Hello, friends and fans!
I thought today I should tell you a bit more about one of my book series, “Panic! Horror In Space!”
“Perhaps I should’ve said this before – it’s not meant to be serious horror… it’s satire!”
I didn’t, because I thought it was obvious from the title alone, but oh well, sometimes you just have to spell these things out – and I guess this is one of those times!
For those at the back then, Panic! Horror In Space is several different things at once: a sci-fi horror series, and also a parody or satire of all the horror movies and paranormal investigator TV shows you can think of, all scrambled together to make for very clever, entertaining reading! There are the obvious horror plot twists and plot devices, silly airheaded blond people whose hover-cars won’t start in the parking lot after midnight, or who try to run away on impossible high heel shoes, and the dashing brave young skeptics overdue for a date with the hungry entities in the basement of the abandoned mental hospital. Panic! has a whole universe of nasties at its disposal, as well as tangible tension and suspense!
It’s time… to panic!
While the settings change in each story in Panic!, the main characters remain constant; these are Stuart Flane, the Captain of the starship Mercury, Commander Vic Chapman, his best friend and EXO, and the ship’s chief medical officer, Dr. Fred Killian who lends a medical perspective to their paranormal pursuits. The rest of the ship’s crew is, unfortunately, fairly expendable and tend to vanish, die or become casualties of whatever terrifying paranormal experience happens to be the flavor of any particular episode of Panic! Horror In Space!
Since Panic! is science fiction, things like zombies, ghosts, haunted or cursed objects as well as assorted kinds of paranormal activity are likely to feature in a variety of settings such as deserted space colonies or outposts, and derelict space ships or stations – but as any good horror writer will tell you, a good horror story isn’t ALL about the horror! One has to build up to horror, and there have to be releases from terror, otherwise constant terror becomes monotonous, loses its edge, and becomes dull – and the reader, bored. Panic! gets around this by occasionally diverting the reader’s attention to the other aspects of space travel, procedure and protocol, and of course, to add a little humor to the mix. After all, who hasn’t seen the potential for “funny” in a paranormal investigation TV show?
That said, Panic! is more definitely satire. One of Vic Chapman and Stu Flane’s key phrases when faced with some or other mind-boggling para-whatsit mystery, is either “Well… shit!” or “Well… fuck!” In case you’re wondering, I never indulge in gratuitous swearing in my writing. Every time I do use profanity it’s to lend a particular energy to the story – and what could be funnier than a well-spoken, well-mannered officer and gentleman faced with a situation that reduces their vocabulary – somewhat appropriately – to a four-letter word?
In the earlier stories, Flane and Vic are just as creeped out and frightened as everyone else who encounters paranormal events, but as time goes by, they become used to it and their lack of fear-reaction while everyone else is losing their minds over some paranormal event or other also adds to the satirical character of the series – because often the only ones left confused are the spooks!
One other way this comedic release is achieved in Panic! is by highlighting the deteriorating relationship between the captain of the Mercury, Stuart Flane, and his superiors at Space Fleet HQ. Admiral Tawney, who although quite fond of Flane, has little patience for mishaps that cost lives of his crew – as well as flimsy reports that include impossibilities and words such as ‘ghosts’, ‘undead’ and ‘simply vanished’.
Commodore Peters, the CO of Starbase 43 – one of the Mercury’s regular haunts – on the other hand has a far more direct method of venting her anger at him. One time she chases Flane halfway across her Starbase with her nine-iron after he’d ‘lost’ her favorite nephew (a presenter on a popular paranormal TV show) on a special assignment on Floridia-7 – a planet which earned a reputation for being the most haunted place in the known universe, and well-deserved it is too!
Commodore Link, who takes it upon himself to investigate Captain Flane for the suspicious-looking paranormal content of his official incident reports, is a strange sort of skeptic – one who rejects the existence of the paranormal while subconsciously accepting it and benefitting from it!
Aside from the oft hapless Captain Flane who repeatedly finds himself at the center of one paranormal maelstrom or another, his long-suffering best friend, side-kick and executive officer, Vic Chapman inevitably goes along for the ride. Vic is an incurable optimist, amateur historian, romantic and tech-wizard, who tends to wax romantic over nearly every unexplained mystery they encounter in deep space… whether it’s an abandoned space vessel full of dead people, or a long-dead alien world with just one life sign on the surface!
While most of the characters in Panic! tend to come and go, it is a small handful of regular characters – chiefly Vic and Flane, and the Mercury’s CMD, Dr. Fred Killian who tend to be regulars. Every new story in brings with it new characters, new settings, new threats – and new terrors!
In the meantime, you might like to read these FREE downloadable short story previews offering a glimpse into the background of the characters and origin story of the series.
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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2021.