Posts tagged Laird Barron

Happy Birthday, H P Lovecraft!


Here at Martian Migraine Press HQ, one need only take a cursory glance at our catalogue to understand a very basic thing about us: we love Howard Phillips Lovecraft, warts and all. From our authors, who work with Lovecraftian themes in their poetry, fiction, and weirdly arousing erotica, to our cover artists and graphic designers, and yes, our discerning readership (who can smell a weak pastiche from a mile away, the smartypants!) it’s clear: to be affiliated with MMP, you gotta be Keeping It R’lyeh, in one form or another.

And if you consider yourself Lovecraftian in any way, then you know the Old Gentleman’s birthday is this week, on the 20th. Yes, had Howie lived longer, he’d still be dead by now! Because 124 years is a long time for any organism, let alone one who subsisted on beans, crackers, coffee, and ice cream. Oh, and lengthy correspondence, let’s not forget that. Christ n Cthulhu, HPL would have loved chatrooms, we’re thinking. Can you imagine him utterly destroying Reddit these days? Yes.

Which is all to say we, like you, are celebrating Lovecraft’s birthday, his contribution to the literature of the Weird, and his influence on our own authors and various projects (more on which in a post of the very near future!) by offering readers a present or four. OK. Exactly four presents.

If you’re an Amazon customer and own a Kindle (or have a Kindle app installed on any device – they’re nifty that way) then scoot on over to the Big A for the following MMP ebook deals!

R’LYEH SUTRA by skawt chonzzFREE AUGUST 19 & 20 (Amazon link HERE)
No less a Mythos luminary than Wilum H. Pugmire recommended this chapbook as “charming”, “delightful”, with “lovely poetic prose, all quite Lovecraftian”. Originally limited to a run of 50 chapbooks from Martian Migraine Press, R’LYEH SUTRA is now available as an electronic chapbook. Recalling Spicer and Burroughs, these are poems that explore the shifting, fractal edge of madness, that question the nature of identity, consciousness and language, and do it all with wry humour spliced with a species of alien sexuality. As the title implies, there is an obviously Lovecraftian occult inspiration to the work: in fact, the original, physical run of the book contained, in the form of an insert, a portion of a large hand-written document received in a brutal channeling session from an ultra-terrestrial entity, which chonzz experienced in the spring of 2011. Each copy is therefore utterly unique, a facet of a whole that perhaps should never be viewed in its entirety, and likely never will. This electronic edition seeks to replicate that reading experience with hidden links to previously unreleased segments of that occult document.

PRIESTESS (Blackstone Erotica Volume 1) by Justine Geoffrey
FREE AUGUST 19 & 20 (Amazon link HERE)
If you think that “Lovecraftian smut” can only be poorly written cheap rip-offs of standard hentai themes, then we couldn’t be more happy to educate you in just how weird and wonderful a truly loving approach to the sexuality that breeds between the lines of the Cthulhu Mythos can be. Justine Geoffrey’s BLACKSTONE Erotica series combines raw, character-driven eroticism with mind-melting horrors and a cheeky sensibility that draws from the best of the pulps, Hammer horror films, and of course Lovecraft and, in the case of the first BLACKSTONE book, the muscular energy of Robert Bloch’s classic Mythos tale The Black Stone. This collection brings together all four of the BLACKSTONE books in one massive volume! Follow a novice Priestess of the Black Stone as she calls up prehistoric sex-gods in the mountains of Eastern Europe, gathers power and partners in the glitzy dungeons of London’s BDSM scene, and mates with monsters in subterranean chambers of lust and horror! Priestess also contains excerpts from Blackstone Book 3, Yellow Sign Bound and Justine’s Orgy in the Valley of the Lust Larvae PLUS a special essay from the author on the weird-erotica writing experience.

