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Thread: Horror, Fantasy, and other non-sci-fi genres...

  1. #1526
    Moderator Dead & Messed Up's Avatar
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    Finished Revival this past week. Rallies in the final stretch, but I'd be lying if I said the preceding two thirds of the story didn't underwhelm me. So often the hero feels story-adjacent. At any given point, there's something interesting happening with the minister, but we're denied that for what feels like a too-traditional memoir of sex and drugs and rock and roll. Obviously this is the point, as King refers to the minister as the "fifth business" of this story, and in that regard, despite the single-focus horror elements that recall the relative purity of his early works (telekinesis in Carrie, vampirism in 'salem's Lot, a riff on Frankenstein in this one), this has little of the ferocity of those books. It's an odd book, one of his lesser ones of recent years (I prefer Full Dark No Stars, Under the Dome, and 11/22/63, in that order), but that final leg of the journey builds up momentum and pays off the stalling and digressions (if only just) with a memorable and surprisingly nihilistic climax.

  2. #1527
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Dead & Messed Up (view post)
    Finished Revival this past week. Rallies in the final stretch, but I'd be lying if I said the preceding two thirds of the story didn't underwhelm me. So often the hero feels story-adjacent. At any given point, there's something interesting happening with the minister, but we're denied that for what feels like a too-traditional memoir of sex and drugs and rock and roll. Obviously this is the point, as King refers to the minister as the "fifth business" of this story, and in that regard, despite the single-focus horror elements that recall the relative purity of his early works (telekinesis in Carrie, vampirism in 'salem's Lot, a riff on Frankenstein in this one), this has little of the ferocity of those books. It's an odd book, one of his lesser ones of recent years (I prefer Full Dark No Stars, Under the Dome, and 11/22/63, in that order), but that final leg of the journey builds up momentum and pays off the stalling and digressions (if only just) with a memorable and surprisingly nihilistic climax.
    Overall, it's not a very interesting novel. It's well written with some good characters, but it's also rather dull. But the ending is incredible. It really stuck with me. Of his recent stuff, it's my least favorite.

    1. Under the Dome
    2. Full Dark, No Stars
    3. Dr. Sleep
    4. 11/22/63
    5. Revival

  3. #1528
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    Under the Dome really is just too much damn fun.

  4. #1529
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    Quote Quoting Dead & Messed Up (view post)
    Under the Dome really is just too much damn fun.

    Sometimes I pick it up just to re-read that first 250 or so pages. Probably the best stuff King has ever written.

  5. #1530
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    When I was 75% into reading The Ruins, I had gone from wondering what the budget for the film version's gore was gonna be, to wondering if they would have the time for all these gore scenes. As for the book, pretty good writing that is used for too many repetitive, padded sections. The gripping detail-by-detail style works best in the first half, immersing us into these characters and places, and giving realistic weight to the out-there premise by leaning into it slowly. That makes the early horror really resonate, and the villain quite sinister (the stuff around the Greek and the mine shaft is so rivetingly gruesome). However, somewhere after the "laughter" reveal, the momentum starts to halt. As admirable as the ambition to map things out psychologically and physiologically is, there are just not enough story elements at work here to support that style of in-depth storytelling; the overall arc is not deep enough. What should feel horrifically inevitable instead becomes gruesomely plodding, long before the end arrives. Then again, I have to give the writing some credit because I still read it quickly to the last page. 3/5
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  6. #1531
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    The Ruins was OK. I actually liked the movie better.

    If you like this kind of horror fiction, I highly recommend the work of Nick Cutter. Total throwback to the golden days of 70s and 80s mass market horror. But slightly better written.

  7. #1532
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    Yeah, I think I preferred the movie too, although both stories stop engaging me once they switch from external terrors to body horror. Call it a testament to the premise that my stomach can't (and doesn't want to) handle that.

  8. #1533
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    Some of the gore in the book is INTENSE! Made me very uneasy.

  9. #1534
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    Mister B. Gone - Only through the first disc of my audio book, but loving it so far. A huge part is that Doug Bradley of Pinhead fame narrates, and he brings the characters to life with some remarkable vocal work.

