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    One of my favorites too!


      Nice Review, so funny because I just read this for the first time myself last week!


        Thanks Tommy. I'm almost glad I'd never read it before so got the chance to flip out like a little kid deep into my thirties. It really did a great job of firing the imagination, like this line:

        "Jim smelled smells that no one knew, heard ticks from clocks that told another time."
        “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
        -John Barth


          Dark Screams Vol. 3 - Richard Chizmar, Brian James Freeman (Ed.)

          Consisting of 5 short stories, this book contains works from Peter Straub, Jack Ketchum, Darynda Jones, Jacquelyn Frank and closes with the longest of the bunch by Brian Hodge.

          Peter Straub opens with ‘The Collected Short Stories of Freddie Prothero’, about the greatest writer the world has ever seen, dead at age nine. His stories have been collected into this book posthumously, for scholars to pore over and also in order to show his progression as a writer beginning at age six. I was with this one most of the way through, and thought it was really going somewhere very special, but in the end I think I must have missed something or failed to put the pieces together properly. Having read Flowers for Algernon a few months ago I’m familiar with this style and not sure where the disconnect occurred. It happens, and the solution here is to go back and re-read, but doing so at this point for his story isn't fair to the other writers.

          ‘Group of Thirty’ by Jack Ketchum takes a huge step up as a middle-aged writer accepts an invitation to be a guest speaker for a group of 30 excited SF fans in a nearby town. More explanation could hurt the read. My favorite story in the book.

          ‘Nancy’ by Darynda Jones, who I don't think I've read before, is the story of a new girl, frequently moved around by her father and no stranger to new schools, adjusting to the town of Renfield, the most haunted town in America. She recognizes and is initially accepted by the popular click of girls, but finds a soft spot for another girl at the school, an outcast who claims to be constantly haunted by the spirit of a deceased boy. Another very well written story.

          ‘I Love You, Charlie Pearson’ is my introduction to Jacquelyn Frank. It's the story of a high school stalker, pursuing his prey. He’s not trying to hurt her, but he loves her so much he can’t stand it and comes up with a plan to get her alone in his house. A damned good story, expertly told, even if the theme can feel a bit worn by the end.

          ‘The Lone One and Level Sands Stretch Far Away’ by Brian Hodge, a good deal longer than most of the stories here, is a captivating tale of a man and his wife and their new next-door neighbor. She’s a fitness fanatic, and eventually the husband begins running with her, graduating to parkour activities and eventually urban exploration. His wife becomes increasingly jealous of the relationship between the two, but eventually joins them in a series of ill-fated expeditions to an abandoned brewery. This final one was the most gripping of all and was difficult to set aside, but doesn’t quite maintain its mastery all the way through to the very end. Still, that's not much of a fault when assessing the story as a whole, and this remains one of my favorites here.

          All in all, these stories don’t break too much new ground with the possible exception of Mr. Straub's, but absolutely share among them the attribute of excellent writing. And this is going to sound like pandering, but I read so much on Kindle it’s nice to find an e-book that is free of errors like punctuation and grammar (from scanning), which are really starting to get to me. You can hear the music of the story so much clearer if you don’t have to stumble over structures you know to be incorrect, ripping you from the spell’s influence. So 'good job' to the editors – you guys are crushing the endless fields of proofreaders at work elsewhere on e-books.

          The best of the Dark Screams volumes yet.

          4 stars

          Last edited by bugen; 05-14-2016, 05:34 AM.
          “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
          -John Barth


            The Straw Men - Michael Marshall

            “Sometimes the truth isn’t what you want to know. Sometimes the truth is best left to itself.”

            We’ve looked at a decent amount of horror here, and while the intricacy falls short of tales like The Angel’s Game or The Club Dumas, this book is one of the more complex. You’ll probably want to read it with your thinking cap on, not your boogie shoes.

            The Straw Men follows two main storylines which intersect when they need to. It’s a gritty world where the heroes are not only flawed, they’re failures. Or, more accurately, they’re heroes haunted by their failures, which makes them identifiable to us.

