The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack



Occult-tober Review: The Blonde Goddess of Tikka-Tikka by Chris L. Adams

Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 20, 2019 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Occult-tober continues with Blonde Godess of Tikka-Tikka by Chris L. Adams.

Adams continues his homage to the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s with this quick novella about an adventurer who would fit well into a story by Robert E. Howard. The problem he encounters, however, is all H.P. Lovecraft and Adams does a very good job of building suspense as ancient horrors return to the earth. This is a fast moving tale which you’ll want to read in one sitting. There’s a tiny twist at the end of the story that gives some well-appreciated justification to the villains’ actions. Rumor has it that a sequel is nearing completion and l'm one of the fans shouting: "Write faster, Mr. Adams!"

Occult-tober Review: Ferocious by Jeff Strand

Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 17, 2019 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)

At the heart of Occult-tober is the slow creeping terror that comes from a really scary situation. Jeff Strand's, Ferocious, catches this feeling perfectly as you can see from my review below:

There are few genres in which characterization is more important than the horror genre. If you don’t care about the people to whom terrible things are happening, it’s hard to care deeply about the book. When I picked up Ferocious by Jeff Strand, I was a little bit worried about his ability to pull off the characters mentioned in the blurb—a recluse raising his niece off the grid in the middle of the wilderness. It seemed quite likely the author would slip into caricatures as he wrote about a zombie apocalypse in the backwoods. I could not have been more wrong. In the very first chapter he establishes Rusty Moss as both a hard man who hates people and someone that you absolutely have to love. In the next chapter he establishes Rusty’s niece, Mia, just as credibly. And this father-daughter style team will capture your heart as they struggle to survive one of the weirdest twists on the zombie apocalypse that I have ever read.

Strand is a master at building tension—not only with the ever-growing level of danger but with the very credible mistakes that Rusty and Mia make throughout the novel. They never do anything stupid, but many of their plans and reactions go badly awry. This makes them remarkably human as they deal with a horror they can’t quite believe is really happening to them.

One of the best distinguishing features of this novel is the vast array of zombie creatures that threaten Rusty and Mia. Strand has really thought out the strengths and weaknesses of the various undead forest animals so there is never a point in which the action gets routine. Even the smallest animals are dangerous and this gives the novel a decidedly different flavor from every other zombie story I have read.

Finally, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the vocal talents of narrator Scott Thomas. It’s not an easy thing for a man to craft a believable voice for a seventeen-year-old girl, but Thomas pulled it off and without his ability to do this, the audio book would not have worked nearly as well. He also catches the humor and affection in the back and forth banter of Rusty and Mia. His narration takes an excellent story and gives it that extra touch of magic to finish bringing it to life.

Review: Omega Deep by Christopher Cartwright

Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 15, 2019 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Omega Deep by Christopher Cartwright is a book that puts the “thrill” in thriller. It’s filled with near-future tech, a great mystery, and plenty of action. This is my first venture into this series, and while the novel is obviously entwined in things that happened before, while setting the scene for books to come, I didn’t have any trouble at all jumping into the action. The book stands alone well and has me very curious about what’s coming next. You can read my review here:

Occult-tober Review: At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft

Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 13, 2019 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Hard to think of a better Occult-tober author than H.P. Lovecraft. His stories have been inspiring scary stories for decades. Here's my review of his At the Mountains of Madness:

I think it’s important to start this review by recognizing how tremendously influential Lovecraft in general and At the Mountains of Madness is in particular has been. He basically created and popularized the whole Things Man Was Not Meant to Know subgenre of horror / fantasy / sf or whatever it really is. The Elder Gods threatening the very sanity of the planet comes from Lovecraft and not only do his motifs show up rather blatantly in works like Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October as well as more recent series like John Ringo’s Special Circumstances and Larry Correia’s Monster Hunters International, I suspect that you would never have gotten a TV show like the X-Files without Lovecraft.

So Lovecraft is hugely influential (the World Fantasy Award used to be a bust of Lovecraft) but that doesn’t mean that he’s an easy author to read. Most of the problem is that he was writing in the 1920s and 1930s and his fiction style comes off as slow moving and dated. At the Mountains of Madness takes the form of a narrative account of a disastrous expedition to Antarctica written long after the expedition’s survivors returned with the hope of dissuading the next expedition from beginning. It is filled with long and impressive descriptions of the geology of the continent and the remarkable discovery of a series of fossils the like of which have never been seen on the planet. Isolated from the rest of the world the scientists begin to discover that a wholly unanticipated species inhabited the earth tens of millions of years ago and the more they discover about this early life form the more horrific the story becomes.

And yet, while it is definitely creepy and Lovecraft has many subtle tricks to increase the reader’s understanding that things are going badly wrong, it is still a very slow moving story thanks to the narrative style. Today this book would have been written as a third person narrative following the expedition in “real time” and the action scenes that are quickly summarized in the original would have been fleshed out to play a much more significant role in the book, but that’s not how Lovecraft wrote and I think it makes the book harder to approach for today’s readers.

I listened to an audio version of the novella narrated extremely well by Edward Hermann who did a masterful job of bringing the text to life, but even so it remains a slow moving story. That being said, I still highly recommend it due to its influence over the decades since it was published.

Occult-tober Review: On a Winter's Eve by Chris L. Adams

Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 13, 2019 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

On a Winter's Eve is a classic tale by Chris L. Adams that first perfectly with the Occult-tober theme. Here's my review:

This short story is flat out creepy. In it Adams consciously adopts the style of the pulp writers of the 1930s and 1940s and is so successful that you wouldn’t be surprised to learn this was a lost work of H.P. Lovecraft. The tension builds slowly as the other-worldly threat first makes itself known and then begins its haunting attacks on a family living far from civilization in wooded, snow-covered mountain lands. Since the story is told from a first person perspective years after the event, you know the narrator is going to survive, but it doesn’t feel that way as the danger mounts and the body count expands. This one will linger with you and give you second thoughts about looking out the window to watch the snow.

Review: Paragon by Riley Tune

Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 13, 2019 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Looking for a superhero series with a lot of potential? Take a look at Paragon by Riley Tune. You can read my review here:

Spirits of the Western Wild by David Schaub and Roger Vizard

Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 12, 2019 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (2)

Looking for a story you can share with your children? You should take a look at Spirits of the Western Wild by David Schaub and Roger Vizard. It’s a wonderful, fully dramatized tale of the Wild West that’s enjoyable by people of all ages. You can check out my review here:

The Reaper of Iremia by Kenneth Rocher

Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 10, 2019 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Looking for a new epic fantasy novel? Take a look at Kenneth Rocher's The Reaper of Iremia. It's got one of the coolest magic items I've ever come across in it. You can read my review here:

Review: Dads vs. Zombies by Benjamin Wallace

Posted by Gilbert Stack on September 29, 2019 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Dads vs. Zombies is the funniest zombie apocalypse novel I’ve ever read, even surpassing Night of the Living Trekkies. It’s so good I was sad to finish it. My teenaged son even started listening to the audio book with me. If you like zombie stories, you should check out my review here:

Review: District Witch 1976 by Mel Enderby

Posted by Gilbert Stack on September 26, 2019 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (0)

District Witch 1976 by Mel Enderby is a urban fantasy set in England. It's got a great setting. You can see my review here: