Category Archives: lovecraftian

Open Season on Monsters!


Wanted, monsters!
The loose theme is the late-night weird tv of the 50s and 60s, but well-written tales will over-rule theme, as long as there are monsters.
Stories should be in standard ms format, 2500+ words. No headers or footers please. Payment is 100 dollars US. Originals only, no reprints, and no poetry this time around. Multiple submissions are okay but only one will make the final cut.
Submissions window is from June 1 at 12 am PST through 12 am July 1 31 PST. Extensions are negotiable.
Submissions to moderan(at)hotmail(dot)com. Please email or voyage to this page if you have questions. We’re also running an art contest — vote for your favorite creatures to appear in the little tv screens on the cover.
Planet X Publications thanks you in advance for your fine work!

tpyves

Art by Yves Tourigny. ©2018

Full Circle?


The last post on this blog was about opening my Patreon. As I write, I’m considering killing it. Perhaps I should have built an audience first.

*rimshot*

Eh. Was worth a try. I haven’t killed it yet, but it’s a lot of effort to maintain. I’d rather put  most of the stuff here. And there’s gonna be stuff.

Forgive me, reader, for it has been eight months since my last blogfession. Mea maximum culpa, five godfaddahs, ten lords a’leaping, and a beer. Praise cheeses.

For blessed are the cheesemakers, as the Python wags would have it.

I’ve been busy. In that span, I’ve self-published two books and a chapbook duo, and edited what promises to be one of the best weird fiction anthologies on the market, a thing called Test Patterns.tpnew

Art by Nick Gucker, cover design by publisher Michael Adams. If you click on the pic it takes you to the GoFundMe, where you can secure a copy in a variety of formats.

It has these in it:

ToC

We’re doing the final proofs this week. I am all tingly. I could piddle. Santa is breathless.

And this is still out there:

bctown

Just the perfect stocking-stuffers in any of their forms, I assure you.

If you go here, you can get a copy of the fabled Test Patterns Teaser, where three of the stories and three of the poems from the anthology smolder and glower. The chapbook will be retired when Test Patterns is published.

tpproofs

 

Any of these are available in ebook form to reviewers.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back soon with somethings for your ears.

Patreonage


I’ve finally broken down and put together a Patreon page. It’s just a beginning — I don’t know exactly what to do yet…so I’m offering a story or a piece of a wip each week, plus access to music that then public won’t see for a while and the opportunity to have me write something from your story prompt.
Just part of an overall effort to organize and focus. I’d welcome participation and suggestions. Thanks for reading!

Famous Armenians for 1000, Alex.


I Am Providence: A NovelI Am Providence: A Novel by Nick Mamatas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very much enjoyed. I remember my old English teachers telling me that you couldn’t tell a story from the pov of a corpse. They were wrong. I proved it in third grade. Mamatas proves it here.
Even though I’ve never been to a “weird” convention, I am acquainted with enough people in the field that I can guess who most of the Tuckerized characters in this untidy murder mystery are, or are based on. I guessed the wrong person as the killer (actually I guessed Rhan-Tegoth). But the signs aren’t very obvious, so I forgive myself.
Laughed out loud in several places. Read the book in two sittings, at night, and then the next morning. Good summer-type read. Has some depth of character but fairly slight compared to the bulk of the things I’m reading currently, one of which is the “other” version of this title by ST Joshi, who is likely skewered in this novel.

Fun. I’m sure people will be upset. Nick Mamatas is a bit of a provocateur, and knows it, and Panossian is probably a reasonably accurate portrait. Maybe a little exaggerated – I don’t think there’s quite that much antipathy…but then I haven’t been to a Necronomicon yet. The Futurians, these people aren’t.

Yossarian and Karabekian would probably have enjoyed this novel. I dunno about Mordiggian. It has an effective graveside manner and enough easter eggs to keep one amused for a while.

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Madness


I got a little bit exercised today by this article, about the “8 Tribes of Sci Fi.”
Rubbish, absolute rubbish. An ill-considered word salad.

To start with, it considers “sci-fi” which I consider to be the z-movie mentality that pervades tv and pop movies. And it calls the wrong things “sci-fi”. The article might fare better if it were said to be talking about “fantasy”, the umbrella term for science fiction and other related imaginative fields, or about “speculative fiction”, a higher-brow way of saying the same thing.

