Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Indeed

hpcursedchildPredictably, the release of HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD, the rehearsal script for the play of the same name currently running in London, generated passionate fervor not seen since, well, the release of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS nine years ago. Midnight release parties, fans decked out in fancy dress, sorting games, and 2.5 million copies sold in the first day.

And yet … in our age of disposability, the rosy glow wears off ever more quickly. Collectively speaking, we’re like a cat that meows persistently at a closed door. You know that cat, right? You rush to open the door only to have the cat stand in exactly the same spot, staring at you like it had nothing to do with your decision to open that door. And why would you open it anyway? Weirdo. Then the cat flicks its tail and flounces off to find a box in which to sit and from which to glare menacingly at you.

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Star Trek’s Still as Relevant on the 50th Anniversary

startrekbeyondDave Marinaccio is the best-selling author of All I Really Need To Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek. Published in 1994 and still in print, the book is drawn from his long career in the advertising business. Here, as the franchise celebrates its 50th anniversary on Sept. 8, Marinaccio discusses 10 important lessons the venerable sci-fi series of movies and television has taught him.

The 50th anniversary of the launch of Star Trek is this September. Fifty years after William Shatner made his first “captain’s log,” the power of Star Trek is felt across generations. Just this summer, the 13th Star Trek movie was released and has grossed over $231 million to date. It’s pretty clear: Star Trek is here to stay.

So what is it about Star Trek that captures the hearts of millions of people, decade after decade?

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Who Is the Monster and Who Is the Man?: An Analysis of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

frankensteindeltoroFrankenstein as a massive, green, lumbering dope with giant screws in his neck makes for a Halloween icon. The guy was even a friendly goofball in the 1960s television show THE MUNSTERS. But the original Frankenstein wasn’t a monster, at least not the one you might expect. He was Victor Frankenstein, the protagonist of Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN; OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS, whose subtitle gives you an idea of the book’s themes. Frankenstein is so enamored of the natural sciences and so keen on charting new territory that he collects leftover human parts and figures out how to create a living being with them.

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10 Classics to Read When the World Seems Too Bleak

frankensteindeltoroSince I learned how to read, books have been where I’ve turned for consolation, hope, and a clarifying dose of perspective. Lately, my solace seems to come from classic literature. Classics remind me how resilient humans are, how much beauty exists in the world. They remind me of the cyclical nature of human history. They illuminate all that humans have survived—insane rulers, endless wars of all kinds, devastating plagues, more devastating plagues … yet another devastating plague. We have survived it before, and we can survive it all over again.

1. THE ILIAD by Homer (maybe)
That this poem, set in the 10th year of the Trojan War, has survived thousands of years provides hope in itself. Gruesome battle scenes play counterpoint to moments of grace, as when a Greek and a Trojan honor their past friendship by refusing to strike each other down. Woven throughout the poem are timeless snapshots familiar in any time and place – the pleasure of a cozy sleep, a satisfying meal, children at play.

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Engineering a Future

czerneda-gulfSince 1997, Canadian author/editor Julie E. Czerneda has shared her love and curiosity about living things through her science fiction, writing about shapechanging semi-immortals, terraformed worlds, salmon researchers and the perils of power. Her 14th novel from DAW Books was her debut fantasy, A TURN OF LIGHT, winner of the 2014 Aurora Award for Best English Novel, and now Book One of her NIGHT’S EDGE series; Book Two, A PLAY OF SHADOW, is a finalist for this year’s Aurora. In the meantime, Julie’s presently back in science fiction, writing the finale to her CLAN CHRONICLES series. Book One of her new REUNIFICATION trilogy, THIS GULF OF TIME AND STARS, is now available. Here, she discusses the basis for its creation. (Spoiler: It’s right in the novel’s title.)

The beautiful, or scary, part of being a writer or any creative is how everything you care about folds into the work. You may have heard me talk about my biology background and how I use it for aliens and worlds and curiosity. What you might not know is my other passion.

Space.

