Monday, April 7, 2014

GUEST BLOG: Between the Interstice — On Lovecraft and Weird Fiction by Mike Robinson


"Back then, with the visions, most of the time I was convinced I'd lost it. There were other times, though, where I thought I was mainlining the secret truth to the universe."

------------ Rust Cohle, True Detective

Behind the wide facade of Speculative Fiction twist the hedge-mazes of fantasy, brood the catacombs of horror and gaze the far-seeing floors of science fiction. Among them, between them, are the closets and crawlspaces of the niche, one of which -- a relatively bigger one -- is the place of Weird Fiction, a dark storage of many souvenirs from fantasy, horror and science fiction, though dusted with its own special charms.

The former subtitle for my new book, Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray: A Collection of Weird Fiction was actually, A Collection of Speculative Fiction. As one prone to appreciate sprawling ambiguity, to resist specific categorization, it’s a little ironic that I wanted to specify further. But there was a reason for that, besides the stodginess of “speculative”, which has none of the zany, fluid charisma of “weird”.
 
While using “weird” may sound like a proud judgment, a literary outcast chest-thumping his identity as such, it’s more a direct homage to the tradition of Ambrose Bierce, Robert Chambers, H.P. Lovecraft and many others. Going further, it’s an accurate classification given my vision of Weird Fiction, a subgenre that, perhaps more consciously than other fields of speculative fiction, stirs together elements of the metaphysical, cosmological and horrific to grimly honor the Big Questions, remind us of our insurmountable ignorance, to pin down our squirming selves into our rightful position in the child’s seat, to whisper, maybe in some alien, mud-packed voice, that, hey, the world slippery and you won’t ever, ever catch it. The world, in short, is weird.

And past all the horror, the strangeness, that to me is a nourishing thought. Let me explain.

The moment I cemented my decision to not pursue an M.F.A (or any academic training) in writing is vivid. While enrolled at Otis College of Art & Design, I found in my mailbox a little perfect-bound literary booklet featuring work by the graduate students in fiction. I flipped it open to a random story. After wading cautiously into the second paragraph of a painful scrutiny of eyebrow-plucking, I was done. Other entries weren’t much better. Too many of them seemed concerned with stereotypical, high-literary minutia, unfortunately the focus and baffling preference of innumerable professors, awards, journals, and workshops (cough-Iowa-cough).
My first sale, the story
The Hand of Spudd
in Storyteller Magazine

Personally, I have little interest in quaint journalistic accounts of Malaysian transvestite violinists at the turn of the century (yes, I made that up), or the endless slew of aptly-termed “McFiction” featuring some cocky narrator coming of age amongst his or her overfed, dysfunctional family. No, I prefer going head-on at the Big Questions, going at them, as George Carlin might say, with no less than a sledgehammer. Give me ballsy confrontations with Life, Death, the Cosmos, with Existence, with God.

In their noble attempts at social redemption and inclusion, many contemporary teachers of literature treat writings in the framework of their political significance. To me, though, such attempts seem nothing more than new forms of division. It is looking at the grains and forgetting the shore. Does the world really need a Marxist reading of Huckleberry Finn, complete with ten-dollar jargon? Academics are on the lookout for the “next best thing”, the new trend in analysis, the new prism through which to see literary works of yesterday and today. I say: what about our shared heritage? Our shared -- and uncertain -- future? Not as any one ethnicity, gender, party, or faction, but as an entire civilization. A species. A collective piece of this vast Universe.

Of course, much of this material is studied, and much of it is exhaustively considered and written about. Enter Weird Fiction!

As any fellow devotee will know, H.P. Lovecraft -- arguably the most esteemed and influential practitioner of the genre -- cleaned out the catacombs with his pen, defying tropes of ghosts and vampires and expanding imaginations with interconnected tales of ancient civilizations antedating our own, of towering alien-gods, of unseen dimensions and humanity’s sanity-shattering smallness in an inexplicable cosmos. All this made more impressive by the fact that he wrote in the 1920s, when so much of that stuff was barely on anyone’s speculative radar, including scientists’. His unknowns are truly Unknown, and will forever elude explanation.

