Over at LitReactor, I made my case for The Long Walk. Probably not my favorite King novel, but objectively the best.
Thought I’d write something up and offer some details on the promo I’m currently running all through October.
Because Squarespace doesn’t really support this kind of promo, all you got to do is email me through the Contact page or straight to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me which 2 covers you’d like.
You can also purchase one cover (the more expensive one!) and email me and tell me what your 2nd pick is.
It’s that time of the year again! Haven’t made a list like this since 2013, but since I got time this October, I plan to watch a horror flick every night.
This year it’s mostly classics that I’ve missed. Either I haven’t watched them, or it’s been so long I don’t even remember them. How many of these have you watched? Which ones have you always wondered about?
I’ve always wanted to watch Soavi’s other movie (besides Cemetery Man, a solid favorite), The Church. Not sure why I never got around to it.
House I’m sure I’ve watched, back in the VHS days, but I barely remember it.
The Changeling I’m ashamed to say I’ve never watched despite all the good things I’ve been told about it. Same goes for Cronos.
Halloween 3 I’ve never seen and I honestly don’t know why. It sounds fun as heck.
The rest are various bits and pieces I want to check out and some rewatches, like Tenebre and Shivers.
What are you up to this October?
List of short story I have my eye on. All are paying, not all of them are pro.
Magazines, no deadline
http://www.sockdolager.net/submission-guidelines/ 2 CENT + REPRINTS
https://gallerycurious.com/submissions/ 1.5 CENTS STEAMPUNK RETROFUTURE
http://syntaxandsalt.com/submit/ Magical Realism $10
https://grendel-song.com/submit/ 3 CENTS Folklore
http://www.brackenmagazine.com/ 2 CENTS
https://vastarien-journal.com/submission-guidelines/ 1 CENT
https://authorbobfreeman.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/occult-detective-quarterly/ 1 CENT
https://persistentvisionsmag.com/guidelines 7 CENTS
Anthologies, Themed Issues
http://horrortree.com/taking-submissions-the-binge-watching-cure/ $250-500 Dec 31st
http://www.worldweaverpress.com/submit-anthologies.html Krampus Aug 31st $10
http://horrortree.com/taking-submissions-the-worlds-of-science-fiction-fantasy-and-horror-vol-ii/ $100 Oct 15th
https://orfordparishbooks.com/2016/06/21/call-for-submissions-for-new-england-folk-horror-anthology/ New England $75 2017
http://horrortree.com/taking-submissions-dark-toronto/ 3 CENTS Jan 31st
http://www.farolightpublishing.com/submissions/ 3 CENTS Sep 15th
http://frithbooks.com/restless/ $250 Aug 31st
http://poletopolepublishing.com/submissions/ 2 CENTS Aug 30th
http://www.tacituspublishing.com/call_for_submissions.html 1 CENT Oct 31st
http://martianmigrainepress.com/submission-call-for-the-2017-mmp-anthology/ 3 CENTS Jan 31
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1962286285/humans-wanted-a-sf-anthology/posts/1645766 $250 Dec 31
http://www.amurderofstorytellers.com/submissions/ $15 Oct 31st
\https://manchesterspeculativefiction.org/2016/08/09/revolutions-2/ Dec 31st $15
I was fascinated to discover some old Stephen King video interviews from the early and late 80s. It might only be of interest to S. King buffs like myself, but I found them incredibly interesting; getting a glimpse of the man he was decades ago and what he thought about writing, horror and his own fame.
He’s already a best selling author in these, but he definitely wasn’t the legend he is today. A lot happens in 20-35 years.
Dick Cavett Show
This one is for US residents only I’m afraid and I can’t embed it either. It’s a talk show featuring S. King, George Romero, Ira Levin and Peter Straub. If that doesn’t blow your mind, something’s wrong with you.
Master of the Macabre: A Conversation with Stephen King
Then there’s this 4-part interview from what I think is a channel from the Netherlands. Check out King’s pool and bitchin’ jukebox. Also if you wanna see King drive a truck and sing along to some rock tunes.
UMO Graduate Profile
Then there’s this profile on him from 1982. It’s in English, despite the title.