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6 Halloween-Ready New Releases Awaiting You to Treat Yourself

futuristicviolenceFUTURISTIC VIOLENCE AND FANCY SUITS by David Wong — Nightmarish villains with superhuman enhancements. An all-seeing social network that tracks your every move. Mysterious, smooth-talking power players who lurk behind the scenes. A young woman from the trailer park. And her very smelly cat. Together, they will decide the future of mankind. Get ready for a world in which anyone can have the powers of a god or the fame of a pop star, in which human achievement soars to new heights while its depravity plunges to the blackest depths. A world in which at least one cat smells like a seafood shop’s dumpster on a hot summer day.

asylumASYLUM by William Seabrook — This dramatic memoir recounts an eight-month stay at a Westchester mental hospital in the early 1930s. William Seabrook, a renowned journalist and explorer (the first to use the word “zombie” in an English text), voluntarily committed himself to an asylum for treatment of acute alcoholism. His sincere, self-critical appraisal of his experiences offers a highly interesting look at addiction and treatment in the days before Alcoholics Anonymous and other modern programs. This edition of the soul-baring narrative features a new graphic novel-style introduction by Joe Ollmann, who also created the cover art.

seizenightSEIZE THE NIGHT: NEW TALES OF VAMPIRIC TERROR edited by Christopher Golden — Before being transformed into romantic heroes and soft, emotional antiheroes, vampires were figures of overwhelming terror. Now, from some of the biggest names in horror and dark fiction, comes this collection of short stories that make vampires frightening once again. Edited by NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Christopher Golden and featuring all-new, blood-curdling stories from such contributors as Charlaine Harris, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Scott Smith, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Michael Kortya, Kelley Armstrong, Brian Keene, David Wellington, Seanan McGuire, and Tim Lebbon, the anthology is old-school vampire fiction at its finest.

youreavampireYOU’RE A VAMPIRE — THAT SUCKS!: A SURVIVAL GUIDE by “Count” Domerick Dicce — Being bitten by and turned into a vampire isn’t the glitz and glamor that Hollywood makes it out to be. In fact, one out of five newly turned vampires will succumb to a slew of easily avoidable and common pitfalls within their first few months as a nightwalker—tempting garlic-laced Italian food, silver jewelry, and anything with an SPF below 1,000 will have to go. As an answer to this tragic loss of undead life, this is the definitive how-to guide that just might save your pale, ice-cold skin. This helpful tome will cover everything from Vampire 101 — such as hunting, feeding, and getting used to your new powers — to Vampire Graduate Studies — such as coffin selection, the ghoulish world of vampiric social hierarchy, and the universal Laws of the Vampire.

madnesscthulhuTHE MADNESS OF CTHULHU edited by S.T. Joshi — Sixteen stories inspired by the 20th century’s great master of horror, H.P. Lovecraft, and his acknowledged masterpiece, AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS, in which an expedition to the desolation of Antarctica discovers evidence of an ancient ruin built by horrific creatures at first thought long-dead, until death strikes the group. All but two of the stories are original to this edition, and those reprints are long-lost works by science fiction masters Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Silverberg. Others include John Shirley, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Melanie Tem and Harry Turtledove.

howzombiesHOW ZOMBIES CONQUERED POPULAR CULTURE: THE MULTIFARIOUS WALKING DEAD IN THE 21ST CENTURY by Kyle William Bishop — Since the early 2000s, popular culture has experienced a “Zombie Renaissance,” beginning in film and expanding into books, television, video games, theatre productions, phone apps, collectibles and toys. Zombies have become allegorical figures embodying cultural anxieties, but they also serve as models for concepts in economics, political theory, neuroscience, psychology, computer science and astronomy. They are powerful, multifarious metaphors representing fears of contagion and doom but also isolation and abandonment, as well as troubling aspects of human cruelty, public spectacle and abusive relationships. This critical examination of the 21st-century zombie phenomenon explores how and why the public imagination has been overrun by the undead horde.

Get them at Amazon.

My Top 10 Horror Stories

artofhorrorFew know horror quite like Stephen Jones. Therefore, he’s a natural to compile THE ART OF HORROR: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY for Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, just in time for Halloween! Also just in time for Halloween: this list of the renowned anthologist’s 10 favorite spooky short stories of all time.

I suspect like many other writers and editors in my genre, I sometimes lay awake at night constructing the perfect horror anthology in my mind. Compiling a good anthology is no easy thing. An editor has to worry not only about which authors and which stories to select, but also how to put the book together so that the stories flow — for example, you don’t want two stories with similar themes next to each other, and you need to vary the word lengths and styles so that you retain the reader’s interest throughout. Here are 10 very different terrors that I would have no hesitation recommending to anyone interested in discovering the diversity of the horror.