Certainly Lovecraft’s work has failings, failings probably more surface-level than those of other lauded authors. He was well aware of his own wooden dialogue (hence, quotation marks are scarce in his pages) and his prose sometimes gushes into the purple. Nevertheless, his voice, with its richly archaic, darkly celebratory cadence, stands alone, and will survive as long as we’re unsure what lurks “out there”.

Me suited up, scoping “out there”
Sadly, Lovecraft, and especially his “Cthulhu” mythos, have become somewhat franchised, relegated to corners of the market generally aimed at Dungeons and Dragons fans, horror enthusiasts, and nihilistic young adults sporting black fingernails and lipstick. It is a wide “cult following”, but nonetheless a cult following. Although some scholars have acknowledged his importance, many see him as a troublesome bridge from Poe to Stephen King. It is this identity that has, I’m sure, dissuaded many from giving him a serious go. “Lovecraft? Oh, no, I don’t like that horror stuff.”

But back up. Here we come back to the question of Weird Fiction itself, because I don’t necessarily consider the canon, or Lovecraft’s work, “horror”. Certainly there are horrific elements in his work, and his career does include several standard supernatural yarns. But in his treatment of cosmic mysteries, and the shadowed realms of prehistory, his is more a prying curious eye, forcing us to consider those Big Questions, to ponder notions of, and issues with, the likes of religion, biology, cosmology, archaeology, and psychology. He sets you on the outside looking in, a contrast to being in and looking further in to the point of navel-gazing. This exercise of outside-looking-in, one I believe most writers of fiction should undertake, helps in a kind of rounding out of thought.

No matter the genre in which one writes, I believe the best, most poignant stories have at least an undercurrent of this “larger awareness”, a perception conveying authority and wisdom. So many stories feel constricted by their own world, characters or concerns. Yet to read Lovecraft is to confront directly that raw Unknown that surrounds us, that is us. To get a healthy dose of perspective: a shambling, roaring, behemoth upswell of perspective.

I mentioned earlier that I think such a perspective can be ultimately nourishing. In an era of economic, cultural and political tumult, when millions of Davids the world over shout in fiery voice against the few far-reaching, corrupt Goliaths, there is morbid comfort in knowing that, despite whatever the megalomaniacal egos of sadistic leaders, immoral bankers, or bribe-pocketing politicians might make of themselves, there are impenetrable forces beyond all of them that will cast mocking eyes towards their suited-up, gold-rimmed delusions, if they even care to acknowledge them. Lovecraft, and the general tradition of Weird Fiction, reminds us just how little power the powerful actually wield. After all, Goliath was, what, ten feet tall? When the mountain-sized Cthulhu rises once more, those people will be nothing but scrambling ants -- along with the rest of us.

***
 
Find and follow Mike Robinson at: 

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Mike-Robinson/e/B009RDLX7K/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1


Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/MikeRobinsonAuthor?ref=hl


 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book Reviews (March, 2014)


For this month’s reviews, I thought I would focus on the publications of one press rather than those of an era or single author. This month’s subject is ERASERHEAD PRESS, the most prolific and energetic voice of contemporary bizarro fiction.

Bizarro fiction is a relatively new genre which is not entirely easy to define. It encompasses elements of satire, absurdism, and the grotesque, along with pop-surrealism and genre fiction staples, in order to create subversive works that are as strange and entertaining as possible.

Bizarro works are truly a mixed bag. Sometimes I’ll read a work and think it was revolting filth and sometimes I’ll read a work and find it to be a beautiful literary and socially relevant gem. Sometimes I’ll think both things simultaneously! What I love most about this genre is that, if nothing else, I will be entertained. The wonder of bizarro is that it doesn’t stoop to worn-out tropes or regurgitated storylines. These authors are hard boiled, willing to experiment, and write ideas that are stimulating, strange and, most importantly, unique.

Eraserhead Press, the premiere publisher of these book, is headquartered in bizarro central, Portland, OR, and championed by CEO, Rose O'Keefe. It also includes a dozen or more smaller imprints set up by associates, such as Deadite Press, Fungasm Press, and Lazy Fascist Press, amongst others.

