When you love someone, sometimes they can mean the whole world to you. Or several worlds.
King Space Void is a planet-eating entity whose consciousness resides in the body of a gargantuan machine made to look like a man and powered by thousands of people. Dane Shipps is one of the best workers of in King Space Void, until the day he finds a mangled woman named Scarlet still alive and intertwined in the machine’s ductwork who convinces him to step outside of his routine. Together they plan to take down King Space Void and everyone inside.
Ok, the back cover description sets the stage nicely. The story takes place inside a ginormous MACHINE GOD slash GALACTUS slash LEVEL 4 CIVILIZATION. Our lead, Dane, is one lousy dude. His known world is crashing down upon him but he is too weak of mind and spirit to act independently and pretty much gets dragged through the book by the much stronger supporting terrorist, Scarlet. She’s tough enough to make up for his shortcomings, and thank the MACHINE GOD because otherwise he’d have been greasy gopher guts by page 20.
Trevino pulls some serious rabbits out his world-building hat in this relatively short bizarro novella. The story keeps the reader in the waiting room for the first act but once the rubber hits the road, what seemed to be a fairly one, maybe two set piece story turns into a highly compressed and successful road trip – and let’s go ahead and all caps that: TRIP. There’s plenty of drug use throughout the book along with all kinds of sex and slurpy whatnot. Trevino ain’t the Neapolitan Ice Cream of erotic scene setters – there’s every damn flavor you could think of and a few you never would. Trevino’s a bit of a sick puppy, much to the reader’s benefit.
Also, there’s some gore and body horror and a fantastic lightning-paced parade of horrific and surreal imagery, from exploding oozy spiders to zombified cyborgs fighting the leash. Trevino runs you through his machine god world with urgency but every image is painstakingly clear and haunting.
A fine addition to the league of New Bizarro Author Series books from Eraserhead Press. I’m already looking forward to the author’s follow up.
The destruction of the old city must be prevented. John feeds the machine nightly. The devil in the fridge watches. Nobody wants to be a man-in-a-can anymore. Take in a show at Jeremy’s. Get your head checked at Fred’s. Ride the rails until the tracks are set ablaze by firefighters who fight fires with fire. Tuesday’s coming. Did you remember to bring your coat?
From Brian Auspice comes a down-the-rabbit-hole adventure into the depths of the human condition.
You are walking down an unfamiliar street. People push past you, a dense mob of angry faces, stiff arms, and muttering voices. It feels dangerous but it offers no thrill. Every ounce of you wants to just run back home. Run back to what you know. To where it is safe.
But you can’t.
Because of that picture.
You happened upon it one day. A peculiar painting. It intrigued you. Then you read the words, just a few simple sentences, but their meaning eluded you.
It was a definitely coded message. This much you were certain. You knew that until you could decipher it, there would be no rest.
That picture and those cryptic words led you here. You stand at the end of an alley, a narrow mildew-coated murder channel. Your gut twists. Hope dies in halls such as these. Amongst the debris and detritus, you spot a faceless man, his back pressed the back wall. He beckons. Bravely, perhaps stupidly, you ignore the scent of wither and woe and push forward. For you must know the answer.
Curiously, he pulls a chair out from the shadows and gestures for you to sit. You obey. He hands you a straw and a mirror. A line of fine powder sits upon it, expectant and eager.
You wave your hand. Not for you. Emphatically, he points back down to it and your eyes follow. You watch the granules. They begin a dance, pushing to and fro, zigzagging across the length of the mirror. They take a shape – is it a caterpillar? A slug? A simple worm? Whatever it is, it is looking at you.
Then the scream. A most terrible scream!
The scream is yours for you have chosen suck in this devil dune of exotic dust.
Your head snaps back. Your chest tightens. A terrible ringing fills your ears. Sweat explodes from every pore. You feel as if you are going to die.
You are most definitely going to die.
Your hands clench your thighs. Your nails dig deep, their purchase met with a slow, warm trickle of blood. Your stomach cramps and you curl forward, as a maddening parade of tiny men sealed in cans sing to you. Mono-color flashes blind you, viciously betraying you with every hue of color. Faces fold and slide through newly formed fissures in the brick.
You can hear your bones crack. A symphony of fractures. Glorious! Then, a choir of laughter. The rise and fall of a cackle. The huff of a guffaw. And lastly, a snicker.
Are you laughing? Are these voices your own?
The abyss calls and you answer. A change of scene occurs…
You wake in your bed.
In your room.
In the house that you know.
All is well.
You cracked the code.
You solved the riddle.
You now know a secret.
You have just read Deep Blue.
I give this book a rating of: Five Twisted Little People in Funny Hats.
Mad science, giant monsters, and a whole lot of severed limbs…
Things were bad when Darren lost his arm to a drunken farmer driving a stolen bulldozer the wrong way down a one-way city street. All he had left was the strange tingling sensation where his arm had been and a life that was no longer there. Now, even that is about to be stolen from him.
