The Walking Dead is a dramatic post-apocalyptic television series in which zombies have risen and taken over the world and a band of survivors have to seek refuge at every turn as they continually battle the dead and the living for safety.
Just for all of you folks who have recently emerged from your underground bunkers where you weathered a nuclear holocaust that didn’t happen. Thanks for joining us!
Everyone knows about this show. It’s kind of a big deal. It exploded at the height of the zombie genre’s popularity, and for years, its success has been used as a kind of barometer for the market of such stories. Oh, what’s this? The Walking Dead’s ratings ticked down a bit!? Zombies must be dead.
[Warning: Spoilers for the show follow. If you aren’t caught up through the first half of season 6, go away.]
Commodus reads my stuff. And he is impatient.
It’s a bit ironic, but I don’t think it’s atypical that a writer falls off of his blog writing activity, so I don’t feel too bad about neglecting you. Still, I do feel bad. Like, pretty bad. On a scale of 1 to bad, I give myself a C – in feelings.
Just so we’re clear about that.
So how have you been? I’ve been well. Unfortunately, the reason I’ve been so silent is I’m in between projects right now. That doesn’t mean 2016 will be as uneventful as 2015. On the contrary.
I watched a History Channel documentary series on the World Wars this weekend, so that basically makes me a history buff. It’s interesting to me, however, that I decided to sit down and watch the entire thing during the weekend preceding Veterans Day. It offered me a bit of an epiphany I’d like to share.
Most people know about the trench warfare and mustard gas of World War I, and most people know about Hitler and the terrible, terrible Holocaust. But these conflicts were the most deadly in human history, and the circumstances surrounding them were very complex.
When we talk about the World Wars, we don’t often mention Stalin or Mussolini. We talk about the Japanese Empire, but usually in the context of Pearl Harbor or the bombs that ended the war. We don’t often talk about the Treaty of Versailles and how it sowed such resentment in the German people that Hitler was able to capitalize on it. We don’t talk about how the Great Depression made everything worse or how FDR’s New Deal saved the U.S. economy but weakened its military and how Britain did essentially the same.
We don’t talk about the precariousness of the edge that the world was on.
After last night’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, I’ve read a fair bit about how it wasn’t as good as last week’s episode, about how it took a wrong turn, about how it’s boring.
I couldn’t disagree more. Last night’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead was a turning point for the show, and one that it desperately needed.
Heads up. Major season one, episode four spoilers below. I’m going into depth. If you haven’t seen it, go away. Go away, and watch it. This is your final warning. You sure you want to continue? You sure? Confirm your decision to continue: [yes] no
All right, then.
I know what you’ve been thinking. You’ve been wondering what happened to me over the last few months. It’s pretty understandable. I haven’t called in a while, and for that, I apologize.
I’ve been running silent (which provides me a nice interstitial segue to a review to Craig DiLouie’s Crash Dive that I just posted; come on back afterward) these last few months. I’ve been writing and reading and watching and waiting, biding my time for the moment to strike.
I’ve been reading Craig DiLouie’s work for a while. I believe his career is worth watching. Last year, he published Suffer the Children, which I fell in love with, and it was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. Craig has unquestionably made his mark on horror.
But there comes a time in every artist’s career where they get fidgety and want to try something new. That’s what Crash Dive is.
In the grand scheme of Craig’s progression as an author, Crash Dive feels almost calculated. It’s a relatively short novel. It’s hard-and-fast in a genre that he clearly has a strong affinity for. It’s somewhat safe, but he’s testing waters (he even writes in an afterword that, if Crash Dive gets a good response, he’ll turn it into a series … also, pun intended).
Reading Rich Hawkins’ novella, Black Star, Black Sun, is a bit like waking up and finding the world has already been consumed by fire, and the final embers are burning the ashen remains. It is a fearless journey into an abyss of despair.
Why would anyone want to read that? Because it’s hauntingly beautiful.
We begin with Ben Ottway returning to his hometown, a small village in England, after the mysterious disappearance of his wife, but this is no thriller with plot twists you can see coming a mile away or that are surprising because they’re utter nonsense. Ben’s wife is gone, and the point is his world has ended, yet he fights it and remains hopeful.
I’ve never been so afraid to feel at home.
As I walked among the cosplayers dressed as slasher idols and evil deadites, the people wearing death metal or obscure B-horror t-shirts, one thought kept going through my mind: These are my people.
For all of the fascination with murder and the macabre and the gore make-up, I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a place where there was more kinship and acceptance, where it didn’t matter who or what you were, just that you shared similar passions. Everyone had come for a single, unified purpose: to have a great time.
This weekend, I was at the International Day of the Book Festival in Kensington, Maryland, a small town just outside of Washington, D.C.
Kensington is on one of D.C.’s major commuter routes, Connecticut Avenue, but most people who have ever driven through it have probably never turned onto Howard Avenue through Kensington’s historic district. It’s relatively small, but its finely aged buildings set across from landmark train tracks make for an interesting stroll into one of the D.C. area’s time-locked places. Many of them have been swept away in the name of progress.
Leading up to the festival, the weather forecast was rain. Since the festival was to be hosted outside, that would have been a problem. Fortunately, the rain hurried along and came through the night before, and the weather couldn’t have been better.
It’s been almost a month since I put The King of Clayfield by Shane Gregory down, and it’s lingered with me all this time. I don’t attribute its staying power to any raw emotional experience I had with it, nor do I find its relentless grip in any particular shock or horror. The King of Clayfield sticks with me to this day because I’ve yet to be able to truly pin it down. Certain stories fall clearly within a genre, adhering to established guidelines and rules. The King of Clayfield is somewhat unique in that it flows naturally, as if it were grounded in reality instead of someone’s imagination.
Of course, The King of Clayfield has many imaginative and creative elements, but while it isn’t strictly an epistolary, it reads almost like a journal. Shane’s prose is no-nonsense, written in natural language. At times, it may be reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy. He steps out of the way and lets his character tell the story. What’s notable here is that, in my experience with first-person narratives, I’ve found many writers tend to overdo this. They adopt certain tendencies to attempt to force the voice through. Shane doesn’t. The difference is he seems to trust his story and his characters to be interesting rather than trying to make or contrive intrigue. Continue reading