Get your forklifts ready. Cemetery Dance Publications’ long-awaited Big Fat Hardcover Edition of my early post-apocalyptic epic, Dark Advent, is slated for release late this summer. An e-book edition will follow within a few months.

DarkAdventCDOne reason to go for the print edition: the gorgeous cover art wrought by artist Vincent Chong, who also did the cover for my 2011 collection, Picking The Bones. It’s a wraparound panorama that takes up the entire dust jacket.

While I normally give early work a light polish before it goes back into print, this time I put in so much labor it amounts to a brand new draft. Not to worry — nobody behaves any differently. Mostly it was about getting out of my own way, and clearing up a couple of lapses in logic. An afterword about the novel’s origins, etc., rounds the whole package off. This is going to be a beautiful edition that, unlike the original, will no longer require an electron microscope to read.

Further information and pre-order here.

And in a coincidence of timing, last year the novel made the list of “22 Pandemic Books To Read Before The H7N9 Virus Kills Us All.” Good company, there.

Once more into the breach, as another earlier book makes the transition into e-book format. DarkFuse has released Worlds of Hurt, which isn’t quite like any book I’ve done before.

WorldsOfHurt(250)You could call it a collection. Or you could call it an episodic novel, containing a novel-within-the-novel.

Mostly, though, I just think of it as an omnibus edition gathering the first four installments of my Misbegotten story cycle, which has been called “a mythos every bit as dismal and bleak as Lovecraft’s Elder Gods.” And which I’m planning on furthering later this year.

Bringing these works together in one place, rather than leaving them scattered thither and yon, will make it a lot easier to maintain accessibility as I go forward with this saga. For more details, see the book’s bibliography page.

Amazon

Worlds of Hurt: One Mythos, No Waiting

by Brian on May 20, 2014

in Fiction

Alert readers may have noticed that the short novel World of Hurt is not yet among the books of mine that have made the transition into e-book format.

WorldsOfHurt(250)

That’s because for quite some time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. While it can stand alone, it’s still part of a larger story cycle that by now I think of as the Misbegotten mythos. Ultimately, I didn’t want to send it out without backup.

Enter DarkFuse, publisher of my recent longish works Whom the Gods Would Destroy and Without Purpose, Without Pity. Next up, we’ll be doing an omnibus edition of all four installments to date in this cycle. This gathers together, for the first time:

  • “The Alchemy of the Throat” (Bram Stoker Award finalist)
  • “The Dripping of Sundered Wineskins” (World Fantasy Award finalist)
  • “When the Bough Doesn’t Break”
  • World of Hurt

It’s win-win. Not only does a unified volume bring everything together in the same place; it will also make it easier to keep future Misbegotten works under the same roof.

Worlds of Hurt should be released sometime in the next several weeks.

Oh, Lovecraft … you could be such a fussy fellow, but your whacked-out imagination is the gift that keeps on giving.

HPL's_Monsters(250)The Ellen Datlow editorial byline on this beast should be all the imprimatur you need for quality control. But I’ve read my contributor copy straight from Tachyon already, and can confirm: Yup, this is the goods. The reviews I’ve seen, and there have been many, have skewed heavily toward the rave end of the spectrum.

Plus if you missed my own “The Same Deep Waters As You” in Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth and just can’t wait for it in The Best Horror Of The Year, Vol. 6, then all roads have led you to this perfect moment.

Amazon

So it’s official: after making the shortlist for DarkFuse’s Readers’ Choice Award, Whom the Gods Would Destroy takes the win for Best Novella of 2013.

Fellow Coloradan Jon Bassoff took Best Novel, with Corrosion, making it an improbable all-Boulder sweep.

There’s a plaque coming — nice, but you can tell from the photo what I’d really rather have.

This essay on the origins of my recent release, Whom the Gods Would Destroy, was originally done for the publisher, DarkFuse. I think it belongs here, too

You-Are-Universe(sm)

Some questions dog us almost from the cradle to the threshold of the grave.

