Letters From the Labyrinth 341
You may remember a few weeks ago when everyone in the horror fiction industry was talking about authors in their Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties feeling forgotten. You may also remember that we talked about how ageism is still a very real problem in the industry. And you may remember that I was asked for my thoughts on the whole thing.
Well, tonight I’ll be hosting a free Livestream at 7pm (Eastern time) with four living legends — David J. Schow, John Skipp, Chet Williamson, and Douglas E. Winter. This panel is sponsored by the HWA, so rather than taking place on my YouTube page, it’s taking place here instead.
We’re going to talk about how horror fiction and publishing have changed over the last 30 years — and what has stayed the same. If you’re a Boomer or a fellow Gen Xer, then you already know how important these four writers/editors are, and how entertaining this discussion is going to be. If you’re a Millennial or a Zoomer, this is important history and wisdom worth its weight in gold. I hope you will join us tonight, and tune in live. If you can’t for some reason, it will be recorded and made available afterward.
And I’ll be doing it again on August 6th with a new group of panelists including Ellen Datlow, Linda Addison, and Stephen Rasnic Tem.
Good morning. My name is Brian Keene and this is the 341st issue of Letters From the Labyrinth, a weekly newsletter for fans, friends, and family. I’m not dead yet, and you should have killed me last year.
* * *
I love that cover!
* * *
Because you demanded it, there’s a brand-new ten minute guided tour of my office, Mary’s office, and our personal library. Click here to watch it.
And if you just can’t get enough of us newlyweds, we recorded this video for our family on our honeymoon, and I forgot about it until I found it on my phone, and decided to share it with the rest of the world.
* * *
The 1980s and 1990s were the golden era of horror fiction magazines and zines — Deathrealm, The Twilight Zone, Night Cry, The Horror Show, Cemetery Dance, Grue, New Blood, Cabal Asylum, Welcome To Nod, Iniquities, Phantasm, and so many, many, many more. Deathrealm was one in particular that I desperately wanted to sell a story to, but alas, I was just starting out as a writer, and my stuff wasn’t yet publishable. And in 1997, right around the time I got good enough to start selling stories, Deathrealm folded. So, I figured that was that and I’d never sell them a story.
Until they brought it back as an anthology. Announcing Deathrealm: Spirits! That’s the complete line-up above, and I’m super jazzed to be appearing in it. My contribution is a brand-new Levi Stoltzfus story called “Bloody Roots”. Deathrealm: Spirits is available now for pre-order in paperback and ebook formats, and will be released on October 17, 2023.
* * *
OTHER WORDS continues to do well, sales-wise. Indeed, it’s my bestselling nonfiction book since END OF THE ROAD. I’m very grateful to all who have purchased a copy.
In case you missed last week’s newsletter, here’s the back cover copy / book description: “OTHER WORDS is a nonfiction collection that was previously only available as a very limited signed hardcover (back in 2017). This is its first time in paperback or eBook, and this new edition contains material that was not included in that hardcover. From the book description: “Other Words collects World Horror Grandmaster and multiple Bram Stoker Award winner Brian Keene's writings about other authors and creatives -- Stephen King, George Romero, Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, John Skipp, (Keene's future wife) Mary SanGiovanni, Brian Hodge, Wrath James White, J. F. Gonzalez, Holly Newstein, Richard Chizmar, Tom Piccirilli, Jeff Strand, C. Robert Cargill, and many more. An engrossing, thoughtful, and intimate look at the people and the history of modern horror fiction by one of its most celebrated practitioners.”
Signed Paperback: Manhattan On Mars
In addition to being my bestselling nonfiction book in a while, it’s the bestselling title at Manhattan On Mars. We had preorders totalling just over 50 copies, and they have now begun shipping to those who ordered.
* * *
We’ve begun announcing Guests of Honor for AuthorCon III (a Scares That Care Charity event) taking place April 12th - 14th in Williamsburg, VA. So far we’ve announced Aron Beauregard, Gretchen Felker-Martin, John Langan, Eric LaRocca, Carver Pike, Kristopher Rufty, Valancourt Books, Daniel J. Volpe, and L. Marie Wood. And we’re not even halfway done! More announcements to come. Get your tickets here.
* * *
Currently Watching: Oppenheimer, The Sopranos (Max)
Currently Reading: The Beast You Are by Paul Tremblay and Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon
Currently Listening: Digital Noise Alliance by Queensryche
Currently Playing: Clash of Clans
Oppenheimer was staggeringly great. Not quite Nolan’s best, but easily the best film I’ve seen in a very, very long time. Particularly great performances by Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr, Matt Damon and Josh Hartnett. It deserves to be seen on the big screen, if you have the means and ability. Me, John Urbancik, and my sons did not see it in IMAX — just standard theater, and we were still blown away.
Really enjoyed The Beast You Are. Like Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman, John Langan, and my wife, Mary SanGiovanni, Paul shines with short stories (meaning Joe, Neil, John, Mary, and Paul’s long form stuff is great, but their short fiction is particularly magical). This is a solid collection of just that — magic. Highly recommended.
* * *
A Few Random Thoughts On Social Media And This Week’s Big News Story…
If you came here hoping I’d talk about why, earlier this week, I Tweeted a quote from The Stand, and why Stephen King then ReTweeted me, and why Christopher Golden then also Tweeted about The Stand, I have no comment. People Tweet things.
But if you’re wondering what I thought about last week’s congressional subcommittee hearing on UFOs, well… I feel an immense sense of vindication and smugness. These witnesses were not tin-foil hat wearing meth heads from a trailer park. These were individuals who held the highest security clearances in our country, and whose records are unimpeachable. And now, under SWORN OATH mind you, it is officially on the record (and will forever be on the record) that rogue elements of the US government, US military, and private defense contractors are “in possession of craft and biological entities of non-human origin” and that these parties engaged in misappropriation of funds to finance further research and keep it from congress and the American public.
This should have been the biggest news story ever. It’s confirmation of the fact that non-human biological entities with a technological knowledge far more advanced than ours exist. And in any other decade, it would have been the biggest news story ever. And to their credit, all three American news media organizations did a commendable job of reporting it straight, without the usual derision or jokes they reserve for flying saucer reports. But… more Americans are talking about Barbie and Oppenheimer and the X-Men than this. Non-human intelligent life was officially confirmed as a matter of public, bipartisan record, but nobody noticed because they were all off fighting the culture wars.
I’ve been waiting for this moment since I was six-years old, but I feel like I’m watching it alone.
Regardless, if you still want to make fun of people like myself who have witnessed something or had an encounter or simply want to believe… well, the tables have turned. We’re gonna start making fun of you instead.
But getting back to people Tweeting things, as you may have noticed, Twitter is mostly just promotion for me now. I’m not using it to engage one-on-one. That sort of interaction — the interaction I’ve always enjoyed with you — is taking place here in the newsletter and on Bluesky.
Now, I know not everyone is able to get on Bluesky yet (but I’ve been doing my small part, and giving my invite codes to readers and the general public) but I’m firm in my belief that — long term — Bluesky is going to come out the winner in the current seismic shift taking place on social media. Substack’s newsletters are invaluable, and I love talking with you guys in the comments every week, but Substack’s Notes feature — after a month or so of heavy activity — feels like a ghost town now. Threads is already a joke. X or whatever Elon wants to call Twitter now is an even bigger joke. Facebook is where your grandparents are. TikTok is where your kids are. Bluesky is where I am (and here on Substack but with a focus on the newsletter, rather than Notes).
If somebody gives you a Bluesky code, don’t sit on it. Use it. Like we talked about last week, at the very least, you should claim your real estate, even if you don’t end up using it predominantly.
* * *
This was a very busy work week, with a focus on OPERATION: WALKABOUT, BENEATH THE LOST LEVEL, Jobs In Hell, and AuthorCon III. I also managed to find time to write a new essay for Apex Publishing’s Patreon page, write the first few pages of my novella for DISSONANT HARMONIES II, and a few pages of something I’m writing for Obituaries. I also organized all the Lost Level stories many of you ordered, and will begin writing them next week. My plan is a minimum of one per week.
What I really need is a week at the cabin in West Virginia, but I’m not sure I’ll get a chance to do that this year. I’ve got signings and appearances every month for the rest of the year, and my 15-year old starts back to school next month, and finding a week to go sequester myself deep in the wilderness and just write is going to be an increasingly difficult needle to thread.
* * *
And speaking of work, that does it for this week’s issue. I’ve got to get back to the muse. I hope that you’re staying cool and hydrated, and not letting the heat or oppression drive you down. As always, thanks for spending a little bit of your Sunday morning with me.
And remember, if you are able, please join us tonight at 7pm Eastern time. It’s going to be a great discussion.
I’ll see you back here next week!
— Brian Keene