MORNINGSIDE FALL By Jay Posey ...................................................................................... 2 NAILBITER (2013) .................................................................................................................. 2 MIDNIGHT BLUE-LIGHT SPECIAL By Seanan McGuire ................................................... 3 CROOKED HOUSE By Joe McKinney ................................................................................... 3 VALOUR By John Gwynne ...................................................................................................... 5 DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON By Seanan McGuire ............................................................... 5 BANSHEE’S CRY By Mark Parker ......................................................................................... 5 ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! WASHINGTON DECEASED By Lisa Morton ............................ 6 ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! HORROR HOSPITAL By Mark Morris ....................................... 6 Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent Interview ..................................................................................... 8 THE WHITE TOWERS By Andy Remic ............................................................................... 13 Lockdown By Samie Sands..................................................................................................... 15 IN THE BONES By Renee Miller .......................................................................................... 17 Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones ..................................................... 19 From the Catacombs: Lost and Found By Jim Lesniak .......................................................... 21
Edited By Stanley Riiks. Written By Dan Abnett, Adrian Brady, Jim Lesniak, Simon Marshall-Jones, C.M. Saunders, Samie Sands, Nik Vincent. Proof-read By Sheri White. © Morpheus Tales July 2014.
Morpheus Tales Back Issues and Special Issues are available exclusively through lulu.com: http://stores.lulu.com/morpheustales For more information, free previews and free magazines visit our website: www.morpheustales.com Morpheus Tales #24 Review Supplement, July 2014. COPYRIGHT July 2014 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.
persevere with this one, and we can only hope that the third book in the series lives up to the first. The second one really doesn’t. By Stanley Riiks
MORNINGSIDE FALL By Jay Posey www.angryrobotbooks.com The first book in the Legends of the Duskwalker series was entitled Three and followed the eponymous character, a mysterious bounty hunter as he took a young mother and her son (Cass and Wren) across the desolate and dangerous post-apocalyptic world as they sought to escape a crew of dangerous criminals, and hiding from the weir, electronically enhanced humans who stalk the devastated earth. The second book follows on as Wren is now Governor of Morningside, but the young boy had more than his hands full as there is an attempt on his life, and unrest in the city. After a failed coup he must seek safety away from the city, only to find there it’s not much safer outside the city walls. I was impressed with the first book, although it felt pretty organic, as though Posey was making up places as he explored with his characters. It moved along at a nice pace, had a decent amount of action, and the world that we explored was interesting and pretty scary. Here there’s nothing new, the place is less scary, and without the dramatic presence of Three, the story lacks edge. Wren and Cass and the squad of guards who protect them are well drawn, but the story is flimsy at best. Is this an attempt to build up for an epic climax in the third book in the series? Well, not that I could tell. There’s no amazing cliffhanger. In fact, there’s not much to look forward to. The first book was good; it was exciting and different and was fun. The second book has a lot of good qualities, and whilst wrapped up in the story I enjoyed reading it. But looking back, taking a critical view, it’s a bit of an empty shell. Like Posey didn’t think the first book would be a success and didn’t have a story for the second chapter so he threw something together at the last minute. Those who enjoyed the first book should
NAILBITER (2013) Director: Patrick Rea
Recovering alcoholic Janet Maguire and her daughters are on their way to the airport to pick up the patriarch of the family, a returning service man, when they are forced to take cover from an approaching tornado. Out of desperation, they break into the cellar of a spooky old secluded house, but when the storm passes find themselves trapped there. Whilst trying to crawl through a window one of the daughters gets injured, and then the family discover they are not alone. From there the film quickly descends into a creature feature, with the increasingly embattled family struggling to survive against a monster straight out of a nightmare. And there’s something not quite right about that little old lady upstairs, either. The use of a mostly-female cast is 2
deliberate, the producers believing this to be the easiest way to promote compassion and empathy in the audience. And it works. This isn’t the most cerebrally challenging film you’ll ever watch, but entertaining enough. The somewhat abrupt ending leaves things primed for a sequel, and whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen. By C.M. Saunders MIDNIGHT BLUE-LIGHT SPECIAL By Seanan McGuire www.constablerobinson.com Hot on the heels of the first novel, with barely a two-month gap, we have the second book in the InCrytid series. Verity, our reluctant cryptozoologist and Tangoist, is sucked into a battle between the monsters that she protects and hides from humanity, and the Covenant of St George, her family’s old enemies… More action and attitude from Ms Price, as she leads the charge in this exciting and entertaining series. The second book continues from the first with the problems for the hidden monster society steadily growing and Verity’s grasp on her normal life suffering the same fate. More fun and frolics in this impressive series. By Adrian Brady
professor Robert Bell takes a new job via an old friend and moves his family into a sprawling old house, which comes as part of the package. It seems almost too good to be true, and he immediately senses something isn’t quite right with the place. His suspicions are confirmed when he uncovers the house’s grisly history, and the Bell Family begin experiencing a terrifying selection of inexplicable phenomena that sucks them into a living nightmare. It soon becomes apparent that Crooked House isn’t a normal dwelling. It’s somewhere where the past still lives, and it’s coming back to bite them. I’m a sucker for a good haunted house story, and this one didn’t disappoint. It’s atmospheric, intense, and gripping. My only complaint would be that it has one of those endings that leaves the ultimate conclusion to the reader. Personally, I would have preferred a bit more resolution, but that’s just me. By C.M. Saunders