I know there are a bunch of others floating around, but these were my favorites. Let me know if I missed any great ones.
Probably around oh…five years ago, I started working on a roleplaying game. As most misguided projects go, it ended up changing a lot from then until now. Initially it was pretty much a heartbreaker, a kitchen-sink collection of things I liked from games, cobbled together into a Frankenstein. The core was always the same though: It’s about a group of characters investigating the supernatural.
I foolishly commissioned some artwork when I was first starting out. You can see some of it below. It was called Van Dread at the time and was mostly a pulp clone of Hunter: The Reckoning, by way of Call of Cthulhu and Unknown Armies. The most damning evidence of my failures in game design were the many permutations of this game, from concept, to mechanics, to system. I’ve used the Storyteller system, Fate 2.0, and Apocalypse World, with various success. There’s been skills lists, skills and stats, just stats and so on.
At this point, I just want to dump all the work I’ve done so far in this blog post, as a way of clearing the slate. I do intend to finish Dark Days at some point, hopefully soon. I’m still not sure what system I should use for it. The mechanics can be bolted on to most systems.
Here’s bits and pieces of the game. If you’re lost, keep in mind that it’s based on Apocalypse World and the Aspects from Fate.
All artwork is copyrighted to the respective artists and has been licensed for use with the Dark Days roleplaying game.
Premise I think the best way to explain the game is to explain what the original idea was. If you’ve played Call of Cthulhu, or any horror investigation game, you’ve probably experienced the mayhem associated with mortals experiencing the supernatural. People go crazy, get injured, scarred, lose limbs, lose families.
Too bad those guys can’t keep doing that forever though. They already know it’s best to burn the haunted house down and shoot the neighbors in the face after the first few investigations. Everyone is out to get them. But what if they could?
…and that’s Dark Days in a nutshell.
The characters are ex-members of an organization dedicated to destroying the supernatural threat. They got maimed, fired, disgraced or quit. But they get called back to serve the organization the left behind, as part of a special operations team.
There’s a catch though. To be part of the program, you have to let them shoot some really weird shit into your bloodstream. To make you tougher, faster, smarter, weirder. Just like the monsters you’re going to kill.
What do you do in this game? It’s a horror investigation game, with a focus on action. The investigation part isn’t about looking for clues, it’s mostly about trying to figure out what the hell is going on and what’s the best way to end it. A shortcut to the usual investigative games, if you will.
In a run of the mill scenario, you’d be sent to a town or a city to investigate something weird that’s happening. After a few days of interviewing witnesses and snooping around, the shit will inevitably hit the fan and at that point you’re gonna want to neutralize the threat and get out alive.
The setting makes a few assumptions. Monsters are real. The general public is unaware. There’s no grand conspiracy, just a bunch of smaller ones. When the mailman eats a lady’s face and then jumps 30 feet up into a tree in a small town, what cop is gonna say that to the news crew?
Monsters all come from the same place. The Dark. The Abyss. Hell. Whatever you want to call it, it’s another place, a different dimension. Things slip through, or are called here. When that happens, weird shit goes down and people die.
The Dark is a corrupting force. Most monsters used to be human before they were corrupted into something else.
The characters have a piece of the Dark inside of them. That’s what the project is. They have weird powers, just like their monster counterparts, but the human part is still in control. They’re the perfect weapon against monsters.
The organization is set up like the military. There are multiple player-chosen branches. Some deal with intel, some are R&D (Research and Development), some carry flamethrowers around.
● Humans can be monsters and monsters can be human. I know this goes against the general theme of the game (kill monsters), but it fits into the character’s monstrous nature. The characters will encounter plenty of seemingly monstrous beings that end up being harmless or smart enough to use diplomacy to stay alive. That’s why there’s a Covenant move that allows you to strike deals.
● The Abyss is an alien thing, and true creatures of the Abyss are too. There is no way to understand it or pacify it. Kill it or be killed.
● The world is a fragile thing. Any one of the things that escape the Abyss can mean the downfall of our way of life.
● You kill monsters to protect the innocents, but what about you? You’re a ticking time bomb and you’re already half a monster. What the fuck are you gonna do with yourself when you find yourself becoming less human day by day?
