Cannibal Nuns from Outer Space by Duncan P Bradshaw – Book Review

Duncan P. Bradshaw’s Cannibal Nuns from Outer Space is exactly what the title suggests and so much more. Yes, it’s a pastiche of both the demonic possession and nunsploitation genres, but it’s also unlike anything you’ve ever found in book form in the past.

As he did with the charmingly cheeky killer vacuum novella Mr. Sucky, Bradshaw takes his love of speculative fiction and fringe cinema to a hitherto unexplored place. ‘Cannibal Nuns’ opens like you’re watching a DVD, replete with a piracy warning, featuring a fistful of faux “trailers” for other stories whose general plots are almost as mental as the plot of the novel itself.

It’s hard to discuss this book without giving up the ghost and I’ve never been one to spoil endearingly cheap thrills for the freaks who read our rag. So, with that in mind, I’ll summarize the experience of digesting this jubilant jaunt through myriad hells thusly: The web-fingered Bolo-Bolo is drawn so brilliantly and abominably that it emerges as a creature even more hideous to imagine than the nuns with “chest-mouths.”

To put it another way, Duncan P. Bradshaw is a writer afflicted with a particularly acute illness of the mind and we’re all the richer for it. Catch the infection here and develop a bad habit here.

If Desire is Scarcely More Than a Spark: An Interview with Danger Slater, “Impossible James”

By Gordon B. White

Silent Motorist Media: First and foremost, tell us about Impossible James. What is this novel about and what kind of people should read it?

Danger Slater: It’s about death and birth and families and corporate greed and love and a whole bunch of other really weird horrible things. A terminally ill man impregnates himself his with his own clone, setting off a series of events that may or may not be the cause of an unstoppable existential apocalypse. Anyone should read it because I wrote it and I am awesome.

SMM: What was the genesis of the novel? Because its tendrils touch on so many different themes—parenthood, the struggle to create, existential despair, climate change, near-terminal stage capitalism, gooey and gross body horror—which of these was the seed? Looking back on it, you can trace the growth of it into the Impossible James we have today?

DS: I just thought it’d be funny to write a book about a guy who gives birth to his own clone. Like, how would that even work? What are the personal and philosophical implications of that? From there, I figured out the themes of the book and different characters, and built out a few plot points that seemed interesting to get too, including the ending, and I slowly started building up from there. The son character and narrative style came into play as the story fleshed itself out.

SMM: Is there a passage you could offer us to whet the appetite of those readers who haven’t yet acquired the book? One that maybe captures the james ne sais quoi of the book?

DS: There’s a sentence several people have quoted so far, and it goes like this: “If desire itself is scarcely more than a spark, what’s an arsonist to do when everything is already burning around them?”

SMM: There’s a fascinating fatalism to this book (it is, in fact, subtitled “ a book about death”). The novel kicks off when James Watson Sr. receives a fatal diagnosis of a black spot on the brain: it’s a malignancy that’s sure to kill him…in just a couple of decades, give or take. This confrontation with his mortality is enough to drive him on to quit his job, clone himself, find a partner, and set out to change the world. None of which ultimately makes him happy, however. If a reader were to approach Impossible James as a cautionary tale, what is it warning us about? Is it cautioning us towards anything?

DS: As a cautionary tale, I’m not too sure, because the book deals a lot with the unavoidable nature of who we are as human beings, and it’s hard to caution someone against something that’s inevitable. I suppose its more about acceptance, and trying to find meaning and fulfillment in things that aren’t going to last.

SMM: Impossible James presents us with two warring impulses or, perhaps, strategies for confronting the absurdity of modern existence: Hyper-expansion and hyper-constriction. Maybe ironically, however, the final form is both impossibly tiny and impossibly huge. Is this a tension you see in the world around us? Is this something you’ve looked to tackle in your recent works?

DS: That is EXACTLY what I was going for so thanks for pointing it out! There are these pictures on the internet of like brain neurons and they look identical to clouds of swirling galaxies in space. The separation between the big impersonal things (the universe) and the tiny hyper-personal things (your own thoughts) is not as wide as it seems and may even loop back in on itself if extrapolated far enough. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’s certainly a fascinating prism in which to view life.

SMM: In your 2018 novel He Digs a Hole, you employed an unnamed narrator who broke the fourth wall in fairly meta-dramatic ways to express authorial angst. Here you again employ a style which directly addresses the audience, but the narrator is a specific character — James Watson Jr. — so it feels more “grounded” in the story. What is your interest in using this kind of narrative style? What accounts for the differences between the two, particularly the more traditional sort of use of it in Impossible James? Are there any other authors who employ these sort of aesthetic flourishes that you admire?

DS: Oh I really liked the 4th wall breaks in He Digs a Hole, but when I started this book I was trying to think of a way to weave it more organically into the story, so to have a character in the book (who isn’t the main character) narrating the story of the main character directly to YOU the reader, I could employ whatever perspective and narrative techniques I wanted. Kurt Vonnegut used to do this all the time with his books, from inserting himself as the author, to his proxy character Kilgore Trout, so that’s kinda one of my favorite examples of an artist doing it.

SMM: Astute readers of your previous novel, He Digs A Hole, might recognize a few familiar elements here, particularly with regards to Sycamore Lane. The neighborhood where James Sr. lives is also home to Harrison and Tabitha Moss, the protagonists of HDAH, and features cameos from them, as well as neighbors Brad and Jen Flatly.

I was fascinated to see these characters again, and was wondering how you view their use. Do He Digs a Hole and Impossible James take place in the same universe? Or perhaps parallel dimensions? Or is it more like American Horror Story, where the same actors play different roles every season? What sort of advantages or disadvantges does working with these repeated elements present?

DS: Haha. YES, thank you for noticing that too! I just liked the setting of that book and when I was thinking of where to have Impossible James take place, I figured why not put it on the same street? There are lots of crossover characters, but there is no continuity between the two books, so they function more like Easter eggs without the events in any book prior affecting the others. The characters aren’t even necessarily the same, personality-wise. So yeah, I guess it would be like parallel versions of the neighborhood, but I wasn’t thinking of it in those terms. In fact, in my next manuscript I’ve finished I do it again, not set on the same street, but there are callbacks to Sycamore Lane and even a reference to my book Puppet Skin. It’s just fun for loyal readers.

SMM: Finally, what’s next on the Danger-scope? While we’re interested in hearing what you’re working on next, what are you going to be working on next next? What are the projects that are still fever dreams and nebulous nightmares?

DS: So the next book is about a group of five unwilling astronauts who were sent to the moon in 1906 and get trapped there for the next 900 years. I’m calling it ‘Moonfellows’ right now, but that might change, of course. That book is actually finished, but there are no plans for its release anytime soon. What I want to write after that is a book in which someone starts mobilizing all the people in their neighborhood to work together to build an impossibly huge tower to get past the sky so they can climb into heaven and confront God. I haven’t started working on that one yet, but it’s coming together slowly in my head.

Danger Slater is the Wonderland award winning writer of I Will Rot Without You as well as other works of Bizarro and horror fiction. You can follow him on Twitter, where he’ll be making bad jokes all day: @Danger_Slater

Gordon B. White has lived in North Carolina, New York, and the Pacific Northwest. He is a 2017 graduate of the Clarion West Writing Workshop, and his fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in venues such as Pseudopod, Daily Science Fiction, Tales to Terrify, and the Bram Stoker Award® winning anthology Borderlands 6. Gordon also contributes reviews and interviews to various other outlets including Nightmare, Lightspeed, and Hellnotes. You can find him online at

Impossible James by Danger Slater – Book Review

Impossible James

By Danger Slater

Fungasm Press, 2019

Reviewed by Gordon B. White

Impossible James, Danger Slater’s latest novel, is a book about the tensions of finding meaning in an absurd world, about tensions that rupture into paradoxes. It’s about growing larger, but also becoming smaller. It’s about fighting a system, but surrendering to it. It’s about creating a legacy and destroying history in the process. It’s also funny, gross, bizarre, and even a little touching. It’s a trip.

What is Impossible James about? The plot is simplicity itself: James Watson (soon to be James Watson, “Sr.”) is diagnosed with a malignant “black spot” in his brain that will kill him … in fifty years or so. Driven to despair, he loses his job at the multinational conglomerate Motherlove, burns his belongings, and gets a screwdriver through the brain which both pins the black spot in place and sparks his creativity such that he can clone himself through a very disgusting process and, eventually, cure death.

As James Sr. grows less and less human, his first clone, James Watson Jr., narrates the story from the end of the world, alternating between his father’s history and the imminent collapse of the universe beneath a plague known as the Gray Tide. Got it? Good.

