I’ve read several novels by Stephen Kozeniewski and I can always rely on a different flavor of horror being explored in each. I know he has written some non-horror stuff, and I’d be curious if they have the same…edge to them, if that is the proper word. The author is fairly clinical with his precision in presenting a horrific idea and not being timid about seeing it through to its conclusion. All in all, The Hematophages fulfills that commitment, and should leave the reader disturbed and uncomfortable for quite some time after reading the last page.
I was able to read the prequel short story, Skinwrappers, before checking out this novel. While it gives a taste of the universe where The Hematophages takes place, it, for the most part, serves as a background piece, though the main character in the short earns a key role in the novel.
A few centuries down the line, the human race has expanded its reach to far distant planets. Paige Ambroziak is a grad student given the opportunity to go on a corporate funded expedition to explore an ancient seed ship humanity sent out in the early years of space exploration. Until recently, it was believed it was lost forever. It is outside charted space, hovering above what is called a flesh world, which is covered in an ocean of blood filled with strange monsters. This is a chance of a lifetime for Paige-promotions and prestige will follow this expedition, if she can manage to survive.
I don’t get exposed to a lot of space horror tales. Horror, yes. Science Fiction, yes. The combination doesn’t always come together in print for me, so the comparisons (done by other reviewers already) is mainly to Event Horizon, a movie that shares certain levels of intensity and some commonalities with this novel. Alien, or perhaps even Aliens, might share a tiny bit of DNA with this one as well, though in a more generic way. While I don’t get exposed to a lot of sci fi horror, I certainly enjoy the concept and this book does a pretty solid job of universe building to help set up the story. There are questions left unanswered about what has led the human race to its current status, though they aren’t necessarily critical to the story at hand. Getting to the meat of the story is what the author does, and we are presented with quite a few rather interesting characters besides the main one and get to understand their motivations fairly quickly. The horror elements are unpacked in pieces, though reading the description of the book provides some pretty strong hints as to what direction things are headed.
The author does a solid job, as he has done with other stories he’s written, in ratcheting up the tension and dropping the occasional shock bomb on the audience. It’s always good when an author manages to zig when you expect a zag. There were, unfortunately, a couple of zigs where I expected them, that didn’t necessarily lead to disappointment as much as a knowing nod. The end result is a fairly satisfying tale with a few minor frustrations as to where the story led.
The author does not scrimp on gore and horrific visual imagery, giving us some disturbing things to think about and digest. With a starting point of a world with oceans of blood, it should be clear to the reader that we are in for some pretty twisted things that I would guess came straight from one of Mr. Kozeniewski’s nightmares. The author does not disappoint in escalating the grotesqueries and terror from there.
While others have used the Event Horizon comparison, and it is an apt one, one I will use, but only partially, is Greg Bear’s Blood Music. I won’t play the spoiler by sharing details of that tale, but would encourage a look at it for anyone who enjoyed this story. The short story Mr. Bear wrote that was expanded into a full novel shares a few elements of fear and horror with this tale (alien creatures and the potential for body manipulation), though only toward the end of The Hematophages. Still, I couldn’t help wonder what Kozeniewski might do if he chose to carry things beyond this story and how he would approach it vs. what Mr. Bear did when he expanded his short story into a full novel. I would guess Kozeniewski’s would be end up being a bit more on the dark side…
The Hematophages can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Hematophages-Stephen-Kozeniewski/dp/1944044558/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
Beneath The Mask is a recreation of a prior Stephen North story, a re-envisioning of his first book with the same title. Sergeant Alex Cray of the Florida National Guard is dealing with what appears to be a biological attack on the Tampa Bay area. He and the rest of the soldiers facing the situation have seen people dying from some sort of plague that leaves them with sores on their faces and a homicidal streak that borders on madness. It is clear that this situation is spreading to other parts of the country and globe and even more shocking, it is perhaps coming from something beyond our world.
Strange events unfold with little explanation around Alex. While the citizens in the area are desperate to survive, there are others who appear in the area that look human, though they seem transformed and almost alien in their physical perfection. Sergeant Cray is forced to kill to defend himself and the various people he comes into contact with that he feels are worth saving as things continue to deteriorate around him. At first he fears the plague that has permeated the area and like the rest of the soldiers, is supposed to continue wearing his MOPP suit-the protective bio-containment outfit that prevents airborne viruses from infecting you. But it doesn’t take him long to realize that life behind the mask is no longer worth living. After stripping his containment suit, Alex is forced to continue stripping away other masks that civilization has put in place for him. He puzzles over the deterioration of his and others humanity while seeking answers as to what the truth is behind the strange people and strange vessels that have arrived in the area that look like nothing anyone on earth could have created.
Beneath The Mask has been transformed from a traditional first day apocalyptic tale of survival into a story that combines elements of this and that of a futuristic thriller. The author wrote another story, The Drifter, which had a noir/Blade Runner type flavor to it, though it mostly takes place elsewhere and else when and there are hints here that these two sagas will be tied together in a series of adventures, as elements from the second book have bled through here, in Beneath The Mask.
Stephen North’s writing preference is typically first person, present tense, and this story is written in this format. While there are some challenges with this style, because the reader can only see what Alex sees and hears in each instance, it steeps you in the moment, dealing with everything the main character faces with no additional time to react. There is no time to debate whether to pull the trigger or to leave someone for dead when things are constantly shifting and moving all around you. The story is not driven by one particular objective, although Alex’s instant to instant reactions are shaped by the strange realities he has discovered and must come to grips with, which drives him to focus on certain objectives-most of which have to do with staying alive. His alliances are also driven by gut instinct and the desire to retain a kernel of humanity within him, even while he is forced to do mostly unspeakable things to keep himself and those he cares for alive.
The author has created the start of a rollicking adventure tale that has the potential to transcend timelines and realities. Alex does seem almost too reactionary in this story-pulled by outside forces in different directions on a constant basis, rather than focusing on anything beyond moment to moment survival. Of course, the author puts a steady flow of roadblocks in front of him to provide him with all sorts of adventures, but he is almost philosophically detached from one of the only overriding objectives he returns to throughout the book-the desire to see if his parents are still alive. Of course, there are far greater missions for Sergeant Cray to involve himself in, but I would have liked to see him push a little harder in an effort to achieve this objective. Despite this minor concern, the author has created an all-to-human hero that fails as much as he succeeds, still tries to do what is right even when nothing he does seems to matter, and still is able to fight to retain a grip on what makes him human even if at times there seems to be no good reason to do so anymore.
Beneath The Mask can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Beneath-Mask-Drifter-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00QL64P8A/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1421418407&sr=8-3&keywords=beneath+the+mask
Alien Apocalypse: Payback concludes the three short story/novella arc of the Alien Apocalypse serial. Leon Weber has faced down the alien enemy and figured out its weakness, has saved his son and discovered that not all of the alien’s offspring are inherently evil. With a desperate plan in mind, he wants to defeat the alien once and for all, or die trying.
Like the other installments in this tale, the odds are stacked against the slim bits of humanity that still remain, especially as the alien entity continues to evolve and works at creating genetic mutations to do its bidding and find the few humans remaining so it can feed. But Leon has discovered one of its very few weaknesses and has a slim chance to exploit it.
This was a satisfying series. The author has created a rollicking science fiction tale that is dark and filled with despair and yet could easily be translated into a good old fashion alien invasion movie for the masses. It was a fun and easy read and I would recommend checking out all three installments since all three are fairly cheap on the kindle and are a fun, if quick, ride.
Alien Apocalypse: Payback can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Alien-Apocalypse-Payback-Dean-Giles-ebook/dp/B00LBEQ7EW/ref=la_B005AQTGUY_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406760050&sr=1-9
Blood Red introduces us to Rachel, a 19 year old college student living with her father and step mom. Waking up one morning, she finds her step mother passed out on her bed with some sort of red glow emanating from inside her skull. For all intents and purposes, she appears to be dead, though her skin feels strange and when Rachel gets near the source of the red glow, it burns her. Racing across the street, she discovers much the same thing has happened to her boyfriend and his mother. There are other corpses out on the street-it is as if their lives were all snuffed out in the same instant, replaced by the strange red glow. Realizing her father is not home, Rachel takes off on a hunt for him, hoping and praying that he is somehow still alive. Her journey leads her to other survivors like herself-confused, frightened, and many gruesomely injured after trying to revive their loved ones and coming into contact with the red glow. The local hospital is filling up with the ‘dead’ and dying, along with the few bewildered survivors who remain behind. Planes are dropping out of the sky and out of control fires are destroying much of Rachel’s Colorado town. But even worse, as the day goes on, it appears that something is happening to the corpses. They appear to be slowly waking up…but they are also being transformed. Not into zombies, or even remotely close to the people they were before. They are becoming something far stranger, and far more horrible than anyone could ever imagine.
Blood Red is possibly one of the most unique zombie novels I have ever read, if it even can be categorized as such. The creatures that inhabit the pages of this first of a trilogy are far different than the traditional dead walkers who crave human flesh. The author has introduced something new and incredibly creepy to the mix that needs to be read about to fully comprehend. Providing details may be deemed a spoiler, but since he has created something entirely new, I will leave it in his hands (and words) to describe his creation, spoilers or not.
Despite the uniqueness of this tale, the driving force behind what will compel most readers to check out this story remains much the same as with other apocalyptic fiction tales, which is the quest to survive and to comprehend what is happening in a world that has fallen into chaos. Rachel’s journey is both heartbreaking and disturbing. Like many characters that inhabit the pages of novels where the impossible becomes reality, she finds a way to not only cope with her situation, but strives to understand it. With a level head on her shoulders, she becomes somewhat of a leader-discovering things about the strange new threats that surround the meager pool of survivors still inhabiting her town. She is vulnerable yet strong-a character who feels real and genuine. The key characters that surround her felt much the same-solid, using whatever coping mechanisms they have to deal with the situation, for better or for worse.
