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H.P. LOVECRAFT FILM FESTIVAL & CTHULHUCON

HPLFF 2014

Hello Ghouls and Boils,

That’s right. It is that time of year again! The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon in Portland, Oregon is just 9 days away. If you are anywhere near the Pacific Northwest, make the trip. Trust me, you will have a spooktacular time! Here is the latest buzz straight from the organizers. As always, enjoy my fiends!

Abstrusely,
Sarah L. Covert

H.P. LOVECRAFT FILM FESTIVAL & CTHULHUCON WELCOMES

ACTOR DOUG BRADLEY TO 19TH ANNUAL EVENT IN APRIL

Portland, OR – March 20, 2014 – The H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival® & CthulhuCon is pleased to announce Special Guest Doug Bradley will be appearing at the 2014 festival, which takes place April 11-13, 2014. Mr. Bradley is well-known for his portrayal of “Pinhead” in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser movie series, but he is also a literary powerhouse who produces his own line of audio books featuring classic stories of Gothic Horror, from authors like Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and many more.

The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon has a nearly 20 year tradition of bringing amazing guests, including authors, musicians, filmmakers, and other Lovecraftian creators to the beautiful city of Portland, OR. Past guests have included musician and poet Patti Smith, actors Christopher Heyerdahl (Stargate: Atlantis, True Blood) and Barbara Crampton (From Beyond), directors Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna (the Re-Animator film series), World Fantasy Award-winning author Ramsey Campbell (The Nameless), Bram Stoker Award-winning author Brian Lumley (Necroscope series), artists Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing) and Mike Mignola (Hellboy), and even live musical acts like The Darkest of The Hillside Thickets. Just last year, we hosted Richard Stanley, acclaimed director of Hardware (1990) and Dust Devil (1992), who quickly became a festival favorite.

In addition to Doug Bradley, guests this year include Kenneth Hite, author of Cthulhu 101 and Where The Deep Ones Are, Michael Cisco, Locus award-winning author of The Divinity Student, Allen K., famed illustrator of Weird Tales and Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, Sandy Petersen, creator of The Call of Cthulhu role-playing game, S. T. Joshi, reknowned Lovecraft scholar and author of I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert M. Price, editor of Crypt of Cthulhu, and Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., award-winning author of Blood Will Have Its Season and editor of the King In Yellow anthology A Season in Carcosa.

Feature Films include Curse of the Crimson Altar, starring Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, and Barbara Steele, the US Premiere of the much-anticipated French creature feature Dead Shadows, 1970′s classic stop motion monster epic Equinox, and independent features The Sunderland Experiment, Lord of Tears, and The Ackermonster Chronicles, with more to come. We have over 2 dozen Short Films including Phil Tippett’s “MADGOD: Part 1,” “Black Sugar,” “Miskatonic University,” “Out There” directed by Randall Plunkett (the current Lord Dunsany), and many more!

Special events include a Live musical performance of selections from the Dreams in the Witch House Rock Opera, Carbload for Cthulhu and Author Signing, a Live radio play production by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, Pickman’s Apprentice live drawing competition, Lovecraft Under the Gun 72 Hour Film contest, Art Show, Literary Brunch, Temple of Yog-Sothoth Spaghetti Dinner (tickets sold separately), and more!

Since 1996, the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival® has been a Portland institution, celebrating film, literature, and art influenced by the master of Cosmic Horror, H. P. Lovecraft. The festival has grown to three nights and two days of Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction showcasing independent short and feature films, author readings, panel discussions, gaming, and live events on all three screens of the historic Hollywood Theatre.

The Festival opens at 6 pm on Friday, April 11th with an evening program, and continues through the weekend with afternoon and evening shows and special events on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available through the Hollywood Theatre website and box office.

Advance weekend passes will be $55. Advance single night passes for Friday $15, Saturday $25, Sunday $25. Prices will be sightly higher after March 21st.

Mad Monster Party 2014

MMP

Hello Ghouls and Boils,

Long time no type to! I know how much you must have missed me, my wicked darlings. I am sorry for my extended absence, but my underlings and minions have kept up the place well I see. *pushes some cobwebs back* But I am back now and ready to bring you all the best in science-fiction, horror, and strange tales. I thought a lot about how I wanted to revive SNS. Well last weekend I went to the biggest (and newest) horror/sci-fi convention in the region, the Mad Monster Party! I want to make a few statements before I begin. 1) I had a seizure a little over a month ago, so my pain level was pretty high. 2) I did attempt to contact the convention chair and get their feedback. That wasn’t a very successful endeavor — as you will see below. 3) My thoughts were echoed ten fold by con-goers and special guests alike. Ok now that the full disclosure is out there — sit back and enjoy the ride. As always, enjoy my fiends!

Abstrusely,
Sarah L. Covert

Day One – Lines, lines, and more lines… oh yeah — and frak you Corey Feldman

Ok… I am not new to conventions. I know that lines and ticketing can be problems and technical behind-the-scenes details can delay things. But getting in on opening day was a mess.

My hubby and I (along with our friend Lauren) got to the hotel across the road (Henry and I booked a room. We just figured it would be easier given my condition) quite early so we had time to settle in and grab a bite before we went to the convention. My hopes were high. I would be getting to meet a lot of my favorite people from the horror and sci-fi genres and a bunch of my friends would be there.

In my hotel, relaxing before the con!

After (a pretty horrible) dinner we made our way over to the Con. (Now keep in mind I have been to a lot of conventions and film festivals.) It was approaching 5:30 when we went over to meet our friend Toohey. We figured that since the first panel was scheduled at 6:30 that that would be awesome timing. Give us some time to mosey on in and check out the dealers/celeb rooms before heading over to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Usually in conventions they open the dealers room anywhere from one to three hours before the first panel is supposed to start. At the least they start admission and processing before the first panel/event starts.) Oh boy was I ever wrong.

The line in front of me.

The line in front of me.

The line behind me.

The line behind me.

Yes, the line continues around the building.

Yes, the line continues around the building.

About this time I am thinking… hmmm… must be some kind of issue with ticketing or something. I remember those chaotic times at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival when some small glitch would happen and we’d have a line outside. So at this point I am not annoyed. I am pumped up on red bull and ready to go! I was very excited to get the lay of the land and I figured the line would get moving any minute and I could get down there AND go up to the tent (I wish I had an image of this, it was a a giant wedding sorta tarpy tent where they held all the panels — which no one bothered to mention on the website or programs by the way.) for the Rocky Horror Picture Show panel featuring Brad, Columbia and Magenta!

I am ready to go -- my husband is not amused.

I am ready to go — my husband is not amused.

