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Hallowen: Magic, Mystery & the Macabre Trick or Treating with Friends

September 8th, 2013

HalloweenMagicMysMacabre-500Halloween comes early this year, with the September release of Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre – another terrific anthology from award-winning editor Paula Guran and the good people at Prime Books.

The book is a follow up to Paula’s 2011 anthology Halloween, which featured 33 classic reprints by the likes of Ray Bradbury, H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and F. Paul Wilson. It also featured a thoughtful essay about the origins and traditions of Halloween, which you can read here.

Unlike its predecessor, the new book features all-new Halloween-themed stories. I’ve just finished reading my copy, and it’s a terrific book – perfect material for a cool autumn night.

scent-of-magicAmong the standouts is “The Halloween Men,” a horror story by my good friend Maria V. Snyder, a writer more often associated with romantic fantasy than horror fiction. She and I currently serve as residency writers in the Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University, and at this summer’s residency she attributed her foray into the macabre to hanging out with Michael A. Arnzen and me. She was being generous, of course. But regardless of how the story came to be, it’s a terrific read. Set in a strange world where the wearing of masks is enforced by mysterious men in black robes, “The Halloween Men” displays the kind of spare yet fully-realized fantasy that has made Maria one of the best fantasy writers working today. If you haven’t discovered her yet, consider checking out her books Scent of Magic, Poison Study, Touch of Power, and all the other titles that you can read about at MariaVSnyder.com. Good reading awaits.

TimeAnother standout story is “All Souls Day” by Barbara Roden, who in recent years has established herself as one of the contemporary masters of short fiction. Publishers Weekly, in a review of her collection Northwest Passages, refers to her work as “deftly executed tales of subtle horror,” and her story in this collection continues that tradition. Barbara is also a multi-award winning editor who, along with her husband Christopher Roden, has been running critically acclaimed Ash-Tree Press since its inception in 1994. I first met Barbara and Christopher at World Fantasy 2007, and we’ve been good friends ever since, getting together at the major conventions at least once or twice a year. In 2010 they edited and published This Way to Egress, the definitive collection of my horror stories.

Jack Pumpkinhead by William Wallace DenslowHalloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre also features terrific new stories by Laird Barron, Laura Bickle, Jay Caselberg, Brenda Cooper, Brian Hodge, Stephen Graham Jones, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Nancy Kilpatrick, Jonathan Maberry, Norman Partridge, John Shirley, Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem, Carrie Vaughn, A.C. Wise, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro – some of the modern masters of magic, mystery, and the macabre.

Oh yes, it also contains one of my stories – a new tale of physiological horror titled “Pumpkin Head Escapes.” And since the book releases this week, my friends and I get to do some early trick-or-treating.

Care to join us?

Image Credits:

Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre,  Prime Books 2013. Scent of Magic, Harlequin 2013. Northwest Passages, Prime Books 2010. Jack Pumpkin Head, illustration detail by William Wallace Dinslow from L. Frank Baum’s The Road to Oz (1909).

“Evocative” – Publishers Weekly

August 28th, 2012

In Lawrence C. Connolly’s evocative “Mercenary,” sniper and musician Lorcan uncovers a dangerous truth about the mysterious, charismatic singer Bobbie Quicksilver . . . .
                                          
Publishers Weekly

Needless to say, I’m really jazzed to be a part of this book.

Fantasy and sf have always seemed to me to be a big part of rock ‘n roll, and with Rock On, editor Paula Guran celebrates that connection with a “diverse collection [that] will appeal to most rock-and-roll and genre fans.”

And you’ve got to love that seven-string Flying-V on the cover!

Preorder from: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Prime Books.

 

Coming Soon: Rock On!

July 6th, 2012

The Greatest
Science Fiction
& Fantasy Hits   

Edited by Paula Guran and coming this fall from Prime Books, the World Fantasy Award-Winning publisher of science fiction and fantasy.

Kick out the jams with hot licks and fantastic riffs on rock and roll from the only kind of fiction that feeds the soul: science fiction and fantasy. Like rock, speculative fiction is larger than life and there’s no limit on where it can take you. Electrifying stories with the drive, the emotion, the heart of rock.

Headliners, award winners, and rising stars take the stage with their greatest fictional hits.

Find a place, grab some space…get ready to rock! Includes two original stories: “Mercenary” by Lawrence C. Connolly and “Mourningstar” by Del James. 

 

Contents (in alphabetical order):

Elizabeth Bear, “Hobnoblin Blues”: What if the trickster god Loki—who could sing gold from a dwarf, love from a goddess, troth from a giantess, bargain kidnapped goddesses away from giant captors, and blood-brotherhood from the All-Father—became a rock star?

Poppy Z. Brite, “Arise”: Cobb and Matthews are fictional renditions of Lennon and McCartney. Cobb, who faked his death years before to escape fame, hears Matthews has died of cancer. But the “death” turns out to be a creative resurrection.

