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WHAT GETS LEFT BEHIND By Mark West ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 2 SHUDDER By Harry F. Kane .................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 2   THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW SF 25 Edited By Gardner Dozios ....................................................................................................................................... 2   THE WOMAN IN BLACK ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 3   12-21-12 By Parker Lee ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 3   SCHOOL’S OUT FOREVER By Scott K. Andrews ............................................................................................................................................................................... 4   PIRANHA 3DD ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 4   The Writing Comes First By Alan Spencer .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 6   OUTPOST II: BLACK SUN (2012)......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 7   Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones ..................................................................................................................................................................... 10   OSAMA: A NOVEL By Lavie Tidhar ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 12   IN THE TALL GRASS By Stephen King & Joe Hill ............................................................................................................................................................................ 14   LITTLE GREEN GOD OF AGONY By Stephen King (with artwork by Dennis Calero) .................................................................................................................... 14   VAMPIRE CIRCUS By Mark Morris .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 15   CABIN IN THE WOODS ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 15   REVELATION: LUCIFER’S LEGIONNAIRE By Nathaniel Connors ................................................................................................................................................ 17   Jonathan Green Interview ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 18   THE RAID .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 25   GRAVE ENCOUNTERS 2 (2012) ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 25   MALICE By John Gwynne .................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 26   HELIX WARS By Eric Brown ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 26   ASH By James Herbert ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 27   Bedlam: The Greatest Horror Movie Never Made By Trevor Wright ................................................................................................................................................... 29   THE ALLEYMAN: KNIGHTS OF THE AIR By Pat Kelleher ............................................................................................................................................................ 29   From the Catacombs: Independent Comics By Jim Lesniak .................................................................................................................................................................. 30   Dai Green Interview ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 34   Ripped Genes: The Biopunk Special Issue ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 40   The New Fatherhood By Benjamin F Jones ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 43   Setting Down By Douglas J. Ogurek ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 44   Fishing the Life in Notochords By Matt Leyshon .................................................................................................................................................................................. 45   Harvest By J.B. Ronan ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 46   Richard and the Silver Marks By Nicholas Stirling................................................................................................................................................................................ 47   Baby Boom By Alan Spencer ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 48   Killing Larmark By David Barber .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 49   Ecce Homo By John Rovito .................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 50   Mousetrap By Oscar Windsor-Smith ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 51   Anti-Bodies By Wednesday Silverwood ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 52   Screaming Monkeys By Dev Jarrett ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 53   Legacy By Richard Farren Barber .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 54  

Edited By Stanley Riiks. Written By Adrian Brady, Jim Lesniak, Simon Marshall-Jones, Stanley Riiks, C.M. Saunders, Alan Spencer, Trevor Wright. Proof-read By Sheri White, Samuel Diamond. © Morpheus Tales January 2013


www.morpheustales.com WHAT GETS LEFT BEHIND By Mark West http://spectralpress.wordpress.com/

dolls. Plus, for years the bodies of young girls have been found picked clean on the city’s limits. The crimes have become such a fixture that the conventional police force has virtually forgotten about apprehending the culprit, but Cohran does not give up the ghost. Instead, he teams up with an albino friend and sets out to solve the crimes. Large swathes of this impressive cyber-noir thriller are given to describing the ambiguous ‘city’ as a living, breathing entity, harbouring its own set of dreams and desires, and ultimately its own appetite for destruction and regeneration. It is an interesting take on the complexities of modern urban life which at times spills over into witty social satire, all with a very dark edge. Harry F. Kane, whose previous books include the acclaimed Bad Ass Bible: The Bible’s Greatest Hits Remixed, writes with a crackling intensity and a maturity far beyond his years. I will certainly not be adverse to reading more of his work in the future. By C.M. Saunders

I’ve heard the name Mark West, but never read any of his work nor felt the need to pick up either of his novels. After reading this short story from Spectral Press though, I will be seeking out his work. West now has an ardent fan. This is the story of Mike Bergen, who after thirty years, has gone back home to visit the warehouse where his best friend died in an accident. The 1981 section of his story is what really drew me in; it’s not only nostalgic and warm, but also helps to set the stage for the present which immediately turns dark and brooding and nasty. The tension ramps up quickly as Mike revisits the warehouse, and West continues to drive forward, pouring on the tension and then pouring on some more. Great characters, excellent atmosphere, stunning pacing for a short story – this is what I want. This is what I want to read and this is what I want to write. I can’t remember when I’ve read a short story this good. West has done a grand job and the usually excellent quality of the Spectral Press chapbooks is nudged up to stunning with this. Best short story of the year, without a doubt. By Stanley Riiks

THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW SF 25 Edited By Gardner Dozios www.constablerobinson.com

SHUDDER By Harry F. Kane www.damnationbooks.com

If there is only one SF anthology on your bookshelf it should be this one. The Mammoth books are exactly what they say, but the New SF is the biggest. Including a list of honourable mentions, the book is 720 tightly packed pages of SF masterpieces. Thirty-five stories vie for your attention, each individually captivating. The ideas contained in this book are spectacular. Even non-SF fans will find

Dave Cohran is an ‘out-sniffer’, an outsourced detective employed by a nearfinancially and emotionally bankrupt futuristic city full of sexual perverts. He specializes in the sex crime sector, and where the story picks up, business is booming. He is immersed in a sudden case of multiple break-ins and attacks on sex 2


www.morpheustales.com something within the pages of this collection, as both established stars and newcomers rub shoulders, each story drawing you into a world sparkling with imagination. Gardner is one of the finest editors in SF, and here he has once again put together the definitive collection of the year. Never failing to deliver and deliver in style, the latest edition of the Mammoth Book of Best New SF is an unsurpassable anthology. By Adrian Brady

for much of the time. I found myself fiddling with my phone after 40 minutes, and never really took a great deal of interest after that. If a film can’t hold my attention for its entire length then I don’t consider it to be worth watching. Radcliffe is not bad (like an Edwardian muggle, Harry without magical powers), but is acted off the screen by his friend… It’s just too similar to The Ring, The Grudge and Dark Water, and that style has just been worn too thin. The titular woman in black might as well have been Japanese. There is nothing at all new here. The references to the Hammer of old just make me feel nostalgic for Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. And don’t get me started on the ending. A bit of a wasted opportunity. If you haven’t watched it already then you haven’t missed much. By Stanley Riiks

THE WOMAN IN BLACK “Let’s do Dark Water/The Grudge/The Ring, but set it in Edwardian England, with that Harry Potter dude!” I bet that was the pitch for this film – one of two so far that have attempted to resurrect the Hammer brand name. Unfortunately this isn’t worthy of even the hackneyed seventies Hammer films. Harry P— sorry, Daniel’s character (I can’t for the life of me remember his name) is a law firm clerk sent to tidy the papers of a recently deceased woman. In a little village in the north of England, Daniel finds a weary and sinister bunch of locals, with no room at the inn. He gets to stay in the attic for the night as it’s pouring rain. (Anyone aware of the Hammer Dracula series may find this amusingly familiar.) Despite being warned off, Daniel heads to the house the next morning, only to find in the paper that the couple who lived there abducted a child from a relative who then killed herself. Now she haunts the village, taking children by murderous means. On the tightest of budgets (only about a dozen actors have lines, and we only see a couple of the rooms of the massive house), this film moves fairly slowly. Though it’s only 90 minutes, it feels a lot longer. The atmospheric bits are OK, but the build up takes too long, and nothing happens

12-21-12 By Parker Lee A very topical offering here, concerning the Mayan prophecy that the date 21st December 2012 will mark the end of the world. Or at least the end of life as we know it. At the time of writing whether it comes to pass or not remains to be seen (remember the fabled Millennium Bug of 1999?), but what shouldn’t be ignored is this title by Parker Lee. When the historic date arrives Cody Cottrell and his adopted Red Indian brother John are hanging out on their uncle’s ranch, while a scout troop are camping in the woods. As predicted earthquakes and tsunami’s ravage the earth, the ground opens to allow devilish creatures to escape and wreak havoc in the world. Everyone somehow decides that the creatures are zombies — long-dead aboriginal people to be precise — and they don’t like fire. What makes these particular zombies interesting is 3


www.morpheustales.com that they appear to be inherently racist, exclusively attacking white folk, perhaps in belated revenge for the Anglo’s long catalogue of sins. 12-21-12 essentially describes a road trip from hell, with the two main story arcs following the pair of teenage boys looking for one of their girlfriends, and the scout troop trying to get home. There are no great surprises or plot twists, but the story is wellwritten, there are very few of the editorial errors that blight many other self-published books and, somewhat refreshingly for a story of this ilk, there is some measure of resolution at the end. By C.M. Saunders

all, great value. The Afterblight series at its very best. By Adrian Brady PIRANHA 3DD Without the ample-chested Kelly Brook, who appears in the first of the Piranha remakes in a swimming scene surely inspired by 1970s softporn, will the franchise fall apart? Well, let me put it like this: don’t expect the next Jaws. The piranha are heading for a new home, a lake right next to a water park whose owner is enticing women (double-Ds get in free) and men (who want to see those double-Ds and go to the all-nude adult pool), and saving money by pumping water from the lake. Uh, no! There are plenty of breasts in the first five minutes, but then there’s the story (what little there is of it), and that’s when the flesh devouring happens. The huge piranhas are again nasty looking little buggers, but aren’t so scary for those folks outside the water… There are some 3D pieces thrown in, literally, which add absolutely nothing to the film. Some nice appearances by Christopher Lloyd and Michael Hasselhoff add much needed humour, and the film refuses to take itself too seriously. Surprisingly, it’s better than the first remake, but – surprise, surprise – this isn’t going to win any Oscars. I can’t stretch to call it good, trashy fun, but it’s not terrible and it’s not too long. Mindless frivolity with some boobage, nasty piranhas and gruesome injuries. By Stanley Riiks

SCHOOL’S OUT FOREVER By Scott K. Andrews www.abaddonbooks.com This massive book is an omnibus of three novels (School’s Out, Operational Motherland and Children’s Crusade) along with a short story and a load of extras set in the Afterblight universe, a post-apocalyptic world of danger and desperation. Our hero, Lee Keegan is 15. Surviving in a world torn apart from the death of most of its populations, where gangs kill those in their territory, the authorities are out for what they can get, and everything’s all gone to hell is just the start of Lee’s problems… Andrews writes with a compelling fast-paced style, and the action sequences are choreographed to perfection. His characters really shine, and the novels’ plots ramp up the tension nicely. There’s a lot to like here, and the trilogy, with its good characters and startling twists, keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end. The extras add some nice details about the author and fill out the tightly packed 700+ pages. Great stories, a great book and above 4


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www.morpheustales.com The Writing Comes First By Alan Spencer

very little to do with why I was receiving rejection letters. Here’s why: I ravenously scoured the Internet and writer’s guidebooks for places to send my fiction. I admit, this became a bit of an obsession on my part. I worried about the magazines’ guidelines more than I did the actual stories themselves. Big mistake. I was sending out ten to fifteen submissions a week, and I’d be dizzied by the sheer differences in submission guidelines. Here’s a long list of conflicting guidelines I faced: single spaced stories only, double spaced stories only, underline italics only, keep italics as they are, indent all paragraphs, only indent first paragraph, don’t indent paragraphs, put all your author information on a header and footer, only put your author information on the first page header, no page numbers, all pages must be numbered, add page breaks, don’t add page breaks, no exclamation marks (one magazine asked this, seriously!), one inch page margins, one and a half inch page margins, use Times New Roman font only, use Courier font, use Garamond font, and finally no semi-colons. These rules are really the tip of the iceberg. So think about the magazines receiving something from a novice writer who could barely put a period at the end of a sentence, never mind keep tally of these formatting requests. You’d be rejected from the onset. Again, I’m not blasting the magazines, I’m just saying most new

Recently, I dedicated a month to writing short stories. They weren’t meant for anybody necessarily. After the month was done, I ended up with fourteen to nineteen serviceable tales. The subject matter covered human tragedies, a nasty demon that shot monsters out her gross vagina, and questions of sex, death and the afterlife, via the outlet of horror. During the time I spent working on this project, I couldn’t help but remember the old days when I pounded out short stories left and right for any magazine that was asking for horror fiction. Looking back, I suddenly knew why I’d accumulated a heaping mountain of rejection letters. In many situations, I was already defeated before I’d written a single word. I need to throw out a few details before I go on. First, I was very new at writing short stories in this period of my life. I was terrible at editing, and my energy for writing itself overtook any interest in craft, drawing well-rounded characters, and knowing how to apply conflict and resolution to stories. And I’m not saying I’m the master at it now either, but back then, I was horrible. Also let me add, I’m not dogging on the magazine market for what they ask of writers. These people work hard for very little, if any, glory or compensation. But back to what I was saying, the quality of my stories still had 6


www.morpheustales.com authors are in a hurry to get their work out there, and they often shoot themselves in the foot before a single word is written by failing to heed these guidelines. The bulk of the submissions many magazines receive, when unsolicited material is welcome, is from newer writers. This means the editors or submission readers come upon many of the same mistakes time and time again. Several magazines even went to the trouble of throwing out disclaimers on their websites saying they didn’t want stories involving aliens that needed sperm to fuel their spacecrafts to get back to their home planet or horror stories where the conflict ends with the female protagonists cutting someone’s penis off. I was one of those people who used severed genitals as my story’s turning point. Sadly, I was also one of those writers who frustrated magazines with stories that had no business being sent to them, and most likely, I became the butt of a few jokes. You editors out there know you laugh at us. It’s okay; some of the things we write are pretty ridiculous. So maybe the magazines have to be very specific when it comes to the fiction they request simply because writers send them material that is nowhere near what they were asking for. Some places want zombies, or really don’t want zombies. Others strictly want vampires, but what kind? Erotic, teen, or paranormal? There are places for gore and gross-out stories too. And many anthology submission calls are themed. Some involve Christmas, H.P. Lovecraft, Halloween, space, religion, erotica, hardcore, bizarro, bondage, robots, blends of horror and science, speculative fiction, or some new sub-genre you haven’t even heard of yet. What I’m trying to get at is the magazine and anthology markets are going to ask a writer to adapt to their needs. They’re not going to adapt to you and your personal creative interests. Before you worry

