March 19th, 2007


General Slocum's Gold

Well, so much for my cryptic announcement. The chapbook has now been officially announced on the publisher's website, Monica S. Kuebler's Burning Effigy Press:

General Slocum's Gold
by Nicholas Kaufmann

Sackett is no ordinary thief. He was born with strange abilities, powers he uses to pull off dangerous and unusual heists. Fresh out of Rikers and eager to get back in the game, he's got his eye on a fortune in gold rumoured to be buried on a deserted island in New York's East River. It should be the easiest job he's ever pulled. But North Brother Island isn't as deserted as he thought. The dead are waiting beneath the waves, waiting for Sackett, waiting to protect their treasure.

The chapbook will be launching at World Horror in just a couple of weeks, along with Brett A. Savory and Gord Zajac's The Distance Travelled: A Little Slice of Heaven, the sequel to Brett's novelette turned novella turned novel, The Distance Travelled.

Here's what some folks are saying about General Slocum's Gold:

"Kaufmann is in touch with a great tradition of adventure stories. He keeps the energy level high and delivers authentic thrills, all the while staying true to his very human characters."
- David Wellington, author of Monster Island and 13 Bullets

"The plot of GENERAL SLOCUM'S GOLD is so smart and wildly original that it crackles, but the real joy of this story is its emotional heart, where one man's dreams are also his nightmares, and both are gaining fast."
- Sarah Langan, author of The Keeper and The Missing

If you're not going to be at World Horror but want to get your hands on a copy, I'll have ordering information for you a little down the road.

Parish Damned

First, a caveat: Not only did I read the original version of this novella when it was published in e-book form by Creative Guy Publishing back in, oh, must've been '03, but I was actually a part of the book. Along with Kealan Patrick Burke and Mark McLaughlin, I helped supply the e-book's "special features" (mine was an essay on the European lesbian vampire movies of the 1970s, I believe). Anyway, I loved the novella then, so I'm sure it's no surprise I love this expanded, revised edition of Lee Thomas' Parish Damned, which Telos published last year.

Okay, another caveat: Lee Thomas is one of my best friends. But you know I've given honest reviews to friends' work before, and even if I didn't know him, I'd love this novella.

Thomas completely redefines the modern vampire with Parish Damned. These aren't Anne Rice types, nor are they black-caped Nosferatu. These vamps are mindless, hungry corpses that live underwater (schools of them, just like fish) and don't suck your blood so much as take chunks out of you altogether. There is one vampire that's more human, the one who turned all the others, but even here Thomas plays with genre conventions, adding a touch of science to the supernatural. It seems vampires like him can't just drink blood to survive. They first need to make the blood drinkable by infecting their victims with a disease the nameless boat captain who narrates the story calls "the crud."

The story starts when "the crud" has once again come to Coral Point, which means mysterious boatman Graham has returned too. The two seem to go hand in hand, and the narrator knows why. Graham's a vampire. But the controlled chaos Graham brings to Coral Point is usually over quickly, he takes what he needs and leaves. This time is different, though. Graham usually destroys the vampires he creates during his feeding, but something happens that prevents it, and now Coral Point has to deal with the "feeders" coming out of the water.

It's cool stuff, and the new material has been added seamlessly, for the most part. The only place you can tell old material and new are mixed is in the first half, when every time the narrator meets up with a woman named Claire, Thomas goes into detail about how attracted the narrator is to her. It's an odd bit of repitition that threw me off for a moment.

But that's really a small nitpick. Parish Damned is well worth your time and money, especially if you're interested in a fresh, new take on vampires.

Rumor has it Thomas will have a new piece out, hopefully later this year, that redefines the modern werewolf in much the same way. I can't wait!