Writer of Horror Fiction

Posts tagged “adventure

Review of Patrick and Chris William’s “Dead Meat”

Dead Meat is a zombie apocalypse tale told from the perspective of Gavin, a young man living in River’s Edge when an outbreak of what the media claims is rabies spread by rats has already overtaken the town.  The military has been called in and at the start of the story it’s clear that this is no normal case of rabies.  Gavin meets Benny, who is hiding out on the roof of a convenience store, a couple of days into the mess the ‘bees’ (what Gavin dubs the undead/biters, because they tend to swarm together when they attack) have created.  Together, they try to make their way to Gavin’s sister and parents who live in another town, but naturally there are a tremendous amount of obstacles in their way, including the military, who are exterminating the living along with the undead with extreme prejudice in an attempt to control the plague.

While this story is in the traditional Romero mold with slow moving undead, this first person, present tense tale takes a different tact than many stories I’ve seen.  You would expect this story to be about survival, which it is, and about dealing with human drama, which it also is about, but it really burrows down deep into issues of trust and how being a survivor changes a person much more than most.  We go deep into Gavin’s paranoia and trust issues, as well as how tortured he is by what he is forced to witness and do to stay alive.  While the story is about Gavin, it is Benny’s tale too, along with Rickett, an old recluse they happen upon, and Henry (Henrietta) a girl they also find during their trip.  But the dynamic between Gavin and Benny is the highlight here-how difficult and ugly it is for them to gain one another’s trust and yet still not trust each other, how it seems that they’re at each other’s throats most of the time while still having to rely upon one another.  It is a complex relationship and one that I was intrigued by from start to finish.  The key element with this story is how each of the characters feels real, not limiting stereotypes with no depth, or even a meager attempt at giving them depth.  Gavin is the main character but that doesn’t make him extremely the hero of the tale-his paranoia tends to get annoying at points, as does his mistrust of almost everyone around him.  Benny seems to be an unapologetic sociopath at times, while at other times it’s clear that he hasn’t lost his humanity despite all the inhumane things he has been forced to do and seems to revel in.  This story is as much a character study of these two as it is a saga of the zombie apocalypse.  We see it all through Gavin’s eyes and so the outside elements are limited-we know nothing of the military except for his limited perspective, nothing about what is going on outside of narrow sphere of his experiences, and as such a lot of minor details slip to the wayside while the dynamics of his relationship with Benny, Rickett, and Henry are explored in tremendous detail.

Since I tend to favor zombie tales that devote most of their energy to the human relationships in them and how people are twisted and changed in a survivor tale, I found this story to be a highly entertaining entry into the zombieverse.  It also has plenty of violence and action to spread around, making this something for pretty much all zombie fans to enjoy.

Dead Meat can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Meat-Patrick-Williams/dp/1618680242/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339033247&sr=8-1

A fantasy anthology, for a bit of a change of pace.

Well, I’ve been doing my best to expand my writing horizons with the stories I choose to write, though many of them have been zombie tales, just like my novels.  Still, I have managed to produce other types of horror, comedy, bizarro, science fiction, western, spy/action-adventure…so it was only a matter of time before I got back to my roots and decided to dive into the realm of fantasy once again.  When I would write as a youngster, that was the type of stories I wrote: fantasy tales that transformed into fantasy adventures during my days of role playing.  It was rough stuff that I didn’t want to share with anyone else, which was okay, because publishing was not on my mind back then-it was for the pure joy of writing.  I still have some of the dust covered stories buried in a paper file, because back in those days I was using a typewriter.  Yep, in the days of yore we didn’t have the arcane sorcery of computers to save our work, we got a paper copy of it and that was pretty much the best you could do.  Fortunately, that means that none of my more atrocious early attempts at writing are circulating around on the internet.  Now as for my more recent atrocious attempts at writing…that is a different story.

Anyway, I digress.  I saw a posting perhaps six months ago calling for traditional tales of swords and sorcery in the style of the classic Conan the Barbarian stories and that potential authors should draw inspiration from paintings of Frank Frazetta, among others.  In other words, plenty of pounding base lines, thunderous orchestras, spurting blood, voluptuous maidens, heroes NOT with six packs, but with eight or ten packs at a minimum.  We were to have fun with it and flavor our tales with plenty of fearless, steely-eyed warriors who fight nasty monsters and perhaps a dark god or two, thrown in for good measure.  It was to be entitled, appropriately, Tough As Nails.

I didn’t start out with a plan to write for this anthology.  I loved the idea, and thought it would be great to dive back into the fantasy pool, as it were, but I was focused on some other projects at the time, and this one had a due date that was out past the horizon, in the new year.  So I put it at the back of my mind and as time has a tendency to do, it sped up and flew past me to where this submission call had perhaps a month left before the deadline.  I still was hesitant until the editor, someone who I have worked with before, started asking me if I planned on submitting something for the anthology.  He wanted me to do so, because he knew I loved the concept and for some odd reason he’d liked my work in the past.  So there I was, scrambling to come up with an idea.  I initially crafted the first scene, which takes place in a tavern (the classic locale for the start of many an adventure tale), and gave my story a name, just because I liked how it sounded: “The Sunken Lands.”  It sounded cool, and I knew I could wrap a quest around the idea of my hero/anti-hero needing to get to such an ominous place.

So I kept on writing, adding one scene after another, and introducing my different characters, putting them in harms way, etc.  It occurred to me about five or six thousand words into this thing that there was no way this story was going to qualify as a short that would fit within the word count guidelines set up by the editor.  At that point, I was in too deep, and told him that I planned on writing this tale whether it was acceptable for the anthology or not, since I was back in the mode of writing fantasy, with all the intricacies that go along with that, including all the behind the scenes “stuff” (that is the technical term) you have to put together to make the world you have crafted in any way believable.  This stuff usually starts with a map, then you add history, cultures, alliances and enemies, the habitats of strange creatures, what those strange creatures are, etc. etc.  And believe me, there is a lot more than that to it, but you get the idea.  Fortune smiled upon me, and the editor, Matt Nord, encouraged me to write the story to its completion and he would look at it regardless of whether it fit the size limitations he had put forth (8,000 words) or it went significantly beyond that, because he wanted to see what I had come up with.

Well, as fantasy tales have a tendency to get expansive (as anyone who has read any of the more involved fantasy series out there can testify to) and it was fast becoming clear to me that this story was in no way, shape, or form going to end up being considered a short story.  The only thing short about it would be the fact that it would be shorter than a novel by a good stretch.  But at approximately 23,000 words, this was definitely in novella territory.  Having that high a word count was the only way to effectively tell the tale in my humble opinion (for better or for worse) and also presented me with a cast of characters who could carry on in more tales of this world I had created, if I so chose.  Matt did take a look at it and I think the fact that I broke the story into two parts gave him the flexibility he needed to fit it into the book.  So despite the fact that I crafted something almost three times as long as what the editor wanted, he somehow liked what he saw and took it anyway.  Actually, he really liked it, which was great, because I wasn’t so sure, which is pretty normal for me as a writer.  I tend to never be all that sure whether what I have written is worth a damn.  I had other folks read my story before Matt ever got a look at it, naturally, and got some good constructive criticism from them, which helped shape and transform it into a sharper story than the original.  They liked it to, so I am hopeful others will as well.

Below is the cover of the book, and while I have absolutely LOVED the covers of my novels and most of the anthologies I’ve been in, the idea of something I’ve written being in a book with fantasy cover art makes me as giddy as a child.

More details to come as the book is released.  I hope some of you fantasy lovers out there will check this one out when it hits the shelves.

Review of Tonia Brown’s “Railroad!: The Three Volume Omnibus”

Railroad! is a hard book to categorize.  Certainly, it would be easy to say that it is a steampunk tale of the old west, but that seems like a limiting description.  I am the first to admit that I haven’t read a tremendous amount of steampunk literature, but I would venture to say that this book has elements that make it somewhat unique in that genre, combining fantastical elements along with the technological, turning this story into something utterly unique.

