matt moore

Book Review: Torn Realities

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I was first introduced to this anthology at Ad Astra, when Matt Moore read his story Delta Pi. After talking with a few other people online (Facebook? Twitter? Google Plus? I don't really remember anymore...) about the book, I picked up a Kindle Edition.

Torn Realities is a Lovecraft inspired anthology, with a focus on how reality twists and tears, revealing something unknowable, something malevolent, which shifts all our frames of reference. In addition to Matt's story, this anthology also includes Rawhead Rex, a story by Clive Barker. My other favourite stories in the anthology include Amsterdamned, and Hallowed Ground.

Torn Realities Cover Image

Delta Pi by Matt Moore Delta Pi was the first story I turned to, as I was already familiar with the story. As I read it, my mind echoed the punctuated rhythms of Moore's reading. Its energetic and passionate. If you ever get a chance to attend one of his readings, you should. The story itself draws upon the fears some have expressed in recent years, that a high energy particle accelerator experiment could tear the Earth apart in some recreation of the Big Bang. Moore doesn't focus on the science, but on the psychology of a researcher on the outside. Someone who accepts, nay, embraces the conclusions of a paper which other scientists have ignored as the ramblings of a madman.

Opt-in by JW Schnarr

I can see why the editors wanted to lead with this story. Today, personal, highly targeted marketing appears to be the norm. What would happen, however, if the personality targeting you was that of a loved one, since passed away? An advertisement that cannot be ignored, as you seek to keep up a link to the past. The story follows this theme down the rabbit hole, as what if two-way communication occurs, but it's not the loved one on the other side? Reading this story reminded me of the works of Philip K Dick, especially the novel Ubik, on multiple levels.

What Waits Out There by Jamie Lackey Reading this story, I was very much reminded of Nietzsche.

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you. "Beyond Good and Evil", Aphorism 146 (1886)

The terror of being alone, but sensing that something is watching.

Angkor Sabat by C. Deskin Rink

The language used in this story is excessively ornate, telling the tale of a mighty prince turned pauper as he spends his wealth and sanity in an all-consuming search of a lost lover. While most of the story seemed excessive, I found the conclusion a satisfying warning to the dangers of being blinded by obsession.

By The Side Of The Highway by Philip Roberts

Being stuck in a strange temporal loop, able to communicate in a limited way with those who pass through a small section of deserted highway would be enough to drive anyone mad.

The Art of Lucid Dreaming by C.M. Saunders

In psychological horror, what is more terrifying than the desolation of being trapped in your own dreams for eternity? Perhaps being stalked by some malevolent awareness, from beyond the darkness. I quite enjoyed this story.

Rawhead Rex by Clive Barker

A malignant creature, released from a subterranean prison after hundreds of years stalks the British countryside, seeking flesh to devour, bringing death and defiling the landscape. As the landmark reprint in the anthology, I can see why the editors wanted this story. Aside from being written by an acclaimed master of horror, it fits with the theme perfectly.

The Midnight Librarians by Brad Carter As children, we are more likely to accept the existence of monstrosities concealed in darkness. While many of the stories in the anthology have adult protagonists, Carter draws upon the forbidden secrets exposed by rebellious youth. Some tales told to frighten children may just have a basis in another reality.

The Troll That Jack Built by Kathryn Board

Internet Trolls are foul beasts, especially those who prey on others insecurities. There's a reason legislation is being drafted in many areas against cyber bullying. An evil awareness that feeds off negative Internet posts, and the pain they cause, must be a glutton in today's society.

The Calm by James S. Dorr

History repeats itself, and that is certainly true in horror stories, many of which feature the cyclical return of some creature woken from a generations long sleep. This story however, involves a village outside time, and those who come across it in the wilderness, encountering the dangerous creature that haunts the region. This story has a quite interesting monster, one of my favorites in the anthology.

Casa De Los Cadaveres by Gerard Houarner

This story was rather confusing to me. I think it was about a young man wanting to get in on the family business to make some fast money. It appears that the business is something like arcane artifact dealers, or something, and he experiences something really strange. It was hard for me to follow.

In The Shadow of the Equine by Kenneth W. Cain

Camping on an island reached by ferry sounds fun, unless you're stuck with a cult of red-eyed monsters who smell of fish.

Visions of Parin by Joseph Williams

Another great space story. Long space voyages tend to completely unhinge the mind.

Amsterdamned by Mitch Richmond

This is one of my favorite stories in the anthology. It's more subtle than some of the others, the entrapment is at a greater distance. It explores supernatural protection given to someone without their knowing, which when triggered, reveals the secret world, much like in John Carpenter's film They Live.

The Residents of Mossy Rock by Lee Davis

Mental institutions are great hooks for horror stories, as they house all sorts of crazy. But what if particular delusions are real?

A Ride in the Dream Machine by Jessica McHugh

Dreams are extensions of the subconscious mind. The best of dreams come unbidden. Trying to force the matter could be seen as an attack on the mind, with unexpected results.

