THE DEPARTURE By Neal Asher ..................................................................................................................................................... 2 ZERO POINT By Neal Asher .............................................................................................................................................................. 2 THE BAY ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 3 BETWEEN TWO THORNS By Emma Newman................................................................................................................................ 4 Juliet E. McKenna Interview ................................................................................................................................................................ 4 THE SERENE INVASION By Eric Brown ......................................................................................................................................... 8 GENERATION LOSS By Elizabeth Hand ........................................................................................................................................ 10 11/22/63 By Stephen King.................................................................................................................................................................. 10 The End of the World By Sheri White ............................................................................................................................................... 12 Duane Myers Interview ...................................................................................................................................................................... 13 CREAKERS By Paul Kane ................................................................................................................................................................ 14 STARING INTO THE ABYSS By Richard Thomas......................................................................................................................... 15 Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones ................................................................................................................. 17 THE FICTIONAL MAN By Al Ewing .............................................................................................................................................. 19 TELLING TALES OF HORROR ...................................................................................................................................................... 21 RAILSEA By China Mieville ............................................................................................................................................................. 21 GREAT NORTH ROAD By Peter F. Hamilton ................................................................................................................................. 23 THE BLOODLINE FEUD By Charles Stross.................................................................................................................................... 23 MONSTERS ANONYMOUS By Theresa Derwin ............................................................................................................................ 24 Jack Skillingstead Interview ............................................................................................................................................................... 26 RISE OF THE ZOMBIES .................................................................................................................................................................. 28 Interview with David Lear of Firestone Books .................................................................................................................................. 30 MISSPENT YOUTH By Peter F. Hamilton ....................................................................................................................................... 31 GRIMM AND GRIMMER: VOLUME TWO Edited By Theresa Derwin ....................................................................................... 32 VURT and POLLEN By Jeff Noon .................................................................................................................................................... 32 AGE OF SATAN By James Lovegrove ............................................................................................................................................. 33 Karen Ann Interview .......................................................................................................................................................................... 35 BEAUTIFUL CREATURES .............................................................................................................................................................. 38 REVIVER By Seth Patrick ................................................................................................................................................................. 40 BLACK RAIN By Joshua Caine ........................................................................................................................................................ 40 UNCLEAN SPIRITS By Chuck Wendig ........................................................................................................................................... 40 THE BARRENS ................................................................................................................................................................................. 41 REC 3: GENESIS ............................................................................................................................................................................... 41
Edited By Stanley Riiks. Written By Adrian Brady, Simon Marshall-Jones, Stanley Riiks, C.M. Saunders, Vi Reaper, J.S. Watts. Proof-read By Sheri White and Trevor Wright. © Morpheus Tales July 2013
www.morpheustales.com THE DEPARTURE By Neal Asher www.panmacmillan.com
finely detailed and exciting. But there’s a distinct lack of speed; the action is realised with Asher’s trademark adventure style (like paddling along a river in a rowboat [albeit a river filled with flesh-eating monsters and surrounded on all sides from immortal pirates]), not the pace and drive of an Andy Remic or David Gunn novel (a rollercoaster thrill-ride that’ll take your breath away). Having said that, the book builds nicely towards the climax. The world is a genuinely entertaining dystopia, and Asher’s characters are compelling. Saul in particular is someone who is massively memorable. This is part of the Owner series (a trilogy), and do not misunderstand, this is in no way a stand-alone novel. It ends on a massive cliff-hanger halfway through the story, and you have to continue with Zero Point, the second book in the series that I will be reading shortly. Asher has created an amazing world and some great characters, but the promise of an action-lead novel doesn’t quite materialise. This is more of the same, adventure and excitement. Still enjoyable, and I’ll be reading Zero Point to make sure I find out how the stories continues, as it just gets really interesting at the end. By Stanley Riiks
A few hundred years in the future, the world is run by the Committee: an evil, faceless bureaucracy that punishes disagreeable thought, and polices the world with robotic killers and the Inspectorate. Earth is running out of food; resources are depleted after the world is raped and abused. Billions must die so that the Committee can continue to rule those that are left, those deemed societally valuable. Those not valuable to society or the Committee (zero-assets) will be killed, slaughtered by a massive set of lasers orbiting the planet. The small Mars colony is abandoned by a resource-hungry Earth, the Committee set about planning the murder of those not valuable enough to continue living when one of them finds out. A rebellion is about to take place on Mars. Alan Saul wakes up on his way to an incinerator (where the Committee sends its enemies), and sets about causing as much pain as he can to the Committee and those responsible for turning him into the man he is today, ruining and breaking him through painful torture. Saul is a man who remembers nothing of his past other than it was wiped from his memory by pain. This is Asher’s modern take on 1984. I’m a bit of a fan of Asher, and I do mean a bit. I really enjoyed the adventure and exploration of The Skinner, but found the second book in the Spatterjay series, The Voyage of the Sable Keech to be repetitive and disappointing, so I was looking forward to trying a new series from the author. This one looked a little more action-packed, so I thought I’d give this a go. To a certain extent it is action-packed, but Asher’s style doesn’t lend itself to speed and pace. There is a lot of description, and everything is explained fully so the world we explore is
ZERO POINT By Neal Asher www.panmacmillan.com If you’ve read my comments on the first book in this series (The Departure), put those aside. I think on the whole I was right; the book is a compelling, adventure and exploration of a dystopian world with some other great ideas. But I may have been wrong about the action sequences. I said they didn’t quite materialise. The reason I say that I may have been wrong is that this book starts off fast and continues fast; action-packed is exactly what this book is, but with Asher’s trademark attention to 2
independently. It is the second book in the series and those picking it up will likely be lost because what has gone on before is barely referenced. You need to read the first book in the series, and then this one, and you’ll enjoy it all the more. The third book in the trilogy is set for an August release, and I for one will be pre-ordering. Stunningly good, Asher is in tremendous form in this epic, idea-filled, action-thriller of an SF novel. Bring on more! By Stanley Riiks
The story continues (spoiler alert!) as Saul heads towards Mars with the Argus Space Station when he is shot in the head. The almost post-human has to develop a way of containing his brain while his body works at full speed to compensate for the massive brain damage and injury, and heal. Hannah is all that stands between Saul and certain death as those former members of the Committee are ready to pounce on his temporary weakness. On Earth, with the majority of the Committee wiped out by Saul, Serene Galahad takes control. She sets off a mass extinction event, killing all zero-assets, and to hide her involvement she continues to kill large sections of the population, including all remaining Committee members. Billions die at her hands. But Serene isn’t finished. She commissions the completion of a space ship, fills it with nuclear warheads and 1500 troops, and sends it up after Saul and the Argus Space Station. Var Delex on Mars’s Antares Base is coming under increasing pressure as she rules with an iron fist. Preparations need to be made as the space ship will be coming after them to quell the rebellion as soon as Argus is dealt with. The world of The Owner series is even further explored, the characters continue to develop, the plot moves along swiftly, with Asher setting an astounding pace from the get-go. This is a thrill-ride of a novel, it never lets up. Asher’s style doesn’t necessarily play well to action; so filled with invention and ideas are his world, that it takes a lot of explaining to make sense. But here, with the groundwork laid in the first book in the series, he lets rip. Explosions, danger, assassination, catastrophe, and science abounds , but he still manages to make this a human story despite the epic nature. This is not a book to be read
THE BAY Director: Barry Levinson The Bay is a US-produced ‘found footage’ film from the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious, written by Michael Wallach and directed by the Academy Award-winning Barry Levinson. This indicates that this project benefited from a sizeable budget, which seems to have been spent almost entirely on trying to make it look amateurish, as is the crux of found footage films. Set in 2009 against a 4th of July backdrop, the storyline follows a fictional coastal town called Claridge, where a research team investigating depleted wildlife stocks discover an abnormally high level of pollution in the water. The cause of the pollution is thought to be a local poultry factory, but when the team take their findings to the town’s mayor, he refuses to create a panic so as not to scare off the tourists, and buries the information. Consequently, off the back of an assumed bacterial outbreak, which has the townsfolk running for cover and the authorities scratching their heads, a deadly plague is unleashed which turns humans into hosts for a new breed of deadly parasite. Panic breaks out, and as the authorities struggle to cope, the mutilated bodies begin to pile up... 3
www.morpheustales.com The main thread follows a young TV reporter, one of the few survivors from the Claridge outbreak, as she relives her experiences for the benefit of a whistleblowing website. And by all accounts, a truly shocking time she had of it, too! The plot may be a little thin in places, but the special effects more than make up for it, and there are a few genuinely terrifying moments, as well as plenty of food for thought. The principal message behind The Bay is clear enough: Pollution bad. Greedy, power-hungry politicians bad. But this is much more than another superficial study of the detrimental effects of modern life on the environment. Taken as entertainment in its purest form, the film plays upon mankind’s most base fears and guilt, where it has an absolute ball. Alarmingly enough, the breed of water-borne parasite featured in the movie, an isopod going by the name of Cymothoa Exigua, is real. It penetrates fish through the gills. Its attack culminates in devouring the fish’s tongue, then attaches itself to the stump where it can become the fish’s new ‘tongue.’ Proof, if it was ever needed, that more horrors exist in nature than could ever be dreamed up by the minds of men. By C.M. Saunders
help. There is a lot going on here; the book feels a little disorganised as we dart from one plot thread to another, but this is likely to come together in the second and third volumes of the story. The characters are good, the setting and world is excellent, there are some good ideas, and for the most part this is well written. Newman shows a lot of promise with this first book in the series, and has done enough to peak my interest to read the following books. By Adrian Brady Juliet E. McKenna Interview You’ve been writing for a long time. What inspired you to start writing? I’ve always spun yarns one way or another, but writing for publication takes things to a whole new level. Being an at-home-mum with two much-loved small children did prove rather lacking in grown-up, mental stimulation, so deciding to seize that chance to try writing on a professional-standard novel was my solution. Also, since going back to my previous career was no option given childcare costs would have taken pretty much my entire wage, writing offered the possibility of making a positive contribution to the family finances.
