Bad Moon Books 4-Pack Review

THE SCRUBS By Simon Janus Bad Moon Books ISBN: 2008; $

THE BITCHFIGHT By Michael A. Arnzen Bad Moon Books ISBN: 2008; $

PLAGUE MONKEY SPAM By Steve Vernon Bad Moon Books ISBN: 2008; $

MIRANDA By John R. Little Bad Moon Books ISBN: 2008; $

I didn’t have room to fit all of the books that publisher Roy Robbins sent me from his relatively new book line, but I loved them all so much I wanted to do something about it! So instead, I’m trying a new approach and doing a few capsule reviews instead of one longer one.

The first in the lineup is The Scrubs by Simon Janus (AKA Simon Wood). A tale of a prisoner in London’s Wormwood Scrubs prison who is forced to be part of a bizarre experiment the Govenor O‘Keefe (the term for the Warden in the UK) is conducting in the walls of the facility. Fueled by the outlawed liquor Absinthe, a serial killer’s disturbed mind creates an alternate world in which O’Keefe believes he can tame into a new virtual reality game for the masses. This is a fasinating, disturbing journey which is stated to be the first of more installments to come in the future. I’m definitely looking forward to see what’s next! Rounded out with a solid introduction by Weston Ochese and great artwork by Alan M. Clark.

The second book is Michael A. Arnzen’s The Bitchfight. A telling statement on a certain sports star’s recent incarceration for dog fighting, and the Mob’s propensity for gambling, Arnzen of course takes this realistically horrific topic and takes a left turn into Bizarro World. Michael deftly handles the issues of animals and children in horror fiction in this one. Needless to say, you’ll not look at your house pet the same way again. Brian Hodge contributes a wonderful introduction and an artist I hadn’t heard of, Caroline O’Neil supplies the artwork.

One of our feature players in this issue of DD, Steve Vernon, is batting third with Plague Monkey Spam. Also taking a bit of a turn in the land of the surreal, Steve tells the story of Horror writer Bobby Kaye, who discovers where story ideas really come from in a weird tale of computers, the internet and the fabled muse. This is another well-written, bizarre tale which Steve shows quite a knack for – especially as of late. Tim Waggoner contributes the introduction and Alan M. Clark the artwork.

Last comes what is arguably not only the best of this bunch, but probably one of the best of the year. John R. Little clocks in with Miranda, a story of time travel in a most unique way. The protagonist, Michael, finds himself waking up from a fatal heart-attack only to have his life going in reverse. He has no idea what comes before in his life as he has no memory of it. He hasn’t lived it yet technically, but in reality has. So he is destined to follow the path he is led down. And for a while it appears to be a lonely one with no family or significant other – save for his dog, Doof. Then one day everthing changes when he meets Miranda, who is traveling backward in her life as well. This is an amazingly inventive, and incredibly moving. John pulls off the whole thing marvelously and it’s a wonderful feat. This is another super-strong entry into his fiction lineup. Those of you who were lucky enough to grab copies of The Memory Tree or Placeholders know how deft John is at creating believable characters who take us along for the ride. He also seems to invoke the spirit of Rod Serling and Jack Finney and the best of the old Twilight Zone TV series. This is one you need to grab right now so don’t delay! Features a heartfelt introduction by Gary A. Braunbeck and Art by the wonderful Alan M. Clark. And a special note about the great book design by Cesar Puch (why does that name sound familiar?), who completely captured the feel of the book with a unique layout.

Overall, a very impressive lineup from Bad Moon Books. He’s been pumping them out since late last year at an impressive notch and every one of the novellas is awesome. All four of these are highly recommended!

– Reviewed by James R. Beach

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~ by darkdiscoveries on March 14, 2009.

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