Erasurehead Press is here: http://www.eraserheadpress.com

My personal favorite author to come out of the bizarro movement is Carlton Mellick III, who writes with the precise craft of any literary voice today, but puts out the strangest titles which are in turns geared toward horror, dark fantasy, alternative history, and science fiction. For EX: Satan Burger, The Haunted Vagina, War Slut and, my top bizarro pick, Zombies and Shit. Carlton is a writing machine, dedicated (mind-blowingly!) to a new book every three months. Generally, overly-prolific authors end up publishing a lot of dreck, but Carlton’s works are crisp, funny, and quite simply a consistently entertaining read.

Carlton Mellick III is here: http://www.carltonmellick.com

Which brings me to my first review:

***


REVIEWED: Quicksand House
WRITTEN BY: Carlton Mellick III
PUBLISHED: June, 2013


Of the six or seven books I’ve read by this author, ‘Quicksand House’ is one of my favorites. It starts off as a mystery, in which two children are essentially locked in their baby room and raised by a nanny through puberty. Machines make their food and the children teleport to school, but they’ve never met their parents which is their dearest wish. The baby room is in the midst of an immense mansion, and scary things crawl in the walls, and myths and fears abound for them, wondering what lies outside the locked door. One day their mechanical life breaks down, and survival forces them to finally leave the baby room, searching through the rest of the house for their parents.

As always, Mellick’s writing is brilliantly imaginative, fast-paced, strange, and satisfying. This book is rather a bit more of an emotional coming-of-age experience rather than action-packed fiction ploy (not to say there’s not plenty of action and thrills included!). But the ending is beautiful and sweet, and swear-to-God, I choked up and a tear ran down my cheek after I closed the final page.

This is really a great book and, with themes such as self-acceptance, fear of abandonment, love, and family values, I think it deserves to find a wider audience than the traditional bizarro crowd. Though the children of Quicksand House encounter wild exploits, the story itself is engaging and relatable and exciting.

Five out of Five stars

http://www.amazon.com/Quicksand-House-Carlton-Mellick-III/dp/1621051005/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394573022&sr=1-1&keywords=Quicksand+House

***

REVIEWED: The Last Goddam Hollywood Movie
WRITTEN BY: John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow
PUBLISHED: August, 2013

‘The Last Goddam Hollywood Movie’ follows a group of Hollywood filmmakers who survive a nuclear apocalypse and then band together to create the first ever post-apocalyptic movie which (just as in real life) promises to accurately portray the events leading to the nation’s disaster, but instead creates a highly fictionalized concept which is at whim of finagling, backbiting, competing resources, and lots and lots of drugs. Peter Kornberg is a writer who gets hustled by his nemesis, Julian Harvey, to direct the film, and the novella-sized book follows the conflict between the two of them during the entire radiation and mutant-filled journey of production. Fast-paced and quick-witted, this would seem more fictionalized if it weren’t for the fact that the authors, John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow, have been involved in Hollywood flicks themselves, and the satirical commentary becomes even more scathing on who peoples the industry and how movies are really made.

Four out of Five stars

http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Goddam-Hollywood-Movie/dp/1621050904/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394568308&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Last+Goddam+Hollywood+Movie

***

REVIEWED: Son of a Bitch
WRITTEN BY: Wrath James White and Andre Duza
PUBLISHED: July, 2012

Intense, foul-mouthed, hard-punching, and wild, this story really is about the son of a bitch. The descriptively-named character is born half demon/ half canine, splitting his dog mother open at birth. Fused with Cuban black magic and the spirit of a local hitman, Warlock, the dog/ monster, goes on a murderous rampage, followed by the hood, Demitrius, who breeds dogs and is witness to the dog joining with Warlock’s soul.

Consider the dog/monster has similarities to a werewolf, albeit one that evolves and is seeking revenge. This is a quick read, at times funny and at times seething with violence. I never felt connected with any of the characters, but the plot kept me hooked all the way through. Lots of action and gore, and the ending was perfect. Good to read when you need to blow off some steam or suspect your family pooch might be hiding something malicious.

Four out of Five stars

http://www.amazon.com/Son-Bitch-Wrath-James-White/dp/1621051145/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394576042&sr=1-1&keywords=Son+of+a+Bitch

***

REVIEWED: Super Fetus
WRITTEN BY: Adam Pepper
PUBLISHED: August, 2009

To say this book is offensive is to say that serial killers may have some personality flaws. Up front, I do not recommend this book to any person with even moderately conservative values or self-expressed ‘taste’ in literature. But for those of you who enjoy a gross-out tale or a redneck battle, ‘Super Fetus’ is for you!

This story is about a (you guessed it) fetus growing inside the uterus of a trashy, burned out woman who’s already a mother of three and cannot fathom raising a fourth brat. She decides to abort it, but the fetus has prematurely developed and is self-aware of his placement. Simply put, he ain’t coming out! Super Fetus fights all manner of abortion proceedings and even causes his mother to throw up any unhealthy foods. “Only salads and healthy foods for me!” He does pushups and punches back at anyone reaching in to pull him out.

It’s a crude and foul-mouthed tale, at times hilarious, at times terribly shocking and sad, but ultimately a fun and quick read, clocking in at only about 87 pages. Though the story could have been a lot more, it’s successful on its face value. I would have loved to read a bit more back story about the mysterious ‘father’ with no face, as to who he was and the potential of Super Fetus. But the ending is perfect for a follow up, so perhaps someday there may be Super Toddler!

Four out of Five stars

http://www.amazon.com/Super-Fetus-Adam-Pepper/dp/193392988X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394568121&sr=8-1&keywords=Super+Fetus

***

REVIEWED: The Rising (author’s preferred edition/ uncut)
WRITTEN BY: Brian Keene
PUBLISHED: September, 2013 (first published March, 2003)

Simply put, this is a zombie book. More than that though, it’s an adventure thriller and a classic in the resurgence of undead in popular culture. To underscore this point, as I read ‘The Rising’ I thought, “Gee, yet another linear zombie story. Main character searches for his son, meets motley survivors, and crosses lots with paramilitary groups, all the while blowing away killer zombies.” But as I thought this it also dawned on me that Brian Keene was one of the first authors to write this type of action zombie story, and the reason it seems so formulaic and familiar is because there have been a horde (pun!) of writers who have copied this idea and wrote their own zombie apocalypse tales, inspired by the likes of Keene. Besides books, Keene’s influence is also found in video games, comics, movies, and other media.

The edition of this review is the ‘extended cut,’ i.e. the author’s preferred edition, published ten years after the original, in which Keene returns about 35,000 words cut from the debut. The story is a page-turner and follows the paths of several different characters as their lives intersect in the quest for survival. Some of the main characters seemed rather flat (Jim and Frankie), while I found myself relating and rooting for more of the lesser/ secondary characters (Baker and Skip).

The one unique element in this book which is not usually seen is that these zombies (Potential PLOT SPOILER) are actually host bodies for demons, and so retain consciousness and can perform normal human activity such as driving cars, opening doors, and <gasp> fire rocket launchers. In addition to human zombies, the survivors must contend with animal zombies, which adds a whole new layer of fear, fighting off zombie rats, birds, and lions.

The Rising promises on zombie battle and delivers on that promise wholeheartedly. Overall, it’s an exciting read, filled with violence, gore, and many, many surprises.

Four out of Five stars

http://www.amazon.com/The-Rising-Authors-Preferred-Edition/dp/1621050920/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1394568213&sr=8-1

***

Midnight cheers,

Eric J. Guignard

_________________________________

E
ric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from his office in Los Angeles. His stories and articles may be found in magazines, journals, anthologies, and any other media that will print him. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association and the International Thriller Writers. Recent magazine publications include Buzzy, Beware the Dark, and Stupefying Stories TM. He’s also an anthology editor, including: Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations (2012, Dark Moon Books), which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award®, and last year’s critically acclaimed release, After Death… (2013, Dark Moon Books). Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (2013, JournalStone Publishing), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2015). Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com or at his blog: www.ericjguignard.blogspot.com.
 
 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART V

This is part V in the categorical explanation for THE SUB-GENRES OF HORROR.

For an introduction, and PART I of this series, please begin here: The Sub-Genres of Horror - Part-I
PART II is here: The Sub-Genres of Horror - Part-II
PART III is here: The Sub-Genres of Horror - Part-III
PART IV is here: The Sub-Genres of Horror - Part-IV

Part V is below!