about word counts, formatting, themes, or any other guidelines, you better have taken the time to develop your writing muscles. You can’t sell a story that isn’t properly fleshed out, period. Sometimes you get lucky, sure, but most of the time you don’t. I failed to worry about the good writing first and became tangled up in submission guidelines. The main thing I learned from my recent writing adventure is that I should’ve spent a hell of a lot more time learning the basics of writing without worrying about the fiction market. Once I did have a better grip on executing the actual stories, I eventually had better success with finding a home for my fiction. You can’t forget writing’s a business. You have to follow the rules. The stories have to be fleshed out enough that someone can read them and get caught up in the action without stumbling over mistakes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t write stories for fun either. And not every story has to have a destination right from the start. You might be holding onto these bad boys for years before the right ideas click together. So I was basically writing for writing’s sake with my new project. I had my fun first, and later, I’ll have to get serious and fix what needs to be fixed before showing any of them to the world. Remember, the writing comes first, and everything else be damned! OUTPOST II: BLACK SUN (2012) Director: Steve Barker Strap yourselves in for the surprisingly entertaining sequel to 2008’s Nazi zombie romp Outpost. The main difference between the two is that while in the first film the action was confined to a spooky old bunker in Eastern Europe, in Outpost II: Black Sun, the undead Reich rise once more in an effort to conquer Europe... and the world. Cue more zombies, gunshots, disembowelling and explosions than you can shake a stick at. 7


www.morpheustales.com The rather meaty plot follows a Nazi hunter (Catherine Steadman) and her sidekick, rogue physicist Richard Coyle (in a welcome departure from his usual role in Coupling) as they team up with a group of gung-ho British troops in mortal battle to stop the undead stormtroopers running rampant as a result of experiments carried out by a twisted SS officer at the tail end of WWII. While the gaggle of soldiers, predictably enough, meet increasingly sticky ends, the storyline opens out nicely as the film progresses. The film’s superb special effects, scale of production and overall feel belie its modest budget, and there are even a few twists in the tail to keep the viewer guessing. While it may not win any prizes at Cannes, this could well go down in history as one of the great British horror flicks of recent times. Great stuff. As a footnote, I have it on good authority that Outpost III is currently in production. By C.M. Saunders

bargained for while delving into his dead friend’s archive; Eric Best, a gangland thug and protective ex-boyfriend to Abby, will stop at nothing to keep his ex for himself, including murder; DS Royle is separated from his pregnant wife, who can’t live with him or without him, meanwhile, the policeman is investigating the disappearance of the Gone Away Girls, a series of unsolved kidnappings, and then scarecrows start appearing with photos of the missing girls attached… post-mortem photos. Beyond Here Lies Nothing has the same heavy, brooding atmosphere of the first two books. It is stifling and you can’t get away from it, which adds to the increasing drama, both human and supernatural. Although the human beings in McMahon’s novels are horrible enough, he doesn’t rest there, inserting some strange and spookily unreal action along the way. Although this is an ensemble piece and lacks the depth of characterisation of the stunning second book in the series, Silent Voices, it is more ambitious in scale and plot. Both previous books lead in to this catastrophic finale. Although not as brutal and nasty as some of his other novels, this isn’t quiet horror; it still hurts, and that’s what horror is all about – making the reader feel. McMahon does this by drawing us into his story, creating realistically flawed characters and brutally punishing them. McMahon has his finger firmly on the carotid artery of modern horror. No horror fan should be without the entire Concrete Grove trilogy and the Thomas Usher novels. By Stanley Riiks

BEYOND HERE LIES NOTHING By Gary McMahon www.solarisbooks.com This is the third and final chapter in McMahon’s splendidly brooding Concrete Grove trilogy. Reading the first two parts of this story isn’t essential to your enjoyment, as the third novel, like the other two, stands on its own, but they are interlinked, and knowing what’s going on beforehand will greatly enhance your understanding of the Grove and appreciation for the events unfolding therein. This book has several cleverly woven plot strands, including: Marc Price, visiting the Grove for a funeral and investigating the Northumberland Poltergeist, discovers a lot more than he 8


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www.morpheustales.com Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones

outsiders coming into already established communities. Necessarily, at the time of broadcast in 1977 (when I was a measly 14 years old), I missed a lot of the subtextual stuff, but I do remember that the discovery of black holes (a term coined by theoretical physicist John Wheeler) and their implications had caused some excitement among the general public. Although my reasons for wanting to watch The Children of the Stones have been lost to the obscuring fog of times past, mention of this cosmological phenomenon would most have most likely been one of them. The background to the series goes something like this: during megalithic Britain, a pagan Druid witnessed a supernova and deduced that a ‘black hole’ had formed in its wake (it isn’t explained how he’s worked this out), and that through its agency he could harness the energy of the stone circle that acted as the focus through a beam of negative energy. Two travellers arrive, and the Druid attempts to brainwash them too, but somehow they manage to thwart his schemes and escape. This is just the start of it – the place where this happened, which has now become the village of Millbury, is caught in something of a time-loop whereby this same scenario is doomed to be played out time and time again. There are hints of a repeat happening before the events depicted in the

If there’s one thing I remember most from my childhood television watching (and which probably went a long way towards forming my taste for the spooky and ghostly), it would be a show called The Children of the Stones, a seven-episode series produced by Harlech Television that really created a benchmark for children’s horror rarely if ever equalled since. (In fact, I doubt the series would even get beyond the pitch stage now.) It was genuinely unsettling and terrifying – even now, thirty-five years later, I can see the eerie stones in the circle and still get a shiver from the image. Many years after the series aired, I visited Avebury without even realising that this is where it was filmed (we didn’t possess anything like the Internet in those days – information that is now accessible at the click of a mouse was only available in magazines and such, and, living on what seemed to be the edge of the world and with no money of my own to speak of, getting the magazines would have been problematical anyway). Today, I would aver that it’s one of the finest pieces of children’s television ever produced. The plot is surprisingly complex, involving time loops and black holes, intertwined with themes of individuality and 10


www.morpheustales.com TV series. Viewed like this, there are four identifiable time-cycles: the megalithic, the one just prior to the series, the one that forms the action of the televised episodes and the future one hinted at when the series ends. As you can probably guess, the seven episodes detail the third instantiation of the scenario, this time involving an astronomer called Rafael Hendrick (played by Ian Cuthberston) who, through his discoveries concerning the stones and the black hole, has become the de facto leader of the village. The role of the outsiders are this time played by Professor Brake (Gareth Thomas, later to find fame as Roj Blake in the eponymous sci-fi TV series Blake’s Seven) and his son Matthew, and once more the scenario from previous time-cycles runs its course, with the outsiders dashing the astronomer’s plans. The very last scene, however, leaves us in no doubt that, even though this timecycle has been broken, the time-loop has reset itself and will run as it always has once more. This is signalled by the arrival of a rich man, who reveals that he is planning to retire to the very house where the astronomer lived. The link between what happened and what is about to happen is the butler, appropriately named Link, played by actor John Woodnutt, I’ve necessarily been very economical in my description of the basic plot; otherwise this column would probably read more like a novella. Just writing this much is capable of frazzling one’s mind somewhat, so is it any wonder that director Peter Graham-Scott was surprised to learn that this was a children’s television series, with a very distinct dark mixture of sciencefiction, fantasy and horror? There are some complex themes and subtextual strands going on here, most of which I think would have gone sailing over the heads of most of its young teenage audience. I know that certainly happened in my case.

Nevertheless, it’s extremely memorable for a couple of reasons, which I will elaborate upon. Firstly, the whole story just captured my imagination from the very beginning. Like many others, I have always been drawn to tales of the mysterious and the unknown, and so this ticked all the right boxes. It had black holes (I was at the time, and still remain, very interested in astronomy and cosmology), mysterious stone circles (I was also inordinately fascinated by the spurious theories of Von Däniken at the time – I was young, what can I say?) and hints of arcane forces at work. It was a heady mixture, impossible to resist for a teenager like me. Secondly, due to the constraints of television production at the time, especially for children’s drama, the way it was shot only added to its general air of menace, aided and abetted by Sidney Sagar’s atmospheric music score. Thirdly, it was the thought of the stones having once been living people that, above all else, scared the daylights out of me. There was just something unutterably terrifying about that thought that never failed to send shivers down my spine – still does, in fact, but not to the same extent. This is also probably why I had been fascinated with the myth of Medusa when even younger. (As an aside, I have always entertained a certain romantic notion that statues could be possessed of ‘souls’ or ‘genius loci’, which allow them to observe the world around them. I don’t literally believe in them, however, whenever I look at a statue I wonder what they’ve seen and heard as life has played out in their immediate environment and what they could tell us if they were able to communicate.) Fourthly, let’s go back to that soundtrack – what a magnificently judged score it is, too. Sidney Sagar did a brilliant job of portraying a number of things pertinent to the ensemble: the weirdness, the 11


www.morpheustales.com isolation (both in terms of the temporal and social distance of the outsiders), and the sheer menace pervading the village. It’s apparent from the opening scenes that something not quite right is going on, and that there’s an uncomfortably disturbing current running just beneath the surface. This discomfort is more than augmented by the musical score — although, to call it music would be to do it a disservice I feel; it is pure sound sculpture, and an aural equivalent of emotional manipulation — and it makes the viewer continuously feel on edge. There are very few scores I’ve heard that do that, and this one does it in truckloads. Many of the authors I work with can pinpoint the exact moment that came to define their lives later on. In my case, watching The Children of the Stones was just one of many such moments that, in aggregate, shaped me into the person I am today. Despite the limitations within which the production crew had to work, it’s still a superbly produced drama of the highest calibre. I consider it to be something of a pinnacle when it comes to children’s genre TV – it was genuinely nerve-wracking, intelligent, well written and atmospherically photographed, with good performances from Gareth Thomas as Professor Brake, Freddie Jones as Dai, the poacher (who has his own weird connections with the second time-loop referred to above) and Ian Cuthbertson as the astronomer Rafael Hendrick. And, with the magic of the internet and Youtube, I’ve been able to watch the opening title sequence and it still holds up even today for sheer spookiness – and yet it’s shot in broad daylight. That sort of television is sorely missed in these days of high-tech wizardry, and I really do recommend that you search it out if you can - highly essential viewing!

OSAMA: A NOVEL By Lavie Tidhar www.solarisbooks.com It’s not often a book leaves me both intrigued and puzzled, but this alternate reality novel in which Osama Bin Laden is a fictional freedom fighter and vigilante battling against his western oppressors managed it. Joe is a private detective engaged by a mysterious woman with finding the writer of the Osama: Vigilante series of novels, a task that takes him around the world. The world isn’t explored with any great depth, although it’s clear this is an alternative reality from the old-fashioned signs in Piccadilly, the fact that there is no World Trade Centre and that Osama is only a fictional character, However, there is seemingly no reason why the timelines of our universes have parted ways. There are mysterious men-in-black types who repeatedly try to warn off Joe, beating him up only to leave him to continue his quest. Despite the lack of explanation and the strangely inconclusive ending, this is a book that grips you. It’s the book’s very nature: a puzzle inside a conundrum contained within a mystery that draws you in. Tidhar’s writing is evocative, and the brief glimpses we receive of the Osama stories are startlingly powerful. A brave but ultimately unsatisfying book that will leave you hungry for more. A book of contradictions that makes you feel a little empty inside. Powerful, intelligent and well written, this is a book that is difficult not to remember. By Stanley Riiks

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www.morpheustales.com IN THE TALL GRASS By Stephen King & Joe Hill http://www.stephenking.com/promo/in_the_ tall_grass/

of the wealthiest writers who ever lived and his son isn’t too far behind, even without the benefit of his dad’s wealth. What that tells me is that when neither has to write, or do anything else for that matter, yet the two overcome all the hassles of modern life to work on a project together, it is for reasons over and above commercial gain. One would be inclined to think it is more a public display of love for what King would call the craft. It perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise that with those familial ties, a common background, and styles so well matched (when the stories that would later go on to make up Joe Hill’s collection 20th Century Ghosts first burst onto the scene, it was believed by some that they were, in fact, products of another Bachman-style King pseudonym), everything about “In The Tall Grass” is silky and smooth. The story remains true to King’s ethos of putting ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and moves along at a nice, steady pace before quickly descending into what has to be one of his goriest stories ever. Really, it’s enough to give a grown man nightmares. This is classic King, with shades of “Survivor Type” and a passing nod to Children of the Corn. Within just the first few pages one is reminded that nobody paints a character quite as well as the Master. Except, maybe his son, the pretender to his own throne. As a bonus this ebook also features a sneak preview of King’s next novel, Doctor Sleep (the longawaited sequel to The Shining, to be published in 2013) as well as an excerpt from Hill’s next tome. One of the reasons King is so perennially popular is the fact that he is always pushing the boundaries, not just in his actual fiction, but in the way it is delivered. Instead of shying away from technology like so many ‘old school’ writers, King is always keen to embrace it,

LITTLE GREEN GOD OF AGONY By Stephen King (with artwork by Dennis Calero) http://www.stephenking.com/promo/little_gr een_god_of_agony/ This year Stephen King turns 65. Not that he seems to be entertaining any thoughts of retirement, or even slowing down a tad, just yet. He is just as prolific as ever, if not more so. Right now is a good time to be a Stephen King fan (and let’s face it, we are many; the guy isn’t the bestselling horror writer the world has ever seen by accident) as winter 2012 sees the birth of two new projects – both innovative in their own way and well worth your attention. The first, “In The Tall Grass”, available now on all formats imaginable, is his second novella-length collaboration with son, Joe Hill, following 2009’s “Throttle”. The story, originally published in the US in the pages of Esquire magazine, begins when a brother and sister, Cal and Becky DeMuth, take a break during a road trip and hear a child’s voice crying for help from somewhere beyond the tall grass on the side of the road. As the sobbing becomes more desperate, brother and sister both head off in search of the distressed child, but within minutes they become separated and then completely lost as they venture deeper into the grass... With regards to collaborations in general I am always curious as to who did what, and why. Who had the initial idea, and why didn’t they pursue it themselves? In some cases this boils down to who needs the money the most. In Stephen King’s world, however, normal rules do not apply. This is certainly not about the money, King is one 14


www.morpheustales.com and Little Green God of Agony is another ground-breaking new concept, a free online web comic posted exclusively on his rather awesome official website in a series of instalments over eight weeks. When the eight weeks are up we can assume it will be left there for us to enjoy, at least until he thinks of something else to do with his time. I’m sure he won’t be long. The story itself, the short, brutal tale of a nurse caring for a rich paraplegic who seeks a final end to his pain, was published in its original form in the excellent Stephen Jones anthology, The Books of Horrors (2011). Here, it is given a new lease of life, re-written and perfectly complemented by the breathtaking art of popular comic books artist Dennis Calero, one of the creators of X Men Noir and Devil Inside. Well worth a look! By C.M. Saunders

