Best of 2011: Shock Totem Staff Picks

As we enter 2012, let’s take a quick look back at some of our favorite things (that we could actually remember) from 2011.

FAVORITE SMALL PRESS NOVEL/NOVELLA/NOVELETTE:

Ken’s Pick

Skullbelly, by Ronald Malfi

Mercedes’s Picks

Bear in a Muddy Tutu, by Cole Alpaugh


“Map of Seventeen,” by Christopher Barzak

John’s Pick

The Damned Highway, by Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas

Nick’s Pick

Animosity, by James Newman

FAVORITE ANTHOLOGY/COLLECTION:

Ken’s Pick

Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King

Sarah’s Pick

The Zombie Feed, Vol. 1, Edited by Jason Sizemore

FAVORITE MAINSTREAM NOVEL/NOVELLA/NOVELETTE:

Mercedes’s Pick

Mrs. Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

John’s Pick

There Is No Year, by Blake Butler

Nick’s Pick

11/22/63, by Stephen King

Sarah’s Picks

Tie between Treachery in Death and New York to Dallas, by J.D. Robb

FAVORITE MOVIE:

Ken’s Pick

Red State

Mercedes’s Pick

Hugo

John’s Pick

The Muppets

Sarah’s Pick

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

FAVORITE DISCOVERY:

Ken’s Pick

The brilliant work of Darrell Schweitzer

Mercedes’s Pick

Gemmy Butterfly Collection™

John’s Pick

The Memphis Morticians

Nick’s Pick

The Parlor Mob

Sarah’s Pick

Lie to Me

FAVORITE ALBUM:

Ken’s Pick

Dystopia, by Iced Earth

John’s Pick

Bad as Me, by Tom Waits

Nick’s Pick

Thirteen, by http://www.megadeth.com

Unfortunately, for various reasons, we couldn’t all give picks for certain categories. I didn’t read a single novel last year that actually came out in 2011, for instance. So no Novel pick from me. Sarah didn’t read any small-press novels/novellas/novelettes that came out in 2011, so no pick from her.

And the old gray matter just failed us on other things. Which of course means right after this goes live the answers will become clear…

Anyway, as you can see, we have varied tastes that extend well beyond horror. Check out some of our picks; you’ll probably discover something great.

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Help!

I’m looking for some help.

Do you have old 80s pulpy-horror or SF paperbacks and mags? If so, I’m looking for examples of the ads contained in these books and magazines. I’m interested in the more unique ads.

The reasons for this will be revealed soon.

If you can take pictures or scan some, I’d greatly appreciate it. Or if you know of a website that has this stuff, please let me know. You can e-mail them to me here.

Thanks!

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The Armageddon Chord

It’s Armageddon time again, boys and girls! This time brought our way by a scheming corporate scumbag and his equally vile archaeologist toadie. Festus Baustone is THE big cheese. In the corporate ocean, he is the top fish. No one messes with him; he gets what he wants at any and all costs. He employs Helmut Hartkopf, a badly scarred Egyptologist, to unearth a fabled relic that would usher in the End Times as well as grant the dying gazillionaire immortality. Helmut succeeds in finding the artifact, a piece of ancient music written in hieroglyphics by Satan himself, that when played will open the clanging gates of Hell and allow all its populace to spill forth and run amok.

Enter Kirk Vaisto, critically touted “Guitar God” of the modern age.

Kirk, a humble and nice enough fellow, is about to have his humble and nice enough life torn asunder. Festus and Helmut decide to rope him into a ploy to translate and play the evil song and open up a can of Hell-on-Earth™ on an unsuspecting world. That is the basic premise at work here.

The biggest mistake one could make with The Armageddon Chord, Jeremy Wagner’s debut novel, would be to take it too seriously. Doing that would no doubt cause one’s brow to furrow a bit and also leech the fun from the novel. The characters are great and purposefully over the top. They are loving caricatures based on some of Wagner’s favorites from page and screen. Helmut Hartkopf is so very obviously a mishmash of Major Toht from the Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost Ark and Vladis Grutas from Hannibal Rising. Festus Baustone being an amalgamation of all the wealthiest, pompous douchebags we read about in Forbes. Our hero, Kirk Vaisto, is as blatant a homage that anyone versed in great guitarist would recognize it—Kirk Hammett and Steve Vai, if you need it spelled out.

Jeremy knows the ins and outs of the music end of things, being as he served as a guitarist for the grindcore band Broken Hope and is currently the Riffmaster General for the groove/death-metal band Lupara. He knows his shit.

With The Armageddon Chord Wagner has crafted a love letter to biblical/supernatural adventure works, drizzling them with numerous musical references and nudges. Jeremy describes it as “Crossroads meets The Da Vinci Code.” I can get behind that synopsis.

(And for all you kiddies out there, by Crossroads he means the bad-ass 80’s blues film, and not the tepid Britney Spears vehicle from a few years ago.)

I actually think this is quite a daring debut, in that the man is a horror writer and the debut novel he hands us is…well, barely horror. It has more in common with action/thrillers than monsters and gore. I know in my heart that Jeremy will deliver those to us as well, in the not too distant future, but the The Armageddon Chord is not that kind of book. It is, however, a fun and quick read and not a shabby way for the guy to stick his toes in the murky water.

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50 Unexplainable Black and White Photos

It’s nice to know that people have always been bizarre.  Follow this link for 50 old-timey photos that will make you ponder.  A lot.

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