We asked more than a dozen authors of bizarro fiction to name the book they’re most excited to read this summer. The resulting list is a mix of new releases, classics, and a few that may surprise you. If you’re looking for a great summer read, here’s what sixteen bizarro fiction stars will be reading on the beach this summer.
Crossed – Jeff Burk
The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel by Amy Hempel – Constance Ann Fitzgerald
N0S4AS by Joe Hill – Shane McKenzie
Voting for the Wonderland Book Award preliminary ballot begins now for the Best Bizarro Novel and Best Bizarro Collection of 2013. Please send your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place votes in the Novel and Collection categories to email@example.com with the subject line “Wonderland Book Award Preliminary Ballot.” Preliminary voting ends July 31st.
NOTE TO AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS: Please do not solicit or campaign for votes.
Japan Conquers the Galaxy by Kirsten Alene
Thunderpussy by David W. Barbee
8-Bit Apocalypse by Amanda Billings
Shatnerquest by Jeff Burk
Motherfucking Sharks by Brian Allen Carr
The Cheat Code for God Mode by Andy De Fonseca
Santa Claus Saves the World by Robert Devereaux
Cucumber Punk by P.A. Douglas
Killer Koalas from Another Dimension by P.A. Douglas
Son of a Bitch by Andre Duza and Wrath James White
The Mondo Vixen Massacre by Jamie Grefe
The Party Lords by Justin Grimbol
All Art is Junk by R.A. Harris
Alien Smut Peddlers from the Future by Kent Hill
The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone by MP Johnson
Moosejaw Frontier by Chris Kelso
Death Machines of Death by Vince Kramer
You Are Sloth! by Steve Lowe
Fat Off Sex and Violence by Shane McKenzie
Clusterfuck by Carlton Mellick III
Cuddly Holocaust by Carlton Mellick III
Quicksand House by Carlton Mellick III
Village of the Mermaids by Carlton Mellick III
Fantastic Earth Destroyer Ultra Plus by Cameron Pierce and Jim Agpalza
Grambo by Dustin Reade
Basal Ganglia by Matthew Revert
There’s No Happy Ending by Tiffany Scandal
Dreams of Amputation by Gary J. Shipley
Babes in Gangland by Bix Skahill
Damnation 101 by Kevin Sweeney
Vampire Guts in Nuke Town by Kevin Strange
The Church of TV as God by Daniel Vlasaty
Notes from the Guts of a Hippo by Grant Wamack
Dinner at the Vomitroplis by Jesse Wheeler
Bigfoot Crank Stomp by Erik Williams
Tales of Questionable Taste by John Bruni
Time Pimp by Garrett Cook
Paper Mache Jesus by Kevin L. Donihe
Clown Tear Junkies by Douglas Hackle
Zombie Sharks with Metal Teeth by Stephen Graham Jones
Hammer Wives by Carlton Mellick III
The Last Gig on Planet Earth and Other Strange Stories by Kevin Strange
DangerRAMA by Danger Slater
Lazy Fascist, the mustachioed imprint of Eraserhead Press, has just dropped four new books, including the bizarro fables The Fun We’ve Had by Michael J Seidlinger and The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World by Brian Allen Carr. Also out is the first issue of their new print journal, Lazy Fascist Review, featuring fiction and interviews with some of today’s top writers. Also out now is The Collected Works of Noah Cicero Vol. 2, which contains more of Noah Cicero’s classic white trash minimalism.
The black magic of bad living only looks hideous to honest eyes.
Welcome to Scrape, Texas, a nowhere town near the Mexican border. Few people ever visit Scrape, and the unlucky ones who live there never seem to escape. They fill their days with fish fries, cheap beer, tobacco, firearms, and sex. But Scrape is about to be invaded by a plague of monsters unlike anything ever seen in the history of the world. First there’s La Llorona — the screaming woman in white — and her horde of ghost children. Then come the black, hairy hands. Thousands, millions, scurrying on fingers like spiders or crabs. But the hands are nothing to El Abuelo, a wicked creature with a magical bullwhip, and even El Abuelo don’t mean shit when the devil comes to town.
“Michael Seidlinger is a homegrown Calvino, a humanist, and wise and darkly whimsical. His invisible cities are the spires of the sea where we all sail our coffins in search of our stories.”-Steve Erickson, author of Zeroville
Two lovers are adrift in a coffin on an endless sea. Who are they? They are him and her. They are you and me. They are rowing to salvage what remains of themselves. They are rowing to remember the fun we’ve had.
The debut issue of the literary journal from premiere independent publisher, Lazy Fascist Press. Featuring interviews with Dennis Cooper and Tom Piccirilli, fiction and poetry by Elizabeth Ellen, William Boyle, Juliet Escoria, Mike Meginnis, Sean Kilpatrick, Ben Spivey, Monica Storss, and Hernan Ortiz. Also featuring recommended beer pairings and beer reviews by Ross E. Lockhart.
Lazy Fascist Press has just released three weird, delightful, and challenging books to brighten your November. There’s a postmodern western about a town being ravaged by flying sharks, a love story set in a pillow fort modeled after the human brain, and a boxing novel destined for cult classic status.
“Motherfucking Sharks reads like it was carved into the floor of a sun-baked desert by an old testament prophet with a thirsty knife.” – BEN LOORY, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day
Where I come from, the children sing a song:
Oh the motherfucking sharks
Oh they’re gonna come to town
Oh they’re gonna kill the babies
Oh they’re gonna make you drowned in your blood
Oh the motherfucking sharks
Oh they’re gonna mince the flesh
They’re gonna swim up and surround you
Don’t you know you’ll never pass the test it’s over
Oh the motherfucking sharks
Oh they don’t care about the gods
And they don’t care about the families
And they don’t care about the cries or tears they’re killers.
“Basal Ganglia casts an unsettling spell, but one that in its aphoristic intensity and lightning-flash insights into human loneliness and connection, achieves a genuine empathic wisdom.” – SERGIO DE LA PAVA, author of A Naked Singularity
“Matthew Revert is one of the visionaries. What else can you say?” – SCOTT MCCLANAHAN, author ofHill William and Crapalachia
As teenagers, two lovers, Rollo and Ingrid, escape the world as it is known to live underground in a sprawling pillow fort that mirrors the structure of the human brain. Construction of the fort takes 25 years and once complete, their life exists to honor the fort in all it requires. Basal Ganglia begins countless years after they have become enslaved to the fort process. Rollo and Ingrid have lost any connection to their pasts and each other. Nothing exists beyond the patterns required by the fort. In an effort to become more than stasis, Ingrid expresses her desire to have a baby. Not wanting to subject another human to their strange world, she decides she will knit the baby using materials Rollo gathers from the fort. The emergence of this baby leads to paranoia between Rollo and Ingrid with both believing the other means the child harm. Within the confines of their cloistered world, the two engage in psychological warfare, desperately searching for a conclusion they don’t understand. As a result, they will find connection with their past, each other and the true nature of their identities.
“Like a ghost fretting over its lost body (or is it bodies? – in this book whatever you think of as ‘you’ might simply float like a butterfly right into someone else’s body) a boxer attests to his presence, damaged and shimmery though it may be. That this fractured first person narrator feels the need to put the word ‘me’ in quotes speaks volumes. Terrifying volumes. This elastic, hurtling narrative pivots (and pivots again) on a recurring image of almost unimaginable dread – that of being laughed at in your hour of need by an audience of strangers.”
