Sometimes a Skull-Faced Lotus is Just a Skull-Faced Lotus: “Ex Oblivione” and “What the Moon Brings”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s original stories.

Today we’re looking at two very short stories: “Ex Oblivione,” written in 1920 or 1921 and first published in the March 1921 issue of The United Amateur, and “What the Moon Brings,” written in June 1922 and first published in the May 1923 issue of The National Amateur. Nowadays we have fewer magazines with “amateur” in the title, and more internet.

Spoilers ahead.

[“Those moon-cursed waters hurried I knew not whither”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread


“One car, five cheerleaders, and a totally disregarded speed limit: these are the things that dreams are made of.” But when Heather and her friends head to a rest stop, they drive straight into the middle of a bad horror movie—well, to be fair, as a former zombie, Heather is always in the middle of a horror movie… is pleased to present Seanan McGuire’s short story, “Fiber”, originally published in the Shawn Speakman’s Unbound anthology—available now from Grim Oak Press. Like Unfettered before it, the contributing writers of Unbound were allowed to submit the tales they wished fans of genre to read—without the constraints of a theme. It is an anthology filled with some spectacularly new and wonderful stories, each one as diverse as its creator.

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Sleeps With Monsters: S.L. Huang Answers Nine Questions

Today we’re joined by S.L. Huang, author of the Cas Russell books—superhero stories in where the main character is less of a hero than the protagonist of batshit pulp noir. Huang’s novels are independently published, and I for one find them an awful lot of fun. Explosions, mysteries, mathematics, and compelling characters: it’s a good mix.

She’s agreed to answer a few questions for us, so without further ado—

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

What Rape Apologists Need to Learn From Jessica Jones

Kilgrave: “We used to do a lot more than just touch hands.”
Jessica: “Yeah. It’s called rape.”
Kilgrave: “What? Which part of staying in five-star hotels, eating at all the best places, doing whatever the hell you wanted, is rape?”
Jessica: “The part where I didn’t want to do any of it! Not only did you physically rape me, but you violated every cell in my body and every thought in my goddamn head.”
Kilgrave: “That is not what I was trying to do.”
Jessica: “It doesn’t matter what you were trying to do. You raped me again and again and again—”
Kilgrave:How am I supposed to know? I never know if someone is doing what they want, or what I tell them to.”
Jessica: “Poor you.”
Kilgrave: “You have no idea, do you? I have to painstakingly choose every word I say. I once told a man to go screw himself—can you even imagine.”

—Jessica Jones 1×08 “AKA WWJD?”

Marvel’s Jessica Jones is about rape. There’s no way around it. The comic book series Alias, in depicting the villainous Purple Man and his ability to make you follow his every command, skirts the issue. But the Netflix series tackles the subject matter head-on, using the word “rape” unflinchingly, asserting in nearly every episode what Kilgrave did to Jessica. How could it not? 2015 has been the year of rape in fiction and real life, from watching Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz carry her mattress around campus to the triumph of Mad Max: Fury Roads Wives using their own chains to escape Immortan Joe—witnessing survivors of repeated sexual assault and slavery take back their control.

But Jessica Jones isn’t just about a survivor getting retribution for her rapist’s crimes; it also presents us with her rapist, over and over, and his belief that he did nothing wrong.

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Jessica Jones Wants You To Do The Hero Thing

Hot off her Alias reread, Tansy Rayner Roberts reviews Netflix’s Jessica Jones. In this post: “AKA Top Shelf Perverts” and “AKA WWJD.” Spoilers for season 1.

Episode 7: AKA Top Shelf Perverts

Written By: Jenna Reback & Micah Shrift
Directed By: Simon Cellan Jones

Not content with invading her childhood home, Kilgrave spends some personal time in Jessica’s apartment office, spraying his territory by peeing in her toilet.

Enter Ruben the soppy neighbour boy from upstairs, who blurts out to the stranger in the lovely suit that he has brought banana bread for Jessica “because he loves her.” Aw, Ruben, no.

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How Horror Saved My Life (And Why Writing Horror is Good for the Soul)

Writing horror almost killed me. But it saved my life too.

It has saved my life more than once.

I’ll start with the almost-killing. Me, eleven years old and fresh from reading my first Stephen King (Pet Sematary, and even the thought of that book still brings a grin to my face). I suddenly knew what I wanted to do with my life, I wanted to be a horror writer. I wanted to tell scary stories and get paid to do it. In my eyes I was already a professional, I had five years experience under my belt after writing my first gothic masterpiece, The Little Monster Book, at six years old. I was ready to shift things up a gear, though. I wanted to write something that would terrify people.

