Bird Box By Josh Malerman Shatters Minds With SST Brilliance

Bird Box By Josh Malerman Shatters Minds With SST Brilliance

Bird Box by Josh Malerman shatters minds with SST brilliance, as the author’s 2017 debut novel rattles all senses with the riveting tale like no other, so too, does SST Publications craft a signed limited numbered edition that is reminiscent of the book’s world, sharp and wonderfully haunting.

Civilization falls to chaos, as those who see something, some creature, go insanely violent on themselves and/or others: welcome to Bird Box.

There are few tales so poignant that you root for the characters so strongly you feel their utter incessant terror so strongly.

Bird Box, josh malerman, sst publications, limited edition, sl, signed limited, ben baldwin, thriller, horror

The following book review of Bird Box by Josh Malerman will contain *SPOILERS up until the fine press edition of the S/L book from SST is reviewed in detail.

Is Malorie insane?

Clearly the world she resides in has gone insane.

The mother of two debates taking a dangerous winter trip on a river toward a possible sanctuary.

They will be in a rowboat for twenty miles.

The boy and the girl are four, and they will have to risk going outside and traversing the river up to a section of rapids blindfolded the entire way.

The mother’s words are rough with the two children, stern, and candid: they must not take off their ‘folds’ no matter what happens.

Outside, unknown creatures cause madness upon sight of them.

Bird Box, josh malerman, sst publications, limited edition, sl, signed limited, ben baldwin, thriller, horror

You see it and you lose it and go mortally violent; unless, of course, you are already mad yourself, and then you will welcome the embrace of the savior or cleanser or xenocidal force that has been unleashed on earth.

I had a feeling early into the novel that I had no idea what the creatures were and I might end the book without knowing what they were.

That idea is a tricky writer to reader relationship, to say the least (more on this later).

Aspects of the creatures accumulate: they could be small or enormous, they could be frequently stalking all humans, or sporadically invading city streets, row by row, they could be trying to touch, or scare blindfolded people into looking at them.

Bird Box, josh malerman, sst publications, limited edition, sl, signed limited, ben baldwin, thriller, horror

The unnerving loss of sight and the unknown haunting menace gives far more weight to the thrilling Bird Box than many of the great suspense novels out there.

The story flashes back and forth, from when Malorie first finds out she was pregnant and the subsequent unraveling of society and back to the dangerous river voyage.

As the world collapses, she escapes to a house that is a sanctuary, of sorts.

It has a well, electricity from a hydroelectric dam and a lot of stores for the half a dozen or so trying to live out the horror in a home with all the windows covered; for safety, no one sees the sky anymore.

The dynamics of the semi-democratic household full of realistic characters with great personalities and their own unnerving anxieties – that decide when or when not to take in someone like Malorie, a showing pregnant woman that will be two mouths to feed before long – are enthralling.

Malorie’s love for another grows, as the housemates struggle to adapt and get along and progress.

Can the landline, not powered by electricity but by a weak electrical signal in a phone cord, let them reach others who have survived with their sanity intact.

For a long time, I thought the birds would be the monsters in the book.

But it is the finding of a cardboard box full of birds at an abandoned home that brings a real-time alarm, a chirping warning system, for when the creatures get close that is essential to surviving.

Only Malorie and her children survive the house, and the birds, and together they march on to a place that someone on the phone says is a real sanctuary for any who can make it up the river to them.

The place is protected and full of good people.

And so Malorie waits until she deems the kids can understand enough to take the trip in the rowboat and she risks it all.

Getting to her destination by route of that damn river is so nerve shredding!

Sure, there are creatures, but there are also animals living in the wooded region that you forget about in the apocalyptic times, like wolves that attack and badly injure Malorie.

She even passes out and wakes to find her kids have learned to each row a paddle, in tandem.

Nothing was more creepy or intense than actually getting to the sanctuary and seeing through Malorie’s eyes as she risks it and takes off the fold and assesses whether or not the place is a trap or a real safe zone for her and the kids.

Bird Box, josh malerman, sst publications, limited edition, sl, signed limited, ben baldwin, thriller, horror

Your stomach will tighten and spasm with fear, as the worst seems inevitable.

But that is Malorie’s view, of fear, and not the reality, and when she realizes they are all safe it is one of the most beautiful moments in literature – I got choked up.