The Offering by Bob Mustin

A mixture of new age mysticism and Olmec legends result in a plan to wake a slumbering god.

Hallowed Ground by Jeff Suess

A rather well executed civil war story. The author executes a some really great reversals in the story. Those who tend to the dead are not always scavengers of unpure purpose.

The Seventh Plague by Allie Marini Batts

A beautiful piece of prose-poetry regarding the burning of Florida finishes up the anthology.

 

Ad Astra 2012

I've attended Ad Astra, a Toronto science fiction convention, for several years now. As the Don Valley Parkway was closed for maintenance this weekend, the change of venue from the hotel used over the last few years was welcome.The convention floor was much more accessible, without the insane number of stairs everywhere, like at the previous convention centre. However, the venue space for vendors was insufficient. The main vendors room had four or five booksellers, including Bakka Phoenix and Chizine Publications. Other vendors had tables lining the hallways. When customers stood outside their tables, walking down the halls became difficult.

Steampunk cosplayers at Ad Astra

In addition to the Steampunk cosplayers, this year a number of vendors were selling Steampunk accessories.

The convention seemed a little emptier this year. Toronto Comicon was this weekend as well, which certainly didn't help. The programming on Saturday appeared to be hit or miss. At some times, three panels of interest were scheduled at the same time, while at others, nothing of interest was going on. Those were the times where I like to circle the vendors room, but it didn't take nearly as long this year.

Perhaps the most engaging panel was one on criticism, moderated by Adam Shaftoe. It was nice to meet him in person for the first time. It's always interesting to see who has twitter notifications enabled in a panel. After I mentioned him in a tweet, I could see him scanning the room to find me. The panelists had a good discussion, about the advantages and disadvantages of ARCs and blog monetization. The best advice was from Ryan Oakley. No, not this, but rather that reviewers shouldn't worry about the feelings of the author. Consider the work alone. Assume a certain level of professionalism on the part of all parties, and follow Wheaton's Rule: Don't be a dick.

I really enjoyed attending a few readings. Suzanne Church read from her Aurora nominated story The Needle's Eye, which was really moving. Marcy Italiano read her short story Dance at my Funeral, a great story about a final farewell. Where S

Later I attended a reading by Matt Moore, Derek Kunsken, and Marie Bilodeau, who read to an engaged audience. Matt had the other authors help read parts of his story Ascension, a story about telepathic zombies. Marie read her Aurora nominated short story The Legend of Gluck, in which a rotten skull is dragged around. Not to be outdone, Derek read from his Aurora nominated story To Live and Die in Gibbontown, which was published in Asimov's. Matt then finished off with a Lovecraft inspired story Delta Pi. The East Block Irregulars writing group is well represented by these authors.

I'm not sure which story I enjoyed best. The reading of Ascension was spectacular, and any story where the characters are monkeys will have my attention. Despite his disclaimer that this was his first public reading, Derek was funny and engaging. Finally, of you've not attended a reading by Marie, you're really missing out. A French accent and rotting sorcerer brains? A winning combination!

To wrap up the night, I attended the start of the Chizine party, where Michael Rowe graciously signed the copy of Enter, Night I picked up in the dealer's room. Chizine made out like the piratical bandits they are in the Aurora nominations, and this modern vampire novel, set in northern Ontario in the 1970s, was one of them. All too soon, I had to depart. It was a good day, and it was nice to see everyone again.

Aurora Award Finalists

The finalists for the Prix Aurora Awards has now been announced. While I've only read two of the nominated works for Best English Novel so far, (Under Heaven, by Guy Gavriel Kay, and Watch, by Robert J. Sawyer), I've read the previous two novels in the series by Hayden Trenholm (nominated for Stealing Home, previous novels reviewed are Defining Diana and Steel Whispers.), and have attended readings by Sawyer, Trenholm and Marie Bilodeau for their nominated works.

I'm also pleased that Suzanne Church (a writer here in the Waterloo Region),  Matt Moore, and Hayden Trenholm are finalists for Best English Short Story. Sawyer is also a finalist for Best English Poem, as are Carolyn Clink, and Helen Marshall.

Douglas Smith (of whom I've mentioned the story Radio Nowhere from the Campus Chills anthology) has a nomination for Best English Related work for his collection of stories (Chimerascope), and John Robert Columbo and Brett Alexander Savory are finalists for the Tesseracts Fourteen anthology.

There's a good article in the Metro News about an Ottawa based group of writers named the East Block Irregulars which includes Trenholm, Moore and Bilodeau which shows how a great group can challenge writers to excel. All of the members of the group have reason to be proud of these accomplishments.

Matt Moore holding Steel Whispers

A photo of SF writer Matt Moore holding his colleague Hayden Trenholm's novel Steel Whispers. Both Moore and Trenholm are nominated for Best English Short Story.