On the show this week!

This week on the show we have interviews with 2 authors: 

Jack Ketchum

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Horror and thriller author, mentored by “Psycho” author, Robert Bloch, and friend of Stephen King has been consistently scaring America out of their wits since his first book, “Off Season”, was published in 1980. “Off Season” reportedly prompted the Village Voice to publicly scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography. When he’s not collecting Bram Stoker awards he often appears in film adaptations of his works. Such as Girl Next Door

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NO, not that Girl Next Door (but really, what did happen to Elisha Cuthbert??)

This Girl Next Door:

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Jack Ketchum will be at Rock and Shock October 18th through the 20th, tune in and show up!

 

Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant

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Under the name Mira Grant, she penned the anxiety producing “Newsflesh trilogy” (it’s about the pursuit of truth, government cover-ups, relationships, clones and zombies everywhere). Her upcoming book “Parasite” is about tapeworms… and conspiracies and having you life saved or stolen.

As Seanan McGuire she’s written the popular October Daye series, InCryptid series as well as a fairytale remix starring a detective version of Snow White called “Indexing.” 

She’s also the coolest person on twitter. Tune in for book news, how she gets her ideas, feminist awesome and why Bronies should just stop.

Also, Dr. Chris and Pam will talk TV, what they’re going to be for Halloween, and Rock And Shock. Get weird, Worcester: If you’re local, tune to 91.3 fm WCUW or listen at wcuw.org Sunday(err…Monday) 12a-2a EST

My Blog is 3 Months Old!

The best book I read this month: Parasite by Mira Grant, out for consumption on October 29th, get ready for this sci-fi tale to eat your brain! In the not so distant future, human bodies are regulated with “intestinal bodyguards.” Sally Mitchell is the first to have her tapeworm save her life after a near deadly accident leaving her an amnesiac lab rat for SymboGen. It’s not all bad for Sal, she gets along better with her sister, has a gig at an animal shelter and a doctor boyfriend. But when people start getting a “sleepwalking sickness” she finds herself in the heart of a SymboGen cover-up. Who’s good, who’s bad? Twist turns and gray areas ensue.

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I was going to squick you out with some tapeworm photos, but opted for this gem: an ad for a tapeworm diet!

Top Posts this month:

Rachel Deering’s Anathema Vol. 1

Movie Review for Elysium

Discussion: The Slut Shaming of Buffy Summers

That’s it for August! What will September bring?

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Book Review #23- Parasite by Mira Grant

The synopsis: A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.
We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the Intestinal Bodyguard worm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.
But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives . . . and will do anything to get them.

This book is out October 29th, so put it on your “waiting on Wednesday” bloggas

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My Review: Sally Mitchell was in an accident that left her brain dead and on life support. The doctors were convincing her family to pull the plug when she woke up. She didn’t remember anything from her life and had to relearn everything, how to move, how to speak, what words meant. 6 years later she still had trouble reading or learning new words. Sally Mitchell, who now prefers “Sal” was the first person to ever be saved by their SymboGen Intestinal Bodyguard.

After a series of horrific incidents involving people becoming afflicted by a “sleepwalking sickness” which causes people to lose merely lose cognitive reason, rational thought or at worst become mindlessly hostile and violent. Sal, her boyfriend Dr. Nathan Kim, her sister Joyce, and a few frenemies she makes along the way find themselves embroiled in a complicated and frightening plot involving old vendettas, espionage, pseudo-zombies, and lots and lots of tape worms. 

The writing is so good. It just is. There are minute events that are explained in ways that are overly detailed and very strange, but it does give a great view of what runs through Sal’s head. And some of it clicks into place way later, and more might, there will be two more books! (Hooray for trilogies!) Sal, who has only had 6 years to learn things can be naive, but she’s still clever. She has a very caring relationship with Nathan who looks out for her quirks. Her parents treat her as if she is actually 6, that’s a very complicated situation. Sal is nothing like Sally was, she doesn’t have any childhood memories, she’s different. Her sister actually likes her better than before. But she did almost die, and they are worried for her, and suspicious about her. 

As you’ve probably already deduced, SymboGen and their very strange and frankly gross medical enhancements go awry. But the Intestinal Bodyguard was meant to deliver truly universal healthcare, offering specialized services to individuals tailored specifically for them, their needs and circumstances. The bad guys aren’t always so easy to find and Sal and Nathan have to struggle through to figure out who’s really the villain, who got caught on the wrong side and how to set it right …all the while avoiding government agencies, corrupt doctors and mindless humans out to crush their trachea. 

And it’s not so easy to see who’s trust worthy. Who’s an evil greedy mastermind, who’s telling the truth, who’s trying to sell you a story? The bad guys aren’t cut and dry. Everyone at least STARTED OUT doing what they thought was best. But there are so many different angles. It’s hard to tell, harder if you only have 6 years of life experience to draw on.

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And Tansy. How hilarious is Tansy? Madcap oddball, violent, impulsive, smart, gutsy and funny… so funny. She also makes up for people making her feel dumb by stabbing them. Probably. And she tasted someone’s brain… well, two someones. 

There’s lots of good classic sci-fi themes, money buying the government? check. Media controlled by corporations? check. Media distractions! Political spin!

Between this book and Newsflesh, I’m ready to start checking abandoned buildings for mad scientists wondering what took me so long to find them.

LOVED IT!

5 Broken Doors!

Quotable quotes!

“Oh, fooling laymen with science is sometimes to easy it should be criminal.”

“All scientists are mad scientists.”

“I took the police scanner sledding with me.”

“Is everything alright” “Oh,no. World of no. All the no. The Tropics of Negative. Situation is not good, not peachy, not keen.”

Book review #4- Deadline by Mira Grant

Alright, this isn’t going to be a review as much as a two and a half part essay. So if you just want to know “if this book is any good”: yes it is, I didn’t love it as much as I loved FEED (but maybe I loved that one a little too hard). The conspiracies are intricately woven, ridiculous, outlandish, terrifying and horrifyingly plausible-ish. The action is so well described I felt like I was watching it instead of reading it and the characters were so real that I was crying, outraged and holding my breath for them.

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It’s wordy, and repeats itself, but it gives the novel a sense of urgency. It gets 5 zombies…

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…I mean stars, whatever I give out here, I need to work on that anyway. Mira Grant is a suspense genius.

 Anyway: Now that the basics are out of the way here,

Are there any vegans here? Not really, but red meat is totally off the menu after the Rising. There’s a steady supply of soymilk, teriyaki soyburgers, and tofudogs.

Where are the ladies at? This book started the way the first one did: with an idiot. In Feed it was Shaun Mason, in Deadline it was Rebecca “Becks” Atherton.

Rebecca could have been marketed as a no-nonsense-action-chick (and I probably still would have liked her). But she is a no-nonsense-action-chick, who kept her hair long and wore makeup and had great ratings and better merchandise sales than anyone else at the After the End Times. She has better analytic skills than most of the staff, quick witted, sharp tongued, and willing to stand outside with her pistol all alone in case any zombies show up while her team leader is having a nervous breakdown.

I said part of what I liked about Feed was that there was no love story to get in the way of all the suspense and take away from the gravity of the situation. Deadline strayed towards a brief lovestory, and here’s the worst of it: I actually give a shit who Becks ends up with, if anyone. I don’t think it will work out the way I want it to. But maybe it doesn’t have to. Maybe I’m the one in love with her. And you know SOMEONE has to die, and I really found myself clinging to the idea that the next book would be hers. Oh yeah, and she’s from the East Coast.

 Now, Becks is the only girl on the team who’s worth her shit in the field. It’s true. I know that almost seems unfortunate, but a couple of the guys couldn’t shoot straight and the other ladies present held it down for the brain trust.

 This book also introduced us to Dr. Abbey. Ridiculously clever, possibly mad-scientist. She can probably shoot. She also could have probably saved the world. And she’s funny. Very funny.

The important stuff: Sci-fi, classically, has introduced you to all sorts of THINGS, like aliens, robots, mind control and in this case zombies.

These things are not the “big-bad”. There something to bang your head up against while you lose sight of the actual problem. The big-bad in any sci-fi worth it’s weight is: the military industrial complex, bio-tech corporations, the government at large, and in this case specifically the Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization.

 27 years after the Rising, blood tests are part of daily life. 27 years after the Rising, there’s no personal privacy. Going outside requires filing paperwork and body armor, coming back inside requires blood tests and decontamination showers. Letting your kids out of the car to stretch their legs on a road trip could get you thrown in jail for child abuse. You can get criminal charges for “standing too close to a goat.” Travel that crosses more than one state line needs to be registered with the highway Commission, so that your movement can be monitored. Your location gets updated when you check into a motel or stop for gas. Air travel if practically unheard of. There’s always someone watching you, but it’s standard procedure for your safety. In many areas, you can shoot first and claim that you thought the person was infected, if it’s a high enough of a hazard zone, no questions asked.