            A former police detective is contacted by a federal agent, bringing him in on a serial killer case where she thinks he might be able to help. Well outside of the rules, this mirrors a previous case the two had worked where the detective’s own daughter was abducted. The case was never solved, and the detective’s life was destroyed by the events including an affair he had with the agent, but he showed an insight then that she feels he can bring to bear in this latest situation.

            A man’s parents have died in a car accident, and over the course of settling their affairs he discovers their deaths may not be as they seem, and he recruits an acquaintance from his former CIA days to help look into the mystery.

            As each storyline digs in the questions deepen and the two unrelated story lines begin to converge around a series of unsolved murders with particular details in common.

            I’d mentioned in previous posts Mr. Marshall’s writing invokes ‘unsettling’ better than anyone I’ve ever seen, based mainly on his short stories but realized again here. They ring of truth, even when they’re brutal, on some deep level we understand wasn't made up. Instead they’re history. Or soon will be history. This is how we are, and we know it, while simultaneously shouting at the universe, “No it’s not! We’re better than this! We can be better than this!” Yes, we can, but it takes monumental effort and we only succeed part of the time.

            I can only speculate as to the reason he can write this way, but the attempt leads me to conclude he just knows things about our condition most of us haven’t the time or inclination to explore. It may not even be conscious, but he knows… and couples the knowledge with the skill to put it to music.

            For The Straw Men our beloved King wrote what’s probably the best endorsement I’ve seen from him: “Brilliantly written and scary as hell. A masterpiece,” and I feel the same. Michael Marshall (Smith) is a dangerous writer; a between-dimensions Harlan Ellison in a dark mood.

            This one’s going to knock you around a bit. It’s going to throw smoke then bring you back into focus, positioning you just right so when you turn your head to look for the horror barreling from the side it’s precisely in time to catch the full splatter right in the eyes.

            5 stars






            Last edited by bugen; 05-14-2016, 08:35 AM.
            “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
            -John Barth



              Vathek - William Beckford

              “The condition appointed to man is to be ignorant and humble.”

              Reputed as one of the first gothic horror novels ever written (1782, published in 1786), and as far as I can tell beaten only by The Castle of Otranto (1764) which I haven’t read yet, this is a kind of Arabian Nights journey into Hell.

              Vathek is the story of a Caliph, THE Caliph, who rules all, takes whatever he wants, and lives his life fulfilling every imaginable pleasure, wielding extensive knowledge and cravings for the finest food and exotic women. A merchant passes through with some unusual items, including swords marked with text no one can read. The Caliph is enamored with the swords and claims them, and spends some time tracking down someone who can read the writing on the blades.

              Eventually the message is translated, but turns out to change every day. While first promising unlimited knowledge, it now reads of death. Vathek packs up his entourage and travels to the mountains to quench his thirst and there is met by the merchant who originally sold the swords. The Caliph is treated to a vision of the halls of Eblis (Hell), where he is to be granted ultimate knowledge should he brave the journey. Rules must be followed, sacrifices must be made, and Vathek will stop at nothing to attain this power and begins his journey. It has no small helping of the occult, and as the Caliph approaches his destination there are enchanted items, sorcery and djinn all over the place.

              Now that I’m reading this over the book actually sounds pretty damned good.

              An issue with the story, while still respecting its place in history, is there are few redeeming character qualities presented here. It’s told in an almost biblical, parable style without any real moral except, “don’t do this.” Because there is difficulty in gathering sympathy for the characters it’s harder to become invested despite the book’s value in helping create a genre. Even so, it’s well worth a read, if for nothing else then for its historical context.

              3- stars






              Last edited by bugen; 05-14-2016, 09:25 AM.
              “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
              -John Barth



                The Vampire TapestrySuzy McKee Charnas

                “Extraordinary, he thought: I provide their nightmares, and they provide mine.”

