Dreadful Tales Gets Weird

Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve read no less than 12 of the most insanely off-the-wall books I’ve ever seen. That’s a lot to digest in such a short amount of time – approximately something like 1200 (or more) pages of the weirdest shit you’ve ever laid your eyes on. And that’s also on top of the books I’ve checked out in the mean-time, and the 100 years of Horror articles.

And sleeping.

And eating.

Not books… eating food.

Though… I could eat books…

Never mind. Eating books is a bad idea right now.

Especially after the announcement I’m about to make, and mostly cause I’m nervous about this.

What’s the announcement? Well, I’m sure you can see that the site has taken on a bit of a… different… look today.

That’s because we’re trying something different with our design (which will be ongoing for a little while) and celebrating Bizarro Fiction for the next 9 days here on Dreadful Tales! (January 23rd to the 31st)

Now, one might ask what exactly Bizarro Fiction is:

According to the most informative website on the genre, Bizarro Central‘s ‘About Bizarro’ page:

What Is Bizarro?

  1. Bizarro, simply put, is the genre of the weird.
  2. Bizarro is literature’s equivalent to the cult section at the video store.
  3. Like cult movies, Bizarro is sometimes surreal, sometimes avant-garde, sometimes goofy, sometimes bloody, sometimes borderline pornographic, and almost always completely out there.
  4. Bizarro strives not only to be strange, but fascinating, thought-provoking, and, above all, fun to read.
  5. Bizarro often contains a certain cartoon logic that, when applied to the real world, creates an unstable universe where the bizarre becomes the norm and absurdities are made flesh.
  6. Bizarro was created by a group of small press publishers in response to the increasing demand for (good) weird fiction and the increasing number of authors who specialize in it.
  7. Bizarro is like:
    • Franz Kafka meets John Waters
    • Dr. Suess of the post-apocalypse
    • Takashi Miike meets William S. Burroughs
    • Alice in Wonderland for adults
    • Japanese animation directed by David Lynch

Even though the Bizarros are underground cult outsiders they still have gained an incredible amount of respect in the publishing industry, having been praised by the likes of Chuck Palahniuk, Christopher Moore, William Gibson, Jonathan Lethem, Piers Anthony, Cory Doctorow, Poppy Z. Brite, Michael Moorcock, and Charles de Lint, to name a few, as well as the publications Asimov’s Science-fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science-fiction, Fangoria, Cemetery Dance, Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Details Magazine, Gothic Magazine, and The Face, among many others. They have also been finalists for the Philip K Dick Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Rhysling Award, the Wonderland Book Award, and the Pushcart Prize.

Bizarro isn’t just weird fiction, it is DAMN GOOD weird fiction. And it grows exponentially every single day, so, love it or hate it, you’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the years to come.

We’re excited to bring you a look at 8 new bizarro novels from Eraserhead Press, and specifically from the minds of the New Bizarro Authors Series folks who fill the 2011 lineup (henceforth known as the NBAS ’11). For those of you who don’t know, this is a series Eraserhead Press has started in order to bring some fresh blood to the genre.

Here’s the idea behind the NBAS:

You hold in your hands now a book from the New Bizarro Author Series. Normally, Eraserhead Press publishes twelve books a year. Of those, only one or two are by new writers. The NBAS alters this dynamic, thus giving more authors of weird fiction a chance at publication. For every book published in this series, the following will be true: This is the author’s first published book. We’re testing the waters to see if this author can find a readership, and whether or not you see more Eraserhead Press titles from this author is up to you. The success of this author is in your hands. If enough copies of this book aren’t sold within a year, there will be no future books from the author published by Eraserhead Press. So, if you enjoy this author’s work and want to see more in print, we encourage you to help him out by writing reviews of his book and telling your friends. In any event, hope you enjoy…

Given the guidelines there, and the fact that I was contacted to review one of the books, I wanted to lend a little more than a helping hand. I’m a huge fan of bizarre tales and upstart authors, and it’s no sweat off my back to read a few hundred pages and talk about it. So for the next bunch of days you’re going to be checking out the weirdest that the genre has to offer (with other stuff peppered in), and reading about some of the fresh blood bursting onto the scene.

With that, let’s welcome Justin Grimbol, Vince Kramer, Constance Ann Fitzgerald, Troy Chambers, Spike Marlowe, Michael Allen Rose, Eric Beeny, and S.D. Foster to the fold. This week is gonna be weird

Free Fiction Friday

Well, its Friday which means that your friends here at Dreadful Tales have another edition of Free Fiction Friday.  Enjoy!

I know we’ve mentioned it a few times but, WE LOVE JEFF STRAND!!!!!!!!!!  Jeff currently has a free story on his site called, The Drop. The Drop illustrates exactly what Jeff’s “Gleefully Macabre” is all about.



If you are a regular reader of this site, you know that I absolutely love Bizarro which means I am a regular over at BizarroCentral.com.  (Almost) Every Friday they have a free piece of flash fiction from a different author.  The authors range from heavy hitters like Andersen Prunty and Cameron Pierce to extremely talented up-and-comers.  If you’ve ever been curious about this amazing sub-genre, this would serve as a great introduction.


Scott Nicholson has a free story up on Amazon and Smashwords.  The story is called The Vampire Shortstop.  This is what Scott has to say: “It was an international Writers of the Future award winner in 1999. You don’t have to like baseball or vampires–it’s about a misfit kid looking to belong. I hope you enjoy it!”


Shatnerquake by Jeff Burk

Shatner.  Star Wars.  ‘Star Trek’. ‘Twilight Zone’. Bruce Campell.  If any one of these things get your Flux Capacitor fluxing , well then, Shatnerquake is a book that you need to read. 

Shatnerquake takes place at the inventively titled convention known as Shatner Con.  Shatner Con is a celebration of all things Shatner, with theaters showing Shatner 24/7, a museum dedicated to Shatner and ,of course, a legion of Kirk obsessed fans who are chomping at the bit to get to meet their idol.  Sounds like the perfect event for the inner nerd in all of us, right?  Well it would be …………if it wasn’t for those darn Campbellians!  What are Campbellians, you ask?  Campbellians are rabid fans of Bruce Campbell who have cut off their right arm below the elbow in a display of dedication to their hero. There is nothing Campbellians despise more, and I mean nothing, than William Shatner.  The Campbellians have come up with a plan to permanently eradicate William Shatner from the planet by unleashing a Fiction Bomb at Shatner Con (in case you were wondering, a Fiction Bomb is a device that is housed in a VCR that, once detonated, can erase the memory of any character from the general consciousness).  Unfortunately, the Fiction Bomb malfunctions and instead of erasing Shatner from existence, it unleashes every character Shatner has ever portrayed on an unsuspecting world.  These characters all share the same insatiable desire to destroy the actor who gave them life.  What follows is one of the most wonderfully bizarre pieces of genre fiction I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

Shatnerquake is some of the most fun that you are likely to have reading a book.  At just under 100 pages, this story plays out like most of Shatner’s films- a cheesy action-fest that will have you laughing and cheering throughout.  Technically this book is considered bizarro (and that certainly is an apt description) but, due to the broad appeal and solid writing, it is able to transcend genres. Fans of sci-fi, horror, bizarro, action and comics have all sang the praises of this book.  It is that good. With nods to even the most obscure Shatner characters, fans will find themselves reading and re-reading Shatnerquake just to see if they can pick out all of the characters- a Where’s Waldo, of sorts.

There is something special about reading a book where you can sit back and say, “Man, that author is one if us.”  Burk knows how to push all the right buttons because he is a total nerd just like us.  There is a certain level of confidence and respect that the author shows toward his fans- he knows that we will be familiar with the Incubus Shatner, while chuckling at the ‘Rescue 911’ Shatner.  It is gleefully apparent that Burk had more fun writing this story than any of us will ever have reading it, and that is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. He is nothing more than a fan who is indulging his inner-geekdom. 

Lucky for us readers, Burk has the talent to pull off a story like this with great ease and fluidity.  It would be easy to dismiss the concept as just another inventive piece of ‘Star Trek’ inspired fan fiction but Shatnerquake is so much more than that- it is the definitive piece of Shatner/Trek inspired fiction. Burk’s vast imagination and skilled writing are what make this a very special experience. 

I honestly don’t know what else I can say to persuade you to read this book.  If the thought of Captain Kirk wielding a light saber doesn’t sell you on this wonderfully crafted novella then nothing will.