Saturday, September 19, 2020

War of the Worlds H. G. Wells 1897


The War of the WorldsThe War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

War of the Worlds H. G. Wells 1897
Martians invade the home of an unnamed narrator, and his younger brother, in southern England.
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

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Saturday, September 12, 2020


I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK - Michelle McNamara launched a podcast entitled ‘True Crime Diary’ in 2006. She published an article, entitled ‘In the Footsteps of a Killer’, in Los Angeles magazine in 2013. A burglar turned rapist turned killer terrorized California communities up and down the state, escaping capture for decades. Victims found they had been spied on from their yards outside their home, once footprints and evidence of entry attempts--successful or otherwise--had been left behind. She had become obsessed by the East Area Rapist, renaming him the Golden State Killer. Those efforts took the form of a book manuscript she worked on. Over the preceding decades the media referred to him as: the Visalia Ransacker, the East Area Rapist, the Night Stalker, and the Original Night Stalker. When DNA evidence confirmed the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker were the same person, ‘EARONS’ came to be used. Along the way, California's DNA database began to fill up with samples from accused and convicted felons. The case came to haunt Michelle, which oftentimes disrupted her sleep, obsessing late into the night writing or researching. Michelle McNamara died unexpectedly in 2016, at the age of 46, survived by her husband Patton Oswalt, a professional comedian. The book had only been partially completed. She had taken a dangerous mix of narcotics, anxiety meds and sleeping pills. She died in her sleep.  Her husband released I'll Be Gone in the Dark posthumously in 2018, nearly 2 years after her death, and 2 months before an arrest would be made in the case. Media pressure intensified as a result of her book, which had become a bestseller. Detectives used commercially available genealogy searches, investigators identified family members directly related to the killer, identifying 25 different family trees from the roots up. They used age, gender, and place of residence, to rule out suspects populating those family trees.  Suspects were eliminated one by one, until a final one remained. DNA samples were secretly collected from Joseph James DeAngelo, which he’d left in publicly accessible locations. Those matched the DNA profile of the Golden State Killer. With absolute certainty, the serial attacker had finally been brought to justice. Joseph James DeAngelo has already admitted responsibility as of this writing. He committed 13 murders, 50 rapes, and over 120 burglaries between 1973 and 1986.  HBO purchased the rights and filmed a series of the same name, which premiered this year. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, the book's title, references a direct quote by the killer to one of his victims: "You'll be silent forever, and I'll be gone in the dark.”.

Sunday, September 6, 2020



FOLIE A DEUX BY ROSS E LOCKHART - Structured in a series of episodes, the story is told from varied points of view, and different eras. Each episode has a distinctly different tone, depending on the character being portrayed. The title references a ‘madness shared by two’, which I presume to mean the conjoined twin sisters, since it tells what happens to them. The story is heavily influenced by HP Lovecraft, I caught onto many of the references. But certainly, HPL devotees will pick up on many more. A pair of sisters, who are conjoined twins, get mixed up in porn, drugs, and a boyfriend, who claims to be a reincarnated Pharaoh. One sister records her account in a diary. An inscription is found in a grimoire. Graffiti marks the walls of an abandoned hospital. A scroll is found in a copse of trees. The sisters' tale survives ten generations, of nightmare monsters mating with human women, and feeding on human young. 'Folie à Deux' by Ross E. Lockhart was first published in Strange Aeons in 2014. Want to read more? Ross has written a number of short stories and edited several anthologies.

Check out his website here:

Monday, August 31, 2020



THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY BY OSCAR WILDE - The Picture of Dorian Gray, the novel, was first published serially in 1890 in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine. In all his body of work--lectures, essays, plays and poems--it is his only novel.  It so offended critics on the basis of low morals and debauchery; Oscar included a preface in the longer 1891 version, defending ‘art for art's sake’. In the second version for book publication, he made exclusions in the most controversial material, including obscuring the homoerotic themes. A painter, infatuated not only with his muse’s beauty, becomes enthralled by his hedonistic vices. If the sitter sells his soul, the picture ages, but he won’t. He pursues a variety of amoral experiences while his portrait, hidden from public view, records every sin. It seems beauty and sensuality are the only pursuits truly worth living for. Wilde was a contemporary of Bram Stoker, they attended Dublin’s Trinity College as classmates. After college, he moved to London and became an ardent proponent of Aestheticism. He split time between London, Paris and America. He released a series of well-received plays internationally. He scaled the heights of society, lauded in fashionable salons for his witty banter. But after a casual accusation from the father of one of his friends, his so-called friends urged Oscar to sue for libel. The trial resulted in making public knowledge of his associations with: blackmailers, male prostitutes, cross-dressers and his visits to homosexual brothels. This set forth a chain of events which would lead to his imprisonment, and eventually, his death. His sentence to a hard labor camp caused him to collapse from fatigue. His eardrum ruptured and he spent 2 months in the infirmary. Upon release, he left London never to return again. Oscar lived out the remainder of his life in exile, poverty and disgrace. Since his death nearly 120 years ago, his public perception has transformed into an icon for artistic expression. Most of all, Oscar’s wit, be it in publications or otherwise, remains effervescent. One-of-a-kind, an original, wholly responsible for devising his persona, and credited for delivery of a unique vision. Never before, never since, but forever... Oscar. 