*****

Psychic Abilities

The use of Psychic Abilities (also known as extrasensory perception or sixth sense) are familiar storylines in horror fiction. Such abilities include: Telepathy (mind reading), Precognition or Postcognition (seeing events in the future or the past), Mind Control (forcing someone to act against their will), Telekinesis (ability to move objects by willpower), or any other power credited to the brain which is generally not considered possible in humans. Elements of witchery or paranormal may also share in this category.

These powers are not always portrayed with the intent to cause fright, but frequently are used by the protagonist to overcome a seemingly undefeatable opponent. Naturally the element of “evil” in psychic abilities is also abundant, and often multiple characters may have powers which they use to battle each other. Often, children are seen as the wielders of strange faculties. Psychic abilities may be explained by genetics, learned behavior, sorcery, or technological/medical experimentation (including comic-favorite ‘side-effects of radiation’).

Book Examples:

Firestarter by Stephen King
False Memory by Dean Koontz
Darkest Powers (series of books) by Kelley Armstrong


Psychological Horror

Psychological Horror is best characterized by the fears that come from within our psyche, rather than from external sources such as monsters or serial killers. It’s a form of narrative that
builds tension through the character’s perception of events, causing them (and the reader) terror or mental/ emotional instability. Often this subgenre is considered successful by what isn’t revealed rather than by what is told, and is generally considered to be more complex than those forms of horror which rely on violence or gore. Affects of the human psyche include such undesirable elements as: mental conflict, doubt, guilt, phobia, insanity, suspicion, distrust, etc.

Book Examples:

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
The Unloved by John Saul


Religious Horror (including: Demons and Possession)

One of the oldest themes of horror draws upon the fears, consequences
, and manifestations of evil found in religion. Although organized religion may be a focal point in the story, any belief system can be utilized such as Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Tribal Worship, or rites, mythology, or doctrine of any of the other countless world denominations. Most commonly, these tales will portray a variation of Satan as the ultimate evil/ villainous antagonist which corrupts or outright attacks an unsuspecting innocent. Other unsettling considerations include demon possession and exorcism, spirit worship, witchcraft, or any communion with evil spirits, including agreements, willing habitation, or general relationship. Even stories revolving around fictional religion (i.e. invented strictly for purposes of the plot) may also fall into this category. The worship of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos is an example of this.

Book Examples:

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Rosemary's Baby
by Ira Levin
The Omen by David Seltzer


Revenge

Some of the most compelling stories are those dealing with well-deserved retribution. The vengeance may be as righteous as bloodletting of a supernatural deity (demons, monsters, aliens) or as mundane as rallying against a corrupt financial institution. Revenge can haunt some people and it can heal others, but either way it is cause for vigorous emotion. After all, ‘Getting even’ is one of man’s most basic desires. Most people do not regularly act on it, especially in grand scale, but the satisfaction of relating to someone who does is often a thrilling, if not guilty, pleasure. Whether blood-spattered torture, psychological trauma, financial ruin, or simple dismissal, tales of revenge is a notion that every reader can empathize with in some form.

Book Examples:

Carrie by Stephen King
Red by Jack Ketchum
Death Wish by Brian Garfield


*****

MORE TO COME IN MY NEXT BLOG POST! Stay tuned soon for The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART VI

Part I Describes: Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic Horror, Bizarro Fiction, Body Horror (Biological Horror)

Part II describes: Dark Fantasy (AKA:Fantasy Horror), Environmental Horror, Erotic Horror, Fairy Tales and Dark Fables

Part III describes: Gothic Horror, Historical Horror, Humor (AKA: Horror Comedy), and Killer Animals

Part IV describes: Lovecraftian Horror (Cthulhu Mythos), Media Tie-In, Monster Horror, and Paranormal


Part V describes: Psychic Abilities, Psychological Horror, Religious Horror(including: Demons and Possession), and Revenge

*****

Thanks to notes on this topic accumulated from the following websites:


http://www.cuebon.com/ewriters/Hsubgenres.html

http://www.goldenagestories.com/news/2013/01/04/the-dark-the-dark-the-history-of-horror-fiction/2602

