A Preview of Philip Fracassi’s “The Fate of Nero”

We’re in the heat of a Kickstarter campaign for our first single author publication: a limited, numbered, signed, illustrated hardback edition of Philip Fracassi’s Altar. (Check out our previous post to see the personal importance of this project to me). Here’s a recap of exactly what we’re looking to publish:

This limited, signed, and numbered 7″ X 10″ hardback will feature the title novella plus an exclusive, original story by Fracassi of approximately 8,500 words relating to a character in Altar. It will also have an introduction by John Langan, and cover and interior illustrations by François Vaillancourt (two of which you’ll find below). As you can see, we are serious about making this release a true celebration of Fracassi’s stunning tale. The special edition hardback will be limited to 50 copies only. We’re committed to preserving the integrity of this limited run. No stretch goals will unlock further printing of the hardback edition. However, we’re also printing 100 numbered and signed, color, 7 x 10, limited paperback editions, which can be expanded to 200 in our initial stretch goal.

The above-mentioned story is “The Fate of Nero,” and is exclusive to this edition. It directly ties into the events Altar. I hope you enjoy the glimpse!

All of this is and more is what you’ll receive in this campaign. We’re also providing free Kindle copies of Fracassi’s currently-unavailable early novel, The Egotist. Follow and share the link below for more! 


Philip Fracassi’s ALTAR: a Limited Edition Release

The following is taken from the ALTAR Kickstarter story. This 7-day campaign is now live!


Altar is redolent of hard-edged supernatural horror from the golden days of McCammon and King. Nobody is safe in a Fracassi story.” – Laird Barron

Few books have captured the admiration of readers and writers of cosmic horror like Philip Fracassi’s Altar. It was a joy to read the Dunham’s Manor release back in 2016, and its inclusion in Behold the Void  is most welcome. There’s no doubt, however, that Fracassi’s Altar is due for a special treatment. It’s one hell of an honor to announce that we’ve been graced with this limited edition as Silent Motorist Media’s debut single author publication. We couldn’t ask for a more exciting project.

This limited, signed, and numbered 7″ X 10″ hardback will feature the title novella plus an exclusive, original story by Fracassi of approximately 8,500 words relating to a character in Altar. It will also have an introduction by John Langan, and cover* and interior illustrations by François Vaillancourt (two of which you’ll find below). As you can see, we are serious about making this release a true celebration of Fracassi’s stunning tale. The special edition hardback will be limited to 50 copies only, and they’re expected to run out quickly. We’re committed to preserving the integrity of this limited run. No stretch goals will unlock further printing of the hardback edition. However, we’re also printing 100 numbered and signed, color, 7 x 10, limited paperback editions, which can be expanded to 200 in our initial stretch goal.

*The header image to this description is not part of Vaillancourt’s cover art. It is a promotional image designed specifically for this campaign.   

Altar cooks the skin with the same baked heat of the concrete surrounding this striking story’s swimming pool. Philip Fracassi sets a nostalgic, suburban tone, but already there are fractures in the façade. You sense something’s not quite right because the tension is already tightening. With an eye for place and detail rivaling that of a great noir film, Fracassi knows when to hold back and when to twist the knife. Fortunately for us, there’s more of the latter. Altar is riveting stuff.” – Michael Wehunt

For those of you who are unaware, Philip Fracassi is the author of the award-winning story collection, Behold the Void, which won “Best Collection of the Year” from both This Is Horror and Strange Aeons Magazine. His short stories have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Best Horror of the Year, Nightmare Magazine, Black Static, Dark Discoveries, Cemetery Dance and others (including our recent anthology, The Nightside Codex).

(click here to read our 2018 interview with the man himself!)

Philip’s work has been favorably reviewed in The New York Times, LOCUS Magazine, Rue Morgue and many other magazines, blogs and review sites. The New York Times called his work “terrifically scary.”

As a screenwriter, his feature films have been distributed by Disney Entertainment and Lifetime Television, with several projects in various stages of development. He lives in Los Angeles, California, and is represented by Elizabeth Copps at the Maria Carvainis Agency.

For more information on his books and screenplays, visit his website at www.pfracassi.com. You can also follow him on Facebook, Instagram (pfracassi) and Twitter (@philipfracassi).

