The Black Dahlia is the fictional account of Hollywood's most notorious murder case of Elizabeth Ann Short in 1947. The book, written by James Ellroy,...moreThe Black Dahlia is the fictional account of Hollywood's most notorious murder case of Elizabeth Ann Short in 1947. The book, written by James Ellroy, is a reinvention in form of the noir gangster and detective murder mystery novels and films from the 30's and 40's. Borrowing much of it's language, imagery and style from the most famous of the bunch, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, and The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, that both starred Humphrey Bogart in the lead roles of the movie versions. Personally, I feel that The Black Dahlia is an even better, more captivating, albeit harsher and grimmer book than those two major classics. Not everyone agrees with me. The first 40 pages are a bit overwhelming due to the unique slang and language that was common in the time period it's based on. After that, I think it kicks in and really tells a story you've never read before that really gets under your skin. In 1987, a couple of months after this book came out, I went to purchase another paperback copy of it to give to my best friend for Christmas, from my favorite bookstore in the world, The Dark Carnival in Berkeley, CA, 15 minutes from where I live. When I got there, all the James Ellroy books that were stacked up on the floor in their own section - just a week prior - were no longer there where I expected them to be. I asked a clerk, "Hey! What happened to all the James Ellroy books that were right over there" and pointed to the section. He said, "Oh, we moved them for the signing". I said, "....the..signing?". He said, "Yeah, he just got out of the bathroom and should be ready in a minute". I was, of course, shocked and didn't know what to say. The clerk then semi-whispered in my ear, "Yeah, and it's a funny thing too, but I couldn't help notice that he had a peestain on his pants next to his pocket. Guess he's just like the rest of us". Again, I didn't know what to say to that. James Ellroy was a gentleman dressed in a dark and light grey suit, with what looked to be black penny loafers on. I was only 1 of maybe 3 customers in the store and ended up getting two paperback editions of The Black Dahlia signed by him, of which he did his entire signings while standing up. We chatted for a minute, and other than the fact he seemed more astute than the average man, and was a bit better dressed, he most certainly didn't seem much different than any other older upper middle-class man and definitely not the nearly famous writer who had written books like "Cop" that were made into movies, who would someday have "The Black Dahlia" and "L.A. Confidential" made into blockbuster films, who would even have his own TV show one day. Several years later, I wrote a song with my band (at the time), Mephisto Odyssey, called, "Dream Of The Black Dahlia", an acid jazz techno song that broke into the U.K. Dance charts that became quite popular in France and Italy and a bit in the U.S. Although when I listen to that song now I think it's just AWFUL(!), but I always think it's pretty cool that I have James Ellroy and The Black Dahlia to thank for helping me break into the music business. ANYONE who loves good murder mystery detective novels or film noir should find this book to be an all-time classic, even though it is a purely fictional account of the famous investigation. If you are a book connoisseur, like me, track down the 1987 / 1988 paperback or hardbound edition with the awesome Elizabeth Ann Short cover, that looks as if it was painted by Nagel - maybe, most famous, for the cover painting on Duran Duran's "Rio" album. It's a killer! And so's this book! Highly recommended and a personal favorite!!!(less)
Fully entertaining fast-paced 127 pg novella perfect for a summery day or lonely night.
Could easily be read in one sitting, though it took me two.
Very Tim Curran in theme: a strange anomaly takes place in which monsters or people are transported to a different timezone/world/dimension, of mysterious circumstances, challenging the character(s) involved in one way or another, usually resulting in a transformation of their own selves, for better or for worse.
Will appeal to anyone who loves sea monsters as much as I do, as well as fans of the Primeval TV show(s), the Jurassic Park franchise, and to ALL hungry fans of cryptid horror!
Way to go, Tim!
And thnx to Kimberly for spotlighting it for my eyes to see! :D (less)
I was expecting a real up & down affair but was confident that there would be a few good stories making me glad I bought it. And, I was right!
Here's how I rate each story.
The Banks of the City Thames - Patrick Thomas (5/5): This is A Tale of the Steam Table, about two cops, an elfin female knight of science aka a Gear Knight, and her human male mentor knight of magic aka a Spell Knight, on assignment to end the recent robbing of local banks carried out by a mechanical dragon. This was one of my two favorites and, if he hasn't already done so, I hope Patrick Thomas writes more about this magnetic duo. This makes for a great beginning for possible further adventures to take place in this world of steam & sorcery. A nice illustration by Teresa Tunaley, at the beginning of the tale, enhanced the reading pleasure.
