Guide Wanted Things: A Supernatural Short Story

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The show has come a long way in its portrayal of fangirls with the introduction of Charlie Bradbury, the cool and lovable uber-nerd who eventually became an important ally to the Winchesters, as well as a good friend. While she did prove to be helpful several times, like when she informed the boys about the location of the Colt which, admittedly, she only knew because she was an obsessive fan , she also forced Sam to marry her without his consent.

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When she runs out of the potion, and she attempts to acquire more, she tells her dealer that she and Sam have yet to consummate their marriage, implying that Becky was prepared to sexually assault Sam. Where to start with this one? The episode is meant to explore the relationship between familiars and their masters. While Portia, the familiar, chose to be with her master, she is essentially still his servant.

She even wears a collar as a symbol of his ownership of her. While we do see another witch and familiar pairing within the episode, over the course of 12 seasons of this hour-long drama, you can count the number of women of color with substantial roles on your hands, which makes the casting choices for this episode unfortunate.


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Dean slept with a woman who turned out to be an Amazon. As it turns out, Amazons have accelerated pregnancies, and their children experience rapid growth and grow to the age of sixteen over the course of a few days. When confronted by his daughter, Emma, Dean wanted to believe her when she said she wanted to leave the bloodthirsty Amazons and disappear with him, but it turned out to be a lie.

Luckily, Sam appeared and completed the job. However, all of that tension abruptly dissolved shortly after this episode, and the brothers never got the time to deal with the additional emotional baggage of knowing your brother killed someone close to you. The episode takes place in Missouri, where Dean and Sam learn of a possessed truck that has been targeting and killing black people. The truck was possessed by a man named Cyrus Dorian, who started attacking black people when his girlfriend left him for a black man. But on the whole, the episode is lazy, using heinous hate crimes for pulpy entertainment.

We learned about the sweet veterinarian who was trying to escape the past through a series of flashbacks during the first half of Season 8. In the few instances love interests are given a decent amount of characterization, like the fierce and lovely Jo Harvelle, the chemistry between the characters is just off. There was an uproar when fan favorite Charlie Bradbury played by the charming Felicia Day was killed back in Season However, this death hit the fandom hard, and many people began to complain that the show had become a little too trigger happy when it came to killing recurring female characters.

She died because Rowena was so annoying that she had to leave the safety of the warehouse, even though she knew the Styne family was out there looking for her. It was such an out-of-character move for the ever-so cautious Charlie that fans cried foul. In the end, her death served as a plot device to spur Dean into an even darker place than he already was. Supernatural has a real knack for creating interesting characters that you love, only to criminally underuse those characters and then kill them.

This is what happened to Kevin Tran. After the Apocalypse and the loss of Bobby, the boys had to slowly rebuild their support team. Unfortunately, that meant lights out for Kevin. The fans deserved better, but they had to watch as yet another character, one of the few recurring characters of color, got a lame death. When we see Dean shirtless just before he gets it on with the Amazon Lydia, the mark is gone.

Fans speculated that the scar healed when Cas healed Dean after Sam leaped into the pit. During the Apocalypse arc in Season 5, the show introduced the Antichrist. He was a young boy named Jesse Turner, the spawn of a human who was possessed by a demon. Jesse was incredibly powerful — he effortlessly exorcised demons, he could also teleport, alter reality, and move things with his mind. He was so powerful that Castiel said he could destroy all the angels in Heaven with a single word. I am working on what I fervently hope is the final draft of a second novel.

If it is not published then I will probably continue to rewrite it ad infinitum. A third novel, inspired by shortwave radio numbers stations, is in an early draft, but requires a great deal more work. I have been writing a great deal lately, and I am starting to feel the need to compose music soon. Michael Dirda is a weekly book columnist for The Washington Post. His own books include Browsings: He is currently at work on a book about late 19th and early 20th-century popular fiction in Britain.

He holds a Ph. One can spend hours immersed in these books, discovering new avenues for exploration and making mental notes on obscure titles to look out for. The goal of the exercise was to promote genre writers from Ireland. Well, I decided to do something about that.

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Loosely inspired by E. This list includes obvious writers such as Bram Stoker and Elizabeth Bowen, but also writers who are less well known, or whose contributions might not have had such a detectable effect on their peers. Naturally any such list will be highly idiosyncratic. I have chosen to focus primarily on fiction. On the whole I have shied away from oral tradition, mythology, and folklore.

No doubt these modes have had a profound impact on Irish literature, but to include them would make scope of the project unwieldy. That said, do expect occasional overlaps. While I have contributors for most of the entries on my list, there are a handful of yet unclaimed authors who need to be written about. This is where you come in. I do appreciate enthusiasm, but when writing please tell me a bit about your background qualifications and interest.