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We Are the Abyss

iamabyssEach of us is born into the Birth World. It is a place where we can interpret and affect the existence of others, where all of us have influence over the course of reality. The duration of your consciousness in the Birth World is based on your Mortal Path: the journey that we all take as we wander through the shared observable reality. During these journeys our personalities form, continually feeding the pool of subconscious thought and memory that defines us. As we age these pools deepen, preparing for the inevitable deterioration of our physical form to welcome the consciousness that remains.

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How FRIGHTFULLY EVER AFTER Got That Way

FEA Cover New softer orangeNick DeWolf’s novel FRIGHTFULLY EVER AFTER is an urban fantasy which blends sci/fi, horror, action, and just a touch of dark humor. Released by Fey Publishing last month, it is now available on Amazon in ebook and paperback. Here, DeWolf recounts his book’s terrifying birth.

They warned us. Right when we got off the bus. We were too busy giggling and laughing, getting to know the people who’d flown in the rinky-dink little plane with us. You know the kind, with two prop engines that sound like they’re ready to just give up the good fight at any moment? It was thrilling. It added to the island’s mystique. When the little van drove us and two other couples through the twisting mountain roads, so thin at times that you could look straight down to the red shingle roofs below, our adrenaline was pumping. By the time we got the resort, our palms were sweaty. Half from fear, half from excitement. And the Island air, the palm tree shade, being surrounded on all sides by Caribbean ocean so blue that the horizon just melts away in the distance. It was so much to take in. That’s when they warned us, but we were too distracted to listen.

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3 New Examples That Prove the More, the Merrier

dollcollectionAnthologies, omnibuses, collections —  whatever you call them, it’s no secret that we at BOOKGASM love them. While they tend not to sell well, we’re thankful the industry still allows them to slip their way to the shelves. Here are three new entries this season worth your support, with publisher-provides synopses.

THE DOLL COLLECTION edited by Ellen Datlow — From Tor Books, this anthology is designed to frighten and delight, featuring all-original dark tales of dolls from bestselling and award-winning authors compiled by one of the top editors in the field, a treasured toy box of all-original dark stories about dolls of all types, including everything from puppets and poppets to mannequins and baby dolls. The collection is illustrated with photographs of dolls taken by Datlow and other devoted doll collectors from the science fiction and fantasy field. The result is a star-studded collection exploring one of the most primal fears of readers of dark fiction everywhere, and one that every reader will want to add to their own collection.

rossmacdonaldROSS MACDONALD: FOUR NOVELS OF THE 1950S edited by Tom Nolan — Revered by such contemporary masters as Sue Grafton, George Pelecanos and James Ellroy, Ross Macdonald (the pseudonym of Kenneth Millar) brought to the crime novel new levels of social realism and psychological depth, while honing a unique gift for intricately involving mystery narratives. For his centennial year, The Library of America inaugurates its Macdonald edition with four novels from the 1950s, all featuring his incomparable protagonist, private investigator Lew Archer. Here are THE WAY SOME PEOPLE DIE, a twisted journey through Los Angeles high and low; THE BARBAROUS COAST, an exploration of crime and corruption in the movie business; THE DOOMSTERS, a breakthrough novel of madness and self-destruction; and THE GALTON CASE, the mythically charged and deeply personal book that Macdonald considered a turning point in his career. As a special feature, this volume also includes five pieces in which Macdonald reveals the autobiographical background of his books and describes his distinctive approach to crime writing.

uncannyreaderTHE UNCANNY READER: STORIES FROM THE SHADOWS edited by Marjorie Sandor — From the deeply unsettling to the possibly supernatural, these thirty-one border-crossing stories from around the world explore the uncanny in literature, and delve into our increasingly unstable sense of self, home, and planet. The book opens with “The Sand-man,” E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1817 tale of doppelgangers and automatons — a tale that inspired generations of writers and thinkers to come. Stories by 19th- and 20th-century masters of the uncanny — including Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka and Shirley Jackson — form a foundation for 16 award-winning contemporary authors, established and new, whose work blurs the boundaries between the familiar and the unknown. Contemporary authors include Aimee Bender, Jonathon Carroll, Kelly Link, Steven Millhauser and Joyce Carol Oates.

Buy them at Amazon.

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