Sunday, September 24, 2017


OCEANS: The Anthology (Frontiers of Speculative Fiction, #2)OCEANS: The Anthology by Ken Liu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: OCEANS: THE ANTHOLOGY (Various Authors; edited Daniel Arthur Smith)

What a wonderfully imaginative, creatively speculative, multi-author collection! I loved it! I was intrigued by the title, as I have been an aficionado of the Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic sub-genres for nearly six decades, and because over the last couple of years that interest has focused on rising sea levels, climate change, and Lovecraftian apocalypses. I found plenty to gratify my intrigue here, and OCEANS: THE ANTHOLOGY has found a place on my special rereader shelf. You can't go wrong here, as there is much from which to choose, all of it guaranteed to stretch the imagination.

Kindle release Sept. 26 2017

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Monday, September 18, 2017


The War of the WorldsThe War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. Wells

This is an amazingly enjoyable novel. Although at times I wanted to shake our reckless protagonist, or at least redirect him {much as one wants to redirect the path of horror film characters away from the cellar, or the forest}, I still reveled in his high intellect and philosophizing. Even his mostly unexpressed contempt for the rest of humanity resonated. Then, too, the action! I have long read of the effect Orson Welles' radio broadcast caused: Martians invading New Jersey!! Author H. G. Wells made his fictional invasion horrifying too: the implacability!! I read this novel specifically before reading Stephen Baxter' s excellent sequel, THE MASSACRE OF MANKIND, but reading THE WAR OF THE WORLDS was valuable in itself.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Review_THE MEDUSA CHRONICLES by Stephen Baxter and Alistair Reynolds

The Medusa ChroniclesThe Medusa Chronicles by Stephen Baxter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE MEDUSA CHRONICLES by Stephen Baxter and Alistair Reynolds

Certain special authors inspire and fulfill my love of hard science fiction and of science, including Stephen Baxter, Greg Bear, Peter F. Hamilton, and the late master Arthur C. Clarke. Each of these make science fiction and its science sing.

THE MEDUSA CHRONICLES is a sequel to Clarke's novella "A Meeting with Medusa." I so admired Clarke's protagonist Howard Falcon, and his starring role in THE MEDUSA CHRONICLES has intensified my total admiration. Baxter and Reynolds weave a solar-system wide tapestry worthy of Clarke's original vision, wrapping hard science in imaginative ethics and philosophical considerations--on the grand scale.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

CARTER & LOVECRAFT by Jonathan Howard_Review

Carter & LovecraftCarter & Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CARTER & LOVECRAFT by Jonathan Howard

I am so totally impressed with CARTER & LOVECRAFT: very faithful to the master, and expands the Mythos in an unexpected direction. I love to read of science, and of metaphysics tautly combined with science. I won't go into too much detail, so as not to spoil the many surprises; suffice it to state, if you love Lovecraft, or love the Mythos, you will surely be awestruck.

For those who aren't Lovecraft fanboys and fangirls, let me say that Jonathan Howard is a superb novelist. Despite the very serious nature of the plot, his tone is laid back, he treats the horrors so subtly, so that they really are startling and frightening because so unexpected! I have in mind several particular scenes, exquisitely undertaken. Jonathan Howard definitely is firmly established in the Lovecraft Mythos pantheon.

I am delighted to discover CARTER & LOVECRAFT. I can't imagine anyone not loving this novel, and I am ecstatically anticipating the release of the sequel in November!