BETWEEN TWO THORNS By Emma Newman www.angryrobotbooks.com This is the first book in The Split World series, and if the first book is anything to go by, then it’s going to be cracking. In this urban fantasy, Newman portrays a secret city of Bath, called Aquae Sulis. The Master of Ceremonies is missing, and Max is tasked with finding him. The only witness is shackled by magic. And a woman wanting to run from her family might be the only person able to
How did you go about first getting your work published? Having worked in the book trade for a while, I knew exactly how high that first hurdle can be. So I sought out as much 4
www.morpheustales.com professional advice and merciless critique for my draft novel as I could, and I took it on the chin. There are no easy short cuts. You just have to write a book good enough to stand in comparison with what’s already on the shelves.
with magic, so wizards are not immune to such change, particularly once a different sort of magic to their own sees a resurgence. Naturally since magic is potentially so powerful, there’s an age-old rule that wizards don’t get involved in warfare. But the thing about rules is sooner or later someone will break them. The Hadrumal Crisis explores the consequences when a mage turns renegade in circumstances which the Archmage cannot control. What other writers have influenced you? Every writer I’ve ever read, one way or another, consciously or unconsciously, by showing me something to emulate or something to avoid. I know that sounds like a flippant answer, but after trying to answer this question so many times, I’ve concluded that’s the honest truth. If I try to give you a list of names, we’ll still be here after ten page,s and two minutes later, I’ll think of someone I’ve forgotten to mention. What are your other influences? I’ve been a keen student of history, formally and informally, for as long as I can remember, so I constantly draw on that. My reading increasingly focuses on the growing wealth of scholarship dealing with ordinary people’s lives from an ever-expanding range of cultures, not just the great deeds of rich and powerful European men.
Your latest novel is Defiant Peaks part of the The Hadrumal Crisis trilogy. Can you tell us about the world, The Hadrumal Crisis and the novel? Einarinn is the world I’ve been writing in for these fifteen books, where I’ve been exploring classic themes of epic fantasy, especially the uses and abuses of power and knowledge, from a variety of perspectives, insider and outsider, noble and commoner. Einarinn’s on the cusp between medieval and renaissance, historically speaking, so there are new ideas and changing attitudes sweeping back and forth. This is a world
Your work is mostly fantasy, do you ever want to write a horror novel or SF? I don’t ‘get’ horror. I never have. I don’t enjoy it personally and cannot see the attraction on an emotional level, however much I can appreciate horror writers’ skills on an intellectual level. So I don’t imagine I will ever be able to write it. SF? Perhaps, if I can find someone to rigorously fact-check the science side. But on balance, I still think that’s unlikely. The SF I love to read is clearly inspired by the sort of technical and 5
www.morpheustales.com scientific reading which I simply don’t do as my education took me down distinctly different paths.
tend to result in stale work needing much more revision. How do you put a book together; do you just sit down and write, or do you plan chapter by chapter? I write a bare bones, one-page outline marking out the beginning, the end, and key points along the way. I look at that in more detail, working out structural plot elements and twists and the interactions between different narrative threads. Once I’ve broken that down into one-line chapter summaries, I write detailed notes on each of those chapters. Then I start the actual wordsmithing. That gives me my first draft. A thorough revision and rewrite process gives me my final draft which I send to my editor.
Where do you get your inspiration? I’ve realised that every piece of fiction I write, long or short, essentially comes down to answering a ‘what if...?’ question. What if the person central to a quest wasn’t a mighty-thewed hero with a big sword but a woman living on her wits and on the fringes of society? What if an all-powerful, absolute ruler found himself facing a magical foe that he cannot tackle when everyone is looking to him for a solution? What if ordinary people get sick and tired of being pawns in the nobility’s games and decide to put a stop to such ambitions? What if an Archmage who’s spent his life keeping magic out of politics gets backed into a corner and shows what wizardry’s really capable of? That’s what’s prompted the four series I’ve written so far.
Most of your novels are part of a larger trilogy or series, why is that? I’ve found I naturally write stories too wideranging to fit within one book. My first series grew naturally from The Thief’s Gamble once I realised unanswered questions and trailing threads from that particular story laid a firm foundation for a sequel. Once those two books were written, three further stories were ready and waiting to be told, giving The Tales of Einarinn a natural five-act structure. The Aldabreshin Compass was intended to be four books from the outset, but my plans remained fluid until completing Southern Fire showed me where the narrative consequences would lead and shape subsequent episodes. The Lescari Revolution clearly fell into three parts; we need a revolution, we’re having a revolution, and now we have to deal with the consequences. The Hadrumal Crisis took
Do you have any rituals or routines when you write? No particular rituals, but my routine has been pretty well established by years of writing around the school day. I clear email and briefly check social media first thing in the morning and then work through ’til sometime after five with a break for lunch. Work can be anything from writing fiction to non-fiction to reading for research or review through to doing the accounts or other admin. The closer I get to a deadline, the more likely I am to be working evenings and weekends, but I try to avoid doing that as a rule. I find extended periods of writing without taking regular breaks to recharge 6
www.morpheustales.com a while to coalesce. Originally it looked like a two-part tale, but as I considered what have proved to be some vital elements, the overall story emerged in three phases.
ebook formats, I can honestly say I’m not. Which is definitely a relief! How do you feel about the new rising superstars of fantasy such as Peter V. Brett and Joe Abercrombie? I wish them every success since I know firsthand just how much hard work goes into this game. I also look forward to the day when up-and-coming female fantasy authors enjoy comparable exposure by way of reviews and promotion.
If you could go back in time to when you started writing and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be? Actually generous and genial writers gave me all the good advice I needed back then. The one I’d most like to pass on? Never submit a first draft. Good writing lies in the rewriting.
What's the best piece of feedback that you've had from your audience? I don’t know if it qualifies as feedback, but questions from keen readers about apparently trivial things, notably an armring and a letter, have proved extremely useful as I’ve looked for plot elements to work into later stories.
Do you read reviews of your work? How do you deal with criticism? I read reviews once. If criticism is constructive and honestly meant, I’ll gladly take it and use it to improve whatever I’m currently working on. I love it when someone sees things in my writing which I’ve been unaware of. If someone doesn’t like my book because it’s not to their taste for whatever reason, I’ll wish them better luck with their reading next time and move on. If someone insists that I’ve written an objectively bad book for no better reason than their personal, subjective dislike of some aspect of character, plot or style, I’ll simply move on.
What is the most important thing when becoming a writer? Not taking any level of either success or failure as inevitable or guaranteed. This life is full of ups and downs. Do you write for a particular audience, for yourself? I write the sort of books I like to read and strive to emulate, but not imitate the genre writers I particularly admire such as Robin Hobb and Kate Elliott.
What book are you reading now? I’ve just finished Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and I’m about to start Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I read a great deal, including a lot of crime and mystery fiction. I enjoy films and TV as well as going out and about to see new places. I knit and embroider and practise the martial art Aikido.
What is your proudest moment as a writer? When Diana Wynne Jones came up to me at my very first convention and told me how much she’d enjoyed my book! Are you disappointed with any of your work when you look back on it? Having been re-reading my early books both for continuity checks with the Hadrumal Crisis and as I help get my backlist into
What parts of being a writer do you like best? And least? I adore that point when the story-outlining 7
www.morpheustales.com process generates its own internal momentum and all the elements start falling into place. I loathe checking page proofs, all the more so because I know how essential that is.
fascinating challenge. I have some short story commissions in hand and it’s time to see which one of my current novel ideas kicks back when I start poking it. Do you have any advice for other writers? Remember the Internet is forever. However angry someone or something has made you, take a breath, count to ten and ask yourself, are you prepared for the consequences if you hit post/send?
Who are your favourite authors and favourite books? This is another question where I could give you ten pages of answers and still leave someone out. The best I can do is mention the books I’ve really enjoyed recently. Since I’ve just served as an Arthur C Clarke Award judge, this year’s shortlist would be a good place to start, especially the winner, Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden. You can add Terry Pratchett’s Dodger, and on the crime side, Val McDermid’s The Vanishing Point.
What scares you? The thought of something bad happening to my children. What makes a good story? Believable characters, nice and nasty, making things happen, desired and unexpected, in a fully realised and immersive setting. Easy? I wish...
Do you get writer’s block? How do you cope with it? Without wishing to sound overly dramatic, the only thing that gives me writer’s block is death, either of someone close to me or in some catastrophe such as 9/11 or the 2004 tsunami. I have learned that the only thing to do is wait for it to pass.