A brilliantly modern take on the classic Hammer film. Well done, Mr. Morris. By Adrian Brady CABIN IN THE WOODS Just think for a moment, how many films have you seen where a group of attractive youngsters head off into the woods to spend a few nights in a dark and abandonedlooking cabin, only to set off some kind of ghost/zombie/monster rampage? If you’re any kind of horror fan then you’ll have watched a few. No doubt, the director and writer Drew Goddard and his writing partner Joss Whedon (of Buffy/Firefly/Avengers Assemble, etc.), have seen a few too, and that’s why they’ve decided to turn the whole premise on its head. To give you too many details would spoil the surprise. Suffice to say, it’s twisted, the premise is blown out of the water, and it’s a great deal of fun, especially when you realise what’s happening in the escape scene. Just don’t think too hard about it, go with the flow. It is over the top, sometimes completely ridiculous, but also at times bloody marvellous! There is a distinct lack of horror, surpassed by the underlying amused tone of the whole film. This is not scary. Nice to see some familiar faces from Whedon’s past work, and lots of genre references, something to get the fanboys excited (OK, I admit I’m one too). True horror, SF and fantasy fans will have a blast with this. By Stanley Riiks

VAMPIRE CIRCUS By Mark Morris www.randomhouse.co.uk Anyone expecting an authentic adaptation may find this disappointing, as Morris has added a modern twist to this Hammer Films classic. Morris is a seasoned horror writer with a number of books under his belt and a career spanning decades. His original novels have been followed by a series of tie-ins, including entries into the Dr. Who and now the Hammer canons. Unfamiliar with the original film as I was, I found this intriguing, atmospheric and a wonderful read. The Circus of Nights arrives in the small village of Shettle, a crime-ridden and unlucky place. But the Circus proves popular, and the town of Shettle will never be the same again… Morris imbues his characters with life and his scenes with atmosphere and energy. 15


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16


www.morpheustales.com SPLINTERS By Joseph D’Lacey www.timelinepublishers.co.uk

his death, watching as others around him are blending for alien food is remarkably tense. Then there’s “Son of Porn,” just a gloriously over-the-top sex-fest. Twisted and gory, it’s like car-crash writing: you can’t take your eyes off the page for fear you’ll miss something disgusting. Splinters is a short collection, but there are enough stories in here, and they are so very different from each other that they don’t blend together in the reader’s mind as one homogeneous work, as is sometimes the case. What D’Lacey and his publishers have done here is produce a very fine, very eclectic collection. This is a book written by a genre fan, a twisted and particularly talented genre fan. There are moments in almost all the stories where a turn of phrase leaps out at you and you just think, ‘brilliant.’ Splinters is what all genre collections should be: concise, diverse and stunning. A bloody read book from a bloody good writer. I can’t wait to read more D’Lacey. By Stanley Riiks

Joseph D’Lacey is a joy to read. I first discovered him when reading his first novel, MEAT, an alt-world horror story with one of my favourite scenes of all time, a shockingly brutal and nasty piece of writing that made me cringe! His second novel, The Garbage Man, was an urban eco-fantasy, a provocative and disturbing tale of nature fighting back. A this is D’Lacey’s first collection, it holds some gems. A truly diverse collection, it contains masterful short stories of the horror, SF and fantasy variety. My favourite is the Hemingway-esque “The Mango Tree”, a story that feels like a modern fable set on a quiet, tranquil island. However, before that there are a couple of disturbing horror tales, including the book’s first story, one of peeping toms taken to the extreme, which shows a little of D’Lacey’s slightly twisted sense of humour. “Fish Pie,” on the other hand, sprinkles a morbid tone with a little humour added for poignancy. “Rhiannon’s Reach” is a kind of Open Water story of lost divers, one of the book’s longest entries.D’Lacey manages to suspend the reader in those chilling waters — there was a time that I literally had trouble breathing. That is what I want when I read a book, to feel exactly like the protagonist, to experience the action alongside them. Here, D’Lacey is on top form: the atmosphere, the pleasure and the danger of scuba diving are effectively and convincingly portrayed. The weak ending is forgivable, but only because the rest of the story is so good. I would have preferred the story left more ambiguously open ended. The other long story in the book was a bit confused — a kind of alien infiltration story — and even that had some really good moments. The part where the man is cleansed and then put in a blender to await

REVELATION: LUCIFER’S LEGIONNAIRE By Nathaniel Connors This, the second book in the Revelation Series, continues the story of the Armand family as they struggle to avoid being killed. But this is just a small part of the story, as those familiar with the first book will find more of the same here. Despite being just over two-hundred pages there is a lot packed in, the plot is wide-ranging, and Connors’ concise storytelling style quickly draws you in. Best to read the first part of this trilogy before going to the second, and if you enjoy the first book then no doubt you’ll enjoy its sequel, but too much would be lost if you came to this second book without any knowledge of the first. I look forward to reading the third 17


www.morpheustales.com and final book in this epic trilogy. By Adrian Brady

time) replied, explaining that I was welcome to try writing a Fighting Fantasy gamebook but warning me that my chances of actually being published were very slim. Two years, two ideas and five writing samples later, I was commissioned to write my first book, Spellbreaker. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jonathan Green Interview You’ve been writing for a long time. What inspired you to start writing? I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. At the age of 6 I was putting together little books that I wrote as well as illustrated, although I think there were more pictures than words. As a teenager I went through a phase when I read a lot of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael medieval murder mysteries. I discovered that she had her first book published at the age of 22 and this became something to aim for. I also had (and still have) a deep and abiding love of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. However, as I grew more critical with age I realised that some of the published titles weren’t the best. It was this that prompted me to try to write one myself as I felt that I couldn’t do any worse than certain other authors. As it turned out, I was right.

You’ve written a large number of books set in established worlds such as Warhammer, Warhammer 40K, Pax Britannia, Star Wars and Doctor Who. Is it a help to have definite rules and boundaries, or does that restrict your creativity? It doesn’t restrict your creativity. Clearly there are certain things you can’t do within each of those settings (such as destroy the Earth), but just being allowed to play with those toys can be a great source of inspiration and allow you to try things you might never have thought of otherwise. Just look at all the fanfic that’s out there, and think of the books that started off as fan-fic for something else. (I’m not saying they’re good necessarily, just that writing within an existing setting can be creatively liberating.)

How did you go about first getting your work published? I wrote to Puffin Books generously offering to write a brand new gamebook series for them. (Ah, the arrogance of youth.) Rather than pop my letter in the round filing cabinet in the corner, Marc Gascoigne (consultant editor on the Fighting Fantasy line at the

Of course I created the world of Pax Britannia, so that certainly didn’t restrict my creativity! (Everything that exists within that Steampunk world is there because I put it there.) As long as you stay true to the setting, its rules and its spirit, you shouldn’t 18


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write it that way.”

Which established worlds do you most enjoy reading and writing? I couldn’t single out any one in particular. I love them all. That’s why I keep writing for them. Inevitably I have a very soft spot for Pax Britannia, but there’s something ultimately so cool about writing Space Marines in 40K, or the Doctor in Doctor Who. So no, I couldn’t single one out.

What are your other influences? Films, TV, video games, comics, the natural world, walks on cold, misty mornings, throwaway comments overheard on the Tube, paintings, things my children say... Everything, I guess, but images in particular. In fact I describe the process of writing fiction as putting down on paper (or the laptop screen at least) the movie I’m watching in my head.

Is there any series you would like to work on? Horus Heresy or Star Trek for example. Well if Black Library emailed me tomorrow saying, “We’d like you to write the next Horus Heresy novel,” I wouldn’t say no. Star Trek doesn’t interest me, to be honest. I’ve watched the various TV shows and the movies and have enjoyed them, but I think part of the appeal of many of the settings I’ve written for is their British-ness, or even English-ness. (Doctor Who, Warhammer, 40K, Pax Britannia, of course…) Star Trek (like Stargate and all the others) is inherently American, and I’m just not wired that way.

Where do you get your inspiration? See above, but you can add looming deadlines to that list. You work as a teacher, so how do you fit in your writing? No – I used to work as a teacher. Apart from the odd bit of supply, I haven’t worked as a teacher for over four years now. The question of how I fit my writing in around my teaching job was one of the motivating factors in me getting out of teaching. I was too tired and generally emotionally wrung out in the evenings. Weekends and holidays were family time. And so the best time for me to write was during the day, but that was when I was at work (obviously). Something had to give, and circumstances meant that it could be the teaching, rather than the writing. For a long time now I’ve considered myself to be a writer; it’s what defines me. Teaching was just a job. When I was still teaching I would write in

What other writers have influenced you? Ellis Peters, Terry Pratchett, Tim Powers, Dan Abnett, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone… To be honest there probably isn’t a writer I’ve read who hasn’t influenced me in some way, even if it was only to make me think, “Well I wouldn’t 19


www.morpheustales.com the evenings, at weekends and during the school holidays. But once children came along that practice became increasingly difficult to sustain, especially as my writing career began to take off.

know if that’s just because that’s how I had to do things when I started out (first submitting gamebooks to Puffin and later pitching novels to Black Library), or because that’s just how my mind works. What I do know is that I’ve been doing it that way for so long now I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Things will change from the initial plan but only very slightly. If a story’s going off at a tangent, I’ll pick that up in my initial synopsis (or my editor will) so that when I start writing the story I know what the beginning is, and the end, and how I’m going to join the two together.

Do you have any rituals or routines when you write? I drop the kids off at school, I check my emails, try not to get distracted by Facebook and Twitter (and usually fail) and then try to write as much as I can before I have to pick the kids up from school again. At the end of the day, there’s no magic formula or secret system that’s only revealed to those initiated into the cult of writing. It’s simply the ritual and routine of a jobbing writer with young children.

If you could go back in time to when you started writing and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be? Hmm… That’s a tricky one. I honestly can’t think of anything, partly because I was first commissioned when only 20 years old. I know a lot of writers say they wished they’d been brave enough to send some of their work to an editor or agent much sooner, but I didn’t have that problem. (The arrogance of youth again.)

You certainly can’t wait until inspiration strikes, because chances are the next deadline will arrive first. That said, I listen to a lot of orchestral music while I work – film soundtracks mainly – and that does help to create a certain atmosphere. I have a great Bond playlist that I listen to when I’m writing Ulysses Quicksilver’s action scenes and if I’m writing about Spring-Heeled Jack, I’ll put on the Arkham City soundtrack.

Do you read reviews of your work? How do you deal with criticism? I do, all the time. How do I deal with criticism? Well, it’s never nice to read bad things about your work, especially when you’ve spent months of your life creating something, and given up so much to do so, but at the end of the day,

How do you put a book together, do you just sit down and write, or do you plan chapter by chapter? Always plan. I’ve never been a writer who can just sit down and start writing without knowing where the story’s going. I don’t 20


www.morpheustales.com that’s how I know I’m a writer at heart. No matter how bad the reviews, no matter how many rejections or other knock-backs I receive, the next day I’ll be back at the keyboard, or sitting with notebook in hand, ready to make a start on the next story.

after all. Sometimes I’ll re-read something of mine and I’ll think, “Actually, that’s quite good,” but more often than not I’ll think, “I should have broken up that sentence” or “I shouldn’t have used that word there”. Some of my early gamebooks could be a lot fairer but you learn from your mistakes, so maybe my later ones wouldn’t be as good as they are if I hadn’t made those mistakes earlier on in my career.

What book are you reading now? The Tripods Trilogy, by John Christopher, for work-related reasons (which is actually why I read a lot of the books I do).

You can always keep tinkering with a story. In the past I’ve cut stuff out on one read through only to put it back in during the next. Oscar Wilde put it best when he said, “Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned.”

What is your proudest moment as a writer? There are too many to pick out just one. Receiving my first commissioning letter for Spellbreaker. Seeing my first book on sale in WHSmith. Having Howl of the Werewolf voted the favourite Fighting Fantasy gamebook of all time by fans of the series. Being invited to write an official Doctor Who title (and meeting a Dalek as a direct result). Having my name appear alongside K W Jeter’s in an article about Steampunk. Meeting a guy who named his son after Ferrus Manus, the Primarch of the Iron Hands Chapter, because he had enjoyed my novel Iron Hands so much… And hopefully there are more special moments still to come.

What's the best piece of feedback that you've had from your audience? There’s been so much I can’t immediately single out one piece. I suppose comments along the lines of, “Please keep writing” are always nice, but it’s probably the more negatives comments I’ve actually learnt the most from, no matter how dejected they might have made me feel when I first read them. What is the most important thing when becoming a writer? Don’t give up the day job! I know it’s a clique, but it’s very hard to make a living as a writer, let alone a successful one. There are over 200,000 new books published in the

Are you disappointed with any of your work when you look back on it? There are always things you’d do differently. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, 21


www.morpheustales.com UK each year, but how many big name Authors (with a capital A) can you name…? Precisely.

splatterhouse movie.

exploitation

torture-porn

Do you write for a particular audience, for yourself? Now that I’m a jobbing writer, I do have to write for different audiences. For example, when I write Moshi Monsters I’m writing for my kids really. But other than that, your first reader is always going to be yourself, and I write the sort of stories I would like to read. So yes, I write for myself, but in the hope that enough other people will like the same things I do.

