contents. This is the kind of collection destined to find the same sort of place in the history of its genre currently occupied...

Book review: The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2014, edited by Paula Guran, Prime Books
October 24, 2014 | 12:25 pm

The latest in the excellent Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror series, edited by Paula Guran, does a pretty good job of living up to exaclty what it says on the cover, and pulling together the year's real best achievements in the genre/genres. Some of the 32 tales will be familiar from elsewhere, especially to an avid dark sider like me, as many have already been anthologized or otherwise put out in book form. That doesn't change the fact that if you want to get a very broad and compendious perspective on the field - at 576 pages and 32 stories...

Book Review: Brothers in Crime by KM Rockwood
October 22, 2014 | 2:25 pm

brothers in crimeThe fun part about going to writer's conference is that you meet lots of writers and get opportunities for review copies, especially if you let folks know you review books. KM Rockwood is a delightful person, and I was happy to accept a review copy of her latest book, [easyazon-link asin="B00K2L77XU" locale="us"]Brothers in Crime[/easyazon-link]. When she asked me if I wanted the first in the series or a later book, I opted for the latest book, to see if book would stand alone as well as she said it would. The good news is that it does. However, this is an odd...

Book review: Occultation and Other Stories, by Laird Barron, Night Shade Books
October 12, 2014 | 10:46 am

Laird Barron is approaching iconic status in the horror and dark fiction community with almost frightening speed. How many other living authors get a tribute anthology paying homage to their aesthetic when they're only just into their fourth book? Anyone who is waiting for the bubble to burst, however, is probably going to have to sit around for quite a while longer. At least if Occultation and Other Stories is anything to go by. This volume of nine stories, with an introduction by the much-missed Michael Shea, won the 2010 Shirley Jackson Award for a Single-Author Collection, just as his first...

Book review: The Book of the Dead, edited by Jared Shurin, Jurassic London
October 6, 2014 | 2:25 pm

After the endless, shambling horde of faceless zombie horror anthologies, The Book of the Dead presents stories centred on a rather more ancient and dignified genus of animated corpse: the Mummy. It also comes with a sort of official endorsement from the actual tradition of Egyptology, being "published in collaboration with the Egypt Exploration Society, the UK's oldest independent funder of archaeological fieldwork and research in Egypt," and introduced by John J. Johnston, Vice Chair of the Society. The selection doesn't rest on its premises, and the 19 stories range far wider than simply animated-bundle-of-bandages tales. If anything, the keynote of the anthology is variety...

Book review: The Imago Sequence and Other Stories, by Laird Barron, Night Shade Books
September 30, 2014 | 12:47 pm

Public health warning: This book has been known to induce anomie, despair, alienation, disenchantment, toxic doubt, and pervasive crawling fear. It has also been known to make people write about it ecstatically. I'm not the first to succumb. And this isn't a new book review: The Imago Sequence has been around spreading terror and acedia since 2007, picking up a Shirley Jackson Award along the way. It also, incidentally, put its author on the map - in the same way that the 1883 eruption put Krakatoa on the map. The geography of horror would never be the same again. Rather, this...

Book review: Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume 1, edited by Laird Barron, ChiZine Publications
September 9, 2014 | 2:25 pm

The Year's Best Weird Fiction project has quietly been gathering quite a volume of buzz on its way to Volume 1, which is due out shortly in October. For one thing, it's edited by Laird Barron, himself one of the best current practitioners of this not-quite-genre. And it doesn't hurt that its list of authors include  a wish list of his peers: Jeffrey Ford, Simon Strantzas, Joseph S. Pulver Sr, Scott Nicolay, John Langan, Richard Gavin, and W. H. Pugmire, among others. Also, it comes from the very estimable house of ChiZine Publications, already producer of some fine anthologies from Ellen...

E-Book Review: Rand Unwrapped: Confessions of a Robotech Warrior
August 30, 2014 | 5:55 am

coverIt’s no secret that the animated TV show Robotech had a big formative influence on me when I was growing up. I still use the handle “Robotech_Master” for my Twitter, Facebook, and other personal Internet accounts, and I still love the show. And my main foray into podcasting, Space Station Liberty, is about Robotech. On Space Station Liberty, I’ve interviewed a number of the actors and writers associated with the show, including the late Carl Macek himself. Today at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern, I’m going to be interviewing another: Frank Catalano, voice actor for the characters Rand,...

Book review: Echopraxia, by Peter Watts, Tor Books
August 20, 2014 | 12:25 pm

downloadBlindsight, the immediate predecessor to this novel, was one of the most original, inspiring, disturbing works of science fiction in recent memory - a First Contact story that practically rewrote the entire sub-genre, and ensured that no other attempt at that theme could ever be the same again - not least because of the questions it raised about what contact with an alien intelligence might imply about ours. Peter Watts has doubled down with [easyazon-link asin="076532802X" locale="us"]Echopraxia[/easyazon-link], which picks up from the same timeline and follows to even more disquieting destinations. Readers who haven't encountered Blindsight already will miss a lot of the tropes in Echopraxia,...

Book review: Love Is the Law, by Nick Mamatas, Dark Horse Books
August 16, 2014 | 12:25 pm

Author, teacher of writing, anthologist, jokester, sometime radical, father-of-adorable-infant and allround nihilistic kid Nick Mamatas has written across genres and voices with wit, zip, and flair through "six and a half novels" and a slew of shorter works. He was even partly responsible for bringing Edge of Tomorrow to our screens by adapting the Japanese original of the story, All You Need Is Kill, into graphic novel form. Love Is the Law is his foray into something like neo-noir or crime fiction, but definitely with a genre-spinning twist that loops in occultism and some urban fantasy as well as far-left...

Book review: Cry Murder! in a Small Voice, by Greer Gilman, Small Beer Press
July 30, 2014 | 4:46 pm

The marvelous Small Beer Press, which is producing anything but small beer these days, with two Shirley Jackson Awards this year alone, also produces chapbooks and shorter titles, available mostly as DRM-free direct downloads. One of them is one of the award winners, Greer Gilman's Cry Murder! in a Small Voice, which runs to just 57 pages in the printed version and is also available as a beautifully produced short ebook. One blogger called this simply the best book of 2013. Greer Gilman has a reputation for producing superb work very slowly, and on the basis of this book, you can see...

Book review: The Children of Old Leech, edited by Ross E. Lockhart and Justin Steele, Word Horde
July 30, 2014 | 12:25 pm

This is both a superb collection of dark tales and a testament to the highly developed, involved, and even self-referential status of the new new wave of American horror and weird fiction. For it is a tribute anthology from some of the best writers in the field in honor of one of their most esteemed peers, Laird Barron, who is still very much alive and barely into his fourth volume. The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron might stand in grave danger of being an incestuous lovefest. Is it? Anything but. Who is the man...