CROOKED HOUSE By Joe McKinney http://joemckinney.wordpress.com/ He may not be a household name (yet), but Joe McKinney is one of the most accomplished horror writers out there. His 2011 effort Flesh Eaters won the prestigious Bram Stoker Award for ‘Best Novel,’ but the San Antonio-based police sergeant is perhaps best known for his four-part Dead World series. This is the latest release on Dark Regions Press from the greatest writer you probably never read. Down-on-his-luck college 3
to the death of a “beloved” character. They’re not cardboard cut-outs, they are better than that, but the cast of characters is just too great for more than a handful to be memorable, and there are loads of the buggers squeezed in here. Massively entertaining fantasy, and one of the leading lights of modern fantasy alongside Brett and Lawrence, Gwynne rightfully takes his place near the top of the fantasy heap with this second book in the series. Can’t wait for book number three in the story of the Faithful and the Fallen. By Stanley Riiks
VALOUR By John Gwynne www.panmacmillan.com Malice, the first book in this series, was excellent fantasy story-telling. It set up the innumerable characters, various plots and machinations, factions, and schemes. It was certainly the beginning of an epic, world-spanning story, encompassing generations. The cast of characters was huge, and Gwynne wasn’t afraid to sacrifice a few of them if his story needed it. It was like a book version of that TV series, A Game of Thrones (yes, yes, I know!). And so we have the second book in the series. If you haven’t read the first book this is a massive spoiler alert! Go and read it, if you enjoy your fantasy massively epic and brutal , then you’ll enjoy this to no end! This one continues the story of Corban, a young boy who has escaped with the princess and some of their friends after the battle that killed the king, and started the war. Rhin, who set the wheels of the murder in motion, eyes another kingdom and sets her soldiers forth. Nathair, who was instrumental in conquering Corban’s homeland, sets out to find a magical relic in the hidden giant’s city. As well as that there’s fighting, battles, creatures, giants, angels and demons, and loads more. The cast of characters is monumental, and the fivepage list at the front of the book is essential, especially as some of the characters have such similar names. It is annoying that you forget which one is Marrock and which one is Maquin, and there are a few more with names a little too similar. In fact, the story is excellent, and the storytelling is very good. You get swept up and just have to find out what happens next, but it’s the characters that let the books down. Maiming and murder seem to happen with a brutal glee, but it’s not often you actually think “Oh, I quite liked that one.” More often than not you’ll continue reading without a second thought
DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON By Seanan McGuire www.constablerobinson.com The first book in a thrilling urban fantasy, this book introduces us to a New York inhabited by monsters of all kind. Our guide to this world is Verity Price, of the infamous Price family, a family steeped in the mythology of the monster underworld, and when Verity heads to New York to follow her career as a ballroom dancer she is dragged back into the family business, whether she likes it or not. An intelligent and amusing monster-infested city is on display, and Verity holds everything together nicely as an energetic and feisty heroine. A good solid start to a series likely to continue to sparkle. By Adrian Brady BANSHEE’S CRY By Mark Parker http://massmktwriter.wix.com/markparker-author There is nothing quite like the thrill of discovering a talented new author. Of course, there is always the small twinge of stupidity and self-doubt. Why hadn’t you noticed them before? But that’s hardly the author’s fault. From what I can gather, however, Mark Parker is reasonably new to the scene. So in this case at least, I have 5
an excuse. Even so, in the past couple of years Parker has put out a slew of short novels and won several places in various anthologies. Banshee’s Cry is a thoroughly spooky little tale about Fyvie castle in the Scottish Highlands. I thought it was a fictional setting, but apparently it is bricksand-mortar real. As is the banshee legend, which tells of an ugly old hag who would wail (like a banshee) to warn of an imminent death. One can only hope that is
The second book in the series, and set in the US, this book feels more like the original books, with a similar selection of materials used to tell the tales - articles, memos, reports. Sandra Steel is a Secret Service agent when the world starts to fall apart. Thomas Moreby, the head of the zombie plague, has taken control of the White House. More action and excitement as the zombies take over. An interesting view of the end of the world, Morton adds a flavour of intrigue and politics to the blood-thirsty proceedings. The story continues with a fast pace, as Morton thrills in this second novel in the series. By Adrian Brady ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! HORROR HOSPITAL By Mark Morris www.constablerobinson.com Zombie Apocalypse was Stephen Jones’s masterful entry into the zombie mythos - a worldwide pandemic started in London after an infected pit is opened during a construction project. The story was told through a collection of storiesin an anthology, with letters, texts, newspaper articles, graffiti, and all means of communication used to tell each of the desperate characters stories as they fought for their lives. This is the first novel to be set in that world. Cat Harris is a nurse at a London hospital when things start to unravel, a hen night is attacked, a victim of a shooting, and then the dead start to rise… Morris is an old hand at horror, and treads the line between brutal violence and creeping tension. Utterly compelling, truly terrifying, and riveting reading. A worthy addition to the Apocalypse mythos. By Adrian Brady
where the links with the real world end! Banshee’s Cry tells the story of American restoration worker Jacqueline Rothman who travels to Fyvie castle for a job, learns of the legends and folklore surrounding the place, then gets far more than she bargained for. Perhaps the only complaint I would have about Banshee’s Cry is that it is moves at such a frenetic pace that you think maybe the author would have been better off taking his time a little, if for no other reason than preserving his own health, and that of the reader. By C.M. Saunders ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! WASHINGTON DECEASED By Lisa Morton www.constablerobinson.com 6
demanding, but great fun to write. I think it also offers a unique reading experience.
Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent Interview
Your new novel Fiefdom is out now, Dan: Fiefdom is very tell us about the much a standalone book. story. There’s no Dan: The novel is set requirement to have in the same universe as read the comic to the 2000AD comic Author photos by James K Barnett understand the novel, strip ‘Kingdom.’ or vice versa. In fact, the locations are also Genetically modified dogs act as guardians very different. We shifted focus in the while mankind goes into cryogenic novel from the ‘Kingdom’ settings of the suspension. The Aux dog soldiers guard southern hemisphere, realised so brilliantly against Them, the giant insects rampaging in Richard Elson’s artwork, to Europe in across the Earth. the future, and to the underground railway system in Berlin in particular. Nik: Fiefdom is set a hundred years after the comic. The Aux dog soldiers live in a We very deliberately left the comic book mini-Ice Age. Them are legends, as are the where it was in time and space, so that I Aux warriors in ‘Kingdom.’ Our could pick it up and move it on totally characters exist in tribal groups in the independently of the novel. We can also underground tunnels of Berlin’s railway write more novels in the Fiefdom series, system. Evelyn War believes that the and come back to this incarnation. The two legends told by the tribes’ storytellers are can be viewed as separate entities. real, and that Them will soon return to threaten the existence of the Aux. You have both written a large number of books set in established worlds (such The book is set in the same world, as the as Warhammer, Horus Heresy, Kingdom comics from 2000AD. Why set 2000AD), is it a help to have definite a novel in a world created for an rules and boundaries, or does that illustrated series? Nik: I loved Dan’s Kingdom series, and restrict your creativity? Nik: I try to write something for myself Richard Elson’s artwork, and there was every time I write something tie-in. I have little chance I’d ever get to write stories in a lot more freedom than Dan does, because that medium, but I thought there was a I’m not under the same sort of pressure huge scope to write prose stories in that that he’s under. Honestly, I like to swap universe. Ideas came readily to mind for and change. I like rules, and if I don’t have Aux characters, for situations and for them imposed on me I generally impose locations. Some of those ideas would have them on myself. I write a broader spectrum fit into the comic format, others into short of things than Dan does, and vastly more stories, and some into long-form fiction. real-world stories, and there are very That’s the beauty of ideas. obvious restrictions there. In a way, it’s when I’m writing tie-in that I actually have I particularly loved the limited use of fewer boundaries. language in the comics, and I wanted to work with that structured language base in Rules and boundaries tend to be much less long-form fiction. It gives the prose a very of a problem than understanding IP. particular tone and texture, making it Intellectual property is the crux of the 8
We begin by talking through and ordering ideas until we have a plot. We’re sounding boards for each other, so this process can be very fast, sometimes only a couple of hours. The results might only be a page or two of outline. Sometimes a commissioning editor will want a chapter by chapter breakdown, and that’s fine. We don’t need as much as that to start with. At a practical level, I tend to do more research and I always do final edits.
thing. It’s crucial for the writer to know what he’s doing, to have a grip on the universe he’s messing about in. He’s got to ‘get it.’ Fiefdom was a real pleasure to work on because I loved ‘Kingdom.’ I felt it, I sympathised with the characters in the original comic. I loved their language and understood their relationships. The rest fell into place very easily. Dan: It’s just a different approach. Writing in an established world IP can be restricting, in the sense that it means you have to play by the rules. However, I find that having rules and limits can really focus my creativity in a very positive way. It gives me a very specific target to aim at. Writing your own world can be liberating, because you set the limits... but then you’ve only got yourself to come back to when you need a question answered. The sheer weight of worldbuilding can sometimes be daunting.
Dan: Nik usually begins writing, and then we play tag. We don’t divide up chapters. It’s a pretty organic process. We also write into each other’s work. Who writes what depends on who has more enthusiasm or time, or even on the reader. There’s a section in Fiefdom where Nik kept writing for longer than either of us expected simply because I was enjoying what she was doing and wanted to read more. I didn’t want to mess with her flow, or interrupt her train of thought.
How do you manage working collaboratively? How do you put a book together; do you just sit down and write, or do you plan chapter by chapter, and how do you split the work? Nik: Working together is always a pleasure. A writer’s lot can be pretty solitary, so it’s fun to collaborate. In a previous working partnership, Dan was the only writer, the only one to put words on the page, but we both write.
Does being a married couple aid working together? Nik: Sometimes it’s a positive hindrance when we find ourselves talking about work on date night. Smiles. I honestly don’t know the answer to that. It helps that we both understand the process, so we know how absorbed we can get in the work, we know the hours can be long, we know everything can be a distraction. We know 9
on by Kaaron Warren and Kelly Link. It’s the stuff that resonates, that I return to, the really good stuff that counts the most, though: Bradbury, Vonnegut, Lovecraft, LeGuin.
when displacement activity can be important. We understand the frustrations. Dan: If you’re asking whether we argue, the answer is that we don’t. I hope we play to our strengths. Often projects move very fast, because one or other of us fills the gaps when the other is tired or waning. There’s always someone to pick up the slack, or show some enthusiasm, or come up with a solution to a problem. Always having a sounding board is a great asset.
Dan: I’d agree with those. I’m also a fan of Frank Herbert, Julian May, John Buchan, Martin Cruz Smith, Peter Temple, Jack Vance, and Dan Simmons. Just the top of a long list. What are your other influences? Dan: Books, films, music, comics, TV, newspapers, non-fiction, museums, journeys.... ideas can come from anywhere, anytime. That’s why we keep notebooks handy.
Which established worlds do you most enjoy reading and writing? Nik: I’ve loved writing Fiefdom, and I hope I get the chance to do more in this universe. I’ve often joked that I’d like to be the first woman to write a Horus Heresy novel, but the guys are so far in now that the volume of research would be hugely daunting, even knowing what I already know. I’ll settle for writing some more Iron Snakes stories. Downlode offers a huge stage on which to tell stories, whether Sinister and Dexter were at home or not. I’d be very happy to write a novel in that particular city. Right now, we’re collaborating on a Tomb Raider novel, and Lara Croft’s a great character to play with in the real world, which is one of my favourite places to play in.
Where do you get your inspiration? Nik: Anything can be an inspiration that plays to our senses. I studied history and fine art as well as English at university, and those things still affect me daily. I love buildings, but particularly interiors and the way people live, so cities are a wealth of inadvertent research. Food, sounds, and experiences of all kinds can trigger things. Our daughter’s a dancer and I find that her tastes in music are beginning to influence and inspire me. She inspires me. Do you have any rituals or routines when you write? Nik: I hate distractions when I write, so I write in pages with a black screen, and just a white page with the number of words bottom left and the page number bottom right. That’s it. I also have a strict research policy: If I can’t answer a question on a single regular Post-It, I’m asking the wrong question.
Dan: I love writing stories set in Downlode (Sinister Dexter), because I built that from the ground up. I have a hand in the shaping of the Horus Heresy and Warhammer 40K Universe. I’ve always loved working in places like the Marvel Universe, Star Trek, Doctor Who. At the moment, I’m deriving great pleasure from writing in the universes of Classic Battlestar Galactica, Masters of the Universe, and the DC Comics ‘52” world multiverse.
