Rethinking: King Kong Meets Dracula

Image by SteveIrwinfan96, borrowed

First up, let me shout out to BigJack Films, a youthful youtuber who seems utterly fascinated by all things King Kong. He seems barely out of his teens, if at all, with a bad haircut and a reedy voice, which suggests that puberty was cruel. But he’s prolific as hell, and his videos ring with a level or research and genuine enthusiasm that can’t be faked.

And he’s got a lot of fascinating King Kong-iana. The skinny on abortive Kong projects, including the 1960’s Hammer films attempt which failed, but somehow resulted in Jim Danforth’s ‘King Kong’s Volkswagon commercial’, commentary on Universal Studios exhibitions, and surveys of giant apes generally.

He’s so comprehensive in his approach, that he even catalogues and reviews King Kong fan films.

Who even knew there was such a thing?

I’m interested in fan films, and I see them as relevant works in their own right. Fan films are seldom, if ever perfect, and quite often, many of them are flat out terrible. But every single one of them is made with love, and that counts for a lot. So I was very intrigued by his reviews.

Generally, King Kong fan films fall neatly into two categories.

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The Squad…

This was going to be about my third horror collection, What Devours Also Hungers. The others are Giant Monsters Sing Sad Songs, and There Are No Doors in Dark Places. They’re collections of old and new stories, and with each collection, I try to explore a different subtle flavour of horror.

Giant Monsters is melancholy horror, the sadness of monsters and victims, the absence of happy endings.

Doors in Dark Places dwells in fatalism, the relentlessness and inescapability of terror.

What Devours Also Hungers is about restlessness. It’s about evil that doesn’t stand still but reaches out. It’s hungry and aggressive, even relentless. It’s the evil of predators, expansive and robust.

Or maybe I’m pulling your leg.

What Devours is fifteen short stories.  When I write these blog posts to promote these things, I try talk about some of the more interesting or significant ones.  Where they came from, how they came about, why I wrote them. Sometimes it’s personal, sometime’s it’s a writing exercise, it’s about structural challenges and the writing journey. Sometimes it’s fun stuff, or some interesting bit about the story’s history.

If you’ve read the Doors in Dark Places blog post, I’m very personal there, and I talk about the personal energy, the personal darkness and fears, that can animate and drive stories.

But sometimes, hey, a story is just a story. You get an idea, spin it, and it runs off on it’s own. There’s no deep psychological root, no personal trauma. It’s just telling a good story.

Read moreThe Squad…

There Are No Doors in Dark Places

I’m going to talk about my collection of short stories: There Are No Doors in Dark Places.  It’s part of my trilogy of horror along with Giant Monsters Sing Sad Songs, and What Devours Always Hungers.

Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m doing with this blog. Seriously, angry rants about Covid-19 and black lives matter, or biographical sketches, philosophical questions, thinking out loud as to what I’d do with Doctor Who or Robin, or really obscure reviews, it’s whatever seems to occur to me at the moment.

I’m sure that there are other writers out there with blogs that are just laser focused on the exigencies of writing, or the cutting edges of techno-pop culture, or whatever the hell. There’s blogs full of deep insightful book reviews, sophisticated discussions of the going’s on of the book industry, or a niche about comics.

Me? Who the hell knows?

I just write about… Whatever.

I’m I don’t really have much of anyone reading this stuff. That’s kind of liberating. I write, compulsively. If it was a successful blog, readership and everything, regular followers, I would probably need to be more focused, more narrow.  I’d have to get my shit together. But here, I just write whatever.

Some people talk or think in terms of their writing careers.

For me, writing is not so much a career, but more a personality disorder.

Read moreThere Are No Doors in Dark Places

The Fall of Atlantis and Other Stories

That’s obviously not Atlantis on the book cover.  If anything that’s Anti-Atlantis, with it’s central sea in there, surrounded by land and ringed by mountains.  That’s an almost complete inversion of Plato’s idea of an Island nation out in the Atlantic.

The picture is Greenland of course.  But not the Greenland we know, it’s Greenland without the ice.  This is a topographic radar map of Greenland’s elevations. It plays a little trick on us – blue is the colour designated for sea level elevation, so everything on the radar map that’s coloured in blue is at sea level elevation or lower.  The green parts are just above sea level.  The reddish brown represents mountain country.

