Since 2007 book reviews, events, publishing announcements, opinions, wild ideas and more!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

PROFESSIONAL TITLE FINALLY RECOGNIZES A GENRE



Fang-tastic Fiction is a bibliographic book listing paranormal reads and is designed for book geeks and professional librarians. It is sold via ALA for $55. The titles listed will tend to embrace traditional literature and outlets- if previous incarnations of such works are a guide.
Smaller presses, independent publishers, or quality self-publishing may be left to molder in a literary grave. Never fear, however, the above may send their information, books, events, etc. to the "Paranormal Librarian" who believes information needs should be met regardless of state being or non-being.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

PARANORMAL AMERICA - New Book


Two sociologists from Baylor University have spent several years researching and studying the people who support or believe in the paranormal and the result is Paranormal America. The result is an easy to read but highly scholarly work that brings some surprises including the fact that this once outlaw point of view is more common and that instead of supporters being easily identified by fitting into some stereotypical caricature - they are more and more mainstream and frighteningly 'normal'.

Review
While this [book] showcases an astounding amount of research, [i]t is accessible to any reader with an interest in the convergence of paranormal beliefs and religion... Highly recommended. --Library Journal

"Paranormal America is an authoritative but extremely readable analysis of an important but often ignored subculture. This fine book explains how many people seek personally-relevant meaning in a chaotic and often alienating world. In these pages we learn much not only about believers in ESP, Bigfoot, and astrology, but also about the general ways in which all human minds make sense of our perplexing position in the universe." William Bainbridge, author of Across the Secular Abyss: From Faith to Wisdom



Product Description
A significant number of Americans spend their weekends at UFO conventions hearing whispers of government cover-ups, at New Age gatherings learning the keys to enlightenment, or ambling around historical downtowns learning about resident ghosts in tourist-targeted “ghost walks”. They have been fed a steady diet of fictional shows with paranormal themes such as The X-Files, Supernatural, and Medium, shows that may seek to simply entertain, but also serve to disseminate paranormal beliefs. The public hunger for the paranormal seems insatiable.


Paranormal America provides the definitive portrait of Americans who believe in or have experienced such phenomena as ghosts, Bigfoot, UFOs, psychic phenomena, astrology, and the power of mediums. However, unlike many books on the paranormal, this volume does not focus on proving or disproving the paranormal, but rather on understanding the people who believe and how those beliefs shape their lives.

Drawing on the Baylor Religion Survey—a multi-year national random sample of American religious values, practices, and behaviors—as well as extensive fieldwork including joining hunts for Bigfoot and spending the night in a haunted house, authors Christopher Bader, F. Carson Mencken, and Joseph Baker shed light on what the various types of paranormal experiences, beliefs, and activities claimed by Americans are; whether holding an unconventional belief, such as believing in Bigfoot, means that one is unconventional in other attitudes and behaviors; who has such experiences and beliefs and how they differ from other Americans; and if we can expect major religions to emerge from the paranormal.

Brimming with engaging personal stories and provocative findings, Paranormal America is an entertaining yet authoritative look at a growing segment of American religious culture.

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: NYU Press (October 12, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0814791352
ISBN-13: 978-0814791356

Sunday, October 17, 2010

TALE OF THE BAGMAN

Airship 27 Productions & Cornerstone Book Publishers are happy to announce the release of their thirtieth title, “Tale of the Bagman” by B.C. Bell . This book features the debut of a brand new pulp hero, the Bagman, and he’s unlike any other crime buster ever seen before.



In the 1930s, Chicago was one of the fastest growing metropolises in the country. Situated on mighty Lake Michigan , it was the home to millions of hard working Americans looking to better themselves. The Windy City was also shackled by its bootleg history, a time of violent gang wars that had permanently established a brutal underworld empire second to none. Corruption was the order of the day and both the police and government were in the pay of the mob bosses.



Frank “Mac” McCullough was a foot-soldier in one of the city’s toughest families until he was ordered to rough up his uncle; a decent man with a gambling problem. The innate decency in Mac rebelled and suddenly he found himself up against the very men he had once admired and followed. Determined to put an end to their lawlessness, he put a bag over his head as a crude disguise only to become labeled the Bagman by the press.



