As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling

asiknewhimAS I KNEW HIM: MY DAD, ROD SERLING is a touching tribute to a father. That father in question happened to be one of the most prolific writers for television and the man behind a little show called THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Anne Serling goes through letters and correspondences of her dad’s, from the time he was serving in the military. How many people knew that Rod Serling was a paratrooper?

It’s in these letters you see the talent that had yet to blossom on the small screen. Anne Serling goes through the whole history of her father, through these letters and reminisces of friends, of which he had plentiful.

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Murder in the Rue Dumas

murderruedumasM.L. Longworth’s second Verlaque and Bonnet mystery, MURDER IN THE RUE DUMAS, continues and develops the somewhat contentious, but very realistic romantic relationship between Judge Antoine Verlaque (basically a policeman) and law professor Marine Bonnet. Gone are the copyediting problems of the first book (DEATH AT THE CHÂTEAU BREMONT) and the plot is thankfully much stronger.

The head of the theological school at the Université d’Aix is set to retire and appoint one of his subordinates to his chair, a sinecure that also includes a magnificent apartment in the heart of the city along with a significant income. At the same time, he is planning to award the Dumas prize to one of the students of the school, a prestigious prize that gives a student money and opportunity.

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Chimera

chimeraDavid Wellington was writing about an impending zombie apocalypse long before it became the horror genre’s hot topic (his MONSTER ISLAND series). He then managed to bring vampires into the contemporary world (his 13 BULLETS series) without making them lovelorn, shimmering wimps. Then he revitalized the neglected werewolf troupe in a pair of wonderful novels (FROSTBITE and OVERWINTER). So what’s next for this exceptional horror reinterpreter?
 
The answer is CHIMERA, the first in a proposed trilogy of novels that introduces a new series character, Jim Chapel. While the premise is not altogether original, it is as suspenseful, involving and as difficult to put down as anything Wellington has written.

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Television Specials: 5,336 Entertainment Programs, 1936-2012

tvspecialsWhile now a lost art, TV specials used to be exciting programming in those three-network days. Why, as a grade schooler, I could:
• get a taste of NBC’s upcoming Saturday-morning cartoon lineup;
• watch Bob Hope in lecherous comedy sketches with the likes of Brooke Shields, Angie Dickinson and Loni Anderson;
• see Adam West and Burt Ward reunited as Batman and Robin as part of a superhero roast;
• and venture to a galaxy far, far away with Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman and Jefferson Starship in — what else? — THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL.

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The Dark Man

darkmanNot all poetry is dull. Check it: “To mix with the sex smell of rotting cypress stumps.”

That’s a line from “The Dark Man,” a poem written in 1969 by a struggling writer named Stephen King. Now that some people have heard of the guy, Cemetery Dance has packaged the poem in collectible hardcover editions.

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The Good Thief’s Guide to Venice

goodthiefveniceChris Ewan writes the bright and goofy GOOD THIEF’S GUIDE series, a wry and lightly humorous series centering around professional burglar Charlie Howard, and his intent on making a writing career by penning mysteries. In THE GOOD THIEF’S GUIDE TO VENICE, we discover that Howard can only really write if he is looking at a signed first edition of Dashiell Hammett’s THE MALTESE FALCON. He has such a copy framed above his desk and uses it as his muse.

But in his Venice apartment one night, he awakes to encounter a leggy, shapely blonde who has taken the book out of its airtight frame. She then rappels down the outside of Charlie’s apartment building, leaving only an enigmatic calling card.

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Great Zombies in History

greatzombiesA comics anthology, GREAT ZOMBIES IN HISTORY reminded me of Max Brooks’ THE ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE: RECORDED ATTACKS, which was more or less an unofficial graphic-novel spin-off of his WORLD WAR Z novel.

Both that 2009 collection and this new one depict undead uprisings from around the globe and throughout its history, rendered in black-and-white illustrations. I’m giving this under-the-radar underdog the slight edge because in featuring various writers and artists, its contents are simply more varied and less repetitive, and, therefore, more fun.

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The Last Whisper in the Dark

lastwhisperA direct follow-up to last summer’s THE LAST KIND WORDS, Tom Piccirilli’s THE LAST WHISPER IN THE DARK also deals with family. But this time, it’s not just direct family that Terrier “Terry” Rand has to deal with.

The violence of our previous trip into the Rand family has been toned down, but those events are still fresh in the characters’ minds. We are not told how long it’s been since then — most likely a few months or maybe even a year — but Terry is still chasing his past, longing for the girl who got away and married his best friend.

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PREVIEW >> Star Trek FAQ 2.0

startrekfaq2Because the STAR TREK universe keeps getting wider, Mark Clark’s STAR TREK FAQ 2.0 was merited. Published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, the unauthorized, 400-page paperback provides accounts of the production of each movie (including creator Gene Roddenberrys struggle to retain control of the franchise) and every episode of THE NEXT GENERATION (and the conflicts that roiled its writing staff). It also offers profiles of the cast and crew, and looks at fan-made productions as well. In this excerpt, Clark assesses the 1982 hit film STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN.

The Wrath of Khan offers everything its predecessor promised but failed to deliver. It’s a thrilling, fast-paced sci-fi adventure rich in both sustained suspense and character exploration. The story wades into meaningful thematic currents on the way to a powerful emotional payoff. Not only is Khan a worthy successor to the television series, but in some respects it represents an improvement on the classic program. Not only is the movie far superior in all technical aspects (sets, costumes, special effects), as almost any feature film would be, but it’s also better scripted, directed, and performed than the vast majority of the seventy-nine original episodes.

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Reviver

reviverWriters like Jim Butcher, Richard Kadrey, Laurell K. Hamilton and, heck, about a thousand others have mapped out the territory where the noirish investigator tracks (or is her-/himself) a creature of the night. (And let us bow our heads in reverent memory of Carl Kolchak.)

The P.I. works alone — stands apart from society, sees the darkness that everyone else covers up or just fails to see, traffics in smart-aleck dialogue and slapping people (or getting slapped) around. P.I.s already work in society’s shadows; that they’d see bloodsuckers or demons seems a neat logical extension.

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