Appearing as a wild horse flayed alive, the Nuckalavee is the most horrible of all the demons of the Scottish islands. Its name may be the origin of “Old Nick” a moniker often used for Satan.
You may now pre-order MASHED, the anthology I am featured in, on Amazon. Click, click, click on this link….
You can can also enter this book giveaway contest to get it for free! It includes a bunch of other horror books as well.
Here’s a short excerpt of my story, “Arabica,” to get you in the mood.
Her transmuted body came fully into service. Water boiled inside of her, filling her with heat. Mute and paralyzed, she grew increasingly excited… sexually excited… as the pressure built. The true horror of what her unconscious had done, what it had come up with as treatment for herself, sunk in. It had become its own entity now, carrying her along as a helpless passenger to fulfill the mental treatment she had signed for.The pressure reached its climax, no longer pleasure but a hot, steamy torture.
The rats know not what they do.
Seriously, I think this picture is hilarious even though I’m respectful, for the most part, of religious imagery. If the Mickey had a more Christ-like expression on his face, that would be crossing the line for me. But as it is, it’s just goofy.
She never thought she’d turn into a Werecrow zombie.
Adapted by Stephen Mitchell
[Challenge # 11: A book written before 1700]
Gilgamesh is one of the oldest pieces of fiction in human history. I chose it to read for the “Ye Olde Book Shoppe” — a book written before 1700, which Gilgamesh certainly qualifies for — segment of my reading challenge. I’d never read it before, or didn’t even know much about it, save it took place in ancient Mesopotamia and was about a demigod with a hairy friend called Enkidu.
The first thing I found out was that there are multiple interpretations by various translators of the text, as well as multiple versions on clay tablets which have been unearthed. All were written in cuneiform, each version missing different parts, so they are most often combined together. This version was called an adaptation rather than straight translation by the author, the story put together in a poetry form called noniambic, nonalliterative tetrameter. The author kept the language and metaphors simple, befitting the time in which they were written. The poem, like a lot of ancient literature, relies on repetition and pacing of that repetition to get its points across; it wasn’t Shakespeare. The written form, I thought, may actually have been a sort of Cliffs Notes for storytellers to embellish on, or singers and musicians, as music and rhythm were often used in storytelling, the repetitions serving as a chorus.
Anyway, to get to the story, Gilgamesh is the brash but arrogant king of Uruk who is beginning to annoy the gods, so they create a companion for him called Enkidu who they hope will temper his excesses. Enkidu lives like a beast at first, drinking from the waterhole with the other animals. In this version he is described as having long hair, but I know that in other translations, he’s described as having a pelt, like a Mesopotamian Sasquatch. He becomes human when he has sex with a priestess of Ishtar and comes to Uruk to seek out Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is churlish at first, sensing a rival in him, but after a tussle, he befriends Enkidu, beginning a deep attachment that for me was the most intriguing part of the book. The two are described in the poem as being on very close, intimate terms, like that of husband and wife, and they even hold hands. But it isn’t sexual, it is more of a soul bonding that acknowledges physical affection. (Remember that what 21st century Western society thinks of as the norm for two male friends was not always so. Indeed, the very notion of heterosexuality at all is a recent construct, springing up in part from the Victorian age and Sigmund Freud, who contributed to it by treating anything not heterosexual as an aberration. What is the baseline now is only the conjunctive opinion of a very small slice of time and place and certainly not the norm for most of human existence.) When Enkidu later dies, Gilgamesh is broken up as only a grieving spouse could be.
Gilgamesh’s grief is a setback for him, after the triumphs of the adventures the two have had (killing Humbaba the monster and the Bull of Heaven). He sets out on a third adventure to find Utnapishtim, the man who survived the flood and now holds the key of eternal life, his fear of death driving him forward. But things don’t go as he planned, and he returns to his city resigned to a mortality.
The story is a not a complicated one, but like many myths, there is truth behind it. I definitely saw the parallels between it and today’s superhero yarns — like the current Wolverine du jour epic Logan — where the protagonists, in spite of their powers, experience angst both personal and existential. Gilgamesh could be called the first superhero, even.
There have also been graphic novel adaptations of Gilgamesh.
This one, looking like an R. Crumb parody, is from
“The Graphic Canon, Vol 1: From the Epic of Gilgamesh
to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons.”
I’m not much of a costumer, mainly due to time constraints. But golly I do I appreciate them… and appreciating vintage SF and horror movies, I like eyes… preferably floating or ambulatory. These eye candy pics (hee hee, did I make a pun?) bring out both of my passions.
German costumes. “We come in piece… of your anatomy.”
And Junior too.
Still from the Johnny Socko and His Flying Robot set. This was a Japanese kid’s show from the late 1960s. The giant floating eye costume had a “hula skirt” of optic nerves that concealed the wearer’s legs.
Drunk, TV antenna-wearing, chorus line eyes are also popular.
