Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Eleven Books.

My reading habits are like ordering an appetizer sampler at a restaurant: it's a little bit of everything and leaves you too full to enjoy a full fiction meal. I was reading ten books all at the same time, and now I'm reading eleven. I bounce from one book to another, depending on my mood, and it isn't hard for me to keep tabs on everything so I don't get lost. These are the books I'm reading right now:

Let Me In

Also known as Let the Right One In, this is a vampire novel by Sweedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist. I heard a lot about the movie version of it, and then learned about the American production that changed the title, so I decided to go after the book before I saw either movie. I'm only eighteen pages into it, but so far so good. I like reading fiction from other countries because of the culture differences and whatnot. It makes books more interesting. I'm just learning about the main character now, so none of the gooey vampire goodness has happened yet, but the book is looking to be decently pleasing so far.

The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story

This book is fascinating. It's about the discovery of the Ebola virus in Africa and was the basis for the film Outbreak from several years back, although I think that movie had a fictional, less terrifying virus going around. I'm not that far into it either and haven't touched it in a very long time, but I'm looking to get back into it as soon as everything else allows.


Yeah, that book. I can't lash out against something that I have no knowledge of, and while I have seen the filmed version, I wanted to see what Stephanie Meyer's fiction was really like. The book is really hard to stomach though, and I'm only eight pages into it. I'm finding myself agreeing with Stephen King, though. Meyer really can't write all that well.

Chariots of the Gods

I've been wanting to read this book forever. I like the strange idea of the gods of antiquity having been aliens from other planets. I'm not saying I agree with it, believe it, or think that its true, but it's fascinating subject matter. This along with books like Fingerprints of the Gods and Forbidden Archeology (which I'm still looking for) capture my imagination pretty well. I first heard about Chariots in John Carpenter's The Thing, which is odd because I had seen multiple television programs dealing with similar subject matter before I had seen that particular movie. The book is fascinating and it poses a lot of questions that religions simply cannot answer.

The Devil You Know

I'm a fan of Mike Carey. I read his work on DC/Vertigo's Lucifer and Hellblazer for a while, and read most of his run on the relaunch of DC/WildStorm's WetWorks. When I found out he had written a novel, I started looking -- and by looking I mean I physically go to bookstores and look for them, and use the online stores as a last resort. This turned out to be the first book in a series of books, so I grabbed the first two. The series revolves around Felix Castor who is sort of a freelance exorcist, but I've not got to that part, yet. I'm thirty pages into it, and all Felix has done was terrify a bunch of children at a birthday party. It was pretty funny. I hope I enjoy these books enough to continue the series.

When Satan Wore A Cross

A true crime book about a 1980 murder of a seventy-one year old nun. Fifty-one pages into it, and it's pretty decently handled. I normally don't like true crime or real life stories.

The Dead That Walk: Flesh-Eating Stories

Zombies are everywhere. If you go to a book store and they have a horror section, you're going to find an abundance of two things: vampires and zombies. Unfortunately, most of the vampire stories are serial books that try to romanticize the creatures even further than Bram Stoker did with Dracula to the point where they're no longer horror novels. The zombies also suffer from an abundance of bad ideas and bad writing in that most of the short story collections are filled with stories that aren't good and the novels are just as bad. So if you're going to get a zombie short story collection, you'd want one with the best of the best, right?

Well, this is THAT collection. This book has stories by Richard and Richard Christian Matheson (together, which is fitting 'cause without Richard Matheson, we'd have no zombies), Yvonne Navarro, Joe Hill (the son of Stephen King), David J. Schow, Nancy Holder, H.P. Lovecraft (posthumously of course), Ramsey Campbell, Joe R. Lansdale, Clive Barker, Harlan Ellison, Kim Newman and Stephen King.

So far I've read Where There's a Will by Richard and Richard Christian Matheson, which is really different from anything zombie related that I've read. For the Good of All by Yvonne Navarro, which I really don't remember reading. I need to read it again, I think. The Things he Said by Michael Marshall Smith, which I also don't remember reading. A few of the stories I've already read in other collections, like Haeckle's Tale by Clive Barker and the Kim Newman story, but I'll delightfully re-read them again.

Wicked City: Black Guard

Hideyuki Kikuchi's awkward stories about humans and demons and those whose job it is to keep the balance between the two realms. I saw this as an anime years ago before I ever knew it was a novel (the same thing happened to me with his other series of novels, Vampire Hunter D). I also learned that Wicked City and Demon City: Shinjuku share the same universe. I like the book, even with the awkward language barrier -- Kikuchi is a Japanese novelist, and the books are translated to English and I think a lot is lost in translation. It plays out a lot like the anime.

