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DEquinox

last footprints

Posted on 2017.01.17 at 15:06
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dust
of a waning moon
last footprints


                      -- Ann K. Schwader

                Gene Cernan, last astronaut on the moon, is gone at 82
                http://wapo.st/2jpCsXf

I'm still catching up with contributors' copies, etc. from the end-of-year deluge, but wanted to mention that Colorado's own Centipede Press has recently released Weird Fiction Review #7.

This annual journal -- so big that my contrib arrived in a box of its own! -- is edited by S.T. Joshi, and offers over 350 pp. of fiction, poetry, essays, interviews, reviews, and artwork, all in a very handsome sewn paperback edition with color covers & much interior color.

The fiction this time around is by Steve Rasnic Tem, Mark Howard Jones, Jonathan Thomas, John Shirley & Don Webb, and Nicole Cushing. Poetry is by Christina Sng, Ian Futter, K.A. Opperman, John Shirley, Wade German, Ashley Dioses, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard -- & Yours Truly.

There are also articles by Charles A. Gramlich, Jason V. Brock, Chad Hensley, and others; a column by John Pelan, and more.

For more information, or to order at a discount, please check here.

DEquinox

My Goodreads review: The Obsidian Chamber

Posted on 2017.01.05 at 15:44
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The Obsidian Chamber (Pendergast #16)The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This latest Pendergast adventure was both satisfying and oddly disappointing. Unfortunately, despite it being devoted to winding up a number of mysteries and family secrets, the disappointment prevailed for me.

Without revealing any plot points -- almost anything in this one could be a spoiler! -- I've got to admit that this one felt way too much like a mundane thriller. It was certainly well-crafted, with plenty of military details & exotic locales, but it seemed to lack that hint of Otherness most books in this series have. Pendergast never goes fully into the supernatural, but he frequently skirts the edges of it, or at least leaves the reader wondering whether something truly strange might be going on. This time, however, he stuck to the real world (or at least his variant of it). Black ops, yes. Black rites, not a sniff.

This may simply be a matter of personal preference. Most regular readers of this series are likely to be fascinated enough by seeing several long-running plotlines come together, or by picking up yet more esoteric details of Pendergast's background. I will definitely continue reading this series, but I'll be hoping for a bit more of the weird/ horrific next time around.





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DEquinox

My Goodreads review: The Highwayman

Posted on 2016.12.06 at 14:20
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The Highwayman: A Longmire StoryThe Highwayman: A Longmire Story by Craig Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A genuinely spooky bit of modern Gothic, with twists all the way to the end. Familiarity with at least some of the other books -- or the TV adaptation -- might be helpful, though this tale doesn't appear to fit into a particular point in the series.

Johnson's evocation of northern Wyoming in the early spring is bone-chillingly accurate (I'm a native of the state), and his continuing cast of characters all feel like old friends. The plot justifies its novella length without overstaying its welcome. A must read for fans of the series -- though anyone interested in contemporary Western mysteries would probably enjoy it.



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It Can"t Happen HereIt Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is a dated (especially in some of the language relating to minorities) but still deeply disturbing piece of speculative fiction. First published in 1935, it does an excellent job of showing the life cycle of a "regime change" in a democratic society unable to sustain itself.

Lewis is more than occasionally dogmatic, but there are memorable ideas and phrases in nearly every chapter. The protagonist is flawed enough to be sympathetic, and the plot does move, though I felt the ending was a little rushed. As with most dystopias, some suspension of disbelief is required -- but I found the effort more than worthwhile.








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When it comes to reviews, glad tidings are always welcome!

Hippocampus Press publisher Derrick Hussey recently let me know about some very kind words re my 2015 fiction collection Dark Equinox & Other Tales of Lovecraftian Horror. In Wormwood #27, reviewer John Howard finds that


. . . Schwader unflinchingly shows the disintegration of the personal and the cosmic: and nothing is, or ever again can be, secure. (re 'When the Stars Run Away')

Intense and with a superb sense of place, each tale refers obliquely back to one or more stories or concepts from the Cthulhu Mythos, and runs with it in a refreshingly distinctive way. Lively and intriguing, they are utterly Lovecraftian in spirit. (re my five linked tales of Cassie Barrett)


Dark Equinox is available from the publisher, or from Amazon in both print and Kindle formats.

Highway of Sleeping TownsHighway of Sleeping Towns by Deborah P Kolodji

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I nibbled through this one, a few at a time last thing in the evening. Haiku are concentrated things, & it seemed like the perfect way to consume this remarkable, very 21st century collection.

Although nature is not neglected in these pages, the overall tone is deeply personal & highly individual. There's a touch of the cosmic, as well -- Kolodji acknowledges science as a full part of nature, & the reader benefits.

Recommended for all haiku enthusiasts, or anyone interested in experiencing this form at a very high -- yet accessible -- level of quality.







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DEquinox

My Goodreads review: The Elementals

Posted on 2016.10.25 at 16:10
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The ElementalsThe Elementals by Michael McDowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A solidly crafted Southern Gothic take on the classic haunted house novel, with characters the reader actually comes to care about. (Which is unfortunate, given the body count!)

This one offers pretty much everything a reader might want in such a tale: a creepy Victorian summer home -- three, actually -- an increasingly menacing setting cut off from civilization, generations of family secrets, occult protections that don't work, and a memorably nasty ending with a twist. The writing is first-class, and most of the characters are very well drawn. McDowell knows how to make his descriptions visceral without being gratuitous, which is a real plus.

One caveat: this 1981 novel might feel slightly dated to some readers. Supernatural horror fans who appreciate a quieter, more literary approach won't be disappointed, though.




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Issue #22 of Eye to the Telescope, the SFPA's online journal of speculative poetry, has gone live!

In keeping with the season, this is the "Ghosts" issue. Edited by Shannon Connor Winward, it offers 27 spectral poems ranging from Gothic horror to folktale to spooky SF. There's a range of forms as well, though this issue runs pretty heavily toward free verse.

And, yes, Yours Truly does have something here: the terza rima sonnet "New World Haunting."

The Nightmare Stacks (Laundry Files, #7)The Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Charles Stross just keeps ringing new changes on his popular Laundry Files. This time around, he's added urban fantasy. Or rather, the Secret History behind it. As newly minted Laundry employee -- and PHANG -- Dr. Alex Schwartz discovers, elves are not only quite real, but remarkably unpleasant. At least, most of them are . . .

The Laundry, Leeds, and possibly the planet are all under attack in this one, as CASE NIGHTMARE RED (alien invasion) picks an otherwise ordinary weekend to manifest. The result is a bizarre but satisfying blend of military thriller, occult adventure, & just a touch of very strange romance.

Regular readers of this series won't be disappointed, though some may find Stross's worldbuilding into the fey realm a bit of a stretch. (I did not.)





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