Time is moving at a snails pace because we are waiting for something fun. It was like kids before Christmas. I could her sighs and mutters all around me as it was approaching 6:30. (Doors were supposed to open at 6 — said the gentleman behind us.) At this point I am starting to get a little anxious. So as soon as I spotted a volunteer I went to ask about the line and panels. I expressed my concern about the timing and the volunteer wasn’t sure how to answer me. She came back out and said that soon they would be letting people in six at a time (WTF?) and that I shouldn’t worry they would be pushing the RHPS panel back and no one would miss it. I trusted this was true. It is a volunteer who gathered the information — I was assuming it would be accurate. It was not. First they don’t have separate lines for prepay and general admission. I think that might have helped. But I can only contemplate what happened and unfortunately I got nothing but “If they think these lines are bad they should see DragonCon or ComicCon.” from a grumbly security dude. We walked out and I happily pulled out my iphone with the scanner image for our tickets. Then the young lady asks what my last name was, looked on a printed paper and slapped on some cheapy con bracelets and sent us on our way with a map (because 1)She didn’t know where the panels were and 2)They were trying to push us through quickly). Something must have gone wrong with the scanning system, this could have caused they delay. Whatever it was it was super annoying and super tiring. After that exhausting process we were ready to get some instant gratification and check out the guests and treasures in the vendor rooms (where we finally found a volunteer who know what he was talking about and he told us about the tent). Me, the hubby, and Toohey make our first stop at Tom Savini‘s table. Don’t know who Savini is? Shame on you — give me back your horror geek card!

Tom Savini, Me, and Henry

Now, after some thought, I am going to chalk it up to being the same sort of frustration the geeks, media, and staff (or “stiff”) were all feeling… but Mr. Savini was not the most approachable man. I mentioned having met him about 19 years ago or so and he just didn’t seem to want to chat and heck I can’t blame him. My husband and Toohey were getting anxious about getting to the RHPS panel. They decided to head up. But Corey Feldman was at the next table over and I was really looking forward to meeting him.

Corey and me... spiffy dresser!

Corey and me… spiffy dresser!

I was pretty impressed at first. He had on a dazzling jacket and looked just like I pictured. I used to be a bit of a Corey/Corey fan as a teenager. I will admit to having pictures of both of them on my wall clipped out from teen magazines. He was taking time to talk to his fans and they seemed pretty giddy with delight. So I didn’t mind waiting in yet another line to meet him. When I got to the table I told him that my husband and I had been admiring his jacket from afar. He joked saying now you admire it up close. He seemed pretty kewl. I had my copy of Gremlins out ready to be signed. At conventions it is fairly common for celebrities to charge for photos. Nowadays they will even charge for photos on your own camera. This is not a shock. Usually if you buy an item from their table or buy an autograph on an item you brought the celeb will do a photo for free or for a lesser charge. Corey double dipped! They charged me for the autograph on the DVD and then an additional $20 for a photograph. I was so taken aback. I just paid it and then headed off to the outdoors to regroup. So yeah, frak you Corey Feldman. Double dipping from your fan base is so uncool.

As I was headed out I spotted Henry Winkler! I had to stop myself from squeeing and jumping up and down. It was the frakking Fonz! So I had to stop for a photo op with him. He was such a sweet guy.

Me and the freaking Fonz!!!

Me and the freaking Fonz!!!

I sent a text to my husband and relayed my woes. He said they got into the panel and it had already started. Our friend Lauren was still waiting in line. No one will miss anything, huh? Yeah… that was a load of BS. He let me know they would be coming soon and would text when on the way. I decided to suck it up and get back to the dealers room.

I saw Nivek Ogre (Ogre, Ohgr, etc) and made my way to his table. I said hi and asked him if he remembered me from last year (I of course reminded him of my crazy hair falls (which you will notice later), and that I was wearing glasses). He said of course he did and greeted me with a hug. Ogre gives the best hugs by the way. I told him we saw Skinny Puppy when they came last month and we chit chatted a bit about that. I felt a lot better and after telling him I would pop back around later I decided to roam again.

Next I spotted Ken Foree! He is a favorite of ours. I got him to sign Dawn of the Dead and posed for some pictures (free by the way) joking how I was going to make the hubby jealous. He was just a genuinely nice guy and such a refreshing change from the arrogance I had seen on the other side of the room. (I totally forgot to tell him I used to hang out in Monroeville Mall)

Me and the great Ken Foree!!!

Me and the great Ken Foree!!!

Right next to the great Ken Foree was the adorable Sid Haig! I had a small stack of DVDs for him to sign. He was so great and down to earth. When he got to Spider Baby he told me that it had recently been preserved by the Academy Film Archive! I said how does that feel? He said great! When he got to the The Big Bird Cage disc, I told him that was my favorite of his. He chuckled and said it was a lot of fun to make. Then I got to snuggle with him for a photo op (also free by the way).

Snuggling with Sid!

Snuggling with Sid!

I was peopled out again though and had to go out for a smoke (yes I know… I am trying to quit). While I was out there I got to talking with Frankenhooker and some other people about how insane and packed and hot it was in there. By that point Henry and Toohey found me. We were getting ready to head back in when Ken Foree bummed a smoke from me. Yup, folks (the ones without their heads up their own bums) are just folks. We then headed in and dumped some more money on Ken and Sid’s tables. We decided we were going to wander around some more rather than head back up to the tent of doom. Toohey left to pick up Angie — we were going to dance since DJ Spider was supposed to be spinning in the bar. (Only to find out 15 minutes later it was not going to happen, some sort of sound ordinance and no one told her. Loverly.)

We made our way to the Rocky Horror tables and with a renewed vigor I prepared to meet an idol, Patricia Quinn/Magenta!!!

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She was the sweetest lady. She was so interested in all my Star Wars geeky jewelry. We got her to sign our disc and my husband bought a great photo of her. Then we posed for several photos with her (free again). I relayed a message for from Ken Foree. She gave me a peck on the cheek for it. I was in geek grrl heaven.

We went outside for another little break. I wasn’t sure what to do since Spider wasn’t spinning. A gentleman outside recommended room parties. I don’t usually do room parties. But then he spoke about the ConCarolinas party. I remembered having a blast at last year’s party. Jada was running the shindig, and I wanted to see her – so bonus! We basically just milled about until party time. We met up with Lauren and headed up the elevators away from the sweaty hordes *phew*.

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Exhausted after a long day we wandered on to the hotel after the party to get some sleep. Sadly I couldn’t sleep… strange bed syndrome. But I did rest my eyes and tagged some photos and watched some cartoons.

Day Two – We’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat!

I thought Friday was bad. Thankful my convention was being fueled by the folks at Red Bull, I prepared myself for another day of confusion. I make sure I get to the Con super early because I prepaid to have a photo op with Elvira. Boy oh boy I wasn’t prepared for this annoyance. So we get there and go inside, because hey we already paid and would rather wait inside on a comfy chair. We show them our wristbands and go in. There is a volunteer standing at the escalator who informs me that we need to leave and go wait in line outside. Here we go outside again. There a different volunteer instructs up to go wait in line. While waiting there we find out none of these people have wristbands yet. So we ask yet another volunteer who instructs us to go inside. She pulls the head of security who then verifies what this girl is saying. I asked the guy if I could contact the con chair through the website, he said I should try the Facebook site (which I did later and gave them more than enough time to respond, the conversation will be at the end of this review). He made some excuses, none of which I can verify so I will not publish them. But let’s say he was trying to persuade me to not let the disorganization affect my review. I understand and listen, if it was just me I’d suck it up… but in general I heard varying levels of complaints about disorganization, lines, temperature, and more from every person I talked to. So, sorry security dude. I can’t ignore this. But listen, I am giving credit for the good stuff too.

