Delta-vee presents classic Old Time Radio productions and modern audio drama, today’s episode: “The Dunwich Horror”. The works of H.P. Lovecraft have had a pervasive and lasting influence on modern horror writers, from his themes of forbidden knowledge and nihilism to his habit of founding mythology upon a secret history fabricated from whole cloth. Of his many works, the most well know are unarguably the Cthulhu Mythos, a loosely defined collection of secret history lore upon which Lovecraft built many of his stories, and which he encouraged his contemporaries to reference in their own works. “The Dunwich Horror” stands as perhaps the quintessential representative of the Cthulhu Mythos as a whole, containing as it does nearly every staple element of Lovecraft’s other fiction. His horror fiction is replete with monsters beyond the ken of man, secret cults devoted to the outer gods, and heroes whose credentials are more scholarly than physical. In one aspect only does “The Dunwich Horror” depart from traditional Lovecraftian storytelling: the heroes not only survive their adventure with body and minds whole, but emerge triumphant … after a fashion. Despite the not-completely-nihilistic ending, Lovecraft considered this story “so fiendish that [Weird Tales editor] Farnsworth Wright may not dare to print it.” Wright did not agree with this sentiment, and snapped up the story for $240 (about $2800 today), making this the single largest payment Lovecraft had yet received for his work (Lovecraft, Selected Letters Vol. II, p. 240; cited in Joshi, p. 101). “The Dunwich Horror” was first published in the April, 1929 issue of Weird Tales; this episode of Suspense first aired on November 1, 1945. And now, our feature presentation ….
“Zero Hour” is the new book from ResAliens collection the spiritual suspense stories of Stoney M. Setzer. Setzer’s stories have appeared previously in Residential Aliens and Christian Sci-Fi Journal among other venues. Edited by Lyndon Perry, this collection brings together twelve previously published stories along with three never before printed.
The cover copy claims similarity to The Twilight Zone, and certainly there is something of that flavor herein. Stories like “In the Shadow of the Sphinx”, and “All Hail Sam” feel like they should begin with Rod Serling voiceover delivering the moral lesson of the story. Other tales hearken back to radio programs like Escape and X Minus One, with the subtle deviations from reality that tell the reader something is just barely off about the world they are experiencing; “Doomsday Falls on a Tuesday This Year” and “Square Peg” need only a scratchy background of static noise to complete the illusion. Still other offerings evoke the classic short stories of Larry Niven or Isaac Asimov with their emphasis on the ordinary character reactions to the most extraordinary situations, including “The Alabama Hammer” and “We Serve All Kinds Here”. Finally, Setzer delivers his more direct spiritual lessons in the form of pure morality plays in “Darkest Before Dawn” and “Enamored”.
Readers looking for hard-edged, violent, or sensual fiction need to turn away. Setzer’s stories are comfortable, familiar, and hazy, surrounded in a dream-like quality. He pulls no punches when it comes to questions of morality and spirituality, using his words in direct manner that leaves no question as to his intention to evangelize, or his stance on matter of religion. His message is consistent, and delivered with an urgency that erases all doubt in the mind of the reader: “The world is larger than you realize. Truth is unavoidable. All men need a savior.”
When Scott Roche titles his new story “Fetch”, it’s a safe bet he’s not on about that cartoon dog that runs his own game show.
In Irish folklore, a “fetch” is a more or less benign spirit that appears as a portent either of impending death if seen in the evening, or of long life if seen in the morning. It takes the seeming, or appearance, of the soul that it portends, and is sent to escort the soul to the afterlife – whether divine or infernal. The fetch is a silent creature, it does not stalk nor terrify, and may be seen anywhere, under any circumstance. While popular in Irish folk lore, the fetch is seldom seen in other literature.
Roche, true to form, sets out to turn folklore on its ear. While inspired by this traditional Irish spirit, Roche’s story carries little else of the Irish flavor on the reader’s journey through twilight. The result is slightly surreal, modernistic encounter with the edge of the supernatural. Roche’s style is easy to read, and this short story is no exception, waltzing from intro to conclusion with a steady pace and familiar language.
In the tradition of Algernon Blackwood, Roche’s skeptical protagonists are placed in a situation beyond their control. Their primary role is that of witness, and the main conflict of the story consists of spiritual debate rather than actions and deeds. True to his modern influences, when the action becomes personal it gets visceral and bloody very quickly. The conclusion is inevitable, and the story feels very complete when finished.
