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Mastadge
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 01:21 pm:   

All right. At the risk of starting another conversation about genre, I'll say this: I've got a pretty good idea what I like and don't like in science fiction and fantasy. Which books and authors are worth reading, and which aren't. I've gotten good at picking out the garbage and avoiding it. Or at least I'd like to think I have. But when it comes to horror, I've less experience. Just haven't read that much of it. Don't know the names. So I'm wondering: what's some good horror? Who are generally the better horror writers, and whose books would you recommend avoiding?
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 01:53 pm:   

I am far from an expert. I used to read exclusively horror, but have not done so in about 10 years. I suspect if Ms. Datlow finds this, she can put us all to shame. Take my recs with a grain of salt. Also, check out Kim Neuman's HORROR 100 BEST BOOKS, for a good list. There are some authors, such as Lansdale or Partridge, who have written some exceptional short horror fiction, but not really written traditional horror novels. They write dark, twisted mystery-like things, but I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
Thomas Ligotti--anything (THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY esp.)
H. P. Lovecraft--anything (can be clunky at times)
Douglas Clegg--anything (NIGHTMARE HOUSE and HOUR BEFORE DARK esp.)
Tim Lebbon--anything (FAITH IN THE FLESH esp.)
Graham Joyce--anything (TOOTH FAIRY esp.)
Peter Straub--Ghost Story
Joe R. Lansdale--The Nightrunners
Dan Simmons--Song of Kali
" " --Carrion Comfort
" " --Summer of Night
Norman Partridge--Bad Intentions (short fiction)
" " --Mr. Fox & Other Feral Tales (short fiction, being reprinted by Sub Press)
" " --Man With Barbed Wire Fists (short fiction, great NS edition of this book)
Clive Barker--Books of Blood (short fiction)
" " --Weaveworld
" " --The Damnation Game
Stewart O'Nan--Prayer for the Dying
Richard Matheson--Hell House
" " --I Am Legend
BEST OF CEMETERY DANCE Vol. 1 & 2


OK, here comes some Stephen King, set alone so you can skip it if you want:
Stephen King--Salem's Lot (if you can stomach a vampire story)
" " --The Shining
" " --Carrie
" " --Night Shift (short fiction)


UNRECOMMENDATIONS (these are personal, I just can't get into these authors):
Dean Koontz
Ramsey Campbell
Tananarive Due
Anne Rice
Brian Lumley (although I do like his Lovecraftian work from early in his career)


AUTHORS I'VE NOT READ (or not read much, but whom people rave about):
Robert R. McCammon
Christopher Golden
John Saul


Hope this helps. Someone else with some sense come make recommendations.

JK
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Mastadge
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 03:01 pm:   

Okay, from that list along: I've read Lovecraft, of whose work I'm not a fan. Just don't like his style. I've read (almost) everything by Graham Joyce, and thoroughly enjoyed most of it, but haven't thought of it as horror. I've got Carrion Comfort but haven't read it yet. Barker I'm a big fan of (speaking of which, does anyone know what happened to Stealth Press? I paid for the Books of Blood omnibus from them, and haven't heard back, and now their website is down. . .), and I enjoyed I Am Legend.

Not a fan of Stephen King. Every year I'll pick up one of his books for some reason, and every year I'll walk away thoroughly disappointed. I *am* a fan, on the other hand, of McCammon, but I mostly enjoy his non-horror stuff; Speaks the Nightbird is the longest book I've ever read in a single sitting.

I used to like Lumley's stuff, but then I developed some taste and now I can't bear to read it. It shames me that I have fifteen of his books.

I'm also kinda enjoying those Thomas fellas.
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GabrielM
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 04:00 pm:   

For literary horror I think Ligotti's currently the best, inheriting Robert Aickman's mantle.

Followed maybe by Ramsey Campbell. He's great, but he's very prolific and although much of his work is fabulous some it just leaves me cold.

I've lately been very impressed by Terry Lamsley, Matt Cardin and Mark Samuels.

As for the oldies, well that's a whole other story....

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Luís Rodrigues
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 04:16 pm:   

CARRION COMFORT is much better than SONG OF KALI, in my humble opinion. I like the early Peter Straub I read, but I was *very* disappointed with MR. X.

I second Ligotti's recommendation. And Tim Lebbon. Lumley's Necroscope was cool in the start, but the series's gone well past the point of exhaustion.

Ray Bradbury has some very good horror stuff too, don't forget him. And I'll take Clark Ashton Smith over Lovecraft any day.

Best,
Luís
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 07:18 pm:   

Well, that's the problem. Horror is not easily defined. While I agree that in general, Graham Joyce is not horror, I would consider TOOTH FAIRY, DARK SISTER, and HOUSE OF LOST DREAMS as horror. I've read some Graham Masterson that I've really enjoyed, but the title escapes me at the moment. Robert Devereaux (different from the Robert who posts here) writes some wild stuff. Tom Picirilli is very good, too.

I guess for can't miss, Norman Partridge, and Ligotti. A good place to start is the David Hartwell anthology THE DARK DESCENT, which covers a wide range of time and styles. Also, there is an anthology coming out from Tor called A GATHERING OF THE BONES which culls authors from the US, UK, and OZ. It has some exceptional stuff in it (and some not so good).

I got started in horror reading anthologies: SPLATTERPUNK, Skipp & Spectors Zombie anthos, Stephen Jones' BEST NEW HORRORs, etc. And you should read CEMETERY DANCE, it always features good stuff. HORROR GARAGE was great, but we'll see what happens now that Paula is no longer the editor.

Like I said, get the Night Shade Partridge collection: THE MAN WITH BARBED WIRE FISTS, it's amazing. After you read that, we'll talk some more.

JK
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 07:43 pm:   

I should really read some Robert Devereaux at some point, even if he does spell his name wrong :-) (I get far too many people trying to put an A in my name, even when I spell it out for them, a lot of people still mispell it)

I don't have that much horror stuff, so the only books I can really recommend are
John Shirley / Black Butterflies - horror/dark fantasy short story collection.
Orson Scott Card / The Changed Man - another horror short story collection.
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John Langan
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 07:59 pm:   

Dear Mastadge,

Here are a couple more things you might want to take a look at, as well as a couple of recommendations I'd like to second:

There are a few important (earlier) long stories: LeFanu's Carmilla and Green Tea; Blackwood's The Wendigo and The Willows; Lovecraft's Call of Cthulhu, Thing on the Doorstep, and At the Mountains of Madness.

Leiber's Conjure Wife and Our Lady of Darkness are essential and maybe still not as well known as they both should be. He wrote some brilliant short stories, too: there's weird goings-on a-plenty in the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser books; if you can find a copy of Night's Black Agents, though, you'll find some of his best out-and-out weird stories.

Bradbury's October Country and Something Wicked This Way Comes are great; it's easy to forget how downright scary Bradbury's stuff can be.

Matheson's I Am Legend is the book of his that spoke to me the most, though Hell House isn't bad, either.

King's Shining and Pet Sematary are worth your time; I also think Danse Macabre remains one of the best studies of the horror field we've got. His recommended reading page contains a wide variety of fiction.

Straub's Ghost Story may well be the single best book for me, though I still can't shake Shadowland. His stories can be quite nice, too.

Ramsey Campbell is, I think, about as good as it gets when it comes to contemporary horror novelists; I don't think there's any writer who's done as much for the horror novel as a form as Campbell has. He's the Master, the same way Henry James was. His first novel, The Doll Who Ate Its Mother, is quick, disturbing, and under-rated; Incarnate is long and nightmarish; Midnight Sun is nice, too. And, of course, the stories, which can be quite dreamlike. Still, try Dark Companions.

The Damnation Game seems to me as good a novel as Clive Barker's written. I like his long stories: The Forbidden and Age of Desire come to mind.

As for more recent novels: read Caitlin Kiernan's Silk and Threshold. Read Gaiman's Coraline and American Gods. Read Dale Bailey's The Fallen.

There are a ton of great short story writers and collections out there. Read Ligotti. Read the Datlow-Windling anthologies. If you can find them, read the old Year's Best Horror Collections edited by Karl Edward Wagner.

Of course, there's more--much more, to read and to recommend. Best of luck with your reading: hope some of this stuff will work for you.


Best,




John
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GabrielM
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 08:51 pm:   

John Pelan has a list of his core horror novels which is still relevant even though it needs some updating as to titles in print. I don't necessarily agree with all of the selections (e.g., there's no Ligotti, and there are some very overrated writers, like Cave), but it's pretty solid and he gets pluses for including the likes of Grabinski and Thomas Burke. I've read most of the titles and John's a very knowledgeable guy:

http://home.epix.net/~wallison/corelist.html

It's just a list without explanation, however, so you still need to do some research. But I tend to find that's part of the fun....

Also -- whatever you do, make sure and read some Machen. "The White People" I think is the greatest weird tale ever penned.

