Monday, March 23, 2009

And the Nominees Are...

Despite the presence of me in their pages, both The Book of Lists: Horror and Horror Library Volume 3 have been nominated for Stoker Awards, the Oscars of the horror field. Congratulations to the editors, especially Scott and R. J., both a pleasure to work with. Here are all the nominees:

Final Stoker Ballot 2009

Superior Achievement in a Novel

COFFIN COUNTY by Gary Braunbeck (Leisure Books)
THE REACH by Nate Kenyon (Leisure Books)
DUMA KEY by Stephen King (Scribner)
JOHNNY GRUESOME by Gregory Lamberson (Bad Moon Books/Medallion Press)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

MIDNIGHT ON MOURN STREET by Christopher Conlon (Earthling Publications)
THE GENTLING BOX by Lisa Mannetti (Dark Hart Press)
MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL by Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin (Delirium Books)
THE SUICIDE COLLECTORS by David Oppegaard (St. Martin's Press)
FROZEN BLOOD by Joel A. Sutherland (Lachesis Publishing)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

THE SHALLOW END OF THE POOL by Adam-Troy Castro (Creeping Hemlock Press)
MIRANDA by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)
REDEMPTION ROADSHOW by Weston Ochse (Burning Effigy Press)
THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. ZACH by Gene O'Neill (Bad Moon Books)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

PETRIFIED by Scott Edelman (Desolate Souls)
THE LOST by Sarah Langan (Cemetery Dance Publications)
THE DUDE WHO COLLECTED LOVECRAFT by Nick Mamatas, and Tim Pratt (Chizine)
EVIDENCE OF LOVE IN A CASE OF ABANDONMENT by M. Rickert (Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
TURTLE by Lee Thomas (Doorways)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

LIKE A CHINESE TATTOO edited by Bill Breedlove (Dark Arts Books)
HORROR LIBRARY, VOL. 3 edited by R. J. Cavender (Cutting Block Press)
BENEATH THE SURFACE edited by Tim Deal (Shroud Publishing)
UNSPEAKABLE HORROR edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Chad Helder (Dark Scribe Press)

Superior Achievement in a Collection
THE NUMBER 121 TO PENNSYLVANIA by Kealan Patrick Burke (Cemetery Dance Publications)
MAMA'S BOY and Other Dark Tales by Fran Friel (Apex Publications)
JUST AFTER SUNSET by Stephen King (Scribner)
GLEEFULLY MACABRE TALES by Jeff Strand (Delirium Books)

Superior Achievement in Nonfiction

CHEAP SCARES by Gregory Lamberson (McFarland)
ZOMBIE CSU by Jonathan Maberry (Citadel Press)
A HALLOWE'EN ANTHOLOGY by Lisa Morton (McFarland)
THE BOOK OF LISTS: HORROR by Amy Wallace, Del Howison, and Scott Bradley (HarperCollins)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTION by Bruce Boston (Dark Regions Press)
THE PHANTOM WORLD by Gary William Crawford (Sam's Dot Publishing)
VIRGIN OF THE APOCALYPSE by Corrine De Winter (Sam's Dot Publishing)
ATTACK OF THE TWO-HEADED POETRY MONSTER by Mark McLaughlin and Michael McCarty (Skullvines Press)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pod of Horror #52: Clive Barker and Ronald Kelly

On Pod of Horror #52, we interview legendary author, film maker and artist Clive Barker. Also, 90s horror icon Ronald Kelly has returned in a big way, and we discover where he went and what the future holds for his fans. Nanci is here with the Call of Kalanta, Norm Rubenstein offers a bunch of new reviews and we give away tons of horror in The Tomb of Trivia. Get it at i-Tunes or download it here. Pod of Horror is hosted and produced by Mark Justice.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mr. Farmer and Me

The death of Philip Jose Farmer two weeks ago has sent me over a waterfall of memory. I’ve been re-reading the Riverworld series and digging through thousands of books in an attempt to find all the Farmer I have. I’ve located the majority of the titles, and I know the Opar books can’t hide for long.

As to how I discovered Philip Jose Farmer, I have to give all the credit to my Uncle Bud. Sometime in 1969, when I was almost ten, Uncle Bud gave me three Doc Savage paperbacks. Though I had been reading since I was four or five – thanks to book-loving parents – those pulp reprints were a little tough for me to get through. It took me almost a month to read The Other World. Though after that, I was hooked. I devoured the remaining two, Dust of Death and The Flaming Falcons, all with those magnificent and hyper-realistic James Bama covers.

Soon, I was haunting Hill’s Department Store in Russell, KY for my monthly Doc fix. Back in the days of yore when folks actually read, most department stores had a great book section. Hill’s had a massive wall of paperbacks. I wore out a couple of pairs of Keds browsing up and down that aisle, searching for any Docs I might have missed.

I also spent a lot of time the public library in Flatwoods. One day in 1973 or ‘74, I saw something on the New Arrivals shelf that stopped me cold. It was a hardcover called Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life by someone named Philip Jose Farmer. But there was something wrong with the cover. It pictured a man in a suit riding on the running board of an old-fashioned car. The wind whipped through his normal hair, and his necktie stretched out behind him. The car was driven was a squat-looking, tremendously ugly dude. Where was the ripped shirt and metallic widow’s peak of the Doc Savage I knew? Who was this Farmer guy, and what had he done to my favorite hero?

There wasn’t even a minuscule possibility I was leaving the library without that book.

I remembering reading it over a weekend. And believe me when I tell you, friends: I was never the same.

This Farmer fellow had taken the entire Doc Savage saga and placed it in chronological order, in essence turning my monthly fixes of adventure into a biography of a real person.

That’s right. Farmer claimed Doc Savage was based on a real guy.

Every circuit breaker in my brain tripped simultaneously.

Could this be the truth? These fantastic stories I was devouring as quick as I bought them – the mummy brought back to life, the hidden cities and mystic mullahs and fantastic islands –were real. Moreover, It turned out Farmer had written a similar book about Tarzan, and he was real, too (okay, I can hear your snickers all the way across the World Wide Interwebs, but in my defense, I was young and uber-naive).

I must have walked around in a daze for a month. I know I checked that book out from the library a dozen times before the first paperback edition showed up on my beloved book wall at Hill’s

I also learned that the cover of the book was the actual cover to the April 1935 issue of Doc Savage magazine. That was the way America knew The Man of Bronze in the ‘30s and ‘40s. (When Bantam published the paperback edition of Farmer’s book, they used the Bama version of Doc on the cover, though drawn by a lesser talent. When Playboy Press reprinted it again in 1981, Ken Barr painted a Bama-inspired Doc without the widow’s peak and wearing a high-tech vest instead of a torn shirt.)

At some point I discovered that Farmer had written some fiction about Doc Savage and Tarzan (calling them Doc Caliban and Lord Grandrith). One was called A Feast Unknown, and proved difficult to find. The other two were halves of an Ace double novel: The Mad Goblin and Lord of the Trees. My memory fails me at this point but I somehow discovered Mr. Farmer’s address in those pre-Internet days and I wrote him a letter asking for an autographed book (I don’t have a copy of my letter, though I’m sure it was as embarrassingly fanboyish) That was in late ‘75. On December 22 of that year, I received an autographed copy of the Ace double, along with a letter from Farmer with instructions on how to order A Feast Unknown. My parents must have known what a Farmer fan I had become, because three days later, on Christmas day, they gave me several Farmer books. I’m sure of the date, since I had a habit of writing my name in every book I owned, along with the date. I wrote “12-25-75" in To Your Scattered Bodies Go, The Fabulous Riverboat, Inside Outside and Strange Relations. I still have all of those books.

Over the next couple of years I read everything I could find by Farmer: The Green Odyssey, Dare, The Lovers, Blown, Image of the Beast, The Gates of Time. I must have been particularly impressed by Lord Tyger and Time’s Last Gift, since I wrote to Farmer about those novels in late 1977. Lord Tyger involved an experiment to raise someone the way Tarzan had been raised. In Time’s Last Gift, scientists travel back in time, but their time machine has a limited range.

Again, I didn’t keep a copy of my letter, but I must have expressed my desire to become a writer, even proposing an idea for a Lord Tyger sequel to Farmer.

On November 28, 1977, he wrote:

Dear Mr. Justice: Thanks for your letter of November 23. I had thought about Gribardsun building a time machine in 12, 000 B.C. so he could go further into the past. But I have so many other things to write that I abandoned the idea.

I also thought about plagiarizing from myself and having a group of scientists raise a male infant to emulate the fictional Doc Savage. But it would be too much like Lord Tyger in some respects. However, if you want to write a novel based on this idea, you have my permission.

You seem to be full of ideas. Good luck with your writing. And if you get the book a la Savage published, send me a copy

Philip Jose Farmer.

As you could imagine, that had me smiling for days.

Until I found the letter an couple of hours ago, I had forgotten about the Savage book idea (as blatant a Lord Tyger rip-off as it was). If I wrote it now I would certainly approach it much differently in the 21st century. But the idea still has bite. Maybe, one day...

Here’s where I confess the geeky PJF fan’s dream I’ve had since my teens: to one day collaborate with Farmer on a Doc Caliban novel. Over the last two weeks, that dream has become an itch deep in my brain, one I’m going to have to scratch, even if I’m writing it for my eyes only. If I do, it will be a collaboration in spirit, I hope.

Also, I want to one day write a story set on Riverworld. Maybe someone will put together a Farmer tribute anthology, and I can make that happen.

Coming soon: my telephone interview with Farmer for my Doc Savage fanzine, during which PJF tires to convince me Doc and Tarzan were real.