THE SERENE INVASION By Eric Brown www.solarisbooks.com When an alien race called the Serene come to an impoverished and collapsing Earth of 2025, they bring with them happiness, joy, and an end to destruction. Water flows over deserts, poverty disappears, all of the world’s ills are healed. Or are they? Much like the remake of TV’s V, the lovely friendly and helpful aliens are not all that they seem, and a terrorist gang of rebels is all that stands in the way of the Serene’s total domination of the Earth. Like other Brown novels, this book is full of action, and sweeps ahead with a momentum and drive that captures the readers. There are plenty of good ideas, and the characters are solid. Brown provides an interesting future and alien race, in another excellent SF book, from one of the masters of the genre. By Adrian Brady
If you could meet anyone, fictional or real, dead or alive, who would it be? The ancient Greek playwright Euripides. I find his work fascinating. Which do you prefer writing/reading, short stories or novels? I’m a natural novelist but I enjoy the challenge of writing short stories all the more because of that. I honestly couldn’t say I have a preference either way. In general I am more inclined to read novels rather than short stories. What are you working on now? I’m trying my hand at serial fiction for Aethernet Magazine, which is something I haven’t done before and it’s proving to be a 8
www.morpheustales.com GENERATION LOSS By Elizabeth Hand www.constablerobinson.com
the assassination of JFK, the date of which provides the book’s title and today remains one of the blackest marks in American history. However, upon arrival, Jake soon realises that changing the past can have untold consequences for the future... Word has it that the Master of Horror first started writing this weighty tome as a young teacher way back in 1973 (which makes you wonder how much is at least semi-autobiographical), but at the time didn’t feel confident enough in his own writing ability to be able to do it justice. For that reason, it took forty years or so to materialize in its current form. In a way, that is an exercise in time travel itself! The back-story suggests that King painstakingly researched and pieced together various aspects of American and world history in order to accurately portray the time period the lead character travels back to, and builds a life in. And he does a great job of it, too, giving the whole book an authentic retro feel as he constantly draws comparisons between modern America and that of the pre-JFK era. As always the characterization is top-notch, and there are even cameo appearances from several characters from his other popular works, most notably some of the teens from the modern masterpiece, IT, now a little older and wiser than when we last met them. Being a long-time fan, I have devoured most of what King has written, and in my opinion, this ranks as one of the best and most accomplished additions to his bulging library. Listed as one of the Ten Best Books of 2011 by The New York Times, 11/22/63 is now available as a mass-market paperback, the timing of which, I imagine, is partly to prime the market for the imminent release of Doctor Sleep, the long-awaited sequel to The Shining. For newbies and old fans alike, this supernatural thriller is not one to be missed. By C.M. Saunders
Hand is better known for her award-winning fantasy and SF novels. Here, we have her first venture into mystery/crime. The novel was originally published in the US in 2007, but despite the five years since first publication, it’s aged remarkably well. Cass Neary is an aged,washed-up photographer. Famous in the seventies, her star shone bright, but has faded much in the past thirty-odd years. A crime committed decades ago has a strange way of repeating itself. This is as much a murder mystery as it is a deep and haunting exploration of Cass. Part literary character exploration, part murder mystery, this is a book that draws you in whether you like it or not. Hand is known for dark dystopian SF novels, and here she brings that same darkness to her protagonist. A beautiful and poignant novel, but also harsh and brutal. This is unabashed character exploration as its brutal best. By Adrian Brady 11/22/63 By Stephen King http://www.stephenking.co.uk/site/Home.ph p5 The Master of the Macabre continues his thrilling recent run of form with this supernatural mystery. Main protagonist Jake Epping is a frustrated small-town English teacher in Maine. One day he is handed an essay written by one of his adult students explaining in horrific detail how the man’s father butchered the rest of his family back in the 1950s. The essay has a profound effect on Jake. Shortly thereafter he is introduced to a time portal by the owner of a local diner and decides to use time travel to alter the student’s fortunes and also prevent 10
www.morpheustales.com The End of the World By Sheri White
those preparing for the zombie invasion. When I was a kid, watching those kinds of shows would’ve scared the crap out of me, and not in a good way. Now I see them as entertainment – even though there is just a whisper of unease when I see one. If you’re fascinated by the world ending like I am, you will definitely enjoy this issue. It’s a fun read, but will also get you thinking.
I was thrilled when Adam at Morpheus Tales asked me to edit a special edition of the magazine. Even better, I got to choose the theme. Since I was asked before December 2012, I figured end-of-the-world would be a great theme. After all, I had been waiting for it since I was a kid – I grew up in the 70s and 80s, a prime time for worrying about such things. I mean, it seemed everybody was waiting for the bomb to drop on us. I definitely chose wisely. I got some great stories; the writers really pulled out the stops for this theme. Some were scary, some were poignant. I was riveted by many of the stories, and wished I could’ve included more. Apparently, there are a lot of ways for the world to end; reading through these stories every day had me dreaming about the apocalypse like I used to as a child. Luckily, kids today don’t have this fear. I’m so glad my kids are growing up fearlessly looking towards their futures. And although I know seeing the end of the world in my lifetime is slim, reading stories about it still freaks me out. As lovers of all things horror, we tend to torture ourselves with what scares us. Which is why I continue to read stories and watch shows about the apocalypse. They have reality shows that feature people who are preparing for such a scenario – even
The free preview is available here: http://issuu.com/morphe ustales/docs/apocalypse The printed magazine is available in digest size and a large format collector's edition: Digest sized edition: http://www.lulu.com/sh op/sheriwhite/morpheus-talesapocalypse-specialissue-digestedition/paperback/prod uct-20719921.html Large Format Collector's edition: http://www.lulu.com/sh op/sheriwhite/morpheus-talesapocalypse-special-issue/paperback/product20719784.html;jsessionid=9F3EB62F07E6 CF54B390776F48C7B992 Ebook edition in multiple formats: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/29 0163?ref=morpheustales Also available on amazon for kindle! 12
www.morpheustales.com Duane Myers Interview How did you get started with art? I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing. As a child, my mother took me to an art lesson in the nearby city of Lancaster. That experience, as well as my first paintby-numbers, are my earliest memories as an artist. Tell us how you go about creating a piece? Do you do lots of preliminary sketches, or just go for it? After I read a manuscript or art director’s notes, I’ll do two or three rough sketches. The client then chooses the one that best tells their story. Once the sketch is approved I start collecting photographic reference that I will be painting from, followed by a photo-shoot of a live model or a clay sculpture, sometimes both. In order to make an illustration look like it could really exist, I try to work from reality whenever possible. Once I’ve gathered all the pieces of the puzzle, I do an accurate drawing and begin painting over it.
A lot of your artwork is genre, fantasy and SF, what drew you to this area? I have always found the world I live in a bit boring. The real excitement was always on the horizon of reality and time. I’m also a big fan of novels, comic books, and movies that deal with the supernatural. What artists inspire you? First and foremost is my friend and mentor, Ken Laager. He took me in as his apprentice when I graduated art school. In two years he taught me more about being an artist than I could have learned in any school. I also get a great deal of inspiration from artists like James Gurney, H.R. Giger and Brom.
How long does a piece take? Usually, the idea and sketch phase of an illustration take about a week. The final painting takes two to three weeks depending on the complexity of the scene. How has technology changed how you work? When I first started as an illustrator I worked with pencils and oil paints, which took a considerable amount of time. Mixing colors and repainting things that weren’t working were huge time eaters. Once I bought my first computer, tablet, and painting program, things got a lot easier. I could make changes to a painting without starting over, or change my pallet without spending two hours remixing colours.
What other things inspire you? Dreams have always been a source of inspiration. What the mind does when we sleep is truly amazing. You recently worked on a cover for Morpheus Tales magazine, tell us about the cover and how it came about? The idea for the cover is loosely based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s March from Minas Morgul, but I really just wanted to paint a big-ass 13
Burroughs, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Jules Verne are definitely at the top of my list.
Being an artist can be lonely work. Are you a member of any groups or studio? Sadly, no, I’m not a member of any group. My friend and fellow artist Ken Laager lives a stone’s throw from my house. We meet to critique each other’s work from time to time. Other than that, my beautiful wife, children, and pets keep me from feeling too isolated. In truth, I enjoy the solitary existence of an artist. A friend once told me that I’d do well stranded on a desert island and I had to agree.
What is your favourite book? The Hobbit, of course. Who is your favourite artist? A little known artist named Danin who is also my nine-year-old daughter. She draws the most beautiful rainbows and family portraits. If you could illustrate anything, what would it be? Since I can remember, I’ve always loved dinosaurs, so painting an almost documentary style portrait of one would be a lot of fun. The idea that these monsters actually walked the same Earth that we do is truly inspiring.
What is your favourite piece you have created? That’s a hard question to answer. I am never truly happy with any of my paintings. There is always room for improvement and never enough time to create the perfect painting. If I had to choose one piece, I guess it would be a piece titled “Specter.” It’s a simple image of a demon born out of genuine rage that seemed to paint itself. There was no client, no reference, and no thought put into it.
