Writer of Horror Fiction

Archive for July, 2013

Review of Richard Johnson’s “Dead Drunk”

Dead Drunk provides the reader with a different take on surviving the zombie apocalypse.  Often times the moral of the story when it comes to apocalyptic fiction is that the screw ups tend to get their comeuppance.  Someone might have some dumb luck and avoid getting slaughtered right away, but for the most part, if you are a coward, an imbecile, or a callous, crass, self-absorbed fool you either wise up right away, transform into some sort of crony to the chief bad guy, or die in a very gruesome and often satisfying way, presuming that the author has made you despise said person throughout the tale.

In Dead Drunk we are introduced to Charlie and his band of misfit friends.  Most of them are thirty-something slackers who are horny, drunk, drug addled party boys focused on little more than where they can get their next buzz.  Some of us remember guys like these from college-or at least our first year of college, before many of them flunked out.  Of course, Charlie does have some friends who are responsible adults who like to have fun every now and then, and that is where our story begins.  One of Charlie’s more responsible buddies is getting married and that is an excuse for a rager of a bachelor party.  Things get wild, of course, but it isn’t until the next day, when everyone is nursing their hangovers that the real party begins.

An infection has spread through Chicago, where the story takes place, and suddenly people are chomping on one another, spreading whatever infection has caused them to crave human flesh and go completely nutso.  Charlie and his friends hunker down in his rundown apartment, trying to figure out how to survive with minimal food but a whole lot of booze.

This story is a mix of traditional zombie survival and crazy party-boy lunacy, with a rogues gallery of characters that most of us would find hard to like, except perhaps if you are in that period of life where getting drunk, trying to get some action, and being permanently buzzed supersedes all else.  Certainly, the author does a commendable job of showing hints of maturity among the group and slivers of humanity amongst them.  Charlie shows signs of becoming a better man and Big Rob, one of his best friends, for all his oafishness, is probably the best person of the lot.  It helped prevent me from rooting for the demise of all of them from the beginning.

Of course, this is an amusing book, not meant to be taken too seriously.  I didn’t go in expecting there to be an emotional attachment to any of the characters, though a few were formed and there were a few touching moments buried in a sea of booze, bongs, and boners that reside within its pages.  The writing is solid and the humor rude.  So if you are someone who easily offended or doesn’t appreciate the humor of movies like The Hangover, this probably isn’t for you.  But if you enjoy low-brow comedy mixed in with your zombie gore on occasion, give this one a shot.

Dead Drunk can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C6AGNM6/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

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Review of “Cthulhu Unbound 3” by Permuted Press

Cthulhu Unbound 3 consists of four novellas, each with their own slant on Lovecraft’s mythos.  Overall, the writing and storytelling is solid and the stories are what you both desire and expect of tales told about the realm of dark gods and menacing monsters.

Unseen Empire by Cody Goodfellow is a western that takes place primarily on and beneath an abandoned Indian reservation in Oklahoma, where a half-Indian tracker must go beneath the earth to find out what happened to the people who suddenly disappeared from the reservation.  As he and the detachment of U.S. soldiers go deeper into the underground lair where they suspect the Indians have fled to, the reader is treated to several flashbacks of the main character’s past life and it slowly becomes clear what dark forces he is being compelled to face within the dark depths.

Mirrorrorrim by D.L. Snell focuses on an odd therapy group and its even odder therapist.  The main character has blank spots in his memory and another member of the group, a woman who he is drawn to, shares a very strange connection with him.  They fit with one another like pieces of a puzzle, or like the title suggests, mirror image parallels.

Nemesis Theory by Tim Curran introduces the reader to a maximum security prison and a select group of inmates who are beginning to realize that they are on a crash course with a gruesome nightmare that none of them will be able to avoid.  Death and far worse is creeping closer and closer to them all every night, from far out in the galaxy.  If you are familiar with Tim Curran’s work, you know he is a maestro when it comes to describing gore in loving detail and this story is no exception.

The R’lyeh Singularity by David Conyers & Brian M. Sammons is a tale of espionage and the efforts of two spies to stop greedy governments and corporations from tampering with inter-dimensional ‘goodies’ they have discovered on earth, as well as preventing the end of all humanity when darkness tears through a rift at the bottom of the pacific ocean where a mega-corporation is drilling…not for oil, but for something far more menacing and alien.

I enjoyed each story for their unique spin on the Cthulhu mythos, with my favorite being the last member of the quartet.  The story was high energy spy thriller that integrates the horror of the Cthulhu mythos effortlessly.  My one critique of this story is that there were a noticeable amount of typos that weren’t as prevalent in the other three stories.  It was a minor distraction but worth mentioning.  The other three stories were equally entertaining, for different reasons.  Tim Curran does an excellent job in his tale building the dread levels to an almost unbearable level for the inmates in his doomed prison, with both mysterious events and visions riddling them with newfound terrors on a daily basis.  D.L. Snell has created an intimate tale of technology gone amuck and strange interpersonal relationships, while Cody Goodfellow’s plunge into the old west and an underground city of the damned felt like a diabolical quest that I was cursed to complete alongside the main character.

For fans of Cthulhu and Lovecraft, this is a solid contribution to the mythology and one worth checking out.

Cthulhu Unbound 3 can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009O3XFBA/ref=cm_cr_thx_view