The Golden Apple of Shangri-La September 23, 2014 The Golden Apple of Shangri-La David Barnett A Gideon Smith story. Selfies September 17, 2014 Selfies Lavie Tidhar Smile for the camera. When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami September 16, 2014 When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami Kendare Blake A Goddess Wars story As Good As New September 10, 2014 As Good As New Charlie Jane Anders She has three chances to save the world.
From The Blog
September 23, 2014
It’s All About the Benjamins in Sleepy Hollow: “This is War”
Leah Schnelbach
September 23, 2014
The Death of Adulthood in American Culture: Nerd Culture Edition
Lindsay Ellis
September 22, 2014
Five Brilliant Things About Doctor Who “Time Heist”
Paul Cornell
September 19, 2014
“WCKD is Good,” But The Maze Runner is Bad
Natalie Zutter
September 17, 2014
How Goldfinger Bound Sci-Fi to James Bond
Ryan Britt
Mon
Sep 22 2014 4:00pm
Excerpt

Horrorstör (Excerpt)

Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix Horrorstor Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking. To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

Grady Hendrix’s latest novel, Horrorstör, is traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting—available September 23rd from Quirk Books. It comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.

[Read an excerpt]

Mon
Sep 22 2014 2:00pm

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix pop quiz interview Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Today we’re joined by writer and journalist Grady Hendrix, who heads up The Great Stephen King Reread and Under the Dome recaps, plus co-writes the Summer of Sleaze pulp fiction reread here on Tor.com. A former film critic for the New York Sun, Grady has also written for Slate, the Village Voice, Time Out New York, Playboy, and Variety.

Grady’s latest novel, Horrorstör, is traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting—available September 23rd from Quirk Books. While researching the novel, Grady learned some weird Ikea facts, which he happily shares with us below!

[Join us!]

Fri
Sep 19 2014 9:00am

Angels and Ending: Jay Lake’s Last Plane to Heaven

Jay Lake Last Plane to Heaven The title story in Jay Lake’s Last Plane to Heaven: The Final Collection is about a girl who falls from the sky... and into the hands of those who see her, first and foremost, as a possible military asset. To that end, a team of mercenaries in the South Gobi desert is tasked with (really, blackmailed into) assessing her combat-readiness. Perhaps not surprisingly, this doesn’t end well for Team Free World.

“Last Plane to Heaven: A Love Story” is something of a tough love opener: it’s not without flashes of sweetness, but the mercenary at its core is rough-edged, unpleasant and at the end of his proverbial rope. The bleak backdrop of Outer Mongolia, vividly evoked in Lake’s always-precise prose, adds to the sense of menace in this piece. As an entry point into the book, it makes a definitive statement: these tales wind a path through places of shadow and fire.

[Read more...]

Fri
Sep 12 2014 11:00am

Summer of Sleaze: Guy Smith’s The Sucking Pit and The Walking Dead

The Sucking Pit Guy SmithSummer of Sleaze is 2014’s turbo-charged trash safari where Will Errickson of Too Much Horror Fiction and Grady Hendrix of The Great Stephen King Reread plunge into the bowels of vintage paperback horror fiction, unearthing treasures and trauma in equal measure.

He enjoys tobacco. He loves guns. He does not like street lights. Truly, Guy N. Smith is a man of many facets, but he’s best known for his crabs. From 1976 until 2012 he wrote Night of the Crabs, Killer Crabs, The Origin of the Crabs, Crabs on the Rampage, Crabs’ Moon, Crabs: The Human Sacrifice, and Killer Crabs: The Return. Along with about 93 other books. But apart from being a prolific writer of all things crab, what does Guy N. Smith have to offer the modern reader?

[Read More]

Thu
Sep 11 2014 1:30pm
Reprint

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Washington Irving

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow art by Greg Manchess

 

FOUND AMONG THE PAPERS
OF THE LATE DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER

A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,
Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;
And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,
For ever flushing round a summer sky.

Castle of Indolence

 

IN THE BOSOM OF one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail, and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic. Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley, or rather lap of land, among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the occasional whistle of a quail or tapping of a woodpecker is almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon the uniform tranquillity.

[Continue reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow]

Fri
Aug 22 2014 11:00am

Summer of Sleaze: The Unsung Horrors of Ken Greenhall

Hell Hound Ken Greenhall Summer of Sleaze is 2014’s turbo-charged trash safari where Will Errickson of Too Much Horror Fiction and Grady Hendrix of The Great Stephen King Reread plunge into the bowels of vintage paperback horror fiction, unearthing treasures and trauma in equal measure.

A confession: although I come here to sing the praises of little-known horror writer Ken Greenhall, I myself know nearly nothing about him! He was born in Detroit in 1928 and in the 1970s and ’80s wrote a handful of paperback horror novels under his own name and the pseudonym Jessica Hamilton (I was able to learn that was his mother’s birth name). No interviews or photos are online, and only the scantest biographical info is available.

Shame, because would I love to know more about the guy who penned two obscure yet virtual masterpieces of vintage horror fiction: Elizabeth, written under the Hamilton pseudonym, published in 1976, and Hell Hound, by his own name, from 1977.

[Read More]

Tue
Aug 19 2014 1:30pm

Many Peculiar Bottles: “The Terrible Old Man”

Terrible Old Man HP Lovecraft comic rereadWelcome 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 “The Terrible Old Man,” first published in the Tryout in July 1921. You can read the story here. Spoilers ahead.

Summary: No inhabitant of Kingsport remembers a time when the Terrible Old Man was young, and few know his real name. Rumor has it he was once captain of an East India clipper; since he pays for all his purchases with antique Spanish coins, rumor also has it he’s hidden a considerable fortune in his ramshackle house. The front yard of this ancient abode features gnarled trees and standing stones painted like idols. (Scary stones are an ongoing theme in this story.)

[“He is, in truth, a very strange person, believed to have been a captain of East India clipper ships in his day; so old that no one can remember when he was young, and so taciturn that few know his real name.”]

Wed
Aug 13 2014 4:00pm

Dangerously Awkward: Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Mortal Danger Ann Aguirre review

Mortal Danger is the cheerful story of Edith, a girl torturously bullied to the brink of suicide by her classmates. Her life is saved by a handsome boy with a Faustian deal granting her the power to get revenge, in exchange for a later, undisclosed, repayment. With taglines like, “Revenge is a dish best served cold!” and the focus of the summary on Edith’s quest for retribution, one could be forgiven for tackling this book with the expectation that they’re reading a modern Carrie-style revenge fantasy.

It seems base to complain about a book for being responsibly complex on the issue of bullying. I bet it’s rare that people are annoyed with an author for creating a detailed, thoughtful narrative which was more evolved than Bad-Guy-Go-Boom. Or characters who are too relateable, so that each one gives you a tinge of pain when they go. The problem is, when you empathise with all the bad guys, there’s no enjoyment in their ultimate demise, which robs the book of its promising draw.

[Read More]

Tue
Aug 12 2014 10:00am

The Annals of All the Solar System: “The Shadow Out of Time”

Astounding Stories HP Lovecraft reread The Shadow out of TimeWelcome 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 “The Shadow Out of Time,” first published in the June 1936 issue of Astounding Stories. You can read the story here. Spoilers (and concomitant risk of temporal paradox) ahead.

Summary: Nathaniel Peaslee is normal. Though he teaches at Miskatonic University in whisper-haunted Arkham, he comes from “wholesome old Haverhill stock.” He’s married, with three kids, and has no interest in the occult. But during a lecture, after “chaotic visions,” he collapses. He won’t return to our normal world for five years, though his body soon regains consciousness.

[“There was a mind from the planet we know as Venus, which would live incalculable epochs to come, and one from an outer moon of Jupiter six million years in the past. Of earthly minds there were some from the winged, star-headed, half-vegetable race of palaeogean Antarctica...”]

Tue
Jul 29 2014 1:00pm

Introduction to the H. P. Lovecraft Reread

The Lovecraft Reread

Welcome to the H. P. Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s original stories. We hope to explore both the awesome and the problematic, both the deliberately and accidentally horrific. Reading order will be more or less random. As the Great Race of Yith would point out, if they cared enough to do so, linear time is merely an illusion anyway.

We’ll start today with a discussion of what drew us to Lovecraft in the first place, and what we’ve found there since.

[Read more...]

Fri
Jul 25 2014 9:00am

Summer of Sleaze: The Alternative Horrors of Kathe Koja

Kathe Koja

Summer of Sleaze is 2014’s turbo-charged trash safari where Will Errickson of Too Much Horror Fiction and Grady Hendrix of The Great Stephen King Reread plunge into the bowels of vintage paperback horror fiction, unearthing treasures and trauma in equal measure.

