Archive for January, 2015
Here are two lists for the waning of the year’s first month, the first of which by Brandon Russell I just ran across today, courtesy of InConJunction SF and Fantasy Convention via Facebook, from WWW.TECHNOBUFFALO.COM, “15 Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies to Look Forward to in 2015,” some of which come complete with trailers. From a quick scroll down it looks (at least to me) like INSIDE OUT might be fun as might MINIONS if it doesn’t get too silly, while TOMORROWLAND could be intriguing. The extra outings in established series of movies excite me less, but should delight their fans.
Should some of these seem a bit too upbeat or jolly, though, here’s a list for those of us of a darker disposition, by Andy Crump at SCREENRANT.COM, “Screen Rant’s 10 Most Anticipated Horror Movies of 2015.” To check these out (and, yes, a few of these are retreads too) press here, or for the science fiction/fantasy list press here — and happy viewing!
Word came today that a new review of SPLATTERLANDS (see October 14 2014, et al.) by Matthew Andrew has been posted on Amazon. Or, as Editor Anthony Rivera put it, “A full 67 weeks after its release (that’s almost 16 months!), the Grey Matter Press anthology SPLATTERLANDS has been an almost 60-week bestseller, today remains in the Top 10% of all Kindle sales at Amazon and is still receiving 5-Star reviews from readers. We never imagined this little-book-that-could with its selection of very nasty short horror stories with a point, would’ve been this successful. With an overall Amazon Rating of 4.6 out of 5.0, SPLATTERLANDS yesterday was called:
“’A Home Run of Splatterpunk’
5.0 out of 5.0 Stars”
The interesting thing, it occurred to me, is my story in this one is called “The Artist” and, while it didn’t make the contents of my collection — cited for its own new review just two posts down, January 25 — THE TEARS OF ISIS for various reasons (or really just one, it didn’t fit in with the specific multiple-story arcs that began to emerge as I was planning the contents out), it is an illustration of TEARS’s overall theme, the relationship between beauty and art vs. death and destruction. None of which, really, may mean all that much other than that particular theme may run through even more of my work than that cited — or may be so common a theme as to be trite. That’s for readers and critics to discuss. Or, more mundanely, maybe it’s just an excuse to suggest readers buy both books.
Be that all as it may, readers can find the new SPLATTERLANDS review by pressing here (and, as for THE TEARS OF ISIS, just scroll down to January 25 and press the link there).
In other news, relatively new magazine (their first issue was October 2014) BLIGHT DIGEST’s Managing Editor/Publisher Ron Earl Phillips emailed an acceptance of my story “Strawberry Fields,” originally published in Winter 2007-08 in BLACK INK HORROR. To quote their guidelines from last fall, what they seek are “[w]ell written stories that play out the human experience against unimaginable and terrifying odds. Dark fiction that’s defined more by the story than the splatter. We are open to supernatural, psychological, and physical fear.”
“Strawberry Fields,” about a house with a . . . well . . . unfortunate back yard, probably actually may contain a blood-drop or two of splatter — so I play both ends of the game, eh? — but tastefully muted. In any event, it is tentatively slated for issue 3 or 4 (issue 2 is just finishing up production, according to Phillips), for June or October of this year.
It’s been a long time a-coming, but UK publisher Terror Tree’s PUN BOOK OF HORROR STORIES (cf March 8 2014) is entering into the home stretch, according to Editor Theresa Derwin. In fact, today’s email included a copy of the ToC, with my pup in the punhouse listed as second from the bottom. Thus, please to peruse:
DIYiary of the Dead James Brogden
Trees Behind You Lisamarie Lamb
Logan’s Runs Nick Walters
Blood on Santa’s Claw Richard Freeman
Road Rage David Croser
The Thin Dead Line Oliver Humphreys
Dead Punny Ross Baxter
The Woman in Slacks Stephanie Ellis
Tie Bride T. M. McLean
The Round of the Baskervilles Jon Charles
Rosemary’s Baby Shower Ken MacGregor
Twitard Scott Harper
Cycle Killer Nick Walters
Poo the Winged Serpent Richard Freeman
A Stitch in Nine Saves Frankenstein Stewart Hotston
Spyder, Spyder David Croser
Olé Bubba and the Forty Steves James Dorr
The Dreams that Stuff is Made Of William Meikle
“Olé Bubba” was originally published by Yard Dog Press in the 2005 INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF BUBBAS, volume three in their BUBBAS OF THE APOCALYPSE series, and concerns the running of the bulls at Pamplona Spain . . . with “yumbies” — yuppified zombies — added.
Another short Sunday note with a huge thank you goes to writer and artist William Cook whose very favorable review of THE TEARS OF ISIS is now up on Goodreads. I highly recommend it (ahem!), but here’s a link to have a look and decide for yourself.