  10. #1535
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    Quote Quoting Dead & Messed Up (view post)
    Mister B. Gone - Only through the first disc of my audio book, but loving it so far. A huge part is that Doug Bradley of Pinhead fame narrates, and he brings the characters to life with some remarkable vocal work.
    Went from loving to liking; when Barker's writing of his own creations, he can generate lovely and horrifying prose, but when he's remixing Christian demonology (like he did with his diverting play The History of the Devil), he can't help but present it in a more joking, camp manner. Which would be fine on its own terms, but the pacing flags once you realize this is all a dark-fantasy gag (it doesn't help that the book advertises itself as a return to his classic horror days, although that may be an intentional part of the whole goof). Diverting as a washed-out Screwtape Letters riff but not much more.

  11. #1536
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    Caitlin R. Kiernan’s “Agents of Dreamland” is great stuff.

    Fans of Lovecraft and the mythos in particular should take note.

  12. #1537
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    I'll have to check that out.

  13. #1538
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    I've always avoided her as an author, because a lot of her books look like those Paranormal Romance / vampire romance novels.

    This is some Laurell K. Hamilton shit right here.


  14. #1539
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    Yeah I saw that when I looked up more titles from her. I definitely got her mixed up with Catherine M. Valente.

  15. #1540
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    Agents of Dreamland is fantastic!

    Goddamn can she write!

    She's got a really punchy, hard-edged style. Kind of makes me want to look past her terrible covers and give the rest of her books a chance.

  16. #1541
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    Quote Quoting D_Davis (view post)
    Agents of Dreamland is fantastic!

    Goddamn can she write!

    She's got a really punchy, hard-edged style. Kind of makes me want to look past her terrible covers and give the rest of her books a chance.
    I wouldn’t. You are absolutely right that she’s usually writing Hamilton type stuff.

    However there is a sequel to Agents coming out in May, and I’ll be all over that.

  17. #1542
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    With her chops, she has to have some other hidden gems.

    Her style reminds me of Lansdale and Huston.

  18. #1543
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    From what I’ve read (about her) she has done some really great short horror fiction. Lots of stuff for those “best horror of the year” collection type books.

  19. #1544
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    Yeah - I've heard her short stories are great as well.

    Seeing as how there is NO money is short fiction these days, I bet she writes her Para-Romance novels to pay the bills, and exercises her chops in her short fiction. I'll have to come through all my anthologies to see if I have anything from her.

  20. #1545
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    Legend of the Condor Heroes is FINALLY being translated into English. This is one of the most epic, most insanely influential works of genre fiction ever written. It has spawns dozens, and dozens, and dozens of movies, television series, and comic books, but has never been translated into English. I've seen so many things (mostly wuxia films) based on this series.




    Can't wait to finally read it.




    https://www.amazon.com/Hero-Born-Con...+Condor+Heroes

  21. #1546
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    It took almost a year, but I read Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker.

    It's funny, the guy lapses into camp whenever he tries to tackle Christian demonology (e.g. Mr. B. Gone, The History of the Devil), maybe intentionally, and there's some incredibly goofy shit here, like when a peacock-man-ghost comes up on a woman with a raging erection, or when the son of Lilith comes upon the same woman with a raging erection, enough of all of this to the point where you wonder if the cover promise of a "Hollywood Ghost Story" was even worth the lie given how Barker ends up slaking his regular indulgences of the sexual and the grotesque.

    All that said, this is the first time I've read a Clive Barker long-form where the lead character captured my interest. No, not the supposed lead character, Hollywood vanity child-adult Todd Picket (Tom Cruise but dumber). Nope, the lead here is (spoilers if you ever intend on reading)...

    [
    ]

    Broadly, I think Barker is better as a short story author than as a novel writer, as I've read The Damnation Game, Abarat, The Thief of Always, and couldn't tell you a thing that happens in any of them. This is the first one I'm remembering with clarity and real fondness instead of a vague "There was interesting stuff in there, I think."

  22. #1547
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    Just finished Lev Grossman's very entertaining The Magicians. My misgivings out the way first: even accounting for unlikable character tropes, some instances still feel a bit much, like overgoosing on being a different kind of fantasy, and the casually leering description at the outset gets a tad uncomfortable in an extra-textual way. That asides, the way a normal YA fantasy arc gets undercut throughout by darker real-world problems and subversive psychological pinnings, especially on the effect of childhood's fantasy informing adults' outlook, is pretty nifty and well-executed. And even that surface arc is able to stand alone as engaging fantasy on its own too. 4/5
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

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