Horror Feed

Friday Five: 5 Distinct Dystopias

The-king-in-yellow-coverAleriel is out now - a resurrected Victorian space travel novel, complete with a new sequel from Molly Tanzer. (Molly's had a busy week!) Molly's sequel puts a new spin on the original novel. Lach-Szyrma's titular Venusian traveller was particularly impressed by the theocratic society he finds on Mars. Molly? Less so, and "Civilisation and Its Discontents" shows this presumed utopia from a different perspective. 

So, naturally, we asked Molly for a short list of some of her other favourite dystopias, so, without further ado...


I mean, even considering that BioShock was too scary for me to play, and 1984 and Brave New World seemed too easy, these were some tough choices. In the end, I settled on this list, which I felt were (1) a nice mix of various media, and (2) also contain utopias disguised as dystopias, and vice versa. Enjoy!

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Slade House by David Mitchell

Slade HouseThrough a small, easy-to-miss door in the equally easy-to-miss Slade Alley, those who are invited, knowingly or unknowingly, can find the garden entrance to Slade House.

The house itself is large and imposing, perhaps past its prime, but always a surprise to find in the context of its surroundings. In fact, how does a house this big, with grounds this extensive, even fit in the apparently available space? Why is it impossible to find its front entrance? And why, on the last Saturday of October every nine years, is someone brought by circumstance to Slade House and never seen again?

I’ll confess that I’ve always found David Mitchell a difficult writer to get on with. Most of my past efforts to get through his books have foundered in the early stages, though for a variety of reasons, so it’s hard to make a definitive “I don’t like the way he writes X” statement. Slade House proved the exception, which it achieved largely by being pacy, intriguing, engaging and creepy in a way that draws in the reader - for the most part - pretty effectively.

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Pygmalia: Necrophallus

Night voicesThis year I’m selecting a series of Pygmalion stories—or stories that contain echoes of the Pygmalion myth—and essaying on them. I already have a few in mind, but please feel free to suggest others in the comments or on Twitter @molly_the_tanz

A brief note before we begin: The Pleasure Merchant is up for Kindle pre-order! If you’ve enjoyed these blogs, or hey, even if you hated them but love Pygmalion stories, or know someone who does, boy howdy I’d appreciate it if you pre-ordered, or schlepped on over to Amazon on November 17th to pick up a paper copy.

Anyway, with that out of the way… it’s my birthday, and it’s also close to Halloween, so it’s time for some horror content. Read on with caution, as this month’s entry is pretty brutal. I mean, it’s literally titled…

“Corpse Dagger (Necrophallus)”, by Makino Osamu, translated from the Japanese by Chun Jin, 2005, in Night Voices, Night Journeys, ed. Asamatsu Ken and Robert M. Price.

With a title like that, how could Osamu’s Lovecraftian tale of pain and desire not be an instant classic?

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Radio Drama: "The Shrunken Head" (1942)

The Shrunken Head"The Shrunken Head"

Original air date: June 13, 1942, from the series The Whistler

Download this episode (right click and save)

Initial Thoughts

I am very excited to hear this because I feel like you can’t go too wrong with a title like ‘The Shrunken Head’ and if you do, that will probably be kind of spectacular also.

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Chicken Soup For The Soulless


You know those self-help books that people get, well let's just say 'enthusiastic' about? The ones that feel about one step removed from the foundational element of a cult? Like that one founded by a former pulp novelist, for example? Maybe that's what they really are. And maybe there's something even more disturbing going on that it might be better for us all not to know about.

Clearly Gail Simone and Jon Davis-Hunt think this stuff should all be out in the open, and have created Clean Room to document it. So it's only polite that we give it the One Comic treatment and share their findings with the world. Which leads nicely into discussing some old Vertigo series in this show's 3&1.

Fiction: "Killing Time" by Jennifer Moore


On the day Death came calling for her, Antonia Priver had already left. Clothes shopping, as usual.  Unfortunately, given the ever-increasing weight of his workload, Death had barely had time to skim through her case notes that morning, let alone analyse her spending habits. He’d clocked her age and address and committed her photo to memory (there’d be hell to pay if he took the wrong client by mistake) but the detailed lists of likes and dislikes had rather fallen by the wayside.

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The 7 Best Horror Movies Ever


Open Culture pulled together a list of the 93 favourite films of legendary director Stanley Kubrick - based on interviews with Kubrick and his family and a search through old magazine articles. 

For the hell of it, I compared this list with the horror movies recommended by Stephen King in the appendix of Danse Macabre

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John Wordsworth on "How the Zombie Ate the Cowboy"

Screenshot 2015-07-06 15.58.24

People have been predicting the comeback of the Western for years.

There have been some notable hits on both the big and small screen: Django Unchained, HBO's Deadwood, and the True Grit remake, among others. While the pulp Western novel is buried in a dusty hilltop cemetery in Wyoming, there have been some excellent more literary takes on the genre, including Philipp Meyer's The Son and, going further back, Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove series. You also can't ignore the impact of the massively popular game Red Dead Redemption. But somehow this trickle of new Westerns has never become anything more than that.

My theory is that, in fact, the Western is back ... but as the Zombie genre. (ZomGen? Zomre?)

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Fiction: "The Valley of the Sorcerer" by Bram Stoker

JewelOf_SevenStarsThe book was by one Nicholas van Huyn of Hoorn. In the preface he told how, attracted by the work of John Greaves of Merton College, Pyramidographia, he himself visited Egypt, where he became so interested in its wonders that he devoted some years of his life to visiting strange places, and exploring the ruins of many temples and tombs. He had come across many variants of the story of the building of the Pyramids as told by the Arabian historian, Ibn Abd Alhokin, some of which he set down. These I did not stop to read, but went on to the marked pages.

As soon as I began to read these, however, there grew on me some sense of a disturbing influence. Once or twice I looked to see if the Nurse had moved, for there was a feeling as though some one were near me. Nurse Kennedy sat in her place, as steady and alert as ever; and I came back to my book again.

The narrative went on to tell how, after passing for several days through the mountains to the east of Aswan, the explorer came to a certain place. Here I give his own words, simply putting the translation into modern English:

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