Monday, 31 March 2014

New Theory Concerning the Black Death

New research suggests that the Black Death, which decimated London's population in the 14th century, was passed from human to human as a pneumonic plague. It was previously believed that the disease was a bubonic plague spread by rats.

A burial site has been uncovered in central London as part of the Crossrail excavation project, and samples from the victims have been analyzed to determine the cause of death. The new theory is that the disease spread to the lungs of sufferers, who then passed it on to others, by coughing. Many victims would have died within 24 hours with the survival rate being much lower than for the bubonic plague. Worldwide, the Black Death is estimated to have claimed 75 million lives.

For the full text of the article in The Telegraph and a video on the burial site discovery by Crossrail engineers, please see

The new research is discussed in the documentary "Secret History: Return of the Black Death," which will air on Channel 4 in the UK on April 6, 2014, at 8 p.m.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Horror Grab Bag: Spring 2014

Here are some interesting horror sites and events you might want to check out.

If you like being too scared to sleep, you'll enjoy the NoSleep Podcast. The latest episode has a short story entitled "The Cecil Hotel" by Mateo Hellion. You can also visit the Hellion blog at
Massacre Magazine is now accepting submissions for its summer issue. The theme is "road kill". The magazine also sponsors flash fiction. For further details, please click here.

Unleash the Fanboy has an interesting feature on the Comic Con in Lexington, Kentucky, which doubled its attendance this year. To check out this site, please click here.

And it will soon be time for the Ottawa Comiccon. The Ottawa event will be held May 9-11, 2014. (I've already bought tickets for myself and my son. We're both looking forward to seeing Sean Astin!) To check out the Ottawa event, please click here.

Finally, if you're following the 2013 Bram Stoker Awards, the nominees for the various categories have now been announced. Here is the list.

Monday, 17 March 2014

In Memory of Alan Rodgers

Alan Rodgers died on March 8, 2014, after a two-year battle with illness. He was an author and editor who wrote fantasy, science fiction, and horror, as well as poetry. He was an associate editor of The Twilight Zone Magazine and the editor of its spinoff, Night Cry, during the 1980s.

Rodgers won a Bram Stoker Award for his novelette "The Boy who Came Back from the Dead" (1987), and his first horror novel Blood of the Children (1989) was a finalist for this award. His novel Bone Music (1995) was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. Among his other well-known books are the post-apocalyptic Fire and Pandora, based on the controversial sightings at Roswell, New Mexico. Some of his short works have been collected in the anthologies New Life for the Dead (which includes ""The Boy who Came Back from the Dead"), Ghosts Who Cannot Sleep, and Her Misbegotten Son.
Some of his short work was collected in New Life for the Dead (1991), Ghosts Who Cannot Sleep (2000), and Her Misbegotten Son (2000). - See more at:
Some of his short work was collected in New Life for the Dead (1991), Ghosts Who Cannot Sleep (2000), and Her Misbegotten Son (2000). - See more at:
Some of his short work was collected in New Life for the Dead (1991), Ghosts Who Cannot Sleep (2000), and Her Misbegotten Son (2000). - See more at:

Rodgers is noted for his strong narrative voice, his original use of common themes, and his compelling characters. He adeptly links apocalyptic and Biblical themes in cautionary tales of overreaching power, pandemics, and world destruction.

Publishers Weekly said of his novel Bone Music: "...Through colloquial prose that's strong and perfectly pitched, Rodgers combines elements of horror (sometimes graphic), fantasy, and magical realism into a unique novel that's not only an occult standout but a captivating memoir of an important slice of American culture."

(Sources: Wikipedia, Locus Online News, Goodreads) 

R.I.P. Alan Rodgers, 1959-2014

Monday, 10 March 2014

Stephen Jones and R.L. Stine Recognized for Their Lifetime Achievements


The Horror Writers Association has announced that Stephen Jones, the distinguished British editor, and R.L. Stine, renowned for his best-selling Goosebumps series, are this year's winners of the Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award.

The awards will be presented on May 10, 2014, as part of the Bram Stoker Awards® Banquet at the World Horror Convention 2014 in Portland, Oregon. For more information on this year's awards and convention, please visit

Monday, 3 March 2014

The Rumor of His Death Was Greatly Exaggerated

Safety Coffin Equipped with Bell
Walter Williams of Lexington, Mississippi is now recovering in a hospital after being declared dead, placed in a body bag, and sent to a local funeral parlor to be embalmed. The fact that he was still alive became readily apparent to the funeral director when Williams began kicking his feet in the body bag.

What happened? Apparently, his pacemaker stopped functioning so that he appeared to be dead, but it later started up again. 

The fear of being buried alive is not uncommon--in its extreme it is known as taphophobia. If you're a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, you'll recognize premature burial as one of his central themes.

Apparently, this fear peaked during the cholera epidemics of the 18th and 19th centuries. "Safety" coffins were invented with various features: glass lids for observation, breathing and feeding tubes, locks for which the interred had the key, and bells connected to ropes for signalling. (Source: Wikipedia)

As for Mr. Williams, his daughter summed up the situation succinctly:  "... He wasn’t ready to go."