CONQUEROR WOMB: Lusty Tales of Shub-Niggurath
Kindle Countdown Deal AUGUST 20 & 21 (Amazon link HERE)

(“What’s a Kindle Countdown Deal?” Starting at 8AM PST on Lovecraft’s birthday, the price for this book will be ONLY 99 CENTS. So get it then, because by 2PM another dollar gets tacked on. And so on, until the book is back at it’s regular price of $5.99 late on the 21st.) This anthology is easily the most popular MMP title of 2014! with Conqueror Womb: Lusty Tales of Shub-Niggurath, Martian Migraine Press and editors Justine Geoffrey and Scott R Jones bring you 18 pulpy tales of fertility and fear, hot sex and chilling sacrifice! Stories that squelch, tales that both titillate and terrify, from some of the best writers working in Lovecraftian horror and mind-bending erotica today: Wilum H. Pugmire, Molly Tanzer, Don Webb, Christine Morgan, Kenton Hall, Brian M. Sammons, Jacqueline Sweet, Copper Sloane Levy, Annabeth Leong, and Christopher Slatsky, along with fresh new voices. From nighted glades where frenzied orgiasts work unholy magic to slick urban dungeons of unbridled pleasure; from fertility clinics to fevered dance clubs; from the misty depths of the past to the unthinkable future, join us as we offer praise and abundance! Iä! Shub-Niggurath!

WHEN THE STARS ARE RIGHT: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality
by Scott R Jones – REDUCED from $7.99 to $2.99 AUGUST 20 ONLY!
(Amazon link HERE)

Yes, the book you’ve been hearing about. The one Laird Barron says “gives Thomas Ligotti a run for his money in the Cosmic Horror Philosophy arms race.” The twisty little tome that Leeman Kessler of calls “a crime scene!” The appalling text the mere mention of which caused the venerable S. T. Joshi to raise an incredulous eyebrow! The one that’s making Lovecraft spin wildly in his materialist-atheist grave on his birthday this year. Are you “Keeping It R’lyeh”? Sons of Cthulhu, Daughters of Dagon, you know there’s only one way to know for sure, and that’s picking up Jones’ groundbreaking work on R’lyehian mystical thought and getting down with the Deep Ones in ways you can’t even imagine! Not yet. Not until you’ve taken the Cthulhusattva Vow and entered the Black Gnosis. With a Foreweird from noted Gnostic author Jordan Stratford and beautiful illustrations by Michael Lee Macdonald. When The Stars Are Right is currently out-of-print, so this electronic version is the only way to acquire the book at the moment. And at $2.99, it’s a steal. BUT ONLY FOR ONE DAY.

Thanks for celebrating with us, Migraineers! (As ever, feel free to drop a review on any of these titles once you’ve put yourself back together after reading!) Happy Birthday, H. P. Lovecraft. Here’s to another 125 years of new and exciting interpretations of your horrors.

Martian Migraine Press: the Best Kind of Headache!

Review Round-up! ‘When The Stars Are Right’


Scott R Jones’ When The Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality has been out in the world for a mere three months, but that’s enough, apparently, to get people talking. So we thought we’d round up a few reviews for easy tagging here on the MMP site. Excerpts below and links to the full reviews: see what the Weird Fiction community has to say about the book Laird Barron calls “sly, intelligent, and darkly entertaining. Jones gives Ligotti a run for his money in the Cosmic Horror Philosophy arms race.”

David Leingang of Unspeakable Gibberer: “What Mr. Jones has accomplished is beyond any Cult of Cthulhu or Esoteric Order of Dagon. It is not so much a practice of occultism, but rather a philosophical approach to what Lovecraft may have been hinting at in his writings. Taking a more poignant stance behind Shub-Niggurath, Nyarlathotep, and Dagon and unveiling a study in character of each of the gods, taking into account what they stand for and what teachings they have in store for those who are enlightened by what Jones identifies as The Black Gnosis.” > full review here

Allen Griffin of Innsmouth Free Press: “Once again, there is something here for everyone. At one point, the author states the whole project started as a joke. But I am reminded of Aleister Crowley’s famous pun in Chapter 69 of The Book of Lies, a pun which some claim laid bare the secret teachings of the IX degree of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a pun that would resonate with occultists over the course of decades, if not longer … When The Stars Are Right is a thought grenade and reading this tome may just send ripples through one’s thought processes. Contemplate these concepts at your own risk; you might just come out the other side a practicing R’lyehian.” > full review here

