Some days it seems like the only thing she can remember about her day is the commute - day in and day out, Tooting to Kennington, change to the Bank branch, change at Bank, Central Line to Chancery Lane and then the reverse, over and over, yesterday and today and tomorrow forever.
Zach Galligan is coming to save us. Not the Galligan you know, or don’t know, as the case may be. Not a Galligan at all, not really, but infinite worlds with infinite incarnations are confusing enough without quibbling over a name, without searching for the seam on the hero’s mask. Let him be Galligan, then, for it can be no other—there’s no mistaking those boyish good lucks, that charming smile, the glint of pure goodness that flashes in his eye…and the monsters that forever surround him.
A pre-Tolkien, pre-Lovecraft fantasist who spanned genres, styles, and formats: Chambers was a success during his lifetime, and a massive influence beyond it.
"Ghost with a Knife" from CBS Radio Mystery Theatre, originally aired on Dec. 16, 1977. Listen along here.
Thoughts Before Listening
I am going to listen to something called Ghost with a Knife because ghosts are scary and knives are scary so this should be scary as heck, right? I DON’T KNOW! I GUESS!! Now here are some questions regarding this radio drama, raised by Illustrious Acquaintance and an assortment of friends who would be very offended to hear me refer to them as friends (WE COULD BE FRIENDS THO JUST SAYING)
Her books feature gorgeous settings, icy protagonists; batshit worlds and beautiful words. Strange plots and great prose... welcome to the Weird!
Halloween is upon us and the usual parade of monster, ghouls and goblins are sure to be out in force. Chief among those will be the 'big three': vampires, werewolves and, of course, witches.
Unlike the first two, however, witches have a real-life history every bit as chilling as the stories in literature and film. The persecution of women (and, less often, men) for the crime of witchcraft is widespread and well known, with the most famous example being the witch trials in Salem in the 1690s.
A few months ago, when we rolled out The Official Pornokitsch Taxonomy of Villains ™, I promised two things: An Obsessed, and a Monster. Half of that promise was fulfilled last month with our look at Khan(s). This month, I deliver on the second half by focusing on the most notorious monster of 2017: Pennywise the Dancing Clown, from Stephen King’s It. I’ll mostly be focusing on the 2017 film version, but will reference other versions as appropriate, since the most famous portrayals – i.e. the novel, the 1990s miniseries, and the latest film – all differ in some respects.
So, let me start with the obvious bit, something we’ve all known in the deepest recesses of our beings since childhood:
“What are you digging for?”
"Don’t you call me a Fuck Nose!” *Punch*
Somewhere in London, at the very back of a filing cabinet in my agent's office, there's novel that – if I can help it – will never see the light of day. Thinking about it makes me squirm with embarrassment. It's my debut and it's a mess; a big, insane mash-up of influences that were swimming around my nineteen-year old head and which scatter-gunned mercilessly onto the page.
The Dark Net (2017) is the new thriller from Benjamin Percy who - for many reasons - is on the 'must-read' pile. But we'll get to that in a moment. The Dark Net is a strangely 'classical' horror novel, in the Straub/King model, not, say, Poe. There's an evil rising in Portland, and a rag-tag group of people are drawn together to stop it.
Like a Straub or a King (or a McCammon or an F. Paul Wilson) there's a metaphysical element: a greater contest of Good and Evil taking place. It is implied that Portland is merely the latest battleground, but, unless our heroes band together... it could also be the last. If you know the genre, you know how it works, and can predict the properly embiggened and important ending.
While all the cosmic epic stuff happens up there (hand-waves), there's a lot of stuff happening on a more immediate, visceral level. The Dark Net is super-squishy, and properly downright terrifying. The monsters are monstrous and the people are worse. It is genuinely horrific in the true sense of the word: juxtaposing the uncanny and the unnatural into everyday life to get the reader recoiling in fear and disgust. Well done, really.
I'm way behind on writing reviews - a combination of life, SPFBO reading, sekrit projects and watching Ariana Grande and Chris Martin sing "Don't Look Back In Anger" on continuous loop. But whilst we all wait for me to get my act together, here's a quick catch-up on recent reading:
The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz (2016, first 2012). In an unnamed country, the people are ruled by a faceless bureaucracy. All paperwork challenging the state must be notarised by officials at the 'Gate', the accepted nomenclature of the 'powers that be' that work at entrance of the government building, but the Gate never opens...
Over time, a huge queue forms, and with it, a new society. People come and go, trade gossip, form a new, grey economy. The Gate seems to know everything and be everywhere, but its actions are nonsensical and baffling. Set against this... a mystery, of sorts. A man, shot in an uprising that never happened by soldiers that weren't there using guns that don't exist, is standing, wounded, in the queue. The maze of paperwork around him, if he exists, captures a handful of others, as they make extremely difficult choices in the face of overwhelming indifference.
The Queue isn't quite as abstract as I'm making it sound. It is a good Orwellian thriller, with compelling, heart-breaking characters. Although inspired by Egypt, The Queue is one of the great fictional dystopias, with horrifying relevance to, well, everywhere. If you read one book on this list, make it this one.