Those Damned Vampires

In October Weeks' novel, “The Damned,” we have the traditional plot of a vampire hunter on the trail of a vampire. Actually, our heroine, Tuck Houston, is a vampire slayer, complete with supernatural, vampire-fighting abilities of her own. She has super-strength, she sees well in the dark, and she has the ability to detect the presence of the Undead. Hmm, I think Josh Whedon's copyright lawyers might have some objection to this. (There are even characters here named Wesley and Riley. And Tuck's nickname is “Ripper”.) There seem to be three races or types of vampires, the strigoi, the vampyr, and the Damned. Not sure of the distinction, other than strigoi seem more powerful, can read mi

Talk About Vampires...

“THE BLAIRFIELD CALLER” by Melvin Rivers, 2015 Stan Jones, a talk show host of a paranormal radio show, has a dark secret. And someone wanting the truth to come out is willing to turn to the paranormal for revenge. What follows is a classic vampire story: a vampire appears in town, people start dying, people start coming back from the dead, and the good guys begin to gather wooden stakes and crosses. What's different is that this vampire seeks revenge for the death of a loved one. This plot has a lot of potential. The take-off on the late-night radio program, “Coast to Coast” was a nice angle. But while the story is told in a straight-forward manner, the actual writing could be tightene

House of Madness

“HOUSE OF LEAVES” by Mark Z. Danielewski, 2000 Danielewski's debut novel is an actual book that does what the fictional Necronomicon of HP Lovecraft or Robert W. Chambers' The King in Yellow purport to do: it invokes madness. Simply flipping through House of Leaves might freak you out. But maddening though it might be, it's not scary. It is not a horror story. If it were, the house would have a ghost. The introduction makes it clear that this is a book about a book about a documentary about a house. The documentary in question seems like a “found-footage” horror film. That's an acceptable trope for a story but Danielewski goes well beyond that. The everyman narrator Truant comments on

Carnival of the Lycanthropes

“WOLF LAND” by Jonathan Janz From the first line, this book grabs your attention and never lets go. Janz has a good eye for characteristics, recognizing the things most of us really think while we’re presenting something else to the world. The flashback to Mike’s un-charmed life is filled with instances and images that resound truthfully. The guy that’s prepared to stand on top of the world is the one that gets hurts the most when he falls. Mike, like Glenn and Duane and every other male in the book, is infatuated with Savannah. This is a literary tradition going back to Victor Hugo’s Esmeralda or even Helen of Troy. I’m very impressed with the writing and the insights. The characters a

A Spaceman's Gotta Do What a Spaceman's Gotta Do

“FIVE MOONS: RESURRECTION” by Bill Parker (2016) The book begins with a dry and lengthy history of something called the Union Fleet and something called the Syndicate. I love history, but it's not as if I can look up any of this up on Wikipedia. And it would read better if this material had been introduced organically within the text or in dialog. However, the story picks up once our hero, Dallas, buys a spaceship. This book harkens back to the era of the space-opera, with rocket ships, androids, and laser guns. That I like, as it makes it easier for the casual reader of sci-fi to jump aboard. Dallas is the only true human aboard, at first. His crew consists of a pair of androids. The

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