And a very well written Amazon review from Joseph Legander III: “Although relatively brief, it is in alternating turns wise, funny, insightful, practical, and a little scary. Like some exotic, eclectic cuisine, it’s full of hints of other dishes, but duplicates none of them. Traces of Buddhism, chaos magick, and shamanism are obvious. Bits of Ken Wilber’s Integral Philosophy appear (intentionally or not), and there’s even a soupçon of the author’s clearly less-than-happy Christian upbringing. But the odd alchemy at the heart of it creates something so strange, so alien, and yet so lovely that it never feels at all derivative or forced … When The Stars Are Right is simply light years beyond the typical scribblings of Necronomi-con-artists and Gothic poseurs. It combines the blackest insights of Gnostic imaginings with a beautiful, tear-worthy epilogue in the form of a letter to the author’s newborn baby daughter. Regardless of how deep in slumber great Cthulhu may be, I’ll bet he sits up and takes notice of this delightful, non-fictional addition to the Lovecraft canon.” > full review here

Jones recently appeared on the Miskatonic Musings podcast with Sean Thompson and Charles Meyer. Yes, When The Stars Are Right was talked about, but there was also discussion of embarrassing Halloween costumes, the possibility of a kind of chakra-based activation of Godzilla’s blue atomic-breath, why you should always try to include at least one giant phallus in any sculptural attempt of Cthulhu, and Jones waxing all fanboy-ish about Grant Morrison AND Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials. So, something for everyone and nearly two hours of it. Right here, weirdos >

Laird Barron likes the book. Reviewers and readers like the book. But the best response we’ve seen so far? Jones sent us a photo of the little girl to whom When The Stars Are Right is dedicated: his 9-month old daughter, Meridian, who finds it a toothsome read indeed! Normally we shudder a little when Cute-thulhu things happen (looking in your direction, Plush Cthulhu manufacturers!) but in this case we can’t help but allow it!

Not a year old, and already #KeepingItRlyeh

You can order your copy of When The Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality here. NOTE: there are ONLY 2 COPIES LEFT of the original print run, but we will be making arrangements this month to create a Print On Demand edition of the book. Missed out on the paperback? You can still order your electronic copy from Amazon (instant delivery to your Kindle) or directly from MMP (slightly-less-instant but still under 12 hours delivery). And follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates on the PoD availability, as well as news and weird links to things our readers enjoy.

Martian Migraine Press: the Best Kind of Headache!

Great Holes Are Dug: a review of “The Children of Old Leech”


I didn’t grow up in the sticks, but I wasn’t an urban kid, either. I guess edge of the sticks might be an appropriate descriptor for my neighbourhood: the outside rings of cheap housing on the borders of a bedroom community which was itself on the outside of a mid-sized Cascadian burg. No sidewalks defined our roads, only aged grey asphalt crumbling at the edges into tarry pebbles, scrub pine needles and the discarded rusty skin of arbutus trees. There was a field bordering a line of warehouses near the railroad tracks on the walk to my grade school: older kids would harvest mushrooms in the fall there, and in the summer you could find hobo campsites. Black rings of sodden ash and garbage, the smell of piss steaming off the grass in the morning and discarded porno mags peeking out from under logs.

Above my school, the Sooke Hills bunched up to the north and west. There was a giant cannibal woodpecker that lived up there, in a gully near a clearing where we’d take our air rifles for target practice. Don’t ask why we called it a cannibal woodpecker; it only ate humans, that we knew of. Legends. A high school girl had died up there, in the gully. Overdose on something, on whatever the scary drug of the moment was. Beyond that gully was a make-out spot and smoke pit, and beyond that a rock outcropping where a slow Jehovah’s Witness kid I knew had caused another kid’s Ouija board to levitate and disintegrate itself in mid-air: a dead-easy thing to do, apparently. Just ask the device the true name of God, natch.

And a little farther on was the lake where the Tree lived. It wasn’t even really a lake, more a dirty pond, but it was narrow and boomerang-shaped, you couldn’t see the opposite end of it, so maybe it felt like a lake. Anyway. The Tree was this mostly-dead yellow cedar, fire-blasted and grey but still managing to green up a little each year, though its core had all rotted away into aromatic mulch. The only fish you could catch in the lake were these anaemic sunfish that seemed to especially go for the thick grey wormy pupae-type things that you could only find in that mulch, in that Tree. And the dare we’d always throw at each other, when fishing wasn’t the reason for being there, when new kids needed initiation, or a spot of cruelty was more entertaining than woodsy adventure, was always “go stand inside the Tree”.