Now writer B.C. Bell tells the amazing stories of old Chicago ’s most unique hero. Aided solely by a tough, black WW I veteran named Crankshaft, Mac wages war against the mobs in these fast pace, non-stop action tales pulp fans will cheer.



“ Bell ’s writing is a terrific mix of pulp action and wry humor,” applauds Airship 27 Productions’ Ron Fortier. “It’s really a breath of fresh air in the pulp genre and we know our fans are going to love the Bagman.”



Designed by Rob Davis, the book features nine illustrations by Kelly Everaert and a gorgeous cover by Laura Givens. Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to present pulpdom’s newest avenger, The Bagman.



ISBN: 1-934935-76-X

ISBN 13: 978-1-934935-76-7

Produced by Airship 27

Published by Cornerstone Book Publishers




The White Goddess.


This classic literature book provides some intriguing explorations of the role of the poet, myth and creative expression in European history. In the 1948 White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, poet Robert Graves, makes some interesting notes that are suitable for recall in this season of ghosts, goblins and witches galore.



Graves saw the Goddess of ancient times as a "lovely slender woman with a hooked nose, deathly pale, lips red as rowan-berries, startlingly blue eyes and long fair hair..." (pg.24). Her ability to transform herself into other forms is well known and in Ghost tales, he says, "she often figures as the "White Lady" and in ancient religious traditions "from the British Isles to the Caucasus" she is the 'White Goddess'.


He says every true poet from Homer forward has expressed some encounter with her because:


"The reason why the hairs stand on end, the eyes water, the throat is constricted , the skin crawls, and a shiver runs down the spine when one writes or reads a true poem is that a true poem is necessarily an invocation of the White Goddess or Muse, the Mother of All Living Things, the ancient power of fright and lust - the female spider or the queen-bee whose embrace is death."(pg. 24)


It is interesting to note the prevalence in ancient myth of damsels, sirens, and characters of note who match that description. In some of the myths the Grimm brothers collected can be heard the faint echo of that ancient presence in the lovely maiden or the plotting vicious queen. Always there is the lingering element of respect and strength of woman and the Goddess she reflects.


For Graves the ancient poetry was the wild spinning top, an art form less concerned with form than experience. The further one progresses into the controlled and pedantic period of Rome forward into modern times, the greater the emphasis on form and content. In claiming to 'master' the art form, the guardian child of the ancient Muse and Goddess, the more soulless and lackluster the works, according to Graves, and the more dependent they become on over romanticism and long sections of poetic atmosphere. He wrote his own paen to her in The White Goddess, a poem found in a collection of his work.


So, as one explores the classic ghostly legends, Wilkie's Woman in White, and so many others, give a nod to the ancients whose poets, storytellers, bards, fili, derwydd, and ollaves, in poems, songs, and recitations at court and in humble hearth preserved the symbols and the stories. The great goddess who wooed humanity for centuries. In seeing those infamous flying witches and hooked nose women with rosy lips recall that the Muse who may have inspired them all also had a less friendly side. This duality of nature, so reflective of the male and female and the human psyche itself, it no doubt what has driven this mythic core for so long. We do not understand ourselves and so the Goddess remains an elusive, tantalizing, mystery.


Graves, Robert. The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth. Amended and enlarged version. Farrar, Straus, and Girous, 1948. However, a version is still available at Amazon.).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

HOUSES AS METAPHOR


For many eons the house has been a metaphor of the workings of the inner being, what today might be glibly termed the psyche or the ID. Dreams of houses were intuitively understood to be houses inside the mind or the soul, reflections of a larger world writ small enough to examine and control.

The dream:
The dream was a study in black, white, and yellow. A pitch black night, a long grey sidewalk, a pool of amber light from a old iron light, large shiny black double gates with a large golden crest of indeterminate design, a grey mansion in the distance with lights glowing warm in butter tones of welcome and warmth. The girl is dressed extremely fashionable and senses the clothing means something but has no glue why; sports hounds-tooth jacket dress, shiny yellow shoes, and headband. She senses she must go to the house, but has no clue how to enter the gate. She looks around but sees no one and stands alone in a vast dark night in a glowing circle of golden lamplight looking through gates at the gray mansion with its inviting muted lights.