CREAKERS By Paul Kane Spectralpress.wordpress. com It’s getting difficult for me to review the Spectral Press chapbooks. How many possible ways can I say how great they are? And they are, they’re great. These are the kind of stories I grew up reading, the kind that gets under your skin, the kind that sends shivers (literally in this case) down your spine. These are the kind of stories that I thought I’d grown out of, the kind that I thought had been lost to my cynical adulthood. I didn’t think a short story could touch me, make me feel, creep
Who would you most like to work with? Bethesda Softworks, the game studio that makes “The Elder Scrolls” series. I’d give anything to work with them. They make great fantasy worlds come to life. Who is your favourite author? It’s hard to choose just one. Edgar Rice 14
www.morpheustales.com me out. The Spectral Press stories are those that linger, leaving images and emotions behind. They are the kind that haunt you. Like watching Halloween for the first time as a twelve year old. Like reading “The Body” by Stephen King in your mid-teens. These short stories, despite their diminutive size, manage to leave an impression. Having read Paul Kane’s work before, I was looking forward to this, with just a trace of trepidation. I haven’t read any of Kane’s short work before, and the short story is a harsh mistress, brutalising many a novelist. Fortunately I had nothing to fear as Kane’s story is among the best Spectral has offered, and they have offered some amazingly good stories. Ray Johnson is back at his family home, kept up by creaking noises. He develops houses, and knows those that creak as creakers. His old family home is certainly a creaker. Ray spends the day tightening up all the floorboards, screws, and everything else he can find that might be loose and making the noise, but the old family home hides secrets that Ray doesn’t want to know about, even though he may not have a choice… The now-trademark “quiet” horror of Spectral is at the forefront of this story. Kane manages to literally send shivers down your spine in this tense and disturbing tale that (as Sarah Pinborough’s introduction states) leaves you with a little hope. One of the best chapbooks so far, and that’s from a truly epic collection. Stunningly good, this is Kane at his very best. A heart-felt and disturbing tale of haunting in every sense. By Stanley Riiks
Thomas before, I went into this collection unsure of what to expect, but nothing I could have imagined would have prepared me for this book. Each of the twenty stories is like a downward spiral into a bleak personal hell; a hell of the characters’ own making. Instead of a backdrop of fire and brimstone, the reader is forced to inhabit filthy bars, fractured minds, and sordid scenarios filled with moral degradation, physical brutality, and despair. It is dark and nasty. It is a book that makes you feel unclean, but it is all described so beautifully, with such wonderful prose and artistic power, that no matter how much you wince and wish to turn away, you keep getting dragged back in. Although the stories are not related, the characters that dwell within each tale all seem to circle the same cesspit of life. Whether it’s the formative years of a young boy being forever scarred by the actions of an uncaring mother, a desperate man in a filthy apartment with only beer and razorblades for company, a disgruntled worker planning violence, or a young woman taking out brutal revenge on her abuser in an underground fight club, there is always this underlying thread of loneliness and utter anguish that makes you long for hope and peace. Occasionally, the author will mix it up in different ways with one story being in the style of choosing your own adventure, while other stories dally with sci-fi and endof-the-world visions. There’s even a darkly humorous story about Stephen King which might make you think twice about ‘The King of Horror.’ Overall this is an excellent collection of short stories that will lead you down some very dark paths, but is well worth the effort. If you like your reading material mature and challenging, you can do no better than this. Amazing. By Vi Reaper
STARING INTO THE ABYSS By Richard Thomas http://abyss.krakenpress.com/ Having never read anything by Richard 15
www.morpheustales.com Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones
headed Hydra, the giant bronze statue of Talos, a group of re-animated skeletons, and, my favourite, the multi-armed (and sworded) statue of Kali. Beasts that had only been descriptions on the printed page were now conjured into frightening life, their often murderous intent given the weight of movement. As well as scaring me, they also instilled in me a sense of wonder and awe, a feeling that maybe, somewhere out there, there were creatures just like this, living in lost and forgotten places. These days, of course, the moviemaking world has embraced the computer, with its ability to create lifelike renditions of even the most mythical of beasts from the most lurid of medieval bestiaries. It’s gotten to the point where distinguishing the fantasy from the reality is becoming increasingly difficult, the two elements fusing together so seamlessly. But, for some of us, therein lies the technology’s greatest failure – unlike the stopmotion animation of yesteryear, there’s a feeling that the wonder and awe I spoke of above has somehow been lost in all the ‘WOW’ of computer-generated imagery. In all fairness, both techniques require huge amounts of patience and dedication to see through to the end, but in very different ways. Despite the smoothness and consistency of computer animation, there’s something very extraordinary about stopmotion special effects that helps to make them linger on in the memory. Before I go any further, a brief explanation of what stop-motion animation is. The scenes involving any creatures
Earlier this year, on 7th May, we lost a pioneer of film and TV magic, after a long and fruitful life of creativity. That man gave a whole generation a glimpse of the mythological mindscapes of the past. Indeed, one of my most abiding memories of my earlier years is watching one of the many films he worked on with my father: Jason & the Argonauts. I know I had an interest in Greek mythology, as I distinctly remember being given a book of modern retellings of their myths and legends by Roger Lancelyn Green and devouring it avidly. And then I was told that the story of the Golden Fleece had been made into a film. Of course, back in the sixties such handy technology as DVD players and satellite TV hadn’t even been thought of and were still way in the future. At that time we were reliant on the good graces of the terrestrial television channels to broadcast such fare. Even so, there was never any guarantee that they would or, even if they did, that you would be around to watch it. But what treats they were, when they were broadcast. As well as Jason, there was the Sinbad series of films and The Clash of the Titans. These films all shared something in common, aside from the mythological elements gleaned from the civilisations of the past, and that something can be summed up in a single name: Ray Harryhausen. He was the genius responsible for bringing to life the parade of fantastical creatures that our erstwhile heroes encountered, creatures such as the Cyclops, the Harpies, the many17
www.morpheustales.com would be shot, as they still are even today with CGI, with the actor(s) reacting to empty air. In a supreme effort of imagination, they would ‘fight’ against an enemy that wasn’t even there. Later, the special effects man would create a scale model of whatever creature it was, made from latex over a wire armature which allowed it to be manipulated into various positions. Then, using a backdrop technique, each frame of the already shot film would be back-projected on to a tiny screen behind the model. The animator would then move each individual limb of the model a certain amount, and a picture taken a frame at a time so that, with the film moving at the correct speed, it would appear that the creature had come to life and was battling a human adversary. It was a painstakingly slow process – just mere seconds of film would take weeks, if not months, of very patient work. The end result, however, would more than make up for the time involved. The technique can be traced back to the very earliest days of the film industry with pioneers such as Albert E. Smith and J. Stewart Blackton, Georges Méliès and others employing it in their films. Perhaps though, in connection to the genre we love, it was Willis O’Brien who made considerable inroads in using stop-motion on celluloid in The Lost World and the King Kong films, for instance. But it was O’Brien’s protégé, Ray Harryhausen, who finessed the technique and gave us such memorable scenes incorporating it. Harryhausen was an absolute master of the art. That first film I saw which featured his work, Jason & the Argonauts, left an indelible impression. One scene in particular sent shivers up and down my spine. After the Argo had landed on an isolated island, they came across massive bronze statues of the gods. Two of the crew, Hylas and Hercules, decided to investigate
further. The plinth upon which Talos kneels, sword ready in hand, has a door in its side, and inside, the pair find untold riches: the treasure chamber of the gods themselves. Hercules picks up a brooch, the pin of which is an ideal-sized javelin. Hylas warns against taking anything, which Hercules poohpoohs. However, at that moment, a grinding noise is heard and the chamber’s door shuts from the outside. You just know something awful is about to happen. Using his prodigious strength, Hercules pushes the door open and, when they get out, the head of Talos turns to look at them – and I remember being utterly frightened at that image. But that was the magic of Harryhausen – he could invest an inanimate object with not just life, but vast menace as well. Intuitively one knows that the model is only something on the order of 12” in height, yet the sheer weight and intention of the animated behemoth can be palpably felt. But it wasn’t just menace that he was able to conjure up. Later on, Talos is defeated by Jason, unscrewing his heel plug out, thus depriving him of animating force. You can almost feel Talos’ anguish at being bested by mere puny humans. It’s a tour de force of animation; in essence bringing a statue to life and investing it with recognisable qualities, using a medium that really didn’t possess the flexibility that computer imagery and wire-frame work affords the special effects technician today. That, at its most basic, is where the artistry comes in – it takes a special talent to create such magic from lifeless materials. There have been plenty of obituaries and eulogies to the great man, but I won’t bore you with any biographical details. This is, however, a personal remembrance in tribute to him. The films on which he worked have stayed with me for all these years, a testament to the level of his creativity. Over and above that, those films 18
www.morpheustales.com left me with a spirit infused with wonder and awe at the marvellous breadth and depth of the human imagination, in a continuous and unbroken line from the legends of a civilisation now lost in the mists of time, right up until the present. I encounter the latter practically every day in my capacity as both a publisher and reviewer. In very large part, I can attribute my love of both the cinema and the printed word to Ray Harryhausen. And to him, I also owe a debt of gratitude for firing my imagination at such a young age. My childhood (and subsequently my adulthood) would have been a great deal poorer if he hadn’t brought life to the multitude of creatures of myth and legend and put them on the silver screen. I would even go as far as to say that his talent was as big a star in those cinematic masterpieces as were the actors themselves.
This is a hard book to like. For two hundred and fifty of the three hundred and ten pages, I was not having fun. It stands a testament to Ewing’s writing that I didn’t like it but I managed to read on. You see Goland, our protagonist and narrator, is an arse. An epic arse. He’s probably the most unlikeable character I’ve ever read. I wanted to punch him in the face from almost the beginning and my feelings towards him didn’t change. But towards the end the focus shifts, and the book gets much better because of it. Golan’s self-narration (he writes passages about how he hoped things would happen rather than how they do) is tedious and annoying. I’m assuming that some of Golan’s arseiness is Ewing’s attempt at being humorous. If it is then it failed on every level. I’m assuming that Ewing wanted Golan to be an arse, and if he did, then he’d done a great job. Probably the only nice character in a book filled with annoying arses is the Fictional Bob, a character created for the Black Terror TV show, and now Golan’s only friend. It’s hardly surprising that the insipid, self-aggrandising, arrogant twat Golan only has one friend. This started off with a good idea, but doesn’t really explore the Fictionals in a usual way, instead being more interested in the mental collapse and discovery of the story behind the story behind the story, which is actually quite interesting. Spoiled only by the inclusion of the limp-wristed waste-of-space Golan. You are unlikely to read a book quite like this again. If you can suffer Golan then the ending of this book, although fairly predictable, is worth the effort. A strange and unwholesome journey, not what I was expecting. A surprising novel. By Stanley Riiks
Raymond Frederick “Ray” Harryhausen (29th June 1920 – 7th May 2013) - R. I. P THE FICTIONAL MAN By Al Ewing www.solarisbooks.com Set in an alternative modern LA, where Fictionals are cloned characters from books, films, and TV, created specifically to play the part, Niles Golan is a divorced, philandering novelist of the action-packed Kurt Powers novels. He’s trying to get his novels made into a movie, and Kurt Powers made into a Fictional. But during the meeting to discuss the project, Golan is asked to rewrite his favourite film as a teenager, the incredibly dated, racist, and misogynistic The Delicious Mr Doll, a James Bond cash-in produced in the sixties. But as Golan researches the film, he finds a whole lot more than he bargained for, discovering as much about himself as he does the TV show the film was based on, the book the TV show was based on, the story the book was based on... 19