While some readers may be turned off by the present tense format of this story-it is a style rarely used, I found it to be of minimal to no distraction. The author was able to put you in the action and keep the pace and tone aggressive, to match the immediacy and intimacy of Rachel’s situation. Blood Red was different, intriguing, and I was left very curious as to what will happen next.
Lords of Night gets right to the heart of the story by introducing us to the main character Jack and his band of protectors, with their assortment of colorful nicknames, smack dab in the middle of their journey into the barren wastelands of what was once the eastern seaboard of the United States. They are somewhere between New York City and Washington D.C. when the story starts off, on mission to save the human race. Besides Jack, there is Five Oh, Dusty, Sandman, Rook, Zero, and the Ranger, who are all highly skilled ex-military men (except for the Ranger, who has his own unique set of skills). Much of the story is told in flashbacks, giving us a history of each of the secondary characters in their own words and how they dealt with the day the dead rose up and the world changed forever. Jack’s story, on the other hand, is told through the journal entries he makes during their trip, giving the reader both his back story and an understanding of why he is so special and critical to the survival of the human race.
While this book could be categorized as zombie apocalyptic fiction, the zombies here are very much secondary-little more than a nuisance controlled by far more powerful creatures. The author introduces the reader to the locust people-humans transformed into malicious monsters who serve their masters, the aforementioned Lords of Night. There are seven of these powerful fiends who serve the ancient enemy which came to earth from the stars long ago. They have re-awoken their master and Jack was a witness to its rebirth. The teenager has special talents that seemingly escaped the notice of the ancient enemy’s minions at first, but have since grown and have drawn them to him. While he doesn’t understand much of his role in things, he knows that within him is the potential key to stopping an enemy to mankind that is older than time itself which has plans for humanity that are far worse than complete annihilation.
Lords of Night moves at a rapid clip through the mission Jack needs to accomplish and the assortment of characters surrounding him are an interesting bunch, especially the Ranger and Zero. Zero is a cocky, lazy, talented marine recon sniper who (as the author aptly points out) is reminiscent of Hudson from the movie Aliens with his snarky ways and can’t-do attitude, as well as his ability to come through when absolutely necessary. The Ranger, another larger than life character, might be insane but in the best way possible given the perils Jack and the rest of the team face. His talented shooting ability and fearless loyalty in the face of all odds make him perhaps the most appealing character in the book. While these two steal the show, all six of Jack’s guardians are interesting, in fact far more so than Jack. The teen is likable and his story is compelling, but he is far less fun to read about than his companions.
The story is, turn by turn, more creative than most and gives the reader a unique spin on the typical apocalyptic horror novel. Again, the zombies found on these pages are secondary-the true menaces are the locust people and their masters, who have an evil intelligence and maliciousness that challenge Jack and his crew every step of the way. The history and ongoing saga of the ancient enemy gets almost a bit too complicated at times, including the nuances of the part Jack is to play, though it all becomes clear in the end. Twisty as it is, the story is sewn up quite effectively before the last page is turned.
Fans of apocalyptic fiction that are receptive to authors taking creative license on the traditional should enjoy Lords of Night. The main characters are well developed and the backstory is complex. The author perhaps is a bit over-protective of his characters-it takes quite a bit to send them to their demise, though that is in some ways a forgivable offense considering how entertaining they are as a team. That and the sometime slow pace found earlier in the story are my two main (and minor complaints) in what is otherwise a rollicking adventure tale.
Lords of Night can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Lords-Night-Thom-Brannan/dp/1618680307/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1393486184&sr=8-1
Well it is Friday the 13th and while many folks consider that bad luck, I think it is a great day…and the start of a great weekend. Especially for fans of great apocalyptic fiction. Permuted Press, my publisher, has decided that this would be a great weekend to promote the heck out of virtually every one of the books they offer on Kindle by having a sale that runs through Sunday. So go on over to Amazon to check things out. Just click on the picture below and you’ll be sent to the list of books for sale, including all three books in my trilogy: Comes The Dark, Into The Dark, and Beyond The Dark. Plenty of other fantastic books can be found on sale, including plenty of ones that I’ve reviewed here. So here is your chance to pick them up for either 99 cents or $2.99 when they’re regularly around $7.99. So check it out, and as they say over at Permuted, Enjoy the Apocalypse!
