Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The EC Archives: Weird Science Volume Two by various authors and artists

(hb; 2007: graphic novel. Foreword by Paul Levitz)

From the back cover

"The second volume of Weird Science features classic stories written by Al Feldstein, and illustrated by such master artists as Wally Wood, Joe Orlando, Jack Kamen, Harvey Kurtzman and Feldstein himself. This stunning collection reprints issues Weird Science #7-12, a total of 24 complete breathtaking EC science fiction stories, originally published in 1951 and 1952."


This graphic novel is a art-nostalgic, wondrous gem of a book. Its space-themed morality tales, which borrow from pulp, horror and Biblical genres, are -- for the most part -- excellent works. There are a few stories whose twists and endings are disappointing, but even they are well-illustrated and entertaining in cheesy/genre-centric ways. It is worth owning.

Followed by The EC Archives: Weird Science Volume Three (by various authors and artists).

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Spike by Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss

(pb; 1980. First book in the Robert Hockney series.)

From the back cover

"From the jungles of Southeast Asia to the terrorist lairs of Hamburg and Rome, from high society orgies to the discovery of the Russian 'mole' who burrowed his way to he peaks of power in America, The Spike races through international political intrigue with shattering power. . . this. . . thriller unveils the KGB's sinister Directorate A and its 'disinformation' conspiracy -- a Red plot to turn the Western media into an unwitting Communist pawn in the Soviet drive for global supremacy.

"ROBERT HOCKNEY - He's a famous reporter who's covered all the big stories, but this news threatens to ignite the world.

"MICHEL RENARD - He's an ambitious French journalist whose politics -- and lust for money -- sweep him right into the claws of the KGB.

"TESSA TORRANCE - She's a movie star whose radical opinions drive her underground. . . to drugs, terrorism and a new guerrilla identity.

"ASTRID RENARD - She's a beautiful, voluptuous woman -- burning with desire for new clothes and kinky sex."


Spike is a racy, complex and exciting Cold War-era political thriller that spans decades, wars and the globe with multiple characters, whose politics and agendas provide the engine of the storyline.

The authors' writing is excellent for the most part, aside from last hundred pages. At this point, the pace slows and the tale wrap-up begins. It is also at this point that the story runs long and lacks the zing of the writing that precedes it.

I get that the authors are maintaining the realism of Spike by not rushing through the Washington-based proceedings but, given how well they managed the pace and realism of earlier events, it seems that they should have been able -- without much effort -- to match the excellence of the rest of the book.

Spike is still a superb and timely read, one worth owning. Followed by Monimbó.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Gillian's Marsh by Michael Faun

(eBook/print; 2015, 2017: novella)

From the back cover

"Gillian's Marsh 1866

"The treacherous wetlands where a young woman, Louella Lee, ends up after escaping the horrors of her puritanical home in the town of Gillianswick.

"Collapsing in the black woods near the marsh, she is found by Red, a loner woodsman, and their rendezvous sets a nightmarish wheel into motion.

"Whilst their unorthodox relationship blossoms, stakes are burning in Gillianswick after a series of strange disappearances.

"Convinced that the town is in the grip of black magic and deviltry, overzealous Cyrus Reiterman initiates a merciless witch-hunt that eventually draws him to the betraying bog, where baleful forces await."


This tale of witchcraft, lust, familial betrayal and violence, a malevolent tree and other horrors is a burn-through  and superb read, one that is worth owning if you are not squeamish and like your gory thrills raw with a nasty attitude.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

In Matto's Realm by Friedrich Glauser

(pb; 1936, 2005. Second novel in the Sergeant Studer series. Translated from the German by Mike Mitchell.)

From the back cover:

"A child-murderer escapes from a Swiss insane asylum. The stakes get higher when Detective Sergeant Studer discovers the director’s body, neck broken, in the boiler room of the madhouse. The intuitive Studer is drawn into the workings of an institution that darkly mirrors the world outside. Even he cannot escape the pull of the no man’s land between reason and madness where Matto, the spirit of insanity, reigns."


