Awesome Lulu and Wildside Press Sales

Haven’t listed any book-related sales in a while — come on, like anyone actually reading this book blog needs more books anyway — but here are a couple in honor of that greatest of American mass consumption holidays, Black Friday: The print-on-demand publisher typically has 20% off coupon codes that you can Google pretty much any time you want to buy something from Lulu (serious — don’t ever pay full price at Lulu). But Lulu is now offering a 30% discount from now through November 27: just use discount code DELIRITAS. (That code will also get you 51% off a calendar at Lulu, but I can’t imagine buying anything but a book from them).

Wildside Press: They have a couple very cool specials. First, if you order at least $10 from them (in eBooks, physical book, whatever), you are eligible to receive five randomly selected books from them, you only pay a penny plus shipping. That’s an awesome deal. I did a similar deal with them a few years ago and got two randomly selected books (Arthur O. Friel’s AMAZON NIGHTS collection and J. Allan Dunn’s THE GOLDEN DOLPHIN AND OTHER PIRATE TALES FROM THE PULPS). Just click here for that deal. The second deal is a four-issue e-subscription to Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine for just $3.99. Click here for that deal.

have fun reading!

Book Review: The Bigfoot Filmography by David Coleman

We’ve all seen the various filmographies of the major archetypal monsters of film, fiction, and folklore: vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc. These are the standard reference works that sit on the shelves of every serious horror fan. But have you ever found yourself wanting a comprehensive reference guide to every Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, and Abominable Snowman appearance in a film, TV show, commercial, or music video? You have? Well, then you’re in luck, because that’s exactly what screenwriter and Bigfoot expert David Coleman has produced. This truly is a massive, encyclopedic tome. Like all such works, it’s not generally the sort of thing you read cover-to-cover in a single sitting; you’ll want to savor it slowly and keep it on the shelf to refer back to as needed.

The book opens with a lengthy essay that introduces Coleman’s description of the genre – what he calls “Ciné du Sasquatch” – that provides a thorough history and cultural contextualization of films about Bigfoot and his ilk from around the world. The bulk of this hefty book (running well over 300 pages) contains lengthy descriptions and analyses of individual films from around the world: from 30-second commercials to feature-length films and everything in-between. This filmography is the heart of the book. Most descriptions are several lengthy paragraphs, while others run for a couple pages. Movie stills and posters are interspersed throughout. Coleman does not restrict himself to just purely fictional films; he also reviews the various Bigfoot documentaries that purport to provide real footage of Bigfoot and his kind. Coleman concludes with a series of brief interviews with filmmakers who have produced new works about Bigfoot and the like in the last decade. These are well-done; I would have liked to see more of these interviews, but the ones included are interesting reading. I won’t even pretend to have seen more than a small fraction of the films Coleman analyzes, despite my (admittedly casual) interest in cryptozoology, but I will say that I have placed a number of the films described here on my Netflix queue. How could I not watch a raunchy comedy like “Yeti: A Love Story” (2006)?

I wasn’t kidding about this being a comprehensive guide. I think that anyone but the most hardcore fan of Bigfoot would be hard-pressed to cite a significant appearance that’s not covered here (I wanted to see a full write-up of the classic “Jonny Quest” yeti episode alluded to a couple times, as that show is a favorite of mine, but that was the only one that came to my mind). Coleman seems to genuinely love the genre, and has clearly devoted decades of his life to the films of these creatures. He includes write-ups of films so obscure that I doubt many of his readers will ever have the chance to see in person, making his descriptions and analyses all the more valuable. At times, I did feel that Coleman’s definition of Bigfoot- and yeti-related films was stretched too broadly: I wouldn’t have included the “Planet of the Apes” films, as they seem to draw on entirely different tropes and traditions than Bigfoot, but that’s a fairly minor quibble.

If you are seriously interested in the legends, stories, and images of Bigfoot and the yeti, this one is a must-read. If you are a student of cryptozoology, interested in the cultural contexts of these kinds of critters, or a serious fan of B-movies and psychotronic films, then THE BIGFOOT FILMOGRAPHY is highly recommended. It does exactly what it sets out to do – provide a unique reference guide to all such filmic appearances – and does it well. I can’t imagine that Coleman’s reference guide will ever be surpassed by another author.

Buy the book on Amazon

Review copyright 2012 J. Andrew Byers

Book Review: The Loon by Michaelbrent Collings

Looking for a tense, exciting horror/thriller novel? Like elements of mad science mixed in with your thrillers? If so, Michaelbrent Collings’ THE LOON is probably exactly what you’re looking for.

Some mild plot spoilers follow.

The Crane Institute is a kind of super-max prison for the criminally insane. It’s also located in rural Montana and gets cut off from the outside world for several days by a massive blizzard. If that weren’t bad enough, the head (mad) scientist is also conducting unauthorized medical experiments that are spiraling out of control. Things, as you can imagine, rapidly go downhill from there for those unlucky enough to be trapped inside the Institute with no hope of escape until the weather clears. Paul Wiseman is chief of staff at the Crane Institute, and while he undoubtedly has a tough job, his personal life is in even worse shape as he grieves over his dead son and the dissolution of his marriage in the wake of the tragedy. Wiseman is joined by the rest of the Institute’s staff and a young mother and child in a fight for survival against a host of threats, some merely run-of-the-mill homicidal maniacs, and some much, much worse.

The pace is rapid and doesn’t let up. Chapters tend to be fairly short, with mini-cliffhangers and scene cuts commonplace as the action (and danger) shifts from one character to another. The cast of protagonists, each flawed in their own way, is relatively large, but despite this, even minor characters are well-characterized and far more than the mere caricatures one sometimes finds in horror thrillers with high death tolls. The tension builds from the start, with an especially good opening section that details Wiseman’s background and sets the stage. I absolutely won’t spoil you on who lives and who dies – I found myself surprised on this account several times – but I will say that it’s a wild rollercoaster ride that will keep you guessing until the end. There’s plenty of blood and gore for those who like that sort of thing in their horror, but I didn’t find it to be gratuitous or exploitative as those violent elements sometimes can be. You have to be willing to suspend your disbelief just a bit in terms of some of the mad science elements of the book, though that’s little different from most thrillers with a medical component.

If I have any complaints about THE LOON – and I certainly don’t have any major ones – it’s that we didn’t actually get to see much interaction between the staff and the patients (with one exception). The story could only have been stronger if, say, more of the lunatics had gotten loose and started wreaking havoc, or we had gotten to see some questionable “treatments” or therapy sessions with them before the Institute descends into total chaos, but that’s a fairly minor complaint. There are already plenty of antagonists, and the plot flows nicely as is.

Highly recommended for horror and thriller lovers. It’s fast-moving, as it has to be, and bloody and violent, but not disgustingly gory. THE LOON also includes a fun element of mad science to make this a well-developed “mad science and medical experimentation gone wrong” story. Collings knows how to write thrillers, and I’m looking forward to reading more from him.

Buy the book on Amazon

Review copyright 2012 J. Andrew Byers