What if it was determined that it was better to have people living in a constant state of fear? What if people would have gotten better but then they would come out of their houses and demand a different set of rules?

As said by Dr. Abbey, “It could have been worse, that’s what no one wants to admit. So the dead get up and walk around- so what? We don’t get sick like our ancestors did. We don’t die of cancer even though we keep pumping pollutants into the atmosphere as fast as we can come up with them. We live charmed lives, except for the damn zombies, and even those don’t have to be the kind of problem we make them out to me. They could just be an inconvenience. Instead, we let the define everything.”

If the population was under total control and anyone “in the know” could be reasonably sure that they wouldn’t get infected… there wouldn’t be any point in changing anything for them. And for everyone else, they were busy enough with the zombies to not look for a villain.

In Deadline, after a serious outbreak there was a warning, “Anyone found out on the streets may be shot without warning. Anyone leaving their homes will be assumed infected and treated with appropriate protocols.”

 

Oh, and I wanted to say something about Oakland.

The After the End Times moved it’s head quarters to Oakland, “They had a gang problem back in the early nineteen-eighties, but that cleared up, and they were fighting a different war by the time the Rising rolled around. Oakland had become the site of an ongoing conflict between the natives who’d lived there for generations and the forces of gentrification that really wanted a Starbucks on every corner and an iPod in every pocket. Then the zombies showed up, and gentrification was lost.” Yuppies headed out, but the people who’d grown up there knew how to fight for what was theirs. “Maybe they didn’t have the advantages some of the richer cities started out with, but they had a lot of places they could hole up, and they had a lot of guns. Maybe most important of all, thanks to all the gang violence I mentioned earlier, they had a lot of people who actually knew how to use the guns.” The emergency services wrote them off.

This is important. There’s a lot of consideration in this book about parts of the country where you can live. Who fell, who stood. And why. For Oakland, they stood, because this was an area who couldn’t depend on anyone outside of their community for anything. Now, in real life, ask Detroit and Chicago whether they think the government has their back.

I don’t live anywhere that chaotic, and I’m not claiming to. That being said, I live in an area where many buildings already have windows that are less than a foot and a half wide, are further off the ground and/or have bars on them. No one needs a picturesque bay window view of a coke deal across the street or someone peeing in the neighbors yard. For me, seeing someone I don’t know in my yard with no shoes on in the middle of the night gets me ready to throw a punch, not call the cops. Speaking of, there are plenty of people for who “calling the cops” isn’t really a thing. And not even because they are doing anything wrong, it’s just not a effective, results getting type of thing to do. You don’t call the cops, you call your neighbors.

The book goes on to the towns that survived versus those who didn’t. The rural areas were left pretty much to fend alone… unless they had farming or fishing. Cities were likely to be saved if there was a business district. The dust settles after the Rising, you still need banking, you need tech firms, pharmaceutical companies, you need weapons, you need cellphones, computers, cameras, satellites, you need gasoline. How would your area stand up? I think Worcester is pretty great. But no one can pronounce it, it’s a “joke” that we’re a post industrial wasteland. We’re the second largest city in Massachusetts. This is a map I’d like to show you:

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It’s pretty legit.

 

Oh, and something does go wrong in Oakland and the CDC claims that it was people illegally breeding pitbulls for dogfighting. Which was a wonderful way to illustrate how people of authority play up stereotypes to create a culture of fear.

This is already long enough, so maybe more on that later. Or comment if you would like to talk more about that. Because I could go on. 

Zombiessssssssssss

250 pages into Deadline by Mira Grant, I’m having anxiety attacks for my fictitious friends at the After the End Times. 

And I had this completely insane dream last night (about the z-poc, obvi). The zombie people weren’t a problem, took some out with a crowbar, not too tough too out run. We sought refuge at an abandoned mansion (briefly in a drained pool), until a zombie lion and lioness showed up. They were NOT slow. Luckily, they couldn’t climb fences. 

So, I’ve got zombies on the brain. If you do, too, you’re in luck: I present to you my Top 5 Songs about zombies

5. Creepshow- Zombies Ate Her Brain

That’s how she turned out this way.