“Fracassi mixes scenes of intense physical drama with deftly-drawn moments from a life lived in the shadow of a heartbreaking absence.  Along the way, he never lets the suspense slacken, even as his narrative rockets to its harrowing conclusion.” -John Langan

Now let’s get to the nuts and bolts of our little project. This hardcover run is and will remain a very limited run. If this campaign reaches its initial funding, we’re looking at 50 signed hard copies and 100 limited paperbacks. Our immediate stretch goal will expand paperbacks to 200. Please note that we are fully committed to maintaining the collectability of this edition.

Our goal is simple: we want to print a collectible edition that does justice to Altar’s emerging status as a cult classic. Doing so with this Kickstarter campaign will allow us to actively respond to the demands of readers like you. Our initial goal of $4,600 will allot for approximately $2,600 in printer’s fees, $1,000 in artists fees, $500 for shipping, and $500 for Kickstarter’s fees. Hitting our stretch goal of $5,500 will allow us to double our run of 100 to 200 trade paperbacks. Further stretch goals to be announced in detail if the time comes.

We should stress that this edition will contain a shining new 8,500 words of original fiction directly relating to the events in Altar that you won’t find anywhere else. Fracassi fans in general (and fans of Altar in particular) don’t want to miss out on this!

This Silent Motorist Media hardback edition of Altar is available for $100 plus shipping as a tier to this campaign. The first 25 limited paperbacks will be discounted to $25 under the special tier marked “discount.” The other 75 will be available at normal price. But don’t stop there. We encourage you to look around; there’s a variety of exciting items for dedicated fans and collectors of Fracassi’s work, including remarqued hardback editions of Altar by François Vaillancourt, and copies of Behold the Void remarked by Dave Dick, who did nine illustrations for Fracassi’s celebrated collection.

“Fracassi has the ability to inject dread into the familiar and everyday, ratcheting the tension to reach absolute horror. Profoundly disturbing.” – Christopher Slatsky

Please note that this is an all-or-nothing campaign. Any project proposed as an initial or a stretch goal will not be revisited outside of this campaign. We thank you heartily for your support!


-Justin A. Burnett

Six Great Contemporary Philippine Gothic Tales You Can Read Online: a List by Kristine Ong Muslim

The Gothic tradition reimagined in a Philippine setting—more specifically in a palatial Spanish colonial-era mansion with dingy interiors—is captured in all its glory by a scene in the third installment of the Tagalog film anthology franchise Shake, Rattle & Roll, where the character played by actress Gina Alajar is shown fumbling with a flower pot to gather a handful of loose earth, which she eats. The soil-eating woman is more than just showing signs of mental instability. She is already dead, except a cult has reanimated her to a life-like state. The compulsion to ingest soil is her dead body ’s yearning for decomposition and rest, the things that the cult took away.

I cannot possibly list all the sublime Philippine appropriations of Gothic fiction here, but what I can do now is direct you to six great examples that are available online.

The New Era” by Katrina C. Elauria

If I ever get asked to demonstrate in short fiction the modern-day Philippine transmutation of Gothic sensibility, I’d choose this story by Katrina C. Elauria to illustrate. There’s the slow-burn of terror and awe, mysterious backdrop of politically turbulent times, and unreliable narrator, who has been having fitful dreams and keeps insisting on burying the dead body being ignored by people on the streets. There are also moments when the narrative slips—without really doing a deep dive—into the trappings of paranoid fiction, all languid brushstrokes that heighten the overall sense of foreboding.

The Art House” by Daryll Delgado

This story is the modern Gothic mood delivered in a compressed yet still very much potent form. In “The Art House,” Delgado manages to accomplish a vividly rendered psychogeography in just 594 words. Here, the central character, a woman, wisely flees from a haunted place, her source of torment.

A Ghost Story” by Francezca C. Kwe

This story by Francezca C. Kwe is the finest specimen of the Philippine contemporary Gothic tale. There is nothing in contemporary Philippine literature that comes close to this story’s uncanny contortions of what Ellen Moers defined in 1976 as the “Female Gothic” space. “A Ghost Story” does not stop at the genius loci of “woman in white” haunting a “crumbling stone mansion.” The haunted edifice, a stand-in for the horrific contours of female pain and sexuality that link the women in the story, also becomes a staging point for a dramatic reckoning with Japanese-era Philippine history.

The Pregnant Woman from Zamboanga” by Elizabeth Joy S. Quijano (translated from Cebuano by John Bengan)

The gendered dimensions of the tumultuously haunted place in Kwe’s “A Ghost Story” are recast onto indigenous space in this fantastic translation from Cebuano by John Bengan. Quijano’s “The Pregnant Woman from Zamboanga” layers dark lore with the grim politics of Philippine settler colonialism in indigenous lands. Interwoven are telltale strands of folk horror and the Gothic motif of a woman brutally sacrificed by men to uphold tradition.

Sanctuary” by Eliza Victoria

Even though “Sanctuary” is set in a period when modern technological appurtenances are well within reach of the characters, it still draws from Gothic designs: two women in a seemingly labyrinthine house outfitted with mysterious installations, talks of dream prophecies and visions of death. There is a river where black water flows. There is another woman, too, and she has no face. In lieu of a face is “a depthless shadow.” She is dressed in a black hooded robe, performs what seems to be the function of a modern witch’s familiar, and of course, is created through a summoning ritual.

The Bougainvillea” by Ma. Elena L. Paulma

The ecoGothic or environmental Gothic, a relatively new strain of Gothic fiction, finds its short-form Philippine formulation in this story by Ma. Elena L. Paulma. “The Bougainvillea” talks of a piece of tropical shrubbery that has been causing a spate of demonic possessions in the neighborhood where it is growing. The bougainvillea, representing the pastoral transplanted close to the domicile and usually pruned to control the extent of its natural outgrowth, unleashes its vengeful nature spirits. The results make for a jolting read—maybe even lead to a cursory examination of how our built environments can be ecologically destructive.

Mia Tijam’s opening story in her short fiction collection Flowers for Thursday (forthcoming from the Ateneo de Naga University Press) is inaccessible online but must be mentioned because it is a whip-smart innovation of the ecoGothic experience. The story is a terrifying take on the trope that involves a tree with malign intelligence—a dated story element that manages to endlessly fascinate. It figures in M.R. James’s “The Ash-tree,” a story first published in 1904, and is central to Algernon Blackwood’s 1907 weird fiction classic “The Willows.”


Kristine Ong Muslim is the author of nine books of fiction and poetry, including The Drone Outside (Eibonvale Press, 2017), Black Arcadia (University of the Philippines Press, 2017), Meditations of a Beast (Cornerstone Press, 2016), Butterfly Dream (Snuggly Books, 2016), Age of Blight (Unnamed Press, 2016), and Lifeboat (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2015). She is co-editor of the British Fantasy Award-winning People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction as well as the upcoming anthology Sigwa: Climate Fiction Anthology from the Philippines. Her published book-length translation work includes Marlon Hacla’s Melismas (forthcoming from Oomph Press) and There Are Angels Walking the Fields (forthcoming from Broken Sleep Books) and Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles’s Three Books (Broken Sleep Books, 2020), Hollow (forthcoming from Fernwood Press), Twelve Clay Birds: Selected Poems (forthcoming from University of the Philippines Press), and Walang Halong Biro (De La Salle University Publishing House, 2018). Widely anthologized, Muslim’s short stories have been published in Dazed Digital, World Literature Today, and Mannequin: Tales of Wood Made Flesh (Silent Motorist Media, 2019) and were translated into Czech and Serbian.

Secret Gateways from Nightscape Press: LAST CHANCE!

Have you heard of the Secret Gateways box set from Nightscape Press?  It’s a boxed set of three hardcovers including two modern classics of unsettling weird fiction: The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett and Gateways to Abomination by Matthew M. Bartlett; and a third slim volume titled The Latham-Fielding Liaison consisting of four weird mind-bending tales written by both authors in collaboration with each other.

WE DESPERATELY WANT TO SEE THIS HAPPEN. Anyone familiar with these works should agree. That’s why were sharing Nightscape’s Kickstarter. At the time of writing, there’s only SIX HOURS LEFT TO CONTRIBUTE! At SMM, Nightscape Press is one of the entities we continually look up to for inspiration. We want more than anything for this press to succeed. They consistently make exciting work of amazing quality. We need more presses like Nightscape in the world.