And I too will take Ashton Smith over Lovecraft any day....
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 05:43 am:   

<<<<leiber's>>>>

I forgot about these! Tor put out an Orb omnibus edition of these books so you cuold get them in one shot!

JK
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 05:43 am:   

That's weird, I had quoted the following:

Leiber's Conjure Wife and Our Lady of Darkness are essential and maybe still not as well known as they both should be. He wrote some brilliant short stories, too: there's weird goings-on a-plenty in the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser books; if you can find a copy of Night's Black Agents, though, you'll find some of his best out-and-out weird stories.

and it got mucked out in my message.
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Mastadge
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 06:25 am:   

I've already got the DARK LADIES omnibus. It's very close to the top of The List right now.

I've read LeFanu, Blackwood and Lovecraft, as well as Bradbury.

Didn't like Pet Sematary.

Oddly enough, Damnation Game is the only of Barker's books that I *haven't* read.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 08:31 am:   

You can get a very good idea of what is out there by picking up any of Terri and my Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. In addition to the stories themselves, I provide lengthy coverage of the year in horror in--and out of genre.
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 08:36 am:   

Of course, we all left out the obvious. Sorry Ellen!

JK
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JV
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 08:36 am:   

And, of course, Stephen Jones' Best New Horror Stories, along with his Dark Terrors antho. Some stories from which are in Ellen's best of, I believe.

JeffV
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alienzaggy
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 11:28 am:   

Imagine traveling anywhere you would want to by the simple flick of a button on a box the size of a TV remote.

In Zohra: the Planet of Truth and Knowledge (1st Books), four young students stumble on such a black box left behind by Aliens. Not knowing it is a space portal, but aware of its potential danger, they buried it in a nearby wooded area. Years later, it falls in the hands of a biochemist who will use it as leverage to bargain with the Aliens for a fountain-of-youth concoction. His health-spa business flourishes until one of the original four finds out accidentally about the black box. She will be kidnapped to Zohra, the home planet of the Aliens. The other three will follow suit to rescue her, discovering in the process a fascinating planet, where a society structured similarly to that of an ants’ colony, with only one female, an all-powerful Queen, and drones acting like medieval warlords, roaming the galaxies for new technologies to impress the Queen in order to win her favors. Our human heroes will be witnesses to the ravages such a space portal can bring to a civilization.
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RM
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 11:55 am:   

You are a freak who should not be let out of the house. You should immediately lock yourself in and then have the doors bricked shut, with the exception of a space for a small feeding tube to be shoved through the mortar. You will get used to it in time.

Rotating Meerkat
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Orelhas
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 01:56 am:   

Imagine travelling anywhere you would want to inside a bricked up house!

You'd be able to visit all the most fascinating planets and civilisations in the universe -- but you wouldn't be able to go out and enjoy them! You'd have to be satisfied with peering at them through the feeding tube while gnashing your teeth!
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Shane
Posted on Friday, May 06, 2005 - 08:39 pm:   

Chainfire by Terry Goodkind. His latest edition to the Sword of Truth series his a reminder of why his fans clung to him through these past years.

Regards,
Shane
---
http://www.epicsff.com
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Anon-y-mouse
Posted on Saturday, May 07, 2005 - 08:27 am:   

a reminder of why his fans clung to him through these past years

Did they really need a doorstopper to be reminded that they're sad, pathetic little people entranced by the ravings of a soup-kitchen prophet? Wow. Evil really is banal.
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Kelly S.
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 08:47 am:   

S.P. Somtow's Darker Angels seems to be an overlooked gem, that is, if you enjoy your historical fiction with zombies, werewolves, and stories that unfold to reveal more stories.

And Peter Straub's most recent fiction, Mr. X, lost boy lost girl, and In the Night Room, deserves to be mentioned alongside, if not above, his supernatural fiction of the early 80s.
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Patrick Swenson
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 11:12 pm:   

>>speaking of which, does anyone know what happened to Stealth Press? I paid for the Books of Blood omnibus from them, and haven't heard back, and now their website is down. . .), >>

They're long gone, Mast. I'd recommend getting in touch with Paula Guran. Look for her Dark Echo site (don't know the URL off hand). SHe used to be involved in it, although had left them even before they died. Still, she might know where to send you...
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 06:23 am:   

Patrick---

If their Website is down, they're probably out of business. I just did a Google search for them and their Web page automatically fowards to: http://craigspector.com/. So maybe Criag Spector can confirm or deny that they're out of business. I have a hunch it will be confirmation, not a denial.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 04:00 pm:   

They are.

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