Book Review: Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, by Paul Tremblay

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It’s easy to see why some dislike this book. It’s much less of a spooky horror novel and much more of a family tragedy as they try to cope with the disappearance of 14 year old Tommy. It eschews a definite supernatural angle or clear plot direction and instead relies on emotional trauma and very acute depictions of grief. Which is why this book (that I’m fortunate enough to have a signed copy of) works.

The emotional ripples that the Sanderson family endures are sharp, subtle, and devastating brutal. I’m not a parent, but reading this book is probably the closest I’ll (hopefully) come to know what it’s like to have a child go missing. Tremblay lets us sink into the grief and confusion and bewilderment inch by tortuous inch. The ending is just nuanced enough to let us guess, but for those paying attention there’s a tragic underlying that I’ve never really seen done before.

My preference is for horror novels to dial up the creepy and visceral imagery up several notches, and I expect many readers will be disappointed the book doesn’t do that. But given the choice of tools Tremblay uses, he’s outdone himself. If minimalist, quiet horror is your thing, plunge into this one.

 

4/5

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Traveling, Euro-holiday and Nineworlds

If you haven’t seen me online much, it’s because I’ve been traveling. I had a fantastic six week holiday across Europe, starting at Poland and gradually moving West, to Germany, France, England, Scotland and Isle of Skye (I know it’s not a separate country but hey, neither is Scotland according to some folks). I had a fabulous time, ate waaay too much food, consumed far too much local beer and gin (got to try the local colour!) and bought too many books and movies in the UK. They’re stupidly cheap compared to Australia, with the max price of a paperback being 8.99 pounds (about $15 AUD), whereas books are no less than $20 here, if you’re lucky. And I like supporting bookstores and fan-stores like the awesome Forbidden Planet, which I’ve always heard people gushing about but never been myself, where I got most of my haul. There’s a bunch of films there, as I’m an equal lover of cinema and literature.

 

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I’ve also been known to have a gin or two. Or three. Or more, if the company is right. But if you want the good stuff, you’re looking at bleeding your wallet dry sooner rather than later. Thankfully, we stopped by a gin boutique store in Berlin, which had gins from across the world. Combined with duty free shopping, I got to add a few to my collection.

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There was also a meeting with my awesome agent, John Jarrold. Can’t talk too much about what we discussed, but things are moving along and I hope I’ll be able to talk in more detail soon.

I also got to stop by Nineworlds, which is significantly smaller than WorldCon…and very, very different. I’ll go into more detail with another blog, but I’ll admit that while I got to catch up with some friends, I was very disappointed with the programming, the panels (including one I was on, which was a disaster), the general audience and mood of the con. It wasn’t a place for the majority of readers or writers or creators, with half the panels being very fan-driven, most of which were about dating simulators, the sexual politics of anime, or how *insert piece of media here* is problematic. None of these things are bad, of course, but when they become pretty much all a con’s got to offer…it makes for a very specific and one-sized audience. But that will be discussed later, but suffice to say I felt very isolated and out of place, and the people I was with shared my feelings.

Anyway. It’s back to normal life, work, study, gym and writing. I do wish I was back driving along the highlands of Scotland, scoping out the pubs and eateries of London and walking down the sun-showered streets of Paris, but I like getting back into my routine, and living for 6 weeks out of a suitcase is more tiring than it sounds. I’m already deep into some new projects and should have more news on that front soon.

Onwards!

 

Story release: Traumahead and other sales

Well. I’ve been busy. You know how it goes.

But: a few days ago one of my stories, Traumahead, launched over at Nature magazine. You can check it out over here.

It’s one of the more scientifically denser stories I’ve written, about an alien who’s collecting the memories of his fellow fallen soldiers before their civilization is wiped out by xenocidial humans, and searching for his daughter amoung the wreckage. It’s probably got the highest number of made-up technical jargon I’ve had in a flash piece,  and every sentence had to work double-time to cram the narrative into such a short space. But I’m pretty happy with it, and I got to play with weird and gooey alien biology and fragments of space opera wonder among the darker side of the story. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to sell a first-person story about highly advanced aliens to Nature, but I was happy to be proven wrong. Hope you check it out and enjoy.

Otherwise, a reprint of my “The Bronze Gods” appeared in Grimdark Magazine Issue 16, alongside work from Ed McDonald, Rebecca Kuang and Michael R. Fletcher. Give it a lookesy…

Also, my story “The Galaxy’s Cube” is going to be translated into Estonian by the magazine Reaktor, making it the fourth language the story has appeared in, and almost my most reprinted work. This would be the 10th time it’s been reprinted, methinks. It’s not my favourite story, but all these years later I find it still holds water, and if people want to continue reprinting it, I won’t object.

As always, until later…