Saturday, May 27, 2017

Splatterpunk zine (issue 8) edited by Jack Bantry

(2017; horror/speculative fiction zine)


Overall review

If you are looking for a zine that lives up to its title, this might be a worthwhile purchase for you. The writing is raw and engaging, in a viscous, splatterific and dark-hearted way. Not only that, there are interviews with authors Ray Garton, David Agranoff and Sean Leonard.


Stories

1.)  "Reprising Her Role" -- Bracken MacLeod: A porno shoot goes awry, leading to revenge and death. Solid story, well-written.


2.)  "NSFW" -- Nathan Robinson: Vivid and gory scene showing office sex taken to new, ultraviolent levels. Visually, it recalls the spirit of David Cronenberg's 1975 film Shivers. Readers who want to know the cause and backstory of events being shown may be disappointed, since "NSFW" does not provide that satisfaction -- it reads like a good first-draft writing exercise.


3.) "Two Blocks Down, One Block Left" -- Ryan C. Thomas: Excellent, intriguing work about a skinless man who hangs out near school yards. This is my favorite story in this issue.


4.)  "Dermatobia Hominis" -- Gabino Inglesias: A young man's sins inspire a slow, terrible punishment. Good tale, entertaining.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Quicksand House by Carlton Mellick III

(pb; 2013)

From the back cover

"Tick and Polly have never met their parents before. They live in the same house with them, they dream about them every night, they share the same flesh and blood, yet for some reason their parents have never found the time to visit them even once since they were born. Living in a dark corner of their parents' vast crumbling mansion, the children long for the day when they will finally be held in their mother's loving arms for the first time... But that day seems to never come. They worry their parents have long since forgotten about them.

"When the machines that provide them with food and water stop functioning, the children are forced to venture out of the nursery to find their parents on their own. But the rest of the house is much larger and stranger than they ever could have imagined. The maze-like hallways are dark and seem to go on forever, deranged creatures lurk in every shadow, and the bodies of long-dead children litter the abandoned storerooms. Every minute out of the nursery is a constant battle for survival. And the deeper into the house they go, the more they must unravel the mysteries surrounding their past and the world they've grown up in, if they ever hope to meet the parents they've always longed to see."



Review

Quicksand is an excellent mixture of mystery, science fiction, horror and bizarro fiction, one worth owning. What Mellick has that so many other bizarro authors lack is tight editing, good characterization (which lends itself to a strange sense warmth, bond between key characters) and a willingness to experiment with genre expectations. This is one of my favorite reads of 2017.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Feverish Fiction issue #4 (March 2017) edited by Michael Faun

(2017; dark/horror/speculative fiction magazine. Published by Sleazy Viking Press.)


Overall review

Any magazine whose "Editor's Note" is made up of the lyrics to The Kinks' "Welcome to Sleazy Town" is bound to be interesting (in a good way).


Of course, it comes as not surprise that the fourth, limited-run issue of Feverish Fiction is just as entertaining as its previous issues. A few of the B-flick horror/science fiction stories did not grab me, but it was a matter of personal preference, not faulty writing.  

In addition, there is the usual (semi-)nude female pin-ups, whose themes run between Seventies schtick and Hammer Film Gothicity. One of the high points of this issue is Terry Bizarro's colorful, gory painting ("Unigore Forest"), a memorable piece of art.

This is worth purchasing, if you are an adult fan of small press magazines and horror, science fiction and sex microfiction.


Stories, other works

1.) "Amidst the Mangrove" (poem) -- Lee Clark Zumpe: Solid, chatty "island of strange horror"-themed versework.


2.)  "The Occult Gate of the Comic Book Writer" (story) - Jerry Williams: A comic book writer's work inspires Lovecraftian consequences. Fun, entertaining work that made me think of the 1994 John Carpenter film In the Mouth of Madness.


3.)  "Automaton Word Wounds" (story) -- S.C. Burke:Stream-of-consciousness prose poem about typing, gore and other cerebral matters.


4.)  "The Penis Goblins" (poem) -- Justin A. Mank: Okay limerick about dangerous creatures with lusty, bloody hobbies.


5.)  "Planet of the Volcano Spiders" (story) -- Alex S. Johnson: Quirky, funny and sexy tale about a woman whose possible gig as a literal sacrifice impels her to practical action. This is an excellent read, with a heroine worth rooting for.


6.)  "Statue Playmate" (story) -- Donald Armfield: A freaky brutal rape by a dwarf is not the worst thing that could happen, as one woman finds out.

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The sixth and final issue of Feverish Fiction is on sale now. If you are interested in buying a copy, best jump to it, because -- as noted above -- each issue is a limited-run work, and they sell out fast.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

(hb; 2016)

From the back cover

"Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, twenty-two year old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned Atticus’s great grandmother—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

"At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction."



Review

 Lovecraft is an entertaining, mainstream and cinematic collection of event- and character-linked stories that seamlessly weaves Lovecraftian horror, leavening humor and racial violence into a word-efficient tale with a climax that brings together all the characters and plot strings that came before it. This is an excellent fractured novel, one of my favorite reads of 2017.

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In May 2017, it was announced that Lovecraft will soon be the basis for a forthcoming HBO horror anthology series, produced by Jordan Peele, J.J.Abrams and Misha Green.

<em>The Guns of Avalon</em> by Roger Zelazny

(hb; 1972: second novelette in The Chronicles of Amber quintology) From the inside " Across the worlds of Shadow, Corwin, p...