Dan: I tidy my desk and environment when I begin work. I organise my references. I make sure I have a pen, a note pad and a block of Post-Its ready at hand. Sometimes some music, but not often these days.
What other writers have influenced you? Nik: I still love Dickens and Stephen King, and I read everything I can get my hands 10
If you could go back in time to when you started writing and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be? Nik: To have more confidence and write more. I’d also worry less about nepotism.
What book are you reading now? Nik: I’m reading Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson and The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change by Charles Duhigg:
Dan: Yes, more confidence. More actual writing.
Dan: A book about Superintelligence (AIs, etc.), and the sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep.
Do you read reviews of your work? How do you deal with criticism? Nik: I tend to have more time than Dan outside of writing for ‘admin,’ so I check reviews. I don’t care what my reviews are like, but I don’t like it if Dan gets a less than good review. It’s generally not much of a problem, because his reviews tend to be pretty good. Smiles.
What is your proudest moment as a writer? Nik: There are two moments. The first is getting that runner-up spot for the Mslexia Novel Prize. The book was rejected by every single publisher my agent took it to, but I’m still very proud of it and of that achievement. The second was the first time I was invited to write something rather than having to pitch for a spot.
I always say that once we hand a manuscript to the publisher and we’ve been paid for it, it simply doesn’t belong to us anymore. Once the reader has bought a book, it belongs to him, and he can think whatever he likes about it. Whatever our intentions as writers, we can’t please all the people all the time. As long as our books do well enough for publishers to keep buying them, and for readers to keep paying our mortgage, we count ourselves very lucky. We’re doing what we love to do and it’s a privilege.
Dan: Making people ask, for over fifteen years now, “Why did you kill Bragg?” :) Are you disappointed with any of your work when you look back on it? Nik: Disappointed? No. On the other hand, I hope that I get better. There are things that, if I were to do them now, I would almost certainly do them differently, and, I trust, with more skill and an increased understanding of what I’m doing. Dan: I don’t think so. Some things are better than others. Some things work, some things don’t. You just give each piece of work your very best.
I don’t show Dan every review, but I do show him a selection across the board. Personally, I’ve got four or five books in the drawer that have been rejected by publishers, one of which was runner-up for the Mslexia Novel Prize in 2012. I’m pretty used to criticism; most writers are.
What’s the best piece of feedback that you’ve had from your audience? Dan: “Why did you kill Bragg?” :)
Dan: I read the ones Nik sends me. Reasonable criticism is a gift, though. To be a writer, you need readers. You’d better pay attention to what a reader wants. Whatever shape it comes in, feedback is a great tool.
What is the most important thing when becoming a writer? Nik: Two things: To read and to write... And to finish things. OK, that’s three things. Dan: I agree with all three.
Do you write for a particular audience, or for yourself? Nik: In so far as I write what I want to write, I write for myself. Certainly, because I tend to write independent projects between tie-in work, every other book is most definitely for me. On the other hand, when something is commissioned and I pitch an idea, I have to produce what I’ve promised. The key is to pitch an idea I’m invested in.
Dan: Borges. Bradbury. Lovecraft. Laurence Sterne. Shakespeare, though it sounds like a cliché to say it. I like poetry too. Keats, Donne, Larkin, Eliot, Fanthorpe, William Carlos Williams, Edward Thomas... Do you get writers’ block? How do you cope with it? Nik: I don’t... At least I never have so far. Dan: Sorry, I just can’t think what to write for that answer. :)
Dan: I suppose at heart I write for myself, in that if I don’t like it, how can I expect anyone else to?
If you could meet anyone, fictional or real, dead or alive, who would it be? Nik: Peter Ustinov. He was such a great story teller.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Nik: We work a lot. It sounds counterintuitive, because we work together, but it’s nice to have some free time to spend together not working. Every so often we spend a few days at a Landmark Trust property without mail, phones, TV, and the internet. Dan: Like decompressing.
Dan: Laurel and Hardy. Which do you prefer writing/reading, short stories or novels? Nik: I love to read novels, and generally find short stories a bit hit or miss. Conversely, I love to write short stories. When the idea is well-suited to a short story, there is little more satisfying than finding just the right balance of words to fit together in the neatest possible way to complete a compact tale.
What parts of being a writer do you like best? And least? Nik: When we’re collaborating, I love the talking, the sharing of ideas, the sparks that fly. I also love the last third of a long project, because the writing speeds up dramatically, and I become hugely immersed. I haven’t yet found a downside to being a writer.
Dan: I feel like I prefer novels, both to read and write, but it’s odd how many of my favourite authors are famous for short stories: Borges, Bradbury, Kelly Link, Ted Chiang....
Dan: Yes, the brainstorming. The writing, when you get in the zone. The downside? Deadlines.
What are you working on now? Nik: We’re collaborating on a Tomb Raider novel called Ten Thousand Immortals due out in October. I’m also working on a short story. Then I’m hoping to go back to something of my own, which will probably be a horror novel.
Who are your favourite authors and favourite books? Nik: I’m going to pick more current stuff for this. So, I love Slights by Kaaron Warren, or anything for that matter, and Kelly Links’s short stories are quite brilliant. Lauren Beukes is very good, too.