In January 1991, a new line of horror paperback originals from Dell Books appeared under the imposing imprint of Abyss. Spearheaded by editor Jeanne Cavelos, the Abyss line even included in each book an ambitious mission statement on the very first page.

[Horror unlike anything you’ve ever read before...]

Fri
Jul 18 2014 2:00pm

Summer of Sleaze: James Herbert’s The Rats and The Fog

James Herbert The RatsSummer of Sleaze is 2014’s turbo-charged trash safari where Will Errickson of Too Much Horror Fiction and Grady Hendrix of The Great Stephen King Reread plunge into the bowels of vintage paperback horror fiction, unearthing treasures and trauma in equal measure.

Books win awards. Books drink white wine. Books are discussed in hushed tones by earnest scholars. Books are genteel, books are mellow, books are housed in libraries where there is no talking. It’s hard to remember that books can be a punch in the nose, a bottle of beer broken over the head, a gob spat in the eye. Amiri Baraka’s in-your-face plays, Tom Wolfe’s go-go new journalism, Kathy Acker’s punk poetry. These writers set literature on fire and readers could either get on board or fuck off. James Herbert was one of them.

By the time he died last year he was a mainstream success, but his two earliest books are nasty, mean, angry pieces of anti-establishment sleaze torn straight out of his id, redeemed by Herbert’s complete conviction to Go There. That conviction is what keeps these two books in your hands long after you might otherwise throw them across the room. Read Herbert and you’re like a baby gripping a 10,000 volt cable, hands smoking, unable to tear them away even as your brain turns to cinders.

[Read More]

Thu
Jul 17 2014 4:30pm

Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and More to Team Up in New “Avengers”-Style Films

Universal classic Movie Monsters reboot Alex Kurtzman Chris Morgan The Mummy reboot

With Marvel and DC’s superhero films proving that geeky franchises can flourish, it makes sense that Universal is peering back into the vault at its OG franchise: classic monster movies.

We’re talking, of course, about the black-and-white Frankenstein, Dracula, and Creature From the Black Lagoon on which we all grew up—or, for younger movie audiences, watched other movies parody and reference without achieving the same staying power as these horror masterpieces.

We’ve known for a while that such a massive revival was in the works, but now we know who’s helming it: Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan.

[It’s aliiive!]

Thu
Jul 3 2014 3:00pm

Playing the Fool: The Child Eater by Rachel Pollack

The Child Eater review Rachel Pollack

Representing Rachel Pollack’s first original genre novel since Godmother Night in 1996—a World Fantasy Award winner in its day, and a classic now, by all accounts—the release of The Child Eater is bound to be a big deal in certain circles. How her returning readers respond to it remains to be seen; this was my first of her works, I’m afraid... but not likely my last.

Based on a pair of tales from The Tarot of Perfection, Pollack’s last collection, The Child Eater tells two separate yet connected stories. Separate in that the boys we follow are worlds apart, and divided in time, too; connected, though neither knows it, by the parts they’re fated to play in the downfall of the eponymous monster: an immortal man wicked in the ways you’d expect, not least because of the innocents he eats.

[Read More]

Tue
Jul 1 2014 12:00pm

Short Fiction Spotlight: Aickman’s Animals

short fiction spotlight robert aickman cold hand in mine

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a weekly column dedicated to doing exactly what it says in the header: shining a light on the some of the best and most relevant fiction of the aforementioned form.

Last month, to mark the centenary of horror author Robert Aickman’s birth, Faber & Faber made good on the first part of their promise to bring the best of his sinister fiction back into print. New editions of several of his short story collections are now available, including Cold Hand in Mine and Dark Entries, alongside reissues of his exceedingly rare novels The Model and The Late Breakfasters. The Wine-Dark Sea and The Unsettled Dust will follow in August and September respectively.

But why wait? In truth, I couldn’t resist rummaging around the aforementioned collections for favourites, and in short order I came up with a characteristically controlled tale that scared the pee out of me when I was still in single digits. Wonderfully, I found ‘The Same Dog’ to be every bit as effective as I remembered when I reread it recently.