                Dr. Weyland, a successful and aloof professor at a small but respectable college has been experimenting on students for his sleep program, studying dreams, when a staff member who’s slowly become enamored with the standoffish professor is approached to join in the study. Uneducated compared to those around her, she had already quickly jumped to superstition and begun to worry the professor was a vampire, feeding off his subjects, and had armed herself against both the vampire and a rapist that had been terrorizing the campus lately. At the approach, the professor becomes forceful with the girl, reveals he IS a vampire and means to feed on her, and she shoots him twice in retaliation.

                He manages to flee the scene, severely injured, but falls into the hands of an unscrupulous youth who eventually recognizes the professor as a monster and begins to exploit his capture, including inviting a dangerous Satanist to the cell where the vampire is held. Reese, the cult leader, convinces the captors to starve the vampire for 1 week after which he’ll perform a ceremony that will solve everything. The youngest of the captors, Mark, is the main one to care for the vampire in captivity and becomes attached to the professor, trapped like an animal and weakening daily, and eventually is manipulated into aiding his escape. Weyland moves to a University in New Mexico and begins psychological treatment, stating he believes he’s a vampire and needs help. A letter of recommendation from the psychologist after successful treatment will get him reinstated after the ‘mental breakdown’ he suffered at the first college where he can resume his experiments.

                A large portion of the book takes place in therapy, as the nature of predator and prey is studied in depth. Weyland believes he isn’t human, and doesn’t inherently recognize the emotional range we take for granted. He recognizes survival, as any predator would, and anything that threatens his survival is mercilessly cut from his life. Yes, he’s dangerous; he’s the most advanced predator on the planet. No, he’s not a monster any more than a tiger is for bringing down a gazelle.

                It’s a bizarre melding of the traditional, powerful and angry monster, and the recent, sympathetic one, but again, when a bear mauls a human it’s not exactly Jack the Ripper. It’s Nature, and the book never deviates from this refreshing viewpoint. We can be sympathetic to the grizzly, but that doesn’t extend to wanting to be close to one. It can kill you and not feel the slightest tinge of regret or shame.

                An extremely insightful look into what the realities of the creature might actually be, should it exist in our world. It’s superbly written and in an environment still saturated by ridiculous teen monster-romance, it stands tall and alone for its intellectual take on the subject.

                “To have someone spring on you like a tiger and suck your blood with savage and single-minded intensity—how could anybody imagine that was sexy?”

                I have never read a clinical deconstruction of the vampire to compare to what is written here, heavy on psychology and a good bit of biology attempting to explain Weyland’s characteristics. There is nothing supernatural about this very real, very dangerous creature. This is a must read, even if you’re sick of the vampire story, mostly because that’s not what this is. It’s the story of a grizzly that looks like us, acts like us, but is not subject to normal human emotion and has evolved into the ultimate, real-world predator just trying to survive.

                5- stars

                vampire tapestry.jpg
                P.S. And Centipede is currently designing their limited release.
                Last edited by bugen; 05-14-2016, 09:23 AM.
                “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                -John Barth



                  Voice of the FireAlan Moore

                  “Beware, ye that are loath to make commotion! Shudder, ye who would not bring attention on thyself, and see what shyness brought me, with even my gizzard now become a public spectacle. Behold, ye meek: this prong of iron is all the Earth ye shall inherit.”

                  All of the following stories take place on the same piece of land, Alan Moore’s home, throughout history. But make no mistake, versions of these events quite easily could have (and did) happen on the site of your dwelling as well, so that makes this book about our homes. The stories build upon each other, so when a particular man, creature or event is established in one story, you may expect it to surface again as myth or legend in subsequent stories as the world moves on.

                  'Hob’s Hog' (4000 BC) – The ridiculously challenging study of a prehistoric man and his extremely limited vocabulary attempting to impart the complexity of his life, in regards to the supernatural entity he believes exists and his own injuries as he’s betrayed by other persons in the story. A biting tale that deals with our treacherous natures right out of the gate, and opens up the mystery of what you’re about to read. DO NOT SKIM THIS. Doing so might be tempting considering the work that goes into reading this one, but you will miss its greatness and probably miss its echoes throughout the later tales. Embrace the challenge and you’ll be rewarded, I assure you. An amazing read.

