This digital edition includes bonus short story “Wet Nurse” as well as “We Need to Make Things More Repulsive: The Early Sketches of Nick Gucker“! And as an added bonus, it STILL INCLUDES all of the original content, which means you’ve also got mind-melting art from maestro Mike Dubisch as well as the craziest Cody stories ever put to print!
IT’S THEIR WORLD… NOW GET THE FUCK OFF!
Whether on the sun-kissed beaches of a nameless South Pacific paradise or in the suffocating dungeons of retail Hell, the misfits of evolution and mistakes of misbegotten science are battling, breeding, and feeding. And they’re looking at you…
They came seeking cheap thrills and interspecies recreational sex, but they reaped a whirlwind of clusterfuckery when they toyed with the unspeakable forces of monster lust. From the idyllic nostalgia of WW2 to the thoroughly bat-shit future, witness the wages of sin and mutation as you’ve never seen them before (unless you read them previously in the periodicals or anthologies in which they first appeared)!
OUR MAIN FEATURE!
The world gave him a blank check and a demand: Create giant monsters to fight our wars. But Dr. Otaku was not satisfied with mere chaos and mass destruction…. Even as his subversively delicious kaiju creatures undermined the very fabric of American life, he hatched a scheme to animate the cities themselves and inaugurate a new dark age of mega-monster abominations who would finally give humanity the ass-whipping it deserved. Now only one man, riding inside the skull of a much larger man, stands between us and the planet-devastating madness of…
Newly revised 2012 digital edition includes “The Sharp-Dressed Man at the End of the Line,” the classic short story explaining the origin of the world’s weirdest post-nuke survivor.
“Jeremy Robert Johnson’s novella of the apocalypse is a supremely weird reading experience, sitting somewhere between Chuck Palahniuk and John Wyndham. Extinction Journals is a hybrid, a mutant child of 1950′s paranoia and contemporary dystopia. Bleak, funny, apocalyptic and affecting, it stays with you long after you’ve finished it.”–THE ZONE (UK)
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.
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.
When two young badass women stop by an insane Charlie Sheen-based art exhibit, their night of mind-warping horror is only beginning. Splatterpunk legend John Skipp delivers the high-voltage hardcore thrills in this outrageous, bodacious short story.
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
Last month, you voted to determine the results of the greatest battle since Mickey Mouse took on Japan. Cthulhu destroyed the sparkly vampires in a landslide, thus earning the crown of Evilest Monster of All Time. But in a twist of fate, Bella and Edward worked from the grave to summon Cthulhu’s one great weakness . . . lolcats. As you all know from Cthulhu Comes to the Vampire Kingdom, Cthulhu is hopelessly addicted to lolcats. Their fuzzy little faces and adorable catspeak simply drive him beyond madness.
However, one brave soldier is to be honored for the valiant effort he played in this war. That brave soldier’s name is Ian Vullo. He is the recipient of the special vampire/Lovecraftian package, which includes a Cthulhu Santa t-shirt, The Selected Fiction of Henry James (signed by Re-Animator director STUART GORDON), The Book of Cthulhu edited by Ross Lockhart, a bootlegged copy of every Twilight film, The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich, and more. If you are Ian, please contact Cameron Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org to collect your reward.
Thanks to all of you for laying your lives on the line to serve the great Cthulhu. May you someday help him return to his former glory by rebuilding his legendary sushi restaurant.
Sparkly vampires are at war against everybody’s favorite squid god. It’s up to you to decide the outcome. Cast your vote in the comments section to determine the evilest monster of all time.
Sparkly vampires: They’ll destroy Cthulhu with lip gloss and feminine anxiety.
Sparkly vampires: H.P. Lovecraft was a hack.
Cthulhu: Clearly, he is a more powerful dark wizard than Edward.
Cthulhu: Stephanie Meyer is a hack.
Nobody. They’ll kill each other after a long, bloody battle.
Nobody. They’ll realize that they’re both just sexually repressed and leave the battle feeling “not man enough.”
Other: Devise your own outcome for the greatest monster battle of our time!
Cast your vote in the comments section on this post!
Every voter will be entered into a raffle to win a special vampire/Lovecraftian package, which will include a Cthulhu Santa t-shirt, The Selected Fiction of Henry James (signed by Re-Animator director STUART GORDON), The Book of Cthulhu edited by Ross Lockhart, a bootlegged copy of every Twilight film, The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich, and more.