Dan: I’m writing a major video game, comics for Marvel, DC, Boom!, and Dark Horse, and a new Warhammer novel. 12
book works pretty well as a stand-alone title. The Elf Rats, a mythological race, have invaded Vagandrak, sweeping through the country like a plague. Can the Iron Wolves save the kingdom again? Do they want to? Will the king have them killed? Will the fighting warriors become unstuck under the simmering tensions and sniping and just fall apart, or kill each other? Will the red thumb gangsters finally get their hands on their enemies? While the basic story of the elf rat invasion is simple enough, Remic isn’t content for this to just be a series of setpiece battles. He gives us back stories and histories for each of our heroes, and the characters develop and grow throughout this and the first book. But those backstories never hinder the telling of the current invasion story, which moves along at a fair pace, and ramps up for several exciting fights and battles. Plus he throws in some nasty twists and turns along the way to keep you guessing. Anyone familiar with Remic’s Clockwork Vampire trilogy will know that he is a master storyteller. It’s a shame that his books are not on the bestseller lists alongside Mark Lawrence and Peter V. Brett, because they definitely deserve to be. The White Towers is a brilliant fantasy novel, and a perfect second book in what I hope is a trilogy. Remic just keeps getting better, although I doubt he will ever impress me more than with the first book of his I read, Kell The Legend, which utterly blew me away (as a life-long fantasy reader I was shocked and surprised and delighted to read that book), but his second venture into a fantasy series is certainly living up to some high expectations. If you like fantasy you will love Andy Remic. The White Towers rocks, bloody good stuff (literally). By Stanley Riiks
Do you have any advice for other writers? Nik: Be prepared to take some knocks. Dan: As Nik likes to say, “The point of the writer is the reader.” A fact that should never be forgotten. What scares you? Nik: Everything. Dan: Losing a notebook. Oh, and wasps. What makes a good story? Nik: Generally, fewer words than you’d think. Dan: A beginning, a middle, and an ending, in whatever order works best. THE WHITE TOWERS By Andy Remic www.angryrobotbooks.com Remic is a fierce and uncompromising action fantasist, and yet he manages to produce such finely crafted characters for his stories. He writes in a way that wraps you up and takes you on a journey into strange and fearful lands. Your comrades and brothers for this trip are the Iron Wolves, former soldiers who have just fought off a mutant army of mud orcs and splices, led by Orlana the Changer. How does their king reward their bravery and dedication? By having them hanged. The first book in this series was excellent. And ended with the brave Iron Wolves with nooses round their necks ready to take that final step; a real cliffhanger. The second book in the series starts right there. If you haven’t read the first book and come to this book new it will work for you. There’s plenty that’s new here for the uninitiated, but those familiar with the first book will enjoy it even more. It’s not often that the second book in a series can move so swiftly from the plot of the first, but this 13
protect me, so I started to write with that in mind. Initially I had a general idea of how I wanted the plot to pan out, but as I started to write the very basic first draft, things quickly took a very different turn. Concepts that I didn’t even consider initially popped up and characters took on personality traits that I hadn’t planned. In the end though, these things made Lockdown a much more interesting read. It took me many months, many drafts, and a lot of frustration to get the story right. Although I had a general idea in my mind, I didn’t plan or map anything out; I just sat down and wrote. I know a lot of authors are big fans of strategically getting everything into a set place before even beginning to put pen to paper (or fingers to laptop keys!), but I prefer to let things flow and see how they develop. This obviously has it downsides though. The dreaded writer’s block. Sometimes I just struggled with where to go next and that was one of the hardest things to overcome. There was even a period where I had to step away from writing completely for a while, but in the end that turned out to be the best thing because when I returned to Lockdown, I noticed many plot holes that can only be found by looking through something with fresh eyes. In fact, this is something that I’ve now incorporated into all of my writing practices. After I’d gotten the Lockdown manuscript to a point that I was happy with, then came the challenge of getting the book published. Admittedly, after hearing all the horror stories from other authors about years of soul-crushing rejection letters, I wasn’t confident, but then I always adopt the attitude that if you don’t at least try, then you have no hope of it happening. I set about sending the manuscript to all the publishers. I didn’t have high hopes as I know many companies won’t even touch authors without a literary agent, so I was shocked and over the moon to receive the good
Lockdown By Samie Sands The zombie genre is currently a highly saturated market, full of weird and wonderful tales, all with a unique take on this horrifying world. It’s challenging to write something that stands out and is different, but that’s what I wanted to achieve. Luckily, since Lockdown has been released, it has been described by reviewers as “zombie chick-lit” that “breathes new life into a tired genre.” I wanted to write a story that didn’t sit solely within the horror field; my aim was for the plot to incorporate fun in amongst the awful situation, which is why Lockdown traverses into sci-fi, fantasy, and also romance. The main character in the book is not your typical zombie apocalypse survivor. She isn’t someone with a military or survivalist background or even medical training; she’s not in any way a ‘bad ass,’ she’s just a girl-next-door type with no special skills to help her pull through this nightmare. To begin with, Leah, who is a news researcher, stumbles across a zombie apocalypse prank online. Through her job and the nature of the internet this very quickly goes viral and starts to be taken far too seriously. As Leah tries to save her flagging reputation, the government are planning a Lockdown—which involves quarantining everyone inside their own homes. As much as the entire thing seems ludicrous, it soon becomes clear that there might be more to this virus than anyone first suspected. It is at this point in the plot that everything begins to descend into a nightmare. As a huge reader and a massive fan of zombie fiction, I often consider what my own actions would be during a zombie apocalypse (I’m sure we’ve all done that at some point!), and that’s where the Lockdown characters started to be born. I’m one of those people who would be an unlikely survivor, unless I took a tip from The Walking Dead and found a group to
news from the general interest American publishing company Triplicity Publishing. Editing the manuscript, seeing the book cover designs, and watching the whole process come together was very exciting and worth all the hard work and stress. I’m very glad I took the plunge to get my work published because I was offered a three-book contract, which of course means Lockdown is going to become a trilogy. The next book is in progress and follows the world of the zombie apocalypse after the Lockdown. I’m writing this one in the same way, by taking my ideas and simply writing to see where it goes. It may be a longer process and it may even take more work, but it is the way that works best for me. I’m also involved with a lot of anthologies at the moment, so I’m getting to grips with writing short stories which is a whole different ball game to novels—so much has to be established so quickly, but I’m relishing the challenge. If you’d like to keep up to date with my books, the Lockdown website is http://thelockdown.co.uk.