                  'The Cremation Fields' (2500 BC) – Another excellent story, using a much friendlier vocabulary, this is the tale of an unscrupulous man who converses with then murders the estranged daughter of a village cunning-man (a witch was also called a cunning man back in the day) and hatches a plan to take her place as the cunning-man’s descendent to inherit his vast wealth as he nears death.

                  'In the Drowings' – (AD 43) A very strong story, this is a tale of a man who, angered with his wife, storms out of the house for a remote hunting trip where he can calm down in peace. When he returns, things are not as he left them, and in his sorrow he adapts to his new situation in a very human way.

                  'The Head of Diocletian' (AD 290) – The tale of a man investigating the forgery of Rome’s currency, only to discover the world isn’t as it seems. A masterful story that really underlines the fact regardless of which position we view the world, which perspective we’ve adopted, we probably have little idea of what’s really going on. And perhaps that’s a good thing.

                  'November Saints' (AD 1064) – Finally, a comparatively weak story, where the tomb of a saint is discovered as narrated by a beggar outside the church, but it’s still good. It’s just that the others are even better.

                  'Limping to Jerusalem' (AD 1100) – The lowest rated of the bunch - the only story to plumb the depths of ‘fair’, this is the tale of a knight constructing a ‘round’ church so that the devil may not have a place to hide. This one was more difficult to follow.

                  'Confessions of a Mask' (AD 1607) – The story of a mask, dead at least two years but still conscious, hung in its cage by the side of the road as a warning against transgressions. As the mask laments his lot in life he is joined by another death, this one also conscious as they keep each other company. Hilarious and poignant, another highlight.

                  'Angel Language' (AD 1705) – The story of a lascivious judge visiting a town to pronounce his sentence upon a local thief, and the women he seduces on his journey there, this is another highlight.

                  'Partners in Knitting' (AD 1705) – A story of two witches being burned while one reminisces about their lives and work together. This one handles witchcraft like an enchanted sword, cutting the story to ribbons around the reader while you ingest the falling confetti. A major highlight in a book with far more than its share of highlights.

                  'The Sun Looks Pale Upon the Wall' (AD 1841) – Another of the more challenging stories here, this one is told by a half-mad man and uses no punctuation. It’s difficult to tell what is reality and what is imaginary here, as we follow the narrative of the man as he is with his second wife, constantly thinking back to his first wife, who may not have entered into matrimony with him except in his own mind.

                  'I Travel in Suspenders' (AD 1931) - About a traveling salesman whose penchant for women has him in two separate marriages with girlfriends on the side, and he is always looking for ways into the affections of the next girl. His proclivities get him in all manner of trouble where he uses his verbal skills as a salesman to spin lies and escape trouble, but has been spinning so long it doesn’t take much for him to get confused as to which statements were made to whom. When his car is found burned in a field with a body inside the hapless salesman has some explaining to do.

                  'Phipps’ Fire Escape' (AD 1995) – I’m not even going to touch this one in order to maintain the mystique. You’ll see.

                  As a whole this book is far from your typical read. It's filled to the brim with occult, mystical reference, has a good amount of mystery and a concentrated style of prose that means it's nearly impossible to grasp these stories when you're only half-paying attention, watching the kids play in the park. The book demands your full attention, and giving it any less means you've either got a T-1000 terminator processor or you've missed the story.

                  Challenging and brilliant, handling the supernatural in our past with a seasoned instructor's patience while giving us plenty of warnings about paying too much attention to history, The Voice of the Fire is complicated enough to give no illusions about catching everything on the initial read. It’s complexity, however, is a wonderful reason to pull it back off the shelf in the future. There are secrets here, to those who would find.

                  “All that remains in question is whose map we choose, whether we live within the world’s insistent texts or else replace them with a stronger language of our own.”