Tonia Brown, the author, wrote this tale as a serialized adventure, releasing a chapter at a time online, and then releasing each of the three different volumes separately.  This book has all three volumes thus far: Rodger Dodger, The Dogs of War, and The Trouble with Waxford.  The story is told from the viewpoint of Rodger Dodger, a man curious about an ad posted that is looking for a hired gun to work aboard a steam locomotive.  The setting is the old west of the 1870s, and while Rodger has a mysterious past as a gunman, everything else about him seems rather normal.  So when he meets up with Professor Dittmeyer, Ched, and the rest of the crew of the Sleipnir, a steam powered locomotive that requires no tracks to run on, he is as baffled as we are.  And things just get stranger from there for the man with a mysterious past but a far more intriguing future as the hired gun for an wild band of adventurers.

Of course, the wondrous technology that the author describes with great delight is quite fascinating, and gave me pleasant reminders of my youth, when I used to watch repeats of ‘The Wild, Wild West.’ I do, of course, mean the classic television show starring Robert Conrad and not the atrocious movie starring Will Smith.  You will find gadgets galore here, including guns that fire multiple rounds at the same time, horseless carriages that allow one to travel at speeds near a hundred miles per hour across the desert, and trains that need no tracks to make their way from place to place.  But that is only the beginning.  The author allows us, alongside Rodger Dodger, to enter a world filled with the fantastic-with ghosts, vampires, and genetic mutants filling its pages.  As it is described within this tale, the strange, cursed, and fantastic seems to follow Professor Dittmeyer, owner and inventor of the Sleipnir Steam Locomotive, everywhere he goes.  After all, he hasn’t been banned from 90 different countries for nothing.

The characters are colorful, detailed, and fun getting to know.  And when it comes down to it, this story may be best described as a weird western steampunk story, but it is the characters that keep things interesting, and kept me glued to each page.  A well-crafted, entertaining story that is a lot of fun, Railroad! is a trippy ride.

You can find Railroad! here: http://www.amazon.com/Railroad-The-Three-Volume-Omnibus/dp/1468185543/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335136282&sr=1-9

Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 From Outer Space is now available on Amazon!

I’m proud to announce that Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 From Outer Space has been released and is available over on Amazon.  This book details those first plans where the aliens tried to prevent humanity from destroying the universe before their infamous raising of the dead experiment documented in the movie from Ed Wood Jr., Plan 9 From Outer Space.  Tony Schaab has brought together a bunch of fantastic authors to tell the tales that record our interactions with the alien beings who are fearful we will invent the substance that has the power to ignite the sun and destroy us all.  Certainly, their efforts with Plan 9 were a miserable failure, but what came before?  What attempts did they make in our past to try and curb our lust for violence and destruction?

Check out Before Plan 9, which includes my retelling of the Odyssey, aka Plan 1.  Just click on the book cover to be directed over to Amazon to get your copy today.  Oh, and make sure you keep watching the skies, because the aliens are sure to return!

Here is the table of contents of this very fun and exciting new book:

Plan Zero from the Mesozoic Era by Tony Schaab
Plan 1 from the Lesser-Heralded Parts of The Odyssey by Patrick D’Orazio
Plan 2 from Ancient Egypt by D.A. Chaney
Plan 3 from the Middle Ages of Hamelin by Greg Carter
Plan 4 from the Clockwork Country by Tonia Brown
Plan 5 from the Depressing Depression by David Dunwoody
Plan 6 from the Nazi Regime by Rob Silvera
Plan 7 from Sin City by Jonathan Maberry
Plan 8 from the Fantastic Fifties, Phase 1 by Craig DiLouie
Plan 8 from the Fantastic Fifties, Phase 2 by Joe McKinney and Michael McCarty

Dark Dispatches is now available on Amazon!

I’m pretty excited about a newly release anthology that one of my short stories appears in.  I had the opportunity to write a story that was a bit different for me, though at the same time, still shared a bit of DNA with many of the other stories I’ve written over the years.  This particular one was originally intended for another anthology, and fit the it to a T.  Unfortunately, before that particular anthology got very far, it was cancelled by the publisher.  I was ‘stuck’ with this story at that point, which was unfortunate, because I thought it was one of my better tales.  It was my effort at writing a war story set in the future, but having some very traditional horror elements to it-a particular menace that I had never written a story about before, and was a new challenge for me.  So when I heard about Static Movement producing an anthology entitled Dark Dispatches, which wanted tales of war, real or imagined, here on Earth or elsewhere, in any time period–past, present or future, I knew my story might have a second life.  So I submitted my tale, entitled “One Shot, One Kill”, and George Wilhite, the editor, responded within a couple of days, snatching it up.