The winning monster (as well as the raffle winner) will be announced at Bizarro Central on December 26th.
And if that’s not enough vampire/Cthulhu action for you, be sure to pick up Cthulhu Comes to the Vampire Kingdom by Cameron Pierce, an apocalyptic horror comedy about the pitfalls that occur when Cthulhu invades a town of teen vampires.
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 2010: By the Time We Leave Here, We’ll Be Friends by J. David Osborne
Siberia, 1953. Stalin is dead and a once-prosperous thief named Alek Karriker is feeling the pressure. Trapped in an icy prison camp where violent criminals run the show, betrayed by his friends and his body, Karriker is surrounded by death and disorder. Bizarre Inuit shamans are issuing ever-stranger commands that he must obey. Opium is running scarce and bad magic is plentiful. Razor-tooth gangsters can smell Karriker’s blood and they plan to murder him more than once. The only option: ESCAPE.
Enlisting the aid of an aging guard, a cold-blooded killer, and a beautiful, murderous nurse, Karriker must now secure his getaway by finding a “calf”: a gullible prisoner to be cannibalized when the tundra is at its most barren. As the vice grows tighter and life in the gulag becomes increasingly surreal, Karriker must hurry to find his mark and convince him…
BY THE TIME WE LEAVE HERE, WE’LL BE FRIENDS
BEST COLLECTION OF 2010: Lost in Cat Brain Land by Cameron Pierce
A fascist mustache. A desert inside a dead cat. The ghost of Franz Kafka. Primordial entities mourn the death of their child. The desperate serve tea to mysterious creatures. A hopeless romantic falls in love with a pterodactyl.
From a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles where robotic gargoyles are law, to a blighted suburbia where the elephant god Ganesh seeks revenge on a man and his android wife, Cat Brain Land is a place of domestic despair and nightmare foreboding. Where sirloin steaks enroll in daycare and ex-lovers return as tiny dolls. This is a land of camel people and the Lord of Meat. The farther into Cat Brain Land you get, the more difficult it will be to get out.
By S.T. Cartledge
It’s been a while since I’ve written a book review, so I figured I’d go right back to when I first started reading bizarro fiction. The book that started it all for me was Cameron Pierce’s “Lost in Cat Brain Land.”
It turns out that I actually wrote a review for this book way back then, and posted it to the book depository. So, to save me some time, I’ll copy and paste the review and then add my thoughts on the book now.
“This book is a quick read. At a glance it’s just a cluster of quirky short stories. The blurb on its own is just plain bizarre, however, what got me with this book, what really makes me adore it so, is how it works in its subtleties. Yes, it’s weird, but it takes a certain skill to build a connection between characters and reader, and I found numerous times that I actually cared about the little blue tea-thieving creature, or the thing that crawled up from the shower drain. It’s not weird for the sake of being weird. It’s weird pretending that everything is perfectly normal. And I guess that’s a strong metaphor in itself. Some of the short stories are better than others, but the overall quality is brilliant. As a first impression to Pierce’s work, and as a first impression to the bizarro genre, I’m thoroughly pleased with the book. If you like weird and if you like going somewhere entirely unexpected from one page to the next, and you don’t mind being disturbed (or in fact thrive on the awkward pleasure it brings) then I strongly recommend this book. I’ll probably order Pierce’s novel “Shark Hunting in Paradise Garden” very soon, as, quite simply, Lost in Cat Brain Land just wasn’t enough. I finished it and felt the need to read more of this guy.”
Now that I’ve read “Shark Hunting“, as well as a couple of his other books; “Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island“, and “Abortion Arcade“, I can quite safely say that my confidences in Cameron Pierce were well placed. I’ve even grown to respect him as an editor, putting out some fantastic books under the Eraserhead Press imprint, Lazy Fascist. Since writing that review, I’ve read a lot of bizarro in general, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my summary of the book is probably oversimplifying things a bit much. It’s not just weird pretending to be normal, it’s often of a different world altogether. No pretending. It has its own warped logic to live by. I still believe that the strength of this book, and some of Pierce’s other books, comes from his ability to make his strange foreign worlds feel close to home. We become attached to the characters. I would say his best work that I’ve read has been either “Pickled Apocalypse” or “Abortion Arcade” (and in particular from Arcade, the novella “No Children”). I have his latest book “Cthulhu Comes to the Vampire Kingdom” on order and I can’t wait. It seems he gets better with each book. Ever since I read this book, the one that introduced me to the bizarro genre, I haven’t looked back.
