Posts tagged reviews
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 > http://www.miskatonicmusings.com/episode-53-always-look-bright-side-life/
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!
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!
Erotiterrorist and Lovecraft fan Shon Richards (Violatrix, Dark Lords of the Earth) has been in the game for a while, we understand, so when he says that the climactic scene of Justine Geoffrey‘s RED MONOLITH FRENZY took his breath away, we’re inclined to stick a shoggoth-barb in our hat! Thanks Shon. We love Justine (and we’re not just saying that because she used the Triple-Word on us!) and we’re glad more folks are coming round to her unique brand of weird arousal!
Shon’s full review here > Dirty Books: RED MONOLITH FRENZY
And it’s not just fellow smutketeers singing Justine’s praises: UK bizarro writer Ade Grant (author of The Mariner and Seeker) calls the “dreamlike freedom” of PRIESTESS “thoroughly endearing” and is pleased to find in Justine’s work a bracing alternative to the cookie-cutter erotica that dominates the market these days. Says Grant: “You won’t find any Christian Grey’s in the pages of Priestess, but you might just find a Charles Dexter Ward, juiced up on a heady concoction of LSD and Viagra.”
Ade’s full review here > “Can I stick it there? Well I won’t know until I try!”
I know what everyone knows about Jack the Ripper: Whitechapel serial murderer of the late 19th Century. Five victims, all prostitutes. Taunting missives to the authorities. Some odd, ritualistic elements to the crime scenes. Never caught, and so the bogeyman figure of Jack is shadowed in conspiracy and horror to this day. And that? That’s about it, as far as my knowledge of the Ripper goes. Not what you’d call “in-depth”. I’ve (partially) seen From Hell, but it was around the time I was going off Alan Moore’s work and I was nursing a compound hangover at the time; it may have been switched out for Solaris, which is more friendly to morning-after-regrets.
So I was a little worried when I received an ARC of editor Ross Lockhart’s latest anthology, Tales of Jack the Ripper. Did I know enough about Jack to be able to really enjoy the book? Would I have to be a Ripperologist to dig the subtleties, savour the grim flavour of the thing? I’m glad to report that I shouldn’t have been worried at all, and that any reader coming anew (or relatively so) to the world of Jack the Ripper through this collection is doing themselves a huge favour. There are broad, masterful strokes here but with just enough tasty minutia to encourage further reading.
Down for bloody details and speculation on Jack’s identity? Ennis Drake’s The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker, Pete Rawlik’s Villains By Necessity and Stanley C. Sargent’s When The Means Just Defy The Ends are all serviceable tales well told, if a little dry.
The devil for me, at least as far as Jack is concerned, isn’t in the details: he’s in the place where the Ripper legend grows beyond the details. In the shadows. And there were a few standout authors here that really make the collection live, with stories that pulled inspiration from those shadows, the true bogeyman aspects of Jack…
It’s been years since I read any Ramsey Campbell and I was glad to find that time has not diminished his skills. Jack’s Little Friend is a prime example of Campbell’s claustrophobic, harrowing style of cerebral horror, and the final scene of this tale of possession and obsession is truly stomach-turning. It’s subtle, his use of the singular horrific image, but devastating in its effect, as is the way Campbell places the reader behind the eyes of his victim. Look-over-your-shoulder amazing.
The Truffle Pig by T.E. Grau lets a little Lovecraft into the book, and for that I was surprised and grateful. This story is great fun, riffing on the ritualized aspects of the murders, but taking things much further than the standard “Freemasons did it” conspiracy theory, into the realms of the cosmic and deep into the past.
I also enjoyed Abandon All Flesh by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Jack here is a display in a wax museum, mooned over by a young girl. It’s basically a coming-of-age story but Moreno-Garcia also weaves in Central American myth systems (with their focus on bloodletting and sacred murder) to create a unique perspective on the Ripper legend and a meditation on our fascination with him and his descendants. It’s “Death and the Maiden”, Mexico-style.
I wasn’t sure, even upon reading it twice, how exactly Laird Barron’s Termination Dust related to the Ripper, but frankly, I didn’t care, because (not unlike Campbell’s story) this one is pure Barron: hard-scrabble, terse, monstrous, funny… tough people performing bad works for worse reasons on the frontiers of the continent and the human soul. Which I guess is Ripper territory after all. I wish I could write like Barron; everything he puts out is a class for me, and I’ll be coming back to Termination Dust again and again.
E. Catherine Tobler’s Once November is the ghost story in the bunch and it is a beautiful, heartbreaking look into the lost souls of Jack’s victims. The writing here is superb, and there are interesting spectral mechanics and the kind of poignancy that makes a good ghost story work. Sorrowful and soft, Once November is a great way to close out the collection.
The only entries which fell a little flat for me were from the two Joe’s: Joe R. Lansdale and Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. The set-up for Lansdale’s God of the Razor comes off as a bit of standard E.C. Comics grue and Pulver’s Juliette’s New Toy is… I want to say experimental (ie. daring, innovative) but this prose-poem is essentially a hallucinogenic word-salad with more cleverness than craft in evidence. By the end of this short piece, there’s some hint about a (possibly female) Ripper in space? Dunno. It’s a weird, off-note.
All the stories are book-ended by two poems by the talented Ann K. Shwader, Whitechapel Autumn, 1888 and Silver Kisses.
Editor Ross Lockhart (Book of Cthulhu and Book of Cthulhu 2, Chick Bassist) has done a stand-out job with Tales of Jack the Ripper. This one’s going out to certain names on my Christmas list, that’s for sure. You know the ones. With their “funny little games”. Recommended.
Available for purchase soon from better independent booksellers everywhere and now available through the following online booksellers: trade paperbacks and Kindle editions through Amazon.com, TP and Nook editions through B&N, Powell’s Books, IndieBound, Book Depository, and Kobo ebooks.