Archive for June, 2012
URBAN FANTASIST is a new webzine published fortnightly out of the United Kingdom, “dedicated to the urban fantasy genre.” Quoting editor Charles Christian, “[a]long with my own news and book reviews, this site carries flash fiction and interviews with other science fiction & fantasy authors, while Craft Talk looks at technical aspects of SF&F creative writing. We also have a shopping gallery where you can buy or download copies of urban fantasy-related books, ebooks, artwork and prints.” I’m not quite sure where I ran across it myself (possibly LinkedIn?) but I noted it was looking for more flash stories so, checking the guidelines, I decided to try one called “The Dragon Tattoo” on them.
“The Dragon Tattoo” was originally published in a slightly longer form in the Summer 1993 issue of FANTASQUE, then, cut to about 950 words as a flash piece, re-published in FLUSH FICTION (Yard Dog Press, 2006) and subsequently posted as part of FLASH ME’s “All Fantasy” issue on Halloween night 2008. So it had been around, but to good places, and with such credentials why not to Great Britain? Then two days later came the acceptance, “I love it — and I really didn’t see that ending coming. I’ll definitely use it.”
URBAN FANTASIST is a non-paying market at present but does accept reprints. Moreover the editor plans to publish an annual ebook of stories that have appeared in the webzine which adds a bit more to its showcase value. More or less anything would seem to be okay as far as subject matter is concerned, as long as it can fit beneath the (fairly loose) umbrella of urban fantasy as, according to URBAN FANTASIST’s home page, “a story that has a fantastical element set in an urban context. It may be set in the past, in the present or future and involve alien races, time travel, earthbound mythological characters, paranormal beings or the supernatural. The tensions within urban fantasy frequently stem from crossing the fine line that divides the mundane and familiar from the arcane and weird that can lurk just around the corner or over a cooling mocha in a city-centre coffee shop.”
Mine involves a tattoo parlor — does that count? Find out when it’s published or, in the meantime, if interested in submitting yourself or just for more information check out the guidelines by pressing here.
I went to a poetry reading last night, following a day when the temperature reached 103 degrees. Not to worry though, we sat outside under the trees, enjoying a breeze and a cooler of ice and a table of cool drinks: water, wine, diet root beer, and cider. By odd coincidence many of the poems read concerned fire – both featured readers led off with “fire” poems. Then when my turn came I read a “Little Willlie” slated for publication in STAR*LINE (see February 6), “Burning Down Woods on a Snowy Evening,” as well as a poem about a fire in a cemetery.
Today it’s supposed to hit 99 degrees and stay in the high 90s well into next week, with half the United States (at least) in a heat wave according to the Weather Channel. So I thought I’d do something I haven’t done before on this blog, repeat a previous entry. This time however it seems appropriate.
So, for planning safe, satisfying, stay-at-home activities for a coming week of torrid evenings, herewith from July 12 2011 a précis of films on appropriately cold subjects to make you begin to be glad it’s still summer:
3 Cold Movies for Hot Nights — “Freeze Me,” “L’Iceberg,” & “The Holy Mountain” (with a quick side mention of “Woman in the Moon”)
July 12, 2011
I received the check today for my recently published STAR*LINE poem, “Saving Places” (see Jul. 5), giving me reason to go to the bank, then to the market to walk back home with, among other things, 1.5 quarts of vanilla ice cream through 92-degree late morning heat. Then yesterday it was 95, with a heat index of 110, not the hottest in the US (one friend in Florida told me her car’s air-conditioning conked out, not a good thing in Florida), but after a respite in the high 80s the next couple of days, the weather forecast calls for the 90s again for the weekend.
So perhaps tonight I will watch again one of the occasional treasures one finds at library sales, an almost pristine Kino VHS of THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (aka DER HEILIGE BERG, 1926, silent, complete with tinting), starring Leni Riefenstahl, the actress who later went on to direct, among other things, the highly artistic films OLYMPIA (about the 1936 Olympics) and TRIUMPH OF THE WILL for, as it happens, her personal friend Hitler. This however is a love story, filmed in the Alps: “Enthralled by the scenic majesty and heaving power of nature, an alluring dancer seeks the man of her dreams in a small mountain village. There she encounters a reclusive climber and a young skier, who are each pursuing their own elusive ideals amid the intoxicating beauty and treacherous dangers of the alps.” Dripping with ubermensch-ism (literally looking down on those who don’t climb mountains — and presumably filmed with real
mountaineers rather than professional actors for most of the parts). And — and this is the point for late night watching with temperatures still up in the high 80s — ends with mountain men caught on a ledge in the storm and being FROZEN TO DEATH. (Also interesting to science fiction fans is Fritz Lang’s 1929 WOMAN IN THE MOON [aka FRAU IM MOND], ubermensch again plus “good” vs. “bad” capitalism which in a weird kind of way prefigures Ayn Rand. Lang though, for his part, was one of those like Bertolt Brecht and Peter Lorre who left Germany after Hitler came to power. [Well, Communist Brecht didn’t last long in Hollywood either, but that’s another story.])
