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  Tomb - June 29, 2019

This week, TombRats, we’re studying the three S’s: Superstar Series Sequels. How’s that for alliteration? Enjoy!


SISTERHOOD OF DUNE by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Son Frank Herbert, author of the original DUNE series, Brian Herbert, and award winning science fiction writer Kevin J. Anderson team up again to add another volume to the DUNE legacy. SISTERHOOD OF DUNE focuses on one of my favorite elements of the first novel, the mysterious sisterhood of women called the Bene Gesserit. This novel describes the First Reverend Mother of the Sisterhood Raquella Berto-Anirul, who establishes the Bene Gesserit School on the strange rainforest jungle planet of Rossak. Women attending the Bene Gesserit School become empowered by learning technology to improve their standard of living. However, the Butlerians oppose technology, and a war against tech is led by Manford Toronodo and Swordmaster Anari Idaho. The situation becomes polarized, with everyone expected to take a stance for or against technology. This civil war parallels very closely the current political atmosphere in America, and Herbert and Anderson have written another swift-moving and exciting DUNE installment.





HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION by David Weber

David Weber’s exciting Safehold saga continues with the Charisian Empire, established in warfare, which is now battling for survival five years after having won independence from The Church of God Awaiting. And despite its hard-fought victory, Charis is stumbling politically and losing its way with the population. The Church is gathering its might for another offensive against the island empire of Charis, plotting a massive sea offensive to take back the island that they believe is theirs. It has become clear that if Charis is to survive, it must make a decisive attack upon the Church and destroy the enemy on their own soil before the Church is able to rebuild their fleets. Charis’ Emperor Cayleb discovers he is more adept at battle than politics, and he must gather his supporters if his empire is going to survive the corrupt dogma of the Church and the wild fanatics who cling to its doctrines. This fifth installment of the Safehold saga continues to deftly expose the hypocrisy of the power elite in an ongoing science fiction series filled with credible characters and epic battle scenes.


Tomb July 6, 2019

I’ve got a triple-header of fine poetry and prose for TombRats this week—slender small-press volumes that pack a big punch! Enjoy!


THE SAUCER UNDER MY BED AND OTHER STORIES by G. O. Clark

There’s one thing you can expect from poet/author G. O. Clark: the unexpected. In this slim volume of short stories, Mr. Clark investigates some very weird science fiction and fantasy realms. A very revealing conversation takes place in “The Interview with the Monster in the Closet”, a man who dies of cancer decides to catch up on his reading in “Ghost Reader”, and the titular tale informs the reader exactly how to respond to finding a UFO under their bed. Funny, scary, informative and just plain fun, Mr. Clark regales the reader with his trademark weirdness and sense of humor. Do you know what scary monsters do on their day off? I didn’t know, either, until I read THE SAUCER UNDER MY BED AN OTHER STORIES. This book might be too much fun for you, so be very careful when handling it, okay?




PHANTOM NAVIGATION by Robert Frazier

Award winning poet/author has selected another marvelous collection of poetry for Dark Regions Press, a wondrous group of poems from modernist sf/fantasy poet Robert Frazier. With Mr. Frazier at the helm, the reader navigates evocative landscapes of interstellar darkness and light, worlds recognizable and unknown, where worlds collide with worlds. Consider the well-known fruit, the lemon, in which the author delineates “A Crash Course in Lemons”, where the humble yellow edible telescopes and reduces into shapes and planets both recognizable and unknown. The city of New Orleans becomes a dark land of terror in “Nekropoleis”, and a Coelacanth forms a nexus evolution in “Seeking out Lobe-Finned Truths”. Ghosts, dreams, and darkness stalk the pages of this phantasmagorical collection that deftly steers the reader into realms unknown.