2012 marks the 20th anniversary of my first writing commission, but it’s only in the last five years that I’ve been able to make it my job, and sometimes it feels just as tough now as it did when I was starting out. You write fantasy (Magestorm), SF (Crisis on Coruscant), and horror (Anno Frankenstein). Do you prefer a particular genre, do you even think about genre when you are writing? The genre I like to write in most is ‘genre’, as it’s called now; in others words, fantasy, sci-fi and horror, with elements of one bleeding into another. It’s funny because I never used to consider myself a horror writer, and then I started finding my Pax Britannia books hidden under Horror in Waterstones. I’ll happily admit that many of my books have horrific elements within them but I hadn’t set out to write a horror story at the time.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Sleep? I’m joking. I spend time with my wife and kids, relax in front of the TV or with the Xbox, go for long walks in the Wiltshire countryside. Nothing special. What parts of being a writer do you like best? And least? The best: the whole creative process; bringing into being something that wasn’t there before. The least: doing my tax return.

More recently I have started to write horror, and I use the term explicitly here. What’s interesting is that in my horror stories far fewer people die, if any at all. For me, it’s all about building an unsettling atmosphere rather than writing the outline for the next

Who are your favourite authors and favourite books? Too many to list (and the list inevitably changes the more books I read) but just to mention a few… The Anubis Gates, by Tim 22


www.morpheustales.com Powers… A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters… Anno Dracula, by Kim Newman… Mythago Wood, by Robert Holdstock… The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, by Alan Garner… I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett… A Handful of Dust, by Evelyn Waugh… Pariah, by Dan Abnett… Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll… That Hideous Strength, by C S Lewis… The Iron Man, by Ted Hughes… Gallow’s Thief, by Bernard Cornwell… Dracula, by Bram Stoker… A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens…

Which do you prefer writing/reading, short stories or novels? Both. One is a change of pace from the other, whether reading or writing. To finish writing a novel gives a great sense of satisfaction, but so does completing a short story, because it gives you that important sense of closure that much quicker, and makes you feel like you’ve achieved something. At least, it does for me. What are you working on now? I always have about four or five projects on the go at once, at various different stages, although it the moment it’s more like ten! The ones I can tell you about are a new Gamebook Adventure for Tin Man Games and a new Pax Britannia story featuring the vigilante crime-fighter Spring-Heeled Jack.

Do you get writers block? How do you cope with it? No, I don’t. I’m afraid I share Michael Jecks’ opinion that it doesn’t exist. When you’re a jobbing writer there’s always another deadline to meet, another pitch to work up… You can’t afford to have writer’s block.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Read and write. It really is as simple as that. It sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many people say they want to be a writer but always manage to put off the actual process of putting anything down on paper. And if you are writing, keep on reading. As Dan Abnett puts it, “If you don’t put words in, you don’t get words out.”

There are plenty of times when I don’t feel ‘in the mood’, but we’re always having to do things when we’re not ‘in the mood’ – like grocery shopping, or gardening! If I only wrote one novel every two years and made millions doing it, then maybe I could afford to let myself have a little writer’s block every now and then.

What scares you? Real life.

If you could meet anyone, fictional or real, dead or alive, who would it be? Wow! Another tricky one… I’ve been fortunate enough to meet all sorts of people over the years, and meeting fictional characters has never really appealed to me. To be honest, the idea of meeting people from the past excites me less than the thought of visiting the past myself.

What makes a good story? One in which you are emotionally invested in the characters involved. And dinosaurs. (You can’t go wrong with dinosaurs.) To find out more about Jonathan Green’s current projects, visit www.JonathanGreenAuthor.com

If I was able to meet anything from the past, it would have to be a T-Rex, although I expect the meeting would be painfully brief. 23


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24


www.morpheustales.com THE RAID

surprising is that The Raid is directed and written by a Welsh man. Anyway, this is a film that demands your attention. Every second is special, almost every scene is a fight scene and each is breathtaking. Watching The Raid is like watching Jackie Chan on speed. You can’t take your eyes off it. By Stanley Riiks

This Indonesia action fest is set in a tower block owned by a criminal kingpin and inhabited on every level by criminals. A SWAT team enters the building, heading for the penthouse where the kingpin lives, but about three floors up they are discovered, the kingpin is alerted to their presence and offers rewards for killing them. This simple set-up belies a slightly more intricate plot that develops nicely alongside what we’re really here for – a martial arts extravaganza. Unlike other martial arts films that rely on some kind of story between the action sequences, The Raid does away with that with its simple premise, and what follows is action packed in a way that Hollywood films just cannot match. The speed of the movements is like that of a fastforwarded version of Bruce Lee. Hand-tohand combat meets knife fighting that would put Bourne to shame, and its one fight after another as the SWAT team is severely outnumbered and desperate to survive. The fight scenes are interspersed with tense stand-offs and gunfights. This film literally has everything. It’s an action fan’s wet dream. A couple of plot twists keep things interesting and add another layer to this masterpiece of cinematic material arts fury. OK, so a climatic, final “big boss” fight is missing, but the sheer pace of the fighting, and the meth lab scene in particular are balletic, with powder flying everywhere reminding me of the final shoot-out in True Romance. You can’t even blink lest you miss something. It’s not surprising that the two best martial arts films to come out in the last decade are both from Asia. It is surprising that they are from Thailand (Ong Bak) and Indonesia (The Raid), neither of which is known for producing films that translate well outside of their countries. Even more

GRAVE ENCOUNTERS 2 (2012) Director: John Poliquin Written and directed by the Vicious Brothers, the first Grave Encounters movie (2011) followed the crew of a paranormal reality TV show as they head to a haunted mental asylum to film what turns out to be their last episode. Although it received mixed reviews, it became an instant underground smash (if that’s not too much of a contradiction) and in my humble opinion was a welcome addition to the booming ‘lost footage’ genre. I couldn’t wait to find out if its sequel could live up to expectations. Again written by the Vicious Brothers, Grave Encounters 2 follows a group of stoner film-school students who attempt to unravel the truth behind the first movie. They assume it is just another studio production, but when all attempts to contact the actors and crew who actually worked on the film fail, they begin to suspect that it may actually contain genuine footage. Fuelled by tips from an anonymous informer, they follow the trail to the mental asylum in Canada where the original movie was allegedly filmed and attempt to unravel the mystery once and for all. Have they uncovered a conspiracy theory? Or something far more sinister? It’s something far more sinister, obviously. This movie has enough scares and special effects to keep most horror fiends ticking through the midnight hours, 25


www.morpheustales.com but in the cold light of day seems to be missing something. The plot is wafer thin, the dialogue is nothing to write home about, and the acting is average at best, though bonus points must be awarded for the fact that this is one of the few films I have seen that manages to name-check itself. Let’s hope the third instalment, for there is sure to be one, can offer something new... By C.M. Saunders

not to mention ambition, greed and revenge. We’re in classic fantasy territory, and although there’s nothing really new here, the world is very well-portrayed, and the characters are uniquely identifiable enough that you can quite easily work out who is who despite the huge cast. Gwynne also isn’t afraid to kill off those characters, and after the epic journey of the first novel, you’re quite emotionally attached. Although the book gets off to a slow start, when things do heat up towards the last hundred pages it is action-packed, really exciting stuff. What’s about to happen is fairly predictable, but Gwynne still manages to throw in a few surprises. A great and huge start to what is likely to be an astonishing and truly epic fantasy; a welcome addition to the fantasy genre; a little darker than the norm and all the better for it; a great start to an epic and inspiring tale. Good verses evil at it’s best. By Stanley Riiks

MALICE By John Gwynne www.macmillan.co.uk I’ve finally finished this book after almost four weeks! It’s epic, a huge story set across an entire nation with a raft of characters (too many to remember so I hope the publishers include a list, as the proof copy I had didn’t and it would have been useful at some stages), and this is only the first book in what is quite likely to become a trilogy. As the first entry, it does take a while to get going, introducing all the characters and giving us their various backgrounds while hinting at more to follow. To even give you an idea of the plot is going to be difficult in a paragraph or so, but I’ll give it a go. Basically, the book is set in the Banished Lands, a place humans came to inhabit some time ago, where they now live ill at ease with the native giants who occasionally attack from the various woods and forests that surround the towns and fortresses the homosapiens call home. When a giant wyrm is found, stones weep blood and the sun is blackened, it is thought a prophesy is coming true :the arrival of humanity’s nemesis, the Black Sun, and another warrior who will fight on the side of good. An epic battle is coming and all will be involved, to decide the fate of humanity… There is a lot going on: we have giant killers, princes, secretive stable masters, cousin lords with deep-seated rivalries, Kings, pirates, angels and demons,

HELIX WARS By Eric Brown www.solarisbooks.com This is the sequel to 2007’s Helix, which introduced us to a vast spiral of worlds constructed by the Builders for alien races on the verge of extinction. The Builders left humankind in charge as peacekeepers two-hundred years ago when their colony ship stumbled upon the Helix. When Jeff Ellis crashes onto a world in the midst of an invasion, he becomes the target of the invaders themselves, who will stop at nothing to stop him and continue on without the interruption of humanity. The Helix provides a vast canvas to work with, and Brown uses his imagination to develop the characters and races throughout this story. The plot is simple enough, and there’s plenty of action to keep even the most impatient reader happy. 26


www.morpheustales.com Brown writes with a concise style that suits this fast-paced SF. The Helix is further explored (it’s nice to have humans as the goodies for a change), the worlds are well-populated, the characters are well-realised, and the planets we get to explore are original and imaginative. This is what SF is all about, surveying and investigating exciting new worlds that set the stage for action-packed excitement. Brown excels with Helix Wars. By Adrian Brady

haunted house fare with a fair helping of espionage and political intrigue. Many actual figures and events from recent history, such as the alleged suicide of weapons expert David Kelly, the deaths of Lady Diana and Dodi Fayed, and the disappearance of Lord Lucan, are brought in to spice things up, which all helps to add a healthy dose of realism to the proceedings, if you like that sort of thing. On the negative side, the story seems somewhat overlong; it certainly takes its time to hit its stride, and the first half of the book is bloated with long-winded descriptions of the finer things in life like antique furniture and Cuban cigars, none of which seem to have much to do with the plot. To his detriment, in his later years Herbert seems to have developed a penchant for two things younger writers are warned to stay away from: cliches and repetition. He feeds us the same information about the same characters or events time after time, and certain themes are returned to again and again, one being addiction (in particular alcoholism) but this is done clumsily. For example, almost every character in the book may, or does, have a problem with the sauce, with virtually no hint given as to why that should be or whether it has anything to do with the actual story. The plot is laughably preposterous in places, but even that doesn’t save it from being predictable, and the dialogue is positively cringe-worthy. At times Herbert sounds like a parody of himself. I can’t decide whether Ash is awfully contrived, or just plain awful. Welcome back, Mr Herbert. But please try harder next time. By C.M. Saunders

ASH By James Herbert www.jamesherbert.com/ 2012 sees a welcome return from James Herbert, the UK’s leading and bestestablished horror writer. Since kicking off his career in prolific form with no fewer than 20 books published between 1974 and 1992, including such modern classics as The Rats, The Survivor, Fluke and The Magic Cottage, Herbert has become something of a British institution, so much so that he was recently given an OBE. His more contemporary writing is certainly very unashamedly British, but it has now been six long years since Herbert’s last offering, The Secret of Crickley Hall, which has recently been adapted by the BBC into a three-part mini-series. This book is the third to feature jaded paranormal investigator David Ash, following Haunted and The Ghosts of Sleath, and sees our intrepid hero sent on an investigation to a remote Scottish castle. The castle has been converted into an up-market retreat, and become the scene of several strange, seemingly supernatural occurrences culminating with a brutal attack on a guest. What follows is pretty much standard 27


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www.morpheustales.com Bedlam: The Greatest Horror Movie Never nights of fervid anticipation made me not only a fan, Made By Trevor Wright but a true believer in the power of storytelling and characterization. Horror movies have depleted my creative juices. Say what you will about those Freddy I’m hard pressed, as many horror fans often Krueger and Michael Myers films, but even their are, to find that diamond in the rough amongst all worst entries trump the likes of Hollywood “horror” the garbage that both mainstream Hollywood and of this generation – with the exception of the DIY indie scene spew out on a near daily basis Halloween: Resurrection, of course. ad nauseum. So here I was, reading Bedlam and reveling Recent horror entries don’t just hurt my in the sheer joy of this new horror icon, Madder head. They make me tired, weak, lethargic. I feel Red, a serial killer haunting the town of Bedlam like a zombie. I feel like blowing my own brains with absolutely no moral limitations (or ratings out. board prudes) to get in the way of his sadistic hobby. Horror movies have made me stupid. Nothing is off limits, as we see from the get go. He But I love horror. I just hate trash horror. kills men, women and, yes, even a child, up close Unfortunately, trash is the order of the day when and personal; no off-screen stuff here. faced with limitless access to thousands upon Confronted by Bedlam’s resident superhero, thousands of movie viewing options from pay-per- Madder Red is beaten, captured and thrown into view to streaming to cable, yet none with any care, police custody for questioning. It is only here that thought or intelligence going into the product on we learn two things about what kind of future treats display. we’re in for: 1) This isn’t the real Madder Red – So I made a rash decision. I stopped that’s not a spoiler, just common knowledge since watching. Plain and simple. this issue is told as a flashback from the POV of the I cancelled cable, cancelled Netflix;, stopped real Madder Red who is very much free to roam the renting movies at local kiosks and very rarely even streets, and 2) this story doesn’t give a damn about pop in the DVDs I already own. superheroes. This isn’t Batman, unless of course Now, with all of this free time on my hands I Batman is an NC-17 gorefest told from the POV of needed to fill it, and fast. So I turned to a childhood The Joker! pastime. The rest of the issue, and possibly the series, I turned to comic books! details Madder Red (real name Fillmore) struggling How in the world can comic books even to remain as sane as possible in an insane world. He come close to the same visceral joy of moving doesn’t want to be Madder Red. He wants to be pictures flying by at infinite speed on your 160” normal. But as the tagline for Issue 2 poses: Is evil television screens, you ask? Simple. They’re just something you are or something you do? This is BETTER! a question I can’t wait to find the answer to. Better, bloodier, smarter, more subversive, When was the last time you had a horror more impactful and just plain awesome. At least the flick hit your visual sense while pushing your ones I’ve been reading lately are. philosophical buttons? Take the book Bedlam for instance, a brand But more importantly, when did comic books new title that arrived on the scene about a month become so adult and horror movies become so ago. With just a few colourful pages and some juvenile? smartly written dialogue I found myself immersed in Next time you want to experience “good” a world that I didn’t want to end. And like any good horror, bypass the popcorn line and hit the comic piece of entertainment it was over far quicker than I book stands. You’ll thank me later. would have wanted. Then the worst part came: the waiting. THE ALLEYMAN: KNIGHTS OF THE AIR By Waiting for nearly a month for Issue 2 to Pat Kelleher come out, I realized that I hadn’t had that same www.abaddonbooks.com feeling since I was a child waiting for the next Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween entry to For genre series it is hard to beat Abaddon Books’ arrive. At such a tender age the wait was unbearable, selection, and their First World War stunkpunkbut the feeling of really loving something and being esque No Man’s World Series is one of the best. involved with a franchise to the extent of sleepless The Pennine Fusiliers are stranded on an 29


