Thanks to Halloween, October is traditionally the month that readers look to the weirder side of the fiction spectrum. And there's no shortage of books to satisfy your zombie, vampire and ghostly needs. Here's a look at some recently released books that will help you get your weird on...
Check out SF Signal's top picks for October in SF/F titles.
Remember Why You Fear Me: The Best Dark Fiction of Robert Shearman
Sometimes you'll get the sharpest shock in short fiction, which is why you'll find five books containing short fiction on this list. The first is this collection from Shearman, whose dark fiction stories are based on single conceits that send chills up your spine... like a widower who suspects his dead wife's face is growing over his own, or the tale of a woman who rejects her husband's heart and gives it back to him, still beating, in a plastic box. Shiver.
Dead Mann Running by Stefan Petrucha
Petrucha's Hessius Mann books are not your regular zombie stories—a man executed for his wife's murder is brought back to life through the miracle of modern science when evidence is discovered that exonerates him. Now, this undead detective solves crimes in a society where the living and the undead coexist side by side.
The Big Book of Ghost Stories edited by Otto Penzler
This huge anthology boasts a wide variety of supernatural stories written over the span of more than a century. It features ghostly tales both classic and modern from a stellar lineup that includes H. P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, Rudyard Kipling, Donald E. Westlake, Edith Wharton, Isaac Asimov, Chet Williamson, Andrew Klavan, Joyce Carol Oates and more. Accompanying the stories are creepy illustrations to set the mood.
Mutated by Joe McKinney
As if the zombie apocalypse weren't enough, the plague that ended normal civilization means the undead outnumber the living 25:1. What's worse is that the zombies seem to be getting smarter by banding together against the survivors—who not only have to contend with the flesh-eating undead, but also megalomaniacal leaders on the rise. McKinney's zombie fiction evokes the horror of zombies while delivering it with a local southern taste. Mmm...southern brains...
The Mammoth Book of Zombie Apocalypse! Fightback created by Stephen Jones
What sets apart The Mammoth Book of Zombie Apocalypse! Fightback from other zombie apocalypse books? It's all in the delivery. The sequel to The Mammoth Book of Zombie Apocalypse!, like its predecessor, is a mosaic novel—one that shares a common story and setting—that tells its story through fiction, essays, reports, letters and official documents. Contributors include Guy Adams, Pat Cadigan, Peter Crowther, Jo Fletcher, Christopher Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Nancy Holder, Paul McAuley, Sarah Pinborough, Robert Shearman, Michael Marshall Smith, Lisa Tuttle and more.
Ghosts: Recent Hauntings edited by Paula Guran
Ghosts are a mainstay of the Halloween season and this collection rounds up no less than 30 masters of modern storytelling to give you the creeps. This anthology's table of contents boasts the names of Rick Bowes, Laird Barron, Jeffrey Ford, Karen Joy Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Hand, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Margo Lanagan, Joe R. Lansdale, Maureen F. McHugh, Sarah Monette, Tim Powers, Ekaterina Sedia, John Shirley, Peter Straub and more. Spooky stories indeed!
Skarlet: Part One of the Vampire Trinity by Thomas Emson
Another mainstay of the Halloween season: vampires. Skarlet is the first novel in a promising new series in which a new drug being distributed in London turns its users into vampires. The immortal undead and their human allies are out for blood, but a bitter and betrayed ex-soldier of the Iraq War stands in their way when he teams up with the journalist who brought about his downfall and the dealer tricked into distributing the drug. What they soon discover is that beside the threat of London's vampires lurks a danger even more sinister.
Night & Demons by David Drake
Known for his science fiction and fantasy stories, Drake is no less skilled at writing stories that lean toward horror and are a little bit off kilter, as exhibited in this collection. Here you will find weird fantastic tales filled with horrific sights involving both human and monsters. This collection also includes significant autobiographical and story notes.
Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom
It may be Halloween season right now, but Christmas is just around the corner. In this bizarre tale, artist and author Brom sprinkles a dash of evil into the story of Santa Claus by asking: What if jolly old Saint Nick's magic was stolen from an evil entity named Krampus? And what if Krampus steals it back? It's up to a down-and-out songwriter to save the holidays from Santa's mortal enemy.
If the above titles aren't enough to satisfy your morbid desires, check out these other worthy titles:
- Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha by Kim Newman
- Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper edited by Nancy Kilpatrick
- Death’s Apprentice by K.W. Jeter & Gareth Jefferson Jones
- Every House Is Haunted by Ian Rogers
- Home by Matthew Costello
- Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist
- Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings
- The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 23 edited by Stephen Jones
- Vampyric Variations by Nancy Kilpatrick
John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. He also likes bagels.