Standing inside the Tree was not pleasant. There was something old about it, older than the Tree itself, the wood and skin of it. Something sick and bad. I don’t recall anyone lasting more than three, maybe five minutes in the Tree. Kids, eh? Who knows why they do anything? But that’s what we did. Whatever it was we knew about the Tree, it was unspoken and it was true on a gut level. Instinctual.

I thought about the Tree while reading The Children of Old Leech, the new Laird Barron tribute anthology from Word Horde. I thought about the Tree a lot. This book really took me back there.

I haven’t read all of Barron’s collected work, but I’ve read enough to dig him, to get where he’s been and where he was at while writing; enough to maybe make a stab at where he’s going, and I’m pleased to report that the authors collected in The Children of Old Leech get him, too, and have riffed on Barron’s grim, muscular worldview with humour, insight, and a great heaving pile of unhealthy shavings from that Tree, or trees like it. This is an anthology to make you squirm, to gasp at the shock of sudden revelation, to think about man’s place in the cosmos (it’s low, so low), and do all this while treating your fiction-appreciation glands to a good massage. It gets right in there, too, and roots around like a sumbitch. Great holes are dug where Earth’s pores ought to suffice, to casually paraphrase old H P. A few highlights, then, since to break down every tale and my reasons for liking them would drag a little…

The Harrow by Gemma Files is the first shot out of the box, and it’s a doozy: poignant and sorrowful before descending to a very dark place, to black spaces in the earth and in the brain. The method of that descent? Oh, just a little bit of auto-surgery the ancients liked to practice. Yeah, trepanning. Goddamn if this isn’t a fascinating subject, with loads of medical, psychological, and spiritual import, and Files uses it to dig deep and deliver some true horror. Loved it. First story, and I was already loving the book.

A little later on came the epistolary Good Lord, Show Me the Way by the always-wry Molly Tanzer. There’s a thing with Barron’s treatment of bad things in the woods and in the holes, and that’s the kind of oblique way he comes at them: a glancing reference here, a bald but vague statement there. Desperate people attempting to get a bead on the unthinkable and unspeakable, only to see their shots ricochet off in useless, misleading directions. The bad thing is always there, in the center, getting worse and worse, defining its boundaries by what-it-is-not, and that suggestion is what makes Barron’s beasties (both real and metaphorical) terrifying. Tanzer here embodies this aspect of Barron’s fiction through a dry e-mail exchange between the professors, adjuncts, and thesis defenders surrounding a talented student who chooses to investigate and write her paper on a little known forest community, a cult, living in the woods near to where she grew up. Tanzer doesn’t show us what happens to the student, but then, she doesn’t have to: the glib, ivory-towered rhetoric and glazed snappiness of her superiors after the reality of her disappearance sinks in (or doesn’t) is terror enough. Masterful.

T. E. Grau’s Love Songs from the Hydrogen Jukebox telegraphs its punches a bit: before you’re a third of the way in, you can see what’s coming, but the trip there is pure amphetamine-fueled beatnik joy. This isn’t the only story in TCoOL to feature a boundary-busting orgy of weirdness (Michael Griffin’s Firedancing does that better, and weirder) but the energy Grau expends getting his proto-Cassady guru and his nebbish-y protégé out of San Francisco and up to the fateful world-ending party in the mountains, and the crunchy imagery he deploys once they’re there with the Truth and the Horrors, is great stuff. A good ride leading into the book’s very satisfying center.

The Old Pageant is another dark little gem in the crown of Richard Gavin. Barron’s crones and powerful, interesting women with connections are a staple of his world, and here Gavin taps into that deep old double-X chromosomal knowledge for another of his trademarked deft characterizations. Read any story by Gavin, and you will feel for his characters, mourn their losses, their catastrophic decisions in the face of the ineffable and deadly. The Old Pageant is no exception, and though it shares the pages with stories just as chilling or more so, the chill at the end of this one is especially unsettling. There’s trees in this one. There’s trees in most every tale here, but Gavin’s grove is creepy plus.

