Take the Mormon settlement of the West, mix in some M. R. James and H. Russell Wakefield, throw in a healthy serving of H. P. Lovecraft and a dash of Robert E. Howard, stir in Native American lore, bake in the desert heat and wash down with a lake formed by a damn, and what you’re likely to come up with something that resembles Whispers Out of the Dust.
David J. West has begun to build a body of work in the subgenre known as the weird western, and his most recent book is a solid addition to the field. It’s also one of his most ambitious projects to date. (And I absolutely love that cover.)
St. Thomas, Nevada was settled by Mormon pioneers, but the area had been home to the Anasazi and other tribes long before. The Mormons, many of them anyway, moved away when they discovered they were in Nevada rather than Utah and Nevada wanted to collect several years of back taxes. Still, the town survived until the Hoover Dam was built, and the waters of Lake Mead covered it up.
That much is historical fact. What David does is add a dose of fantasy which he blends so smoothly that you find yourself believing things you know can’t really be so. (At least you don’t think so.) The footnotes (endnotes, really) certainly add to the feeling of verisimilitude. David includes a number of photos he’s taken, which give you an idea of what the area looks like. Continue reading
Okay, I’ve been putting off writing this review, but it’s time to put my nose to the grindstone and get it done. A few weeks ago, one of the contributors to this anthology, someone I’ve known for a while and consider a friend, asked me for a review. Since said contributor didn’t have access to a review copy, I went ahead and bought one. The theme of a world after the Elder Gods return has been done before in other anthologies, but I’ve never gotten around to reading any of them. It sounded intriguing.
Either I didn’t think things through, or I simply wasn’t the target audience for this anthology. The stories fell into three categories basically: those I liked, those I had no strong reaction to, and those I absolutely didn’t like. For me to like an anthology, most of the stories need to be in the first category. I didn’t find most of the stories to be to my liking, a condition that became more true the deeper I got into the book. I read it straight through over several days, which may have been part of the problem. I’ve been reading (and in my own fiction, writing) some pretty dark stuff lately; I could use a break. I suspect there are some stories I would have liked better if I’d read them separately from the others and mixed with other types of fiction.
Now an anthology that deals with the world after the Elder Gods return isn’t going to be filled with sweetness and light. H. P. Lovecraft made that clear. But too many of the stories struck me as unpleasant people doing unpleasant things to other unpleasant people. There wasn’t a lot of hope in many of the stories, and I think that was the problem I had with so much of the book. (Please note, there were a couple of stories with hopeful endings that didn’t work for me for other reasons.) But even if the odds are astronomically against the characters/humanity, I like there to be some element of not-giving-up.
So I debated on whether to even write the review. I don’t like writing bad reviews. My goal is not to trash someone’s work. I’ll point out flaws, but if I just don’t like something, or in the case of an anthology, don’t like most of the stories, I prefer to just read and review something else. But I had promised a review.
So here it is. I’m going to highlight the stories that worked for me. But I want to say a couple of things first. All of the stories are of professional level as far as the writing is concerned. The authors included in this book know how to write. Some of the best writers are the ones who wrote stories I didn’t like. After all, they got a strong reaction from me. While a particular story may not have been my cup of tea, some of the authors whose works made me want to go for the brain bleach are authors who I would be willing to read again. Because if they can get as strong a reaction from me in a positive way as they did a negative reaction, then that’s a story I’m going to want to read. Continue reading
Ebook short story, $0.99
Cemetery Dance has over the last few years published a number of Halloween themed short stories in ebook form. (They all have the same cover illustration you see here with different text.) I reviewed some of them a couple of years ago and enjoyed all the ones I read. Richard Chizmar, in addition to being a top-notch editor, is also a writer.
The night before Halloween is known in many parts of the country as Devil’s Night. In the story of the same name, a small town high school teacher is alone in the parking lot of an abandoned rural post office on Devil’s Night. He’s worrying about things and is taking advantage of the solitude to think. Then a car pulls up in another part of the lot.
The Phantom of the Opera gets out, throws up repeatedly, then takes a body from the trunk. After disappearing into the woods for a brief time, the Phantom returns to his car and leaves, completely unaware that he’s been observed. Continue reading
I know some of you bought Weird Menace Volume 1 when it went on sale a few weeks ago. (Thank you!) Well, the second volume is now available in both electronic and print editions. It’s a fine companion to the first volume. And remember, the set makes a fine Christmas gift!
Here’s the announcement Rough Edges Press publisher James Reasoner posted last night:
The Shudder Pulps are back! In fact, it’s like they never left in this second great collection of new stories inspired by the classic Weird Menace magazines such as DIME MYSTERY and TERROR TALES. Those pulps may have ended in the early 1940s, but some of today’s top authors give us the same sort of pulse-pounding, spine-chilling tales they might have published if they had stayed around.
World War II casts its looming shadow in Mel Odom’s “The Spider-God of Nauru!”
Hell comes to a tropical paradise in Keith Chapman’s “Lust of the Cave Spirit”.
American GIs encounter a horror unlike any they ever expected in Michael Bracken’s “Attack of the Nazi Snow Warriors”.
Weird Menace mixes with hardboiled detective thrills in Paul Dellinger’s “Ghost Writer”.
The protagonist of John McCallum Swain’s “The Hades Mechanism” confronts a legendary, undying evil.
And Ray Lovato’s popular character Doc Atlas returns to face a new challenge in “Howl of the Werewolf”!
These action-packed stories are sure to entertain. Editor James Reasoner and Rough Edges Press are proud to present WEIRD MENACE VOLUME 2!
Date: 5th November 2015
Format: Medium (B-Format) Paperback; R.R.P.: £8.99
North American Print
Date: 3rd November 2015
Format: Large (Trade) Paperback OR Small (Mass-Market) Paperback; R.R.P.: US$7.99 / CAN$9.99
Date: 3rd November 2015
Format: Epub & Mobi; R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99
With all the fantasy on the market today, it’s hard to know who to read.
That’s why I’m here. I aim to help in that regard. For instance, if you’ve not been reading James A. Moore’s Seven Forges series, you’ve been missing out. (The first novel Seven Forges is reviewed here, and the second, The Blasted Lands, is reviewed here.) There’s time to get caught up, because the next installment, City of Wonders, is out in North America two weeks from the day I write this.
I’d like to very much thank Angry Robot Books for the review copy. Let me sum up my reaction to the book this way: I WANT MOAR!
Wait, what’s that? You want details? Well, I’ll try. (Geez, how am I going to do this without spoilers?) Here goes: Continue reading
The latest issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly has been out for a while. I’m just now getting to it, but I’m old and slow.
If there’s one things I’ve come to expect from HFQ, it’s consistency. The editorial team there has done a good job of selecting some of the best S&S around these days. This is issue is no exception. In addition to two poems, “The Harrowed Hall” by Cullen Groves and “Dragonslayer” by Mary Soon Lee, there are three fiction pieces, Continue reading
Charles W. Chesnutt was an African-American writer who published two volumes of short stories and a handful of novels in the late 1800s and early 190s. It’s his first collection that interests us here, since it consisted of “conjure” stories set in North Carolina.
The stories revolve around an elderly former slave named Uncle Julius McAdoo. In this story, the unnamed narrator (who is white) has moved to North Carolina for his wife’s health and is looking to start a vineyard.
While visiting an old plantation that once had a thriving vineyard, he encounters an old former slave who is eating some grapes of a variety called scuppernongs. Uncle Julius tells the narrator that he once worked on the plantation and that the man shouldn’t buy it because the vineyard had been goophered (hexed). Continue reading
James Reasoner announced this morning that Weird Menace Volume 1 is now for sale. Electronic copies are $2.99 and paper copies are $9.99. Volume 2 will follow soon. Look for an announcement here when it does.
Here’s an excerpt from the introduction along with the table of contents.
The Weird Menace pulps flourished for less than a decade, from the mid-1930s to the early ’40s, but while they were popular, they delivered adventure, excitement, and spine-tingling thrills in quantities rarely seen before or since. Mad scientists, deranged henchmen, damsels in distress, and stalwart heroes raced through their pages in breathless, over-the-top, never-ending action. A good Weird Menace yarn really is just one damned thing after another.
Rough Edges Press asked some of today’s best authors of popular fiction to write Weird Menace stories, and they delivered. Settle back and let us spin a few yarns for you…
But keep an eye out behind you. You never know when something might be sneaking up on you.
Stories in this volume include:
“Bodies for the Brain Butcher” by John C. Hocking
“A Night on Madhouse Mountain” by Bill Crider
“The Curse of the Monster Makers!” by Scott Dennis Parker
“Farmhouse of the Dead” by Keith West
“The Hideous Blood Ray” by Robert E. Vardeman
“Blood Treasure for Satan’s Buccaneers” by James Reasoner
Here’s the Table of Contents:
“The Spider-God of Nauru!” by Mel Odom
“Lust of the Cave Spirit” by Keith Chapman
“Attack of the Nazi Snow Warriors” by Michael Bracken
“Ghost Writer” by Paul Dellinger
“The Hades Mechanism” by John McCallum Swain
“Howl of the Werewolf” by Ray Lovato
Unlike the first volume of Weird Menace, which contains period pieces, these are the type of story the weird menace pulps would likely have published had they continued past the early 1940s.
I’ll post a publication date when one becomes available.