Horror writer David Nickle is a master of the creepy -- the reveal at the end of the horror story that lodges in your brain and revisits you in goosepimply moments of fear. I stole the idea of ambulatory thumbs in Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town from one of his short stories ("The Unshackling of Thumbs"), because once I read that story, the image just wouldn't get out of my head.
But with his new novel, The 'Geisters, Nickle manages to capture another of horror's delicious thrills: spookiness. From the first page, The 'Geisters exudes a hindbrain-teasing sense of lurking menace, the haunted-house creak of an impending apparition. It's a spectacular feeling, and Nickle tightrope-walks it for 300 too-short pages, building to a climax that's spooky, creepy and scary besides -- and all the moreso because of that long journey on the verge of fear.
Geisters is the story of Ann LeSage, a girl who manifests a violent and elusive poltergeist she calls the Insect. We meet Ann as she is about to get married to a lawyer named Michael Voors, who bemusedly resolves the cognitive dissonance of salt-shakers that move on their own without resorting to supernatural explanations. Ann knows better. She knows that the Insect has escaped from the mental prison she built for it after it killed her parents and turned her brother into a quadriplegic. As she and Michael depart for a lavish Caribbean honeymoon -- paid for by Michael's mentor, a rich winery owner -- the Insect manifests more frequently and in ways that grow ever more violent, culminating with their return flight making a disastrous emergency landing that kills her husband. That death sets her on a journey across America, hunted by people who seem to know the true nature of the poltergeists -- and who have a darkly erotic relationship with them.
The story is a white-knuckler from page one, and Nickle is a master of luring you into thinking that the supernatural can be rationalized and systemized, only to reveal, time and again, that the orderly patterns we try to make of the irrational are figments of our imagination. I was off-balance and more than a little scared throughout.
This/next week, I’m speaking in events in Park City, Utah (Future in Review); Boston (The Freedom to Innovate Summit, the Berman Center and Suffolk University); Toronto (Seneca College); Markham (In Conversation and Storytellers); and the University of Waterloo! Come say hi! (Image: Terri Oda, CC-BY)
When I was a kid, I was terrified of farting in class. At home, it was no big deal: it was a daily fart festival with my family. But at school? TOTAL FEAR OF FLATULENCE. But then it dawned on me: EVERYBODY FARTS. And that’s one of the reasons why I’ve decided to write a graphic novel about how our bodies work. It’s about all the stuff that goes on inside our bodies daily, or throughout our lives, and that this stuff – whether it’s digestion, or respiration, or defecation – is necessary for us to live. And it gives you excellent come-back material if anyone teases you for farting in school!
Alan Turing and the codebreakers of Bletchley Park invented modern crypto and computers in the course of breaking Enigma ciphers, the codes that Axis powers created with repurposed Enigma Machines — sophisticated (for the day) encryption tools invented for the banking industry — to keep the Allies from listening in on their communications.
The Lytro Illum dares to be different, boasting even more robust features than its first generation predecessor and a sleek design reminiscent of professional DSLRs. What’s so cool about it? Most cameras capture the position of light rays, producing a statoc 2D image.
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