Roche’s missteps are few enough. For a story set in Ireland and drawing heavily on a very specifically Irish folklore and Catholic doctrine, there is not much of the Irish or Catholic flavor to the tale. But for one or two idioms, this story could have been set anywhere in the world, and the main character could represent any given religion. For a story whose pivotal action revolves around the spiritual merits of faith and the trappings of the Catholic church, the story blithely overlooks consistency of spiritual elements in favor of dramatic presentation. Twice, an otherwise pleasant read jars the reader out of the story with unexpected cursing.
“Fetch” is a solid entry in Roche’s stable of work, most of which is supernatural in flavor and paranormal in outlook. His work may be found on Smashwords, and with other writings in his own set of blogs, found at http://scottroche.com and at http://spiritualtramp.com.
When a small boy in Iowa forwards a mysterious email from ‘God’ to a small group of friends, he unwittingly releases a trigger that sends blood pouring throughout his farming community. Thousands more are dead across the country in dozens of simultaneous terror attacks and the government blames fundamentalists who want to trigger the Apocalypse. FBI Agent Joe Unes reluctantly teams with reclusive Internet radio host Barney Ison (from Sharon K. Gilbert’s The Armageddon Strain) to expose the plot — and discovers that the enemy is not of flesh and blood.
Media Junkie rates it:
The time is near. The great and terrible day of the Lord has come. You are one of the Chosen. Tell no one.
Yeah, I’m freaking out too. Move over Joel Rosenberg, there’s a new quill in the inkwell; The God Conspiracy is Derek Gilbert’s second novel, and first modern day thriller. Derek and his wife Sharon host P.I.D. Radio, a podcast bringing us news and analysis on demand where they examine political and social headlines and hidden stories from a Biblical perspective. Gilbert’s knack for bouncing the radar off otherwise overlooked or intentionally concealed agendas really shines through as he cants the landscape we know to a new and terrifying angle that remains far too familiar for comfort.
In the tradition of novelists like Joel Rosenberg and Tom Clancy, Derek Gilbert casts us into an America on lockdown. Without warning or pattern, ordinary God-fearing people across the nation suddenly erupt into uniform psychosis in a weekend of terror that sends the nation into Threat Level Red. Abruptly, civil rights become a thing of the past as citizens are seized and silenced with neither probable cause nor due process. The Shadow Government begins its power play against the most dangerous and diabolical threat our nation has yet faced – conservative, right-wing, middle-America. Gilbert serves us a threat that hits close to home and a cast that echoes the people we know in a situation beyond their scope of understanding and utterly out of their control. From the small-town shopkeeper, to the stubborn FBI agent, to the former NFL star, to the Four Nerdsmen of the Apocalypse, the characters of The God Conspiracy rely on their wits, their training, and ultimately their faith to pierce the veil of lies hiding the truth and see beyond the threat against their lives and families to the real supernatural menace hiding just beyond our perceptions.
Gilbert gives us detailed characters and breakneck pacing wrapped up in a tangled plot and dripping with paranoia. Despite the wealth of characterization, The God Conspiracy is little more than a vehicle for jumpstarting the reader’s own determination to find out the truth about the world in which he lives. Drawing heavily from the research and information that flows through his news and opinion blog – Weapon of Mass Distraction – Gilbert taps the shoulder of several dozen popular conspiracy theories and drags them screaming into the public arena. Even as a regular listener to his podcast and irregular participant on the Peering Into Darkness forums, I bookmarked several pages for further research, deleted all the cookies from my internet history, checked my rearview for tails, and put a fresh coat of Brasso ™ on my tin-foil hat. The reader who does not come away from this novel with more than a few questions about his nation’s direction and the spiritual forces behind the world order has missed the thrust of the novel entirely.
The God Conspiracy is available directly from Gilbert’s blog – Weapon of Mass Distraction – as both a downloadable PDF or as a traditional dead-tree edition. Both editions are published in partnership with Lulu.com. Also, readers may purchase a Kindle edtion through Critical Press Amazon for use with the Kindle and many compatible e-book readers, including the iPhone and iPod Touch. The volume weighs in at a hefty 400 pages, which prices the perfect-bound edition at $24.95, but makes the PDF a steal at only $5.00. The Kindle version is priced at $7.96, and the dynamic formatting capabilities of the format mean this one is the best value of the bunch. Whatever your preferred format, the pages fly by with frightening speed. The God Conspiracy is sure to have you looking over your shoulder and evaluating the durability of your own faith.
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