Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Number of Pages: 205
Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars Aligned
January 1972. Resenting his unexpected fame and suffering from severe writer’s block, America’s premier “gonzo” journalist decides to reinvent himself. He creates a new persona–Uncle Lono– and hatches a scheme to return to his roots, reinvigorating his patriotism and his writing in the process. On a freaked-out journey to Arkham, Massachusetts, and the 1972 presidntial primary, evidence mounts that sinsiter forces are on the rise, led by the Cult of Cthulhu, and its most prominent member–Richard M. Nixon! Will the truth set Lono free or simply drive him insane?
Hunter S. Thompson and H.P. Lovecraft were two very influential writers from two very different times. Though they shared no commonality in the genre in which they wrote, the two authors always seemed to have a way of captivating my literary attention. Lovecraft, a writer of cosmic fear, never let us forget that we were an insignificant force in this universe. His writings in the early 1900′s helped to define the weird genre and opened up doors to aspiring writers of fiction. Thompson wrote to an already fearful generation that craved information, no matter how twisted it was, about the world at war and how insignificant the American dream and its people were to the white collared swine in charge… Namely Nixon.
Both wrote in times of war, and held correspondence with numerous folks. When standing back and seeing some of the silly similarities they share, along with some of the serious ones, I find it unusual that Lovecraft passed away March 15th, of 37′, and Thompson was born 4 months later on July 18th. Now I like to entertain the idea of reincarnation, mainly because the thought of continuing to another life intrigues me, so I always thought it would make for a smash-up story if somehow Thompson was the reincarnation of H.P. Lovecraft. Bad news is im too late.
Good news is Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas, another pair of great authors qualified for the job, have collaborated to create, The Damned Highway: Fear and Loathing in Arkham. Though there is no connection of the two’s death/birth dates made in the book, I finished the last page and closed the book with a grin on my face.
Fans of both Lovecraft, and Thompson, it seems, are pretty picky when it comes to new additions to either Gonzo writing, or to the Cthulhu Mythos. Granted, Hunter S. Thompson fans are a little harsher to those breaking into the art, both sides seem to be fairly happy with what Keene and Mamatas have produced.
I have been reading both H.P.L and H.S.T for years, so I was no newbie to some of the references Keene and Mamatas successfully pulled off with a strange grace. The mastery of Thompson’s language. Perfectly sewn-together plot of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos into Thompson’s time during the 72′ election campaign. Interweaving truth like Senator Eagleton’s electroconvulsive therapy, and exposing how it was connected to an occult ceremony that had gone awry.
The story took a little bit to get jiving for me at first. The plot was always moving, but some of the begging of the book was slow and seemed a little heavy the usual Hunter S. Thompson references. But after trudging on I kind of felt that it was needed for those who might not be well read in Thompson’s work and his view on the world. Even still I would recommend reading some of both H.P. Lovecraft and Thompson’s work, or at least looking them up and reading about them and their life.
From dead peacocks, to fungi from Yuggoth. From Woody Creek Colorado, to Arkham and Innsmouth Massachusetts. This book fully satisfied that weird little hunger pain I get from time to time for Lovecraftian fiction. Especially Lovecraftian fiction that is seen and heard through the eyes and ears of Hunter S. Thompson.
In the end I recommend reading this one. If you’ve got a small bit of cash and some time to spare, I’d say sit down with this baby and learn how Nixon almost succeeded awaking Cthulhu and damning us all.
Next on the docket is Horns by Joe Hill. Stephen Kings kid gets a shot at showing us how twisted his mind has become. You know, being raised by King himself…might be interesting.
Author: Will McIntosh
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Number of Pages: 283
Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars Aligned
Finn Darby life isn’t perfect, but it’s fair. While enjoying the success of Toy Shop, a weekly comic strip he illustrates, he is still silently dealing with the simultaneous loss of his wife, Lorena, and Thomas Darby, Finn’s grandfather. Trying to move on, Finn began a new life starting by resurrecting his grandfather’s comic strip and adding new characters, and even began dating.
But that life gets quickly disrupted when a massive terrorist attack cripples Atlanta with an anthrax outbreak. All over again Finn is dealing with the loss of friends, when suddenly he begins to croak out uncontrolled words and phrases in the forgotten voice of his grandfather. Soon people learn that a new epidemic is arising from the grave, as people begin to become slowly possessed by dead but persistent souls.
Banding together with a new-found group of friends, Finn is in a race to figure out what the “hitchers” (as they call the possessors) want and why they’re here. But as time runs out his grandfather, Thomas Darby slowly begins to ruin his life, and take control of Finn’s body.
My first introduction to Will McIntosh was through The Drabblecast when they covered his story Fantasy Jumper and again when they did Followed. It was after Followed that I became interested in his style of writing, something that I believe could be something called “doomed emotion”. Meaning that at some point of the story the main character/characters revolve through a mixture of emotions but only through their “doomed” feeling, (in Followed this is portrayed when the main character realizes he will never shake the zombie child that stalks him) does the character find solace, or meaning to their troubles.
Hitchers is no exception to this theme in my opinion. Sure there is action that moves the story from place to place, but the way McIntosh uses emotion to carry the reader to each place is something I like in his writing. The opening scene with the Anthrax outbreak, and the death of over half of Atlanta was enough to get me started, but the struggles that each character had with their past, and the stories behind the “hitchers” that possessed them was what kept my attention throughout the book.
At first I was not amused by the comic strip portion of the novel, but as time went on I found myself enjoying them as something tangible from the story, and in the end I could almost imagine McIntosh drawing these.
Though the emotion of the characters is a big part of my liking the story, I did find it hard at times to believe that the grandfather could honestly be that much of an asshole as he was. Something else that bothered me was how every time Finn and his friends had to find someone, or something they usually happened upon the right spot right away. I suppose though, it’s better than them wandering through Atlanta looking for people, even with half a million people suddenly gone.
This is the second book from Will McIntosh his first being Soft Apocalypse. He is the winner of a Hugo-Award and a Nebula finalist. He has published over twenty short stories in magazines such as Asimov’s, Daily Science Fiction, Interzone, Lightspeed Magazine, and Strange Horizons. Soft Apocalypse is a finalist for The 2012 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel, The 2012 Locus Award for Best First Novel, and The 2012 Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel. He also has a story, Over There, forthcoming in Asimov’s January 2013 issue.
All in all Hitchers is something worth reading. I found myself laughing at parts, which is great, but I wish that there was a little more terror and suspense involved. The story is emotional and moving, but on the balance could have had more spine… no pun intended. I do plan on reading Soft Apocalypse, but I do hope it’s as good as they say, and hopefully at least a little better than Hitchers.
Next on the docket is The Damned Highway: Fear and Loathing in Arkham, by Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas. Mixing the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft, and Hunter S. Thompson for what looks like a sanity blasting trip. Buy the ticket and take the ride my friends.
Saw this on the YouTube homepage, and thought I’d give it a look. Pretty good stuff for a claymation/stop motion animation. Strange adaptation of “From Beyond”, but clever none the less.
In some of Lovecraft’s greatest tales he refrains from describing the horror itself in hopes that the reader’s imagination will take over and create a terrifying monster for him. However, we as humans must SEE the horror to confirm our thoughts are accurate in conceiving something so blasphemous that we love to think about it, yet pray to the gods that it really doesn’t exist. Luckily for us there has been a huge influx of artist whose psyche has been nurtured by the words of weird authors growing up, thus raising a new generation of visualists. Visualists who in the fashion of Goya, yet armed with digital pencils and photoshop, have begun to create compelling art that make most people uncomfortable when they get a glimpse. We like that stuff, and that’s why we like Steve Santiago.
I came across Steve while looking for a disturbing icon that I could call an unspeakable gibberer. I found one of his images entitled “Hybrid Horror” (click that link to see it), and inquired about using it. Turns out some of his work is locked, or need permission for use because of the stock photos used to create the image, and this was one of those. So, instead of waiting for the ok, Steve offered to create something for the site personally. Then wallah we were blessed with one of the creepiest damn things I’ve ever seen. Steve and his family dwell in Fresno, California where he is a graphic designer by day, and a father of 3 by night. He has a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and has been lucky to work in the field for over 15 years. This guy knows his stuff and is one of the friendliest people I have had the pleasure to chat with. I wanted to do a little bio/interview post for Steve because things have been blowing up for this guy lately; with upcoming projects with Drabblecast, and work with the Lovecraft eZine Issue #8, I realize this guy is going places. I decided to post a couple of interview questions to help some people realize that Steve is not as crazy as you would think from looking at his work. After the Q/A are a couple of pieces Steve has previously completed. Enjoy!
Who is your favorite artist/inspiration? The first name that comes to mind is Frank Frazetta. The way he captured motion and used color still amazes me. Also the old master, Vincent van Gogh, and for a modern artist I would have to say Dave McKean for his mixed media style of perfectly blending illustration with photos and sculptures.
Who is your favorite author? Wow, to single out just one would be a crime! Growing up I had many. Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Robert E. Howard, Jules Verne and of course, H.P. Lovecraft all fueled my young mind with thoughts of adventure, terror and Sci-Fi. I would then try to draw scenes from the pages I read or the covers but would fail miserably. I have to admit that I’m not much of a reader anymore. My sacred spare time is spent drawing or photoshopping for fun or competitions. But over the past year or so I have been brushing up on my Lovecraft and rediscovering his works all over again. Thanks in part to the H.P. Podcraft Literary Podcasts.
What got you into Lovecraft or weird fiction in general? My older brother and I grew up watching shows like “Kolchak the Night Stalker” “Night Gallery” and “In Search Of…” We were fascinated with ghost stories, UFO’s and creepy folklore. I was a teenager when my brother and I discovered the Michael Whelan illustrated covers that collected Lovecraft stories. That was our first experience with Lovecraft and I thought those were the most disturbing stories I had ever read, I loved it!
What is your favorite Lovecraft story? At the Mountains of Madness.
Do you have any hobbies? I’d have to say that since 2006 my hobby would be entering photoshop, illustration and logo contests that started on Worth1000.com and now on deviantART.com. It is very competitive and addicting! But it has been a great way to improve my skills. Always something new to learn.
Work/piece your most proud of? I’m never really satisfied with anything I do. I keep thinking I could have done better but I do like your web banner! I also like the cover I did for an upcoming Drabblecast episode. It incorporates 3 stories into the cover which wasn’t as easy as I thought it might be.
Do you have any goals or dreams to fulfill? I just had one fulfilled by having an illustration published (online) that has something to do with Lovecraftian fiction (The lovecraftzine.comissue 8 illustration for “The Time Eater” written by Adam Bolivar) and to do a cover for The Drabblecast which I have been a big fan of for quite some time. My Drabblecast cover should be out soon. So my new goals now are to continue to contribute art for The Drabblecast and be asked to create the cover for a future issue of the Lovecraft eZine. A long term goal would be to illustrate a book. I can dream can’t I?
With the work you’re doing for DC (Drabblecast), I’m curious if there is a story, or even an episode art that stands out most to you? Episode #206 entitled “Creature” that caught my eye and turns out to be one of my favorite Drabblecast stories. Excellent cover too.
What got you into DC? My love for podcasts lead me to find some really good anthology sites. Although when I first started listening to DC, I never imagined I would get the opportunity to do cover work for them. Thanks Bo!
Any future gigs you wish to get into/continue? To continue illustrating and photoshopping art for The Drabblecast and the Lovecraft eZine. They both have a great platform and continue to grow their fan base and I’m happy to be along for the ride.
As I write this now I see that Steve’s episode art for The Drabblecast #225 Trifecta XIX is out! good stuff, and to see that swing over to The Drabblecast’s new fancy site, or stay tuned here for a little review of this weeks episode. Below are some pieces of work that Steve has so nicely decided to share with us. For mor of these awesome pics, and to get know Mr. Santiago a little better, check out his stuff at http://www.quest007.deviantart.com.
It’s been a while since my last post about these guys. I skipped over posting about “The Call of Cthulhu” reading with Andrew Leman, and decided that on the next episode post I would breeze over it. Great production value, as to be expected, and a great treat to have over Halloween. All of the full readings are now exclusively available on the H.P.L Literary Podcast homepage.
