Tuesday, August 29, 2017
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
My review of the novella will be posted here, tomorrow (August 19). Meanwhile, enjoy Mark's guest post:
WHY I LOVE ZOMBIES
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.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Review: MASS HYSTERIA by Michael Patrick Hicks
Over decades, humanity has worried about an apocalypse, constructing disparate possibilities: nuclear war, comets, asteroids, meteors, extraterrestrial invasions, even eclipses (as earlier generations feared). In the last several decades, we've also learned to fear chemical and biological warfare, and genetically engineered or naturally occurring pandemics. Don't forget our Sun's delivery of solar flares, electromagnetic pulses, and coronal mass ejections. It's enough to make a thinking person hide.
MASS HYSTERIA very neatly ties several possibilities into one implacable package, delivering the horror straight to Earth in a tide of meteor impacts. You can run, but not very far and not very fast. I say "implacable" and that is exactly the definition of this one-size-fits-all pandemic: first animals, next humans (who prove to be another species of animal after all--there is no human "high moral ground" here. Kindness, compassion, even family feeling, are eradicated in an instant, virulently and graphically so.)
MASS HYSTERIA (the title proves literally true, of many species) is contemporary science fiction coupled with extreme horror. It is not-not-NOT for the faint of heart. It is not for the easily-offended. If you are an animal lover, watch out. The world as we know it has become a massively ugly mess, and survival means strength, swiftness, and base instincts; even then, survival is not guaranteed. Every single living being is pitted against all others.
That said, I was tremendously excited for the opportunity to review MASS HYSTERIA. That excitement continued throughout the book and on to the ("Oh my! I can't believe it devolved to this!") end. The plotting stayed consistent throughout. So yes, I shouldn't have been startled at the ending. Author Michael Patrick Hicks transported me to a world where the old phrase "dog-eat-dog" can't begin to do justice. He made this new situation unending and plausible. May it never come to pass.
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Saturday, August 12, 2017
My Reading Goal:
IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote
SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut
TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller
TROPIC OF CAPRICORN by Henry Miller
THE ANAIS NIN READER by Anais Nin
DELTA OF VENUS by Anais Nin
HENRY AND JUNE by Anais Nin
I feel "in the spirit" and I am issuing myself a personal challenge to read a minimum of 2 Banned or Challenged Books each month from now through 2018.
Read FAHRENHEIT 451
Reviews and comments will be published Sept. 25 and 26.
Sunday, August 6, 2017
Review: THE RAINBOW VIRUS by Dennis Meredith
I was intrigued by the initial premise of this novel (a bio-engineered virus which alters skin pigmentation in various ethnicities) and then engrossed by the "big picture issues" presented. Biological warfare has long been an interest/concern of mine, as has the alteration of naturally occurring viruses and toxic chemicals to use in biological weaponry. It's one thing to worry about foreign governments utilizing bio-weapons; here is an individual scientist on the loose with vast capability.
Author Dennis Meredith keeps the pages turning, and leaves readers with much to ponder.
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