For the way the BPRD is set up, for the interplay between human and supernatural agents, for the way they deal with the supernatural (figure out if it’s dangerous, kill it with impunity if it is). For the dozens of nameless agents that get killed in the first hours of every mission. For the way the world is threatened in the later issues.
Supernatural TV Series
For the casual nature of hunting monsters, for the occult tomes and symbols, for it’s concepts of hell.
For it’s depiction of the other place, Hell, the Abyss.
Agenda Make the world dark and real. Make the characters’ lives interesting. Play to find out how you die.
Blanket the world in Darkness. Figuratively and literally. Dark Days takes place in perpetual darkness, artificial or not. The weather is shitty, rain and cloudy days. Characters live in the dark and often investigate dark places. The Dark also represents the corruption of the Abyss. Not everything touched by the Dark turns into a monster; your neighbor might harbor some pretty horrible secrets and thus be somewhat changed. Besides, with the murder rate of most metropolitan cities being what it is, the chances of you living in or near a murder house are pretty high.
Make the human monstrous; make the monstrous sympathetic. Evil isn’t always an effect of the Dark. Sometimes it’s plain old human evil. On the other hand, a monster might be capable of more compassion than you. The characters stand on the threshold. Which side are they gonna end up on?
Introduce the weird, the magical, the horrific, the unfair at every opportunity. Nothing is sacred. Kill NPCs, destroy structures, burn everything. Address yourself to the characters, not the players. Make your move, but misdirect. Make your move, but never speak its name. Ask provocative questions and build on the answers. Be a fan of the players’ characters. Name everyone. Make them important.
The Stats are:
Cold …means you are cool, calm, numb, graceful under pressure. You add this to your dice roll when you Act under pressure.
War …means you are violent, skilled in combat, aggressive, mean. You add this to your dice roll when you Shed Blood.
Majesty …means you are sexy, seductive, convincing, attractive. You add this to your dice roll when you Influence/Seduce, when you Threaten Violence.
Edge …means you are sharp, witty, quick, skilled, perceptive. You add this to your dice roll when you Read a person.
Esoterica …means you are creepy, scary, dark, strange. You add this to your dice roll when you Invoke Darkness.
Stats go from -1 to +3. Higher is better. A stat can be set to 0.
Every character gets the following Moves:
Basic Moves Act under pressure Invoke the Darkness Assess Situation Shed Blood Threaten Violence Read person Help/Interfere Influence Investigate Covenant Peripheral Moves Suffer Trauma When Darkness reaches 0 Intake darkness
Act under pressure When you act under pressure, roll +cold. On a 10 you do what you want. On a 7-9, you hesitate, you get scared, you stall. The MC will offer you a difficult choice or a hard bargain. On a miss, you fuck up.
Invoke Darkness When you invoke the Darkness, roll +Esoterica and state your subject. On a hit, the MC will tell you something you didn’t know about. On a 10, you may ask one clarifying question. On a 7-9, the MC will state something. On a miss, the Darkness reveals something dark about you.
Assess Situation When you asses the situation, roll +Edge. On a hit, you can ask questions. If you act upon them, get +1 going forward. On a 10, pick 3. On a 7-9, pick1. which enemy is the most dangerous? which enemy is the weakest? who’s in control here? how do I get out of this? what’s my best escape route /way in / way past?
Threaten Violence When you threaten violence, roll +War. On a 10+, they comply and you Shed Blood.
On a 7-9 they can choose to:
trade harm for harm
comply with your desires
Shed blood When you shed blood, roll +War. On a 10+, choose one extra effect:
take +1 forward.
You inflict terrible harm
You suffer less harm.
On a 7-9, trade harm for harm.
When you read a person, roll +edge. On a 10+, hold 3. On a 7–9, hold 1. While you’re interacting with them, spend your hold to ask their player questions, 1 for 1: is your character telling the truth? what does your character intend to do? how could I get your character to _?
When you help or interfere with someone, roll +Edge. On a 10+, they get +2 forward On a 7-9, they get +1 forward but you expose yourself to danger.
When you manipulate someone, roll +Majesty. For NPCs: On a 10+, they do it. On a 7-9, they ask for reassurances/they ask you to promise them something before they do what you ask. For PCs: On a 10+, both. On a 7-9, choose 1: If they do it, they mark improvement if they refuse, they mark improvement.
When you investigate the scene, roll +Edge. On a 10+, hold 2. On a 7-9, hold 1.
Spend hold 1 to 1 to ask the MC questions: What happened here? How many of them were there? Where did they go? What has been concealed here? On a miss,
When you enter a covenant, roll +Esoterica On a 10+ pick 2. On a 7-9 pick 1. You include a clause or loophole for yourself. There are no loopholes the other party can abuse. The deal is fair.
When you intake Darkness, roll Esoterica. On a 10, get equal to the dose +1 Darkness On a 7-9, you do it.
When Darkness hits 0
When you treat wounds, roll +War. On a 10, heal 2. On 7-9, heal 1.
On a 10+, your flesh withstands. On a 7-9, suffer Trauma.
Trade harm for harm.
Announce off screen badness
Announce future badness.
Take away their stuff.
Activate their stuff’s downside
Offer an opportunity, with or without a cost.
Make a threat move.
Make them investigate.
I unironically love trash TV movies. We got a lot of those growing up where I’m from and sometimes it was all you can get outside of video rentals that were few and far between. Some of these I only saw as an adult and thus I didn’t enjoy as much. Sometimes the medium is the message, and staying up late on a school night and watching a scary movie on TV is probably the best medium there is for less-than-stellar acting and cinematography.
”Vampires are invading a small New England town. It’s up to a novelist and a young horror fan to save it.”
Based on the fantastic Stephen King novel of the same name, it’s probably my favorite made for TV horror flick. Of course it takes the #1 spot. The scene with the kid floating outside his friend’s window is iconic for a reason (and still terrifying today).
Dark Night of the Scarecrow
”In a small town, a wrongfully killed man exacts revenge on those who murdered him beyond the grave.”
It’s been a while since I’ve seen this, but it’s a pretty solid revenge/horror flick.
Dont be Afraid of the Dark
”A young couple inherits an old mansion inhabited by small demon-like creatures who are determined to make the wife one of their own.”
Has aged remarkably well, in all honesty. The remake was terrible, so I’d rather watch this instead.
”In 1960, seven outcast kids known as “The Loser Club” fight an evil demon who poses as a child-killing clown. 30 years later, they are called back to fight the same clown again.”
Hey, another King adaptation. Arguably the TV movie that has scared more kids than any other. I like the book a lot and while I don’t love the movie, Tim Curry is pretty cool and it features some creepy ass scenes.
”A business commuter is pursued and terrorized by a malevolent driver of a massive tractor-trailer.”
”Most of the passengers on an airplane disappear, and the remainder land the plane in a mysteriously barren airport.”
I’m gonna get flack for this one, but I enjoyed it as a kid, back when I worshiped King. It’s goofy as hell, but hey, this was Lost before Lost.
”Three short stories in the horror genre. The first about a serial killer. The second about a hair transplant gone wrong. The third about a baseball player.”
A bit late and also spanning two months instead of one, but here are the Top 10 Cover for May and June 2014!
Artist: Karla Ortiz
Author: Anna Tambour
“The Walking-Stick Forest”, by Anna Tambour, is a dark fantasy about a recluse who creates collectible walking sticks in post WWI Scotland by manipulating the woods somewhat like bonsais. He refuses a commission from a very rich, powerful man, never considering or caring about the consequences.
Artist: Eric Nyquist
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Publisher: FSG Originals
After thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X—a seemingly malevolent landscape surrounded by an invisible border and mysteriously wiped clean of all signs of civilization—has been a series of expeditions overseen by a government agency so secret it has almost been forgotten: the Southern Reach. Following the tumultuous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the agency is in complete disarray.
John Rodrigues (aka “Control”) is the Southern Reach’s newly appointed head. Working with a distrustful but desperate team, a series of frustrating interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, Control begins to penetrate the secrets of Area X. But with each discovery he must confront disturbing truths about himself and the agency he’s pledged to serve.
