Like a Dead Man Walking, by William F. Nolan, Centipede Press, 2014. Cover art by David Ho, info and preview: centipedepress.com.
“Sherlock Holmes…Interdimensional demons…Aliens…Killers and child predators…Time travelers…Vampires…Even the end of the world, in more ways than one…All are contained within these pages. From the darkest corners of imagination to the precipice of human achievement, William F. Nolan delivers the goods in this assortment of recent works: his first all-new collection in his long and storied career. Working with editor Jason V Brock (Milton’s Children), Nolan brings to shocking life not only debauched murderers and depraved loners, but also fascinating portraits of personal reflection; the heroes of yore in poetry; pages from Nolan’s notebook; and an exclusive, intimate interview with his beloved friend, the late Richard Matheson (I Am Legend). Centipede Press is pleased and proud to offer this fantastic new assemblage of tales from an acknowledged master of the dark fantasy and science fiction genres, complete with insights into the stories, and a probing intrtoduction from editor Brock: This is not only Nolan’s most recent collection, but likely his very best. Come along for the ride and discover things that may (or may not) be Like a Dead Man Walking…You are sure to enjoy the journey. This signed limited edition is just 300 copies. The dustjacket is the work of David Ho. Each copy is signed by William F. Nolan, Jason V Brock, and David Ho.”
10:00 am |
Gennaio 26 2014
| 2 note
In a very rudimentary sense
simulacrum, derived from Latin, means likeness or similarity, a representation
or image. One thinks of the mirror image of one’s self it is true in form
however reversed but lacks the actual substance of the original that casts the
reflection, i.e. the human form standing before the mirror. What is dark
fiction, horror, but visceral writings of the gut that inevitably represent the
deeper truth of what and who we are and what our nature is truly about. These
genres reveal through a vial all that human kind represses, true to form, but
lacking enough to be a story, and dream, or a nightmare.
Jason V Brock (without the
period) is a visceral writer. As we can see from this delightful anthology of
his works, he can rip to the gut and have you attempting
desperately to stuff your entrails back inside before it’s too late.
In the forward written by the
legendary William F. Nolan, the writer remarks “He (Jason) is a deep thinking
individual, even a provocateur, and his work is sometimes extreme, dark and
gruesome…he uses it to expose some flaw or weakness in a character.”
My own experience with Jason
and his writing tells me that there will always be those that exclaim the man
is too controversial. The problem with those views is that it is all too
revealing of the gainsayers that are most likely thick with denial. People,
critical examiners really, that just don’t want to hear the truth. The fact is,
if they don’t want to hear about their own unlovely nature, then they really
need to get out of the horror industry all together because they are doing no
justice there. If there is one thing that Jason’s stories tell us about, it’s
about our lives, our nature, our truth, our self. And through a representation
of that visceral truth, we can see clear to original that lies beyond in the
land of reality.
The collection kicks off with
“What the Dead Eyes Behold.” An image of
that very moment when you look into your significant other’s eyes and are
overwhelmed with the very deepest feelings of love so much that you want to
preserve the moment forever, and ever… and ever!
Next up “The Central Coast,” a
story previously published in Dark Discoveries magazine, starts us off in the
middle trauma and shock. Social gatherings can be horrific enough, without even
coming close to this event. Brock displays the same expertise in setting up the
reader in this story as any Stephen King has written. He enthralls the reader
with terribly vivid scene irresistible to our curious nature only to bring that
shocking and terrible discovery you’d wished you’d never come upon. One thing
is for sure, if you are a wine connoisseur, you might think twice about that
rare estate reserve you’ve had eyes on. It may be more expensive than you
It’s impossible to describe in
a review the depth experienced in reading anything Brock has penned.
Descriptions are as the title suggests only a representation of the actual
experience of reading his work. There are many stories in this collection,
fifteen plus his new novella “Milton’s Children,” but I find it irresistible
not to spoil some delight in each of them. Therefore I’ll leave the rest for
your own experience, an experience that comes highly regarded and suggested.
— Review by Cyrus Wraith Walker
V. Brock. “Milton’s Children.” Bad Moon Books, 2012.
don’t know whether Jason Brock wears a hat or not. But if he does, he must have
been kept busy tipping it while writing his singularly effective novella,
story begins, perhaps a bit oddly, with a question: “Why are you a vegetarian,
Carter?” This relatively non-horrific question introduces both a primary
character, Adam Carter (the name is highly suggestive, given the novella’s
title and the headnote from John Milton’s Paradise
Lost), and a key issue…although for several pages the ensuing dialogue
between Carter and his equally suggestively named antagonist, Chris Faust (c.f. Christopher Marlowe, Dr. Faustus, another Renaissance
disquisition on pride, sin, forgiveness, and hell) seems more a one-sided rant
than the introduction to a short story.
two characters cover a number of issues, although Faust is more often than not limited
to a few words or sputtered phrases while Carter is given full play for his
arguments, which include the possibility of animal communication before
broadening to incorporate pollution, global warming, overuse of antibiotics and
chemicals, and a range of additional appalling side-effects of human arrogance.
Finally, Carter asks his own question, “I mean, where does ‘evil’ begin to
enter into the picture, Faust?”
a brief hiatus for some necessary backstory, the tale reaches a transition
point and moderates into what is essentially a finely crafted throwback to the
Golden Age of Creature Features. One of the crew has discovered a mysterious, unknown
island, revealed only when global warming causes the Antarctic floes to recede.
Perhaps never trodden on by humans, the island offers a temptation none can
resist. They must explore it.
impression the landing crew receives is of an Antarctic Garden of Eden…but as
with all great Creature Features, first impressions prove woefully,
disastrously, horrifically and bloodily wrong.
the deaths begin.
addition to those already mentioned, Brock incorporates layer upon layer of
allusion to strengthen his modest tale. Several are referred to by name: Jonathan
Swift and A Modest Proposal; Mary Shelley
and Frankenstein (with its insistence
on Paradise Lost as a proof text for
the creature’s moral inquiries); H.P. Lovecraft and At the Mountains of Madness; Skull Island and the various film
versions of King Kong. Others seem
more incidental, although still powerful: E.R. Burroughs’ Pellucidar series
(one of Brock’s characters is Darrell Mahar). The captain of the rescue ship in
the final chapters is Commander Merritt (c.f. A. Merritt?) and the Communications
Officer is surnamed ‘Adams,’ underscoring at least two major themes in “Milton’s
one intriguing echo—which I can’t lay this on Brock, of course, since I don’t
know what films he has watched—by the end of his story there are a number of key
resemblances in “Milton’s Children” to one of my favorite ’50s pieces, Roger
Corman’s The Attack of the Crab Monsters.)
all of these disparate threads together is the introductory note, Satan’s
speech as he surveys the newly created Earth (Paradise Lost, Book IX, ll. 135-139) and brags of the destruction
is he about to wreak on it and on unsuspecting humanity. Although it is clear from
the poem as a whole that Satan is here being self-delusive and that the Father
has in fact planned all that occurs, his words remain powerful. Like others
alluded to in “Milton’s Children”—Milton’s Adam, Marlowe’s Faust, Frankenstein,
Lovecraft’s multifold meddlers in Cosmic affairs, generations of fictional explorers invading unknown
landscapes where they have no right to be—Satan is about to assert dominion over
that which is not his…and pay the ultimate consequences.
total, “Milton’s Children” is fascinating. It blends elements that seem on the
surface antithetical. It encourages reminiscence even as it suggests
far-reaching, futuristic possibilities. It combines an elegant command of
language with a relatively fundamental but thoroughly enjoyable plot. It
incorporates clichéd characters and situations in ways that bring them new
life. It manages to tip its hat to perhaps a score of equally intriguing sources while maintaining its own integrity as a narrative. And all within the confines of fewer than seventy pages.