Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Review: AJ Kirby - Paint This Town Red

Time for another book review.

AJ Kirby’s Paint This Town Red came to my attention after it made the shortlist of The Guardian Books not-entirely-serious Not The Booker awards.  It surprised me because the synopsis was clearly of a horror novel and horror novels are normally greeted with the same enthusiasm as finding dog shit on an expensive shoe in literary circles.  I picked it up because it sounded interesting from the reader reviews: population cut off on an island, man-eating panthers and a shark that makes Jaws look like a minnow.

Those reader reviews—total bullshit.

The book is best described as if Stephen King went to Lindisfarne, where it’s wet, miserable and everyone has shit sex lives.  It wants to be a Koontz or King epic, but everybody’s a bit British and incompetent.  The source of supernatural evil is a bit crap.  It sends a shark (whoops, can’t swim on land), a sick panther (that doesn’t eat anyone) and a giant vulture that manages at best a score draw with a light aircraft.  Overall it’s more Fawlty Towers than The Overlook.

The Guardian's Sam Jordison gave the book a complete shellacking.

It’s not quite as bad as all that.  Despite the large cast of characters and extensive back story, it never felt a drag to read and I raced through it in a couple of days.  The book does have that important ‘page turner’ quality.  I also enjoyed how Kirby slowly revealed fragments of a past tragedy involving a mysterious doomsday cult through the recollections of his diverse cast.

Sadly, after an interesting setup, the book doesn’t maintain the early promise.  It doesn’t really come together.  The characters are well-drawn but remain static.  The supernatural threats turn out to be rather ineffectual and purposeless.  Eventually the book peters out in one of those annoying some-weird-shit-happens-and-that’s-it endings that are always a letdown.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

New Story - "Trent the Traitor"

One of the canards of horror is nothing is scarier than things left to the imagination.  There’s a germ of truth there, but too often writers use it as a convenient excuse to bugger off home early.  Look, here’s my spooky house—Woooh.  Here’s my scary atmosphere—Waaah.  Here’s my terrifying monster—Actually, you can create that yourself, because . . . Nothing is Scarier than the Imagination.

Um, yeah, right.  I didn’t realise I picked this horror story up from IKEA, or that I’d have to head out into the forest and chop the wood myself.

Sometimes it’s right for the story and other times the Fade to Black to preserve a reader’s delicate sensibilities can feel like a cop out.  Lovecraft famously left the finer details of his eldritch abominations to be filled in by the reader, usually because his protagonist’s mind had already disintegrated by that point, but there was at least enough for Chaosium to fill Call of Cthulhu bestiaries with some weird and wonderful critters.

If you’ve got an imagination you might as well use it.  Sometimes that’s what the reader is expecting and wants.  Especially in erotica, where drawing the curtain across before getting to the juicy squelchy parts is firmly disapproved of.

Hence this outpouring from the noxious regions of my mind:

“And not only with each other: Trent saw humans caught up in the bacchanalian frenzy.  The demons used them like toys made of flesh.  He watched as a plump demon with the glistening black skin of a leech embrace a muscular man.  The over-cushioned lips of her vagina sucked in the man’s penis, sucked, and the man’s skin was torn away like pink tissue sliding over a raw hunk of meat.  A fiend with the head of a fish rammed a cock the length and girth of a moray eel into the vagina of a petite little blonde girl doubled over in front of it.  It pushed hips forward and the belly, then whole body of the girl swelled up like a water-filled balloon, swelled up until her eyes bulged, swelled up until something ruptured and white froth tinged with pink poured from her mouth and she deflated like a punctured blow-up doll.  A skinny man struggled in the midst of a group of twisted little goblins.  They drove penises hard like pointed horns into his anus, his mouth, his ears, even his eye sockets.  They tore flesh from the man in ragged strips and wrapped the glistening red bundles of muscle around their cocks and masturbated with them.  A slack-faced woman lay wrapped in the tentacles of some kind of abomination with the upper body of a woman and lower body of a deep-sea nightmare aberration.  The demon’s sinuous arms terminated not in hands but in obscene appendages that resembled the mouths of lampreys.  She fastened them to the woman’s tits and mewled in delight as more of her tentacles slithered up between her captive’s bleeding labia.”

It was originally a two sentence description.  Then I thought, no, that’s not good enough.  They’ll want examples.

(Don’t ask where the examples came from.  I try not to think about it.)

The full story can be found here on Eka’s Portal.

