Tear my heart out

Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z Brite

What a sexy book. If you want to read homoerotic, hyper violent romance, Poppy’s your author. There’s a lot of supernatural romance out there, especially that involving vampires, and even involving gay men. I’ve even written some myself.

But this was long before the boom and even now, even with this overwhelming mass of similar books, Exquisite Corpse stands out as ahead of the curve, controversial and emotional all at once.

I went from this to read her other works, which are similar, but it was this one, and particularly the final scene, which I won’t spoil, that pushed it over the edge both in terms of societal acceptance and into my favourites. I love a questionable moral and even better one that spellbinds you utterly.

Atta and the dumb human

Atta by Francis Rufus Bellamy

Mixing things up a bit. This is a novel I bought in the last year or so, so I actually remember it. And I hate it! I mean, you have to forgive older science fiction as products of their time. Because of this, rampant sexism, homophobia, white male privilege and so on becomes commonplace and glossed over, which isn’t great to put it lightly.

Anyway, this has all that I’m sure, but what it also has is an absolute moron as a main character. He gets shrunk early on without knowing what’s happened and it takes him until the end of the book to realise what has happened. He even befriends an ant (the titular Atta) for God’s sake.

I mean sure, he probably hadn’t seen Honey I Shrunk the Kids, but he’d surely opened his eyes at some point and seen an ant? Or a blade of grass.

Anyway, this infuriating idiocy actually makes the book kind of an entertaining science fiction comedy, so I finished it. Though I will never revisit.

Post-apocalyptic Taronga = perfect

Taronga by Victor Kelleher

God, I used to love Victor Kelleher. Aussie YA? Yes, please. And this was animals and magic and a young man who I found to be oh-so-similar to me, so it was perfect.

This is the only one of his that I’ve kept because it has the special significance of being the first of his I ever read. I recall none of the other titles, anything about their plots or anything, but he and this book will always have a special place in my heart.

Enter a Holo- sorry what?

Fiends by John Farris

Time to be absolutely fucking petrified. So these monsters look all weird and rictus-y when they have ivy or some plant around their necks, but when you remove it, they come back to life to wreak havoc, killing almost everyone.

Now, the tagline is troubling.

Enter a Holocaust of horror

As opposed to another type of Holocaust? I mean, I think it’s best to not use the Holocaust like this in the first place and be a bit more respectful, but if you’re going to do it, let it make sense.

That said, this book truly is the epitome of terrifying horror. I’m actually afraid to even throw it away, it may be cursed so as to unleash some fiends in my own life.

Might just shed this one

Molt Brother by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Science fiction is at its best when acting as an allegory for life. It can also be at its worst. I remember this at its best, but I fear that if I were to reread it, the opposite might be true. The story of love across species and a human man being indoctrinated into an other culture, I mean even writing this makes me cringe a little.

Anyway, I hope this stands up to time a bit better than my recollections of it do, because it has a fabulous Star Wars-esque cover and I remember being quite clever and insightful.

Pike versus Stine

Monster by Christopher Pike

For those not in the know, in school, Christopher Pike was like a much cooler R.L. Stine. His work was a bit edgier, a bit scarier, a bit more grown up. Of course this is talking in literary circles, so not in actual levels of cool, but to me, this is how it was.

I don’t know where I got this copy from, but it was obviously a library book once, and in a second hand store or two after that. Somewhere it lost its cover, but I think that was my fault.

I’ll quote the back to you:

Mary Carlson walked into the party with a loaded shotgun. In the blink of the eye, she blew two people away. She wanted to kill more, but was stopped by her best friend…

And so on. Pretty icky subject matter these days with ubiquitous school shootings in the US, but at the time, a good allegory for cool versus not cool.

Light and a little conspiracy theory

Born Into Light by Paul Samuel Jacobs

Another Scholastic publication I’ve saved through the years. Something about this enchanted me and I’m pretty sure I remember what it was.

It was the allusion to light and the fact that this was a part of the two strange alien children this revolves around. Since then, I’ve seen a few other light powers and loved them just as much. There are the creepy children from Village of the Damned and their light eyes. Sookie and her light fingers. (Interestingly, one of the actors who was a child also turns up in True Blood as Sookie’s cousin. Coincidence or are light powers real? I’ll let you decide) And of course Willow and her light hair.

My point is that this book started it for me, and whenever I write light powers into something, it’s likely due to this catalysing my love of them.