What are you reading 2013 part 2 Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Edit Profile

RAMSEY CAMPBELL » Discussion » What are you reading 2013 part 2 « Previous Next »

Author Message
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 5.102.90.2
Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 06:52 pm:   

Still reading Graham joyce's captivating new book - Year of the Ladybird. I'm almost certain I'll finish it tonight. a definite contender for book of the year. Like several of GJ's books, this is treading the ground between fantasy and reality with a skill that few writers can match.

Awesome stuff.

Next book is either NOS 4A2 (Joe Hill), Ocean at the bottom of the Lane (Gaiman), Poppet (Hayder), genesis (Slaughter), Apocalypse Cow (Can't remember the writer's name), The Haunted Book (Dyson or whatever is closest to hand when I put down the Joyce.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Lincoln (Lincoln_brown)
Username: Lincoln_brown

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 101.119.27.181
Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 - 12:36 am:   

Finished the Barron collection, 'The Imago Sequence' - great stuff. Looking forward to the upcoming 'The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All'.

'Ghosts With Teeth', by Peter Crowther - loved this long short story/short novella from 'A Book of Horrors'. Interested in checking out more of Crowther's horror work - any recommendations?

Have started 'New Terrors' & 'New Terrors 2', edited by Ramsey. I've read about half of the stories before, but keen to re-read a few of them. 'Tissue', which I haven't come across before, was very disturbing.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.159.211.138
Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 - 10:54 am:   

Just finished Ramsey's latest, now onto some classic SF...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stu (Stu)
Username: Stu

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 90.244.32.32
Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 - 11:34 am:   

Dipping into various anthologies: 65 Great Murder Mysteries by Mary Danby; Black Wings by S.T. Joshi; Inferno by Ellen Daltow; A Book of Horrors, The Mammoth Book of Zombies, various volumes of Best New Horror, all by Stephen Jones.

Also dipping into various short story collections: More Tomorrow by Michael Marshall Smith, A Glow of Candles by Charles L Grant, Polyphemus by Michael Shea.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stu (Stu)
Username: Stu

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 90.244.32.32
Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 - 11:35 am:   

I'm also reading some comics. For a change.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 5.102.90.2
Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 - 01:58 pm:   

Started on Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan Just from the laugh quotient in the first few chapters, this guy is a name to look out for.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.31.187.235
Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 - 03:42 pm:   

Halfway through THE LAST REVELATION OF GLA'ACKI.

Review to follow.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.118.95.250
Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 - 04:33 pm:   

Just finished 'Sylvie And Bruno' (1889) by Lewis Carroll and starting the sequel, 'Sylvie And Bruno Concluded' (1893).

Also just starting 'Deathworld 2' (1964) by Harry Harrison.

And well over halfway through 'Nightmare At 20,000 Feet' (2002) by Richard Matheson.

Thoughts to follow...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

David_lees (David_lees)
Username: David_lees

Registered: 12-2011
Posted From: 92.22.75.47
Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 - 06:53 pm:   

I'm in one of those lulls right now where I can't decide what I want to read next. I am reading Witchcraft and Black Magic by Montague Summers but that's mainly because it sends me to sleep within a couple of pages. Perfect bedtime reading.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Saturday, July 20, 2013 - 02:57 am:   

I kinda am, too, David. Not sure how I got into this lull, there's certainly books I want to read out there! For now, I'm just wasting time in a vague malaise with some early Rendell (Wolf to the Slaughter, 1967) to keep me company, until I can figure out what I want to dive into next....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Saturday, July 20, 2013 - 12:26 pm:   

Anyone here familiar with the works of Robert Sheckley? I've just seen half a dozen of his books going cheap in my local Oxfam and see he's described as a comic sci-fi writer of genius from the golden era. I love comedy and I love sci-fi and rarely do the two combine to critically lauded effect - so I'm strongly tempted. Good move, anyone?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Saturday, July 20, 2013 - 12:34 pm:   

I can really only think of Heinlein, Harrison, Vonnegut and (occasionally) Dick as writers who manage to get the mix of belly laughs, satirical future prediction, a sense of awe, thrilling adventure and philosophical profundity just right. If Sheckley ticks all those boxes I'll be kicking myself if I let these books go!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Saturday, July 20, 2013 - 12:42 pm:   

Add Gene Wolfe to that list as well! 'Free Live Free' and 'An Evil Guest' managed to be very funny hard sci-fi novels.

While in cinema I can't really think of anything off-hand and on TV only the immortal 'Red Dwarf' springs to mind... which I'm currently re watching one-a-week on DVD and up to Episode 4 of Series 3. 'Star Trek' had loads of natural character comedy but as only one of the many elements of its magical and never bettered mix. Hmmm... sci-fi/comedy?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.212.230.221
Posted on Saturday, July 20, 2013 - 03:22 pm:   

No douglas adams in your sci fi comedy list? Up until pratchett came along he was the grand master of comic genre fiction
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 04:28 pm:   

I've just finished a short novel by Robert Sheckley that I found second hand at the weekend. I started it spontaneously and haven't been able to put it down the past couple of days. Not because I found the story gripping but because I couldn't make head nor tail of it. Anyone who thinks Lewis Carroll wrote weird books should try this one!

I hesitate to call it "entertaining", in the expected sense of the word, but yet it was impossibly compulsive and often very funny.

Basically the book starts as a typically Heinleinesque outer space adventure with a lone spaceship pilot having to make a forced landing on a hostile alien planet, with no one for company bar the ship's computer and an incompetent service robot.

They set out to explore and... there all narrative structure ends as the author takes us on a stream of consciousness odyssey through the inner recesses of his mind.

Even Kurt Vonnegut wasn't this demented!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 04:30 pm:   

The book was called 'Options' (1975)... although why is anyone's guess.

Great prose, often laugh out loud absurdist humour but as to plot structure... even the 'Alice' books or 'Sylvie And Bruno' appear to make more sense. Unless I'm a numpty?!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.118.190.248
Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 06:59 pm:   

Just started 'Deathworld 2' and we're straight into another rip-roaring intergalactic adventure with Jason dinAlt.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 01:15 pm:   

This is brilliant stuff! A hopelessly addictive page-turner par excellence.

The set-up has the intergalactic gambler/con artist, Jason dinAlt, captured by an implacable space bounty hunter and being returned for execution to the scene of one of his previous crimes. To avoid certain death he causes their spaceship to crash land on an uncharted planet leaving the two of them marooned and having to come to a shaky alliance in order to survive the unknown natural perils that surround them. Great simple breathlessly exciting adventure storytelling... deceptively simple and brilliantly written. After the impenetrable absurdities of Robert Sheckley this is very much a case of "from one extreme to the other" in terms of science fiction literature.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 03:31 pm:   

Interesting... the book has developed into a moral argument between the two leads, in between the exciting action sequences. The bounty hunter, Mikah, is an evangelical believer in The Truth who tracked Jason down not for money but in order to make him pay for his crimes. Jason is an amoral survivor - your classic anti-hero who isn't intrinsically bad but rather an ultra-realist with a finely honed survival instinct.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 03:38 pm:   

I'll be finished this in no time - halfway through - and for my next novel I've decided to re-read, at long last, one of the greatest and scariest horror novels of my youth. The only book that ever gave me nightmares. I consider it as great as any of the early works of Stephen King at his very, very best - if not better.

The stone cold classic vampire epic 'They Thirst' (1981) by Robert R. McCammon. It's bloody brilliant!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, July 25, 2013 - 12:59 pm:   

As 'The Walking Dead' TV series has closed the book on the zombie apocalypse scenario, as defined by Romero, so, I would posit, did McCammon's 'They Thirst' close the book on the vampire as a scary demonic monster devoid of any redeeming qualities. This epic was the ultimate culmination of the defining vampire works by Le Fanu, Stoker, Murnau, Lugosi, Matheson, Hammer & King. I consider it the most criminally underrated horror novel of its era and one of the best ever written.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, July 25, 2013 - 04:27 pm:   

I'd love some of my Christian friends to read 'Deathworld 2' and refuse to be moved by its erudite championing of the day-to-day truth of survival against their self-serving definition of an Eternal Truth with its undeserving rewards and punishments. Mikah is a buffoon! This should have been filmed... but then it's a western dressed up as deep space sci-fi, so I needn't have worried.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 - 05:00 pm:   

Finished 'Deathworld 2' (1964) and it ends on a morally ambiguous note than I hadn't expected. Is it right to foment War as a form of progress among different tribes of a primitive race in order to survive? Where does the justification of necessary selfishness in order to survive end and the descent into manipulation of the circumstances for one's own creature comforts begin? Jason dinAlt is one of the most interesting anti-heroes I have encountered in sci-fi literature and in Mikah he met his perfect accusing conscience.

But now... I'm trembling with excitement at the thought of re-reading McCammon's great pulp horror masterpiece to end all. Many, many of the scenes from this stunning epic remain seared into my consciousness some 32 years after first reading it. Never have vampires been this shit scary!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 5.102.90.2
Posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 - 05:47 pm:   

Meanwhile Apocalypse Cow gets better and better. As much as i enjoyed John Dies at the end earlier this year, this is a much better comedy horror. There's some genuinely tense moments that are genuinely funny at the same time.

When the youngest of our three heroes goes out to try his hand at cow tipping fairly early on it was one of the sickest, funniest and most outageous scenes I can recall reading.

This is an absolute gem so far. Think of an early Peter Jackson film in book form but with characters you can genuinely care about, so you're scared if they get in danger, and you've got the tone of the book to a t
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.154
Posted on Thursday, August 01, 2013 - 01:52 pm:   

A third through 'They Thirst' (1981) by Robert R. McCammon and all other books have been set aside. This epic masterpiece is every bit as frightening and hopelessly addictive as I remembered. What I had forgotten, however, was the sheer number of characters and how brilliantly drawn they are, equalling King's achievement in 'The Stand', and I can't for the life of me remember what happens to half of them. This book is fantastic! One of the most exciting and vividly descriptive pulp horror novels I have ever read. It works on so many levels beyond just the surface story of vampire apocalypse and why it has never been filmed by some ambitious horror auteur really is beyond me. One of the towering achievements of the golden era of horror fiction, IMHO.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.154
Posted on Thursday, August 01, 2013 - 02:16 pm:   

The book begins with a genuinely terrifying intro in Hungary early last century - that sets the scene for all the horrors of hell to come - and then moves to then modern day Los Angeles with various characters - good, bad and everything in between - milling about in their own lives unaware that the City of Angels is about to be shaken to its foundations by a force of evil as ancient as time itself. The slow build-up of dread and suspense is masterful and I'm just getting to the explosive middle section that gave me nightmares the first time I read it 32 years ago. Horror writing doesn't get any better than this, folks. What McCammon has over all his rivals is the pure pulp sensibility and knuckle-whitening way with action scenes of a Robert E. Howard matched to the epic storytelling and character creating talent of King or Straub at their best. If ever a book was worthy of serious reappraisal as a modern horror masterpiece it is this one. Sensationally good in every respect imaginable!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.105.27
Posted on Thursday, August 01, 2013 - 02:28 pm:   

Finished Apocalypse Cow. Michael Logan is seriously a name to look out for. Although the list of fatalities was fairly predictable this was a belting read. A whole new take on the zombie apocalypse.

Highly recommended.

Not sure whether to start on Joe Hill's NOS 4A2 - which, from all reports, seems to be the best new vampire novel since LTROI - or Bad Monkey - the new Carl Hiaasen novel.

Or the new Neil gaiman or the new... oh my god my TBR pile is officially out of control.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.154
Posted on Thursday, August 01, 2013 - 06:27 pm:   

What makes the book so fascinating is that even the vampires are as vividly real three dimensional characters as any of the wonderfully human protagonists yet they are all unified in an ant-like singularity of purpose that is the very essence of pure satanic evil. I love how McCammon uses all the familiar tropes of Hollywood horror movies juxtaposed with the grim real life horrors of life in the barrio and the LAPD's search for "The Roach" - one of the most hauntingly convincing Norman Bates-like serial killers I have encountered in literature - to comment upon the destruction of the Hollywood dream by the very creatures of the popular imagination it was instrumental in creating. Orlon Kronsteen is Boris Karloff and comes face to face with a horror as perverse as anything the old man encountered in 'Targets'.

I can see now that King's 'It' tried to emulate what McCammon achieved in 'They Thirst' but where that book, wildly entertaining as it is, ate itself whole, while trying to be all things to all horror fans, this epic is easily the better structured and cleverer book.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.108.111
Posted on Friday, August 02, 2013 - 01:59 am:   

NOS 4A2 starts with a great creepy intro to our villain. Hill manages to get that frission going down my spine on the second page of the book. Great stuff so far - 50 pages in in slightly under an hour. A damned easy read that manages to make the reader give a shit about the characters and be really quite creepy at the same time... not an easy achievement. He's showing himself to be just as good as his dad at writing.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, August 02, 2013 - 03:21 pm:   

Jesus H. Christ!!

At lunchtime I read Chapter 8 of Part IV of McCammon's 'They Thirst' (1981) and there is a moment in there when all the slow build suspense of the first half of the book snaps like a rubber band and he delivers one of the most powerful passages of horror literature I have read (twice). I didn't really spoil anything by telling you the character's name, Weber, as you'll realise when you read the book.

Now I feel compelled to quote the entirety of Chapter 9 that followed (don't worry there are no spoilers):


"Afternoon grayed into evening, and slowly the night approached from the east. Winds stirred lazily across the Mojave Desert and chilled as they swirled across the mountains into L.A. After nightfall dogs began to howl in the hills - their music eerie and compelling, and pleasing to twice as many as had listened the night before.

And in the sky, caught only briefly by shopping centre spotlights or the bright glow from Sunset Boulevard billboards advertising new albums by the Stones, Cheap Trick, and Rory Black, the bats that had come from their mountain caves spun like a whirlwind of dark leaves."



That's it. And it was with Chapter 10 that the nightmares started... for me.

A fucking tremendous book!!!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Friday, August 02, 2013 - 04:39 pm:   

Was Rory Black big in 1981?

It sounds like a great book, another I'll have to hunt for and toss on my own TBR pile (way more out of control than Weber's!). I don't think I've paid much attention to McCammon, or he's not made a lasting impression on my mind. I should go back and dig up my Night Visions he's in, resample him.

I just read Cornell Woolrich's novelette "Three O'Clock" (1938). Hee-hee: tense, funny, fine, and I'm guessing before even looking an episode at one point of one of the "Alfred Hitchcock" shows....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.153
Posted on Friday, August 02, 2013 - 05:37 pm:   

He must have been, Craig, unless that was a private joke of McCammon's?

He's prone to them. Earlier in the book a character tosses aside 'Bethany's Sin' in boredom after four chapters calling it "a nasty little book".
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

David_lees (David_lees)
Username: David_lees

Registered: 12-2011
Posted From: 92.22.35.223
Posted on Friday, August 02, 2013 - 06:18 pm:   

I've started on Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay which is enjoyable but hurt by the fact the TV series stuck so closely to it, so I already know all the twists and plot points. I hear the series diverged from the books quite wildly though so I'm looking forward to trying the rest.

I've also been reading one of Warren Ellis' Hellblazer collections, a series of very grimy, nasty one-shots where (so far) John Constantine has encountered the ghost of a Japanese war criminal, a room that drives anyone who enters it homicidally insane and a journalist searching for the aborted corpse of the Antichrist.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.108.111
Posted on Friday, August 02, 2013 - 06:27 pm:   

the first main divergance from the TV is the end of the first book which is entirely different to teh TV version.

Plus Ice Truck barely appears in the book whereas they bring him in as a main character in the tv version quite early on.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.153
Posted on Friday, August 02, 2013 - 07:34 pm:   

Sweet Jesus! I've reached the bit in the hospital that scared the living crap out of me way back when. My heart is thumping here! The fear and suspense is electric!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.153
Posted on Saturday, August 03, 2013 - 12:48 am:   

Craig, McCammon's only sin was to have been born slightly later than King and to have grown up loving the same influences. He is at least as great a writer of genre literature but, unlike King, he is also entirely aware of his limitations. I've fallen in love with his writing all over again and would hail him as the most criminally under appreciated great horror author of the 20th Century's golden era of such writing. Yes, he was in thrall to King in his early books, as were we all, but his voice sings with all the verve and energy and joy of creation of Robert E. Howard, IMHO.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Saturday, August 03, 2013 - 12:48 am:   

He must have been, Craig...

I believe it's a she? But I see it's Rory Block, with an "o"—she goes back to the 70's—never heard of her myself, but maybe she's worth checking out. Not that Cheap Trick is, too, imho....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Saturday, August 03, 2013 - 11:01 am:   

Rory Black is definitely a man, Craig. I thought he was some sort of bluegrass folk artist?

Of course the Stones album was 'Tattoo You'. Their last truly great album, IMO.

Cheap Trick were just that.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stu (Stu)
Username: Stu

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 90.244.47.66
Posted on Saturday, August 03, 2013 - 11:12 am:   

Finally got round to reading Point Blank by Richard Stark. Good, but as is often the case when I read stuff that I've heard people raving about for years I found myself feeling a bit disappointed.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

David_lees (David_lees)
Username: David_lees

Registered: 12-2011
Posted From: 92.22.35.223
Posted on Saturday, August 03, 2013 - 11:34 am:   

Aaah, that's good to know Weber. Gives me something fresh to look forward to. I was starting to wonder when Ice Truck was going to show, actually.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.159.61.246
Posted on Saturday, August 03, 2013 - 11:38 am:   

...and Rory Block is definitely a woman!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Saturday, August 03, 2013 - 01:30 pm:   

Hmmm... a song by Rory Black plays on the car radio while a couple are trying to flee the city, way too late, and it was still spelt with an "a". Who can this mysterious Rory Black bloke be? Try saying that pissed.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Saturday, August 03, 2013 - 01:40 pm:   

I have formulated four theories, amigos:

(a) Rory Black is entirely an invention of the author.

(b) Rory Black was some obscure artist of the time, possibly a struggling mate, whom McCammon was pumping up.

(c) The Black spelling was a misprint and he was indeed referring to Rory Block.

(d) Rory Black is a genuine mega-star and I hope to feck he never reads this!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.159.61.246
Posted on Saturday, August 03, 2013 - 02:00 pm:   

There seems to be no mention of a Rory Black online that I can see (apart from this thread!) - I'd lean towards (a) or (c) myself.
Rory Block is a real favourite of mine though, and most definitely not a man:-

http://www.roryblock.com/
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.125
Posted on Saturday, August 03, 2013 - 02:07 pm:   

The chance of a double misprint increases the likelihood of (a) being correct, applying Occam's Razor, but I'm still swayed by (c) given the correspondence of the timeline. Now if Rory Block had a new album to promote in 1981 (c) would look even more likely.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Saturday, August 03, 2013 - 04:00 pm:   

I'm guessing Rory Black is a character in the novel that will, in time, if not already, enter scene. McCammon's setting him (her?) up subtly in the background, so as to create a nice surprise.

... Am I right yet?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Lincoln (Lincoln_brown)
Username: Lincoln_brown

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 101.119.28.250
Posted on Sunday, August 04, 2013 - 11:04 pm:   

'Last Days', by Adam Nevill. Superb, so far. Nevill is becoming one of my favourite authors.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.31.15.59
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 07:30 am:   

Mythos tales by Lumley. Some good, some poor. But always fun.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.30.203.99
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 09:18 am:   

'Haggopian' is wonderful. i went through a major Lumley re-read about a decade ago and ran out of enthusiasm after five collections... but that's a lot really. Some of his best work was quite early. His first novel, Beneath the Moors, is pretty good – being very short it's in a couple of his collections. The core of Lumley's talent is biological horror, with a strong focus on the invertebrate world.

I wonder what Lumley would have made of the sight that greeted me on the front garden path after yesterday's rainstorm: a huge twisted slug that turned out to be three slugs engaged in sexual congress. Three. I was shocked. I'm no prude but I don't expect mollusc troilism in public. And if i remember rightly from my university studies, slugs are hermaphrodite and a pair of slugs can impregnate each other. The male and female genitalia are on different parts of the slug body. So three slugs... well, work it out for yourself. And if it makes you jealous, you need help.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 12:01 pm:   

Their breeding habits certainly fascinated Patricia Highsmith, Joel. "The Snail Watcher" (1970) is one of her most biologically and psychologically grotesque short horror stories.

I must admit I find the Hymenoptera much more interesting to watch.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.57.198
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 12:37 pm:   

She wrote at least one other snail story, "The Quest for Blank Claveringi". It's in one of the Pan Books of Horror I believe.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 01:03 pm:   

Snails were a recurrent motif in her novels as symbolic of repulsion, Hubert. According to Weber she also bred the things in tanks just like the character in the above story... until his hobby comes to a particularly sticky end. 'Blank Cleveringi' is one of the best monster stories ever written, imho. It outdoes King at his own game and was written in the early 60s. Marvellous tale!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.118
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 01:48 pm:   

Finished 'They Thirst' (1981) by Robert R. McCammon and, for me, it is unquestionably one of the great horror masterpieces of its era. The ultimate and closing statement on the popularly imagined vampire of legend and of Hollywood. In many ways the book works as an ingenious satirical spoof of the entire horror genre that the author, and all of us, grew up in love with. The final quarter of the book ranks as quite possibly the most joyously tense and exciting passage of horror literature I have ever read. Characters we love drop like flies, or worse, and the deliberate playing with our expectations, as generated by throwing up every melodramatic Hollywood cliche in the book and cleverly subverting it, as the American Dream slides into oblivion, makes this criminally underrated masterwork perhaps the author's greatest and purest achievement, for all his subsequent evolution from pulp genius to genuine literary master. Everyone who loves this great genre of ours needs to read this book!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 01:48 pm:   

"It outdoes King at his own game and was written in the early 60s."

I think you'll find that's called 'being an influence on King', though the nature of time is debatable (more so than you might think, as I said next Wednesday).
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.118
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 01:56 pm:   

Now starting another glimpse into the dark side of the Californian idyll with Dashiell Hammett's 'The Continental Op' (1974) collection of all those groundbreaking Op stories from the 1920s. The intro by Steven Marcus is fascinating.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.57.198
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 02:44 pm:   

I read somewhere Highsmith was so fond of the critters she always took a couple along on trips. Supposedly she kept them under her breasts while traveling. Tall tale or fact?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 03:15 pm:   

She was a very weird girl. Why do you think I love her so much!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 03:17 pm:   

Time is relative, Joel. Haven't you read your Einstein?!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 03:24 pm:   

"The Tenth Clew" (1924) is wonderful. It has all the ingenious narrative structure and mystery of Conan Doyle's detective tales but married to a "new" directness and energy, eschewing humour and eccentricity, while still providing a fascinating detective character born of the "real world". Thoroughly enjoyable mystery writing!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 04:47 pm:   

Somehow I never was aware of any direct link between Highsmith and King. It's as if they inhabit two distinctly different universes as writers. But in the one unrepresentative tale, "The Quest For Blank Claveringi" (actually 1967), Highsmith somehow pre-empted the weirdly convincing physical detailing of outlandish horrors that King was to become famous for in the following decade - see 'Night Shift' (1978).
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 05:12 pm:   

I envy you reading that for the first time, Stevie! And lucky for you, there's a bunch more elsewhere that are often better (imho) than the ones in that Hammett collection! I count Hammett as one of the most amazing finds for me of the last decade... wish I had gotten to him sooner, and kinda glad I didn't, too....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.118
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 05:35 pm:   

I know exactly what you mean, Craig.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.118
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 06:01 pm:   

Where Holmes primarily worked out his mysteries by close observation and forensic sifting of the physical evidence the Continental Op relies more on his expert knowledge of human nature and body language and the ways of the Street to dig to the heart of lies and subterfuge. "The Tenth Clew" is a perfect demonstration of his abilities and his utter ruthlessness. I'm going to love this collection and have 'The Big Knockover' to follow.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.118
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 06:13 pm:   

Incidentally, it was a neat theory, Craig, but Rory Black was only mentioned the two times in 'They Thirst' - as a big popular musical artist of the time on a billboard and playing on a car radio. I now think McCammon probably did mean Rory Block and that the double misprint somehow snuck through the proofreaders.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 06:50 pm:   

Time being relative doesn't mean we can influence the past, Stevie – fond though I am of Dunne's elegant model of time, which has inspired such fine writers as J.B. Priestley and Nina Allan.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.118
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 07:05 pm:   

The past and the future are illusory, Joel. There is only the moment. All that has ever happened or ever will happen or ever could happen is happening right now. That's not Dunne. That's Stevie.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.103.103.182
Posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 - 07:20 pm:   

Joel, Lumley intrigues me. He lurches from elegant prose in one tale to almost hysterical ranting in another - with lots of exclamation marks!! I suspect he's been heavily edited, especially the very early stuff that found its way into the Derleth anthos. But he's a really compelling storyteller and never dull. Have you read one of his latest, The Nonesuch, in a recent BNH? I enjoyed the hell out of that one.

I have The Haggopian collection from Solaris. Thus far, I think Ramsey got the best tale of him for New Tales of Cthulhu. But Dagon's Bell was pretty good.

I often feel, however, that very few authors truly understand how relatively restrained Lovecraft was when it came to the final "reveal" of the creature. Lumley can do this well occasionally, but all too often, as in so many others, it comes across as comical.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.30.204.59
Posted on Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 09:12 am:   

Thanks for the recommendation, Stevie – I must have the story, so will find and read. Lumley has always been unpredictable – sometimes darkly brilliant, sometimes rather obvious, sometimes actively dislikeable because of the implicit social attitudes (he's got it in for gypsies, gays and the French in particular). He's overly fond of the ellipse as well as the exclamation mark. But read a story like 'Fruiting Bodies', or the non-occult 'The Pit-Yakker', and all that melts away to reveal a powerful and intense horror sensibility.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 11:35 am:   

And the latest novel I'm about to start is 'The Caves Of Night' (1958) by John Christopher. This was the follow-up to his 1956 masterpiece, 'The Death Of Grass', so I'm hoping for great things.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 11:47 am:   

Both snail stories appeared in her first short story collection, 'Eleven' (1970). That's the one with the gushing intro by Graham Greene. "The Snail Watcher" first appeared in 'The 7th Pan Book Of Horror Stories' (1965) and "The Quest For Blank Claveringi" was included in 'The 6th Fontana Book Of Great Horror Stories' (1971). Squirmy horror classics, both.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.76.229
Posted on Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 11:49 am:   

Joel, it was me reccing. :-)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 01:20 pm:   

Sorry, Gary. Not too wide awake this morning. (And not for any fun reason either. I'm not a slug you know.)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.55
Posted on Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 02:22 pm:   

So far 'The Caves Of Night' reads like a 50s version of Neil Marshall's 'The Descent' (2005) with a group of pot-holers embarking on an adventure into the subterranean depths. Here's hoping their descent ends up just as "spine-chilling and blood-curdling" an entertainment as The Times Literary Supplement claimed it to be at the time.

Aww, Joel, and I thought you loved me!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.212.231.111
Posted on Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 02:51 pm:   

The central character in Deep Water also breeds snails iirc.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.55
Posted on Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 03:07 pm:   

One of her best books, Weber!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.76.229
Posted on Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 03:24 pm:   

He loves me, damn you!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 03:50 pm:   

Outside, now!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 06:06 am:   

I've just now read "Fruiting Bodies" by Lumley, at Joel's suggestion—had the eponymous anthology sitting here on my TBR pile for some time. A "powerful and intense horror sensibility" indeed! You sort of know exactly where you're being led all along, but go anyway, cautiously curious, like the lead character goes led by the old man; what you get is kind of what you expect, but it's Lumley's layered build and clean telling that makes the mounting horror work. I don't remember others stories of his being this effortless—by this one, at least, he retained the best of Lovecraft's architectural vision, sans the style of a bygone century. Perhaps I'll sample a few more....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 06:08 am:   

You must be right, Stevie, about Rory Block—hey, a new artist I've never heard of, to discover!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.159.61.246
Posted on Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 08:29 am:   

You have much to discover then, Craig, as she's produced a hell of a lot of albums!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 12:10 pm:   

'The Caves Of Night' is proving effortlessly gripping. I love how Christopher wastes no time plunging us into the claustrophobic nightmare his characters encounter while introducing us to each of their conflicting personalities and back stories with the economy and ease of a born storyteller. A book to just sit back and enjoy!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 03:52 pm:   

How do I describe John Christopher's deliciously English style of genre writing? Imagine Graham Greene writing blatantly exciting pulp literature and investing it with his own brand of in-depth emotional and psychological characterisation, in which the horror/sci-fi/fantasy narrative comes second place to the internal journey of each of the beautifully drawn characters... and that's what you get here.

We have five people trapped underground and hopelessly out of their depth (bar the one pot-holing expert who takes the brunt of all the blame, god help him) in a newly discovered system of underground caves in Bavaria, that started off as a lark to explore. Until the flood waters rose and the skeletons started to be exposed. This is a wonderful edge-of-the-seat horror/suspense/adventure tale that sees the author at the very height of his powers. There's the embarrassed English pot-holer, his sexually frustrated wife, the innocent young honeymooning English couple they took along for the ride and the enigmatic Bavarian Count who owns the land into which the caves penetrate.

Remember all those cave based horror movies that came along in the 2000s? They all - including 'The Descent (2005) - pale into insignificance beside this cracking yarn!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 04:00 pm:   

Craig & Mick, there was a quote of some Rory Black/Block lyrics when the song was heard on the radio, just before... but I couldn't possibly spoil that sequence!

I've been flicking back through the book (it's a right brick) in search of them and when I do they shall be quoted here and put all doubts to rest. Oh for an index...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.108.97
Posted on Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 09:12 pm:   

NOS 4A2 is reading more like a Stephen King novel than a Joe Hill... strange
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 12:27 pm:   

'The Caves Of Night' is impressively unpretentious yet subtly profound character based situational horror/suspense with all the bleak strengths of Christopher's best novels. I'm really enjoying it and should be finished in no time.

What to read then?

Meanwhile "The Golden Horseshoe" (1924) was another cracking detective yarn with the Continental Op getting a trip to Mexico and investigating a grisly triple murder by butcher knife that's as sickeningly gruesome as anything being written nowadays. The pay-off, as with the previous tale, is ingenious and wonderfully understated. Reading these stories one is made forcibly aware of a new kind of literature being born with every graphically detailed description of hideous crimes and every line of straight-from-the-streets dialogue. The Op himself is a heartless implacable bastard who loves his job and takes great pleasure in hunting down his "victims" and sending them straight to the gallows - no matter how tragic their back stories. Holmes would have admired his tenacity and attention to detail but been appalled by the man himself. Fantastic stuff!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 12:52 pm:   

Eventually finished 'Sylvie And Bruno Concluded' (1893) by Lewis Carroll and I have to admit it was a bit of a hard slog. The surreal lack of narrative structure and leaping about from one place to another without any warning - what Carroll called "litterature" - may have looked forward to James Joyce's more abstract experiments in literature (apparently Joyce was fascinated by the book and hailed it as Carroll's masterpiece!) and the cut-up techniques of Burroughs and Ballard but it does not make for an easy or understandable read and pales beside the hilarious charms of the Alice books. Brave and astonishingly innovative writing with many wonderful visionary sequences but far from great storytelling, imho. I'm glad I read them but even more glad that I've finished them...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.17.182
Posted on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 01:12 pm:   

Marc, Joe says NOS 4R2 was the novel where he decided not to avoid his dad's territory (or words to that effect).
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.57.131
Posted on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 03:44 pm:   

Poul Anderson's short story "The Voortrekkers" in the anthology Final Stage. I'd like to read more Anderson now. He seems to have eluded me back in my SF days.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 04:27 pm:   

Starting "The House In Turk Street" & "The Girl With Silver Eyes" (both 1924) by Dashiell Hammett. Apparently these are two linked short stories that form a novella which pointed the way to his amalgamation of various short stories to form the two Continental Op novels; 'Red Harvest' & 'The Dain Curse' (both 1929).
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.108.97
Posted on Friday, August 09, 2013 - 09:25 pm:   

http://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Robot-Isaac-Asimov/dp/000753227X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie =UTF8&qid=1376076296&sr=1-1&keywords=i+robot
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.108.97
Posted on Friday, August 09, 2013 - 11:14 pm:   

I'm not actually reading the Asomov. Still in the middle of - and really enjoying - NOS 4A2.

I was just having a discussion with A N Other member of this board about the correct authorship of I, Robot. This was the easiest way to post a link where s/he could see it.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Saturday, August 10, 2013 - 05:14 am:   

Wtf?! Someone actually doubted Asimov's writing I, Robot?!?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.16.195
Posted on Saturday, August 10, 2013 - 12:46 pm:   

I don't get that either, Marc. What correct authorship?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Saturday, August 10, 2013 - 01:56 pm:   

According to Alan Partridge on his rather entertaining radio show Mid Morning Matters 'I, Robot' was written by Isaac Asimov when it was in fact written by Eando Binder. I tried to ring in to correct him but was unable to get through for some reason. Weber thinks Partridge was right whereas I know he was very much mistaken. That's the story, Ramsey.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.212.231.68
Posted on Saturday, August 10, 2013 - 05:06 pm:   

But as you can see from the amazon link stevie, isaac asimov's book I, Robot was indeed written by Isaac Asimov. There may well be a short story with the same title but that does not change the authorship of the book in that link.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.57.131
Posted on Saturday, August 10, 2013 - 07:18 pm:   

One might as well doubt that Stanley Kubrick directed 2001: a Space Odyssey.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.222
Posted on Saturday, August 10, 2013 - 07:46 pm:   

Against Asimov's vehement and understandable protestations his publishers saw fit to give his 1950 collection of robot stories the misleading title 'I, Robot' even though the book contained no story by that title and indeed referred to the groundbreaking and very popular short story "I, Robot" written by Eando Binder in 1939. Asimov's original title was to have been 'Mind And Iron' and the forced name change was a source of constant embarrassment to the author thereafter. All the confusion emanates from there. "I, Robot" was most successfully dramatised in the classic episode of 'The Outer Limits' starring Leonard Nimoy. Fact!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.30.193.170
Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 02:38 am:   

Ah, I see. I thought the issue might be that Isaac Asimov was not actually a robot and so his apparent autobiography 'I, Robot' was bogus.

Early Asimov is pretty good but the book of his I liked most was a quite remarkable collection (or anthology) of jokes – rich, well researched, culturally distinctive and generally a treasure-trove of American (and especially Jewish-American) humour.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 09:27 am:   

You mean Alan isn't really a Partridge?!

And there was me about to add 'I, Partridge : We Need To Talk About Alan' (2012) to my TBR pile.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.108.97
Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 01:53 pm:   

Whether Asimov wanted the title on the book or not, the BOOK I, Robot was written by Asimov. It's had that title for 63 years now so it's a pretty pointless arguement to suggest that he didn't write a book called I, robot.

Just because there is an obscure story that predates the collection which also bears the title, doesn't change the fact that Asimov's I, Robot was written by Asimov.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 03:44 pm:   

Hardly an obscure story, Weber. Binder's "I, Robot" (1939), about the mechanical man, Adam Link, who becomes self aware, is considered one of the key science fiction narratives of the 20th Century and was highly popular and influential in the 1940s - inspiring Asimov himself. Binder went on to write a further nine Adam Link stories and Asimov acknowledges his groundbreaking influence in the intro to 'The Complete Robot' where he apologises, once again, for the misappropriation of Binder's title by the publishers. Asimov never wrote a story called "I, Robot".
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 04:38 pm:   

*Ahem* Let's not get into another one of these, gentlemen....

I've decided to work my way front-cover-to-back (but skipping what I've read elsewhere) through Terry Carr's The Year's Finest Fantasy, Volume 2 (1978). And so am reading, for the first time, Stephen King's novella "The Gunslinger." It's craftsmanship like this that makes me wonder why I ever stopped reading him...? (Is King's whole Gunslinger series this good?)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.108.186
Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 08:53 pm:   

Craig, if you think that's soem kind of major spat, check out shocklines. Everyone's favourite racitist homophobic fucking nutjob has decided to return.

According to him on one thread I'm a rape-baby.

This here on this board is a minor disagreement with a friend - in which I'm right.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 09:26 pm:   

I wasn't even aware we were arguing but merely stating facts and drawing attention to the common misconception that Isaac Asimov wrote the story "I, Robot" when in fact his work entitled 'I, Robot' was a collection of his own robot stories none of which had that title.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 09:27 pm:   

Good lord...

And I do have to side with Weber on this. Stevie, you're snatching at gnats, I'm afraid. Item: http://mentalfloss.com/article/26044/what-10-classic-books-were-almost-called
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 09:43 pm:   

Finished 'The Caves Of Night' (1958) by John Christopher and it is a masterful exercise in edge of the seat suspense right up until the final emotionally devastating sentence. A brilliant horror/suspense thriller that is as unrelentingly grim as any of his more famous novels for adults. It really should have been filmed.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 09:49 pm:   

And Hammett's "The House In Turk Street" was one of the most gripping short action/suspense stories I can recall reading. A six way battle of wits and brawn between one detective and five double-crossing criminals over a hidden stash of bonds with all the action taking place throughout the rooms and passages of the house of the title. Crime writing of blinding simplicity and palpable toughness with not a likeable character in sight. Truly wonderful!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 10:01 pm:   

Isn't Hammett wonderful in these Op novellas, Stevie? Hammett's world and characters exist in a thoroughly non-Freudian universe: the bad are bad are bad they're just bad. The good, are fallen at best. But it's not a comic-book world of blacks and whites either, hardly that simple; ergo, not so simplistic as to write everyone and everything off to psycho-sexual/familial wellsprings of motivation. That's one of my takeaways, at least (beyond sheer entertainment value!).

John Christopher's mos def on my list of authors to get to....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 10:27 pm:   

Picked out two novels to start:

'The Wanderer' by Knut Hamsun - a combination of his two short autobiographical novels; 'Under The Autumn Star' (1906) & 'A Wanderer Plays On Muted Strings' (1909). Both tell the story of Knut Pedersen, an enigmatic and possibly mad loner who longs to escape the rat race and get back to Nature but whose quest is continually frustrated by "people". If it's anything like as brilliantly written and compelling as 'Hunger' (1890) or 'Mysteries' (1892) then I'm in for a rare treat.

'Hellstrom's Hive' (1973) by Frank Herbert - another rare foray into horror territory for the author. This one tells of a genetically engineered race of human beings who run their underground society on the model of the social insects (ants, bees, wasps, termites) and who are secretly at war with us "normals" whom they ultimately plan to replace. Should make for interesting comparison with Heinlein's 'The Puppet Masters' (1951) and McCammon's 'They Thirst' (1981).
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.115
Posted on Monday, August 12, 2013 - 01:21 pm:   

Q: what is the correct pronunciation of "mauve"?

Is it "mawv' or is it "mowv"? I can never decide.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 212.219.63.206
Posted on Monday, August 12, 2013 - 03:54 pm:   

I love this thread, not least because there is nothing so good as reading and enjoying a book recommended by your friends.

Just back from holday where I completed two novel reads and started a third book.

"Mechagnosis" by Douglas Thompson is a masterpiece, a short, sharp, but utterly wild ride involving a time machine of sorts, two angels and a murder investigation. Thoroughly recommended.

"Hadrian VII" by Fr Rolfe is a pre-WW1 curiosity that is at the same time compelling and infuriating. The main charactr is a lowly English priest who is suddenly made Pope. The intriguing aspect of this novel is the way this Pope sorts out the burgeoning tensions which were coming to the boil in 1913 (when it was published), the detailed description of the process and rituals by which popes are elected, and the sheer audacity of the work. The infuriating aspects are the author's belief in the English class system, his jingoistic patriotism and his obvious fear (and loathing) of socialism. It does have a very moving ending, however.

"Air" by Geoff Ryman, which I am 80 pages from completing, is a highly original take on the internet and its effect on a poor village somehwhere in the borderlands between Russia and China. That sounds a bit dry. It isn't. The internet in question is Air, which is beamed directly into the brain using no wires or other hadware at all, and is compulsory. An unusual, affecting and compelling read. Again, highly recommended.

I hope at lest one of these makes your reading list folks.

Cheers
Terry

PS: In Suffolk we pronounce it "move" - the correct way of course.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, August 12, 2013 - 04:02 pm:   

I've never pronounced it "move" in my life, Terry!

Is it "mawv" as in the maw of a shark?

Or is it "mowv" as in mowing the lawn?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, August 12, 2013 - 04:03 pm:   

And this isn't an argument!! Just me trying to establish a fact.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, August 12, 2013 - 04:19 pm:   

As I am a lifelong avid myrmecologist (had my first proper formicarium at the age of 14 and I'm currently studying a colony of invasive Argentine ants that have populated my local pub) I found myself irresistibly drawn to Herbert's take on the societal brilliance/horror of the social insects way of life.

When we look at all the great horror/sci-fi narratives about the human race facing competition and ultimate annihilation from an emotionless super-fast breeding/replicating foe it all comes back to our fascination with the not so humble ant colony. Forget your disorganisedd rats or cockroaches (the zombies of the insect world)! Even the greatest post-apocalypse novel of them all, 'Earth Abides' (1949), had ants as the greater and far more subtle menace to the straggling remnants of humankind left in the wake of the BIG DISEASE.

I was not aware, until recently, that Frank Herbert had taken the idea of the apocalyptic alien invaders/brain slugs/pod people/robots/vampires of Wells/Heinlein/Finney/Matheson/Christopher/Levin/McCammon straight to the source of its inspiration and the first few chapters haven't let me down. This one is gonna be a corker, folks!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, August 12, 2013 - 04:29 pm:   

Ants make up 25% of the terrestrial animal biomass (which includes us) and have colonised every possible environment on Earth. And they're organised. You do the maths...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

David_lees (David_lees)
Username: David_lees

Registered: 12-2011
Posted From: 92.22.35.223
Posted on Monday, August 12, 2013 - 06:11 pm:   

I remember reading a short story, many many years ago, about intelligent psychic ants in, I think, South American that ended with the protagonist desperately trying not to think the obvious thought in case they heard...how easily they could wipe us out and conquer the world.

Can't remember anything else about it, but that scene really stuck with me.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Monday, August 12, 2013 - 06:48 pm:   

As in mowing the lawn, yes. Though where I come from that would be a criminal offence.

(It would take me days to explain that one... move on, nothing to see here.)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Monday, August 12, 2013 - 06:51 pm:   

Come on Joel, bite the bullet... in the West Midlands to 'mo' is to sodomise (short for 'homo' and converted from noun to verb). Not that sodomising the lawn would be much fun, except maybe for the lawn.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Monday, August 12, 2013 - 07:07 pm:   

This is, of course, why gardeners spend weeks turning the lawn over.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.108.186
Posted on Monday, August 12, 2013 - 07:53 pm:   

Gaves a whole new meaning to fertilising the lawn...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Monday, August 12, 2013 - 10:14 pm:   

Just be sure you don't get crab grass.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.140.38
Posted on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 07:12 pm:   

The entire horror of the ant society as it is anthropomorphisised in 'Hellstrom's Hive' (1973) is summed up in this chilling sentence:

"In the perfect society, there is neither emotion nor mercy; precious space cannot be wasted on those who have outlived their usefulness."

Nuff said...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.27.114.151
Posted on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 09:54 pm:   

Sounds like Cameron/Osborne's Britain.

Or a promotional tag line for the Liverpool Pathway...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 11:22 am:   

It's a really gripping horror thriller, Terry, set in the 1970s in and around a weird, and typical of the time, commune in the remote countryside of Oregon (the mythical land of plenty). The place is run by Dr Nils Hellstrom, a reclusive entomologist and documentary filmmaker on the superiority of insect societies over humans. Something horrible is going on there, hidden behind happy smiling faces and the glorification of the body, and the vanishing of a number of passers-by, as well as the strange absence of animal life in the vicinity, has just come to the attention of the authorities. Two undercover detectives, posing as a married couple, have been sent in to investigate... Gripping stuff, extensively and accurately researched and brilliantly written with many thought provoking philosophical asides that are just typical of the author. I'm loving it!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.213
Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 02:07 pm:   

Here's an example:

"The words of Nils Hellstrom. Of the billions of living things on earth, only man ponders his existence. His questions lead to torment; for he is unable to accept, as the insects do, that life's only purpose is life itself."

That's the nightmare reality of the coldly scientific mind taken to its ultimate conclusion. Chilling stuff.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.213
Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 02:31 pm:   

And this:

"Perhaps, in time we will become fully functional as are those we copy. We will develop faces without expression; only eyes and mouth; just enough to keep the rest of the body alive. No muscles to smile with, or frown with, or in any way to betray what's lurking beneath the surface."

Shudder...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 212.219.63.206
Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 04:52 pm:   

Dear Stevie

I realised just now that I've read it! I was in hospital in the long hot summer of 1976 having fallen off my moped, fractured several ribs and damaged a kidney. I recall thoroughly enjoying the story and your quotes are beginning to bring it back to me. I was no fan of "Dune" so approached this book with trepidation. I was glad to be wrong.

I also read "Farnham's Freehold" during those ten days and was enthralled by it.

Cheers
Terry
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 05:14 pm:   

Ah, 'Farnham's Freehold' is one of my very favourite Heinlein novels, Terry. One of the most brilliant and unpredictable post-apocalypse sci-fi stories ever written, imho.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.213
Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 06:51 pm:   

And as for the 'Dune' series... I have read all six volumes (and shall do so again) and, imo, what Frank Herbert achieved in those books is beyond belief and the very pinnacle of the entire science fiction genre. They even outdo Tolkien!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.27.114.151
Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 08:34 pm:   

Perhaps I should try "Dune" again. always happy to be wrong about a book!

Almost finished Geoff Ryman's "Air" and what an utterly original, affecting and compelling novel this has been.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.208
Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 03:07 pm:   

I have to say that 'Hellstrom's Hive' is one of the most truly deeply frightening novels I can recall reading. Everything in it is so well worked out and explained that, even I, who know the enemy well, can feel myself succumbing to their seductive embrace. A 70s horror masterpiece that is quite possibly the best written book of its particular kind of nightmarish ideal taken to the very last frontier of the unimaginable made real.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.208
Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 03:49 pm:   

They use sex as their weapon and the irresistible urge to breed given chemical instruction. If I were an Outsider faced with their overwhelming power I would just as gladly succumb as did ****. Frank Herbert has it all as a writer including intense eroticism. Fuck it! I want to be a drone too and damn the consequences. Eat my head off you beautiful bitch!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 212.219.63.206
Posted on Friday, August 16, 2013 - 11:42 am:   

"Harvey 'The Teeth' O'Keefe had a face like a wallpapered armpit and made about as much sense."

What a first line! Taken from John Travis's "The Designated Coconut", which I have just started reading. It's the second of his Benji Spritemen detective novels. Spriteman, by the way, is a cat and the stories are set in a world in which humans have been usurped by animals, who take up their erswhile owners' proffessions. Daft? Not a bit. Travis writes some great comedy and makes the whole thing utterly convincing.

That sounds like a review. Sorry, but I am really enjoying this book and feel it deserves a little push, along with the first in the series, "The Terror and the Tortoiseshell".

Stevie, you have inpsired me to re-read Herbert's work, all the way through.

Cheers
Terry
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, August 16, 2013 - 12:18 pm:   

Another great post-apocalypse horror/sci-fi novel of Herbert's is 'The White Plague' (1982). It too is set on contemporary Earth and describes in chilling detail the breakdown of society and death of the human race following the deliberate releasing of a genetically engineered virus that kills only women... all women. That's a book that really haunted me when I read it as a teenager. It went on to inspire the similar works; 'Children Of Men' (1992) by P.D. James & 'Oryx And Crake' (2003) by Margaret Atwood. Herbert's is the best and most brilliantly reasoned out of the three, imo.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.208
Posted on Friday, August 16, 2013 - 03:14 pm:   

The brilliance of 'Hellstrom's Hive' is this: the "insect" people start the book as the perceived villains of the piece but as we rush toward the exciting climax I find myself more and more empathising with their harried plight and almost willing their mad experiment to succeed against all the odds. Brilliant writing!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.208
Posted on Friday, August 16, 2013 - 03:45 pm:   

No bloody way!! Fuck that!!

Nuke the mutant bastards! Jesus, how sick can you get?!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.208
Posted on Friday, August 16, 2013 - 04:42 pm:   

This is the best battle of collective wits novel I have read. The suspense is electric and I'll be finished it soon. Utterly brilliant!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.30.198.219
Posted on Sunday, August 18, 2013 - 02:08 am:   

Stevie, did you notice how your higher self stepped in to arbitrate your argument with yourself? Awesome. In an hour and a half you covered more ground psychologically than some of us manage in years of therapy. You've raised fandom to the level of a spiritual discipline. To a weary, muddled, bitter loser like myself you're a breath of fresh air. Enjoy your weekend, good sir!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Sunday, August 18, 2013 - 02:21 am:   

Thanks, Joel!

The words "reproductive stump" will haunt me forever... and it's far worse than anything you're imagining.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Sunday, August 18, 2013 - 01:13 pm:   

Finished 'Hellstrom's Hive' (1973) and it's one of the finest things Frank Herbert ever wrote. Better and scarier even than his other great paranoid horror/sci-fi novel, 'The Santaroga Barrier' (1968).

What makes the book so completely gripping is the lack of moral judgement from the author and avoidance of taking sides. He merely presents us with the facts and motivations between two incompatible philosophies of life - our own, driven by selfish survival instincts and the law of the jungle, and that of the social insects, driven by biological neutering of individuality and utter selflessness and devotion to the welfare of the species. Neither are presented as "evil" or the "wrong way" but the actions of both sides instil abject horror and revulsion in the other side, negating any chance of mutual understanding or diplomacy - ensuring the annihilation of whichever side proves the weakest.

