Saturday, March 26, 2016

Recently Read

Man, I am so woefully behind on my reading list. There's a digital pile of awesome on my tablet and not nearly enough hours in the day.

However, I did finish two books recently that I'd very much recommend, not only to readers of the Weird, but anyone who enjoys speculative writing. Actually, if you never read any fiction at all, you're missing out and should read them, too.

Molly Tanzer's Vermilion (Word Horde) is a highly entertaining read that blends the weird with the Wild West and the paranormal in a way that reminds me of Bravestar and Big Trouble in Little China. Protagonist Lou Merriwether is a psychopomp who aids the transition of the dead to the afterlife. It's a sometimes dull, sometimes risky job, but it's one Lou's good at, having learned the business from her father. Lou chain smokes and carries a big gun for a little girl. But she gets into trouble when she decides to investigate the mysterious sanatorium known as Fountain of Youth, who she begins to believe is responsible for the disappearance of numerous Chinatown boys, lured from Lou's own city of San Francisco by the promise of work on a railroad that shouldn't exist.

If you like unconventional, gender-bending heroines, Vermilion will no doubt appeal to you. Tanzer's novel is also a great introduction to the weird for those who want to get to know the genre better, but not necessarily via its pulp roots, which are set firmly in the early 20th century.

The Year's Best Weird Fiction Vol. 2 (Undertow Publications) edited by Kathe Koja and Michael Kelly. I'm a huge fan of Koja's writing, and knowing that she had selected the stories for this volume was for me, essentially, a moth-to-a-flame affirmation. While it's always difficult to pick favourites in a collection like this, I will highlight Nathan Ballingrud’s “The Atlas of Hell”, which I really loved (more so than "Skullpocket", actually), and as a result, I know have another book added to the ever-growing pile, Ballingrud's "The Visible Filth".

Weird fiction is not always an easy genre to penetrate, but then, I don't particularly think it is supposed to be. Which is what makes it so enticing. Like Vermilion, The Year's Best Weird Fiction Vol. 2 is perfect for introducing new readers to weird stories. While not every single entry might speak to you, the ones that do will keep at it for a long time to come, even when it eventually dies down to a whispering worm in your brain.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Dreaming in the Witch House

I received my copies of "Dreams from the Witch House" today. I am slightly in awe of the incredible job Chris Morey, Daniele Serra, and everyone at Dark Regions Press have done in bringing this book to press. Also noting that WITCH HOUSE would never have been published without the support of every single IndieGoGo backer who helped us make it a reality, whether through your financial support or spreading the word about the campaign via the web and social media. Thank you!

The interior illustrations - one for each of the twenty stories - pop off the page beautifully. Chris Morey investigated several options prior to printing to get this perfect, because the mood reflected by each image serves to accompany and complement their specific stories.

I'm extremely proud of this book. The wonderful stories, the cooperation between creative individuals and the process of working with loyal readers all came together in an exciting synergy to produce something very special.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Second brew fermenting!

So a couple of days ago, I made a second beer brew, this time a Dutch Lager. Apparently, lagers are more complex to brew, which is one of the reasons we decided on a porter as our first batch, just to get into the swing of things (I also love porters, not gonna lie).

For the lager, I dry-pitched the yeast at 24C. For the first couple of hours there was no sign of fermenting and I thought I'd killed all the yeast babies (even though the directions say pitch the yeast between 18-30C). Shit.

But when I went to check on it the next morning, the airlock was bubbling away, so it all seems to be going according to plan!

The Dutch Lager recipe doesn't specifically call for adding additional hops, so I'm not quite sure whether I want to add hops or not. I quite like a hoppy beer, but I'll do a bit more research first and see what I come up with.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

First brew bottled!

So a couple of days ago, we bottled our first home brew, a porter called "The Nightwatchman". It smells deliciously fruity and I can't wait to taste the final product! The beer has to stand in a cool dark place for 3-4 weeks before it's ready. In the meantime, we are going to start a second brew, a lager this time.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Dreams from The Witch House e-book available!

"Dreams from the Witch House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror", fully illustrated by British Fantasy Award winner Daniele Serra, is now available as part of a fantastic e-book bundle from Dark Regions Press.

WITCH HOUSE includes stories by Joyce Carol Oates, CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan, Gemma Files, Molly Tanzer, Lois H. Gresh, Nancy Kilpatrick, Karen Heuler, Marly Youmans, Lucy Brady, Tamsyn Muir, Colleen Douglas, Cat Hellisen, Kelda Crich, Amanda Downum, Christine Morgan, E.R. Knightsbridge, Sarah Monette, Storm Constantine, Elizabeth Bear and Sonya Taaffe.

The bundle on offer is yours for a $15 steal - check out all the other fantastic books included in the offer HERE.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Brew Update

Quick update on the home beer brew.

The wort has been in the fermenter for ten days; five days ago we added the hops pellets, which actually smell quite amazing, despite looking like some kind of dried poop.

Today, we took a SG (Special Gravity) measurement. The brew we are making "The Watcman" (or "Jack", as we've dubbed it, after Jack the Ripper) needs an SG of 1009, and we are currently on 1010. Almost there. The SG has to then remain stable for 24 hrs before we carbonate and bottle.

Took a sip of the test as well; quite fruity, and I can imagine, after being carbonated and the three-week maturing period it's going to taste rather good.