www.morpheustales.com TELLING TALES OF HORROR http://www.damnationbooks.com/
RAILSEA By China Mieville www.panmacmillan.com A moletrain is hunting the moldywarpe, a massive and dangerous prey, a huge mole. Sham ap Soorap is on only his second ride on the moletrain; he’s learning to be a train doctor, but more than that he’s up for adventure and excitement, and there’s plenty of that aboard. But when the train finds a crashed train, and Sham enters the carcass of the train, barely escaping with his life and a few mysterious pictures, he inadvertently changes everything. He’s soon he chased by pirates, the navy, will lose his ship, his friends, and potentially, his life… The world of the Railsea is one very different to our own, and yet vaguely familiar. It’s a world of massive and dangerous burrowing creatures that live in the island of Earth scattered around the world of rails, where the majority of humans live. Mole-hunters, salvagers, pirates, and the navy inhabit this world, giving it a strangely nautical theme. The world is exciting and it’s a joy to explore. Mieville writes with a confidence and fluidity, and yet imbues the narration with humour and a unique style. This is a book you can’t help but pick up, not only to continue reading the exciting tale of Sham and his friends, but also to further explore this strange world. Fascinating, complex, and thoroughly entertaining. Mieville is finally getting the commercial success he deserves after years of being lauded with genre awards. The journey into the intricacies of the Railsea is a superb introduction to one of the UK’s finest fantasists if you haven’t read Mieville. It’s a book that will appeal to everyone. If you’ve read Mieville before, and I have, then you know the kind of warped realities he can create, and Railsea is no exception. Pure fascinating fantasist genius. By Stanley Riiks
Being a writer of dark fiction myself, I am always interested to read about other writer’s habits, motives, and opinions on the wonderful craft. Telling Tales of Terror is an interesting glimpse into the dark minds of a selection of modern writers, providing guidance and an interesting insight, not just for newbies learning the craft, but also anyone interested in how fiction is produced. Despite being one of the most enduringly popular forms of fiction, we all know that horror / dark fiction is rarely treated with the same level of respect as other genres. Like, I assume, many other writers, I am always asked why I write horror. I have only recently managed to formulate a standard response, which is along the lines of, “Actually, I wrote a love story once. But it was crap.” Following an introduction from prolific short story writer James Dorr, Telling Tales of Terror is then divided into chapters, each tackling various aspects of the writing process such as working effective dialogue into your work and writing those awkward sex scenes, by such modern luminaries as Bob Nailor, Kathryn Meyer Griffith, and Lisa Morton. Most helpful to me is a section near the end that offers advice from current publishers. It is full of tips and suggestions, and poses some interesting questions. Possibly my only complaint about Telling Tales of Terror is that a lot of the content seems superfluous. Several writers have contributed more than one piece to the book, when it would have been refreshing to have some opinions from different active writers. God knows there are enough to choose from! By C.M. Saunders
www.morpheustales.com GREAT NORTH ROAD By Peter F. Hamilton www.panmacmillan.com
that does fail to live up to expectations, but those are expectations that have been building for so long nothing is likely to satisfy. It’s still a good ending, but it’s not great, and the rest of the book makes you want a great ending. There is epic, and then there is Peter F. Hamilton Epic. The man writes on an astounding scale, space operas that encompass generations, multiple planets, and grand schemes and intrigues. Although this is a rare single-volume story, and far shorter than Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn Trilogy which kept me enraptured for several weeks, this is still a massive book. At 1200 pages, it took me seven weeks to read, when on average I would have read about seven books in that time For anyone who hasn’t read a Hamilton novel, then this is the perfect introduction, before embarking on one of the trilogies, which I would highly recommend. But this isn’t Hamilton’s best book. I can’t wait to have the time to start on the Commonwealth Saga and the Void Trilogy, which have been waiting on my shelf for a few years, and may still be there until I retire. After reading the intricate plotting and details of a Hamilton book, I fear that reading a normal novel just won’t satisfy me. For those prepared to dedicate the time needed to be absorbed by this book, you are in for a treat. By Stanley Riiks
The story starts in 2142, in Newcastle. A Newcastle which is home to Northern Interstellar, the controlling company of the gate to St Libra, a planet virtually owned by Northern Interstellar and the North family of clones who run it. St Libra is the home to the majority of Earth’s bioil supply, bioil being the fuel for almost everything. When a dead North is found in the Tyne, Detective Sid Hurst is given the lead in the case, and an unlimited budget by the HDA, a kind of futuristic X-Files-like agency that believes an alien is responsible. The investigation sets off a planet-wide search of St Libra to find the monster, and the wrongly imprisoned Angela (accused of a similar murder twenty years before) is released and taken to the planet to help with the search. But this is barely the beginning, as there are multiple North factions, criminal activities, guerrilla attacks on the expedition, the murder investigation runs into wall after wall, not to mention the Zanth… That doesn’t even include the various pasts which include torture, murder, fraud, theft, and more. Although Hamilton is not a thrill-aminute writer, (for that seek out Andy Remic’s action-packed novel), there is still never a dull moment. Even the character backstories and history are entertaining. It is usually difficult to keep up the effort of reading and remembering the various characters in such a large book, but Hamilton actually makes it easy. This is space opera at its absolute pinnacle. Hamilton is the master of his universe, and gives it to you in every detail, writing in a way that makes everything at the very least interesting. The various plots pull together at the end, with a denouement
THE BLOODLINE FEUD By Charles Stross www.panmacmillan.com Part fantasy, part SF, all fantastic action! Miriam is a reporter who stumbled across a money-laundering story she thinks will make her career, but then she is fired and starts to receive death threats. Then she’s given a locket that allows her to travel 23
www.morpheustales.com to another dimension, and her life really starts to unravel. If you have not read a Stross novel before, then this is a great place to start. This omnibus edition of the first two novels in the Merchant Princes series has everything you could possible ask for, and a load more. Great characters, amazing worlds, machine-gun toting knights… Stross has created a world and characters that are utterly believable. A worthy addition to any library, will suit fans of SF, fantasy, or any other kind of fiction. Fast-paced, intelligent, and gripping. Another classic from Stross. By Adrian Brady
Uma the Medusa, Cally the zombie, and the Beast of the Blue Lagoon, who has turned P.I and is living in Edgbaston Reservoir. Many of the stories are Birmingham-based, and the juxtaposition of traditional, melodramatic horror against the backdrop of day-to-day life provides a fair bit of amusement. Many, though not all, of the ensuing stories give us glimpses into the bloody and entrail-strewn back stories of the self-help group attendees, though the history of the were-jaguars in Tabasco Source is not entirely consistent with the testimony given by Ivan in Monsters Anonymous. Whether that is down to the inconsistency of werejaguars or the memory of the author, I couldn’t say. Real-life anxieties merge tellingly with visceral horror, making that visit to the gynaecologist more unnerving than it is normally. And the pathological need to shed a few extra stone ends in a bloody and horrifying conclusion. Though flesh is torn and slurped equally on both sides of the gender divide, there are female monsters equal to, and sometimes more gruesome, than their male counterparts, and I finished the collection feeling that the power lay with the distaff side of the equation. Interestingly, the two stories I liked most were overtly feminist in their outlook and were not obviously connected to the self-help group at the start of the collection. Pound of Flesh is a bloody and truly horrifying tale about body dismorphia and the extremes of weight loss, whilst End of Knights has a kick-ass heroine fighting the apocalypse in Central Birmingham. The writing here is polished and entertaining, and makes for a resounding conclusion to these tales of the monstrous. By J.S. Watts
MONSTERS ANONYMOUS By Theresa Derwin www.anarchy-books.com Monsters Anonymous by Theresa Derwin (published in 2012 by Anarchy Books) does what it says on the tin. In the author’s introduction, Derwin states: “This is an anthology of short horror stories with a twist. There are no deep meaningful messages hidden here; no secrets of the universe revealed. This is brash-fiction.” Which is a fair summation. This is not profound, sharply worded literature, just fun, sometimes grisly, horror that the author clearly enjoyed writing. Basically, Monsters Anonymous is a collection of fourteen short horror stories, most of which are loosely, if not always consistently, linked to the title story Monsters Anonymous, a tale of a self-help group for the world’s monsters trying to give up their monstrous ways. There is Jeremy the vampire, Fay the fey, Obadiah Wentworth Cthulu III, Edith and Ivan, a pair of were-jaguars, Amen the mummy, Mr Riddle, Dr Woolaston (who is likely to put you off ever going to see a specialist again), 24
www.morpheustales.com Jack Skillingstead Interview Your latest novel, Life on the Preservation, is coming out from Solaris Books. Tell us about the book. Life On The Preservation is a science fiction novel about a post-apocalyptic world in which aliens have devastated the Earth but, mysteriously, allowed one city to survive under a dome that traps the inhabitants in a time loop. Inside the dome, hardly anyone knows what’s going on. It’s just another day to them. But a handful of people wake up to what’s happening, and try to rouse the rest of the population. Outside the dome a teenage girl named Kylie makes a desperate trek across the blasted landscape and finds a way to enter the time loop. From that point, things get weird. Weirder.
writers I was reading a lot of up to the age of twenty-six or so. They influenced me in the sense that I was mesmerized by what they could do with words and I wanted to be able to produce similar effects.
What inspired you to start writing? From the age of twelve or so it was all I could see. Nevertheless, it was many, many years before my one-track mind finally led me out of the wilderness. At twelve my inspiration, I guess, was Star Trek and other media manifestations of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I wanted to write scripts, but at the same time I knew that "real" writers also wrote short stories and novels. So I started to do that. Also, it was far more likely I could publish a short story than see a movie script produced. As you can imagine, my early efforts were abysmal. Eventually I became obsessed with the written word. I never have done a film or television script, though I hired out to do some graphic novels for young teens.
How do you put a book together, do you just sit down and write, or do you plan chapter by chapter? It’s a combination, though mostly it’s a sitdown-and-write situation. Every time I start a book I think I have to plan it out, and I try to do that, but my plan never really works. I need to know just enough to feel confident that I’m not going to get totally lost a hundred pages in. But if I know too much it buggers the whole thing, because then I’m too concerned about following the stupid plan instead of discovering what the book is really about. The best fiction is produced in the unconscious mind, then organized and cleaned up by the conscious editor. If you could go back in time to when you started writing and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be? Turn off the TV. Turn off the TV. Turn OFF the TV.
What other writers have influenced you? Influence is a tricky word. Writers who have meant something to me include Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelazny, Irwin Shaw, John Cheever, Ernest Hemingway, Harlan Ellison, Vladimir Nabokov, and so on. These were some of the
You are mostly known for your short stories; do you prefer writing shorts to novels? 26
www.morpheustales.com Any time a piece of writing works, whether it be a short story or a novel, I am thrilled. Lately I am more focused on novels, because they get more attention and there’s a greater chance of reaching a larger audience. But that isn’t the whole reason. I just want to be at least as good at novel writing as I have been at short story writing in the last ten years.
My least favourite aspect of the writing life is the nagging, insecure voice in my head that likes to remind me that I’m no good and who do I think I am, anyway? Also, like everyone, I absolutely HATE rejection. Every rejection feels like a dagger to the heart. The rejection ratio is what defeats most would-be writers, by the way. Those who gut it out are usually much improved for it. Rejection is discouraging, but it also makes you tougher and forces you to improve your prose line. There are objective standards of quality. I see young writers choosing to self-publish before they have an inkling of what they are doing. Occasionally, they are successful, in terms of sales. But selling isn’t the most important aspect of writing. I would place it in third place.