Morally the "human" characters are a shower of lying, two-faced, devious, backstabbing, cruel bastards (and that's only how they treat each other ffs) while the hive people are hopelessly naive and even innocent as well as hopelessly outnumbered and having to be forever on their guard.

But physically the reality of what hive life entails, and the way they interact with Outside lifeforms unfortunate enough to stray into their territory, is the very essence of pure knee-jerk horror at its most nightmarish.

There are no heroes in this book, no right or wrong way - just a fascinating look at the stark reality of collective existence in an unforgiving universe. The marvellously ambiguous and unexpected ending reflects that to perfection. This is the third greatest work of Herbert's I have read after the 'Dune' and 'Pandora' sequences. Absolutely riveting stuff!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Sunday, August 18, 2013 - 01:31 pm:   

Hey, how are you a loser, Joel? Does not compute!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Monday, August 19, 2013 - 12:41 am:   

Getting stuck into Knut Hamsun's 'The Wanderer' (1906-09) now as a complete change from genre literature. The first few chapters are so beautifully written it was an effortless joy to read them. This appears to be a more succinct and psychological throwback to the picaresque adventure novels of a "young man's self-discovery" from the early 19th Century. Hamsun's prose is a poetic delight.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 12:32 am:   

This book is oddly beguiling in the same way 'Hunger' (1890) really got under my skin. The central character in both books is clearly Hamsun himself and a very weird individual he is too. A surreal odyssey of eccentric and subtly disturbing encounters that rise to moments of intense joyous revelation and shattering soul terror. Hamsun's books really have to be experienced to know what I'm talking about. I haven't read anything remotely like them before and they are remarkably compelling and easy to read, for all their perplexing complexity. One of the best "new author" finds of recent years for me - if not the best!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.106.163
Posted on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 02:48 am:   

Stevie - New York Trilogy - Paul Auster. Make that your next non-horror read.

Your next horror read - go for Vampire Junction - I guarantee you've never read a vamp novel like it.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.106.163
Posted on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 02:51 am:   

NOS 4A2 is going from strength to strength. I hate having to put it down. I think I'll have to set a couple of hours to one side to sit and devour the last 200 pages. It's so frustrating inly being able to manage a couple of chapters at a time.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 07:59 am:   

I'll get to them, Weber, but I'd already decided to mop up the two most famous gothic horror novels I haven't yet read as my next horror reads: 'The Jewel Of Seven Stars' (1903) by Bram Stoker & 'The Werewolf Of Paris' (1933) by Guy Endore. As they defined the Mummy and the Werewolf in the popular imagination it really is a crime I haven't read them as yet!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 08:02 am:   

This will tie in nicely with my recent ordering of all those classic silent and Universal horrors that were so influenced by the popularity of such books.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 08:36 am:   

And after those I'd planned to read 'Thieving Fear' (2008).
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.185
Posted on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 01:30 pm:   

Slight change of plan. I came across a mint copy of 'Baal' (1978) by Robert R. McCammon yesterday and feel compelled to read it immediately as it is set in the same world as 'They Thirst' (1981) and features some of the same characters. Here goes...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 11:40 am:   

'Baal' is a short compulsive pulp horror novel and I'm rattling through it...

The book reads, I now realise, like an intro to McCammon's early epic, 'They Thirst', set in the decades before that great work and featuring the same demonic "source of the evil".

**** SPOILERS ****

If Prince Vulkan was Christ then Baal was his John The Baptist, preparing the way and gathering together the black sheep. Once again I am reminded of the pure pulp energy and way with actions scenes of Robert E. Howard married to the dense characterisation and concentration on convincing details of Stephen King. Compared to the vast majority of pulp nonsense being published at the time writers like McCammon always stood out from the throng like beacons of excellence pointing the way to Horror as Literature, imho.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.144.4.191
Posted on Saturday, August 24, 2013 - 10:10 am:   

My review of THE TRANSFIGURATION OF MISTER PUNCH book:
http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/the-transfiguration-of-mister-pun ch/
It has Cate Gardner's novella in it.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, August 25, 2013 - 04:18 pm:   

Here's a chain of thought:

I just read an early twisted tale by Stephen King, "The Cat From Hell" (1977)—like the title, it was a nastily blunt and delicious piece of grue. But then I was reminded of a little later when King spun some grand and quietly building, (Henry) James-ian horrors in two connected tales, some of my favorites by him: "The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands" (1981) and "The Breathing Method" (1982). They're connected, in that they both are being told by narrators in a strange mens club in New York I think it was. Does anyone know if he ever returned to this setting, for any other stories? It doesn't seem like he did, but maybe I missed it. Sad... he really should have done enough of these to fill a whole book, or spun a novel off.... And so, that was the end-stop of my meandering thoughts.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 94.4.219.148
Posted on Sunday, August 25, 2013 - 10:49 pm:   

Dear Craig

I agree. He should have done.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 94.4.219.148
Posted on Sunday, August 25, 2013 - 10:51 pm:   

Dear Des

You hve made me ant to read "The Transfiguration of Mr Punch".

So i will
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Monday, August 26, 2013 - 09:59 am:   

Just found out McCammon wrote at least one other short story set in the 'They Thirst' universe - "Makeup" (1990), in the collection 'Blue World' - that features the character Orlon Kronsteen. Must get a copy.

Reckon I'll be finished 'Baal' today and halfway through Knut Hamsun's sublime 'The Wanderer'.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.168.136.30
Posted on Monday, August 26, 2013 - 11:03 am:   

Just finished Adam Nevill's BANQUET FOR THE DAMNED, which PS published in hardback back in 2004, and Virgin in paperback several years after.
Although I'd read Adam's short stories before I read APARTMENT 16, the latter was my introduction to his supernatural novels, and I've read the others as they were published, only recently picking up a copy of the PS printing.
I know he'd been publishing novels (erotica) for some years but BANQUET... was his first supernatural novel, and I was a little concerned that as it was the first novel in the genre it may not be as good as the later ones. I needn't have worried - it's a wonderful book with some great set pieces and involving characters. It's not easy to get hold of nowadays (either version) but it's well worth tracking down.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.168.136.30
Posted on Monday, August 26, 2013 - 11:03 am:   

...oh, and BANQUET... has an introduction by the landlord.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.105.133
Posted on Monday, August 26, 2013 - 11:32 am:   

It's more affordable than it was on amzon. I picked up a copy for 13 quid a few weeks back
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.168.136.30
Posted on Monday, August 26, 2013 - 12:16 pm:   

I must admit I don't quite understand the pricing of second hand items on Amazon. Abebooks seems a much better bet for s/h stuff. A while back I bought a book from Amazon and the listing said:-

New - £5.99
Used from £45

Huh?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

David_lees (David_lees)
Username: David_lees

Registered: 12-2011
Posted From: 176.26.69.174
Posted on Monday, August 26, 2013 - 12:44 pm:   

My copy of Banquet seems to have disappeared, sadly. It was the first Nevill I read, I got it in Waterstones in one of those "Buy One Get One Half Price" deals. It had a quote from Ramsey on it and a comparison to MR James, which is pretty much all the convincing I need to buy a book.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.30.204.133
Posted on Monday, August 26, 2013 - 11:24 pm:   

Abebooks is a database of serious second-hand book dealers. Amazon lets anyone who wants to advertise second-hand books there, at whatever price they like, and it lets them lie outrageously about what they are selling. I have never bought a second-hand item on Amazon that matched the description – I've bought two books and two DVDs and been screwed every time, though the item in question was always, in essence, the item named.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.168.136.30
Posted on Monday, August 26, 2013 - 11:53 pm:   

Good points (as ever), Joel. I did suspect it was a little like that. Similar to ebay really. Some descriptions of book conditions on there beggar belief, when the seller's own photographs show the truth.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.106.48
Posted on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 02:00 am:   

I use amazon quite a lot and there's only a couple of times I've really had a problem - and only one item I've ever had to send back.

There is one seller on there trying to tout a copy of a Nick Pacione anthology - which is still available p.o.d. from Lulu for cover price - for a thousand bucks.

I know his books have rarity on there side, but a unicorn turd is still a turd and no matter how rare it is, you'd be a fucking idiot to want it.

I have however, in the past, picked up an as new hardback first edition copy of Paul theroux's Millroy the magician for 1p plus postage. I managed to grab most of the gaps in my SP Somtow collection for less than 25 quid total for 6 books including postage. It's not a completely bad place on the interwebz.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 09:41 am:   

Finished 'Baal' (1978) by Robert R. McCammon. It's a wildly entertaining and relentlessly grim and satanic pulp horror novel of no great originality but with a distinctive and compelling voice that takes the evil child/antichrist sub-genre to genuinely sick and shocking new depths of depravity. Easy to see how it made an instant name for the author as his eagerness to disgust the reader with the Wheatlian depravity of some of his set pieces certainly packs an uncompromising punch but, good as it is and fascinating to read with 'They Thirst' in mind, he ddn't half improve as a writer in the years to come. A promising first effort if ever there was one.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 12:07 pm:   

Just picked up the very first book by Thomas Ligotti I ever found second hand and feel like starting it straight away as a replacement for 'Baal'. Stoker, Endore & Campbell will just have to wait a little while longer.

The book is a short three-part novel entitled 'My Work Is Not Yet Done : Three Tales Of Corporate Horror' (2002). I'm really quite excited to finally get reading this author.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 03:36 pm:   

I've read very little of Ligotti myself, Stevie; short stories here and there. He's clearly a fine writer, but a little too baroque for my tastes. I mean, even his mind, his way of thinking, comes off as baroque; and that maybe it's that way not so much by choice. But hey, that's just me....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 04:14 pm:   

Well, as Bach is my second favourite classical composer and I absolutely love anything baroque, Craig, you've just increased my excitement exponentially! Thanks, mate.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 04:58 pm:   

Er... I rather meant, um... again now, this is only to me, I'm speaking... more like, maddeningly overwrought and needlessly obfuscating.

But if that rocks your boat....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.27.144.224
Posted on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 11:48 pm:   

Stevie, you'll love My Work Is Not Yet Done. It's the most direct, contemporary and bloody angry of Ligotti's books. There's one paragraph in it that is quite staggering... you'll see what I mean when you get there. Baroque, yes, but hard as nails. It's also a sly parody of superhero comics. It's everything Ligotti is, by reputation, not.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.106.74
Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 12:07 am:   

I've got a Ligotti collection of short stories (I think Songs of a Dead Dreamer - good title at least) at home. The few stories I've read in it have entirely failed to impress me. I don't know if it's an early collection and his style improved later on but I found it quite grating and irritating to be completely honest.

I finished teh Joe Hill which is a fabulous and exciting read and started on Carl Hiaasen's latest, Bad Monkey. However, only a coupel of chapters in, I managed to leave the book at my sister's house and had to start on something else.

I picked Jasmine Nights by SP Somtow. It appears to be the first non-genre writing I've read by Somtow and it's brilliant. It's a witty, captivating, engrossing tale of a yuong boy in the care of three maiden aunts and an ancient great gandmother in 1963 Bangkok. I get the feeling it's at least partly autobiographical. I'm entirely hooked and all that's really happened so far is that the boy's pet lizard has been accidentally killed at a funeral feast and he and his gran have arranged a private burial for it.

The writing is stunningly good (at the risk of doing a Stevie) and, if it continues like this, it could become my favourite of his novels - which would easily catapult it straight into my all time top 10...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 03:32 pm:   

I'm finding 'My Work Is Not Yet Done' (2002) by Thomas Ligotti highly disturbing and compelling on a personal level, as well as being captivated by the originality of the prose (Campbellien, yet, not quite).

This is the first office set horror novel I have read since Ellis's 'American Psycho' (1991) and, where that novel used the corporate setting as background for a descent into hell, I am finding Ligotti's vision much more pin sharp accurate in its detailing of the subtle undermining and victimisation of an office worker, who just wants to put his days in and collect his pay check without any hassle, because of his refusal to play the corporate game of ass licking all those above and around him (that's me too in a nutshell, folks, and the reason I've only been promoted once in 28 years).

This is a horror story of intense paranoia narrated by a decent everyman character who finds his work life intruding into his personal life and his increasingly feverish nightmares with terrifying intensity. I am extremely impressed so far and find myself empathising with the protagonist like few other characters I have encountered in literature!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 04:04 pm:   

As for the word "baroque" - my reading of the form in Art is that of fascinatingly elaborate detail that reveals layers with layers within layers the longer one looks at or listens to the work, while the whole is infused with an instantly captivating beauty and almost mathematical precision (a bit like a Mandelbrot set).
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 04:50 pm:   

Definition #3 from the online Free Dictionary:

"Extravagant, complex, or bizarre, especially in ornamentation".

Ligotti = #3 x WayTooMuchSoAndOverlyAffectedIMHO.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 06:14 pm:   

According to the Oxford English Dictionary:

"Relating to or denoting a style of European architecture, music, and art of the 17th and 18th centuries that followed Mannerism and is characterized by ornate detail. In architecture the period is exemplified by the palace of Versailles and by the work of Wren in England. Major composers include Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel; Caravaggio and Rubens are important baroque artists."

There is a psychological density and a feeling of multi-layered mystery to Ligotti's prose that puts me very much in mind of Robert Aickman or Walter de la Mare, and even Ramsey Campbell, in the unsettling subversion of what should be an unthreatening contemporary setting without recourse to broad horror strokes. Like Ramsey Ligotti sees fit to populate the recognisably real world with oddly demonic caricatures of those people who make all our lives hell on a daily basis.

I'll be running out of here tonight with more of a shiver down my spine than usual!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 08:35 pm:   

I just think Ramsey, Aickman, and de la Mare are/were much better at this kind of thing (and frankly I'd not put Ramsey in the same category [i.e., style] of horror).

Again, from limited exposure to Ligotti, admittedly. "The Medusa" (1991) was an okay horror story, probably the best of his I've yet read. "The Greater Festival of Masks" (1985) and "The Glamour" (1991) didn't do much for me... just to name three of his better known tales I've encountered.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.60.153
Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 10:29 pm:   

There is a psychological density and a feeling of multi-layered mystery to Ligotti's prose that puts me very much in mind of Robert Aickman or Walter de la Mare, and even Ramsey Campbell

I beg to differ.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 - 12:03 pm:   

I'm judging him entirely by my instinctive reaction to the first third of this fascinating book - the only thing of Ligotti's I have read to date and, according to Joel, quite unrepresentative. There is a great paranoid psychological density to the narration that puts me very much in mind of Ramsey and the subtle accumulation of disquietingly weird details, as well as the striking originality of the prose, reminds me of what I get from Aickman & de la Mare. Just an honest opinion of my first taste of Ligotti, folks. His turning of a typical office environment into a place of creeping horror and dislocation is quite inspired and bang on the money - in my experience.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 - 12:15 pm:   

I am impressed by Ligotti's writing style and already feel experienced enough to call it genuine Horror Literature of no little originality. Compared to my last horror read - the entertaining pulp diabolism of Robert R. McCammon's first novel (which I thoroughly enjoyed) this book is in a different league entirely.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 - 12:33 pm:   

Also still working my way through 'The Continental Op' and found the last two novella length stories ["The Girl With Silver Eyes" (1924) & "The Whosis Kid" (1925)] as brilliantly written and grittily compelling as anything of Hammett's. There is a thrilling freshness and complete lack of sentimentality about these early stories that really is indescribably gripping. One never knows where they are headed, who will betray who next or who will live or die - apart from the increasingly world weary nameless narrator, of course, who appears more obviously the model for Derek Raymond's nameless Detective Sergeant with each breathlessly bleak and cynical adventure. Marvellous stuff!!

Taken together, "The House On Turk Street" & "The Girl With Silver Eyes", make up a short novel with one of the most iconic femme fatales in crime fiction as our hero's most dangerous nemesis - up until 'The Dain Curse' (1929), that is.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 - 04:50 pm:   

It's so nice to know there's still a few Op stories out there in the world I've not yet read.... (not those you mentioned, Stevie—great, right?—but others)

I just last night read, for the first time, Robert Aickman's novella "Growing Boys" (1977). It too isn't typical of his stuff, in that the story's lucidly straightforward—relatively, one must keep in mind, to the rest of Aickman. Literate and character-rich "horror," one actually hates to use that label on a story like this, though it is indeed horror, too. And having finished, I instinctively want to read all of Aickman, like I want to read all of Ramsey's work after any given story... but like I've never yet felt, with Ligotti. But hey....

Ligotti wrote a collection of original (i.e., to this volume) stories with a common theme, that sounds intriguing—it sounds like it could go either way, good or bad, frankly: The Agonizing Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein & Other Gothic Tales (1985). Takes on Jekyll/Hyde, Phantom of the Opera, the Wolfman, etc. Anyone read this? What is it like?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.30.203.45
Posted on Sunday, September 01, 2013 - 12:23 pm:   

Stevie, I'd say MWINYD is atypical of Ligotti rather than unrepresentative – it represents a side of his writing that's often under-appreciated, even ignored, by fans who insist Ligotti has no interest in anything as lowly as human affairs.

Craig, I've only read a few of the component stories of Ligotti's TARoVF&OGT but believe it's very minor, a side project from a long time ago.

'Growing Boys' is, by some distance, the worst Aickman story ever, so if you like that you must read more of him. I found it an overcooked, splenetic anti-liberal rant, though the military character widens the satirical focus to the point of "a plague on both your houses". A real low point in his career, though he liked the story enough to include it in his 'best of' collection Painted Devils. Even geniuses fuck it up sometimes.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.60.153
Posted on Sunday, September 01, 2013 - 01:36 pm:   

Currently reading Honoré de Balzac's 'weird' collection L'elixir de longue vie. Also L'illustre écrivain, by forgotten 'scandal author' Roger Peyrefitte.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Monday, September 02, 2013 - 12:48 am:   

I've read a number of stories by Aickman, Joel, over the (many many) years, and always highly admired him—even when he's at his most obscure. I enjoyed "Growing Boys," looked at as a straight horror story, though it isn't typical of what I've read by him; I must have missed the political elements in it. Is it his finest? No, but it's not bad.

Someday soon I'll go back, too, and give LIgotti more of a chance than I have.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, September 02, 2013 - 01:33 pm:   

On the surface Ligotti's 'My Work Is Not Yet Done' (2002) is a straight story of elaborately horrific revenge on a clique of office bastards by the quiet, intellectual bloke they loved to pick on and ostracise but the author's technique in telling this oft-told tale is a million miles away from the sadistic delights of 'The Pan Books Of Horror' or, say, Christopher Fowler's 'Psychoville' (1995). It's the internalised psychological depth of the narration and the surreal moments of nightmare reality intruding on the everyday that make this tale of disillusionment, victimisation, madness and bloody/supernatural/imagined(???) revenge so damn potent and weirdly disturbing. Great stuff!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.23
Posted on Monday, September 02, 2013 - 01:53 pm:   

And it is a single novel featuring the same characters throughout its three distinct Parts.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, September 02, 2013 - 04:05 pm:   

Just one staggering yet throwaway example of Ligotti's prose style and his insidiously disturbing imagination:


"'It's good. Tastes like the real thing,' I said, and this time I was telling the truth.

'Nothing hard about making a good cup of coffee,' Lillian said to this customer as she lit up another cigarette.

And that statement provided something of an answer to my questions about Lillian and her business. Because the coffee at the Metro Diner didn't have to be as good as it was, nor did the excellent food served there have to be so carefully prepared or so reasonably priced. That was not how we did things where I happened to work. The company that employed me strived only to serve up the cheapest fare that its customers would tolerate, churn it out as fast as possible, and charge as much as they could get away with. If it were possible to do so, the company would sell what all businesses of its kind dream about selling, creating that which all our efforts were tacitly supposed to achieve: the ultimate product - Nothing. And for this product they would command the ultimate price - Everything.

This market strategy would then go on until one day, among the world-wide ruins of derelict factories and warehouses and office buildings, there stood only a single, shining, windowless structure with no entrance and no exit. Inside would be - will be - only a dense network of computers calculating profits. Outside will be tribes of savage vagrants with no comprehension of the nature or purpose of the shining, windowless structure. Perhaps they will worship it as a god. Perhaps they will try to destroy it, their primitive armoury proving wholly ineffectual against the smooth and impervious walls of the structure, upon which not even a scratch can be inflicted.

I spent most of my days in a world devoted to turning this fable into a reality, I knew that. I also knew that the Metro Diner did not exist in that world, that somehow it was located in another place altogether, a zone where the daylight really had been saved, even if it was fast running out. That was why I liked Lillian; that was why I lived in the apartment above her diner. And that, alas, was why I began dreaming about The Doctor who reached with his puffy, four-fingered gloves into the cages and tanks of animals, of living merchandise, in a dimestore pet shop.

Monday morning I awoke before dawn, shaking from the effects of another of these dreams."


Anyone who doesn't think that an example of great Horror Literature, impossibly meshing Lovecraft with Ballard, needs their head examined, imho.

Deeply, deeply unsettling...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 212.219.63.206
Posted on Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - 11:51 am:   

I agree, very unsettling. I will pursue this author. Thanks.

As for me, I've just finished John Travis's excellent comedy crime novel "The Designated Coconut". Witty, droll, original and sharp. highly recommended.

Now working my way into King's "Hearts in Atlantis". "Dandelion Wine" casts a long shadow over the oepning 100 pages of this novel. I am untterly intrigued by it.

Cheers
Terry
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.60.153
Posted on Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - 12:00 pm:   

Sorry, no. Read anything by Jack Cady, M. John Harrison, Jack Womack ( . . . ) to see what supreme style really is. I never thought a voracious reader like yourself could be so hung up on Ligotti. And to compare him to Ballard and Lovecraft is sheer blasphemy. That said, I haven't read all that much Ligotti apart from SOADD and a few stray stories in the amateur press.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.76
Posted on Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - 02:37 pm:   

Not "hung up", Hubert, but supremely impressed by my first experience of the author. I've just finished this brilliant short novel and cannot remember the last time I was so haunted and intrigued by a tentative introduction to a cult talent whose reputation goes before him - and made me nothing but suspicious. I needn't have worried.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - 04:52 pm:   

Now the "Three Tales Of Corporate Horror" bit makes sense. This book includes two further short stories, after the novel, entitled; "I Have A Special Plan For This World" and "The Nightmare Network". I'll be reading them as soon as I get home.

'My Work Is Not Yet Done' is a towering piece of horror fiction with a fantastic story to tell that boasts a beginning, middle and end that are as close to narrative perfection as I can recall. I'd put it on a par with the very best recent works in the genre I have read - 'Full Dark House' (2004), 'The Grin Of The Dark' (2007) & 'An Evil Guest' (2008) - to name but those instantly recognisable classics that immediately spring to mind.

Ligotti's vision is as bleak and soul shattering and irresistibly drawn to the darkness as anything I have read, irrespective of genre.

I think comparing it to superhero comics is stretching a point, Joel, but I think I know where you're coming from. This is a tale of a humble everyman who, after suffering intolerable victimisation and injustice, is unexpectedly presented with the perfect supernatural means of revenge and finds himself transformed into an all-conquering Angel of Death for the new millennium... or so he would have us believe. A really quite brilliant book!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - 05:22 pm:   

Okay, you've convinced me, Stevie, to not simply (and personally) write off Ligotti anymore. At least with this novel.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.30.204.231
Posted on Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - 09:15 am:   

Stevie, I think there's a deliberate and parodic echo of the 'origin stories' beloved of comics writers, but that doesn't make the book merely an offshoot of that genre. It just shows that, contrary to the impression some Ligotti enthusiasts give, his reading encompasses modern and popular elements.

To me, where Ligotti sometimes stalls is where he presents abstract philosophical arguments in flimsy fictional garb, as in about 10% of his stories – but they are precisely the stories that many of his fans consider most important.

The very best of Ligotti, I think, is three stories that he wrote in the 1990s: 'Teatro Grottesco', 'The Bungalow House' and 'The Clown Puppet'. They're all in his recent collection, Teatro Grottesco, along with some excellent examples of his satirical 'corporate horror' strand.

Hubert, I think the key to 'getting' Ligotti is reading past the dense prose to the underlying themes. If you have the time and inclination to revisit Songs of a Dead Dreamer, have another look at 'The Christmas Eves of Aunt Elise' and 'The Lost Art of Twilight' and think of the author as a young Italian-American to whom 'family' and 'faith' are themes associated with overwhelming fear combined with a need to belong. It's at that quite worldly level that Ligotti makes his impact, I think. Perhaps what is most special about him is his sense that the spiritual realm is as corrupt as the mundane realm.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - 11:39 am:   

There's a weirdly passionate despair coupled with a leavening and deliciously black sense of humour in what I have now read of Ligotti that makes his stories as satisfying as they are fascinating and disturbing.