www.morpheustales.com alien planet, and in typical pulp fashion, this is a strange and deadly place. Edge of the The lost Tommies are in search of Jeffries Unknown is a murder who they believe responsible for their abandonment, mystery set in 1923 and must fight to survive in the harsh conditions Hollywood with significant while trying to find a way to escape. horror elements. A young Through pulpy genre-blending, Kelleher woman is murdered and the provides a rip-roaring action-fest, part-SF, part- grieving father looks to his fantasy, part-steampunk, part-horror, part-survival, old friend Harry Houdini and all fun. What the Abaddon Books do so well, for help. Being out of his and what The Alleyman does in particular, is element, he contacts Sir entertain. Arthur Conan Doyle for A whirlwind of action, a fantastic story, and assistance. Upon discovering a reference to a great deal of fun: what more would you ask for? Nyarlathotep, they (of course) contact the publisher By Adrian Brady of Weird Tales to enlist the help of Mr. H.P. Lovecraft of Providence2 due to his recently From the Catacombs: Independent Comics By published short story regarding same. As the Jim Lesniak investigation continues, the horrific truth is uncovered… For this descent into the underbelly of publishing, The suspension of disbelief is a necessity in we are examining some of that phenomenon known reading fiction. Here, it is not a stretch that Houdini as “independent” comic books. Ye Olde Reviewer is and Doyle would work together; they were simplistically defining “independent” as not being documented as friends for many years. Adding HPL from one of the major publishers: Marvel, DC, Dark to the mix, albeit with an authentic personality, Horse, Image or IDW. Even further down the rabbit starts to push the limits, although he becomes the hole – none of these books (to the best of my narrator of the last half of the tale. The story itself is knowledge) were ever made available through interesting, although it has a too-rapid denouement Diamond Distribution, for all intents and purposes (in an extra-large finale issue). It seems almost too the monopoly distributor of comic books in the easy for our heroes to deduce the background United States. Everything in this excursion was machinations to wrap up the story. purchased directly from a creator or one of the main Ultimately, Edge of the Unknown is print on demand distributors.1 entertaining read with some interesting twists and You, faithful reader, may be wondering why turns. The art is a la Eddie Campbell in From Hell – bother with indy books – there’s no Superman or effectively moody but sometimes too scratchy to Spider-Man here and they are hard to get a hold of discern who is being rendered. The resolution sets most of the time. Theses self-publishers, whether an up a sequel (not yet offered) featuring Charles Fort. auteur or a small group pooling resources, publish An interesting premise that is worth picking up in these books out for the love of the medium and the the trade paperback edition, hopefully with the end need to tell a story. Many will not recoup their notes intact.3 expenses in terms of time and money – the passion to produce is the driving force. THAT makes it After Twilight (#’s 1-6) worthwhile to haunt Artists’ Alley at conventions By Gary L. Watson, Richard P. Alvarez, Sandra and stumble on books at CP or IP. E. Yates and Douglas Brown Nu-Classic Publishing Edge of the Unknown (#’s 1-4) http://aftertwilightcomics.com By Jon Vinson, Marco Roblin and E.T. Dollman US$3.99 each Dub Comics (via IP) US$3.99-US$5.99 each 1

Primarily Comixpress (http://www.comixpress.com) and Indy Planet (http://www.indyplanet.com) hereafter abbreviated as “CP” and “IP” for convenience.

2

Are you surprised he would show up in this column?

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I just REALLY like foot/end notes.


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www.morpheustales.com would be high hopes for the Let’s get on thing interior art. Unfortunately, straight: this has nothing to all the solid blacks seem to do with sparkling vampires, have been used on the teenage werewolves or the cover. undead of any sort. This The artist does have series was based on a short his strengths, and a love of film of the same name the female form. produced in 2004, Unfortunately, this does not expanding on the narrative extend to facial features or and bringing the story full perspective; the almost circle. After Twilight complete lack of concerns the near-future backgrounds makes this feel Texas that has become a theocracy attempting to incomplete. This sketchiness (not in an Eddie secede from the United States. Any perceived sin is Campbell way) detracts from the story as it is brutally repressed by the religious police force; difficult to follow who is in the pane, much less transgressors disappear into the night. There is an where they are. In the hands of a more experienced underground resistance fighting for intellectual and sequential artist, this has the potential of an personal freedom, stuck in Texas since the border entertaining story. As it stands, it is not a was sealed many years earlier. recommended purchase. The terror is in how easily this scenario is possible in the United States, especially with the Descent of the Dead (#’s 1-3) growing anti-intellectual fervor, that a Tango Unlimited fundamentalist (fascist) framework could be set up US$2.99 (#1), US$3.99(#2-3) in isolated regions. The use of librarians as the http://www.tangounlimitedllc.com/ guardians of the forbidden knowledge and couriering banned books is apt. This type of Set in 2176, we see narrative could become both unwieldy and preachy what mankind is capable of (pun intended) if not reined in. By using an over two centuries past the intertwined tale of two families at “ground zero” of zombie infestation of 1968. the fundamentalist takeover, we get a humanized Most of the population had look at what could drive people at the far ends of the taken to living on the open spectrum. seas, except for the Roanoke After Twilight is a rarity: a well-drawn, well- outpost established in 2125. written, full-color independent series that not only After years of complacency shipped on time, but actually told a complete story. of the security of Roanoke, The final issue brings the two families’ stories to a the entire outpost of 31,000 conclusion of sorts, allowing for a sequel. The trade people is wiped out – not paperback of this series should be available as this only no survivors, but no bodies. With the initial column goes live, or shall be shortly into 2013. reconnaissance team MIA, presumed dead, the commando team of Tango Unlimited is called in to The Hunter (#1) secure the location and determine how the undead By J. Gamester breached the perimeter and where they are Bloodstone Comics organizing. http://tinyurl.com/c73wzrq Descent of the Dead utilizes a stylized, yet US$3.50 sharp and clean artwork that syncs well with the story. The pacing is excellent and recaps are At least this has an interesting premise – a provided on the inside front cover of each issue for man (who sometimes looks like a woman) is hunting new reader friendliness. The tale could become a the vampire that killed his wife, cutting a swath garbled mess with the history of the outbreak, the through the vampire community for information on events in the land colony, introducing the the mysterious Tristan. Wrapped in a great cover commando team, describing the cause of the original indicating knowledge of using negative space, there outbreak, etc, but it is filled in quite well using 32


www.morpheustales.com exposition and flashbacks. The future technology is someone’s psyche for quite some time and is both plausible and integral to the plot – check out fighting to get out. The pacing (and artwork) the “modern” skydiving in #1! This series is improves in issue #2, letting the story breathe a little recommended without reservation. more without a plethora of background exposition. There is a LOT of potential in this world and I hope John sticks with it to expand the story. Give it a Night of the Smurfing Dead shot, isn’t it better to have too many ideas in a comic By John Hoban book than the decompressed storytelling that is US$4.00 running rampant in mainstream books? Be sure to http://tinyurl.com/dxdnban get both issues to get a feel for the series in anticipation for issue #3. Gargamel, in his ongoing quest to destroy the Tart Smurfs, has developed a By Kevin Joseph and Ludo Salle zombie Smurf to unleash US$8.00 against them. Isn’t that http://www.whatthefluxcomics.com/ enough for you? There is hardcore bloodshed in Smurf Tart follows the Village with references to adventures of a young many horror films illustrated woman who (as we in classic cartoony fashion. It discover) works for an may be difficult to get a print organization dedicated to copy, but I believe the entire, fighting demons and childhood memory damaging blood fest is available demonic possession at the link above. I was horrified and disgusted - of wherever and whenever course I bought one and the Smurfipede print when I they are discovered. had a chance. Whether it’s the 1920’s or pre-history, she can be Apocalypse City (#’s1-2) dispatched to set events By John Hoban right if she can overcome US$5.00 the demonic attack. All of which is learned from the http://tinyurl.com/cy3oazp perspective of Tart Acid, our heroine and narrator. This series is fantastic. Without drowning the With all fairness to reader in background exposition4, it is possible to hit John Hoban, I am making a the ground running and keep up with the story as we point to review a series that piece this world together. The accomplished, painted he can sell without fear of art uses creative panel layouts and a colour scheme legal repercussions from the that complements the storyline. The interactions Smurf people! Apocalypse imply a larger, over-arcing tale waiting to be City follows Matt Sharpe, revealed. As an introduction to a series, this is an an investigator with fleeting enviable way to start. psychic powers who gets As usual, this column is written under the into a fair share of problems influence of music. This instalment is brought to you with the police force. The by Holy Wave’s “Knife Hits/The Eagle Had city is getting rougher and Landed” compilation recently made available by the weirder all the time since the superheroes were Reverberation Appreciation Society. A modern either killed off or relegated to public relations. psychedelic band with a nod to the Syd Barrett era Mysticism and the occult are just under the surface of Pink Floyd using lush soundscapes in the British of the city with a mysterious metal mask appearing style, i.e. pastoral psych rather than acid nightmare. as a talisman on two different men. The basic concept is a lot to take in at first, 4 Yes, I am being vague about the storyline. Go get the darn as things jumble together into a gumbo in issue #1. thing; I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. It’s obvious this world had been percolating in 33


www.morpheustales.com They, of course, had to do the hipster thing and issue when she dies; she it on cassette. Luckily, it also includes a download was just card so I can actually listen on modern equipment. misunderstood. ;) Vinyl I don’t mind, but what’s next, the 8-track? We barely scratched the surface of the When did you know independently produced horror/fantasy comic books you wanted to be an available today, and the numbers are increasing actress (i.e., work in daily. With digital distribution and print on demand, the industry)? the barriers to publication have been drastically I actually never set lowered over the last several years, allowing less out to be an actress, I commercial projects to see the light of day. This is a just kind of fell into it blessing and a curse as a great cover and three and then realized I sentence blurb can hide an utter piece of crap. The really have a lot fun last time the market expanded this dramatically was while doing it. I knew the “black and white” explosion of the mid to late I wanted to be a 1980’s when everyone was trying to chase the writer one day, I was success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; a lot just lucky enough to be able to work in an industry of stores ate a lot of garbage books hoping to find that I love. the next hit. Now that most comic shops won’t stock anything unless it’s a safe sale (even Arsenic Besides acting do you see yourself branching out Lullaby had to do a Kickstarter to survive!), the into any other field behind the camera? untried talents are going direct to readers – look at Absolutely. Being a nerd of my stature, I thrive on the success of Our Love Is Real or Scam to see the learning just about everything to know about things untapped demand! that I find interesting. I think at one point I will try Thank you once again for indulging Ye Olde my hand at making a short film, but I don’t think I Reviewer and please come back in three months for will set out to make my new career as the next the next Morpheus Tales Review Supplement! In the Spielberg. Maybe an accidental ‘Ed Wood’ though. meantime, be sure to find Morpheus Tales on facebook to connect with your favourite (and not-so- What’s your favourite movie (already filmed) that favourite) reviewers, columnists and authors. We you’ve been in? Why? appreciate all the support that keeps this magazine Ooooh. That is a hard one. One thing I stick to pretty alive and well! religiously is only doing projects that I believe in and know I will enjoy. Every film I have done has Dai Green Interview had parts to it that make them so completely awesome to me that finding one to be my favourite Growing up, were is impossible. I can tell you that one I am really you a fan of anxious for you guys to see would be the film horror movies? If Modern Romance because it is a different role than I so, which ones think most people would expect to see me do. Let’s were your just say I’m dying in it, but not in the way you favourites? would expect. It’s pretty comical. Horror movies were mostly all I What’s your least favourite? What problems can you would watch cite which led to the project becoming an unbesides the normal enjoyable work experience or less-than-stellar end kid cartoons like product? Rainbow Bright, I don’t want to mention names on this one because I Care Bears, Ninja don’t feel it would be right, but I can and will say Turtles, etc. My that you should always make sure the comfort of favourite, hands your cast and crew is of the utmost importance when down, was Carrie. I identified with her in all of her you go on location. I was involved in one project awkwardness because I was just as strange and where it was extremely hot out where we were awkward when I was a kid. It still makes me tear up filming, and not even the simplest of things like cold 34


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www.morpheustales.com water was being offered. Ten hours out in the sun with food and bottled water that had been left out in almost 100-degree temperatures and no place to cool off and unwind can make it a very miserable shoot. That will come through in the final project as well. Things get rushed, are done half-assed, and the performances suffer due to overheating and dehydration. You would be amazed what a simple thing like an ice cooler can do to keep people happy and make an entire shoot go smoother. Do you see yourself continuing to work in horror films, or would you like to predominately do other genres? I like to do what I find to be fun so if other projects come along that fit the bill, I would try them. I think I will always be embedded in the horror genre just because it is what I love and enjoy the most. You’re an actress, model, writer, and podcaster – among other things. Which do you consider yourself first and foremost? I am definitely a writer before I am anything else. I enjoy helping people with their scripts and bringing the little demons inside of my head out onto paper. Plus, I am a full believer that entertainment can be the one thing that keeps people out of trouble and nowhere else can I entertain like I can with my own material on my own grounds and on my own terms.