While the above description should make it clear this is a fine and pulpy story, Slater has a way of writing that belies the danger of his underlying ideas. The plot careens forward and the writing is almost always conversational and, sometimes, willing to derail its own narrative and draw attention to the mechanics of the novelistic structure. The cumulative effect is a story told by a friend, holding on to your arm and shaking you at the good parts. To focus on just the presentation, though, hides the real heart of Impossible James.

Impossible James bears the subtitle “A book about death,” and this is no joke. At every moment, the specter of futility and the void hangs over the proceedings. It has thematic overlays of capitalism, climate catastrophe, existential dread and more. None of them fit completely, but they do so in a way that evokes the unease that all of them do. It’s about setting up Impossible Goals and Impossible Defenses, but being unable to escape the Impossible End. It’s about giving oneself to the world, but also the sheer egotism that doing so takes.

It’s a very strange book about self-centered sacrifice and catastrophes, and the human moments in the face of both, which are by turns poignant and useless. It’s a book about frustration and how as one’s goals explode, one becomes smaller and smaller. It’s about the selfishness of creating a life filled with doubt, but also the catastrophe of abandoning that doubt — and how that doubt which may be the only thing keeping us in check, or at least placated.

Because it’s that sense of doubt — that question of “What’s it all for?” — that might be keeping us from turning into unrestrained sociopaths. In fact, by abandoning that doubt, James Sr. becomes both a society and a pathology in himself. What’s that mean? Well, you’ll have to read it to see.

But all of this is the paradox of Impossible James: a way to balance these warring impulses of the insignificant and the psychotically grand; the crippling doubt against the destructive untethering. And in the end … well, James Watson Jr. has to make a decision. It’s a decision we all have to make, although it isn’t easy to make and even harder to tell if the decision is the one that’s “right.”

With Impossible James, Danger Slater continues slipping his readers existential poison pills beneath a shiny, gleefully gruesome candy coating. By turns humorous, horrifying, and even heartbreaking, Impossible James struggles to make sense of a modern world collapsing under its own bloat and the human but absurd drive to create — be it meaning, purpose, art — in the face of that catastrophe. Is it impossible? No, but it’s Impossible James.

The Profane by Vincenzo Bilof – Book Review

by Ben Arzate

Lana, a woman possessed by an angel, has been kidnapped by a cult of Satanists who want to exorcise the angel for their own evil purposes. However, her lover Michael has infiltrated the Satanists. With the help of him and her training to use the angel’s power, the two plan to destroy the cult and take down the sadistic Satanic priest Father Willard.

The exorcist closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. The smell of human wreckage filled him, caused his lips to tremble on the verge of a smile. Yes. Shit and pain. The dungeon smelled like shit and pain, and this was good. It was like coming home.”

The Profane is an inverted exorcism story. Rather than a priest attempting to cast out a demon to save a person, it involves Satanists who engage in a parody of the exorcism ritual to harvest the power of an angel residing inside a person. The core of the story, however, is still one of a clash of good against evil. Lana, the possessed, is not tormented by the angel inside of her but by the cult that tortures her to bring out the hate and pain in her and eventually cast out the angel so the cult can use its power.

The book begins with Lana in the dungeon of the Satanists’ castle. The castle is above a fissure called “the abyss” which seems to be an entrance to Hell and creatures called “the damned,” humans corrupted into perverted monsters, wander the halls. To cope with the pain of their torture, Lana escapes to a mental landscape called “the garden.” There, she speaks with a manifestation of Father Dacius, the man who trained her to fight the cultists. She finds solace in the garden and in her memories of watching Star Wars with Michael. Michael, meanwhile, is acting as the dungeon jailer until the time is right to strike.

Much of the story is told in flashback, revealing the backstories of the various characters. We learn how Michael and Lana met as orphans, the man named Pa who recruited orphan children into the ranks of the Satanists, and how Father Dacius trained Lana to fight the cult. The battle between Lana and Father Willard is largely psychological. While Willard torments Lana to try to get to the angel inside her, Lana uses the angel’s power to show him images of his past and his long-lost brother. Throughout the story, Bilof gives us some very disturbing imagery.

Inside the old man’s long, wire bear, tiny creatures writhed. Tiny forms moved, twisting inside the mass of hair.