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

THE EXCHANGE STUDENT by Mark Allan Gunnells

The Exchange StudentThe Exchange Student by Mark Allan Gunnells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE EXCHANGE STUDENT by Mark Allan Gunnells

Usually I eschew romance fiction, but THE EXCHANGE STUDENT is a different story. An alternate reality, sci-fi, finely wrought emotionally, tear jerking romance, this story carved itself into my heart and into my dreams (literally). In an alternate 2017, time travel exists. Regulated by a commission, certain applicants are allowed to visit other times, to stay with host families, under supervision of time guardians. Seventeen-year-old Trevor wants to learn firsthand about the intensifying Civil Rights Movement, so he visits 1963. Oh my! Not only does he encounter both ignorance and rampant bigotry, he experiences interpersonal relationships, dysfunctional home, and jealousy turned vengeful. He also (lucky fellow) falls deeply and permanently in love ("stoned in love," to borrow an idiom of the era). Wound up in this is a rebellious group called Revisionists who want to "fix" history by changing events, such as preventing JFK' s assassination. Sounds good, but altering historical events alters the subsequent timeline.

I really loved this emotionally wrenching story and count it a re-reader.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Cutting Block Single Slices Volume 1Cutting Block Single Slices Volume 1 by Patrick Beltran
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Cutting Block Single Slices Volume 1
(Anthology) Patrick Beltran, ed.

Ten thoughtful stories by various authors create a venue to take the reader away from consensus reality, to shake us up and make us wonder "Could it really be possible?" I will categorize this collection as both speculative and horror, because of the "Could it be?" factor which operates so strongly throughout. Each story is worth the read (and the provoking of thought), but each reader will undoubtedly find particular personal favorites. For me, those are:
"Jackson House," "Florie Detail," "Dead Letter Department," and "Just After Sunset, In the Second Drawing Room Garden."

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Guest Post by Mark Allan Gunnells

Mark Allan Gunnells is a prolific author whose novella ASYLUM is currently featured.


My review of the novella will be posted here, tomorrow (August 19). Meanwhile, enjoy Mark's guest post:


Zombie tales—be it in fiction, television, movies, even video games—has been hot for quite a while, and yet for all the fans of zombie stories, there is an equally vocal contingent of people who decry them. They say that zombie tales oversaturate the market and are actually killing horror. While I understand that certain types of stories aren’t for everyone, I am firmly in the camp of those that love a good zombie tale.

And the more traditional the better! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy when a storyteller employs a fresh and unexpected take on something familiar to the audience, but for me there’s something about the traditional, mindless zombie that just really appeals. I think there are several reasons for this.

First, other traditional horror monsters like vampires and even werewolves often have personality and a tortured quality that make them the focus of the story. That can be quite enjoyable (I’m a fan of all the classic monsters), but with the zombie being such a blank slate, it opens up the story to focus more on the protagonists, the human drama that comes from trying to survive something that cannot be reasoned with, that is driven purely by an instinct to kill. A lack of deeper motivation makes the zombie somehow more frightening.

As an extension of this point, the traditional zombie can often be used as a mere framework for telling very human stories. You get a band of disparate survivors together (trapped in a farmhouse or a mall or a bunker, or in the case of some of my work a gay club or a college dorm building), and then you can start to study group dynamics, personality conflicts, power struggles, bigotry, mental instability. This type of story paves the way for creating a microcosm of society in which you can deal with a lot of serious issues in an exciting and entertaining fashion.

What the late George Romero showed so powerfully in his own films was that zombie stories are perfect vehicles for social commentary that doesn’t become overly preachy. I can respect that, a story that engages as well as provokes thought and discussion.

>P> All of these things were in my mind when I sat down to write ASYLUM, my first real piece of zombie fiction. I went with a very traditional type of mindless zombie, and a familiar setup, having a group of characters trapped inside a gay club while the undead tried to force their way in. I used this as a springboard for a story about prejudice and self-loathing and insecurity and addiction, all wrapped up in what I think turned out to be a very entertaining piece of fiction. I was able to continue this in “Lunatics Running the Asylum,” a short story that picks up where the novella leaves off which is included in the new edition from Apex Publications.

I realize that just by nature of being a classic zombie tale, there are certain people out there that won’t even give ASYLUM a try, but as a writer I have to be true to my vision, my passions. I love zombie stories, and I’m happy to put my own stamp on the subgenre.

Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf.