Sunday, September 08, 2019

Book review: THE COSMIC PUPPETS by Stephen King


THE COSMIC PUPPETS (1957) by Philip K. Dick.

One of Dick's lesser-known early novels, so short it's nearly a novella, but well worth a read - and full of the weirdness that became his hallmark.

The protagonist visits his childhood small town Millgate, and finds an alternate-reality version of it - where he no longer should be alive.

Millgate has split in two - the town he remembers, and the different, decaying version that seems to have replaced it. (Or has it?)

Eventually it becomes evident that Millgate is the battleground of two vast, competing forces - one good, the other one evil...

Parts of this novel are reminiscent of Stephen King (if King had known how to write with fewer words) - an American small town haunted by a great supernatural evil, kids with magical powers... but it's unmistakably a Philip K. Dick story.

I wish more novels were as brief as this one! Perhaps the ending is a bit weak, and the story is a little too simplistic, but the novel as a whole works and would make a pretty good Urban Fantasy movie.

Recommended for its entertainment value.

#bookstagram #bookreview #bookreviews #bookcover #bookblogger #bokrecension #bookbloggers #literature #book #books #fantasy #sciencefiction #urbanfantasy #philipkdick #thecosmicpuppets #stephenking #horror #reviews #novel #novels #scifi

"PHYSICAL TERROR" Screenplay

Read my short film screenplay PHYSICAL TERROR - a descent into madness and cosmic horror.

Available for download here:
filmfreeway.com/ARYngve

Based on my short story "Physical Terror."



#screenplay #screenplays #screenwriting #writer #writers #writing #scifi #horror #shortfilm #shortfilms #moviemaking #movies #moviemakers #indiefilmmaking #indiefilm #scriptwriting #script #scriptwriter @filmfreeway

Someone bought my book... and the game!


Yes, my acclaimed horror book PRECINCT 20: DEAD STRANGE is also a computer game - curiously enough for the Commodore 64 / C64 Mini (or with emulator software, in case you want to run the game on a PC)

The game is available on psytronik.itch.io

The book is available on Amazon.

Friday, September 06, 2019

New book release on Amazon: THINGS FROM BELOW and Other Stories

New book release on Amazon:
THINGS FROM BELOW and Other Stories

Contains the gruesome horror novella "Things From Below," plus three other tales of the macabre:
- "Sniper, Viper..."
- "Man Bites Alien"
- "Served"

Read a sample from "Things From Below" HERE.

 #aryngve #books #shortfiction #literature #horror #weirdfiction #skräck #lovecraftian #macabre #bookrelease #book

Book review: LIVE AND LET DIE by Ian Fleming

LIVE AND LET DIE (1954) by Ian Fleming

Note: This lurid 1950s cover depicts a key scene in the novel quite accurately.

I don't particularly like James Bond books or movies - too formulaic for my taste - but I read this one out of professional curiosity, to learn why the books are so popular.

I made some observations:

1) LIVE AND LET DIE opens not with colorful adventure or dramatic tension, but with a sequence of rather tedious formal procedure as James Bond arrives in the U.S. I think this a deliberate writing trick: the more dull Bond's job seems at first, the greater the jolt when the action starts.

2) The head villain, Mr. Big, isn't all that interesting. He's a gangster with a taste for ponderous, self-important speeches and sadism. Fleming exaggerates the freakishness of Mr. Big's physical features in such an obvious way that it's ludicrous. (Apparently that was Fleming's standard manner of defining the villain as a freak, a physical monstrosity.)

3) It's a Cold War story, and the threat of Soviet Russia and nuclear war is the backdrop of all events, although not a single Russian appears in the book. Mr. Big works for the Russians, it is repeatedly stated, but never really shown. Why?

4) It's fashionable to call out racism and sexism these days, but in the case of a spy thriller from the 1950s - what's the point?
 

I roll my eyes when the author sees the need to point out whether "races" are "mixed," and words like "Negroid" are used. Although... Fleming's cringe-worthy attitudes about "race" are typical of his generation and not 100% consistent (consistency is the hallmark of the true fanatic).

5) Fleming really excels when it comes to violence. His action scenes are very precise, with an eye for the telling detail, and come off as realistic. Bond in the novel isn't invulnerable like in the movies, and his injuries leave lasting consequences.

6) James Bond is in many ways a "consumer-as-hero." A lot of space is given to what he eats and drinks and smokes, which brands he uses. You could argue he's an early example of the kind of person who builds an identity through the products he consumes.


(The James Bond movies are, as you know, overloaded with product placement -- but so were the original novels...)

Is LIVE AND LET DIE worth reading today? Well... no. There are better thrillers, and some parts of it seem terribly dated.

#ianfleming #jamesbond #liveandletdie #007 #bookstagram #bookcover #bookreviews #bookreview #review #reviews #novel #literature #thrillers #spythrillers #books

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Book review: STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Robert A. Heinlein

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND (1961) by Robert A. Heinlein.

This is one mixed bag of a book. I mean, I grok it but that doesn't mean I think it's groovy, man.

("Grok" is one of the words created in this book that became part of American culture. It's been that influential.)

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND is part satire, part science fiction, and part sermon for "free love."

It was published at the start of the hippie era, and became enormously successful in the "counter-culture" of the 1960s. It even inspired the creation of a religious cult (whose name "The Church of All Worlds" was lifted directly from the novel).

There are parts of it I like:
the satire of organized religion; the willingness to provoke, and that the author isn't fettered by stale genre conventions.

And then there are things that make me groan and wish the editor had been stricter - a lot stricter:

1) The character Jubal Harshaw. He's a colossal bore who is allowed to lecture, hector, preach, and harangue far too much and for far too long.

2) For a book that preaches "free love," it seems curiously uninterested in what women might want out of that lifestyle (apart from pleasing men, and getting pregnant).