The Mammoth Book of Wolf Men

One good thing about the Twilight series is that werewolves and lycanthropy have come back into popular culture in a nice way. Even the much more interesting and well plotted Underworld franchise of films didn't generate a lot of interest in lycanthropy the way Stephanie Meyer's books have -- though a lot of that new interest is misguided. I read a "review" not too long ago of The Wolf Man, the new one with Benicio del Toro, from a Twilight fan and all she did was rant and rave about how ugly and disgusting the werewolf was and how they "ripped off" Stephanie Meyer's ideas ('cause, y'know, lycanthropy hasn't been one of the myths attributed to every culture around the world since the beginning of mankind; the word lycanthropy comes from Lycaon, the king of Arcadia, who attempted to serve human flesh to Zues when he came for a visit) and shows just how uneducated we are as a culture here in America. Anyone should be able to tell you that The Wolf Man was a remake of a film of the same name from 1941. And if you don't, you shouldn't be let out of the basement.

This book is full of werewolf stories from all over the place, both old and new, and it is awesome. None of them quite capture my imagination the way The Howling, An American Werewolf in London, and Dog Soldiers have, but some came pretty close. Twilight at the Towers by Clive Barker is my favorite so far (492 pages into it) and the idea behind it would make a terrific horror flick. Governments using lycanthropes as spies during the Cold War. The other one I really like so far is Boobs by Suzy McKee Charnas, a coming of age story where not only does the main character's breasts develop earlier than the rest of her classmates (and larger) but she also gets the added feature of becoming a wolf on certain nights. My only problem with that story, and several other werewolf stories or stories with werewolves in them (like Twilight) is the quadrapedal take on them. Werewolves should always be bipedal in my opinion, because then they're not wolf-men, they're just people who turn into wolves. There's a difference. One interesting thing I've learned either from this book or while reading it from someplace else is that the full moon, the lunar cycle, all of that was added to werewolf/lycanthrope mythology by Hollywood, as was silver.

Dead Until Dark

Another book I'm not that far into, but this one has a decent explanation as to why. Dead Until Dark is the first of the Sookie Stackhouse series of books by Charlaine Harris, and is the basis of the television show, True Blood. I like the show a lot and was curious enough to buy my sister the series for Christmas last year, and she got me them for my birthday this year. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the producers of the show changed very little at the opening chapters, the book reads just like the show plays out. I'm not that far into it because I'm trying to write my own vampire fiction and decided that it was best to not read anyone elses, just in case stuff leaks through. That went south when I started reading Let Me In though. So maybe I'll pick it up again soon and blow through it quickly.

He Is Legend

The eleventh book on the list I just started reading last night, and I'm doing it differently than the others. The title, He Is Legend, is a play on the title of I Am Legend as it's a tribute, "an anthology celebrating Richard Matheson," which is right up my alley. Someone suggested I Am Legend to me about fifteen years ago or so, and I read that book really fast and ultimately fell in love with it, and the overall work of Richard Matheson. This book is a collection of short stories by authors that were influenced by Matheson's tales in their own careers and the stories they've provided for the anthology are sequels, prequels or are inspired by specific works from Matheson. I'm currently only reading the stories that are inspired by, prequels and sequels to the stories I've read by Matheson. Beginning with I Am Legend, Too by Mick Garris. Mick Garris will always be a favorite of mine but not because of his work. I've read very little of his fiction, but I've seen a few of his films, but he'll be a favorite of mine because of the television program he put together for ShowTime for two seasons called Masters of Horror. I Am Legend, Too, which I just barely started, is a prequel to I Am Legend and deals with the character Ben Cortman. The other stories I'll be reading in this book (so far) are Everything of Beauty Taken From You in This Life Remains Forever by Gary A. Braunbeck, which is a sequel to Matheson's Button, Button (which was the bases for the movie The Box with Cameron Diaz; Quarry by Joe R. Lansdale, which is a sequel to Prey; and Return to Hell House by Nancy A. Collins, a prequel to Hell House. The others will wait until I've read the corresponding stories by Richard Matheson himself.

And that's what I'm reading right now. I think there are probably more that I've started and forgotten where I was in the book, lost my place, or simply forgot that I was reading it at all. Vile Things: Extreme Deviations of Horror I've read bits and pieces of, I'm pretty sure I started Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Cemetery Dance and Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's The Strain, and who knows what else.

I should really start keeping better track.

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