Henry and I sit down and with a heavy sigh we start the waiting process. Then the same volunteer who kicked us out the first time tries to do it again. I looked him straight in the eye and said no! I told him if he had a problem to tell the head of security and we could all talk about it. Yeah… I can be scary. Especially when wearing a corseted top and skirt (which later earned me a compliment from Elvira – oh my Goddess)!

After we revived a bit, the hubby and I went to wait in line. We find out while standing there that the convention won’t open up until 11AM (first panel started at 11:11AM). Here I am after the news:

Me annoyed with the lines!

Me annoyed with the lines!

And the lines again:

The folks in front of me...

The folks in front of me…

The folks behind me...

The folks behind me…

Finally I start asking the volunteers about the photo op with Elvira. It took me four people before I got to someone who knew what was going on. Even then their directions were crazy. But I quickly found the line when I got there and luckily was towards the front of the non-RIP (their version of VIP treatment for con-goers who can swing the dough). I was aware I would be waiting more than an hour but there but I had no idea how agonizing it would be. The photo room was in one of the small conference rooms. It was also a small area to line people up.

Yup, more lines!

Yup, more lines!

It was super congested. It was so hot that con-goers were grabbing flyers and making makeshift fans to stave off the sweat. I felt like I was going to faint several times, which was scary given my recent health issues. Not only that. There were so many people in line for this photo-op thing that people who were differently abled were just having the worst time getting through. There were several times I used my booming voice to clear the way for a wheelchair or mobility vehicle coming through. There was also no place for the elderly or differently abled to sit. So standing in that enclosed space, with that many people (I found out later the line went outside), was just not in any way fun. I tried to fix my makeup like 8 times because it kept melting off. We were all quite miserable, but since misery loves company we had plenty to talk about.

The photo-op started at about 12:30 (it was scheduled to begin at noon). Ok, for $50 they take a professional photo with you and Elvira. They don’t tell you this would be from the waist up only. They don’t tell you they will put up a cheesy background via green screen. And you have no photo approval. Take what ya get and move along like good little cattle. They told us to pick up the photos in an hour or two. I think it was almost 5pm or so when they were finally done. I wasn’t happy with the way mine turned out at all. You could see the green screening. Ugh! So I made lemonade and scanned it in and edited it to black and white – voila!)

Me and Elvira - Two Ladies of Horror!

Me and Elvira – Two Ladies of Horror!

Afterwards I felt like I won some sort of battle and my reward would be outside… I ran to the nearest exit. Ah air and room to breathe. I bought a six dollar beer and didn’t even mind spending that much money because I was so hot and so thirsty. I had the hubby come grab me and I told him I couldn’t stand the idea of going back in there. So, we went to lunch. I immediately changed out of the corseted skirt and we sat down for a meal. Angie, Kelley, and her husband all met us at the restaurant

We decided to splurge a little at this convention so we went about looking at items (the vendor selection kind of sucked and it was sort of hard to shop because everything was so crowded in) and getting some things from our favorite guests. Feeling a bit better after the break (though I didn’t really eat) we decided to brave the crowds again.

First we stopped by to talk to the elegant Camille Keaton. She was so sweet and was sure to ask everyone their name… and she remembered them! I just adored her. If you have never seen the original I Spit On Your Grave, you need too!

Henry and Camille Keaton

Henry and Camille Keaton

My goal after that was to make a beeline to John Schnider‘s table. We geeks sometimes refer to him as Bo Kent. *laughs* I gushed about how he was the best Pa Kent ever. And he was just so sweet and thankful to everyone I saw him talk to. I had him sign the Smallville DVD which had the episode he directed, Talisman. And boy is he a remarkably handsome man. He looks fabulous.

John Schnider has his arm around me!!!

John Schnider has his arm around me!!!

Next on our list, the lovable Ed Neal. Don’t know who he is? Betcha felt a little silly after you clicked the link. I will say meeting him was one of the highlights of my weekend. I hope to snag an interview with him. He was amazingly friendly.

Henry, Ed Neal, and Me!

Henry, Ed Neal, and Me!

Oh and what is the fun of having a shot with Magenta and not one with Cloumbia! No fun, I say! And she was so sweet and so gracious. Loved Nell Campbell!

Henry, Nell Campbell, and Me!

Henry, Nell Campbell, and Me!

Last, but certainly not least on my list was Jeremy Licht. He was my favorite character, in my favorite segment, of Twilight Zone the Movie. I have been wanting to meet him since I was like eight. We chatted for a while and he agreed to do an interview with SNS in May! So look for that one folks!

Me, Jeremy Licht, and Henry

Me, Jeremy Licht, and Henry

After all the running around, through all those hordes or horror fans, Henry and I decided to go to the hotel and take a little nap. I was in a ton of pain and was very tired. A timeout was necessary. We made it back to the hotel just in time for the event I was most excited for, a regional premier of All Cheerleaders Die – the newest/oldest project of the great Lucky McKee! I will wait until I get this on DVD to give it a full review, but I will say it was funny, gross, scary, all the things I expect from Lucky!

We ran into Ogre in the hall and posed for a couple of pictures. He is such a sweety!

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We went back to the hotel and discussed what we were going to do about the next day. The husband and I decided it was best to just skip day three. I guess we felt like the cost outweighed the benefit.

Sleepy Sarah

Sleepy Sarah

I did attempt to contact the MMP con chair here is the conversation in its entirety.

March 23rd
ME: Is there a way I could speak with the con-chair. I am doing a review of the mmp for my site and I had some questions.

Mad Monster Party: All the chairs at the con were property of the Hilton and they make for terrible interviews. Send any questions you have over, and I’ll get you some answers. Thanks!

ME: What was up with the lines??? The lines to get into the hotel were moving at a snail pace, if at all. It was opening day and after waiting nearly two hours I asked a staff member what was happening. She explained there was some kind of delay and they would be letting people in soon. I asked about the panels, which were supposed to start soon, and she assured me no one would miss a panel. Thankful for some news I waited, waited, and waited more and soon I was at the registration table, iPhone in hand – ready to have it scanned. Then the volunteer said she had to look me up by name on a printed out sheet. Oy. When I asked about panels, schedule and the like, the volunteers were not very knowledgeable. Lines again and also why is it that the staff and their frequent miscommunication? On day two we decided to get there early. The fist panel was at 11 and I had a photo op with Elvira at noon. So I walk inside the hotel, we bought the weekend pass. A volunteer demanded (rudely I must say) that we needed to wait outside. I found a volunteer I spoke with the day before. She informed me since I had purchased the weekend pass there was no reason for me to stand in line. She brought us back in and pulled the head of security who both solidly agreed we could sit in the lobby. I was relieved. I had a seizure recently and since then I have been in a lot of pain. Not 5 minutes after we sat down the same volunteer who demanded we go outside, did it again. I explained to him that the head of security said we could sit here and if the young man wanted to bring him over he was more than welcome to, I am not moving. Thankfully he left us alone. Lines again and this time inside… Finally I am waiting in line to meet the amazing Elvira (however fleeting the moment) and get our picture together. That line was so long. It snaked around covered hallways and I heard it even went outside. If a fire marshall had come in he would have shut the convention down. Also, I don’t know how many times I had to make people get out of the path of a fan in a wheelchair. There was no consideration for the disabled. You couldn’t guess by looking at me but I have fibromyalgia, arthritis, and now whatever this seizure is. Sometimes I need to sit. Was there anywhere setup for elders, differently abled, and sick individuals?