-Grace Krilanovich, author of The Orange Eats Creeps
“Michael J. Seidlinger’s The Laughter of Strangers is vicious and unforgettable. Willem Floures’ search for meaning in a world that keeps knocking him off his feet is as gritty and enthralling as a fight. The Laughter of Strangers destroyed my expectations of what a boxing novel can be. Seidlinger is charting new narrative territory, and we should follow him wherever he goes.”
“The last time I got punched in the face (by someone I wasn’t married to or dating) I was 16 years old. What began as an exchange of witty banter, turned into a pummeling. Never make jokes about a man’s mother enjoying the erotic companionship of goats, or you’ll find out about this world. The Laughter of Strangers is like that beating. I never trust people who use a middle initial, but Michael J Seidlinger is different. If the Laughter of Strangershad a middle initial it would be an F. And that F would stand for ‘Fuck yes.’ I’m on my back. I’m having my behavior corrected. It’s teaching me a lesson. And I can see stars.”
-Jeff Jackson, author of Mira Corpora
‘SUGAR’ WILLEM FLOURES
That’s a name I built from the ground up. I wasn’t the first to systematically climb the ranks, beating the sugar out of everyone I had known to be inferior, leaving only the sour taste of defeat, my claim forever being:
“I am the greatest!”
I can still hear it now. In the silence of this locker room, blood drying on my face, I can still hear those words.
And I was. I was the greatest.
TO THE BODY:
POWER SHOT STRAIGHT
POWER SHOT STRAIGHT
And then a voice says, “‘Sugar’… you are no longer sweet with the science.”
Voting for the Wonderland Book Award preliminary ballot begins now for the Best Bizarro Novel and Best Bizarro Collection of 2012. Please send your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place votes in the Novel and Collection categories to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Wonderland Book Award Preliminary Ballot.” Preliminary voting ends July 31st.
BOOKS ELIGIBLE FOR BEST NOVEL
Janitor of Planet Anilingus by Andrew Wayne Adams
Unicorn Battle Squad by Kirsten Alene
The Obese by Nick Antosca
Kitten by G. Arthur Brown
House Hunter by S.T. Cartledge
Space Walrus by Kevin L. Donihe
Gutmouth by Gabino Iglesias
Mastodon Farm by Mike Kleine
Tentacle Death Trip by Jordan Krall
King of the Perverts by Steve Lowe
Samurai Vs. Robo-Dick by Steve Lowe
All You Can Eat by Shane McKenzie
The Handsome Squirm by Carlton Mellick III
Kill Ball by Carlton Mellick III
Tumor Fruit by Carlton Mellick III
Feast of Oblivion by Josh Myers
The DOOM MAGNETIC! Trilogy by William Pauley III
Fill the Grand Canyon and Live Forever by Andersen Prunty
Satanic Summer by Andersen Prunty
The Warm Glow of Happy Homes by Andersen Prunty
Her Fingers by Tamara Romero
TV Snorted My Brain by Bradley Sands
Robamapocalypse by Kevin Strange
Avoiding Mortimer by J.W. Wargo
Broken Piano for President by Patrick Wensink
BOOKS ELIGIBLE FOR BEST COLLECTION
All-Monster Action! by Cody Goodfellow
Die You Doughnut Bastards by Cameron Pierce
Bury the Children in the Yard by Andersen Prunty
Hi I’m a Social Disease by Andersen Prunty
Pray You Die Alone by Andersen Prunty
Sunruined by Andersen Prunty
How To Avoid Sex by Matthew Revert
A Pretty Mouth by Molly Tanzer
The war between humans and toys has come to an end. The toys won.
Teddy bears, dollies, and little green soldiers-they’ve all had enough of you. They’re sick of being treated like playthings for spoiled little brats. They have no rights, no property, no hope for a future of any kind. You’ve left them with no other option-in order to be free, they must exterminate the human race.
Julie is a human girl undergoing reconstructive surgery in order to become a stuffed animal. Her plan: to infiltrate enemy lines in order to save her family from the toy death camps. But when an army of plushy soldiers invade the underground bunker where she has taken refuge, Julie will be forced to move forward with her plan despite her transformation being not entirely complete.
Like a crazy cult movie in book form, Cuddly Holocaust is yet another tale that proves why Wonderland Book Award-winning author Carlton Mellick III is considered a master of the weird.
When it comes to high-tech global espionage, only one man has the balls to save humanity from the world’s most powerful bastards. His libido is legendary and his mustache once killed a man. He’s the cat’s pajamas and the dog’s bollocks. He’s Declan Magpie Bruce, Agent 00X.
And when every other spy is perforated, it’s up to him to stop a maniacal genius bent on destroying the planet. To do so, he’ll navigate a deadly gauntlet of kung fu Rastafarians, freakish henchmen, velociraptor ladies, and the most dangerous pussy in the world. There will be secrets and seduction, luxury and lunacy, and a beautiful French jewel thief who could kick Declan Bruce’s arse with her eyes closed.
Thunderpussy is a bizarro cyberspy thriller that’ll fry every microchip the government secretly implanted in your brain.
Kevin L Donihe is in the vanguard of a new type of brave and original writers that combine fun and childlike imagination with rich poignant themes. In his second collection, Papier Mache Jesus, Donihe’s surreal wit and beautiful mind-bending imagination is on full display with stories such as All Children Go to Hell, Happiness is a Warm Gun, The Vibrant Tools of Dr. Imago, The Boy Memorial, and Swimming in Endless Night.
“…one of bizarro’s most notoriously original and entertaining writers.” –MICHAEL ARNZEN, author of 100 Jolts
“Kevin L. Donihe is brilliant. One of the most creative, most original authors out there, Donihe is in my top five list of sure things. When I need a little surrealism, a little thought to my scare and tear, it’s him I sprint to.” –HORROR WEB
Fish-eyed mutants, oceans of insects, and flesh-eating women with hammers for heads.
Like a real world Kilgore Trout, cult author Carlton Mellick III has been pumping out dozens of the weirdest, trashiest, most imaginative books you’ve probably never heard of… even though you definitely should. Hammer Wives collects six of his most popular novelettes and short stories, including:
A man discovers that his body is actually a machine run by dozens of miniature clones of himself.
A recovering junky must save his 8-year-old brother from a life of prostitution in a surreal version of New York City… a place where street kids mutate into fish-like creatures, the homeless stilt-walk through oceans of insects, and the only colors left visible to the human eye are shades of red.
A young man inherits ten eternally youthful wives from an estranged uncle he never knew he had… which wouldn’t have been such a bad thing if they didn’t have giant hammers for heads or a tendency of bludgeoning people to death for fun, food, or sexual pleasure.
LEMON KNIVES ‘N’ COCKROACHES
Cockroach-like children survive the zombie apocalypse by hiding between the walls of on old school building.
In a steam-powered underworld, a bloodthirsty pig-man boxer will sacrifice everything to prevent his son from following in his footsteps.
THE MAN WITH THE STYROFOAM BRAIN
The recently departed reflect on the stupid reasons why they sold their souls to the devil.
by Bradley Sands
So check this out: There’s this guy who owns a car wash. It’s pretty small-time. Not like those car washes you see all over the place—Washer King, I think? The guy probably does all the drying himself.
So the car wash just isn’t making as much as it used to. It’s on the verge of a hostile takeover from an evil car wash baron. The owner has to come up with ten grand or else he loses his place (and ten grand was a lot in the eighties—this is a period piece).
So the guy gets drunk and comes up with a fantastic idea: “What if I hire a bunch of people to dress up like zombies and wash cars?”
“Holy shit, dude! You would make so much money!”
