Monday, June 27, 2016

Carnacki: The Lost Cases, now available from Amazon



Carnacki: The Lost Cases

This anthology is now available. I'm excited to be in this one. Instead of inventing new tales from scratch, editor Sam Gafford asked us to use pre-existing titles of  'cases/adventures' specifically mentioned by Carnacki in the original stories while he was investigating other cases.These are tales William Hope Hodgson - creator of Carnacki - himself never got around to writing.

It was a good challenge to write within the framework of Carnacki's world and the given title.

Here is the announced table-of-contents;

THE DARKNESS by A. F. KIDD
THE SILENT GARDEN by JASON C. ECKHARDT
THE SHADOW SUNS by JOHN HOWARD
THE STEEPLE MONSTER CASE by CHARLES R. RUTLEDGE
THE MOVING FUR CASE by PAUL R. McNAMEE
THE DELPHIC BEE by JOSH REYNOLDS
A HIDEOUS COMMUNION by JAMES GRACEY
THE DARK TRADE by JOHN LINWOOD GRANT
THE GRUNTING MAN by WILLIAM MEIKLE
THE DARK LIGHT by ROBERT M. PRICE
THE YELLOW FINGER EXPERIMENTS by JAMES BOJACIUK
THE GREY DOG by JOHN LINWOOD GRANT


(Kindle edition is also listed for pre-order)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

recent read; The Redeemed Captive




A few weekends ago we spent the weekend in western Massachusetts - "western" being the Pioneer Valley of the Connecticut River, not quite so west as the Berkshire mountains.

I took a very brief stop in historic Deerfield and got the bug to read about the raid of 1704. During Queen Anne's War, one cold winter morning, a combined force of native forces and French soldiers attacked the English settlement, carrying off over one hundred prisoners and marching them to Canada (New France.)

The gift/bookshop didn't have any very short reads about the raid. I forewent any thick history books and tried to go to a source - the narrative of John Williams - minister of Deerfield who was taken in the raid and spent three years in Canada until he was finally "redeemed" (prisoner exchange/ransomed) back to Boston.

I grabbed the Kindle edition. As it turns out, Williams's own narrative is hard to come by. The common edition available is a book written by one of his descendants decades after (1833.) The descendant gives highlights and excerpts from the original narrative.

Not having the original, I don't know how it was presented. But this later rehash is concerned with the details of the raid and the march to Canada for only about 20% of the volume. The other 80% describes all of Williams's hardships while living among the heathens (Indians) and idolaters (the French Catholics.)

What you get is much more The Temptation of Williams in the wilderness instead of Last of the Mohicans. He is tortured, beaten, roughly handled, debated by Jesuits on all sides. But he refuses to convert to evil Popery. I don't know if the original narrative has such an imbalance. But given that Williams was a Protestant (Anglican) minister, and so was his descendant, this is the track the book takes.

One thing I did find revealing was the French alliances with the Natives. It is clear - between the lines - that the French were in no way all-powerful in matters with their native allies. They were outnumbered and cautious. There are constant references to various French agents negotiating on Williams behalf - both with Natives and Jesuits priests who worked among the natives. The French could not simply order the Natives to comply.

Interesting read for a while but by the end I was skimming large portions.

p.s.- While searching for a cover image, I came across this nice, short article about the place of the execution of Williams's wife, Eunice. Great photographs.

The Ghost of Eunice Williams

Monday, June 20, 2016

recent read; Red Equinox


Red Equinox by Douglas Wynne

When some people ask or wonder if Lovecraftian fiction is played out and is not applicable to modern times, we now have an excellent example of where an author can take the genre.

Becca Philips is an adventurous photographer who explores urban decay of Boston when she is not combating her seasonal depression. One day, strange images appear through the lens of her camera. Soon, she is the epicenter of a coming apocalypse, hunted by both Starry Wisdom cultists and a government shadow police, SPECTRA. And, her own family ties back to Arkham might have far more to do with her involvement than she ever realized.