THE BRAINPAN CONCERTO by Kurt Newton

I am a fan of Kurt Newton’s poetry and prose, and he doesn’t disappoint with this wildly imagined novelette of science fiction horror concerning a young man named Cody Miller, who downloads a music file to his computer called “The Brainpan Concerto #3 by Unknown”. Cody finds the music enigmatically beautiful, and he begins searching for the mysterious composer of the The Brainpan Concerto. It turns out that Cody isn’t the only one looking—a pair of detectives is looking for the mysterious composer, too. A young woman with a portion of her skull removed, with an array of electrodes studding her brain is found, and it becomes clear that the composer of the concerto is a serial killer whose music is written in the key of human agony. Fast, fun and unpredictable, Kurt Newton adds another creepy volume to his canon of utterly strange fiction.

 

 


July 13, 2019

One of my favorite authors of horror fiction is classing up the Tomb tonight! Here are three fabulous downloadable digital books from award-winning horror writer and fellow Virginny gal, Elizabeth Massie!

AFRAID: TIDBITS OF THE MACABRE by Elizabeth Massie

This is a delightfully shivery collection she put together for "...those who take a flashlight to bed to read and peek into the shadows..", and that is the perfect way to read these spine-rattling tales taken from Ms. Massie's long and ongoing career writing horror fiction. Edgy, terrifying, often funny, but somehow always quite humane no matter how explicit or violent. These stories are written with steady hand and unflinching eye. AFRAID opens with a titular poem that invites the reader into the darkness, followed by a host of very dark short stories. An obese realizes the truth about every fat person containing a thin person struggling to be free; a hoarder has a very special treasure hidden among her piles of junk; a former flower-child finds sacrifice and penitence in the American Southwest; a newly-unemployed man's walk in the woods takes him much farther than he could have imagined; a woman joins a group of women who seem insanely fascinated with reality television; a new neighbor who collects animals drives the woman next door crazy; an affectionate yellow cat causes unforeseen mayhem; a terror of thunderstorms reveals to what extent one man will go to manage his phobia; an explicit, shocking tale of pit-fighting you'll never get out of your head; a story of magic gone very wrong; a WWI veteran confronts his worst fears in a wintry forest; and, in closing, a cool one-page trio of truly creepy micro-flash fiction stories. This collection is a joy to read in bed with a flashlight, in your favorite reading chair, or anywhere else. Download a copy and immerse yourself in terror tales by a master of the form. It's skeery, guaranteed! Lovely original cover art by Cortney Skinner.



SUNDOWN: INTO THE ENCROACHING DARKNESS AND BACK AGAIN by Elizabeth Massie

The author dedicates this stunning collection to "...all who stare into the darkness to better appreciate the light." And I can think of no better description. Each of these tales, taken from the span of her career to date, is very, very dark, indeed. SUNDOWN opens with a very spooky poem that sets the mood for the stories that follow: a tale of a sweet piglet that becomes quite a horrific boar; a dying woman brings out the worst in her family; a man finds himself outside naked on a winter day with no memory of how it happened; a reformed alcoholic musician discovers the true power of music; New Year's Eve in the mountains brings forth the ghosts of a elderly man's past; a first-year medical student loses a head (not his own); a group of high school kids are taught the dangers of graven images; a spooky tale based on the true story of a ghostly WWII airship; an abused child dreads a snowfall that will prevent her escape to school; a West Virginia mining fortune heiress develops a fear of mirror--for good reasons; a man checks into a cheap motel and finds ghosts awaiting his arrival; and, finally, the collection closes with a deliciously shuddersome poem about long-leggedy beasties titled "Spider's Night Out". The author's voice is clear as a fine crystal, drawing the reader ever deeper into her dark world of strange terrors that somehow do manage to make the light brighter. This is storytelling of the highest order. Beautiful, evocative original cover art by Cortney Skinner.

 


July 20, 2019

This week, TombRats, how about pair of books by one of the most talented and versatile writers in the business? You know him, you love him (and if you don't, it's time you did): Weston Ochse!

