Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Big Book of Necon, (Cemetery Dance Publications), edited by Bob Booth

What is Necon? Countless of philosophers have pondered this existential question for ages, (since Necon's conception nearly thirty years ago), and have reached several conclusions. Some believe it a meeting of like-minded individuals sharing their love of the written word, the spooky, fantastic, horrific and terrifying. Others describe it as an annual festival with feats testing the strength, courage, (and perhaps livers), of speculative writers in ways rivaling those of the Nordic gods. Some have even referred to it as a “Hippie Love-in Fest for Writers”.

Regardless, it goes without saying that like anything else, Necon is something that can't be talked about, (because they might have to kill you. Or spread photos of you from your Necon attendance), but is best experienced firsthand. However, if you've never been and would like to know what you're getting into first – there is “The Big Book of Necon”, a recent anthology/collection/omnibus of everything that's fine and good about the Northeastern Writers' Conference. Published by Cemetery Dance, this collection has everything. Usually it's custom to highlight the best elements, but that's hard to do, here, considering the list of contributors: Stephen King, Peter Straub, Brian Keene, F. Paul Wilson, Christopher Golden, Ramsey Cambell, Tim Lebbon, Neil Gaiman, Jack Ketchum....

And that's only a few. Hard to pick the best stories, but for a sample:

“Unexpected Attraction” by Mathew Costello is a chilling – and humorous – play on the succubus tale, featuring a love triangle of ghostly proportions. “End of the Line” by John Coyne is an excellent story about how life works out the way it should, even if not as planned. “Loser” by Les Daniels will make dieters think twice about their eating habits. “Kisses From Auntie”, by Craig Shaw Gardner is about two children discovering something magical and wondrous hidden in their aunt's attic – with a sinister twist. Christopher Golden's “Runaway” is a great story about alternate worlds, how loss and grief transcend gender, race...and species. “Under Cover” by Nancy Holder features the dark Noir “mash-up” of the street weary detective and thirst-weary vampire, and “Sundays” is a surprisingly touching, melancholic story by Jack Ketchum that may or may not end on an ominous note. Also featured, a never before published tale from Stephen King, his early homage to Edgar Allen Poe, “The Old Dude's Ticker.”

Also, the collection offers insightful essays on the history and meaning of Necon, from the hilarious – and possibly hallucinogenic – essay by Matt Bechtel., to others by Charles F. Grant and Thomas Monteleone, with fabulous artwork from Gahan Wilson, Glenn Chadbourne, Richard Sardina and Cortney Skinner. And, of course, one cannot forget the “Necon Lexicon”, as read at Necon 29 by Doug Winter. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Don't wait. Sign up for Necon 30, and so you have a chance of surviving the experience, get “The Big Book of Necon” today.

Visit www.campnecon.com and www.cemeterydance.com/page/CDP/PROD/booth01 today.

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