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Friday, January 28, 2011

Essay on History of Zombie Lit and Dead Set

John Ottinger III, editor of the wonderful blog that follows SF, Fantasy, and Horror, Grasping for the Wind, contributed this great article entitled, Brains Lite: A Brief and Incomplete History of Zombie Literature, to the award winning Speculative Fiction Fanzine-- Electric Velocipede.


In this essay he gives a brief overview of zombie lit, but also tackles the question of why they are so popular right now.  If you like zombies, give it a read.


Also, while I am talking zombies, in all of The Walking Dead hype this past fall, the zombie miniseries Dead Set, which aired on IFC, got lost in the shuffle.  I recently watched it and would highly recommend you do too. The set up is quite simple.  Zombies begin taking over Britain, and the locked in contestants on a Big Brother type reality show are among the only survivors.


However, a word of warning first.  If you thought The Walking Dead was bleak, stay away.  Dead Set has nary a warm and fuzzy moment.  It is non-stop carnage and satire.  There are plenty of laugh out loud moments, but there are no heroes here, no Rick Grimes to lead the troops.  I loved it, but I also realize that my personal taste is a bit out of the "normal" range.


If nothing else, it had one of my favorite final shots.  Just the final shot is worth watching the entire show.  That and the overweight reality show producer.  He was fabulously obnoxious.


If you like Dead Set, read Brian Keene's Castaways.  Click here for my review.

Monday, January 24, 2011

RA Online's Best Speculative Fiction

The Reader's Advisor Online runs a weekly "Under the Radar List."  This week's is the Best Speculative Novels of 2010.  There are a lot of horror and horror friendly titles here.  Cindy Orr, who compiled the list, also marked their genre.  Enjoy.

Under the Radar: Best Speculative Novels of 2010

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

  • Laird Barron – Occultation (horror)

  • Robert Jackson Bennett – Mr. Shivers (horror)

  • Blake Charleton – Spellwright (fantasy)

  • Justin Cronin – The Passage (horror)

  • Amanda Downum – The Bone Palace: Necromancer Chronicles (fantasy)

  • Stephen M. Irwin – The Dead Path (horror)

  • N. K. Jemisin – The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (fantasy)

  • Guy Gavriel Kay – Under Heaven (fantasy)

  • Stephen King – Full Dark, No Stars (horror)

  • John Ajvide Lindqvist – Handling the Undead (horror)

  • Karen Lord – Redemption in Indigo (fantasy)

  • Gary Shteyngart – Super Sad True Love Story (sf)

  • Daniele Trussoni – Angelology (fantasy)

  • Jeff VanderMeer – The Third Bear(short stories) (fantasy)

  • Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Backlist Author Not to Miss: Tananarive Due

    One of the great things about working at the public library is that unlike the bookstore, we have many older titles available for checkout.

    Horror readers especially, do not care if a book is brand new.  They just want something compelling, that makes them feel uneasy, and that will invoke terror.  They are among the most willing readers of backlist titles.  In my experience as long as the scares are good, they will read anything.

    To that end, I am going to start a semi-regular feature here where I will highlight either backlist authors or specific backlist titles.  All of these posts will use the label "backlist not to miss," so that you can access all of the posts at one time.

    Today I want to highlight the work of Tananarive Due.  Due is an author of character driven, suspenseful horror titles that appeal to a wide audience.  The tension is palpable and there is violence in her novels, but as horror goes, it is on the less graphic end of the spectrum.  The fear and terror are invoked through the oppressive atmosphere and the horrific situations into which our characters are placed.

    I often take readers who enjoy Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and John Saul, but are looking for something new, to the shelf with Due's titles.  I have yet to find a reader who knew about her before I brought them to "DUE."  I also always try to start these readers off with My Soul to Keep (1997).

    In this compelling novel, a 500-year-old African immortal man is living in modern times as David, a jazz scholar in a middle-class family.  He has had many lives and loves throughout his long life, but his current situation as husband to Jessica and father to Kira is extremely satisfying.  However, David's original family of immortals asks him to sever all ties with Jessica and Kira in order to save their kind.  It is David, the tough choices he is forced to make, and the fury of his original people that drives the story here.

    This novel is one of my tried and true horror suggestions so people looking for a good scary book.  I have given this backlist gem out to at least a dozen readers over the years and have yet to find an unsatisfied patron.  In fact, hand selling this title to people has helped me to forge a deeper relationship with patrons.  They have often returned to express their gratitude; this just happened most recently in November.  Their pleasure with Due's novels lead them to seek out our staff's help more regularly.  It is a win-win situation for us all.

    Good backlist options do just this.  They highlight both your collection and your staff.  This reminds patrons of how indispensable you are.  To that end, look for more "backlist not to miss" horror options coming soon.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Winter Chills by Monster Librarian

    Over at the excellent site, Monster Librarian, they are hosting a Winter Chills Project:

    "Winter Chills"  is a collaborative effort to give readers of horror fiction a virtual guide to horror titles for your winter reading.
     For librarians, “Winter Chills” is an opportunity to get reviews and information you need to recommend appropriate titles for readers and make informed decisions about collection development.  In addition to providing reviews of horror titles you might be interested in adding to your collection, “Winter Chills” highlights participating horror fiction review sites that cover both small press and mainstream horror.  
    Collaborating review sites include: Horrorworld.orgHellnotes.com, Horror Fiction Review, and MonsterLibrarian.com.
    I encourage you to head on over to the Winter Chills homepage and read the reviews.  I have already put a few of the books on my to-read list for the cold days ahead.

    What I like about this reviews project, and the others that Monster Librarian periodically sponsors, is that they do not overlap.  The sites work together to split up titles, and are able to make readers aware of a larger number of books by working together.  With horror reviews, I often find the same 5 or 6 books being reviewed, but with this planned project, more books are getting the attention they deserve.  So from all of the librarians and horror readers out there, I thank Monster Librarian and their "Winter Chills" for giving us more options.

    Also all four of the participating sites as well as dozens more are always accessible here on RA for All: Horror by using the Horror Resources link in the right gutter of every page of this site.