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Book review

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...

Book review: Beside the Seaside, edited by Scott Harrison, Snowbooks
July 27, 2014 | 2:23 pm

Well who'd a thought it: An almost local tourism-level themed anthology confined to a short stretch of English coastline that turns out to be a surprisingly good collection of modern British horror and dark fiction. Of course, it helps if the stretch of coastline you have to deal with is the Yorkshire coast immortalized by Bram Stoker as the landfall of Count Dracula, where the ruins of Whitby Abbey and Scarborough Castle still lour down from the clifftops. Or if you have contributors like Johnny Mains, himself editor of the superb Best British Horror 2014. (His "The Girl on the Suicide...

Book review: The Wine-Dark Sea, by Robert Aickman, Faber & Faber
July 14, 2014 | 8:24 pm

This is one more in Faber's series of reissues to mark the centenary of the birth of Robert Aickman, probably the best English horror writer since World War 2. However, it's not a direct reissue of an original collection from Aickman's lifetime. The Wine-Dark Sea was actually compiled from several other volumes in 1988, seven years after his death, and published by Arbor House/William Morrow in New York with an introduction by Peter Straub. As a summary of his entire work, its eight stories range all the way from 1951's "The Trains" to 1980's "The Fetch," and are a very representative bunch,...

Book review: Every House is Haunted, by Ian Rogers, ChiZine Publications
July 12, 2014 | 6:37 pm

Canadian dark fiction and horror writer Ian Rogers' debut story collection Every House is Haunted comes garlanded with accolades. The book has received the 2013 ReLit Award in the Short Fiction category, and praise from almost every quarter. It's the sort of reputation that makes you hurry to start it to see what's really inside. The whole collection is structured like a house, with sections such as "The Vestibule," "The Library," "The Attic," "The Den," and "The Cellar." This doesn't mean any uniformity of content: The stories are highly diverse, some Lovecraftian ("The Dark and the Young," "Inheritor"), some occult ("Cabin D"), and some plain...

Book review: Nameless, by Mercedes M. Yardley, Ragnarok Publications
July 9, 2014 | 4:25 pm

The very wonderful and much anthologized Mercedes Murdock Yardley raises beautiful children, rides two-wheeled vehicles that would send staider traffic fleeing from most public highways, and writes fabulous horror and supernatural stories and dark fiction. [easyazon-link asin="B00HWLX6RO" locale="us"]Nameless: The Darkness Comes[/easyazon-link] is her first full-length novel, as well as the first volume of The Bone Angel Trilogy. So, dear reader, I guess you've already guessed that this is going to be a positive review. Damn right it is. Luna Masterson, biker-esque chick heroine of the tale, has been seeing demons since she has small. (Why she has been seeing them is one of the...

Book review: Forever, in Pieces, by Kurt Fawver, Villipede Publications
July 5, 2014 | 2:21 pm

U.S. independent Villipede Publications describes itself as "one the finest specialty publishers in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres," and produces not only fine limited editions of work by major horror, fantasy, and science fiction writers, as well as print and ebook publications of some excellent new authors. One of these is Kurt Fawver, whose first collection Forever, in Pieces has been  received with near adulation by some fellow writers and critics, with plaudits like "exquisite in every possible way" and "perfectly balanced between beautiful and vicious, clever and dark" being bandied about. The ebook presentation is ambitious, with diverse fonts and illustrations...