[Read More]

Mon
Jun 30 2014 2:05pm

Bruce Campbell Wants to Make The Expendables With Horror Icons

Bruce Campbell The Expendables horror Robert Englund Kane Hodder Ash Williams Evil Dead sequel Sam Raimi

Bruce Campbell has always understood that you need a healthy dose of humor with your horror. While reminiscing on the Evil Dead films with the LA Times’ Hero Complex blog recently (way back in 2010, thanks for the correction ya'll!) he emphasized how his famous, chainsaw-handed, shotgun-wielding character Ash Williams started out as a pretty dopey Everyman for the audience to laugh at, and with.

His skewering extends to Bruce Campbell himself—or rather, the public’s perception of Bruce Campbell the horror movie icon. In 2008, he starred in the satire My Name Is Bruce. Now, he wants to do a sequel—basically, The Expendables, but starring horror greats.

[Groovy.]

Fri
Jun 27 2014 9:00am

Summer of Sleaze: Graham Masterton’s Feast

Graham Masterton FeastSummer of Sleaze is 2014’s turbo-charged trash safari where Will Errickson of Too Much Horror Fiction and Grady Hendrix of The Great Stephen King Reread plunge into the bowels of vintage paperback horror fiction, unearthing treasures and trauma in equal measure.

So far this year I’ve read the powerful Thank You For Your Service, David Finkel’s look at the shattered lives of servicemen returning home from Iraq. I’ve read Donna Tart’s The Goldfinch, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I’ve read Austin Grossman’s deceptively experimental You that transmutes the lead of early computer gaming into the gold of transcendence. I’ve read Allie Brosh’s so-personal-it-hurts Hyperbole and a Half, Neil Gaiman’s emotional and revealing The Ocean At the End of the Lane, and two new books by Stephen King, one of America’s greatest storytellers. None of them—none of them—has provided me as many moments of pure joy as a little mass market paperback from 1988 called Feast by Graham Masterton. John Waters once said, “Good taste is the enemy of art.” If that’s true, and I believe it is, then Feast is the Mona Lisa.

[Read more]

Wed
Jun 25 2014 7:30am

Strange Chemistry Closes

Strange Chemistry

Welcome back to the British Genre Fiction Focus, Tor.com’s regular round-up of book news from the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry.

I got a dash distracted by the publication of the programme for the Edinburgh International Book Festival last time we did this, so we’ve got a couple of things to catch up on in this edition, including the announcement of an awesome new annual anthology and a striking-sounding space opera, news of the continuing dominance of Claire North and Jasper Fforde’s next novel, and any number of other items.

But the big news in the British genre fiction industry this week was bad. And sad. Angry Robot’s YA fiction imprint has closed its doors, folks.

[Read More]

Fri
Jun 20 2014 9:00am

Summer of Sleaze: The Erotic Horrors of Thomas Tessier

Thomas TessierSummer of Sleaze is 2014’s turbo-charged trash safari where Will Errickson of Too Much Horror Fiction and Grady Hendrix of The Great Stephen King Reread plunge into the bowels of vintage paperback horror fiction, unearthing treasures and trauma in equal measure.

I was fortunate enough to discover the horror novels of Thomas Tessier back in 1989, when I began working in a used bookstore just out of high school. Horror junkie that I was, my favorite authors were still limited to King, Lovecraft, Barker, Campbell, and a few of the splatterpunks. So I was grooving on the fact that I had access to all the beat-up old paperbacks in our horror section; it was time to branch out.

[Read More]

Thu
Jun 19 2014 10:00am

Forbidden Spheres and Cosmic Gulfs: The Weird Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft

HP Lovecraft At the Mountains of Madness During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in high school, I spent the whole of a steaming afternoon reading Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness,” a novella that left me chilled and horripilated in spite of the oppressive heat.

Whoa, that really happened, I told myself. By which I didn’t mean that the government had buried the findings of the hapless Miskatonic University expedition to the Antarctic, though burying the findings is just what the expedition leaders do in the story. I didn’t (much) believe that there was a ruinous megapolis of barrel-bodied and star-headed Old Ones in the icy waste, or that protoplasmic shoggoths still oozed through its halls and tunnels, merrily detaching the heads of all they encountered via a suction that would make a Dyson convulse with envy.

What I did believe, and what had happened, was that I had found another path into the stories I wanted to tell as a fledgling writer. It was a path darker than Tolkien’s road going ever on, and even more far-flung than Cherryh’s star routes, despite coming so perilously close to home.

[Read More]