•••••••••••••••••••••••••

I hate to sound so terribly nit picky. I do want you to know that I had some fun. Heck I met so many people I admire. And it is always amazing to be with so many like-minded people

MMP: When thousands of people try to enter a hotel lines form. We tried VERY hard to get into the convention center and the city didn’t think “our group” was a good fit so we were stuck with a convention center sized show in a hotel. The option was to not bring as many cool guests and the consensus seems to be it was worth the wait. We were not at all happy with all of our volunteers, but it’s always a gamble when you have to bring on so many new faces (to accommodate the aforementioned larger lines). Repeat volunteers were awesome (which is why we brought them back) but, as it is with all people, some suck. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

ME: One more question for the article… do you plan on trying for a bigger venue next year?<crickets for a week – then I wrote this>

Final Thoughts:
Year three did not go as well as I had hoped. This convention is suffering some very serious growing pains and this venue simply wasn’t big enough and the staff wasn’t prepared for the crowd wrangling aspect, directions, or ticketing. I am pretty sure it was way above capacity that weekend. I did have fun though, because I had friends there and MMP pulled some awesome guests who were gracious and good with their fans. Will I go again next year? Most likely. I think this convention has potential and there isn’t anything else like it here in Charlotte. So, I am going to give this Con three ratings, to be fair.

Convention Guests & Vending: 3.5 out of 5 tentacles Three and a Half Tentacles

Convention Staff & Volunteers: 2 out of 5 tentaclestentacles 2 and a half

Venue Change: .5 out of 5 tentaclestentacles half

A Feast Unknown (Secrets of the Nine #1)

http://dyn4.media.titanbooks.com/products/6507/feastunknown.jpg

A Feast Unknown (Secrets of the Nine #1)

Written by: Philip José Farmer
Published by: Titan Books
Page Count: 304
ISBN-10: 1781162883
ISBN-13: 978-1781162880

Where to buy: Titan Books, Amazon.com, and other fine book retailers.

Publisher’s Comments:
The diaries of Lord Grandrith, the legendary Apeman, Lord of the Jungle and bastard son of Jack the Ripper. Blessed with unnatural long life, his power brings with it a gruesome side effect – one shared by his nemesis, the formidable Doc Caliban, Man of Bronze and Champion of Justice.
But these two titans have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Who are the dark manipulators of their destiny?
A brand-new edition of the controversial novel.

Greetings to ill and sun-dried,

Today, I’m reviewing Titan Books’ new edition of Philip José Farmer’s classic, controversial novel A Feast Unknown. This much-misunderstood book is an amazing read, and among the talking points below I share my thoughts on the book’s more graphic content. I hope you will give this wonderful tome a chance.

Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin

When I first read this novel a year or two before Titan’s rerelease, I was shocked and greatly impressed. The late Philip José Farmer has been my favorite author for the past eleven years, and I have greatly enjoyed every single novel and story of his that I’ve read. A Feast Unknown is no exception. Farmer’s jungle lord Lord Grandrith and bronze hero of Technopolis Doc Caliban may seem familiar to fans of pulp and adventure fiction, but once you get past the surface they are very distinct from their inspirations, and indeed are in some ways more three-dimensional and realistic then their counterparts, as entertaining as the latter’s exploits absolutely are. Certainly, some of the activities Grandrith and Caliban engage in during the course of Farmer’s novel are ones that their inspirations’ chroniclers would never have dreamed of depicting.

It bears noting that A Feast Unknown is, as has often been noted, very graphic in its depiction of sex, violence, and combinations of the two. Indeed, it was originally published by Essex House, a company that specialized in pornographic novels. However, Farmer’s depiction of extreme human (or superhuman) behavior in this novel is never gratuitous and rarely titillating. While Edgar Rice Burroughsape-man was steadfastly devoted to his wife, Grandrith is much more sexually adventurous. Similarly, while Lester Dent‘s man of bronze was chaste, Caliban is somewhat sexually maladjusted, despite being in a relationship with his cousin Trish. As Art Sippo states in his wonderful afterword (which is an outgrowth of a speech he gave at the fan celebration FarmerCon in 2011, which I was lucky enough to hear and congratulate him upon), the passages deemed controversial by many have their roots in real-world practices, and tie into the points Farmer is trying to make. Speaking as a film buff who has watched a number of graphic movies, the provocative passages, while somewhat uncomfortable to read at times, are still not as off-putting for myself as they are for many readers. And, as Pablo Picasso astutely observed in one of my favorite quotes, “The chief enemy of creativity is ‘good’ taste.” It is worth noting that Farmer wrote two sequels, Lord of the Trees and The Mad Goblin, which are much less explicit in content, although still quite excellent.

Final Thoughts:
Philip Jose Farmer was as controversial as he was renowned among science fiction readers in his lifetime, and this novel is a perfect example of why. That being said, it is also one of the best of his works, and only adds to my disappointment that most people outside genre circles are unaware of Farmer’s work. If you read this book with an open mind, you may just appreciate it as much as I do. Titan’s recently-concluded series of Farmer reprints is topnotch, and I applaud them for putting one of his best and most notorious tales back into print! Though not to everyone’s tastes, I feel that his book deserves every one of the five out of five tentacles I give it! Five Tentacles

Sean LevinAssociate Editor/Reviewer/Reporter

Coven – Jinx

Jinx

Jinx

Performed by: Coven

Written by: Jinx Dawson

Track Length: 10

Where to buy: eBay

Greetings to ill and sun-dried,

Today, I present Henry Zeo Covert’s review of the new album by the legendary Goth metal group Coven. Take it away, Henry!

Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin

Coven was a band that always fascinated me. Since becoming immersed in Black Sabbath in high school, I would, on occasion, read of “real” Satanic bands (unlike Sabbath, whose lyricist Geezer Butler mined occult imagery but was no “devil worshiper”). Two such groups that invariably cropped up in my readings were Black Widow and Coven. While it’s true Black Widow (and even Sabbath on at least one occasion) would perform mock black magic rituals on stage, Coven was the first rock band to perform a genuine black mass on record, with a lengthy (and somewhat startling) track, “Satanic Mass”, on the B side of their very first album, Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls (1968). Coven’s first album also included as its opening track “Black Sabbath”, a tune filled with exhortations to witches enacting dark rituals. This was a bit removed from the band Black Sabbath’s 1970 eponymous track, which was more a cautionary tale about Satan. Coven’s image and thematic influence, if not their sound, paved the way for Sabbath’s classic first three albums, all written and recorded a year or more after Coven’s first record.

Led by singer/songwriter Jinx Dawson, Coven was truly the preeminent underground occult-rock band, and as their influence grew, they continued to be criminally underrated. Their second, self-titled, LP (1972), showed a more melodic sensibility (foreshadowed by Witchcraft‘s “The White Witch of Rose Hall”) emerging with the sublime “Nightingale” and the hit single “One Tin Soldier”, the theme song to the film Billy Jack (and a track not written by the band). Coven was strong in this area; their tunes were passionate and Jinx’s soaring vocals wrung every nuance of melody from their evolving slate of material.

