Thursday, January 27, 2011

Zombies in New York and Other Bloody Jottings

New from Telos Publishing: Zombies in New York and Other Bloody Jottings. 

"Something is sapping the energy of the usually robust dancers of the Moulin Rouge … Zombies roam the streets of New York City … Clowns die in mysteriously humorous ways … Jack the Rippers crimes are investigated by a vampire …

Welcome to the horrific and poetic world of Sam Stone, where Angels are stalking the undead and a vampire becomes obsessed with a centuries-old werewolf. Terror and lust go hand in hand in the disturbing world of the Toymaker, and the haunting Siren's call draws the hapless further into a waking nightmare. Thirteen stories of horror and passion, and six mythological and erotic poems from the pen of the new Queen of Vampire fiction.

Chick-slash has never been so entertaining."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman. Canongate £10.99
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

I finally bought a copy of this book – it’s been on my wants list for a while. Although I’ve not read Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights series, I'm aware of the criticism he’s gathered due to their apparent anti-religious nature. The Good Man Jesus… is Pullman’s attempts to answer his critics – and to understand just how the Jesus myth could begin.

In this version, Jesus is born a twin – his brother is Christ. Jesus is the good, homely one, Christ the less comely son (but I think he's treated unfairly). As they grow older, Jesus finds himself at the forefront of the new religion. He gathers disciples and the crowds inevitably follow. But who documents all this?

It's Christ, of course. He's commissioned – he believes – by an angel to write the story, rather to write the truth of the story of Jesus’s teachings, not just the facts. Yet he – Christ – is duped. He thinks he's doing good but in the end it is he who betrays his brother and thus helps create the legacy of Jesus. I think that Christ is miscast as a villain; he isn't a scoundrel. He's a misguided, easily lead fool, lead by those with ulterior motives. I’ll let you extend the metaphor.

Overall, as much as I enjoyed the book, I was eager to finish it quickly rather because I got fed up with it and I began skipping chapters. It's not a bad book -- it's simply a reworking of the New Testament. Was there a need to seemingly revisit every incident and miracle?

I was, of course, reminded of that other famous and fantastical reworking of the Jesus legend: Michael Moorcock’s Behold the Man. If you want to read only one of these books, go for the Moorcock.

Choose: film review

Choose directed by Marcus Graves. Starring Katheryn Winnock, Kevin Pollak and Richard Short.
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

Here's another movie about another serial killer with a 'past'. He seemingly picks victims at random, giving them a choice about how they are mutilated -- or killed. For seemingly unknown reasons he's targeted a journalism student. He sends her clues which she follows up and arrives at answers quicker than her father -- who just happens to be a senior cop. It all seems to be linked to the suicide of her mother.

The story is full of the usual clich├ęs: dark corners, sudden encounters, locked doors unaccountably opened, blah, blah. Why would a girl knowingly go alone to meet the killer? I just don't get it. The movie takes a nod at many previous slasher flicks -- and an obvious curtsy to Se7en. I guess there is a tension in the film but only if you can keep awake long enough to discover who did it and why -- and who survives. If you remember the gun on the wall rule, the ending isn't that much of a 'shock'.

So the choice is: would I watch it again, or not? I choose the latter. Choose is out on DVD on 24 January.

The New Uncanny

This anthology seems to have slipped quietly onto the shelves of Waterstone’s: The New Uncanny: Tales of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page was published by Comma Press (£7.95) in 2008 – see what I mean. I suppose a clue lies in the support the book was given by the Arts Council and Literature Northwest. It’s a shame that they didn’t make a bigger splash at the time -- that’s assuming I didn’t sleep through the launch and promotional tour, etc. But since the book did win the Shirley Jackson Award, it is likely that I was going through a somnambulist phase. Anyway, I saw it and bought a copy last month...

This book contains stories by ‘genre’ favourites Ramsey Campbell, Nicholas Royle and Christopher Priest. Other contributors include Matthew Holness, Sara Maitland, AS Byatt, and Hanif Kureishi -- 14 stories in all.

In the introduction, Ra Page explains the rationale behind this anthology. Sigmund Freud published an essay that listed eight irrational causes of fear, including being blinded and being buried alive. These stories are an attempt to explore these fears for the new century.

Another Year's Best Anthology

Prime Books has recently published The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2010, edited by Paula Guran. This is a fat, tasty treat: nearly forty stories culled from a range of sources, print and online, mainstream and small press. Authors include Kelley Armstrong, Peter Atkins, Holly Black, Ramsey Campbell, Steve Duffy, Joe Lansdale, Sarah Pinborough and Michael Marshall Smith.

The good thing about these ‘best of’ anthologies is that it helps the hard-pressed reader discover the quality material – and saves money in the long run. Here are 550 pages of selected works for around twenty dollars. Not bad at all. The only criticism I can make is: the cover is somewhat unimaginative.