Monday, August 24, 2020


REVIEW OF VIVIFIED BY MYRA G - "Beautiful little story. It's about what is and what could be if only the main character has the sense to realize what is important in life."

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson 1886


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other StoriesThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson 1886
A London lawyer investigates strange occurrences involving his old friend and the evil Edward Hyde.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Friday, August 7, 2020


REVIEW OF HALLOWMAS BY BOOK LADY TERI - I loved this short graphic tale! Reading it gave me the same chills up my spine that I got when as a child listening to scary campfire stories, or saying Bloody Mary three times into a mirror!

Saturday, August 1, 2020


THE NINTH SKELETON BY CLARK ASHTON SMITH - A young man sets out on a hike, along a treacherous California trail. He has plans to meet up with his fiancé. Reality slips away, as his surroundings transform into something more evil. He inexplicably finds himself in a decaying graveyard, with an indecipherable language written on the stones. A skeleton parade saunters past him in the climax, skeletons with oddly feminine characteristics. The Ninth Skeleton by Clark Ashton Smith was first published in Weird Tales in 1928. Want to read more? Clark Ashton Smith is available widely online in variety of formats, some of which now are available in the public domain.

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Sunday, July 26, 2020


PODBEAN ONE THOUSAND DOWNLOADS - Click on the link to bring up all my radio interviews. Each show can be played in your browser, in the embedded podcast player. Or download with one click to save for later. Load the MP3 on your phone to take with you anywhere!

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Monday, July 20, 2020

From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne 1865

From the Earth to the Moon (Extraordinary Voyages, #4)From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne 1865
Gun enthusiasts dream up an idea to shoot themselves to the moon with a space gun, in an attempt to survive a moon landing.
From the Earth to the Moon (Extraordinary Voyages, #4) by Jules Verne

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020


REVIEW OF HALLOWMAS BY CATHERINE PRATT - “I like to call this book, a good campfire story. It would spook the little ones. I actually liked the book and wish there was more to the story than what it is. It kinda reminds me of the story, Christmas Carol. Except the story does not have 3 ghosts to haunt the character, only one. Also, this story is with tweens not adult. Great book!!”

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The Ninth Skeleton by Clark Ashton Smith full text

The Ninth Skeleton

It was beneath the immaculate blue of a morning in April that I set out to keep my appointment with Guenevere. We had agreed to meet on Boulder Ridge, at a spot well known to both of us, a small and circular field surrounded with pines and full of large stones, midway between her parents' home at Newcastle and my cabin on the north-eastern extremity of the Ridge, near Auburn.

Thursday, July 2, 2020


TWO CENTURIES OF FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER - Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, the novel, was anonymously published by Mary Shelley in 1818.  Her name appeared in the second edition. Two years earlier 18 year old Mary rented a Swiss villa, along with her husband, the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Their guests included: Lord Byron, also a poet, and his mistress/ Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont. John William Polidori, author of The Vampyre and vampire fiction pioneer, also joined them. They summered on Lake Geneva taking the boat out on the water, discussing ideas, writing stories, and telling ghost stories late into the night. Long spells of incessant rain kept the guests captive inside the villa. Lord Byron encouraged them to write a ghost story. That evening was particularly restless, and the young wife couldn’t sleep. Mary was visited by a reanimated corpse, in a waking dream, a creature so compelling she put him in writing. The byline refers to Prometheus, a mythological creature, who formed humans from clay, which provided them with fire. In Shelley's Gothic science fiction/ horror story, scientist Victor Frankenstein creates an unnamed monster from pieced together collected cadavers. Henceforth referred to as Frankenstein’s Monster, a hideous abomination. When he can’t socialize in human society, he exacts his due from Dr. Frankenstein, leaving the reader unsure who to root for. Just because he’s different, he is chased by villagers carrying flaming pitchforks. Hammer Horror produced 7 films with the character, but the best studio to film the role was Universal Pictures.  Don’t miss the 1931 pre-code version, starring Boris Karloff. His look is what comes to any reader’s mind, recalling the name Frankenstein. I credit Shelley with the creation of Gothic horror, and for its influence on speculative fiction to this day. She preceded Edgar Allen Poe (The Black Cat, 1843) by two decades. John William Polidori (The Vampyre,  1819) is said to have inspired Sheridan Le Fanu (Carmilla, 1872), who in turn inspired Bram Stoker (Dracula, 1897).  The stories written by these men, forebearers of genre, moved into a space created by an 18-year-old girl named Mary.

