Sleep Walking Now and Then July 9, 2014 Sleep Walking Now and Then Richard Bowes A tragedy in three acts. The Devil in the Details July 2, 2014 The Devil in the Details Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald A Peter Crossman adventure. Little Knife June 26, 2014 Little Knife Leigh Bardugo A Ravkan folk tale. The Color of Paradox June 25, 2014 The Color of Paradox A.M. Dellamonica Ruin, spoil, or if necessary kill.
From The Blog
July 3, 2014
Gaming Roundup: Elite: Dangerous Gives You A Universe
Pritpaul Bains and Theresa DeLucci
July 3, 2014
Flintlocks and Freedom: Check Out these Revolutionary War Fantasies!
Leah Schnelbach
June 30, 2014
The YA Roundup: With News from the Capitol!
Kat Kennedy and Steph Sinclair
June 30, 2014
Queering SFF: Wrapping Up Pride Month Extravaganza (Redux)
Brit Mandelo
June 30, 2014
Change is in the Air on The Legend of Korra!
Mordicai Knode
Showing posts by: Grady Hendrix click to see Grady Hendrix's profile
Jul 9 2014 10:00am

Under the Dome: “Infestation”

Under the Dome Infestation

Millions of people are still watching Under the Dome and scientists are baffled. Studies show that since UtD began last summer America has become smellier and 81% of forest animals now hate their bodies. So why do we continue to tune in? This week I had a revelation: UtD is not just a subpar television drama featuring cliché-ridden dialogue, cardboard characters, bad acting, bland camerawork, and poor writing. UtD is educational television and it is here to teach us lessons. As Big Jim says when he reveals that he’s cleaning out the feral pigs and reopening the high school with Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher, “She’s going to teach us things that matter!”

[And so is UtD.]

Jul 2 2014 10:00am

Under the Dome Season 2: “Heads Will Roll”

Under the Dome Heads Will Roll recap

“The groans are coming more quickly,” says Rebecca Pine during the season two premiere of Under the Dome. HOW CAN SHE HEAR THE SOUNDS WE ARE MAKING? IS SHE INSIDE OUR HEADS???? Then again, she is a High School Science Teacher who makes dioramas of the Dome out of chicken wire so who am I to doubt her? “They’re getting stronger, like a pregnant woman’s contractions,” she goes on, getting really, really specific about the sounds I’m making as I view this episode. “Only instead of giving life,” she warns, “people could die.” WHUT? We all might die? How can the Under the Dome kill us? “It’s interfering with people’s brainwaves,” says Rebecca Pine, High School Science Teacher.

Okay, that’s it. Everyone, for your own safety, out of the pool. Turn off your sets. I’m here to sacrifice my brainwaves as I recap season two of Under the Dome so it does not kill your brainwaves. Don’t thank me. I’ve lived a long, full life. It is time for my brainwaves to stop working now.

[Season 2, Episode 1: “Heads Will Roll”]

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]

Jun 23 2014 12:00pm

A Cliché Hunting an Even More Blatant Cliché: Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes

Stephen King Mr Mercedes reviewStephen King loves crime fiction. His first completed novel, Rage, was about a kid holding his high school class at gunpoint, and the novel he wrote right before Carrie was Blaze, the story of a kidnapping gone wrong. Several of his early short stories were crime stories (“Stud City,” 1969; “The Fifth Quarter,” 1972) and when he gave his speech accepting the National Book Award in 2003, he singled out for praise a handful of authors he believed were deserving of more attention, most of them crime and thriller novelists like Elmore Leonard, John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark, and Michael Connelly.

Richard Branson wants to be an astronaut and so he built a spaceport in New Mexico. Stephen King wants to be a crime novelist, and so he published Mr. Mercedes. If there’s one thing that we, as Americans, will die to protect, it’s the inalienable right of every rich person to live their dreams. So now Stephen King is a crime writer and god bless America.

[Read More]

Jun 13 2014 9:00am

Summer of Sleaze: Thomas Tryon

Thomas Tryon The OtherSummer 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.

Three books launched the horror revival in America: Rosemary’s Baby (1967), The Exorcist (1971), and The Other (1971). Thanks to their blockbuster movies, we all remember Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, but these days you’d be hard pressed to find someone who’d read Thomas Tryon’s The Other. The first two are still in print, while Tryon’s book, which sold 3.5 million copies, is only in print from the New York Review of Books which specializes in forgotten and obscure literature.

Even stranger, Tryon’s next book, Harvest Home, came out in 1973 and became another huge hit, although these days it’s only available as an ebook. Fully a third of our horror roots are missing, which is too bad because while The Other isn’t as good as Rosemary’s Baby it’s a far, far better-written book than The Exorcist.

[Read More]

May 30 2014 9:00am

Summer of Sleaze: The Little People

Summer of Sleaze John Christopher The Little PeopleSummer 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.

John Christopher (born Samuel Youd) is an author best known for his young adult science fiction stories that were turned into comics in Boy’s Life magazine, most notably The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and The Pool of Fire. But he also wrote for adults, and his The Little People published in 1966 has a cover by Hector Garrido (reproduced here) that might be paperback publishing’s Mona Lisa.

[Read More]

Mar 18 2014 10:00am

We Got the Dune We Deserved: Jodorowsky’s Dune

Jodorowsky's Dune reviewThere has never been an unmade movie more influential than Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune. It’s the seed from which most modern cinematic science fiction sprung, and now you can soak in its surreal splendor with Jodorowsky’s Dune, Frank Pavich’s documentary about the greatest science fiction movie never made.

Watching this doc is like snorting anti-freeze: a thrilling rush that leaves you exhilarated, then depressed. Exhilarated because unless you are a soulless husk, Jodorowsky’s passion of film, for science fiction, and for life, will infect you like a super-virus. Depressed, because if this movie had been made it would have changed the history of science fiction, of movies and, if Jodorowsky had his way, the world.

[Read More]

Dec 26 2013 12:00pm

Haunted Holidays: The Men Who Feared Women

Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You My Lad James McBryde MR James

As winter creeps up behind you and wraps its icy fingers around your throat, what better time for ghost stories? Haunted Holidays has covered Charles Dickens (ground zero for both Christmas and Christmas ghost stories), occult detectives, and forgotten female writers.

This week, in the interest of gender parity, we’re focusing on the men. And not just any men, but manly men who encountered ghosts that smell like Old Spice while adventuring in India, riding manly railroads, hunting tiny animals and blasting them to bits, or while camping in the ghost-infested wilds of Canada. These are stories about punching ghosts! Wrestling with ghosts! And, like all macho men, they are terrified of intimacy. M.R. James…this is your life!

[Read More]

Dec 22 2013 1:00pm

Haunted Holidays: Scary Lady Writers

Vernon Lee

Nothing says winter better than a Victorian ghost story, and I’ve already covered A Christmas Carol and The Haunted House by Charles Dickens, and the awful world of occult detectives. The most natural author to write next about would be Henry James, one of the 19th century’s major literary dudes, and the writer of classic, delicately shaded ghost stories.

But that would ignore the legion of 19th century women who wrote for a living, their stories filling the pages of periodicals, their sensation novels jamming the shelves. They were an army of society hobbyists, sole breadwinners, explorers, gossip-magnets, spiritualists, suffragettes, Egyptologists, adventurers, sanctimonious prudes, and salacious scandal-mongers. Whether their names have receded from the limelight because they were pushed by the patriarchy, or due to lack of timeless talent, it’s impossible to know, but one thing is clear: we’ve lost a large chunk of our literary legacy by letting their books fade into the background, because many are as entertaining, if not more so, than their male counterparts.

[Read More]

Dec 18 2013 1:00pm

Haunted Holidays: The Terrible Occult Detectives

Winter is a time for ghost stories, so last week I started at ground zero for the Christmas ghost story (Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and The Haunted House). This week I’m going pro. In the wake of Sherlock Holmes’s massive success the world was so overrun by lady detectives, French detectives, Canadian lumberjack detectives, sexy gypsy detectives, priest detectives, and doctor detectives that there was a shortage of things to detect. Why not ghosts?

And thus was spawned the occult detective who detected ghost pigs, ghost monkeys, ghost ponies, ghost dogs, ghost cats and, for some strange reason, mummies. Lots and lots of mummies. Besides sporting ostentatiously grown-up names that sound like they were randomly generated by small boys wearing thick glasses (Dr. Silence, Mr. Perseus, Moris Klaw, Simon Iff, Xavier Wycherly) these occult detectives all had one thing in common: they were completely terrible at detecting.

[Read More]

Dec 11 2013 12:30pm

Haunted Holidays: Charles Dickens & Co.