                  5- stars


                  An excellent production as usual Subterranean, but I did end up asking myself why this yellow/red lettering was used for the traycase. I understand the theme and the font but it just seemed slightly…off.


                  Here’s why:
                  Last edited by bugen; 02-17-2016, 06:33 AM.
                  “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                  -John Barth



                    Dark Screams Vol. 4 - Richard Chizmar, Brian James Freeman (Ed.)

                    “If she could have plunged back into life to change one thing she would have left the broken romances in pieces and gone to her six-year-old son, Finn, to say: Trust your dreams, and take the world lightly, for it means nothing, even in the losing.”

                    -Clive Barker

                    'The Departed' – Barker tells an excellent story about a man and a woman who have passed into the afterlife and are lingering around the woman’s son. Her estranged husband has returned to claim the boy and as Halloween approaches the mother and her friend, although invisible, don clothing to make themselves seen, so she can interact with her son one more time.

                    'The New War' – This one ranks slightly better than the excellent Barker tale, written by Lisa Morton about an elderly man recovering from a hip surgery while hospital-bound with a mind that’s playing tricks on him. A mysterious black thing is sometimes seen sitting on the chests of other patients at the hospital, and by the next morning another death has occurred. The man tries recruiting help dealing with the black thing but his own mental struggles only complicate this new fight.

                    'Sammy Comes Home' – Ray Garton ups the ante in a collection that started strong and keeps getting stronger. Jeremy is the father of the quiet, introspective 8-year-old Bryan, whose dog ran away about a week earlier, along with other pets from the neighborhood that have been disappearing lately. The family has company when a scream is heard from the front porch by the visiting Monica, and Sammy’s back. But he’s hurt badly and a trip is thrown together to get him to the vet asap, only to discover there’s a very real danger in town. Loved the ending here!

                    'The Brasher Girl' – By far the longest story of the book, Ed Gorman whips up serious tension by lashing us to a main character who's still dealing with the emotional baggage of being discarded by the love of his life. A 23-year-old soldier is adapting to civilian life and has returned to his home town where he meets and pursues the gorgeous 17-year-old Cindy. But Cindy’s got a boyfriend, and a ‘secret’ friend, and our hero has to deal with them both while living down a traumatic separation he suffered when he was 17. Solid, troubling storytelling.

                    'Creature Feature' – Closing out the book is Heather Graham’s horror-house story where a special-effects crew has prepared all manner of monsters for display, including Jack the Ripper. When a friend stops by to see the display the night before the show is to open her instincts tell her something is not quite right…

                    For a quick recap of the series so far, we had a very strong start with Volume 1, and while Volume 2 was still good it took a step back. Volume 3 was my favorite when it arrived, showcasing a smooth storytelling that had nearly every story flowing like silk. Then Volume 4, every bit the masterful volume that Volume 3 was.

                    Fast, smart horror here, and it flows much like Volume 3 did. With the exception of the final tale, which was my least favorite but still enjoyable with a ‘fair’ rating, all stories here were exemplary in the horror field. I give the top slot to Ray Garton, partly because of his all-too-human ending, but he barely edges out Lisa Morton and Ed Gorman, who barely edge out the inestimable Barker. This is where it’s at, and if you’re only going to check out one of these books, or haven’t yet read any, this one is an excellent choice.

                    I can’t wait to see how these guys end it out with Volume 5. From what I can tell, they're accelerating.

                    4 stars

                    Last edited by bugen; 05-14-2016, 09:30 AM.
                    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                    -John Barth



                      Snow CrashNeal Stephenson

                      “You don’t respect those people very much, Y.T., because you’re young and arrogant. But I don’t respect them much either, because I’m old and wise.”

                      Snow Crash is a cyberpunk story, set it a futuristic world where countries have collapsed into region-states, and the government of each region is left to whatever system of order the region prefers. There is Mafia-town, Fed-town, etc, along with a virtual (augmented) reality overlay called the Metaverse that our main character Hiro helped build and is an expert navigating. Hiro Protagonist is a hacker and swordsman who finds himself working against a massive plan to forever alter modern man, related to the biblical story of The Tower of Babel, where God forced man to speak in differing tongues so communication became nearly impossible and construction on the tower to Heaven halted. Hiro is beset on all sides, including by the murderous, unstoppable villain Raven, as he struggles to understand and interrupt the plan.

                      It’s a fairly large book but moves at a quick pace, and made a splash in the 90’s running with themes like the internet (Metaverse) and all-encompassing virtual reality. The book contains a decent amount of complex philosophy, ramping up towards the end, and this actually adds a great deal of interesting information to the story instead of bogging it down. At no point did I find myself becoming attached to these characters or even caring too much what happened to them, and this I felt to be the major weakness of the work. It’s not until near the end, when the philosophy becomes much heavier, where the readers’ interests become truly piqued, and this is less about any character and more about the intelligent, critical mind the author brings to bear on ancient history. Sumerian culture is explored and Mr. Stephenson takes multiple stabs at some of the mysteries surrounding that period. There was a lot of great food for thought in this one, and in a book where the characters seem fairly flat, expanding even more on the philosophy might have been an even better thing.

                      Those with a special penchant for cyberpunk could easily have a more favorable reaction. One of the best things about the genre, and even science fiction in general, is it allows authors to magnify and examine issues we have today by exaggerating them in a future-tense, and there’s a good deal of that here. The cyberpunk author William Gibson kept coming up when researching this book, so fans of his writing might enjoy as well.

                      Despite being a bit flat on characters, overall it was enjoyable through quick pacing, a rather unapologetic look at the future of humanity, and thought-provoking themes of ancient history.

                      “In the real world-planet Earth, Reality, there are somewhere between six and ten billion people. At any given time, most of them are making mud bricks or field-stripping their AK-47s.”

                      3- stars

                      snow crash.jpg
                      Last edited by bugen; 05-14-2016, 09:43 AM.
                      “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                      -John Barth



                        The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

                        "It is sinful," replied the Friar, "to cherish those whom heaven has doomed to destruction."

                        Generally accepted to be the first gothic novel ever written, The Castle of Otranto is an important bookfor those looking deeply into horror and it's history, remaining highly enjoyable at the same time.

                        A headstrong prince, Manfred, of a third generation ruling family come into power when the previous ruler expired without an heir, has contrived a marriage between his sickly son Conrad and Isabella, the daughter of a foreign prince, to strengthen his hold over the province as he doesn't want his daughter, Matilda, involved with the kingdom. Conrad is killed suddenly by a giant-sized helmet falling from the sky, invoking a legend that when the true owner grows too large to inhabit the castle the current ruler will fall, and Manfred launches into a desperate bid to divorce his barren wife and forcefully take Isabella for his own wife and produce an heir. Isabella, scared out of her wits, flees the castle with the help of a mysterious peasant whom Manfred captures.

                        Jerome, the local priest, learns of Isabella's plight and intercedes on her behalf, and eventually learns the nature of the boy who helped her, all further angering the prince. When three knights from another kingdom appear, the leader reveals himself as Isabella's father, and from this point everyone starts falling in love with everyone else and a tangled mess of relationships becomes the focus of the story as the Prince Manfred tries to force his will on them all.

                        Written in 1764, the novel has somewhat of a language barrier but isn't prohibitive to the story. Interestingly, upon initial publication the author stated he didn't write the book, but instead found it (this preface is intact on the free Kindle version), and thought it to have been written hundreds of years earlier. The nature of the story, along with the idea that stories of this type weren't told in that present day, let alone hundreds of years previously, helped the book's success. The following year, when a subsequent edition of the work was to be published, Walpole came clean that he had actually written the story, not found it, but by then the popularity was cemented and the gothic novel train had departed the station. A couple of decades later the second gothic novel, Vathek, would be published, to be followed many years later by major early gothic novels like The Monk (1796), Frankenstein (1818) and Dracula (1897).