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
The Harvest Cycle is an Apocalyptic tale which takes place fifty years since the first harvesters appeared, boiling up from the sea to claim as many human lives as they possibly can for a far distant god who wishes to consume the dreams of mankind. The creatures-fast, silent monsters with claws that can slice through anything, including the skulls of its victims, have come many times since then, driving the remains of humanity into hiding far beneath the surface of the earth. Those that survive have chosen to either surgically remove the part of their brains that the harvesters are compelled to devour, or they decide to remain uncut retaining their ability to think creatively and to dream by those who have lost so much with the mutilation of their brains (and souls as well). In addition to the horrors of the harvesters, humanity must also avoid the ‘synths’ or robots that were once loyal servants to humanity that realized during the first harvest the endless nightmarish hell that awaits those humans in the afterlife whose brains are devoured by harvesters. They are on a mission of mercy to kill all of humanity to save them from this horrible fate.
The story begins when a group of dreamers, led by a hopeful visionary along with a woman who is psychically linked to the nightmare god who created the harvesters and craves humanity’s dreams, go on a quest with the hope of somehow destroying the harvesters. Pursued by a police officer named Jack DiVinci, one of the soulless survivors who has a secret that allows him to still be creative and dream, as well as a squad of robots on a search and destroy mission.
David Dunwoody’s latest novel mixes elements of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, Asimov’s robots (with the authors unique twist on the Laws of Robotics…or more specifically, the zeroth law that Asimov added last: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm), and a slight hint of noir with Jack DiVinci, a man who believes what he is doing is saving the human race, despite his own doubts on what it means to be saved.
This is one of the more unique visions of the apocalypse that I’ve ever read, with plenty of madness and mayhem to go around, plus plenty of gore and a high body count to boot. Dunwoody has this knack for making a story gruesome, horrifying, and yet totally accessible. He has no fear when it comes to pushing the reader’s buttons-not just with who he is willing to torture and maim, but with how the universe he creates works. It isn’t always pretty, and sometimes it feels like I was being beaten senseless by the brutality of what happens in this tale, but there is beauty here too-hope that humanity can somehow overcome its own vile failings and perhaps persevere against impossible odds.
I haven’t been disappointed by anything I’ve read by David Dunwoody as of yet, and The Harvest Cycle is no exception. This is potent tale that mixes supernatural horror and science fiction with a fluid grace that few authors can pull off with such skill.
The Harvest Cycle can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1934861324/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Arthur Graham, fellow author and editor for Tall Tales with Short Cocks Volume 2, for which I wrote a science fiction comedy story called “The Interstellar Quest for Snack Cakes”, took the time out to interview me about my story, about zombies, and about all sorts of strange things. Okay, I admit it-his questions weren’t all that strange, just my answers. But please check it out at: http://bizarropress.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/patrick-dorazio/
Craig DiLouie took the traditional infected/zombie tale and expanded upon it (and turned it on its ear) with his release of The Infection. The Killing Floor, the second book in this series, carries on where the last book left off, with surviving characters trying to comprehend the costly victory they had at the bridge, where they prevented a flood of infected from crossing the Ohio River and tearing through the refugee camp in nearby Defiance, where over 100,000 survivors live. Ray, one of the survivors from the battle, has been infected but has yet to turn. He is given a mercy by Anne, who allows him to crawl off to die on his own instead of getting a bullet in the head. But Ray doesn’t become your typical infected, instead turning into something like a Typhoid Mary, or a carrier of the infection, instead. This is the centerpiece of this book, with Ray trying to understand what his purpose is as the military and the militia, led by Anne, race to find him with the hope that his blood may hold the cure or to kill him, even as his new found capabilities make him even more dangerous than even the monsters or the infected.
We are introduced to two main new characters: Dr. Price, who is one of the only scientists that believes the infection is not manmade. He manages to escape the White House and is hidden in an underground bunker, but as the story unfolds is given the opportunity to go after Ray and perhaps find a vaccine or cure for infection. Rod, the other new character, is a soldier in the field working to clear out Washington D.C. of the infected when he and his men are assigned the task of bringing Ray in, dead or alive. Along with the remaining cast from the first book, we are given an impressive slew of characters whose stories intersect and come together for the exciting conclusion.
As the second book in what is likely a trilogy, the actual novelty of the infected are has worn off a bit, meaning we get to delve even deeper into the characters here and focus less on the different creatures that have come about with the advent of this plague. Even with some of the secondary characters there is plenty to sink your teeth into, as most of them do not come off as hollow cannon fodder, but real people. The author also does an excellent job of making the military aspects of this story believable without overdoing the jargon and technical areas of the story. The writing is crisp, sharp, and the story itself is intriguing-it does not rely on the unique nature of the infection (with its wide array of different life forms that appear to have the goal of not just running amok but its apparent lust to wipe out all other life forms) to carry the story forward, but the characters who give the tale its terrific depth.
The Killing Floor is a well-crafted follow up to The Infection and has me anxiously awaiting the third chapter in this saga.