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Generally speaking, the deadline for articles is 1 December and the article length should be around 2, words depending on the author. There is payment involved. If you have any suggestions for authors to include, I would be happy to hear them, along with rationale as to why they should be included. Finally, anyone with an interest in Irish genre fiction might like to know that Swan River Press publishes a twice-yearly journal called The Green Book: You might find something of interest!

Uncertainties is an anthology of new writing — featuring contributions from Irish, British, and American authors — each exploring the idea of increasingly fragmented senses of reality. But these are no mere ghost stories. These tales of the uncanny grapple with existential epiphanies of the modern day, and when otherwise familiar landscapes become sinister and something decidedly less than certain.

Many years ago, before I moved to Dublin, I lived in one of those turn-of-the-century wooden houses that still line the streets of downtown Madison, Wisconsin.


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The house was large with clapboard siding and two broad and spacious front porches, one upstairs and one downstairs. Perfect for the barbecue, which during the summer months always seemed to be smouldering and ready to go. Anyway, the house was shabby when we moved in: Proper student digs, like. It had certainly housed generations of undergrads before us, and probably a good few families before that.

I knew every inch of that creaky old house. Going down the basement steps you had to duck your head to avoid the overhang — or risk concussion. John had his own small space off the living-room, while my room was at the rear of the house with a second door to the back staircase. Upstairs was another kitchen and hidden in a sort of walk-in closet off the second-floor sitting room was a small stained-glass window. Kurt, Erika, and Mike had rooms up there as well.

And above them was the attic.

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All manner of late night madness went on under that roof. We all loved that stuff, by the way. Urban legends, bad television, good science fiction, and cheap beer. So one day in the late spring I was sat there studying at the desk in my room, when I was interrupted by Max calling for me to join him outside. It was just the side of the house, nothing odd that I could see.

And those two on the right are for the upstairs dining room. I looked up to the window he was pointing at. There was no room up there that either of us could account for; the windows simply did not tally with our intimate recollections of the space in which we dwelt. I knew the house same as Max, and now we shared that same sense of uncertainty.

We rushed inside and up the staircase to the second floor. We both counted the windows and then dashed back to the drive-way to count them again from the outside. The discrepancy remained and neither of us had the answer. What had once been a familiar space was now suddenly quite strange. Our home had become, in the truest definition of the word, unheimlich. However, there was one thing we were absolutely sure of: Uncertainties is, to be exact, a volume of uncanny tales. The uncanny often gets lumped into the broader genre that is horror, but perhaps does not entirely belong there.

Sometimes the result instils a sense of horror, as in Lovecraft, but this is not always the case. This is a crude argument, I know, but I hope you understand my meaning anyway. Take for instance Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood, two authors regularly claimed by the horror camp. While no one would argue that they both wrote superb tales of horror, their respective bodies of work also segue into more subtle examinations of ontological disruption, often eschewing horror entirely. In some ways the uncanny tale is the antithesis to the classic detective story, which relies on a mystery that usually is solved by the end of the narrative.

On the contrary, the uncanny tale revels in the mystery itself. These stories start out in the recognisable world, the every-day, and slowly move into less familiar terrain. And instead of requiring the satisfaction of a solution, the connoisseur of the uncanny tale appreciates that lingering sense of wonderment, awe, and, yes, sometimes dread. It ignites the imagination. The stories gathered in this volume and its predecessor celebrate this notion. A secret room of which Max and I were unaware? An alternate space with its own curious laws and secrets?

Had we finally pierced the veil to other world? You might like to know, but to be overly concerned with the answer is to miss the point — what mattered in that moment was the mystery.

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He also edits The Green Book , a journal devoted to Irish writers of the fantastic. Order Uncertainties Volume 1 here and Volume 2 here. My earliest exposure to Fritz Leiber was via the adventures of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser as they fought and drank and caroused their way through Lankhmar City of Sevenscore Thousand Smokes! It picked up the World Fantasy Award for best novel of , and rightfully so. Our Lady of Darkness is a marvellous supernatural meta-fiction. Our Lady of Darkness remains one of my favourite novels, a carefully constructed and fully realised fictional world.

A few years back I learned that Our Lady of Darkness was originally published under a different title: You can see below that it was the cover story of the January issue as well. That painting there is by the great fantasy artist Ron Walotsky. Anyway, I was intrigued. I wanted to read The Pale Brown Thing. Familiar, yet different; more briskly paced. John Howard expands on this idea in the afterword of the Swan River Press edition.

I love literary artefacts, multiple versions of the same story, and the idea of a published evolution of a story. I wanted to explore the work and properly celebrate the book. John is a long-time scholar of the weird and had often written about Leiber.

