All hail the new flesh, er, the new media!
The advent of e-readers and near instantaneous delivery of a book over the internet is alarming to some, but is a great opportunity to others. Some savvy authors have adopted this as a method of cutting out the middle man, and as a way to get closer to the reader, and the possibilities going forward are frankly exciting. Of course, this places an even stronger burden on the consumer to tell the good from the bad without help from the marketing campaign of a major publisher. Today, some of the good stuff, a new anthology from editors David T. Wilbanks and Craig Clarke, called Living After Midnight.
(Caveat: counting the two editors and the contributors to this anthology, over half those involved are friends of mine to some degree. I believe this sort of information should be provided up front, so the reader knows of any possible bias. I try not to let personal feelings affect what I think about a story, but it is always possible I would be more kindly disposed to this book than to, say, Tales from the Taliban: The World’s Leading Terrorists Share Their Favorite Jihadist Fiction.)
There are six stories in Living After Midnight, all inspired by heavy metal/hard rock bands (each story title is the name of one such band). Less that discourage those of you who are fans of chamber music and Celine Dion, no knowledge of the heavy music scene is required to enjoy these stories, as the authors for the most part use a name or image as a starting point.
Randy Chandler’s story “Spooky Tooth” tells about a rocker’s connection to lycanthropy – with a twist.
Matthew Fryer’s story “Iron Maiden” features a ghostly galleon and eerie sirens luring men to their doom.
In “Black Sabbath”, Steven L. Shrewsbury’s characters inhabit a world after a zombie apocalypse. The zombies themselves have mostly rotted away, leaving the greatest danger to the survivors – each other.
Co-editor David T. Wilbanks gives us a story about magic and curses in “Judas Priest” a slam-bang story about dueling creatures from another plane of existence.
L. L. Soares provides the well-written “Slayer”, about an aging rocker’s inevitable encounter with the acolyte of great and powerful supernatural entity.
There has to be a favorite in every collection, and mine is “Motorhead” by Kent Gowran, a crime/chase/horror story that seems to have pure adrenaline mixed with its ink. Mr. Gowran understands the way a great pulp crime story is created: the writer strikes a match to the story on the first page, and watches it flame its way to the end. You’ll want to look for more from this author.
The book is well laid out, an important consideration, since typos and formatting errors are the pet peeve of the users of e-readers. Effort was put into this book to make sure that wasn’t a problem. The very cool artwork (seen to your right) is by Carrie Gowran.