And now this tale has been released to Amazon, and I am asking you to check it out.  I’m not sure how Static Movement works on ebooks, but the paperback version is now available.  Keep an eye on the link for further information on the kindle release, and probably over on smashwords for other ebook releases.

I would ask that you consider getting a copy of this book in paperback-a slew of war stories that contain supernatural, alien, and plain old human warriors-all with compelling story lines.  I have had the privilege of reading one of the other tales in this book already, by Richard Marsden, and I can tell you that it is excellent.  Well worth the price of admission for these two tales alone…but there are many, many more!

So go ahead: click the picture, and head on over to Amazon to pick up your copy of Dark Dispatches.  Thanks!


Review of the movie “Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption”

Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption is a bare bones, low budget movie made by folks who appear to be having fun with what was clearly a labor of love.  The basic synopsis of the plot is that John Knox, the main character, is condemned to death by the group of Apocalyptic Raiders he fell in with after the dead have risen and the world is overrun by zombies.  The reason for his sentence is that he no longer wants to follow the leader Rome, who like Knox is ex-military, but is a psychopath that slaughters for fun and for no other discernible reason.  Knox is allowed to escape by one of the other members of the group who apparently also doesn’t like Rome much either (and gets executed for his troubles).  The escape isn’t without hardships, since Knox is left handcuffed and is sent out into the desert.  He manages to avoid getting devoured by a zombie and gets rescued by a band that roams the wastelands doing their best to fend for themselves.  They are led by a man named Moses (Fred Williamson) who is likely the only member of the cast that the vast majority of the audience might know.  Knox does his best to help his new found friends, even though trust is hard to come by given the fact that they know of his raider past.  At the same time, his old nemesis, Rome, wants Knox found and executed, and so the hunt is on.  Of course, the two groups end up clashing and in the end this tale becomes a battle between good and evil, with a horde of the undead smack dab in the middle of it all.

I was provided this movie for review because I am essentially a zombie-fiend.  I review mainly zombie and other horror-type novels, but now and then I will review a movie.  Yes, this is a very low budget movie and is very much a b-grade flick.  Some of the dialog was a bit rough and every now and then unintentionally amusing.  Jerry Lynch, who plays the head bad guy, appears to be fond enough of chewing scenery that he probably got indigestion after he was done here.  Nope, this one won’t win any major awards, but for me, it was a fun post apocalyptic zombie flick.  You sort of have to just go with it-accept the limitations of having minimal budget, no real known actors, and a simple apocalyptic premise.  If you can do that, this movie is fun to watch.  The concept is workable, with a bit of a Road Warrior type feel to the bad guys with their mishmash of armor and a deluded leader who craves power.  Fred Williamson might be a bit too old to be doing fight scenes (he is over 70, after all), but even watching him do that after having seen him in plenty of classic B-Grade action flicks of the past brought a smile to my face.  This is a simple, rock ’em, sock ’em zombie flick with a high body count and no hidden meanings.  Pick your side, grab a weapon, and kill both the undead as well as the living that would kill you first if they had the chance.  Go in knowing what to expect here and you will probably have some fun with this one.

Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Apocalypse-Redemption-Johnny-Gel/dp/B0055CP9S6/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1328389092&sr=1-1

Review of Kevin Burke’s “The Last Mailman: Neither Rain nor Sleet nor Zombies…”

The Last Mailman is, as others have discovered, not a really accurate title for this book, given what actually happens in this tale, but it does introduce us to the main character and what his job essentially is, with some caveats.  DJ is the hero of his world, which is four years past the onset of the zombie apocalypse.  He lives in a walled in, protected city that is a stand-in for New York.  Other stand-ins are out there for other cities-the real cities fell to the undead and the survivors that managed to get to the barricaded bases nearby named them in honor of the fallen.  So new-New York has a population of a little over 800 people.  DJ has been nicknamed the mailman, though he doesn’t deliver packages between cities, as you might suspect.  Instead, he is the guy who goes out into the wilderness (which is everything beyond the walls) and searches for people that were left behind, as well any mementos for the survivors who made it to New York and left those others behind.  He brings closure, because the majority of the time he finds no survivors, just their corpses or the zombie versions of them, and gives them their final rest.  The story leaps from this concept, which would have been an interesting one on its own, to a mission the President of New York has called DJ in to be involved with: Atlanta has indicated that they have discovered a cure for the plague, and they are willing to swap several women for doses of the cure.  That is another key element of this story: women are asked to volunteer to breed so the human race can continue to grow.  They are not forced to; it seems that most women are willing to do so, at least in New York, and apparently in Atlanta as well, though not everyone is happy with the concept.  Despite his better judgment about trading women for a cure, DJ is willing to hop the flight to oversee the trade.  The plane ends up crashing, and the survivors land out in the wilderness, which is DJ is at his best.  Together, those that survive the crash decide that they’ll try to make the trip to Atlanta instead of heading back to New York, with the hope of somehow completing the mission.  The book tells the tale of DJ and the other survivors and their adventures out in the wild, facing both zombie and living perils along the way.

Overall, this was an entertaining zombie read, with ample gore and action.  DJ is a man’s man, but he makes plenty of mistakes along the way, which lends a human quality to him, along with the fact that he always seems willing to do what he can for his friends and other survivors.  It was hard not to like him as a character.  This story is told in first person from DJ’s perspective, and for the most part, that works in this tale.  Overall, the story was fun, though I felt that some scenes were sped through that could have been drawn out with more detail and more nuance, but that is a minor complaint.  As to other concerns I had with the story, there were a few I feel it only fair to point out.  One is that the author swaps perspectives briefly-for about the length of a chapter or two, to two characters besides DJ.  It is a bit disorienting in a first person tale, and I don’t think it was necessary here (the author could have figured out another way to share that same information we get from these other people).  I also felt that one particular character changed their personality late in the game in a way that didn’t really make sense to me.  It felt forced-an attempt to make things more interesting, I suppose.

Even with these quibbles, this was a fun, enjoyable zombie tale with an interesting take on what the future might hold for the long term survivors of the zombie apocalypse.

The Last Mailman can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Last-Mailman-Neither-Sleet-Zombies/dp/1934861979/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327281351&sr=8-1

Cover of “Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 From Outer Space” revealed!

A while back, I had the opportunity to write a story for a new anthology based on an old movie.  Let me correct myself.  It was an old, bad movie.  Not just any bad movie, but THE bad movie.  The one that is so bad it has gotten awards for being the worst movie ever made, and because of that, has become a cult classic in the minds of people everywhere.  Heck, they made a movie about the guy who made this movie because this movie was so bad, and this guy was so good at making bad movies and THAT movie even won an academy award.  Strange, huh?  A movie about a movie that is bad winning an academy award.  Go figure.

Well, I’m not trying to keep any secrets here, since everyone can guess based on the title of this post what movie I’m talking about.  It is Ed Wood Jr.’s classic Plan 9 from Outer Space.  Tony Schaab, who runs Twinstar Media, as a huge fan of the movie and someone who is involved in the novelization of the script as well as a remake of the movie, came up with an intriguing question: if the movie shows what Plan 9 was from the aliens, which failed so miserably, what were their first 8 plans to conquer earth?  Well, maybe not to conquer earth, but to prevent us from making a solarnite bomb.  And if you don’t know what a solarnite bomb is, go look for Plan 9 on Youtube-you can watch the entire movie in all its wretched glory free of charge.

Thus was born the idea behind Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 From Outer Space.  I’m proud to be a part of this project and to have the chance to pay homage to one of the worst movies of all time with what I hope isn’t one of the worst short stories of all time, heh.  My little story has the honor of being Plan 1, if you can believe it!  It is entitled: Plan 1 from the Lesser-Heralded Parts of The Odyssey.  Yep, these aliens have been bugging us humans since the days of Greek heroes like Odysseus.