Project Lilith: Memento Moria - Jeff Hughes (4/5): This is a military story set in the city of Zazl, Kund Province, part of the Ottoman Empire, during The Great War. It centers around a four man SOI (Special Operations Initiative) scout and reconnaisance team working for the Crown. There's not much Steampunk in this one, other than a Zeppelin airship, however, like the cool artwork promises, this one's got zombies. I liked it and will be looking into what else the writer has written.
Chin Song Ping and the Dragon Merchants - Laura Givens (3/5): This story follows Chinese American, Chin Song Ping, through his dangerous quest into the heart of Chinatown and other parts of San Francisco, Califronia, with the sole purpose of finding a nice wedding dress for his bride-to-be. Along the way, he confronts the tongs, Teddy Roosevelt and Kaiju-sized dragons from China. This one didn't spark my interest at first but it turned out to be better than I was expecting. I especially liked the explanation of how the dragons breathed fire. More of an Alternate History than Steampunk imo, but that was ok. The artwork at the beginning by Tom Kelly was appropriate and a nice depiction of Teddy Roosevelt.
The Hands - K.S. Hardy (3/5): This one is about a deserter during the war who, once confronted by an officer (& Doctor) of higher station, is assigned the terrible duty of burying handfuls of amputated limbs, inc. many hands. I won't go into any further details but I can say that it is a well-written horror story that has nothing whatsoever to do with Steampunk, and was a little too much like an outdated Twilight Zone episode for my tastes. In a horror book or in an anthology of throwback 60's style horror tales, it would work well. Here, it was out of place. I didn't care for the artwork either.
The King's Martian Rifles on the Western Front - M.E. Brines (5/5): As the title suggests, this one takes place on the Western Front during the Great War when British soldiers must confront a monstrous sixty-foot giant, steam-powered German soldier. It's a toss up between this story and the first story on which one is my favorite. This is the most definitive Steampunk story, and I don't want to spoil it for you, but I can tell you I really liked the characters and setting, and could imagine many stories revolving around the hero. In addition, the story alludes to offworld colonizing and, along with this setting here on Earth, opens up all kinds of possibilites for future storytelling. I have no idea if author M.E. Brines continued on with any further adventures involving General McLaughlin but, seeing as how his Alternate History Steampunk Adventure novel, The Queen's Martian Rifles, involves a young David McLaughlin, I would have to think it might be a prequel to this story here. Regardless, I'm going to check it out as soon as I'm able to. The artwork depicting the sixty foot steam-powered soldier is drawn by Jim Collins. It was very fun to read!
Ben Franklin and the Sky Sailors - Gary Every (2/5): I was stoked to see the title of this story and the simple but nicely drawn picture by Paul Niemiec accompanying it, thinking it could be right up my alley. However, by halfway through the first page I was ready to give it up and put it down for good. However, I plodded all the way through this Alternate History Steampunk tale. If anything, it got worse after the first page. The idea was okay, and with characters like George Washington and Ben Franklin I thought how could it go wrong? The plot, the direction of the storyline, and the writing itself were strange and haphazard at best. I think this could sum it up for you: how do blueberry pancakes sound during what could only be perceived as a possible invasion from the skies? Oh! but blueberry pancakes makes everything better, right? Especially in the middle of an offbeat Steampunk story about President Ben Franklin and heirs. Yes, I said President Ben Franklin. 'Nuff said.
When Thieves Cannot Be True - Douglas Empringham (4/5): This is a Steampunk Fantasy set in what feels to be an older time period, and yet, old world marvels, like machines and robot animal creatures, seem to be from an even older time period, if I remember correctly. It's about thieves. One outside thief from the local thieve's guild is brought in to be the partner to one of the most experienced and renown thieves in the area, to steal a precious clockwork doll. But, who can be trusted? I found this story to be pretty cool and am interested to find out if the author continued more stories in this vein and in this particular world. The art by Neil T. Foster captured the look of the characters and the doll very well and left a good impression on my memory.
Doc Mitford Catches the Ghost Train - Samantha Wood Mills (2/5): Well this is a definitive Steampunk story, however, I had to brain muscle my way through it as it immediately disinterested me once it became a Ground Hog day repeating train effect, which won't make any sense unless you read it. I didn't care for the writing and the only thing I was interested in is getting to the end of it so I, like the character in the story, could get off this trainwreck. Sorry, but it wasn't for me. The artwork by Morland Gonsoulin was competent but nothing of note.