The dream:
The dream always started by going into the house via the old fashioned sidewalk, crossing the white rail ringed porch to enter the tidy front rooms. Over the course of the dream, the woman went up stairs, up other stairs into spaces cramped and clogged by furniture and boxes. Into an attic filled with boxes, trunks, and things. Then ladders rose high into wooden beamed ceilings with more attic space and then more ladders….

Many have seen this metaphor as useful for exploring social taboos and the thin line separating mad from bad. Some have seen it as a therapeutic means for self-discovery or personal development. Authors have applied it to many works. From Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting” to Stephen King’s, ‘Salem’s Lot and ‘Rose Red’, the house is portrayed as an active main character both concealing and revealing plot.

The dream:
Each night when I want to calm down and get some sleep, I picture a dream house. This is usually an old bungalow or Victorian. I begin the process of cleaning it, painting it’s tan walls, adding curtains or rugs. Sometimes I find that my mind has sought out discovery of hidden panels or secret stairs; vast rooms and treasures are unearthed. Beauty hidden waiting for me to discover and value it…

How ancient the draw of the soul to the home? Homer’s hero sought nothing so much as to finally just reach his home. The entire journey can be seen as a peon to individualism and, as a metaphor, for all personal journeys of self-discovery, one of self- actualization as well. Homer penned his work ca 800 B.C. indicating the deep and long lasting desire of the human mind for its own journey home, to enter the gates, gain welcome, and dive deeply into the inner self to clean away cobwebs. Or, as the last dreamer reveals, we set about gaining control to manipulate (improve) the houses. We are all, regardless of starting place or destination, seeking to put our own personal houses in some sort of order.

#links

#links
Outstanding list of 'meaty' books to read.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

VAN ALLEN PLEXICO'S 'GIDEON CAIN - DEMON HUNTER'





Airship 27 Productions & Cornerstone Book Publishers have teamed up with noted fantasy, science fiction author, Van Allen Plexico to bring to life a brand new sword wielding adventurer; Gideon Cain – The Demon Hunter. Originally conceived on an internet forum, this swashbuckling, globe trotting avenger is the result of half a dozen creative minds pooling their ideas and imaginations into bringing forth a tortured hero cast in a classic pulp mold.



During the famous Salem Witch Trials (1692-93) British born Puritan soldier, Gideon Cain, aided the inquisitions, believing them to be just. Soon thereafter, God revealed to Cain that he and the righteous citizens of Salem had been duped by a cunning, ageless demon from Hell known as Azazel. The guilt of his actions weighs heavily on his conscience and rather than be driven mad by it, Gideon chooses to make atonement. Taking up his sword, the blade inscribed with holy runes, he bids farewell to his wife and children and departs on his sacred mission. Now he wanders the earth doing God’s work and destroying evil in whatever shape or guise it appears; his one consuming goal, to find and destroy Azazel.

Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to be bringing pulp fans this great new character written in the tradition of Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane. Here are seven exciting, action packed tales of the Demon Hunter by Scott Harris, Brian Zavitz, K.G.McAbee, Ian Watson, James Palmer, David Wright and Van Allen Plexico. Design and interior illustrations by Art Director Rob Davis with a painted cover by Davis and Shane Evans.

The book also features a special introduction by co-creator, Kurt Busiek. (Marvel’s – Astro City

Thursday, August 19, 2010

WEIRD HORROR TALES: THE FEASTING


Picture this: a man’s head explodes into leaves thrown up and away into a hoary midnight.

That is the cover of the second of a trilogy of novels from author Michael Vance, “Weird Horror Tales: The Feasting”. Like the first novel in the series, this second braided novel of fifteen interrelated horror, SF, and fantasy stories was written in the style and tradition of pulp magazines in the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, and will be released in the fall of 2010.