Here is the full table of contents:

  • Plan Zero from the Mesozoic Era by Tony Schaab
  • Plan 1 from the Lesser-Heralded Parts of The Odyssey by Patrick D’Orazio
  • Plan 2 from Ancient Egypt by D.A. Chaney
  • Plan 3 from the Middle Ages of Hamelin by Greg Carter
  • Plan 4 from the Clockwork Country by Tonia Brown
  • Plan 5 from the Depressing Depression by David Dunwoody
  • Plan 6 from the Nazi Regime by Rob Silvera
  • Plan 7 from Sin City by Jonathan Maberry
  • Plan 8 from the Fantastic Fifties, Phase 1 by Craig DiLouie
  • Plan 8 from the Fantastic Fifties, Phase 2 by Joe McKinney and Michael McCarty
Before I reveal the cover of this beauty, done by the wonderful artist who did the covers of my three books (Philip R. Rogers), I want to show the original movie poster for Plan 9, just to give you more of an appreciation for what Philip managed to do here.
Now check out the book cover.
Pretty cool, huh?
This book is scheduled for a late March release, so you won’t have to wait long to check out all this Plans 1-8 goodness!  More details to come!

Review of Suzanne Robb’s “Z-Boat”

Z-Boat tells the tale of the Betty Loo, an ancient heap of a submarine contracted out for search and rescue missions several decades in the future.  The world has changed since the early part of the twenty first century, with massive pollution, tremendous political turmoil, deteriorating food and water supplies, and in general, a pretty messed up world.  People do live longer and food is genetically enhanced, but large corporations run things along with the new superpowers: North Korea, Russia, and Israel.  There is little in the way of freedom anymore, and the human race is starting to die out because food is losing its nutritional value and clean water is scarce.  Missions to explore the depths of the ocean to find new solutions to the world’s energy and bio related problems are believed to be one of the few remaining hopes to the long term survival of the human race.

We are introduced to a decent sized cast of characters in this story: the members of the Betty Loo’s crew that have been with her for the long haul and the new members of the team who have signed on to join them for a search and rescue of a sub that is at a depth the Betty Loo has never gone to and perhaps can’t handle in her semi-decrepit state.  It is clear almost immediately that virtually everyone who has been hired on for this mission has ulterior motives, and no one has any idea who to trust.  No one really knows who has hired them for the operation, as that information is kept secret, even from the captain, though several grim facts have been shared with him that make him realize that this might be the last mission the Betty Loo ever undertakes.

The cast of characters is colorful, with several ranking high on the intrigue scale.  Ally, the ship’s pilot with the cloudy past, is the captain’s right hand and is probably as close to a main character as this ensemble piece gets.  Ivan, the newcomer who appears to be in charge of divulging information to the crew on a need to know basis, is an ominous presence along with the doctor and research scientist who have found their way onto this mission with him.  Each has their own agenda, which the author doles out in bits and pieces as the story unfolds.  The author also shares with the reader the perspective of virtually every character as key things happen, often switching from one to another rapidly to make us aware of some of the motivations that drive the different members of the crew, both new and old.

Oh yes, there are zombies in this tale, but this book is more of a thriller than a zombie story, with the gruesome gut-munchers not showing up until more than two-thirds through the book.  When they do, they provide the level of gory entertainment that zombie fans crave.  I didn’t see the build up to their reveal as a negative here-there was plenty to keep the plot rolling along in advance of their involvement, and even after they make their appearance, the elements that made the book a dark thriller remain in place.

Z-Boat was an ambitious undertaking.  It blends elements of both horror and thriller effortlessly, and also gives the reader a solid perspective of life aboard a submarine without letting the technical details of such an experience become overwhelming (or boring!).   We are given just the right amount of detail on the Betty Loo so we understand how she operates when things are working and when they are falling apart without feeling like we’ve read a technical manual.  The twists and turns of the plot challenged me to keep up, but didn’t leave me scratching my head, which in some ways can be both a good and a bad thing.  As I mentioned, the author reveals a great deal about each of the characters and what they’re thinking, so how they act and react doesn’t generate surprise or shock as we dig deeper into the story, which makes this one more of a thriller than a true mystery in my mind.  Of course, the zombies themselves are always unpredictable and insert plenty of surprise into the story, giving us a pretty decent body count in cramped quarters-both on the mysterious vessel sitting on the bottom of the ocean waiting for rescue as well as the Betty Loo herself.