The Killing Floor can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Killing-Floor-novel-Infection/dp/1618680757/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1339807021&sr=8-3&keywords=the+killing+floor
Dean Giles has crafted what amounts to a serial production of an alien invasion, releasing it as short stories with two installations thus far, along with a brief prequel that is included with Alien Apocalypse: Genesis. The story is about Leon, a father imprisoned for manslaughter after he kills his wife’s murderer, and Elliot, his son, who has to live with his aunt and uncle on their farm until his father’s four year sentence is complete. Nearing the end of his term of imprisonment, Leon has to deal with a comet that is passing close to Earth’s atmosphere and the fact that an alien presence that has hitched a ride on the comet has invaded earth, devouring virtually everything in its path and wiping out everyone in his prison except for him and a couple of other people. The first short story, Alien Apocalypse: The Storm, tells the tale of his efforts to find Elliot and figure out how they can escape the encroaching alien growth, which has the ability to transform itself into a wide array of genetic hybrids that are capable of tearing apart just about anything to get to the human flesh it craves. Leon and Elliot discover that the only thing that seems able to stop the alien assault is oil, which keeps the alien growth at bay. In this chapter of the saga, Leon and his son make their way to an oil refinery, which seems like the safest place given the alien’s weakness and might provide them with a weapon to fight back. Upon arrival at the refinery, they discover other survivors who have taken over and have enslaved several other people. Leon and Elliot work to free these prisoners but only manage to provide an escape for one of them, a woman who has lost her memory who they dub Isabella until she can tell them her real name. The author also shares insights into the alien hive mind and how it thinks throughout the story, letting the reader know what its plans are for the human race.
Alien Apocalypse is an entertaining sci fi outing that, so far, has me intrigued. I am interested in where things go from here, with genetic replicas being created of human beings that, when separated from the hive mind, seem to have desires and yearnings of their own that tend to contradict the ancient alien they came from. I for one am very interested in seeing where this story leads and look forward to the next chapter.
Alien Apocalypse: Genesis can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Alien-Apocalypse-Genesis-ebook/dp/B007EG96WQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1338336404&sr=1-1
Another project I worked on and am very excited about has come to fruition and is now available over on Amazon. Read The End First has the unique premise of showcasing 24 different tales of the end of the world, each based in a different time zone. Because of the nature of the project, this was an invite only anthology, and each author had to pick a particular time zone and write a story that would make sense given their location on the globe. My particular story takes place in Bethlehem and is entitled “What Rough Beast.” You’ll just have to guess at what the story is all about.
So check this one out, there is a great list of authors involved, including Stephen North, Suzanne Robb (who edited it), Michael S. Gardner, Rebecca Snow, A.J. French, Craig Saunders, John McCuaig, David Dunwoody, Wayne Goodchild, Adrian Chamberlain, D.A. Chaney, Hollie Snider, William Todd Rose, and many more that I apologize I can’t remember right off the top of my head.
So click on the cover and head on over to Amazon to check out your very own copy of Read The End First.
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
Alien Apocalypse-The Storm is a short story that takes place just as a comet is cutting a close path near the earth. Something has been hanging out on the comet, and comes down to earth, covering everything with a green mold like growth that devours everything living in its path. The story splits perspectives between Leon, a father imprisoned for manslaughter and just about to fulfill his term, and his son, Elliot, who is living with his aunt and uncle, waiting for his dad to be released. Leon is stuck in solitary confinement during the initial landing of the green growth that carves a swath of destruction through the prison. Only the prison guard who comes into his cell and a woman who is a clerk at the prison who hid in locker manage to avoid the mayhem. Elliot, living on a remote farm, also escapes the first wave of destruction, and the hunt is on for Leon, now freed from prison, to get to his son in time before everything is destroyed.
This is a fast paced, nicely done apocalyptic short story, with a promise for more to come from the author. For a brief tale, Leon, the father, is developed nicely as a character you can appreciate and the author tosses some nice twists into a tale whose main villain is a moss-like substance. Overall, plenty of fun, and I will be interested to see where Dean Giles takes things from here.
Alien Apocalypse-The Storm can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Alien-Apocalypse-The-Storm-ebook/dp/B005JE2W7Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1331961140&sr=1-1
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!
What can I really say about this book? It is well over a hundred pages of some of the most groan-inducing jokes about monsters and monster related topics I have ever seen. Not just jokes, but rhymes, raps, and song parodies. MonsterMatt does his best to make you want to stick a fork in your eye, and then, after you’ve gotten over the pain from such an agonizing injury, use your remaining good eye to read more of his jokes. I’m not really sure what kept dragging me back in for more, but I suppose part of it has to be the fact that there is no deception used here-no attempt to convince you, the reader, that any of these jokes will do any more or less than make you cringe at how pun-ishingly bad they are. Of course, if you are like me, and don’t try to take the world we live in too seriously all the time, there is a place for a book like this one. One that you can share with your kids and get them to moan and roll their eyes at you for telling them such bad jokes…ones that they might just tell their friends and not let you know that they did so.
