The Momentum Blog
Posted July 27, 2012 by Greig Beck
I know this is where I should list weighty tomes by authors with unpronounceable Eastern European names. Or perhaps even demonstrate how, as a well-rounded author, I dabble in a little Lithuanian poetry after dinner… but alas, I cannot. I have to be true to what I read and enjoy.
Below are the real books that have influenced me, and still to this day, are the ones I may pull off a shelf in between new purchases.
1. Charnel House by Graham Masterton.
My favorite horror author. This story, and Masterton’s earlier works (such as The Manitou), has some of the most amazing and original terror scenes. This particular book has the killer first line of dialogue – ‘It’s my house. It’s breathing.’ Many of his stories, like mine today, have as their basis an underlying myth or legend.
2. John Carter of Mars series, by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
I read the entire series when I was about 14… then again at 18, and again at 25. The series was written by Burroughs almost exactly 100 years ago and follows the adventures of ex soldier, John Carter who is transported to Mars. He meets and falls in love with the beautiful Princess Dejah Thoris, and must battle monstrous creatures while saving the red planet. Like the writer’s Tarzan character before, John Carter came from a time when heroes were heroic (recently made into a slightly disappointing movie).
3. Who goes there? by John Campbell.
A rare short story from the 1950s. It was later turned into a movie (called The Thing) in the mid 50s, once more in the 80s and then just recently in 2011. Campbell’s description of the psychological breakdown of the men when trapped in the Antarctic while encountering a hostile alien creature is still very powerful, very claustrophobic, and very frightening. The 50s and 60s were a great time for monsters!
4. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.
I remember being in Basel, Switzerland on business, and being in a bookstore on a Saturday morning as they were putting it out on the shelves – I took it straight out of their hands! The story was so fantastic – the research, the characters, and the concepts – wow. I slept about 4 hours the entire weekend, and finished it just in time for work on the Monday morning!
5. Alien by Alan Dean Foster.
I’d like to start by thanking Alan for reminding us that aliens might not be all weird little turtles with lights on their fingers. From the moment the author had a crew pulled from hypersleep to touch down on the bleak planet LV426, it had me rapt. Mixed up POVs and a very small book, but one I have reread several times and each time can still feel the sense of dread, tension, and downright fear as they try and stay ahead of the creature running loose on board the massive mining vessel Nostromo.
6. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
Later made into a great movie starring Cliff Robertson (Charly). I know, I know, this seems incongruous after the other books I’ve listed, but the science is terrific, and effects of the science, brilliant. A simple man undergoes an experimental treatment, and ends up a genius. The book is written like a diary – the main character’s entries progressively go from a crayon-like scrawl, to a very polished prose. The way Keyes has the character grow both emotionally and intellectually is awesome. Read it to see the growing sophistication in the writing style. (This concept has been used many times – hello Limitless).
7. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.
I saw the Rod Taylor movie when I was a kid, then read the novel. Since then I have collected many antique copies, marveling at the fantastic cover art designs. I also have the Easton Press edition with the missing chapter called the ‘Grey Man’. This fantastic tale influenced too many stories and authors to count. He gave us the term “time machine”, and also brilliantly explored the concept of divergent evolution – think Eloi vs Morlok. This work certainly inspired my Valkeryn Series. Wells gives us a story that is every sci-fi reader (and author’s) dream – science, fantasy, excitement and fun.
8. Phantoms by Dean Koontz.
Following my novel, Beneath the Dark Ice, how can I not mention this book by Koontz, and the parallels with my own first story? Of course it influenced me!
In Phantoms, two sisters, return to their hometown to find everyone missing or dead. The few bodies they do encounter are strangely mutilated. Later, the police managed to find a reference to an author of a book called, The ‘Ancient Enemy’, where he describes various mass vanishings of people in different parts of the world over the centuries. Koontz describes in fantastic detail how and why the townsfolk are gone, where the mass disappearances have gone throughout history, and even ties it in with the possible extinction of the dinosaurs. Fantastic science, eerie scenes, and like in The Thing, a monster that could be hiding in the body of the person right next to you – I loved it!
Greig Beck, horror, list, The Time Machine, This Green Hell, thriller, Valkeryn
Posted May 4, 2012 by Anne
Head on over to Dark Matter for Nathan M Farrugia‘s thoughts on reading and writing in genre fiction. While you’re there have a look at their competition page – they’re giving away a copy of The Chimera Vector.
“There’s something about crossing genres that scares people. No one knows quite what to do with them, how to sell them, how to market them, how to read them. So it’s strange in a way for me to write The Chimera Vector. It’s a thriller that’s science fiction but isn’t. I guess you could say it’s a techno-thriller that teeters on the edge of sci-fi.”
Read on here.
For more on The Chimera Vector, step this way.Tagged: competition, fiction, genre, reading, techno-thriller, thriller, writing
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