By their third musical offering, the classic Blood on the Snow (1974), Coven had steered the lyrics largely away from overt occult concerns, but their tunes had reached a melodious bliss, led on a crest by Jinx’s amazing voice and delirious range. Leaving behind more of the heavier, more diabolical sound and lyrics, Jinx’s words were still captivating – from the mournful (“Blue Blue Ships”) to the sanguine (the title track). A high point of this album was the slightly “adult contemporary”/country-flavored “Lady O”, possibly their finest tune to date. Blood on the Snow was a seminal embodiment of underground rock of its era, in some ways comparable to Dust or Lucifer’s Friend, but with strains of The Poppy Family wafting in. Ignoring the radio-forged juggernaut that popularized this term, Coven’s third record to this writer is what truly constitutes “classic rock”. Unfortunately this was to be their penultimate record – until now, that is.

Coven’s dissolution is largely an area of mystery to me, but Jinx Dawson emerged in the new millennium ready to reassume the mantle of torchbearer for the Coven name, concept, and back catalogue. After amassing a dedicated and loyal following online, and reissuing Coven albums that had previously been unavailable on CD, she issued Metal Goth Queen – Out of the Vault, an album of previously unreleased material, including Deep Purple guitarist Tommy Bolin‘s final recorded track, “Black Swan”. Everything seemed to flow from there, as if Jinx had a master plan for a glorious comeback. And, apparently, she did, as the pieces came together for her reunion with original Coven members Steve Ross (drums), Oz Osbourne (bass; no relation to Ozzy), Chris Nielsen (guitar), and Rick Durrett (keyboards), and the induction of new musicians into her wicked fold. And so, over three decades after the last Coven release proper, the Godfathers of Occult-Rock have released a new album, Jinx, named for the Godmother of Goth herself.

This new CD not only obviously showcases Jinx’s stellar talents front and center, but also those of Ross, Osbourne, Nielsen, and Durrett, as well as new collaborators and guest musicians, such as the groups Wolfpack 44 and We Are Hex. Two past Coven tracks, “Wicked Woman” and “Black Swan” have been reworked. The former is a very modernized, much heavier, production, while the latter brilliantly exploits the dark melodies that made the original so indelible. The remaining tracks veer from bone-crunchingly heavy to eerily ambient to the aforementioned melodic bliss of classic Coven, creating a tapestry of Jinx’s shifting moods and musical eclecticism.

The opening track, “Prelude”, leads off with an evil dirge, an ambient harbinger of the horror show to come. This segues into the doom-laden riffs of “Out of Luck”, which boasts some priceless melodic breaks amid the churning swamp of heaviness, and showcases some ferocious screaming by Jinx (King Diamond, move over, buddy…) The third track, “To the Devil A Daughter”, is an almost grindcore-like tune, with some ear-shattering wails from Jinx. “Wicked Woman ’13” is a massive makeover of the Witchcraft Destroys Minds… classic, and is notable for its bashing heaviness and demented vocals. “Danger/Ju Ju Goat” is the album’s first really melodic piece and is a beguiling slice of pop, punctuated by sinister exhortations to the titular JuJu Goat.

The bone-crunching tracks are well-executed, but my weakness for the melodic side of Coven points me in the direction of the tracks “Epitaph”, the aforementioned “Black Swan”, and “Quick and the Dead”. And they do not disappoint. “Epitaph” reminded me most of classic Coven. Epic in construction, this is Coven songwriting at its finest, conjuring the vibe of the band’s more legendary works. “WDMRS” (think hard on what this is an acronym of) is another thrashing rocker, with We Are Hex (an act I plead unfamiliarity with) collaborating with Jinx. Strong, but not one of my favourite tracks. “Quick and the Dead”, however, is another modern classic, the longest track on the album, and filled with that archetypal Coven vibe, with some wonderful guitar jams (courtesy Chris Nielsen). The elegiac strains and characteristic Jinx Dawson soaring melodies of “Ave Satanas” (a sort of truncated sequel to “Satanic Mass”) are both thoroughly accessible and a bit chilling – the perfect album closer.

Coven, the 2013 model, while similar in the most important ways, is a much more advanced and rougher beast than in the 1970s. As in their past lives the band juggles angelic tones with daemonic noise; melodious vocalisms with lyrics torn from the pit. These paradoxes form the fabric of Coven and always have, making them one of the most unique acts ever assembled. Jinx’s lyrics are interesting as always, laced with her trademark witchery; at times playful, at times sinister. The musicianship is stellar; the players tight; the keyboards throw daunting shapes; and the guitars swing from pure drone to acidic shredding with ease.

The panoply of sounds found on Jinx is fitting for a rebirth of Coven for the 21st century, exploiting the very sounds they helped pioneer. Along the way, one can hear how Coven unmistakably paved the way for acts such as Danzig, Mercyful Fate and Christian Death. Now the influence comes full circle, as Jinx can stand proudly alongside the work of any of the band’s extreme progeny. And so Jinx Dawson and Coven are back, at long last, in fine form, and out for blood. Progenitors of Goth and black metal, they can proudly take their most overdue place in the pantheon of rock pioneers. Their previous charms inform much of Jinx, but their sound is updated to fit proudly alongside the numerous modern acts Coven spawned. We can only hope that the band will tour to support the album, and a new generation will at long last have the chance to experience the wicked magick that is Coven live, and to exalt in the raw performing power of the eternal Queen of Darkness, Jinx Dawson. Ave Jinx! I give this album an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 Tentacles!

Five Tentacless

Henry Zeo CovertMinion (Reviewer/Columnist)

The Art of Dead Space

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The Art of Dead Space

Writer: Martin Robinson
Artist: Various
Publisher: Titan Books
Page Count: 192
ISBN-10: 1781164266
ISBN-13: 978-1781164266

Where to buy: Titan Books, Amazon.com, and other fine book retailers.

Publisher’s Comments:

The Art of Dead Space is the ultimate gallery of the Dead Space universe, with over 300 images including sketches and concept art by acclaimed artists from breathtaking spacescapes to terrifying necromorphs, character designs to creating a religion, plus commentary from the artists themselves. Includes art from Dead Space, Dead Space: Extraction, Dead Space: Ignition, and Dead Space 2.

Greetings to ill and sun-dried,

Today, I give you Heather Royston’s fourth and final review of a book tie-in to the game Dead Space published by Titan Books. I can’t really add anything to her great review, so I’ll turn you over to Heather now!

Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin

The Art of Dead Space is the final book in the Dead Space collection that made its way into my hands. This was actually the first book I picked up, but upon flipping through it, I decided that it would be better to read the graphic novels first, and then check out the behind the scenes stuff. I’m glad I chose to do that, because I definitely think I saved the best for last.

The book is a “coffee table” style hardcover, oversized and perfect for showcasing the concept art behind all three games. The dust jacket is an eye catching red and black, forming the shape of Issac Clarke’s RIG suit. Personally, I think this captures the tone of the games perfectly (at least from what I’ve read.) Underneath the dust jacket, if you’re the type to remove those, the book itself is a solid shiny black, with the title on the spine done in white and gray. The words Dead Space are embossed on the front and back covers. Inside of the covers is a Rorschach style inkblot with what is definitely intended to be the RIG mask with the vague shapes of the Necromorphs. I actually spent quite a while looking at that before I realized I hadn’t even cracked the book. It’s rather mesmerizing. There is a different one at the end of the book that I couldn’t take my eyes away from. Next is a splash page of Issac in his RIG, weapon at his side. It makes a heck of an impression, as does the title page. It’s a scene of Issac being blown out of a ship, followed very closely by a gang of Necromorphs. The layout is done very well, not blocking the details with the title and credits.

