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Book Probe: Art of Horror, Occupied Earth, How To Pass As Human
Reviewed by Joe Crowe, @RevolutionSF, © 2015

Format: Book
Review Date:   October 19, 2015

RevolutionSF's Book Probe finds excellent readable things for you, eliminating that troublesome freedom of choice.

Art of Horror by Stephen Jones

This coffee table book will make your guests question their dinner choices.

It's an encyclopedia and a history lesson whomped together. The depth of knowledge here is astounding. This thing is hardcore, crammed with tons of information about the foundations of horror, not just the artwork of it. This book is a small-text deep dive into every cool thing about horror books, movies, and comics. The lavish, full-page depictions are so much fun. Then there are movie posters. So many movie posters. I haven't finished it yet. There's too much.

Occupied Earth

This is an anthology with a shared continuity about alien occupation. Of course, this isn't a new concept. But new concepts are overrated. This one has worked since or before "War of the Worlds," and clearly, these writers know what they're doing. That's obvious from the intro, which references occupied-Earth stories I'd never heard of (I bought a couple already.)

Sidebar: That's the beauty of an anthology. You find new writers to acquire and consume. End sidebar.

None of the stories provide info-dumps about the setting. They just start the characters up in the world and reveal it through dialogue. That's excellent.

The stories range from brutal and R-rated to straight-up sci-fi action. My favorite is Lisa Morton's "Union Day," which says that the alien occupiers don't allow Halloween. I gasped. There, I said it. That's how the story starts.

One neat thing about the book as a complete entity is the presence of hope. It's not dystopia and misery. The oppressed plan to rebel. The good guys aim to fight. That's good stuff.

How to Pass as Human by Nic Kelman

This is just fun. It's a guide on how to pretend to be a human, from the analytical perspective of an android. The book never breaks character, to an effect scientifically equivalent to comedy gold. It breaks down every aspect of humanity, from appearance to behavior, all with diagrams. Gold, I tell you.

One of them is an x/y chart on how much humans work vs. how much they say they work. That's just in the fourth chapter.

As the diagrams get funnier, Android Zero talks about meeting a lady, and then an adventure breaks out where the android learns about humanity in the grand tradition of everyone from Red Tornado to Bender.

One chart alone is worth the price of the book, the flowchart How to Emulate a Realistic Conflict in a Human Relationship. ("Say you refuse to apologize for violation." "Partner brings up new violation of yours." "Become more angry and describe violation again.")




 
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