Obsessed is not the right word. Not quite. But I have been spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about the current incarnation of the X-Files. The first two episodes didn’t do much for me, but then the second two were fantastic. “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” is one of the occasional humorous episodes. Not always wild about these, I was apprehensive at first but then I was quickly completely taken in by the ferocious performance of Rhys Darby, the were-monster. I first saw him in the Jim Jefferies show Legit, and wondered at the time if he would ever pop up again. Well. Darby, as a creature who does not understand what is happening to him, creates an unimpeachable character for the episode that moves it toward the top of my all-time favorites list. And then, episode four, “Home Again,” is another monster of the week entry, focusing on horror elements. The monster this time is a gooey manifestation of artistic angst, and the episode entire harkens back to the first four seasons of the original run. Great stuff. But now what am I to think? The first two weeks, not so good. Second two weeks, fantastic. Two more to go. What’s going to happen? Thank god I have books to read while I’m sweating it out.
This time I read Steven Gore’s latest big seller, White Ghost. It is a “Graham Gage Thriller,” which is the way things seem to be done – recurring principal, that is; series fiction that is not necessarily serial. I am not complaining. I used to read the Richard Blade series (by Jeffrey Lord) when I was a kid, and all those Gor books (by John Norman). Thinking back, I suspect my adolescent mind craved the sex scenes more than the adventure. Nowadays, when I read them again, I like the adventure, too. Anyway, White Ghost. Our hero finds out he has cancer. That’s some bad news but he also has other problems. He has to help out an old friend whose child is in trouble – international criminal conspiracy involving heroin, microchips, and the mafia. OK, that’s enough. This is cotton candy. Sometimes, cotton candy is just the thing you want to snack on. Gore’s book is disposable fun, just like those Blade books. Read it, have a smile, and move on. This is a good choice for a $2.99 eBook download, if it pops up as a recommendation on your Kindle or whathaveyounot.
Another series novel I paged through recently is Violent Crimes by Philip Margolin. For whatever reason, this book played a lot better for me than White Ghost, even though this one is “an Amanda Jaffe novel.” It is not that I particularly like the character of Amanda better than the character of Graham, as such. The writing here just feels deeper, more solid. The plot is just as throw-away as White Ghost – this time it is about large oil companies and millionaire lawyers – but when I finished Violent Crimes I was not in a hurry to hit the recycle bin. You just get the feeling that this book meant more to Margolin than White Ghost meant to Gore. There is no way to know if that is true, and it doesn’t matter in the slightest which author tried harder or cared more…it is the feeling the reader gets when reading it that matters, not the intention of the creator. The outcome matters more than the original intention. Both these books are good, snappy reads and either are welcome entertainment. But I will be holding on to my copy of Margolin’s book for a while, just in case I want to read it again.
A couple quick ones…
“The Eschatologist” is a short story by Greg Chapman sold as a stand-alone eBook (and a slim paperback) by Voodoo Press. It is a story of faith as the world is taking its final turn. There is a lot crazy in here, ladies and gentlemen, and a lot of blood. And no happy fucking ending, I can tell you that for a mortal fact. Bleak, grim, and depressing. Chapman had the right idea keeping this one short. If it had been written to novel length it would have been too much to take. If you find yourself feeling too happy, “The Eschatologist” is the cure.
Benjamin Kane Ethridge’s new novel is This House (Samhain Publishing). I have read the last couple of novels by the author and his writing style has really grown on me. This House is a ghost story with a rattle all its own – it is not really married to the ghost genre despite its seemingly stereotypical setting of a haunted house. The sharp tongue of Ethridge’s voice combines with an almost jocular narrative locomotive to achieve an unexpected and most welcome result. If you are not caught up yet it is all right to start with the new one then go back to pick up the others. You are going to want to keep Ethridge in the rotation. Recommended.
And finally, a word about illustrated storytelling…
Godzilla in Hell has been collected into an attractive trade paperback (IDW). I was happy to see it because I missed the last two issues of the series somehow when they were released. I remember remarking in this column that if Godzilla doesn’t fight Satan in the end I was going to be pissed. The Big G certainly does throw down with the devil but not in the way I imagined. You have to see it. It is very clever and the resolution is perfectly satisfying. While I recommend the book unreservedly, I should mention a couple things. There is essentially no dialogue. The lack of verbal banter works a powerful effect but it is different than the usual comic so get ready for that. The other thing is different artists illustrate different issues, and there is one in particular that stands out as not as good as the others. This inferior artwork is coupled with the worst monster in the Godzilla pantheon. I wonder if that was an accident or purposeful. If it was intentional, then I am beyond impressed. There is no way to know for sure, because that is a delicate question: did you pair the crappy art with the crappy monster? Even with the blocky art for a dozen or so pages, this is a great collection. Highly recommended.
All right folks, that’s it for now. Let’s all try to keep it together until next time.
Nightmares Illuminated is written by Wayne Edwards, ©2016 by the author, all rights reserved. Contact eMail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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