Like eyes but have no time to make a costume? A white garbage bag stuffed with newspaper is your go-to solution.
You can always add a touch of eye with a piece of jewelry.
by Laini Taylor
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2007
[Challenge # 6: Out of the Park at First Bat]
(Note: I am reading and blogging these Challenge books out of order)
I’ve gotta say I have a lot of problems with post-Harry Potter YA books — the ones published after that first big boom. They look so fun and enticing, and I know they have a lot of fans — adult fans — who enthuse about them. But when I get to actually reading them, most of the tine I’m… meh. They just don’t deliver on their promise. The ones I have enjoyed, like The Giver, and the Dorothy Must Die series, have other stuff going on under the surface; for the former, it’s allegory and social commentary, for the latter, it’s the author’s in-depth research of L. Frank Baum’s original Oz books. I also enjoyed Tanith Lee’s Claidi series, but that’s more because it was Lee and had her trademark wild invention. So, my review of this YA book cannot be said to be unbiased, as I’m not exactly the intended audience.
Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, is the first published work by Laini Taylor, who also wrote the highly regarded YA urban fantasy novel A Daughter of Smoke and Bone and its sequels. Here, she posits a secret world of faeries, imps, devils, and sentient animals existing alongside the real one of 19th century Europe. The faeries have their own tribes, ruler, and history… of how ancient genies, more like efreet in this book, created the world and wove the spells that keep it running. In the past, there was a war among the genies and devils, the faeries helping the genies to put the devils — not red-skinned, goat-horned, Christian devils, but beings more like demons — into sealed bottles and threw them in the sea. But now humans have risen to prominence and are fishing up those bottles, setting the devils free. Magpie Windwitch is a teenage faerie who tracks them down and slays them with the help of a group of sentient crows; her parents are faerie ethnologists of a sort, who travel the world researching the magic of distant fairy tribes. She is a fighter and warrior and competent at her task, a literal manic pixie dream girl without the manic.
As such, the story sounds like it should be novel and exciting, but it wasn’t. The plot was not constructed well and a lot of it depended on coincidence and false alarms. Chasing an errant devil to a catacomb in Rome, the heroine just happens to find an ancient, magical knife and an old fairie who tells her about that knife with his dying breath! An evil devil’s lackey just happens to wander into Dreamdark and be discovered at the right moment! A trusted childhood guardian just happens to have a secret power to wander into the land of the dead! A dragon lunges at the heroine, oh noes! Wait, false alarm, he’s really a good guy! The book also had the first-time novelist’s typical problem of unnecessary POV shifts, and, by extension, unnecessary POV characters who have their single cameo, then disappear. A particularly jarring one was where the hero and heroine first meet face to face and the author keeps switching back and forth between them. That’s just not done. Granted I had an ARC and not the published book, but I doubt they would have been straightened out by publication. ARCs, to my knowledge, are just to catch layout errors and the like. The work also could have been edited more strongly; it seemed very long for a borderline MG/YA book, at least 100,000 words. It got tedious and windy for me, and I’m an adult. Perhaps one-third of it could have been cut without losing anything vital. (A subplot involving a pretender Queen of Faerie could have been cut altogether.) I grant that the length might not have mattered to someone younger, who might really want to sink into the world the author created, while for a more widely read adult, there was really nothing new.
The prose was fine, if overdone in places. No problems there. It was evocative and fun for the most part, particularly a trip by the faeries to a girls’ boarding school. The world the author seemed spent on portraying is of faerie magic in decline, but, as presented, things were actually pretty chipper. I wouldn’t mind spending the night at a faerie B&B in Dreamdark forest, these faeries’ royal seat of power, for example. After a while, though, the wordiness began to annoy me, particularly the Rule of Threes, wherein three nouns that are used for ornamentation and/or description are given three in a row, like… comfrey, nettles, and rosemary. Bluebells, lungwort and jack-in-the-pulpit. Like that, that, and that.
The other major thing that bothered me about the book was the relationship of human history to faerie history. The fairy wars and other historical events, like the disappearance of the dragons, are referenced by years passed, generally thousands, or tens of thousands. But unless fairy years are longer, they don’t match up with human history, which, by the mentions of Rome, ancient catacombs, dams, and girls’ schools with taxidermy and globes, is this one, which last time I checked was billions of years old, not created whole-cloth by genies a couple hundred thousand years ago. That’s still the last Ice Age. It’s never explained by the author how these two versions co-exist, which is weird. Evolution is mentioned in that the fairies know humans descended from the monkeys in the trees, yet modern-day forest animals are spoke of as being created at the beginning of the world.
OK, it’s just a book for high middle-grade students about faeries. But it bothers me, because it’s also doing a disservice to those young people, who surely are learning about geology, biology, and evolution in school. Or I hope. Anyway, fie on the author for no thought given to the reasoning powers of junior readers.
In the end, would I give this book to any of my nieces? Yes, it’s enjoyable, and the heroine is a good role model.