Ian Milham, the “Franchise Art Director” on Dead Space and Dead Space 2 gives a foreword describing his experience working with the artists on the game concepts. From there, Martin Robinson takes over, setting up the book for the wonders held within. From there the book is separated into sections. It opens with an introduction to Issac Clarke, where his character came from, and how his look evolved. It moves on through the other characters in the games, showcasing the weapons, the different ships and settings of each game. Robinson lays out details that were put into the series that I hadn’t appreciated before. The repetition of the ribbing throughout everything, and the use of the lighting to play on it, is something I look forward to seeing in the games. Getting to see the concept art is always a treat, especially for something you haven’t seen yet. If the game looks half as good as some of these spreads, I’m going to have my mind blown!

Final Thoughts: The Art of Dead Space is absolutely worth spending your money on if you’re a fan of the series, or even if you’re just a fan of art. Martin Robinson does a fantastic job of describing the art and what it leads to without really spoiling anything in the games. You can take a journey from the humble beginnings and on through the series and see the evolution of it all. I did notice a typo in the text, but I almost feel like it adds something to the book, like a homemade tribute. The artists featured within absolutely deserve the recognition for their creations, though I do question why Ben Templesmith was not included despite there being a section about the graphic novels. I now feel fully prepared to immerse myself in the Dead Space games and have a deeper appreciation for everything that went into creating this universe. I quite happily give The Art of Dead Space 5 out of 5 tentacles.

Five Tentacless

Heather RoystonAssistant Editor/Reviewer

Dead Space: Liberation

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Dead Space: Liberation

Writer: Ian Edginton
Artist: Christoper Shy
Publisher: Titan Books
Page Count: 128
ISBN-10: 178116553X
ISBN-13: 978-1781165539

Where to buy: Titan Books, Amazon.com, and other fine book retailers.

Publisher’s Comments:

A prequel to the events of the smash video game hit Dead Space 3, we follow Earthgov Sergeant, John Carver who’s wife and son are attacked by fanatics trying to liberate the Marker site where she works.

Racing to solve the clues his wife left behind, Carver teams up with Ellie Langford, survivor of an earlier necromorph outbreak on the Sprawl, and EarthGov Captain Robert Norton.

Together they unlock deep secrets about the Markers in an epic adventure that will help determine the fate of mankind.

Greetings to ill and sun-dried,

Today, I give you the third of four reviews by Heather Royston of books published by Titan spinning off from the video game Dead Space. Without further ado, here’s Heather’s take on Dead Space: Liberation.

Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin

Having still not started playing the Dead Space franchise (gimme a break, my day job takes up all my time!), I had to look up the storyline to know where Dead Space: Liberation takes place. This book is a direct set-up for the events of Dead Space 3. We open with John Carver talking to his wife on his comm from his patrol. It seems things are not at all well at home for the Carvers. Damara is making it clear that John either starts putting the family first, or there won’t be one to worry about. In the middle of it all, Carver stumbles upon a targeting laser, which he quickly discovers is pointed straight at the Marker his base is meant to be protecting. He desperately tries to call home to tell his wife to grab their son and head for shelter just as a missile hits the base. He rushes back as fast as he can, only to find the site decimated. The newly formed Necromorphs are soon upon him. Carver takes them out with barely a flinch. He heads towards home to find his family, and instead finds a group of Unitologist soldiers and their commander. He is captured, and interrogated about who was working on the Marker. Things escalate from here, from his escape, to discovering his family’s fate, to being rescued by Ellie (a character from Dead Space 2), and their battle to escape a station full of Necromorphs and the Unitologists who are hunting them down for the information they carry.

This is the first Dead Space book that I’ve read that was not written by Antony Johnston. This time around the reins were given to Ian Edginton, who seems to have done a fine enough job with it. The story itself is easy to follow, one can easily figure out who all of the characters are. This volume did not have the character biographies in the front, unlike the other books, but the plot was pretty straightforward, and Edginton did a good job with exposition in the pages. There were only two problems I had with the story: the characters never suffered hallucinations nor any of the other symptoms of being in proximity to the Marker, and the Necromorphs felt like they had been forced into the pages at points and they were far too easily dispatched as opposed to the other stories. I know that isn’t the focus of the story, but it is pretty central to the games, so I thought their placement in things was a little weak here. It also moved really fast, so I felt like certain plot elements were cut short or cut entirely, perhaps to have a few panels of Necromorph fighting.

Christopher Shy once again did the art for this book, and I am a little disappointed with it. He retains his style, but it looks like he did this while pumped up on energy drinks or something. There is an intensity that is present in this book that wasn’t there in Salvage, but it makes many of the panels harder to see than they should be. I don’t normally mind taking a closer look at a panel to catch the action – you normally see more details – but there are a few panels here that look almost like someone spilled a glass of water on the pages and blurred them. There is slightly less detail put into most of the faces, which I found to be the most disappointing part of all, since he did such a fantastic job with the last book. I did read an interview where he said he was much happier with the art he did for this volume than the last, but I’m wondering if he got to see the finished product before he said that. I’d love to see what the original pages looked like. The gallery in the back of the book does highlight some of the best pages of the story but a few of them are also among the not so good. Once again though, he did a fantastic job with the lettering.

Final Thoughts: Dead Space: Liberation seems to play an integral role in furthering the plot of the game series, but overall isn’t anything to rave about. Upon noticing a typo or two, I’m really not raving about it. I’m still looking forward to the last book on my stack and after that, I’m starting the game for sure! I give Dead Space: Liberation 3 out of 5 Tentacles.

Three Tentacles

Heather RoystonAssistant Editor/Reviewer

Dead Space: Salvage

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Dead Space: Salvage

Writer: Antony Johnston
Artist: Christoper Shy
Publisher: Titan Books
Page Count: 128
ISBN-10: 1781165521
ISBN-13: 978-1781165522

Where to buy: Titan Books, Amazon.com, and other fine book retailers.

Publisher’s Comments:

When a group of freelance miners find the abandoned USG Ishimura in deep space, their once-fortunate luck turns into a catastrophe. With the Earth Government racing to reclaim the ship and an army of Necromorphs wreaking havoc on board, do the miners have any hope of surviving?

Greetings to ill and sun-dried,

Today, I present Heather Royston’s second review of a graphic novel based on the game Dead Space, again written by Antony Johnston, but with Christopher Shy taking over on art duties from Ben Templesmith. But enough of my yakking, let’s turn things over to Heather!

Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin

Dead Space: Salvage takes place between the events of Dead Space and the animated movie Dead Space: Aftermath. It concerns an illegal salvage crew that happens upon the ship Ishimura. They board the ship with the intention of harvesting as much scrap as possible, and escaping before they are captured by the government ships that have been gathering in the area. Whilst aboard, they realize that The Marker must still be in the hold somewhere and is worth a fortune. As they search, some of the crew start to experience psychotic outbursts, the same as the colonists from the original Dead Space. They separate, trying to isolate the affected while also locating The Marker and anything else that can be sold as scrap. The Ishimura is then invaded by The Oracles, who are also after The Marker. Their priority is clear: nothing will stand between them and what they seek. Then, all hell breaks loose in true Dead Space fashion.

Antony Johnston once again does a fantastic job weaving the story of the salvage crew. The characters’ motivations were clear, the dialog was realistic, and the story flowed without a hitch. My only confusion with the book was exactly where in the timeline it takes place, but a cursory Google search cleared that up quickly. Being from the mind of someone so deeply involved in the creation of the Dead Space universe, I have no doubts that once I start playing the games (soon, I promise!) and get into the rest of the material (such as the animated Aftermath), all the pieces will fall into place. I’m getting the feeling that the world is quite large and involved and I look very forward to exploring it.

I was not familiar with the artist, Christopher Shy, before this book, though I have heard of him under his occasional pen name of Ronin. The cover art for the book had already grabbed me; the undefined lines and use of blurred colors are already a style I’m drawn to. I’ve learned the hard way, though, that a fantastic cover doesn’t always mean the same quality inside the book, so when I opened it and got a look at the pages, I was blown away. Shy draws his people with near photo-realistic faces, and makes amazing use of his colors to convey tones. The results are amazing. There were one or two places where I had to really examine a panel to see what happened, but that is usually a good thing, forcing the reader to really take in the art. Several times, including a page of a woman being killed by a Necromorph (this was actually the first time in the book you get a good look at that sort of thing and the impact was incredible) and a single panel of a gloved hand grasping a ledge, I just stopped reading and drank it in. It was just beautiful. I see no letterer credited, so I assume that Shy lettered the pages himself, and I love what he did with it. A non-traditional format is used, instead the dialog is written directly on to the pages with only a faint line pointing towards the character speaking. Different colors are used depending on if a character is on the page or on a comm. I don’t usually say this sort of thing, but I really liked the fact that it looks like handwriting on the page rather than typed words. It enhances the fact that the characters are speaking; I think typed style font would have been too cold for this type of art and it definitely would have taken away from the aesthetics.

Final Thoughts:Dead Space: Salvage is a great standalone story in between the games that opens up the universe beyond, and shows the impact of the events on a greater scale. It’s not just CEC, the government, and the Unitologists who are affected. However, it doesn’t feel so much like a “one and done” kind of story as it does just a piece of the larger tale, especially since it seems to end with a lead-in to the next story. Still, I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the original Dead Space story. I’ve one more Dead Space graphic novel in my stack, as well as what seems to be shaping up to be a very special treat that I can’t wait to share with you all. I give Dead Space: Salvage 4 out of 5 tentacles.

Four Tentacles

Heather RoystonAssistant Editor/Reviewer

Dead Space

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Dead Space

Written by: Antony Johnston

Illustrated by: Ben Templesmith
Published by: Titan Books
Page Count: 192
ISBN-10: 1781165513
ISBN-13: 978-1781165515

Where to buy: Titan Books, Amazon.com, and other fine book retailers.

Publisher’s Comments:
A distant human colony discover that they aren’t as alone as they first thought…

As the dead begin to rise as horrific monsters, can P-SEC Sgt. Abraham Neumann contain the threat? What role does the mysterious Church of Unitology have in all of this? And can any of them make it out alive…?

Greetings to ill and sun-dried,

Today, Heather Royston will be reviewing Antony Johnston and Ben Templesmith’s graphic novel Dead Space, based on the video game of the same name. Without any further ado, I’ll turn this over to Heather.

Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin

It’s time for another shameful admission, folks. I have not yet played Dead Space. Neither the original nor the sequels. It’s not been a matter of not wanting to; I have owned Dead Space since it came out originally, and it’s always been near the top of the “To Play” stack. It’s just that, as much as I love gaming, I just can’t find the time to play everything I want. I usually end up playing RPG style games more than anything, just to lose myself in the fantasy. My husband did play it and raved about it constantly. I’ve read so many reviews of the game and I’ve been told countless times that I’m crazy for not experiencing the awesomeness that is Dead Space. One day, I promise I’m going to play it. But for now, I’ve got a handful of graphic novels that follow the storyline. The first one, simply titled Dead Space, is a prequel to the game.

Dead Space tells the story of Bram Neumann, a sergeant with CEC’s security force. His job is to police the colony of workers, and keep the peace during a two and a half year “planet cracking” project. During said project, a team unearths a strange looking stone monument covered in strange symbols. It is said to resemble a “Marker,” an artifact of some importance to the Unitologist religion. Soon after its discovery, the colonists begin suffering from insomnia and hallucinations. Some completely break down, while others convert to Unitology and throw themselves into religious devotion. Just when Bram thinks it can’t get any worse, it does. Something strange is found in the air vents, and a catastrophic event sends the colony into a mass panic. The bodies pile up, then rise again; mutated into something horrific.

The writer, Antony Johnston, did a fantastic job writing this story. I was already familiar with Johnston’s work, having read a few of his Alan Moore adaptations and a bit of his series, Wasteland. I was unaware of the level of his involvement in the Dead Space series. He wrote the script for the first game, two follow ups called Extraction and Ignition, a mobile version of Dead Space, and a series of webisodes called No Known Survivors. It makes perfect sense that he would be writing the prequel stories as well, since he seems to know more about the universe than anyone. The first few pages of the book are character backgrounds, giving insight into why each character reacts the way they do. Having that was a huge help. This is one of those stories that didn’t need much set up, especially if you know anything about the game, but a little information is always good. The story itself flows very well, and ends perfectly where the game should begin. The book also includes a side story called Extraction, about the event spreading to the Ishimura, the ship that comes to the colony to initiate the planetcrack. Through the original story you mostly hear people complaining about the ship and it’s claimed superiority, and there is a storyline implying that the captain of the Ishimura is in on some sort of religious conspiracy involving the Marker but we don’t get to see the ship or anyone else one it. Seeing the other side of things was interesting also.

Ben Templesmith is probably my favorite artist. I’ve been a fan ever since my husband brought home Criminal Macabre from the comic shop years ago. I own a great number of comics that he has drawn and written. So believe me when I say that I loved the artwork in this book. I’m struggling to find a word to describe it, I may have to invent one for it. His style is perfectly suited for the horror genre, and I find that he can always give me the shivers with just a few brushstrokes. Each character has their own “physical personality,” a distinct expression for each level of anger, concentration, confusion, pain, fear and so on. There are some artists out there who just can’t seem to grasp that human faces express feelings just as much as words do (I’ve read a lot of comics that seem to be starring a certain actress who is known for lacking severely in that department) but Templesmith never fails to bring that out. As always, I am most impressed with his use of color to convey the tones of each scene. A single glace between the color of the page and the faces of each person could tell the whole story on its own. The book includes a cover gallery, sketches and alternate page sequences that are flat out amazing. I love seeing this stuff, especially the sketches. Getting to see the early stages, before the colors and dialog, is always a treat, but from someone like Ben Templesmith it’s a bit mind blowing.

