Monday, April 15, 2013

Tales to Terrify Show #56: William Markley O’Neal

A few words about the film, “Surveillance” 0:01:25
Tour of the Abattoir, “Let the Right One In” and “Let Me In,” Mike Allen and Shalon Hurlburt
Love, Luck, and Lollipops, Aunt Sal 0:30:33
Sensory Desolation: by William Markly O’Neal 0:33:50 X/X

Listen to the episode at

Sensory Desolation

Short Story by William Markly O’Neal
Read for Tales to Terrify #56 by Mike Boris

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tales to Terrify Show #54: Kaaron Warren

A Tour of the Abattoir: Mike Allen's column has been a lot more hit-or-miss for me
The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall by Kaaron Warren
: X/X

A short discussion of The Natural History of Man and bit more about Kaaron Warren


Listen to the episode at

The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall

Short Story by Kaaron Warren
Read for Tales to Terrify #54 by Kim Lakin-Smith

Friday, April 12, 2013

Tales To Terrify #53: Harry Shannon

Introduction: A few more minutes advertising the book and Spider Robinson's workshop.  Entirely skippable, but short enough.

Horror 101The House and the Brain by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Haunted House Story by Charles Dickens, "The Alchemist" by H. P. Lovecraft, and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Haunted House Story is an anthology edited by Dickens, Lucia more-or-less pans the collection with the exception Dickens' own contributions, looking at the contents I can't say I'm surprised, I don't know any of these people.  Would have liked to see more discussion about the other stories.

Lucia does give us quite a bit of discussion about The House and the Brain, and while I've never read Bulwer-Lytton more than an over-wrought sentence or two, he makes it sound interesting enough that I might come around to it some day.  Lucia talks about this novel as an early example of the supernatural-detective subgenre.  The idea that you have a rationalist who refuses to believe in ghosts, but finds magic spells a more rational explanation for a haunting amuses me, seems somehow less rational than Carnacki the Ghostfinder.

The Lovecraft story is pretty trivial, as is the treatment of it here.  A plot summary, nothing more.  The Bronte discussion isn't much more detailed, although I'm glad to see it included in a discussion of these sort of possibly-possibly not supernatural haunted house stories.

Violent Delights by Harry Shannon:  A realistic horror story about a horror writer dying by being hit with a car.  The driver won't save him lest she get in trouble.  The obnoxious voice the narrator gives for the girl is great, but overall I wasn't all that entertained with the story.  It has a nice moment or two, but mostly empty calories.  2.5/5

What do you think?: A discussion of the ideal length of the podcast.  One of the reasons I love Tales to Terrify more than Starship Sofa is the can-actually-listen-to-this-in-one-sitting length.  I'm glad to hear they aren't changing that here, and I'm excited by the prospect of multi-episode serials, however they choose to make that work.  I'd much rather a multi-part story than a 3-hour episode.

Summary:  Horror 101 is the most enjoyable recurring column in Tales to Terrify and I am always glad to see an instalment.  This one is pretty minor aside from the Bulwer-Lytton discussion and even then I don't feel like I learned much about the history of the genre or thought as much about classic books as is sometimes the case.  This was a mediocre episode of Horror 101 and a mediocre episode of Tales to Terrify.  Nothing was objectionable, but I'm not terribly impressed with this one.

Listen to the episode at

Violent Delights

Short Story by Harry Shannon
Read for Tales to Terrify #53 by Joe Sammarco

Shakespeare-based titles are done-to-death in Science Fiction and Fantasy but I haven't seen that many in Horror.  Horror seems more the genre for Samuel Taylor Coleridge or assorted fairy tale references, but I'm surprised we haven't seen more focus on the dark aspects of The Bard.  Sadly, we don't get any of that here either, just a flurry of Shakespeare references toward the end that is fairly clever, if not particularly interesting.

For the most part, this is just a story of  a man dying and being annoyed by the girl who hit him with her car and refuses to save him, preferring to cover up her crime by disposing of the body instead.  It drags on a bit, I keep expecting the protagonist to die and he just keeps dragging on.  The very last lines were good, but would have been nice if we'd gotten to them faster.  And if the Shakespeare connection had seemed less trivial.

I'm also not sure why the protagonist has to be a horror writer, it comes across as a bit of cliché without adding anything to the story.  It gives a lot of time for the protagonist to focus on his regrets about dying and his overly-disgraced career, but almost nothing about the absurdity of committing murder to avoid a DUI arrest.

2.5 Shakespeare quotes out of 5.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tales to Terrify #52: Damir Salkovic

Introduction:  A brief bio of Tales to Terrify cover-artist Skeet Scienski, a sales pitch for the Tales to Terrify book and Spider Robinson's workshop.  Both these pitches get a little old with the repetition but they aren't too long and they help keep the podcast afloat, so whatever.