MULTIPLEX FANDANGO: A WESTON OCHSE READER by Weston Ochse

This collection of stories that span the career of Weston Ochse sports one of the best titles ever, and the contents of this volume are strange, wondrous and horrific. Stoker winner and Pushcart nominee, Mr. Ochse hits the horror fan's sweet spot dead-bang with MULTIPLEX FANDANGO, which is currently a most worthy contender for the 2011 Bram Stoker award for best single-author collection. The author has created a virtual multiplex of entertaining short stories and novellas that fill "Sixteen screens of Madness, Mayhem and Horror", six of which are original to this collection. These tales represent many realms of horror, from the atmospheric Lovecraftian story "The Fugue on the Sea of Cortez", to a full-on cinematic screamer, "Big Rock Candy Mountain". In these pages, the reader will encounter film icons such as Tarzan and Cary Grant, and an enormous depth of heart and craft truly holds this collection together. A young boy, grieving the death of his grandfather, goes on a very special fishing trip in "Catfish Gods"; a police officer's guilt propels him on a strange journey in "Redemption Roadshow"; "22 Stains in the Jesus Pool" considers the belief that one good deed can erase a lifetime of sin; the scorched dead reclaim their own in "Hiroshima Falling"; and a post-apocalyptical Disneyland is proposed in "City of Joy". Sixteen screens in this kick-ass multiplex, sixteen excellent stories. East Texas horror dynamo Joe R. Lansdale kicks the doors open with a keen-edged introduction. Find a good seat, whomp up some popcorn, and sit back with MULTIPLEX FANDANGO.



LOOD OCEAN: THE AFTERBLIGHT CHRONICLES by Weston Ochse

Here's a terrific heart-thumper of a novel, a science fiction action-thriller set in the times following a horrific plague--fittingly called the Cull--that has killed everyone except those with type O-negative blood. Survivors have cobbled together a home of sorts, a floating city that is a ramshackle assembly of rusting tankers, submarines, barges, other assorted watercraft and junk. The city is located off the coast of devastated California, and life on the floating city has become delineated by turf takeovers and divisions largely due to ethnicity. Young Kavika Kamalani is descended from a fierce Hawaiian warrior tradition: he is a "Pali Boy", and his background teaches that fear is an emotion that must be embraced and tested to be conquered. Kavika is physically small, and must work twice as hard to win the acceptance of his peers. Fear reigns in the largely lawless floating city, and Kavika's world is a place of constant privation and predation. Murder and conspiracies are rampant as thugs and would-be leaders strive to take control of the floating city. The Pali Boys live in the upper reaches of the city, performing increasingly dangerous stunts to prove their manhood and exhibit fearlessness, hoping that their feats will inspire a renewal of the warrior spirit in themselves and the cowering throngs below. Like his comrades, Kavika believes that the Pali Boys have transcended the terror experienced by those who live far beneath their lofty heights, but when he is kidnapped, Kavika must summon every bit of courage he possesses if he is to save himself and his kind. Filled with fascinating Hawaiian history, lore and cultural touchstones, Mr. Ochse has constructed a streamlined thrill machine for discerning readers with a penchant for rip-roaring adventure.

 


July 27, 2019

If you love keen-edged SF written by forthright authors, these slender, brilliant volumes should be on your bookshelf.

THE WILD GIRLS by Ursula K. Le Guin

"The Wild Girls" is a novella that was a nominee for the 2003 Hugo Award and winner of the Nebula, published here for the first time in book form, revised for this volume by the author who helped give voice to a silent generation with her groundbreaking novel THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS. Ms. Le Guin's "Wild Girls" continues her exploration race, gender and socio-politics, envisioning a three-caste society in which power and greed have outstripped and destroyed charity and justice. In this bleak setting, two young slave girls struggle to break the chains that shackle their bodies and their hearts, leading them to hard-won destinies that are both sad and empowering. While the novella is absolutely marvelous, Ms. Le Guin's infamously scathing essay, "Staying Awake While We Read", exposes and flays open the hidden bare-knuckled avarice of today's corporate publishing. The prickly courage of these revelations are a tribute to Ms. Le Guin's force of character and clarity of thought. As always, she cuts to the very bone of the matter. Also included are some of the author's marvelous poems, plus an in-depth interview with Terry Bisson, "A Lovely Art". SF fans, rejoice! This is a collection that will entertain while opening your mind and heart.