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Ninth Skeleton by Clark Ashton Smith MP3

PseudoPod 331: The Ninth Skeleton - PseudoPod

The Ninth Skeleton by Clark Ashton Smith It was beneath the immaculate blue of a morning in April that I set out to keep my appointment with Guenevere. We had agreed to meet on Boulder Ridge, at a spot well known to both of us, a small and circular field surrounded with pines and full [...]

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Sponsor Me in the Clarion West Write-a-thon

Chad Schimke

Writing Sample stood on the cliff at the edge of her continent. Her gown flapped in the gentle breeze, air brushing her feet and legs. The Niharan sun hung low on the waterline, a rim of churning water, against a darkening blue sky. She inhaled the salty air through her nose, filling her lungs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020


COOKING WITH RODENTS BY NANCY ETCHEMENDY - I’ve read lots of short stories, and this isn’t like most of them. The preposterous absurdities deepen and compound, in the best possible way. Written in form of a cookbook, this author whips up a delightful dish. It’s a fresh, one-of-a-kind take on what it takes to kept yourself fed, after the apocalypse. ‘Cooking with Rodents’ by Nancy Etchemendy was originally published in Rat Tales anthology in 1994. Check out Nancy’s website:

Want to read more? Check this and other good horror for a great cause, in Tales for the Campfire by following this link:

Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (2010)

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (2010)
Cast out by his people, a Shin man is sent to murder the king of one of the world's most powerful nations. He possesses magic such as Honorblade, used to cut anything, and Surgebinding, that renders him able to bind things together.
The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

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Sunday, May 31, 2020


THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS - Hannibal and Clarice become clinician and client, parent and child, despised and cherished, never ceasing a game of cat and mouse. The serial killer sizes up the detective’s fancy bag and inexpensive shoes, her West Virginia accent, and her spunky determination. Both Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins won Academy Awards for their roles in the 1991 film. Only the third in history to win the “big five” in a clean sweep. The Silence of the Lambs was directed by Jonathan Demme, based on the 1988 novel by Thomas Harris. It features an sweeping albeit discordant overture composed by Howard Shore.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Ninth Skeleton by Clark Ashton Smith full text

The Ninth Skeleton

It was beneath the immaculate blue of a morning in April that I set out to keep my appointment with Guenevere. We had agreed to meet on Boulder Ridge, at a spot well known to both of us, a small and circular field surrounded with pines and full of large stones, midway between her parents' home at Newcastle and my cabin on the north-eastern extremity of the Ridge, near Auburn.

Friday, May 22, 2020


Review of The Merchandiser by jason - "A cross between The Twilight Zone and Stephen King, The Merchandiser will creep you out and make you a little sad all at the same time."

Saturday, May 16, 2020


Road Kill by Jeff Seeman - A startling burst of static on a CB radio. A quiet diner on a dark lonely highway. A walk-in refrigerator, filled with severed body parts on hooks.  A recording of “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline plays on, in the background. A police radio crackles and the officer speaks: “I found another dead driver, along Dead Man’s Curve. Looks like the ghost took a new one.” ‘Road Kill’, along with many others in Tales for the Camp Fire, is a second time reprint, first appearing in the 2015 anthology 18 Wheels of Horror.

Tales for the Camp Fire, published by Tomes & Coffee Press, has now reached the first anniversary of its e-book launch. On release day, it rose to #3 in Amazon's Best Sellers in Horror Anthologies. The print paperback was unveiled at the Bay Area Book Festival and immediately sold out 100 print books.

Check out Jeff Seeman’s newest anthology, What Monsters do for Love:

Sunday, May 10, 2020

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (1993)

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (1993)
In the Seven Kingdoms, Ned Stark executes a deserter who fled from the Wall. Meanwhile, the bastard Jon Snow joins the Night's Watch. And Daenerys Targaryen becomes betrothed to a Dothraki warlord.
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin

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Sunday, April 19, 2020


Review of midwinter by Mick Dubois – “Short story about the bronze age origins of Christmas. Could very well serve as prologue of a larger work. Very well written and an enjoyable read.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


FABLE OF THE BOX BY ERIC ESSER - A witch’s daughter begs her mother to place the dead family dog in a magic box. But this isn’t any ordinary magic box. Place something dead inside to make it come back to life, but only for one day. The following day was the best one of her life. Her reborn dog showered her, and her little brother, with love and affection. But after a couple more goes, things change. That leads to an argument. The daughter punishes her brother, by daring him to spend the night in the box. ‘Fable of the Box’ was previously published in Awkward Robots Anthology: The Orange Volume in 2015. Part folk horror, part fairytale, part tall tale with a sprinkle of sorcery. There are many surprises, packed into a minimum of lines. 