Eka’s Portal is an online Vore community.  Most aspects of Vore don’t appeal to me as a fetish, but there is some crossover with some of the succubus/monster girl stories I write.  It also hits that Erotic Horror sweet spot where arousal, disgust and fear smoosh together in a big gooey ball.

It’s been a while since I posted anything there, so I thought a little hell-space story might make up for it and show I’m still writing and alive.  Enjoy!

As always, if you like the story and haven’t already picked them up, please consider giving some of my books a look.  You’ll like them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Reviews: Carlton Mellick III - Warrior Wolf Women of the Wastelands & The Menstruating Mall

My rant about the relevance of horror fiction nowadays is a perfect excuse to kick off some book reviews I’ve been meaning to post for a while without finding the time.  Yes, I’m another (sort of) horror writer writing about other horror books, but I’m also regarded as the great unwashed self-published slime by anyone who’s anyone. 

Ooh, someone’s chip on their shoulder is showing.

No community connections here.  Unless it’s one of my eXcessica/Literotica stable-mates, in which case I’ll put a ruddy big disclaimer at the top of the post.

First up some Bizarro from the mutton-chopped master of madness, Carlton Mellick III

Warrior Wolf Women of the Wasteland.

Okay, so this is where the hype comes from.  And it’s deserved.  An awesome ride that’s hugely entertaining as well as making mincemeat out of more serious books tackling similar themes.  I love the verve and confidence.  It’s like Mellick is saying, ‘Look, I can create a future world based off of McDonald’s Happy Meals, fill it with furry chicks, giant wolves and multi-armed mutants, and it will still have more to say than any number of serious, dull and downright miserable SF dystopias.’

In a post-apocalyptic future, survivors are living in a walled city surrounded by wasteland.  Authority is what you’d expect if a multinational fast food conglomerate bought the government, judiciary and police force.  There are troubles in happy-happy-we-will-fuck-you-up-if-you’re-not-smiling utopia.  Men are growing extra limbs and the women turn into wolves if they get too sexually aroused.  Just as with everything else defective in modern consumerism, when this happens the unfortunates are thrown out to fend for themselves in a wasteland where female werewolf biker gangs battle mutant armies led by a man with a giant hamburger for a head.

There’s gratuitous weird sex, furry apocalyptic bikers and all kinds of imaginative craziness, but throughout it all Mellick keeps a solid grasp on the fundamentals of plot and character.  Despite the odd building blocks, the story holds the reader’s attention without floating off in a cloud of nonsensical froth.  The only criticism I have is how eager the survivors were willing to throw in the furry bikers.  Mellick does give reasons for the survivor’s actions, but they didn’t seem that strong given how eager the wolf women were to kill them or worse.  It’s a minor blemish in an otherwise thoroughly entertaining read.

I’d love to see this made into a film, but as it would require every litigious corporate fast food behemoth to go out of business first, I suspect it might be a long time coming.  We can all do our part—don’t eat burgers, buy a vindaloo instead!

The Menstruating Mall

This is a shorter read.  Ten characters are trapped in a mall that appears to be menstruating.  Weird shit happens, some of them die, and then the mall and survivors start to change into something else.  Not as strong as Warrior Wolf Women as there isn’t much underpinning the story other than skewering some obvious stereotypes and being weird-as-fuck for the sake of being weird-as-fuck.  Fast, fun and inventive, but by the end of it I found myself sharing the same sentiments as one of the cast when they had their “Screw this, I’m outta here!” moment.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Succubus for Halloween picks up a review on Monster Librarian

It’s a little ironic.  Last post I was moaning about the lack of places to find reviews of horror books and then I find out one of my collections picked up a nice review on last month:

So this is the point where the sales take off . . . ?

Well, actually no.

The same thing happened when the same collection received a lovely write-up on the Horror Fiction Review.  It’s what I meant last week when I was talking about the difference between “for other fans” and “for other writers”.  Is the audience avid readers looking for the next book to read, or avid writers eager to see how their book will be received?  One is an expanding universe, the other a shrinking bubble.

That’s not a fault of sites like Horror Fiction Review and (If you know of any others, please plug them in the comments—I have a kindle, and it’s always hungry for fresh words), they’re doing a fantastic job.  It’s the reality of the world we live in.  If we can’t offer a compelling reason for people to put down their game controllers and TV remotes, then we scribblers of fiction don’t deserve to exist.  Harsh, but that’s how it is.