Edward Bryant, “Stone” (Nebula Award winner; Hugo nominated):
Stim music: the empathy of the star performer feeds the wired-in audience and the audience feeds it back to the performer. But how far can it go?

Pat Cadigan, “Rock On”: In the near future, rock ’n’ roll faces extinction. Only those who’ve experienced the real thing via neural interface can keep it alive.

Lawrence C. Connolly “Mercenary” (Original): Bobbie Quicksilver turns up to play and Silverheads—musicians and fans—gather at secret concerts. The music seems to bring hope and joy to a hopeless, joyless world, but not all see it that way. Online warnings of hidden threats and secret agendas…and perhaps the sources themselves…disappear.

Bradley Denton “We Love Lydia Love”: To what lengths will the industry go to keep a rock megastar producing platinum? How far will a musician go to get a recording contract?

Elizabeth Hand “The Erl-King” (World Fantasy Award Nominee, Novella):
Linette, the daughter of a survivor of the glitterati Warhol set of the 70s, meets a reclusive former rock star who her mother once knew. He can see magical beings through the windows of his mansion, and these are dark creatures indeed…

Del James “Mourningstar” (Original): Fearing he will lose his guitarist, the lead singer of a band dedicated to darkness is determined his desires will be fulfilled and no sacrifice is too great.

Graham Joyce “Last Rising Son”: Two young people, an old blues song about doom updated, and a haunted Wurlitzer.

Greg Kihn “Then Play On“: Sometimes a guitar player’s fingers hurt so bad you can’t play, but you still gotta play. One night Charlie appears, playing a harmonica, and a guitarist’s prayers are answered…maybe “prayers” isn’t the right word, though…

Marc Laidlaw “Wunderkindergarten”: “Like a monster movie in which the monster gets to tap dance to rock. Only more so.“

Caitlín R. Kiernan “Paedomorphosis”: Annie plays in the band, TranSister, but when she visits a member of the rock band Seven Deadlies (who practice—loudly—next door), she discovers a really weird scene.

Charles de Lint “That Was Radio Clash”: In a salute to the Clash’s Joe Strummer, a story about making the right choices, taking chances—maybe getting a second chance—and a little bit of wish fulfillment.

Graham Masterton “Voodoo Child”: Jimi Hendrix is long dead, but there he is in London, recognized by an old friend. The man who wrote and performed “Voodoo Chile” had more acquaintance with certain strange rituals than we knew.

Alastair Reynolds “At Budokan”: Starts with a nightmare about being crushed to death by a massive robot version of James Hetfield of Metallica fame and ends with a Tyrannosaurus rex playing a Gibson Flying V.

David J. Schow “Odeed”: Nihilism, anarchy, audiences gone wild—it’s all rock’n’roll, right? Then one night the band Gasm takes it all the way…the true power of rock literally annihilates.

Lewis Shiner “Jeff Beck”: Blue-collar Felix loves Jeff Beck. When he takes an unusual new drug he makes a wish: “I want to play guitar like Jeff Beck.” We all know to be careful what we wish for…

John Shirley “Freezone”: Rick Rickenharp is a retro-rocker in a near-future cyberpunk world of warring corporations and multi-cultural chaos.

The book will be released by Prime Books in October. For more information and to pre-order a copy of this rocking anthology, visit Rock On: The Greatest Science Fiction & Fantasy Hits edited by Paula Guran.

Communing with the Masters

February 19th, 2012

It’s about community, not competition.

A number of people have submitted emails in response to the news post I put up yesterday, and some have asked about the meaning of the Dante quote:

e più d’onore ancora assai mi fenno,
ch’e’ sì mi fecer de la loro schiera . . .

The lines are from The Inferno, Canto 4, a scene in which Dante leaves the dark wood to find himself in a pastoral region that sits apart from the errors of the world and the terrors of Hell. Here, in a place beyond time, he joins with five masters of his craft:  Homer, Horace, Ovid, Lucan, and Virgil. These are the writers he has long admired, and he sums up his feelings about finding himself among them with the aforementioned lines, which can be translated thus:

And more honor still, much more, they did me
In that they made me one of their own band . . .

It occurs to me now, particularly after seeing the cover of Voices displayed alongside five other Stoker Nominees at SF Signal, that I might have included one more line in yesterday’s quote.

Here are the full three lines of Dante’s tercet:

e più d’onore ancora assai mi fenno,
ch’e’ sì mi fecer de la loro schiera,
sì ch’io fui sesto tra cotanto senno.

 And in English:

And more honor still, much more, they did me
In that they made me one of their own band,
So that I was the sixth, amid so much wisdom.

I think that’s fitting. It’s not about the competition, about winning or losing against the other works in the collection category. It’s enough to be allowed to stand alongside five of my favorite writers, counted as a member of their band. It’s community, not competition.

Do you agree?