You get everything from the classics: jokes about Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, Wolfman…and jokes about some of the newer stuff out there, like True Blood, The Walking Dead, and movies like Dead Snow. Given that this book is entitled Volume 1, I fear that MonsterMatt is not finished, so be warned. The bad jokes apparently shall return to induce even more headaches and heartburn!
MonsterMatt’s Bad Monster Jokes, Volume 1 can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/MonsterMatts-Bad-Monster-Jokes-1/dp/1617060941/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329709231&sr=1-1
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
DARC12 is a deep space research vessel that is located as close to a black hole as it can without being sucked into it. Its mission is to do research that is illegal back home (genetic studies, animal experimentation, etc.) as well exploration of distant space. The DARC vessels have been looking for, and have not found alien life, so when DARC12 finds a strange asteroid nearby that seems to be alive, it is a monumental discovery. Despite the fact that this living thing appears to be nothing more than some sort of plant life, or so it seems at first, it is brought on board for examination. Not long after it arrives, the people exposed to it-the scientists and the head of security, Wilson, as well as others among the crew, are hearing voices inside their heads-voices the promise peace and happiness or ignite fears and nightmares insides their skulls. Soon one of the members of the team that handled the alien is murdering at the command of those voices, and Wilson, who is starting to fear that the perhaps the alien presence has something to do with that shocking event, has to figure out what is going on. But the worst is yet to come, as those killed are coming back to life as they too are called by the alien presence to do its bidding. They are ravenous, fast moving killers, tearing into anything that crosses their path.
Containment Room 7, which is named for the room where the alien is kept to be studied, is a combination alien and zombie tale of horror that moves at a breakneck pace, giving the reader little to no time to breath as things happen on board this massive research vessel. I believe the entire story takes place in a little over 24 hours, with madness and the undead spreading through the DARC12 in no time. Like most horror tales that take place inside a space faring vessel, the cramped conditions and remoteness of their location give the tale a claustrophobic sense to it.
There are four main characters in this story: Wilson, the head of security, Rodney and Colette, two security officers, and Lisa, a biologist. Of those that survive the onslaught of the murderous fanatics and undead, they appear able to resist the call of the alien in their midst, or so it seems. They have meager weaponry meant to maintain peace with; a crew of 144 that typically does no worse than have the occasional argument or suicide attempt to keep security busy. They have repeaters, which amount to b-b gun tazers, and a few batons. More than enough to stop a human being, but that do little to stop ravenous zombies.
The book is a wild ride, with desperate efforts to try and discover what is going on and then putting a stop to it with enemies coming at the main characters in all directions-the living, the dead, and alien who are all trying to destroy them. The author leaves plenty of unanswered questions, which is not surprising, though it may be unsatisfying to some readers. We never really understand much about the alien, including how it can control some minds so effectively while others seem able to resist, what it is transforming into, what its purpose is, or how it can control the dead…but as with the case with both alien and zombie sagas, sometimes those questions are best left unanswered, since this is a tale of unknown terror and trying to flee from it when you are stuck on board ship that offers no real escape at all. This is a fun, nightmare inducing book-a scary tale worth checking out for both fans of sci fi and zombie horror both.
Containment Room 7 can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Containment-Room-7-Bryan-Hall/dp/193486191X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326052611&sr=1-1
Knight Watch Press brought together a community of writers to create stories of their hometowns and the apocalypse. Essentially, the mandate was to craft a story with one of the last living people after things fall apart or extinction event occurs. We could use pretty much any humanity annihilating excuse to see how fun, or how scary it could be under those circumstances. So my little story, “Love Thy Neighbor” takes place in Cincinnati, but the same thing could happen in any town, any city the world over. I can’t wait to get my copy of the book to check out the rest of the stories-the reviews I’ve read thus far are quite complimentary. And what’s even better is that a second volume of stories is due out early next year, with even more world toppling excitement.
So check out Soul Survivors Hometown Tales: Volume 1 over on Amazon, or where ever you can get your hot little hands on a copy! Click the picture to head on over to Amazon.
Yep, another anthology coming out soon that I am thrilled to be a part of…and there were so many good stories, they filled two volumes with all of them! My little story, “Love Thy Neighbor” appears within the pages of Volume 1. While I am showing the cover for Volume 1, what is really cool about Soul Survivors-Hometown Tales is that the two covers fit nicely situated next to each other, each showing one half of a face…but they are each distinct from the other. I am really proud of my very sick and disturbing story that takes place right here in Cincinnati that I wrote for this one, and I guess the publishers did as well! The premise behind the stories we were asked to write was to tell a story of the end of the world based on our own hometowns, giving it sort of a personal touch. It could be with any sort of disaster…natural, man made, supernatural…so I am positive there are some really twisted tales in both of these tomes that take advantage of some really unique potential world shattering events. So check out the artwork for the cover of the book I appear in, and I will of course be promoting this book and its partner in crime once both are released later this year (or early in 2012).