The foulest mad scientist the world has ever seen has plans for Darren’s phantom limb, and the limbs of all the other amputees he can attack. He is gathering them to build the greatest Frankenstein ghost ever made from phantom body parts – a SuperGhost designed to destroy the world! And it will take Darren and a ragtag band of amputation survivors to bring down the creature and save mankind from total destruction!
If there’s one thing my dad taught me, it’s that you can NEVER trust a mad scientist. You can trust an eccentric botanist, a quirky chemist, and maybe a funky geologist — but never, never, never, trust a mad scientist of any discipline.
Author Scott Cole proves my father’s lesson timeless in his fun novella SuperGhost. Scott is one of Eraserhead Press’s New Bizarro Series Authors (NBAS) for 2014 and he delivers a promising debut to the scene. This cozy story presents a classic monster movie dilemma, engaging characters, and hits some nice bizarro notes that will prove satisfying to fans of the genre as well as providing a great entry point for those that are new to the bizarro world.
As I read SuperGhost, I couldn’t help but be happily reminded of Ghostbusters (which has been mentioned in other reviews), Men in Black, and the criminally underrated David Duchovny movie, Evolution. There’s a bit of schlock but a lot of heart here. A great Saturday afternoon read.
Somebody call Jon Lithgow — because if there is one man to play the evil Dr. Rains, he’s the guy.
So last Sunday I joined over 40 authors at the Locally Grown Words Book Fair, an annual event organized by the infinitely cool, indie bookstore, Bookmark It.
This store is fighting the good fight. All indie authors, all local. Something you don’t see much these days. They are always hosting events and they have been super supportive of yours truly.
An for an author with a small but loyal following, setting up my first local book signing for PAX TITANUS under the emotional safety net of a larger event minimized the nagging fear that I think anyone who had a birthday party when he was 7 and none of the kids showed up because his birthday is during a school break so there was no way to remind anyone about the party because it was 1977 so there’s no texting or instant messaging and you’d have to call everyone to just be sure and nobody did that back then you just showed up if you said you were going to or you called with your apologies and ever since he always worries that if he throws a party that no one will show up because no one actually likes him it’s all just a big put-on.
What just happened?
Anyway. It was a stellar day. Solid Florida December weather. Cool, sunny, and dry. Many old friends, several new friends, and other familiar faces came by to pick up a copy of my crazy little book. I also gave out a bunch of kickass Pax Titanus bookmarks, explained bizarro fiction those new to the genre and I may have set up a reading event or two.
And, if you think I should stop by your town, spit some words, and shuck some books — just let me know. I’m down.
Wow. I am still processing last week’s trip to BizarroCon.
I had thought that I might have time to file a report or two from the convention, but that was a foolish notion. I was far too busy with the awesome to find time to write anything. But now that I have had a little time to jot down my thoughts…
I’m new to the Bizarro Community, so this post won’t be much about who’s who or what’s what but will stick to my personal experience at this small but powerful writing convention. As a newbie, I’m still learning about Bizarro and all it entails. In the future, I am planning to bring you along on my journey as a Bizarro author, reader, and fan. I’ll be using my blog to present great books, music, and art as I experience it.
So what is Bizarro? Its definition is somewhat wriggly, so one could simply say that Bizarro is Bizarro. That’s not very satisfying, though. Another answer is that it is a genre, just like westerns, romance, or science fiction. I think it’s best defined by exploring the books that comprise it.
It was my debut on the scene and also a handy icebreaker. For those that know me, it may come as a surprise that I don’t like to leap into a room of strangers and press the flesh. I’m actually pretty shy in a new environment. Once I am comfortable – sheesh — you can’t shut me up. Being able to say that I was one of the new authors gave me a way to introduce myself and made it considerably easier to navigate all of the new faces. There is a fair bit of excitement for the NBAS books (read more about it here) so many folks introduced themselves first, also nice for a shy guy.
Travel. It takes a full day to get from Florida to Oregon. Yes, it’s a modern miracle and all that, but still. Three-hour time difference, three-hour layover, and a delay in the flight made for 17 hours of travel. But I did arrive no worse for wear and I checked into the host hotel for BizarroCon, the Edgefield. If you come through Portland, you must stay here. It’s a unique experience.
It’s supposed to be haunted, but I didn’t see anything. That was LAME.
I caught up with some alumni of a Bizarro writing workshop I attended through LitReactor (which is how I ended up a published Bizarro author – more on this in the future), got settled, and made my way to the opening night festivities. Good stuff. What I was more excited for was the NBAS meeting, where I met fellow NBAS author Scott Cole and learned what was expected of me for the upcoming year.
In short: sell books, interact with the community, and don’t be a tool. I got the second and third all set, just have to sell the books! So yeah, pick up a copy of the ribald Bizarro science fiction that is Pax Titanus. Tell your friends. Like any author, if I can show that my books have an audience, they will be willing to listen to pitches for future books. This is a potential career maker. How much do you love me???
