Wild Fell by Michael Rowe
Wild Fell begins in the small town of Alvina, Ontario, in 1960, when Sean Schwartz asks his high school sweetheart, Brenda Egan, if she believes in ghosts. Whether he’s trying to scare her into cuddling closer, looking for some excitement to end the summer before school begins again, or is entirely sincere in his question, his question is a prelude to asking Brenda if she’ll cross a mile of Devil’s Lake to Blackmore Island to explore the remains of a mansion called Wild Fell. It takes some persuading, but Brenda reluctantly agrees, only to change her mind when they’re halfway there, suddenly frightened. Sean is disappointed, maybe angry, but the evening is saved by an illicit bottle of wine and a bonfire. But Wild Fell isn’t done with them, and the curtain of the prologue falls as a legend begins.
Michael Rowe sets his hook firmly with this prologue, but then he lets the line ou... Read More
Wild Fell by Michael Rowe
Beware the Dark is a new horror and dark art magazine currently scheduled to be published three times per year. A new horror magazine is always good news, as there seems to be much more horror being written than there are outlets in which to publish it (which explains why Beware the Dark is presently closed to submissions). This magazine suggests, however, that the reason there are so few outlets is that there is little good horror being written. I’m hoping that further editions of the magazine improve on the first, which was disappointing.
Issue 1 begins with “Potential” by Ramsey Campbell. Scoring a story by Campbell to open a new magazine would normally be a triumph, except that this story, a reprint, is very minor Campbell indeed. First published in 1973, this tale of a be-in has not aged well. The protagonist, Charles, misses out on the plastic bells, but snags one of the last paper flowers t... Read More
Not Less Than Gods by Kage Baker
Fans of THE COMPANY novels of Kage Baker — the series that began with In the Garden of Iden and features the redoubtable Mendoza, along with other immortals and secret societies — need to know no more than that this novel comprises the back story of Edward Alton Fairfax-Bell.
Edward Alton Fairfax-Bell is a foundling, the bastard son of noble parents who had a tryst in 1924. He was adopted as an infant by a family suffering from the loss of their own infant son, but rejected by his adoptive mother, and therefore essentially raised by servants. At the age of 11, he is taken under the care of Dr. Nennys, the headmaster of a boarding school to which he is quickly ushered. He does well, grows to a very tall manhood (just shy of seven feet, in fact), and joins the Navy. Unfortunately, the Navy doesn’t quite meet his ideals, but is full of bounders and scoundrels — one of wh... Read More
November means that it’s already the time of year when “year’s best books” lists start getting published. Publishers Weekly is the first out of the gate, with suggestions in many categories. Amazon has its lists out, too (including this list of the best Kindle books of the year). And so does Romantic Times, with many categories that deal with fantasy literature (scroll down. . . keep scrolling. . . there you are!). And various Read More
Here’s a cool Kickstarter: a Joe R. Lansdale novella with illustrations by Santiago Caruso. Lots of nice goodies for supporters, and a gorgeous project. The Kickstarter is in its last few days, and doesn’t have far to go to get over the top, so go see what you can do!
The winners of the World Fantasy Awards have been announced.
The winners of the British Fantasy Awards have been announced.
Issue 131 is the fifth anniversary issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and it has five extraordinary tales. The first is “Cherry Blossoms on the River of Souls” by Richard Parks. Parks’ tales, usually set in an unnamed Asian country that bears a close resemblance to Japan, often deal with characters who need to find themselves. This tale is no different. Hiroshi, a boy, tends to stare down a dry well in much of his free time, for to him the well is full of music. No one else can hear it, though. Hiroshi’s uncle tries to dissuade him from listening to the well, instead encouraging him to engage in usual childhood pursuits, but Hiroshi finds the games of children tedious, unchanging and, well, childish. Hiroshi finally decides to go into the well to find out what is there. His experiences can be summed up in a thought he has again and again: “This is a very strange cave.” There is much for him to learn there, however, and we learn those ... Read More
The Night Boat by Robert R. McCammon
The Night Boat was Robert R. McCammon’s third published novel, first appearing in 1980. Now Subterranean Press has brought it back as a (sold out) limited edition, and also made it available in e-book format for the first time. It betrays some of the faults of a then-new writer, but also has considerable power in its portrayal of Nazi submariners, as terrifying 35 years after the end of World War II as they were in the days when they lurked in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean — if not more so.
David Moore, the principal protagonist of the novel, lives on Coquina Island in the Carribbean Sea, where he owns a small hotel on the largely undeveloped island. He is a scuba diver as well, and, as the book opens, he is diving alone on the edge of a shelf, in an area known as th... Read More
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
You know what you’ve got the moment you catch sight of Patrick Rothfuss’s debut novel, The Name of the Wind. There it is, your standard, big, fat, epic fantasy. If you’re an experienced fantasy reader, you can tell from the cover of the guy with the lute (one of two dust jackets with which the book was published) that it’s heroic fantasy in a world with magic, Faery, fighting and words of power. And, in fact, upon reading the novel you will find that all the tropes are here, from the university where magic is taught to mysterious beasts to the power of cold iron.
However comfortable the tropes are, though, this book offers something new within a familiar framework. For one thing, The Name of the Wind is so well-written that you will reach page 662 wishing this weren’t the first of an unfinished trilogy (though you’ll be happy that Volume Two, The ... Read More
Parasite by Mira Grant
Mira Grant is the science fiction side of Seanan McGuire, the fantasy writer responsible for the OCTOBER DAYE and INCRYPTID fantasy series. Her last outing was the NEWSFLESH trilogy, which I loved (especially the first book, Feed). Now she’s published the first novel in the PARASITOLOGY duology, Parasite. And it’s a doozy.
Parasitology opens with the transcription of a video recordin... Read More
If you’re looking for something spooky to read for Halloween, John DeNardo has some suggestions. The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 24, edited by Stephen Jones, just landed in this house last week, so I’m all set.
It’s good news for Americans that Jo Fletcher Books is moving into the American market; I’ve been drooling over books put out by this publisher for some time now, and being able to get my hands on great British fiction makes me one happy reader. Jo Fletcher explains the publishing house’s decision in a great intervie... Read More
Nightmare is celebrating its first anniversary with Issue 13, and it starts off with a humdinger of a story by Norman Partridge called “10/31: Bloody Mary.” The use of the date is a deliberate reminder of 9/11, and connotes a catastrophe of equal or greater weight. On 10/31 — this year, next year, last year, we’re never told — all of the monsters became real. Somehow, on Halloween, “werewolves and witches, mummies and zombies, and other nameless things the boy would rather never see” become real. The boy (the protagonist of the story) hides during the day, never going out to forage for food and other necessities of life until night. He is utterly alone. Then one day a young woman appears, one who is very fast with her sawed-off shotgun when a Jack o’ Lantern attacks. She takes the boy under her wing and teaches him how to fight back instead of hide. The plot isn’t particularly new, and it goes much as you would expect it to; ... Read More
Today we welcome Christopher Golden whose short story collection Tell My Sorrows to the Stones was published a few weeks ago (here’s my review). He’s here to talk about the origins of a couple of the stories in this collection and to ask you about short stories that are meaningful to you. One random commenter will win a copy of Tell My Sorrows to the Stones.
Novels are long-term relationships. Short stories, on the other hand… short stories are flings. Some of them are quick and tawdry one night stands while othe... Read More
Tell My Sorrows to the Stones by Christopher Golden
Christopher Golden says in his introduction to Tell My Sorrows to the Stones (a quotation from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, perhaps Shakespeare’s cruelest play), “A collection of short stories is like the strange history of a period in a writer’s life[.]” This crystallized my thinking about short story collections, as I become more and more of a reader of short science fiction, fantasy and horror: a collection gives you a picture of a writer, and that writer’s concerns, at a particular time in his or her life. Not that there is anything autobiographical in the themes and variations; a writer's imagination is his or her imagination, not his or her life. But the attentive reader will note that in a collection the same situations arise (such as... Read More
The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association has named its 2013 Aurora Award winners. Top honors for best novel go to Tanya Huff for The Silvered.
Neil Gaiman’s novel Neverwhere has been banned by a New Mexico school after a single complaint about its alleged “sexual innuendos and harsh language.” I’ve read the novel, and had no such reaction to it at all. In fact, I’d think that Read More
The September/October 2013 issue of Interzone opens with "Ad Astra" by Carole Johnstone. A married couple has been sent together to the explore the solar system, all the way out to Pluto and back. After years of travel together with only each other for company, they barely speak to each other, though they still have sex very frequently — sex that seems more like battle than love. They’ve been steadily absorbing radiation, and the narrator, Lena, carries out monthly medical checks on them, growing increasingly concerned at the exposure levels. What Lena fears most, though, is that they never turned back after they reached Pluto, and are now in the Cuiper Belt; they will keep moving out forever, she thinks, unsatisfactory astronauts who were intentionally sacrificed by the government as an experiment in long-term space flight. But Rick will not confirm Lena’s suspicions, no matter how much she begs. Is she imagining it? Is Rick in... Read More