Author: Nemo

EXEUNT ALICE

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I have a new book out! Actually, there is another one that came out this year with a really long title which I forgot to post about because I’m a feckin’ eejit, but for now…

REVISED & RE-RELEASED

A third adventure for the dream-child… ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and its sequel THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS are two classics of children’s literature following the nonsensical travels of the eponymous heroine, filled with scenes and characters that have become iconic and loved for generations. EXEUNT ALICE is a third tale for Lewis Carroll’s dream-child, imagining that at the end of his life he left an unpublished and final part of an “Alice” trilogy, a short and unedited first draft, presented here with footnotes and an analysis that, in keeping with the conceit, treat the story as a genuine “lost” manuscript. A meta-fiction, a meditation, and an affectionate homage.

 

From the introduction…

 

AN ALTERNATIVE “ALICE”

Author’s Notes, Which Usually Come Afterward

I originally released Exeunt Alice under the name of Lewis Carroll. Why? Because I called it a “metafiction”, a text in which the boundaries between fiction and reality are blurred. A lot of people thought the book was a deliberate hoax, and called it such. Well, on reflection, I’ve decided to re-issue it and call it what it really is.

It’s fan-fiction.

There, I said it.

I’m a Bizarro writer. Bizarro is the genre of the weird, and Carroll is a massive influence on it. Hell, the genre’s major award is named the Wonderland, and the bloke known as “the godfather of Bizarro fiction”, Carlton Mellick III, has even written his own riff on Carroll’s classic, Adolf in Wonderland.

I love the “Alice” books, so I have a lot of different editions of them; my favourites are the ones which are heavily annotated, because I also love footnotes, which is my excuse for why Exeunt has so many. So, yeah, this is fan-fiction, because like many fans who never want their favourite franchises to end, I have taken matters into my own hands. I’m not the only one either; not only are endless adaptations and re-imaginings of the original books still produced every year, but other writers before me have penned new adventures for Carroll’s dream-child, some of which I list in a bibliography after the actual introduction to this book (it will make sense when you get there, keeping in mind that the metafictional conceit Exeunt Alice is supposed to have been written by Carroll.)

I have plans for further alternative “Alice” books. I want to write a more modern, gritty adventure for a start, featuring an up-to-date Alice, who will probably be utterly horrible.

Anyway, for now, here is my attempt at writing a third “Alice” after Carroll, and whilst it can never be as good as the originals, I hope you will forgive this fan-boy his vanity in publishing this poor effort.

Hey, at least I didn’t do any shipping…

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A Foreign Language Review of SKIDSTAIN HALO

http://salon-litteraire.linternaute.com/fr/kevin-sweeney/review/1947160-skidstain-halo-de-kevin-sweeney

Translation:

SKIDSTAIN HALO, by Kevin Sweeney. Reviewer : Paul Sunderland (04/06/18).

The French word for “skid” is “déraper”. “Tache” translates “stain”, but “skidstain ” is “trace de pneus dans le slibard” (“pneu ” is “tyre”, “slibard” is slang for “shorts”, “panties”, “tighties”). “Halo ” poses no problem as it is the same word in French, yet what are we to make of “skidstain halo”? “Un halo en trace(s) de pneus “? Indeed, though to be more accurate, it sounds better to say “auréole en trace(s) de pneus”. The “auréole” testifies to the state of saintliness despite the, shall I say, oxymoronic grouping of “auréole” and “trace de pneus”, because in this short novel, the action takes place in Heaven. But Heaven is not what it used to be.

Since Satan went into retirement, Hell has closed up shop, and everybody goes to Heaven, even the worst cases, even serial killer Zinloos Geweld (which can be read “senseless violence”, “violence aveugle”), guilty of countless murders and assassinations in the course of her terrestrial existence. The main problem with Heaven, besides its ever-growing state of decrepitude, is that it’s a drag. Kevin Sweeney uses Woody Allen’s famous aporia (“Eternity is a long time, especially towards the end”), but twists it significantly, because in his novel, eternity has no end. Whereas Allen’s sentence brings out how dependent we are on our perception of time as a linear thrust made of succession, Sweeney, all in all, doesn’t do anything else but he doesn’t do just that. He also derides wildly and joyously our habitual religious representations. What seems to me to tell a lot, on the other hand, is the kind of appendix we read at the end of the book. There, in a few lines written in a sober style, I believe Kevin Sweeney shows that he is not so much a nihilist (atheist) as an agnostic; as far as I can see, he is permeable to the notion of transcendence. This addition may not have been essential to his purpose as any intelligent reader will see for him/herself on perusing Skidstain Halo.