The Haunted House Charles DickensShakespeare talks about it, Andy Williams talks about it, even Washington Irving talks about it, so let’s admit it, ghost stories are winter’s tales. Although Hanukah has a touch of the supernatural about it, Christmas, which is pretty much a non-supernatural event in the Gospels (except for the whole star business) has somehow become the province of ghosts.

As Jerome K. Jerome said, “It is always Christmas Eve, in a ghost story.” Henry James’ Turn of the Screw is set at Christmas, as is Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, and the master of the form, M.R. James, always took a break from wrestling with the boys to tell his ghost stories at Christmas. But the man who made the Christmas ghost story literary is Charles Dickens, whose most famous work, A Christmas Carol, was one of the first great disasters in self-publishing, the novella that pretty much invented modern Christmas, and a sneaky protest book disguised as a dose of good cheer.

[Read More]

Nov 27 2013 1:00pm

The Great Stephen King Reread: Round-Up

The Great Stephen King Reread comes to a momentary conclusion. At this point, I’ve learned one thing: Stephen King writes. A lot. I’ve read 17 novels, 3 short story collections, and 2 collections of novellas totaling 10,658 pages written between 1974 and 1993. That puts me a little less than halfway through his bibliography, with 19 novels and 4 collections left to go, and that’s not even touching his eight-book Dark Tower series.

It’s an overwhelming amount of words and I wonder if I’ll learn anything new from the back half of his bibliography that I haven’t already learned from the front? Because, while the first 10 books of the re-read were interesting, these last 10 have been intense. Rarely does an author allow himself to fall apart in front of his readership like this.


Nov 20 2013 3:00pm

The Great Stephen King Reread: Nightmares & Dreamscapes

Stephen King Nightmares and DreamscapesStephen King is a universe, and I don’t just mean that he contains multitudes or that his bibliography is really big. He is a universe in the sense that he operates under his own physical laws. Two of the underlying forces that underpin his existence are described in his introduction to Nightmares and Dreamscapes, his third collection of short stories.

One force is his desire to sprawl, his tendency towards what he calls generosity. “The leap of faith necessary to make the short stories happen,” he writes, “has gotten particularly tough in the last few years; these days it seems that everything wants to be a novel, and every novel wants to be approximately four thousand pages long.” The opposing force is his desire to please the reader by presenting only his best material when it would be so easy to coast or to repeat himself. “What I’ve tried hardest to do is to steer clear of the old chestnuts, the trunk stories, and the bottom-of-the-drawer stuff,” he writes two pages later. These two forces pull him in opposite directions, and the result is, as he describes it, “an uneven Aladdin’s cave of a book.” With the emphasis on “uneven.”

[Read More]

Nov 13 2013 3:00pm

The Great Stephen King Reread: Dolores Claiborne

Stephen King Dolores Claiborne

What did you ask, Andy Bissette? Do I ‘understand these rights as you’ve explained em to me’? Gorry! What makes some men so numb? No you never mind—still your jawin and listen to me for awhile. I got an idear you’re gonna be listenin to me most of the night, so you might as well get used to it. Coss I understand what you read to me! Do I look like I lost all m’brains since I seen you down to the market? I told you your wife would give you merry hell about buying that day-old bread—penny wise and pound foolish, the old saying is—and I bet I was right, wasn’t I?”

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Dolores Claiborne, Stephen King’s 305 page novel. Written in dialect.

[Read More]

Nov 6 2013 3:00pm

The Great Stephen King Reread: Gerald’s Game

Gerald's Game Stephen KingBy 1992, Stephen King was getting slippery. After his publishers spent a lot of time and money reassuring readers that Stephen King was, indeed, “The Master of Horror” with Four Past Midnight and Needful Things, King flipped the script and delivered two books in 1992 that were about girls. Not just girls, but girls who didn’t do anything particularly horrifying.

Gerald’s Game (May, 1992) and Dolores Claiborne (November, 1992) were about the development of feminist consciousness, the crimes of the patriarchy, incest, and domestic abuse. That’s a far cry from possessed cars, rabid dogs, and daddies with roque mallets chasing their kids down hotel hallways. But despite their ambitions, both books stand as a testament to what might have been if King had only been a little bit more ambitious. If he had just reached a little further, these two books could have been his masterpiece.

[Read More]

Oct 30 2013 12:00pm

The Great Stephen King Reread: Needful Things

Stephen King Needful ThingsSometimes a writer tries to do something, and it just doesn’t work. At all. Needful Things was Stephen King’s attempt to write “The Last Castle Rock Story” and bring his invented town, which served as the setting for several of his books, to an end. Only it wasn’t the last Castle Rock story, because the fictional burg later appeared in Bag of Bones, Lisey’s Story, Under the Dome, and numerous short stories.