Read the thing for yourself. Feel free to regale me with your version. Or not. Continue reading

Method


Though I conduct my fictional affairs with a good bit of handwavium and a helping of deus ex machina, because that’s the nature of the beast, still, I’ve railed against such use in the past. And I was probably right, then.

Context.

Heh. Yeah, right, you say, and rightly so.

But boundaries, fuck ’em. I was wrong, plus it’s addictive…to be unleashed, to not worry about what hard-sf fans are gonna say, or what plot twist came straight out of tvtropes. To just tell the story as it occurs to you. Er, me. Because pov.

That’s a fun plaything, too. Perspective.

Just tell the damn story. I was good at that when I was young. I would just write until I was done. Wrote a 67,000 word novel in one day, on notebook paper, in pencil(s), longhand. It was awful. Only three people have even read part of it. They’re all on Facebook. *ducks* Continue reading

Hooked Up


guttedGutted by Doug Murano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was fortunate enough to be advanced a copy of this book prior to publication. And I mean fortunate. This book is destined to generate strong sales, firstly on the strength of the names involved (Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell), and then on the strength of the poem and stories included.
Stephanie M. Wytovich leads off with an effective piece of verse, which leads into what I think is the best story in the book: Brian Kirk’s “Picking Splinters From a Sex Slave.”
That story illustrates what lengths a person might go to to accomodate a loved one, in exquisite detail. The actual tableau is revolting, but the internal logic is inescapable. The tone is perfect.
“Splinters” is followed by Lisa Mannetti and then Neil Gaiman. Both stories are good — not pedestrian, but are overshadowed by the excellence of Kirk’s piece. Christopher Cooke’s “Dominion” levels up one from those and leads into a tetralogy of really effective horror tales by Mercedes M. Yardley, Paul Tremblay, Damien Angelica Walters, and Richard Thomas, before Clive Barker takes center stage with his “Coming To Grief”. I’m not going to say that this story is as good as “classic Barker” pieces like “In the Hills, the Cities”, but it is a Barker story, and has a certain resonance.
The second-best story, John F.D. Taff’s “Cards for His Spokes, Coins for His Fare”, which has distinct Kingian undertones, is set in the early 70s of my own childhood and morphs into a fairly classic ghost yarn. Cheers for the setting and characters.
Amanda Gowin contributes a decent piece, “Cellar’s Dog”, with a good portrait of po’ white trash, and Kevin Lucia adds “When We All Met at the Ofrenda”, which again hits me especially, as I live in the Southwest and am familiar with the lore that contributes to the setting and setup.
That’s followed by good pieces from Maria Alexander and Josh Malerman, before the capstone, Ramsey Campbell’s “The Place of Revelation”, which does not disappoint.
Strong, strong, strong. Pieces that find beauty in grotesquerie, love amid the ruins, that entice you with beauty and magic and then hang you on a meathook, still wanting more.
Gutted will have out your liver and lights in an instant, after you give your heart willingly.
An easy five stars.

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Of a mind to…


Nightmares from a Lovecraftian MindNightmares from a Lovecraftian Mind by Jordan Krall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Smooth, polished, professional. Disturbing, subtle, and definitely nightmarish. The stories in this volume are not so Lovecraftian as the title would have you believe. There is a dollop of cosmic horror, but none of the usual suspects are present. No hooded cultists, octopus-headed monstrosities, cyclopean ruins, non-Euclidean space.
Headspace is more the issue. The Lovecraftian “mind”, indeed. Some of the matter-of-factness of JG Ballard, the inventive weirdness of David Lynch, the slightest hint of Philip Dickian mindrape, a tinge of the existential, a small infusion of the Gnostic. The reading of strange texts informs the text. Mr. Krall has been turning some strange pages indeed, and he melds all of those disparate elements into a surreal collage all his own.
These are pictures of minds after “experiences”, continuing to try to function in mundane space, and largely failing.
Recommended reading.

View all my reviews

More to come.
I really enjoyed this book. It kept me from sleeping soundly, both by engaging my attention while reading late at night, and then speaking to me in my dreams.
This was not my introduction to Jordan Krall’s work but it is the first full-length book I’ve read of his. I have seven more, which will appear in these pages at some point.
I also have another nine bearing the name of his small press. And I’m not a serious collector. I just buy the best that I can find.

