Saturday, July 23, 2011

Walking Dead

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Also Not Zombies

Saw the last Harry Potter film last night. Hard to know where to go with a review, as all of it's pretty self-evident at this point, isn't it? The whole thing's darker than it has been. (Though the filming effects to create that are often quite subtle and effective - I found Professor McGonnigle's haggard look especially effective, as indeed how everyone looked sort of grey and washed out most all the time.) The story is about love and sacrifice. Good triumphs. You're crying at several points for major characters who've been killed. Etc. So let's take all that as given. It's everything you expect at this point.

Now, I'm in an ongoing debate (there's really no debate, since I'm right this time) as to whether or not Harry "really" dies. (And this is one point where the film does flub - it makes it look like he's faking it and Mrs Malfouy covers for him [more on the Malfouy's below, but suffice it to say it ruins the whole scene].) My wife insists he can't "Really" die. Now, I don't want to insist on the reality of his death merely to bring the film in line with the obvious Christ figuration at that point - but rather, to take the whole paradigm a step back. Either Jesus or Harry (or Osiris or Asclepius or whoever) has to die in his/her respective story, or s/he's not much of a hero, hasn't made much of a sacrifice. Now my daughter took the next step of the argument (which is more debatable than whether or not he "really" dies): she said that if he dies but he knows he's coming back, then that doesn't really count as dying. Now that's a fair point, and I'd say it's a big part of my dissatisfaction with the Gospel of John: Jesus seems a little too confident that everything'll work out, and therefore I don't see his sacrifice as sincere, I don't see him undergoing enough, it's all too easy (cf. The Garden in Gethsemane scene, which to me is almost as important as The Cross). But in a way, Harry's story is intrinsically set up better than Jesus' (gasp away, any Evangelicals who are still with me), as there's no danger of Harry having such certainty. He's got some talisman that's supposed to work - but in their world, magic seems to be slightly less reliable than technology is in ours: it's always going wrong or having some unforeseen consequence. And he's got some ghosts (or really, as he suspects, his imaginations of some ghosts) telling him it'll be okay - but what would that prove? (Especially as two of the people involved, Dumbledore and Snape, have lied to him every day of his life so far - no matter how great their motives, that's got to erode one's confidence in what they say.) So, I think he has to really die, and he clearly only has some very vague hope (like us) that death is not all there is. That's what makes the story so beautiful.

Now, speaking of Snape (who was, I'll admit, my favorite character from Day 1). The more I think about the ending (and I thought it when I read the books a couple years ago), the more I can't see my way to Harry ever being as well adjusted as he is in the postscript. Consider the Oedipal dynamics he is being asked to accept at the end. His biological dad was pretty much a dick (and the film barely puts a nod to him in the ghost scene - it's all about his mom). In the naming of the next Potter, the complete dismissal of James is made complete, in preference to the two surrogates.

But his two surrogate dads have their own psychic baggage, to say the least. They've been planning his death for decades - and while they're thankfully "flexible" (like the Elder wand - ha, phallic symbol that's still "flexible" - get it?) about their plans and eventually come to see that Harry has to cooperate in his own death, that's still a lot to be asked to accept, and you couldn't get any closer parallel to Laius. Oh, plus, from another dysfunctional family foundational myth - Harry's like an Abel psychically attached to his Cain - he has to see the world through the eyes of the man who wants nothing other than to murder him. So, no, the whole postscript seems like a tacked-on kind of cop-out to me (never mind that the whole thing is REALLY there just so Harry can have a surrogate to finally hook up with a surrogate who represents both Ron and Hermione - sorry, not to gross anyone out, but that's clearly how the end is set up). I'd be happy if Harry doesn't just spend the rest of his life drinking himself to death; I don't know that we could realistically expect much more.

Oh, finally, also on the postscript. What is it with trying to rehabilitate the Malfouy's? (And I'm not 100% sure, but it seemed to me last night to be done more in the film than I remembered in the books.) The mom helps save Harry; they all slink off at the height of the battle; then Draco is on the platform in the postscript? How awkward is it at your high school reunion to see someone who beat you up once in the hall? I can't think that someone who tried to kill you for years (and only failed due to incompetence, not lack of trying) would get along much better with you. Again, it seems like a cop out, like once you say "Voldemort is the ultimate evil," that then all lesser evil characters are excused. Just because Voldemort is an 11 on an evil scale of 1-10, and the Malfouy's come in at an 8 doesn't let them off the hook. Comic villains or henchmen should still get their comeuppance.

All right, so to sum up: all my quibbles notwithstanding, this remains one of the most pyschologically and morally complex and honest things I've read in the last 10 years, and the film adaptations didn't do much to dull that vision.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Not Zombies

But as many of you know, it's one of my favorite books - MOBY-DICK.

I just got an email about this interesting project based on Melville's work - artist Matt Kish's 552 drawings, one for each page of the book. I think it sounds really cool - both as to how the artist produced it, and the finished product.

Check out Matt's blog about the artistic process, too.

Comic Con

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

World's Best Zombie Sites

GOTLD doesn't deserve to be Top 10, I don't think, since it's mostly about me and not a general zombie meta site, but there are plenty on the list that are devoted to one work or artist or author, so why not give GOTLD a vote? Thanks!

Zombie Top Site List

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Best Book, My Free Book

I really believe DYING TO LIVE: LAST RITES is the best thing I've written. At the least, it's my favorite. I cry every time I reread the ending. (And I don't mean sniffling - I mean sobbing uncontrollably.) I'm thrilled that most all the reviews I've seen agree (and even some of those that don't agree as to the overall quality, agree as to the emotional impact).

So here's some incentive, in this terrible economy, for you to experience this book. RJ sent me a really HUGE pile of this other really good book I helped write - THIN THEM OUT. (The cover is slightly different on this reprint edition, and it is NOT signed by RJ and Julia.) I mean a HUGE pile.

So, until the end of JULY, buy DYING TO LIVE: LAST RITES in any format, send me some kind of proof of purchase (to my email -, and I'll send you a copy of THIN THEM OUT.

It's that simple. It's not even a contest, just a freebie!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Top Ten Permuted Titles of All Time

As of June 2011 the top selling Permuted Press books of all time (Permuted only sales, not including other editions):

#2 - DYING TO LIVE by Kim Paffenroth
#3 - PLAGUE OF THE DEAD by Z.A. Recht
#4 - THUNDER AND ASHES by Z.A. Recht
#5 - EX-HEROES by Peter Clines
#6 - EDEN by Tony Monchinski
#7 - THE UNDEAD edited by D.L. Snell
#8 - HISTORY IS DEAD edited by Kim Paffenroth
#9 - DYING TO LIVE: LIFE SENTENCE by Kim Paffenroth
#10 - EMPIRE by David Dunwoody

Top 10 bestselling Permuted Press eBooks to date (excluding co-published editions) as of June 2011:

#1 EX-HEROES by Peter Clines
#2 THE INFECTION by Craig DiLouie
#3 DYING TO LIVE by Kim Paffenroth
#6 EDEN by Tony Monchinski
#7 THE UNDEAD edited by D.L. Snell
#9 DEAD EARTH: THE VENGEANCE ROAD by Mark Justice & David Wilbanks
#10 EMPIRE by David Dunwoody

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Facebook vs Blogging

I realized I'd never stated my policy on Facebook vs blogging (a policy that's only evolved over the last couple years, so maybe that's why - it's not like I had a "mission statement" to begin with). My blog is for the whole universe. I have no way to control who sees it. So in a way, it's kind of bland, and I've made a concerted effort in the last couple years to make it pretty much 100% self-promotion. It's what it's there for - to pimp my stuff, to be blunt. I don't announce much personal here at all.

