Wednesday, November 28, 2012

recent reads; The Taint and Atomic Robo

Well, despite the fact that I seemed exponentially to gain e'books (and a few print books) over the course of November, I haven't got a lot of reading done.

First up, Brian Lumley's The Taint and Other Novellas.  I started this in October, and decided to finish it off.

This book contains seven Cthulhu mythos novellas - mostly from Lumley's early work.  As such, a lot of the flavor is Lovecraft pastiching, but Lumley does manage to bring his own voice, and a couple of the stories stand out on their own.

"The Horror at Oakdeene" -  A writer who moonlights at a sanatorium finds himself drawn into the madness of a patient who dealt a little too closely with the occult.

"Born of the Winds" - This tale, though having a very convenient setup, was a good blend of the Wendigo legend with other Lovecraftian elements.  One of the standouts, and one of Lumley's own favorites.

"The Fairground Horror" - Two carny brothers dabble in the occult until one brother takes things too far.  Fun story, but one of those Lovecraftian pastiches that make it hard to suspend disbelief.  I wouldn't imagine carnies as the types to delve deeply, seriously into occult lore, idols and tomes.

"The Taint" - This tale is the most strongly restrictive.  Lumley was not only writing a mythos story, but one specifically for an Innsmouth anthology.  Yet, he manages to touch on Innsmouth tangentially while providing an original story with the best kind of ending - one I should have seen coming all along, but missed.  The clues were all there.

"Rising with Surtsey" - Again, two brothers dabble in the occult.  Touching on "The Call of Cthulhu" and some good underwater dream scenes.

"Lord of the Worms" -  My first introduction to Titus Crow.  Not surprisingly, I enjoyed this one the most.  It was the most original, with only the lightest Lovecraftian touches.  (though, the villain's machinations do owe something to Lovercraft's "The Thing on the Doorstep.")  It serves as a partial origin tale for Crow.  At least, he finally faces the occult and takes action on all his previously gained knowledge, and the adventure spurs him into becoming an occult investigator of the later stories.  I figured from the linked Black Gate article that I would enjoy Crow, and I did.  I will be hunting down the novels and stories over time.

"The House of the Temple" -  Enjoyable tale of a haunted Scot mansion and the nephew who inherits the estate.

All in all, this is a good mythos collection, though expectedly the early efforts feel somewhat pastiche.  I am not sure I'd want to pay the price of a Subterranean Press hardcover, but as an inexpensive e'book, it's certainly worth having.

Atomic Robo; Volume 2, Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War

Yes, Robo is my newest favorite thing!  This volume focuses on Robo's time during World War II.  It's great romp as he makes new friends with covert Allied agents and new enemies among the Third Reich.  He battles robotic style walker tanks, Wolfenstein style zombie super-soldiers and the like.  This comic is absolutely worth your time and money.

It's FUN!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Call of Cthulhu; the (silent) movie

I finally bought and watched 2005's The Call of Cthulhu silent movie.

H. P. Lovecraft's stories' phantasmagoric aspects have always made them hard to capture on film.  After years of producers trying with modern filmmaking, Sean Branney and Andrew Leman decided to go retro.  Why not make the movie as it would have been adapted when it was written - in the 1920s?  Silent movie, stop motion effects, models, etc.

It's a fun idea.  So, does it work?

Yes & no.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day; The Diary of Peter Kenny

Today is Veterans Day, and I'm late with this post.  But, I am squeezing it, and the official holiday observance is tomorrow.

This is the day to honor all veterans, of course.  But it has its root in Armistice Day of World War I, so I tend to think of my maternal grandfather on this day.

Peter Kenny was a Irish immigrant who became of a citizen of the United States in 1915.

In 1917, Uncle Sam drafted him into service.

It's funny that sometimes family stories are like onions - layers come out after many tellings and discussions.

I knew he died of cancer in the 1940s.  What I didn't know - until recently talking with my mother - is that in the end, he was at the V.A. hospital - and the wounded soldiers coming back from the WW II theaters were admiring him for what he had done.

No higher tribute I can think of.

When he was in France, he kept a "diary."  It is really a rough itinerary - a jotting of places he went, nothing deep or revealing.  It was just a pencilled pocket notebook, fading fast - I transcribed it years ago.

I get the feeling he wrote out some of the names phonetically.  And, some names might be hamlet names you wouldn't find on a map.  But someday I want to trace his route on a map - and maybe someday beyond that get to France and follow the journey.

It also includes names - I assume of comrades.  Whether he kept in touch with any of them after the war, I don't know.

If you want to read it, follow the "Read more >>" link...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Atomic Robo treasure chest

Not too long ago I discovered and posted about Atomic Robo.

Over the past few days, I made discoveries that are of interest.

First, here is a cache of free Atomic Robo comics, mostly the digital editions of the Free Comic Book Day issues from the last few years, and some others sprinkled in.

I especially enjoyed "Why Atomic Robo Hates Dr. Dinosaur" and "When Science Attacks"

Dr. Dinosaur is hilarious!

Secondly, I would have put money into this, but now I don't need to.  There was a Kickstarter campaign earlier in the year.  They are funded, and will be creating a short movie, Last Stop, which will be free on the Web when they are done.

You can view the Last Stop trailer here.

Exciting time to be discovering something new and vibrant!