What book are you reading now? I always keep a few books going at once. Right now they are 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill, a collection of short stories by Guy de Maupassant, and The Word For World Is Forest by Le Guin. What’s the best piece of feedback that you’ve had from your audience? I don’t know what the best was, but the most memorable was from a very shy young woman who came to my signing without a book. She just wanted to tell me that she was so embarrassed by the sex in the first chapter that she had to stop reading. I nodded stupidly and fiddled with my pen.
Who are your favourite authors and favourite books? Currently, I like Daryl Gregory and Ted Kosmatka, two very different writers and both friends of mine. I was blown away by Lavie Tidhar’s book Osama. I read everything Nancy Kress writes, and not just because I’m married to her. Jeffrey Ford is a fantastic writer. So is Joe R. Lansdale. Although my relationship to Landsdale’s writing is kind of like my relationship to Charles Bukowski’s writing. I will go on binges, when no other writer will satisfy - and then, suddenly, I’ve had enough for a while.
What parts of being a writer do you like best? And least? I like the process of writing, everything from the first glimmer of an idea to the fully developed story or book. I love receiving a box of my books from my publisher, or my contributor’s copies of a magazine. These are joys a fully electronic future will squash. 27
www.morpheustales.com Which do you prefer writing/reading, short stories or novels? I tend to read more short stories than novels, mostly because I’m a slow reader with limited time. I wouldn’t say I otherwise have a preference. As for a writing preference, lately it’s novels, because I like to be immersed in something for a long period of time. I like to know what I’m going to work on every day.
RISE OF THE ZOMBIES Director: Nick Lyon Rise of the Zombies is the latest ‘mockbuster’ from Asylum Studios, who specialize in low-budget, straight-to-TV horrors. This particular offering is obviously designed to capitalize on the overwhelming mainstream success of The Walking Dead TV series and the general outpouring of love for the zombie genre. To its credit it wastes very little time on things like scene setting, and opens slap-bang in the middle of a vicious tussle between the rampant zombie hordes and the obligatory small band of determined survivors. The usual rules apply, with our bunch of scrappers decamped on Alcatraz Island with, luckily, a good supply of weapons, which always helps when fighting a zombie invasion. The only thing is that these zombies have remembered how to swim, and the island is soon overrun, leaving the desperate survivors no option but to leave in search of a mad scientist who may or may not have discovered a vaccine for the zombie outbreak. Rise of the Zombies stars Chad Lindberg of the original The Fast and the Furious, Danny Trejo of From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, and Mariel Hemingway, who is probably most famous for having her breast implants removed after they unexpectedly ruptured. There are also a few other familiar faces, most bizarrely Randy from My Name Is Earl, whose character this time around is only marginally more intelligent. Real-life horrors aside, while this film probably won’t win any awards for its originality or acting, the action is relentless and the special effects above average for this kind of thing. Keep a look out for the fate that befalls the little orphan zombie baby delivered by impromptu C-section on the Golden Gate Bridge! By C.M. Saunders
What are you working on now? My agent is currently shopping my Vegas novel, which is a reincarnation fantasy with a teenage girl protagonist. And I’m about twenty-five thousand words into a new novel, a science fiction thriller based a little bit on my first professional sale, which was Dead Worlds, way back in 2003. Do you have any advice for other writers? Turn off your devices. Read widely and for two hours every single day. Write every day when you are onto something, but don’t let the fallow periods freak you out. Sometimes the well needs to refill. Don’t self-publish unless you have already sold your work to a professional market. Remember: it’s not about being in print, electronic or otherwise. It’s about discovering the secret heart of your particular point of view. That takes a lot of time. What scares you? The ordinary, repetitive nature of our lives (this one can also be kind of comforting, depending on your frame of mind), the possibility there is no meaning and that we are merely a chemical accident. Stuff like that. What makes a good story? A good writer.
www.morpheustales.com Interview with David Lear of Firestone Books
more, or get the opportunity to land on my face at acrobatic tumbling classes at The Circus Space.
What is Firestone Books? Firestone Books is a new publishing company, looking to bring readers a range of new and classic tales. We’re currently working on publishing classics from the familiar to the obscure, but we are also happy to receive submissions from prospective authors. The guidelines are on our website www.firestonebooks.com.
Are you open to submissions? Yes – the guidelines are on our website. Novels and short story collections from past, present, and future contributors to Morpheus Tales are more than welcome. At the moment, as Firestone Books is a very small company, we’re only able to publish authors’ books as eBooks, or print-on-demand paperbacks, so these books will only be available to buyers online. If a book sells well, however, Firestone Books will be in a good position to ask bookshops to stock it. What are your future plans for Firestone Books? Forbidden Planet say they’ll stock our early science fiction books, but I’ll need to finalize things with them first. We’ll publish more classic novels, and perhaps even put together a third Early Science Fiction volume, but we’ll see how sales of the first two volumes go first.
What is your favourite part of running a publishing company? I set up a publishing company because I have a passion for books, and I love doing a job that involves reading lots of great stories. I’ve also enjoyed researching information and discovering new things. When I came up with the idea of compiling what became two early science fiction anthologies, I thought I’d be putting together tales from the nineteenth century. Instead, I was amazed to discover the likes of Cicero and Voltaire were writing about travels through space and extra-terrestrials, centuries and even millennia ago. What is the hardest part of running a publishing company? That’s a tough question. I could go on about the great things about publishing; there’s hardly any downside. I suppose the worst thing is that I don’t really have time to write any 30
www.morpheustales.com What are you reading now? Lady Susan. Jane Austen is famous for writing six novels, but she did write a seventh, Lady Susan. I love Jane Austen, and Pride and Prejudice is probably my favourite 19th century novel. I think Lady Susan is a very good tale and has been rather unfairly neglected. Hopefully we’ll be able to publish it in the near future.
I’d have to say Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It has the cleverest (and most difficult to write) twist I’ve ever read. In terms of horror fiction, I tend to go for the classics, and my favourite horror writer is probably M.R. James. I’ve recently compiled a collection of his horror stories Whistle and I’ll Come to You, and Other Supernatural Tales. (I’ll use any excuse to read his stuff.) I’ll give the book a little plug here and say that Whistle and I’ll Come to You is now available through Amazon.
What makes a good story? I like stories with an engaging, rapidly moving plot, and a set of well-rounded characters. I find that books I like have characters and plots with a lot of back story, so when you open the book and read the first lines you’re already in the middle of the tale. (For instance there’s a lot of back story in the first Harry Potter novel.) I like writing that’s easy on the eye rather than intellectually demanding. I like writing that is so clear, that I feel I’m there, floating above the characters, hearing their every word and watching their every action.
MISSPENT YOUTH By Peter F. Hamilton www.panmacmillan.com Those familiar with Hamilton’s work might be surprised that this isn’t a massive epic set over generations and several planets. In fact, this is a very personal tale, set in a nearfuture Earth, where Jeff Baker is the inventor of crystal memory that revolutionised the Internet and all associated media in 2010. Baker is now in his seventies and is the first in the world to receive the Brussels-funded rejuvenation programme that takes his body back to his twenties, so that he can work on a new energy project for them. But Baker’s fresh new body leads him into all kinds of trouble, including multiple affairs and causes issues with his teenage son. Hamilton is a writer who does everything well; his characters, his worlds, his plots, are all immaculate. Having read a few of his books, including the massively epic Night’s Dawn Trilogy, it’s difficult to not look forward to reading a Hamilton book. He is the UK’s premier SF writer. Here he treads familiar ground, but looks for a new angle, making this a very personal and human tale rather than an ideas- or science-driven story. Much like Robert J. Sawyer’s beautiful Rollback, the
What makes a bad story? My least favourite stories focus on the mundane and the everyday. Poetic prose doesn’t do much for me either. I want larger-than-life characters, and fantastic plots. Who haven’t you published yet that you would like to? I’d have to be boring and say JK Rowling would be number one on my list. Anyone can write a complex plot, and anyone can write easy-to-read tales, but these two aspects of writing are pretty much diametrically opposed. JK Rowling somehow makes very clever and complicated plots easy to read. What book would you most liked to have published? 31
www.morpheustales.com book looks at the human implications of the scientific fountain of youth, and all the dramas and problems that go with sudden youth. Sawyer’s book focuses on a couple, while Hamilton focuses on a family, and more particularly a father and son. Any man will know the delicate balance that relationship holds. Hamilton takes his time to develop his characters, making them live within the pages, creating fallible, human people you can’t help but feel for. Without the strength of his characters the book wouldn’t work. Against the backdrop of political and financial uncertainty, riots and protests, it’s not difficult to draw parallels to today’s conflicts. The world Hamilton creates is every bit as interesting to explore as his characters. For a writer well known for epic space operas, this personal tale of father and son may seem a departure, but Hamilton imbues all his stories with an amazing degree of complexity and realism that draws you further into the exciting plotting. Hamilton fans will not be surprised by the quality of the story telling. Hamilton once again surprises, proving he is a diverse talent. Misspent Youth is another human tale set in a futuristic world from one of the world’s best SF writers. By Stanley Riiks
the jaws of death by men, and poor people should always comply with the rich because the rich always know what is best. While these themes might grate on today’s way of thinking, it doesn’t stop the original tales from being wicked, twisted and entertaining. This short story collection takes those old fables and gives them a modern day facelift. Whether it’s a babysitter losing her charge in the deep dark woods set in the style of ‘Hansel and Gretel,’ a foolish prince on a suicidal mission to wake a sleeping princess, or a royal couple’s deliciously evil love-lives taking an unexpected twist. The seven stories available are all very well written and edited, reaching out to seamlessly add twenty-first century monsters like soulless TV talent shows or the loneliness of big cities, while never losing sight of the underlying morale-motif in which the original tales were based. The last tale in this book sums it up perfectly in saying that you can never outrun death, but you can definitely dodge him for a while. So, if you are looking for fresh ideas laced with scares, pitch-black humour, unexpected twists, and a small splatter of gore, all with a faint smell of morality, you should enjoy this collection. There is also an excellent foreword attached and each story has an introduction by the author, which adds another layer of insight into the minds and meaning behind each tale. By Vi Reaper
