Another collection of well-written short stories by a relatively unknown horror author. Sadly, none of them are really actually scary in the way IHmm.
Another collection of well-written short stories by a relatively unknown horror author. Sadly, none of them are really actually scary in the way I hope for from horror, they're scary in that they pit the protagonist against something with which they cannot cope and then track their descent into nothingness and ennui. Often the stories just stop, rather than end as well, which is rather jarring.
It all feels rather mundane for the large part. Spooky-ish quasi-supernatural things will happen but it's described in such a flat, affect-less way that you feel a bit depressed and that's about it.
I have read much better collections that have been lauded much less....more
Mask of The Other is a book about US soldiers fighting monsters and bringing trauma home from the war with them based on an old-school pen and paper RMask of The Other is a book about US soldiers fighting monsters and bringing trauma home from the war with them based on an old-school pen and paper RPG, but... it's much more than just that.
Based on that blurb you'd assume it'll be a stars and bars bum-bag wearing cretin of a novel. All jingo and black and white and desperate homo-eroticism, but somehow it consistently subverts your expectations. All of our soldiers are flawed, sad men, and the book following them for ~15 years really gives you the impression that they only grow moreso with age. You really come to care for these guys, you root for them in conflict because you don't want them to die, rather than because oo-rah semper fi kill the monsters. It's a subtle difference, but a really important one.
The dialogue is punchy and funny, the paranormal elements are dealt with in a very no-nonsense, entertaining way while retaining a lot of mystery and menace and the ending is one of the most wonderfully ambiguous and downbeat things I have read in a long time.
This is a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading, and that has really stuck with me. A frankly miraculous thing for military-horror-fiction. Or HORMILF, if you prefer....more
The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies is (another) excellent collection of short horror stories written by someone of whom you havThe Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies is (another) excellent collection of short horror stories written by someone of whom you have never heard. And compared to any "collection of best new horror 20xx" it's a very strong anthology indeed.
Langans interest seems to be in how the story is told, rather than what the story concerns. Which is pretty sensible; horror is horror, you'll always get a zombie one, a vampire one, a Cthulhu/cosmic one, a Poestiche and etc but what sets them apart is generally going to be the quality of the characters, the themes evoked and the style in which the story is told.
Generally the thematic stuff is top-drawer; The Wide, Carnivorous Sky in particular is a wonderfully bleak look at he lives of soldiers after the war but Kids, How the Day Runs Down and The Shallows are all stuffed full of poignant human observation in between the teeth and the tentacles.
The style in which the stories are told is where this collection truly sets itself apart. How the Day Runs Down is written in the style of a stage-play, with a Stage Manager narrating the end of the world via zombie apocalypse, inviting other characters to share their stories to intermingle global with personal. Mother of Stone tells the story in second person, a style I have not seen used since I stopped reading Fighting Fantasy books and even the weakest link in the collection (Technicolor) is given legs by the telling: A dry lecturer haranguing you along with a fictional auditorium of his students to better understand the work of Poe and the man who inspired the story.
All in all the only real problems I have with this book are the back-slapping, inside-jokey fore and afterwords, so it's a hearty recommendation from me....more
Firefall is an omnibus edition of Blindsight and Echopraxia. While my review of Blindsight is and ever shall remain "The most mind-numbingly horrifyinFirefall is an omnibus edition of Blindsight and Echopraxia. While my review of Blindsight is and ever shall remain "The most mind-numbingly horrifying thing I've ever read.", Firefall was something quite different.
Set parallel to the Theseus mission out to Big Ben, Firefall follows the misadventures of baseline biologist Dan Bruks falling in with Bicamerals, militarized zombies and a Vampire on a tour out to space to see if anything else came back with the transmissions from humanity's attempt at first contact.
As with Blindsight I don't really want to discuss anything specific as the plot and the themes are all huge spoilers but I will say that it's a superb book written by someone who does not want you to entirely understand it....more
Tampa is the story of an unrepentant paedophile who slept with a fourteen year old student, told from her point of view. The subject matter seems to hTampa is the story of an unrepentant paedophile who slept with a fourteen year old student, told from her point of view. The subject matter seems to have blurred criticism with morality in quite a few corners, which I can understand as I was often left feeling both aroused and horrified by the more graphic sexual content. And that's not a great feeling to have for any length of time.
The book is just under 300 pages long and I devoured it in less than 72 hours so it certainly doesn't outstay it's welcome. It's also coming from the same side of the political spectrum I inhabit so I'm predisposed to give it a lot of slack. It speaks to our deification of youth and simultaneous obsession with death, the mind of a sociopath laid bare in a way that's at once relatable and repellant, the outlook on molestation of teenage boys in a society so utterly throttled by patriarchy and addled by porn that we don't have a fitting response. It's all there and obvious in a way that isn't thrown in your face. Unlike the teen fucking. Because boy howdy you're going to read an awful lot about fourteen year olds acting on the fact that they're hot for teacher.
(view spoiler)[My one criticism is that there is a death is the story that honestly feels like the author was worried that the molestation wasn't going to be enough, that we had to go full on Dexter and expose her as someone who is just Jim Dandy with watching someone die as well. (hide spoiler)] That aside, though, I was thoroughly gripped by the narrative, impressed with the quality of the writing and amused at the critical response. A worthwhile read.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more