NBAS ’11: Placenta of Love by Spike Marlowe

Placenta of Love is a strange kind of Disneyland theme park adventure coupled with a savage Pirates of the Caribbean storyline that also relies heavily on a whacked-out monster theme… with a love story thrown in for good measure. Well… not for good measure. This is, for all intents and purposes, a very twisted love story, albeit a very strange one. Very strange.

Marlowe doesn’t just go for wicked weird, though. She goes for emotional, dark, violent, gory… hell, she goes for everything in this wild ride through crazy town and pulls it off brilliantly.

And in the interest of fulfilling a wish that the author has regarding this book, I’d like to publicly proclaim that this novel is Amazeballs… whatever that means.

From Amazon:

PLANET-SIZED AMUSEMENT PARKS, ROBO-PIRATES, AND A SENTIENT PLACENTA!

Step right up! Captain Carl the robo-pirate is one of the few Artificial Intelligences living on Venus-the amusement park planet. When Carl is given the spark of intelligence by his creator, he becomes a creator himself. No longer just an automaton from a pirate ride, Captain Carl creates the love of his life and searches for her perfect body. He thinks he’s found it in a big placenta. But programming is everything.

When the placenta’s desire to reproduce kicks in, the whole park is endangered as the organ grows to monster size, spreading placenta babies across the planet and eating all the rides (and the people riding them!). Captain Carl must band together with a cat, a creator, and the Pope of The Church of Transubstantial Birth Fear to stop his love from killing everyone and destroying the park.

YARRRRR!

Yarrrrr, indeed. Very Yarrrrr. All over the place. Yarrrrr to the extreme. And I only ‘Yarrrr’ so much because this book takes every damned car on the imagination train and flips it way the hell over, tumbling ass over tea-kettle with reckless abandon, but in a very fluid, very practiced way. Each executed plot point is wonderfully weird and hilariously off-the-wall.

In Placenta of Love, Marlowe has created an entire theme park on the planet Venus, and packed it full of interesting, intimidating, and curious rides. Of the many that she describes (each chapter is prefaced with the description of a different ride) I’ve got a few favourites that just kicked my ass. I would be first in line for a ton of these, but the following are the most hilariously intriguing, that’s for sure.

  1. The Felini Wheel – Formerly known as ‘The Fellatio Wheel’, this ride begins to slowly rotate while the automatons staffing the attraction pull down the riders’ pants and… well… you can guess when they do…
  2. The Tilt N’ Hurl – This ride spins its guests from side to side and head-over-heels, blasting them up through Venus’ atmosphere, and into lower orbit. It is preferred that guests do not throw up on this ride.
  3. The Tunnel Of Lust – A cave somewhat like the ‘It’s A Small World‘ ride at Disneyland, but is instead staffed by hundreds of little automatons representing different cultures and planets, copulating in the positions preferred by their cultures. Halfway through the ride, the coaches enter darkened caves featuring mood music for your loving pleasure. For an extra fee, the coach will begin to vibrate.

You can see where this is all going, right? Or can you…?

Marlowe may pepper loads of sexually charged content into this novel, but make no mistake that this is a story about love, and finding one’s self. Between the darkness that is very apparent in this story, and the author’s descriptions of her characters and their motives, Placenta of Love absolutely reeks of a story that is far too familiar to those of us who grew up in a sub-genre, or a group of people who were trying hard to find a place to fit in that was outside of the norm. Like Grimbol’s The Crud Masters, this novel owes a lot to The Outsiders, if only for its attitude and overall feeling of nihilism, no matter how small it is.

With her two main characters, the Romeo and the Juliet-esque Captain Carl and Helen, Marlowe bounces from wounded automaton/lonely placenta to confident and independent Pirate/giant, grotesquely ravenous placenta-monster, over the course of a story laden with heartache and pain. Captain Carl was once the leader of Venus’ pirate attraction, until his maker, in a perverted Pinocchio kind of way, gives him a fully functioning and reasoning AI, making him essentially a real being. In turn, Captain Carl steals a large, throbbing from someplace on the theme park grounds, gives it an AI like his own, and creates a monster. Where once he was in love with it (while still an AI on his ship), he soon comes to acknowledge that he must destroy the thing that he loves in order to save everyone else on the planet.

There’s so much more I want to say, but I really don’t want to spoil the treat for those of you who are interested in checking it out, which I strongly encourage. If you don’t, you’ll never find out just how Captain Carl and his monster placenta-lover actually manage to pro-create. It’s… interesting. *shudder*

Placenta of Love is covered in mystical, gothy, and wickedly dark bits of love and fun. The lengths that the author goes to in order to gross us out is brilliant, making for an epic and fast read that feels all too short.

And here’s a special treat for all of you folks who like to do a little sampling before you purchase. Here’s your chance to listen to the silken voice of Spike Marlowe as she reads the first two chapters of her book for you in a Dreadful Tales exclusive. If you’d like to stream it, see below.

Placenta of Love is available at Amazon in Paperback and for your Kindle. Visit Spike Marlowe online at her blog, and check out Eraserhead Press for more Bizarro Fiction. If you’re interested in more Bizarro than you can shake a stick at, visit the online community known as Bizarro Central. That place is awesome.

C.

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