Douglas Wynne's Red Equinox is firmly set in the now, with well-done moments of updating the tropes - and here in this story they are the tropes, not the cliches. Wynne understands the alien blend of sorcery and technology at the heart of the horror in Lovecraft and does wonderful, twisted things with it. Wynne also hits many touchstones of Lovecraftian fiction. These "Easter eggs" should bring a grin to any Lovecraft Mythos fan as you come across them in the novel.

Wynne does well presenting real modern characters. Photographers, artists. Agent Brooks - a "cop" with a gambling problem - is the secondary major protagonist of the story and I enjoyed his character.

This story also drips with Boston locations which give the tale a strong veracity. Maybe if you're from out-of-town it might not work as well - or maybe, hopefully, it gives you a real feel for the city, further anchoring the novel along with its characters.

Red Equinox is a solid Lovecraftian novel for the early 21st century. If you are on the hunt for such a read, give this one a look.

Monday, June 6, 2016

recent read; The Wind Caller

In addition to cramming guest-of-honor reads in time for NECON this July, I'm also trying to read stuff by people attending - not just the headliners.

This one caught my eye for a song at the used book store a few months ago.


There is much conflict in the air of Richland, Arizona — the longstanding conflict between the "white" and the "red," the very modern conflict between landowners and a real estate developer, and even a conflict of trust between Native American schoolteacher Sky Berlander and her lover, Sam. But these all pale in comparison to what brews between Sky and her estranged grandfathers, as a feud which has divided their family will finally come to a head over an ancient and terrifying birthright — the power to control the wind itself.

I really enjoyed this one. I think it is my favorite NECON prep read for this year so far. The little blurb really tells it all. Gideon is a nasty, cantankerous old man who controls the wind for his own selfish means - hunting and worse. When his land is encroached, the winds blow harder. Arrayed against him are his granddaughter, and old Joseph - a good man who should have control over the wind but was too afraid of the power and responsibility.

This one delivers. It was a fast read, wind demons and folklore and solid characters pulled me right in. Maybe I'm partial to it because I've been keen on Ithaqua/Wendigo tales. Must have been all that windy weather we had the past half-year.

The Wind Caller is available as a ebook, too.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tragedy for The Tragically Hip



I wish that blog post title was a witty play on a song title or an album title, but it is not.

Shocking news out of Canada yesterday. Gordon Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, is suffering from terminal brain cancer. You can read the band's official statement here.

I listened to this band, heavily, during the late 1980s and early 1990s. One of my favorite live shows was a Tragically Hip concert.

The core four of their early albums were (are) great rock music. I still list them in my top lists of favorite music. The band fell off my radar after those albums. I felt like some of the punch went out. Those were the years between CDs and digital music. I didn't want to keep paying for an entire CD that disappointed me.

The band never quite had the traction in the US that they should have. Maybe it was their lyrical density. Their lyrics weren't often easy to catch on - often intentionally so, to let the audience paint their own pictures and to blend multiple ideas and/or images in one song.

How many rock bands name-check Shakespeare's Falstaff? Or discuss the sinking of the Bismarck? European conquest of North America?

Also, I learned only recently, being Canadian they were often writing about Canadian issues and news-stories. They were, as I read somewhere once on the web, "Canadian as fuck."

Those four early albums should be in any rock/hard-rock listener's collection.

UP TO HERE
ROAD APPLES
FULLY COMPLETELY
DAY FOR NIGHT

If I was stuck on the proverbial desert island, I'd go with ROAD APPLES.

My favorite song from ROAD APPLES?  "Born in the Water"


An explanation of the lyrics. It seems the US does not have a monopoly on attempted ostracization by way of "official language" declarations.

My favorite song from the Hip?  "Fifty Mission Cap"


An explanation of the lyrics.  A blending of the fifty mission requirement from Catch-22 with a plane crash search and a professional hockey player.