The cover was done by France’s Christophe Dessaigne, a journalist, scenarist for role playing games, and photographer. Mainly influenced by the science fiction, horror, and fantastic genres, his atmospheric, surreal creations combine digital photography and manipulation in a dark and post-apocalyptic future. Dessaigne’s creations are fantastic surrealist photomontages. His work is desolate, vast and dream-like featuring huge structures and visions. His work has appeared in cover art books, on music CD covers, and in magazines including Advanced Creations and PSD Photoshop.

“I was immediately drawn to his outrĂ© work which I originally found on Flickr, a shared community on-line for images,” said the author. “His dark, subtle visions capture the heart and atmosphere of my own stories which try to capture the something other in an otherwise normal world instead of a slavish use of graphic horror.”

The interior illustrations are by artist Earl Geier, best known for his horror, fantasy and science fiction artwork.

"The response to volume one in this series by the pulp-horror community has been tremendous," commented Ron Fortier, Managing Editor of the series for Airship 27 Productions. "We know there is strong anticipation for this follow up book and I'm here to say Michael's fans will not be disappointed. This is a truly marvelous collection."


“My stories are founded on the premise that there is something larger than our narrow view of reality,” said Vance. “Each interconnected story is set in Light’s End, a creepy little burg of the coast of Maine.” These stories about the fictional town have been favorably compared to the work of H. P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury.


Vance has written for national and international magazines, and as a syndicated columnist and cartoonist in over 500 newspapers. His history book, “Forbidden Adventures”, has been called a "benchmark in comics history”.


The publisher of “The Feasting” and “Weird Horror Tales”, Cornerstone Book Publishers also publishes Masonic and esoteric books, selected pulp fiction, art literature, limited children's books, and poetry collections. The braided novel, “Weird Horror Tales, is available on-line, at book stores, and from Cornerstone. For more information about Cornerstone, go to www.cornerstonepublishers.com.


Airship 27 packages and publishes anthologies and novels in the pulp magazine tradition.

In the past, Airship 27 has released “Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective”, a series of “Captain Hazzard” pulp thrillers, more pulp fiction in “The Green Lama” and “Secret Agent X”. For more information on Airship 27, go to www.airship27.com.

Friday, August 13, 2010

FACT OR FICTION: Short Cuts in Approaches


The new SyFy series, Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, is off to a good start with some solid research and some logical approaches. One enduring urban myth that pops up in several locations was treated in one episode. The so-called gravity hill of San Antonio (there is one claimed in several other locations around the country as well). This is the one that could have been better by simply following their own rules.


The group seeks to provide scientific testing to prove or debunk such videos as the one provided from Texas. They did a good job on the hill itself but on the claimed paranormal fingerprints they fella little short. The basis of the show is to test if results can be replicated with the same results (i.e. the 'scientific' experiment model). One aspect of the claim of the gravity hill locations is that if you put baby powder on the car fingerprints of small children emerge to reveal it was they who pushed the car.


"Fact or Faked" short cut that aspect by simply using fingerprint powder to see if prints emerged. They were therefore not replicating the conditions of the accounts or the video. They were basing their results on a product designed to pick up the traces left by oils on skin on a surface. Therefore, if something other than an oil based source provided trace the process would not pick it up. The claim is spectral presences created the fingerprints so is it logical to assume they would leave an oil based impression? What would have happened had they replicated the original with the baby powder as well?
They eventually brought out the transit proving the laws of gravity were still firmly in place but that nagging substitution is bothersome. Such shortcuts or shellgames are noticed when they happen, and despite allowances made for entertainment or time constraints, the expectations are that such shows never make assumptions about the intelligence level of their audiences. I will be waiting for new, and even more exciting, explorations by this team.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

'DAYBREAKERS': HORROR FILM WITH ARTISTIC BITE


Another vampire film? Vampires, zombies, werewolves will they ever reach a saturation point? Popularity of subject matter inevitably leads to ham handed approaches to overworked plots or themes. "DAYBREAKERS" have the premise of the plague of vampirism successfully took over the world, using humans as blood farms until they are bled dry. Then the inevitable happens when demand supersedes supply. With the human population dwindling a crisis nears with the certainty of the next sun rise.