The second Sergeant Studer book is a decent, if overlong read. While Glauser's writing conveys well the sense of insanity in both the world and the institution, he lets a few of his characters ramble on too long about what often amounts to nothing. I understand that he is trying to create an atmosphere where one cannot trust his (or her) senses and that people dance around the veracity of their motives, but when your characters' villainy or better humanity are already somewhat transparent, psychobabble and other unnecessary obfuscations dilute the potential excellence of the story.

Matto's is a worthwhile book for its multilayered themes, mood and characters, just do not expect greatness -- rather, expect a sometimes interesting, flawed work from a fascinating writer.

Followed by Fever.


Two films resulted from this novel.

Matto regiert (English translation: Madness Rules) was released in Germany in 1947. Leopold Lindtberg directed and co-scripted the film. Alfred Neumann co-authored its screenplay.

Heinrich Gretler reprised his role as Wachtmeister Studer/Constable Studer (Gretler also played Studer in the 1939 film Wachtmeister Studer, also directed by Leopold Lindtberg).

Heinz Woester played Dir med Ernst Laduner. Irene Naef played Margrit Laduner.

Hans Gaugler played Leibundgut. Emil Gerber played Pfleger Jutzeler. Max Haufler played Pfleger Weyrauch. Emil Hegetschweiler played Pfleger Gilgen. Hans Kaes played Portier Dreyer.

Olaf Kubler played Herbert Kaplaun. Adolf Manz played Georg Caplaun.Walter Morath played Dr. med Neuveville. Elizabeth Muller played Schwester Irma Wasem.


Matto regiert aired on German television on September 14, 1980. Wolfgang Panzer directed the film, from Helmut Pigge's teleplay.

Hans Heinz Moser played Wachtmeister Studer. Walo Luond played Oberst Caplaun. Peter Leu played Herbert Caplaun.

Sybil Buri played Irma Wasem. Kurt Bigger played Dr. Blumenstein. Franz Lichtenhahn played Dr. Laduner. Carmen Klug played Frau Laduner.

Hans-Joachim Frick played Dreyer. Paul Buhlman played Gilgen. Fritz Nydegger played Schmocker. Franz Matter played Jutzeler.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Americosis Vol 1 by Haydn Wilks

(eBook; 2015: novella)

From the back cover

"A naked man arrives in New Mexico claiming to have traveled through time.
He says that he's America's savior.

"A bizarre sexually-transmitted infection in New York takes control of people's bodies and burns them out in an incessant drive to infect others.

"And a Presidential candidate is conversing with angels.
"His aides think he's crazy.
"The electorate might not agree with them.

"It could all be madness. It might be the apocalypse."


Americosis Vol 1 is a fun, fast-as-slut-sport New York-to-Texas tale containing sex, violence, gore, science fiction and humor. Wilks's work here is entertaining and worth owning, if you enjoy sketched-out characters and are okay with word rush apocalyptic set-ups for longer stories -- set-ups that have not-quite-cliffhanger endings.

Followed by Americosis Vol 2.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Redemption by John Everson

(pb; 2017: third book in The Curburides Chronicles)

From the back cover

"What if you woke up in hell?

Alex hadn't really thought of what would happen after she dragged Ariana through the portal to close the gate between worlds. She hadn't given sacrificing herself a thought, she'd just wanted to end the demonic summoning before it was too late.But when Alex wakes up on the other side, in the world of the Curburide, she has to think fast if she ever wants to see Joe Kieran, or Earth, again. Her only ally is an occult serial killer. Demons are searching for both of them, and there's nothing demons love more than human fear and pain. They feed on it. In the world of the Curburide, demons are everywhere.

And they're


Redemption is an excellent, fun, b-movie of a horror novel, with well-written characters, explicit and hellacious sex, gore and reader-hooking (and fast-moving) storytelling. Like its prequels, Covenant and Sacrifice, it is worth owning, with a finish that leaves this not-for-the-squeamish series open to continuation while successfully closing its immediate tale.

<em>The Freak</em> by Eleanor Robinson

(pb; 1980 ─ a.k.a. The Silverleaf Syndrome ) From the back cover “He was born monstrously deformed, a freak of nature. Possessed of ...