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Jason was also a fan of the story and eager to get to work on a cover, a new piece that would pay tribute to Walotsky below. So then what about an introduction? Surely not a job for just anyone. Sidney-Fryer was not only a good friend of Leiber back in his San Francisco days, but also counts Clark Ashton Smith as one of his early mentors. Sidney-Fryer is an accomplished author whose poems and essays are available from Hippocampus Press — you should really check them out.

In any case, Donaldo — which is how he signs his letters — was more than happy to write an introduction. He wrote about his friendship with Leiber and his place in the novel. My correspondence with Donaldo has been a privilege. This on-going conversation with Donaldo is as important a part of creating this new edition of The Pale Brown Thing as is the text itself. He is a connection to ghosts of times past: Leiber to Lovecraft and Smith to Bierce.

He is a portal to a classic work of fiction that I have enjoyed many times over the years, and I am grateful for the opportunity to explore again. If you want to read a bit more about Donaldo, John Howard was kind enough to interview him about The Pale Brown Thing , his writing, and his friendship with Leiber for our website. You can read it here. It will be out in July Order a copy of The Pale Brown Thing here. I write a line to tell you of our terrible loss.

His face looks so happy with a beautiful smile on it. We were quite unprepared for the end. But it comforts me to think he is in Heaven, for no one could have been better than he was. He lived only for us, and his life was a most troubled one. I know you will feel this Dear Lord Dufferin. He loved you very much and very often spoke of you. It was written in a long flowing hand on card with a heavy black border. Le Fanu had many admirers, among them ghost story writer M. Sheridan Le Fanu the author of Uncle Silas and other romances was also of a chill and curdling nature.

No author more frequently caused a reader to look over his shoulder in the dead hour of the night. None made a nervous visitor feel more uncomfortable in the big, bleak bedrooms of old Highland houses. Reminiscences of a Bachelor , a brooding gothic novella not reprinted since its first publication in ; and a tribute anthology Dreams of Shadow and Smoke , which won the Ghost Story Award for best book in Yet, memory, to me thou art The dearest of the gifts of mind, For all the joys that touch my heart Are joys that I have left behind.

Over the summer I had the pleasure of visiting Fonthill, the astonishing storybook mansion designed and built by Henry C. I can thank Peter Bell for my literary adventure to Fonthill — a journey of over 3, miles from my home in Oregon. It was here that Peter extolled the originality of November Night Tales and cited it as a great lost book that begged for rediscovery. Actually, it would be more correct to say: After gulping down the stories, I contacted Peter because I was thinking that my company, Bruin Books, could publish a paperback version.

The situation became immediately more interesting when Peter connected me with Brian J. Showers at Swan River Press. A limited run hardback would be a more fitting tribute to this elusive gem of a book. One thing led to another and a few months later I found myself walking the Mercer Mile in Doylestown. November Night Tales was securely fastened in my mind. It is situated a mile from the Mercer Museum, which Mercer also designed and built and filled to the rafters with relics of early American farmers and craftsmen.

I visited the museum first, hoping to get a glimpse of the famous Lenape Stone, a carved relic discovered in a newly ploughed field in The stone, now broken in half, depicts a tribe of Native Americans taking down a Wooly Mammoth with spears. Mercer wrote an entire book about the finding, but it is now regarded as a forgery that was probably scratched out by a bored farm boy. When I finally found the stone at the very top level of the museum, I was disappointed by its size.

It was more like a skipping stone than a tablet. Yet, forgery or not, I still want to believe in the Lenape Stone, because a carving of Indians and Mammoths struggling for supremacy in ancient America is how it should have been. Its many levels and multiple stairways encircle a single room that stretches from floor to rafters. The vaulted ceiling, mounted with crates and miscellaneous contraptions posed upside down, gave the overhead spaces a strange mirrored look, creating the illusion that I was gazing into the bottom of a grotto strewn with cargo spilled from a shipwreck.

There are only so many weeding hoes and one-horse buggies a person can handle in an afternoon, so I made for the exit after an hour of exploring the museum. The stretch of road between museum and house is known as the Mercer mile, and there is a firm connection, both physically and spiritually, between the two massive structures.

The quirky collection within the museum makes for an intriguing afternoon, but Fonthill is the true gem of the Mercer Mile. The house stands like a giant sand castle atop a gentle sloping hill. Mature columns of gnarled sycamore trees align a narrow asphalt road up to the house.

I was there on an oppressively hot and humid day in July. A native of the west coast, I naturally associated any gray day with cooler weather, but here in Bucks County the overcast served as a pressure cooker, creating a stifling steam bath that felt more like the Florida Everglades than Amish country. The slightest movement had me panting for water.