More recent and perhaps best of all, though, for forgetting the heat is an odd little Belgian film (French language [mostly] with English subtitles) I came across, L’ICEBERG, presumably with no political overtones at all, concerning a fast food restaurant manager who gets locked in a walk-in freezer only to discover, when she finally gets out, that her husband and children hadn’t even missed her. “But when Fiona develops an obsession for everything cold and icy — snow, polar bears, refrigerators, icebergs — she drops everything, climbs into a frozen food delivery truck, and leaves home. . . .” Funny. Quirky. Absurdist. One reviewer on Amazon calls it “almost like a comedy version of OPEN WATER (without the sharks) in the way it explores relationships.” And, we mustn’t forget, with icebergs.
Then finally, for relationships gone cold (sorry) there’s FREEZE ME, a Japanese film about a woman who murders, one after the other, a gang of men who had attacked her in the past, storing their bodies in a succession of freezers, continuing to buy new freezers to pack into her apartment as the old ones get full. But she’s running out of space to put them all in, and besides there’s this smell. . . .
Another mellow evening, 89 degrees according to the Weather Channel, in the low 90s during the day and with 99 degrees forecast for Thursday. Cat Wednesday is flopped on the back of the sofa while I’ve been reading and signing contracts for the anthologies THE BIZARRE AGE and ZOMBIE JESUS AND OTHER TRUE STORIES (see below, June 21 and 14 respectively). But I also wanted to share a painting by Edvard Munch that I ran across on Facebook this p.m. courtesy of the Bram Stoker Estate — and which I’ve already shared on my Facebook wall — “Love and Pain” or, as it’s more often called nowadays, “The Vampire.”
Painted in 1894 — and not to be confused with Philip Burne-Jones’s possibly more familiar “The Vampire” three years later, which in turn inspired Rudyard Kipling’s poem of the same name — there’s no particular reason why I’ve pasted it here now . . . except that it’s cool! (Pun noted, incidentally, only after the fact.)
More good news in the world of reprints. Word came today that a story of mine, “Moons of Saturn,” somewhat subvertly about burgeoning vampirism of a sort (maybe), has been selected to be reprinted in the Romanian anthology THE BIZARRE AGE. “Moons of Saturn” was originally published in Algis Budrys’s magazine TOMORROW in July 1993 as a dreamlike science fantasy tale woven around the 1980s Voyager space probes’ Saturn flyby, which, while THE BIZARRE AGE is intended to encompass all genres except for erotica according to the guidelines, seemed to me to be a reasonable fit considering the title. The editors apparently agreed.
Guidelines for THE BIZARRE AGE, plus a poetry anthology to be called SPECTRAL LINES can be found here, though those interested will have to act quickly since both close Saturday, June 23 (in fact, THE BIZARRE AGE was originally set to close June 16 but has had its deadline extended a week). Neither offers a particularly lucrative deal – up to three copies of the book when printed, but the author has to pay for the shipping – but they do take reprints and, what the heck, there’s a certain amount of prestige to be had in being published in the land of Vlad Tepes, no?
Then on the home front, it took me a while to finally get it, but today’s mail brought my copy of Dark Moon Books’ flash fiction anthology SLICES OF FLESH. My steak in this stack is “Bones, Bones, the Musical Fruit,” originally published in Iguana Press’s 2005 chapbook anthology BONE BALLET (see June 15, et al.), one of 90 (count ‘em!) bits of quick horror made hot and tasty for an evening’s reading with temperatures locally still in the 80s.
Summer solstice, the temperature in the early 90s, back a few hours from a walk which was pleasant although, one might say, conducive to cold drinks when I got home. Then I’ve started marinating a potato salad to have with supper tonight. And now a little news.
For those who remember my part in British author Naomi Clark’s series on Vampires vs. Werewolves on her blog (“Are you a bloodsucker-lover or a full-moon fiend?” — cf June 6, April 27), she has added a new guest post from Nathaniel Conners, to be followed possibly later this week by a final wrap-up which she will write. And that will be that. But, because I thought I’d had a few pleasant turns of phrase in my posting, I’ve given it a (more or less) permanent place by copying it to my “Poetry (Essays)” page, reachable under PAGES in the right-hand column for those who care to browse. And, lest we forgot that I have another bat in the Bat Cave, my poetry collection VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) continues to be available from Sam’s Dot Publishing. Just click on its picture in the center column. : )= [that’s a Smiley with fangs]
Monday night, pleasant, balmy even as the clock sneaks past midnight, and now with good news to report as well. Ice cream later, but for the moment I’ve just finished signing a contract for reprint rights for my story “Scavenger,” to be used in an as yet untitled Science Fiction/Fantasy anthology from Chamberton Publishing. More information will be in the offing, according to the acceptance letter, once the publication date and cover design are set — including, one presumes, the anthology’s name. A mystery of sorts, eh? And one you’ll learn the solution to as soon as I do.