The two short horror stories set in the Mephistophelian world of Big Business, that conclude this book, work as great modern echoes of the parables of Kafka, demanding to be reread as soon as one finishes them.

I very much like the guy's writing and want to dig deeper into his eerily "doomed romantic" world view.

But now to concentrate on finishing Knut Hamsun's 'The Wanderer'... a bleak yet beautiful existential epic not a million miles away from Ligotti's vision but existing in a universe all of its own.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - 01:23 pm:   

Ligotti has been overrated but only by people who've made absurd claims for him – he's a very good, original, serious writer of supernatural horror fiction, not the new Messiah.

Though to be honest the new Messiah would be overrated. But that goes without saying.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.37
Posted on Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - 01:50 pm:   

I don't feel able to judge Ligotti's true worth in the field after only one book but it was a startlingly effective introduction. The man would appear to have talent and originality to burn.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.30.204.128
Posted on Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - 10:34 pm:   

Indeed.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, September 05, 2013 - 12:00 pm:   

'The Wanderer' (1906-09) is the third book of Knut Hamsun's I have read in the last couple of years and my admiration for the man has only increased with each one.

Other authors before him and around the same time toyed with internalised psychological narratives but no one, not even Dostoevsky, had taken us so far inside the uncensored thoughts, dreams, fantasies, joys, terrors, ennui and rage of a character in as powerful and original a way as did this frighteningly talented Norwegian madman - for such I think he must certainly have been.

'Hunger' (1890) is the single most powerful "descent into madness" psychological horror novel I have read and the struggling student narrator, whose disintegrating mind we are at once repelled and fascinated by, is clearly Hamsun himself.

'Mysteries' (1892) is, on the surface, a brilliant reinvention of the classic plot of a "murder in a small town where everyone has secrets to hide" - as seen through the eyes of a deeply disturbed visitor to the town who becomes obsessed with a recent tragedy and the rumours that surround it. But really Johan Nagel is Hamsun again looking in upon the lives of the conservative small town community he loathes but cannot help but be attracted to and fascinated by... it is as much a tale of bleak soul destroying loneliness as his first incendiary novel, ending in equally shocking madness.

'The Wanderer' sees our weird anti-hero, Hamsun again, having thrown off the shackles of communal existence and become an itinerant wanderer, picking up small jobs here and there to survive but never allowing himself the luxury of wanting to belong. He finds himself eternally frustrated in his wish to be left alone by the lure of female affection and the need to communicate his thoughts and observations. It is a story as old as time but one that was never so damn affecting and hypnotically compelling until Hamsun nailed it, writing from his own fiercely individual experience.

These books are where the true psychological novel, as perfected in the 20th Century, really began. They are uniquely powerful masterclasses in fearless honesty!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.60.153
Posted on Thursday, September 05, 2013 - 09:01 pm:   

If you have the time and inclination to revisit have another look at 'The Christmas Eves of Aunt Elise' and 'The Lost Art of Twilight' and think of the author as a young Italian-American to whom 'family' and 'faith' are themes associated with overwhelming fear combined with a need to belong

As soon as I'm finished with Villiers de l'Isle Adam's Tribulat Bonhomet, I might just do that, Joel. The only Ligotti stories I ever really liked, are "Dr Locrian's Asylum", "The Spectacles in the Drawer" and "The Mystics of Muelenburg". I have never gone back to him after the SOADD period. So much to read, so little time . . .
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Friday, September 06, 2013 - 03:29 am:   

Not to be one of those annoyingly nit-picking, gnat-snatching, peanut-gallery douche-bags, Stevie, but... when you say, a brilliant reinvention of the classic plot of a "murder in a small town where everyone has secrets to hide", and the book is published in 1892... it seems to me—I mean, wasn't that "classic plot" not yet classic? Didn't that only really become a sort of convention-slash-cliché in the 20th Century? So how could he re-invent it?

But I'm not absolutely sure about that, either.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Friday, September 06, 2013 - 08:32 am:   

Was not the late Victorian era the golden period of pulp murder mystery melodramas populated by all manner of eccentric detectives and larger than life fiendish villains?

'Mysteries' is a book that lures us in by the promise of such thrills and then turns into something else entirely - "something" that was then entirely new to fiction.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, September 09, 2013 - 03:18 pm:   

Finished 'The Wanderer' over the weekend and it was as oddly moving as the other two Knut Hamsun novels I've read (see above) but in a much gentler and more poignant way.

The story reads like the semi-autobiographical work of a fiercely Heinleinesque libertarian individualist (as am I) who can't help but let some deeply rooted psychological doubts and fears about his own inability to communicate with or even like his fellow man make him wonder and question his own worth and sanity. Yet, always, he refuses to give in to what society or the women he loves expect of him. Tis a lovely path and never more beautifully nor affectingly charted than by this great Norwegian writer. A man whose work, I am more convinced than ever, is of the same worth to the human psyche as is Dostoevsky's, Kafka's, Greene's or Golding's. A wonderful book!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, September 09, 2013 - 03:27 pm:   

And at lunchtime I started my latest Patricia Highsmith novel and I'm already several chapters in and as helplessly hooked as ever... even though nothing has happened bar the brilliantly detailed and subtly worrying depiction of a married couple living an idyllic life in the English countryside who somehow aren't quite right for each other. She is a giddy uncomplicated optimist, and English, and he is an increasingly frustrated American writer of crime fiction. The book is called 'A Suspension Of Mercy' and was first published in 1965. Already I can feel a deliciously devious classic on the way!

I love Patricia above all other writers. There is something about her unrelentingly dark and unpredictable yet utterly convincing and deceptively unsensational writing style coupled with everything I know about her as a person that has me hopelessly in thrall on an intellectual, emotional and spiritual level. Sigh...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.135.3.171
Posted on Monday, September 09, 2013 - 04:30 pm:   

Just finished a re-read of John Gordon's RIDE THE WIND, the sequel to the splendid THE GIANT UNDER THE SNOW.
Probably onto Nathan Ballingrud's NORTH AMERICAN LAKE MONSTERS next.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 11:27 am:   

Finished 'The Continental Op' and really enjoyed the last two stories, "The Main Death" and "The Farewell Murder", the first as an engrossing murder mystery with a neat twist, that shows our hero at his most uncharacteristically gallant when faced with the ruination of an adulterous wife, and the second as an entertaining variant on the "old dark house" horror theme so popular in cinema and theatre at the time. It was the most obviously Conan Doyle influenced story in the collection being a tale of elaborate revenge by an implacably psychotic ex-army man returned from overseas to wreak terrible revenge on the household of the man who ruined him years before. Great stuff!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 11:39 am:   

And at the weekend I picked up and I'm about to start 'The Complete Short Stories Of Graham Greene' (2005). Yes, you read that right, this magnificent volume includes every single short story the man ever wrote, including those previously uncollected tales!! 53 in all, spanning the 1920s to 1990s. I'm going to enjoy this...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 04:15 pm:   

So far 'A Suspension Of Mercy' (1965) is reminding me most of Highsmith's jet black comedy of manners, 'The Blunderer' (1954), and, rather surprisingly, Tom Sharpe's classic comedy of marital apocalypse, 'Wilt' (1976).

We have a "happily" married mismatched couple, one of whom is a bad tempered and frustrated writer of murder mysteries, who is suffering from writer's block, while his chirpily innocent but ever so irritating wife keeps telling him to cheer up and - "it'll all be alright in the end" - while privately starting to get a bit peed off herself.

Knowing Patricia I already feel sure that things will be very far from alright come the end of this book... especially as the husband is desperately in need of some inspiration for a really blood curdling new novel and there's a nosey old bag has just moved in next door.

Sounds like a stock set-up, doesn't it... but this is the Dark Mistress of confounding her ardent readers' most elaborate expectations!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 05:39 pm:   

Reading the Graham Greene stories in chrono order - which means I'm reading his first collection, 'Twenty-One Stories' (1954), in reverse order (if you get my drift).

Read the first four, so far, and, to my astonishment, three of them pass muster as bona-fide horror stories:

"The End Of The Party" (1929) - I was already familiar with this story from its inclusion in 'The 6th Fontana Book Of Great Horror Stories' and it's a classic shocker, dealing with childhood terrors of the dark, and boasts an already typically Greenian pay-off of high tragedy, that gets more heartbreaking and disturbing the more one thinks about it. As a first effort at short fiction it is remarkably good and not a little unsettling! Probably the best horror story about the uncanny bond between identical twins ever written.

"The Second Death" (1929) is another insidiously chilling psychological horror story, this time featuring a roguish "man of the world" facing the terrors of his death bed, having already experienced a near death experience during a boyhood illness, when he was actually pronounced dead and had what he always considered hallucinations of an eternal afterlife and half-glimpsed figures sitting in stern-eyed judgement. A similarly devil-may-care friend visits him and is unable to give succour. He leaves strangely troubled. The ending, featuring the friend, speaks volumes about how religious brainwashing gets under the skin and can unalterably destroy a pure personality. Perhaps the best use of the classically reported near-death-experience in horror fiction.

"Proof Positive" (1930) pleasantly amazed me with its blatantly supernatural harking back to Poe's "The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar" and is one of the great short and sweet horror tales, positing an attempt to prove the soul's survival of bodily death by a Psychical Research Institute. The ending is as poignant as it is genuinely shocking.

"I Spy" (1930) is an emotionally devastating vignette that features an eavesdropping young boy, who dreams of being a secret agent, unwittingly bearing witness to his hero worshipped father's ignominious downfall at the hands of the Law. His lack of understanding of what he has seen and heard makes the tale all the more heartbreaking.

That's four mini-masterpieces in a row. The man's unassuming genius is as blinding as his humanity!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 03:17 pm:   

'A Suspension Of Mercy' (1965) is turning into one of the best and darkly funniest books I have read about the dreaded writers block - and what it might take to reawaken the muse - that I can remember reading.

As well as 'The Blunderer' (1954) and 'Wilt' (1976), throw Donald E. Westlake's 'The Hook' (2000) into the mix as well.

I feel tempted to quote an extended passage of Patricia's deliciously seductive wit to show you all what I mean...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 04:34 pm:   

Here goes [husband to wife while driving home]:


"'I'm working on the damned novel. What do you think I'm doing?'

'You're working on the back part. Maybe it needs a plot all the way through. If you're going to work on it for a while, why not try putting some plot in all the way through?'

'And why not stick to your painting and let me do the writing?'

All right, but something's the matter with The Planners or it'd sell. Isn't there?' she asked, unable to stop herself now.

'Oh, for God's sake,' Sydney said, speeding up a little.

'Not too fast, Syd.'

'First it's a pep talk about the best of novels getting kicked around for years, then it's "something's the matter with it or it'd sell". What'm I supposed to believe? Or are you just trying to be nasty tonight?'

'Nasty? I'm throwing out a suggestion about plotting. You say you're so full of plotting - off paper.'

It hit home, and Sydney smiled with a grim appreciation. 'Yes,' he said emphatically. Yes, and sometimes he plotted the murders, the robbery, the blackmail of people he and Alicia knew, though the people themselves knew nothing about it. Alex had died five times at least in Sydney's imagination. Alicia twenty times. She had died in a burning car, in a wrecked car, in the woods throttled by person or persons unknown, died falling down the stairs at home, drowned in her bath, died falling out the upstairs window while trying to rescue a bird in the eaves drain, died from poisoning that would leave no trace. But the best way, for him, was her dying by a blow in the house, and he removed her somewhere in the car, buried her somewhere, then told everyone she had gone away for a few days, maybe to Brighton, maybe to London. Then Alicia wouldn't come back. The police wouldn't be able to find her. Sydney would admit to the police, to everyone, that their marriage hadn't been perfect lately, and that perhaps Alicia had wanted to run away from him and change her name, maybe even go to France on a false passport - but the last was sort of wild, France involving complications not in character with Alicia.

'Sydney!'

'What?'

'You went right past the house!'

'U'm.' Sydney braked and turned around.

Mrs Lilybanks house was a dark lump in the milky light of the half-moon, but to Sydney it did not seem blind. It seemed to be staring intently at their car as he drove it up the short driveway and into the shelter of their wooden garage. He'd have to plan his murder of Alicia more carefully and be far more cautious about removing the body because of Mrs Lilybanks's nearness, Sydney thought automatically and as impersonally as if he were thinking about the actions of a character in a story. Then in due time, he would get Alicia's income, which would be nice. He would silence her voice permanently, that voice forever sabotaging him. Sydney thought of his rewards in a detached manner, too - freedom and a little more money - as if they were coming to someone else.'"

Clever, funny and disturbing all at the same time - with absolutely nothing happening but what may or not be in the mind of the protagonist. Fact or fiction? It's up to Patricia to decide...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 05:14 pm:   

That reads very well, Stevie! I remember seeing this paperback used, and passing on buying it, unsure... but now I wish I. You just know something bad is coming, reading that, and it's going to be good.

Me, I'm reading for the first time, Thomas Disch's novella "The Brave Little Toaster" (1980); indeed, a fairy tale much more for adults (originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction). In a few pages, Disch creates incredible empathy and pathos for these fully-fleshed little appliances; and their plight, surely more resonant for those older than children. How much did Toy Story steal from this (or the cartoon movies that came later), I wonder? But then, "Toaster" itself is in a long tradition of such tales, I gather. Excellent stuff, from an author whose work is usually—at least, those pieces I'm familiar with—quite different from this!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, September 13, 2013 - 05:28 pm:   

He comes across like one of the more comically delusional characters in one of your novels, Ramsey. Or like the horror author equivalent of Alan Partridge.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.108.96
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2013 - 10:27 am:   

I finished Jasmine Nights and it truly is a delightful little book. The last chapter is among the best bits of writing I've read by Somtow. Well worth reading. I'm not sure if it has taken over as his best book. I think his genre stuff still has the edge. It certainly shows his versatility as a writer though.

Next up is Venus in Copper by Lindsey davis. It appears to be a Carl Hiaasen style comic crime caper set in ancient Rome. The first few chapters promise a nice easy read in any case.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 212.219.63.206
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2013 - 12:08 pm:   

Craig

Have you read "The Genocides" by Thomas Disch? It's a about 40 years since I did but it is an amazing slice of slipstream and a truly original earth invasion novel.

I've finished the first section of Stephen King's "Hearts in Atlantis" and have mixed feelings about it. It is a truly atmospheric, vivid work, succesfully evoking America as the 50s became the 60s.

As I said before, it reminded me a great deal of Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine". It was just that I felt the supernatural elelment actually weakened the story. It was fantastic while the strangeness was creeping in from the edges of the page but when the confrontation came it was disapointing and snatched something from the narrative.

Cheers

Terry
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, September 15, 2013 - 08:12 am:   

I've not read any of Disch's novels, Terry, but I've read a lot of his short stories. I even took the title to my own Master's thesis from one of his collections: Fun With Your New Head. I'll look for The Genocides.

Just read two great stories by Edward Bryant; one, "Strata" (1980); the other only found in this very obscure, all-original scifi anthology I picked up used, called alternities[sic.](1974); the story, "Cowboys, Indians." Not much at all happens in the former, but a whole lot of talking, and just a tiny bit of the "supernatural" (though the whole story keeps leading relentlessly up to it): despite that, the story's crisply lean, nicely effective, and resonates. In the latter story, you get a sort of... well, I guess "slipstream" is the best description, a darkly suspenseful and intense ride; the same goes for the results. This guy's another great writer, of whom, whatever by him I read, I really dig; but then I never bother to go out seeking more by him to read. He's about to be reassigned into that class, though, methinks.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.140.4
Posted on Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 10:39 pm:   

'A Suspension Of Mercy' (1965) is a joy to read. It has turned into a nightmarishly funny jet black farce of escalating disasters for the poor hero, Sydney Bartleby (the Scrivener), as circumstances conspire to turn him into a heinous wife murderer... and more. Talk about digging yourself into an ever deeper hole! Patricia really did have it all as a writer and I'm more convinced than ever that this book must have served as the inspiration for Tom Sharpe's hilarious 'Wilt' (1976). I really hope things work out okay for the guy but it isn't looking likely. She couldn't half be a cruel creator.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Friday, September 20, 2013 - 04:00 pm:   

Me, I've gone back to a standard classic antho of the field: Dark Forces (1980). I'm skipping the ones I know too well, and reading all the ones I skipped the first time around, or rereading others that might (to me) feel like fresh experiences again. This round, the stories by Wilson, Bloch, Gorey, Bradbury, the Mathesons, Bryant, and Etchison are all good, but just good; and those by Aickman ("Mark Ingstre: The Customer's Tale") and Wellman ("Owls Hoot in the Daytime"), better than good.

The lengthier ones loom, including King's "The Mist," which I've long bypassed: I guess if I'm gonna trash that movie made based upon it so much, I really should be familiar with the source material.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.212.231.70
Posted on Friday, September 20, 2013 - 07:46 pm:   

What's the Bradbury story?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Saturday, September 21, 2013 - 12:07 am:   

"A Touch of Petulance." Not a bad story by any means... but not one of his best.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.30.204.55
Posted on Sunday, September 22, 2013 - 12:03 am:   

Don't like the Aickman story that much – I think it was his attempt to parody what he saw as commercial horror fiction. "You want horror? OK, I'll give you horror." Cue ridiculous grand guignol and a hapless mother-fixated protagonist. Not so much a weak story as a deliberately tacky one.

The Bryant, Wagner, Etchison, Sturgeon and Campbell stories are outstanding I think, with Ramsey on sensational form. Lots of good stuff there.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, September 22, 2013 - 04:12 am:   

Indeed, Joel, Ramsey's "The Brood" is one of my favorites—I've read it five times I'm sure over the years!

Wagner's "Where The Summer Ends" is very good; but then, take the collection where it reappears, In A Lonely Place: every other one of Wagner's stories there, probably outshines this one. The same goes for Etchison, I think he's done much finer....

I had the luck of reading two Bryant stories just previous to this one; and so the accident of comparison puts "Dark Angel" third on that list. Oddly, the Clifford D. Simak tale here, "The Whistling Well," which I'm putting in the better-than-good category, actually reads more like Bryant than Bryant's did: it takes its time, slowly building in atmosphere (its whole arc is such atmosphere), eerily and unexpectedly. Very nicely done.

Aickman's certainly had a comedic vein running through it, beginning to end. But I found it effective: more a vignette or unreliably-related fragment, that for all its unintentional humor (i.e., as far as the narrator was concerned), leaves a lingering disquiet. It's also not characteristically (maddeningly!) ambiguous—for that alone!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Sunday, September 22, 2013 - 04:36 pm:   

Into the final mad chapters of 'A Suspension Of Mercy' and I really haven't a clue where she's headed with this one or who is going to come out on top. The suspense is electric and yet so little has actually happened. It's all in the protagonist's mind as he curls himself into a tighter and tighter ball against the insane set of circumstances and suspicions that beset him. A work of startling originality and no little genius, imo. I've found it one of her most unpredictable and entertaining novels... yet again! Perhaps the best thriller about the disorienting loneliness, doubts and frustrations of the "writer's life" that I have read.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, September 22, 2013 - 07:04 pm:   

Russell Kirk's "The Peculiar Demesne" started off pretty poorly... but it grew on me, and I wondered if it was due to the skill of the writer, or just the story being told. It's basically pulp horror in a familiar setting, with two 1st Person accounts: one, the narrator's; the other the main character's, who's spinning a "ghost story" of sorts, on Christmas Eve. The first 1st's is clumsily written and overwrought and filled with clichés... but is that Kirk's intention: to contrast this character's lack of skill, with the masterful story-weaving of the second? Perhaps, except that the second 1st's isn't terribly much better in the writing itself (imho), even if the story being told—though familiar—is thoroughly engrossing, with shades of the Hannibal Lecter dynamic, two years before he himself appeared in print (Red Dragon, 1981). Never been a great fan of Kirk's... but he does overall weave a fascinating spell here.

I've skipped all the others herein for being overly familiar with them—all that remains are the two lengthiest, Klein's "Children of the Kingdom" (too long since I last read that), and King's "The Mist." And those two alone take up 1/3 of this massive anthology!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 - 11:51 am:   

Finished ASOM and the ending really is memorably chilling. Patricia had me hopelessly rooting for a cold blooded killer and breathless with suspense hoping he'd get away with it... right up until the very last paragraph. It was only afterward, during the heady comedown, that I was struck by how ruthlessly manipulated my moral compass had been. I never really liked Tom Ripley, feeling only a kind of fascinated admiration for his nefarious skills, but Sydney Bartleby won me over completely. Another effortless classic of the macabre from the Dark Queen of the subversive psychological thriller.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 - 12:24 pm:   

Last night I decided it was time for a long overdue hit of Robert A. Heinlein... my favourite genre author (yes, it's official).

So I started 'Friday' (1982) and after only two chapters I'm helplessly hooked and not a little shocked by what has already happened. This is a seriously meaty adult thriller written with all the pace and verve of his early classics.

The first chapter introduces us to the feisty first person narrator, Friday. She is some kind of far future super-spy equipped with all manner of ingenious gadgets, deadly weapons and razor sharp combat/survival skills as well as being able to change her appearance at will. We first meet her mopping up her latest assignment in Nairobi - the action is breathlessly exciting right from the opening sentence - and, once again, astounded me with the effortless, almost subliminal, economy of Bob's character and world creating by just throwing the reader into the narrator's mind without any extrapolation. Within a few pages we already feel comfortable in her skin and not at all phased by the wondrous world she inhabits.

This exhilirating first chapter has all the wit and action of the opening sequence of a James Bond movie and made me fall in love with the character almost instantly. Think Barbarella meets Bond via Philip K. Dick and you're halfway there.

But then the second chapter is pure Tarantino and reminded me forcibly of his ability to shock and entertain with offensively in-your-face subject matter done with beautifully outrageous style and malicious humour. Having polished off another pulse pounding assignment Friday returns with her guard down to a safe house run by one of her oldest and most trustest comrades... who brutally betrays her. This leads on to the single most harrowing sequence I have yet read by Heinlein as she is viciously tortured, bound with duct tape and gang raped by four psychotic thugs before being left for dead.

We still have no idea what organisation she is working for or who are the good guys or bad guys on this future Earth but, alone and unable to trust anyone, Friday determines to rebuild herself, discover the truth and exact bloody revenge on all those who wronged her.

Pure Hollywood put done with more style, verve, panache and balls than any other sci-fi writer I have read. This already has pure class written all over it and why it has never been filmed - it was certainly influential enough!! - is a baffling mystery for the ages. Black Mamba eat your heart out!! Tarantino, please film.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 - 01:00 pm:   

What made the rape sequence so harrowing to read is how Friday tells us exactly what she is feeling, thinking and planning - being a born survivor - while it is going on. She dehumanises each of the four rapists by giving them derogatory nicknames in her mind and visualising what she will do to them once free, all the while pretending to one of them that she enjoys his attentions more than the others, thus setting up conflict within the ranks of her attackers and giving her at least a fighting chance of surviving the ordeal, while also mentally filing every inadvertently dropped clue she overhears. Yet all the time her vulnerability, pain and disgust are graphically depicted. This female Bond's professionalism is terrifying!! I think I'm falling in love with Friday Jones and can't wait to continue her adventures at lunchtime.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.118.72.12
Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 - 03:14 pm:   

Night Frost by R.D. Wingfield. I've always been fond of the tv series and wondered what the books were like. A good read, I'm amazed how closely David Jason's Jack Frost resembles the Wingfield character.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 - 11:04 pm:   

Back to Graham Greene. The next three stories were:

"A Day Saved" (1935) - This is another chilling little existential horror story featuring a disturbingly calm narrator who randomly selects someone from the crowd to follow with the intention of destroying and replacing him. Again the influence of Poe is all over the story.

"Jubilee" (1936) - A beautifully sad little vignette that tells of a humbling encounter between a fussy conservative old gentleman and the cheery prostitute, bursting with life and exuberance, he is embarrassed to run into during the Jubilee celebrations. I am glad to say she comes out on top!

"Brother" (1936) - A weirdly prescient short sci-fi story set in a then near future Paris that has been invaded and occupied by machine gun wielding communist forces. The only thing he got wrong was the ideology!

As with my recent reading of the complete short stories of Stanley Ellin the beauty of this volume is the not knowing what to expect next as each little jewel of literary perfection unfolds.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 - 11:28 pm:   

At the end of Chapter 4 Heinlein calmly drops a bombshell about the nature of Friday Jones and the reason for her superhuman skills and icy disregard for her own skin or the lives she has to take in the execution of her "duty". Sex plays a big part in this book and she doesn't much care who or what she has to shag either! But yet... there is a beguiling innocence and vulnerability about the character, a lack of self confidence even, that can't help but make the reader warm to her. She's only really in control when she's killing or fucking and even then... the strings are all too visible.