\Want to read more? Check out Eric’s website and writing here:

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (1990)

The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, #1)The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (1990)
When a global cataclysm ends the Age of Legends, The Breaking of the World occurs three thousand years later. The series depicts ancient mythology and advancements similar to the Industrial Revolution.
The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, #1) by Robert Jordan

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Saturday, April 4, 2020


DRACULA, A CENTURY OF THE VAMPIRE - Dracula, the novel, was written by Bram Stoker in 1897. Years later, it appeared in silent films and then talking films. TV shows and streaming series came afterward. At present Blumhouse Productions, a film studio, announced a new treatment of the material. In 2020, director Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body), is working to bring a fresh perspective to the tale. Why has the character endured, while so many others have faded away? Because the character has so much potential for retellings, depending on the desired outcome. Count Dracula can be: a hero, a historical figure in a period piece, an ugly monster, a PNR love interest, an antihero/ villain, or even a straight man for puns or jokes. This post will provide sample actors, scripts and renditions which have been released over nearly a century. Which one of these subjectively deserves to be considered the best, or the worst?

Max Schrek - Nosferatu (1922)
As thinly veiled plagiarism, Stoker's widow sued the film studio and won a judgement. The studio went bankrupt, and all copies were ordered to be destroyed. Somehow one version of this silent film survived and was reprinted. Technically this was Count Orlok, but nothing had been altered from novel to script. The vampire is animalistic: slumped back, sharp ears, jagged teeth and long fingernails. This is Schreck’s most famous role. His acting was so convincing legend persists to this day he was a real vampire.

Bela Lugosi – Dracula (1931)
When asked to imagine Dracula’s appearance, this is the image that comes to everyone’s mind. The widow’s peak, the tuxedo, the red lined cape, the pale skin and long fingernails. His furtive movement, the rhythm of his voice, and the way he swept his cape over his face. Lugosi never again played a part so well, but that’s why his performance has been copied so many times.

Lon Chaney Jr. – Son of Dracula (1943)
Lon Jr. could never have lived up to his father: legendary actor and makeup artist, The Man with 1000 Faces, Lon Chaney Sr. The other problem with this film is Lon Jr. attempted to copy Lugosi. Another man whose shoes he could never fill. This film fails on both accounts, as a poor and lifeless imitation. Sadly reductive it brought nothing new, compared to better versions.

Christopher Lee – Horror of Dracula (1958)
I’d like him to be known as the Technicolor Dracula. He was presented in color for the first time in this version. Hammer Horror devoted themselves to the genre, whereas Lee played the title role his entire life.  It became his signature role for good reason. Filmed on location in real chateaus, the atmosphere of lurking dread is marvelously authentic, especially in the studio’s early films. For me, Lee is the best at this part. 

Frank Langella – Dracula (1979)
This version portrays our hero as a romantic lead. Including a tagline "a love story" incorporated into the title. This iteration created space which modern vampire versions would later occupy. Such as Twilight, Vampire Diaries and Interview with a Vampire. Frank Langella is quoted as saying he “wanted to show a man who, while evil, was lonely and could fall in love."

Gary Oldman – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
A bit hokey at points, the film is successful overall in the performances, sets and costumes. The result is a convincing portrayal of the count from Transylvania. It’s a romance between Winona Ryder as Mina and Gary Oldman in the title role. He’s lavishly costumed, strange, dramatic, intense, and sexually alluring. Somehow this film is still fresh, when compared to less successful versions. Francis Ford Coppola does a great job of creating a period paranormal romance.

Richard Roxburgh – Van Helsing (2004)
Bad early CGI, unrealistic hairpieces, clunky dialog, fake accents, and wooden overacting. What’s worse is it’s riddled with cliché movie monster references. Not to mention full-on explanations on the backstory, along with labored “how to kill vampires” sequences. Nothing works, the whole thing is canned and over produced.  As I prepped to write this post, I wondered. Why hadn’t I ever watched this movie? After forcing myself to sit through it, the answer became clear.

Claes Bang – Dracula (2020)
This concept strays far, far away, from the original source material. Reviews are mixed, pertaining to Netflix’s version of the vampire. But in my opinion, this version works well enough. I liked the fresh take on storytelling. It included satisfying, daringly dark humor. Most horror comedy doesn’t work, but this one does. It’s dark enough to be shocking sometimes. Bang is a dashingly handsome man, possessing enough elegance to bring believability to the character.  His mannerisms are reminiscent of Lugosi, which makes him well-suited to the part.

Monday, March 30, 2020


Review of Behind the Walls by jason - “As I read this creepy short, I visualized it in my mind. It would have been perfect for Rod Serling to turn into a Twilight Zone episode.”