Albion - Jonathan H. Self (3/5): Albion, is a sort of James Bond / Super Hero secret agent working for Queen Victoria and the Empire. Until now, her identity has been a secret to most of the world. When her enemies discover who she is and maybe more importantly, who's daughter she is, her and her parents situations become a matter of life and death. Although I'm only giving this story a 3 due to a strange intro and an offbeat story structure, with too many questions left unanswered, I am intrigued by her character and the glimpse I got of her story, and would like to follow up to see if there is more of her in any of the authors other work. While not traditionally Steampunk, there are enough of the usual components to connect it as such. As for the writing itself, I feel that Jonathan H. Self may be the best writer of the bunch.
As far as the poems are concerned, I don't feel I'm an experienced enough judge of poetry to rate them.
This is a very well put-together magazine of assorted writers, artists and poets. A lot of care and effort went into the making of it. It's well worth your time in tracking down and obtaining your own copy. I also want to add that I like the Table of Contents found on the first page you open to, which makes it very easy to know who contributed to it and where to find all of the content inside.
My overall rating: 5 stars.
I highly recommend this to both new and experienced fans of Steampunk!!!!!
I'm now able to add a few authors to my list to check out and hope I find more stories I will like as much as I did the ones here. And, it's always a well appreciated bonus when the artwork on the cover is as eye-catching as this cover is. (less)
I liked them all but my favorites were, Lest Ye Become, by Brian Keene, and The Doll Wagon, by Dan Keohane...which was...I'll tell you, one creepy story! ~ really looking fwd to checking out more of his work!
*Note: I might just end up liking other stories as much or even more than my listed faves, much like how when you buy a new cd, you like certain songs at first but then end up liking others as much or more, later.
A beautiful book I will cherish forever in my book collection.
And one I know I will be re-reading again and again.
Especially, my favorite of the 33 s...moreA beautiful book I will cherish forever in my book collection.
And one I know I will be re-reading again and again.
Especially, my favorite of the 33 stories within, *The Skin of Her Skin* by Camille Alexa. And though I'm sure I will expand on it later, in brief I will tell you that my Leisa I now make use of the word bjarga on as many occasions as possible! Just because we both love to say it!
*I hope to write a better, longer review, eventually.
Before any of you run off thinking this short story collection is some kind of Thanksgiving parody featuring a psychotic turkey on the loose, think ag...moreBefore any of you run off thinking this short story collection is some kind of Thanksgiving parody featuring a psychotic turkey on the loose, think again!
*Though this is a fine collection of Nebraska regional tales the real reason to read this book is for the short gothic horror story, Adelbrand's Skull.
Because of this, as good as the other short stories in this book may be, my review will be on Adelbrand's Skull.
However, I feel it's important to detail a short bit about the author, first.
During his lifetime, Alvin Johnson, wrote a variety of books earning a reputation as a distinguished scholar, editor, and legislator.
While still in his youth, he founded the avant-garde undergraduate New School for Social Research, in Greenwich Village, that was later transformed into a 'university of exile' - a haven for scholars who fled Nazi persecution.
During World War II, as Chairman of the Committee Against Discrimination, Johnson drew up the bill that became New York State's law against discrimination, a forefront model later used as an example for other states to follow and implement similarly.
Although Alvin Johnson lived his life as an accomplished American pioneer, it would be a shame if it were forgotten that one of his greatest achievements is his contribution to the annals of gothic horror literature.
The setting: Denmark.
The place: Adelbrand's Keep, later renamed Hedemark Plaisance.
Adelbrand's Keep was originally built in the middle ages by Adelbrand, having thick stone walls with slits for archers and a high stone wall encircling it. Outside the walls, a wide, deep moat, complete with oaken drawbridge.
Yep, Medieval Knievel all the way.
A tarn - an almost circular pool - rumored to be bottomless, existed within the walls of the castle, and was said to contain dark powers from a pre-Christian world.
Although a mostly unknown short story, ripe with a gothic heavy setting, Adelbrand's Skull can be seen in some ways as filling the gap between the masters of old, Edgar Allan Poe and Henry James (in it's reverse observance of situational idealogy), to the new, as seen in the work of Robert Aickman, Thomas Ligotti, and Matt Cardin.
All 13 pages of it contain some very clever ideas and fascinating occurrences.
Near the beginning, a short mention of how, somewhere around the time of the keep being built, the Danes were being converted from heathen worshippers of Thor and Odin to baptized Christians of the new world.