She had never named the boy or girl, her kids, and the entire novel they are called ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ so that Malorie upon getting them to safety names them, finally, for the girl’s mother who died in the house giving birth at the same time Malorie birthed her son, and she names him after her love that she met in the house.

And after all of the non-stop page turning full of realism, blood, tension, terror, and time that goes by in the grim world, the reader does not get to find out what the creature is.

And it works brilliantly.

*SPOILERS END here.

The SST Publications limited edition of Bird Box by Josh Malerman is marvelous and the fine press production is reviewed here.

The book is signed by the author, Malerman, and artist Ben Baldwin and has a limitation of 400 copies.

And this book is stunning to behold.

The SST Bird Box cover art and dust jacket is one of the wildest designs I have ever seen!

Bird Box, josh malerman, sst publications, limited edition, sl, signed limited, ben baldwin, thriller, horror

The child is wearing the blindfold and hearing the world shown: their trip on the river, the flying birds, the forest and the rickety speaker setup – the lone semblance of society – and of course blue tone for the cold and the water, and lots of darkness wherein the mysterious creature could be anywhere.

And that is just the dust jacket art. The design wraps around and even goes all the way to the folded in parts at the boards – it looks amazing and would make a great poster.

The six illustrations by Baldwin are remarkable and visceral, and my favorite, by far, is of the screams as the poor home owner goes mad, tied to his chair; it gives me the shivers.

Bird Box, josh malerman, sst publications, limited edition, sl, signed limited, ben baldwin, thriller, horror

SST’s Bird Box edition is a perfect emanation of Josh Malerman’s story within.

The clothbound book is sturdy and a gorgeous light blue with blue foil stamping.

This is one for the ages.

As my first voyage into SST Publications, I could not be more impressed with the UK fine press publisher.


The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Bird Box by Josh Malerman shatters minds with SST brilliance” was written by R.J. Huneke.

 

 

The Exorcist By Blatty S/L By Suntup, Lonely Road & Gauntlet

The Exorcist By Blatty S/L By Suntup, Lonely Road & Gauntlet

The Exorcist By Blatty S/L by Suntup, Lonely Road & Gauntlet fine presses provides one of the world’s most terrifying and thrilling novels an exceptional book reading experience.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

The Exorcist By William Peter Blatty is an all-time great work of fiction.

This cannot be understated; the writing, the tale, the characters are all remarkable.

The film adaptation that Blatty was a part of will forever be a classic, as well, but the novel adds so much more to the brilliant characters, the shocking story, and the uniquely personal detective work.

The following book review of The Exorcist: The Fortieth Anniversary Edition will have mild Spoilers** that will end with the story review and the start of a fine press book review of each of the Holy Trinity: The Exorcist signed and limited editions by Gauntlet Press, Lonely Road Books, and released this year, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of this iconic masterpiece of horror and paranormal suspense, Suntup Editions.

I have a favorite! But now back to the The Exorcist: The Fortieth Anniversary Edition book review!

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

For those who have read The Exorcist, but not the revised edition, I highly encourage you to take up the endeavor.

On September 27, 2011, The Exorcist was re-released as a 40th Anniversary Edition in hardcover, paperback and audiobook featuring new and revised material. Of this edition, Blatty wrote:

“This will have a touch of new material in it as part of an all-around polish of the dialogue and prose. First time around I never had the time (meaning the funds) to do a second draft, and this, finally, is it. With forty years to think about it, a few little changes were inevitable — plus one new character in a totally new, very spooky scene. This is the version I would like to be remembered for.” [Suntup.press]

From the eerie and ominous opening of the book, we touch on foreshadowing and evil and duty for Father Lankester Merrin, as he meets with a dear friend.

An ancient Assyrian idol of the demon Pazuzu has been found at Merrin’s archaeological dig in northern Iraq.

And this creepy and poignant chapter, the sweat that runs from the elderly Jesuit priest in the full light of the sun spilling over the desert, bespeaks an impending battle, and what may be strife in the spiritual battleground and the physical one.

He must leave his dear friend and go back to the US. Some goodbyes are heartbreaking.

Blatty leaves Merrin behind for much of the book and focuses on a little girl named Regan in Washington D.C.

She is possessed; there is no spoiler there, folks.