It actually gives you a decent idea of what Greenland was like, or would have been like without all that ice.  Not a perfect idea, there’s a thing called ‘Isostatic Rebound.’ Basically, most of Greenland is under two miles of ice.  That two miles of ice is compressing the bedrock. Take it away, and Greenland will probably lift.  But I suspect that mostly, that lift won’t dramatically change what we see  I think it’s a fascinating map. It’s filled with possibility, potential. It’s so much better than most homegrown fantasy maps.

That’s the explanation for the Map that isn’t Atlantis, on a book titled Fall of Atlantis.

In a sense, like The Dawn of Cthulhu, this is a book about world building.  It’s speculative fiction of the plainest, barest kind, taking ideas like ‘What would Greenland be like without the Ice?’   Or ‘What’s a plausible pathway for the Romans to get to the New World?‘  And  just spinning them out and extrapolating.  No plot, no characters, but fiction all the same.

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Amazon Hotlist

A bit of cool news!

David McMillan dropped me a line to let me know that last week, two of my short story collections The Fall of Atlantis and There Are No Doors in Dark Places got picked for 4th and 5th place on Amazon’s hot new releases list.

This week, still on the hot new releases list and 19 and 20.

It’s kind of nice.

David McMillan’s collection was number one, good for him!

Dawn of Cthulhu and other stories….

Are you a Lovecraft fan? Can you pronounce Cthulhu? Do you recognize the guy with the tentacles? Azathoth? Yog Sothoth? Leng? Mountains of Madness? Shoggoths? Innsmouth?

If any of that meant anything to you, the answer is ‘yes.’

If it didn’t, stick around, you might find this interesting anyway.

Or you could go back and read my blog post, H.P.Lovecraft and Me. Seriously, it’s worth reading.

Anyway, I’m a writer, and something of a Lovecraft fan. I’m not blind to his shortcomings either as a human being or as a writer, I certainly don’t endorse them. Lovecraft’s strengths and weaknesses as a person and as a writer both deserve attention and consideration. There are things that can and should be condemned, but at the same time, I think that nuance is appropriate. In the end, all our ancestors were monsters, and all their works are tainted. Yet we live in the world they made, and we build our houses upon their rocks.  There’s a blog post I’ll get to.

But Lovecraft did do some things well, Lovecraft was influential, and deservedly so. I certainly have, in some ways, been influenced.

I’ve actually written two major Lovecraft stories.

I will caveat that – not major in the sense of setting the genre on its ear, winning awards or even getting much notice. But major in the sense of being very large works, the two stories together probably run better than 25,000 words, and which, I think have unique but effective and interesting twists on the mythos. Maybe someday they will get some notice.

One of these is called Life, Love and the Necronomicon, its psychological horror exploring the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred and his world. You can find it in Giant Monsters Sing Sad Songs.

The other is The Secret History of the Cthulhu Cult, one of three long stories found in Dawn of Cthulhu. I don’t think I need to explain what it’s about. The three stories are about Cthulhu, Lost Continents, and Muppets.

Yeah, you heard me. Muppets.

Read moreDawn of Cthulhu and other stories….

H.P. Lovecraft and Me

Yeah, I know. H.P. Lovecraft’s star is in decline these days, what with his racism and all. Ironically, Edgar Allen Poe was a racist AND a pedophile, but he still seems to be okay.  Everyone and everything we love turns out to be horrible.

Go figure.

There’s room, I think, for a fairly nuanced discussion of both Lovecraft’s racism and the racism of his era. I’ll write about that one of these days.

Like it or not, Lovecraft was an incredibly influential writer. Just out there, his weird scary stories had generations of shy young nerds stumbling around mumbling about tentacles and yog sothoth and whatnot.

I was one of those. I’ve actually written a couple of major Lovecraft stories: Dawn of Cthulhu, and Life, Love and the Necronomicon. Major in that they’re long, and I think, unique. Not that they’re famous or anything. But they’re good stories, so check them out. This blog is about trying to sell you on my work after all.

For me, the Lovecraft story was ‘The Colour Out of Space,’ a story which if you are concerned, has no racist aspects whatsoever as far as I can tell, and can be happily read by the most woke among us.

First I read it.

And then I lived it.

Read moreH.P. Lovecraft and Me