Author Archives: James Aquilone

About James Aquilone

James Aquilone lives in Staten Island, New York. His fiction is forthcoming or has appeared in Galaxy's Edge, Flash Fiction Online, Weird Tales Magazine, and DarkFuse's Horror d’oeuvres, among other publications. His non-fiction has appeared in SF Signal, Hellnotes, and Den of Geek. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association. Visit him online at jamesaquilone.com

Secrets/Outcast

JournalStone’s DoubleDown series was inspired by the old Ace double novels, which paired veteran authors with up-and-comers. Past DoubleDown series have paired Gord Rollo and Rena Mason, Lisa Morton and Eric J. Guignard, Joe McKinney and Sanford Allen, and Harry Shannon and Brett J. Talley.

In the fifth installment, John R. Little and Mark Allan Gunnells team up to tell the story of Karen Richardson. The stand-alone novellas share a prologue, but that’s about it.

In Little’s Secrets, Karen is able to stop time, though she can’t control when it happens or for how long. While time is frozen, she enters her neighbors’ homes and discovers their dirty secrets (and they’re all dirty). During one of her excursions, she meets another person able to slip through time, Bobby Jersey. At first she’s intrigued by the boy, but in time it’s clear he’s psychotic.

The premise is intriguing and Little does a great job ratcheting up the suspense as the Bobby Jersey character gets creepier and creepier. The ending feels a bit anti-climatic and predictable, but it’s still a fun ride.

In Outcast by Mark Allan Gunnells, Karen is a college freshman with no social life, no boyfriend, and the power of telekinesis. (Think a well-adjusted Carrie.) She befriends an older witch who helps Karen harness her powers, but the woman is keeping a bunch of deadly secrets. Bobby Jersey is here, too, but unlike in Secrets he’s a sweetheart. Still, he’s just as strange as his counterpart; maybe even stranger.

Whereas Secrets feels more like a dark thriller, Outcast plays out more like a paranormal romance. That’s not a knock on the story. It’s definitely a page-turner.

Secrets/Outcast is due out August 22nd.

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ATTACK! of the B-Movie Monsters: Night of the Gigantis

When it came to movie monsters in the early atomic age, bigger was always better. From Godzilla to The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms to Tarantula and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, the formula was the same: big monsters, small budget. It was a head-on collision of science fiction and horror, and creature features have never been the same.

The anthology ATTACK! of the B-Movie Monsters: Night of the Gigantis, from Grinning Skull Press, returns to that golden age of schlock with 21 tales of gigantism gone wrong.

But these aren’t your grandfather’s big monsters. Night of the Gigantis features some of the most unusual and unexpected B-movie creatures you’ll ever come across. There are acid slugs, overgrown sea lions, enormous catfish, oversized tapeworms, tentacular potatoes, and even a killer pet rock.

Highlights of the 340-page collection, edited by Harrison Graves, include Jonah Buck’s suspenseful “The Worm People Want Your Limbs,” Brent Abell’s playful “Stone Cold Horror from the Stars,” Kerry G.S. Lipp’s absurd “BFF,” and Jay Wilburn’s irreverent “Giant Mutant Tiger Slugs vs. Salty Angel Gimp Warriors in Leather.”

The anthology perfectly captures the cheesiness and fun of those old creature features. It’s all there: the irresponsible scientists, the sexy (or is it sexist?) heroines, the clichéd dialogue, the idiotic plans. But it’s clear the authors wrote with their tongues firmly in their cheeks and that’s the book’s saving grace. Where it falters is in its over-reliance on those well-worn giant monster movie tropes. Don’t expect too many surprises. But if you miss those big monsters of yore, pretend you’re at the drive-in, crack open ATTACK! of the B-Movie Monsters: Night of the Gigantis, suspend your disbelief, and you’ll have a blast.

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Hot in December

A thriller is supposed to thrill. It’s supposed to keep you flipping those pages. Make you ask, “What’s going to happen next?” Joe R. Landsdale’s Hot in December does all that. In spades. At 100 pages, the novella moves like a speeding bullet through the warm East Texas night.

Tom Chan has a dilemma. He’s witnessed a fatal hit-and-run and he wants to testify against the scum who turned his next-door neighbor into roadkill. Problem is, the driver’s a vindictive gangster who doesn’t believe in due process. Nonetheless, Tom doesn’t back down. But he’s not going to trust the cops to save his bacon. So he enlists two old war buddies, Cason and Booger—the type of ass-kicking, whacked-out characters readers have come to expect in a Lansdale story—to help him deal with the lowlife and his goons. What ensues is a tension-filled battle of wits and brawn leading to a bloody showdown between the good guys and the bad guys.

Hot in December has all the ingredients of a great Joe Lansdale story: break-neck plotting; honest, raw dialogue; colorful characters; and those amazing metaphors that only Joe can whip up. The story dovetails nicely with his Hap and Leonard stories (in fact the duo even gets a mention) and is sure to please any fans of that series as well as any fans of honest-to-goodness thrillers.

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