I would detail all of the amazing benefits they have waiting for you, but THERE’S NO TIME! Go there now and see for yourself! We promise you won’t regret contributing. Quickly now, help Nightscape Press! Go! Please! What are you waiting for! 

The Unreprinted: Extermination Zone by Dr. Randall Philip

In the zine scene of the 80’s and 90’s, a brand of transgressive zine that covered crime, deviant sexuality, racism, and misanthropy emerged. Some of the more well-known ones were Pure, ANSWER Me!, and Singin’ Dose Anti-Psychotic Blues. Among these was the zine FUCK, created by Dr. Randall Phillip. We’ll just move past if he’s actually a doctor or not and what kind.

FUCK was filled with disgusting imagery, crude art, pitch black humor, rape and murder fantasies, and all manner of horrible things. In 1996, Phillip release a full-length book similar in style to his zine through the same publisher of some of Mike Diana’s comics called Extermination Zone. It seems to have been largely forgotten and is rather difficult to find physical copies of now, but this is up there as one of the most graphic books I’ve read.

Extermination Zone‘s major theme running through it is the idea that most people aren’t actual Humans, but Martians in disguise. He claims that people who follow religion, non-whites, boring people, and just about anyone who gets on his nerves is actually a Martian. He advocates murdering them in horrific ways, making abortion practically mandatory to cull their numbers, and forming fascistic laws to exterminate them.

It’s clear he doesn’t take any of this seriously, as much of it is an exercise in base hatred. The racism especially comes across as an insincere repeating of Nazi talking points to make the readers angry. This is especially obvious in the latter parts of the book with several fiction sections that read like purposefully gross erotica. A story about torturing a Chinese and Polish man to death seemed especially very try-hard.

One of these sections that works better is “I Wish I Were in a Concentration Camp.” In this article, Phillip turns his hatred inward and rants about his extreme distaste for his own Jewish heritage. He talks about how he wishes he could go to a concentration camp so he could revel in the suffering of his fellow Jews and assist in it. While it’s best not to look for sincerity in these over-the-top articles, if the abuse from his parents that Phillip describes in the opening article, “I Want to Grow Up and Be Just Like My Mommy and Daddy,” it’s easy to see where this kind of self-hatred would come from.

The article that stuck out most to me was “Get Rid of Welfare!” One would think that this would be a hateful rant against poor and homeless people, but instead it’s a rant against corporate welfare. It includes several facts and figures of what various corporations receive in subsidies and tax loops. It wouldn’t be out of place in a radical leftist zine, right down to advocating sending mailbombs to these companies.

I suspect Phillip has some genuine distaste for pro-lifers. He recounts a “prank” in one part where he went to a rally where pro-lifers and pro-choicers were having opposing protests where he held up a sign saying, “Unborn Babies are Stupid People, Too. So Kill Them!” along with the picture of a bloody fetus. He notes the pro-choicers wanted nothing to do with him, but this is surrounded by a cartoon with the severed head of a pro-life activist on Phillip’s cock and a collage of new articles about murders committed on abortion doctors that deride the killers as loons.

There is a lot of offensive art, both drawings and collages, throughout the book. Almost all of it is graphic and offensive. The best drawing in the book is a very disturbing one of a man fucking a beheaded woman in a sex dungeon. There are several collages of deformed and dead people with ridiculous things scrawled on them. One which I’m probably going to hell for laughing at is a picture of a mans hand that was horrifically mutilated in the Rwandan genocide with the caption “Slap me five, homey!” scrawled over it.

This is a strange book. It self-consciously tries to attack the reader. In many ways it succeeds, in others it doesn’t, but it obviously has its tongue so deep in its cheek it’s stabbed through in a bloody gaping wound with the tongue sticking out like a living meat worm. It’s easy to find a scanned version online, and if you’re curious I recommend reading it that way. It’s an interesting piece of angry Generation X ephemera, but it’s not really worth the almost $200 price tag that used copies go for. It seems unlikely this will ever be reprinted, as Randall Phillips seems to no longer be active. The last thing he released was an album back in 2004, but I can find nothing else since.

Maybe the Martians finally got him.

Ben Arzate