Both, lyrically, yes ... Canadian as fuck.

They will be going out "with their boots on."
So after 30-some years together as The Tragically Hip, thousands of shows, and hundreds of tours…

We’ve decided to do another one.

This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us.
So after 30-some years together as The Tragically Hip, thousands of shows, and hundreds of tours…
We’ve decided to do another one.
This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us.
- See more at: http://www.thehip.com/news/an-important-message-from-the-band/#sthash.IPovyaX1.gldhGBeL.dpuf So after 30-some years together as The Tragically Hip, thousands of shows, and hundreds of tours…
So after 30-some years together as The Tragically Hip, thousands of shows, and hundreds of tours…
We’ve decided to do another one.
This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us.
- See more at: http://www.thehip.com/news/an-important-message-from-the-band/#sthash.IPovyaX1.gldhGBeL.dpuf

Monday, May 23, 2016

recent read; The Violent Land


"From the great Brazilian author, an exotic tale of greed, madness, and a dispute between two powerful families over land on the cocoa-rich coast of Bahia

The siren song of the lush, cocoa-growing forests of Bahia lures them all—the adventurers, the assassins, the gamblers, the brave and beautiful women. It is not a gentle song, but a song of greed, madness, and blood. It is a song that promises riches untold, or death for the price of a swig of rum . . . a song most cannot resist—until it is too late..."


Not what I was expecting. I'm not saying it was bad, but I went in with different expectations. I thought I would get a rough & tumble Western set in Brazilian cocoa land.

But it reads more like a prime time soap opera like DALLAS.

Lots of players, movers. A lot of how the cocoa land corrupts the soul and the flesh.  Although the introduction hinted there might be cocoa/coco industry parallels, the cocoa production doesn't reach the US by the end of the novel.

It is more akin to stories about boom oil or gold rushes.

It's very nice writing, some good passages. Surprisingly open about sex and prostitutes. But written south-of-the-border, that's not too surprising. Though, if it reached the US when it was written (1947) I bet it would have been a firestorm.

The real bummer is how much of the gun fighting takes place off page. Far too much telling, not enough showing.

Anyway. Again - not bad - but not what I expected.

Your mileage may vary.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

recent read; The Wolves of London

The Wolves of London by Mark Morris

With NECON fast approaching (and sold out,) I've started some reads for the occasion, works from both guests of honor and other attendees.

Mark Morris is one guest of honor, who will be coming all the way from the UK to attend. The Wolves of London popped up at HamiltonBook for a song, so I gave it a try.

Morris writes and edits horror, as I understand. This book is a bit more of a urban fantasy vein, I guess. It comes close to defying categorization - which is good.

This story starts off as a crime drama. A reformed convict, Alex Locke, finds himself drawn back into the criminal underworld - first to save his older daughter from hoodlums and then in a desperate race to find his kidnapped younger daughter. Coerced into stealing "the Obsidian heart," Alex soon encounters strange happenings that could be sorcery or science or supernatural. Things spiral further and further out of control and get stranger as the story unfolds. Is it all happenstance, or has Alex been getting setup by strange forces for a very long time?

This story had unpredictable twists, which I enjoyed. Once the plot enters the supernatural territory, Morris brings his horror chops to bear. If this is "urban fantasy" it is not of the "vampires, elves and werewolf races" sort. There are some real monsters here. Creepy and original.

In the old days, I'd just bop into a bookstore. I had no Internet pre-knowledge of upcoming releases or past releases I felt I needed to read. I'd buy what grabbed me from the shelf. I can safely say, The Wolves of London would have been such a book.

While I'm not rushing onto the next book (and the third in the trilogy is due out later this year,) I did find it interesting and enjoyable enough. I just have a really large list of things I want to read. I am curious about the third book which (minor spoiler) takes place in Word War I, thanks to time travel. I'll probably finish out the trilogy at some point in the future.