Tag Archives: Maurice Broaddus

Psychos and the Appalachian Undead

Some staff news, ya’ll! Cue banjo!

This coming October, if not sooner, Apex Publications is set to release Appalachian Undead, a new anthology dedicated to the walking dead. I contributed a quirky tale called “Long Days to Come.”

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The brilliant artwork was created by Cortney Skinner. Quite a lineup, too: Elizabeth Massie, Jonathan Maberry, Tim Waggoner, S. Clayton Rhodes*, Maurice Broaddus, Bev Vincent, Tim Lebbon, Steve Rasnic Tem, John Skipp* & Dori Miller, and Gary A. Braunbeck, to name a few more than a few.

If you’d like to check out the full table of contents, click here.

You can also pre-order via the above link (and get 5% off if you tweet the link), but before you do, check out this groovy contest they’re running for those who do pre-order.

As always from Apex Publications, you can expect quality.

Not to be outdone, Mercedes and John each have stories—“Murder for Beginners” and “Intruder,” respectively—in Psychos: Serial Killers, Depraved Madmen, and the Criminally Insane, the latest slab—and I do mean slab; these things are massive—in an ongoing series edited by the inimitable John Skipp which has thus far included Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead, Werewolves and Shapeshifters: Encounters with the Beasts Within, and Demons: Encounters with the Devil and His Minions, Fallen Angels, and the Possessed.

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Psychos is due out in September via Black Dog & Leventhal, and features new and classic fiction from the likes of Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Jack Ketchum, Joe R. Lansdale, Lawerence Block, Neil Gaiman, Leslianne Wilder*, Violet LeVoit, Weston Ochse*, Kathe Koja, and many more.

If you order now, Amazon has it for $10.07. That’s 608 pages for $10! No-brainer.

We hope you’ll buy both!

* Shock Totem alumni.

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New York, New Psalm

Dark Faith, edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon, is one of the newer anthologies put out by Apex Publications. It features 26 short stories and five poems that attempt to tackle the intricacies of faith. I haven’t read much of it, and as it is with most anthologies, I won’t finish it all at once; but I look forward to slowly picking its bones clean.

The first story in Dark Faith is “Ghosts of New York,” by Jennifer Pelland. I will sing praise for this woman until its borderline creepy. (I’m harmless, I assure you.) Her anthology Unwelcome Bodies is one of the best I’ve ever read. Sure, some stories didn’t blow me away, but many floored me. Read “The Last Stand of the Elephant Man,” and you’ll understand. “Ghosts of New York” is not equal to that tale, but it is quite good.

The story revolves around the World Trade Center tragedy, particularly the ghosts of the jumpers, those victims that chose not to perish in fire or the collapse of either tower. The ghosts are forced to relive the terrifying free fall and final impact over and over again. It’s a heart-wrenching tale, one of horror, tragedy, and discovery. And its beautifully written.

Since originally writing this for my blog some months ago, “Ghosts of New York” has been chosen as a Nebula finalist. In celebration of this, Apex has put the story online for free. You can read the haunting tale here.

Next up in Dark Faith is Brian Keene’s “I Sing a New Psalm.” My first experience with Keene’s writing was his short story collection Fear of Gravity. I wasn’t blown away. I loved the final story, “The Garden Where My Rain Grows,” it more than lived up to the praise bestowed upon him, but the other stories just didn’t have the same impact with me. Decent, but maybe my expectations were too high. “I Sing a New Psalm,” however, is a very good tale if a bit obvious.

The story is told in 44 short bursts and follows a man of uncertain faith through his ultimate acceptance and subsequent denial of God. It’s a story that explores the puzzling contradiction of cruelty and selfishness from a so-called loving, omniscient god. Something we’ve all questioned. Keene does it justice.

Though I haven’t read it completely, Dark Faith is worth buying. Anything Apex puts out is worth buying. Dig it!

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Darkness Dwells in Harlan County

Darkness dwells in Harlan County, since the dawn of time and through the end of days. The people are wonderfully strong of will, insular, and prone to insanity or possession. The mountains and mines are shadowy monoliths, their presence always felt even when not actually seen. Harlan County Horrors is a collection of twelve stories, delving into the rich horrific literary tradition of the isolated mining community.

The anthology starts with “Harlan County,” by TL Trevaskis, which features some beautiful poetic descriptions of the town, and an entertaining ride through adventure and madness. Two superb examples of dark faerie tales and modern folklore follow in Alethea Kontis’s “The Witch of Black Mountain,” where a girl in an unfortunate circumstance meets a dark power on the mountain, and Debbie Kuhn’s “The Power of Moonlight,” a tale of magic and love and the price of their misuse.

We then go to the distant future with the seriously sci-fi “Hiding Mountain: Our Future in Apples,” by Earl P. Dean, where despite the changes in tech and society, the hard life of the Harlan miner stays the same. The book begins to hit its stride with Geoffrey Girard’s “Psychomachia,” an apocalyptic story of Harlan’s past and evil beneath the earth. The prose gets a little heavy at times, but it’s appropriate for the scale of human devastation depicted. I read this story a few times, and enjoyed it more with each read.

“Yellow Warbler” by Jason Sizemore is my favorite of this collection. It’s an excellent sci-fi tale about age and wisdom versus xenophobic ignorance. Preacher Jeremiah and his world captured my interest and left me hungry for more.

Another story of future Harlan comes in the form of Jeremy C. Shipp’s “Kingdom Come,” which tells of an authoritarian dystopia that would give nightmares to Orwell. “Trouble Among the Yearlings,” by Maurice Broaddus, returns us to the unforgotten mines with his story of kin, vengeance, and coming of age in blood and darkness.

Story number nine is “Spirit Fire.” Robby Sparks spins a classically entertaining adventure about a small-town cop standing against ancient evil. Strong characters, exciting climax, solid story. Ronald Kelly presents an awesomely hilarious splatter-fest in the name of “The Thing at the Side of the Road.” Good monster, cool phrasings, it put a psychotic smirk on my face the whole way through. Excellent.

The Chiang-shih comes to Harlan in “Inheritance,” by Stephanie Lenz. It has intrigue and gore, a multi-cultural concept while keeping the small town vibe, and some disturbingly incestuous threads, all woven together to create quite the memorable tale. The last story is Steven L. Shrewsbury’s “Greater of Two Evils,” a fun and strong ending to the book; it is a Call of Cthulu-esque adventure, an outsider’s look at the county’s pre-history.

I always expect excellence from Apex Publications, and was not disappointed with Harlan County Horrors. I had some minor issues with some of the stories—some monologuing here, too weird or confusing there, an occasional lame character name or a strain on disbelief—but all of the stories had wonderful concepts and some great lines, good impact and humor. Over half the stories are very strong and positively memorable, classic ideas with unique twists. Harlan County Horrors is another quality product from Apex, exactly what I look for from a small-press anthology.

Originally appeared in Shock Totem #1, July 2009.

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