THE GREAT BIG BEAUTIFUL TOMORROW by Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow is one of the sharp-minded and innovative young SF authors that are currently changing the pace and direction of the genre. His novella, "The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow", is set in a dystopian future after a cataclysmic grappling for technological power--the Mecha Wars--has virtually destroyed the world, leaving little but the city of Detroit standing. It is in this future Detroit that young Jimmy Yensid, a transhuman boy who has been gengineered to age at such a slow place he is nearly immortal. Jimmy lives with his father in the crumbling Comerica Park, where their most prized possession is the restored Carousel of Progress exhibit from Disneyworld. Due to his slowed aging process, Jimmy has been struggling with puberty for several decades, and his most fervent desire is to grow up and become a man. But a long life isn't guaranteed. Aboard his mecha, Jimmy does battle with a rampaging gang of boys in one of the finest action sequences ever! With stark imagery, scorching action and lacerating language, Mr. Doctorow describes a grim and believable future where being human and behaving in a humane manner aren't necessarily synonymous. Also included is a incisive essay describing the problematic business retaining a creative copyright in the world of digital publishing, and, finally a fascinating interview conducted by SF author Terry Bisson.

 


August 3, 2019

Harken back to the golden days of pulp fiction, magicians extraordinaire and serial films when Dr. Fu Manchu was the most notorious fictional villain and Harry Houdini was a real guy who amazed the world with feats of illusion and dexterous derring do. This week, TombRats, I have two novels featuring the escapades of these celebrated characters of another age. Enjoy!

THE MYSTERY OF DR. FU MANCHU by Sax Rohmer

The evil Dr. Fu Manchu was first introduced by author Sax Rohmer in THE MYSTERY OF DR. FU MANCHU in 1912 in serial form and made into a wildly popular film in the year 1929. In this, the first of the Fu Manchu novels, the evil Fu Manchu is envisioned as a mega-villain who disdains the normal weapons of killing such as guns and explosive devices. Instead, Fu Manchu employs and assortment of shadowy sects and assassins to aid him in eliminating his foes. But Fu Manchu is unable to eliminate his most potent adversary, Sir Denis Nayland Smith, formerly of Scotland Yard, coming directly from his station in Burma to hunt down and destroy the evil Devil Doctor, who has been leaving a trail of dead bodies from London East End opium dens to the upper class manor homes of the hunt country. Using vicious Thugees and Decoits to kill his enemies and cover his tracks, Dr. Fu Manchu leads Sir Denis on a terrifying chase that stills thrills nearly a hundred years from the original date of publication. Written in the same gas-lit era that ushered in Dracula, The Invisible Man and Sherlock Holmes, THE MYSTERY OF DR. FU MANCHU is a thriller that spawned such cinematic villains as Ming the Merciless and Dr. No. It is great fun to follow Fu Manchu as he uses his villainous skills to undercut the British Empire and bring about the rise of a mysterious, pre-Mao China as a world power.


THE DIME MUSEUM MURDERS: THE HARRY HOUDINI MYSTERIES by Daniel Stashower

This novel, starring the world’s most famous escapologist, Harry Houdini, is a charming and entertaining trip into a thrilling yesteryear when New York City was a teeming metropolis filled with con-men, hustlers and newly minted millionaires who would eventually morph into the various mobs and the political establishment. The year is 1897, and Harry Houdini is a performer whose feats of magic and escape that will eventually thrill everyone from the lowliest unemployed immigrants to the loftiest royalty of the United States and abroad. Not yet well known for his fabulous escapes from seemingly impossible imprisonments, who better to call upon than Harry Houdini during his early, pre-fame years to crack the case of millionaire tycoon who has been murdered in his Fifth Avenue mansion? With the help of his brother, Dash Hardeen, Harry discovers that the dead man has apparently been murdered by means of a magic trick—something about which Harry has a great deal of knowledge—and the race is on to track the elusive killer to his lair and bring him to justice. This is a Victorian thriller that takes the reader into the dark labyrinth of a fascinating bygone age. Fast, fun and wholly involving, this is a novel for fans of mystery, magic and mayhem.
 

 


 

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