Blatty was originally inspired by the story of the demonic possession of a child in the 1940s.

Regan, the eleven-year-old daughter of Chris, a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C. for a film, lives in a creepy old house overlooking a terribly long and narrow stairway outside.

The murder of Chris’ producer, who is found at the bottom of the stairs with his head turned all the way around – quite unnaturally – begins an investigation into the family in the house.

Welcome one of the most fun detectives in fiction: Lt. William Kinderman!

He is an older man, who is jovial, polite, and so very sly and intuitive with regards to human behavior and reactions.

Because the film producer was murdered after he was in Chris’ home, Kinderman has no choice but to thoroughly investigate every occupant of the house, as well as the visiting Jesuit priest Father Damien Karras, who he befriends in part for company and in part to get information out of him.

This is a thrilling, and at times humorous, cat and mouse game, as the two speak and meet again and again.

Meanwhile, Chris, an atheist, is upset as her daughter quickly dissolves before her into what she thinks is multiple personality disorder.

Regan speaks in other languages, lashes out at her doctors, is shriveling away physically, and even makes her entire bed tremble, as if there was an earthquake.

Aside from locking up Regan in an institution, which Chris will not do, one of the psychiatrists suggests that Regan may think she is possessed and so an exorcist may provide a psychosomatic cure.

Father Carris tries desperately to build a case to the Church for exorcism, but Regan’s time is running out.

**Spoilers END here

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

The Exorcist: The Fortieth Anniversary Edition by William Peter Blatty is truly something special – there is no work of fiction like this.

The research involved in writing this book was extensive, the writing could not be better, and the eerie world is so real, it scares the hell out of me to this day.

And that is my guess as to why the 71-week bestseller is considered one of the most controversial books of all time.

To pay homage to this classic work of literature, I will review the three small press publishers that crafted S/L editions containing Blatty’s preferred fortieth anniversary text, and I will review in the order they were published before I compare the three, Gauntlet, Lonely Road, and Suntup, limited editions.

The Exorcist by Blatty gets the grand fine press treatment it deserves

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition 

First released was the interesting Gauntlet Press edition that has a signature sheet for the 25th Anniversary and a publication page for the text version, the 40th Anniversary (I do not know why and am so curious about that).

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

It is a beautiful book that was limited to 600 copies with an introduction by F. Paul Wilson who signed it, as well as Blatty.

Only the lettered, which I do not have got illustrations in the book, but I will say that the cover art of this book is my favorite of any trade or small press dust jacket art that I have seen.

It is black, simple, elegant, and the warped image of Regan in the light symbolizing a cross is, to many, disturbing.

The boards are a fun iridescent sable cloth too and the pages are of a nice quality.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

The Exorcist: The Fortieth Anniversary Edition by William Peter Blatty Signed and Numbered Limited Made By Lonely Road Books

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

Lonely Road Books produced a phenomenal edition of the work in an oversized 7.5” x 10.5” to highlight the stunning original art by Caniglia.

This edition was limited to 374 numbered and signed by Blatty!

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

The dust jacket is gorgeous, but I prefer the white faux leather boards and red foil stamping sans dj.

The slipcase is crimson with gold foil stamping and the paper is quality, though not as thick in the hand as the Gauntlet or the Suntup.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

The artwork in the book is the real highlight, aside from the author’s preferred text and signature, of course.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

This art is tied for my favorite (with the Suntup), and it has a ton of illustrations and I think more than any other illustrated edition to date.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

It is a sight to behold!

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty Numbered Edition By Suntup Editions

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

To celebrate the 2021 50th anniversary of the great book, Paul Suntup and his team went all out to deliver one of the most celebrated numbered editions of The Exorcist and of their own outstanding lineup.

Suntup’s numbered version of The Exorcist is a bar setter.

With William Peter Blatty deceased, his close friend, a man he called his “brother” director of The Exorcist film William Friedkin penned the introduction and signed the book, as well as the marvelous artist Marc Potts.

Getting the award winning director to talk about the book and to sign this edition is nothing short of amazing.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

But what is more, the intricate Jesuit priest shirt and collar, done in two-color Japanese cloth, with a white paper tie, is out of this world amazing!

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition


“The EXORCIST by WILLIAM PETER BLATTY Suntup numbered edition unboxing” VIDEO by THE JEFF WORD


From Suntup’s description:

The Numbered edition of 250 copies is a handmade lapped component case binding constructed from purple and black Japanese cloth covers and purple folded single folio endsheets. It features foil stamped titling at the spine, a white Plike paper collar, flush mounted and wrapped at the head of the book, and is housed in a cigar-style enclosure covered in Japanese cloth. The edition is printed letterpress on Mohawk Via Vellum and is signed by William Friedkin and Marc Potts. Each copy of this edition is sewn and bound by hand. [Suntup.press]

This handbound gem has a smooth feel and an effervescent shine to the boards that catches the light in the most beautiful of ways.

The page type is outstanding, and the letterpress printing is truly the finest way to read the book.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

You can see the ink on the page so easily and you can feel the impression of each word or device that the letterpress stamped onto the page.

There is no experience like reading this edition of the book.

It is heavy, it is drool-worthy in its visual design, and the fine art illustrated by Marc Potts is by far the darkest of all the editions I have seen.

The artwork in the book is every bit as good as Caniglia’s and tied to be my favorite of all.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

And the cigar style case in the vestment purple and black cross insignia is a work of art in and of itself.

The overall transcendent edition of fiction for The Exorcist goes to the rarest of the S/L’s, the Suntup Editions numbered.

All of these books are incredible works of art that pay great homage to the work’s author, Blatty, and I recommend them all.


The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“The Exorcist By Blatty S/L By Suntup, Lonely Road & Gauntlet” was written by R.J. Huneke.

 

 

Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery By Russ Colchamiro

Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery By Russ Colchamiro

Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery by Russ Colchamiro combines compelling characters with noir-mystery and sci-fi tropes and blasts them into exciting new territory.

What is the audience for this work of speculative fiction? This is from the book’s description on Bookshop.org:

“[Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Sci-Fi Mystery is] For fans of Doctor Who, Blade Runner and Philip Marlowe…”

Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery, science fiction, sci-fi, Russ Colchamiro, crackle and fire, angela hardwicke, angela hardwicke mystery

And Crackle and Fire is just the first in The Angela Hardwicke Mysteries Book 1 series. Book 2 is coming in the not-too-distant future.

The following book review of Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery contains **MILD SPOILERS for the book’s plot in the opening.

Russ Colchamiro’s tale combines many of my favorite plot elements and world building for an innovative, gritty, pull-no punches neo-noir-mystery in the Universe.

The Universe may span the outer reaches of space, myriad places of which earth is just a tiny blip on the radar, and that is all the more reason for the need of the PI, the private investigator Angela Hardwicke.

Her inner monologue is self-critical and always interesting, as this inner speech often betrays to the reader the nerves that flare up, or the terror that floods her vision, when on the outside, she appears as cool as they come.

Angela Hardwicke has seen a lot and her mannerisms – such as having the tears in her long trench coat sewn over and over again – show a vast amount of experience, stubbornness, and grit.

The woman is savvy and cautious, but also tired; she is as tired as any of Raymond Chandler’s most worn-out cops, PIs, or fugitives.

The writing echoes Hardwicke’s exhaustion, and right from the outset of the story her mental weariness proves very costly.

She slips up in taking on a case from a likeable guy that is so nervous he borders on squirrelly.

And what a fun character Gil Haberseau turns out to be!

The accountant is terrible at math.

But people like him, so he gets on pretty well.

That is, at least until Gil’s intern disappears with stolen files tied to the worst of the mob, the Anshanis.

When Hardwicke wants no part of the ruthless Anshanis (after a past run-in gone sour), Gil corrals her by mentioning her name was in the stolen files, which is why he has come to her.

But he has almost no information to give the PI that will help her track down the missing intern.

She can feel the lies, the inherent danger that is only showing the tip of the iceberg above the water’s surface.

And then, as clacking shots are made on pool tables around her, the obvious damning truth – the omitted truth – comes home to her, but not in a self-reliant epiphany; it is her friends that have to explain it to her.

Gil is no accountant.

And his ‘intern’ may come from other dimensions in the vast multiverse to their own universal realm, Eternity, meaning the stakes and the complications pertaining to them are infinitely more than Hardwicke could ever have imagined.

To start the case, really start the case this time, she ambushes her own client in his apartment and confronts him for his lies.