This year, one of my greatest pleasures as an editor has been working with bestselling author Piers Anthony on a novel for Fantastic Planet, the cult science fiction/fantasy imprint of Eraserhead Press. The Sopaths, which was deemed too extreme and controversial for Anthony’s commercial publishers, is a vast departure from his usual light fantasy fare. After nearly three decades of compiling notes for this novel, he finally started writing it in 2009, when his daughter died of melanoma. It’s a powerful, troubling work, and the most disturbing novel I’ve encountered in my time as an editor. The following article by Piers, included in The Sopaths as an author’s note, offers a lot of insight into his life, creative process, and the writing of this novel.
ON WRITING THE SOPATHS
by Piers Anthony
I have been trying to tie up loose ends as I get older, so as not to leave any projects unfinished. I am 75 at this writing, and while there is as yet no clear indication of my termination, chances are it will occur in the next decade or three. The Sopaths is the last one of any magnitude. Another reason I scheduled it for this time is that the death of my elder daughter from cancer—melanoma—in 2009 put me in the depressed mood for horror, which is not normally to my taste. That seems to have been effective.
The project dates way back. My earliest penciled note is dated 9-11-80: “Notion: when the souls run out. World population burgeons so much that the supply of new souls is exhausted, and so babies start being born without souls. This could be a horror story.” The underlying assumption being that the soul is the source of empathy, conscience, remorse, and emotional appreciation for the arts, which I see as deriving from empathy. In science, these things may derive from mirror neurons, which echo our feelings as events happen, enabling us to relive the associated feelings and to relate them to others, feeling their feelings. Empathy may be the foundation of what makes us human. Perhaps, for this novel, we could assume that it is the soul that activates the mirror neurons.
I started collecting newspaper clippings relating to man’s inhumanity to man, to serve as inspiration and relevance, and the earliest ones date from that time on. In the course of a decade there were so many I just had to stop. Here’s a random sample: in 1979 a Milwaukee waitress and her boyfriend picked up a pair of hitchhikers, who then killed him and beat and raped her and left her for dead. Her skull was fractured with a tire iron, but she survived and identified them. At the trial they showed no emotion, being blank and staring. They smirked and giggled to themselves, as if it were a big joke. The legal maneuvers dragged on for years, with the brothers constantly escaping and being caught, showing no remorse. They were essentially sopaths, creatures without conscience. That was just one of hundreds of similarly sickening items.
I made more pencil notes in 1981, the project now titled Angst. Somewhere in the world a woman owed two men money, so she denounced them as guerrillas, and the police killed them. There were two more men at the bus stop, so the woman denounced them too, and the police killed them. All the men were innocent. I saw how that could apply to my story: denounce people as sopaths and get them killed. There were items of mass starvation in Africa, where resources went instead to making further war. That could be considered a sopath government. There was a TV program on mercenary soldiers: ideal employment for sopaths who don’t care whom they hurt as long as they get theirs. Penciled note in 1985 about prison rape and public indifference to it. Sopaths in and out of prison, no? I made a note: “A girl could attack a man sexually, and blame him for attacking her. Sopaths can cause innocent people to be condemned by others.”
In 1986 I retitled the project The Sopaths, but it remained too ugly to write. The news items continued. In 1991 was one about a twelve-year-old boy raping a four-year-old girl. There was reference to eight- and nine-year-old boys sexually abusing a nine-year-old girl at a playground. I realized that sexual abuse isn’t limited to adults. Also that the sopath problem would manifest long before the soulless children reached adulthood, and would have to be dealt with then. So most of my huge collection of horrors became irrelevant. My last clippings are dated 1998; that aspect seemed pointless to continue.
Still I did not write the novel. It was simply too horrible for my taste. The project languished.
Finally I realized that I didn’t have to have the story as ugly as the clippings showed. I could lighten up on the detail and address the underlying problem: overpopulation and the exhaustion of the supply of souls. In fact, at times during the writing I discovered that it wasn’t horrible enough, as I moved the ugliness off-stage, and I had to restore some of it to maintain a proper balance.
That made it viable, and on February 7, 2001 I typed formal notes for the story. It was to be in three stages: first the babies born without souls and the horror one family experiences, and the reconstitution of a family of survivors. Second realization by society of the sopath menace and the need to kill sopaths. Third, the horror of the discovery that it didn’t matter if some souled people were killed, because their souls would be returned to the pool and be reborn. Thus there could be wholesale slaughter, in the name of saving the world. Still plenty ugly.
I used it as a trial project to test the word processor Word Perfect in the Linux operating system, which I was then switching to. I wrote the first chapter, but the word processor was difficult and balky. My note for February 14, 2001 says, “WordPerfect locked up, costing me my last 60 words of notes, but not any text, I think.” By the end of the month I was satisfied that I did not want that word processor, and that repulsion spread to the novel I had been using it on, and I set it aside.
In February 2010 I returned to it, this time trying out the Ubuntu Linux distribution with a word processor I liked and had been using for years, OpenOffice. Heavy reading piled in—I don’t read so much for pleasure as for business—soaking up my working time, and then my wife tripped, fell, and fractured her left elbow and right knee. She was in the emergency room, in the hospital, then at a rehabilitation center, and it was most of a month before I got her back. When she returned she was still in recovery, restricted to the house, using wheelchair and walker. I ran the house, making meals, doing laundry, shopping and so on, and managed to keep it on an even keel, but my working time was only a fraction what it had been. Thus it took four months to write the 65,000 word novel, when in prior times I had written 60,000 words a month. Fortunately I had no other projects at that time, and could take the time I needed. I am well into retirement age, but I will never retire alive. I will always be writing something, and speed is not of the essence. My next project will be another funny fantasy Xanth novel, a considerable contrast to The Sopaths.
I have written more than 140 books in my career so far, and each has its separate cast of characters. I try to avoid repeating names, but having used thousands, I find it an increasing challenge to come up with new ones. I have books of first names, and turn the pages looking for ones I haven’t used before. I don’t think I have used Abner before; it reminds me of the famous comic strip Li’l Abner. Similarly Clark; I have known people with that name but never used it. Similarly Dreda, once common, now out of fashion, the name reminding me of the spinning toy dreidel. And Bunty. When I was a baby my parents were doing relief work in Spain during the Spanish Civil War of 1937-40 and left my sister and me with our maternal grandparents in England, who hired a nanny, who I believe was a teenaged Scottish girl named Bunty. It was I think only for a couple of years, but my earliest memories are of being cared for by Bunty, who seemed like my mother. In fact I was severely disappointed when my real mother took us back and we traveled to Spain and then to America, barely escaping World War Two in Europe. That emotional disruption may account for my later emergence as a fiction writer; that sort of thing is typical of the breed, who it seems need to be jolted out of their comfortable tracks and thrown into limbo for a period to evoke their imaginative creativity. It was not a pleasant experience, and for a time I felt I would have been better off never to have existed. I never saw Bunty again, and don’t know what became of her, but the experience remains as my memory of happiness before the darkness claimed me. That name seemed fitting for the role in this novel, a woman who became an effective mother to two unrelated children in need.
This was conceived as a horror novel, and it is that, but I found that it has also an environmental and perhaps a theological theme of a sort. In this case it’s not the viability of air, earth, and sea that mankind’s overpopulation is despoiling, but the supply of souls. I am agnostic and have no belief in the supernatural, and I regard souls as fantasy. But I should think those who do believe should have a care not to exhaust this resource too. So far they don’t seem to care, though the world is horribly hostage to the consequence. As Nefer asks in the novel: is religion really serving God or Satan? I think that’s a damn good question. If the intention is to serve God and preserve and protect the world God gave us, this business about procreation at any price has to go. Since sex can’t be abolished, or people’s desire for it—after all, God made these things too—there needs to be effective contraception. If not—then maybe we do know which side is being served.
I suspect this may be a traditionally unpublishable novel, not because of its occasional gore or the horror of its thesis, but because it recognizes the sexuality of children, which would be unleashed by those without conscience, as they are in real life. The horror and erotic markets are girt about by as many taboos as are other genres, and certain aspects of reality are avoided. So be it. I showed the sopaths the way I believe they really would be. Though I write fantasy, without believing in it, I do believe that the concept of souls being the key to conscience and human empathy is a useful way to address the problem that mankind’s unfettered exploitation of the planet is causing. We need to clean up our act soon, or we will all suffer a horrendous crash. Desperation and hunger will make people become indistinguishable from sopaths, their mischief magnified because they won’t be children.
Hereafter, the serious material covered, I will return to writing light fantasy. I enjoy that, and it is easy to do, as this present novel was not.