It would indeed be too easy to just read this novel in a superficial way under the pretext of its belonging to the bizarro genre and of its subsequent liberal displaying of surrealistic violence and obscenity. Heaven has become a gigantic conglomerate of theme parks. Zinloos, who does not fit in anywhere, ends up selecting an arena dedicated to endless fights between teams of killers, monsters, super-heroes and super-villains, all more unlikely than the other, but which Sweeney masterfully ties in with pop culture. Skidstain is the name of the place. In a beyond where saints’ and angels’ haloes are made of recycled products (for want of anything more appropriate), points are won during a fight according to a player’s ability to defecate inside the halo worn by an opponent who, even dead, even atom-blasted, regenerates very quickly. These brief remarks should allow us to understand that the author is also very competent at using those worlds which we keep trying to swap for a reality either philosophically unsatisfying (failure of ideologies, and their rejection) or top-down (extremisms, rejection of confessors, advisers, spin doctors, and the like). All in all, Sweeney goes into overdrive and etches caricatures with no holds barred, because Skidstain Halo is also a very funny novel. Zinloos, in this geek universe (which is really ours), starts as a sort of shapeless, unfulfilled being (she doesn’t know who she is, what she actually is) and eventually gains consistence and self-awareness. In other words, she discovers her true identity by going beyond certain rules of action that are so crystallized in boredom and repetitivity that they border on sheer senselessness. For that matter, it is very interesting to learn, in the final lines of the novel, where the Creator, God Himself, exactly stands in these worlds which have reached the end of their tether.

As above, so below. As below, so above, but we have lost our sense of hierarchies and ends. It is fortunate that a ruthless and friendly killer should invite us to the party. On a more personal level, it’s the first time I’ve read Kevin Sweeney; I’m looking forward to discovering his other texts.

Review of THE CHURCH OF LATTER-DAY EUGENICS by Chris Kelso & Tom Bradley

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I’ve read and enjoyed both Kelso and Bradley before, so I came to this collaborative effort with high expectations and a few doubts. Well, the expectations have been met, and the doubts stomped down the drain like an accidental bowel movement had whilst showering… sorry, sorry, please blame that crude imagery on the fact that the protagonist of this story, an unsavoury gutter-journalist called Fulton, has left a little of his grubbiness upon me.

Where was I? Right, expectations and doubts.

My expectations were high because I’ve encountered the works of both authors before, though as singular entities, and they both more than deliver the goods every time. The doubts I had came from the manner of the goods they are able to deliver; Kelso I know from the ultra-hip and highly speculative end of independent lit, whereas Bradly is the veriest avatar of anarchic erudition. Both scare me to the point of pooping in the shower, where one is so young and yet so bloody talented, and the other wields a sledgehammer intellect in a literary scene where most carry ping-pong paddles… which is all my ham-fisted way of saying, how could two very different yet brilliant writers possibly produce a cohesive joint venture? I don’t know, but they did because THE CHURCH OF LATTER-DAY EUGENICS is a riotous romp.

(Oh, and special mention to the awesome illustrations by Nick Patterson throughout, which bear just a hint of James Gillray about them.)

monster

Wow, haven’t updated in a while… so I started off the New Year by appearing as an extra in the upcoming horror movie MONSTER.

Let’s see, I also have a new book coming out very soon, probably before the end of the month, called JAMES & THE GIANT PULSATING MASS OF PISSING, SHITTING, SCREAMING, PUKING, BURPING, BLEEDING, FARTING, SWEATING, EJACULATING GENETICALLY MODIFIED MUTANT MONSTER MEAT.

Also slated for release this year is GENOCIDE ON THE INFINITE EXPRESS, A CLOCKWORK AUBERGINE, and I’m currently finishing up OPPOSITE DAY.

So yeah, lots coming down the pipe.

MONSTER COOKIES!

MC

Armageddon was not what anybody imagined. Instead of a world nuked to ashes, something a lot weirder happened… Om-nom-nomageddon.
The entire world turned into food.
Meatloaf mountains with peaks of white mayonnaise. Deserts of instant coffee granules. Lollipop rainforests. Cola oceans. Even the animals have been transformed; gummi polar bears roaming the ice-cream Arctic, whilst jello elephants and candy cane zebras graze the African veldt.
For the few remaining humans who live in this smorgasbord Eden, life is a nightmare. Hunted for their skin to make fashionable clothing, Homo Sapiens are a resource being exploited towards extinction by the new dominant species… Gingerbread Men.
A bizarro B-movie, MONSTER COOKIES is an R-rated CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS served with a MAD MAX sauce.

I love the cover, and Doug Taylor who penned the wonderful introduction has written movies starring the likes of Jason Statham and William Shatner. The whole Cinema of Awesomeness series really lives up to the name.

SATAN’S LITTLE HELPER

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Stuffed full of Xmas magic and stomach churning ultra-violence, it’s THE HUNGER GAMES garroted with fairy lights and force fed to THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS! The devil only wants to be adored, and thinks that remaking himself as “Satan Claus” will win the hearts of the world’s children. From dictator of Hell to beloved myth of childhood, it’s certainly an ambitious career change. He totally fucks it up. Trying to set things right, he invites children from every country in the world to the North Pole to take part in a contest, a scavenger hunt, with the winners becoming his little helpers on Xmas Eve. With Adolf the Red-Nosed Reichdeer and his army of dwarf Elvis Presley clones helping, it’s bound to be a success… Except for one problem. All the kids are armed to the teeth. And all the kids want to kill him.

How I Got Into Bizarro

Weird shit has always fascinated me. As far back as I can remember I’ve avidly read books about unexplained phenomena, the occult, aliens, monsters, anything I could get my hands on that was about… well, weird shit. When I went to the library I always went back to the same few shelves dedicated to those subjects, hoping to find something new, but I often had to expand my search to other sections in order to root out anything bizarre that was new to me; I discovered the surrealists this way, as well as Jorge Luis Borges through a watered down, illustrated for children version of his Book of Imaginary Beings. If I knew there was going to be something on TV about UFOs or Loch Ness, nothing would stop me watching it.

(A side note; I married the love of my life on Loch Ness. Most of our wedding photographs have a photoshopped Nessie in them.)

Then I discovered a brilliant magazine that was dedicated solely to the weird shit I loved; The Fortean Times. It came out bi-monthly, wasn’t always easy to find, and apart from the cover it was entirely in black and white. It didn’t just feature all the broad topics, like hauntings and cryptozoology, but touched upon pretty much any kind of weirdness that was reported in press anywhere in the world, as well as featuring thoroughly researched essays about the bizarre; there might be an article about the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, and then a piece about why the children’s character Postman Pat was frowned upon in Japan (having only four fingers, it was assumed that he must be a yakuza, whose allegiance ceremony involved the initiate cutting off their pinky.) I loved it; I still do.

In one issue back in 1995 they had an interview with a writer. Up until this point I hadn’t really cared for fiction, because apart from the odd horror novel -I have always had a taste for DARK weird shit- it never really sparked my imagination. Then I read the interview with Robert Rankin, and it changed my life.

Cliché? Perhaps.

The interview focused on the fact that Rankin drew inspiration for his work from Fortean source material; for example, he said he got the idea for one novel after reading the story about how the Russians had accidentally drilled to Hell. His novel was about how humans were really living inside the Earth, and that all the stuff in the sky -clouds and stars and the sun and the moon- was an elaborate hoax to keep us docile whilst secret alien masters farmed us as a delicacy.