“Scavenger” is a science fiction story I’ve always been rather fond of, originally published in the November 1994 issue of FANTASTIC COLLECTIBLES. As for what it’s about, it might be described as a sort of post-apocalyptic tale insofar as it’s set in a city since abandoned by humans, but for myself I kind of think of it as “robot noir” (whatever that means 🙂 ) .
From time to time I’ve mentioned the Bloomington Writers Guild in passing — a poetry reading here, a workshop there — as well as, once, more directly on August 19 2011 when they featured a story of mine, “Bones, Bones, the Musical Fruit” (originally published in 2005 in Iguana Publications’ BONE BALLET; more recently in SLICES OF FLESH by Dark Moon Books [cf. April 27, January 5 2012, et al.]), as their “weekly reading” of members’ works. Well, those rascally scamps are at it again, announcing this evening that another flash piece of mine, “The Third Prisoner,” is up on their website for reading this week. To see for yourself, a lagniappe for June if you will, click here, while for more general information on the Writers guild you can check out their home page by clicking here. “The Third Prisoner” first appeared in LVWONLINE.ORG in November 2008 as an Honorable Mention in the Ligonier Valley Writers 2008 Flash Fiction Contest, with a Portuguese translation (as “O Terceiro Prisioneiro”) subsequently published in Brazil in I ANTOLOGIA LUSIADAS (Ediciones Lusiadas, Dec 2009).
“What if Hitler had won the war, but only after selling his soul to the devil? What if the San Francisco earthquake had released demons from the depths of hell? What if vaccinations had never been discovered? What if John Wilkes Booth returned to life as a zombie?” So began the guidelines for Dark Moon Books’ upcoming, alternate history anthology tentatively titled ZOMBIE JESUS AND OTHER TRUE STORIES, and who could resist? Certainly not I (who, truth to be told, had a story written way back when for a proposed “Y2K” anthology that had then folded before it could publish), who started my submission letter: “Do you remember the months before the year 2000? At midnight, Dec. 31 1999, some thought the Second Coming would happen. Others thought only that the world’s computers would fail as the year date ‘99’ turned over to ’00.’ . . . ‘Avoid Seeing a Mouse’ is a story of that bygone time. Date-dependent details like the exhibit at the Pink Palace Museum, the wrestling matches at the Pyramid Arena, even the solar eclipse, are accurate for Memphis in 1999 — they actually happened. But what if, on that New Year’s Eve, some of the things that people feared had happened as well?”
And so, could editors Lori Michelle, Max Booth III, and Stan Swanson resist that? Apparently not as this afternoon’s email brought their letter of acceptance for “Avoid Seeing a Mouse.” From here things are supposed to move fast, with a copy with editorial revisions to get back to me in less than two months (I e-replied asking “please edit me gently” — a kind of inside joke with Stan) in hopes for a Fall 2012 publishing date. And why should one avoid seeing a mouse (not to mention what in the world it could have to do with the year 2000)?
Hopefully one can find out by reading ZOMBIE JESUS AND OTHER TRUE STORIES in just a few months.
So okay, while browsing about, what should I come across but a brief review of the poetry parts of this year’s World Horror Convention (cf. April 2 and 3, et al.) on the Science Fiction Poetry Association website, by SFPA fellow member Gary Clark. And were that not enough, there was a picture of a panel that I was on! So, hoping Gary won’t mind, here it is, all of us rather grim-faced I fear, the panel on “How Poetry Can Influence Your Fiction Writing” with (from left) Roberta Lannes, Michael R. Collings, me, and Marge Simon.
Then one correction as well to Gary’s account, when he mentions me as also being on the Thursday panel on “Poetry of the Weird from the Romantics to Lovecraft,” it was actually Stephen M. Wilson who was on that panel with Gary, Michael R. Collings, and Linda Addison. (I was on a vampire panel Saturday, but that one didn’t have to do with poetry.)
A quick note to mention that the Science Fiction Poetry Association has announced a link for non-members — as well as members who may want extras — to order copies of the 2012 RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY (cf. June 6, 2nd post) directly from Amazon. Also it should be available from Barnes & Noble in the near future. This is the collection of science fiction, fantasy, and horror related poetry published in 2011 that has been nominated for the Rhysling Award, presented by the SFPA for the best long (over 50 lines) and short poems of the year. But that’s not all. For those new to the idea of genre poetry, or who just want a place to see some of the best that’s currently around, the RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY has a reputation for printing a wide range of styles, subjects, and approaches under the “speculative poetry” umbrella. While not every poem will necessarily be to everyone’s taste, by and large the poems one will find there will be quite good, and quite a few excellent.
Amazon’s price this year is $12.95 (though at least one copy as of this writing is listed as low as $8.50) plus whatever shipping cost they may add, with previous year’s volumes available too at varying prices. If interested in looking into it, just press here for this year’s listing.