Online Issue 15

 

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Darrin Doyle’s short story collection, Scoundrels Among Us, hit shelves this week and Darrin is here to talk about the common thread that ties these stories together. “A lot of fiction contains somebody doing something bad or wrong, but often they’re making bad decisions for themselves (or to themselves). My collection features many folks (mostly men) behaving in creepy, questionable, violent, or otherwise unseemly ways.”

I found the collection to be a celebration of the absurd and highly entertaining. Darrin also shares what’s on his TBR pile – including works such as Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves, Christine Schutt’s All Souls, Christine Sneed’s The Virginity of Famous Men and Katie Chase’s Man & Wife.

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Hunter Shea admits his love for Real Housewives and talks about the scariest night of his life and inspiration for Creature. Hunter also talks about his cats, Iris and Salem, in this author assistant feature.

Judy Penz Sheluk talks about her writing companion, a pup named for a character from NCIS: Gibbs

James Oswald talks about writing from the female perspective, insights from social media and claims to be “rubbish” at performing one specific author task.

Reviews:

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse reviewed by Sandra Ruttan

Scoundrels Among Us by Darrin Doyle reviewed by Sandra Ruttan

Solemn Graves: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery by James R. Benn reviewed by Theodore Feit

The Sinners by Ace Atkins reviewed by Theodore Feit

A Book To Look Up

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What is ‘voice’ anyway?

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Thoughts on Horror

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I suspect there could be as many conversations about what horror is as there are about what noir is. Laura Lauro’s tweets pointed me to the Aeon.co article by M.M. Owen, which is well worth a look.

“Horror is what anthropologists call biocultural. It is about fears we carry because we are primates with a certain evolved biology: the corruption of the flesh, the loss of our offspring. It is also about fears unique to our sociocultural moment: the potential danger of genetically modifying plants. The first type of fear is universal; the second is more flexible and contextual. Their cold currents meet where all great art does its work, down among the bottomless caves on the seabed of consciousness. Lurking here, a vision of myself paralysed in the dirt, invisible to those I love.”

 

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Review: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

51zyshlrvtl-_sx329_bo1204203200_The Sixth World that Rebecca Roanhorse writes about in Trail of Lightning is an amalgamation of what’s left of the United States after the Big Water. Yes, a flood has not only wiped out the coastlines, but most of the country and billions of people world-wide.

Welcome to a world where monsters are real, the gods of the Indigenous survivors of Big Water walk the earth and wreak havoc.

Enter Maggie Hoskie, Monsterslayer. When a young girl is taken from her home by a monster that poses a distinct new threat, Maggie comes out of exile to hunt the monster down. She’s a person who’s endured a lot of loss; her parents, grandmother and the god she loves are all gone. The only distinction is that the god chose to leave her while her family is deceased.

Maggie’s clan powers enable her to kill efficiently and swiftly, but they also alienate her from others in Dinétah, where she lives.

.Trail of Lightning centers on Maggie. It focuses on how she became what she is and the losses she’s suffered. As she gets to know Kai barriers begin to break down and ultimately she’ll have to choose between the god from her past or the man in her present. Maggie will also have to make decisions about what she wants from her life and whether or not she’s willing to open herself up to people, in spite of the possibility of losing them.

This is a story that exists in a rich alternate reality, in a not-too-distant future that it’s easy to believe in. One of the things I appreciated about it was that there could be whole series of books written about what happened in the wake of the Big Water, before the Wall was built. The landscape that Roanhorse is using is so rich there’s a sense of a well developed history that has brought the Diné to where they are in the current storyline.

Maggie is a formidable female character who waits for no man to rescue her and shares her heart sparingly. She is principled and cares about people, evidenced by her willingness to do whatever it takes to stop the monsters who are slaughtering people. She’s even willing to die herself, a willingness that may be tested before the novel’s end.

I was completely lost in this story as I read and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Maggie and her world. Even when I thought I could see where the story was going, surprises were in store that kept it from feeling anything but predictable or familiar. Roanhorse has done an exceptional job crafting a rich group of characters and creating The Sixth World – a word I can’t wait to return to. This is a fantastic read for those who love speculative fiction with strong characters, a good mystery, action, a bit of horror and a healthy dose of supernatural beings.