Friday, December 24, 2010

Review: Infected: Prey by Andrea Speed

Andrea Speed's Infected: Prey is a hard-boiled detective book with were-cats. It's very, wonderfully traditional in the detective-book sense, in that the lead, Roan McKichan, is a cynical ex-cop who will follow the clues wherever they lead, no matter what seediness he uncovers. Like most such detectives, Roan has the right to move through all worlds, from the cop world he used to inhabit, to the tony neighborhood where his new, wealthy clients yearn for the return of their missing son, to the dance clubs where most of the son's friends hang out. So it's a detective story-- the romance stems from a committed relationship Roan is in already. And oh yeah, Speed's world features a community (they don't like the word) of people who can change into cats. Oh, and oh yeah, Roan and partner Paris are gay. The book takes their relationship, and the various tensions and feelings of inadequacy between tough, jaded Roan and beautiful, funny Paris, seriously. But this is a detective book, not a romance, so if you're looking for erotica, this is not your book.

Andrea Speed's world of cat-people is riveting and full of detail. There are a couple of kinds of "Infected"-- those who are born with the cat virus, and those who catch it. The transformation of man into tiger, lion, or cougar is painful and wrenching, and some of Speed's best writing comes in the passages where Roan has to lock up his partner Paris so that Paris can spend an hour painfully changing, and then remain locked up. These are beautiful, heartfelt passages, and Speed is good at capturing the sensitivity in Roan, outwardly a constant wisenheimer. Speed has built her world out with all the rules it needs, down to laws to keep the Infected in check (they *have* to lock themselves up) to wacko churches that cater to teens who want to become infected. Neat stuff.

Infected: Prey as collected in paperback is actually two Perry-Mason-length novellas, which is nice, because you can read a whole story and then move the the next one. As I look at my shelf, the true hard-boiled detective stories, your Saints and Hammers and Marlowes, were thin and efficient volumes, and would have stayed that way if not for the dawn of enormous Patricia Cornwell-style mega-thrillers. Stories like this that focus on a private eye and the cast of characters that surround him fit the novella length perfectly and also fit perfectly into the rhythms of TV drama series, which INFECTED could easily be.

I enjoyed entering this world and can't wait to read more of it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Interview at "From the Shadows"

I literally never get tired of answering questions about writing, so thank God someone is out there to ask. I just did an interview with the guys at From the Shadows and really enjoyed the questions. Some samples:
EJ: When did you begin writing?

Jason: I'm pretty sure this will be most author's answer, but very early. I remember starting to write short stories that were based on movies I'd seen-- like I wrote a story that was a sequel to War of the Gargantua, a Japanese movie about two giant, furry monsters. The first story I submitted was to Twilight Zone Magazine in about 1982 when I was 10, and it was about a robot who had been responsible for the sinking of the Titanic. If I recall correctly, it wasn't for them. :) I didn't publish any fiction until I was getting out of college....
EJ: Tell us why readers will enjoy your new release.

Jason: ALEX VAN HELSING: VAMPIRE RISING is the first in a series from HarperTeen about a teenager who learns that he can sense vampires and is recruited into a giant organization of vampire-hunters, the Polidorium. It's very heavy on action and close calls. This is very much James Bond with vampires. I just love writing them, especially because the world is one I created, where hundreds of years of vampire literature are all true. Book 1 came out this Summer and will come out in Paperback on the same day that Book 2, VOICE OF THE UNDEAD comes out in hardcover. If you have a young person in your life who wants more adventure with a paranormal twist, this is it for you.

Check out the whole interview.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What If: Dark Reign out today!

What If: Dark Reign out today!
Right at the edge of Christmas Eve, I'm spending most of my time trying to make use of vacation time to continue to chip away at Alex Van Helsing #3, but we have an announcement today. What If: Dark Reign: The Osborn Assassination is out today. I'm really excited by this because it's the first time I've gotten to write anything involving the Avengers, and in fact my whole love affair with comics started with a What If story way back in 1984 (What If Captain America Were Revived Today? by Peter B. Gillis and Sal Buscema. See Again with the Comics for a great write-up.)

What If: Dark Reign: The Osborn Assassination is the story of what happens when Hawkeye, a hero who has always pledged not to take life, made good on his threat to assassinate the evil Norman Osborn, the former supervillain who somehow managed to take over the United States security apparatus.

I love the art in this book from Sana Takeda-- see a preview from Comicbookresources.
The description:
Written by JASON HENDERSON Penciled by SANA TAKEDA Cover by MIKE DEODATO Back-Up Story By RICK REMENDER & SHAWN MOLL Before the events of Siege, long-time Avenger Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) sought to take matters into his own hands and kill Norman Osborn himself. Why should a menace like Osborn be allowed the chance to live? Slay the monster, save the kingdom... right? The kill shot is just the beginning in this twisted tale of conspiracy and intrigue that takes Dark Reign to even blacker depths. What's the worst that could happen? See for yourself in this one-shot from Jason Henderson and Sana Takeda. PLUS, What If: The Venom Symbiote Possessed Deadpool - Part 1! 40 PGS./Rated T+ Cover price $3.99.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Vampire of the Week #4: Pumpkin Vampire

I've posted a new Vampire of the Week. This week: The Serbian Pumpkin Vampire.

Want to see them all? You can find them on my video page, the jasonhenderson channel.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Blood and Roses (1960)

Tonight I watched Blood and Roses on Netflix, a 1960 French film that, like Crypt of the Vampire and The Vampire Lovers is an adaptation of Sheridan LeFanu's Carmilla.

But O, what a difference-- Blood and Roses comes from Roger Vadim, and where Vampire Lovers was a gothic cheesecake film and Crypt was a spooky mood piece, Vadim's movie is a beautiful, haunting, genuinely well-made and often surreal vampire movie that focuses on a small cast and the forbidden loves between them.
In this version, Carmilla is possessed by a vampire who wants to possess the handsome Leopoldo, and she chooses the beautiful Mircalla, who is jealous of (but also a little infatuated with) the stunning Georgia, who luckily has the same jealous/not so jealous thing going on. There are fireworks, costume balls, explosions and even a caaaa-raaazy dream sequence that puts the foreign in foreign film.

 You know how I often have to explain that a movie I'm watching has to be enjoyed in some removed or ironic fashion? This is not a movie like that-- it can be enjoyed as a prime piece of French New Wave.

Check out the slightly racy, very weird dream sequence here.

I cannot recommend this movie enough.

Here's a trailer:

If you wish to see the whole movie, you can just start watching it here: