Harper Willowes, a nicey nice nurse who fantasizes that Julie Andrews should play her onscreen, is the protagonist of this story of terror and struggle in New England. A strange new plague threatens the entire country in The Fireman by Joe Hill, and people are spontaneously combusting as a result of infection by a spore commonly called Dragonscale. There’s tremendous destruction and fear, and people immediately separate into four non-mutually exclusive groups: those infected, those not infected, the decent and the assholes.
I was a bit leery of Nurse Willowes in the beginning. She’s too good and too silly, what with her “spit spot” and love of musicals and Disney films. But she recovered credibility when, after being pushed to the wall, she nearly takes her husband’s face off with a broken bottle. After being rescued by a mysterious fireman whose path she’s crossed before, as well as a couple of kids in Halloween masks, Harper escapes her murderous husband to join a bunch of infected people hiding in an old church camp near the New Hampshire coast. Harper, by the way, is infected and pregnant–two facts that turn her husband into a raving madman bent on killing her and every other infected person he finds. Continue reading
I wanted to write a post about voice, being impressed recently with Norman Partridge’s voice in Dark Harvest, a Stoker Award winner, but I finished it so long ago I’d have to go back and reread to tell you all the reasons why Partridge’s voice is so right for this fast-paced, noir-ish horror story. I don’t have time right now. I have taken up a new day job that is working me hard (I’ve lost three pounds in two weeks.), and I have not been reading or writing much of anything. Therefore, in an effort to get 2017 moving, I thought I would share a scene from chapter 6 of the WIP. The chapter still needs work, but I like this encounter. I hope you will, too. Continue reading
John Langan’s dark, despairing world in The Fisherman is full of ugly things you don’t want to find on the end of your fishing line. It’s weird fiction that stretches toward the literary with its rich descriptions, psychological underpinnings and complex narrative structure, but horror is its terrible (and fascinating) heart. It will keep you turning pages far longer than you planned.
The story is set in the dark mountains of the Catskills, and whenever I hear that word I think of Rip Van Winkle and the strange men he found in there, so my mind was already primed for weird things to happen in places where old Dutch place names are still thick. Langan certainly plays with these associations, but our protagonist Abe doesn’t go into these wild places to sleep. He goes to fish.
Abe lives in a small town and works for IBM. Because of his grief for his dead wife he is barely functioning and continues to sleep through his life until he takes up fishing. Catching fish and venturing into streams in the mountains seems to provide him the comfort he needs to try to pull it together. He casts his grief into the water like he casts his line–with patience and with curiosity to see what might take the bait. Be careful what you wish for! The adventure that ensues, eventually, forces Abe to wake up and shake off his grief or pay the steepest price. Continue reading
In a recent opinion piece in The Guardian, plainly titled “Amitav Ghosh: where is the fiction about climate change?” the “serious” fiction writer Ghosh stated,
When the subject of climate change occurs, it is almost always in relation to nonfiction; novels and short stories are very rarely to be glimpsed within this horizon. Indeed, it could even be said that fiction that deals with climate change is almost by definition not of the kind that is taken seriously: the mere mention of the subject is often enough to relegate a novel or a short story to the genre of science fiction. It is as though in the literary imagination climate change were somehow akin to extraterrestrials or interplanetary travel.
What the hell? How does any author alive today make such a grossly ill-informed comment about fiction that addresses climate change? There are hundreds of novels and stories about climate change. You should read more, Ghosh. Start here, or here.
He asks, “Why does climate change cast a much smaller shadow on literature than it does on the world? Is it perhaps too wild a stream to be navigated in the accustomed barques of narration?”
Barques? Really? Maybe one of the reason “serious” fiction writers don’t write much about climate change is because they’re too busy contemplating how to use 19th century words in the 21st Century and don’t have the inclination to look ahead. Continue reading