Bonus Bizarro Reviews!

In which I look at Supercenter by Jason Rizos, and the newly-released Parasite Milk by Carlton Mellick III!

Title: Supercenter
Author: Jason Rizos
Publisher: Montag Press
Website: http://www.montagpress.com

I don’t know how I’d missed this one for so long; this is just the kind of thing out of which I get a huge kick! A core element of the whole American aftermath dystopia, be it zombies or virus or nukes, revolves around the notion of the big box store. That’s half of everyone’s survival plan — solid building, few entrances, no windows, secure, well-stocked.

I’ve seen so many stories over the years playing with this idea … I remember one where the various stores became like little kingdoms, negotiating … I remember the miraculously untouched store in Swan Song … but, in Supercenter, Jason Rizos takes the whole concept to an entirely new level.

A long-term new level, in which an entire generation grows up never knowing anything of the world outside. They’re raised to be diligent Buy-All associates and shoppers, in a fluorescent-lit climate-controlled environment, doing their shifts, enjoying what entertainment the electronics department has to offer.

For a talented young fellow like G.E., his best prospects lie in his success in the gaming arenas of the Virtual Training Corps. If he wins there, he can secure a better future for himself and his sister, both left in the care of the Buy-All by their parents many years ago.

But G.E. may be too clever and curious for his own good. Here, questions, of course, are discouraged. The weirdos and malcontents who live off the company clock over in the ominous Aisle 39 are not to be trusted. Even when he finds what appear to be blueprints, there’s certainly no point speculating what might be outside the store, let alone trying to get there …

Suffice to say, he tries, and is in for a few shocks to his system as he begins to realize nothing is as he’s been taught to believe. Particularly the differences between video game combat and reality

Wonderfully imagined, well-thought-out, rich with wry humor and a surprising amount of pathos, Supercenter is an enjoyable read from start to finish, hitting a good balance between leaving plenty of room for speculation and reaching satisfying conclusions.

**

Title: Parasite Milk
Author: Carlton Mellick III
Publisher: Eraserhead Press
Website: http://www.eraserheadpress.com

The author’s note opens with “I didn’t feel like writing a real introduction to this book, so here is a recipe for spaghetti tacos” (followed by a recipe I don’t know if I dare try at home). The bonus section at the end, where an afterword would go, is the most adorable and hilarious yet of CMIII’s personal comic strips.

Those alone are worth the price of admission, but the story in the middle is loads of sick fun too. Like it’s a cookie sammich, the intro and afterword the cookies, the rest an octuple-stuff layer of …

Okay, the middle layer of octuple-stuff is made of kinky alien sex, culinary atrocities, and all kinds of messed-up fungoid grossness. But fun! Fun in the way that will make you cringe, utter helpless mewling eew sounds, and maybe throw up in your mouth a little.

It also suggests that maybe since McDonalds hasn’t come after him yet for previous works, he’s set his sights somewhat higher. One can only imagine what Andrew Zimmern and the network execs will make of this season of Bizarre Foods!

Once you’ve tried all the most exotic dishes Earth has to offer, though, what else is there to do but take things to the next level? This is the future. Contact has been made, travel is possible, Earth is only one part of a galactic community. Time to scout out some new worlds for their ‘delicacies’!

The world in question is called Kynaria, a mushroom planet inhabited by civilized fungal lifeforms, telepathic slugs, and behemoths with colonies of clam-things infesting their rear ends. Cameraman Irving Rice has just arrived to prep for filming, but his production partner Mick wants to make sure he gets the full experience.

Which means, Kynarian hotels, Kynarian restaurants, Kynarian public transportation, Kynarian lavatory facilities, and, of course, Kynarian brothels! Irving, not very keen on the idea of getting busy with slugs or mushroom women, finds himself enticed by a plantlike pretty sylph-creature.

She’s alluring, she’s intoxicating, she’s sexy and insatiable and downright addictive. But, to his consternation, everyone else reacts as if he’s committed the most obscene and perverse act possible.

To his further consternation, Irving then begins developing some alarming symptoms, and realizes he may have caught something worse than your run-of-the-mill STD. His only hope is to get back to Earth for treatment, if he can.

**

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Post-Surgery Book Sale

Signed copies, personalized on request! Act fast, quantities limited!
Free shipping! (US only)
Free CURSE OF THE SHADOW BEASTS (MageLore Book 1) and other random bonus books with all orders!

$10.00 each:
MURDER GIRLS — college housemates become serial killers!
THE RAVEN’S TABLE — Viking-themed tales of horror and dark fantasy!
SPERMJACKERS FROM HELL — let’s summon a succubus!

$8.00 each:
BLACK ROSES — demon dream lover incubus smut!
GIFTED CHILDREN — science experiment spooky kids!
CHANGELING MOON — warring secret shapeshifters!
TELL NO TALES — reality show on haunted pirate island!
HIS BLOOD — bringing back vampire Jesus!
HORNED ONES — show cave, cave-in, cave monsters!

$6.00 each:
FOSSIL LAKE — an anthology of the aberrant!
FOSSIL LAKE II: THE REFOSSILING — another anthology of the aberrant!
FOSSIL LAKE III: UNICORNADO — storms and horns, rainbows, carnage!
FOSSIL LAKE IV: SHARKASAURUS — toothy chompy horrors of land and sea!
DARK OF THE ELVENWOOD (MageLore Book 2) — it’s got elves!
ARCHMAGE OF THE UNIVERSE (MageLore Book 3) — it’s got an evil minotaur wizard!

$12.00:
NAUGHTY AND DICE: AN ADULT GAMER’S GUIDE TO SEXUAL SITUATIONS — sex up your RPGs!

$20.00:
The ElfLore hardcover omnibus, SILVERSILK, KNIGHT OF THE BASILISK, and TRUEGOLD! Follow-up trilogy to MageLore!

Yes I take Paypal!

Message me on Facebook or email at christinemariemorgan@gmail.com to order, question, haggle, or whatever! Bundles, counteroffers, trades, let’s deal, let’s do this!

And please share; mad medical bills, need money, could also use some shelf space! Thanks!

Bonus Reviews!

In which I look at Moon Snake by Kirsten Alene, and Mother Puncher by Gina Ranalli!

Title: Moon Snake

Author: Kirsten Alene

Publisher: Eraserhead Press

Website: http://www.eraserheadpress.com

While reading this book, I couldn’t help but be repeatedly and strongly reminded of the fairy tales and fables of old. Not the common popular ones with mostly humans and the occasional talking animal sidekick, but the more obscure ones where everyday animals and objects are as animate and sentient as anything.

And this, in those old tales, is all seen as perfectly normal. The fantastic and the cautionary, the fanciful and the explanatory, and yet they all go together and make their own uncanny but perfect sense. That’s how the writing in Moon Snake works. That’s one of the true essences of bizarro as a genre.

I mean, here I am, someone who gnashes her teeth over bounced reality checks in speculative fiction; don’t get me started on the viability of Greg Weisman’s Gargoyles as a species, or ElfQuest’s ‘recognition’ or the socio-economic sustainabilities of Pern.

Yet, somehow, in bizarro just like in those fairy tales of old, when it’s done right and it’s done well, the results are so seamless I can just leave all that at the door. Such is the case with Moon Snake. It’s not only done right and done well, but it’s done with a kind of matter-of-fact but soft-touch subtlety.

It’s bizarre, but not crazy, not gonzo outrageous, even when the worlds presented in the two novellas that make up the book are more weirdly unreal than anything Lewis Carroll could dream up … weirdly unreal, yet also eerily coherent.

For example, in the titular work, “Moon Snake,” there are ordinary-seeming elements like hotels, newspapers and tupperware … but the main power or fuel source for everything is pear juice, though the how or why is simply left to be taken as given. A red bridge has been, for a long time, being built to some far shore. Houses are in avocado trees, and elephant milk is delivered weekly.

Meanwhile, through it all, our nameless first-person protagonist is trying to unravel mysteries of dream boats, lost/invisible arms, moths and shamans, a pear blossom shortage, and the truth of what’s on the other side of the red bridge … and finishing it was like waking from an intuitively understood dream but trying to explain it to someone else.

And then there’s the second piece, “Cathedral Bone,” which is, in its way, even weirder while at the same time more familiar. Or maybe that’s what makes it weirder. Here, there are cathedrals and universities, but there are also ladies selling alligator pies door-to-door and mastiffs who say “Jah!”

It’s kind of a love story, but also one of helplessness and loss, of things slipping away and opportunities never fully explored or realized, of unanswered and unanswerable questions, death and transformation, a sense of profound understanding hovering just beyond reach.

Or maybe that’s just me and what I came away with from this. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if every other reader came away with something altogether different. Books like these don’t so much relate a narrative as invite contemplation and introspection.

**

Title: Mother Puncher

Author: Gina Ranalli

Publisher: Afterbirth Books

Website: http://www.afterbirthbooks,com

Oh, sure, I COULD do like everybody else and go re-read The Handmaid’s Tale … or I could pick up this rather different take on the looming reproductive-rights dystopia … one in which you can go right ahead and get pregnant if you want, as many times as you want, put as much strain on the economy and society and population as you want …

… just as long as you understand, soon as that baby pops out, someone like Big Ed Means will be coming around to punch you in the face.

Ed is a Mother Puncher by trade. The hospital calls him when a woman’s about to give birth, so he can punch her in the face. The idea is to deter them from doing it again. It’s an idea that doesn’t always work; Ed has some repeats who insist on continuing to crank ’em out, despite earning their punches year after year.

Hey, it’s a living. Nothing personal. Not like Ed enjoys it. He certainly doesn’t enjoy it when his biggest fan — he’s an ex-boxer — persuades him to take a few moonlighting jobs on the side. Women who try to hide their pregnancies, or deliver at home, well, the law’s the law and they need a punch too.

Plus, there are protesters to deal with. And possible saboteurs in the hospital, and troubles at home, and a journalist in disguise. Not to mention a rivalry with one of his competitors that turns ugly.

I mean, poor Ed, he just wants to do his job, is that so much to ask? Arrive at the maternity ward, throw a punch or two, take a picture to prove it, and collect his paycheck. Instead, he’s caught in the middle of a riot.

Mother Puncher is a disturbingly hilarious read, with an uncomfortably sympathetic protagonist. You want to root for him when everything starts going wrong, but, well, it feels skeevy what with all the post-natal face-punching.

However you feel while reading this book, just don’t seek false comfort in thinking it could never happen here. After all, we used to think that about The Handmaid’s Tale

**

SPERMJACKERS FROM HELL!

“Let’s summon a succubus, he said. It’ll be fun, he said.”

“Shut the fuck up!”

You’re the fuck-up!”

My Deadite Press debut is now available, in this gooshy novel of dirty intentions gone wrong. It’s Weird Science by way of Edward Lee, when a group of guys attempt an arcane ritual to get the sexy demon chick of their dreams. They get … well … something, all right … but not what they were hoping for.

sj_cov_med

Speaking of Edward Lee, he himself had this to say:

Get a big witch’s cauldron, add a cup of Breakfast Club, a copy of the Grimorium Verum, then pour in a bathtub full of semen and start stirring, and there’s your synopsis of Spermjackers from Hell.  Morgan continues to kick ass in the field of irredeemable, wincing, hilarious, outrageous gross-out horror, setting the bar higher each time.  Seriously, there’s more SPERM in this book than there are old people in Florida.  If you don’t like extreme fiction, then go read Winnie the Pooh, but if you do, consider this essential reading.

–Edward Lee, author of WHITE TRASH GOTHIC and THE BIGHEAD

Featuring cover art and bonus, uh, ‘splash page’ illustration by Jim Agpalza, this book is not safe for work, probably not safe for sanity, inappropriate on just about every level, and now it can be yours!

Order it on Amazon today!

Just In Case

As I’m counting down the hours, about to undergo surgery, I’ve done my best to make sure my various affairs are in order … just in case. I’ve made arrangements for my cats and my literary estate and my stuff … just in case. I’ve said some private goodbyes and thank-yous … just in case.

But it’s never enough, is it? I keep thinking of more people who’ve meant so much to me over the course of my life, who’ve been dear friends and loved ones, who’ve helped me along my way and been there and let me be there for them, who’ve enriched my life and given me joy. Some of whom I’ve not seen in years or still never met in person but who are as dear to me as could be.

You know who you are. If you’re thinking I might mean you, I do. It’d take too long to do an individual list, and I’d hate to accidentally omit anyone. So, keeping it broad strokes.

To my parents and siblings, my nieces and nephews, my aunts and uncles and cousins and the whole extended bunch of you, for the beach house trips and holiday dice game and all those signature Fourths of July, and for the whole new generation of tinkerpotters carrying the legacy on …

To my ex-husbands and even the ex-laws who may’ve been glad to see the last of me …

To my Gargoyles clan, brought together by our shared love and fandom, from way back when the internet still seemed so new, through conventions and kerfuffles, you art-goddesses and writers, everyone from the show, the youngsters who tell me they grew up on my twisted fanfics (egads) …

To my GURPSers and gamers, through so many sessions and campaigns, so many maps and battlemats, so many rolls of the dice and even the crash-and-burns …

To my teachers, the ones who taught me in school and the ones I’ve learned from later even without setting foot in one of their classrooms …

To the neighbors and coworkers and classmates I’ve also been blessed to be able to call friends …

To my fellow heroes and villains, my ficbuddies and RP-guys who’ve given me some of the most passionate and intense imaginary relationships ever, to the good devs but not to those bastards who took it away; our city and our islands, a world I’ll never forget …

To my loved and loving kitties, and all their predecessors, feline or canine or other, the pets who’ve been a delight and shared so much affection …

To my BFFs, through hell and high water …

To the authors whose words have shaped my mind, often in such wonderful and demented ways, some of whom I’ve been privileged to meet and go giddy over …

To the editors and publishers who’ve given me the opportunity to share my stories, to the readers and reviewers, the literary track at so many conventions, the message boards, to the mentors who guided me whether they knew it or not, and the writers who for some reason have let me mentor them, to everyone who’s ever sent me a submission or something to review …

To the bizarros and extreme horror community, where I was always meant to belong and only wish like mad that I’d found you all sooner …

To my amazing daughter, and by extension her own friends and teachers and theater folk over the years, who’ve helped her become the sarcastic, talented, punster force of nature of whom I’m so incredibly proud …

My families.

I love you.

You’re the world to me.

Thank you for that, and for everything.

Now, I’d much rather be doing this in some big award acceptance speech, but, for now, let’s go with this. What I wanted and needed to say. Not necessarily as a goodbye, just, you know, just in case. I’m certainly planning and hoping to still be around so you have to put up with me for many years yet to come.

But, yeah … just in case.

You’re the best kind of wonderful crazy, and I love you.

See you on the other side, one way or another.

— Christine

Go Ahead and Be An Ass

When my daughter was little, certain relatives used to complain how she didn’t seem to like them very much. Now, clearly, the expectation was, as parents, her father and I would somehow fix it. Would force her to like them, as was our duty and their due.

Evidently, “huh, well, have you tried being more likable?” wasn’t the right answer.

Except, you know what? It was.

It may not have been the most polite or diplomatic answer, it was not the answer they wanted. But it WAS right, and true.

They felt entitled to have her feel and behave toward them in a particular way, regardless of their own attitudes and behavior. Whether they’d earned it or not, they felt they deserved it, were owed it.

Because, reasons. Because, family.

Because, bullshit. You can’t dictate, command, or demand those things from another person.

So, the “don’t be an ass” thing? It’s advice. Advice. A suggestion. It’s not a rule, not an order, not a law.

You might think that something so simple and basic would be, well, simple and basic, kind of obvious. I mean, duh, right? Not something to draw a lot of protest and pushback and backlash. Who would argue with something so fundamental?

Asses, mostly.

Asses for whom assdom is a lifestyle choice, who maybe have little else going for them, little else to hold onto. Who revel in their assdom and are all too glad to lash out at any perceived attack, slight, or threat upon it.

Honestly, why should you have to examine your own attitudes and behavior when it’s everyone else’s reactions that are the real issue? All these intolerant-against-assdom so-called liberal cuck virtue-signaling snowflakes buzzword whatever?

If you’re happy being an ass, if it’s working for you, if it’s getting you the results you want, then by all means, carry on. Nobody’s stopping you. Nobody CAN stop you. There’s no Ass Police, no legal or governmental authorities.

Drawback: there’s also no law saying other people have to put up with it; they can’t be forced to socialize with you, work with you, interact with you on a personal or business level. And, brace yourself because this may be a shock, it isn’t even censorship!

“But but but free speech!” Absolutely. Go ahead and say anything you want, knock yourself out.

“But but but free speech and everybody HAS to listen to meeee!” Bzzt. Nope. Everybody gets to decide for themselves if they want to or not.

“But but but free speech and nobody can say anything back or criticize me!” Bzzt. Nope again. Two-way street there, chumley.

“But but but you’re bullying meeee!” Bzzt. Third strike; on Family Feud we’d kick it over to the other team now.

Bonus round: Bullying is different, and you know it. But “mocking” doesn’t play as well into the persecutory victimhood ideation as well, does it?

Okay, now we’re getting into some upper-division assdom, the really pro levels, the asses who might build their entire identities around such perceived injustices.

Going back to the basic premise, if you want to be liked, try being more likable. Instead of, y’know, railing against everyone else for only liking the likable people.

It’s like when the creepy dude complains about girls finding him creepy, and someone suggests he maybe not do (creepything), and he sulks because girls should just stop thinking (creepything) is creepy.

Hey, it’s advice; all anybody can do is offer suggestions. You gotta do what works for you.

Maybe you don’t want to change your behavior. Maybe you’re deeply invested in your assdom, maybe it really IS all you have to define yourself and hold onto.

Ask yourself, though … IS it working for you? IS it getting you the results you want? What results DO you want?

If the results you want involve clippetyclopping along being an ass, hey, go for it. Not that you need my or anybody else’s permission. Remember, it’s not a rule, not a law. Just advice.

If the results you want involve clippetyclopping along being an ass without any social consequence or repercussion, well, that’s where you’re going to clippetyclop your way right into a wall, because of that whole matter of others being able to make their own decisions and stuff having consequences.

You have every right to be an ass. Others have every right not to like you for being one. Which still won’t stop you, if you’re a really dug-in, dedicated, and determined ass.

I believe in you.

Pre-surgery book sale!

CHRISTINE MORGAN horror novels $8 each!

BLACK ROSES — demon dream lover incubus smut!

GIFTED CHILDREN — science experiment spooky kids!

CHANGELING MOON — warring secret shapeshifters!

TELL NO TALES — reality show on haunted pirate island!
HIS BLOOD — let’s bring back vampire Jesus!

HORNED ONES — show cave, cave-in, cave monsters!

Signed copies! Personalized on request!

Act now; quantities limited!

Free shipping (US only)!