“Ok, it’s official. I’m dead. I’m actually going to be killed. Then I’ll lose my job, my important position complete with my beautiful nameplate, with Leah Watton in shiny silver print. Of course, this will lead me to get kicked out of my flat and I’ll end up living in some cardboard box on a skanky street corner, drinking cider and trading war stories around a bin fire. Or the much worse option, I’ll be forced to move back to my parents’ house. Stupi d. Stupid. Stupid. All for one idiotic joke. I can’t believe it, I’ve nearly wrecked my career already, and it was only just beginning. I can really feel the panic welling up in my stomach now. After those three long years at university studying journalism, the thing I was so sure I was destined to do with my life, which in the end turned out I actually hated. Those long depressing months of sending out CV’s to every stupid newspaper, magazine and supplement going—my parents had always made it very clear that they expected me to use my
LOCKDOWN EXCERPT: 16
foreign language and you can barely make out any words, the narrator sounds terrified. It made me laugh when I found it, and I knew Jake would find it funny, so I set it up. But then came the error. I feel icy and uncomfortable even thinking about it. I accidentally sent it to Jamie King, the big boss. With a whole bloody news story attached...”
degree sensibly, especially as they may have helped me now and again, financially, after I got into a bit of credit card debt. I got rejected time and time again, even by a cheese periodical. Seriously, they said at the interview my lack of passion for the subject was apparent. I mean, what sort of person is passionate about cheese? Finally I got a chance, well more like a small teeny tiny stepping stone, one that would actually go down well with my family. A news researcher. I mean, it’s for the least watched local news program ever, in a small rural part of the country where nothing exciting ever happens, but it totally counts. I was so relieved, but definitely not happy to get this job. Still, I can’t afford to lose it. I’m such a fool. I only did this to impress Jake. Damn it. I’ve been trying to get his attention since I walked in on my first day and saw him smiling into the phone and twisting his hair in that cute way he does when he’s concentrating. He’s absolutely gorgeous—tall, dirty blonde hair, blue eyes, a smile that lights up a room. I was instantly smitten, and have since spent my days catching any glimpse of him that I can. He definitely likes to think he’s the joker in the office, so after spending hours every night trying to plan sexy outfits— which believe me isn’t easy if you’re 5’3”, with dull mousy brown hair that match your eyes exactly and a figure that could do with losing about 10 pounds—to combine with flirting and trying to seem like a really cool girl with such an interesting social life—none of which caused him to even blink an eye in my direction—I thought I’d try a different approach to getting his attention. He’s one of those guys constantly emailing stupid YouTube videos to everyone, often with a fake news story attached, usually mocking one of our more recent, tedious stories. So I found a great one of a ‘zombie’ attack. It’s brilliant. It looks so realistic and although it’s in a
IN THE BONES By Renee Miller If you ever wanted to know what kind of dark shenanigans goes on behind closed doors in small-town Canada, then this could be the book for you. Ryan Cassidy is a struggling freelance writer left a house by his estranged grandparents in their will. The only condition is that he move to the house in Albertsville, and live there for a year before he can claim the prize. The moment he arrives in the town, alarm bells start ringing, and he is soon sucked into a generations-old mystery at the centre of which lies a dark secret that threatens to engulf everything around him. With In the Bones, Miller does a great job of picking you up and dropping you in the middle of a tense, claustrophobic nightmare from which you can’t just wake up and escape. Here lies a titanic battle between good and evil, carried along by some great interplay between the characters and healthy doses of suspense, drama, intrigue, sex, and violence. A tightly wound thriller of the highest order. Recommended! By C.M. Saunders
every time a monster attack happens. We here in the West may wonder (and laugh at) the obsession the Japanese had with giant behemoths back in the fifties and sixties and, while they may look comedic from our present point of view, I believe their inspiration emerged from a very serious source. Given their then very recent history, and the dubious honour of having been the only country to have had two atomic bombs dropped on them, is it any wonder that as a collective they were seeking to exorcise the demons unleashed by the events? That would have been bad enough, but they were also reeling from the shock of having their divine emperor demoted to nothing more than a mortal figurehead. Consequently, these two events threw an entire culture into what can only be called a systemic cultural cataclysm – an entire way of being for a whole nation had been ripped apart, and no one really knew how to cope with the situation. As is often the case, the arts provided some of the answers, in particular (for the purpose of this essay anyway), the cinema. Apocalypticism has always been a mainstay of Japanese cinema and anime, as any cursory examination will show. Godzilla and subsequent films are no exception to this – destruction on a massive scale is always a feature, as is a seemingly unstoppable force which nothing appears to be able to halt, and that force is mostly blind to the collateral damage to life and property it’s inflicting. Nature is just doing what nature does. Despite all the apparent hopelessness, humanity always pulls through no matter how desperate the situation looks. There’s a lot of uncertainty prior to this: there must have been an equally enormous period of uncertainty just after Little Boy and Fat Man exploded in the skies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. An artificial catastrophe, the likes of which had never been witnessed by mankind at any time before or since, must have seemed like the apocalypse had at
Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones My wife and I aren’t much ones for going to the cinema these days, mostly because it’s become such an expensive luxury. However, we decided some weeks ago to make one of our rare forays into the wilds of the town centre, brave the throngs, and go to see the latest incarnation of everyone’s favourite giant lizard, Godzilla. And believe me, it’s one of those films that has to be seen on the big screen. I’ll get on to what I thought of the film later, but suffice it to say for now that I came out with a big grin. Some of you will know that I am a fan of Kaiju films in general, and Godzilla in particular, having seen many of the numerous entries in the long-running series begun in 1954 with the original Godzilla (or Gojira as it was known in Japan). At that point, the monstrous reptile was considered to be a threat to mankind, but over the course of the years he metamorphosed into an ally of mankind of sorts, becoming more and more anthropomorphised as time went on (who can forget his trademark victory dance, or his karate moves?). Alongside the often grumpy scaly one came a plethora of adversaries and allies, some of whom became stars in their own films, like Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. We all know that in reality the monsters were men in rubber suits, but this doesn’t detract from the magic of seeing oversized creatures, presumably having only existed on a diet of excess radiation, steroids, and growth hormones, merrily stomping on city and countryside alike, executing judo throws on each other with willful abandon, or shooting fiery or freezing rays. The collateral damage they inflict leaves one breathless, and I have stopped thinking of all the insurance claims paid out and also stopped counting how many times Tokyo has had to be rebuilt (and they ALWAYS rebuild it exactly like it was last time). Still, building companies must gleefully rub their hands 19