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_fiction

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-different-horror-genres.htm


*****

Midnight cheers,

Eric J. Guignard


BIO:

Eric J. Guignard
writes dark and speculative fiction from the outskirts of Los Angeles. His stories and articles may be found in magazines, journals, anthologies, and any other media that will print him. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association and the International Thriller Writers. Recent magazine publications include Buzzy Magazine, Beware the Dark, and Stupefying Stories TM. He’s also an anthology editor, including: Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations (2012, Dark Moon Books), which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award®, and last year’s critically acclaimed release, After Death… (2013, Dark Moon Books). Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (2013, JournalStone Publishing), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2015). Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com or at his blog: www.ericjguignard.blogspot.com.

 
 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Reviews (January, 2014)


Book Reviews! Each of the following books may be purchased through any large book store or online through www.amazon.com.

***

REVIEWED: Deadfall Hotel
WRITTEN BY: Steve Rasnic Tem
PUBLISHED: April, 2012


Deadfall Hotel is a rather sweet, at times sad, at times scary, novel which is more fantasy than horror. It includes the familiar monster tropes, but they are all fused with human pains, made believable in whatever condition ails the character, sending them to convalesce and, most likely, eventually perish in the namesake hotel. I wouldn’t call this book a “page-turner” as it is slow and sentimental, but that is what I enjoy about this author; he captures the subtleties of emotion – fear, sadness, hope – as masterfully as any “literary” writer, while at the same time building a compelling supernatural environment. A few of the sections seemed to go on for too long, such as the King of the Cats, while other sections, I wanted to learn more of, such as the actual history of the house, the pool that only occasionally appears, and the several of the other background “inhabitants” that make brief cameo appearances, but never again materialize. Deadfall Hotel is best read in a leisurely pace, ideally in a windowed nook with gloomy rain falling outside, and a nice mug of chamomile tea.

Four and a quarter out of Five stars

***


REVIEWED: Deadman’s Road
WRITTEN BY: Joe R. Lansdale
PUBLISHED: October, 2010

I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. Each self-contained tale revolves around the exploits of a central character, the gun slinging Reverend Jebidiah Mercer. There’s not a lot of literary depth to this book, but the stories are all fast-paced, action-filled, and pulp-esque fun. Rev. Mercer is quested to roam the old west, destroying evil in the name of God, whom he mostly despises, as penance for his sins. Each story pits him against a new enemy, mortal and supernatural alike. Mercer, cursing the whole way, does battle with whomever he is set against, including zombies, werewolves, ghosts, and kobolds. Joe R. Lansdale is really a master at creating excitement in his writing as well as crafting funny, meaningful dialogue. Know what you’re getting into before starting this: Deadman’s Road is violent and crass, but perfect when you need a pick-me-up after power-reading Camus or Dostoyevsky.

Five out of Five stars

***


REVIEWED: Village of the Mermaids
WRITTEN BY: Carlton Mellick III
PUBLISHED: April, 2013

Village of the Mermaids is about an Island town surrounded by carnivorous mermaids, which the local citizens are not allowed to kill, under threat of execution, per the Endangered Species Act.

Biting government satire, survivalist thrills, mystery, and horrible, horrible man-eating mermaids, this novel is not for the weak-of-heart, but IS for those who appreciate reading something strange and beautiful that they would not find anywhere else.

It’s a funny, fast-paced story. Like all of Mellick’s work, I enjoyed this, though I wouldn’t consider it one of his best novels. That being said, it’s quite fine on any level. The talent of Carlton is that he can take the most ridiculous-sounding premises and, in a unique and smart maneuvering, craft very entertaining tales that are both outlandish and highly literary.

As an aside, the opening prologue is a chapter which was removed from the book as it didn’t “fit,” but is the strongest element of the book overall, emotionally tragic. Reading it in advance gave me character insight into the doctor's character.

Four out of Five stars

***

Midnight cheers,

Eric J. Guignard

 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART IV

This is part IV in the categorical explanation for THE SUB GENRES OF HORROR.

For an introduction, and PART I of this series, please begin here:
The Sub-Genres of Horror - Part-I
PART II is here:
The Sub-Genres of Horror - Part-II
PART III is here: The Sub-Genres of Horror - Part-III

Part IV is below!