4. Misfits- Astro-Zombies

Astro-Zombies is also one of the worst/most awesome movies of all time

3. Automatons- Zombie Girl

I just love this song so much.

2. Kingston Trio- Zombie Jamboree

Try not to dance! I dare you!

1. Major Lazer- Zumbie

Enjoy. Don’t forget to limber up and pack extra ammo, kids. 

Book Review #1: FEED by Mira Grant

This is the first part of the Newsflesh Trilogy. This takes place 25 years after a zombie apocalypse So everyone has somewhat created a reasonably safe lifestyle coexisting with Zombies. Well, not quite, obviously. But there are places that are fully quarantined, places totally off limits, places where a zombie attack is about as likely as a mugging. Security measures that are… scary. But the protagonists were born right after the Rising and so this is all pretty standard to them. I bought this book because the cover was ugly, it’s about 600 pages and it’s not a love story.

I’m going to go light on any spoilers (I’m not going to tell you who kicks it… come on, it’s a z-poc, somebody’s got to die, be realistic)

They call their zombie outbreak “the Rising” and the virus they are driven by is called Kellis-Amberlee. It started out a well intentioned cure for cancer and the common cold.

The 3 main protagonists: Shaun Mason, Georgia Mason, and Georgette “Buffy” Meissonier. (Georgia and Georgette, female names deriving from George, as in Romero. And Shaun of the dead. Apparently parents have a sense of humor after the Rising) are reporters/bloggers who start out covering any action, news and Rising related fiction to entertain the masses, most of whom are not real into travelling outside in search of adventure given that zombies are shambling and/or hunting around trying to find someone else to zombify.

Anyway, about those security measures: Built in at the Mason house, they have a state of the art security system which involves them getting a blood test and reading a sentence in an airlock at their doorway before they can proceed in.

-“Coming in together means that if one of us ever tests positive, that’s all she wrote; they won’t let anybody out of the garage before the cleanup crew arrives, and the chances of whoever comes up clean making it to the van before something happens aren’t good. Our next door neighbor used to call Child Protective Services every six months because our folks wouldn’t stop us from coming in together. But what’s the point of life if you can’t take risks now and then, like coming into the damn house with your brother.”

There’s tons dealing with government regulations, like making it a felony to raise a child in an area deemed too hazardous. There was also this bit; “Quarantine procedures hit different social and economic classes in different ways, just like outbreaks. When Kellis-Amberlee breaks out in an urban area in hits the inner cities and the business districts the hardest… …the slums may not have the same security features and weaponry, but they’re the most self-policing and fewer people try to conceal injury when they know amplification isn’t going to cost them coworkers; it’s going to cost them their families.”

So there are two interesting major points there. All people are infected with Kellis-Amberlee, it’s just a matter of when they die or amplify, so it’s not a matter of just coming in with flame throwers and saying “problem solved” ..it’ll help in the immediate future, but the virus is still an issue. The CDC is notified when someone pulls a positive blood test and there are SO MANY security cameras, security procedures and rules and regulations to where you can and cannot be at. Where do you draw the line? How much of this is really protecting the population? And secondly, who survives this? For a while, it seemed like only rich (mainly white) people survived, but to be honest there aren’t many physical descriptions of people (but I’m pretty sure there was only one Asian man and one black man in this whole book). And sidenote -I live in “the slums” (no one really says that) and half of the first floor apartments around me have bars on their windows, so they are that much ahead of the game in terms of zombie outbreaks, we have security measures. I like to consider these things.

Most of this story takes place while our bloggers are covering a presidential campaign. It’s action packed, it’s bad ass. Everyone’s pretty levelheaded. No one’s a “special snowflake” and everyone can and will shoot. Oh, and Mira Grant came up with some neat stuff involving animal zombification.

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5 Stars- Totally Killer… can’t wait to start the next one. Actually, I had to wait to start Deadline because I was a little emotionally drained and exhausted from having z-poc dreams all week.

Edited to add: Also, did I mention that I liked that there was no love story? I like the story of a brother and sister going on adventures and people looking at them funny because they want to share a room. (hello? zombies! Shit, everyone can sleep in my room. Armed.) And it wasn’t a creepy or romantic relationship like in some series (Ahem! Charlaine Harris- Harper Connelly series, who made her main characters brother and sister and love interests because Charlaine Harris can’t write a fucking plot.)

Are there vegans here? Yes. Because cows can turn into zombies. Most people enjoy white meat only, or teriyaki soy burgers.