This week’s episode was one I have been waiting for a long time. I am a big Randolph Carter fan, and I was excited to get to this one. In some reviews of the tale, I gathered it was another crappy team-up, as Chris calls them, but after hearing both Chris and Chad talk about it, I immediately rushed to my complete collection of H.P. Lovecraft and read it. Good stuff folks. We are blessed again to have the dreamy voice of Lance Holt, from The Dream Quest of Unkown Kadath, and The Silver Key fame. As Lovecraft has progressed, I have noticed a more Science-fiction feel to his work. His descriptions of sounds, lights, and color really grabbed me and at times I felt myself falling through space in sort of a kaleidoscopic worm-hole.
Like I said I am a big Carter fan, and I really liked how this story panned out. Yes it was obvious from the start, and from reading reviews, I knew how it would end. Even with those spoilers I never read a perspective that gathered that Carter is an archetype of Yog-Sothoth. Still filling in the plot with all the description and feeling helps prove that Lovecraft is a master of his realm. I would have to agree with the guys that this one doesn’t get enough credit, and hope that someday they produce full readings of all of Carters journeys.
Next week, that is if Mr. Lackey isn’t fathering a gibbering spawn of himself, we get another Hazel Heald collaboration, The Winged Death. Read before they discuss and enjoy the madness. I give this story 5 out of 5 stars in alignment.
Upon receiving my copy of J.R. Hamantaschen’s anthology, “You Shall Never Know Security” (Published by West Pigeon Press) I did as I do with most new books, and that is examine the cover. No book should be judged by its cover, or so they say, but I believe that a good glance at not only the cover art, but the words surrounding the literature, are important to take in before you begin. After all, that’s why they are there. I was pleased to see what I was getting myself into. Like the back of the book states, “in the finest tradition of H.P. Lovecraft, Thomas Ligotti, Dennis Etchison, and T.E.D. Klein,” all of which are authors who have time after time been able to portray the feeling, that life is a losing proposition. And after reading through this masterpiece of unnerving literature, I must also agree that these stories are truly what 21st century dark fiction is all about.
This collection of thought-provoking literature is part of a new turning point in modern fiction. The world is no longer yearning for horrific old pens to cover the same feeling of dread paragraph after paragraph. No, even though one must not forget the classics, we must also understand this is not a new ballpark ready for the same players; this is a different game altogether.
A young writer from Queens, NY, Mr. Hamantaschen has successfully been able to filter the best themes of modern Sci-fi, horror, and speculative fiction, and has efficiently modernized a genre filled with dread, and uncertainty. As a young writer myself, I appreciated the characters established in each story. All containing relatable problems, and sharing the same thought process that I have seen people my age share as we try to discover our place in this world.
A spectrum of emotions are covered throughout this book and span from social awkwardness, jealousy, ignorance, determination, desire, hate, pain, embarrassment, and love. These are emotions that as new adults fuel our needs and motivate us to grow up confused and hurt, because it never turns out as we wish.
When I sat down to write this review, I opened the book and looked at the table of contents trying to decide which story was my favorite. To be honest, I can’t even properly decide. Each story has a specific feeling that overtakes me as I read them. As a
must I would suggest the last three stories of the anthology. These tales are some of the best thought out dark fiction that I have read, and all share a tangential theme. For those on a quick track to see if you like this work, any of the first five stories will lube your brain and get you thinking.
I review a weekly fictional podcast called, The Drabblecast, in which the host, Norm Sherman, has been featuring work from J.R. That is what truly turned me on to this stuff. If you have been checking those out, you’ll see that I have also been mentioning J.R.’s work as well with little quips like: “A seriously creepy book that everyone should buy, borrow, and beg to read
it.” and “I must say this book is a must to have tucked under the pillow, you know, to have something to clench when you wake with unease in the middle of the night. Yeah, it will do that to yah.” And it will folks, it will.
The anthology is available through Amazon.com, and is a book that will be immortalized on my book shelf, and should likewise be on everyone else’s. Whenever I have that moment to sit down and read a story, well let’s just say that I will be grabbing my hand-worn copy of “You Shall Never Know Security”. The stars are in alignment for this baby, 5 out of 5.
Furthermore, if you are extremely satisfied with this anthology, and wish to contact the author, you can reach him at, JRtaschen@gmail.com. He answers every email.