Notes from the Internet Apocalypse

notesinternetIt’s no surprise that humor columnist and frequent contributor to Wayne Gladstone chose satire as the vehicle for his first novel, NOTES FROM THE INTERNET APOCALYPSE. What’s unexpected is that he imagines a world suddenly without his main publishing outlet, and something we’ve all grown hopelessly addicted to: the Internet.

The disappearance of the ‘net, as told by first-person narrator Gladstone (the author’s byline in many of his articles and essays) came quietly and without warning. Everybody woke up one morning … and the Internet was simply not there. No combination of keystrokes — or other corrective action — could bring it back.

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The Zombie Film: From White Zombie to World War Z

zombiefilmWith THE ZOMBIE FILM, film historians Alain Silver and James Ursini have compiled an irresistible companion to their book-length study of THE VAMPIRE FILM, updated in 2011. While the author duo is known primarily for works on film noir, they know their subject well no matter what that subject is, and I devour every book they write.

Especially here, their work occupies that space between academia and entertainment; they have it both ways, approaching the subject seriously while also having fun with it. Who else, for instance, would write about Bela Lugosi’s distinctive eyes in WHITE ZOMBIE, then plop a tiny photo of those peepers right within the text?

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Scream Queen and Other Tales of Menace

screamqueenA new collection of short stories by Ed Gorman is definitely a reason to celebrate. Gorman knows his audience, and the contents in this Perfect Crime collection, SCREAM QUEEN AND OTHER TALES OF MENACE, truly fit the title. The 14 tales range from straight-up crime to peeks into a bizarre future. What will really shock some readers will delight others. Personally what I loved is how in some stories the leads seem so normal until Gorman takes that one little turn and we see the real truth in these characters.

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afterpartyDaryl Gregory isn’t exactly unheralded. His first novel, 2008’s PANDEMONIUM, imagined an alternate America where demon possessions emerged as pandemic. The novel was sly, but never smirky, grounding its Philip K. Dick-ian high concept in careful character sketches — a virtue found throughout Gregory’s work — and it won the Crawford award and a crowd of critical cheers.

Each novel since has ended up in serious contention for major genre awards, and each has run out on the high-wire, taking old shoes (genetic mutations, zombies) and dancing with extravagant, earned confidence in his inventiveness, never once missing a step.

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The Poisoned Island

poisonedislandTHE POISONED ISLAND is Lloyd Shepherd’s second novel (following THE ENGLISH MONSTER) set in 19th-century Great Britain and featuring Thames River Police Chief Charles Horton and his magistrate, John Harriott. Both combine history and fiction to create a stylish crime story steeped in its period and location.

On a gray morning in 1812, the British ship Solander returns from its journey to the far-off island of Otaheite (or Tahiti, as it was known at that time) and docks in London with a cargo full of breadfruit trees and other plants and seeds. These are all quickly transported to the greenhouses and laboratories of the London Royal Society, whose president financed the voyage.

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The Setup Man

setupmanTHE SETUP MAN is the first book in a potential series starring Major League relief pitcher Johnny Adcock. Written by T.T. Monday (obviously a pseudonym; the copyright is assigned to one Nick Taylor) in the first person, this relatively brief tale is very good at setting up (sorry) the scene and action.

Adcock isn’t a busy man, even by relief-pitching standards. He’s the guy who comes in and pitches to one, maybe two, hitters before the closer comes out. This gives him a lot of time to think. And when he’s on the road, there’s still a lot of down time for the players. So on the side he undertakes little detecting gigs, mostly following players’ wives to see if they’re cheating, that sort of thing.

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Trouble in Mind: The Collected Stories, Volume 3

troubleinmindThriller author Jeffery Deaver doesn’t have to bother with short stories. His popularity is such that his name on any novel — be it a stand-alone or one of his ongoing series — guarantees it will be a national best-seller.

Fortunately, like many other popular genre authors, Deaver remains fond of the short fiction format, as evidenced by his two previous collections (2003’s TWISTED and 2006’s MORE TWISTED) and now TROUBLE IN MIND: THE COLLECTED STORIES, VOLUME 3, half of whose contents are appearing in print for the first time.

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No Hero

noheroCreepy twin girls, a secret government agency, monsters, aliens, a sword-wielding redhead and the magic wars of the 1970s. Have I got your attention yet? If so, you are about to enter the world of NO HERO, with a tagline of “What would Kurt Russell do?” An amalgam of science fiction and cop drama, this debut novel from Jonathan Wood is sure to please the BOOKGASM crowd, and with its eye-catching cover, it only gets weirder. And it’s now in mass-market paperback from Titan Books.

Arthur Wallace, an Oxford police detective on the trail of a serial killer, stumbles into a world he never knew existed: the agency referred to as only MI37. Think of it as a literary TORCHWOOD, minus all the sex and DOCTOR WHO references. The killer he has been tracking down all these months is actually a member of the group, whose members have been fighting the tentacled monsters known as the Progeny.

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Hammer Films’ Psychological Thrillers, 1950-1972

hammerthrillersWith HAMMER FILMS’ PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS, you know David Huckvale has done his job when I fill up my Amazon Wish List with titles I don’t yet own and move those that I do and haven’t seen — several found on THE ICONS OF SUSPENSE COLLECTION — to the top of my DVD viewing pile.

When people think of Hammer, they think “horror”; some misinformed fans don’t even realize the legendary UK studio made anything but fright films. Thrillers, it did even better — at least that’s my purely subjective view, but Huckvale would seem to agree, calling them “more than catchpenny essays in suspense.”

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coldbrookHey, you know what you don’t hear much about? Zombies from other dimensions. Tim Lebbon’s COLDBROOK is here to scratch that itch.

Deep under the Appalachian mountains, a super-safe — really, triple-super-safe — laboratory is home to a gateway to an alternate version of our world. Protections in place zap any living thing that comes on through. But, see, there’s the rub, right? Any living thing. When some tattered undead human shambles through and snacks on a scientist, surely it’s okay, because protocol demands an instant lockdown, closing the lab tight to prevent a spread.

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