How I Spent October 2021

October was a busy month for me. I didn’t get as much blogging done as I would’ve liked, but I finished a round of revisons on my novel (which should be publically announced over the next couple of months) and also made headway on A Long Year’s Dreaming amongst other projects.

Articles of mine published elsewhere this month:

Article topics for November and beyond:

October 2021: A Month in Horror

A horror icon returned in style this month with the debut of the Chucky television series. Three episodes have aired so far, and already it’s picking up quite a bit of buzz. Steven Scaife’s review for Slant is typical of the more positive responses  directed at the series:

The show’s most surprising angle is that, while we understand and sympathize with Jake’s situation, he’s not all that hard to sway toward violence. He’s full of anger and pain that he hasn’t learned how to deal with except through art nobody seems to like. Chucky retains a lot of the silly humor inherent to the premise of a surly killer doll, but it can also be quite unsettling as it depicts Jake slowly goaded into violence against his classmates.

Naturally, we had a number crop of horror films on release, although admittedly they’ve been somewhat overshadowed by Dune. Personally, I’m most eager to see Last Night in Soho and Antlers. Halloween Kills also came out, and accurately recreated the completely pointless slasher sequels of the eighties and nineties. Horror-adjacent releases include Venom 2 and The Addams Family 2. According the RottenTomatoes the latter film is even worse than Halloween Kills, although I personally found it to be an amusing kidflick.

Fans of Ramsey Camobell were pleased to see DMR Books republish Far Away & Never, a collection of heroic fantasy novels that’s been out of print for a quarter century. Creepypasta got anotehr boost in the mainstream courtesy of a Financial Times article. The people behind Stygian Sky Media have announced that they will be publishing Joe Lansdale’s memoir The Mechanic’s Son. Oh, yes — and Joyce Carol Oates went viral for a bizarrely po-faced tweet about plastic skeletons.

In Memoriam

AOn October 13, Andrea Haugen (alias Nebelhexë) was one of five people killed in a bow-and-arrow attack in Norway. Her musical career, which was influenced by paganism, is documented by the Encyclopaedia Metallum. Her written work includesbooks on mythology, such as The Ancient Fires of Midgard. Multiple online sources, possibly derived from an uncited claim on Wikipedia, assert that she wrote scripts for horror films. I have been unable to find any evidence of these scripts having been produced, although she did express interest in writing for the screen.

HACKERGIRL: Available to Read Online

Doris V. Sutherland InternetPromo

Red Cape Publishing has been posting daily horror stories on its blog throughout October, including one story from each of its A-Z of Horror anthologies. I’m flattered to say that my story “Hackergirl” was chosen to represent I is for Internet, and can be read in its entirety here. If you enjoy it, then why not pick up the complete anthology for twelve more online horrors?

Werewolf Wednesday: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 17

Chapter 45 opens what is officially the second part of Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf, although Reynolds didn’t exactly choose a natural break in the story: this is the second chapter of a new plot thread involving Alessandro’s meeting with a beautiful Turkish woman. The novel plunges headlong into Arabian Nights territory with its description of the woman’s exotic attire:

Half seated, half lying upon cushions of scarlet brocade, the glossy bright hue of which was mellowed by the muslin spread over it, appeared the beauteous creature whose image was so faithfully delineated in his memory. She was attired in the graceful and becoming dualma, a purple vest which set close to her form, and with a species of elasticity shaped itself so as to develop every contour.

But in accordance with the custom of the clime and age, the dualma was open at the bosom, sloping from each lovely white shoulder to the waist, where the two folds joining, formed an angle, at which the purple vest was fastened by a diamond worth a monarch’s ransom. The sleeves were wide, but short, scarcely reaching to the elbow, and leaving all the lower part of the snowy arms completely bare. Her ample trousers were of purple silk, covered with the finest muslin, and drawn in tight a little above the ankles, which were naked. On her feet she wore crimson slippers cut very low, and each ornamented with a diamond. Round her person below the waist she wore a magnificent shawl, rolled up, as it were, negligently, so as to form a girdle or zone, and fastened in front with two large tassels of pearls.

Diamond bracelets adorned her fair arms; and her head-dress consisted of a turban or shawl of light but rich material, fastened with golden bodkins, the head of each being a pearl of the best water. Beneath this turban, her rich auburn hair, glowing like gold in the light of the perfumed lamps, and amidst the blaze of diamonds which adorned her, was parted in massive bands, sweeping gracefully over her temples and gathered behind the ears, then falling in all the luxuriance of its rich clustering folds over the cushion whereon she reclined. Her finger-nails were slightly tinged with henna, the rosy hue the more effectually setting off the lily whiteness of her delicate hand and full round arm.

But no need had she to dye the lashes of her eyes with the famous kohol, so much used by Oriental ladies, for those lashes were by nature formed of the deepest jet—a somewhat unusual but beauteous contrast with the color of her hair. The cheeks of the lovely creature were slightly flushed, or it might have been a reflection of the scarlet brocade of the cushion on which, as we have said, she was half-seated, half-lying, when Alessandro appeared in her presence

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 17″

Werewolf Week: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 16

ReynoldsMiscChapter 43 of Wagner the Wehr-Wolf opens with werewolf Wagner and bandit-chief Stephano looking on as Lady Nisida is caught in the coils of an anaconda. This turns out to be a Solomon-and-the-baby test for the two men, each of whom are after Nisida’s affections: Stephano responds by running away while Wagner valiantly slays the serpent.

The two lovers then begin talking, which surprises Wagner as Nisida has supposedly been deaf-mute for the entirety of the story. She admits that her disability was all an act, one maintained since she was fifteen years old. Why? Well, apparently some “solemnly grave and strongly important” forced her to spend ten years pretending to be deaf-mute as penance.

After a short scuffle with Stephano — who makes a last-ditch effort to take Nisida for himself, only to end up drowned — the couple set about building a cottage on the island using material from the shipwreck. An idyllic scene, although the reader will presently be wondering what will happen when that-time-of-the-month arrives for our lycanthropic anti-hero.

Continue reading “Werewolf Week: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 16″

Werewolf Week: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 15

So, Fernand Wagner has decided to set off to sea to rescue the shipwrecked Nisida, and Chapter 40 opens by addressing the practicality of his mission:

The reader may perhaps be surprised that Fernand Wagner should have been venturous enough to trust himself to the possibilities of a protracted voyage, since every month his form must undergo a frightful change—a destiny which he naturally endeavored to shroud in the profoundest secrecy. But it must be recollected that the Mediterranean is dotted with numerous islands; and he knew that, however changeable or adverse the winds might be, it would always prove an easy matter to make such arrangements as to enable him to gain some port a few days previously to the close of the month.

As it happens, Wagner’s biggest problem at sea is not his lycanthropy but the weather. His ship runs into a storm and he finds himself stranded on an island, where his thoughts turn to Nisida: “Nisida would be the island queen; she should deck herself with these flowers, which her fair hands might weave into wildly fantastic arabesques!” (a remarkably accurate description of what we’ve already seen Nisida getting up to).

Continue reading “Werewolf Week: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 15″

Werewolf Week: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 14

ReynoldsMiscChapter 36 sees Fernand Wagner finally put on trial for murder — a murder which, ironically, this man-eating werewolf didn’t actually commit. The trial is an awkward one. He is asked what relation he had to the victim; Agnes; but the truth — that she was his granddaughter, but he had supernaturally rejuvenated himself so as to appear roughly the same age — is hardly something he can admit to in court. his case looks still more suspicious when it turns out that he owns a portrait of Faust; given the story’s period setting, Faust’s antics are still within living memory. (Incidentally, Faust is referred to as the Count of Aurana: is this Reynolds’ own addition to the legend?)

Then comes the resolution to one of the novel’s longstanding mysteries. The portrait that Wagner kept covered with a black cloth is brought into the court,and “the usher who had removed the covering recoiled with a cry of horror, as his eyes obtained a glimpse of the picture which was now revealed to view.” The result is delicious:

For, oh! the subject of that picture was indeed awful to contemplate! It had no inscription, but it represented, with the most painful and horrifying fidelity, the writhings and agonizing throes of the human being during the progress of transformation into the lupine monster. The countenance of the unhappy man had already elongated into one of savage and brute-like shape; and so admirably had art counterfeited nature, that the rich garments seemed changed into a rough, shaggy, and wiry skin! The effect produced by that picture was indeed of thrilling and appalling interest!

“A Wehr-Wolf!” had exclaimed one of the assistant judges: and while the voices of several of the male spectators in the body of the court echoed the words mechanically, the ladies gave vent to screams, as they rushed toward the doors of the tribunal. In a few moments that part of the court was entirely cleared.

Continue reading “Werewolf Week: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 14”

Werewolf Week: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 13

ReynoldsMiscChapter 34 of Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf returns us to the bandit Stephano. Having rescued two women from the sadistic nuns, he now turns his attention back to another task: rescuing Wagner from the dungeon, at the behest of the latter’s lover Nisida. However, he has mixed feelings. Having become captivated by Nisida’s “almost supernatural majesty of beauty”, he sees Wagner as a rival. (If he knew Wagner was a werewolf, that might well have given him another reason to pause for thought).

Indeed, the bandit becomes so captivated with Nisida (“Stephano could almost have fallen on his knees to worship and adore her. But, oh! what lovely skins do some snakes wear!—and into what charming shapes does satan often get!”) that he conspires with some fellow brigands to adapt her.

Meanwhile, Fernand Wagner (yes, the title character has finally returned to the narrative) paces about his dungeon cell until he is confronted by a fearful apparition:

Continue reading “Werewolf Week: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 13″

Werewolf Week: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 12

ReynoldsMiscChapter 32 of Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf returns to bandit-chief Stephano and company’s attempts to rescue Flora and Giulia from the clutches of the sadistic nuns. Their mission is interrupted by the tolling of a bell by “an old nun, who, for some dreadful misdeed committed in her youth, had voluntarily consigned herself to the convent of the Carmelites”. Regaining their composure after hearing this alarm, the band go ahead with chucking the two sadistic nuns who know of their presence (Sister Alba and an unnamed abbess) into a dungeon cell to rot. Manuel, Giulia’s lover, objects to this; but Stephano overrules him.

The alarm turns out to have roused the local sbirri, who get into a fight with the bandits (Piero, a character given a name only in the previous chapter, is killed: “he fell back again, and expired with the name of Carlotta upon his tongue”). Finally, the convent catches fire (apparently due to a lantern dropped in the confusion) and the subterranean chamber collapses, burying all those who failed to escape in time.

Continue reading “Werewolf Week: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 12″