Sheri Gambino has put together an assortment of tales that spring from her dark and vivid imagination for Twisted Tales of Terror. This anthology has several zombie apocalypse tales, but the author mixes things up with an assortment of other stories to stir the pot. Included in this book are a few twisty, surprise entries that were unexpected, including one about a mad scientist, a vampire waging a war against evil, a truly killer clown, and the author’s own slant on “Kiss of the Spider Woman”. She includes a dash of voodoo and a couple of tales of menace from space along with her zombie stories, most of which are traditional survival tales, but with an assortment of demonic invaders thrown in for good measure.
The author creates some solid characters along with a few throw away ones that come with the typical short story. I grew attached to a few of the characters that I felt like could have been delved into deeper, with grander tales crafted around them. They drew me in and kept me intrigued. As for the “throw away” characters, I don’t mean that in a negative way-but when you are dealing with the apocalypse, you tend to need a lot of grist for the mill, and Sheri carves up the bodies here quite nicely.
Overall, this was a brisk, easy read that entertained me and was done far more quickly than expected. The editing is sharp and I could see making a commitment to a full sized novel by this author with one, or several of her more intriguing characters that she has to offer.
Twisted Tales of Terror can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Tales-of-Terror-ebook/dp/B004YQVOXS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308014835&sr=8-1
I won Night of the Living Trekkies through a website and held on to it for a couple of months before deciding to take a stab at it. My first recollection of the book, before I received it, was the book trailer I saw on the internet. It struck me more as a movie trailer than one for a book, and I was joking with my friends that I wanted to go see the movie and not bother with the book because it was so well done. But after checking the book out, I have to admit, it was a lot of fun and I’m glad I gave it a chance. For the purposes of full disclosure, I am both a sci-fi and a zombie geek (with leanings toward the zombie side of things), and while I haven’t been to any sci-fi conventions, I’ve been to a few horror conventions over the past year, which has given me an appreciation to the dedication some fans have to their favorite characters, movies, and TV series. So that experience has probably shaped my appreciation for this book, though I think any fan of either Trek or of the zombie genre will enjoy this send up, whether casual or dedicated.
The basic plot centers around Jim, an Afghanistan war vet who comes back home in Houston shattered and unwilling to take on any responsibilities more crucial than that of being a bell hop in a mediocre hotel due to the guilt he feels at watching some of his fellow soldiers die. He is a “reformed” trekkie, or trekker, as it were, and now has to deal with Gulf Con, a Star Trek convention that has landed at his hotel, which is conveniently called the Botany Bay. His sister and over a thousand fans of Trek will be in attendance, but so will a ton of zombies, who crash the party after a alien virus escapes the confines of the Johnson Spaceflight Center bunker where it has been housed since it touched down via some meteors that hitched a ride on a downed NASA space probe.
I wouldn’t call this one a parody, because the characters may be dressed up as different Trek characters for the convention, but they are not the characters themselves. Instead, this is an opportunity for the authors to express a love for Star Trek, zombies, and even Star Wars. I was able to pick up on most of the references, though perhaps I may have missed one here or there in the mix. Regardless, this was a fun and funny book that gave its characters enough depth and realism to make me appreciate them while not disrupting the comedic overtones of the story based on the idea of a convention for one sort of imaginary creation being overrun by another imaginary creation. The adventure is fast paced and Jim is forced to once again embrace his inner nerd, along with embracing the suck of the situation he finds himself in with a small group of surviving convention goers. The zombies have some interesting, alien twists to them, but overall, the book pays reverence to its benefactors: Rodenberry, Romero, and even Lucas, with ample references to what each man created and appreciation for them as well.
For a easy and fun read, this one was hard to beat. There was some high drama on the pages at certain points, and overall, that aspect of the story was well done, but again, none of it distracts from the comedy value of this engaging zombie-Trek send up.
Night of the Living Trekkies can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Night-Living-Trekkies-Quirk-Fiction/dp/1594744637/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1302357196&sr=8-1
The Infection starts out with a brief prologue that introduces the reader to the Screaming that initiates the apocalypse. About 20% of the population starts to scream uncontrollably and then collapse, going into a coma that lasts three days. At the end of that three days, those people who fell down wake up, and their only desire is to spread the infection to everyone else by biting and attacking them. The reader is thrust into the story a few weeks after the initial assault and we are introduced to a group of survivors roaming through Pittsburgh in a Bradley fighting vehicle. The crew of three is led by Sarge, who shares the task of leadership of the civilian survivor crew with Anne, a mysterious woman with a major hatred of the infected. Wendy, a police officer, Paul, a minister, Ethan, a math teacher, and Todd, a geeky high school student, are the other members of this brigade of survivors.