We've also now been introduced to the organisation that controls her and I don't think I like them or their leader - The Boss - very much. This one already has more twists and double crosses than a John Le Carre novel and I'm only 5 chapters into its brick-like length! Small wonder that Harlan Ellison compares it in the ecstatic blurb to the mutant off-spring of Le Carre and Le Guin! It's already dizzyingly wonderful and rapidly turning into one of his best and most unpredictable novels!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:30 am:   

I'm flying through 'Friday'. This book has everything! Sex, violence, intrigue, hair-raising action, more plot than you could shake a big stick at and one of the most fascinating first person narrators I have encoutered in popular fiction - frequently scary, often endearing, always awesome - and oh so mixed up. Add to all that a perfectly realised future world and technology, a completely original and mind-bogglingly complex political structure, that reveals its power layers like a slowly peeled onion, and a new lifeform that has to be one of Heinlein's most original creations and we're talking stone cold A1 science fiction mega-classic that blurs the boundaries between pulp and high brow fiction with staggering aplomb. Yes, I agree, Harlan - "Shout the news! Heinlein is [was] back and he's better than ever!" Some books you just don't want to end and at barely a sixth of the way through that makes me one happy reader!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:55 am:   

Bob lures us in with the promise of a classically structured betrayal and revenge thriller with a superhuman female protagonist dealing death and seduction then pulls the rug from under us by going deeper into the character's, how shall I put it, backstory and neuroses about her origins than any pulp author would ever have dreamed possible. The action tears along but the character of Friday Jones and her very nature, and the mysteries surrounding it, are the real meat of this wonderful novel. It reminds me in some ways of 'Angel Heart'. Be careful how deep you dig, honey!

Comparisons to 'Kill Bill', and all those other superwoman thrillers from 'Tomb Raider' to 'SALT', etc, only scratch the surface of the joys of this book!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 11:35 am:   

How does he do it? While delivering a relentlessly pulse-pounding all action adventure Heinlein somehow makes us aware of all the deepest inner neuroses, opinions and prejudices of his lead character and all the subtle political and social nuances of the far future world she inhabits - with forensic attention to detail and plausibility. We absorb so much information, while hopelessly enjoying the action, that one is constantly amazed at how effortlessly the aurthor has made us feel comfortable in this utterly alien world. That's what makes Bob the greatest popular genre author of the last century, imho. He delivers everything we crave from a great story time and time again! In that regard he beats Stephen King hands down and was, if anything, even more prolific! What a guy!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.57.37
Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 09:07 pm:   

Next up: The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley, whose "A Visitor from Down Under" I've always been fond of.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.249
Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 09:18 pm:   

Always wanted to read that novel and love the film, Hubert. Hartley was one of the great short horror story writers. He always delivered.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.249
Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 10:06 pm:   

What a mind Bob Heinlein had. I am so in awe of the man's talent and intellect and sheer "fuck you" balls (I'm going to write what I want to write and fuck the consequences - I wonder what anti-stress tablets his publishers were on?) that I'm completely at a loss how to articulate it!

If Heinlein had been a musician he would have been Frank Zappa. I guess that's why I love him.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.249
Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 10:53 pm:   

Christ! Talk about getting better with age like a fine wine! The two best Heinlein novels I have read were both written in his last great spurt of creativity in the 1980s! Considering how good he was from the very first time he put pen to paper this must represent some sort of unquantifiable genius! Now a quarter through 'Friday' and I'm already hopelessly in love with the book. It's strengths are myriad and then some. Lord how he sucked me in with the promise of a straightforward exciting narrative, delivered it, and exceeded all my most stringent literary expectations at the same time! To think of him sitting at his desk writing this impossibly passionate novel at his age has defined a new kind of humility in my soul. God bless you, man, Wherever you are I know you're still making seismic waves!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.249
Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 11:16 pm:   

Oh God! I love Friday Jones like no other female character I have experienced. Read chapter 14 and I defy you not to understand. Sigh...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.249
Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 11:18 pm:   

And it's got nothing to do with sex! It's purely emotional. Impossibly emotional. You poor sweet loveable creature. And she is a creature... something the gods would have created had they only the sense.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.249
Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 11:25 pm:   

Jesus! This is the ultimate ode to womankind written by an intelligent, caring and appreciative man ever written! No wonder he dedicated it to Ginny.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.57.37
Posted on Friday, September 27, 2013 - 11:05 am:   

I have several Heinlein books in my library and haven't yet read a single one of them! My library has become chaotic to the point that I cannot tell offhand whether I actually own an item or not. Sometimes I surprise myself when browsing through my shelves.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, September 27, 2013 - 11:17 am:   

Last night I reread "The Basement Room" (1936) and found it even more emotionally powerful and chilling than the first time. This is easily the most effective short story Greene had written up to then. In its modest length he says more about love, hatred, betrayal and childhood innocence(?) than many a more vaunted novel. Its themes are epic, the characters unforgettable and the action as tragic as anything by Shakespeare. Anyone interested in literature and cinema who hasn't read it or seen the fantastic film adaptation, 'The Fallen Idol' (1948) by Carol Reed [it is every bit as great as 'Odd Man Out' (1947) and 'The Third Man' (1949)], needs to put that right! Even now I'm still debating who really betrayed who?

Also read, for the first time, "A Chance For Mr Lever" (1936), that channels the spirit of Conrad's 'Heart Of Darkness' (1899) quite brilliantly with its haunting tale of a pathetically ill-prepared English machinery salesman's hopeless trek into the Liberian jungle in search of a gold miner he desperately needs to sign a contract or he will be left financially ruined. Along the way he encounters frustration, horror, failure, salvation and hideous death... with a neat little sting in the tail.

I can sense Greene really warming up now as a consummate storyteller of genius!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, September 27, 2013 - 11:40 am:   

That's the way my book collection is now, Hubert. Up until the flood last year I had them all neatly shelved in alphabetic order, and taking up half the house. Now it's a jumble of randomly packed shelves and boxes that, I must admit, I have great fun dipping into. Thus fate decrees our reading tastes!

Halfway through 'Friday' now and it has turned into as much an impassioned satire on racial prejudice and a doomed love story as it is a riveting action/spy adventure and brilliant character study of one damn sexy, feisty woman!! I'm in love with her and the book...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, September 27, 2013 - 12:10 pm:   

**** SPOILERS ****

Basically, Firday Jones isn't human. She is an AP (Artificial Person), designed and created in a laboratory, by the Intelligence Organisation who control her, to be a goddess in human form - and officially designated "soulless" by the politico-religious heirarchy.

Everything about her is superhuman and she has been raised and trained with only one purpose: to do her job with maximum efficiency. That job involves using all her enhanced physical abilities, sexual prowess, computer-like intelligence and an array of weapons, gadgets and "toys" that would give James Bond wet dreams to carry out and succeed in her Mission... failure is not an option.

But under that terrifying exterior beats the heart of a woman and flows the blood of a human being. As she says herself, "My mother was a test tube and my father was a knife." Her status as less-than-human and devoid-of-soul sets her and her kind apart as merely "organic tools" with no rights and no expectation of ever "belonging" - the one thing Friday Jones craves most, even through her nightmarishly professional conditioning.

There's a great line when she asks if APs will ever have the vote and is answered by one of her "superiors" - "Dear God, woman, we all believe in democracy but one has to draw the line somewhere!"

She's beautiful, she's deadly, she's incredible in the sack (with men, women or others...) and she's emotionally fucked up on such a deep level she doesn't even realise it herself. But we do. This is a masterpiece!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, September 27, 2013 - 03:02 pm:   

I look at Bob Heinlein (fiercely prescient in-your-fucking-face science fiction that will brook no argument) and I look at Ramsey Campbell (unapologetic get-under-your-skin psychological horror dredged from his own mind and life experiences) and I wonder what loyal readers should expect from a writer they love? Nothing less than delivery on all the promise that made them great in the first place. And if they are lucky enough to find a writer who is able to do that over a lengthy lifeetime - as Dickens did - then they are blessed indeed.

That is why one is my favourite genre author of all time and the other is my favourite living genre author. Anyone who wants me to explain more need just ask and I will give countless examples.

Discuss?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, September 30, 2013 - 12:31 pm:   

Three quarters through 'Friday' now and I can feel myself filling up at the thought of finishing this great novel and not having her in my life anymore. Sigh...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.30.199.24
Posted on Monday, September 30, 2013 - 01:01 pm:   

You get some great writers who go on developing and exploring new avenues for several decades, like the two you refer to, Stevie. You get others whose talent blooms only briefly, either because their lives go in other directions or because their lives end prematurely – Robert E. Howard being a notable example. It's widely believed that very few writers (or musicians) have more than a decade of being at their best. However, that's by no means a fixed law...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.59.51
Posted on Monday, September 30, 2013 - 01:26 pm:   

Around page 200 of The Go-Between. A magnificent book. It helps if you love the Victorian age, as I do. Set in Bradham Hall (based on Bradenham Hall in Norfolk, the birthplace of Rider Haggard), the reader is immersed in a closed world of crinolines, wild gardens, crocket lawns, high teas and well bred well-being. Hartley's command of the English language is exquisite. After this I plan to reread the Arkham tome The Travelling Grave.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.212.231.145
Posted on Monday, September 30, 2013 - 04:03 pm:   

I'm now 50 pages into the new Gaiman book - The Ocean at the End of the Lane. This may well be the best written book he's done so far. Absolutely fantastic stuff. More details later.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, September 30, 2013 - 04:15 pm:   

Anyone here know the "cat scene" in 'The Forever War'? Well Heinlein matched it. Here are just two quotes that speak volumes about why I love the man's writing and this book. Remember it's Friday Jones talking:



"I asked Brian about the children - and was told bluntly that they were none of my business. He then said that he was quite busy and must switch off, but I held him for one more question: what was done with the cats?

He looked about to explode. 'Marjorie [not her real name], are you utterly heartless? When your acts have caused so much pain, so much real tragedy, you want to know about the cats?'

I restrained my answer. 'I do want to know, Brian.'

'I think they were sent to the SPCA. Or it might have been to the medical school. Goodbye! Please do not call me again.'

'The medical school - ' Mister Underfoot tied to a surgical table while a medical student took him apart with a knife? I am not a vegetarian and I am not going to argue against the use of animals in science and in teaching. But if it must be done, dear God, if there is One anywhere, don't let it be done to animals who have been brought up to think they are people!

SPCA or medical school, Mister Underfoot and the younger cats were almost certainly dead. Nevertheless, if SBs had been running, I would have risked going back to British Canada to catch the next trajectory for New Zealand in the forlorn hope of saving my old friend. But without modern transportation Auckland was farther away than Luna City. Not even a forlorn hope -

I dug deep into mind-control training and put matters I could not help out of my mind -

- and found that Mister Underfoot was still brushing against my leg."



Just one of the myriad reasons I love her so.



And these astonishingly prescient paragraphs are why I love Bob so. This was written in 1982:

"There was no reason for any of us to be bored as we had full individual terminal service. People are so used to the computer net today that it is easy to forget what a window to the world it can be - and I include myself [nice one, Bob]. One can grow so canalized in using a terminal only in certain ways - paying bills, making telephonic calls, listening to news bulletins - that one can neglect its richer uses. If a subscriber is willing to pay for the service, almost anything can be done at a terminal that can be done out of bed.

Live music? I could punch in a concert going on live in Berkeley this evening but a concert given ten years ago in London, its conductor long dead, is just as 'live', just as immediate, as any listed on today's program. Electrons don't care. Once data of any sort got into the net, time is frozen. All that is necessary is to remember all the endless riches of the past are available any time you punch for them.

Boss sent me to a school at a computer terminal and I had far richer opportunities than any enjoyed by a student at Oxford or the Sorbonne or Heidelberg in any earlier year."



I think Bob would have approved of the Internet and I know he positively loved cats.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Tuesday, October 01, 2013 - 12:52 am:   

What makes this novel so great as an adventure story is that the gloriously sexy heroine is stranded alone in a world of technological miracles (of which she is one) and she has no one to trust and no one to love. What is a machine when it's purpose has been denied it? An uncontrollable force of nature. God help them all...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Tuesday, October 01, 2013 - 01:02 am:   

Its ffs!!!!

But to think of her as an It!

They've thought of everything to make her a non-person. Stripped her of every vestige of belonging to the technological nightmare world she inhabits (they even stopped her credit card and killed her cat!) until there is nothing left but her own body, her mind and her abilities (that they ruthlessly drummed into her from "conception") to pay them back!! Go, girl, go!!!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Tuesday, October 01, 2013 - 01:19 am:   

There's a great scene in this book where Friday, at her lowest ebb, picks up a man in a bar with nothing more in mind than a warm body to snuggle up to because he had done her an innocent favour and seemed nice but as a result she runs afoul of the Law for being a "streetwalker". She's killed cops in the line of duty before but this time... well, just read it.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.55.140
Posted on Tuesday, October 01, 2013 - 11:58 am:   

The Travelling Grave. After the grandeur of The Go-Between, Hartley's weird tales come across as barrel scrapings. The final paragraph of the novel contains a twist I hadn't expected, which puts the outcome of the drama in an unforeseen, if entirely logical, perspective. I must definitely seek out Hartley's other books.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.56.165
Posted on Wednesday, October 02, 2013 - 12:32 pm:   

I stand corrected. "The Cotillon" is a great story, somewhat in the M. R. James vein. Some of Hartley's stories are a trifle obscure, however: I'm not exactly sure what happens in "A Change of Ownership", and "Three, or Four, For Dinner" is great fun but ultimately a bit pointless.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, October 03, 2013 - 11:43 am:   

Time for another Graham Greene recap. These stories are effortlessly great and remarkably varied:

"The Innocent" (1937) - Another emotionally powerful little character vignette that sees a successful man of the city bringing a girl, casually picked up in a bar, to the little country village he grew up in for a dirty weekend. It's his first time going back since childhood and things don't quite go according to plan...

"A Drive In The Country" (1937) - Another powerfully unsettling psychological chiller that reads like a kind of rough draft of his first great masterpiece, 'Brighton Rock' (1938). It involves a pair of young lovers running away from home, she with dreams of a new romantic life in store, and he with something infinitely more sinister in mind. We see here Pinkie and Rose in embryonic form but the way things pan out couldn't be any more different from the novel.

"Across The Bridge" (1938) - A hauntingly ambiguous crime thriller involving the hunt for an infamous criminal, Calloway, who has fled across the border to Mexico and is followed by two plain clothes US detectives. Calloway's one mistake was in bringing his dog along but don't expect anything sentimental from this tale. One that demands re-reading as the lead character could either be an irredeemable monster or all too painfully human, depending on how one interprets what the narrator - an uninvolved casual observer - tells us he has seen. It was successfully filmed by Ken Annakin in 1957 with Rod Steiger as Calloway - yet another classic film noir from the mind of Graham Greene.

"A Little Place Off The Edgware Road" (1939) - Justly famous this is one of the most genuinely terrifying ghost stories ever written, imho. It reads remarkably like a modern Ramsey Campbell horror story - having all the psychological intensity and sense of grimy urban decay and being set in an old flea-pit cinema that harbours something hideous in the dark. The tale is also remarkably gruesome for its time, packs a hell of a shock ending and can be read in three possible ways: the death obsessed protagonist could either have encountered a horribly tangible ghost, the dying victim of a vicious attack or the whole thing could have been a figment of his imagination. Read it and decide...

"The Case For The Defence" (1939) - This is an interesting little moral fable in the form of a short and sweet courtroom drama. A man stands accused of murder and it is up to his defence lawyer to prove that the one eye-witness cannot possibly be certain it was he she saw fleeing the scene covered in blood. It appears slight with a gimmicky twist on first reading - until one thinks about it. The resonance is all in the narrator's final question.


The following three stories are hilarious little wartime morale lifters that show Greene was as consummate a comic writer as he was any other style or genre:

"Alas, Poor Maling" (1940) - A timid clerk with a rather weird and socially embarrassing stomach complaint, that has to be read to be believed, unintentionally brings about the just downfall of the crooked firm he works for during a London air raid. Who'd have thought the arch-tragedian could have such a silly sense of humour!

"Men At Work" (1940) - A dryly comic satirical piece that takes the piss out of various "professionals" from the intelligentsia who sit about talking and boasting of what they've done for the war effort while in reality all they're producing is hot air. This must have went down a treat with his working class readers.

"Greek Meets Greek" (1941) - A wonderful comic crime caper featuring two renowned con artists unwittingly fleecing each other as they attempt to make a profit from wartime circumstances. Genuinely very funny - this would have made a great Ealing comedy!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, October 03, 2013 - 12:05 pm:   

Nearly finished 'Friday' and I'm finding myself wanting to drag out every remaining chapter. Things have got very emotional in the story and I can't see it ending well for her... gloriously, but not well.

This is one of the great dystopian sci-fi novels and one of the most pessimistic works Heinlein ever wrote. His vision of a far future Earth in terminal decay, with the once mighty United States degenerated into a sorry assemblage of warring Balkanised states, is as powerful as it is convincing. The only way out would seem to be the Stars - but would they accept our contagion? Earth is done! Get out while you still can! That's the scarily prescient message of this great book.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, October 07, 2013 - 11:17 am:   

Finished 'Friday' (1982) over the weekend with a heavy heart. The suspense in the final chapters is electric and included one of the most ingenious twists Heinlein ever came up with - explaining Friday's fall from grace at the start of the novel and a lot of the traumatic events that dogged her through this epic adventure. Bob's willful courting of controversy in the social predictions he makes in this book are brave, shocking and utterly convincing. I found this a by turns morally uplifting and challenging work but always gripping, unpredictable and thoroughly entertaining. Friday Jones is the greatest female character I have encoutered in genre literature. I bonded with her completely and will miss her terribly. I ask you... what more can a reader expect of an author? This is now my second favourite Heinlein novel after 'Job : A Comedy Of Justice' (1984).

Now starting 'The Jewel Of Seven Stars' (1903) by Bram Stoker for the first time.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, October 07, 2013 - 11:28 am:   

Bugger! What's all this about two different endings to the novel?! My copy is a 70s paperback edition so I fear it may not include the original, apparently controversial, ending - that Stoker was forced to change after initial publication due to its bleak and gruesome nature.

If this isn't the original ending I may have to change my reading plans until I can get the full original text. Can anyone elucidate?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, October 07, 2013 - 02:45 pm:   

Read the next three Graham Greene tales over the weekend:

"A Hint Of An Explanation" (1948) - A fascinating, possibly unique, Catholic theological horror story that is insidiously creepy and highly disturbing for what it implies. This tells of a 10 year old altar boy in a small, predominantly Catholic, English country village who is seduced and corrupted by a sinister old man called Blacker... who is shunned by the community and lures the boy into his home with the promise of playing with his elaborate train set in the attic. Nothing explicit is spelled out but the boy's shame and enforced secrecy is palpably unsettling. Having got the boy in his power, for devilish reasons of his own, the old man threatens him with "bleeding", while wielding a terrifying cut-throat razor and a "special key" that will open any door locked against him, and forces the poor child to commit the unforgiveable sin of stealing a consecrated Communion wafer while serving at Catholic mass. The raw terror in the story, as the boy battles with his fear of the razor and the unimaginable horror of committing such a crime, is amongst the most potent things Greene ever wrote, imho. The satanic image of Blacker lurking in the shadows beneath the boy's bedroom window as he awaits delivery of the Host sent shivers down my spine and the final shocking twist, as his true identity is revealed, makes the story remarkably topical given all the recent revelations within the Catholic Church. An indescribably haunting mini-masterpiece of pure soul terror.

"The Blue Film" (1954) - A blackly comic and sexually frank tale of a bored middle-aged married couple trying to inject some spice into their jaded sex life by watching a blue movie together. They both get rather more than they bargained for and while the story is excruciatingly funny, in a socially embarrassing "Larry David" kind of way, the ending leaves one haunted with a strange air of tragedy.

"Special Duties" (1954) - A sad little tale of office politics and secretarial infidelity in which the balance of power between boss and underling is cleverly turned on its head, leaving the woman on top... for a time. It's not what you're thinking! A gently amusing and painfully poignant "battle of the sexes" tale that, like 'The End Of The Affair' (1951), mixes sex with Catholicism to deliciously subversive effect.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Monday, October 07, 2013 - 04:53 pm:   

I will have to get more into Heinlein at some point, Stevie. I've only read a tiny amount of his output, including just the other day his short-story "The Green Hills of Earth" (1947), and I've uniformly enjoyed that tiny amount.

But it's October, so the mind turns to thoughts of horror (yeah, like it doesn't anyway!). I'm hesitating between King's "Mist," or the rest of the first of his "Gunslinger" series, the collection of original stories from the 1970s. Maybe the rest of Klein's collection, Dark Gods, or Grant's Nightmare Seasons, or Wellman's John the Balladeer. Or maybe a novel... Barker's The Damnation Game, Ramsey's The Parasite again, Morrell's The Totem, maybe one of Matheson's... something older, something more recent... decisions, decisions....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 212.219.63.206
Posted on Monday, October 07, 2013 - 05:16 pm:   

"The Damnation Game", definitely!

Regards
Terry
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, October 08, 2013 - 10:55 am:   

I've started into 'The Jewel Of Seven Stars' anyway and I'm thoroughly enjoying it so far. Apparently only the ending was changed to make it "happier" at a time when the public weren't as used to the disturbing joys of a bleak denouement. I'm a quarter through already and it's a right ripping locked room mystery yarn in the Sherlock Holmes tradition... so far.

An eminent but reclusive Egyptologist is found horribly attacked in an apparent murder attempt while locked in his bedroom and, despite all efforts to protect him, is attacked again by an invisible assailant on each subsequent night. The creeping sense of a nuts-and-bolts police investigation slowly giving way to contemplation of supernatural diabolism is brilliantly conveyed and completely gripping.

I've seen this story filmed twice; 'Blood From The Mummy's Tomb' (1971) & 'The Awakening' (1980), but none of that chimes with what I've read so far. Stoker was a master of creating atmosphere and building suspense.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, October 08, 2013 - 11:02 am:   

And I agree with Terry, Craig. If you haven't read 'The Damnation Game' then do so asap!! It's still the finest pure horror statement of Clive Barker's career and one of my Top 20 (or so) horror novels of all time. Although 'Sacrament' (1996) is a very, very close second - and probably his most personal novel to date.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, October 08, 2013 - 12:07 pm:   

Back to Graham Greene:

Finished his first collection, 'Twenty-One Stories' (1954), with the classic tale, "The Destructors" (1954), as significantly referred to in the film 'Donnie Darko' (2001).

This is a kind of return to the bleak and cruel world of 'Brighton Rock' (1938) as it details a motley gang of mischievous London teenagers falling under the spell of a 15 year old proto-psychopath, called Trevor, or "T" - as he prefers to be known. Under his magnetic guidance they graduate from beaking off school and hopping free bus journeys round the city to the systematic destruction of a poor old man who lives alone in their neighbourhood and who gains their unrelenting enmity by being weak and helpless. Nothing ever changes it would seem...

While "Old Misery" is away one weekend the boys break into his house - a proud survivor of the blitz - and, starting with his most personal effects, set about destroying everything (and I mean everything) they can get their hands on. Greene remains entirely neutral, morally ambiguous even, as he relates their malicious adventure and the effect on the old man when he returns home, leaving us readers to judge the message for ourselves...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, October 08, 2013 - 01:05 pm:   

Just started re-reading Greene's great surrealist novella, 'Under The Garden' (1963). It is without doubt the single weirdest thing he ever wrote. A kind of unrelentingly bleak and painfully poignant adult version of 'Alice In Wonderland' in which a terminally ill protagonist relives the weird subterranean adventure of his youth that ended all pretence of childhood innocence. It's completely barking, overflowing with nightmare Freudian & Jungian symbolism and, yet again with Greene, indescribably haunting and enigmatic. Only read it for the first time a couple of years ago and I'm determined to crack it this time...

Apparently the crazy world of this story pops up in Alan Moore's 'The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen'!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, October 08, 2013 - 03:35 pm:   

Halfway through 'The Jewel Of Seven Stars' now and it's one of the great gothic horror stories. The drip-drip of subtly disturbing details and masterly unfolding of the mystery is a joy to read. I love the way the three principal investigators; the lawyer narrator, the detective and the doctor, all approach the confounding circumstances with pure logic and all the experience of their professions. I almost want to believe their increasingly desperate explanations myself while the accumulating strangeness of the case will brook no argument.

This is Bram Stoker emulating the literary form of Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous creation and having great fun playing with the expectations of his characters and of his readers.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, October 08, 2013 - 03:37 pm:   

The book is also astonishingly Lovecraftian in form and content. The horror of unseen forces beyond our ken has rarely been so expertly conveyed!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, October 08, 2013 - 03:49 pm:   

As for 'Under The Garden'... the central character is a frustrated writer who always dreamt of recapturing the enthusiastic storytelling flow of creativity of his "innocently" ebullient youth and thereby, perhaps, hangs the tale?

