“Dark Screams: Volume One” edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar (Hydra, 2014)

Dark Screams Volume 1
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Ebooks have and are continuing to change the way we read books, with shorter chapters and a growing popularity in short stories, ideal for reading on your particular ereader on the go just about anywhere. When it comes to horror, you want to make sure you find a good story to enjoy, and the first volume of Dark Screams features some big names in the genre and at a very reasonable price.

The opening story and high-point of the collection, “Weeds” by one Stephen King, is about a meteor that crashes to the earth and the weedy alien life upon it begins to grow in this world as well as on one of its inhabitants. The next story keeps the thrill and chill going with “The Price You Pay” by Kelley Armstrong about the price of debts, and how some can never be repaid.

Sadly, the collection goes downhill from there with the remaining three stories from Bill Pronzini, Simon Clark and Ramsey Campbell doing little to stimulate the mind and are just dark and don’t really go anywhere whether it’s about a strange member of an asylum or a doomed person trapped in a chamber of torture. Nevertheless, Dark Screams: Volume One is worth the read for a reader looking to experiment in the genre.

Originally written on December 8, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Dark Screams: Volume One from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Upcoming Bookbanter Ebook Giveaway

Starting May 13th, I will running an ebook giveaway for that week for a chance to win a Kindle ebook copy of Pirates of Pensacola by Keith Thomson.  The giveaway will run from Monday, May 13th to Sunday, May 19th.  On the following Monday, May 20th, I will announce the winner.  To enter, you simply have to leave a comment on the giveaway post that will go up on Monday, May 13th.  So mark your calendars!

And here’s some more info about Pirates of Pensacola:

Praise for Pirates of Pensacola:

“A swashbuckling parody, Pirates of Pensacola is a fine, breezy read filled with laugh-out-loud scenes and high seas drama.” —Richard Zacks, bestselling author of The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd

“With rum, eye patches, peg legs, and a wisecracking parrot in need of a twelve-step program, Pirates of Pensacola blends all the conventions of the pirate genre and creates a novel of comic genius and originality. Keith Thomson is a shrewd and funny writer with a big future ahead of him.” —Linda Fairstein, New York Times bestselling author

“Set in modern times, Pirates of Pensacola follows our poor, nebbishly accountant hero into a life of waterlogged crime on the high seas. [Keith Thomson is the] best emerging comic novelist for a good long while, with touches of classic Rafael Sabatini and the most imaginative Hiaasen.”
—Jeff Danziger, political cartoonist with The New York Times syndicate and author of Rising Like The Tucson

Pirates of Pensacola simultaneously thrills and endears itself with every explosively charged page.” —Richard Rushfield, author of On Spec

Reviews for Pirates of Pensacola:

“With its various oceangoing lowlifes, swashbuckling heroics and quirky humor, Pirates of Pensacola reads like a collaboration between Robert Louis Stevenson, Dave Barry and Douglas Adams after a night on the town.” —The Oregonian

“[Thomson] writes fluid, vivid prose, good dialogue and first-rate action scenes.” —The Washington Post

“Thomson’s beguiling, energetic debut. Crowned with buccaneer vernacular, plenty of colorful extras and a feel-good ending, it’s a vivid adventure tale befitting the high seas of Hollywood.” —Publishers Weekly

“Thomson’s rollicking debut, a tall, fanciful tale…throws us headlong into a world of peg-legged sea dogs and hidden treasure.” —Kirkus

“Thomson mixes a hodgepodge of odd characters, varieties of pirate-speak, and a short history of buccaneers in the area of the Caribbean into an oddball story replete with humor, love, and lots of adventure. There’s lots of swashbuckling action; a romance; and a scene-stealing, rum-seeking parrot. Fun, entertaining, and light, the story produces lots of smiles and more than a few laughs. —School Library Journal, Adult/High School, by Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

“Brilliantly clever and funny, Keith Thomson has done a remarkable job creating a world that will ring familiar to many pirate enthusiasts. It’s a fascinating, edgy, wonderful glimpse at the pirate utopia of our dreams.” —Pirates and Privateers (cindyvallar.com)

“Devilishly charming and a real pirate treat.” —The Jolly Roger Pirate Journal

“Long Eyes and Other Stories” by Jeff Carlson (Kindle Edition, 2011)

Long Eyes and Other Stories
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Jeff Carlson, bestselling author of the Plague Year trilogy, returns with another cheaply priced and great collection of three original and captivating science fiction stories, showing the true breadth and ability of this great writer.

