The Caretaker of Lorne Field
Jack Durkin has inherited the job of clearing Lorne Field from his father, who in turn inherited it from his father, who in turn inherited it from his father, and so on and son going back 300 years. You see the weeds of Lorne Field aren’t just any weeds but maelvelont, intelligent, vicious creatures that if left to grow will destroy the world in days. Or so Durkin believes much to the chagrin of his wife and children who endure his claims that he is saving the world every day, while being forced to live in near poverty since the caretaker’s stipend isn’t what it used to be.
Lisa Morton’s The Lucid Dreaming won the 2009 Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction and is still available from Horror Mall in a signed/numbered limited edition trade for around 16.00. In addition to a great story you also get some wonderful art from artist Zach McCain. The Lucid Dreaming takes the best of “survival horror” from managing to invoke the humor of Zombieland, the destruction and devastation from The Stand, and the isolation from 28 Days Later’s stellar opening scene while maintaining a flair all of its own. Ashley, aka Spike, a Los Angeles native and schizophrenic has been committed after forgetting to taker medication. While at the state-run institution the young woman notes a strange increase in the population and not long after is surprised to find her door opened by her now seemingly crazy nurse and she is let out into a world, quite literally, gone mad.
At 90 pages the pacing of this novella is kept brisk. Spike is direct and no-nonsense when it comes to her narration; frank and unapologetic to both the reader and other characters met during her long strange trip. The horror elements are light and the atmosphere and tone of the novel remains surprisingly bright. Spike’s realist attitude is a breath of fresh air and she proves a surprisingly resourceful heroine. Much like in Stephen King’s The Mist, and in many other survival tales, the real threat emerges from other survivors. In the case of The Lucid Dreaming, that threat emerges from a ranch operated by an opportunistic woman called Mama. Without lingering too much on the atmosphere of oppression and inhumane treatment of other people (particularly women) Morton manages to only scratch the surface just enough to reveal the foul stench of humankind’s willingness to maim and kill one another in order to maintain a feeble and tenuous grip on power.
The narrative in The Lucid Dreaming is relayed to an unknown captive and, while the novella’s end offers a strong hint on precisely who that might be, it is something never revealed outright. The Lucid Dreaming is a self contained tale but one that hints at the possibility of more; which I fervently hope we will see. While $16 for a 90 page novella might sound like a bit much I think that the price was definitely worth the story, especially with McCain’s gorgeous black and white drawings scattered amongst the pages. This is really a great little story that I highly recommend fans of horror and particularly post-apocalyptic fiction take a look at. Thankfully there is a preview over on scribd so go due yourself a favor and take a look.
Nathan Dinneck has returned home as the pastor of the Baptist church he grew up in. Unfortunately he has brought with him recurring nightmares of a long march to a sacrificial altar; nightmares that have begun to bleed into his waking life. He has also returned home to find his parent’s relationship strained due to his father having turned from church and into the arms of the somewhat shady Hillcrest Men’s Club lead by the sinister Peter Quinn. Thus begins Solomon’s Grave by Daniel G. Keohane, a finalist for the 2009 Stoker Award for First Novel.
Ok, there will be a review up later, in the meantime “enjoy” this whiny semi-coherent rant.
Last year, when doing my October month of horror fiction (and likely at least once before that) I’ve mentioned the difficulty I’ve had in finding and locating new and interesting horror fiction. While my reading has been slow this month I struggled again this year in trying to track down horror fiction to read. In the course of my brief and hardly comprehensive search for new fiction of the supernatural and macabre I’ve still struggled to find titles.
There is a lengthy rant about the Batman titles below this so before I subject you all to that here is my pick from last week (I’ll get this thing out more timely soon, I swear!).
This title is very very unabashed a riff of the classic film Big. Ollie Jansen is wheel chair bound due to his multiple sclerosis but maintains an upbeat attitude. Ollie is a huge fan of the somewhat dorky and very old-school Superman riff called Superior. Then a space monkey shows up; the space monkey is Superior’s Zoltan. Needless to say this is another one to watch from Millar who seems to have cornered the market on combining superheroics and supervillainry with a real world approach. Yu has definitely improved as an artist over the years, his stint on New Avenger having honed his skills in portraying big superhero action without sacrificing his attention to detail. Excellent stuff here and I highly recommend picking up a copy!
Handling the Undead
John Adjvide Lindqvist
St. Martins, 2010ho
So my Halloween horror reading is going slowly. The Great Email Hacking of 2010 has caused my interactions with internet over the last few weeks to be a bit tentative at best not to mention that The Terror by Dan Simmons isn’t the most fast paced novel and is about as slow moving as the arctic ice it’s set in, but more on that later. For those that don’t know John Adjvide Lingvist is the author who wrote the novel called Let the Right One In/Let Me In which was then turned into a Swedish film and recently “localized” (almost shot-for-shot from what I’ve heard) in an American remake. Handling the Undead is Lingvist’s second novel and takes the same subtle and human approach to vampirism he used in his debut and this time applies it to zombies.
I buy a lot of comics. More than I should. I rarely talk about them. I’m going to due my best to change that right here. I won’t go into detail with every comic I’ve bought in a given week rather I’ll try to highlight the standouts from the previous week. Last Thursday’s email debacle kept me occupied to the point of major distraction so I missed on posting this then. Last week was an all Marvel week for me with three titles that had me pretty well floored (note: All three featured Wolverine, this is a problem Marvel has. That dude is everywhere).
Chasing the Dragon is yet another fine bit of fiction released by the folks at Chizine Publications. This short novella features a modern twist on the heroic legend of St. George and the Dragon. The title character of Chasing the Dragon is Georgia Quincy, the latest and potentially last, in a long line of ancient dragon slayers stretching as far back as the Summerian Marduk (slayer of Tiamat) and including other such luminaries as Sigfried (slayer of Fafnir) and Thor (slayer of Jörmungandr), amongst countless more. Indeed as her father’s Book of Ascalon reveals all of these tales are in truth a retelling of the same tale over and over again.
As I mentioned Chasing the Dragon is a short novella, a pocket-sized book clocking in at 135 pages. It reads fast but its brevity and machine gun pacing belie the surprising depth of the world that Kaufmann manages to evoke. By tying his tale into a network of history and legend Kaufmann manages to lend an added layer of depth to his world without any lengthy exposition. Flashbacks to Georgia’s youth and experiences with her father provide both needed background and help enhance the tragedy that forms the foundation of her character and heroic role.
UPDATE 3: OK I am once again back in my gmail account now for just under 24 hours. I’m still leary of logging in from anywhere BUT my phone (and my parent’s office PC that is brand new and rarely used) and am going to do a clean install of Windows on my computer just to be safe. Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware both came up with bupkis on my home and office PC but our Trend Micro enterprise software did find a startling number of viruses on the two computers at our Reference Desk so right now my main suspicion is there (one of which was one of the last computers I used on Wednesday night since I work the evening shift). I haven’t made an attempt to recover my gmail account for this blog but I have posted a new one for the time being. Of course I’m still locked out of facebook which is both a blessing and a curse, plus I reset my phone to factory defaults so I lost all of my contacts. Right now all that’s left is a vague feeling of violation. Needless my review for Chasing the Dragon is a bit delayed. Barring more crises I hope to have it up by Monday afternoon at the latest.
UPDATE 2: So where I thought the problem is my home PC it is entirely possible that it is my work PC since, after updating my password, IT HAPPENED AGAIN while I was at lunch and even reset the password on the yahoo account I JUST MADE. I don’t really want or need this kind of stress. Right now running a virus scan and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware on my desk PC. This is REALLY REALLY lame.
UPDATE 1: I’m now back in my WAAAAAAAAAY more important personal email account. The email I used for contact on this blog has “deactivated due to suspicious activity.” I’ve since put a different email on the “About” page. My suspicion now is that whatever did this got access to a very very old yahoo account first since there were password reset emails I don’t remember asking about and somehow got in that way. That account has since been deleted. But maybe I’m wrong and it happened some other way. Regardless, it was a might scare, and this is closest I’ve come to wanted a drink so early in the frickin’ the day. I still don’t have access to my Facebook account but hopefully I’ll have that back sometime later today or tomorrow (something I won’t cry over).
I am not in Cardiff and I have not been mugged.
However, my Google account has been hacked.
I suspect it was a keylogger from a **cough**bittorrent**cough** site.
For those wondering: THIS IS FUCKING TERRIFYING.
It’s easy to forget just how much of one’s online existence is tied to a single account.
I’m hoping everything can be resolved. God help me if it can’t.
Out of the Dark is a novel that is far too straightforward to be entirely successful. For those that don’t know Out of the Dark is an intelligently written alien invasion penned by military-sf master David Weber. The Hegemony, a council of alien races capable of interstellar travel, are horrified by the brutality and violence of the recently discovered human race have. In response they have allowed the Shongari, one of the most war-like and less-respected members of the Hegemony, to send a fleet to Earth for “colonization.” What ensues is a very straightforward invasion story that touches upon the classic themes that subgenre has come to be known for: underground resistances, underestimation of human capabilities by a more “advanced” species, and the unification of different people and groups in light of a common threat are just some of the familiar elements Weber employs in the majority of Out of the Dark.
Where Out of the Dark stands, particularly in its advertising, is the inclusion of vampires. Yes, you read that right. When humanity’s back is to the wall it is the vampires that rise up to aid in humanity’s defense. Which is, to put it mildly, ridiculous. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I’m totally willing to embrace the ridiculous in the name of awesome. The problem seems to be that I’m not sure Weber is similarly willing. While Out of the Dark is certainly a competent alien invasion/resistance novel for the first three-quarters of the text; it takes a sharp turn towards B-movie-ville in the final quarter. Now, that b-movie vibe is pretty fantastic but considerably less so given the dire tone and straight-faced storytelling of the majority of the novel.
I’m heading into spoiler territory, it’s hard to discuss the vampire-laden section of the novel without it, so bear with me here. Those I haven’t scared away from the novel by the above comments would still due well to check it out for themselves. This is still a classic Weber sci-fi novel to start and if the addition of craziness to that model tickles your fancy I think you’ll have a good time with Out of the Dark. Now, for everyone else, hit the jump for some more spoiler laden discussion.