Clamoring Toward 2001 (Mania.com)
Date: Friday, December 22, 2000
Lucky 13 Black Cat Candle
Ever burn a Lucky 13 Black Cat candle? You can get them at your local occult supply store or any hipster shop in, say, Silverlake, Santa Monica, or Los Feliz (all California, natch). I get them at Botanica St. Anthony in old downtown Gardena. They're good for just about anything, including luck in gambling, luck in business, love, etc. Before it became a bad luck symbol, 13 was a good luck symbol. Hey, why else are all those 13's on our paper money, hmmm? Well, this is my 13th columnthe last of year 2000, the last of the decade, the last of the century, the last of the millenniumand I'm going to have fun with it if it kills me, and it just may.
Two of our previously mentioned tomes are now out in paperback: Wes Craven's Fountain Society is available in your basic pocket-sized paperback, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's next-to-latest Saint-Germain novel, Communion Blood, is out in nice trade paperback. Something affordable for the holidaze.
New this week and always a sure bet for the horror fan on your gift list is the 2000 volume of The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, edited by Stephen Jones. He's got a 67-page intro that reviews 1999 in horror rather thoroughly, and then there are stories by folks we like, including Steve Rasnic Tem, Peter Straub, Kim Newman, T.E.D. Klein, etc. This is a trade-type paperback volume so it's not expensive, either.
Brian Lumley has a new book in his Necroscope series. titled Defiler, it's a new one in this series that fuses horror and SF. In the novel Jake Cutter is reluctantly learning how to be a Necroscopesomeone with the ability to use the Mobius continuum to move instantaneously from one place to the other andoh, yeahtalk to the dead as well. There are vampires from outer space, mobsters, metamorphs and all kinds of stuff in this novel. Since I never manage to get in at the beginning of a series, perhaps a visit to Lumley's website, www.brianlumley.com, is in order.
Got two gorgeous books in the mail from Stealth Press: The Light at the End, Skipp and Spector's vampire novel, which was their first collaboration and I say their best; and Morningstar, by Peter Atkins, which is in its first North American hardcover edition. Morningstar is a combination of serial killer novel and supernatural horror novel. Watch for an interview with Peter Atkins and a more thorough discussion of this novel.
But my absolute favorite novel out right now is Santa Steps Out by Robert Devereaux. Yeah, there's a big stack of them on display at Borders in the horror section, and rightly so. Devereaux is a professorial type with the heart of a splatterpunk, and you ain't seen nothin' till you've read this book. In it there's a war in heaven; God's archangels are starting to remember their true identities: Michael is Hermes, Gabriel is Apollo, etc. Meanwhile, back on earth, we meet the Tooth Fairy, who is having sex on the beach (the real thing, not the drink) with a dead sailor. When she catches up with Santa Claus, he starts to remember his early days as a fertility god, and then all hell breaks loose. This is a very funny, very sick, very explicit novel, and it is highly recommended for anyone who is as sick of holiday schmaltz (the false sentiment, not chicken fat) as I am.
Here's a book for the Star Trek fan on your list, and you know you have at least one on there. Before I mention it, does anyone out there remember a bunch of religious nuts that crossed Christianity with Star Trek and called themselves the Star Trek Saints? I seem to recall finding some of their tracts at a rest stop somewhere in central California, probably the same rest stop Dennis Etchison writes about in a really scary story. (What the hell is the name of that story, anyway?) Back to the book: Written by philosophy professor Judith Barad, Phd., and pop culture expert Ed Robertson, The Ethics of Star Trek poses such pertinent questions as, 'If the Prime Directive is so inviolable, why does Capt. Kirk always break it?'; 'Does absolute power corrupt absolutely, or, what would you do if you were Q?'; and my favorite, 'What would it mean if, deep down, everyone is a Ferengi?' The book covers such issues as cultural relativism, morality, and Kant's dictum that only our intentions, and not the outcome of our actions, matter. Well, Dr. Barad even teaches a class on the philosophy of Star Trek. I don't know about you, but I have to read this book. Somebody slap me, please!
I'm happy to say that Ohio University Press has published a book for the Lovecraft fan who doesn't have time to read several volumes of his letters (which are available from Arkham House). Lord of a Visible World: an Autobiography in Letters by H.P. Lovecraft, is a selection of his letters on various important topics edited by the preeminent Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz. The book does not sugarcoat Lovecraft or his prejudices, and categorizes his letters by subjects such as 'Romance with Sonia,' 'Lovecraft as Mentor,' 'Weird Fiction: Theory and Practice,' etc. Of marriage, Lovecraft says that it 'should aim at permanence but should not be bound to it.' So, then, why did you never sign Sonia's divorce decree, hmmm, Ech-P-El? Lovecraft's prejudices seem almost quaint nowadays...hey wait, what's this about a 'clamorous plague of French Canadians'? Quel horreurs! Anyway, a fine book for people who don't have time or inclination to read all of HPL's letters.
And if you want to go farther with your voodoo than just Lucky 13 Black Cat candles, read spanking-new Vodou Visions by Sallie Ann Glassman. Subtitled 'An Encounter with Divine Mystery,' Glassman makes Haitian Vodou comprehensible for an American audience. She also mixes Santeria, yoga, and ceremonial magick into the mix, as these are her specialties as well. And anyone who says this is not a 'pure' treatment of voodoo doesn't understand the nature of this very syncretous beast. Glassman is also the illustrator of two tarot decks, The Enochian Tarot and The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot.
Keep Watching the Skies!
Ever hear of that cat in Arizona who's been hit on the head twice by meteorites? Oh well. Anyway, asteroid no.14969 will be named for Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather. The International Astronomical Union made the decision to name the asteroid after this great American writer.
Finally, something to do while waiting for the Visitors: Whitley Strieber's script for The Last Vampire was bought by Hollywood for a six-figure sum. The novel of the same name will be published by Pocket in 2001.
Douglas Clegg's novel The Infinite will be the first hardcover horror novel by Leisure Books in 2001. There's also an interview with Doug in the free Inscriptions e-newsletter. Check their site: www.inscriptions.com.
Dean Koontz continues to bulldoze the competition. The paperback version of his novel False Memory is in the #2 position according to the Publisher's Weekly bestseller list. Bantam will publish his next novel, From the Corner of His Eye, on Dec. 26. 500,000 copies of it. That's a lot of trees. Yikes.
One for the Canopic Jars
As mentioned above, this is my last column for 2000. There will be no Library Vault next week due to my gallbladder surgery on Dec. 26. As we learned a few weeks ago from Dr. Bob Brier, during mummification the Egyptians removed the vital organs and placed them in vessels called canopic jars. I asked the nurse at my pre-admittance interview if mine can be returned to me for this purpose once the pathologist is done with it. She said, 'Well, people do ask for their gallstones...but the whole gallbladder? I don't know. You'll have to ask the surgeon.' So we'll see. Happy Holidays!