The intern, from a remote planet called earth, could be big trouble.

The story is riveting in both the personal aspects of its characters and the page-turning action, but it also has a grandiose scope far beyond the notion of the known universe.

Bravo!

Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery, science fiction, sci-fi, Russ Colchamiro, crackle and fire, angela hardwicke, angela hardwicke mystery, fractured lives

Fractured Lives: An Angela Hardwicke Sci-Fi Mystery (The Angela Hardwicke Mysteries Book 2) By Russ Colchamiro will be released in September 2021!


The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery By Russ Colchamiro” was written by R.J. Huneke.

 

 

Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In Is Horrifyingly Real

Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In Is Horrifyingly Real

Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In is horrifyingly real and frightening enough to make readers avoid rural Oregon, or woods in general, for that matter.

I jest about the woods as I look at my own patch of dark trees in the yard at twilight and cannot help but worry what might be lurking in there; thanks, Ania.

The Devil Crept In centers around Stevie, one of the best protagonists you could ever have the pleasure to meet.

The following Book Review Of The Devil Crept In Contains **Spoilers** But Not Of The Ending

Stevie is a young boy of around eight or nine, who is likely on the spectrum, has no friends, but one – his cousin, Jude – because of speech difficulties and the missing the bulk of the fingers on his right hand a la Roland Deschain.

Despite his father’s abandoning Stevie, his mother, and his older brother, because of Stevie’s Mom refusing to treat the panic attacks and breakdowns, and despite the physically abusive step-father that is only present to pay the bills and torment his wife and youngest step-child, Stevie remains a good kid.

Sure, he goofs off, he disobeys his parent’s requests, and he goes off on unsanctioned adventures with Jude, but all that is normal kid stuff, and at his core he is very empathetic toward others and genuinely worries over animals and people alike.

The setting in Oregon, from the lush trails and old overgrown paths to the mossy-roof of what is seemingly an abandoned house on the edge of the forest is enveloping.

The characters, from the shop keeper trying to warn Stevie of the danger out in those woods, to Stevie’s horrible older brother – who makes him swear to not have seen the hand job his girlfriend was giving him at the movie theater – are too familiar.

They are too real.

The thought of Stevie’s step-father Terry, a real monster in human form, and the sound of his belt being unbuckled to whip Stevie makes me squirm.

This tale is based on a reality so solid you feel as though you could move there and lose your dog in no time as well.

Stevie worries over people being okay and seems to care for those around him with a golden ability that many young people possess, even if they hide it.

Stevie’s older cousin Jude, on the other hand, is two years Stevie’s senior, and is the small Oregon town of Deer Valley’s brash malcontent.

And for all of Jude’s harsh words, like making fun of Stevie’s speech impediment, he is the only one that has showed any desire to spend time with the boy who lost much of his right hand in a garbage disposal.

When Jude goes missing, Stevie’s world is decimated.

He feels utterly alone.

He seeks frantically to find out what has happened to his only friend, not knowing what his investigations into the long-abandoned trails in the wooded town might bring.

ania ahlborn, small press, The Devil Crept In, fine press, horror, scifi

Around this time, he sees an animal-like creature around this time, that he describes as a yeti, for lack of any other comparable being.

But the adults in his life do not listen to him.

His are the ravings of a madman in a child’s body; a clearly disturbed boy.

Stevie learns of the missing pets in the town.

What kind of town has virtually no pets among them?

The kind of town, surrounded by woods, that is hungry.

The yeti, it turns out, was born out of a night terror rape with what may have been Satan.

A soon-to-be single mother sought refuge from a biker-run crash house, and an old Dead-head one percenter named Rasputin was too kind to grant her wishes.

One night under his care, and nine months later, the white hairy ape-like human is the result.

He is very real. He eats flesh from whatever he can chew. He is not quite human.

The lesson: listen to kids, not the town’s communal rumor mill.

The sad truth is that small towns often look away from the truth as easily as adults ignore what children say.

And children, like the truth, should be heeded.

Ania Ahlborn brings one of my new favorite protagonists, Stevie, and the reader through an agonizing range of emotions, from desperation and exasperation to fear and the internal debate over the compulsion to need to act violently to save one’s self and others.