A review isn’t just an advertisement, it’s also valuable feedback, and especially important if—like me—you’re (sort of) self-published.  The great thing about having no snooty gatekeepers around is it means we can write whatever the hell we want to write.  The bad thing about having no gatekeepers around is there’s no one to stop us from walking out of the front door without any clothes on.  A positive review is a nice confidence boost.  It means I’m not deluded, I’m not wasting my time and I can write well enough to justify a seat at the table.

That’s not the end of it, though.  It’s an okay review rather than an “Ohmigod!  You must read this writer RIGHT NOW!” kind of review.  Being able to sit at the table without feeling like I’m dirty bum fresh from the street is nice, but being competent is not enough.  I’m not a Lovecraft, a Barker or a King.  I need to work harder on my craft and write better stories (while still keeping the same level of heat as a blazing hot porn film, because that’s my thang, and we all need a thang).

I also need to remember to send my other books out for review . . .

(and finish Succubus Summoning 201.  I know, I’m sorry)

Friday, November 09, 2012

Horror doesn’t need to be literary, but it needs to be horror.

I’ve been ruffling a few feathers again.

This Guardian article, “Horror: a genre doomed to literary hell?”, is exactly the sort of bunkum that gets written when literary types point their condescending noses at those horrible plebby “genres”.  It’s a nonsense argument.  Asking why horror isn’t more “literary” is like asking why Slayer don’t sound more like Coldplay.  They’re different beasts, with different aims.  Horror works best when it’s hitting the senses at a visceral level.  Sometimes it’s raw and not very pretty, but that’s fine so long as it evokes the right response in the reader.

That’s about as much of a rebuttal as needs to be written and it wasn’t the article but the clip-clopping of comments beneath it that dragged me out from under my bridge.  People offered up their lists of talented writers and argued this as evidence of horror fiction being in rude health.

I’m sorry, but this isn’t true.

It’s closed bubble thinking.  It’s one of the perversities of modern technology.  While the whole world is opened up to anyone with a keyboard, it’s easy to fall into little circles where shared thoughts and opinions are bounced around, amplified and magnified out of all proportion to their relevance to the rest of the world.

Step outside the bubble.  Who’s reading?  Who’s commenting?  Who’s reviewing?  Who’s recommending?

Who cares?

On my last visit to England I popped into my local branch of Waterstones.  Next to several shelves full of Twilight clones was the horror section.  The only books I saw by writers that hadn’t been fixtures on the horror shelves for at least two decades were Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Adam Nevill’s Apartment 16.

This is not a sign of health.

Step outside of the usual writer’s haunts and go clip-clopping into the tangled jungle of the World Wide Web.  Look for the places regular(ish) people hang out.  Look at how much is written about films, music, TV shows, computer games, anime.  Look at how little is written about books.

Even in The Guardian’s own book section.  Take a look at this thread recommending horror books to read for Halloween.  Spot a work that was written this century.

This is not a sign of health.

It’s not a mainstream thing either.  I have a fairly esoteric taste in music, yet if I want to find the best new death metal and black metal albums released there are plenty of online resources I can use to help me discover brilliant new bands.  Ditto for games and movies.  For horror books the best I’ve been able to manage is to slum around articles like this and see what gets recommended in the comments section.

That’s not to say there aren’t online resources.  Nick Cato and his team do a wonderful job with The Horror Fiction Review, there’s plenty of interesting stuff on the VanderMeer’s Weird Fiction Review, and there are also the websites of award givers like the HWA and BFS.  The crucial difference is these horror fiction resources are (mostly) written by writers, for other writers, while the others are written by fans, for other fans.  It’s crucial because the other media reviews don’t require me to disentangle the tainted web of who knows who to determine whether the recommendation/review/award is unbiased enough to be trustworthy.

This is not a sign of health.

We have a finite amount of leisure time and there are plenty of competing activities to devour it.  If we want people to read horror fiction we have to give them a compelling reason do so, otherwise they’re going to spend that time watching TV, going to see films or blowing zombie’s heads off on their Playstation.

Talk of horror becoming more “literary” raises the hairs on the back of my hands.  Trying to appease literary critics is a trap that has swallowed many a promising horror writer.  For me, the problem with a lot of modern horror is the writers are trying to court a literary audience that will never like, appreciate or understand them.  It’s like the hapless nerd of a teen movie trying to impress the prettiest, most popular girl in class when it’s obvious she’s a bitch and the right girl for him is the one hiding behind glasses and mousey hair.