Inside of Pa’s fist, maggots.

Inside of Antonio’s orifices, maggots.”

The way Bilof tells the story make the experience of reading it like being shown a dark and hazy picture that gradually becomes clearer, its horrifying images becoming more apparent and its blood reds and burning yellow fires becoming more vivid.

In between its psychological aspects, the story also gives us action sequences of Michael fighting the damned with axes and firearms and countering Willard’s Satanic exorcism with a Catholic one. Bilof makes these various elements come together very well. The story is chaotic with a timeline that jumps around a lot, however, most of it feels controlled.

There are, however, a couple parts that didn’t work as well as they could have. There are parts that imply the Satanic cult is descended from Nazi occultists and intend to bring about a “Master Race.” This aspect is only ever partially explored and seems something that should have either been explored further or cut. There are also chapters which are journal entries written by Lana. These give insight to her mindset leading up to her capture by the Satanists, but don’t give much new backstory to Lana. They also end a little suddenly, making their inclusion feel somewhat anticlimactic. These don’t detract much from the overall story, however.

The Profane is a well-written work of supernatural horror. It’s a fresh take on an exorcism story full of vivid and disturbing imagery and engaging psychological drama. Fans of religious horror stories will especially get a lot of this.

The Unreprinted: Rabid by TK Kenyon

Welcome back to The Unreprinted, the series in which author Ben Arzate explores the finest and/or most fucked up in forgotten and out-of-print fiction. The title of this one may call to mind the classic Canadian body horror of filmmaker David Cronenberg, but don’t let it fool you. TK Kenyon has crafted something entirely different and every bit as mind-boggling with this one. Feast your eyes!

After Beverly Sloan discovers a pair of panties in her husband Conrad’s luggage that isn’t hers, she realizes he’s having an affair. With the help of Dante, the priest recently transferred to her church, she confronts her husband to try to save her marriage. Meanwhile, Conrad, a scientist working with diseases, works overtime on his research and tries to hide his affair with grad student Leila, the second one he’s having.

One thing I found odd was that one of the blurbs on the back refers to the book as a “medical thriller.” Maybe I haven’t read enough in that genre, but this novel seems to barely fit that description.

There is a subplot where Conrad is working on an experiment he’s hiding from his co-workers and the university he’s a professor at, and it turns out to be the with the rabies virus which ends up compromised and infecting people in the lab. However, the subplot is just that and really doesn’t factor in significantly enough to warrant the book being titled Rabid.

I would say this book doesn’t know what it wants to be, but it does. It wants to be a novel of ideas about the conflicts and overlaps between science and religion. It just doesn’t know how it wants to deliver those ideas.

There’s the subplot with the rabies virus, the soap opera-like domestic conflict, the priest Dante who’s a specialist in hunting down pedophile priests so they can be removed to a Vatican retreat for penance, and it becomes a courtroom drama after Beverly accidently kills Conrad.

That final plot point is especially annoying since the argument that resulted in Conrad’s death is told to us and then repeated again and again in the court scenes. There’s a lot of plot here, but it’s very unfocused and the various points seem to be battling for attention.

There are also extended scenes of scientific and philosophical discussion. Some of it is interesting, but several of them suffer from being stiff and unnatural as dialogue. There are discussions of virology here which could have been interesting but are filled with terms that only a virologist would understand. Kenyon herself is a virologist, but here she doesn’t do a good job of conveying information to people outside of her field.

I felt that the best part of the book was towards the end when it’s revealed Leila had been molested by a priest and Dante helps her to cope with it. To me, it seems like there’s a much better book of about 250-300 pages in this 460-page book. The first 150 or so pages are especially grating, as it seems like the story just spins its wheels with Beverly going to see Dante, Conrad working in his lab and going to sleep with Leila, and Beverly and Conrad arguing repeatedly and little else happening.

Other potentially interesting parts, like a young boy dealing with the trauma of abuse from the priest that preceded Dante, barely get any time.

Kenyon released another novel, also out of print, and self-published a few eBooks. Her site also hasn’t updated since 2013, so maybe she’s not even writing anymore. I may give her second novel, Callous, a chance as Rabid seems like a very unpolished first draft with some potential.

As for whether it deserves to come back into print, it doesn’t in its current form, but a heavily revised version certainly would. Kenyon has some interesting ideas and writes prose very well, but she needs a tighter and more focused story to deliver it.