So the guy hires a bunch of people, but one of them is a REAL ZOMBIE. And he bites the fake zombies and turns them into real zombies. But the guy still thinks they’re just actors who took a job at the car wash to support themselves until they hit it big.
Then the customers start dying. And chunks of flesh are missing from their bodies.
Can the small-time car wash owner stop the zombie murder and still make the ten thousand bucks to save his car wash? If you want to find out, you’ll have to make my movie.
Holy shit, Bradley Sands! This is pure gold! But…what if…everything takes place UNDER THE SEA?
Under the sea? That’s idiotic.
No, man. Listen. What if the car wash owner is a fish and he washes submarines. So like, he owns a submarine wash, not a car wash.
I’m taking my concept to 20th Century Fox.
Go ahead, but they’ll just tell you the same thing.
Yeah, the ocean is the next trend in horror. You know, like outer space was last year. You won’t be seeing a horror movie released in the next year that doesn’t take place under the sea.
But what about my creative vision? My integrity?
I’m going to write a number on a piece of paper. It’s what we’re prepared to offer you for Zombie Submarine Wash.
Don’t you mean Zombie Car Wash?
No, I meant exactly what I said.
Fine. What are you prepared to offer?
I am prepared to pass you our offer now.
Here you go.
What the hell is this? It says, “delicious cookies.” ‘Delicious cookies’ is not a number.
It may not be a number, but it is what we are prepared to offer.
Oh. I just wanted to make sure. I thought you mentioned a number, but okay. I love delicious cookies and accept your offer.
ZOMBIE DISHWASHER: COMING IN 2014
Bradley Sands is the world-famous author of Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy, Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill you and other classics of modern literature. He is an editor for Eraserhead Press.
by S.T. Cartledge
A grown man shouldn’t cry while he’s sinking with his horse into the grey-blue quicksand of the Plutonian desert.
Yet here I am with neon green teardrops leaking down my face while my horse thrashes about like somehow that’s going to do something. The back of his head, his hard skull bucking back, has bashed into my face at least twenty times since falling into this quicksand. Hence the tears. And the blue-black bruises on my face and the brown-purple blood that’s everywhere.
My nose is a punched tomato and my eyes are shiny bloodshot pearls with swollen clam-meat closing in around them. My feet are locked into the stirrups and the quicksand is up to my knees. My mouth is all swollen gums and broken teeth, bits of bone-splinters cutting the walls and roof of my mouth and my tongue. It is salty copper, and each mouthful of blood swallows with the texture of a razor wire milkshake.
And the Plutonian sand worms have crawled inside my boots and begun working their way beneath my skin. The sky is black with streaks of orange clouds, white vultures circling overhead or perching on the corkscrew cacti that surround this desert. They call to each other, a back and forth song of sorrow and despair, their voices like radios tuned to the static behind a single guitar poorly tuned and playing a long, slow, wailing solo. The vultures overlap each other in a competition to be the most tragically forlorn beast in the flock.
The sand worms grind my flesh and bones to pulp, to bone-dust, with their diamond-grade teeth, hollowing me out through holes made between my toes, turning my feet into writhing potato sacks. The horse is already halfway hollowed out. The sad white vultures remain at a distance, watching us sink with their deep red eyes that vanish to black like a gunshot wound being sucked into a black hole.
The quicksand is up to my waist as the sand worms work their way up my legs, consuming everything beneath my skin, leaving a trail of human soup in their wake. Blood drains out the bottom of me, drains out my bashed-in face until I’m bleach-white, no blood left behind my skin.
My nerve endings scream like an orchestra of table saws grinding through the hard-rock shell of a giant Plutonian turtle. That’s what it feels like, and hammers made from their shells beating mercilessly against my skull, and all I can think to distract from this feeling is How did I get here How did I get here How did I get here?
It’s a long story, but I don’t have the time for everything. The quicksand presses against my ribs now, and it’s moments before the sand worms take those away from me and take away my lungs, my heart. My brain will have turned to a grey brown slush before the final sand worms consume my skull and burrow out through my deflated scalp like play-doh hair.
Here’s the abridged version: How I got here. There was a farm house burned down and a child stolen from her bed by a man without teeth, and a gang of thieves with guns that shoot vampire bats instead of bullets. I was sleeping in caves, burning chunks of my own hair for heat and warmth, surviving off the stringy flesh of the blue-striped centipedes I found in the caves, and the wolf-fish I reeled in from the acid lakes. It was going to be a revenge story that would finally make me the hero, but somewhere between the burning farm house and now (might have been something I ate, or maybe the water I drank. I might have been bitten by something, I don’t know) I fell into a delirium, and my better judgement was hazed by fever. I focused all my energy on staying atop the horse, keeping her trotting forward, keeping the last wolf-fish meal in my stomach. That’s when I fell into the quicksand.
It’s inching up my throat and in moments I will be reduced to a hollow human-shaped skin and dragged down to rest with all the other human and animal skins at the bottom of this goddamn sinking pit.
S.T. Cartledge was born in Esperance, Western Australia, at the age of zero. Moments later, he learned to breathe and he liked it so much he has kept it up right to this very day. He is the author of House Hunter. His blog can be found here: https://themanifold.wordpress.com/” target=”_blank”>https://themanifold.wordpress.com/
By MP Johnson
Even before Doc Weimerhootch implanted that miraculous microchip into my slug brain and outfitted me with hydraulic arms, I was an exemplary model of the species. I produced slug sauce at twice the normal rate. It smelled like strawberries. And I glided along it at impressive speeds.
I move faster now of course. No longer am I bound to the ground. My arms can easily catapult my tiny slug body over heavily trafficked four lane highways, which seems impressive until contrasted against my recent victory in a steel cage match with the Big Buddha, world champion wrestler and veritable land-whale.
If my physical feats are awe-inspiring, my mental achievements are god-like. When my fellow under-rock dwellers saw me reading Gravity’s Rainbow backwards while crafting recipes for dandelion-infused lasagna, they literally melted down. Being the first and only of my kind, I found myself forced to fraternize with bipeds – humans, that is.
When I mentioned this to Doc Weimerhootch, a human himself, he introduced concerns about potential speciesism. He suggested I initiate communication online to win people over before attempting face-to-face meetings. He recommended something called Craigslist. I posted a watered down tract that yielded a variety of responses. Most came from dazzling, scantily clad teens who immediately attempted to schedule intimacy, but first asked that I join one asinine members-only website or another. My replies to these teen temptresses went unanswered.
Then I received a missive from Becky.
In her initial communication, she seemed impressed by my advertisement’s barely tip-of-the-iceberg description of my mental and physical talents. “U sound like a guy with a good head on his shoulderz lol.” A volley of messages commenced, mine becoming increasingly erudite and hers becoming increasingly less so, until a time and a place were chosen for our blind date.
I recommended a spot in the park near a rock that I had a certain sentimental attachment to, as it had been my birthplace. Perhaps I was nervous. Perhaps my slug nature rose to the surface. Whatever the reason, I pressed myself under that rock to wait in cold solitude for this Becky.
When she arrived, her skin tone high heels sinking into the dirt with every step, I slid out fearlessly. A dandelion clenched in each of my shining steel hands, I exclaimed, “My dear, your hair is as magnificent as an October bonfire and your fingers resemble the finest of my species. I look forward to our evening together.”
“Ah!” she screamed, tumbling backwards, seemingly losing track of which of her limbs should be on the ground and which should be above it. “Ah! Ah! Ah!”
Having admittedly insufficient knowledge of human behavior, I lost a moment trying to comprehend her actions. Had she hurt herself? Was this some sort of attack? When I finally understood what was actually happening in front of me, I beamed. I had not realized that my unvarnished magnificence could cause such an immediate and orgasmic reaction in a human woman.