GRIMM AND GRIMMER: VOLUME TWO Edited By Theresa Derwin
VURT and POLLEN By Jeff Noon www.panmacmillan.com
It could be correct to say that Grimms’ Fairy Tales were actually nasty little snippets of scare tactics hidden beneath a dark veneer of moralistic fantasy. With stories about kids being threatened with ovens, or beautiful princesses falling foul of sewing needles, the messages are clear; children who don’t behave will die horribly, ugly women are all evil, pretty women can only be saved from
It’s good to see Noon’s first two books getting reprinted. I read both Vurt and Pollen many years ago, and haven’t read a Noon book since Nymphomation. Noon writes strange books, has a unique vision, and creates imaginative and complex worlds. Exploring them is like visiting the strangest place in the universe 32
www.morpheustales.com on a twisted acid trip. Vurt is now reprinted in a very nice 20th anniversary edition, and is the story of feathers. These different coloured Vurt feathers are drug-like experiences, transcending space, time, reality, and sometimes sanity. This sf-fantasy novel sees people/animal hybrids, powerful and intoxicating drugs, and a wild ride of a world disrupted by insanity. Pollen is the sequel to Vurt, although the stories aren’t really connected, and it takes place in the same demented version of future Manchester as the first book, but 15 years later. This time a series of strange deaths is being investigated and leads to further exploration of this truly insane world. Noon has a wild imagination, his writing is compelling, and his worlds are works from a genius. Like Dali, he is on the edge of sanity. Both books have stood up well to the passing of time; the ideas in both books are still brilliantly original. Noon is a writer, like China Meiville and Neil Gaiman, who has such a unique vision that you are captured by it as you sweep through the story, carried along by a truly brilliant imagination. True genius. Rereading these books only make me want to read more Noon. By Stanley Riiks
the heap, in every sense of the word. Having just lost his father and his idyllic lifestyle in the sweltering climes of South-East Asia, he finds himself dumped in a cruel boarding school for boys in England where he becomes an easy target for bullies. Lonely, desperate, and depressed, Guy is approached one night by Milward, another boy at the school, who offers a novel idea in how to beat the bullies. This idea includes a crude candle-lit black mass and a promise to Satan. Guy goes along with the ritual jokingly, reassuring himself that a couple of kids with candles cannot really evoke the devil himself. But when a freak accident claims the life of young Milward, Guy is left wondering if The Dark Lord is really after his eternal soul. From there we meet Guy at various stages of his life, and whether it is him who is chasing the Devil or the Devil who is chasing him, a dark shadow of tragedy and sadness is never too far away. One of the most important and interesting things about this story is the time-line against which the book is set. World history propels the plot, offering opportunities for Guy to meet characters that not only have a drastic effect on his life, but give him insight into the many faces of Satan. A deserter from the Vietnam War tells of seeing the devil, revelling at the violence amongst the Asian jungle, whilst later on there are political atrocities and religious divisions that are all brought under the spotlight. This all adds to Guy’s ideology of evil, but the question still remains: Can you really beat the devil? Well, in Guy’s case, you’re just going to have to read this book and find out. Have faith, you won’t be disappointed. This novella is part of ‘The Pantheon Series,’ which is a group of tales based around gods, faith, religion, and beliefs. Other books in the series are detailed at the end of this novella. By Vi Reaper
AGE OF SATAN By James Lovegrove www.solarisbooks.com For a novella, this book has surprising depth and character. Racing along at the speed of light, the plot grabs you from the very beginning and squeezes you tight, never giving you a chance to breath. It’s one of those rare reads that has you staying up an extra hour because you need to know what happens next. We first meet Guy at the bottom of 33
www.morpheustales.com Karen Ann Interview
titled “The Lioness and the African”. I loved the sensual way in which the lion held the man with his paw as if to kiss rather than kill him. I purchased a postcard size picture of the carving and tacked it over my desk at work and for the next two years the story of the lion and the man began taking shape in my head.
Your new book Of Blood and Lions has just been released. Tell us about that. Of Blood and Lions is the story of Katherine Chambers who inadvertently becomes involved in an ancient sibling rivalry between ancient Assyrian warriors. The warriors it turns out are lion-hybrids (humans that possess super-natural powers). Along with their mentor Issy, the lion, the Assyrians are charged with keeping the existence of Nergal demons from causing wanton destruction to the human race. While on a hike in the state park near her small hometown in Massachusetts, Katherine is fatally injured by one of Nergal demons. Issy’s elixir is the only way to save Katherine’s life and the only way to administer the elixir is through the lions bite. Katherine awakes ten hours later at home, alone in her car, unsure of what has happened to her but safe and sound. The year following the encounter with the hybrids is challenging as Katherine and her husband wrestle with the physical changes that follow as she transforms into one of the lion-hybrids. Throughout the story Katherine desperately struggles to hold on to her human life while dealing with her new super-human abilities. Tragedy strikes again as Katherine’s human family become victims of Reggie, the psychotic brother of the hybrids, who is determined to use Katherine to get revenge on Issy, upon who he blames for the loss of his empire two thousand years earlier. Of Blood and Lions is the story of love lost and found and the heart wrenching tale of one woman coming to terms with the important matters in life.
What other writers have influenced you? The list is long but the top five are Steven King, Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe, J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert. How do you put a book together, do you just sit down and write, or do you plan chapter by chapter? I’m a scientist by trade and my work requires that I write many technical reports. By nature scientific reports are very structured and always begin with an outline thus it might be surprising to learn that my fiction writing style is somewhat chaotic. I realized early on in my writing Of Blood and Lions that I didn’t have to be as rigid and deliberate as I am at work. I can let my mind and my writing wander in several directions until the correct course becomes clear. Book One began with the beginning and the end. I filled in the middle as I went along. Even though I don’t work every day on my manuscript, I am always writing in the back of my mind. I imagine that this is probably
What inspired you to start writing? This project began in 2008 on a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to see the “Art and Assyria” exhibit. While at the exhibit I came across an ancient carving 35
www.morpheustales.com the case with most writers. I have a notebook in the car, in work, in my purse and even at my bedside, to write down ideas as they come to me. Sometimes they come to me even in the middle of the night.
more will be coming out to play in the next book. What book are you reading now? I’m obsessed with George R.R. Martin’s Games of Thrones series especially since HBO has started its show. I am on the third book at the moment. I think Mr. Martin is a literary genius.
If you could go back in time to when you started writing and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be? Don’t procrastinate so much! I get writers block for months at a time and I will find any excuse not to sit down. I find that if I can get even the smallest idea down on a piece of scrap paper and transfer it to the manuscript then I can write paragraphs from just those few words.
What's the best piece of feedback that you've had from your audience? My audience loves the idea that my book proceeds are being donated entirely to National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative which is a comprehensive program that supports on the ground conservation projects, education, and economic incentive efforts and a global public-awareness campaign. The first step in the program is to halt the decline of lions and cheetahs that are dying off rapidly across Africa. These cats once ranged across the African continent and into Syria, Israel, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, and even northwest India. Two thousand years ago more than a million lions roamed the Earth. Since the 1940s, the numbers of lions and cheetahs has dropped from an estimated 400,000 to as few as 20,000 animals. Scientists connect the drastic decreases in many cases to burgeoning human populations. The Big Cats Initiative aims to halt lion population declines by the year 2015 and to restore
Your novel is a fantasy, do you write horror, sf or in other genres? Of Blood and Lions began as romance but as I got further into the story the lion biting the man lent itself to more of a mild horror story. After all lions are carnivores and the more research I did into lion behaviour showed them in all their glory covered in blood. There is also a tremendous amount of world history woven into the story that is tied into each one of the different lion-hybrids. I went back and forth trying to decide which ages and wars the other hybrids would come from. It’s been a great refresher course! The ancient Assyrian world was filled with hundreds of gods and half-gods and demons. Several of them make an appearance in this book but many 36
www.morpheustales.com populations to sustainable levels. One of the main inspirations for me in writing this book was to raise awareness not only for the big cats but for conservation in general. Since January of 2013 I have raised over $600.
the book store and pick up a book that is more than 500 pages in length. I want to get totally engrossed in a story and not leave it for weeks. What are you working on now? I’m in the process of writing Of Blood and Lions Book Two: Family Matters. Without giving away too much of the story, the second book will focus on more details about Katherine’s relationship with her new hybrid family. The antagonist in the first book, Reggie, will be causing even more problems for his siblings and the other hybrids. Melissa the witch, who played a small role in Book One will have a chapter devoted to her life and history. I’m also planning to delve deep into Reggie’s psyche growing up in Assyria under his father’s strict rule in order to flesh out why he is full of revenge. Many readers are also interested in how Issy the lion came to be in her present lion form therefore Book Two will contain several chapters devoted to Issy’s transformation back in 3200 BC and her trip to the underworld or Netherworld, as the Assyrians referred it, where she will encounter a whole host of demons and unscrupulous characters before returning to Earth as a mythical lion.
What parts of being a writer do you like best? And least? I love the idea that my writing can influence other people even if only in a small way. The main characters in my book have lived for thousands of years and yet they have chosen to help humans by raising money for charities and giving back to the world and I hope that that small idea will influence others to understand how interconnected we all are and how important the environment is to human survival. The part I don’t like about being a writer is the insecurity that I feel about my work. Being a new writer and having just recently published my first novel I know I have a long way to go and a lot of learning to do and it can be scary sometimes. Who are your favourite authors and favourite books? One of my all-time favourite books is Fahrenheit 451. Every year my husband and I make a point during the winter to watch the movie and I read the book over a long snowy weekend which we have no shortage of in New England. One of my other alltime favourite book series is Dune. There is something so exotic about the dark blue eyes of the Fremen and I get goose bumps when I get to the part of the story when the desert dwelling Sandworms are first introduced.