This was a fun read that kept me wondering how things would turn out from moment to moment, especially when the undead showed up and threw another wrench into the works for the crew just trying to survive each other as well as the constant array of mechanical problems the Betty Loo keeps having as she dives deeper and deeper into the dark depths of the ocean.

Z-Boat can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Z-Boat-Suzanne-Robb/dp/1467945749/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325460500&sr=1-1

Review of Stephen North’s “The Drifter”

The Drifter takes place less than a century in the future, and is a story about a hired gun who begins the tale taking us through his latest job, while memories of a past that was more sane and more appealing (both to him and to the reader) floats through his head.  Mace is the man’s name, and he is obligated to a crime boss by the name of Cap Leto, who has put him on what amounts to a suicide mission.  Not that the anti-hero main character seems to care much, because his soul feels as if it has rotted away inside of him.  Bitter and dispassionate, he goes forward with his job with little remorse, though with many regrets that began long before this story takes place, and are only compounded by what he is forced to do.

As our killer manages to make it through his mission still breathing, though bloodied and bruised, he decides that the opportunity to start over with a program offered by one of the mega-corporations that have off world colonies is his best bet.  They offer a memory wipe and a chance to scrub the dirt off your hands and your soul.  Unfortunately, Mace doesn’t appear to get the full treatment, and on top of that, the colony he ends up somewhere uptime is in a state of disarray.  Bombs have been dropped, mutants are running wild, and gangs of marauders are running the place.  On top of that, it seems that plenty of people know who Mace is, and are very interested in taking advantage of his unique talents as a hardened killer.  But Mace has other ideas in mind, especially when he meets up with a woman on the run who he decides is worth protecting and fighting for, no matter how difficult it may be to keep her safe and alive.

The Drifter is a faced paced, present tense tale about a man who is part futuristic cowboy and part knight errant.  Mace lives by his own code, even in a universe that seems determined that he get sucked back into the dark world he used to inhabit time and time again.  The story is hard to pin down, since it has a noir-ish flavor to it, with a touch of Blade Runner thrown in.  In addition to that, it has an apocalyptic edge as well.  Mace travels a world that has been turned upside down by massive destruction and it has an almost wild west feel to it.  It almost seems that there is always something more, something hidden from his vision, just around the corner, and it is hard to guess at who he can and should trust at any given moment.  The character is fun, ballsy, and brash, and it was easy for me to grow attached to him as he tries to come to grips with memories that have faded alongside those that haven’t, which include most of the ones related to his dark past.

A fun, rock ‘em, sock ‘em tale, North has created a character that I hope to see again…and again.  Mace is a hard case on a mission, and God help anyone who stands in his way.

The Drifter can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Drifter-Stephen-North/dp/1466312807/ref=sr_1_59?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317608443&sr=1-59

Review of Bill Bibo Jr.’s “Dr. Zombie Lives Next Door”

Every once in a while, I like to reminisce about the stories I used to read as a kid that had a taste of spookiness to them but that didn’t give me nightmares.  In many ways, despite the creepiness of the story elements, they were fun adventures that helped sate my passion for reading and left me wanting more of the same.  Dr. Zombie Lives Next Door reminds me of those scary tales that I used to check out as a kid.  My path to darker, more adult horror soon followed, but there will always be a desire for me to reach back to read something fun that I can share with my kids, who are at the right age for a story like this one.

The premise is simple.  When new neighbors move in next door, young Jenny is fearful that the father is a mad scientist, with his crazy fly away hair and strange equipment he is moving to the basement.  Against her better judgment, she is introduced to Victor, the strange man’s son, who is a scientific genius and helps this athletic Tomboy with her science fair project, while at the same time, the man she has dubbed Dr. Zombie toils away in his mysterious lab down in the basement…creating something she fears will take over the world!

My kids, who are 11 and 12, enjoyed this story.  Given the fact that their dad loves to write and read adult horror, they don’t get to check out much of what I enjoy at their age, so sharing something like this with them, that combines a few good scares, some mystery, and quite a few laughs put a smile on my face.  Dr. Zombie Lives Next Door is a fun story with a good heart that is great for preteens and anyone who enjoys a good spooky story.

Dr. Zombie Lives Next Door can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Lives-Next-Door-ebook/dp/B0059Y4I0A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313634036&sr=8-1