Son of the Big Dumb Object


EgoOne of my very favorite things in the world of fiction is that cosmic force, the presence that is imposing just because of its size, the very Big Dumb Object itself. An example, seen below, adds consciousness to the mix. The presentation is excellent. I love the image. But not enough was done with it, plotwise, back in the day.
One of the things that makes me create is the desire to see a better version of things, at least in my eyes. My first writing was done in response to a comic-book villain I thought terrible (the Stilt-Man, as in DD#48). So I come by it naturally. My art is, at least initially, imitative.dd48 It always has been. I like a certain amount of structure, a framework to stand on, before taking the great leap into the unknowable seas of imagination. My first drafts, first versions of things, almost always have a large portion of synthesis, of combining previously-known ingredients into a new stew, stirring it up, and then improvising over the changes. Continue reading

bEastliness


the_yellow_sign_by_asmodean1985For Joe…but a small tributary, hardly a capillary, late, but seemingly necessary. At least to me.

 

 

 

This was before the Play. This was before everything.

Cassilda and Cassandra and Caterina and Calliope and Cassiopeia were seated on their pedestals, which spiraled ever-so-slightly upward so that Cassilda was uppermost (done by the strong urgings of her mother, to be sure), having a rather nice chat about their lessons that day, when courtier Jenkin burst into the room all a’titter over something or other that he imagined, a slight so small that it had passed beneath the notice of everyone else at the Ball.

Jenkin carried on tittering and gnashing his teeth and gibbering complete nonsense for quite some time.
Cassilda admired the draperies, which were quite a nice shade of eggshell, and a very fine weave, and Cassandra and Caterina made the motions they had practiced earlier. First up with the right hand, palm up, then the left, then turn them over palm-down simultaneously while stamping both feet.Calliope stamped also, and Cassiopeia said the words.

The girls were all precious and precocious, and they conspired to turn poor Jenkin into a thing. And he just released from the shore-prison, where he had been a rock for just eons.

Now he’d hands and feet, and a smaller and more wizened version of his usual visage, but he was also equipped with a prodigious and very scaly tail, which twitched in annoyance, and a short-furred body about the size of a medium-sized dog’s, though bearing a distinct resemblance to rattus rattus.

How he howled!

His footman Mazuriewicz came then, and fetched Jenkin back before the King, to see if something could be done.

“By the very hoary and hallowed Gods of defile!” Declaimed Mazuriewicz. “These young ladies have gone too far this time. First animating the garden of stones, and now this. And with visitors coming too!”

He huffed off seeking his audience with the regent, not hesitating to take his fill of any provender, victual, or canape that he encountered along the way.

His footsteps and his grumbling echoed in the great groined halls and reached the King long before his personal aroma did. The King was not in fact overtaken with ardor for either Jenkin or Mazuriewicz, and undertook to be elsewhere when they arrived.
His relatives, their relatives and friends, and several persons as yet uninvited but present nonetheless, addressed themselves to the buffet, which was groaning with joints of beast and whole dressed hams, yams, clams, spam, and jam, with a great many varieties of bread and rolls and buns and cakes and pies and tarts and pastries and cookies such as remained uneaten thus far.

Mazuriewicz and Jenkin joined them before continuing on, seeing that the King was not in residence at that moment.

Jenkin also availed himself of several pieces of flatware and a small candelabra.

He resigned himself to his fate.
“I’m resigned to this fate,” he squeaked to Mazuriewicz. “There’s nothing anyone can do.”
“Nonsense,” came the reply. “You simply lack persistence.” Mazuriewicz shrugged elaborately, dislodging his powdered hairpiece somewhat. He patted it back into place absently. “The King will set things to rights.”
“I am not a particular favorite of the King’s,” Jenkin squeaked. “He will make it worse. The last time he was displeased, he turned me into a living rock for a few thousand years.”
“Well, there is that,” Mazuriewicz admitted, shaking his head and making his hairpiece jiggle dangerously. “But time isn’t the same here, so it didn’t seem that long.”

“To you,” Jenkin snarled.
“Well, of course, to me,” Mazuriewicz replied testily. “Who else would I be talking about?”
“I was talking about me,” squealed Jenkin.
“Aren’t you always?” Mazuriewicz raised his left eyebrow and glowered at Jenkin from beneath it. “You’re your own favorite subject.”

Jenkin rushed him, jumped upon his back, began gnawing on his skull. “I will have you for lunch. This very day,” he snarled, taking the wig in his mouth and hurling it. A cloud of powder followed. Jenkin reapplied himself to his task with vigor.