This was a revelation; here was a man who wrote books -novels!- based on the kind of weird shit I loved. The very first time I saw his name on a bookshop shelf, on a copy of The Most Amazing Man Who Ever Lived, I grabbed it. And then I read everything he ever wrote, buying every single new book as soon as it came out. Armageddon: The Musical, The Hallow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, Nostradamus Ate My Hamster… the titles alone hooked me every time.

Rankin was the one who made me want to write. Yes, the cliché is true; that interview changed my life.

After discovering Rankin I looked for more weird shit fiction. Rankin is primarily a humorist, and the only other person writing anything like his material was Tom Holt. That’s not a great deal of work to keep an obsessive like myself satisfied. So I got into horror fiction in a big way, largely because there wasn’t enough of the truly bizarre stuff to go around…  or so it seemed; this was still in the early years of the Internet when finding stuff you connected with was still constrained by geography. Sometimes I got lucky, and a bookshop employee with no clue what to do with something truly strange that had come in would shelf it under Horror because… well, Horror was weird shit, right? This was how I discovered the now-defunct Attack! Attack! Attack! imprint of Creation Press -with titles like Vatican Bloodbath, Raiders of the Low Forehead, and Tits Out Teenage Terror Totty– and thus Creation Press itself, and the merest inkling that maybe there were others out there who also had a taste for fiction about the weird shit.

And here we get to the meat of the matter, the matter of geography. Fast forward a few years to where the Internet wasn’t something you had to leave the house and visit a special cafe for. I stumbled across bizarro around 2006-07, whilst surfing for… weird shit. It had only just acquired a name, but when I saw it I recognized it for what it was. After all, I’d been looking for it for a long time.

I mentioned that Rankin made me want to write, and so I did. My first effort was hammered out on an Atari ST, a novel called The Tower of Bagel, a piece of absolute cockwomble spaff about the antichrist seeking to stop time because his birthday was on February 29th and he could only celebrate it every four years. It came with the obligatory Gary-Stu, with other characters including a rip-off of Vyvyan from The Young Ones, as well as a bartender who thought he was a camel (a proto-furry) who ended up cut in half and stitched to the sternum of an elderly alcoholic warlock. I wrote that in 1996-97 and the only remaining copy is amongst the possessions of a dead friend. I wrote a few more novels with the same characters, always trying to come up with weirder and weirder ideas; for instance, there was one called A Clockwork Aubergine about the tooth fairy building a doomsday device, and one of the central characters was a sentient pot belly stove called Mandolin.

I hadn’t a clue what to do with any of this crap though; I checked writer’s magazines and lists of publishers and no-one seemed to publish the kind of stuff I was writing.

I gave up trying to write weird shit. I figured Rankin was pretty much unique, a one-off never to be repeated. I wrote horror. Almost everything I wrote up until 2006-07 ended up in the bin, including a novel about a haunted golliwog doll called Mr Marmalade, and roughly half a million words of piss-poor Lovecraft imitations. The only survival from those years was my attempt at a kid’s book, Try Before You Die, a book which was too strange to fit into any of the usual genres, but of which I felt proud. I just accepted that its strangeness meant it would never be read, and settled myself to accept that if I wanted to write, I’d have to tow the line and write conventional stuff.

Then I found bizarro. I found out there were others, a LOT of others, who liked the weird shit like I did.

Rankin made me want to write, but it was finding bizarro that made me believe there was a point to it because after all, why write if not to be read? The Internet made the connections possible, and things snowballed from there. I met an American bloke on MySpace called Nathaniel Lambert, a genuine class act with whom I had sod all in common apart from a love of the weird shit and an itch to write it, and based on an idea he had we collaborated and wrote a book. That was Sideshow P.I. – The Devil’s Garden, our bizarro detective story that came out through Graveside Tales, a horror press that took a chance on us when it was still only quite a small core of outfits publishing bizarro. Other books have followed as markets for weird shit have grown –Damnation 101, The Whorehouse That Jack Built, right up to my latest, Exquisite Corpse Orgy– and I’m planning on upping my output; Black Rainbows Press will be putting out a new book by me every few months from now on.

This turned out to be a lot longer and more autobiographical then I expected, but this was how I got into bizarro.