                        The Castle of Otranto is a short book, but the language does seem to intensify somewhat in the second half so that it's not a lightning read. Still the action moves quickly, and the story is never in jeopardy of derailing. Its place in history as the first gothic novel doesn't affect the book's rating here, but who's to say what the landscape of horror would look like without it? Recommended.

                        3 stars

                        Gothic novel #1:





                        Last edited by bugen; 05-14-2016, 10:03 AM.
                        “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                        -John Barth



                          First Blood - David Morrell

                          “If I thought there was the slightest chance of your beating them, I’d gladly tell you to keep on the move. But I know you can’t get away. Believe me. I know it. Please. While you still can, give up and get out of this alive. There’s nothing you can do.”

                          “Watch me.”

                          A drifter wanders into a remote town and is immediately noticed by the Chief of Police, Teasle, who takes it upon himself to keep his town quiet and escort the drifter out. Meanwhile the drifter, Rambo, has felt mistreated in the last fifteen towns he has visited, and had finally had enough of being run out on a rail. Both are ex-military, with Teasle honored for service in the Korean War, and Rambo for Vietnam. The result is a battle between two war machines with the rest of the world in the way.

                          First, Rambo is not the sympathetic character from the movie, and Chief Teasle is not the pig-headed, my way or no way cop from the movie either. They are both sympathetic, they are both hard-headed, and they are both responsible for the fallout that cuts a good deal deeper than the film. It’s a spectacular fight, ranging from the town to remote wilderness, and the story is told from both perspectives so we get to see everything unfold from the alternating points of view of our two main characters.

                          Second, the story had to change for film. In the U.S. we are not much of a grey-area viewing public, and though the rules seems to loosen a bit in the rest of the world, it probably wouldn’t play out too well anywhere else either. There is no hero, and there is no bad guy. Or rather, there are two of each. It’s not clear who to root for, so audiences would be confused. Each of these men carries attributes we can identify with and envy, while each also carries the personality that allows an extended and deadly confrontation like this to occur.

                          Finally, while I have a respect for the film and it’s iconic portrayal of the 80’s action hero, this book is a far better story. So much so that I’m going to check out the film again, hopefully this evening, and bet that I’ll enjoy it more than I ever have. Here we have balance, with a reality that exists right outside of our doors, concerning people that really walk the world, and dealing with feelings we all feel, at least when pushed to the limit.

                          As you’ve heard, the original end of the story differs from the film. This one's better. It’s is a super-fast, action-packed, ultra-violent read that will be over before you know it, and you’ll be out of breath and gasping.

                          Shamelessly borrowing an excellent line, because I've never seen it more applicable, this is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.

                          5 stars






                          Last edited by bugen; 05-14-2016, 10:14 AM.
                          “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                          -John Barth



                            Gods’ ManLynd Ward

                            An entirely wordless novel, told through woodcuts alone, a young artist travels to a new city and gives his last coin to a beggar. Unable to pay for his later meal, the proprietor is about to get nasty when the artist offers a drawing in lieu of payment, which is not accepted. A stranger steps in, pays the owner for the food and sits with the artist discussing his portfolio. He offers the artist a special brush, used throughout the ages by the world’s greatest artists, in exchange for something. The artist agrees, signs a contract with the stranger, and leaves with the brush to become a popular phenomenon in short order.

                            This is the very beginning of the story, the whole of which is told in about 140 woodcuts, and while comfortable explaining the rest of it, at least in my interpretation, I’m going to refrain. One of the great pleasures of this book is working out the story for yourself, since it’s told with pictures only and open to (at least) limited interpretation. In fact, it’s difficult to explain how much I enjoyed getting at the story this way. You almost get a sense of accomplishment with each completed image locking into place in the narrative in your head. It might be easy to think of this format as challenging, but once you’re comfortable with your own pace, and comfortable with the unique idea of telling your own story as you study the images, this is quite an amazing experience.

                            There’s an introduction explaining a few things about his life and the technique from Mr. Ward, and a preface with a bit of historical perspective by woodcut artist Barry Moser, but neither are necessary to dive right in if you’d prefer. You have all the tools you need for this novel with your mind, your eyes and your heart, not to mention your own experiences. If you’ve read graphic novels or comics you’re already partway there, but that kind of background isn’t required.

                            The book is quite highly recommended. Having no experience in the medium I’m not sure about things like subsequent reading, though to me a book using art to tell a story is more appealing than a book filled with art to not tell a story. If you keep this on your coffee table and allow guests to open it up, be prepared to explain a few things and leave them alone for a bit while they read. It’s compelling.

                            No quotes for this book, so I'll leave you with an engraving approximating how I feel about it:

                            4+ stars

                            “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                            -John Barth



                              I'd "read" a graphic novel that was executed without any text a while ago. Called House, can't recall the artist/storyteller's name at the moment. A very interesting format, I'd love to check this out at some point.


                                The Blood of the LambThomas F. Monteleone

                                We’ve got a treasure-chest of words we use when exploring things monumental. We use simpler words like excellent, amazing, gripping and powerful. We use terms like ‘show-stopping’ and ‘a masterpiece.’ Popular culture, however, has brought us to a point where words such as these have become so recognizable that they’ve lost some of their power, blunted with overuse. In the wake of these words slowly diminishing in impact, another is still present, taking their places and doesn’t seem to suffer the ill effects of its brethren. When we’re trying to portray the biggest of the big, the nastiest of the nasty, cataclysmic, world-shattering events, we use: biblical.

                                And that’s what this book is dealing with.

                                A young catholic priest, Peter, is a kind of shining star to his parishioners. A handsome, likable man with a strong moral center, he has a way with words and a rhythm of speech that captivates his audience who cannot help but absorb his message. Father Peter makes a run to a local, New York convenience store and is mugged at gunpoint. By the time the confrontation is over Peter is spooked out of his mind, and his assailant is a charred pile of ash. A local newswoman, Marion, becomes involved in the mystery of what happened and begins her investigation. Peter was an orphan, raised by the Catholic church in Rome, but his origin story may run much deeper. As Peter comes to grips with his burgeoning power, he travels the country setting up events to help and heal people in need. As his popularity grows so does the list of his enemies, for while a nation is focused on a man who may or may not be the second coming of Christ, other religious institutions are feeling the pinch as their followers stray to Peter’s camp and are bringing the situation to a head.

                                This book isn’t really about healing the sick, easing peoples’ pain in a troubled world, and handing out flowers at airports. It’s horror, have no doubts, and some of the descriptions of events will have you wincing. The sequel, appropriately titled The Reckoning, is next on the hit list because while this book is fantastic by itself there is very little resolution unless you use your imagination. If you’re going to read one, you’ll probably want the other close at hand.

                                Mr. Monteleone shows courage tackling this subject in the way he does. Today’s black-and-white landscape makes for easily acceptable stories when the good guy is shining and upright, and the bad guy is hideous and slinking in the shadows, so when a story like this comes along where the lines aren’t fully illuminated and everyone has to figure out what’s going on, it’s risky. Not to mention the fire that could come from wingnut groups who themselves have the only, true answer to religion.

                                I loved this story. When talking about the possible end of our world, not in a ‘there will be but few survivors’ way, but in an ‘end of the world, period,’ way, this book isn’t just an ambitious project, it’s downright biblical.

                                “You don’t f*** with King Kong. Surely a corollary would be that you don’t f*** with the Son of God.”

                                5- stars

                                Blood Lamb_.jpg

                                Centipede Press announced they were looking into producing a limited edition of this book and its sequel, and called out to people to please advise if they’d be interested in such a production. I’ve already contacted Jerad to let him know I’d pick this up in a heartbeat. If any of you feel the same way, or have your interest piqued, please drop him a line and let him know. I'd bet we can make this happen - the book deserves it. j[email protected]
                                Last edited by bugen; 05-17-2016, 06:42 PM.
                                “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                                -John Barth