Are the hideous creatures he encounters under the garden visions of childhood imagination as filtered through the desperate thoughts of a dying man... who sees himself as a failure? A kind of hideous amalgamation of boyhood daydreams and adult certainties in a world beset by cruelty and injustice? Just a thought.

Time is the great arbiter of talent... in more ways than one.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, October 09, 2013 - 11:44 am:   

Where 'Alice In Wonderland' was expansive and free-flowing "Under The Garden" is insular and claustrophobic. The surrealist subterranean fantasy world it envisages is strikingly akin to the films of Jan Svankmajer, particularly the Campbellian nightmare of 'Down To The Cellar' (1983) - with its comparable tale of a child venturing underground to be beset by hostile visions of corrupt adulthood.

I wonder what inspired Greene to write it?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 08:18 am:   

I should and want to read that particular Barker novel, Stevie and Terry, but... I'm afeared I'm going to have to read "The Mist" first—it's the last one left in Dark Forces, and its just hanging out there, unfinished like that, is getting me agitated: I'm sure you can relate, Stevie....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 10:41 am:   

You won't be disappointed, Craig. "The Mist" (1980) is the young energetic Stephen King at the absolute top of his game, imho. It is the greatest and pulpiest short work he ever wrote. Up there with "Children Of The Corn" (1977) but more grippingly unpredictable. I think of it as an almost perfect contemporary pastiche of Lovecraft & Howard at their very best - and it's just as ridiculously entertaining!

Still haven't seen Darabont's film version but have the DVD calling to me. Watch this space.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.145.220.134
Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 03:11 pm:   

I finished the Neil Gaiman last night and it's by far the best thing he's ever written- and I love everything else of his that I've read. It's almost a faultless book, funny, scary, whimsical, fantastical, sad and a great great story. Anyone who doesn't shed a tear in the final chapters has no heart.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 04:14 pm:   

Alright! Stevie, you've actually made me want to read it! Thanks!

Now, why wouldn't I want to read early peak King? Because I have seen that Darabont movie... and, um...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 5.102.90.2
Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 06:54 pm:   

Just started on a reread of SP Somtow's Darker Angels. It's this month's book that I chose for my horror novel hating book club (seriously, they didn't like Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House or Lindqvist's Let the right One In). It could be an interesting discussion...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 - 07:23 am:   

You were right, Stevie! I'm a couple chapters into "The Mist" and it's got me hooked, and tense, and actually frightened.... despite me knowing pretty much all that's coming, thanks to that—sorry, but imho—crappy film version. Doesn't matter: I'm still on the edge of my seat, and well-invested in these characters.

I really do admire King, and recent King-readings make me realize, I do hate it that I snark at him from afar; especially when I come up against him again and he's on fire like this. Maybe, deep down, I'm annoyed that it's so many years distant now, from this story, say, or from The Shining and Salem's Lot and others. Maybe deep down, I'm blaming King for (yes, this is illogical, but I guess I'm going for a psychological metaphor or something here) writing all those seminal, formative books in my distant past, and not in my present; when friends and family members and I would excitedly dive into books like King's, instead of reserving them for the wee hours, for that precious little free time, for the fringes of life.

Meh. I'm waxing melancholy is all... I don't so much for other writers, who I discovered later; or loved all on my own. But King's always been around out there, a larger-than-life figure in my little world, writing books that everyone knew, that scared everyone—hell, that everyone wanted to read! His work is communal in so many ways; part of the lives of people I know now, and that have long since drifted off to points unknown.

No, I'm not making much sense here, but... I know what I mean.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.13
Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 - 07:59 pm:   

Here's a good quote from the inspector investigating the case in 'The Jewel Of Seven Stars':

"'That is why so few cases are ever followed out,' he said, 'unless our people are in them. Your amateur detective never hunts down to the death. As for ordinary people, the moment things begin to mend, and the strain of suspense is off them, they drop the matter in hand. It is like sea sickness,' he added philosophically after a pause; 'the moment you touch shore you never give it a thought, but run off to the buffet to feed!'

Bit of a dig at old Sherlock there on behalf of Scotland Yard.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.61.173
Posted on Sunday, October 13, 2013 - 01:21 pm:   

Would you believe? For the umpteenth (and not the last) time: Collected Ghost Stories, by M.R. James. I have several copies of this and take the cheap Wordsworth version with me wherever I go. I should, perhaps, give precedence to other books, but as I grow older I find myself returning to the ones I really enjoy(ed).
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 185.26.180.81
Posted on Sunday, October 13, 2013 - 03:11 pm:   

Darker Angels by SP Somtow is every bit as good as I remember it. Black magic zombies in the American civil war. Told by several different first person narrators with stories within stories. From a surely stylistic point of view this is a most impressive book. Each of the first person narrators sounds like a clear and distinct person with their own voice. I've read so many multiple narrator novels where all the characters talk in the same voice. This doesn't fall into that trap in any way.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 - 11:44 am:   

Into the final exciting quarter of 'The Jewel Of Seven Stars' (1903) and I really can't understand why this novel isn't more highly thought of by horror aficionados. It has everything I demand of a classic proto-Lovecraftian gothic horror tale and I have genuinely never experienced the eerie mystery of ancient Egypt more atmospherically portrayed in prose. The structure of the book is nothing short of inspired and provides a masterclass in the slow accumulation of unsettling details that gradually undermine the hard-nosed team of investigators who only believe in "facts". One of the best written and most gripping Fortean horror novels it has ever been my pleasure to read!!

That's decided me to try the rest of Bram Stoker's critically undervalued novels. If they're even of half the quality of this one I'll be in horror heaven.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 - 11:50 am:   

Hubert, I've read the M.R. James collection only twice before - both times one story a night around Christmas time - and I plan to read them all again, naturally.

Next time it'll include the three stories I haven't read and only picked up for the first time a few years ago. You know the ones...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 212.219.63.206
Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 - 11:56 am:   

Craig
I know exactly what you mean about King. My first King was the newly paperback-issued "The Stand" back in 1982 and, as I have bored you all with many times, it blew me away. There was something magical about discovering him and his now, classic early novels, for the first time.

Cheers
Terry

PS: Currently reading the "Mammoth Book of the Best of Mammoth New Horror" or something similar. Was in the goody bag from a fantasy convention but it has turned out to be a fantastically good read. It contains stories by Peter Straub, Harlan Ellison, Tim Lebbon and Stephen King among others.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.61.173
Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 - 03:25 pm:   

I'm increasingly interested in the topography of James's stories. To my delight I discovered there is a Harvey's Close in Sampford Courtenay, the village of "Martin's Close". I haven't found this in the abundant notes provided by Pardoe et al, but simply by using Google Earth!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 - 04:01 pm:   

Do you know of the links to the mystery of Rennes Le Chateau in "Canon Alberic's Scrapbook", Hubert?

I believe it was Sauniere's discovery and what James was told about it that inspired him to write the story and become obsessed with places steeped in purportedly supernatural mystery.

It adds an extra frisson of delightful fear to the stories, imo.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 11:59 am:   

I'll be finished 'The Jewel Of Seven Stars' at lunchtime and I really have found it wonderfully gripping and atmospheric. One of the best horror novels of its era that I have read.

What to follow it with...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 185.26.180.22
Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 01:31 pm:   

Follow it with a bit of somtow
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.55.43
Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 04:00 pm:   

Rennes le Château is steeped in myth and folklore - templars, Cathars, you name it - and judging from stray remarks even in James's day the area must have been a bit of a tourist trap. I'd never guess which story elements are anchored in truth and what is complete fabrication. A good yarn, but by no means my favourite.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 05:25 pm:   

I've decided to complete Harry Harrison's compulsively addictive pulp sci-fi trilogy with 'Deathworld 3' (1968).

Then I plan to plunge straight back into Horror in time for Halloween!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 11:26 am:   

Finished 'The Jewel Of Seven Stars' and I have to say, following the brilliantly sustained build-up, that the forced happy ending comes as an extreme anti-climax completely at odds with the grim atmosphere and escalating dread of the rest of the novel. I have got to read the original version now asap to see how Stoker's original vision really panned out. The publishers who forced the rewrite on him committed a literary crime of the highest order, imho! But, still, what a great supernatural horror novel!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 212.219.63.206
Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 11:44 am:   

Ah, the "Deathworld" trilogy. Takes me back. Try Harrison's "The Technicolour Time Machine" after that.

I've just read Peter Straub's novella "Mr Chubb and Mr Chuff" in the Mammoth Book of Mammoths or whatever it's called. What a cruel, twisted and utterly brilliant piece of work. Just starting Tim Lebbon's "White". This anthology really has proved to be the best of the best.

Cheers
Terry
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 12:18 pm:   

Will do, Terry, and I still have to read his classic satire, 'Bill, The Galactic Hero' (1965), as well!

I get a lot of the same qualities in Harrison that I always enjoy in Bob Heinlein. The breathlessly addictive all-action pacing, the dense satirical humour and the sheer imaginative detail in the worlds, races, technologies and characters he creates. The 'Deathworld' trilogy delivers all I demand of thrilling pulp sci-fi action on deliriously alien planets and does so with remarkable wit and intelligence. They are effortlessly great reads, imho.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 06:14 am:   

Finished "The Mist"—thanks for pushing me to read it, Stevie! I very much enjoyed it. It is, oddly, extremely similar to that crappy film (except in the ending: story's way better there)... no matter. As I said in the course of my criticisms long ago on that one, film is a different beast from fiction, requiring different structures, goals, character arcs, etc.; and so, a crappy film can easily arise from a work of great fiction (imho, of course). Gosh, this just makes me want to read more King now... and I will, because soon I will be getting back to the "Gunslinger" series.

As an aperitif, I randomly read Ramsey's "Again" (1981), yet again. Hee-hee! Wicked and nasty, nicely done. (Oddly noted: the main character has no "backstory," so to speak—he's just a guy who gets thrown into a bad situation. I seem to think I notice this betimes in Ramsey's short fiction—this is not a complaint, it's a bit of admiration. I don't want or need to know main character Bryant's current relationships or sexual proclivities [both could have been made relevant to the story], etc. I'm perfectly fine with Average Joe Shmoe Gets Thrown Into A Horrible Situation fiction. But I bet you rarely see this nowadays—or do you? I don't think you do.... Again [pun?], just an observation.)

And now, I've just begin Barker's The Damnation Game, having read the opening section, a kind of prologue I assume. It's instantly grabbing, and reads exactly like it could have been the beginning of any of his "Books of Blood" novellas—which means I'm in for some high enjoyment indeed! I have no idea where it's going, since I refuse to read dust jackets, synopses, etc. But it should be a great ride—thanks for pushing me on this one, too, Stevie, and Terry!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 11:02 am:   

You're in for one hell of a treat, Craig! I re-read it a few years back and was blown away all over again. It's not the best thing Barker ever wrote (that would be 'Imajica') but it is his best pure horror novel and reads like a natural novel-length continuation of 'The Books Of Blood'. Enjoy!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 11:12 am:   

What I loved about "The Mist" was its brevity, the concentration on action and disorienting horror with just the right amount of characterisation. It's one of the most purely thrilling things King ever wrote and comes with no excess baggage. I found the ending wonderfully haunting in its sheer open-endedness and ambiguity. I got the same from the ending of 'The Stand' and 'Salem's Lot'. It's a trick I wish King would use more often. Endings have never been his strong point as he all too often tries to tie everything up too neatly or goes for the OTT spectacular.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 03:14 pm:   

Over the last few days I've finally got back into my horror anthologies and just completed 'The 22nd Pan Book Of Horror Stories'. One of them stands out a mile above all the others; "A Cross To Bear" (1981) by David Case. The influence of Graham Greene is all over this excellent novella. It is quite possibly the best and most hanuntingly ambiguous lycanthropic horror story I have ever read!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.118.72.152
Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 06:48 pm:   

Dipping into Sheridan le Fanu's Purcell Papers. Strikingly modern in places, not at all what I expected. I can see why James liked his work. The melodrama (I'm not sure whether Le Fanu's work can be labeled 'gothic') is a bit predictable sometimes.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, October 18, 2013 - 03:42 pm:   

I'm only familiar with "The Drunkard's Dream" from that collection, Hubert, but thought it was a wonderfully nightmarish horror story warning of the evils of drink.

I'm already a third through 'Deathworld 3' and the action never lets up for a second. Great stuff!! This time Jason dinAlt and his adopted "family" from the planet Pyrrus (or Deathworld 1) have decided to branch out on their own and start a fresh colony on the newly discovered planet, Felicity. The place, at first glance, appears to be a readymade bounteous wilderness just ripe for settling and rich in precious ores... until they discover they're not alone and find themselves plunged into another desperate battle for survival against seemingly insurmountable odds. But this time the enemy they face is a lot closer to home. This is pitch perfect absolute classic adventure writing of the very highest and most enjoyable order!! I also love the newly introduced "universal library robot" with its infinitude of constantly updating knowledge on everything. Douglas Adams surely must have read this book!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, October 18, 2013 - 05:44 pm:   

I enjoyed that Pan Horror book so much - including a rather shocking story by a young unknown called Ian McEwan - that that's me fully back into the swing of the horror anthos.

Currently writing up 'Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos' (1969), 'Oriental Tales Of Terror' (1971) & 'The 22nd Pan Book Of Horror Stories' (1980) before starting into 'New Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos' (1980) edited by Ramsey Campbell. Took a break there for a couple of years but now full steam ahead again...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.108.8
Posted on Saturday, October 19, 2013 - 01:27 am:   

I finished Darker Angels on Tuesday night in preparation for the book club meeting. Never has my gast seen so comprehensively flabbered. They loved it, despite it being a all out horror novel with black magic, zombies and lesbian were-leopard sex.

My favourite line from the book - it won't make much sense out of context but I love the primal rhythm of it

"the snow leopard exults in it; what was poetry in him now becomes the sheer snap patter pound pound of paws on paving, more than poetry, goes beyond word to the be and not-be of beasthood."

Fantatsic stuff.

Why Somtow was never as big as King I'll never understand. He wrote the best vampire novel I've ever read (vampire junction) , the best werewolf novel I ever read Moon dance) and he's just awesome.

Anyway, I got my copy of Bad Monkey back from my sister's house and I've restarted that. It's typical Hiaasen, and that's not a bad thing at all. In fact from the opening chapters, this could be one of his best to date.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Saturday, October 19, 2013 - 11:06 am:   

I've often wondered why werecat creatures weren't more popular in fiction and on screen. I find the very idea of a man/woman with claws and reflexes like that absolutely terrifying. "A Cross To Bear" by David Case gets my vote as the greatest lycanthropic short story ever written and it features a jaguar man... or does it?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, October 21, 2013 - 04:05 pm:   

Started 'New Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos' (1980) over the weekend. All the stories, bar the T.E.D. Klein one, are new to me.

"Crouch End" by Stephen King is a classically structured Mythos story of slow build terror. It reads surprisingly like a Ramsey Campbell tale (or pastiche?) with its grimy English urban setting and gradual descent into nightmarish surrealism. King was always fond of dimensional shifts in reality but he rarely used the idea to more disconcerting effect than here. One of his best pure horror short stories, imo.

"The Star Pools" was a thoroughly entertaining mini-epic novella by an author new to me - A.A. Attanasio. It starts as a gritty and violent low-life crime thriller involving a New York drug deal gone sour that leaves two small-time criminals on the run from the big boys with a fortune in stolen heroin. The gradual shift into Lovecraftian horror territory is expertly handled and highly disturbing, while never letting up on the pulp thriller action, as a memorable cast of vicious gangsters and hitmen tangle with a deadly voodoo cult and their black magician ringleader who is intent on bringing Nyarlathotep to corporeal form on earth. Splendid stuff!

That's my Halloween reading off to the perfect start.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, October 21, 2013 - 04:16 pm:   

Soon be finished 'Deathworld 3'. Jason dinAlt is one of the most memorable amoral anti-heroes in pulp sci-fi. The ultimate pragmatic gambler he can be quite shockingly ruthless at times and isn't above sacrificing the innocent to save his own skin, when necessary. Someone really should turn this great trilogy into a film series. It would need someone charismatic but a bit dodgy in the lead role.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.145.221.207
Posted on Monday, October 21, 2013 - 05:49 pm:   

Nearly finished Bad Monkey. If you're familiar with Hiaasen you won't be surprised to hear it's a east paced comic crime thriller with a strong love of the environment and protection of unspoilt wildernesses at its centre. That and a severed arm found by an unfortunate fisherman - the middle finger of which is raised in rictus into a permanent one finger salute. Good stuff. Wondering what to go for next.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 03:27 pm:   

Halfway through Barker's The Damnation Game, and thoroughly engrossed and entertained. My only criticism is that it doesn't—necessarily, I suppose, given the form—match that priceless Barker economy of story, evidenced by his novellas: this one takes its time unravelling its characters and mysteries, and I'm still waiting for shoes to drop. But it's a small critique: his prose is lucid and effortless, yet lush and evocative; the story familiar (clearly a variation of the classic "deal with the Devil" tale), but twisted in ways only Barker can twist them. All in all, a great October read!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 12:30 pm:   

Finished 'Deathworld 3' by Harry Harrison and I'm sorry to have to say goodbye to Jason dinAlt. He's one of sci-fi's great characters, imo. A lone anti-hero whose ruthlessly pragmatic survival instincts were constantly at odds with his inherent wish to be decent and his troublesome conscience. If I had to rank the books I'd say:

1. 'Deathworld 1' (1960) - Pyrrus, the deadliest planet in the known galaxy, a fearsome jungle wilderness in which every form of animal and plant life has but one psychically linked purpose - to kill man! And Jason's just been forced to land there where he encounters a stranded outpost of settlers in a fortified base that is slowly being eaten away, while their numbers fall steadily toward extinction. One of the most thrillingly exciting hostile alien planet adventure novels ever written!!

2. 'Deathworld 2' (1964) - captured by an insanely evangelical bounty hunter Jason forces them to crash land on an unnamed planet where they must forge a shaky alliance in order to survive the brutal conditions and brutishly primitive superstitious race that scratches out an existence there. The crew of The Enterprise would be horrified at the apocalyptic liberties Jason takes with the Prime Directive in this one. Religious dogma, hypocrisy and fanaticism are Harrison's unerringly hit targets here.

3. 'Deathworld 3' (1968) - Felicity, perfect conditions for man to colonise if it weren't for the demonic tribal descendents of an earlier civilisation who exist only to wage War, with themselves and all off-worlders stupid enough to land there. Guess who's just decided to have a crack at taming the world... for the fortune in precious ores that lie under the surface?! Again the Prime Directive is torn to shreds quite mercilessly here and Jason has never been more Mephistophelian in his dealings. It reads like a pointed allegory of Western double-dealing with the Arab nations of the Middle East, for oil.

But there's hardly a hair's breadth of quality between any of them.

Now to decide on a juicy horror novel for Halloween!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 12:46 pm:   

Ah, there's one final short story featuring Jason dinAlt, "The Mothballed Spaceship" (1973), that I'll have to track down to make the series complete!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.55.119
Posted on Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 01:20 pm:   

I know of another David Case werewolf story - "The Dead End". It's quite long at 131 pages. You'll find it in The 13th pan Book of Horror Stories.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 01:26 pm:   

Flying through 'New Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos' (1980):

"The Second Wish" by Brian Lumley is the best thing I have yet read by this author, even topping "Cement Surroundings" in Derleth's original collection. Written as a kind of sequel to Robert E. Howard's "The Black Stone" (1931) [for my money the best Mythos story Lovecraft never wrote] there's nothing particularly original in its tale of an American couple holidaying off the beaten track in Europe and visiting the wrong "tourist spots" but the weird atmosphere and slow accumulation of terror is gloriously well done.

"Dark Awakening" by Frank Belknap Long is a great little chiller that perfectly compliments his earlier phenomenally effective Mythos tales [see "The Space Eaters" (1928) & "The Hounds Of Tindalos" (1929) in the original 1969 collection]. The story involves an innocent family's idyllic day at the beach being rudely interrupted when their little boy finds an odd amulet of repulsively Cthuloid design in the sand. Less is more is the order of the day in this admirably understated tale of unholy possession.

"Shaft Number 247" by Basil Copper is, again, far and away the best and scariest thing of the author's I have read to date - even better, imo, than his excellent novel 'The Great White Space' (1974). Set in the hi-tech subterranean corridors of some far future mining corporation it involves the discovery and hushing up of an alien lifeform, from "Out There", in Shaft No. 247 and the growing obsession of a small group of workers to break through the veil of secrecy and discover just what their Orwellian superiors are keeping from them. The slow accumulation of primeval dread set against the sterile coldness of a regimented sci-fi environment is the work of a true master!

...and just started a re-read of T.E.D. Klein's fabulous novella, "Black Man With A Horn". A third through it and the perfection of the man's story crafting and prose puts everything else in the book so far to shame. His structuring of this classically unsettling slow build mythos epic is beyond fault, imho.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 04:03 pm:   

Finished "Black Man With A Horn" over lunchtime. This brilliantly constructed and miraculously subtle yet scary as hell tale of an elderly horror writer, best known as one of Lovecraft's original circle of disciples from the 1930s, who finds his life ending with all he had written of coming to a possible truth while he sits in a retirement flat in Florida waiting for death, is the ULTIMATE modern statement on the whole Cthulhu Mythos phenomenon. It is as witty and subversive as it is hauntingly ambiguous yet compellingly detailed.

This could all be the self-justifying fantasy of a literary failure looking back on his mentor with a mixture of admiration and increasingly profound jealousy. It works on so many levels, above and beyond the pure terror of the unknown it so expertly conveys, that I have no hesitation in proclaiming it a horror masterpiece and the best tale to have directly quoted the Cthulhu Mythos since the great man himself died. Yes, it even tops "Notebook Found In A Deserted House" (1951) by Robert Bloch!!!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 04:27 pm:   

Hubert, I've been gradually working my way through all the 'Pan Books Of Horror' in chrono order over the last lot of years and every one of David Case's (usually) lycanthropic horror tales marks a highpoint of the series.

Here's how I'd rank the ones I've read so far:

1. "A Cross To Bear" (1980) - novella, jaguar man, in the 22nd Pan.

2. 'The Dead End' (1969) - short novel, mythical manbeast, in the 13th Pan.

3. "Among the Wolves" (1971) - novella, feral man turned homicidal psychopath, in the 15th Pan.

4. "The Hunter" (1969) - novella, mystery beast killing people on Dartmoor, in the 12th Pan.

5. "The Cell" (1969) - novella, werewolf, in the 11th Pan.

6. "Strange Roots" (1971) - short story, scientifically created werewolf, in the 14th Pan.

7. "Neighbours" (1977) - short story, cannibalism, in the 19th Pan.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.55.119
Posted on Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 06:25 pm:   

Yes, I remember "The Cell" and "Strange Roots". I have his Arkham novel The Third Grave as well, but am yet to read it.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, October 25, 2013 - 12:04 pm:   

Planning to read "The Black Tome Of Alsophocus" at lunchtime and I have a question: who on earth is Martin S. Warnes? I've done a search and can find no other reference to the author bar this one "collaboration" with H.P. Lovecraft. Does he exist or was this a pseudonym?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.13.57.174
Posted on Friday, October 25, 2013 - 02:52 pm:   

He certainly existed, Stevie, but nobody has tracked him down since. He was British, and Jim Turner forwarded his tale to me. That's all I know!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, October 25, 2013 - 04:41 pm:   

I loved the story! It came as a strangely anachronistic and oddly poetic passage in an otherwise stridently modern collection. I thought he did a good job, Ramsey. Almost too good...

Now I'm going to rush home and dig out Lovecraft's original fragment to compare both texts. I can't remember if the name "Alsophocus" was Howard's creation or Martin's but I believe therein lies the key to the mystery.

I'm sure there's a perfectly logical explanation for the author's disappearance, ha ha...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, October 25, 2013 - 05:04 pm:   

I found the complete text of "The Book" online here: http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/b.aspx

No mention of Alsophocus so it must have been Martin S. Warne's invention. I'm not going to be sidetracked by the obvious crude pun and instead believe there may be a misspelling involved, as with Klein's "Shoo Goron", or else it may be an anagram. Watch this space...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, October 25, 2013 - 05:28 pm:   

Soul Chaos with a P left over?

In the Greek alphabet P is Pi!

So the infinitude of Pi equates to the dark chaos of the soul!!

Dear God! We're all doomed!!!! The blind idiot god rules supreme!!!!

What was that sound at the door...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.160.38.7
Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 01:49 pm:   

'The Luminaries' by Eleanor Catton. Enthralled, so far.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 06:19 pm:   

For my Halloween read I've decided on a single author collection by one of the greats rather than a horror novel; 'The Haunter Of The Ring And Other Tales' (2008) by Robert E. Howard. It should make the perfect follow-up to 'New Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos' (1980) which I plan to finish tonight.