make a great deal of sense in light of the unenviable history of Japan. Despite all that happened, the huge loss of life and the destruction of property (much of which had been constructed from wood, which didn’t help matters and added to the subsequent firestorm), both cities and the nation were able to rise phoenix-like in the ensuing decades and, ironically, become one of the world’s leading industrial nations. I can guarantee that there can’t be that many household s in the West that don’t have at least one item made in Japan. So , after all the above exposition , what did I think of the latest Godzilla interpretat ion? Director Gareth Edwards was true to the spirit of the original conception of the early films, in that it was a ‘monster’ film in the old tradition. Admittedly, I thought the first third meandered and dragged a little, concentrating too much on the human elements rather than the irresistible and immovable force of nature which the
last happened, and there must have been many who must have thought the world was just about to end. How does one recover from that, not just as individuals but as a community and a nation? Viewed from this angle, the Kaiju films represent a kind of exorcism, a means by which the seismic mental and cultural upheaval could be resolved, even if it’s only on a subconsci ous level. Sounds fanciful? Perhaps, but the level of destructio n occasione d by the nuclear explosions was on a scale hitherto unknown. The two devices, on even a conservati ve estimate, killed a total of 225,000 people directly, and many more indirectly through radiation poisoning. Remember, too, that the explanations for many of the appearances by the giant monsters in the films cite nuclear explosions or radiation leaks. Maybe I am making too much of a lateral leap here, but the theory does seem to 20
angry lizard represented. Having said that, however, those human elements are added for a reason, a necessary part of the story being told, constituting an essential connection to the everyday lives of the film’s audience. Bryan Cranston’s performance as nuclear physicist Joe Brody, as shockingly brief as it turned out to be, was outstanding, making a bridge between the past and the present. The real star was Godzilla himself – a magnificent beast of immense proportions and power, bestial and entirely in keeping with the concept of nature being neutral, neither caring nor uncaring. In other words, he was there to serve a role, one which was driven more by instinct than reason. The real action, which I suspect was why many of the audience were there, was the two-on-one battle between the MUTOs and the Big G, and the demolition of half a city. Here, I thought, the film excelled – I felt a genuine sense of the awesome (in the real context of the word), the gargantuan enmity between creatures which had to be settled through tooth and claw, part of an ingrained genetic drive as natural as the procreation of the species. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the final two thirds, and am quite eager to watch it all again. Go on, give yourself a treat: go and watch Godzilla on the big screen – the natural home for grumpy, feisty, and stompy behemoths from a past era. Don’t forget the popcorn, though!
untenable. Ye Olde Reviewer was feeling the ennui of repetition and has started and scrapped this column three four times out of sheer boredom with genre releases. Thankfully, some new blood arrived and reinvigorated my love of horror! The Universal horror films of the 1930’s are fantastic, but we would not want to have constant remakes and rehashings of the same few stories as nauseum. The same with magazines in the horror realm, many of us started out with Fangoria or Famous Monsters of Filmland but drifted away from both because they did not change with the times to stay ahead of the trends rather than follow them. As much as I am a fan of Rue Morgue and Horror Hound, there needs to be a chorus of voices to unearth the wild, the strange, and the odd. Call me old (many do!), but there is something preferable to having a tangible, physical magazine in my hands – I cannot fully convert to digital. Perhaps I am a dinosaur. At least there are elderly scions like myself that are still putting vile magazines out in archaic formats!
From the Catacombs: Lost and Found By Jim Lesniak When you are involved in a genre for quite some time, there is occasion to feel burned out by it – thinking there is nothing new and exciting out there. Certain tropes get done to death, so to speak, as they become popular and gain mainstream popularity. Take zombies for example: we are getting diminishing returns in the decade plus since we received Brian Keene’s The Rising; the signal to noise ratio is getting
Evilspeak Horror Magazine #1 Razorback Horror-Hive http://razorbackrecords.com 21
Ye Olde Reviewer is the target market for this magazine. Reviews of films new and old, personal reminiscences, extensive retrospectives and interviews presented in a professional quality layout printed in black and white with good art and photo resolution. Obviously, this was a passion project, tightly written and edited (with only a few quirks hither and yon). They hooked me with the NINE page retrospective of Gore Shriek Comics, and then reeled me in with the tribute to the late, great Chas Balun, whose spirit certainly guided this endeavor. Evilspeak meets the standard I have set for small press magazines with Weng’s Chop; and it may be better for the general horror fan since it does not have the focus on weird international films that are not easily accessible even in today’s wired world. The quality of the writing is matched by the layout and art, with many original pieces mixed in with stills and box art. Evilspeak Horror Magazine is highly recommended due to its quality and infectious enthusiasm for horror. Issue #2 is due imminently and I sincerely hope that the passion seen in the debut does not diminish or falter as this held my interest like no other magazine since I discovered Rue Morgue many moons ago.
Rear Windows: An Inside Look at Fifty Film Noir Classics By Norman Conquest Black Scat Books http://blackscatbooks.com I suppose the publisher name should have been an apt clue or the fact that this is part of a series called “Absurdist Texts and Documents” as to the content. Having paid money for this piece of offal, I am fully qualified to call them out on the absolute bullshit of this volume and warn everyone about the other twenty-seven volumes (!) in this series. Perhaps it was my fault for buying something with no reviews from either the editorial side nor the reader side and a slim page count. In any event, both this “author” and “publisher” are on my do not buy list I do not care what the subject is or who writes it – if it comes from this publisher, I will not burn my money a second time. This is a slim book of photos of windows in film noir classics. That is all. No context of the films in any way, shape or form. Some pictures are barely a quarter of a page and the only editing has been to white out the figure of any person in the frame. Let me repeat: photos of windows from film noir. There is absolutely nothing else herein. I have more text in this review 22
thus far than is in the whole book. Maybe I am too dim to get the intellectual joke, but I spent good money on something that could just as easily been a tumblr blog. Very funny Black Scat Books, how about I sell you my book of fifty photos of me flipping you the bird? It is hilarious in certain circles, I assure you. Avoid this book and publisher like the plague. It is pretentious crap like this that made me scrap three previous columns because I stopped caring. Maybe its art, but do it on your dime, not mine, asshole. Punk Rock Paper Scissors Layout by Lee Loughridge and Angelo Pouraras Zylonol Publications I’ve just ripped a picture book to shreds, but I am about to praise one? Well, kids, I knew what I was getting with this one, and it delivered! Over two hundred pages of hard core punk concert flyers printed two to a page on better paper than they were in the 1980’s. They make no bones about putting it in chronological order and only thematically group Misfits/Samhain/Danzig and Black Flag. It is presented as a reminiscence of how the scene was discovered and embraced. They have made no effort to clean up the condition of the flyers, many of which barely survived the shows. It is possible to ballpark the rough era of the shows by the quality of the art (mostly cut and paste) and reproduction as copiers became more prevalent and less expensive. The minimal editorial content is of a personal nature.