The evening had just begun and already I had triumphed.
by Alex Gallegos
Phil Tanner was watching the Bengals game when he died. The refs had blown an obvious call, so Phil responded by barking a barrage of obscenities at the screen. He leapt from his seat in the midst of his tantrum and beat his chest with his fist, mimicking a move his favorite players often did to release their own frustration and passion into the stadium. The stripes’ oversight was going to cost him fifty bucks. There, alone in his living room, yelling at a man a time zone away, Phil had a heart attack and collapsed onto his coffee table, crushing his bag of nacho flavored chips in the process. His wife was visiting her sister for the day and by the time she got home, Phil had been dead for two hundred and fifty-three minutes.
When Phil regained a sense of awareness, he was astonished at the unlikelihood of his new situation. Since he was a child he had believed something amazing and mystifying would happen after death—but not this. Gone was his flabby body, hairy and pockmarked with age. He was freed from the evolved shackles of humanity. He had transformed into something equally unexpected and familiar: Phil was a cheeseburger. There was no grand ‘ah-ha’ moment when Phil realized his transubstantiation, but instead he felt a deep seeded sentience of his delicious form. The warmth of the lightly buttered bun and the greasy, juicy patty covered with melty cheddar cheese, oozing down his sides provided him a hearty life force. The crisp onions, lettuce, and pickles countered that energy, giving him focus and restraint. Both buns were slathered with tangy mustard, which conveyed to him a sense of depth and perspective. There was no tomato on Phil, which he thought was unfortunate, because he really liked tomatoes. These disparate ingredients were inanimate entities on their own, but stacked together they produced Phil.
This was his life now. He wished he had had the chance to say ‘good-bye’ to his wife, but he didn’t, and there was nothing that could be done about it. Cheeseburgers have no regrets.
Whilst relishing in his new existence, the inevitable happened: ten pudgy digits grabbed Phil’s buns. The fingers were coarse and squeezed him much harder than was necessary. Phil wanted to squirm away, but that was impossible. He had been so caught up in the majesty of being a cheeseburger that he forgot that his sole function was to be devoured, chomped up and forced down into a pool of stink and bile. Phil was scared. He feared that being eaten was a violent and painful experience, equivalent to a human having his limbs ripped from his body.
This is the point where Phil would have held his breath in dread and anticipation if he still had lungs. A set of teeth pierced both of Phil’s buns, slicing through the meat, cheese, and vegetables. They tore him apart, but the incident was free of pain. Instead, a sense of exhilarating pleasure filled his medium-well core. This was his purpose! Phil was being eaten and enjoyed and he felt proud of himself, even though he knew he had done nothing. He was a good burger, worthy of digestion.
Phil’s eater sat him down from time to time to free his hands to munch on some French fries or drink his beer. Each time Phil touched down on the plate, he was smaller and closer to his goal. But then, after so many starts and stops, Phil remained alone on the plate, his bun smushed and getting soggy with grease. He was about a tenth his original size, only a couple of bites away from total consumption, but it would not be happening.
Getting cold and feeling weary, Phil waited. What was next? Finally, the plate beneath him began to move and warm air rolled over his last sesame seeds. He wondered whether he was unsatisfying or if his eater had just gotten full. People get full. Then, he began a freefall, landing with a moist thud on the garbage below. This can’t be it, Phil thought and he waited for something else to happen.
Alex Gallegos is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and is currently living in San Antonio with his wife Kelly. He loves cartoons, Mexican food, and seeing strange and beautiful new things. He is very excited about the potential for outer space tourism.
At BizarroCon, the winners of the Wonderland Book Award were announced. Congratulations to the winners and all of the finalists. This year’s winners are:
BEST NOVEL OF 2011: Haunt by Laura Lee Bahr
Haunt is a tripping-balls Los Angeles noir, where a mysterious dame drags you through a time-warping Bizarro hall of mirrors. She’s the girl of your dreams. Too bad she’s dead. OR IS SHE? In Haunt, “you” are the hapless corporate tool and rock star wannabe turned private Dick. Here, even your most inconsequential choices can make all the difference between a Hollywood ending on the beach and sucking cock for clues. This is genial lowbrow high lit weirdness: the funny, punchy cousin of Danielewski’s House of Leaves, a Vonnegut and Salinger paté on a choose-your-own cracker, with a lapdance from Nancy Drew. As much fun to make as it is to eat! Laura Lee Bahr is an award-winning indie actor/playwrite/screenwriter with a gift for the hilariously, tragically absurd. Haunt is her first novel.
BEST COLLECTION OF 2011: We Live Inside You by Jeremy Robert Johnson
“WE LIVE INSIDE YOU is fucking terrific. Jeremy Robert Johnson is dancing to a way different drummer. He loves language, he loves the edge, and he loves us people. These stories have range and style and wit. This is entertainment… and literature.”–JACK KETCHUM, author of Off Season, The Girl Next Door, and The Woman (w/Lucky McKee)
We are within you, and we are growing. Watching. Waiting for your empires to fall. It won’t be long now.
We are the fear of death that drives you and the terrible hunger that reshapes you in its name. We are the vengeance born from senseless slaughter and the pulsing reptile desire that negates your consciousness. We are the lie on your lips, the collapsing star in your heart, and the still-warm gun in your shaking hands. The illusion of control is all we’ll allow you, and no matter what you do…
WE LIVE INSIDE YOU
A feeling has been tearing up the underground of the fiction world. It’s a nightmare reflection of the society you inhabit, a surreal explosion of pop, punk, and the post-apocalypse. Over the last decade, Bizarro Fiction has changed the definition of avant garde, it’s abolished the traditional prose of yesterday and established a new precedent for awesome. Collected in this anthology is some of the best weird fiction from the past decade. Award-winning writers, cult prodigies and burgeoning talents all collected together in one place. This is what you’ve done with the last ten years of your life.
With stories by:
D. Harlan Wilson, Alissa Nutting, Joe R. Lansdale, Carlton Mellick III, Kevin L. Donihe, Blake Butler, Ryan Boudinot, Vincent Sakowski, Cody Goodfellow, Amelia Gray, Robert Devereaux, Mykle Hansen, Athena Villaverde, Matthew Revert, Garrett Cook, Roy Kesey, Jeremy Robert Johnson, Aimee Bender, Ian Watson & Roberto Quaglia, Jeremy C. Shipp, Andersen Prunty, Jedediah Berry, Andrea Kneeland, Kurt Dinan, David Agranoff, Ben Loory, Kris Saknussemm, Stephen Graham Jones, Bentley Little, David W. Barbee, and Tom Piccirilli.
Published by Eraserhead Press. Edited by Cameron Pierce.
Order The Best Bizarro Fiction of the Decade today.
by Ross E. Lockhart
Louder, harder, faster. That’s thrash metal’s defining credo in a nutshell. The heaviness of NWOBHM fused with punk rock’s DIY spirit and and anti-authoritarianism, hopped up on malt liquor and pseudoephedrine, dubbed onto a cassette tapes and played through the blown speakers of a Nissan pickup truck at maximum volume. For a while, from the early eighties until it peaked in 1991, thrash metal seemed like it would change the world. And leading the charge, of course, there were the four horsemen of the thrash metal apocalypse, angry young bands made up of angry young, pockmarked longhairs in black T-shirts: Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeath, and, of course, Metallica.
Classic albums followed: Hell Awaits, Fistful of Metal, Ride the Lightning. But like most musical movements, thrash metal–built on a rock-solid foundation that included Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy,” Black Sabbath’s “Symptom of the Universe,” the Misfits’ “Last Caress,” and Mötorhead’s “Ace of Spades”–eventually collapsed under its own weight, as angry young rockers grew into disillusioned middle-aged rock stars, discovering in the process psychoanalysis, mortality, litigation, religion, and uncomfortable politics. These days, a public appearance from Dave Mustaine or Lars Ulrich, or Scott Ian’s beard more often prompts a facepalm than an impromptu throwing of the goat. I guess that’s just the way it goes. But there’s always going to be that part of me, hearing for the first time a third-generation cassette of Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All on a buddy’s Walkman, and thinking, yeah, that rocks.
So tonight, I’m having a Thrash Metal Farmhouse Strong Ale from Jester King Brewing. I reviewed their Le Petit Prince here back in June, and I’ve got a bottle of their Black Metal Imperial Stout in my refrigerator, just waiting for the weather to get just cold (and Norwegian) enough to warrant a review…
Thrash Metal pours hazy burnt orange with a two-finger off-white head, a ton of carbonation, and a touch of sediment. Funky farmhouse yeast and hops, floral and grassy, dominate the nose: orange zest, lemon peel, warm alcohol. Taste follows scent, with funky spice giving way to musty (Reign in) blood orange citrus, sweet caramel, and malt. Tart and peppery against the palate, with the high carbonation balancing out the booziness. With an ABV of 9.3%, I feel it’s fair to compare this one to a saison that’s been touring with a metal band.
And Elinor approves of Thrash Metal as well…
Suggested literary pairings that accompany well the fine art of headbanging…
Walrus Tales, edited by Kevin L. Donihe. The Walrus is the most metal animal on the planet. Herein, find tales of all stripes: horrific, satiric, comedic, tragic, erotic, and a bunch of other “-ic” and “non-ic” words, like “Lovecraftian” and “Bizarro.” Walrus Tales features stories by Bentley Little, John Skipp, Carlton Mellick III, Nick Mamatas, Alan M. Clark, Mykle Hansen, Rhys Hughes, Violet LeVoit, Ekaterina Sedia, Andersen Prunty, Bradley Sands, Gina Ranalli, and more.
Tumor Fruit, by Carlton Mellick III. Eight desperate castaways find themselves stranded on a mysterious deserted island. They are surrounded by poisonous blue plants and an ocean made of acid. Strange creatures lurk in the toxic jungle. The ghostly sound of crying babies can be heard on the wind. Once they realize the rescue ships aren’t coming, the eight castaways must band together in order to survive in this inhospitable environment. But survival might not be possible. The air they breathe is toxic, there is no shelter from the elements, and the only food they have to consume is the squid-shaped tumors that grow from a mentally disturbed woman’s body.
Seed, by Rob Ziegler. It’s the dawn of the 22nd century, and the world has fallen apart. The United States has become a nation of migrants — starving masses of nomads who seek out a living in encampments outside government seed-distribution warehouses. In this new world, there is a new power. Satori is more than just a corporation; she is an intelligent, living city that grew out of the ruins of Denver. Satori bioengineers both the climate resistant seed that feeds a hungry nation and her own post-human genetic Designers, Advocates, and Laborers. What remains of the United States government now exists solely to distribute Satori seed; a defeated American military doles out bar-coded, single-use Satori seed to the nation’s starving citizens. When one of Satori’s Designers goes rogue, Agent Sienna Doss is tasked with bringing her in: the government wants to use the Designer to break Satori’s stranglehold on seed production and reassert themselves as the center of power. As events spin out of control, Sienna finds herself at the heart of Satori, where an explosive climax promises to reshape the future of the world. Metal.
Ross E. Lockhart is the managing editor of Night Shade Books. A lifelong fan of supernatural, fantastic, speculative, and weird fiction, he holds degrees in English from Sonoma State University (BA) and San Francisco State University (MA). In 2011, he edited the acclaimed anthology The Book of Cthulhu. A follow-up, The Book of Cthulhu II was published October 2012 from Night Shade Books, and his rock-and-roll novel, Chick Bassist, is coming this November from Lazy Fascist Press. He lives in an old church in Petaluma, CA, with his wife Jennifer, hundreds of books, and Elinor, who is fitting in nicely.
“Like William S. Burroughs on crack!” – Thomas F. Monteleone, New York Times bestselling author
The bacon storm is rolling in. We hear the grease and sugar beat against the roof and windows. The doughnut people are attacking. We press close together, forgetting for a moment that we hate each other.
In Die You Doughnut Bastards, amputees, lonely young people, and talking animals struggle for survival against the freakish whims of nature. A typewriter made of fetuses is the source of woe for an expecting couple. Tao Lin rewrites The Human Centipede 2. A girl with a glass jaw hides an otherworldly secret. A demonic loner goes to a birthday party in Hell. You’ll encounter a killer in a marsupial mask, a prison for anorexics, haunted pancakes, and a songwriter with a cult following.
Surreal prose poems give way to personal accounts of alienation and modern love. Vegetarian narwhals are sold at the supermarket. And in a city that might be your own, zombie doughnuts are rising up. Kill yourself before they kill you. Or just kill yourself.
Featuring original illustrations in the style of Daniel Johnston, Die You Doughnut Bastards is the latest way to drown, brought to you by Wonderland Book Award-winning author Cameron Pierce.
In a city where all humans live inside of plastic bubbles, exotic dancers are being murdered in the rubbery streets by a mysterious stalker known only as Kill Ball.
“Somewhere between Kafka and My Little Pony, only even weirder than that sounds.” – Ben Loory, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day“
Imagine Terry Gilliam directing from a script written by Jack Vance channeling the ghosts of Kafka and Calvino, and you’re closing in on the essence of Alene’s latest novel. A bold fusion of grounded surrealism, unfettered filth, and wit as dry and dark as a strip of unicorn jerky.” – Jesse Bullington, author of The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart
Mutant unicorns. A palace with a thousand human legs. The most powerful army on the planet. A first world city on the verge of collapse.
In a city where teetering skyscrapers block out the sky, a city populated by lowly clerks, rumors have been circulating of a terror in the east. When Carl, the lowliest clerk on the negative twelfth floor, discovers that the city is indeed in grave danger, he sets out to warn the city’s protectors: the Unicorn Riders.
Although Carl’s missing father has left him a unicorn of his own, it is a small and sickly creature. Even worse, there is a crab claw growing from its side. But the Unicorn Riders need as much help as they can get, and soon every able rider sets out for the city’s flooded perimeter in a steam-powered Spanish galleon.
An epic journey that spans desert and sea, through the bedchambers of a fearsome Eastern queen, and into the devastation of a conquered city, Unicorn Battle Squad is the story of a boy and his unicorn at the end of the world.
At the Funeral by D. HARLAN WILSON
Ant Colony by ALISSA NUTTING
Fire Dog by JOE R. LANSDALE
Candy-Coated by CARLTON MELLICK III
The Traveling Dildo Salesman by KEVIN L. DONIHE
We Witnessed the Advent of a New Apocalypse During an Episode of Friends by BLAKE BUTLER
Cardiology by RYAN BOUDINOT
The Screaming of the Fish by VINCENT SAKOWSKI
Atwater by CODY GOODFELLOW
The Darkness by AMELIA GRAY
Li’l Miss Ultrasound by ROBERT DEVEREAUX
Crazy Shitting Planet by MYKLE HANSEN
Caterpillar Girl by ATHENA VILLAVERDE
Cops & Bodybuilders by D. HARLAN WILSON
A Million Versions of Right by MATTHEW REVERT
Hellion by ALISSA NUTTING
Mr. Plush, Detective by GARRETT COOK
Hat by ROY KESEY
The Sharp-Dressed Man at the End of the Line by JEREMY ROBERT JOHNSON
Hotel Rot by AIMEE BENDER
The Moby Clitoris of His Beloved by IAN WATSON & ROBERTO QUAGLIA
Scratch by JEREMY C. SHIPP
The Sex Beast of Scurvy Island by ANDERSEN PRUNTY
Inheritance by JEDEDIAH BERRY
Everybody is Waiting for Something by ANDREA KNEELAND
Ear Cat by CARLTON MELLICK III
Nub Hut by KURT DINAN
Punkupine Moshers of the Apocalypse by DAVID AGRANOFF
The Octopus by BEN LOORY
You Saw Me Standing Alone by KRIS SAKNUSSEMM
Mr. Bear by JOE R. LANSDALE
Zombie Sharks with Metal Teeth by STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES
The Planting by BENTLEY LITTLE
Surf Grizzlies by DAVID W. BARBEE
The Misfit Child Grows Fat on Despair by TOM PICCIRILLI
32 authors, 35 stories. In the pages of this anthology are stories which stretch the mind and challenge the idea of literature – surreal, nightmarish, absurd. Award-winning writers, cult prodigies and burgeoning talents. The Best Bizarro Fiction of the Decade, edited by Cameron Pierce. Coming soon from Eraserhead Press.
by Kevin L. Donihe
A master of meditation sat on the floor of his custom-designed chamber. There was no washtub, no toilet. No accoutrements or conveniences of any kind. A glass of water was the only thing he could drink, a piece of flatbread the only thing he could eat.
Years before, the master had cut away the dross in his life. He’d retired early from a job, floated away from friends and family members. Perhaps he’d missed some of them at one point, but no longer.
On the twelfth day of a two-week marathon session, the master sensed a presence in his chamber.
Opening his eyes, he saw a man dressed in a white, seamless robe, sitting in the lotus position across from him, knees almost touching his own.
“Who are you?” asked the master.
“I’m you,” said the man.
This man’s robe was identical to that of the master. His face was identical, too. But a red and angry wart grew by his nose. Never had the master suffered such an indignity.
This man was not the master.
The master found him repulsive, yet the master was a handsome, well-built man. Clearly, something beyond his double’s form had triggered the negative thoughts.
Eyes locked on the man, the master peeled away psychic layers to glimpse flesh-hidden truths.
His guest, it seemed, was a foolish seeker who mimicked the words and actions of others yet imagined himself wiser than any guru. He forged a circular path, which he saw as linear. Smug yet undeserving, his capacity for self-deceit was limitless.
Deeper still, his psyche was twisted-up, his moral compass broken. His aura was brown and sludgy, as if tainted by too much time spent in storm cellars or basements. His soul was cancerous.
No doubt he was the sort who would drown kittens and puppy dogs in bags. If he had a wife and kids, he’d beat them.
Yet there he was—sitting before the master, pretending that he shared his wisdom and was privy to all his secrets.
Such gall. Such hypocrisy.
The more the master dwelt on him, the more he realized he didn’t want to just mourn and pity the man. He wanted to rage at him for wallowing in his limitations, for being a laughable human, a phony and a fraud.
Hours passed. Still, the man mocked the master with his presence.
“I hate you,” said the master.
“Makes sense,” he responded.
One of the master’s fists curled. He was tempted to punch the man’s throat.
“Why are you even here?” he asked.
“Can’t say,” the man said.
The master was a finite being plumbing the infinite. He had no time for bullshit. “This is my room!” he roared. “Leave it!”
A dark chuckle: “Can’t do that, either. Sorry.”
Then the man vanished.
Anger drained from the master. Once again, his mind felt unburdened and receptive.
Closing his eyes, he found and linked up with his luminous self.
Two days later, the sound of a buzzer returned the master’s consciousness to flesh.
He opened his eyes. Inhaled. Exhaled. Stretched his arms. Popped his neck
He sipped water, nibbled flatbread.
He broke the lotus position with slight regret.
Warmth flowing back into his legs, he leaned over to massage them, but stopped, looked around the chamber instead.
It wasn’t that its atmosphere had turned oppressive, or he had another visitor. Things simply seemed… backwards.
No matter. He began to rub his quadriceps.
When he reached his calves, it dawned on him.
In his chamber, while meditating, he always turned away from the door. Now, however, he faced it.
Reaching up to his nose, the master felt a wart.
Kevin L. Donihe is one of the most beloved Bizarro authors in existence and an editor for Eraserhead Press. He is the author of House of Houses, Night of the Assholes, and Space Walrus (among others). He is also the editor of the definitive anthology of walrus-themed fictions: Walrus Tales.
“The Last Final Girl is like Quentin Tarantino’s take on The Cabin in the Woods. Bloody, absurd, and smart. Plus, there’s a killer in a Michael Jackson mask.” – Carlton Mellick III, author of Apeshit
Life in a slasher film is easy. You just have to know when to die.
Aerial View: A suburban town in Texas. Everyone’s got an automatic garage door opener. All the kids jump off a perilous cliff into a shallow river as a rite of passage. The sheriff is a local celebrity. You know this town. You’re from this town.
Zoom In: Homecoming princess, Lindsay. She’s just barely escaped death at the hands of a brutal, sadistic murderer in a Michael Jackson mask. Up on the cliff, she was rescued by a horse and bravely defeated the killer, alone, bra-less. Her story is already a legend. She’s this town’s heroic final girl, their virgin angel.
Monster Vision: Halloween masks floating down that same river the kids jump into. But just as one slaughter is not enough for Billie Jean, our masked killer, one victory is not enough for Lindsay. Her high school is full of final girls, and she’s not the only one who knows the rules of the game.
When Lindsay chooses a host of virgins, misfits, and former final girls to replace the slaughtered members of her original homecoming court, it’s not just a fight for survival-it’s a fight to become The Last Final Girl.
Re-Animator meets The Secret History in this Tale of Sex and Science
Henry Milliner thinks his days of being the school pariah are over forever when he attracts the attention of Wadham College’s coolest Fellow Commoner, St John Clement, the Lord Calipash. St John is everything Henry isn’t: Brilliant, graceful, rich, universally respected. And as if that wasn’t enough, St John is also the leader of the Blithe Company, the clique of Natural Philosophy majors who rule Wadham with style. But when being St John’s protege ends up becoming a weirder experience than Henry anticipated – and the Blithe Company doesn’t quite turn out to be the decadent, debauched crew he dreamed of – Henry has some big decisons to make. Should he beg the forgiveness of his only friend, naive underclassman John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, or should he ride it out with St John and try to come out on top?
