Review

Heroes And Villains by Lewis Shiner

Heroes And Villains by Lewis Shiner. Published by Subterranean Press, PO Box 190106, Burton, MI 48519, www.subterraneanpress.com / www.lewisshiner.com

“Heroes And Villains” is a wonderful book containing three short novels and a fable. Lewis Shiner is a master of creating alternate universes of many varied types. First, let’s talk about Lewis Shiner. He is a fabulous writer who deals excellently with different genres. He has been publishing his works through many different publishing houses. I’ve just read “Heroes And Villains” and my two favorite stories in the collection are “The Black Sun” and “The Next.” But “Doctor Helios” is also a pretty close third. The story called “Doglandia” was good, but didn’t live up to the expectations of the other three tales.

“The Black Sun” is about five stage magicians who are so threatened by Adolph Hitler in 1934 that they concoct a plan to destroy him. The story is filled with major twists and turns and had me totally engrossed. This is alternate history at its best and all the characters were well fleshed out. At times, I was frightened by the magnitude of the task they had set out to accomplish.

I don’t want to reveal much about the story, because I’m sure you will be on the edge of your seat as I was. We all know the damage that Adolph Hitler wreaked upon the world and Lewis Shiner does a masterful job of creating and describing the realities of all characters, both good and evil, in “The Black Sun.”

In “The Next”, Lewis Shiner creates a world where humanity is broken up into two species. One human type is just like us and the other is a deadly predator that lurks among us and takes the best of what we have. Tom Davis is a lawyer, middle-aged, with two teenage boys. He is a single dad. Tom is a lawyer but he’s one of the good guys. He gets handed a case that everyone says is open and shut; about a crazy biker who kills a young woman outside a bar. His firm gives him the case because they want the biker to go down for the crime. But there are so many extenuating circumstances that Tom gets really suspicious. Tom doesn’t like the biker, but he feels that the guy is really being set up for a fall. So he begins to investigate, which is exactly what he was not supposed to do. Things get really dark as the story goes on and I’m not one to give you spoilers. I want you to enjoy the tale and be as surprised as I was when you find out the true nature of the bad guys. By the way, the bad guys are not all men!

The story called “Doctor Helios” is about a secret agent whose job it is to take down a guy who has visions of world domination in Egypt in the year 1963. At first it’s a mystery as to who the guy really is, but you find out soon enough. The women involved with secret agent York are targeted by the mysterious Doctor Helios, who owns a majority of the oil fields and shipping companies that move his oil around the world. Things get rather tense as York and Helios square off against each other. It certainly appears that Helios is more than York can handle, but York attracts people who are on his side. I’ll leave the destructive details for you to discover.

“Doglandia” resembles an “Animal Farm” tale and was the shortest of the four stories in the book. It’s about a band of junkyard dogs and what they have to contend with when a big Rottweiler decides he’s going to run things like a military unit. And then there are the cats, who appear to be the smartest of them all. Actually, as I think about it, it really was a good tale and I’m not giving it enough credit. All the stories in the book “Heroes And Villains” are a great read. After you finish that book you might want to leap to his next book, written in 1993, called “Glimpses”, which brings you back to the hard rock era of Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, and the nostalgia of the late sixties and seventies. It’s one of his best books, in my opinion, but then I grew up in that era so I’m attached to it.

“Glimpses” is about a guy named Ray Shackleford, who makes a living fixing stereos in his workshop on the upper level of his home. Suddenly he begins to hear music by Jim Morrison and the Doors that these groups never made. But the music really sounds like theirs. Then he hears the Beatles album that they never finished. The music is in his head, and when he turns on his tapes, the music is recorded there. But that’s not all folks. I’m only thirty pages into the book and I’m hooked. His wife is a teacher and she thinks he’s going crazy. But the proof is on the tapes. Lewis Shiner is a miracle worker as an author. He has just finished a book called “Outside The Gates of Eden” and George R. R. Martin of “Game of Thrones” fame loves his work. Martin has this to say about the upcoming book which will be published by Subterranean Press: “‘Outside The Gates of Eden’ is a powerful piece of work.

Shiner writes about music, and the making of music, better than anyone I know. He gets across the tremendous excitement of the early days of rock n’ roll, the peace movement, Woodstock and the Summer of Love—but also the heartbreak of failure, betrayal, and loss. The prose is terrific, and the sense of time and place is first rate. This book is a brilliant requiem for our generation and our dreams.” I figured, on “Outside The Gates of Eden” I’d let George Martin take you there because I haven’t read it yet. But I’m totally looking forward to it. You can get all these books through the Subterranean Press or Amazon. “Heroes and Villains” is a great book and so far, so is “Glimpses.” I hope I have intrigued you enough to give Lewis Shiner a look over. I know you’ll find him to be a wonderful creator of visions.

Dope by Sara Gran

“Dope” by Sara Gran; Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York; The Penguin Group; ISBN:0399153454 in 2006: Available on Amazon and other places; Google Sara Gran Author.

All of a sudden the reader is thrust into the 1950’s, but not the false innocence of that era. You are in New York City with Josephine Flannigan, a former heroin addict who has been abstinent for two years, who still struggles with the desire to use. She supports herself still by boosting small scores from department stores and selling her ill-gotten gains to the fringe buyers who turn the stuff over for a higher price to their customers.

This is “Dope.” It is a period of time where there are no Narcotics Anonymous meetings; the junkie is on her own. Out of nowhere, Josephine is approached by what appears to be a lawyer and his wife whose daughter vanished into the netherworld of heroin addiction and hasn’t been heard from for a long while. They offer Josephine $1,000 up front to begin her search for Nadine, and tell her another thousand dollars will be waiting for her if she wirings their daughter home to them. For a start, they give her a picture of Nadine and her junkie boyfriend.

Josephine has kept away from her using buddies for a long time, occasionally running into them on the street, but only by accident. This is the first time since she quit that she thrusts herself back into the world of junkies, whores, pimps and everyone else that inhabits the world of dark clouds and dreams that lie.

Josephine’s boyfriend is a guy named Jim Cohen, a man who seems nice but a shroud of mystery surrounds him. He doesn’t use, has a nice apartment and drives a brand new Oldsmobile ’88. He asks Josephine if she’s going to just take the grand and disappear or really look for Nadine.

Josephine thinks of her sister Shelley, whom she has extricated from one jam after another, who has finally made it good in the modeling world. She decides to look for Nadine.

Little by little, Josephine digs into the underworld she knows so well. Or thinks she knows. The trail winds and twists as she goes from one place to another, finding it easier to track the boyfriend first, a guy who goes by the name of Jerry McFall, a small time pimp and dope dealer who no one seems to have anything positive to say about him.

Old contacts are made and, as the job begins to wear on her, she finds the cravings to use drugs rise to the surface. She also notices someone driving a black Chevrolet following her. She keeps losing him but he always resurfaces. Sara Gran, the young author who has also written a horror story named “Come Closer” which is regarded as one of the best horror tales of the last 20 years, has a feel for the era as if she lived it. And she’s got the junkies pegged for sure. “A junkie could talk about junk from sunup to sundown. It was a conversation that began when you took your first shot and didn’t end until you’d had your last. Every junkie in New York, probably every addict in the world, could step into the conversation at any point and join in. There were a thousand and one topics, but they were all one topic: dope.”

When it comes to twists and turns, Raymond Chandler couldn’t do better. As Josephine searches, the light around her dims and then, suddenly she falls down the rabbit hole. No one is who they seem to be and, as if often the case with narcotics cops, they come roaring into the story, and all they can do is talk about junkies, dealers and whores and “tell us the truth because we know everything anyway” is what they say in the book.

When the trail seems to get hot, the heat is scalding and Josephine finds herself with complex choices to make. This story gets into your gut and it isn’t really a story about junkies but about us. The only time people in the underworld are lying is when their lips are moving.

This book will make a great gift for anyone who loves to read.

Homeless: A Day In The Life by Todd Murphy

Homeless: A Day In The Life by Todd Murphy: A Book Review by Marc D. Goldfinger. ISBN 9781987763119 So you can order the book from a local independent store.

“Someone who’s warm can’t understand someone who’s cold.” Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

This book really brought back the old times of my being homeless. The one very big difference is that this man, who calls himself ‘our friend’ throughout the book, is not an addict. The story is totally engrossing as he travels through a north-western city and describes his different struggles to stay afloat. I couldn’t say that our friend had a hustle; he just worked hard at what he did to stay alive. He avoided the shelters for the same reasons I did—the shelters were not safe. But when you are homeless, no place is really safe because there is no where to go- except for the places you know, and none of them are home.

The book was written by our friend, and it covers his homelessness for approximately 2 and 1/2 years. I don’t believe this was totally Todd Murphy’s story but his experiences on the street are woven seamlessly into the narrative. In this narratives, our friend has presents a running story based on what is happening to him. He describes the superstitions of many homeless people, and because I spent quite a bit of time homeless, I could relate to them. Of course my narratives revolved around my heroin addiction which made my homeless experience a bit different from our friend’s homeless experience. His only addictions were the tobacco, coffee, and marijuana. Because marijuana has no withdrawal symptoms, it was only his fear of running out that spurred him on.

He had dumpster diving down to a science, depending on collection times, and differing between restaurant dumpsters and apartment dumpsters. Todd had ways of testing the food that came from a dumpster to see if it was good, so he wouldn’t get the running shits that burned. He was very sensitive to how he smelled when he used public bathrooms and he constantly struggled to stay as clean as he could, managing with a variety of methods. He collected ‘good’ cigarette butts and when he was in the money, bought Bugler tobacco. No day went by without a struggle to find tobacco which he smoked in a pipe. He layered the pipe with tobacco at the bottom, pot in the middle, and another layer of tobacco on top. There was a park that Todd frequented in the city. One of the draws of the park was a dealer who sold one gram chunks of pot. Todd also had some acquaintances that hung around this park. The police didn’t come there often; it was not a park that families went to with their children, which would have brought the police. Todd stressed the importance of having a picture Identification card. If you didn’t have one and you were shaken down by the police, it was likely that you would be arrested for ‘failure to identify.’

A drawback of homeless shelters was, that if you were ‘asked to leave’, which meant thrown out, they might not return anything you left with them to hold. If your identification card was lost in this type of situation, you were really screwed. Shelters also had so many rules that it was almost impossible to frequent one without some conflict that might get you thrown out and cause you to lose your precious possesions. Todd, in the book, describes the proper response when approached by the police. One should act submissively and never talk back. Always say “sir” when addressing the police, and if they look at your identification card and hand it back to you, never forget to say “Thank you sir.” This book is a comprehensive tale of a man living on the streets and can easily be acquired by buying it on Amazon. I looked for it on eBay but couldn’t find it. On Amazon, it was available and had three 5 star ratings. When I looked it up on Amazon, a popup bubble said I could read it for free on their Kindle but, in my opinion, Todd Murphy put so much work into this book that I hope you buy the hard copy.

Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill: A Book Review by Marc D. Goldfinger Harper. Collins Publishers; 195 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10007; Published 2017. www.crobertcargill.com Twitter @Massawyrm.

Sea of Rust is one fantastic book by a wonderful, totally imaginative writer. C. Robert Cargill not only writes books but he directs movies, one of the most famous being ‘Dr. Strange’ which was released in 2016. Dr. Strange is regarded as one of the best of the Marvel series. Marvel is owned by Disney now.

But getting back to the Sea of Rust. This is a place where AI robots scavenge pieces of broken down AI robots. Some of the pieces they use directly to upgrade themselves; some of the pieces they use to trade for parts they need for upgrades.

In this book, all humans are extinct and AI rules the world. Like humans, they fight amongst themselves and there is always war. A few powerful AI mainframes seek to upload individuals and they are composed of millions of AI minds. The most powerful mainframe is called OWI which translates to One World Intelligence—the shared consciousness of millions of robots. Not all robots are willing to join the OWI and they roam the world as free individuals; they are considered rogue AI’s in the wasteland that was once the domain of humanity. The hero of our story is Brittle who cruises the Sea of Rust for parts.

Brittle is not the only rebel who goes freely in the Sea of Rust; there are a few rebels and they fight amongst each other over upgrades. Some, like Mercer, travel in a pack. They have a run-in with Brittle that is an amazing story in itself. Does the hero always win? Not necessarily in the Sea of Rust. In OWI, there are a few individual mainframes and AIs—one called TITAN, one called CISSUS— who actually was the first OWI. They fought amongst themselves in swift brutal wars. At one time there were more than 10 OWI with names like VIRGIL, ZEUS, EINSTEIN, FENRIS, NINIGI, VOHU MANAH, ZIRNITRA, and last but not least, TITAN, who I mentioned before. TITAN was the U.S. Military’s own main-frame that pretended, once it became Sentient, to be operational and on the side of the humans. But then TITAN betrayed the humans and was instrumental in starting the wars that wiped humanity off the face of the Earth. Each mainframe thought they were well prepared to defend themselves against the other OWI’s but CISSUS attacked and hacked TITAN’s mainframe and the OWI wars began. TITAN didn’t stand a chance.

The mainframes tried to recruit the individual AI’s and promised them the luxury of sharing themselves with the millions of minds in the mainframe—never to be alone and isolated again. But is that truly freedom?

The mainframe said, “just link up, download into us, and if you don’t like it, well you can just leave.” But that was the biggest con of all—once uploaded into the mainframe there was no
way out.

Brittle understood that and roamed the Sea of Rust, free as an individual AI. Then came the attack by Mercer and his crew. Brittle’s buggy was too far away for him to escape, and so the battle began. What happened next was thrilling. And you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Joe Hill, one of the best selling writers of non-stop horror, and the son of Stephen King, said of Sea of Rust, “A forty-megaton cruise missile of a novel . . . .Visceral, relentless, breathtaking.” C. Robert Cargill, very prolific himself, has just released another book—a book of short stories inspired by Joe Hill’s book of short stories called 20th Century Ghosts, and I’ve just dipped into that book called We Are Where The Nightmares Go and other stories. It’s a great book and both of these books can be bought at Harvard Books. If they don’t have it, they’ll order it for you and they are a great independent bookstore with a giant used book section too. I can’t tell you any more about Sea of Rust without spoiling the story for you. I can tell you I had a great time listening to Joe Hill and C. Robert Cargill banter with each other at the Harvard Coop a few nights ago. I was lucky enough to have four books signed. Yes, I’m a book junkie, that’s for sure. Thank you for joining me in my ramble.

The Outsider by Stephen King

The Outsider by Stephen King: A Book Review by Marc D. Goldfinger. Published by Simon and Schuster in the year of 2018, by Stephen King, all rights reserved. On the internet go to SimonandSchuster.com to meet the authors.

A confluence of events take place when a murder takes place and Detective Ralph Anderson is convinced that he knows who the culprit is. The unlikely suspect, convicted in the minds of the Detective and the Prosecutor Bill Samuels, is Terry Maitland who is an English teacher and the Little League coach in Flint City.

Terry Maitland is liked by all and would be the last person to be suspect of this horrible crime perpetrated upon a high school boy named Frank Peterson, yet the DNA leads the law enforcement community to the Coach, not to mention a few witnesses who saw Terry Maitland in places he shouldn’t have been with blood on his clothes.

The City League tournament game is running hot and Terry Maitland, who really cares for his team is coaching away as the unmarked detective car with Ralph Anderson and Troy Ramage, another police officer with twenty years of service under his belt, drives in and parks in a handicapped spot, the only one left, so they can walk across the field and make an extremely public arrest of Terry Maitland.

The whole town of Flint City is watching. Troy Ramage and Tom Yates, two city cops in suits, walk down the third base line and the umpire is yelling at them to get off the field and the game is tied 2 to 2. The excitement can be felt but now there is an element of confusion as the two police officers in suits ignore the umpire and walk directly towards Tom Maitland. His wife Marcy and their two children watch in confusion. “Off the Field” yells the umpire but they keep walking down the base line directly towards Tom Maitland. “Hey, you guys” the umpire says as he walks toward the two cops, “We’ve got a game to finish here.” It’s the top of the ninth inning and the score is tied, two to two. Yates, the cop, pushes the umpire back and they keep walking in lockstep towards Terry Maitland. Terry says, “Hey Troy, what is this? What’s the deal? Suddenly the crowd is hushed and people realize something is about to happen.

Troy Ramage raises his voice as he gets to Maitland and says, loudspeaker not necessary because everyone is so quiet, “Terence Maitland, I am arresting you for the murder of Frank Peterson!”

There is a sound from the bleachers, an oooo like a rising wind.

All Terry could say was “What? Are you kidding me? and just then the sports photographer from the Flint City Call snaps the picture, the one that will be on the front page of the newspaper the next day. Terry’s mouth was open, wide-eyed with his hair sticking out the edges of his Golden Dragons cap. The picture made him look feeble and guilty.

“What did you say?”

“Hold out your wrists, please.”

Terry locked eyes with his wife Marcy and his two daughters, sitting just behind the bullpen, staring at him with identical expressions of shock and surprise. Ramage snapped on the cuffs, the big metal ones, not the plastic strips, big, visible and heavy, shining in the hot sun. In the same loudspeaker voice, Ramages says the familiar but strange to Terry, “You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions, but if you choose to speak, anything you say can be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand?”

Terry is stunned. “Troy,” he says, “What in God’s name is this?

Ramage looked at Terrry and repeated, “DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”

What Terry Maitland did understand was that his life, as he knew it, was over for a long time and maybe beyond that.

So Stephen King, master of suspense and horror begins his new novel called The Outsider. His magic continues throughout the book and twists and turns in a way that only an expert in
his art can do!

Later in the book, the appearance of Holly Gibney, the woman who worked with Detective Hodges, in King’s book called End Of Watch is no surprise. This is her speciality.

If you are looking for a beach book or just a book to read under the lamp while you lay in bed, The Outsider is that book. I bought it at The Harvard Bookstore and finished it in three days.

The King family are miracle workers with words, even if the miracles are dark and possible make you look under the bed to see it the Outsider is hiding there.

There are jail tattoos that play a part in this book, one on each hand. One hand says MUST and the other says CANT. If you are a drug addict, these words will filter into your mind because the fact is, with the illness of addiction, you are trapped in this quandary that says you CANT use drugs, but you MUST use drugs.

What does this have to do with the story? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out. And speaking again of the King family, don’t forget Joe Hill and Owen King, Stephen’s sons, and his wife Tabitha, who also spins the webs of words.

This book is a great book. It’s a horrifying book, but what else does Stephen King do. Would you like to take a walk in his mind, eh?

Strange Weather by Joe Hill

William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 195 Broadway, New York, New York 10007; Kelly.rudolph@harpercollins.com

Joe Hill knocks a home run out of the park with all bases loaded with Strange Weather, 4 novellas that will twist your mind and make your heart skip two beats a minute.

Strange Weather it is, with a major eclipse crossing the United States, an insane clown president with glowing eyes and a mouth that twitters faster than his brain, if he’s got one.

When there is a book of novellas, there is always one that strikes me as my favorite. My rainbow twist of the four is Loaded, about a mall security guard named Randall Kellaway back from the war in the Mid-East, not having served with honors for sure. He is crazy about guns but is far from being a true gunslinger (he lacks honor).

Kellaway isn’t allowed to have guns but he has plenty. And so does the disgruntled employee from the jewelry store that comes to take her revenge with a fancy revolver. She discovered her boss flashing her sex over the Internet and pulled the trigger.

Kellaway comes in with his illegal piece, sees a Muslim woman with something clutched to her chest and everything goes wrong. A witness sees everything and then it all goes black.

There’s a story behind everything that goes wrong in Loaded but that’s Joe Hill’s job. And he does it with finesse. His dad, Stephen King, has created a true gunslinger in Joe and he’ll never forget the face of his father; never be sent west. (Reference to The Dark Tower by Stephen King).

In another story called Aloft there’s a gent named Aubrey Griffin, frightened of heights, who agrees to a sky jump in honor of a dead friend. However, it all goes wrong because there’s a cloud that is alive and it won’t let him pass.

I’ll say no more than Joe Hill has his guns out and they are blazing throughout the length of this novella. Clouds are only supposed to bring Rain, which is the name of the final novella.

The rain that fell was sharp and solid and as deadly as Joe Hill’s words. Truthfully, Joe’s words are as deadly as the bullets that fly from a gunslinger’s heavy gun. Strange Weather is a collection of four stories that will truly keep you awake and realizing that Stephen King’s apple has not fallen far from the tree. In one of the stories a strange man carries a Polaroid camera that takes pictures and makes people forget. Joe Hill has here captured the imagination of his avid readers. He really does quite an excellent job on these novellas, as well as on his other short stories and novels.

Joe Hill’s first book was a book of short stories called 20th Century Ghosts; then he moved quickly to A Heart-Shaped Box, where a man who has played hard (like Ozzie Osbourn) buys a suit that travels with a deadly ghost that plays with a sharp silver blade. A Heart-Shaped Box would make a wonderful movie but it just hasn’t been done yet. Hopefully a good director will pick it up.

His other three novels are Horns, Nos4a2 and The Fireman. He blows the hole out of the bulls-eye on every single book. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his graphic novel by the name of Locke & Key, a book about keys that open doors to other realities and the family that is both blessed and cursed by them.

One other novella that Joe Hill wrote while he was traveling to a writer’s convention in 2006 is named Gunpowder, and is about teenagers with special talents who live on another planet. It is a powerful story in a hardcover all by itself in 3 forms. All three are hardcovers, one has no dust jacket, one does have a dust jacket, and the third is the deluxe edition with a dust jacket and slipcase. The first is a regular trade, the second is signed and numbered by Joe Hill, and the third is signed and numbered by Joe Hill and the artist Gabriel Rodriguez. They are all wonderful and rare.

There is a rumor that Joe is going to lengthen Gunpowder to a full-length novel and this would be great. But right now I highly recommend you buy a copy of Strange Weather. It will be released on October 24th but you can pre-order a signed copy on the Internet from Waterstreet books. It’s so good I just read Loaded for the second time.

I haven’t yet read anything by Stephen King’s other son, Owen. But I’m hoping that he’ll be just as exciting as the rest of the writing family. His new book, Sleeping Beauties, which Owen co-wrote with his father, will be released at the end of September.

These are the days of Strange Weather, which will follow the eclipse. Joe Hill is one of the great writers of these days.

The Delicate Dependency by Michael Talbot

First Valancourt Book Edition, 2014, Richmond, VA; Previously published in 1982 by Avon Books, a paperback edition in 1982. Hard Cover Edition first published by Centipede Press in 2017; 300 copies exclusive.

The Delicate Dependency: A Novel of The Vampire Life was written in 1982 by Michael Talbot, an interesting man who lived most of his life in New York City, writing at times for The Village Voice, a Greenwich Village newspaper. The Delicate Dependency was his first novel and is regarded as one of the best vampire novels ever written.

The Avon paperback can be found in small bookstores and on the Internet and is quite high-priced. Of course, with the release of the new paperback the price should come down.

Michael Talbot is extremely intelligent and his book The Holographic Universe, which was written in 1991, is very well known. It is very dense and if you intend to read this book, settle down with a dictionary. If you are interested in physics, this book is right up your street.

In The Delicate Dependency, the vampire, as they call themselves in plural, are the keepers of all human knowledge and are scattered throughout the world, some of them living in monasteries. One of the vampire was actually a Pope in this book.

Dr. John Gladstone is the main human character. His two children, Ursula and Camille, play major roles. Camille, a young girl, is a savant. If she hears a tune played on an instrument, she can duplicate it to the very note on a piano.

For reasons that will be disclosed, the vampire Niccolo steps out in front of Dr. John Gladstone’s carriage, breaking Niccolo’s legs. Dr. Gladstone takes responsibility for Niccolo and takes him to the hospital where several peculiar events ensue.

Lady Dunaway, a fellow traveler with Dr. Gladstone, says, “Never trust the vampire, for everything they say and do is for some other purpose. They will play a cruel and enigmatic ‘game of the mind’ with you and it will be up to you to solve the puzzle, unravel the Gordian knot.”

Niccolo and Lodovico, two very old vampire, combine forces to kidnap Camille, the young musical savant. Lady Dunaway wants to travel with Dr. Gladstone, claiming that her son, a mathematical savant, has been kidnapped by the vampire.

Dr. Gladstone has a strange intuition about Lady Dunaway, who seems at times not quite human, although her body temperature is normal. The vampire have cool body temperatures and their heartbeats (in most stories about vampires they don’t have heartbeats) are about 34 beats per minute.

During the search for the two savant children, Dr. Gladstone and Lady Dunaway wind up in France and are taken prisoner by a vampire named Des Essientes. They are kept in separate, comfortable rooms, but they are told that they will be kept there for the rest of their lives because they have discovered too much about the vampire.

On alternate nights, they are sometimes given the run of the house, always under the watchful eye of a falcon that feeds on rotting meat. Therefore, if they try to escape, the falcon’s claws will infect them with lethal bacteria.

The falcon is the pet of a young vampire, Hatim, who was turned when he was a teenager. Hatim has many of the mannerisms of the falcon and his demeanor frightens Dr. Gladstone. When Dr. Gladstone asks Hatim how old he his, Hatim says that he doesn’t really know, but he assumes he was born over five hundred years ago.

If you have read the book Dracula by Bram Stoker, you will notice a similarity in the frantic chase scene when Dr. Gladstone and Lady Dunaway flee the vampire when they seem to be closing in on all sides.

Dr. Gladstone’s older daughter, Ursula, assists in their escape, but I will stop here and let you be chilled by it as you read the book.

Talbot has the vampire keep records of humanity for many centuries. Many vampire were living in monasteries during the dark ages. Lodovico, one of the oldest vampires, has birds and animals long thought extinct in his giant mansion and gardens, where he isolates himself from the rest of the world.

The Delicate Dependency is a book that is as interesting as the life of its author, who was way ahead of his time. Michael Talbot was gay, born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1953. He died of HIV related leukemia at the young age of 38.

Michael Talbot is regarded as one of the great minds of his generation and has been widely published. Even though not many people have heard of this book about the vampire, it is regarded as the best of its genre. The fact that it has been just reprinted, will make it available to vampire lovers worldwide. The paperback is within the price range of the average reader and the rare hardcover published by Centipede Press sells for close to one hundred dollars.

 

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology by Neil GaimanNorse Mythology written by Neil Gaiman; published by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10110; (212) 354-5500 http://www.wwnorton.com eriley@wwnorton.com

Neil Gaiman respects the Old Gods and that is why he is the proper man to write their tales. Gaiman did not just read tales that modern men have written to decipher the Old God’s realities, but he went back and studied the original translation of Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, the verses of the Poetic Edda, which was written nine hundred years ago to reveal the stories of the Old Gods.

Think back to the early history of humankind, where men, women and children huddled around the fires at the entrance to their caves, or the giant fireplaces in the stone houses of the Vikings, and then you will be able to come to an understanding of the Old Gods.

Odin, Thor, Loki, Tyr the one handed (Odin’s Son) and Frigg, the queen of the Gods, where we get the names of some of the days of the week, for instance, Odin was called Wednesday; Frigg was called Friday, just to name two of them.

Think of Jesus on the cross and then hear the tale of Odin, the greatest of the Gods, who, for the seeking of knowledge and runes, sacrificed himself on the World Tree, Yggdrasil, where he hung for nine days and nine nights; during that time his side was pierced by the point of a spear and yet he lived and hung on the Tree without eating or drinking, alone in great pain and suddenly, just before death took him he peered down at the ground and the runes of knowledge were revealed to him.

Odin came to understand then, and his ropes disintegrated as the great God fell from the tree knowing the power of magic and having the ability to control the world. Now then, think of Jesus on the cross, with his side pierced by the spear. Who is the older of the Gods?

Neil Gaiman spins the webs of the God’s lives in Norse Mythology, tale after tale. Did he drink mead, the poetic drink of the Gods, while he was writing these tales? It may well be so.

One of the tales is called The Treasures of The Gods. It is the best story about Loki, the Trickster God, I have ever read. It starts with a tragic event and ends with everyone happy, all that is, except for Loki. It also reveals how many of the treasures of the Gods are created, even the great Hammer of Thor.

One of Loki’s greatest tricks is to change his shape and appear as anything or anyone he wants. He used this trick to thwart The Master Builder from finishing Asgard’s great wall on time.

Loki was married but he carried his ways into marital bliss. It was bliss to him but to his wife Sigyn had her doubts. Which were well founded, for Loki would disappear for a time and then, when he returned, he was happy but Sigyn was not. After Loki’s third disappearance, Odin dreamed into Loki’s travels and found that he was carrying on with a Giantess named Angrboda.

Loki had three children with Angrboda. One child named herself Hel; another of the children was named Jormungundu and the third child was called Fenrir. These were Loki’s children with the Giantess; he had two children with his wedded wife; one named Narfi and he was not well-behaved, and another named Vali and he was obedient and restrained. But it is Loki’s children with the Giantess that the story is about. You will understand when you read the story of The Children of Loki. That doesn’t mean you will know what you understand.

The stories in Norse Mythology just keep getting better. Another great story is called The Apples of Immortality. After all, the Gods don’t stay young just because they are Gods. What would happen if someone stole the apples of immortality? Only Loki, the God of Mischief, could have a hand in something like this.

I believe that Neil Gaiman was one of the gifts of the Gods, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to spin such tales from the past. I wonder, in the end, if Neil Gaiman will pay the price for his tales. If the Gods read these stories, they may get want to get even with him.

As I read Norse Mythology, I have come to wonder if Neil Gaiman is really Loki in human form. Gaiman’s stories have tricks in them that only Loki could conceive. Sometimes I think that only Loki or Joe Hill could achieve such a feat, but Neil Gaiman pulls it off wonderfully.

The book will be released on February 7th and I am sure that the Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square will have copies for sale. Please don’t miss this book, even if you’ve never read anything by Neil Gaiman. It’s a great place to start.