Buy 3 and get a bonus free copy of the first FOSSIL LAKE!

Message me on Facebook or email at christinemariemorgan@gmail.com to order, question, haggle, or whatever!

And please share; surgery looming, need money, could also use some shelf space! Thanks!

James Lowder’s ‘The Corpse’ Stories

In the shadowy underworld of Prohibition-era Chicago, where mobsters run rampant and crime bosses rule the roost, one mysterious vigilante will stand against them. They call him the Corpse, and whether he’s living or dead, man or monster, nobody seems to know.

He appears and disappears like a specter, he leaves grave worms as a calling card, and those who’ve seen him — and survived to tell the tale — report that his tattered cloak and bullet-riddled clothing cover a cadaverous form, his face pallid, his eyes haunted as the eyes of the damned.

His solitary dark crusade against the forces of evil unfolds through several stories by acclaimed editor (and no slouch of an author either) James Lowder.

“King of the Frozen Men” — short story in Sojourn 2

“Orphans of the Air” — short story in Peel Back the Skin

“The Crooked Smile Killers” — novelette in Genius Loci

“The Night Chicago Died” — illustrated novelette in Pulp Zombies

I recently read them all back-to-back, and can say with certainty that these need to be a collection, especially as I’m told there are more stories on the way. They hit all the right notes for me, great characters and action, the wonderful sense of historical accuracy, the angst and pathos, the rough justice of the street.

Moody and broody, atmospheric and gritty, hearkening back to the classic pulps and cliffhangers … if Daredevil had been made like an old-timey radio drama or black-and-white serial, it would be this.

Review — Apologies to the Cat’s Meat Man

I got an early look at this one, and now it’s available for you to experience!

https://www.amazon.com/Apologies-Cats-Meat-Man-Chapman/dp/0998846619/

Title: Apologies to the Cat’s Meat Man

Author: Alan M. Clark

Publisher: IFD Publishing

Website: http://www.ifdpublishing.com

Back in August, appropriately enough, I read and reviewed another in the author’s victims-of-Jack-the-Ripper series, A Brutal Chill in August. It blew me away, historical fiction done right, so you’d better believe I was ready for more!

Oh, and if you’re one of those brats saying yeah but they all must be the same because of how they ended, like someone I knew once refused to watch La Bamba because it’d have the same ending as The Buddy Holly Story, well, *raspberries* to you; that’s totally not the point and you know it!

These were real people. With their very own real lives, pasts, hopes, fears, dreams, and feelings. Different people. Individuals with their own stories, who deserve to be remembered as something other than statistics.

Sure, on the surface, there might be similarities between Annie Chapman in this book and Polly Nichols in Brutal Chill – both were underprivileged women of their time, struggling to get by in a difficult world. They had their flaws and weaknesses, they made their mistakes.

In Annie’s case, she was plagued by what we might call ‘being a sensitive soul.’ It’s hard enough even these days to be squeamish and easily upset, in a world with modern hygiene and conveniences. She had troubled relationships with her family and friends, and with alcohol as so many did and still do.

The real horrors of this book have nothing to do with the Ripper and his knife. They have to do with futility and hopelessness, the devastating legacy of realizing you’re becoming just like a loved/hated parent, the desperation, the loss of control.

For me, the most harrowing scenes by far, still haunting me even now as I write this, have to do with the move-along policies directed at the city’s legions of homeless. Not allowed to rest more than a few minutes in any given spot, hundreds take to the streets in an unending, plodding, circular trudge through the long hours of the night. It’s a cruel purgatory, and I couldn’t help thinking that too many places in this day and age still haven’t come very far, in terms of how society treats its least fortunate.

Once again, Clark’s skill shows through in terms of bringing the era and setting and characters to vivid life. Not a feel-good read, not a fun read, but another powerful one, and a stirring memorial for a woman who was more than a mark on a killer’s scoresheet.

**