Paul Tremblay’s Notes for “A Barn in the Wild” is a stand-out for a lot of excellent reasons. I’m a sucker for diarist-as-narrator formats (because it can be flubbed so badly, when it goes well it goes really well), and following Tremblay’s narrator as he tracks down a McCandless-style free-spirit who goes missing in Labrador with the aid of a “Black Guide” (a travelogue listing bizarre and powerful places off the beaten path) is an exercise in literary puzzlin’ I loved. Only knowing what you’re being told, but knowing there’s more, much more? Goddamn delicious. Barn in the Wild feels like the first time you saw The Blair Witch Project, in every way that was good, before its sublime effect was watered-down by a decade-and-change of imitators. (An aside regarding the production of TCoOL: I pre-ordered the book early on, and I’m getting the diary, a Blue Notebook, with the entire text of the story, footnotes and scribbles in the margins and everything, written in Tremblay’s own hand, as a special add-on. How’s that for premium? Bam. I’m learning that with Lockhart’s Word Horde, it’s the little things.)

The Last Crossroads on a Calendar of Yesterdays was the only selection that I just couldn’t get into, but this is my own fault; I’ve been told repeatedly that Joe Pulver is “jazz” and is therefore an acquired taste. I’ve yet to acquire it, I guess. There’s a pack of bohunk neo-Nazis in this, and some kind of golem cobbled together out of blood and the text and paper of another Black Guide, but beyond that I couldn’t pull much from this. It’s atmospheric, for sure, and bops along with a sketchy energy I can appreciate, but I could have used some additional straight-up narrative.

John Langan’s Ymir, however, is a wonderful tribute to and continuation of Barron’s Hallucigenia, following Marissa, a private military contractor suffering from PTSD, who’s hired to guard the body of a classic Barron bad-man-with-money-and-time. This fellow is tracking down the vanished (transformed? transubstantiated? in any case, fucked) Wallace Smith and his wife Helen, not so much out of duty or concern, as for the hints regarding the monstrous geniuses of the Choate clan connected with the case. Their sleuthing takes them north, to the Arctic Circle, and a throbbing sore in the skin of our reality buried at the bottom of a mine. When Barron strikes his cryptogenetics chord, prepare to be disturbed, to feel body-horror deeply: his is the long view, a sere chuckling appraisal of our place in the red-fanged grind of Time. Langan here gets that view, and the ending (is there ever a true ending for a Barron protagonist? no) is perfect.

Of A Thousand Cuts is a killer transhumanist gladiatorial gore-fest from Cody Goodfellow. Honestly, I’ve never read anything like this. It was a revelation. Goodfellow gets down into the meat and viscera of what it means to be human, reshapes what he finds there, augments the weak parts with fierce bionics, overclocks the feed into the strong parts, laces the spastic fibres with nano-wires running molten streams of pure love and despair and consuming hate, and when that surgery is through, he sluices what’s left of the human soul through a dark-side-Zen psychical re-programming algorithm. At the other end of this completely transcendent mind-job is a shining, multi-faceted product, an exquisite artefact of a story that you actually hesitate to return and read again, it’s so goddamn sharp. But it’s the hesitation of a moment only. Want to learn how to kill with a poem? Right here, folks.

So, those are my top picks in The Children of Old Leech, but really, there’s not a dud in the bunch here. Each is a class in storytelling, every one is entertaining, and every other one is thought provoking. Lockhart and Steele have a winner on their hands, I think; this is one I’ll keep coming back to, much as I do with Laird’s work. Reading TCoOL was like standing in that Tree beside that lake in the hills, up to my ankles in smoky rot and grey grubs, unable to move, while the sun dipped down to dusk. Recommended.

Edited by Ross E. Lockhart and Justin Steele
Word Horde, (342p) ISBN 978-1-939905-02-4
* * * * *

Scott R Jones is the author of the short story collections Soft from All the Blood and The Ecdysiasts, as well as the non-fiction When the Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality. His poetry and prose have appeared in Innsmouth Magazine, Cthulhu Haiku II, Broken City Mag, and upcoming in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.

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