Saturday, February 07, 2009


"Am I a dog that you come against me with sticks?"

In the classic Biblical tale, shepherd David’s country is in a desperate battle against the great armies of the Philistines. King Saul’s men (among them David’s brothers) are impotent in the face of this enemy. Goliath stalks to the cliff of the hill upon which the Philistine armies are camped and calls across the valley to the hill where King Saul's army are staying.

Goliath yells, "Choose a man from among you to come fight me. If he can kill me the Philistines will be your servants. If I kill him all of you will become servants of the Philistines."

This thundering giant of a man who is 9 and 3/4 feet tall strikes fear into the hearts of King Saul's soldiers. Everyone is terrified of fighting this formidable giant.

Since no other soldier seems willing to fight the giant Goliath, King Saul allows David to fight the giant. King Saul takes off his heavy iron coat and helmet and dresses David in them. But the armor are too heavy for David. He takes off the armor and carries with him only his sling. He stoops at a brook in the valley and gathers five smooth brookstones, placing them in his shepherd's pouch.

The giant Goliath curses David by his heathen gods and shouts, "Am I a dog that you come against me with sticks?"

Breathing a quick prayer David places one of the smooth stones in his sling, draws back his hand and slings the stone quickly straight into the forehead of the giant, dinting his brow deeply. The rest is history.

You can imagine that Goliath got where he was because those around him who could have prevented his pathetic political game of bullying and humiliation didn’t have the balls to stand up to him and say, “No, Goliath. Enough is enough. This is getting silly.” Brian Keene, a Bram Stoker Award winner for his first novel THE RISING and the Horrorfind’s fiction editor has a similar shallow gang of hangers on around him. He has a forthcoming book due from mass market publisher Bantam/Dell but God only knows what they’d do if they saw how he treats his peers on his Hailsaten blog and public forums like Shocklines, Horrorworld and Message Board of the Damned. You’d imagine they’d drop such an unprofessional loser like a stone.

Now Keene’s not the brightest card in the pack. Anyone who disagrees with him is in for a rough ride as Keene is the master at turning a different opinion into a personal attack. He is on the look-out for it every where, like a true paranoiac he finds enemies even among those he sucks up to. He’s a self-confessed loudmouth and he’s taken a bully-boy pop at one or two of his peers in the horror small press; writers and editors like:

writer Nancy A Collins
editor Paula Gurun
writer McClellan Falk
writer Alex Severin
writer Jeff Vandermeer
writer Nickolaus Pacione
writer Nicholas Tillemans
writer Ron Horsely

That last victim of Keene’s verbally abusive repertoire, fellow American Ron Horsely, really kicks back like a mule and it’s sorta no fun watching them slug it out because Ron is so right; Keene’s a dick and nothing can save him from his Hand-made Hell of Dickness. Horsely’s denunciation on his Midnighter’sClub blog or on forums that Keene lurks on just comes across too easily, there’s no lingering agony.

Far more fun (painful) to watch, in my humble opinion, is the ongoing war of words between Keene and writer Hertzan Chimera. It’s a cheap old side-show attraction that’s been playing itself out for the last couple of years now on the forums, so let’s give this dodgy saga fair dues and set it like one of those grossly unbalanced funfair boxing matches. Let me just get sweated up and half drunk so I can deliver this with the right amount of spitting slur:

In the red corner, published by mass market wannabes Delirium and Leisure and representing the standard mid-west diet of genre horror fiction, our Goliath hails from Pennsylvania in the American heartland. A good six-footer whose annual HORRORFIND convention is the most popular venue on the horror calendar.
Brian Keene is gifted with a big chin and a wicked temper.

In the green corner, published by small press publishers like Double Dragon Press, Massacre Publishing and Cyber Pulp and representing the out-of-this-world horrors of the surreal our David hails from Oxford across the Atlantic. A slight, bespectacled man who runs the HORROR QUARTERLY (nee Terror Tales) website.
Hertzan Chimera has a big nose and a taste for blood.

Keene at one time willingly published Chimera on his Horrorfind fiction website and gave this glowing report of Chimera, Severin & Wrath’s co-written book BROKEN (my copy is signed by Wrath):

"BROKEN broke me! Each story is like a shot to the head, and White, Severin, and Chimera deliver a full clip. You'll need a shower and perhaps several years of therapy after reading this one." Brian Keene.

Then something clicked in Keene’s brain and suddenly Chimera writes utter shit, no one should ever bother reading one of his books, ever again. Chimera, who should have ignored this attack and just got on with his writing, will goad the volatile Keene at every public opportunity – picture the wicked little David loading another smooth brookstone into his shepherd’s sling ready to counter the slavering tirade of the imposing Goliath.

There was one classic that instantly springs to mind from the Spring of this year. Keene got his feathers all fluffed up that a story he’d co-written with a gang of other writers ‘before he was famous’ was being published in a book ‘without his permission’. So, Keene comes on like a bull in a China shop on the forum saying what had happened and how angry he was and how ‘heads were gonna roll’. Chimera posts ‘heads won’t roll, just go away and deal with it professionally and come back and tell us how it went’. Keene went ballistic and even got his writing buddies to back him up in his pathetic tantrum. I’m sure I remember Keene’s literary agent turning up on the forum at one point and leaving about a page and a half of diarrhea on the relevant thread.

They both clearly have merits as writers in their own specific field, this isn’t a question of whether I’d buy a book from either of them. Keene’s mass market novels are filled with seat-of-the-pants zombie action. Chimera’s avant garde books are filled with mind-warping scenes of sexual butchery. But as a true Odd Couple their not-so-private display of insult and counter insult puts the likes of even the legendary Lemmon and Matthau to shame. As to where this ties in to the Goliath/David legend only time will tell if the Goliath falls or David is crushed.

One would hope their wretched soap of mutual hatred would continue forever because it makes for recommended reading. It’s just such a pathetic situation you gotta love it for all the wrong reasons. In conclusion it’s a brilliant farce from a quaint dancing duet of dribbling drama queens.