The story relates their current experiences of attempting to find shelter, avoid exposure to the infected, and seeking out other survivors, while flashing back to their initial introductions to the infection, lost family members, and the horrific memories each of them has had. DiLouie does a bang up job of revealing, by inches, what we need to know about each of the players in this story. In time, they settle at a hospital, clearing it room by room, and realize there are more than just the zombie-like infected that have been introduced into this new, horrible world. As they flee the hospital, they discover an even wider assortment of alien creatures-from wormlike to giant demons that hint at something far more sinister than just a virus or plague at work. The group makes their way to a huge encampment of survivors, which reminded me of a vast, wild-west setting filled with both hope and despair as everyone tries to make due and pretend things are normal in a world turned upside down. But the needs of the mishmash of government agencies still in existence will send our survivors back out onto the road, where they must once again come to grips with the horror their world has become.
After reading Tooth and Nail, I knew that Craig DiLouie had a real talent for creating compelling, real, and fascinating characters, but he ups the ante here, with each survivor in the group being given an in depth look that allows the reader to fully appreciate the pain and agony each one of them has gone through to get to survive to this point, and why they have a willingness to stick with one another through the hell their existence has become. This is an apocalyptic novel, but I can’t say that it falls exactly into the realm of a zombie novel; instead, it is a hybrid that provides plenty of brand new terrors to mess with your head. Alien creatures with little to no real explanation make this story unique, though this did remind me of other works I have read prior to this, such as The Mist, from Stephen King. I am positive a sequel is in the works and perhaps that will reveal some answers about the creatures that have invaded this world, but there appear to be no explanations on these pages, only a bit of conjecture on the part of one of the characters. I am not sure if I am griping about this-not knowing what is actually going on-because the characters themselves don’t know anything either. They are just trying to survive, and in some cases, kill as many of these abominations as they possibly can. Another minor quibble I have is something I have grown used to over the course of this novel and DiLouie’s previous one-the fact that the author moves into present tense on occasion, which feels a bit jarring when it occurs. It offers up an urgency, a sense of “now” to the story, but it also serves as a minor reading distraction in my humble opinion.
Those very minor quibbles aside, this is an excellent book of the apocalypse, creative and wild from the start; from how the infection occurs to the results it yields, and the characters that inhabit its pages are just about as compelling as any I have ever seen.
The Infection can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Infection-Craig-DiLouie/dp/1934861650/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300070883&sr=8-1
Elements of the Apocalypse, as the title suggests, gives the reader four stories using the classic elements to show us how the apocalypse will occur. I thought it was a creative take on apocalyptic stories from the standpoint of using this theme. Fire, Air, Earth, and Water are the means to our destruction, and a different author took a swipe at each particular element.
The first story, by DL Snell, gives us fire as the source of our destruction. Dylan Bradley is minding his own business on a bus ride home from school for spring break when the bus driver bursts into flames. Rather quickly, most of the people around him are doing the same, as spontaneous combustion takes hold as the means to our end. Dylan races home with several other characters as madness takes a hold of the few remaining survivors, in an effort to find his girlfriend.
The second story, by John Sunseri, deals with aliens invading our planet and placing huge atmospheric generators on earth, which make our air unbreathable for humans. Thirty years later, a team from New America, the last surviving lair of humans, has created a device that might help them fight back. Led by Bess, the toughest survivor left, they climb out of their underground hideout and make their way to one of the alien’s air processing stations with the device in tow. Since the atmosphere is polluted not only with unbreathable air, but with “demons” and “diggers”, both servants to the aliens who crave the oxygen inside human blood, making the trek is somewhat like traversing one of the nine planes of hell.
The third story, by R. Thomas Riley, has the animal kingdom in revolt against humanity when Gaia decides that we are poor caretakers of our planet and she needs to start over. Animals don’t just turn on us, they become smart and vicious servants of their earth mother. But Gaia has a plan, and that includes enslaving some of the humans to do more of her dirty work.
The final story, by Ryan C. Thomas, has water the entire world over disappearing in a rapid fashion, leading to a desperate scramble to find the cause and find the last remaining sources of drinkable water on the planet. Cam, an estranged husband and father, has to work with Scott, his scientist brother in law, in an attempt to discover the cause of this catastrophe, while at the same time trying to find water for his infant son as he lay dying from dehydration.
Each story has individual merits, and I give credit to each author for giving us compelling characters that made each story more than just simple doom anthems. I grew attached enough to the characters that I found myself rooting for them to find a miracle despite knowing how most of these types of stories end. I am not going to pick out a favorite here, because I really don’t think any of them missed the mark, and there were parts of each tale that resonated for me. If you enjoy reading stories about our destruction that lean toward the fantastic, than this book is a entertaining choice I highly recommend.
Elements of the Apocalypse can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Apocalypse-D-L-Snell/dp/1934861502/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1293203900&sr=8-1