Actually, despite the many offerings in this genre this one was surprisingly well done. The film was of high quality in level of story, acting, and direction. A fine, light, and skillful hand was well used to avoid tipping the scales at any time toward easy action or stereotypical caricature. The result was a movie with subtexts, layers, nauances, and restraint so often missing from horror films.


This is one now available on DVD and cable. Although it came out in 2009, I discovered it on a day when I too was hiding inside in the shade well away from the sun ; what can I say, it was summer and hot. Anytime of year, this is one to have a look at and keep nearby when in the mood for some good horror.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Koontz "Lost Souls" Begins Great New Story Line




Remember when you were small and your parents said you could not have that extra cookie or you had to put that light out and go to sleep? That is the feeling after reading, "Lost Souls", one of Dean Koontz's newest Frankenstein series. This particular cookie was savoured in delight, suspense, and awe at the creativity found in its pages. As always Koontz' creates complex characters with great soul and humanity and villians who strip bare to revel the human potential for evil. At the last page, knowing more was coming, the desire for another...and another....are great.

Koontz has imaginatively retooled the great classic and smoothly transferred it into the matrix of a modern society that is itself Frankenstein in nature and choices. As always in heroic tales, a small cadre of souls band together to fight for the right, or in this case, human existence.


Shelly originally challenged readers to question who was the monster in her great novel and to search out the sources and goal of consuming ambition; Koontz continues that tradition with skill, daring, and more than a few shivers.




Hurry....I can hardly wait for the next book....and the next.

Mexico's Mysterious Saint of Death


Spoken of in only whispers, iconic symbols etched in flesh, strange rituals, or hidden in secretive locations it is Santa Muerte. Superstition run amuck, gothic devotion to and fear of death, just what is behind this strange devotion and where is it leading? Uncovering the truth of the history and meaning of the mysterious Mexican saint of death, adopted by drug cartels and assassins alike, Kail illuminates one the puzzles of modern times.


http://anthonykail.weebly.com/ and available at Amazon.com

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NOW THAT THE WHOOPLA HAS DIED DONE...


"Paranormal Activity" was a low-budget phenomena that utilized novel marketing techniques and a film style designed to evoke reality TV and the immediacy of real events. It tapped into the public interest in all things paranormal.


Did it work, though, as a paranormal movie?

On one level the film did draw in the view with a raw sense of the frustration and couriosity abot what was going on. Some of the scenes were truly spine tingling, especially those taken as 'night vision' video...


Yet, I found myself very disappointed at the rather hackneyed and heavy handed descent into a demonic rationale and a 'been-there-done-that' cliff hanger ending.

A less stereo-typical ending, more questions, and a lot more suspense would have helped the ending to rise above the 'YouTube" realm of supernatural suspense and the 'Got Cha' cliche ending....
But do view it, especially with someone who has not seen it before....that can be entertaining.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

PERSPECTIVES


Cropping, shading, out of context: anything can be extraordianary in those circumstances...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

WEIRD HORROR TALES: THE FEASTING

“Run!” he screamed. “It’s still alive!!”



Yes, Tulsa author Michael Vance is still alive and writing, and has signed with Cornerstone Book Publishers and Airship 27 for publication of the second of three novels, “Weird Horror Tales: The Feasting”. His second braided novel of fifteen interrelated horror, SF, and fantasy stories was also written in the style and tradition of pulp magazines in the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, and will be released in the fall of 2010.



"The first volume of this collection was simply the unnerving appetizer. Vance and Geier now offer up the main course and it's a terror filled delight!” said Ron Fortier, editor of “The Feasting”.



“My stories are founded on the premise that there is something larger than our narrow view of reality,” said Vance. “Each interconnected story shares setting, history, prominent families, and a macro plot. The stories also focus on the Azrealites, a religious cult that works tirelessly to reinstate that ‘Other’ on Earth through science and the occult.”



These stories about the fictional town of “Light's End” in Maine have been published in dozens of magazines in three countries. Vance’s influences on these stories are H. P. Lovecraft, William Faulkner, and Ray Bradbury.



The cover was done by France’s Christophe Dessaigne, a journalist, scenarist for role playing games, and photographer. Mainly influenced by the science fiction, horror, and fantastic genres, his atmospheric, surreal creations combine digital photography and manipulation in a dark and post-apocalyptic future.