In Authority, the second volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, Area X’s most disturbing questions are answered . . . but the answers are far from reassuring.
Artist: Erik Mohr
Author: Matthew Johnson
Publisher: ChiZine Publications
keluarga: to move to a new village
lunak: to search for something without finding it
mencintai: to love for the last time
Meet a guilt-ridden nurse who atones for her sins by joining her zombified patients in exile; a lone soldier standing guard on a desolate Arctic island against an invasion that may be all in his mind; a folksinger who tries to unionize Hell; and a private eye who only takes your case after you die. Visit a resettlement centre for refugees from ancient Rome; a lost country recreated by its last citizen on the Internet; and a restaurant where the owner’s ghost lingers for one final party. Discover the inflationary effects of a dragon’s hoard, the secret connection between Mark Twain and Frankenstein, and the magic power of blackberry jam-all in this debut collection of strange, funny, and bittersweet tales by acclaimed writer Matthew Johnson.
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Artist: Nacho Molina
Editors: Silvia Moreno Garcia and Paular R. Stiles
Publisher: Innsmouth Free Press
The blades of heroes clash against the darkest sorcery.
Aztec warriors ready for battle, intent on conquering a neighboring tribe, but different gods protect the Matlazinca.
For Arthur Pendragon, the dream of Camelot has ended. What remains is a nightmarish battle against his own son, who is not quite human.
Master Yue, the great swordsman, sets off to discover what happened to a hamlet that was mysteriously abandoned. He finds evil.
Sunsorrow, the ancient dreaming sword, pried from the heart of the glass god, yearns for Carcosa.
Fifteen writers, drawing inspiration from the pulp sub-genres of sword and sorcery and the Cthulhu Mythos, seed stories of adventure, of darkness, of magic and monstrosities. From Africa to realms of neverwhere, here is heroic fantasy with a twist.
Author: Genevieve Valentine
Publisher: Atria Books
The Hamilton sisters live a double life—caged in their house by day, they break free at night to hit the dance floors of New York. Following her debut novel, Mechanique (2011), Valentine offers this fanciful reimagining, set in the Roaring Twenties, of the fairy tale of the 12 dancing princesses. The princes have been replaced by bartenders and bootleggers, and the girls wear out catalog-ordered shoes. Their dominating father has kept them shut up at home, virtual prisoners, for their entire lives. When he gets wind of what they’ve been doing, he works to find them more permanent positions as wives—whether or not they like it. The narrative is simple, as befits a modern fairy tale, and the characters are drawn in broad strokes, each dominated by one identifiable personality trait. When the novel shines, it does so by juxtaposing the tension of the imprisoned daughters’ plight against the gimlets and glitter of the underground dance halls they frequent. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is like a jittery Charleston—loose, fast, and fun.
7. The Bees
Author: Laline Paull
Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive, where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive’s survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw, but her courage and strength are assets. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect nectar and pollen. A feat of bravery grants her access to the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.
But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all–daring to challenge the Queen’s preeminence–enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the hive’s strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by a greater power: a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, and her society–and lead her to perform unthinkable deeds.
Thrilling, suspenseful, and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees and its dazzling young heroine will forever change the way you look at the world outside your window.
Artist: Dominick Saponaro
Author: Debra Doyle, James D. Macdonald
A new adventure of Peter Crossman, special agent of the Knights Templar — a man prepared to administer last rites with one hand while wielding a flamethrower with the other. Now an ancient manuscript of peculiar power has surfaced, and Crossman’s assignment is simple: Get it for the Temple at all costs. This will lead to conflict with entities secular and otherwise — and to a new encounter with Sister Mary Magdalene of the Special Action Executive of the Poor Clares.
9. In the Dark
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Author: Kami Garcia
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The Weird Tales Magazine Facebook page got hacked the other day and has been mostly posting clickbait content that seems to lead to a spammy website. With more than one million likes, the peanut gallery of the page fans came out in force in order to share their insight into this situation.
Update: Weird Tales is back! Praise Cthulhu!
Here’s an example of the content that has been going up.
And here are some choice comments.
The Supportive, if a little sociopathic.
The Mixed Priorities One
The Mixed Messages One
The Smug One