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Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations Paperback – March 1, 2012
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This is a brilliant anthology of 25 stories that will capture the hearts and imagination of anyone who grew up like I did on a diet of Boys Own Adventures, Alan Quatermaine and other tales of derring-do. Grab a copy of this book and let your imagination run free for time.
--Ginger Nuts of Horror, book reviews: thegingernutcase.blogspot.com.
As a boy, some of my favorite stories were those of lost lands and civilizations... Eric J. Guignard brings back a bit of that magic with Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations, an anthology mixing the values of pulp fiction with contemporary standards of fresh description...
--Steve Rasnic Tem, Author of Deadfall Hotel, amongst others. m-s-tem.com
...Most of the stories are written in a suggestive style, relying on the reader's own imagination to take the plunge from speculation to horror. This element keeps the collection rooted in the possible, making it scarier, perhaps, than the current saturation of seductive monster-based and slasher fiction.
-- Sheila Shedd, Monster Librarian
About the Author
Eric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from the outskirts of Los Angeles.
His stories and articles may be found in magazines, journals, anthologies, and any other media that will print him. He's a member of the Horror Writer's Association, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Of America, and the International Thriller Writers. Recent magazine publications include "Buzzy Magazine", "Beware the Dark", and "Stupefying Stories".
As an editor, he's published the anthologies, "Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations" and "After Death...", the latter of which won the 2013 Bram Stoker Award®. Read his novella, "Baggage of Eternal Night" (a finalist for the 2014 International Thriller Award), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including "Chestnut 'Bo" (TBP 2015).
Visit Eric at: ericjguignard.com, his blog: ericjguignard.blogspot.com, or Twitter: @ericjguignard.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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This book is not horror. Instead, I would try to type it into a mix of the sci-fi and fantasy genre, along with a large helping of history. The premise of Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations is to showcase different tales of adventure and yes, lost civilizations, some ancient, some more recent and some futuristic. The stories can be compared to those of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World and H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines.
Because this is an anthology of twenty-five stories, I don't have room to critique them all. Therefore I will discuss my favorites in the order that they appeared in the book.
"Quivira" by Jackson Kuhl is a colorful and lively story that includes Sioux Native American folklore told with humor. Lyddy was in New Mexico on a quest for gold when "a man who resembles his twin" shows up dead. An entertaining story.
"Quetzalcoatl's Conquistador" by Jamie Lackey is a realistic retelling of an actual historic event that originally took place in the 1500s. Spanish Conquistador Herman Cortez led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire, and this story twists the truth...but only by a little. This is a well-researched yarn that is realistic and exciting.
"Gestures of Faith" by Fadzlishah Johanabas stands out for its beautifully descriptive prose. Johanabas, a neurosurgeon in Malaysa, manages to court us with flowery fiction that includes Isis, Mount Olypus, and an Oracle that talks to Poseidon. This story would appeal to fans of Middle Earth.
"Bare Bones" by Curtis James McConnell is one of my favorites in this book. Fast paced and humorous, this one is in-your-face with action. A two-million-year-old skull is found, or is it? Why does carbon dating say it is old, but its features say it is modern? Is it de-evolution or time travel? My only regret with McConnell's story is that I didn't grab it first for The Horror Zine.
"The Nightmare Orchestra" by Chelsea Armstrong is told from a child's point of view. Skye doesn't understand why his father forbids him to play with "the dreamers." This story contains good character development and is a strange but compelling tale.
"Buried Treasure" by Rob Rosen is another personal favorite. What modern wonders of today will be archaic in the future? A 500-year-old map is the ticket to adventure. On a planet gone dry, water is worshipped as a god. But this water is man-made in a very surprising twist.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a story written by Joe R. Lansdale included in this book, who is one of my all-time favorite writers. And "The Tall Grass" lives up to Lansdale's high standards of quality. I thoroughly enjoyed the character's trip in 1901 on a train that always seems to break down in the middle of the night at a prairie of tall grass. The excitement begins when a passenger decides to explore the grass, and encounters frightening creatures within. "The Tall Grass" is probably the one story in the book that could be classified as horror. A real gem.
Of course all anthologies have their share of clunkers, and this one certainly does. Some of the fiction in Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations delves into so many explanations that the stories are bogged down under the weight of details. Others go off on unnecessary tangents, making me think, "Huh? What is this story about?" And there were one or two that were so slow in pace that my eyes glazed over and I could barely keep them open. I was disappointed that Eric J. Guignard, an accomplished writer in his own right, did not include one of his own works.
But overall, this is an anthology worth your time. Which stories would be your favorites depends upon what timeperiod in history fascinates you the most. Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations seems to cover a lot of interesting ground, from ancient Mount Olympus to modern day. I liked this book and believe you will too. And the price is right: 270 pages for only $14.95 paperback, $3.99 Kindle.
Jeani Rector, Editor of The Horror Zine
Most of the book had been quite enjoyable. A mix of stories about Hernan Cortes and the Witches of Oz made for interesting afternoons. Then, I came upon Königreich der Sorge (Kingdom of Sorrow) written by C. Deskin Rink. I regret not being able to read the rest of the book after reading this particular tale, because I was forced to hurl it into the fire out of sheer terror of what I had just read. The story was about a team of men from the 3rd Reich stumbling upon horrible "things" under the Siberian snow, and while the actual story was un-nerving enough, it was the familiarity of the story that chilled me to the bone.
You see, my late great uncle Julius was in the United States army in WWII. He would always regale us with stories about the war, how he got the tip of his finger shot off, and other tales which, looking back, may have been a bit exaggerated. One time though, Julius told us a story we had never heard before. Apparently, he and his squad had stormed into a castle supposedly occupied by members of the SS. What they found though was a massacre. German soldiers, torn limb from limb, their appendages scattered across the room, along with strange runes written in blood and bile upon the walls. There were treasures and works of art in the room, but all of the boys in the squad being simple, Christian Oklahoma folk, felt too strange and terrified to remove any of the pieces. One thing my great uncle did recall though, was an old book entitled Torzul Balceor, sitting on a table. It appeared, from the manuscripts littering the table, that the Germans had been trying to translate the book at the time they were "attacked", the final page only half complete and covered in blood.
This story scared me as a child, but as I grew older, it became more forgotten until I realized that my great uncle Julius had just been trying to scare us kids. Then I read this book, and saw the name Torzul Balceor. So many similarities. So many connections. Julius had always considered that the attack on the Nazis had been vengeful gypsies, due to the exotic strangeness of what they found, the arcane-pagan runes on the walls, and the book. Turns out, he was wrong. After all these years, that name has come back to haunt me. Now, I'm not insisting that their is any plagiarism going on here on the part of Mr. Rink. I believe the story to be 100% his own. I shutter though when I consider who or, I can't believe I'm saying this, WHAT he was in conference with while doing his research. May the gods forgive the bastard.