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DEquinox

My Goodreads review: The Outsiders

Posted on 2015.06.24 at 16:35
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The OutsidersThe Outsiders by Joe Mynhardt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This modern British Lovecraftian thriller is composed of five linked stories set in & around a gated religious community . . . with a difference. If the fact that this community is called Priory -- & that the town nearest is Exham -- gives you a sense of dark amusement, you’re probably going to appreciate that difference a whole lot more.

Discussing Priory’s devotional practices would be a major spoiler, but suffice it to say that it’s easer to join the congregation than to leave it – ever. No matter how safe, secure, and financially comfortable life is inside, every benefit is being paid for in ways none of Priory’s residents care to think about. There’s more than a little social commentary here, though it never gets in the way of the good creepy fun.

I wound up enjoying this book quite a bit more than I was expecting to early on. The stories do interlink and progress, rather than simply offering five views of a static situation. At least a few of the characters are sympathetic, there’s a little tasty science, and the plot pacing is relentless. I was up too late with this one more than once, though I don’t recommend it for bedtime relaxation. As a Lovecraftian beach read, however, it’s probably just the thing.





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Hippocampus Press has released the final cover image for my forthcoming Lovecraftian fiction collection, Dark Equinox! As promised, here’s the reveal:

Dark Equinox Final Version small jpg namefix (557x800).jpg


The book will be available from Amazon in mid-August -- but preorders placed through the Hippocampus Press website ship in July.

A combo pack discount (for Dark Equinox & Twisted In Dream, my most recent dark poetry collection) is still available. Find all the details here.

And if you’re joining the pilgrimage in August, I’ll be at NecronomiCon Providence August 20-23. More details on that when my panels & reading(s) are finalized, but the current schedule is already up here.


I’m falling behind on my podcast listening this summer, so this notice is a week-plus late – but I wouldn’t want any Lovecraftians who read this LJ to miss StarShipSofa 390.

The whole episode is excellent, with dark SF by Allen M. Steele & an extensive interview with leading horror editor Ellen Datlow. However, the draw for devotees of the Bard of Providence is this month’s Looking Back in Genre History segment. Dr. Amy H. Sturgiseldritchhobbit discusses the history lurking behind Lovecraft’s “The Shunned House,” with glimpses into New England’s own brand of vampire mythology. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about HPL, but I learned a lot from this segment.

Find the episode here. As always, you can download it from the web site, listen online, or find it on iTunes. However you choose to listen, I wouldn’t miss this one.


The 2015 Rhysling AnthologyThe 2015 Rhysling Anthology by Rich Ristow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



[Full disclosure: I have a poem in this anthology. I won’t be discussing it here.]

This year’s Rhysling Anthology (which serves as an awards voting tool for members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association) seems particularly strong. Offering nearly 160 pp. of speculative poetry in short (under 50 lines) and long (50 lines & over) form categories, it represents a good sampling of current styles, themes, and trends in this genre.

I found less emphasis on fairy tales and myths this year, and more concern with various sciences. A fair percentage of the poems read close to mainstream, though favorite SF tropes (starflight, extee colonies, aliens, etc.) are still going strong. Horror and dark fantasy – some of it Lovecraftian – also made a showing. I was interested to notice that several long-form poems this year were formal, either rhymed or in blank verse. There seemed to be an unusual number of poems inspired by other poems or authors, as well.

The anthology itself is a very nicely produced trade paperback, with full-color cover and generally good layout, though I did notice a few broken stanzas. All in all, it makes an excellent “yearbook” for lovers of spec poetry.




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Ankh, Scarab

My Goodreads review: The Buried Giant

Posted on 2015.06.08 at 15:42
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The Buried GiantThe Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This lyrical, melancholy, & frequently strange novel is set in post-Arthurian Britain, somewhere between historical & magical. The land lies under a strange mist which thwarts long-term memory, though many suspect this has advantages as well as disadvantages.

