Serial Novels: Repairman Jack

At one point in my life, my 20's, I was never into reading serial novels. Maybe it was because I never chose to read them or maybe I just didn't want to commit to reading several novels. However, since my late 20's on I've found myself getting into a few of these epic stories and franchise characters.

This series of posts will focus on a few of them.


From the first novel of the Repairman Jack series, The Tomb, author F. Paul Wilson had me hooked.

The basic idea behind the character is as follows: Jack is a "fixer" of people's problems when they cant go to the police. Throughout the series, the reader finds out that Jack has been picked to be an unwilling soldier in a battle or better yet a "bet" between two forces. One force wants destroy all of mankind while the other wants to see mankind survive. Jack finds himself in this situations that are too coincidental for him not to start believing. Naturally this wrecks havoc on his family, which he has sort of been estranged from to for many years, and even more on his girlfriend and her daughter.

For me "just" Jack is one of the most fascinating characters in modern literature. He'd have to be to hold a reader's interest for that many novels, over the coarse of several years. It's fun as a reader to see the how the character has changed over time. The Jack of the first novels is not the same man of the later few. This is due to several supernatural occurrences and personal situations that have happened to him. These things make the character feels real. He's not without flaws or perks; good days and bad days. In fact, he could be any guy you pass on the street living his life. And that is best complement a fictional character can have.

Another series by Wilson, which ties right into the Repairman Jack saga is called "The Adversary Cycle". These books deal more with the battle of the opposing forces and how certain people come into knowing about them. The Adversary is the truly evil force that will stop at nothing to win the battle.

These two series are known as "Grand Unification" in Mr. Wilson's spectacular universe and the vast majority of Wilson's work ties into these intertwining story lines. All the books (which I'm down to the final two in the RPJ series and final three in TAC) are quick and easy to read. They combine multiple genres with ease and contain believable characters. I give these books my highest recommendation.

Repairman Jack Series
1. The Tomb

2. Legacies

3. Conspiracies

4. All The Rage

5. The Haunted Air

6. Hosts

7. Gateways

8. Crisscross

9. Infernal

10. Harbingers

11. Bloodlines

12. By the Sword

13. Ground Zero

Adversary Cycle
1. The Keep

2. The Touch

3. The Tomb
4. Reborn

5. Reprisal

6. Nightworld

Young Repairman Jack Series (YA Novels)
1. Secret Histories

2. Secret Vengeance
3. Secret Circles

For more on F. Paul Wilson and these series, go to his website

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Under Appreciated Horror Author #1 - Jack Ketchum

NOTE: When discussing the author, I shall only comment on the books I've read.

For as great as this "other writer from Maine" is, Jack Ketchum has gone fairly unknown by the masses until recently. A string of his books have been produced as independent movies (The Lost, The Girl Next Door, Red, Offspring) in the last couple of years, which have raised his popularity a bit. The reason is simple. He was ahead of his time in writing very graphic and violent pieces in the 80's. Some of the critics even labeled it as pornography. Among horror fans and other writers he became the Godfather of the SplatterPunk movement, a writing style distinguished by its graphic depiction of violence and hyperintensive horror with no limits. The author is still cranking out books today. Most of his work deals with the human monster and what people are capable of doing to other human. And even though the violence is detailed, his flushing out of characters is what makes the reader care. He is a unique and one of kind author who has been nominated and won several Stoker Awards.

My first experience with Ketchum was his debut novel Off Season - it's about a group of people who are attacked by an inbred tribe of cannibalistic kids. I was trying to broaden my horror scope and this guy's name kept popping up in the research I was doing. I picked up the book and read about the first quarter. A lot of set up on character's and scene. The next afternoon I continued and soon I realized the sky was dark and the book was finished. I became completely engrossed in the novel. Never had I read something like this. Once the attack starts on the group of people, nothing lets up until the end. It's one graphic and jaw dropping scene after another. I was hooked on Ketchum from then on.

The next book I read by him was The Girl Next Door - about two young girls that come to live with their aunt, who tortures the oldest one and manipulates her kids and the neighbor kids to the same. This one was difficult. Partly because it was based on the 1965 Sylvia Likens case in Indianapolis but mainly because it's about child abuse to the extreme measure. The book was graphic as ever, stomach churning at times, at how this 15 year old girl was tortured. The novel provoked many emotions, the main one being anger at the Aunt who caused it all. It's not a book I could read again, but it's one that I recommend. If an author can provoke so many different emotions with in a reader, he or she must be good.

