BOOK RADAR: “Until the Last Dog Dies” by Robert Guffey

I meet Robert Guffey over 20 years ago at the Clarion West Workshop in Seattle. His fiction is…. Take a little Pynchon, a pinch of Vonnegut, add a dash or two of Hunter S. Thompson, filter it through the aesthetic of surrealist painter Dali…and you have a Guffey story. Guffey was Bizarro before Bizarro was a thing.

His new absurdist novel, UNTIL THE LAST DOG DIES is out today. He probably wrote by hand, in his impeccable script.

Guffey

From the cover copy:

A young stand-up comedian must adapt to an apocalyptic virus affecting people’s sense of humor in this darkly satirical debut novel.

What happens when all humor is wiped off the face of the Earth?

Around the world, an unusual viral plague is striking the population. The virus attacks only one particular section of the brain. It isn’t fatal, but it results in the victim’s sense of humor being obliterated. No one is immune.

Elliot Greeley, a young stand-up comedian starving his way through alternative comedy clubs in Los Angeles, isn’t even certain the virus is real at first. But as the pandemic begins to eat away at the very heart of civilization itself, the virus affects Elliot and his close knit group of comedian friends in increasingly personal ways. What would you consider the end of the world?

Until the Last Dog Dies is a sharp, cutting satire, both a clever twist on apocalyptic fiction and a poignant look at the things that make us human.

BOOK RADAR: “Creatures of Will & Temper” by Molly Tanzer

Molly Tanzer’s new novel Creatures of Will & Temper (John Joseph Adams Books) is out this week. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Tanzer at the World Horror Convention a couple of years ago. I dipped into the book — it’s written with lush, decadent prose that recalls my muse, the late Tanith Lee.

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From the Back Copy:

Victorian London is a place of fluid social roles, vibrant arts culture, fin-de-siècle wonders … and dangerous underground diabolic cults. Fencer Evadne Gray cares for none of the former and knows nothing of the latter when she’s sent to London to chaperone her younger sister Dorina, an aspiring art critic.

At loose ends after Dorina becomes enamored with their uncle’s friend, Lady Henrietta “Henry” Wotton, a local aristocrat and aesthete, Evadne enrolls in a fencing school. There she meets George Cantrell, the kind of experienced fencing master she’s always dreamed of studying under. But soon, George shows her something more than fancy footwork—he reveals to Evadne a secret, hidden world of devilish demons and their obedient servants. George has dedicated himself to eradicating demon and diabolist alike, and now he needs Evadne’s help. But as she learns more, Evadne begins to believe that Lady Henry might actually be a diabolist … and even worse, she suspects Dorina might have become one too.

Combining swordplay, the supernatural, and Victorian high society, Creatures of Will and Temper reveals a familiar but strange London in a riff on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that readers won’t soon forget.

Book Radar: “Transcendent 2: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction,” ed. Bogi Takács

Editor Bogi Takács and Lethe Press have assembled another critically lauded anthology of speculative fiction that centers transgender characters.  It features stories from some of my favorite authors (and colleagues), as well as newer voices.

Transcendent

BACK COVER COPY:

As with the first volume of Transcendent, Lethe Press has worked with a wonderful editor to select the best work of genderqueer stories of the fantastical, stranger, horrific, and weird published the prior year. Featuring stories by Merc Rustad, Jeanne Thornton, Brit Mandelo, and others, this anthology offers time-honored tropes of the genre–from genetic manipulation to zombies, portal fantasy to haunts–but told from a perspective that breaks the rigidity of gender and sexuality.

Table of Contents:

“Because Change Was the Ocean and We Lived by Her Mercy” by Charlie Jane Anders
“Skerry-Bride” by Sonya Taaffe
“Transitions” by Gwen Benaway
​ “This is Not a Wardrobe Door” by A. Merc Rustad
“Three Points Masculine” by An Owomoyela
“The L7 Gene” by Jeanne Thornton
“Rhizomatic Diplomacy” by Vajra Chandrasekera
“The Pigeon Summer” by Brit Mandelo
“The Road, and the Valley, and the Beasts” by Keffy R. M. Kehrli
“About a Woman and a Kid” by M Eighteen Téllez
“Sky and Dew” by Holly Heisey
“The Nothing Spots Where Nobody Wants to Stay” by Julian K. Jarboe
“Lisa’s Story: Zombie Apocalypse” by Gillian Ybabez
“Happy REGARDS” by RoAnna Sylver
“The Way You Say Good-Night” by Toby MacNutt
“Her Sacred Spirit Soars” by S. Qiouyi Lu

Book Radar: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

I’m in the middle of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s mannerpunk novel in preparation for an author interview. The Beautiful Ones (St. Martin’s Press), released this week, is quite different from Moreno-Garcia’s contemporary work. I’d describe it as Vanity Fair with telekinesis. Manipulation is the major theme: of objects, and of feelings. The imaginary country the author conjures has elements of the Belle Epoque-era France; you can see the ormolu clocks, rococo architecture and hear the frou-frou rustle of silk. It’s billed as “romantic” but a Machiavellian undercurrent of social climbing runs through the novel. Plus, kudos for the allusion to a Prince song.