This doesn’t mean horror fiction has to be shit, but first and foremost it needs to be aware of what it’s trying to do.  It’s a rollercoaster.  It’s a way for people to confront their fears from a position of safety.  It’s a spike in the heart rate, a prickle on the back on the neck, a lurking miasma of dread, a bowl of ice in the pit of the stomach—all from the comfort of the reader’s armchair.  The very good modern horror films and computer games know and provide this.

Horror fiction doesn’t need to become more literary, it needs to find and re-engage with an audience that, neglected, has turned to other genres and media for its thrills.  It needs to burst out of the bubble clique, grab readers by the throat and shout “Read Me!  Put down that remote and Read Me!  Put down that controller and Read Me!  Then go and tell all your friends to Read Me!  Because I’m the scariest, spookiest, creepiest, eeriest, most spine-tingling muthafucka you’ll ever spend an evening with.”

Sunday, November 04, 2012

DaBigBoom in HRPG-World: 2-9 Exploding Kiwis in the Nether Regions

And finally we reach an end.  Fifi finishes Jackson off.

DaBigBoom in HRPG-World: 2-9 Exploding Kiwis in the Nether Regions

“Now where were we?” Fifi asked.  Her hand caressed the back of DaBigBoom’s neck.  She stared at him, her eyes bright.  And hard.  Like precious stones.  “Oh yes.  Who are you, really?”

DaBigBoom tried again to tell her his real name.  “I’m Da—”

Her tail came down and took in his whole length with a wet schlub.  Jackson twitched as his cock was once again sheathed in soft, pliable flesh.  The tail attached itself to his groin and began to pulse and suck obscenely.  Warm juices were exuded over his helpless member and lascivious flesh wriggled up and down his shaft.  He moaned and writhed as Fifi expertly used her tail to suck him up through higher planes of pleasure.

“The name isn’t important.  It’s just a label.”

Her moist eyes seemed to expand large enough to swallow him whole.  The tail worked up and down like a piston, making lewd squelches as it sucked and squeezed him into paroxysms of ecstasy.  His hips were already responding with sympathetic twitches.

“Tell me who you are and how you came to be here,” Fifi asked, light yet irresistible.

“I don’t know,” Jackson moaned.  He writhed in pleasure as her tail continued to pleasure him.  “I was playing a game, a computer game, and I got sucked in.  I think.  I can’t remember exactly.  All I know was one moment I was living a normal life in the real world and the next I was in the game.  Not just this game.  Other games too.”

Fifi’s tail slowed down and began to gently pulsate around his cock, teasing him with soft, insistent tugs.  She rubbed her leg against his.  A gurgling sound travelled down her tail and Jackson shivered as his cock was flooded with a slithery, licentious liquid.  The bulbous jar massaged it into the stretched skin of his erection with lewd pulses.

“I play them,” he continued.  “I thought if I completed the game I’d get back to the real world, but it doesn’t happen.  I keep getting moved on from game to game before I can get near the end.”

“Fascinating,” Fifi said.

Jackson groaned.  Her tail had sucked him to orgasm.  His muscles bunched and spasmed as he sprayed cum right up into the cloying grip of her tail.

“A gamer from the human world, the real one.  And not just an avatar, here in the flesh.  How can that be?”

She leaned over and pressed her soft lips against his in a kiss.  Jackson came again.  Or maybe it was a continuation of the last orgasm.  The succubus had him completely in the palm of her hand.  She reinforced the point by cupping his overworked balls in her hand and tickling the flesh behind with the points of her nails.

“No wonder you taste so delectable,” Fifi said with a contented sigh.

Jackson was starting to get afraid.  A steady stream of single digit numbers floated up from his body as her tail milked semen from him.  That didn’t concern him so much.  It was part of the game.  Pixels.  It was what the succubus was doing to him and how it made him feel inside that was worrying him.  He felt weird—tugged about and twisted around.

“Please,” Jackson said.  “I just want to get out and get back home.”

Pink sparks crackled around the end of her tail.  Jackson felt it grow warm around his cock, but pleasantly so.  Electricity sparkled across Jackson’s nerve endings.  His cock stayed hard and throbbing, eager to disgorge another load.  Fifi continued to squeeze and suck on him with her tail.

“Who welcomed . . .”

She paused while Jackson bucked and thrashed in the throes of another orgasm.

“Who welcomed you to the game?  The first one?” she asked.

Her tail continued to pulse with slow throbs.

“Welcome?  No one, I think,” Jackson said.  The inside of his innermost jacket was soaked with sweat.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” Fifi said.  “There are rules.  Someone should have been there to meet you and give you your quest.  A gamer must always have a quest.  Oh well.”

Numbers continued to stream up into the sky.  Jackson screwed up his eyes as the channel within her tail contracted around him.  Soft flesh squeezed up against his swollen glans in a wet kiss.  The bulb squeezed right down, preparing for one last, final suck.

A loud cheer went up from the direction of the castle.  Fifi lifted her head, glanced over and tsked.

“That fat pile of blubber always was a most unimpressive boss,” she said.

Her tail detached from him with a noisy wet squelch.  Sickly white streams of cum dribbled down his shaft for a few moments before the flow dried up.

“Pihanga’s—your—forces have won this level.  This battle is over.”

She stood up.  She was about to turn and walk away when she looked down at DaBigBoom’s jackets and mmmed.  She reached down, pulled the outermost one off him and tried it on.  It was blue with yellow trim, with broad shoulders and long like a cape.  It looked good on her, which was stating the obvious; her supernatural sexiness meant she could wear anything and make it look good.

“Wait,” he called out as she was about to leave.  “What’s this quest I’m supposed to complete?  Where—how—do I find it?”

Fifi shrugged.  “I’m sure it will become apparent.  These things usually do.”

Her hair changed colour.  Violet flowed out from her scalp and down her silky long hair, washing the black away.  Her skin lightened in colour and a spiralling black tattoo blossomed on the left side of her body like twisted ivy.  She struck a sexy pose for DaBigBoom.

“It’s been most enjoyable, but I’m needed in another game.”

The sexiness of her body was breathtaking.  DaBigBoom felt like he’d just gone thirty rounds with Lennox Lewis, but a glance from her sultry eyes, a glimpse of the creamy white bulges underneath her jacket, the hairless folds of her sex, and his body wanted to do it all over again.  She knew it and her eyes glittered with amusement.  The orifice at the end of her tail dilated.  DaBigBoom thought it was winking at him.

“It’s a hentai game,” Fifi said, her eyes lighting up with lust.  “If I beat the hero I get to do whatever I want to him.”

And this wasn’t a hentai game? DaBigBoom thought.  He looked down at the slimy mess of his crotch.  Sure seemed perverted enough.

“Maybe it’ll be you,” she giggled.

She put a hand to her lips and blew him a kiss that took the form of a sparkly red heart.  It floated through the air and burst against his skin with a sound like silvery bells.

A 1 appeared above DaBigBoom’s head.  He popped and vanished from the game board in a puff of smoke.

* * * *

DaBigBoom opened his eyes.  Three faces were looking down at him.  Pihanga and Fiore were already familiar to him.  The third wasn’t as familiar, but DaBigBoom remembered seeing her outside the hospital tent back at the castle.  She smiled and looked down at him with wide blue eyes that held a smidgeon too much crazy for DaBigBoom’s comfort.

“Good as new,” the girl with long black hair and unsettling eyes said.

“We won,” Fiore said.  “You held off the succubus long enough for us to kick Wally’s flabby ass.”

“In recognition I hereby promote you to the rank of sergeant,” Pihanga said.  “Now get out of bed and follow me.  We’ve the next level to complete.”

“Ahem,” the girl—DaBigBoom assumed doctor or nurse despite her wearing a costume that looked more suited to a shrine maiden from Medieval Japan—said.  She held out a hand.

Pihanga tossed her a coin.

The girl looked down at the single coin in her palm and frowned.  “Hey.  Resurrection and full HP restore.  This isn’t enough.”

Pihanga pointed to DaBigBoom’s yellow baseball cap.  “K’winny,” she said.

The girl looked dubiously at DaBigBoom but didn’t push it further.  DaBigBoom shrugged apologetically and followed Pihanga and Fiore out of the hospital.

Jackson in HRPG-World: 2 End

As some have already guessed, the main game being parodied is the complete lunacy of DisgaeaDisgaea (there are four main games in the series, although I've only played the first on a DS emulator) is a tactical RPG that also spawned an anime series.  It's great fun to play and has plenty of moments of wicked humour.  The other game I spliced in is an old arcade classic: The New Zealand Story.

Neither are adult games.  Disgaea does have a succubus monster type and while she has plenty of "bounce", she's harmless innuendo at best.  Harmless . . . unless you have a cesspool for an imagination like me.

If you enjoyed this series, please support my writing by picking up one of my books (which I'm sure you'll also enjoy).
I'm going to give the series a break for a couple of weeks while I continue to work on Succubus Summoning 201.  Jackson will return in "A Sticky Starting Scrap."