Thursday, March 17, 2011

Guest Post: The Secret of the WILD Zombies by Lincoln Crisler

Lincoln Crisler is the author of WILD, a zombie/western novella. This month he is doing a blog tour to promote WILD. Find out more about Lincoln on his website.

Melissa asked me to share some background on the zombies I created for my Weird Western novella, WILD, which made its paperback and digital format debut this month from Damnation Books. It's a fair question to ask; anyone who's read zombie books or watched zombie movies, even those produced in just the past few years, has seen, at a minimum, the following:

·      slow reanimated dead (Romero-style, baby!)
·      fast reanimated dead (Zombieland)
·      demon-possessed corpses (Brian Keene's The Rising)
·      infected living humans that act just like zombies (Joe McKinney's Dead World series)

All of these different sort of zombies (and I'm almost certainly forgetting a category or two) are good for something and serve a certain purpose; McKinney's infected living, for instance, raise a moral question that simply blasting the dead back to their graves just doesn't raise. Fast-moving dead are far more of a threat than slow-moving dead (though a creator does get bonus points for having a rationale behind rotting carcasses that are as spry as the living).

My zombies, however, are a little different from any of these. When my protagonists, a mysterious stranger; a sheriff's deputy; a dangerous outlaw and a former Army medic, meet the zombies, they're pretty much Romero-esque. They've crawled out of graves, they're rotten, et cetera. However, at the end of the book, someone living is slipped a mickey and turned into a mindless zombie. This might seem like a contradiction, but it's not. You won't find any of what I'm about to share in the pages of WILD, but this should shed a little light on the matter for those who like a look behind the scenes.

The drink my black magician dumps down the poor character's throat is a mixture of magic and pseudo-science, though it would all seem like magic to someone from the 1800s. Basically, from their perspective, the potion makes the person crazy and hungry for flesh and eventually kills him or her, with the magic still powering the now-decaying body. Where the pseudo-science comes in is from research indicating that damage to certain areas of the brain, like the amygdala, could cause a person to act much like a zombie. The drink does this damage. The magic is from ingredients in the drink that allow the magician to control the zombies, by commanding them to lay in graves until some meddling cowboys come calling, for instance, and in the animation of the corpse after death, which would have to be accomplished by magical means. Simple enough, right?

While I chose not to bog WILD down with the details, you can rest assured this potion and the zombies it spawns haven't had their last day in the spotlight. I have at least two more storylines in mind, and at least one of them is set in a time just a little more distant than Old West El Paso. Lets just say there isn't really all that much difference between zombies and mummies!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

SHORT STORY REVIEW: The Green Man by Lee Mather

The Green Man is Peter's mother's way of dealing with death. Prior to the death of someone close to her, he appears to comfort her. Just before Peter boards a flight, his mother calls to beg him not to get on the plane because she just saw The Green Man. Peter ignores her warning because he doesn't believe in him. But he should have listened because The Green Man is real.
There isn't much to the plot. The story is basically Peter describing the horrors of his flight and how it changed his faith. But it still manages to be exciting and even a bit gory.
The main character, Peter, is just an average guy and I really empathize with him and understand his skepticism about the existence of The Green Man. 

My one complaint is that the story is fairly predictable. About halfway through the story I knew how it was going to end. But that didn't make me enjoy the story any less. 
"The Green Man" is an interesting short story about faith and how a traumatic experience can change your life. It's available as an e-book from Damnation Books for $2.99.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Shades of Green by Ian Woodhead

One day Holburn is the average small English town, and the next it is transformed into a Hell with killer plants, monstrous spiders, demons and other horrors. Survivors Damian, his girlfriend, Jen, his brother, Alan, Jen's uncle, Pete, his friend, Dave, an old man, Arthur, and a hobo, Ernest, struggle to escape the town and attempt to figure out what is happening.

Shades of Green has an interesting, but convoluted, concept. At the beginning, the reader is placed in the middle of the action and it takes awhile to get into the book because you have no idea what is going on. There are also several dream sequences which make you question whether what you're reading is real, or just another dream. I was unsure of what was happening throughout the book and I still don't fully understand because the resolution was confusing as well.

The typos don't help to understand the plot either. The book is full of major errors, which change the meaning of sentences. I had to re-read some sentences several times and guess at what word Woodhead actually meant to use. For example, in the first chapter the names of the two brothers are reversed. Damian is described as the older brother who has a fear of germs and Alan is the younger brother who is dating Jennifer. Then in Chapter 2, they are the opposite. It was incredibly confusing and I didn't know which was the mistake.

The characters aren't developed well and are basically just names on a page. I constantly confused Arthur, Dave and Pete because they were all referred to as "old men" and didn't have many other discerning qualities.

But Woodhead writes great descriptions of the disturbing scenery in Holburn, making it easy to picture the ruined town and also creates some very gruesome images.

Shades of Green would be a decent novel if it was edited better. If you don't mind typos, you can buy it for only 99 cents on Amazon. But I would recommend skipping this one.

Rating: 2/5

Thursday, March 3, 2011

2010 Bram Stoker Award Nominees

The 2010 Bram Stoker Award nominees have been announced. They will be presented at Stoker Weekend, which is from June 16-19 in Long Island, New York. Congratulations to all the nominees! Here's the list:

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Horns by Joe Hill (William Morrow)
Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster)
Dead Love by Linda Watanabe McFerrin (Stone Bridge Press)
Apocalypse of the Dead by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle)
Dweller by Jeff Strand (Leisure/Dark Regions Press)
A Dark Matter by Peter Straub (DoubleDay)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Black and Orange by Benjamin Kane Ethridge (Bad Moon Books)
A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files (Chizine Publications)
The Castle of Los Angeles by Lisa Morton (Gray Friar Press)
Spellbent by Lucy Snyder (Del Rey)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman (Cemetery Dance)
Dissolution by Lisa Mannetti (Deathwatch)
Monsters Among Us by Kirstyn McDermott (Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears)
The Samhanach by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
Invisible Fences by Norman Prentiss (Cemetery Dance)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

Return to Mariabronn by Gary Braunbeck (Haunted Legends)
The Folding Man by Joe R. Lansdale (Haunted Legends)
1925: A Fall River Halloween by Lisa Mannetti (Shroud Magazine #10)
In the Middle of Poplar Street by Nate Southard (Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology)
Final Draft by Mark W. Worthen (Horror Library IV)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

Dark Faith edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon (Apex Publications)
Horror Library IV edited by R.J. Cavender and, Boyd E. Harris (Cutting Block Press)
Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears edited by Angela Challis and Marty Young (Brimstone Press)
Haunted Legends edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas (Tor)
The New Dead edited by Christopher Golden (St. Martin's Griffin)

Superior Achievement in a Collection

Occultation by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books)
Blood and Gristle by Michael Louis Calvillo (Bad Moon Books)
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King (Simon and Schuster)
The Ones That Got Away by Stephen Graham Jones (Prime Books)
A Host of Shadows by Harry Shannon (Dark Regions Press)

Superior Achievement in Nonfiction

To Each Their Darkness by Gary A. Braunbeck (Apex Publications)
The Conspiracy Against the Human Race by Thomas Ligotti (Hippocampus Press)
Wanted Undead or Alive by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman (Citadel)
Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews by Sam Weller (Melville House Publications)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

Dark Matters by Bruce Boston (Bad Moon Books)
Wild Hunt of the Stars by Ann K. Schwader (Sam's Dot)
Diary of a Gentleman Diabolist by Robin Spriggs (Anomalous Books)
Vicious Romantic by Wrath James White (Bandersnatch Books)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011