When King Gorm the old, whom Rome failed to Christianize asked, "Where are my great ancestors?", the legate replied, "In Hell." and Gorm says, "I go to my great ancestors."
The pre-Christian world still dominated the common lifestyles and practices of the Danes and in Adelbrand, they were their most pagan.
Adelbrand was a ruthless pirate and highway robber of the worst kind.
Once he lays eyes on Lontillia, God-fearing daughter of a minor noble, he becomes infatuated with her and will stop at nothing to make her his own.
When confronting the local Lord Bishop, pleading for forgiveness, offering gold, and begging to be absolved, the Lord Bishop silently muses, Yet here was a soul to save, and the saving of the soul of a wicked man would cause more rejoicing in Heaven than saving a soul already near purity.
Adelbrand's sanity eventually disintegrates but not before the inexorable writing of his will. The will states, ...his head was to be cut off, the flesh boiled off it, and the skull to be thrown into the tarn. After his death, the instructions of his will are carried out.
Hundreds of years later, Baron Hedemark, current landowner of Adelbrand's Keep, while on visit, meets up with Diderot, a great literate man of the century. When the Baron tells him the story of Adelbrand's Skull, Diderot replies, "Get it up. You will kill a superstition. It is the duty of the intelligent man to kill superstition whenever he can."
I've given away more than I usually do, crossing my fingers in hope that some of you will want to track down this piece of subtle horror to read for themselves.
Adelbrand's Skull is full of many great ideas for such a short work and is a lot of fun to re-read, and one of my favorite short stories I know I'll be coming back to.
*Super Highly Recommended to all Gothic Horror fiction afficionados!!!!!(less)
~ Even the darkest of villains can have a hero's heart ~
This tale tells the story of Captain Hook before he officially takes the name Captain Hook, during his time spent at Eton College getting his education, and his transformation into the villain we know and love.
If you ever wanted to know the history of Captain Hook, it couldn't have been done better by even J.M. Barrie himself. Although there is no Peter Pan here, this is my favorite of all the sequels, prequels, side-stories, etc., that have added to the myth and magic of Peter Pan and the world of Neverland, that I've read thus far.
Here's the book description:
With his long black curls, a shadowy family tree, and an affinity for pet spiders, James Matthew bears little resemblance to his starched-collar, blue-blooded peers at Eton. Dubbed King Jas., he stops at nothing to become the most notorious underclassman in the prestigious school's history. For James, sword fighting, falling in love with an Ottoman Sultana, and challenging the Queen of England are all in a day's skullduggery. But when he sets sail on a ship with a mysterious mission, King Jas.' dream of discovering a magical island quickly turns into an unimaginable nightmare.
Screenwriter J.V. Hart traces the evolution of J.M. Barrie's classic villain from an eccentric outcast to the scourge of Neverland.
This book is told with great charm and a writing skill that really hooked me, entertaining me beyond what I was expecting.
+Captain Hook has a pet spider named Electra. How much cooler can it get than that!?
J.V. Hart, as you can see from the comments below, contacted me after my early version of this review. He is currently working on a sequel! Here are links to read the first 5 chapters on Facebook before the book's even published:
I bought this book because I was a big fan of Piers Anthony's "Xanth" series, and am I glad I did! This book might even be better! This is dark fantas...moreI bought this book because I was a big fan of Piers Anthony's "Xanth" series, and am I glad I did! This book might even be better! This is dark fantasy horror that feels more like a Stephen King book than anything else. Only, I don't think Stephen King ever wrote anything like this. It's a book I consider flawsome! (flaws + awesome = flawsome!), but it is and will always be a favorite of mine. It's about the Pinson family who come into contact with a haunted tree, ghosts, chainsaws, a haunted house, and more. All these elements are blended together with a new spin on everything, that is refreshing and fun! It all takes place in Florida. But this isn't the make-believe version of Florida that became Piers Anthony's world of Xanth. In place of anything being "punny", you will find lots of drama and suspense instead. Juggling horror and light fantasy all the way to the end, it's very exciting and I couldn't put it down the first time, nor the many times I've read it again. I was real surprised one day when my youngest sister, after having read all the Xanth books, picked this one up to read. But, it shouldn't have been a surprise at all. She knows a good book when she sees one. She read it and loved it! As a note, I read this back-to-back with Raymond Feist's "Faerie Tale" and have done so many times since. For some unknown reason, they go hand-in-hand with me. Maybe they would for you as well, and at the very least, makes for a great double-punch of dark fantasy / horror that can be compared to Stephen King.(less)