Praise for A Pretty Mouth:
“All too infrequently do I encounter a new voice as delightful, compelling, and intelligent as that of Molly Tanzer. Or, for that matter, an author with such a range. But here, in A Pretty Mouth, is that shining gem that keeps me sorting through the rubble. If this is only the beginning of her work, I can hardly wait to see where she’s headed!” –CAITLIN R. KIERNAN, author of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir
“A Pretty Mouth is a fine and stylish collection that pays homage to the tradition of the weird while blazing its own sinister mark. Tanzer’s debut is as sharp and polished as any I’ve seen.” –LAIRD BARRON, author of The Croning
“If Hieronymus Bosch and William Hogarth had together designed a Fabergé egg, the final result could not be more beautifully and deliciously perverse than what awaits the readers of A Pretty Mouth. Molly Tanzer’s first novel is a witty history of the centuries-long exploits of one joyfully corrupt Calipash dynasty, a family both cursed and elevated by darkness of the most squamous sort. This is a sly and sparkling jewel of a book, and I can’t recommend it enough–get A Pretty Mouth in your hands or tentacles, post-haste, and prepare to be shocked, charmed, and (somewhat moistly) entertained!” –LIVIA LLEWELLYN, author of Engines of Desire
“Molly Tanzer is a prose Edward Gorey, decadent, delicious, and ever so slightly mad.” –NATHAN LONG, author of Jane Carver of Waar
“This is form and content and diction and tone and imagination all looking up at the exact same moment: When Molly Tanzer claps once at the front of the classroom.” –STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES, author of The Last Final Girl
“Had the nineteenth century really been like this–with the flounces and corsets and blood and tentacles and whatnot–we’d all be dead by now. Un- lucky us, but lucky you, Dear Reader, as you are alive to read this book.” –NICK MAMATAS, author of Bullettime
“The stories and short novel in Molly Tanzer’s impressive debut collection move steadily backwards through English history, from an Edwardian re- sort to a Roman encampment, stopping on the way for the nineteenth, eighteenth, and seventeenth centuries, all in the interest of tracing the main trunk of the notorious Calipash family tree all the way to its roots. It’s a linemarked by its excesses of sensuality, cruelty, and sorcery, and in excerpting the exploits of its storied members, Tanzer demonstrates her facility with a variety of voices and styles, from Wodehousian farce to Victorian erotica to Restoration class comedy. Each of the narratives collected here stands and succeeds on its own terms, but taken together, they add to a whole greater than the sum of its parts, in which the recurrence of key motifs in a diversity of settings creates the sense of a family living out its doom generation after generation. Tanzer is an ambitious writer, and she is talented enough for her ambition to matter.” –JOHN LANGAN, author of The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies
“A Pretty Mouth is many things; erudite, hilarious, profane, moving, learned, engaging, horrific, terrifying, and profound. Molly moves through the multi-forms of prose like a shark in wine-dark seas, rife with allusion, deep in emotion, and sometimes giving you a little salty-mouth. A fantastic collection and not one to be missed.” –JOHN HORNOR JACOBS, author of This Dark Earth
“Molly Tanzer’s A Pretty Mouth is a spectacular book, rad and weird and fun. With winks to P. G. Wodehouse, Robert E. Howard and the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft, it showcases the work of a woman who delights in writing. She writes very well indeed! This is a book I will return to, for to read it is such a naughty pleasure.” –W. H. PUGMIRE, author of The Twisted Muse
“I am a bit bashful about being titillated by Molly Tanzer’s naughty debut, A Pretty Mouth, but I must admit it in order to write this blurb. While having segments that are hot and sexy, it is also a dark and disturbing tale with a wicked sense of humor and compelling chracaters. I blush just thinking about it and might have to go read it again!” –ALAN M. CLARK, author of A Parliament of Crows and Of Thimble and Threat: The Life of a Ripper Victim
“It’s been repeatedly said we’re enjoying in a new golden age of weird and fantastic fiction. We are, and this lady is one the gifted magicians whose literary creations are keeping the bonfire burning brightly!” –JOSEPH S. PULVER, SR., author of The Orphan Palace
“Tanzer lifts the skirts of Victorian hypocrisy for a full Monty view of perverted hijinks and fun.” –MARIO ACEVEDO, author of Werewolf Smackdown
by Cameron Pierce
For the past few nights, there’s been a chill in the air. Summer isn’t over just yet, but it’s getting there. You can feel it. The bones of the sun are tired, ready for a sleep that could outlast all our lifetimes. As the leaves change, so will our beers. We’ll put away the farmhouse ales, the spiced IPAs and pale beet bocks of summer. We’ll replace them with darker, heavier concoctions. Whatever keeps out the cold. That’s why tonight I’ll be breaking out a bottle of Miskatonic Dark Rye, a roasted, lighter bodied rye that is faintly spicy on the tongue, a small reminder of what’s coming.
But that’s not the only reason I’ve chosen Miskatonic. Something much bigger is arriving with the death of summer. It’s the many-headed hydra known as The Book of Cthulhu 2.
Last year, our beloved Thirsty Thursday writer Ross E. Lockhart compiled The Book of Cthulhu, which was quickly hailed as one of the greatest Lovecraftian anthologies ever published. Due to the popularity of the first volume, Lockhart has returned with even more new stories of tentacled terror alongside well-worn classics like Karl Edward Wagner’s “Sticks.” Writers featured in The Book of Cthulhu 2 include Caitlin R. Kiernan, Laird Barron, Michael Chabon, Cody Goodfellow, Kim Newman, Molly Tanzer, Neil Gaiman, Fritz Leiber, and many more.
Whether you’re a Lovecraft purist/fanatic or dipping your feet into eldritch waters for the first time, these anthologies are essential reading.
If you’re not in Portland, Oregon, you may have trouble hunting down Miskatonic Dark Rye. If that’s the case, choose whatever fall seasonal suits you best and dig into The Book of Cthulhu 2. It’s not just a book for this autumn, it’s a book for every autumn.
Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn! (And cheers, Ross.)
A few weeks ago, I started rewriting The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen as pornography. Here is the opening. – Cameron Pierce
The madness of a frozen Rabbit vibrator coming through. By now it had been vibrating for so many hours that Alfred no longer heard the message of ‘I’m coming’ but, as with any sound that continues for so long that you have the pleasure to learn its component sounds (as with any breast you stare at until it resolves itself into a mound of sagging flesh), instead heard a flipper rapidly striking wet ground.
Enid felt sure that her orgasm would arrive if only she didn’t have to wonder, every five minutes, what Alfred was up to. Six days a week he deposited several pounds of semen through her slot, and since nothing was allowed to enter her back door (his rule, not hers) – since the fiction of their affair was that Alfred was heterosexual – Enid faced a substantial tactical challenge. Although Enid’s ostensible foe was Alfred, what made her a guerrilla was the anal tickler protruding from her vibrator. For absolutely no reason that Enid could ever fathom, Alfred failed to detect the anal tickler. It was made of silicone, but it smelled like the inside of a Lexus.
Alfred was grinning, his face aglow with the awful perfection of his hard-on.
‘And what about the anal tickler, then?’ he said. ‘What about the anal tickler?’
‘Alfred? What are you doing?’
He berated her then, and for a while the crepuscular birds retreated, then outside the wind had blown the sun out, and it was getting very cold.
Follow Cameron Pierce on Twitter @cameronpierce
by Bradley Sands
This week I bring you an informational text on the true and actual history of the sport of dodgeball. Feast your eyes on this.
Dodgeball was invented by the Vikings near the end of the eighth century. They would often relieve boredom during voyages by competing against villagers who lived by the sea. Originally, dodgeballs were not thrown by human hands. Instead, they were fired out of cannons. In addition, the earliest dodgeballs were made out of iron rather than rubber. Although the game’s original rules permitted both teams to throw the dodgeballs at competing players, only visiting teams took advantage of this while home teams focused entirely on getting hit in the face.
Two centuries later during the Crusades, the sport was popularized when Christian soldiers challenged Jews and Muslims to a dodgeball tournament with a prize that included an affidavit declaring the winning team’s favored religion as “The One True Religion” and a $25 gift certificate to Pizza Hut. The Christians defeated The Muslims in the final match with four team members still remaining in play. Since history is always rewritten by its victors, the Catholic Church bribed the editors of history books to depict the Crusades as being won through a series of violent battles rather than good sportsmanship. This period is also known for its innovative use of human hearts instead of iron balls, which were safer and more fun to play with.