Final Thoughts:Despite not having played the game, the Dead Space graphic novel plays well as a standalone story or as a prequel for what must be an incredible game. I look forward to not only playing the hell out of this game and the sequels but also reading the other graphic novels which I have received and you will all be hearing about shortly. I award Dead Space 5 out of 5 tentacles.
Five Tentacles

Heather Royston – Assistant Editor/Reviewer/Reporter

The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible (Limited HC)

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The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible (Limited HC)

Edited by: Nancy Holder and Joe Gentile
Published by: Moonstone Books
Page Count: 330
ISBN-10: 1936814420
ISBN-13: 978-1936814428

Where to buy: Moonstone Books, Amazon.com, and other fine book retailers.

Publisher’s Comments:
The greatest crime-fighter of the 40′s returns in a third thrilling collection of original, action-packed tales of adventure, intrigue, and revenge. Life was bliss for millionaire adventurer Richard Henry Benson until that fateful day crime and greed took away his wife and young daughter – and turned him into something more than human! Driven by loss, compelled by grief, he becomes a chilled impersonal force of justice, more machine than man, dedicated to the destruction of evildoers everywhere. A figure of ice and steel, more pitiless than both, Benson has been forged into an avatar of vengeance, possessed of superhuman genius supernormal power. His frozen face, like a polar dawn, only hint at the terrible force the underworld heedlessly invoked upon itself the day they created… The Avenger! This limited edition hardcover features exclusive bonus material: an Avenger timeline, plus solo tales of the Avenger’s aides by Howard Hopkins.

Greetings to ill and sun-dried,

Today, I will be reviewing the limited hardcover edition of the excellent anthology THE AVENGER: ROARING HEART OF THE CRUCIBLE, Moonstone Books’ third collection of tales featuring Paul Ernst’s classic pulp hero. I hope you all enjoy it!

Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin

I have long been a fan of Moonstone Books and their new tales of classic characters such as the Spider, Sherlock Holmes, and Captain Midnight. I’m particularly a fan of their anthologies featuring the classic pulp hero Richard Henry Benson, alias the Avenger, whose exploits were primarily chronicled by Paul Ernst under the Street & Smith house-name “Kenneth Robeson” (the same one, incidentally used for the Doc Savage novels by Lester Dent and others.) Although I’ve only read one of the original Avenger pulp novels, the hero is a very memorable figure, and his stories seem more character-driven than the average pulp. I am pleased to say that Moonstone has outdone itself with its third and most recent collection of stories featuring the Avenger. Among my favorite stories are “Ghost of Thunder Isle” by John Allen Small, “According to Plan of a One-Eyed Trickster” by Win Scott Eckert (whose villains will seem more than a little familiar to those who, like me, are fans of the late, great science fiction Grand Master Philip José Farmer), “Call of the Arctic Siren” by Matthew P. Mayo, “Lone Justice” by Bobby Nash, “The Iron Phantom” by Matthew Baugh, and all three of the bonus stories by the late Howard Hopkins included in the limited hardcover edition, short vignettes focused on three of Benson’s aides: Algernon Heathcote “Smitty” Smith and Josh Newton and his wife Rosabel, the latter duo being one of the most positive portrayals of African-Americans in the pulps of the 1930s and 1940s. Another great extra is “An Expanded Chronology of the Avenger” by Rick Lai, a thorough and excellent timeline encompassing the original pulp tales, the new novels written by Ron Goulart in the 1970s, and all three of Moonstone’s own collections. One of the neat things about this piece is that Lai lists the many crossover appearances of, or references to, characters from other pulp series and media in Goulart’s novels and the Moonstone books. The cover by Jay Piscopo, of whom I have long been a fan, is also quite excellent.

Final Thoughts:
Moonstone has long been one of my favorite publishing companies, and their excellent anthologies are one of the main reasons why that is. Their Avenger anthologies have been some of my very favorite books they’ve released, and this one is the best yet. All true fans of the pulps in general and the Avenger in particular should seek out all three anthologies. Moonstone is one of the best publishers we have, and I hope they continue their great work for a long time to come. I give this book an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 tentacles! Five Tentacles

Sean LevinAssociate Editor/Reviewer/Reporter

Lord Kelvin’s Machine: A Tale of Langdon St. Ives

http://dyn4.media.titanbooks.com/products/6168/lordkelvinsmachine.jpg

Lord Kelvin’s Machine: A Tale of Langdon St. Ives

Written by: James P. Blaylock
Published by: Titan Books
Page Count: 277
ISBN-10: 0857689843
ISBN-13: 978-0857689849

Where to buy: Titan Books, Amazon, and other fine book retailers.

Publisher’s Comments:
Within the magical gears of Lord Kelvin’s incredible machine lies the secret of time. The deadly Dr. Ignacio Narbondo would murder to possess it and scientist and explorer Professor Langdon St. Ives would do anything to use it. For the doctor it means mastery of the world and for the professor it means saving his beloved wife from death. A daring race against time begins…

Greetings to ill and sun-dried,

Today our own Alanna Quinn brings us a review of steampunk pioneer James P. Blaylock’s novel Lord Kelvin’s Machine. Enjoy!

Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin

I am pleased to have a new (to me) genre of reading material to pick up, I wondered what authors were doing in the science fiction realm that could breathe new life into vintage territory Jules Verne and others have mapped into posterity. My favorite devices of this genre are the technology, properly described processes and machinery that can create a vivid narrative that suspends disbelief, keeping a story from becoming a period potboiler/melodrama. In addition to mechanics time-travel, early cryogenics and “controlled vulcanology” or causing volcanoes to activate made for interesting reading.

James B. Blaylock’s Lord Kelvin’s Machine was first published in 1992, not long after his previous novel Homunculus (which will be reviewed next.) Curious as to the moniker “Steampunk Legend” following his name I did a search through Wikipedia and found that in 1987, author K.W. Jeter originated or used “steam-punks” in a submission letter to Locus magazine, naming Homunculus and Tim Powers’ works under the term: it is an honest and legitimate tag.

The themes in Lord Kelvin’s Machine are classic: love, revenge, ambition, and a life’s work. Connecting these elements is Lord Kelvin’s time traveler, a machine that allows scientist/explorer Langdon St. Ives to jump through time in order to change the future, in addition to discovering things about himself that return to him his humanity, rather than his default setting as a to-the-bone scientist. The story goes through three major parts, with the final goosing up the action after the substantial build up of character and motives, notably of St. Ives and the obsessions that plague him. I enjoyed the density of the development; it engaged me visually with the story and allowed me to have more empathy even for the villains. With his manservant Hasbro and partners Jack Owlesby and Bill Kraken, St. Ives pursues his nemesis Dr. Narbondo and endeavors to prevent the doctor and his confederates from attempting to destroy the world through seismic manipulations, among other criminal pursuits. In the vernacular, a ripping yarn.

Final Thoughts:This book would be enjoyed greatly by fans of science fiction and those interested in the steampunk genre with more of an emphasis on science. I enjoyed the story immensely and am pleased to discover how far back the steampunk genre’s origins went. It is very good that Titan Books has reprinted and re-released Blaylock’s titles. He is worthy of rediscovery. I give this most enjoyable book four and a half out of five tentacles.

Four and a Half Tentacles

Alanna Quinn – Reviewer/Columnist

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