“What really happens to us when we die?” — top of the list, I’m guessing. At least we’ll all get to learn everything there is to know about that one someday.

My favorite among the competition for co-headliner is whether or not intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe.

Arthur C. Clarke — who supplied a few pivotal words that I borrow and then bastardize in Whom the Gods Would Destroy — broke the question down with brutal succinctness:

“Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”

The general consensus is that we are probably not alone, but from there, all the earnestly held convictions start to diverge.

For someone like Carl Sagan, the incomprehensible vastness of the universe almost guarantees an abundance of life throughout our galaxy and beyond.

Sounds good. But others have chided Sagan for not being as picky as he should’ve been regarding the celestial mechanics necessary for a habitable world. For them, the planetary specs that make our place in the solar system so friendly to life are unusual to the point of freakishness, likely making life much more rare.

Stephen Hawking mixes optimism and pessimism in the same breath: Alien life almost certainly exists, but we should do everything we can to avoid attracting its attention, because to encounter it would surely be our ruin.

And on it goes: Hawking’s point is moot, because while aliens are out there, we’ll never see each other; the distances in between are so immense that we might as well be alone. Or they’re not merely out there, but right here, too, and have been dropping by for a long, long time.

One of the more intriguing theories, called panspermia, postulates that life is abundant throughout the universe, because life is what the universe does. Interstellar travel by advanced civilizations is incidental to the process, and unnecessary. Instead, life’s constituent compounds are continually being seeded wherever they happen to land after hitching a ride on asteroids and meteorites and comets … a kind of FedEx delivery system operating on a galactic scale. When it absolutely, positively has to be there in a billion years.

I like this.

Panspermia has its critics, of course, but that doesn’t make me like it any less. I like the randomness of it, the lack of direction and guidance for the finished products. It makes me think of dandelion fluff blown about in the wind, carried for miles, then deposited someplace that the wind doesn’t care about, and with no vested interest in the outcome. Just, “Here you go. Thrive. Or don’t.”

Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.

When it comes to terrifying, it’s a lot easier to work with the latter option.

And the great thing about being a storyteller is that something doesn’t have to be true, nor do you have to believe in it, to have a stellar time playing with it.

*

In coming across various reviews for various works of mine, and fielding the occasional question about it, it’s occurred to me that along the way I may have picked up a reputation for being a Screwed-Up Family Guy. Not because I come from a screwed-up family — although, to be honest, I do — but because such families seem to keep turning up in my work.

I know … armchair psychoanalysts love connecting those kinds of dots.

Most of the time, I wasn’t even aware that this had become such a recurring motif, probably because it can take so many shapes, and emerge in so many ways. Leo Tolstoy knew this. Just check his opening line to Anna Karenina: “All happy families resemble one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

All of which makes Whom the Gods Would Destroy inevitable, really. The people behind its narrator — a grad student in astronomy named Damien Phipps — may well constitute the most screwed-up family I’ve ever had the delicious displeasure of spending time with.

The earliest dandelion seed that blew along and landed in a fertile fold in my brain was the notion of a devoted mother intent on creating a very special human monster. Not as a consequence of her abuse, but as the deliberate outcome of her love, and desire to mold someone to further the strange — and ultimately otherworldly — work under the night skies that she feels she may never complete.

Before long, I realized she had a second-born, as well, and was intrigued by the idea of a family dynamic in which someone has grown up wholly excluded from the bonds that made his brother and mother as close as a diatomic molecule. Someone forced to go his own way, as far as he could, as soon as he could.

Is it any wonder that he turned to the sky?

Or, in Damien’s words:

“There was no place on Earth I could go that would seem far enough away from my family … because there was always the possibility that they could change their minds. Antipodal points on the planet would still not be far enough away. So I started thinking in terms of light years.”

But the light of the stars has a very long reach, and sometimes the gods have other ideas.

Despite all we know, or think we do, there remains something primal in us that still, in unguarded moments, sees the stars as the abode of the gods. And who knows — for all the scoffing, for the dismissing we do until something comes along to forcefully settle the issue once and for all, we may be right.