3) The "sex" part of the book can get really embarrassing. As in "Old man tries to be 'hip' but the old attitudes bubble up to the surface." (For example, look up that passage where rape victims get the blame.)

4) The book gets seriously ugly when the Messianic protagonist starts casually killing people who get in his way - and his friends don't react with horror and revulsion. He's actually a psychopath.

Read it as a curiosity, but not as a great work of literature - it isn't.

#heinlein #robertaheinlein #strangerinastrangeland #grok #bookstagram #bokstagram #bookcovers #bookreview #bookreviews #books #literature #sciencefiction #scifi #satire #1960s #hippies #counterculture #classics #review #reviews #controversial #cults

A new official website for PRECINCT 20: DEAD STRANGE...

...can be found here:
http://precinct20.aryngve.com/

#weirdfiction
#horror
#paranormal
#lovecraftian

Thursday, August 29, 2019

New release: THINGS FROM BELOW and Other Stories

New book release on Amazon:
THINGS FROM BELOW and Other Stories

Contains the horror novella "Things From Below," plus three other tales of the macabre:
- "Sniper, Viper..."
- "Man Bites Alien"
- "Served"

Read sample chapters HERE!

 #aryngve #books #shortfiction #literature #horror #weirdfiction #skräck #lovecraftian #macabre #bookrelease #book

Bokmässan närmar sig....

 
På Bokmässan i höst kommer jag att stå i monter A01:52 för att sälja och signera min nya bok REX OMEGA (utgiven på TiraTiger Förlag).
 
Detta är en lättläst, underhållande, lätt satirisk thriller där kungen av Sverige är huvudpersonen - läs mer om den HÄR.

På söndagen kl.10 ska jag medverka på Fantastikscenen på mässan (i Fantastikgränden), för att presentera REX OMEGA.

Vi ses på mässan! :-)


Monday, August 26, 2019

Book reviews: ADJUSTMENT DAY by Chuck Palahniuk


ADJUSTMENT DAY (2018) by Chuck Palahniuk.

Rodney King famously asked: "Can't we all just get along?" In this satirical novel, an American underground insurrection answers the question with a loud "NO." (However, the insurrection does not get the last word....)

I don't want to spoil too much of the plot, so let me focus more on the style, structure and message of Palahniuk's irreverent novel...

1) The narrative is non-linear, i.e. we jump back and forth in time. It can get very confusing. I don't think this stylistic device always works out - especially the ending.

I actually double-checked the final blank "leftover" pages to see whether I had missed something, because the story seems to fall apart in the last 12 pages.

2) The book contains several "meta" jokes that made me laugh. For example, characters in ADJUSTMENT DAY talk derisively about Chuck Palahniuk and his other novels.

There's also a hilarious joke about Stephen King's frequent use of the "Magical Negro" stereotype.


3) The narrative jumps between many different characters. I think several of them were underdeveloped, especially Shasta. Even in a broad satire like this, characters need to be a bit more than just plot devices.

4) ADJUSTMENT DAY features many quotes from a book-within-the-book, a kind of "insurrection bible" that is part of the story. Perhaps these quotes will cause more misunderstandings than any other part of the novel.

The thing is, that "bible" is a mess of self-contradictory, frequently racist bullshit. It is clearly not meant to be taken seriously, but some readers might do so anyway. This "Missing the Point" fallacy is the bane of satire.


Despite the above criticisms, there are parts of ADJUSTMENT DAY that work really well. It successfully pokes fun at the idea that Americans should segregate along lines of race/culture and only live with "their own kind" to be their "authentic selves" (guess how that works out).

ADJUSTMENT DAY is uneven, sometimes confusing, sometimes very funny - and it touches a raw nerve in American culture.
Recommended.

#bookstagram #bookreview #bookreviews #bookcover #review #reviews #novel #literature #chuckpalahniuk #adjustmentday #fightclub #satire #metafiction #america

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Arbete pågår: Illustrationer till en kommande bok...

Jag håller just nu på med att göra bilder till en bok av en annan författare. Här är ett litet smakprov...

Detta ska bli uppföljaren till en barnbok som kom ut förra året, och som innehöll bl.a. talande apor. (Kan ni gissa vilken bok det är...?)

Fler arbetsprover från mina andra arbeten finns här:
http://aryngve.com/artist.html


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Book review: THE THREE MUSKETEERS by Alexandre Dumas


THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1844) by Alexandre Dumas.

I listened through this novel as a free Public Domain audiobook (see librivox.org). It was originally released as a magazine serial in French.

NOTE: The English translation I listened to may have been slightly "bowdlerized" by British publishers, who were uneasy with the French author's relaxed attitude about sex.

You see, while Charles Dickens and other British writers entertained Victorian readers with novels about chaste characters who never even dreamed about doing anything below the belt, Dumas's heroes had mistresses, drank hard, cursed and casually killed people in duels.

The novel's main protagonist, the reckless young swordsman D'Artagnan, can be read as a kind of 17th-Century James Bond. He takes on a secret mission, seduces a woman, is himself seduced by an evil female spy, and foils a plot to disgrace the Queen of France.

What elevates this story above simplistic pulp adventure is Dumas's sense of irony, and a certain cold-blooded cynicism. The heroes are really a bunch of self-serving womanizers and bruisers, who ultimately fail to make any change to the corrupt society they live in.

The famous phrase "One for all and all for one" does occur in the novel - once. The camaraderie of D'Artagnan and his three musketeer friends does feel genuine.

Entertaining, sometimes outdated, definitely "problematic" - but interesting, especially if you're into "gritty" fantasy literature and historical fiction.

#bookstagram #bookreview #alexandredumas #thethreemusketeers #classics #literature #booksuggestion #book #novel #novels