Beautiful Ones

 

BACK COVER COPY:

Antonina Beaulieu is in the glittering city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she will attend balls and mingle among high society in hopes of landing a suitable husband. But Antonina is telekinetic, and strange events in her past have made her the subject of malicious gossip and hardly a sought-after bride. Now, under the tutelage of her cousin’s wife, she is finally ready to shed the past and learn the proper ways of society.

But Antonina, who prefers her family’s country home to the glamorous ballrooms of the wealthy, finds it increasingly difficult to conform to society’s ideals for women, especially when she falls under the spell of the dazzling telekinetic performer Hector Auvray. As their romance blossoms, and he teaches her how to hone and control her telekinetic gift, she can’t help but feel a marriage proposal is imminent. Little does Antonina know that Hector and those closest to her are hiding a devastating secret that will crush her world and force her to confront who she really is and what she’s willing to sacrifice.

 

BOOK RADAR: “Strange Is The Night” by S.P. Miskowski

Critically acclaimed weird/horror S.P. Miskowski has a new collection out from Journalstone, called Strange Is the Night.   Miskowski has been nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award many times.

 

Strange is the Night

BACK COVER COPY:

Over cocktails an executive describes to a friend the disturbing history of a strangely potent guardian angel. A young mom tries to perfect and prolong her daughter’s childhood with obsessive parenting. A critic’s petty denouncement of an ingénue’s performance leads to a theatrical night of reckoning. A cult member makes nice for a parole board hearing years after committing an infamous crime.

A multiple Shirley Jackson Award nominee, S.P. Miskowski serves up an uncompromising collection of thirteen modern tales of desire and self-destruction. Strange is the Night offers further proof that Miskowski is—as Black Static book reviewer Peter Tennant notes—“one of the most interesting and original writers to emerge in recent years.”

Book Radar: Light Both Foreign and Domestic by Darin Bradley

My colleague Darin Bradley has a new collection of short fiction out this week– intriguingly entitled Light Both Foreign and Domestic (Underland Press). Bradley writes intellectually rigorous speculative fiction, informed by acute sociopolitical analysis and his background in literary theory. I interviewed him a few years ago.

LBFandD_full_cv

BACK COVER COPY:

Over the last decade, Darin Bradley has been dissecting the future—from the prophetic Book that heralded the arrival of Salvage Country in Noise, to the impending repossession of our education in Chimpanzee, to the harrowing world of voyeuristic terrorism in Totem. Now, with Light Both Foreign and Domestic, he presents a collection of stories that reveal the persistent light of the human spirit, no matter the harrowing darkness that presses down on us.

 

Book Radar: The Fissure King by Rachel Pollack

Rachel Pollack has a new book out, called The Fissure King (Underland Press). In addition to writing award-winning speculative fiction that centers queer and transwomen (her novel Godmother Night won the World Fantasy Award), she is one of the foremost experts on the Tarot.  Also, Pollack was one of my instructors at Clarion West over 20 years ago. I can’t wait to read this!

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From the back cover copy:

Inspired equally by the classic TV noir Western, Have Gun, Will Travel, and Vladimir Nabokov’s most daring novel, Pale Fire, multiple award-winning writer Rachel Pollack brings us the adventures of Jack Shade, occult “Traveler” and modern shaman for hire. Jack has a secret, and this hidden part of his past sends him on a journey through spells and gateways to other worlds, each one stranger than the last, filled with such figures as professional Dream Hunters, gangster magicians, an invisible spirit fox named Ray, an elegant Jinni named Archie, and the Queen of Eyes—holder of all oracular power in the world. From the high stakes poker table in the Hôtel de Rêve Noire, to the deadly Forest Of Souls, to a cave where he must trap a sixty-five thousand year old demon, Jack flows in and out of this world. Even when his own dream duplicate hires him to kill himself, Jack is mercury in motion—Jack the Nimble, Jack the Quick—until he runs out of tricks and must face his greatest fear.