It just depends on how we define the word. And our definitions are many.

Most people seem to know the line from The Crow, but William Makepeace Thackery got there first: “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”

At its heart, Whom the Gods Would Destroy is about nothing so much as the devastations wrought by a crisis of faith.

The new book has freshly landed courtesy of DarkFuse. I’ve described it below — and here, of course — so no need to repeat myself.

WHOM-THE-GODS-250Instead, let’s defer to another early review, which calls it “an incredibly dark tale … Hodge plays with the notion of evil versus amorality. If an advanced enough intelligence seems like a god to us humans, what do we seem like to it? … Hodge’s writing is tight and suspenseful with the right amount of jolts.”

Plus, the culmination of 6 months of noisy studio labor is yours for the taking…

WTGWD-OST-CoverThe original soundtrack I’ve done for the book is ready to go. About 38 minutes, 10 tracks in 320kbps MP3, plus a 6-page PDF booklet. From soaring space music to sounds from the cosmic abyss, from plaintive piano to ominous grandeur, from a hurtling Mellotron freakout to a tortured orchestra, it really sets the mood for personal and planetary calamity. Download it here.

It’s also up for streaming on DarkFuse’s SoundCloud channel.

New Story Alert #4: Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth

November 18, 2013

And so concludes editor Stephen Jones’ epic trilogy of anthologies spawned from H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” This project has spanned nearly 20 years, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of its culmination, and to join the company of the authors who’ve been a part of it. If you know Lovecraft […]

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Whom the Gods Would Destroy Now Available For Pre-Order

November 11, 2013

Just in time as an antidote to the holidays, a family even weirder than yours: Whom The Gods Would Destroy is a month from release from DarkFuse, but the e-book edition up for pre-order now at 33% off, with fulfillment coming from Amazon. Call it 32,000 words of Carl Sagan gene-spliced with HP Lovecraft. It’s […]

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New Story Alert #3: Psycho-Mania!

November 5, 2013

“We all go a little mad sometimes.” — Norman Bates And Norman’s father of sorts, Robert Bloch, plays the posthumous host to this whopping volume acrawl with his descendants. This thing is big. The title won’t cue you in, but it’s actually another in the venerable line of “Mammoth Book of…” books. It’s big, I […]

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Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre

October 15, 2013

Here’s a thought: why not count down to everybody’s favorite October holiday with a seasonal story per day? Just to get into the Halloween spirit early and all… Say, with this freshly minted anthology edited by Paula Guran, and brimming with lots of people I’m honored to share pages with: John Shirley, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Laird […]

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Fearie Tales: Stories of the Grimm and Gruesome

September 28, 2013

And the cluster of new releases begins. Fearie Tales is the next book from the editor / publisher tag team of Stephen Jones and Jo Fletcher, who were behind 2011′s A Book Of Horrors, if you recall my novelette “Roots and All.” This time the directive … well, given the title and the subtitle, you […]

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3 Books + 5 Stories + 1 Soundtrack = 4 Months

September 3, 2013

So you work and work and work, and then, when you get the publishing dates, it looks like everything’s clustering all at once. Here’s a release schedule that lines it all up as I understand matters right now. And if the calendar ends without every event coming to pass, it’s no apocalypse … just more […]

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First Look: The Weight of the Dead

June 5, 2013

If you’ve acquired the new issue #69 of Cemetery Dance magazine, you can preview the first few sections of my accidental novella, The Weight of the Dead. Which should be released in full late this year. When the CD crew asked me to write something for their “End of the World” special issue, I really […]

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First Look: Dark Advent v2.0

May 28, 2013

I’ve had to keep mum about this one awhile, but finally I can speak freely without worrying about bruisers showing up to break my fingers. Cemetery Dance Publications is putting out a big fat hardcover edition of my early post-apocalyptic epic, Dark Advent. Which should be out by late this year, with the e-book edition […]

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