My horror anthology is now available at Good Reads. You can preview it here –
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Synopsis: FETIDUS: The Damned Heir by James Durham is the first sci-fi/horror novel and original music score set in the grim and fetid alleyways of a post-apocalyptic Washington, DC, circa 2034. In this first novel, Art Blanchard, a jaded Washington lobbyist who works for The Foundation for the Ethical Treatment of the Innocently Damned, Undead and Supernatural (FETIDUS), takes up the blackmail case of a mysterious woman, which leads him on a twisted adventure filled with noir-humor, suspense and horror.
Production: James does audio production for a living. He’s also a musician and composer. It shows in every bit of this podcast. He won a Parsec for it and it was deserved, even though at the time he won it, it had not yet finished. Fetidus seems not so much produced as sculpted. The music and sound effects accentuated every bit of the story.
Cast: Fetidus uses a full voice cast. Most of the people involved are pros, possibly all. As such, they do a marvelous job with their various roles.
Story: This is a modern noir. There’s a healthy dose of violence and sex, though the former is more explicit than the latter. There’s a lot going on here and in that sense it’s perhaps more complicated than its cinematic predecessors. Of course he injected vampires, zombies, and a horrific apocalypse into it as well. Taken all together there are times when it almost seems like too much. It’s easy to get overloaded with plot threads in addition to the world building that he’s done here. If you’re looking for a straight forward romp, this ain’t it. It also gets really, REALLY dark and there are times where the violence is a bit too much for my taste.
Verdict: I heartily endorse this podcast. In case it’s not obvious I think it’s one of the top ones out there and it earned the Parsec. Odin rightly dinged it for it’s release schedule, since it did go through a reboot. There are good reasons for that that I won’t go into since they’re immaterial now. You as a new listener have the benefit of all the episodes being out there for your consumption. If you’re into noir and zombies I’m frankly surprised you haven’t already listened to it!
Grade: Solid A
I had a thought strike me yesterday (no it didn’t hurt, but it is very lonely and soooo, soooo cold). To whit, the thing that makes horror really scary is mystery.
The minute we fully understand that which is scary, it ceases to be as scary. Typically when there’s a big reveal in a horror novel or a movie all the scary evaporates and it becomes a thriller or an action adventure (or sometimes just plain silly). For example, I give you vampires. It’s really difficult to make them scary because now we “know” all of their weakness. Once the protagonists know that there are vampires they just break out the stakes and boom.
Now you could argue that you can still make a story scary by keeping the protagonists ignorant. If they don’t know about or don’t believe in bogey monsters then they can’t fight them as effectively. That can indeed help, but only a bit. We, the audience still know and that can neuter the story.
Another example, this one from the movies. Pick your modern horror icons: Jason, Freddy, Michael. What makes them scary at least in large part is, we don’t know what they are or how to put them down. They’re unstoppable forces, until… someone figures out their weakness or what precisely they are.
Now that’s not to say you can’t make these things scary or at least interesting. The thing is, I’m not so sure I’m talented enough to do that yet. It’s okay, most storytellers in the horror genre aren’t either. For the most part they just do what’s become popular and throw a lot of gore at it and hope it sticks. Some of them are gutsy enough to try and re-invent the critter. Rob Zombie’s given that a number of shots. I won’t opine on how successful he’s been since I haven’t seen most of them, but that is one option.
The better thing? Create something new, out of whole cloth. Don’t give away all (or any) of your creation’s secrets. maintain that aura of mystery. ‘Cause once you’ve shown it all, it’s just “Speed” in a haunted house