Back then, I had a huge advantage. I believed in horror. In fact, that’s how I thought writing worked: authors didn’t just sit down and imagine things, they went out into the world and found real ghosts, and real monsters, then used those experiences as nightmare fuel. I couldn’t quite comprehend how something as good as Pet Sematary could exist without some kernel of truth at its heart, some secret, real-life horror. I was convinced that there was a conspiracy of horror authors who had witnessed the supernatural, a cabal of paranormal detectives who shared their experiences as fiction. And I wanted in. At eleven years old I didn’t just suspect that the supernatural existed, I knew that it did. I had a desperate, unshakable faith in it. That was my modus operandi, then, to find real horror and then use that experience to create a truly unforgettable story.

[My plan involved a murder house, a flashlight, and my best friend Nigel.]

Did You Catch Stubby the Rocket’s Cameo on The Man in the High Castle?

It’s comforting to know that, in the disturbing alternate reality presented by The Man in the High Castle, one stalwart little rocket is still chugging along! We spotted Stubby sitting alongside other antiques in Robert Childan’s American Artistic Handcrafts store. Childan collects items both authentic and counterfeit, but we know our Stubby is the genuine article.

Push the Button, Patton!

We have (another) Mad! In a wonderful merging of my theory and the AV Club’s, that last “Patton Oswalt-shaped” silhouette on the MST3K Kickstarter page has indeed been filled with Patton Oswalt…but he’s going to be TV’s Frank’s son! Or, to call him by his proper moniker: TV’s Son of TV’s Frank!

Will he bubble over with Frank-esque enthusiasm? Or will he be sullen, forced to follow in his old man’s henchman footsteps?

[Will he share his father’s love of Squanto?]

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of Tania del Rio and Will Staehle’s Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye, available now from Quirk Books!

Meet Warren the 13th, a cursed 12-year-old Victorian bellhop who’s terribly unlucky … yet perpetually optimistic, hard-working, and curious. Orphan Warren’s pride and joy is his family’s hotel, but he’s been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda took over the management.

Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as the All-Seeing Eye is hidden somewhere on the grounds, and she’ll do anything to find it. If Warren wants to preserve his family’s legacy, he’ll need to find the treasure first—if the hotel’s many strange and wacky guests don’t beat him to it!

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 3:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on November 30th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on December 4th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor:, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

The Walking Dead Season 6 Midseason Finale: “Start to Finish”

The Walking Dead may be a lot of different things to a lot of different people—family drama, zombie horror, warnings of a dystopian future, cash machine—but at the end of the day, it’s a show about the lengths a person will go to survive in a world determined to destroy them. While that’s a thrilling storytelling device, in the long haul it makes for a weak theme. There are only so many ways in which a character can develop within those narrow borders that you end up telling variations on the same story ad nauseum. To spice things up, a writer might turn a bunch of extras into cannon fodder or kill off a beloved character, but once the dust settles the same old, same old is still ambling along. The best and worst thing to be said about TWD this far into the game is that at least it’s consistent.

[“Well, at least you’re being honest.”]

Science and Swashbuckling: A Daughter of No Nation by A.M. Dellamonica

In Child of a Hidden Sea, adventurer and biology enthusiast Sophie Hansa is transported to Stormwrack, a world of island nations ruled by swashbuckling and magic. She finds herself embroiled in a political conflict involving members of a family she never knew she had, and quickly realizes that Stormwrack isn’t just an exciting playground for her to explore. In fact, it may hold important warnings about the future of her own world. After a series of high-stakes escapades involving deep sea diving, dueling, and murder, she is forced to return home to San Francisco with far more questions than answers.

A Daughter of No Nation picks up months later. Sophie has been hard at work, improving her stamina, learning knot-tying techniques and self-defense, and generally making herself into the best potential Stormwrack explorer that she can be. When her half-sister Verena turns up and asks her to go back to Stormwrack, Sophie jumps at the chance to return.

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Jessica Jones is Her Own Worst Enemy

Hot off her Alias reread, Tansy Rayner Roberts reviews Netflix’s Jessica Jones. In this post: “Episode 6—AKA You’re a Winner.” Spoilers for season 1.

AKA You’re A Winner!

Written By: Edward Ricourt
Directed By: Stephen Surjik

Malcolm is now in recovery from drug addiction, and he’s being a model patient. He’s attending group therapy far more often than Jessica, and after some soul searching he is all aboard the Anti-Kilgrave Committee with an unprecedented amount of enthusiasm.

[“I preferred your brain on drugs.”]

Pull List: Pretty Deadly

At this point, if Kelly Sue DeConnick is involved, I’m guaranteed to be there front and center. She could reboot the phonebook and I’d have it in my pull list the second it was announced. It’s more than just being a fan of her work. Yes, she’s a feminist icon and a comic book powerhouse, but more than that she uses an old medium to tell new stories, well, maybe not new per se but overlooked and ignored. Her take on Carol Danvers reinvigorated a wasted character into a truly amazing run on Captain Marvel. By blending the lost art of Blaxploitation and age-old fears of a patriarchy run wild she created Bitch Planet, a high watermark graphic novels will spend decades trying to match. And with the hook of a genderbent Spaghetti Western, Pretty Deadly came roaring onto shelves.

[“Am I a monster?”]