Archive for disease

THE DARWIN ELEVATOR By Jason M. Hough – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2014 by stanleyriiks

Set a couple of hundred years into the future the world has been ravished by a murderous disease that has wiped out most of the planet’s inhabitants. In Darwin, Australia, the sole human habitation on planet earth leads a dirty and struggling existence. In the shadow of a mysterious elevator built by aliens that leads to massive human-built space farms and habitations outside of Earth’s orbit, and surrounded by subhumans (those infected with the disease), people survive hand to mouth if at all.

Skyler Luiken and his small crew are immunes, rare humans who don’t catch the disease immediately upon leaving the few kilometres from the bottom of the elevator that are not infected. They are scavengers, climbing the elevator and flying out from it above orbit to stop in the desolated cities of old earth, and taking what they can find before the subs attack.

But is the elevator failing? The climbers that take air and water up and bring food down keep losing power. And the man is charge of the fortress that surrounds the base of the elevator will do whatever it takes to increase his power.

A post-apocalyptic world, a thrilling plot, great characters. Hough’s first novel is immensely entertaining. The first in a series, the book set up the crumbling world incredibly well, Skylar is fleshed out nicely as are some of the other characters, and it all moves along as a nice pace, with plenty of action that doesn’t overwhelm the story telling.

A remarkable debut, that ends on an amazing cliff-hanger that will have you begging for the second book.

SOUL MASQUE By Terry Grimwood – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Printed with the kind permissions of Morpheus Tales Publishing.

Confused. Having read this it’s clear this is an ambitious story, but I learnt almost as much about what was happening from the back cover description as I did from the contents of this limited-edition chapbook. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it; Grimwood writes in a way that makes you want to read more, he makes you want to know more, about the characters and the strange world he creates. But I think he needs more space to work, a story double the length may have made a lot more sense.

Soul Masque is about the battle of good against evil, that age- old tale, but looked at through a brief period in the lives of four flawed and failing characters, when things all come to a head: a woman with cancer held in check by her allegiance to religion, a preacher addicted to drugs, a dominatrix with an angel as a client, a man who must kill to survive…

The more I think about the story the more layers I think I find. The struggle for faith, the struggle to live, dealing with death in its many forms, the very concept of good and evil; there’s a hell of a lot going on here in these 30 pages.

This is a very different book from the Spectral Chapbooks published before this, and yet it sits right at home within them as well. It’s challenging, intelligent, and wholly original. Although it’s not as creepy as Gary McMahon’s effort, or as gory and bloodthirsty as Paul Finch’s, this is horror at its most morally ambiguous.

It is a sad tale of brutality, of abuse, of disease, slaughter, madness, and faith. It is as frustrating as it is enjoyable, leaving the readers with a slightly bitter taste in their mouths like they’ve just had arsenic. A lingering sense of unease and discomfort remains after putting the story down. Grimwood achieves his desired effect of making us think far beyond the story he’s put down on paper. This is a very very clever little book.

Spectral Press again shows why they are at the top of the UK’s small presses.

FLU By Wayne Simmons – Reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2011 by stanleyriiks

A few years ago zombie novels were like gold-dust. Now they’re ten a penny. Most are bog standard zombie rehashes, offering nothing new. The king of zombie fiction is Brian Keene, whose zombie novels create a sense of undeniable dread and looming, unstoppable danger. So the question is, does Simmons have anything to offer, and can be usurp the king?

Sadly the answer is both yes and no.

Flu is a post-apocalyptic zombie novel, focusing on the further spread of the disease which kills and then brings you back, and the few survivors in Belfast as they try to stay alive as long as possible, seeking out supplies, grouping together with other non-dead humans, and having to deal with the dead-fucks. The story uses sectarian issues and guilt, police, army and civilian survivors in a nice mix, which gives the book its edge.

This isn’t The Walking Dead rehashed in Belfast. Although there are clear homages to Romero’s trilogy and other zombie movies.

The story has some brutal and some disgusting moments, which help take it beyond the average, but what really put this book ahead of most of the rest is Simmons easy and efficient writing style (polished to within an inch of its life), and his characters, all of which suffer their own personal demons they have to battle along with the zombies. The humans really are the heroes of this novel, a tough sell, but one that works in this case.

The UK is bereft of zombie novels, the only decent one I can remember is the composite novel created by Stephen Jones and loads of others, Zombie Apocalypse, the exceptional London-based zombie novel told ingeniously in a series of documents.

While Flu isn’t an inventive as Jones’ effort, it still works very well and is a massively satisfying zombie novel that creates a dead world you want to explore further, and leaves enough questions for us to want to read the sequel, Fever, coming in the summer. And Flu definitely shows Simmons’ massive potential to become Great Britain’s crown prince of zombie fiction.

Not perfect, but a damn good try. Zombie fans will love it, horror fans will love it. Simmons writes like a demon, smooth and dangerous. Zombie fiction with an edge.