Duel Visions – New Anthology of Horror and Weird from Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen (Feb 14th)

front cover only jpgCirsova Publishing is thrilled to announce Duel Visions, an all-new anthology of horror and macabre by Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen.

Duel Visions marks Cirsova Publishing’s second departure from its flagship publication, Cirsova Magazine, and its first ever traditional format book release.

A literary venture in the spirit of the classic horror showcases, such as Tales that Witness Madness and Tales from the Crypt, this new volume collects ten tales that approach terror from all angles, supernatural to science fiction, monstrous to mundane, encompassing the occult to the simply odd.

Misha Burnett has been regularly published in Cirsova Magazine and is known for The Book Of Lost Doors series of novels as well as the Eldritch Earth shared setting.

Louise Sorensen is also a veteran of Cirsova Magazine and has been published in several issues of Just a Minor Malfunction…

Duel Visions will be out in Paperback and eBook online and at retailers February 14, 2019!

Additional outlets and formats will be listed soon!

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Clock’s Watch II Out Now!

Regular Cirsova readers will remember the Coney Island adventures of Michael Reyes’ invisible dwarf sorcerer, Clock. As Warden and servant of the chaos goddess, Eris, it is Clock’s duty to prevent all manner of demons, monsters, witches, and warlocks from destroying the world.

Clock’s Watch II reprints The Iynx, which was featured in Cirsova #7, alongside an all new novella-length adventure, Daughters of the Black Moon.

While this isn’t a Cirsova release, I did help put this edition together–they’re awesome stories with gnarly illustrations by Sean Bova.

eBook is out now, and Paperback edition will be out soon.

clockcover

New Story From Michael Reyes + Clock’s Watch On Sale

Michael Reyes has a new horror short in the Silver Empire anthology Secret Stairs.

Also, his anthology of Clock Stories, Clock’s Watch is discounted this week to coincide with the release of Cirsova #7. The action picks up where Clock’s Watch ends with The Iynx, out now in our Spring issue. Be sure to check them all out!

I did some work on Clock’s Watch, writing up story intros and doing some layout work for both interior and exterior. Pick up a copy and let us know how we did on this!

(Reviewed here in SciFi & Scary)

Review: Whispers From the Abyss

Sometimes life gets crazy and you don’t manage to juggle all of the things that you thought you could take on, but that’s really no excuse. I’m long overdue for reviews of 01Publishing’s Whispers From the Abyss series. I’ve made a few tweets about these, but that’s nothing compared to the actual reviews they deserve, considering the fact that the awesome Kat Rocha actually sent me physical copies to read.

It’s also not easy to review anthologies of flash fiction because there are SO MANY STORIES TO TALK ABOUT! So, rather than take on the daunting task of reviewing the hundreds of stories, I’ll say that the average quality and selection of these pieces is incredible. That’s not to say that I thought all of the stories were good or that I enjoyed them all, but there were some really great ones, some pretty good ones, and the bad ones were only a page or so.

I know it doesn’t sound like much on the face of it, but those who know me as someone who loathes “Lovecraftian” (fingerquotes) fiction understands what it means that I should have any praise at all for such an anthology, much less the high praise for it I’m now struggling to articulate.

I think where this anthology best succeeds is in finding short horror stories that seek to tonally match Lovecraft and others’ short weird fiction and horror rather than fill its pages with Mythos gobbledygook.

They’re worth checking out, and you can find them on Amazon.

It’s October 1st, Time to Shill!

I’m very very slowly getting these out of my spare room.  At this rate, I will have gotten rid of all of them by the time I’m 50.

dracul

Yes, that is art by Christopher Hastings of Dr. McNinja fame!

Featuring 12 tracks of weird, wild and woolly Halloween tracks!

Peek-a-boo Magazine says “If this is the worst music Dracula ever heard I would certainly like to own his record collection.

All Music says it has “a surprising amount of credibility.”

Still available on Amazon!

All money I make off this will go towards buying content for issue 1 of the Cirsova zine.

Short Reviews – Horror Movie, Stuart Dybek

Horror Movie by Stuart Dybek appears in the January 1976 issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Reading this story, I realized I’ll never be able to read SF/F featuring creepy old men offering to do things to little boys from the inner city without being reminded of Samuel R Delany now. Thank god that’s not something I’ll have to worry about often.

I feel as though I missed out on a vital part of the American experience, never having gone by myself or with friends (though without an adult present) to a bad horror movie at an age when I would be genuinely frightened by men in a wolf-man suit or in mummy bandages.  Damn if Horror Movie is not evocative of that feel, or at least what I presume that feeling to be.  But more than that, it’s evocative of a fear which I am thankful to have missed out on: growing up poor in the slums of Chicago.

Horror Movie follows a young boy who is having one hell of a bad and freaky weekend. His mother has been taken to the hospital while he was out due to a complication with a pregnancy which has left the bathroom a scary bloody mess. He is terrified of his mother’s abusive boyfriend. The boy is troubled by nightmares and is a habitual bed-wetter, yet loves watching horror movies (or at least masochistically enjoys subjecting himself to them). Much of the story is vivid descriptions of the boy’s dreaming and waking nightmares -all very strange and unsettling affairs- which serve as a mirror for the uncanny and alienating nature of the rotting and hostile urban setting in which the character is forced to grow up.

Horror Movie is a parade of the grotesque; the boy’s bad dreams, his living conditions, the blaxploitation horror movie he goes to see, the pederast usher, the crimes and decay of the city, the procession of urban nightmare fuel escalates, fluctuating between the real and imagined, ultimately culminating in a fat Puerto Rican lady tied to a lamp post getting kicked in the tit so hard it smacks her in the face as she half-heartedly begs the boy for help on his sojourn from the theatre. This strange and ghoulish tale ends with the kid locking himself in his dark house, slashing about at shadows with a kitchen knife for comfort. You almost expect the story to end with him accidentally plunging the knife into the abusive boyfriend, the mamacita neighbor who’d told him his mother was taken to the hospital, or -worst of all- his mother returning home, but all is left to the imagination of the reader.

While Horror Movie is an excellent example of modernist grotesque, it would be a stretch to call it speculative fiction. Not a criticism, merely an observation.  Dybek’s story is a masterfully put together tale of existential urban terror, but it’s not something one could call fantasy or science fiction or even horror in a conventional sense. There is no supernatural horror; the only horrors present are those in the young boy’s dreams and those in his environment. Things kids face growing up in the inner city are more terrifying and horrible than anything in a scary movie. Horror Movie is by far the best thing I’ve read so far in the January 1976 issue, which isn’t saying anything by itself, so I’ll also point out that it’s better than a lot of the stuff that I liked from the June 1977 issue.  But man is it an unpleasant read…

Short Reviews – The Final Close, J.P. Dixon

The Final Close appeared in the June 1977 issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and was totally not made up by me.

The Final Close is the 3rd ‘Scary Injun’ story in the June 1977 issue. Nina was of the “monsters might be indistinguishable from indigenous people/indigenous people might be monsters” variety; The Horse Lord was of the “indigenous people know more about the scary stuff you should stay away from” variety; The Final Close is of the “indigenous people are gonna get ya, whitey, cuz they’re indigenous” variety. Racist? Sure, why not? But it’s like the short fiction version of a dime-store Indian; The Final Close captures a nuanced bit of Americana that can’t just be written off by saying it plays to stereotypes.

One of those door-to-door men that most folks only remember from old Looney Tunes -the kind who’d brag about selling refrigerators to Eskimos- and his young protege are making their way across the country selling folks headstones. If that doesn’t gob-smack you with foreshadowing of impending doom, I don’t know what would.

The ‘hero’ of the story is the young sales apprentice who thinks he’s on the verge of making it rich. He thinks he’s fancy stuff in his suit and tie, so doesn’t realize what a rube he is. Hitting on the counter girl at the burger & fries joint elicits a response of smiling contempt. Watch out for Old Pretty Mouth. The duo makes their way into Chickasaw City to find that the town’s name is only half-accurate. An angry lady and her neighbors end up chasing the “goddamn tourists” with a rifle and various implements straight into the maw of Old Pretty Mouth, a giant bass/serpent/crocogator/monster/something, and probably have a big larff about it after.

The Final Close, while not executed with quite the mastery of craft possessed by Bloch or playing with the depths of fear that The Horse Lord did, is a serviceable piece of disposable horror worthy of inclusion in a Creepshow-like showcase. The first one, not the second one. Like Nina, there’s the aspect of white fear at play, but more of the sort that makes you snicker as the unwitting dopes fall straight into whatever indigenous-peoples-related-doom awaits them.

One of the most striking aspects of the Final Close is the close attention to detail; if you only focus on the silly story of white guys chased by ‘injuns’ then ate by monster, you’ll miss the impressive amount of descriptive work put into making everything seem real and true to life. I’d not only believe that Dixon had driven through Chickasaw City, I’d believe that he ate at that burger & fries joint and had the counter girl snark at him. The last punch is with Old Pretty Mouth itself; after all of the details and descriptions, all we get of OPM is the kid’s dying thought that “Old Pretty Mouth looked just the way the kid had imagined him all along, and there was no escape.”

The best I can say about The Final Close is that this is how The Death of Bunny Munro should have ended.