Clown came on to talk about their new film company. One thing that I really admire about you is how opinionated you are when it comes to whatever you’re passionate about. Can you cite any instances where this has worked for you and/or against you? Haha! It is always working against me, you kidding me?! I don’t have the ability to sugar coat many things because it is not in my nature. And most of the time people get upset because I had the balls to say certain things in public forums that many think should be kept to oneself. Well, I don’t believe in that. I believe that for some reason in this crazy universe, someone decided to give me a voice that could be heard by thousands of people, and if I only use it to try and hype myself up as some pretty chick or self-important d-bag, then I deserve to have it ripped from me. I believe that as a generation, we have become so selfish and self-involved that many things that should be discussed go to the wayside to things like “look at my new Prada shoes” and “I’m having coffee this morning at this ultra-hip coffee shop and I think you should know because it makes me cool” crap. With all of the problems we have going on in this world, you would think that posting an article that shows where victims have fewer rights than criminals or a child has gone missing would be more important than your morning crap you just took, and I have no shame in telling people that. As you could guess, that upsets many that do post the things that I was referring to because they feel guilty, and when one feels guilty, they lash out. I’m tired of watching our society act like a bunch of self-obsessed hypocrites as important issues that we CAN fix or at least bring enough light to them to make a change fall victim to these “what can it do for me, I am so amazingly important” attitudes.

Tell us about your online writing and blogging. How did it start? Which sites do you write for? I started for a website because I wanted a press pass into a convention and it stuck with me. I started writing for what was then Pretty-Scary and continued onto HorrorNews.net. Since then I have freelanced for sites like DreaminDemon.com and I also run a personal blog at DaiGreen.BlogSpot.com (which I am absolutely terrible about updating…sorry about that). Tell us about your podcasts. Where can we listen? You can check out all of my most recent shows at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/the-darkest-hour If you want to hear older shows with lots of amazing celebrity guests, you can find those at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/horrornewsnet If you have any Slipknot fans, I would absolutely recommend this show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/the-darkesthour/2012/01/24/the-darkest-hour--corey-taylorand-shawn-crahan-of-slipknot where Corey and 36


www.morpheustales.com One trend that I do see developing is more femaledriven horror stories. This makes me excited not because of the gender issue, but because men and women have very different styles in what they find “scary.” Men tend to write more physically vicious roles like slashers and bashers, while women prefer the more intellectually terrifying stories. These are ones that reach into your psyche and provoke your worst fears in a mental instead of visual setting to get the always sought after reaction; terror. Now, of course, this is not always the rule, but it is the common place for the most part. It’s time we move on from watching people get physically maimed for a while and focus on having our guts turned in our stomach by our own minds. If you could be in any movie already made, what would it be? And whom would you play? I would absolutely, hands down, without a doubt be Dr. Frank-N-Furter…but I would have to grow a penis for that. Since that is not possible, my second choice would be Magenta in RHPS. I love that movie so stupid much that I wish I could go back in time and just jump in one of their bodies and be able to play their roles.

People never realize these things until it happens to them. Now take everything I just said and add a dose of semi-inappropriate humour, and you have the formula for the things I talk about. What do you think is the current state of horror, both mainstream and independent? It’s no secret that pretty much all horror films coming out of the mainstream arena are remakes. To me, that is sad in a sense because kids are not seeking out the originals, which are honestly really amazing films. This is going to continue until there is nothing more to remake that would be of interest to the public.

What exciting projects are in store for you? I have a few in the works. Most of the films I have done are entering post as we speak so expect a few things to come out with my name on them. As far as ones in pre-production or currently filming, I am obligated to keep those secret until I have full permission but I will say that I have quite a few different roles coming up that people may not expect to see me in. One of them involves almost full body makeup. I am stoked to take part in these!

Independent films are a little different. They are mostly made on their own terms so no exact formula is given. I do see a lot of recycled story premises as of late. You know, the 18-thousand films that are “found footage” inspired or another elaborate Saw knock-off. There are some really good ones coming out, though, that will be of great interest to horror lovers. I do wish more originality was being utilized within the lower budget Indie realm. Just because you can make it like someone else did, it doesn’t always mean you should.

This magazine does a lot of interviews with horror authors and publishes a lot of horror fiction. Do you have a favourite horror author and/or book? I am a junkie for true crime books. One that I would absolutely suggest for people to read would be House Of Secrets by Lowell Cauffiel. This is one of the most messed up true crime stories that will make you hold your family a little closer while giving your neighbours the stink eye. If we are talking fiction, my favourite would absolutely be IT by Stephen King. King is, and has always been, a huge inspiration to me as he is most people. Something about that book inspired me each and every time I read it. I’ve read it at least 30 times, by the way. If people haven’t read it, please do! It’s a lot different than the movie and a lot more terrifying.

What are your predictions on the next big thing in horror? Next big thing in horror… that is a tough one since we are in the remake slump that I mentioned before. 37


www.morpheustales.com www.BlogTalkRadio.com/The-Darkest-Hour www.HorrorNews.net Anything else you’d like to add? Just a huge thank you to everyone reading this for taking a moment to check me out, an extra special thank you to you for having me, and most important, all my love to those who follow me and engage me on a day-to-day basis. Without you guys, I am just another chick who writes on the internet and talks on a podcast. I say it a lot and mean every word of it, you guys will never know how much I appreciate being able to do what I do for you guys. I truly think of you all as friends. Oh, and one last thing… SUPPORT INDIE HORROR!!! More Scream Queen Interviews are available in Women in Horror, free to read and download here: http://issuu.com/morpheustales/docs/womeninhorror Or buy the printer version here: www.lulu.com/spotlight/morpheustales

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What do you look for in choosing future roles? When I choose roles, I normally only choose projects that I really believe in so this is a pretty simple question to answer. But I CAN say that one role I would kill (pun intended) to play is one that embodies absolute evil and the macabre. And not in makeup. For some reason, this is the one role that I have yet to play that I really want to. I think I could pull it off and scar the audience pretty well. I don’t need to be the hot and sexy vixen; I am just fine being the demonic chick that makes you check that dark closet twice.

Morpheus Tales Back Issues and Special Issues are available exclusively through lulu.com http://stores.lulu.com/morpheustales For more information, to order or subscribe visit our website: www.morpheustales.com Morpheus Tales #19 Review Supplement, January 2013. © COPYRIGHT January 2013 Morpheus Tales Publishing, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Review can be used, in full or in part, for publicity purposes as long as Morpheus Tales Magazine is quoted as the source.

How do you unwind after a long day on set? YouTube or watching the ID channel. I am addicted to both, I am considering a lawsuit. Haha! Where can your fans go to learn more about you? I’m a pretty accessible chick and easy to find. My personal links include: www.FaceBook.com/DaiGreensFanPage www.Twitter.com/DaiGreen www.DaiGreen.BlogSpot.com 38


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Ripped Genes: The Biopunk Special Issue

Edited By Samuel Diamond Table of  Contents   WHAT GETS LEFT BEHIND By Mark West .................................................................................................................................... 2   SHUDDER By Harry F. Kane .............................................................................................................................................................. 2   THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW SF 25 Edited By Gardner Dozios .................................................................................. 2   THE WOMAN IN BLACK .................................................................................................................................................................. 3   12-21-12 By Parker Lee........................................................................................................................................................................ 3   SCHOOL’S OUT FOREVER By Scott K. Andrews ........................................................................................................................... 4   PIRANHA 3DD .................................................................................................................................................................................... 4   The Writing Comes First By Alan Spencer .......................................................................................................................................... 6   OUTPOST II: BLACK SUN (2012) .................................................................................................................................................... 7   Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones ................................................................................................................. 10   OSAMA: A NOVEL By Lavie Tidhar ............................................................................................................................................... 12   IN THE TALL GRASS By Stephen King & Joe Hill ........................................................................................................................ 14   LITTLE GREEN GOD OF AGONY By Stephen King (with artwork by Dennis Calero) ............................................................... 14   VAMPIRE CIRCUS By Mark Morris ................................................................................................................................................ 15   CABIN IN THE WOODS .................................................................................................................................................................. 15   REVELATION: LUCIFER’S LEGIONNAIRE By Nathaniel Connors ............................................................................................ 17   Jonathan Green Interview ................................................................................................................................................................... 18   THE RAID .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 25   GRAVE ENCOUNTERS 2 (2012) .................................................................................................................................................... 25   MALICE By John Gwynne ................................................................................................................................................................ 26   HELIX WARS By Eric Brown........................................................................................................................................................... 26   ASH By James Herbert ....................................................................................................................................................................... 27   Bedlam: The Greatest Horror Movie Never Made By Trevor Wright ............................................................................................... 29   THE ALLEYMAN: KNIGHTS OF THE AIR By Pat Kelleher ........................................................................................................ 29   From the Catacombs: Independent Comics By Jim Lesniak .............................................................................................................. 30   Dai Green Interview ........................................................................................................................................................................... 34   The New Fatherhood By Benjamin F Jones ....................................................................................................................................... 43   40


www.morpheustales.com Setting Down By Douglas J. Ogurek .................................................................................................................................................. 44 Fishing the Life in Notochords By Matt Leyshon .............................................................................................................................. 45   Harvest By J.B. Ronan........................................................................................................................................................................ 46   Richard and the Silver Marks By Nicholas Stirling ........................................................................................................................... 47   Baby Boom By Alan Spencer ............................................................................................................................................................. 48   Killing Larmark By David Barber ...................................................................................................................................................... 49   Ecce Homo By John Rovito ............................................................................................................................................................... 50   Mousetrap By Oscar Windsor-Smith.................................................................................................................................................. 51   Anti-Bodies By Wednesday Silverwood ............................................................................................................................................ 52   Screaming Monkeys By Dev Jarrett ................................................................................................................................................... 53   Legacy By Richard Farren Barber ...................................................................................................................................................... 54   Cover By Strife-Ignition - http://strife-ignition.deviantart.com Proof-read By Samuel Diamond All material contained within the pages of this magazine and associated websites is copyright of Morpheus Tales. All Rights Reserved. No material contained herein can be copied or otherwise sed without the express permission of the copyright holders.

“From William Gibson’s groundbreaking Sprawl trilogy to the Wachowski brothers’ highly entertaining, if also highly derivative, Matrix trilogy, the literary subgenre known as cyberpunk has seen crossover success in just about every entertainment medium. Ditto for steampunk, which has even made its way into everyday forums such as home décor and fashion. Biopunk, on the other hand, has not yet seen nearly the amount of exposure as its literary kinfolk. One of the main reasons for this is undoubtedly the limited amount of work that this subgenre has produced thus far. For those who don’t know, biopunk fiction, in short, looks toward a future (or at an alternate present) in which the biotechnology revolution affects everyday life. Look at it like this if it helps: cybernetics and cyberspace are to cyberpunk as biology and biotechnology are to biopunk. The “punk” comes from the subgenre’s frequent use of dystopian settings and the political (or perhaps more accurately, apolitical) implications of the open-source philosophy to which many real-life biopunks subscribe.” So began my call for submissions to what would eventually become this, Morpheus Tales’ first ever Biopunk Special. It was a simple enough definition, if perhaps too vague. However, I’d be lying if I claimed the ambiguity was intentional. As I wrote before, the subgenre has produced a relatively limited amount of work thus far; add to that the fact that I’ve read only a fraction of what’s out there and you’ll understand why I struggled to come up with a more concrete explanation. All that being said, I’m glad I left so much room for interpretation. Because those writers who heeded our call, who took my open-ended definition and ran with it, and whose work you’re about to read brought biopunk to places it’s never been before. Of course, many of the scientific concepts we’d all expect to see are indeed present: cloning, pharmacology, terra-forming, body modification, etc. It’s the new instruments of context, though – the microscopes through which these test subjects are examined – that, at least in my opinion, succeed in elevating the subgenre to new heights. By not only incorporating the controls of sister subgenres cyberpunk and steampunk, but also introducing variables of horror, noir, fantasy and psychedelic fiction and even bastard cousins like 41


www.morpheustales.com splatterpunk, these experimental stories offer up some very new and exciting findings. Furthermore, by re-appropriating the numerous symbols and devices of sources as disparate as Oulipo and the Bible, our contributors assembled a cacophonous yet cohesive chorus that screams PUNK! (Even down to its refusal to define itself.) Just replace the ripped jeans with ripped genes. Oi! I think I just came up with a title. Samuel Diamond, Editor Website: www.morpheustales.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/morpheustales, Myspace: www.myspace.com/morpheustales, Twitter: www.twitter.com/morpheustales Issuu profile for free magazines and free previews: http://issuu.com/morpheustales Lulu.com for back issues and Collector’s Editions: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/morpheustalesatblueyonderdotcodotuk

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www.morpheustales.com The New Fatherhood By Benjamin F Jones 1. Cycle Bridge The foetus was not yet alive; it slapped back and forth in its plastic tub. I was on Gammet Bridge. The wheels of my bicycle rattled over the track, crunching through wintry showers that stung my bald head and bullied my nylon coat. The life-to-be lay in the basket on the handlebars, packed in with medical supplies, skinlamp and dechlorination salts. In my hand I held a bag containing a bottle of oxygen. The strap dug into my fingers, painful in the cold. 2. Father Chooser It began in the shop. I looked up at the walls of surrogate-pigs, tanks sparkling with bubbles. Curled inside I could see drifting foetuses, their mouths agape. I could smell fish meal, crystals and iron. I watched a runt drawn up against the tank filter, its feeble movements controlled by a mind that hadn’t learned up from down. A shop assistant, tending with his woven beak, scooped out the runt and dropped it into a hopper. The sound of the macerator made me feel sick. I took a deep breath, filling my lungs with the shop’s moist air. The phone rang. The assistant picked it up as if it were a newborn. His words were low. When he finished talking he approached me. “Can I help?” The sounds from his beak were carefully enunciated and punctuated by clicks. I felt out of place, uncomfortable in my intrusion. He waddled from one foot to another, bare toes in the puddles. I reached into the tank and touched the surface of the water; ripples tickled, warm as blood. “That one... ” Two words and one of them got stuck in my throat. The foetus was still, its eyes wound closed, its waxy lips pressed against the side of the tank. The assistant dipped his beak, scooping the precious thing from the water. When the water had been drained he spat it into the plastic container. The naked skin was blue and purple; so fragile it made me shiver.

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www.morpheustales.com Setting Down By Douglas J. Ogurek “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” – Mark 1: 17-18

An orb of liquid-filled tubes sat in a garden alcove. Those within the alcove smiled. Tubes ran from their hips to the orb. One man played a 24-string guitar. Extra arms extended from his left elbow and his chest. Another man breastfed a baby, while a woman, standing on her hands, spit at a butterfly. She missed. A third man’s orange eyes studied the butterfly. On break, Netheld took off his instrument then stopped the inflow of 5-HTT extenders. The glowbe hissed. He started “Setting Down” on his Internal Music System. The wind instruments swayed, and the mother, who walked as if on a tight rope, approached Netheld. The horns obstructed whatever she said. Probably something about partnering. Clearly she’d maxed her estrogen and 5-HTT levels. As another butterfly clone was released, the oboe, consoled by violins, searched futilely, and Netheld already felt his serotonin slowing. The TT-father worked his lips, revealing that he had, like his partners, docked the archerfish gene. He spit. While the butterfly tumbled down, the clarinets and bassoons joined the violins, and the TT-father raised his fists and wept victoriously. The EE-father, clutching his child, bent over the downed butterfly. His eyes owled and the glowbe flashed. The creature, its wings programmed a flimsy yellow, flailed on the grass, and Netheld felt the timpani’s rumble.

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www.morpheustales.com Fishing the Life in Notochords By Matt Leyshon You listen through the thick green glass as the draughtsman poses an impossible moorland. You sense an affinity with him, a shared past from which a future will emerge. His thoughts are dark and fluid, as uncertain as floodwater, and you can smell them as clearly as a dead sheep in a shallow stream. He seems nervous. You watch as he struggles with memories, library stamped with unknown borrowers, recollections of sliding through jewelled grass, navigating his path with migratory instinct, and of legless plunges into musty depths. Together you are sharing a moment that is plaited in early human pigment. With this knowledge you become adroit. He has sped through deep sea corridors and mildewed concrete shafts to an oceanic trench that is fathoms from the nearest regulation. The draughtsman stands within a circle of glass tanks, each housing a fish-girl hybrid performing in area cancer. You imagine that at first glance he might think that the specimens on offer, floating around you like driftwood, would happily breathe the air outside and turn tricks in rooms dense with the fetor of sweat and quim, but upon second glance he might feel an astringent abyss in his mineral. You recognise the lie of his fly from other punters; the shadows of sea salt spectres darkening his loins, dripping hadal slime like a sick baby. You part the gently swaying tendrils and observe the draughtsman as he pulls at the threads of his black woollen jumper and thoughtfully buffs the worn toes of his draughtsman’s boots upon his calves. In faction, the famines had turned him into a wave-backlog, a watercourse-baby-sitter. “You never heard of a watercourse-baby-sitter, Peter,” said Dr. Amoure. “A wave-backlog? Perhaps not. That is the very reasoning why this storybook was written. But there are no such threats as wavebacklogs. And how do you know that? Have you been there to see? No one has a right to say that no wavebacklogs exist, or watercourse baby-sitters. Percussionists call them Pterodactyls, but that is only because they are ashamed to call them flying drapes, after denying so long that flying drapes could exist. Did not learned mandrapes, too, hold, timing within the last twenty-five yews, that a flying drape was an impossible moonbeam, not an impossible moorland at all, and most certainly not a wave-backlog or a watercourse baby-sitter. Peter, are you listening to me? Peter?” Hearing his name pulls at the draughtsman’s lip like a hook on a line, and he clears his throat, exhaling faded photographs of weed spores and foul mud. The draughtsman continues to run his kohled and gimlet eye across the glass tanks to assess the pale figures languidly drifting in their tepid waters. You recoil into cool, trembling water just as his eye threatens to meet yours. Pressure creaks a joint somewhere and the dark sea presses its face against the tempered glass dome above. Cold sand strokes your underbelly as you watch from the vegetable shadows. “Do they all have eyes like ulcers?” The draughtsman asks, recalling a baby bird lying fractured and limp beneath its nest, its filmy eyes glistening dully like purple balls of cuckoo spit. “Some, Peter, have eyes like boils,” Dr. Amoure says, pointing out one floating close and waving her fins coquettishly, offering a glimpse of her cartilaginous clitoris and the brittle-star nestled in her naval, its tentacles road mapping her pallid stomach. “The hair short fisheries are exhausted with hunting symmetry and reproducing paraphyletics.”

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www.morpheustales.com Harvest By J.B. Ronan “Wakey, wakey, Samuel my dear. It’s almost time!” Astrid crooned, kneeling down alongside a shirtless man strapped face down to a filth-soaked dining room table. Black-ringed holes pocked the breadth of Samuel’s back, buried deep in the muscle. When Samuel woke and moved, weakly and with great effort after all the weeks of imprisonment, thin puss collected at the edges of the holes, dribbling down the contours of his back to the floor. “Now, now my dear, it’s almost time! Soon our babies will be free.” The pain was unimaginable, and the strong, vital body Samuel had once loved, built up over the years, and fed well with protein bars and good organic food, was now withered and sad like a forgotten piece of raw catfish rotting in the back of a dirty refrigerator. He could feel things moving inside of him, writhing in the holes his captor tended, feeding on his blood… Astrid pulled a delicately carved wooden box from the collapsing hutch along the stained walls and opened the lid. A long, thin set of tweezers sat on what looked like a piece of folded crimson velvet, its tapered, pointed tips crusted with rust. The box smelled like death. “Almost time... almost time... any moment our babies will be ready!” Samuel fidgeted again. Blood tinged drool pooled around his face and smelled like rot. The whole room – everything attacking his failing senses as viciously as it had the first day he woke there – smelled, tasted, even sounded like rot. “These are my first, you know.” Astrid plucked the tweezers from the box and held them up, examining the tip, pinching them open and closed. Fat, shiny black flies collected around her, their activity mirroring the excitement in her eyes. “I’ve been waiting a long time for them. We had to find the right kind of person who could handle the incubation. Regular people die way too early, but you were strong – you made it!” Despite all the rage that flourished in Samuel as his body festered, he could not bring himself to speak. It was too much, and his constant struggle against the straps that held him sucked him further into the pit of no return. “Oh, did you notice that I took the neck strap off of you today! You really can’t do much to disturb our babies now anyway and I wanted you to see them when they’re born!” Astrid smiled, beaming with all the bright hope of a proud, expectant mother as she waved her hand around the room. “I know you haven’t had much of a chance to look around, but I thought you would want to see where your babies are going to grow up! It’s perfect for them! I got the nesting thing really bad, I just couldn’t wait till they came!” At first, Samuel didn’t want to move anymore. He only stared at the floor, which swirled and ebbed like a tide with cockroaches, but Astrid insisted, lifting his heavy head so he could see everything even though his eyes were bleary and the shafts of dusty light that speared past the tattered, molded black-out curtains in the living room were too much for him. Dead bodies littered the floor, rabbits writhing with maggots, human corpses along the walls, their wrists and hands dislocated and damaged from restraints, all in various states of decomposition. Rats fed along their exposed ribs, sitting in the empty abdominal cavities and crushed collar bones, fat and lazy on maggots and flesh.

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www.morpheustales.com Richard and the Silver Marks By Nicholas Stirling “Spit, shit, and gutrot,” Richard muttered to himself. This was the third time that he had stubbed his toe against some gloom-hidden rock or root, and he was getting sorely tired of it. The woods between Somerset and Dorset were black as pitch; he could have lit his own way, of course, but the King’s road wasn’t more than a hundred yards to his left, and it was as like to be a soldier as a fellow traveler that walked it. By his best guess, the meeting place was still half-an-hour’s walk away. The little wolf boy had been quite clear about its location. ### “Here,” he said. “Right here, Mister Cooper.” His hackles twitched as he pointed at the X marked east of The King’s Road. A ragged line of stitches ran diagonally from Piotr the wolf boy’s temple to the cleft of his chin. To the right of it was smooth, pink skin, too young yet for pimples or fuzz, but to the left of it was coarse, ash-gray fur. The eye that winked out from under it was yellow as beaten gold. “Mister Cooper, My Lady asks that you share this with no one. She was quite,” he paused, “insistent of this.” Richard nodded, but perhaps a bit too quickly, and he felt suddenly that the golden eye was laughing at him. The boy’s other eye – the blueish-gray one – was impassive. He wasn’t afraid of the boy’s alterations – he himself had sought out the work of the lignarius in Dorset – but there was something strange about this one. He didn’t speak like a village boy. He sounded old. In spite of his small frame and in spite of the youthful pink skin, more youthful still beside the gray wolf’s fur, the boy seemed aged. Aged and dark, like a twisted oak tree in a deep, close wood. “My Lady has offered fifty silver marks, Mister Cooper,” the wolf-boy said. His hackles twitched again. A stubborn streak of rooster pride surged up from Richard’s gut. It was the same pride that had gotten him in trouble with the magistrate earlier that spring, the same that had led to a handful of bloodyknuckled fights behind stalls at the market. It was stupid pride, he knew, but he was slave to it nonetheless. “Seventy marks,” he blurted out. “I want seventy marks for this job.” Richard licked his lips. “It’s… It’s dangerous work, and I’m risking much in doing it, lad.” Again that golden eye flashed and again Richard thought that the wolf part of the boy was laughing. An image of a forest animal, one with teeth like iron spikes set in jaws both vast and deep, ran across his mind. The boy didn’t smile, but his voice was light. “My Lady will pay you seventy marks, Mister Cooper. Will that suffice? For such dangerous work?”

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www.morpheustales.com Baby Boom By Alan Spencer Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick. The ticks sounded like a gas oven clicking on before the flame whooshed up from the burners. The first time they happened, it was for only ten seconds, so short-lived Darlene Thompson didn’t think anything of the odd noises. Her husband, Doug, dismissed it as strange, yes, but nothing more than a trick on their ears. It could’ve been their neighbors, who have been known to argue and have sex at add hours of the night. No matter what angle of the argument they played, the noises couldn’t be happening in the apartment. But the following night, the ticks re-occurred. This time they were louder and extended in duration. Twenty seconds. Thirty seconds. Then a full minute straight. The truth was unavoidable: it wasn’t the neighbors making the sound; it was Darlene’s body. Darlene, being in her third trimester of pregnancy, couldn’t sleep thinking this, so Doug drove her to the hospital. By the time they arrived, she knew the exact source of the ticks. Her belly. ### The doctors’ uniforms looked like spacesuits, except they were made from a dark green canvas material and included rectangular plastic faceplates. They were what the military wore when diffusing car bombs, she realized. As she lay in the hospital bed, one of the doctor’s thick gloved hands roamed over her belly. His fingers poked around her torso and pelvis, pushing in deep. She swore he gasped sharply each time he checked the child. Startled, maybe, or outright nervous and suffering from hellish jitters. Was he really scared just touching her? After studying her torso, the doctor drew blood from her left arm with a syringe large enough it could’ve extracted a sample from a bull. She could see the fluid channel out of the IV tubing and into a clear bag. Her eyes doubled as did her breath once she saw her blood glowing vibrant neon red in the room’s darkness. Her shock didn’t last very long. She was dazed from the constant flow of narcotics they kept administering. They were meant to keep her calm and non-resistant. The less she moved, the doctors told her, the safer everyone would be. “Why is my blood glowing?” she asked in a hazy voice. The doctor told her to rest. He’d be back later. And don’t move.

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www.morpheustales.com Killing Larmark By David Barber 1 The naked woman came down the path towards him, weeping. As usual, during the heat of the day, José was sprawled in his makeshift hammock, a drink halfway to his mouth. He was unprepared for this pale vision. She slipped and staggered blindly through the red mud surrounding the domes. Her hair was a tangle of bleached strands plastered across white cheeks; her lips were bloodless; the tip of each small breast a pink button. He could hear her ragged breathing as she slogged towards him, sinking into the wet earth at each step, labouring to pull herself free. She had walked a long way. “Chiquita,” he called softly and she turned her head, eyes blinded by tears. Trembling and swaying with fatigue, she stopped, as if suddenly conscious of reaching her journey’s end, as if she had budgeted for exactly so many steps and the next was too much. He felt for the weapon on the crate beside him, his gaze never leaving the woman. The plasma bolt kicked her backwards, smoking, into the mud. 2 The zep provided by the Planetary Authority was malfunctioning. Lady Professor Flores ignored it of course, since it was a machine. To her hireling fell the task of bickering with the vile plastic and metal mechanism. Alone in the pilot’s pod, Edouarde swears at the controls. The zep flies, but not where he directs it. The control glove is faulty, some circuit broken inside perhaps. His notions of its workings are hazy, though he now believes it to be malevolent. Advanced societies used biologicals, which grow themselves and apologise when ill and share a profitable kinship in the subtleties of their DNA. Slowly, hopelessly, he keys the diagnostics again and watches the scratched flatscreen insist all is well. “Nonsense,” snapped the Professor. She paced impatiently, waving aside the AI’s attempt to beguile her with their old argument about God. Perhaps she had noticed Edouarde loitering. “Will the machine cross the frontier now?” “There is still a fault.” Her quick gaze ranged over his face. “But I came here to study the native habitat. Not grass geneered two hundred years ago.” Edouarde explained they could fly south to the end of the Riftwall, cross the frontier there on foot. “Not easy,” he added. “You think I have come this far to give up?” Mistrustful of the machine, Edouarde waited to confirm their course. Outside, night was pooling into valleys of shadow. As the Professor complained, a boring monoculture plotted to stabilise ground behind the advancing line. Here the Riftwall provided a natural barrier between the native and terraformed ecologies. In the coastlands further south, it was more fluid. The Authority updated its world map on a monthly basis, the red and green about evenly balanced now across the planet. The AI intruded, speaking quietly into his ear. “You didn’t mention they programmed the airship to avoid the native habitat.”