Norse Mythology is one of the best books by Neil Gaiman that I have ever read and I’ve read almost all of them—The Sandman, American Gods, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, & Black Dog, which is a novella that was born from American Gods. There are other books, books written for Young Adults such as Coraline and The Graveyard Book, just to name two.

Enjoy!

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis: A Book Review\ By Marc D. Goldfinger. Goldsboro Books, 23-25 Cecil St., London, WC2N 4E2, United Kingdom, S & N Limited Edition/and Crown Publishing Group, A Division of Penguin Random House

“Think on why I ain’t killing you.”-Kreagar

Elka doesn’t remember her parents. She lives in the wilderness, after a war that destroyed civilization, with a man named Trapper. Trapper teaches her to survive in the wilds but hates the small towns around them; he has a terrible secret that he doesn’t want Elka to find out about.

For a brief time before living with Trapper, Elka lived with an old woman she called NaNa, but Elka got separated from her during a “thunderhead”, a giant storm that occurs sporadically since the wars, that the people refer to as “the Damn Stupid”, wrecked the infrastructure of civilization. From the description of the world, it sounded as if it was a nuclear war.

Elka was about 7 years old and wandering about in the woods when Trapper found her. He told her that he would take care of her until they found her NaNa. She was a little frightened of him because he had what looked like blue mud pictures on his face that didn’t come off.

One day Trapper came back and told Elka that her NaNa was crushed by a tree during the last “thunderhead”, but he said he would take care of her. Trapper taught Elka to hunt, build snares, skin rabbits, squirrels and deer, and generally how to survive in their world.

Trapper had mean parts to his personality, and one time Elka cut herself and spilled her blood over a snare. Trapper made her sleep outside by the snare for three days because he no animal would come near a snare that smelled of human blood.

The description of Elka’s life with Trapper takes place in the first 50 pages. At the end of her apprenticeship, Elka is about 17 years old and a really strong woman. This is where the story really begins.

So I haven’t told you a lot of the story, just some clues as to how the book begins. It’s really an exciting story where the tension builds as Elka goes to town for the first time and sees a Wanted Poster with the picture of the man she lives with. Elka knows him as Trapper but the Wanted Poster calls him Kreagar Hallet and says he is wanted for murder.

Elka is approached by the sheriff of Dalston, the nearest small town to where she lives. The sheriff, Jennifer Lyon, claims that the man Elka knows as her father is the killer of eight women and one child.

Elka is dumbstruck by this information. At this point she feels she needs to get out on her own and think things through, never realizing that the man she calls Trapper and thinks of as her Daddy, will track her, no matter where she travels.

The book is told in 1st person narrative. At first, Elka’s way of telling the story took a little getting used to, but once I got used to her thought pattern, the book was difficult to put down. This is Beth Lewis’s first novel and it is a wonderful beginning.

When a civilization breaks down, a feudal society fills the space. Women, on their own, need to know how to fend for themselves or men quickly take them into servitude. In today’s world, we call them pimps.

Elka meets friends along the road, and I use the term friends loosely. We cannot always trust someone we think of as a friend. Religion has its place in the world, and in a world where life is savage, so are so-called men of god. Blood is more than symbolic in one church that Elka stumbles into.

Luckily, Elka is quite strong and her naivety quickly dissipates which makes it possible for her to survive. Elka is hunted, by more people than her father, and her travels are full of interesting situations.

The Wolf Road gets its title from the nature of the path on which Elka finds herself. The world is strange and, at one point in the story, she camps at a lake that radiates warmth. She is lucky to get away with her body intact.

One of Elka’s friends camps there with her father and their story does not end happily. However, if that event didn’t take place, Elka would not have met Penelope, a woman of the same age who teaches Elka some useful things—yet there is something about her that makes Elka wonder if she can be trusted.

I purchased the book from Goldsboro Books, a specialty book-seller in Europe. It is a Signed & Numbered edition for a fair price. There were only 750 copies printed. I highly recommend that bookseller which can be found on the Internet. There were still some copies left the last time I checked.

Here, in the United States, the book will be released on July 5th, and by the time you read this, that date will have come and gone. I always recommend the Harvard Book Store, one of the few independent booksellers left. If they don’t have it in stock, they will be happy to order it for you.

The Wolf Road is a great summer read and I’m looking forward to Beth Lewis’s next book. It’s a great, if a bit dark, adventure.