It also wasn’t supposed to be a horror novel. King wanted to write a comedy about the Eighties and figured that Needful Things would be his stab at satire. That was a great idea, only no one told the marketing department and they sold it as a horror book with nary a mention of satirical intent. The critics blasted it, and while it seems strange to call a book that sold over 1.5 million copies a failure, it’s the only Stephen King book in years not to reach #1 on the hardback or paperback New York Times bestseller lists. Today it’s not held in very high regard. And there’s a good reason for that. Because all other problems aside, it’s not a very good book.

[Read More]

Oct 25 2013 10:00am

The Autumnal Genius of John Bellairs

Edward Goret John BellairsThere’s a particular kind of nostalgia that smells like burning autumn leaves on an overcast day. It sounds like a static-filled radio station playing Brylcreem advertisements in the other room. It feels like a scratchy wool blanket. It looks like a wood-paneled library stuffed with leather-bound books.

This is the flavor of occult nostalgia conjured up by author John Bellairs and his illustrator, Edward Gorey, in their middle grade gothic New Zebedee books featuring low-key poker-playing wizards, portents of the apocalypse, gloomy weather, and some of the most complicated names this side of the list of ingredients on a packet of Twinkies.

[Read More]

Oct 23 2013 10:00am

The Great Stephen King Reread: Four Past Midnight

Stephen King Four Past MidnightIn the foreword to Four Past Midnight, Stephen King compares it to his previous collection of four novellas, 1982’s Different Seasons, and writes, “The book you are holding is quite different from the earlier book.” That’s an understatement. Different Seasons was a breakthrough for King, containing two of his best-loved stories, “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” and “The Body,“ which became two of his best-loved movies, The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me. King published Different Seasons against the objections of his editor, but it proved that he could write more than “just” horror, and it laid the foundation on which his later reputation (and National Book Award) rests. Four Past Midnight is the Bizarro World version of Different Seasons. Rather than staking out new territory, King tries to recapture his past. The result feels like reheated leftovers.

Different Seasons is steak. Four Past Midnight is SPAM.

[Read More]

Oct 21 2013 4:00pm

Carrie Remake Cribs From Every Mid-90s Teen Movie

Kimberly Peirce, director of the Carrie remake that opened this weekend, accomplishes something remarkable with this film. Based on the 1973 Stephen King novel, Carrie has been filmed several times before, most notably Brian De Palma’s now-classic, Academy Award-nominated 1976 version starring Sissy Spacek. But it also spawned a cheesy sequel, Carrie 2: The Rage (1999), a failed made-for-TV remake that was supposed to lead into a television series, and a famously disastrous 1988 musical.

It’s hardly auspicious company, but Kimberly Peirce (director of the acclaimed Boys Don’t Cry and Stop-Loss) fearlessly took on the task and she has contributed her own unmistakable achievement to the annals of Carrie-dom: she manages to make a 99-minute movie feel like a 499-minute movie. If only we could reverse this formula we’d have faster than light travel.

[Read More]

Oct 16 2013 2:00pm

The Great Stephen King Reread: The Dark Half

Stephen King The Dark HalfWhen someone decides to sober up, they often eliminate people from their lives who stuck with them through their drunk years. It’s a cruel, necessary housecleaning and one Stephen King embarked on between 1988 and 1989, the year he finally stopped drinking (snorting coke, swilling mouthwash, popping pills). First, King fired his longtime agent, Kirby McCauley, the man who put together the ground-breaking deals that made him rich. Next, he abandoned his longtime editor, Alan Williams, whom he’d followed to Putnam (for The Tommyknockers) and returned to his regular publisher, Viking. Then he stepped back and let his vanity project, hard rock radio station WZON, go from his preferred rock n’roll format to a more conventional, noncommercial public radio station format. Then he stopped publication of his popular Castle Rock fan newsletter.

But there was one person he couldn't get rid of without a fight, his pseudonym, Richard Bachman. The more King tried to lay this ghost to rest, the more Bachman struggled, and the result is one of his most mystical and violent books. It’s deeply uneven, but The Dark Half is like a rough draft for his nonfiction memoir, On Writing. Only more people get beaten to death with prosthetic arms.

[Read More]