That's all 21 of Howard's Lovecraftian weird horror tales!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.62
Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 - 05:47 pm:   

Also now starting my latest horror anthology; Fontana's 'Scottish Tales Of Terror' (1972) edited by Angus Campbell (I believe this was R. Chetwynd Hayes under a pseudonym).
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.49.117
Posted on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 11:09 am:   

Le démon de février by Gérard Prévot. An essay on Prévot's story "La Nuit du Nord" by Elena Ricci. Also snatches of Wilde's "De Profundis". The latter is so full of interesting pensées I invariably find it hard to read more than a couple of pages in one sitting.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

David Lees (David_lees)
Username: David_lees

Registered: 12-2011
Posted From: 176.248.120.78
Posted on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 04:52 pm:   

I just got The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2013 from the library and have been picking at that, but I also picked up Adam Nevill's House of Small Shadows in Waterstone today so I think that's going to jump to the top of my pile for Halloween.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.75
Posted on Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 11:01 pm:   

Just finished 'Scottish Tales Of Terror' (1972). Brilliant stuff and one of the best of the series, imo. Filled with all manner of bogles, beasties, ghouls and ghosties. A fine Halloween read indeed!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Lincoln (Lincoln_brown)
Username: Lincoln_brown

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 101.119.29.71
Posted on Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 11:54 pm:   

'The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All', by Laird Barron. Only three stories in and it's as good as his previous collections, which are superb.
I'm planning on re-reading 'Needing Ghosts' this (long) weekend.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.235
Posted on Friday, November 01, 2013 - 10:51 pm:   

Halfway through Robert E. Howard's 'The Haunter Of The Ring' and it is easily the finest collection of such weird tales I have read outside of H.P. Lovecraft himself. Wonderfully atmospheric, scary and exciting every one so far! Prior to this I was only familiar with "The Black Stone" (1931) and it was by no means a one-off. My thoughts on each of the stories to follow...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.235
Posted on Friday, November 01, 2013 - 10:55 pm:   

Also just starting 'The 23rd Pan Book Of Horror Stories' (1981) edited by Herbert Van Thal. Thirteen stories including Alan Temperley's infamous shocker "Kowlongo Plaything" - still the most nauseatingly repulsive and nightmarishly unforgettable horror story I have ever read. I wish to God I could forget it sometimes! Yech!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Saturday, November 02, 2013 - 07:09 am:   

Finally finished The Damnation Game, just in time for Halloween. A nice read indeed, that started off kick-ass; but I must say, it really got (I felt) sloppily all-over-the-place by the end. Barker's work shines brightest in a shorter form; at least, from my vantage of having read nearly every one of his novellas, and but this one fledgling novel. Again, judging Mr. Barker's novel-writing by this item alone? Ramsey's got him beat by far; King, too. But maybe that's expecting too much of any writer....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.235
Posted on Saturday, November 02, 2013 - 01:17 pm:   

Finished 'New Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos' (1980) edited by Ramsey Campbell and the final two stories were as excellent as anything else in the collection:

"Than Curse The Darkness" by David Drake - was an entertaining and outrageously gruesome pulp adventure yarn set in darkest Africa during colonial times. It tells of Victorian adventuress and student of the occult, Dame Alice Kilrea, and her trek into the jungles of the Congo Basin in search of a fabled tribe rumoured to worship a new god risen from the depths of the earth. A right ripping yarn with its tongue set firmly in its cheek.

"The Faces At Pine Dunes" by Ramsey Campbell - the book ended on a high with this brilliantly constructed "coming of age" tale that tells with unsettling detail of a troubled youth's growing suspicion that his parents are a pair of devil worshippers with unholy designs on him once he has reached maturity. One of the best "sins of the fathers" moral dilemma horror tales I have read - told with Ramsey's usual subtlety and eye for convincing kitchen sink drama that makes the horror, when it comes, all the more nightmarishly disorienting. It would make a fine folk horror film!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.235
Posted on Saturday, November 02, 2013 - 01:35 pm:   

Here's how I'd rank the nine tales:

1. "Black Man With A Horn" by T.E.D. Klein {novella}
2. "Shaft Number 247" by Basil Copper
3. "The Faces At Pine Dunes" by Ramsey Campbell
4. "The Star Pools" by A.A. Attanasio {novella}
5. "Crouch End" by Stephen King
6. "The Second Wish" by Brian Lumley
7. "Dark Awakening" by Frank Belknap Long
8. "The Black Tome Of Alsophocus" by H.P. Lovecraft & Martin S. Warnes {completed from the Lovecraft fragment "The Book" (1934)}
9. "Than Curse The Darkness" by David Drake

But there isn't a bad or any less than entertaining story among any of them, imo. Great job, Ramsey!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.235
Posted on Saturday, November 02, 2013 - 01:54 pm:   

You're a hard man to please, Craig!

As a horror work I'd put 'The Damnation Game' second only to 'The Books Of Blood' in his bibliography. Then 'Sacrament', then 'Cabal' and then 'The Hellbound Heart'. All the rest of his works that I have read are more dark fantasy with strong horror elements. 'Imajica' is the best thing he ever wrote. An epic, emotionally devastating, multi-character, worlds-spanning fantasy masterpiece of the order of 'The Lord Of The Rings' or 'Dune', IMHO. And much of it is as nightmarish as anything in TBOB.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Saturday, November 02, 2013 - 02:53 pm:   

Indeed, we both are, Stevie. "Cabal" I found finer than this novel, and "The Hellbound Heart," too; but then both of those to me are Barker novellas (even despite "Cabal" 's extreme length), with different objectives and templates. I think there is a strong element of dark fantasy that runs through all his work, and puts him in a category just to the side of traditional horror. I enjoyed Damnation, but its hodgepodge finish was iffy; and it didn't seem to pay off quite so well, the intense promises of its 1st Act (Marty's character; Mamoulian's/Whitehead's relationship; Mamoulian's nature). Good, but not great. But then, remember: I was just coming off "The Mist," one of King's finest as you said yourself, Stevie; a pitch-perfect economy of horror, that one!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.140.51
Posted on Wednesday, November 06, 2013 - 02:06 pm:   

Finished 'The 23rd Pan Book Of Horror Stories' and its definitely one of the stronger later collections with Alan Temperley's exercise in unrelenting cruelty and humiliation, "Kowlongo Plaything", taking the prize as the single most sickening story of the entire series, imho.

Just started 'The 1st Star Book Of Horror' (1975) edited by Hugh Lamb, for the first time. It was one of the earliest anthos to feature Ramsey Campbell, with the unfamiliar story, to me, "Run Through".

The first tale, "Drink To Me Only", was a great little supernatural chiller by an author new to me called John Blackburn. On looking him up I was surprised to learn he was considered the greatest British horror writer of his generation, 50s-60s, and I'd never heard of him! His best known horror novels, 'A Scent Of New Mown Hay' (1958), 'Broken Boy' (1959), 'Children Of The Night' (1966) & 'Nothing But The Night' (1968), by coincidence, have just been republished this year after being out of print for decades and I'm really tempted to check him out now.

Anyone on here familiar with this largely forgotten horror author?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Lincoln (Lincoln_brown)
Username: Lincoln_brown

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 101.119.17.99
Posted on Wednesday, November 06, 2013 - 09:16 pm:   

Finished off 'Needing Ghosts' last night. What an absolute nightmare - in a good way! Still my favourite novella, and one of Ramsey's best pieces.
My only regret is that I didn't read it in one sitting, which is probably what Ramsey intended when writing it(?)
That final bus trip that Mottershead takes, when he sees 'something' in the drivers mirror, is amazing.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.56.81
Posted on Wednesday, November 06, 2013 - 09:36 pm:   

I'm only familiar with Blackburn's Children of the Night. I don't have the book anymore and my recollections are vague, but I remember it mostly as an occult detective story involving **SPOILER** a race of malevolent human mutants, the Children of Paul, living under the surface of an increasingly less peaceful English countryside. The book reminded me of John Dickson Carr in places.

http://vaultofevil.suddenlaunch3.com/index.cgi?board=rivals&action=display&num=1 132138631
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.49.240
Posted on Saturday, November 09, 2013 - 11:14 am:   

Currently immersed in Maurice Renard's mad scientist novel Le docteur Lerne, sous-dieu (1908), which the author dedicated to H.G. Wells. It's part of a 1,400-page tome encompassing the complete works of Renard. Renard is a master storyteller. His language is exquisite, characters are well-developed and the very gradual introduction of the abnormal is exemplary. The horrible experiments performed by Lerne and his team are suffused by philosophical ruminations which haven't dated. This book is a treat.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.116
Posted on Saturday, November 09, 2013 - 05:13 pm:   

Finished 'The 1st Star Book Of Horror' (1975) and there isn't a bad story in it. They're all short and sweet shockers spanning the 20th Century - including a memorably intense little supernatural frightener by Ramsey I haven't come across anywhere else, "Run Through" (1975). For me the best tale, however, was "Hands" (1944) by John Keir Cross - a truly grotesque tale of childhood psychological trauma growing into unhealthy obsession and eventual homicidal madness in adulthood that reads like it was written yesterday.

And already started 'Welsh Tales Of Terror' (1973) edited by R. Chetwynd-Hayes and if the first two stories, by Glyn Johns & John Christopher, are anything to go by it's going to be another corker from Fontana.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.81
Posted on Saturday, November 09, 2013 - 09:43 pm:   

Just about to read Arthur Machen's "The Shining Pyramid" (1895) for the first time in this Welsh Terror collection.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.27.114.151
Posted on Saturday, November 09, 2013 - 11:49 pm:   

I've just read Henry James' "The Portrait of a Lady". So subtle, so powerful, with no easy let up at the end.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.143
Posted on Monday, November 11, 2013 - 07:43 pm:   

Reading my annual Tom Sharpe novel in chrono order: 'Porterhouse Blue' (1974) which, after 4 chapters, is even funnier and more devastating in its criticism of the brainless upper class twit hoo-ray henries who run this country (David Cameron & Boris Johnson this means you) than I could possibly have appreciated when I first read it as a callow youth. Jesus wept!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.30.204.210
Posted on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 09:18 am:   

Stevie – yes, good stuff. Only Sharpe could invest a cardiovascular event with irony.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.57.218
Posted on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 12:31 pm:   

Well into Maurice Renard's L'homme truqué (1920).
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 06:09 pm:   

Ah yes, the old "porterhouse blue", Joel.

Tom Sharpe is the only comedy writer I have discovered, in a lifetime of reading, who consistently reduces me to tears of laughter. It's the intelligence and satirical savagery behind the belly laughs and memorable grotesques (worthy of Dickens on acid) that make him such a joy to read and re-read. My own personal favourite is the closest he ever came to the horror genre, 'The Throwback' (1978), although his books are always horrifying and black as pitch.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.149
Posted on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 09:02 pm:   

Aww crap! I only just found out that Tom Sharpe died in June this year.

What a bloody awful year 2013 has been. RIP man.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 03:16 pm:   

Almost finished 'Porterhouse Blue' and what a joy it has been to re-read after 30 odd years. Back then it was never one of my favourite Sharpe novels but now I think it may just be his masterpiece! I've been pissing myself laughing reading it in public and people have been looking at me like I'm demented. No other comic writer has ever affected me this way but Tom never fails to. This is a viciously bang-on-the-money cutting edge satire of the British establishment that works also as a ridiculous broad farce and is seriously pant-wettingly hilarious!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 05:36 pm:   

Here's a taster that shows just how topical the book still is:


"At Coft Castle the Dean and Sir Cathcart D'Eath sat in the library, a decanter of brandy half empty on the table beside them and their thoughts bitter with memories of past greatness.

'England's ruin, damned Socialists,' growled Sir Cathcart. 'Turned the country into a benevolent society. Seem to think you can rule a nation with good intentions. Damned nonsense. Discipline. That's what the country needs. A good dose of unemployment to bring the working classes to their senses.'

'Doesn't seem to work these days,' said the Dean with a sigh. 'In the old days a depression seemed to have a very salutary effect.'

'It's the dole. Man can earn more not working than he can at his job. All wrong. A bit of genuine starvation would soon put that right.'

'I suppose the argument is that the wives and children would suffer,' said the Dean.

'Can't see much harm in that,' the General continued. 'Nothing like a hungry woman to put some pep into a man. Have some more brandy?'

'That's very kind of you,' said the Dean, proferring his glass.

'Trouble with this Godber Evans fellow [the liberal reformist new Master of Porterhouse College] is he comes from poor stock,' continued Sir Cathcart when he had filled their glasses. 'Doesn't understand men. Hasn't got generations of county stock behind him. No leadership qualities. Got to have lived with animals to understand men, working men. Got to train them properly. A whack on the arse if they do something wrong and a pat on the head if they get it right. No use filling their heads with a whole lot of ideas they can't use. Bloody nonsense, half this education lark.'

'I quite agree,' said the Dean. 'Educating people above their station has been one of the great mistakes of this century. What this country requires is an educated elite. What it's had in fact, for the past three hundred years.'

'Three meals a day and a roof over his head and the average man has nothing to grumble about. Stout fellows. The present system is designed to create layabouts. Consumer society indeed. Can't consume what you don't make. Damned tommyrot.'

The Dean's head nodded on his chest. The fire, the brandy and the ubiquitous central heating in Coft Castle mingled with the warmth of Sir Cathcart's sentiments to take their toll of his concentration. He was dimly aware of the rumble of the General's imprecations, distant and receding like some tide going out across the mudflats of an estuary where once the fleet had lain at anchor. All empty now, the ships gone, dismantled, scrapped, the evidence of might deplenished, only a sandpiper with Sir Godber's face poking its beak into the sludge. The Dean was asleep."


When I look at the upper class idiots running the country nowadays I realise how little has really changed since Sharpe wrote the book in 1974 and how easily we may slide back into the Victorian workhouse values that his characters so cherished and bemourn.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Lincoln (Lincoln_brown)
Username: Lincoln_brown

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 101.119.29.1
Posted on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 08:10 pm:   

'The Haunted Book', by Jeremy Dyson - enjoying it, so far.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.27.114.151
Posted on Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 12:22 am:   

Just finished "Kinston to Cable" by Gary Greenwood and published by Pendragon press. Great fun, visual, compelling, a rattling good read.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

David Lees (David_lees)
Username: David_lees

Registered: 12-2011
Posted From: 94.11.52.226
Posted on Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 02:21 am:   

I was planning on starting Adam Nevill's latest but ended up getting a copy of Jonathon Aycliffe's The Shadow on the Wall super-cheap on Ebay and got stuck into that. Just as Jamesian and enjoyable as you'd expect from Aycliffe. I've got a copy of a book published by Hammer called The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah from the library that I'm going to start on next, as I'm still in a ghost story kind of mood.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.213
Posted on Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 01:19 pm:   

Finished 'Porterhouse Blue' and now starting another book from 1974 for the first time since I was about 12 years old. Yes, I just picked up one of the original copies of 'Carrie' for 50p by a newcomer called Stephen King. That's the long awaited chrono read of all his horror material (only) up and running. I can remember very little about reading the book as back then it was just another one of a vast amount of pulp horror books I devoured on a daily basis. I'm putting myself in the mindset of reading it back then fresh as by a new author I'd never heard of before and see just how impressive the young King really was! Here goes...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 185.26.180.84
Posted on Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 03:51 pm:   

I'm within a hair's breadth of finishing They Thirst. It's been a very good and entertaining read but I do think Swan Song was a better novel by Mccammon. It's not even come close to knocking Somtow's Vampire Junction or Wright's the Last Vampire off my top spots as best vampire novel. Well worth reading all the same. Some great tense set pieces and nice in jokes with the reader.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Friday, November 22, 2013 - 01:40 pm:   

I always did like Carrie, Steve. It's an example of the intense, subjective, hard-focused, scarily private strand of King's writing that often gets swamped by his meticulous scene-setting and multiple narrative tendency. No novel needs to be over 400 pages.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Friday, November 22, 2013 - 01:42 pm:   

'Stevie' I should have typed, sorry! My typing is getting worse.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.163
Posted on Friday, November 22, 2013 - 02:38 pm:   

I agree, Joel. Halfway through it already and the structure of the book is particularly impressive and gripping, being pieced together from various strands of investigation and recollection after the "Horror of Prom Night". It's pure story and all the better for it!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.163
Posted on Friday, November 22, 2013 - 02:51 pm:   

Actually I'm finding the book as much a classic of Fortean science fiction, typical of its time, as it is an intense psychological horror story, clearly inspired by 'The Exorcist'. And King's non-linear structuring of the plot makes it a completely different experience from De Palma's great film version.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.163
Posted on Friday, November 22, 2013 - 02:59 pm:   

Best vampire novel is still Bram Stoker's 'Dracula', Weber, and I can't see it ever being bettered. For me the old fashioned demonic vampire of legend, literature and Hollywood was perfected and put to bed by King & McCammon with 'Salem's Lot' and 'They Thirst'. I'm sure there have been great vampire novels since that redefine the concept but, imho, Dracula's relatives had their final great hurrah in 1981.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.145.221.6
Posted on Friday, November 22, 2013 - 05:43 pm:   

Says someone who hasn't read somtow, wright or Lindqvist...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.145.222.135
Posted on Friday, November 22, 2013 - 10:09 pm:   

I must say I was unimpressed by the denouement of They Thirst. The defeat of the vamps seemed entirely unconnected to the actions of any of the characters. Just started on The Boy by Naeem Murr. A complete unknown quantity for me. A revenge story apparently with a central character Lesley Glaister describes as frightening and a chilling creation in the quote on the back cover.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Friday, November 22, 2013 - 11:35 pm:   

The vampires were defeated by their own hubris, Weber. The message was "be careful what you wish for." Their own victory sealed their fate. But I don't want to get into spoilers.

'Carrie' has all the pace, excitement and economy of any of the best of early King. It's one of his great short horror novels. Up there with; 'Thinner', 'Pet Sematary' or 'Misery' or even "The Mist". As much as I love 'The Stand' (1978), and consider it his masterpiece, the success of that gargantuan multi-character epic so early in his career was probably something of a mixed blessing. From there his books continued to grow ever more bloated, even when the stories they told were wholly unsuited to such length and minutiae of detail.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.108.62
Posted on Saturday, November 23, 2013 - 01:10 am:   

Opening lines of The Boy

"In a way it is the perfect place for a body. A body, not a corpse - corpse is too ghoulish, too final."

Than you Mr Murr, you already have my attention.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.163
Posted on Saturday, November 23, 2013 - 10:52 pm:   

Nearly finished 'Carrie' and, even though I know everything that is about to happen, the suspense is electric! The mark of a born storyteller.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.163
Posted on Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 12:55 am:   

Finished 'Carrie' and it's a brilliantly controlled tale of horror and wonder and tragedy and compassion. When King wants to he has the power to work miracles but, by Christ, he has rarely been as focused as this brilliant debut novel.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.106.114
Posted on Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 09:47 pm:   

The Boy by Naeem Murr is turning into a Glaisterian/Highsmithian thriller of extreme skill. I may have to seek out more by this writer.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 10:03 pm:   

I too read Carrie many a long time ago, so my memory (of the actual novel, that is) is fuzzy; but I do distinctly remember loving it. I also remember it being actually scary, which seems hard for me now to believe; but I do recall it ranking alongside others by King I had read—like The Shining, what I read of The Stand, etc.—as being genuinely unsettling and, well... chills-up-the-spine-inducing. I wonder if you experienced any of that, Stevie?...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.140.46
Posted on Monday, November 25, 2013 - 06:08 am:   

The thing I got most from 'Carrie' was a brilliantly sustained sense of dread and encroaching tragedy, Craig. That and a still electrifying suspense that Brian De Palma tapped to perfection in his remarkably faithful linear adaptation of the story.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.140.46
Posted on Monday, November 25, 2013 - 01:51 pm:   

Throughout the book the reader dreads what is coming even though it is spelled out from the beginning that things do not end well for any of the characters (for whom we come to care deeply). The fear King generates is all of what Carrie White could be capable of when pushed far enough and of how she might choose to unleash her capabilities. The ending is truly apocalyptic and, yes, spine-chilling.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Monday, November 25, 2013 - 03:52 pm:   

Hard to believe (if the story is true) that his wife Tabitha fished out his partially completed manuscript of it out of the trash, and convinced him to finish it....

If I remember correctly, he got an advance so large for that novel, for the time ($400k!), that it must have been they were grooming King for instant bestselling-author status. He must have had something else going on to get that deal: more novels completed he showed them, or the DePalma deal hanging right there in the background. It sure seems he was crowned before anyone knew what he'd be capable of—but he paid off, and well. Meanwhile, does your average citizen even know who Sidney Sheldon is, or Lawrence Sanders, or Jackie Collins, or, or, or...?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.14
Posted on Monday, November 25, 2013 - 11:38 pm:   

It was just a cracking story well told and easy to follow with recognisable characters we really grow to care about and empathise with - Carrie, perhaps, most of all. It was so well structured and instantly gripping that I believe the film script would virtually have written itself! Kind of like 'Rosemary's Baby' really. It's a simple yet iconic story we can all identify with.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

David Lees (David_lees)
Username: David_lees

Registered: 12-2011
Posted From: 2.125.132.185
Posted on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 12:50 am:   

"He must have had something else going on to get that deal"

Possibly involving a crossroads and a contract signed in blood, I'd wager.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.14
Posted on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 01:01 am:   

For my next read I fancy another bit of John Christopher with his "survival in the wilderness" horror/adventure novel, 'The Long Voyage' (1960). I believe it to be about a shipwreck in the Arctic Ocean that leaves the survivors having to trek across the harshest terrain on Earth with dwindling provisions and the threat of a descent into violence and cannibalism before they can ever hope of reaching safety. I love those kind of intense character and suspense driven stories and know that Christopher is a master of the form. Few other writers of his era were able to get to the heart of man's basic inhumanity to man when faced with fear of death and the breakdown of society's laws. Should be a cracker!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.145.221.92
Posted on Thursday, November 28, 2013 - 02:17 pm:   

I'm positively racing through The Boy. The writing is sinuous and absorbing. The story is becoming more tense by the page. I think it's headed for tragedy but of what nature... I'll certainly be buying more of this guy's writing.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.225
Posted on Thursday, November 28, 2013 - 06:29 pm:   

Just starting "Pigeons From Hell" (1934) by Robert E. Howard for the first time. I'd so looked forward to discussing this story with Joel - especially as the 'Karloff's Thriller' adaptation is coming up soon - and now I'll never be able to.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.225
Posted on Thursday, November 28, 2013 - 08:44 pm:   

A great gothic horror story and, like all the tales in this Howard collection, exceptionally bloody for its time.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, November 28, 2013 - 09:14 pm:   

It's been a long time since I read that one, Stevie, and I'd like to revisit it. King in Danse Macabre called it "one of the finest horror stories of our century" (227).

Does the title mean something beyond the story? As a phrase? I've always (naturally, being a REH fan) flashed to this story when I hear that line sung in the Pretenders' song, "Chain Gang" ("... Got from the house/Like a pigeon from Hell...")—is it possible Chrissie Hyndes was a Howard fan, too?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.225
Posted on Thursday, November 28, 2013 - 11:32 pm:   

The story is a classic, Craig. It ticks all of the boxes I expect from a gothic horror story and yet has all the vivid action, gore and suspense I also expect from Howard. It's a great shame he didn't write more stories in this form as this one proves him to be a master of the spine-chilling detail. I can't wait to see the BKT adaptation now! But wait I shall...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.225
Posted on Thursday, November 28, 2013 - 11:50 pm:   

And that was me finished 'The Haunter Of The Ring And Other Tales'. One of the most varied and entertaining horror collections it has ever been my pleasure to read. Howard was hardly a great literary talent, unlike Joel, say, but, as far as pulp genre literature goes there was no one to touch him in the last century. The man's integrity and exuberance of creativity is an endless joy to read and re-read. His thrilling stories will live forever!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.24.62.55
Posted on Friday, November 29, 2013 - 10:02 pm:   

Finished 'The Long Voyage' (1960) by John Christopher. A stirring, exciting and often quite moving adventure novel of shipwreck and survival in the Arctic wastes that I found impossible to predict. One of those great "who will live and who will die?" reads, if somewhat lacking the haunting quality of his sci-fi novels. Good entertaining stuff.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.194
Posted on Saturday, November 30, 2013 - 07:38 pm:   

Just finished 'Welsh Tales Of Terror' and now starting 'The 24th Pan Book Of Horror Stories' (1982) edited by Herbert Van Thal. There's a Highsmith story in here I can't rememberr reading and another horrible epic by Alan Temperley!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.145.222.134
Posted on Saturday, November 30, 2013 - 08:16 pm:   

Finished The Boy earlier and, if I had any emotions inside of me to shatter, they'd be in pieces now. A truly great and powerful close to the book.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.233.97
Posted on Saturday, November 30, 2013 - 08:17 pm:   

My painful experience with growing to know and love Joel by his intellect on here has taught me an important lesson. If there is anyone on here who feels they have connected with me in any way then please email me. Life is too short and transient for imaginary friendships. Weber will give you my hotmail address.