The interior illustrations are by artist Earl Geier, best known for his horror, fantasy and science fiction artwork. In the role playing game industry, his work includes art for “Battletech”, “Call of Cthulhu”, and many others. He has illustrated books for “Cemetery Dance” magazine, Chaosium, Gryphon and Subterranean Press. For comic book, he's had work published by Dark Horse Comics, Comiczone, Now, Innovation and DC Comics Paradox.



Vance has written for national and international magazines, and as a syndicated columnist and cartoonist in over 500 newspapers. His history book, “Forbidden Adventures”, has been called a "benchmark in comics history”. He briefly ghosted an internationally syndicated comic strip, wrote his own strip and several comic books. He is listed in the Who's Who of American Comic Books and Comic Book Superstars.



The publisher of “The Feasting” and “Weird Horror Tales”, Cornerstone Book Publishers also publishes Masonic and esoteric books, selected pulp fiction, art literature, limited children's books, and poetry collections. The braided novel, “Weird Horror Tales, is available on-line, at book stores, and from Cornerstone. For more information about Cornerstone, go to www.cornerstonepublishers.com.



Airship 27 packages and publishes anthologies and novels in the pulp magazine tradition.

In the past, Airship 27 has released “Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective”, a series of “Captain Hazzard” pulp thrillers, more pulp fiction in “The Green Lama” and “Secret Agent X”. For more information on Airship 27, go to www.airship27.com.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

KOONTZ' FRANKENSTEIN OPTIONED FOR MOVIE


Dean Koontz, master of the macbre and steller writer of the meaningful, has made a rare deal with Hollywood movie makers to bring his reimaged tale of Frankenstein's monster to the big screen. The popular and imaginative series has also been adapted as a graphic novel.


Envisioning a potential series of films based on the intriguing and awesome tales (in several volumes) of a modern mad man with money and a twisted dream of correcting humanity, the project shows great potential if movie makers can truly tap into the genius of Koontz to present a gripping tale that challenges and inspires at the same time. Time will tell. In the meantime, pick up the first book, or the graphic, in the Frankenstein series and enjoy......

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Book Review: Messages: The World's Most Documented Extraterrestrial Contact Story


Messages is a disturbing account of alien abductions. I feel really sorry for the author, Stan Romanek. He and his family have simply been terrorized, and sadly, this man has no where to turn for help. What official government agency would even believe his tales, let alone offer any assistance or protection?
Like so many stories of alien abduction, Romanek's Messages illustrates some common themes that we see again and again in this genre. First, his history with UFOs began when he was child. Some researchers assert that one will often find a military connection to the abduction scenario, and indeed, Romanek's father served the United States as a career military man. Screen memories were implemented, and this means that the abductee will recall a completely different memory than what is actually experienced. The theme of an alien-human hybrid program is also outlined in this story. Finally, while Stan has not fathered any human children, his step-son has also experienced alien abductions. It seems that families are studied by aliens generation after generation, but to my knowledge, it is rare that step-children also suffer from this phenomenon.
The book begins with the accounts of a most unusual "woman" who terrified Stan a handful of times with telepathic messages when he was a boy. These subsided, and Romanek did not, to his knowledge, have any unusual encounters until he was well into adulthood in 2001. Progressively, his sightings and paranormal experiences accelerated throughout the decade. It appears that aliens invade his home with great regularity.
Hypnotic regressions have aided Stan in gaining clarity about his experiences. During these sessions, Romanek has produced intriguing mathematical equations relating to physics and interstellar travel. Despite being harassed by both aliens and human surveillance, overall Stan asserts that this has all been a positive experience for him. He believes that he is meant to share his messages, and that he is one of seven specially selected individuals to bridge knowledge from these entities that haunt him, to the general public.

Friday, January 15, 2010

An incredible account of high strangeness...


Next week, I will be posting a review of Stan Romanek's book: Messages. Until then, please enjoy this article and video clip.



Since UFO Sighting, Stan Romanek Claims Extraterrestrials Haunt Him - ABC News