My only critique is that I would have loved to see a little more of the bearded Rasputin, who appears a couple of times in the book, briefly.

But the imagination certainly spins, like a possessed head, with the thoughts of the possibilities that lurk in and around the character Rasputin.

In Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In, the reality is set before the reader, as if it is perched on a stone, and when it shakes or falls, the story jars us heavily.


The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In Is Horrifyingly Real” was written by R.J. Huneke

 

After Origin By Dan Brown I Can’t Wait For Robert Langdon #6

After Origin By Dan Brown I Can’t Wait For Robert Langdon #6

After Origin By Dan Brown I Can’t Wait For Robert Langdon #6, because unlike every other installment in the Langdon series, Origin did not sit well.

The payoff was not enough this time.

The character that became a modern-day Sherlock Holmes in Angels and Demons, Robert Langdon, is the linchpin of Dan Brown’s series that surround the professor with symbols, mysteries, murders, and two thrills, of the hunt or quest and the mortal danger held therein, and of the epic knowledge that comes out when the many secrets are revealed at the stories’ end.

I love the works of Dan Brown.

Rarely has education through entertainment been as intriguing, as puzzling, as revelatory as when The Holy Grail is besieged in The Da Vinci Code, or when myriad lives come so close to extinction in Inferno (Dante would have loved it).

And the character of Langdon drives the story in every book in the series, just as Holmes and Watson do in many of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales.

But that comparison reveals the biggest issue I had with Origin: the supporting cast were not even close to on par with Langdon or his previous comrades and nemeses.

Please comment and change my mind here; I love Dan Brown’s work and want to change my mind.

Langdon’s royalty alienating female sidekick takes a backseat early on in the story to an AI.

Let me repeat that for emphasis: an artificial intelligence created by a forty-year-old genius (Musk, meets Jobs, meets Gates, meets Einstein?) who is intriguing but . . .

MAJOR **SPOILER ALERT** to opening chapters to follow.

Origin, Dan Brown, Robert Langdon, book review, tff, da vinci code

. . . the character I was most invested in is killed to open the thriller. And an AI steps in to take his place and to largely supplant the female protagonist and the (at that point) clueless professor.

And yes, the book is thrilling, the suspense, the arc of grandiose mystery and conspiracy, they are all there.

The Fibonacci Sequence is also INCREDIBLY interesting!

So, you had me from the cover – I LOVE IT – and then you lost me while Langdon and his dame run from the murder scene for their lives guided by IBM’s Watson.

Maybe it is the decade or more of research into AI and being surrounded by quite a few people at times that are far more knowledgeable of the subject than I, some of them write semi-autonomous code to get robots to behave certain ways, that spoiled this novel for me.

Maybe it was having reread the classic Neuromancer by William Gibson shortly before I picked up Origin that put such a bad taste in my mouth, because the godfather of cyberpunk’s AI in the 1980’s was a lot more convincing and all-around interesting than Brown’s.

AI is mind blowing, in and of itself, and world changing, and it just felt all too happy to me as that luke-warm character became the fulcrum, even over Langdon, for periods of time.

Robert Langdon’s character should not take a backseat to anyone except his Moriarty or his Irene Adler, because Sherlock would be drawn and quartered before he let Lestrade become the focal point of the game.

The writing was as good or better than it has ever been for Brown.

And he has a tall task every time he continues the series: to match or outdo his previous Langdon stories.

But Dan Brown has pulled off the nearly impossible feat four times before! From Angels and Demons and on he did it . . . until now.

I expect a grandiose differentiating installment when or if Robert Langdon graces us in a sixth novel.

 

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: NAY (NAY! Skip it)


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“After Origin By Dan Brown I Can’t Wait For Robert Langdon #6” was written by R.J. Huneke

 

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE NIGHT SHIFT By Stephen King

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE NIGHT SHIFT By Stephen King

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE Night Shift By Stephen King is a deserving fine press production of the author’s first collection of short stories, and there are two added bonus shorts included that were not published by the Doubleday edition!

The short stories are all extraordinary and many are wholly groundbreaking for what horror could evolve to be.

Better put, Sai King’s stories hit on so many different levels and are so impactful that many traditional views of literary prowess were thrown out of the window screaming.

Most of these stories were originally published as stand-alone pieces in men’s magazines.

