gwox: hovereye (hovereye)

(Edit 4/24/15: Updated buy links)

Fabulous BeastsReeling from a breakup with his girlfriend Jean, Paul Miller encounters Cyane, a wealthy model who wants to hire him to create disturbing paintings for nameless clients. But that work is only the start of what she wants from him. With her seductive song, she lures both he and Jean past desires for flesh, into a hallucinatory hunger for ecstasy and transcendence. To save Jean, himself, and his unborn child, he must learn who and what Cyane really is, and make a harrowing choice.

Here’s an excerpt of the start of the story:

The ropes that held me to the mast of the ship were loose. I found that as frightening as the dark shapes that thrashed just over the side. The men around me rowed on, ears stopped with wax, oblivious to the howls that rose above the roiling waters. I pitied them, for they wouldn’t know what they missed–voices sharp enough to cut thought and honeyed enough to clot the wound.

Though I could have easily freed myself, I remained still. In this place, I could hear the song. If I moved, it would dissolve into feral noise. My understanding of this grew with every change of the vast and beautiful voices that wove through the near-liquid air.

My ropes fell to the deck with the fading of the last octave. The men stopped rowing and stared with fearful eyes at the sea.

I walked toward the bow. The rush of her feathers came as a gasp of hungry breath that voided every other sound.

“Not this way.”

Her voice held a quiver from the song.

The wooden deck barked my knees when I slumped. She landed before me, dark brown wings in angelic spread, eyes locked with mine. Her human face could have been real, though my instincts whispered that it was not. Her sinuous body moved in ways more reptilian than avian. Her sharp red lips drew back into a grin.

Talons flashed. Blood ran down my neck.

“There is no easy way,” she said. “If you want it, it will hurt.”

(continued…)

***

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and a contributor to the dark fiction anthology Fading Light. His blog originates here. Fabulous Beasts cover art: Sergey Nivens/BigStock.com.

Mirrored from Gary W. Olson.

gwox: (robotmonster)

Brutal Light

I originally wrote this in December 2011 as part of my Brutal Light blog promo tour. As the blog it originally appeared on no longer exists, I’m reposting it here. Yay?

One of the things I’m frequently asked about are my influences. As someone who’s read a lot, in a lot of genres, that’s a topic I can go on about for quite a while–the list of authors range from Stephen King to Terry Pratchett to Michael Connelly to Clive Barker to… well, you get the idea. But even within this list, there are certain books I can pick out that exerted great influence on both my reading choices and my storytelling style. I can’t rightly say how much any particular one of these examples influenced me when it came to writing my debut dark fantasy novel Brutal Light, but collectively, I think it’s safe to say they left their mark. Here are seven books that made me, and my writing, weird(er):

At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft

This was not my first introduction to Lovecraft–that had been the wonderfully-titled Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre, a collection of some of his short fiction–but it was the one that left the deepest impression on me. The deliberate, atmospheric pacing of this journey into the ruins of a lost civilization had me on edge the first time I read it, and it excited my mind around the details of what would later become the Mythos the way it had not quite been before.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson

This one took a while to win me over–at first I didn’t know what to think of the careening strangeness of the narrative and the hyperbolic mix of what I assume is every conspiracy theory out there up to the point of the novel’s publication. Then at some point, maybe a hundred pages in, it started gelling, and from that point I was hooked. It’s lost a little of its lustre over the years–the conspiracy stuff is a bit dated, and some passages seem more juvenile than provocative–but overall it’s still a hell of a trip.

Valis by Philip K. Dick

Valis was my introduction to Philip K. Dick’s strange and addictive works. Probably it wasn’t the best one to start with; it came at a point late in his career and life where he was evidently not too concerned with being ‘accessible.’ It’s a bizarre story to begin with, with its main character, Horselover Fat, contacted directly by God via a mysterious pink laser. Then it gets stranger, as Horselover seeks to understand his experience, with esoteric theories and crackpot paranoia continually throwing the events of his life into newer and weirder lights. I just recently re-read this one, and its as baffling and entertaining as I remember.

Dead Boys, Dead Girls, Dead Things by Richard Calder

By the time I got to this book, I’d read my share of cyberpunk science fiction, and had my head spun around by the likes of Philip K. Dick and Robert Anton Wilson. I thought I was ready. But I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the convoluted, paranoid, utterly perverse, high-voltage trip that is the Dead trilogy. The first book, Dead Boys, makes at least a passing attempt at a standardized story structure, but the next two sail off into rampaging, obsessive apocalyptic madness. This one left my head spinning for weeks. I really wish Calder’s publisher would get his books into e-format; I’d buy them all in a heartbeat.

God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert

Now, I’d taken the first three books in the Dune series in stride. They were fine, weird beasts in and of themselves, full of complex ideas and strange events. But this one trumped them all. It took me a long time to really come to terms with Leto’s merger with a sandworm and his transformation into a near-immortal, unstable tyrant, and to appreciate the paradoxical depths of the philosophical discussions within. It’s a flawed book, certainly, but unlike anything I had read to that point (the mid-eighties, when I was an impressionable lad). One of these days I’ll have to read it again, just to see if it stands up to my memories of it.

Zod Wallop by William Browning Spencer

While the idea of a book as a doorway into another world is hardly new, I was unprepared for how this book would affect me. The action takes place both in the ‘real’ world, where ex-children’s book author Harry Gainesborough has escaped the institution where he was being treated for depression following the death of his daughter, and the world of Zod Wallop, the fantasy world of the books he wrote with said daughter as the central character. The transitions between worlds are seamless, and the climax is as emotionally stunning as I’ve ever read. It’s a strange and amazing journey.

Imajica by Clive Barker

This was my introduction to Clive Barker. You might as well have dropped a bus on me. Barker’s framework of a hidden world behind the superficial façade of this one completely drew me in with the depth of its obsessive detailing, the complicated story threads, and the sheer power of its metaphysical invention. It’s a beautiful, perverse, and terrifying work–still my favorite of Barker’s, and one that undoubtedly left its mark on my writing since.

***

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and a contributor to the dark fiction anthology Fading Light. His blog originates here. Brutal Light cover art: Dawne Dominique.

Mirrored from Gary W. Olson.

gwox: (me2011)

Brutal LightJust a quick reminder for Michigan folks reading this blog, today (Wednesday, October 24th, 2012), at 7 p.m., I’ll be at Schuler Books & Music in Lansing, Michigan, participating in a multi-author panel discussion on paranormal fiction, then signing copies of my dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and the dark fiction anthology in which I have a short story, Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous. Then tomorrow, I’ll be selling and signing even more copies of Brutal Light and Fading Light at the public library in Davison, Michigan… which will also be a multi-author event, the Flint Fang Fest Book Signing. Addresses for both are on the other end of the links.

Also, congratulations to Jen Lavinski, the commenter who won the PDF copy of Karina Fabian’s Neeta Lyffe 2 that I was raffling off last week!

***

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and a contributor to the dark fiction anthology Fading Light. His blog originates here. Brutal Light cover art: Dawne Dominique.

Mirrored from Gary W. Olson.

gwox: (me2011)

Short ReviewsThe Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

What happens after the ‘happily ever after’? In the case of the Princess Danielle (aka Cinderella), it involves learning to live with getting what she thought she wanted… and rescuing her prince when he ends up being the one in jeopardy. Hines’ take on the fairy tale worlds of Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty mixes the darker nuances of the early versions of the tales with humor–not the ‘wokka wokka’ kind, but the more trenchant and wise kind that relies on fully-realized and nuanced characters and their observations and decisions. I enjoyed this first book in the ‘Princess Series,’ and look forward to the next.

Afterlife by Naomi Clark

Yasmin Stoker, a ghost tour guide who also happens to be a 600-year old wraith who feeds on the souls of revenants, sees a man get pulled into the netherworld by a ghost. Soon, she’s both investigating the incident and trying to deflect someone else in their investigation, while the complications pile up. Afterlife serves up a potent urban fantasy story that weaves plots and subplots without ever getting tangled up. P.I. Ethan Banning, a secondary character in this one, steals just about every scene he’s in. Shoregrave, the fictional setting of the novel, had a subtly dangerous feel that crept in and lingered.

Four in the Morning by Malon Edwards, Edward M. Erdelac, Lincoln Crisler, and Tim Marquitz

Four in the Morning is an unusual anthology, in that instead of collecting a lot of short stories, it is made up of four novellas, loosely based on different stages of life (youth, early adulthood, middle age, and old age). The genres and styles of these dark tales vary as well, from steampunk (“Half Dark” by Malon Edwards) to urban fantasy (“Gully Gods” by Edward M. Erdelac) to science fiction (“Queen” by Lincoln Crisler) to horror (“Cenotaph” by Tim Marquitz). I enjoyed all four offerings, though it took me a bit to warm up to “Gully Gods”. Malon Edwards’ “Half Dark” was my favorite of the quartet, though, by turns dark, strange, charming, and memorable–qualities I only sometimes find in steampunk stories.

The Noctuary by Greg Chapman

In The Noctuary, a dark fiction writer is given a tempting offer–the ability to make his words become reality, if he becomes a scribe for underworld creatures known as the Dark Muses. He can write things out of existence, and rewrite the tragic elements of his past… but at a price. This novella is the kind of horror that appeals to me most–the slippery, chaotic kind where the fear comes from seeing how thin and easily torn reality could be, and being forced to face what is left–if anything–when all that defines us to ourselves is stripped away. Which isn’t to say it’s not gruesome and bloody–it certainly is. It’s also a lot more than that, and worth a look for supernatural horror fans.

***

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and a contributor to the dark fiction anthology Fading Light. His blog originates here. Photo: silver-john/Bigstock.com.

Mirrored from Gary W. Olson.

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