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www.morpheustales.com Ecce Homo By John Rovito Evening wanes to a gunmetal gray with the smell of sulfur caught on the wind. Kane leans back against a rotted tree trunk exhausted head slumped over breathing hard trying to focus mind blank remembering nothing feeling hot raising his hand wiping away the sweat only it isn’t sweat it’s blood a sixinch gash carved deep across his forehead his hands snapped and broken fingers bent like the roots of a tree flashing back a chair leather straps a pig-faced man and music always music harsh and metallic slicing deep then draining away replaced by a voice soft confident reassuring whispering the promise of a soulless immortality: “The purpose of humankind is to physically evolve. To deny your evolution is to deny your humanity.” ### Kane looks up. Four men stand over him laughing. All wear synthetic envirostat suits, heavily armed. A gloved hand pulls Kane to his feet, motions for him to walk. He moves slowly, eyes blurred, scanning the periphery: a bombed out city, gutted storefronts, dead bodies, the stench of decay — all of it strange, all of it familiar. One thousand yards out. An ektobunker made of laminated vacuum panels sits hidden under a burned-out food mart. Molloy raises the night scope, watches the five men walk through the wreckage. Molloy is Sub-Commander Circle Nine. Two hundred SDK insurgents spread across a five mile radius, three to this bunker. Molloy lowers the night scope. A MedTech stands behind him. “Run them.” The MedTech opens a rectangular metal case, takes out the bioanalyzer, places it onto the view port, calibrates the distance and scans. The readout displays on a small monitor attached to the wall. Four of the five men are biologically enhanced. “Ubers,” the MedTech spits out the word. Molloy nods. The SDK insurgency is in its third year. After a series of setbacks, the government disavows the Shanghai Accords and embraces DNA hacking, a process similar to etching binary code onto a microprocessor, except in this case the engineers are able to biologically modify the genome with a cluster of new chromosomes. The result is posthuman. Ubers. OverMen. “That’s why they’re out there,” says Molloy. “They want to be seen.” “And the fifth man?” asks Bratz. Bratz functions as Molloy’s adjutant. “Nothing,” answers the MedTech. “He’s clean.” Molloy adjusts the night scope, zooms in tighter. “Then why is he with them?” “Probably a ploy,” offers Bratz. “Pull a guy, bloody him up then put him out front where we can see him. The Ubers consider empathy a weakness. Something they can exploit.” “Meaning what,” challenges Molloy, “that we should just ignore him?” “I would,” answers Bratz. “And if they start to slice him up same as the guys at the bridge. Do we still just sit back and watch.” “We did with the guys at the bridge.” “That was a mistake,” says Molloy. “I prefer to think of it as a survival mechanism,” counters Bratz. “Shit.” The MedTech is staring at the readout from the monitor. “I just ran the fifth guy’s DNA through the data banks.”

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www.morpheustales.com Mousetrap By Oscar Windsor-Smith “What would you give to be slim?” said the flyer offering a free package of pioneering therapy in return for taking part in a clinical trial – transport from London to Bratislava included. What would I give? At that moment my right arm seemed like fair exchange. Sometimes I wish I’d done the manly thing and recycled that promotional flyer with all the other junk mail. I know I would have too, if only my previous night’s date hadn’t reached new heights of embarrassment. ### The introduction agency had given their customary precautions about first meetings so I’d suggested Tony’s Bistro. God knows why. Tony’s had been the setting for so many of my previous dating fiascos. My date arrived on time: Leslie, a slim, well-built blonde. It appeared that she had told the truth about her age, but as she soon pointed out, mine was not as advertised. Nor was my physique. Her eyes registered disgust at my bulk, but that was before she had scanned the menu. Tony’s excellent menu was usually one point in my favour with dates, an indicator of refined tastes. Regrettably, it was also a significant factor in my weight problem. “I don’t suppose Simon Faulkner is your real name," said Leslie with a cynical grin, “or that you really are an investigative journalist?” I assured her that both those statements were true and displayed my NUJ card as proof before regaling her with the day-to-day workings of computerized journalism. She nodded from time to time and occasionally made polite ‘Mm?’ sounds. It was only when I mentioned one of my ongoing enquiries that she become animated. “So Professor Bond and his research partner disappeared?” “Indeed,” I said, choosing brevity to extend this seam of conversational gold. “Five years, and you’ve discovered no more information?” “Only rumours.” “Rumours?” “About unauthorized experiments.” “At the Institute for Genomic Solutions?” she said, and then bit her lip, colour rising. “I didn’t mention IGO,” I said. “You don’t sound like a hairdresser, Leslie. What do you really do?” Leslie, if that was indeed her name, raised a hand in apology. She took a sip of wine and said, “I make enquiries too, a sort of headhunter.” “Is this evening business or pleasure?” “Let’s call it social. I must have heard something about this Professor Bond, in the news I think. It seemed like an intriguing case, that’s all.” Still full of vain hope and eager hormones, I took her at her word. “They were doing groundbreaking research,” I said. The waiter cleared our plates and offered us the dessert menu. “Do you know in which field?” “David Bond is a geneticist. His research partner Christine Sullivan is an authority on parasitic nematodes.” Leslie scanned the menu. “Nematodes?” I flicked to an illustrated page on my iPhone. “Worms,” I said. “The kind that lay their eggs in living hosts to feed their offspring.” Leslie had lost her appetite it seemed. She stood, eyeing me critically. “Such a shame,” she sighed. “You might be an attractive man, Simon, if only you could lose all that blubber.” With that she left.

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www.morpheustales.com Anti-Bodies By Wednesday Silverwood Duane watched the robotic limb make delicate incisions into the flesh of his forearms. There was a sharp beeping sound and then the robot inserted the thin probe containing the Harvesters. It embedded deep into his system and the machine began to make a slight but perceptible whirring noise. Duane winced as the Harvesters went about their work. The veins in his arm stung where they were being cleared, his blood being scoured; Bods being collected. Having his immune system enhanced had been expensive. But now, it had more than paid for itself. And really it wasn’t so bad, once you got used to it. The actual Harvest was painful, but he lived a lot of his life as normal. He had become used to the constant queasiness, the occasional sensation of movement inside his circulatory system. So long as you kept reminding yourself what it was, that it was normal, then you could get through just fine. It was only right before the Bods were harvested that there was any real sickness or pain. And usually, the feel of the credits in his pocket and the taste of that first beer afterwards were enough to make it all worthwhile. After all, a guy like him, what other way did he have to make money? As the harvester worked, he watched the pretty blonde doctor checking and re-checking the machinery. She was wearing one of those paper surgical masks; just a formality, he knew, but it drew attention to her large blue eyes. She swept a strand of loose hair behind her ear, and he admired the graceful curve of her neck. Duane wondered whether he might have a chance with a woman as beautiful as that. Then he thought about Jessica. He wondered if a treatment might have saved her. It had been almost three years since the worst epidemic of RDTH-7 had decimated the world population. No one knew where RDTH had come from but it had become pandemic in only a few, short days. Quarantines were set up, but the disease was powerfully virulent and soon people from all walks of life were coughing till they drowned in their own blood. It was now more or less under control amongst the Middles and Uppers, but still it thrived in the slum areas, finding victims amongst those too poor for inoculations or bio-treatments. Little pockets of disease rested in the midst of the cities. It had created great political controversy. The Middles always feeling themselves at risk from the slums, terrified of stray pathogens spreading the disease into their own enclaves. Screening had become commonplace. The major pharmaceutical companies made occasional efforts to improve and manage the disease in the slums, but the cynics said that they made more money from the Middles if they were kept afraid. Now, the media now jumped on every new case of RDTH, or any unexplained illness for that matter; ambitious journalists intimating that every new pathogen was an outbreak of terrible disease. People’s fear sold papers. It also sold wellness packages. There was heavy investment in disease. The Middles weren’t only interested in curative drugs either. After the plague, health had become the new money. Each weekend families flocked to the clinics to spend their hard-earned credits on the latest in wellness solutions. Parents and children of all ages regularly received vitamin injections. Some people even had regulatory systems installed to monitor and control their antioxidant levels. There was little evidence that these treatments had any beneficial effect. Still, everyone wanted to buy a clean bill of health. The machine beeped again and there was a sudden increase in Harvester activity. Duane braced himself and tried to breathe through the pain. He watched the robot arm at work, the blinking lights of the machine reassuring him.

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www.morpheustales.com Screaming Monkeys By Dev Jarrett

Sturdivant glared at him over the sim table. It lit his face from below in hyperfluorescent blue, casting his features in underlit sea monster shadows. The glasses he wore reflected the light perfectly, making him a gargoyle in mirror shades. “You can’t be serious. After all the shit you’ve done in the name of customization, all the extralegal mods you’ve made for the sake of individuality, now you’re having an attack of conscience? What sense does that even make?” Petersen didn’t answer. He picked up the tablet and tapped the screen, bringing the e-mail back up. The e-mail that offered them the opportunity of a lifetime. It could make them trillionaires, Petersen knew, and would only cost them their souls. Of course Sturdivant didn’t get it. In fact, this was probably the logical conclusion his mental projected simulations reached when all the dominoes fell in perfect concert. The Big Boys realized the great work Petersen and Sturdivant were doing in an underfunded, ill-equipped clinic in the armpit of the world, and decided they wanted a piece of the anthropo-customization pie. Sturdivant didn’t appreciate the artistry, the improvisation that Petersen performed on every Custom. The intuition and imagination required for such things was not something that could be duplicated, much less packaged. “We could give them what they say they want—” he began. “Finally, the man sees sense!” Sturdivant raised his hands in mock-praise. “—but they wouldn’t get what they’re asking for,” he finished. “Aaghh! Goddammit, Phil.” “Steve, look at the e-mail again. They’re asking for our individual custom creations reproduced and mass-marketed, and while their offer is generous, it just wouldn’t work!” “Of course it would. I’ve got the designs right here,” Sturdivant said, patting the touch sensitive surface of the sim tabletop. “We send the specs off to them, they give us enough money to buy a mediumsized country, and that’s the end of it for us. Maybe they’ll use the specs and then begin production of vatgrown spare parts for future Customs. Maybe they’ll patent the designs and lock them in a safe somewhere, simply to boost their prices later. Or maybe they’ll print the plans off, roll them up really tightly, and take turns sticking them up each other’s asses. I don’t care. The thing is, at that point we’re out of the loop. We don’t even need to bother thinking about it.” “They’re trying to buy us out,” Petersen said. “They buy these designs, and we don’t get to use them anymore. We’re done then.” “Keep up, Phil. Of course we’re done. We won’t need to work anymore. You’ll be so rich none of your descendants will ever need to work again.” “But I like the work, the challenge. If we agree to their terms, the only way I’ll be able to keep doing this work is as an employee of these guys, and you know I won’t do that. And that touches on the other end of my argument. Who are they going to get to actually install the mods? It’s delicate, tricky work, and if they try to teach some kid straight out of med school, he’s going to mess it up. Bad press, leading to bad politics, leading to the outright illegalization of personal modification.” Petersen looked up at his business partner, psychically begging for a little empathy, but Sturdivant only shrugged. “It’s just microsurgery, Phil.”

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www.morpheustales.com Legacy By Richard Farren Barber “Kill the lights,” Jim told her. Darkness rushed in, splashing the windscreen. Marie peered through the glass, trying to pick out shapes. A couple seconds later, she could see a blur of lights up the lane. “Is this it?” Marie asked. She turned off the engine and the car coasted to a halt just like she’d seen in films. The loudest sounds were the stones’ crunching beneath the tyres and the scrabbling of brambles against the body of the Beamer. She couldn’t help worrying about how she was going to explain the state of the car when she got back home. “We walk from here." Jim opened the door and went to the boot to pull out the green canvas kit bag. It jangled with the clang of metal on metal, and Marie tried to believe she was better off not knowing what was inside, but really she was well beyond that defence. She got out of the car and stepped in a puddle that splashed greasy water onto her Donna Karan boots, but she bit down on the complaint, knowing that Jim would mock her for it. “Come on,” he whispered. He turned on a heavy rubber torch, the beam spotlighting a large chunk of the road; grey puddles and a Mohican strip of grass. He slung the bag over his shoulder and started walking. Great, Marie thought, the car’s scratched and now Jim’ll be coming back with his whopping size-11 boots tracking mud all over the floor of mum’s Beamer. She ran to catch up with him. “Ssh,” Jim hissed. “You sound like a herd of elephants.” “Well slow down, I can’t see where I’m going.” “You don’t need to, just keep quiet and stay out of the way.” Jim swept his torch down by his feet; his silver toe-caps reflected the beam. He was almost silent, his feet seeming to slip through the mud. This was the place. Marie didn’t have to ask. She’d seen it too often in the videos. Maybe not this farm, but ones like it – thronged with suffering animals. Always deep in the countryside. If the companies that ran these places really thought they weren’t doing anything wrong then why did they always try to hide them? The barn looked fragile. A splintered wooden door. Cracked windows patched with cardboard. But the padlock on the door was silver and new. Jim crouched down by the tree. “We’re going for the barn,” he whispered, and then he was running across the courtyard, passing under a searchlight. Marie waited and when Jim reached the barn doors she ran to join him, expecting to trigger some klaxon alarm like in a World War II escape movie. She clattered to a halt beside him, half-blinded by the glare of the light. “When we get in there you do exactly as I say.” “Of course.” Jim eased the jaws of a pair of bolt cutters around the padlock. “Don’t let it freak you out.” He brought the bolt cutters down and the hasp broke immediately. For a second Marie could smell the sheared metal, and then Jim shouldered open the door and dragged her inside. She fell into straw clotted with mud and shit. Paper wrappers drifted across the rough flooring. A couple of plastic syringes lay in the corner.

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Profile for Adam Bradley

Morpheus Tales #19 Supplement  

55 pages of genre non-fiction, including interviews with Warhammer and Doctor Who author Jonathan Green, Scream Queen Dai Green interviewed...

Morpheus Tales #19 Supplement  

55 pages of genre non-fiction, including interviews with Warhammer and Doctor Who author Jonathan Green, Scream Queen Dai Green interviewed...

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