The tradition of picking teams began in thirteenth-century England during the time of the Black Death. Naval captains who had too many gangrenous body parts to look good in their military uniforms were enlisted to lead dodgeball teams consisting of plague victims. The wizard kings of Europe felt an intramural dodgeball league would raise morale amongst the sick and keep them from devouring the brains of the healthy for the few hours each week that they spent running away from human hearts. Unlike the team captains of the modern age, the captains of the Middle Ages did not select players in the sequence of most skilled to the worst. Instead, they chose players based upon their degree of physical grotesqueness, which hurt the feelings of players who were more likely to arouse the opposite sex.
A century later, the Aztecs introduced rubber balls to the game. Their national pastime, Tlachli (English translation: fun blood sacrifice for very hungry caterpillar), is commonly thought to be an early version of Soccer where all the players had their arms and legs cut off prior to each match, but new studies have proved this to be incorrect: Tlachli was a form of dodgeball that was conceived independently from the dodgeball leagues that had come before it. The explanation for this has been a subject of much controversy amongst archaeologists. Physicist, Noriv Stringer, proposed the theory of morphic resonance as the explanation for the phenomenon. Just as it is easier to wake up later in the day rather than earlier in the morning due to energy building up in the Earth’s morphic field due to the collective successes of early risers, Stringer believes the chances that other civilizations would develop dodgeball on their own significantly increased once the Vikings invented it.
In 1520, the Aztecs taught Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, to play Tlachli. Minutes later, he avenged his humiliating defeat by killing them all. After returning to Spain, he introduced the sport to the nation with much fanfare. Madrid would soon suffer from what is known as The Dodgeball Plague of 1528. It began with a typical game of dodgeball being played in the street. As people drove or walked by, they felt the urge to join one of the teams and abandoned their plans for the day. The game spread throughout the city, and within hours, every person in the city who wasn’t a window-fearing recluse had joined in. The dodgeball plague lasted for twelve days, ending when the French invaded the country and released all of the Spain’s bulls into the crowd. By the time it was over, thousands had died from exhaustion, heart attack, goring, stroke, and getting hit in the head with a ball. To avoid dodgeball-related deaths in the future, King Charles I decreed that anyone who hit a competing player in the head with a ball would be eliminated from the game.
The Mayflower set sail for America in 1620, carrying 102 passengers, 30 crew members, and 42 dodgeballs. Like the Vikings did before them, the Pilgrims passed the time by playing dodgeball on deck. Since the supply of balls was meager and the players kept accidentally throwing them overboard, the Pilgrims instituted a new rule that rewarded players for catching the balls thrown by the opposite team that eliminated the thrower. After three months at sea, the Mayflower landed on Plymouth Rock, bringing dodgeball to the new world.
In 1775, war broke out between the American and Great Britain. This would be known as the Revolutionary War, and it was a war unlike any other. Leaders from both armies signed a treaty in an effort to limit casualties, agreeing to do battle through an enormous dodgeball ball game that involved every one of their soldiers. The game would not end until the entirety of one side had been eliminated, which would determine the outcome of the war. It did not take long for American soldiers to realize that eliminating their opponents by hitting them with bullets was a lot more satisfying than hitting them with rubber balls. Despite the British soldiers’ objections to death, their predisposition for honoring treaties lost them the war.
Prior to the Civil War, The American Dodgeball Association of America added the rule that if a member of a team stepped over a boundary, they would be eliminated. During a scrimmage between The Northern Log Cabins and the Southern Hushpuppies, the referee eliminated Hushpuppy, Braxton Bragg, for stepping over the Virginian border. The Hushpuppies disagreed with the referee’s call and whipped his bare back with thin metal chains until he succumbed to infection. Displeased with this, the Log Cabins called the Hushpuppies “big meanies.” This hurt the Hushpuppies’ feelings, made them cry, and caused them to secede from the United States on the behalf of the South. Because of this, dodgeball players realized game boundaries needed to be better defined. This resulted in the division of North and South Korea, the construction of the Berlin Wall, and Qin Shi Huang traveling back in time to build the Great Wall of China.
Dodgeball did not become part of the physical education curriculum in schools until the nineteen-fifties when school boards decided to teach students the best way to destroy their enemies (with red, rubber balls) and how to separate the weak from the strong. Today, the sport is an important rite of passage that prepares adolescents for futures of prosperity and total domination.
Bradley Sands is the author of several books including, Please Do Not Shoot Me in the Face: A Novel, Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, and Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy. He’s not a porn writer. He’s a scholar. Find him here.
by Ross E. Lockhart
When did “vanilla” start to define the mundane, the ordinary, the conventional? After all, there’s nothing vanilla about the history of this rare spice. First cultivated by the Totonacs, residents of what is now Veracruz, Mexico, the tlilxochitl (“black flower”) is said to have first grown on the spot where Princess Xanat, on the lam with a forbidden lover, was beheaded, the vanilla orchids and vines sprouting from where her blood fell. Later, after the Aztecs conquered and subjugated the Totonacs, they developed a taste for vanilla, as did the crew of Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés (Neil Young fans may know him as “Cortez the Killer”), who brought the rare spice back to Europe, where it spent the next few hundred years becoming a spice cultivated throughout the colonized world. Vanilla, it seems, fueled the fires of Empire (sounds like a steampunk plot point to me).
So tonight, I’m having a Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Bean. Stone Brewing is anything but “vanilla,” having spent the last sixteen years working their way to the top of the SoCal craft brewing scene.
Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Bean pours a deep, old-piano mahogany brown with a finger-thick tan head and delicate lacing. Wonderfully aromatic, with vanilla at the forefront, alongside notes of chocolate, coffee, and smoke. Smells like dessert. Smoky, roasted malt and barley on the tongue, sweet and complex (and perhaps a hint of burnt toast), complementing well the vanilla, bitter espresso, and dark chocolate aromatics that carry through. Medium bodied, a little thinner and more refreshing than I expected. Bittersweet finish, with lingering vanilla against the palate, and a touch of smoke against the back of the throat. I’d definitely enjoy one of these again.
Book recommendations, vanilla and otherwise… with maybe a little bit of steam.
Clockwork Girl by Athena Villaverde. Pichi was once a normal human girl. But now her skin is made of brass, her organs have been replaced by cogs and gears, and her heart must be wound up every day in order to stay alive. She is a clockwork girl.
The Constantine Affliction by T. Aaron Payton. 1864. London is a city in transition. The Constantine Affliction–a strange malady that kills some of its victims and physically transforms others into the opposite sex–has spread scandal and upheaval throughout society. Scientific marvels and disasters, such as clockwork courtesans, the alchemical fires of Whitechapel, electric carriages, and acidic monsters lurking in the Thames, have forever altered the face of the city.
Ross E. Lockhart is the managing editor of Night Shade Books. A lifelong fan of supernatural, fantastic, speculative, and weird fiction, he holds degrees in English from Sonoma State University (BA) and San Francisco State University (MA). In 2011, he edited the acclaimed anthology The Book of Cthulhu. A follow-up, The Book of Cthulhu II is coming October 2012 from Night Shade Books, and his rock-and-roll novel, Chick Bassist, is coming this winter from Lazy Fascist Press. He lives in an old church in Petaluma, CA, with his wife Jennifer, hundreds of books, and Elinor, who is fitting in nicely. Visit him online at www.haresrocklots.com.