*****

Lovecraftian Horror (Cthulhu Mythos)

Named after its progenitor, author H. P. Lovecraft, Lovecraftian Horror deals with “cosmic horror of the unknown.” This theme is guided by the belief that human minds cannot possibly comprehend the perilous mysteries of the universe which are, at its core, alien and malevolent. Common elements include protagonists who use science and logic to attempt to unravel these mysteries, but then, most often, lose their sanity, as the mysteries of the cosmos are too much for the human mind to comprehend. Also categorized under “Weird Fiction,” Lovecraftian Horror is generally pessimistic, dependent on atmosphere, and typically abstains from gore (choosing to emphasize psychological fear, being the absence of normality).

Book Examples:

The Call of Cthulhu (or Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos) by H. P. Lovecraft
The Burrowers Beneath (Book 1 of the Cthulhu Cycle Deities) by Brian Lumley
New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird (an anthology) edited by Paula Guran


Media Tie-In

A book based on a movie, game, television show, etc., authorized by the production company to be written as part of cross promotional efforts. Generally, this type of book will expand the storyline of the original work, using its existing characters, concepts, and settings. The important distinction here is that the story itself will be unique from the movie (or other media vehicle), whereas a novelization is the simply the written form of the original story, i.e. a written format of what occurs in the movie.

Book Examples:

30 Days of Night: Light of Day by Jeff Mariotte
The Willow Files, Vol. 1 (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) by Yvonne Navarro
Dreams of the Dark (Dark Shadows) by Stephen M. Rainey, Elizabeth Massie, and Lara Parker


Monster Horror (AKA: Supernatural Horror; AKA: Monster Literature)

The very word itself, “Monster,” suggests something that is evil or hideous, and monsters in horror is perhaps the most familiar theme when one thinks of the genre. This may include any fictional or supernatural creature such as zombies, werewolves, mummies, vampires, etc. Typically the Monster (also generally the antagonist) is defined as something that is abhorrent to society and that it also incites fear and is threatening.

Book Examples:

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
It by Stephen King


Paranormal

Paranormal Horror may be closely categorized to monster horror, but that these monsters are generally intangible, or if they are more like traditional “monsters” they are at least capable of intelligent thought, and not rambling killing-machines. Paranormal primarily includes ghosts, unidentified presences, demons, perhaps aliens, or simply anything that is contrary to the realm of current scientific explanation. Even the authenticity of séances or Ouija boards, faith healing, telepathy, or any psychic phenomena may be considered paranormal, as their results can’t be scientifically proven. A psychological movement, “Parapsychology” is the scientific study of the Paranormal, to push those boundaries of what may be “possible.” Another popular subgenre which is often categorized similarly is Paranormal Romance, recognized as a romance story in which one or more of the protagonists possesses some paranormal ability.

Book Examples (Paranormal Horror):

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Shining by Stephen King
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Book Examples (Paranormal Romance):

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) by Charlaine Harris
Fantasy Lover (Dark-Hunter companion novel) by Sherrilyn Kenyon


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MORE TO COME IN MY NEXT BLOG POST! Stay tuned soon for The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART V


Part I Describes:Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic Horror, Bizarro Fiction, Body Horror (Biological Horror)

Part II describes: Dark Fantasy (AKA:Fantasy Horror), Environmental Horror, Erotic Horror, Fairy Tales and Dark Fables

Part III describes: Gothic Horror, Historical Horror, Humor (AKA: Horror Comedy), and Killer Animals

Part IV describes: Lovecraftian Horror (Cthulhu Mythos), Media Tie-In, Monster Horror, and Paranormal

Part V describes: Psychic Abilities, Psychological Horror, Religious Horror (including: Demons and Possession), and Revenge


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Thanks to notes on this topic accumulated from the following websites:

http://www.cuebon.com/ewriters/Hsubgenres.html

http://www.goldenagestories.com/news/2013/01/04/the-dark-the-dark-the-history-of-horror-fiction/2602

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_fiction

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-different-horror-genres.htm


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Midnight cheers,

Eric J. Guignard


BIO:

Eric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from the outskirts of Los Angeles. His stories and articles may be found in magazines, journals, anthologies, and any other media that will print him. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association and the International Thriller Writers. Recent magazine publications include Buzzy Magazine, Beware the Dark, and Stupefying Stories TM. He’s also an anthology editor, including: Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations (2012, Dark Moon Books), which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award®, and last year’s critically acclaimed release, After Death… (2013, Dark Moon Books). Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (2013, JournalStone Publishing), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2015). Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com or at his blog: www.ericjguignard.blogspot.com
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Interview With An Author (ME!) by Adventures With Ravina (PART 3 of 3)

This is Part 3 (of 3) of the of the interview done with me by the bloggers at ADVENTURES WITH RAVINA.

Part I of the interview is here: http://ericjguignard.blogspot.com/2013/10/interview-with-author-me-by-adventures.html


Part II of the interview is here: http://ericjguignard.blogspot.com/2013/10/interview-with-author-me-by-adventures_7.html

Part III of the full length of interview questions is below!

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Last books you purchased? Tell us about it.

= “EDGE OF DARK WATER” by Joe R. Lansdale. “THE TERROR” by Dan Simmons. NEVERWHERE” by Neil Gaimon. “DEADFALL HOTEL” by Steve Rasnic Tem. “REDSHIRTS” by John Scalzi. “THE CORN MAIDEN AND OTHER NIGHTMARES” by Joyce Carol Oates. All six of these books are recent purchases and highly recommended. With the exception of “REDSHIRTS” (which is science fiction) these are all horror and dark fiction works; all are by amazing authors who have built a career on bestselling works that are applauded within the literary community.

Do you find the time to read?

= Every day; I try to read at least 30 minutes.

When and why did you begin writing?

= I’ve been writing and drawing stories ever since I was a child. However I stopped in college, in order to pursue business and serious-minded life necessities... which, of course, I now regret. I don’t regret the pursuit of those things, but having given up writing for so many years. I only jumped into as a potential career two-and-a-half years ago after the realization struck me that I was missing out on something I was passionate about.

How long have you been writing?

= I’ve been writing fiction with the goal of publication since February, 2011.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

= Dark fiction, speculative fiction, horror, humor, and children’s stories

Who designed the cover?

= I designed the cover myself, although the artwork was created by Kevin Scott Sutay. Kevin is a United States veteran who is currently and illegally held by Columbian rebels as a prisoner on false charges of espionage. Hopefully by the time this interview sees print, the US government will have negotiated his release.

Who is your publisher?

= Dark Moon Books, an imprint of Stony Meadow Publishing, which is a wonderful indie publisher in Florida of quality fiction (mostly horror) and non-fiction. www.darkmoonbooks.com

How much of the book is realistic?

None of it is particularly realistic. “AFTER DEATH...” is anthology of all stories which are pure speculation on the part of the authors. Everyone’s opinion of what may happen after we die is different, and these stories explore a myriad of possibilities.

Have you ever considered anyone as a mentor?

= Weston Ochse @ http://weston-ochse.blogspot.com/
and Lisa Morton @ http://cinriter.livejournal.com/

What are your current writing projects now?

= I’m beginning a dark fantasy novel set in the hobo camps of the 1930s depression. Also, as a short story writer, I’m constantly working on smaller projects, both in the creation of stories, but also in the promotion of presses I work with.

Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest and why?

= Edward M Erdelac; I appreciate his crisp technical skills and love of mixing genres, primarily history and horror into compelling reading. http://emerdelac.wordpress.com/

Peter Giglio; As a writer, editor, and publisher, Pete creates and promotes some of the best horror and dark fiction in the indie presses. http://www.petergiglio.com

Jamie Lackey; Primarily an author of short stories, Jamie is exceptionally prolific with her work which spans fantasy, science fiction, and horror. She’s able to meld very emotionally-resonant characters into powerful storylines. http://www.jamielackey.com

Do you have any advice for writers?

= Keep writing, and remember that every rejection is an opportunity for improvement.

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All for now! Be sure to follow this Blog and connect with me via Twitter and other fine social media sites.

Go Back to: Author Interview with Me Part 1

Go Back to: Author Interview with Me Part 2