Lucifer Fulci’s Guide to the Italian Cannibal Film By: Lucifer Fulci Wormwood Horror Media http://www.luciferfulci.com Straight to the point in the title, this is an overview of Italian Cannibal films primarily of the 1970’s and 1980’s with a few examples before and after those decades. Lucifer gives skeleton personnel and production data in advance of a summary of each film. He not only covers the usual suspects like Cannibal Ferox and Cannibal Holocaust, but Emmanuelle and the Last Cannibals (aka Trap Them and Eat Them).
Punk Rock Paper Scissors is highly recommended if you have an interest in the East Coast United States punk scene of the 1980’s – very little is represented outside of that region. This is an historical memento of the power and fury of DIY tours and promotion. Get in the pit or go home.
As in previously reviewed works of Lucifer Fulci, the meat of the book is in the personal observations and reminiscences of discovering each film and his opinion on what worked and what did not in each. If you just want dry summaries of a pile of movies, you can go online and bore yourself. The passion for horror is shown here and invokes the spirit 23
Obviously, there is a focus on European horror of days past, but the interviews were a nice surprise. Both Orgasmo Sonore and Druid Lord are interviewed with regards to their new releases and the influence of film in their work. Although brief, both interviews are well done with concise editing – an oddity within the (usually) slavishly fannish zine world. Couple with that a checklist of one hundred Euro Horror and Giallo films to watch and it is well worth the $4.00 risk to pick this one up.
of Chas Balun in pulling no punches. The formatting and editing have definitely improved since the Chunkblowers book from last year, which serves to help focus on the material rather than oddities in presentation. This Guide is very much a niche book in a niche genre. If you have zero interest in Italian cannibal films, then this book shall not appeal to you, unless you are a fan of the author. This slim volume is a companion to the extant cannibal filmographies and is recommended for the very distinct voice of the author.
The Secret Files of Dr. Drew By: Jerry Grandenetti, Marilyn Mercer and Abe Kanegson Dark Horse http://darkhorse.com
Fang of Joy #1 http://doomedmoviethon.com Fang of Joy is a Euro horror and Giallo zine in the classic, zeroed, cut and paste, side stapled vein. Unlike Death Wound (reviewed last time), this is readable as there aesthetic of the zine world is matched with an actual ability to lay out pages to be readable. Add to that a full set of content and it is a nice debut of a wellproduced zine.
Ye Olde Reviewer must be getting cobwebs in his attic since this pre-ordered book was completely forgotten until it showed up! I wonder what other surprises past me has for future me? Please note, kids, this is not the “Dr. Drew” of ambiguous pop culture psychological radio 24
PRIOR to the action; the build up to the scare that is the dichotomy between horror and terror. One of the best jump scares is in the original Cat People through use of odd angles, shadows, and implication of danger. It is the tension that makes it effective, not the sudden action. I keep looking for the next fix, the next auteur, author, or artist with a fresh spin on primal fear. It IS worth it to find that one diamond in the pile of coal, so I keep looking even when I find something as bad as Rear Windows. The next thing I find may be another Evilspeak Magazine and get me interested in movies I’ve never heard of previously.
show advice, but a combination of Will Eisner’s The Spirit and Sherlock Holmes investigating the supernatural. These stories have been on the “want list” for a long time after seeing one of them reprinted twenty some odd years ago and the mysterious price guide note of “Eisnerish” art. Moody pages of art showcasing a smart, but not infallible Dr. Drew as he investigates the mysterious around him – if you dare to ask him! There are odd anachronistic touches that put the stories in and out of time periods; Dr. Drew seems to travel by horse and carriage, put in not adverse to aircraft. The city seems ancient and modern depending on where the story is at the moment leading to a disjointed sense of time and place that keeps the case files off-kilter. Remember, too, that these pages have been crafted by the same team that worked on the legendary post-War Spirit sections, so it’s a dream team of comic art.
-------------------Scream Queen Interviews are available in Women in Horror, free to read and download here:
This is a complete collection of Dr. Drew stories from the Golden Age of comics, buried within the pages of Rangers Comics for fourteen issues and came from the highly creative Will Eisner Studio. Each of these tales is wonderfully crafted in every aspect from script to art to lettering to give a bizarre, creepy mood to each eight page story. The first eleven could be mistaken for Eisner art if one does not look too closely: the sheer craftsmanship in art and page layout is phenomenal. The stories themselves are tightly plotted but do not skimp on mood. Whilst many Golden Age stories are, quite frankly, breezily crafted crap, Marilyn Mercer’s scripting is on par with her Spirit sections. Highly recommended as a master class on what short horror comics can aspire to become. Sometimes I wonder why I keep coming back to horror again and again. Whether it’s a way to face one’s fears or simply looking for a visceral rush, I keep coming back. Tastes change over the years, of course, but I am looking for the tension
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www.morpheustales.com Morpheus Tales #25 Review Supplement, July 2014. COPYRIGHT July 2014 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.
31 pages of genre non-fiction, including an author interviews with Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent! Jim Lesniak offers opinions From The Catacomb...
Published on Jul 21, 2014
31 pages of genre non-fiction, including an author interviews with Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent! Jim Lesniak offers opinions From The Catacomb...