Like Joel, I've always hated and yet been drawn to the illusory nature of online friendships, yet, some of the best friends and finest intellects I've ever met have been met online. You all know who you are so please get in touch. I have no intention of repeating the mistake I made with Joel, by thinking he would live forever. Though, if I have anything to do with it, he bloody well will!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.106.230
Posted on Sunday, December 01, 2013 - 02:34 am:   

You seem to be assumimg that everyone has my hotmail address to be able to ask me privately...

just post it here in word format rather than email addy format. eg efilsgod at hotmail dot co dot uk. then yoyu won't get spammed but peeps here can mail you...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.233.97
Posted on Sunday, December 01, 2013 - 07:41 am:   

And there was me thinking you were Mr Popularity, Marc!

swalsh123 at hot mail dot com
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 212.183.128.235
Posted on Sunday, December 01, 2013 - 06:21 pm:   

For my next novel I fancy another bit of Patricia Highsmith and have plucked at random 'People Who Knock On The Door' (1983). Apparently this was her having a go at the hypocrisy of American Bible Belt fire-and-brimstone religion. Other than that I know nothing about it.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.106.230
Posted on Sunday, December 01, 2013 - 11:07 pm:   

I will be flicking between Runaway - a collection of short stories - by Alice Munro and Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill.

That and my script for Up Pompeii - opening night next Saturday!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, December 03, 2013 - 05:42 pm:   

I'm loving this Highsmith novel in a way I've never experienced from her before. I'm finding myself identifying completely with the scientifically and philosophically minded 17 year old hero, Arthur, who has the misfortune to have a bible bashing nutter for a father, a mother too brow-beaten to take his side on anything and a younger brother who is totally in thrall to dear old Dad, while Arthur has just knocked up his girlfriend and the family have found out she intends to have an abortion. Doesn't sound particularly gripping, does it? But there's something about the fine everyday details, the brilliantly crafted characters and the subtle undertones of menace amid the homespun Americana that is reminding me a lot of Stephen King, of all people!!

As the novel was published in 1983 and both writers repeatedly appeared in the 'Pan Books Of Horror Stories' series it's not beyond the realms of possibility that Her Dark Highness was perhaps inspired, a little bit, by King's wildly popular and incisive writing style? This is the longest novel of her's I've read to date yet still only the length of one of King's relatively shorter works.

Having said that, entertainingly predictable as King is, I haven't a clue where this book is headed or why I'm being increasingly creeped out by such everyday family matters and starting to fear for poor Arthur's welfare and sanity. Just one of the reasons why Patricia was a genius while King is "merely" a great writer.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.145.221.143
Posted on Tuesday, December 03, 2013 - 06:11 pm:   

I'm sure that one is a good deal shorter than the Blunderer.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.145.222.3
Posted on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 - 02:22 am:   

I stand corrected. Just compared the two and the blunderer is 60 pages shorter.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.232.63
Posted on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 - 05:00 pm:   

I'm well over halfway through the book now and just waiting for the Highsmithian sucker punch, having really grown to love this lead character of her's like never before. There is a serious threat brewing but I can't work out where from, just yet. Either the creepy glassy eyed pamphlet wielding born again pro-lifers or the really weird Irene Langley character with her intrusive calls for help or the redneck hunters who have taken young brother Robbie under their ominous wing. Maybe evangelical lost soul, Dad, will finally go violently nuts or poor Arthur himself will crack under the strain. The suspense is unquantifiable but as potent as the most razor-edged action thriller. Patricia is the greatest exponent of emotional and psychological suspense who ever put pen to paper and this is one of her very best and most untypical yet oh so beautifully familiar novels. If things end badly for Arthur I may never forgive her!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.145.222.112
Posted on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 - 05:20 pm:   

I have vague memories forming of that book. I don't think i liked it overmuch. I'm too far on the pro life side of the issue to find her depiction of pro.life people as weird pamphlet pushers and generally vile people as anything but insulting.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.232.63
Posted on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 - 05:33 pm:   

But every one of them is as vividly drawn and believable three dimensional characters as those on the other side of the issue. I admire Arthur for standing up to his Holy Joe family and putting the welfare of Maggie, his girlfriend, first. At the end of the day it's a woman's choice what she does with her body - especially when she's only 17, emotionally immature and with her whole life in front of her. The decision to have unsafe sex was their understandable mistake, in the first throes of young passion and "love", but the decision that came after was infinitely more serious and multi-layered, with the destruction of multiple lives and families at stake. Who are we to pass judgement on any young couple in such a predicament?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 - 06:00 pm:   

She doesn't depict the pro-lifers as "vile", Marc. She shows them as doggedly patient and calm but judgemental do-gooders who are unconsciously persecuting a vulnerable teenage boy whose intellect and bravery refutes all the superstitious propaganda they see fit to continually force on him, while he stands unsupported by the very people he loves most, his family. They're well meaning but dreadfully and harmfully misguided shallow black-and-white thinkers and I'm 100% behind Arthur in his standing up to them. How this book will end is anyone's guess but I won't be surprised if, knowing Patricia, the most sympathetic character of all turns out to be the bad guy in the long run. It's a right riveting read!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.106.230
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 02:00 am:   

I don't remember much about the book except feeling insulted and offended.

I know this isn't the thread to discuss it on, but my views are very black and white on the subject. The only time that any person has a right to choose whether or not another person should die is if that person is a clear and present immediate danger to your own life.

An unborn child is still a human. By every scientific measure, an unborn child is a separate person from the mother, despite being housed inside her. From the moment of conception you have every strand of DNA you will ever have. Your eventual adult height, hair colour, sexuality, untrained intelligence/muscle build, whether you'll have a tendency to be overweight or be skinny your whole life, is all preset at that moment. Tests prove that as young as 10 weeks gestation an unborn child can feel pain independantly of the mother. By 10 weeks it already has its full complement of limbs and fingers and toes and is recognisably human.

It's a deperate person. The fact that a baby will impact on the mother's life is irrelevant. There are plenty of people who impact on my life in a negative way. This year, certain people have ripped the heart out of my life and left me feeling depressed and occasionally contemplating finishing it all. I'm not allowed to go and do them harm because of that. The same ruling should apply to all humans, regardless of the fact that their geographical location is currently inside another.

The unborn child is a human at the most delicate, tender and utterly dependant stage f our existance. To harm someone who is entirely dependant on you is a gross betrayal of life.

That's my opinion as succinctly as I can put it. Supporters of abortion try to avoid talking about the child, tries to redifine the child as somehow not human and therefore not important to the discussion. But that's plain wrong. Unless the continued existance of the child poses an immediate danger to the mother's life (not her social life or her financial life, her physical continued existance), there's no debate for me.

No superstition involved. Its a life that gets snuffed out at the most delicate stage.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.106.230
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 02:01 am:   

paragraph 4 - for deparate, read Separate
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 03:09 am:   

To be logically consistent, I have to take Weber's side on the issue.

One could argue that it is better to mercifully snuff out a life at an early stage of development, before consciousness and understanding and the sensation of pain, etc., fully sets in, to ease the life-burdens of an already developed and existing human being/s with real-world worries, issues, and concerns of their own. But... who wants to say all that?

Here's some irony: the fact that the world has grown less religious, more secular, has made the argument more problematic for a pro-choice side. Item: the Roman Catholic church never had a consistent view on abortion in centuries past, because it was unclear when God breathes a "soul" into a human; so the degree of sin committed upon having an abortion, varied in various times, from minor to major; and depending on at what stage that abortion was committed (things have since been defined in the Church—God must have finally made up his mind on the issue, it only took him about fifteen or so centuries). One could make a religious argument that there is no soul in the unborn fetus, etc.; but when such lofty religious matters have been removed from the issue, there's only: allowing life to continue, or snuffing out developing life.

Language is always the tricky issue, since words are notoriously intractable to feelings. One says they're "putting a dog to sleep," because it's a merciful act; one wouldn't say, "I killed my dog," or, "I snuffed out my dog." And so, one must use ever more abstracted terms for abortion; because you can't even go, with language, where you're allowed to go with pets: "I put my baby/fetus to sleep today."
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 11:28 am:   

I'm against abortion, personally, or the unnecessary taking of any human life, but I have to be pro-choice as it is the woman's body involved and, ultimately, her decision to make. This can be informed by advice and giving one's own opinion but, at the end of the day, while feeling mortally sad for the unwanted developing human, I don't feel it is my right to brow-beat, judge or condemn any woman who is forced into such a dreadful situation and decides to go through with an abortion for the sake of her own future and sanity, especially at a young age - as was Maggie in this intensely moving and even-handed novel.

This young couple made an impulsive mistake, the oldest one there is, by thinking they had fallen in love and responding to their bodies' instinctive biological impulses. Maggie's family are entirely supportive, liberal-minded and non-religious while poor Arthur's family, led by their domineering and somewhat unstable father, Richard, stick fast to the strict dogma of their fundamentalist christian beliefs, and, because Arthur has reasoned out for himself the illogicality of those beliefs through his love for science, and biology in particular, and refuses to give in to their demands to insist that Maggie keep the child, when all he cares about is her welfare, being 17 and "in love", they disown him and throw him out of the house with no money until he "repents and mends his ways". I can't condone that as anything remotely like a Christian attitude!

The poor lad is now drifting into a dangerously cynical and unbalanced worldview and things are looking more and more ominous for everyone involved. The psychological depth and emotional suspense of the writing is as potent as any of Patricia's more representative thrillers. There's a perfect storm developing and my heart is in my mouth as the end approaches...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.145.220.123
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 11:36 am:   

Your description certainly isn't of an even handed approach to the discussion. One side represented by religious dogmatics who behave intolerably and the other by 'nice' people.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 212.219.63.206
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 11:45 am:   

Sorry to butt in, just finished Dave Barnett's "PopCult" (Pendragon)- an original, entertaining romp. Highly recommended.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 12:11 pm:   

They behave as they see fit according to their own rules. I feel terribly for Arthur's mother and confused younger brother in the situation and have known and can empathise up to a point with people of staunch religious faith who cannot condone what they see as a mortal sin in the eyes of their God. Maggie's father, with his unconcerned manner about the whole subject, "just get rid of it", is as objectionable, in his own way, as Arthur's dad - who at least feels genuine pain and desperation, enough to send him to the brink of a nervous breakdown. All the characters are beautifully drawn and entirely believable as they all respond to a horrible situation according to their own moral code. Arthur, with his rebellious nature and questioning intellect, is the real victim in the story, and he's only 17. I find it quite admirable that Patricia chose to show the effect on the boy in the situation rather than the more expected girl's side. Maggie copes well because she has a completely supportive mother. In the end Arthur has no one... just his brains and his conscience to guide him.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 12:20 pm:   

Ultimately the story is about a battle of wills between an idealistic young man and his fervently religious father. They are the two characters who suffer most in the story and are most psychologically damaged by the events that unfold. I feel for both of them but I know who's side I'm on in the debate.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 12:26 pm:   

I'm also beginning to suspect that Robbie, the brother, might just be gay... all that secrecy and hanging around with older men. But, this being Patricia, that whole sub-plot may just be a big red herring.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 03:25 pm:   

Jesus Christ!! The Highsmithian sucker punch arrived at lunchtime today and I'm kicking myself I didn't see it coming ffs! Naive or what? One of the characters has finally, hypocritically and tragically broken their moral code in a completely unexpected but typical way for this author. Comparisons to Dostoevsky are not only apt they are entirely accurate!!!! I love this novel. It may just be her masterpiece unless she fluffs the ending. As if!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 03:31 pm:   

What are we but spirits inhabiting illusory shells who impose on ourselves a set of "values" that are forced on us by biology, upbringing and circumstances. All we have to cling to is our own conscience and moral code. Once any individual crosses the line of making a choice that they KNOW is wrong then they have lost the game. That's the message of this wonderful novel! Although Patricia probably would have rejected the spirit part that I, as an avid reader and thinker, have "imposed" on her story!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 03:43 pm:   

So the Howard tale was great fun, but it really put me in need of some truly great writing in the short form... thus I put off Hammett's novel in favor of The Oxford Book of Short Stories, ed. by V. S. Pritchett (1981). There's a few here I'm skipping, ones I know overly well or have read recently; others I'm going to revisit, and the majority I'll be enjoying for the first time. So far the very short ones: H.E.Bates' "Never" was hardly worthy of inclusion, but whatever. O. Henry's "Telemechus, Friend," a long joke with a biting point, nicely done; best, Saki's "Sredni Vashtar," which certainly qualifies as horror (speaking of Highsmith, I was reminded of her reading this one). Yeah, way too much "trash" for me reading this year, so far; time for some o'the good stuff....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 03:57 pm:   

As for the "good ones", Craig, here's my own personal Top 10:

1. William Golding
2. Fyodor Dostoevsky
3. J.G. Ballard
4. Graham Greene
5. Patricia Highsmith
6. Charles Dickens
7. Franz Kafka
8. Albert Camus
9. Knut Hamsun (a recent discovery)
10. Philip K. Dick (yes, I sincerely mean that)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 04:19 pm:   

And once that choice has been made and the game is known to have been lost, while being far from over, then the easier it is for further wrong choices to follow and the individual to give in to the acceptance of Evil, imho. Let "Conscience" be thy watchword. Thus endeth today's sermon, which was taken from the Book of Steviology, Chapter IV, Verse 37.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 04:42 pm:   

Do you mean in the short-story arena, Stevie? If so, you're leaving off far too many of the greatest of the great ones!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 05:12 pm:   

No, Craig, as writers, period. And they may not be the ten best ever literary writers of genius (e.g. no Shakespeare) but they're my Top 10 favourites.

I don't think William Golding wrote a short story in his life. Some novellas but nothing shorter than that, to my knowledge.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.232.63
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 08:10 pm:   

Holy Fuck!!!! The events of Chapter 26!! I really didn't see this coming... Jesus wept!!!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 08:50 pm:   

Ah—clarified. Thanks, Stevie.

You know, one name on that list, J.G. Ballard... I've read I believe nothing by him, or at least nothing I can remember; I've been curious anyway about giving him a twirl. So I have one book here with which I can immediately sample something by him, the book being The World Treasury of Science Fiction, the story being "Chronopolis" (1960). Would that be a good start?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.232.63
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 09:16 pm:   

Into the last couple of chapters now and this book has me filling up at the intractability of human nature. It his her masterpiece. Patricia's books always affect me emotionally but this one has been the most powerful. God bless her and her wisdom.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.232.63
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 09:19 pm:   

Fuck me! "Chronopolis" is the very novella that first made me fall in love with Ballard's writing, Craig. You lucky, lucky bastard!! It's probably the greatest science fiction novella of the 20th Century, imho!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.232.63
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 09:54 pm:   

I really mean that, Craig. The last sentence in that story is one of the most brilliant in all literature. Really envy you, man.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.232.63
Posted on Thursday, December 05, 2013 - 11:58 pm:   

Now I realise that Arthur was by no means the victim in this horrible but impossibly gripping story. I'm about to read the last chapter and no matter what you do to me, Patricia, I still love you and I always will. You poor deluded, by that stage, cynical soul. How Graham Greene must have grieved for you in his last days. I love you. End of story... well, not quite.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.145.222.92
Posted on Friday, December 06, 2013 - 12:28 am:   

Adam Nevill is fast becoming one of my favourite writers. Ritual is easily the most scary novel i've ever read. How he managed to keep that level of suspense and sheer terror pitched so high for 400 pages is a complete miracle. Apartment 16 is a different beast entirely, instead of the relentless chase of the Ritual, we have strange happenings in a luxury apartment building. The atmosphere is one of pure dread. The prose is lucid and tense. What's behind the door of apartment 16 is a mystery i'm not actually sure i want answered. It may be more frightening than anything else i've ever read.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.232.63
Posted on Friday, December 06, 2013 - 12:42 am:   

I've just heard that Nelson Mandela has died. And at the same time I made friends with a white South African outside the bar who told me the news and was genuinely gutted. God bless you all. There is a God... or something equivalent.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.232.63
Posted on Friday, December 06, 2013 - 02:51 am:   

This book and the recent death of two of the most admirably brave people I intellectually met in my life has made me realise what a shallow self-obsessed and unconsciously cruel but misguidedly well meaning bastard I truly am. And I am a bastard. Thank you, Patricia, I really do love you. Stevie xxxx
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Friday, December 06, 2013 - 07:48 am:   

Thanks, Stevie! I guess I'll push the other book aside, and read the Ballard one next, then....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 212.219.63.206
Posted on Friday, December 06, 2013 - 11:32 am:   

Craig...I noticed your J G Ballard query. My advice is to start with his short fiction. My favourite Ballard collection is "Disaster Area". "The Wind From Nowhere" is a pretty accessible novel as well, and, of course, "Empire of the Sun", which in its way, explain almost everything else he wrote!

Cheers
Terry
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

David Lees (David_lees)
Username: David_lees

Registered: 12-2011
Posted From: 2.219.133.33
Posted on Friday, December 06, 2013 - 04:17 pm:   

Apartment 16 is the only horror novel I've read in my life that I actually had to put aside for a couple of days because I was getting so disturbed by it.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Friday, December 06, 2013 - 04:48 pm:   

Over on Goodreads.com, someone gave APARTMENT 16 (which I've not read) only two stars, and that because one of the characters was named "Apryl." She said it destroyed her suspension of disbelief, that anyone would name their kid Apryl, spelled like that. It seems like a petty point... but I will say, when you have something out of the ordinary like that, in any story? As an author you really have a duty to address it—not to, is flagrant. It's an annoying little quibble, sounds like, on that reader's part, but I kinda sympathize with it....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.145.222.17
Posted on Friday, December 06, 2013 - 05:45 pm:   

Probably just named after someone he knows. If he'd called a character ivor wafflebottom then you could see her point. But Apryl isn't a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

David Lees (David_lees)
Username: David_lees

Registered: 12-2011
Posted From: 94.9.55.154
Posted on Saturday, December 07, 2013 - 03:46 pm:   

Nevill's House of Small Shadows is still at the top of my reading pile, unfortunately I keep going to the library and finding interesting books I have to read within a time limit.

I just got through the second Dexter novel in two days, which was excellent. It's on reading these that it really hits home how turgid and angst-ridden the TV series became in its later seasons. Dexter is just such a charming and fun narrator.

I've just started The Schism by Robert Dickinson, which seems to be about a debt collector with a schizophrenic brother who gets involved with a group interested in the occult and astrology. I have no idea what to expect from it so far, though it's described as a literary thriller, so possibly a horror novel marketed at people who wouldn't be caught dead reading horror novels.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.233.228
Posted on Saturday, December 07, 2013 - 07:57 pm:   

How the hell do I follow 'People Who Knock On The Door'? It is one of the most profoundly and personally moving books I have read in years as I so completely identified with the lead character and his awful dilemma. The ending left me devastated and feeling I had said goodbye to a friend. Powerful stuff!!

What to read next...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 185.26.180.101
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 01:52 am:   

Something completely opposite. Try a big brash comic novel
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 108.88.143.23
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 02:43 am:   

How about The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.233.228
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 01:50 pm:   

I've decided on a simultaneous read of two short and very different philosophical sci-fi classics by two of the absolute masters:

My first re-read in over 25 years of one of the last century's greatest, wisest and most original, as well as extremely funny, novels; 'Slaughterhouse Five' (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut.

&

A first read of one of Theodore Sturgeon's most critically acclaimed, yet now largely forgotten, novels; 'Venus Plus X' (1960). I know nothing about it except its reputation among his peers.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.233.228
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 02:24 pm:   

To give the Vonnegut novel its forgotten full title:

'Slaughterhouse Five or The Children's Crusade, A Duty Dance With Death' by Kurt Vonnegut Jnr, a fourth generation German-American now living in easy circumstances on Cape Cod [and smoking too much], who, as an American Infantry scout, hors de combat, as a prisoner of war, witnessed the fire bombing of Dresden, "the Florence of the Elbe", a long time ago, and survived to tell the tale. This is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenic manner of tales of the planet Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers come from. Peace.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 04:44 pm:   

I'm surprised at you, Stevie: jumping in to read Slaughter-house Five, when you know how much of the novel depends on previous novels—Sirens of Titan, Cat's Cradle, Mother Night, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.... The only proper way to fully enjoy it, is to start over with those, then read Slaughter-house. Come on!

I greatly enjoyed Ballard's "Chronopolis." Yes, that last sentence, is like the last line of a very long joke, coming a long ways down the garden path and even out the side gate.... I will look for more Ballard now (thanks for the suggestions, Terry).

Meanwhile, delved back into my Oxford collection of—*ahem!*—"lit-traaary" short stories. Two were bleak and depressing in their own ways, darker in some ways than many a horror tale: Ambrose Bierce's horrors-of-war " The Coup de Grâce" (1899) and Eudora Welty's darkly-whimsical tale of extreme old age, "A Visit of Charity" (1941). Ring Lardner's "Who Dealt?" (1924) is a bittersweetly hilarious monologue by a ditzy newlywed "dummy" in a game of Bridge, whose mindless babble dredges up the painful romantic pasts of her fellow players.... Great stuff all, and on I go!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.233.228
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 05:49 pm:   

The best way to read Vonnegut is most definitely not in chrono order! I'm surprised at you, Craig. Stevie Walsh has come unstuck in time...

Ballard only gets better from there, man. Enjoy!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.233.228
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 08:04 pm:   

Having already been bowled over by Highsmith's "Woodrow Wilson's Neck-Tie", Temperley's "The Gypsy Candle" and Dahl's timeless masterpiece "The Landlady" in the 24th Pan I'm just about to read another great Alan Temperley novella (two in this collection) called "Love On The Farm". It's almost as memorably sick and gripping as "Kowlongo Plaything"!! This is turning into one of the best of the series!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.233.228
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 09:09 pm:   

In my opinion what makes Alan Temperley's insufferable HORROR stories great is the passion about injustice he puts into them. Of all the writers known only from the Pan Horror series he was by far the greatest, imo.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 10:05 pm:   

Hey, Stevie, btw... I found at my local library for 50¢, an absolutely pristine 1989-edition paperback of Derek Raymond's He Died With His Eyes Open. Looks pretty good. You like this guy, right? Am I remembering that correctly? Is this the one to start with?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Lincoln (Lincoln_brown)
Username: Lincoln_brown

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 101.119.28.86
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 10:55 pm:   

Flying through 'Swan Song' at the moment. I was sure that I'd read this back in the day, but no, it's new to me.
I've never read 350 pages so quickly!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.233.228
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 10:56 pm:   

If "Kowlongo Plaything" was unrelenting pure physical horror with an emotional undercurrent then "Love On The Farm" is pure emotional horror with a truly horrible physical element. Jesus, what was this man on when he wrote these bloody stories ffs!!!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.233.228
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 10:59 pm:   

You'll love it, Lincoln! It's McCammon's second best novel. With apologies to my good friend, Weber (who stupidly disagrees).
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.233.228
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 11:02 pm:   

You jammy bastard, Craig! Yes, that's the first of the five Black novels! Prepare yourself to be taken to Hell and back. And it only gets worse after this one. I loved talking to Joel about these books. I really miss him too, Ally.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Lincoln (Lincoln_brown)
Username: Lincoln_brown

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 101.119.28.86
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 11:12 pm:   

Stevie, I have 'They Thirst' lined up as well. Will probably slip a few shorter books in between though.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 85.255.233.228
Posted on Sunday, December 08, 2013 - 11:20 pm:   

As for the Temperley story... it's not what you're thinking. Not by a million miles. It's infinitely worse.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, December 09, 2013 - 02:14 pm:   

The moment you start 'They Thirst', Lincoln, you'll be hooked and it will feel like a book that isn't nearly long enough.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.109.90
Posted on Monday, December 09, 2013 - 04:14 pm:   

I preferred Swan Song to They Thirst personally. I really wasn't convinced by the denouement of TT.

I think my favourite McCammon book that I've read is probably Boy's life. I remember loving Gone South when I read that many many moons ago as well...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.134.109.90
Posted on Monday, December 09, 2013 - 04:18 pm:   

Meanwhile Adam Nevill continues to scare the hell out of me in Apartment 16. The things that inhabit Barrington place make the inhabitants of the Overlook or Nazareth Hill or even Hill House itself look like friendly little fairies sprinkling happy pixie dust.

This is easily the most scary haunted house/bad place novel I've ever read. Fantastic stuff.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, December 09, 2013 - 04:39 pm:   

I'm currently keeping an eye open for 'Bethany's Sin' (1980) to continue my chrono read of McCammon.

Meanwhile I'm completely captivated by the wit and poignancy of 'Slaughterhouse Five' all over again and flying through it. I really shouldn't have left this re-read so long. Every line of Vonnegut's writing is just so right.

Oddly the Sturgeon book, 'Venus Plus X, i