Do you have any advice for other writers? Don’t give up. There are many road blocks along the way to writing a book and then having it published. You have to learn from every step you take and every mistake you make. When I first began to work on my story it was difficult to look far ahead and to imagine even seeing my book in a book store. I still smile every time I think back to the day the e-mail came from Martin Sisters Publishing telling me they were interested in my novel. I had to read the e-mail ten times before the reality of what they were telling me set in.
Which do you prefer writing/reading, short stories or novels? I prefer novels and the lengthier the better. I particularly love novels with many characters and interwoven story lines. I get such a warm comfy feeling when I go into 37
www.morpheustales.com I would strongly recommend buying a How Get Published Book from a reputable author and follow it as publishers have strict submission rules. I would also recommend hiring an editor. You can’t edit your own book even if you think you’re a literary genius.
angst Twilight generation. To maximise the potential the story is set in a small town in southern America (Trueblood), where the mysterious new girl Lena (Alice Englert) comes to town, living in the old mansion of her uncle, Macon, a recluse who the town think is a witch. He’s not, he’s a caster, as are all of his family. Lena is an outcast from the start, but quickly falls for the popular Ethan Wate (Aiden Ehrenreich). Despite both of their families being against their love (Romeo and Juliet, Twilight, et al), the pair’s friendship grows as Lena heads towards her sixteenth birthday when fate will decide if she will be on the side of good or bad (Lost Girl). The film is obviously the first of a planned series. I’ve just checked and the book is the first of a series. It feels long and drawn out, and there’s not enough story for the two hours the film is dragged out to. Even the presence of British thespians Jeremy Irons (Macon) and Emma Thompson (Sarafine) can’t help this melodramatic codswallop. At just under two hours, watching this film is a chore of the highest order. Unfortunately I’m not a teenage girl (obviously the target age-group for the film), but my girlfriend (also not a teenage girl unfortunately) didn’t enjoy it much either. Only the most desperate Twilight fans will find anything remotely entertaining about this film. Ehrenreich and Thompson do well with the material, but it’s the story and the way it’s dealt with that’s the main problem here, and you can’t fix that with a couple of dramatic parlour-trick action sequences. I watched this because I couldn’t get hold of a copy of Hansel and Gretel and thought it looked quite good. Sadly I was very wrong, and next time I will err on the side of patience. Rubbish of the highest order. By Stanley Riiks
What scares you? Having to interact with the public scares me the most. Before I had my book published I was a super wallflower. I never had much of a social life and my professional life has been spent with test tubes and Bunsen burners. Of course I knew what Facebook and Twitter and Blogging was all about but I never had participated in any of it. Boy was that a shock! I was so nervous at my first author signing which was a few months ago at my local Barnes and Nobel I didn’t know how I was going to get through it. As it turns out the store had invited another local fantasy author to join me, Nathaniel Connors (Revelation Series), and he was such a friendly laid back person that I instantly relaxed and had a great time talking to him. In fact it was Nat that gave me the idea about contacting Morpheus Tales and here I am. What makes a good story? A good story to me is when the hero finds some kind of peace after a long struggle. I love it when I get to the end of a story and I’m overwhelmed with satisfaction at the way the author has woven all the pieces together. I usually have to give a good book away immediately otherwise I will start reading it over again. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES I’m reviewing the film here, I’ve never read the book, and judging from my film experience I won’t be. I can’t help but feel the story is a typical cash-in aimed squarely at the teen38
www.morpheustales.com REVIVER By Seth Patrick www.panmacmillan.com
really interesting plot. Brilliantly fun. By Stanley Riiks
Jonah Miller is a Reviver; he works for the Forensic Revival Service. Jonah brings dead bodies back to life for a few minutes so that they can tell the police what they know, and often, who their murderer was. Reviving is a tough job, a job that takes its toll on the Revivers, who are heavily medicated to keep them from having a break-down. But when Jonah revives a murdered woman and feels a heavy darkness, and then has flashbacks, called remnants, of the woman’s memories, he is forced by his boss to take a break. But then another murder takes place, this one is not just a random attack. It’s part of a massive conspiracy that will pull Jonah to the edge of his sanity… This book is for the most part a unique crime-thriller; the supernatural edge is dealt with realistically, and the book’s tone is always intriguing. Until the end anyway, when things take a bit of a turn and go a little off. The supernatural twist towards the end prolongs the climax, which is reached after a steady ride in tension, but feels a little clunky. Jonah and the other characters are well portrayed, their world is interesting, and the backstory is entertaining. There is a little too much exposition, and the lead-up to the climax includes some Bond-villainesque confessions of dastardly plans. Great ideas, and a really good read. For the most part this is a great book, let down slightly by what feels like an additional twist to prolong the climax. Still great fun, but it could have been better if played as a crime-thriller throughout. The beginning of a trilogy, this book shows a huge amount of potential, and the second and third books are likely to blow us away. Good fun, massively entertaining, great characters, and for the most part a
BLACK RAIN By Joshua Caine http://www.thebartenderalwaysdieslast.com/ Arlene is running (or driving) away from her old life when her car breaks down in the desert, miles from anywhere, forcing her to seek refuge in a small roadside diner. She strikes a deal with the owner, Joe. In exchange for her waitressing services, he will cover the repairs to her car. On the surface, the deal seems a legitimate lifesaver, but Arlene can’t shake the feeling that something is amiss, and as the night wears on, her fears are realised -- and then some. An interesting premise for a novella, Black Rain is handled superbly by novice writer Caine. As the cast of characters rock up, each one more surreal than the last, and the black rain of the title hammers on the windows, you just know bad things are going to happen. The story builds in intensity as it roars toward a conclusion, which is as satisfying as any I have read in recent memory. This one will make you think, and linger long in the memory. By C.M. Saunders UNCLEAN SPIRITS By Chuck Wendig www.abaddonbooks.com Pure and unadulterated entertainment. Fun with a capital F. This is what Abaddonbooks do best, and one of their best is Chuck Wendig. I’m familiar with some of Wendig’s work. He writes with a speedy, action-orientated style that’s like watching a good action film. You sit there in awe, taking it all in and letting it wash over you, and having a good time. This book is no exception. Cason Cole’s boss is murdered, after five years of Cole serving him. With no money and no place to stay, Cole heads back 40
www.morpheustales.com to his wife and son, who try to kill him. Then Aphrodite, the Greek goddess turns up. Cole’s dead boss was Eros, her son, and she’s not happy. Then into Cole’s life comes Frank, the man who killed his boss, and a man with a penchant for making bombs, who secures Cole’s help in killing more gods. Yes, the gods of mythology are real and they’re living in America. And that’s just the beginning. There is plenty of action, a few twists and double-crossing, a nice mix of mythologies to spice things up, and some pretty good characters. Ok, so Neil Gaiman might have done it with more intelligence and style with American Gods. And Richard Kadrey has done it with more attitude and better characters in his Sandman Slim series. But this is still good stuff. Fast-paced, actionpacked, thrill-a-minute, with some good characters and a nice twisty plot. Nothing amazing or special or particularly unique, but a good start to another new world. And for those familiar with Abaddonbooks, it’s a truckload of entertainment. Great fun. Pure entertaining genius. By Stanley Riiks
best known as the director of Saw II, III, and IV, and the mystery thriller 11-11-11, also takes the writing credit. This atmospheric chiller, which, whilst probably not winning any awards for originality, will certainly leave you thinking twice about going camping in the woods any time soon. By C.M. Saunders REC 3: GENESIS Director: Placo Plaza Spanish films aren’t to everyone’s taste, especially without English subtitles, but personally I’m a massive fan of the REC films. The original continental series may lack the swagger and polish of the American remakes, but come across as much more raw and realistic, which is just what you need when viewing a film that is supposed to have been made with a hand-held camcorder. After the locked-down apartment block and the airplane, the action in part 3 (which is described as a parallel sequel to the first two films taking place before, during, and after), takes place at a wedding party for a young couple called Koldo and Clara. An unlikely setting, you might think, for a film of this nature. At first I thought I was watching the wrong movie, until I saw a drunken uncle with a nasty-looking wound on his hand. When I saw the same guy throwing up into a bush minutes later, I knew bad things were going to happen. To his credit, drunken uncle comes back strong, until he falls off a balcony, gets up, and starts munching on people’s faces. Cue the mayhem... Koldo and Clara soon become separated and spend the rest of the film trying to find each other and fight off the zombie hordes. These are not your average zombies stumbling around in search of brains to eat. These are wild, frenzied, ferocious monsters. REC 3 is perhaps a
THE BARRENS Director: Darren Lynn Bousman Eager to engineer a temporary break from society, a man takes his family on a trek through the New Jersey Pine Barrens under the pretence of scattering his father’s ashes. There, in the midst of a disembowelled deer, abandoned camp sites, and missing backpackers, he gradually becomes convinced that he and his family are being stalked by the mythical Jersey Devil. Is his mind playing tricks, or is the monster real? This film, alternatively titled Jersey Devil and The Forest in various territories, is a taut horror thriller that plays heavily on the infamous Jersey Devil legend. Bousman, 41
www.morpheustales.com touch more comical than the previous outings (not least when Clara picks up a chainsaw and sets about dismembering wedding guests-turned-zombies with a crazed look in her eye), but no less entertaining. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of seeing any of the REC films, I can’t recommend them strongly enough. And if you are already a fan, which you should be, you’ll be glad to know that it doesn’t end here. There is an expansive set of related comic books on the market and Volume 4 is already in the works... By C.M. Saunders
Or buy the printed version here: www.lulu.com/spotlight/morpheustales -----------------------Morpheus Tales Back Issues and Special Issues are available exclusively through lulu.com
http://stores.lulu.com/morpheu stales For more information, free previews and free magazines visit our website:
Morpheus Tales #21 Review Supplement, July 2013. COPYRIGHT July 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.,
Scream Queen Interviews are available in Women in Horror, free to read and download here:
45 pages of genre non-fiction, including author interviews with Juliet E. McKenna, Jack Skillingstead, and Karen Distasio, artist Duane Myer...
Published on Jul 1, 2013
45 pages of genre non-fiction, including author interviews with Juliet E. McKenna, Jack Skillingstead, and Karen Distasio, artist Duane Myer...