Then I finished reading Offspring, the sequel to Off Season. A few of the same characters return as part of the clan made it out alive to repopulate. Another night and another reign of terror. It's worth the read, but it didn't stick with me like the previous two novel I read. Still it has all the Ketchum style.

I've got a couple of other of Jack's books in my huge reading pile to get to and looking forward to them.

Notable Horror Books by Jack Ketchum (not a complete list)
~ Off Season (1980)

~ Hide And Seek (1984)

~ The Girl Next Door (1989)

~ Offspring (1991) - sequel to Off Season

~ Red (1995)

~ Ladies' Night (1997)

~ The Lost (2001)

~ Peaceable Kingdom (2002) - short story collection

~ Old Flames (2008)

~ The Cover (2009)

For more about Jack Ketchum, go to his website

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My thoughts on Martyrs

On a message board I frequent, some of us got into a discussion about the movie Martyrs and how each person interpreted it. So I thought it would be a good thing to put here on OfaIM.


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You can almost divide this movie down into three separate individual parts.

In the first part, the girl (Lucie) gets revenge on the people who held her hostage as a child. The films starts off strong and goes balls to the wall until the end of the second part of the movie. Lucie comes in blasting away, with no remorse at what seems to be an ordinary family. Then she freaks out. Her best friend (Ana) comes to help her clean up. Ana has doubts about what has happened but never questions Lucie, who is fucked up big time from what happened to her as a child. Ana rescues her because she loves her and they are all each other have in the world. Naturally she's going to come and figure out how to fix things. She's been doing for Lucie since they've known each other.

Then comes a big turn which begins the second part. Something seems to be attacking them inside the house. Are they being stalked by a creature or is Lucie just crazy and seeing things? Well the issue is put to rest with Lucie suicide as we figure out it was in mind. Now everything the audience has witnessed get puts in doubt. Did Lucie even have the right couple? But then instead of simply leaving the house, Ana sticks around. She finds and explores a hidden tunnel. This is where the film lets us take a breathe for a little bit. Which is good since we've been through forty minutes of pure emotion. In the tunnel, she discovers a secret chamber. With in the chamber, Ana finds a woman chained. The woman has obviously been tortured for a very long time. Lucie's claims were based in truth. Once again the movie flipped around.

Then the secret society shows up and the third part begins. This is a group who's been searching for the answer of what comes after death. They have been torturing women for years in search for a martyr to tell them the answer. Ana is their new subject. She is unmercifully beaten and tortured until she has a near death experience. These scences are extremley graphic and difficult to witness. Ana manages to tell the old lady in charge what she find outs, just before she dies. The whole society gathers at the house to learn the answer. Then comes the big finish. She sees another member in the hallway.

Mademoiselle: Could you imagine what comes after death?
Etienne: Are you okay, mademoiselle?
Mademoiselle: Could you?
Etienne: No, I...
Mademoiselle: Keep doubting, Etienne.

Then old lady goes into the bathroom and commits suicide.
End of movie.

This is a very brief analysis of what happens in the movie, but I had to put it down to explain where I'm going. The interpretation of the ending is what opens up the debate and gives the movie far more meaning beyond the normal horror realm.

For me, and I'm an atheist/agnostic combo, I think part of how you interpret the ending depends on your faith. I've narrowed it down to a couple of options, of which I am still not certain.

Either Ana told the old woman a convincing lie and it freaked her out enough not to reveal it to the others or Ana really saw what was one the other side and it was so horrific that the old lady didn't want to tell the others. Perhaps she even told her of the society's fate. Whatever Ana said the old lady was believable. If it wasn't the lady would just keep trying to find the answers with more martyrs, which the society will more than likely continue to do anyways.

That's all I can come up with at this point in time. Another viewing of this film is definitely needed to come up with more answers.

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More Changes

Under going some big changes a work right now. Another worker bites the dust. Adjustments to be made. And now we are starting to get busy. Real busy. Twelve tech events in the next thirty days. We've been wanting more work. Now we got it.

The website has officially launched. Cant believe I forgot to post about that earlier. It's been live for about three weeks. Still working on transferring material from this blog to the site. Not sure how long I'll leave stories on the site. Depends if they sell or when I get enough short stories up to self publish. I may just rotate them around.

Been watching the awesome, short lived series Freaks & Geeks. This was great stuff. Believable characters dealing with the situations that teenagers do. Very funny at times. Serious at others. Why was this show canceled after one season? Another TV tragedy.

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