One exception is the very first story Stephen King got paid for, “The Glass Floor,” that was originally published in the Autumn 1967 issue of Startling Mystery Stories.

That and the introduction in the Bonus section of CD’s Night Shift, alone, is worth the price of admission.

Cemetery Dance Night Shift SPOILERS ahead*

To hear the writer talk about his experience getting rejections and receiving that first check is just remarkable.

This review will touch on two of the short stories held within and give an in-depth look at the small press production of the book itself, the limited deluxe Artist Gift Edition of Night Shift, masterfully produced by Cemetery Dance Publications.

And we will look at two of the weirdest and most fun shorts!

Enter “The Lawnmower Man.”

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE Night Shift, Night Shift, stephen king, chris odgers, Cemetery Dance, fine press

Easily as strange and hilarious and horrific a tale as can be constructed on ancient mythic gods and modern civilization’s obsession with keeping the home’s grass meticulously tended, “The Lawnmower Man” offers mystery, suspense, humor, and an otherworldly sense of dreaming while awake.

How or why someone decided to make a movie using the title alone and throwing out the insanity of the nude grass gobbling antagonist that makes the story is beyond all rational thought, but it happened.

This story proved that like Lovecraft and Poe, King could touch on ancient gods of yore, or wholly make up his own mythology in the modern world, and the charm of it all comes down to the characters caught within.

To date, I can think of no other story remotely like “The Lawnmower Man” – one of the highest compliments I give.

The next work is another favorite of mine that was touched on by TFF before in the One Of Us review, here: “I Am The Doorway.”

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE Night Shift, Night Shift, stephen king, chris odgers, Cemetery Dance, fine press

Another innovative tale is spawned circa the Space Race to the moon and beyond.

It merges science-fiction and the macabre in a painfully realistic manner.

Why does realism come to mind?

Space seems to be a lifeless void and a quiet vacuum, but the reaches outside the earth’s atmosphere are the truest unknown.

The astronaut here recalls little of his voyage to Venus that might note any apparent cause for his current murderous predicament.

But it is the only explanation.

Unlike so many sci-fi voyages and tales, Stephen King attaches the things beyond human understanding.

What could be more terrifying than intelligent entities, that manifest themselves like alien spores, a disease, or a parasite, in the form of eyes that continue to sprout from the searing, itching fingers of their space traveling host.

We cannot send life into space, but that does not mean that rabid rabies-like pathogens, or non-carbon-based life forms cannot live there, cannot hunt there for a way onto the earth to feed.

The astronaut is their doorway to the earth, and as far-fetched as that terrifying premise may seem, its sheer plausibility is solidified in that we cannot for sure say that the Eyes outside Venus’ atmosphere are an impossibility.

Truth be told, I would have loved to hear more about the astronaut in space in the story, but what King leaves to the imagination has me thinking about this one as I reread it again and again, shivering and itching between my thumb and forefinger.

All of the varying dark and spectacular shorts – from “Jerusalem’s Lot” to “Children of the Corn” to “Weeds” (the last bonus story in the volume) – are worth rereading and enjoying alongside the stunning artwork of Chris Odgers in CD’s Night Shift AGE.

For the $95 price-point CD’s Night Shift AGE gets an 11/10 score.

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE Night Shift, Night Shift, stephen king, chris odgers, Cemetery Dance, fine press

Limited to just 3000 books, each of the short stories feature well thought out and deeply impactful original art from Chris Odgers, and they stand out in the oversized deluxe design of 7 X 10 inches.

The faux leather brown of the book and the matching slipcase make the green and gold foil stamping really pop, as does the offset two color interior printing, and the thick, quality paper.

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE Night Shift, Night Shift, stephen king, chris odgers, Cemetery Dance, fine press

There are many bonus materials deservingly given to this book, a piece of literary history, including:

  • a foreword by Stephen King
  • an introduction by John D. MacDonald
  • a brand new afterword by Stewart O’Nan
  • two bonus stories (“The Glass Floor” and “Weeds”) that have never appeared in any edition anywhere in the world

And as CD’s Night Shift Artist Gift Edition is meant to highlight the tales with the paired art, the black and white illustrations are fine art that perfectly encompass the respective works being emanated to strong and stark imagery.

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE NIGHT SHIFT By Stephen King” was written by R.J. Huneke