Day Four of the 3rd Annual Occult Detective Awards
Four days into the Third Annual Occult Detective Awards and we’re getting down to the meat of it. As if you couldn’t tell, I read a lot. Not nearly as much as I once did, but I still managed to pore through nearly 80 books this year.
ENTOMBED by Brian Keene
“The dead are determined sons of bitches.” I’m not a fan of zombie fiction. Never have been. Doubt I ever will be. So how the hell did a “zombie novel” make it all the way to the top of the heap of novels I read this year? By being one vicious, claustrophobic, psychologically draining mother fucker, that’s how. Keene does not write elegant prose, stitching together poetic words that elevate literature. He spins a yarn that punches you in your stupid face, drags you through the blood and mud and holds your head up to a mirror and makes you take a long hard look at yourself.
TORN by Lee Thomas
Read my review of Torn HERE
Best Short Story
COME AGAIN, HALLOWEEN by Cullen Bunn
Cullen Bunn’s love letter to Hallowe’en struck just the right chord with me. It’s my favorite day of the year. Bunn’s too, I imagine. There’s a definite homage to Bradbury here, something the author readily admits in a post-story note to readers, but in the end, it’s Bunn doing what Bunn does best. There’s a true sense of loss and real heart in Come Again, Halloween, but there’s also a shovelful of dread that will satisfy anyone with a thirst for such things.
GATHERED DUST AND OTHERS by W.H. Pugmire
Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire’s collection of Lovecraft-inspired fiction is quite simply — brilliant. Pugmire is in his element, with delicious prose that pays homage to Lovecraft’s literary legacy, along with that of many other literary heroes, but the heart of these works is all his own. From “Gathered Dust”, his inspiringly provocative sequel to J.V. Shea’s “The Haunter in the Graveyard”, to his spot-on delivery of H.P. Lovecraft’s Richard Upton Pickman and Robert E. Howard’s Justin Geoffrey in “Depths of Dreams and Madness”, the author’s words are pure poetry, dripping from his pen with an alluring decadence and infernal eloquence, I wholeheartedly encourage the purchase of this collection by anyone and everyone who appreciates clever, unique, and atmospheric fiction that not only honors Lovecraft, but redefines it.
OCCULT DETECTIVE STORIES, VOL. ONE: A CAT OF NINE TALES edited by Tracy DeVore and Thaddeus Sexton
I had a hand in this one, tackling the art chores for Rookhaven Publishing and offering up an introduction of sorts, so there’s a part of me that thought I should pass A Cat of Nine Tales over as best anthology, but the heart wants what the heart wants. This one’s so bloody good. Four classic occult detective tales, from H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Algernon Blackwood, and Aleister Crowley, are joined with fresh takes from five superb storytellers — William Meikle, Greg Mitchell, Christine Morgan, Joshua Reynolds, and Steven Shrewsbury — in this outstanding collection that does the genre proud.
Best Audio Series
EDICT ZERO-FIS by Jack Kincaid and Slipgate Nine
With a deep and rich mythology and insanely compelling characters, Edict Zero-FIS is a crowning achievement in audio serials. The production values are brilliant, with a perfect marriage of sound effects, music, panning, and voice acting that makes this something really special. Best of all, the story itself is complex, labyrinthine science fiction that blends elements of a police procedural and psychological drama. Think Fringe meets NYPD Blue on the set of Blade Runner. If you’re not listening, you bloody well should be.
Best Audio Short
CLICK-CLACK THE RATTLEBAG by Neil Gaiman
My son and I gave Click-Clack the Rattlebag a listen a few days before Hallowe’en and were both equally thrilled and chilled by Neil Gaiman’s expert narration and masterful telling. Absolutely love love loved it. What a perfect seasonal treat, honoring one of my favorite causes — All Hallow’s Read.
Best Occult Detective of 2012
(The Jake Helman Files, Vol. 4 — Tortured Spirits / October 2012, Medallion Press)
Gregory Lamberson’s Jake Helman series kicks all kinds of ass. There. I said it. Personal Demons. Desperate Souls. Cosmic Forces. Tortured Spirits. And coming next year — Storm Demon. What do you need to know about Jake Helman? He’s a hard-boiled, tough as nails private investigator who so far has battled everything from demons to Lovecraftian beasties and worse. Last year, in my review of Cosmic Forces I said “Greg Lamberson is the most cinematic author writing today and The Jake Helman Files are nothing short of the most awesome movies that have not been filmed yet.” I stand by those words.
Occult Detective Classic
SPECTRE by Robert Weverka
One of my most prized possessions. My wife snagged this for me this year after I’d been searching for it since the late 70’s. Weverka’s novelization of Gene Roddenberry’s failed tv pilot is wonderfully written, capturing the spirit of the episode but adding depth to an already rich and compelling story. Occult Detective William Sebastian, a world renowned criminologist, along with his comrade in arms, Dr. Hamilton, travels to England to confront the demon Asmodeus. It really doesn’t get any better than that. The pilot is one of my favorite tv movies, and the book is more than equal to it. Hard to find, and quite costly when you do, but worth every penny.