Mazuriewicz covered his head with his arms and tried to move Jenkin by pulling his cloak over his head and making a bag out of the inside-out thing.

Jenkin ate through it.

By then Mazuriewicz was two hundred yards away and widening the gap.

“He’ll be back,” said Jenkin, taking his place at the endless buffet again, among the rest of the misfits, malingerers, malformed, malignant, and misunderstood.

When he was quite round enough to feel comfortable, Jenkin moved on to his chambers and began to collect the things he’d need, for he didn’t feel that he could stay, under the current circumstances.

“I don’t think I could stay,” he said, “or that I should stay. If I stay there will be trouble. If I go there will be trouble. But if I go the nature of the trouble is unknown. I don’t want to be a rock again. This body works, after a fashion.”

Cassilda and Cassandra and Caterina and Calliope and Cassiopeia were all watching of course, because everyone watched everybody else constantly, because how else to know what you should be doing except by comparing one’s plans to others’ plots?

Anything else would nonsensical. So said Demhe, and Demhe knew all.

Demhe was from the universe before this one, and knew what was going to happen before it happened.

Some even said Demhe caused things to happen, but that’s simply not possible. Demhe doesn’t move, have arms, legs, fingers, toes. Demhe is just a stone.

In those days, except to things like Jenkin, it was a happy time. Good days on Carcosa, not long after the universe was born, and the city Carcosa on the planet Carcosa, near the western shore of the great frozen lake Hali, was young and whole, and its marbled avenues and metallic hues rivaled the very five suns for splendor.

For there were five suns then, not just two, and a great many moons, moonlets, satellites, asteroids, comets, planetoids, and personal craft plied the spaceways.

He who is not to be named had not yet arrived. It is unknown if he had yet been quickened.

For, as you recall, it was a very very long time ago.

Cassilda and Cassandra and Caterina and Calliope and Cassiopeia finished their chat about their lessons and practicing their signs, warnings, weavings, castings, and wards, and took leave of one another, making for their respective dwellings.
“I’ll see you later,” called Cassilda. “I’m for tea and a hot bath.”
“Marvelous,” trilled Cassandra. “Oh, a bath. With lots of bubbles!”
Caterina and Calliope thought the bath capital also.
Cassiopeia demurred.
“Be a stick in the mud,” the others jeered.
Cassiopeia’s eyes widened. Cassilda was beginning a weaving. The stars were darkening.

“NO, Cass,” she said.
Cassilda smiled thinly, showing the tips of her teeth, and tied the weaving off.

The stars came back out.
“I wouldn’t do that, to you,” Cassilda said. “But I could.” And she and the others sashayed off to the baths. Cassilda in white, Cassandra in green, Caterina in yellow, Calliope in red.

Cassiopeia, blue, stayed behind.

She had business with the stone.

Her bath done, her precious self fragrant and enveloped in a robe of the palest persimmon, her pert lips parted parsimoniously, Cassilda addressed herself to her instruments, first directing the engine to imitate the sounds of the crimson dawn, utilizing screams and squeaks of her own devising as ambient underpinning for the music of the spears.

Using the visions she had gleaned from the stone, of beasts of all descriptions throwing themselves onto the long blades in the Forest of Knives, of terror that resonated even into the Outlands, Cassilda poured her soul into the music.

Her familiar began to howl along with the melody, to become the melody. He bayed half-formed thoughts, parts of words learned parrot-fashion, his twin throats in counterpoint.

“I can’t stand when he talks like that,” giggled Cassilda, holding her nose. “And the way he sings. But his music flows, and I want some of that.”

She bent over her megatar, tightened a drone string to get it in tune with the others, strummed a chord.

The chord sounded, and hung in the air. As it began to crumble, she sent another one after it. Soon, three was a crowd.

She reached out, made a gesture with her fingers somewhere between a wave and a slap, and the chords reappeared and repeated. She added bass notes, and patiently continued to assemble her song. Her familiar howled and bayed and gibbered and glubbered along, and the engine relayed it all into the stone, into Demhe, and out into the universe.

The King caught the performance. He enjoyed Cassilda’s rage, her desire for destruction. He thought he might like to express some of the feelings her music generated, in words.

He took up his pen. He wrote, and Demhe assimilated those words.

Cassilda

Cassilda 2015 by Duane Pesice