The first story, “Long Eyes,” is a great example of Carlson at his best, presenting a most unique character in Clara who is a humanoid suspended in cradle of gel and splice-wire in a symbiotic relationship with the spaceship that she controls, feeling everything it feels.  After traveling across the stars for six hundred years she discovers a planet with some very strange creatures that look to be distant descendants of humans who have evolved into primordial, gremlin-like beings.

In “Pressure” Carlson messes around with the human genome, presenting a character that has been genetically modified to live and exist beneath the waves for research to study the oceans, mapping the sea floors and going further than science has ever gone before, as well as looking to develop new forms of energy production.  In return Carlos is given a large sum of money to support his wife and children, but the research project will take two years and his wife isn’t sure his children will even recognize him when he’s done.   But as Carlos begins his journey beneath the waves, he soon discovers that with the many wonders there are also just as many dangers.

The last story in the collection, “Planet of the Sealies,” is set in the distant future and the world we know is a very changed place.  There are now families of clones living close to the pole, with some groups traveling the globe in search of resources.  Carlson has fun as these explorers find relics of the past that have survived in a form that means little to these people, but is all too familiar to readers.  It is a harsh tough world where these new people have to stick together to survive.

In Long Eyes and Other Stories, Jeff Carlson pushes the horizon of the imagination further, playing around with the concept of the human being and changing it into something it couldn’t or perhaps shouldn’t be and then reveals the possible repercussions of these changes.  For such a great deal, this collection packs a lot of adventure and entertainment; the ultimate bang for your buck!

Originally written on May 5, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box” by Mira Grant (Kindle Edition, 2011)

Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box
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After the success of Feed, fans will be experiencing the impatient excruciating wait leading up to the release of the sequel, Deadline (due out May 31), with little to do but twiddle their page-turning fingers.  Thankfully, Mira Grant and Orbit with the Orbit Short Fiction series have presented us fans with a brief respite; a kernel of entertainment in the form of a short story, “Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box,” from the author as we count down the days to the final Deadline.

Friends are good; friends are special; friends are important.  And what’s better than bringing a bunch of friends together than a game; a game they’ve been playing for years.  But it’s not your ordinary game: the challenge is to come up with the ultimate apocalypse scenario, which began with the idea to “. . . figure out how to destroy the world.”  The group meets every Friday, for the last fifteen years, each of the members taking turns to come up with a way to end of the world, each being more nefarious and evil than the previous one.  And now it is time for the six hundred and eighty-third scenario, only Cole is unable to attend for some reason, and instead she has sent a digital recording of her scenario.   As the group listens to the step by step instructions of Cole’s latest scenario, fear begins to creep through each member of the group as the description starts to seem a little too close to reality.

Grant’s short story is just the perfect dish to hold back the appetite of those fans anxiously awaiting the release of Deadline; readers will not be disappointed with “Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box.”

Originally written on May 5, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

“The Frozen Sky” by Jeff Carlson (Kindle Edition, 2010)

Frozen Sky
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In Jeff Carlson’s ebook novella, The Frozen Sky (available on Kindle), he takes on the genre of hard science fiction, taking readers to that distant moon of Jupiter, Europa, where there are frozen seas and oceans, but beneath the possibility of alien life.

Carlson uses a great storytelling method of short chapters and jumping back and forth.  In the present our main character is dealing with the alien life that exists beneath the ice, trying her best to stay alive using her futuristic spacesuit that works practically as a fully-servicing vehicle along with the downloaded knowledge and abilities of her dead colleague.  Carlson throws in the details here and there of great scifi tech without bogging the story down or confusing the reader.  In alternate chapters, the reader is taken back to different periods in time, when the main characters first set foot on Europa, what they hoped to find and what they actually found, which were very different things.

In less than sixty pages, Carlson skillfully manages to tell a great story, present some possible ancestry to these alien creatures, put in a bunch of cool technology that makes sense and is believable.  To top it all off, he  manages to send the message of when we do finally start traveling to the stars, we better be sure we’re fully prepared for everything we might come up against, and that maybe we should look and think before we leap into that mysterious hole in the ground on an alien planet.

Originally written on April 10, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.