Shock Totem #10 (Jan 2016)
- Closing for Submissions
- Shock Totem Returns!
- Apex Publications Acquires Shock Totem Book Line
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 8
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 7
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 6
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 5
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 4
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 3
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 2
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Tag Archives: Chizine Publications
Every year at the World Horror Convention and many other horror and sci-fi/fantasy and comic conventions, there’s at least one if not more panels devoted to the topic of vampires in fiction—what’s happening to them, what fans have enjoyed as well as scorned in previous years, the history of vampires, why they’re still so popular, and usually, what the fate of vampires is; that is to say, what will become of vampires in the future?
A few years ago I had the chance to attend a library discussion on the subject that included authors Tanya Huff and Bram Stoker expert Elizabeth Miller. It proved to be a lively and engaging debate that ended with the assertion that someone somewhere would always find something new and exciting to do with vampires despite some of the more traditionally disliked works among purists and hardcore fans (*cough* Twilight *cough*). At the time of the discussion, the work that many pointed to on the panel as being the next great vampire book was Justin Cronin’s The Passage, which incidentally is great if you haven’t read it, despite the sheer volume of the work.
One of the works to stand out for me in the last few years is Enter, Night, by Canadian author Michael Rowe. The book takes place in small-town Ontario, which in some ways provides the best backdrop for the story because of the isolation mingled with the First Nations mythology incorporated into the plot.
Although the vampire panels at last year’s World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City were great, and it was a real treat to have a special presentation from Bram Stoker’s great grand-nephew, Dacre Stoker, this year’s World Horror panel left a bit to be desired, at least for me. Moderator and vampire author Nancy Kilpatrick did ask wonderful questions, though, and each of the panelists brought something interesting to the table, particularly Les Klinger, who always makes good contributions as he’s something of a treasure trove of vampire lore; but perhaps because it was held in New Orleans, which has such a history with vampires (and not just with Anne Rice), I felt a tad let down.
There was some discussion at the end of the panel about what everyone thought was the future of vampires in horror fiction and what would be the next big thing. Right now, we’re in a post-Twilight cycle and despite the raging popularity of shows like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries (including its spin-off, The Originals), zombies are the big thing now, it seems, although they’re slowly starting to taper off in preparation for the next big trend.
One of the panelists mentioned we were going to see more science-related plots in vampire books, which brought to mind thoughts of the hugely successful series starting with The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, which has more of a scientific influence in the vampire aspects. It’s hard to predict what the next really big vampire novel will be.
Despite the continued success of our fanged friends in paranormal romance, more authors in the subgenre are moving away from vampires for their next series not only as a way to branch out and make sure they’re not typecast as being purely vampire fiction writers, but also because their vampy fare won’t sell well forever.
What do you think will be the next big trend in vampire fiction?
I first heard the name Mehitobel Wilson during the historic Shock Totem John Skipp interview of 2009, which first appeared in Shock Totem #1. Skipp is a walking Rolodex of information, and hers was a name that was mentioned a few times during the phone call. I added her work to my list of things to seek out.
I finally procured a copy of her collection, Dangerous Red, and now see why Skipp touted it so heavily. Wilson doesn’t just kick ass, she straps on gigantic Herman Munster-style boots with razored cleats and stomps your ass. It is a brilliant collection of fresh dark fiction and then some.
While I liked most of the stories, I will only name check a few. “Cut Glass” is a wondrous ghost story. “Madeline in Effigy” gives us new reasons to second-guess the vain. “Blind in the House of the Headsman” is a gory, sexually-depraved surreal sketch…maybe. “The Mannerly Man” has done its best to make politeness a thing to be fearful of. Then there is my absolute favorite of the collection, “Strays,” which takes on the issue of homelessness and sprinkles it with enough dread and disturbing imagery to give you nightmares for weeks.
Wilson’s prose is quick and artful, the images and ideas strong and haunting. I look forward to reading more from her.
When I came across a copy of his chapbook Redemption Roadshow, I picked it up. Ochse writes in a clean style, and his characters are aching and have a depth you can immediately connect with. This story concerns Dolan Gibb, an Arizona highway patrolman who discovers you can’t outrun guilt and that the past will always catch up. Dolan discovers a group—almost a sideshow troupe—that seem ever present at roadside memorial shrines. Among them is the “Long Cool Woman,” a medium who bridges the space between the living and the dead, with unexpected consequences.
This short tale is so packed with grippingly heavy images, I found myself thinking about it for days after I had finished it.
I also recently rectified the fact that I am sadly under-read in the Tim Lebbon category.
I had read The Nature of Balance, and loved its dark dreamy images and language. When my friend, Simon, recommended The Thief of Broken Toys to me, I listened. I’m glad I did.
In this novella, Lebbon explores the deepening shades of grief and how loss is a thing of many facets. Ray is a broken man, slowly drowning in a self-made sea of loss and alienation. His only son has died and his wife has left him. Every day is a weighted exercise in existence. He comes to believe through honoring promises made to the dead, he can win back the slivers of time and love lost. He begins with the promises to fix his son’s damaged playthings. He then meets the Thief of Broken Toys, who helps in ways unimaginable and teaches him things that can’t be unlearned.
And then things start to change.
Lebbon has created a heartbreaking story with The Thief of Broken Toys. The loss and longing of Ray are painted so adeptly that I felt that heaviness in my chest, tears threatening to show themselves. Very subtle in its horror, but it is indeed there. One of the best, I’ve read this year. Available from Chizine Publications.