When an elderly pair of Britons set out from their underground community to find their son in a neighboring town, they find themselves entangled in increasingly mythic situations. Their traveling companions include a Saxon fighter, a young orphan with a mysterious wound, and the nearly ancient Sir Gawain (yes, that Gawain) -- all in search of a she-dragon who may be causing the mist.

This set-up may sound like standard fantasy, but nothing about this journey is straightforward or completely explained. Ishiguro changes viewpoint characters often – though always with proper identification – and the reader is never sure how much of what he/she has just learned is real & how much is false memory. The ending is heartbreaking, though some loose ends remain. Or perhaps it’s only that dragon mist . . .

I was torn between four stars and five for this one, but finally settled on four due to a few too many “what just happened?” or “how does this relate to the overall plot?” moments. I suspect some might be my fault rather than the author’s. I’m an experienced consumer of fantasy fiction, but this tale is definitely on the thin literary edge of that genre.




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Best Ghost Stories of Algernon BlackwoodBest Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood by Algernon Blackwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


An excellent introduction to Blackwood for those who – like me – either haven’t read this notable British writer much, or possibly haven’t read him at all. Most of the stories here (other than “Max Hensig,” a crime tale with psychic overtones) were written before 1916, and combine traditional slow-burn horror with some of the finest atmospherics around.

Two of the longer tales – “The Willows” and “The Wendigo” – are weird fiction classics, and worth the very reasonable price of this collection all by themselves. The rest ring a wide variety of changes on the traditional ghost story. Some are distinctly horrific (I found “Secret Worship,” “The Listener,” and “The Empty House” particularly disturbing), while others focus on the pure experience of being haunted

Blackwood’s style is thoroughly English -- literary & “chewy.” His endings might be a little quiet for modern tastes, but he delivers some serious chills along the way.




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I am (incredibly) happy to report that Hippocampus Press is now taking preorders for my second weird / Lovecraftian fiction collection, Dark Equinox. Find all the details – and a draft version of creepy Southwestern cover art by Lyndsay Harper! – here.

For May, at least, Hippocampus Press is also offering a package deal on Dark Equinox & my omnibus weird poetry collection Twisted in Dream. Find details here. This one came out in 2011, & includes my very SF 36-sonnet sequence In the Yaddith Time.

I’ll be posting more details & a real “cover reveal” later. For now, happy Mother’s Day weekend to any & all moms reading. Stay weird!


Preorders are now being taken for Cthulhu Fhtagn! (ed. Ross E. Lockhart) , due out in August from Word Horde, & available from both independent booksellers & online retailers.

Signed copies can be preordered direct from Word Horde, here.

[Truth in LJing: why, yes, I do have a story in this one. “Dead Canyons” is a tale of Mars, the Mythos, & a slight nod to “At the Mountains of Madness” . . . all set in Boulder, CO.]

cthulhu_cov_sm-267x400.jpg


Ankh, Scarab

Earth Day, somewhen

Posted on 2015.04.22 at 11:54
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teacher points
on the star chart
Earth Day


                           -- Ann K. Schwader


We’re a little more than halfway through National Poetry Month (in the US), but new reading opportunities for speculative poetry lovers keep popping up online! Here are two to start off your weekend:


1. Issue #16 of the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s online journal Eye to the Telescope is up! This one is music-themed, & guest-edited by Diane Severson divadiane1. It’s a big issue – 22 poems – featuring both Usual Suspects & newer names in the spec poetry field. The poems themselves range widely, from free verse to haiku to various flavors of formal. Find it all right here.

(Truth in LiveJournaling: I have the lead-off poem in this one. It’s a pantoum, "Siren Stars.")


2. Tor.com is celebrating National Poetry Month with poems from “notable names in the science fiction and fantasy fields.” The most recent post is “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Dragon” by Mari Ness, but they’ve been doing this since 2011 – from what I can tell. Find the whole fascinating assortment here.


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