A brief update on the mirror-universe adventures of Larry's cat lightens the mood before the one and only feature in this episode:

Triumph by Damir Salkovic: Neufeld is an amazing narrator for this story, so much so that I'm tempted to seek out his Librivox recordings.  The story itself is fun fluff.  If you like the sound of Nazi occultism with a Lovecraftian bent, you'll enjoy it.  If not, this won't convince you.  3/5

Summary:  A short, decent episode. Ten minutes of dull fluff before getting to the good stuff is not too much for me (particularly from Larry Santoro), but if it is, there's always the fast-forward button.

Listen to the episode at


Short Story by Damir Salkovic
Read for Tales to Terrify #52 by Bob Neufeld

Alternate history in which the Nazis summon Lovecraftian entities to help them win WWII.

A touch predictable; the general direction of the bad end the Nazis are coming to is visible a long way off, but the specifics are interesting.  More interesting than that is the fun pulpy section detailing the discovery of ancient texts man-was-not-meant-to-read.  I've always had a soft-spot for Nazi occultism stories, and making them Lovecraftian is not a bad direction.  Fun Nazi junk food.

3 Reichsführer chips out of 5.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tales to Terrify #51: Thomas Smith

I've been a fan of Tales To Terrify, Starship Sofa's creepy little sister podcast, since episode #1.  I hope to actually write a review for that some time, but they wrapped up their first year recently and I'm catching up.  Let's review a whole bunch of episodes in a row.  First up, Episode #51, December 28, 2012.

Auld Lang Syne: Larry reads a classic holiday song as poetry, this is "Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot" for those who don't know.  It makes surprisingly good poetry in the dulcet voice of Larry Santoro, no real horror connection, but it's a nice way to set the mood, and a nice opening to the episode.

The Heart Is a Determined Hunter by Thomas Smith: An okay-but-not-great story about a man who returns to the site of his wife's death.  2.5/5

Mahler Faces Trans-Dimensional Terror: Cute little anecdote about Larry's cat defending his family from mirror-universe incursions.  Maybe it's just that I like cats, but I can't help smiling at this, and the horror spin Larry puts on it.

The Fence at Yard’s End: Another creepy little poem from Larry.  Not bad.

Summary: I can't say I'm as down on New Year's as Larry is, but he gives us something to think about and a break from the generic cheerful sentiment is always nice this time of year (I originally did listen to this on New Year's Eve.)  The story wasn't bad but I won't go pushing it as the story to get people into ghost stories, I feel the same about the poem.  The real draws to this episode are Larry's opening song reading and the talk about his cat.  So like the story, I wouldn't recommend this episode to get someone into the show, but I hardly feel my time has been wasted, thanks to the skills of an excellent host.

Listen to the episode at

The Heart Is a Determined Hunter

Short Story by Thomas Smith
Read for Tales to Terrify #51 by Drake Vaughn

A man returns to the resort where his wife died in a terrible fire.  This is basically a classic ghost story with creepy hotel and a ghost-wife who wants her husband to stay with her forever.

It's a bit predictable and dull overall but eventually comes around to the theme of being hung up on the past that is central to most ghost stories, but done in a more interesting way.  Then it over-explains everything.  There is an interesting take on ghost stories here, hidden among a story I swear I've read 20 times before, but it's explained to death in a way that robs the story of much of its mystery.

Quite a bit like a much a less-poetic, less unusual version of Ramsey Campbell's "Above the World".

2.5 Ghost Wives out of 5.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

起狮,行礼 (Rising Lion — The Lion Bows)

Short Story by Zen Cho
Read for Podcastle by Tracey Yuen
Original text published at Strange Horizons, March 2011

A British Lion Dance troupe use their performances as a cover for secret ghostbusting missions. This is a warm, humorous ghost story, with lots of Chinese and Malaysian culture and some good comedic musings on why exactly magical lions enjoy cabbage so much. The ending is sweet, not really surprising, but nice. The value of this story is not in suspense, but in happy feelings and wry humor.

3.5 cabbages out of 5.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Blood Garden

Short Story by Jesse Livingston
Read for Pseudopod by Chris Reynaga

Fed up with his college friends' pedantic semantic arguments about about symbolism, Matthew wanders away from an analysis of a fictional poem, and as he wanders the streets at night, he wanders into the poem itself.

I've had many frustrating conversations of this sort myself, where argument over a definition prevents us from ever getting to the substance of the debate. The discussion and the frustration with other people's pedantry rings particularly true, but it's nice that the story flashes to Matthew's friends after he leaves, and shows us that they aren't complete tools.

Matthew feels isolated, fed up with his friends and left alone to deal with the death of his mother. He's jealous of his friends and their presumably cushier lives, he's angry, sad, and isolated. The magical, poetic garden in which he finds comfort is dark and violent and the images will haunt me.

I've felt what Matthew feels, the isolation and powerlessness, frustration with your friends and loneliness and rage. Livingston evokes these emotions so well, and I'm in love with the image of the garden. I only wish the poem he referenced were real. It's compared to Kubla Khan and the poetic description contains a long section from the end of Coleridge's poem, with "She was alone when she died" presumably interjected by Matthew to make the poem more fitting, and more sinister.

4 animals in the trees out of 5.