After the meeting, I made my way back to the room and promptly passed out.
Two exciting workshops – Plot Structure with Cody Goodfellow and Writing Dialogue with Brian Allen Carr. Both were very much worth my time, and I can’t say that about most workshops I attend.
It was at this point that I realized that I wasn’t suffering from allergies all day but in fact, I had a motherfornicating cold. AIRPLANES!!!! Hate those steel incubators.
I felt like crap but I soldiered on, undaunted.
That night was the 15th Anniversary Party for my publisher, Eraserhead Press. The Bizarro community is tight-knit and this was quite a bit deal. Being new to the scene, I could only appreciate so much, but the energy in the room was joyous and overwhelming.
I left on the early side in the hopes that a good night of sleep would kick the pain-in-the-ass sniffles I was dealing with.
Victory! I woke feeling much better!
This was a very good thing, as I had two readings to perform.
In short, the first reading was mediocre, if you are being nice. Utter shit, if you are not being nice. My second, well, that was a glorious redemption of the first and a proud and proper introduction to the Bizarro Family.
The first reading was just that – I read from a chapter of Pax Titanusand attempted (and failed) a prop joke.
The second took place during the Ultimate Bizarro Showdown – something between a talent show, poetry slam, and firing squad. (Actually, electrocution was the punishment for running over. True story. Fetish people will know the device used.)
The Showdown followed the Wonderland Awards Dinner. The Wonderland Awards are given to the best novel and best collection of the year. The winners were Garrett Cook’s Time Pimpand Brian Allen Carr’s Motherfucking Sharks. You should read both of them. Also, important to note: there was a full spread of Bizarro books for sale at the back of the room, including mine.
I had been strong-armed to participate in the Showdown and I was anxious. I had the whole convention for an audience. This would be the way most would get to meet me. What to do? I had never seen the Showdown before, so I had no idea what people do for this thing.
I was going in blind.
I decided to rely on my teaching experience and just tell a too-strange, real-life story. Best choice I could have made. If one thing my earlier “performance” had taught me – my days of reading off a page are over. I am just NO GOOD when I do that. I will have to stick with storytelling from the hip from this point forward.
The story? One from my college years, about a homeless addict friend. He had found a way to make money by letting himself be “used” by a pervert with a curious fetish. The guy liked to watch young men get perms at local Detroit hair salons. He REALLY liked to watch, if you know what I mean.
This story had been sitting in my mental archives doing nothing. It was time to release it! I could not have chosen better. In fact, they created a non-fiction category just so they could give me something. NICE.
Afterwards, all my books disappeared off the back table and I had a ton of new friends. Never underestimate the power of a great, effed-up story.
There was an after party and as I was feeling much better (sniffles be damned) I hung out and made an attempt to get to know as many Bizarros as I could.
Breakfast and the long flight home.
The convention rocked. Sure, having a book released at the event made it all that much sweeter, but as far as writing conventions go, I have not experienced better. I will be going back and back again. I’ve participated in other writing communities in the past, and none were as accepting, supportive, and friendly as the Bizarro community. These are, what I call, GOOD PEOPLE. So much talent. So much heart. You will learn much about them and their work from me.
Finally, my search for an artistic home has ended.
One of my fellow New Bizarro Author Series (NBAS) brothers, Scott Cole, is giving away this killer prize pack to support his kickass novella, SUPERGHOST.
The prize pack contains:
• 1 piece of limited-edition SuperGhost Phantom Limb Candy (only 25 exist)
• 2 different chapbooks containing a combined total of 5 short stories
• a DATES mini-comic (art by Amze Emmons)
• a SuperGhost bookmark
• Superghost stickers
• one other mystery item (this will be something random, to be determined when the package is ready to go out – could be a book, DVD, small plastic toy, or something entirely different)
Damn. That’s a lot of cool stuff.
The first five reviewers of his new book get one of these bad-to-the-bone prize packs, and one review has already been posted, so heads up.
I am pleased to announce that my new book, PAX TITANUS, is now available for purchase!!!
PAX TITANUS is the tender tale of a four-armed, war hammer wielding, intergalactic gladiator. Think comedic space opera laced with potty humor. Did you love Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but thought, hey –- this thing needs more dirty jokes?
I got ya covered! And if this doesn’t sound appealing, I bet you have a friend who would love it.
And to make the pot a little sweeter, I got a deal for you: purchase PAX TITANUS anytime this week (until Sunday 11/23) and I’ll give you a free ebook version of my first novel LEATHER TO THE CORINTHIANS. It’s DRM free and makes a lovely gift if you already own it.
Earn this valuable prize by sharing out your Amazon Purchase of PAX TITANUS on your favorite social media.
Then, MESSAGE ME at or TAG ME with my FB page — Tom Lucas (Author) — in your post and I’ll handle the rest. If you aren’t on FB, feel free to use the Contact link in the top menu to let me know.
Two for one! Gotta love America.
Thanks for your support. If PAX does well, my future looks very bright and shiny.