If you're my "friend" on Facebook - well, I know we're not really "friends" in any deep sense (though some of my real friends are on Facebook), but I assume one or the other of us has sought out the relationship at some point, and I assume a greater conncetion, and therefore I post a lot of personal stuff. Nothing too personal, and probably nothing too interesting, but I'll post what I'm cooking, what I got at the Farmer's market, what music I'm listening to, or what I read in the NYTimes that morning. That final point brings us to one thorny issue: I think if you follow my blog for the last couple years (after I got careful about what I post), you have no idea what I'm like personally or politically. If I reveal any of my habits or opinions (as I do on Facebook) it becomes pretty clear pretty quick that I'm an inveterate Lefty. I never go on someone else's FB page and pick a fight - I don't even leave a comment. The handful of conservative "friends" I have on there can post anything they like and they'll never hear a peep from me. But I will post a few left wing rants on my FB page. Not many, but sometimes.

But anyway, the other thing you've missed if you don't follow me on Facebook (except I see one mention on here): I've been fascinated by Lady Gaga for a few months now. So let me leave you with a couple links for your edification and introduction to the Gaga World:

The PAINKILLER / JUDAS mashup. This is more tribute than parody and I love it, since I love both songs.

The EDGE OF GLORY video. Gaga looks far more normal in this video (yes, Xena-like dominatrix outfit is "more normal" for her) and it's kind of fun, though a very tame video compared to her others. It looks like she's smiling and enjoying herself (in that self-conscious way that famous people can ever seem "comfortable" and "just being themselves").

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Audible Zombie Books!

The next phase of Audible’s fabulous ZombieFest promotion is now up and running!

Starting today, and over the next 4 weeks, they'll be releasing a new title. Each of these is being made available in audio before it comes out in book form!

7/5: Ex-Patriots by Peter Clines

7/12: Acheron by Bryon Morrigan

7/19: The Undead Situation by Eloise J. Knapp

7/26: Hissers by Ryan Thomas

As an extra-special attraction, each of these 4 books contains an original bonus short story ! Especially for this promotion, Peter Clines has written a wonderful series of 4 interconnected stories called The Junkie Quatrain. So by buying all 4 novels, you’ll also get the complete Quatrain at no extra charge !

Please visit Audible's ZOMBIEFEST and check out their titles!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Theology and the Undead

Awesome horror blogger John Morehead and I have finished with the CFP and going over the proposals, and we've chosen the lineup for an upcoming essay collection on THEOLOGY AND THE UNDEAD (along the lines of Open Court's "_____ and Philosophy" series). It will include essays by -

Arnold T. Blumberg
Jessica DeCou
Hannah Gilbert
Vicky Sue Gilpin
Joe Laycock
Jarrod Longbons
John W. Morehead
Ashley John Moyse
J. Ryan Parker
Brian Solomon
Beth Stovell
Andrea Subissati

Publisher and release date TBA in the weeks to come.

Friday, July 01, 2011

San Diego Comic Con

Alas, no I can't make it out to that coast this summer. BUT...

On Thursday, July 21, Smart Pop—the pop culture imprint of BenBella Books—will give away 50 advance print galleys, plus 100 advance electronic galleys, of their upcoming release Triumph of The Walking Dead: Robert Kirkman's Zombie Epic on Page and Screen during a signing with the book’s editor, award-winning author and anthologist James Lowder (Prince of Lies, The Book of All Flesh), and contributors Scott Kenemore (Zombie, Ohio), Steven Schlozman (The Zombie Autopsies), and Ned Vizzini (It’s Kind of a Funny Story).

Triumph of The Walking Dead is an essay anthology exploring the hit AMC television show and comics phenomenon, featuring contributions from an all-star line-up of creators and commentators well-known to zombiephiles. The full list of contributors:

Kyle William Bishop
Jonathan Maberry
Arnold T. Blumberg
Lisa Morton
Jay Bonansinga
Kim Paffenroth
Craig Fischer
Brendan Riley
Kenneth Hite
Steven Schlozman
David Hopkins
Kay Steiger
Scott Kenemore
Ned Vizzini
Vince A. Liaguno

The signing and giveaway will take place at the Smart Pop booth, B-4, in the San Diego Comic-Con exhibit hall, from 3 - 4 p.m on July 21, 2011.

Additionally, booth visitors can enter to win a signed print of Rafael Kayanan’s cover illustration.


Triumph of The Walking Dead