Only a short note this time for another local tradition continuing into the new year, in this case the Bloomington Writers Guild-sponsored Last Sunday Poetry Reading which came about as scheduled at the County Convention Center between 3 and 5 p.m. The headline poets were Patsy Rahn and Dr. Abegunde, both multiply-published local poets who have also been featured before, and who were followed by nine or ten of us (for this month anyway) “lesser lights” at the open mike session. Mine were five short vampire poems that were published in two sets in November’s BLOODBOND (cf. November 15), with my noting that, for better or worse, the three in Set 1 tended to address philosophical/theoretical issues (for example, one discussing the use of breath mints to avoid repelling one’s potential victim) while the two in Set 2 were concerned more with vampirism as a practice.
The session was pleasant and the poems received well. Upcoming events were also announced, including next week’s First Sunday Prose Reading with more or less the same set up and, later that week, February’s edition in the Fountain Square Poetry series.
If you do too, prepare yourself for an emotionally wrenching 93 minutes. Right from the start — a woman dreaming of herself, pregnant, being driven to the hospital by her husband — about to crash! Amelia’s son, we find out, was born on the day her husband died and even now, ten years later, she has yet to put it behind her. This puts her into a love-hate relation of sorts with her son, and the son, who’s a little bit weird himself, doesn’t always help matters.
He still fears monsters in the night, half the time ending up sleeping with mom — that is, when either of them gets much sleep. His bedtime routine includes checking the closets and under the bed, with mom there beside him, who must also read him a story after she’s tucked him in. He invents lethal weapons (and hoards firecrackers) against the time a monster might actually make an appearance. He has no friends and, partly because of him, mom doesn’t have that many friends either.
He makes a pact that he’ll protect mom, and insists that his mother promise that she’ll protect him too. This last is important.
THE BABADOOK is an ugly film, it’s an uncomfortable film. Because between actress Essie Davis’s all too realistic playing of her part and writer-director Jennifer Kent’s* concept, what I was watching seemed very much like a woman not so slowly going insane on the screen. And what must her son think? — yet he doesn’t seem all that stable either.
It comes to a head when mom tells son to pick a book from the shelf for her to read for his bedtime story. He grabs one neither has seen before, a pop-up book called MR. BABADOOK. It is not a good book for children frightened of monsters, because it tells of a creature that knocks, and knocks again, and once it’s let in it is not a good thing — and “you can’t get rid of the Babadook.” And the kid goes practically catatonic.
But how much is real, and how much is still only imagination?
Things start going bad fast: Mom has to take her son out of school. She has him examined by the doctor, gets a prescription for child tranquilizers, makes an appointment for a psychiatrist in a few weeks. But in the meantime the two of them have to survive together, under repeated strange happenings that appear more and more to indicate the Babadook is coming!
He (it) does, it all reaching a head in one horrible night when mom almost kills her kid, the kid wounds and ties up mom — or has mom become possessed by the Babadook herself? And what then when the boy “turns” — or is the Babadook something external, pulling the child away physically once mom has started to calm down? It’s here where it breaks, maybe an hour and a quarter into it, when something primal brings Amelia onto the attack — her part of the pact, her son before with his wounding and tying and prior misbehavior having done his best to protect his mother.
But what of the Babadook itself? And was it real, or just symbolic/psychological? Here I would make a guess, that it is real, a physical being, but born as a manifestation of (mostly) Amelia’s psychological monsters (note to readers: Find a very old science fiction fan and ask them about “Monsters from the Id” from the 1956 film FORBIDDEN PLANET), which she, on the eve of her son Samuel’s tenth birthday/death of her own husband/the father Sam never met, finally needed to come to terms with.
It’s a scary movie on several levels, and if you like scary movies, see it! Even if you think you know what may happen.
Then one more thing, the scene at the end, or “you can’t get rid or the Babadook.” On the walk home I recalled another movie at the IU Cinema late last year, THE LIFE OF PI, about a young man who’s trapped on a lifeboat with a tiger, and its turning point with his realization that he can’t tame a tiger — but he can train it.
And so it may be, too, with Babadooks.
Then in a quick unrelated matter, Thursday afternoon my contributors’ copy of INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS (see January 21, 2, et al.) arrived. “Here you will meet some truly insidious characters — characters you may find yourself applauding when you know you shouldn’t. . .” the back cover of the very handsome volume from Smart Rhino Publications tells us. No sign on the contents page of Mr. Babadook though.
*Like Ana Lily Amirpour’s A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT (see January 10, et al.), THE BABADOOK is Australian Jennifer Kent’s first feature-length film. One suspects both directors will bear future watching.
Actually they’ve already met, thank you, in the person of actor John Astin — Gomez Addams in the macabre 1960s TV sitcom THE ADDAMS FAMILY — a fan and somewhat scholar of Poe who has also starred in the one-man play EDGAR ALLAN POE: ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT. In fact just a few days before Poe’s birthday (as celebrated here just a few posts below, January 19), THE BALTIMORE SUN published this article/interview updating some of Astin’s recent doings.
This is also a lesson of sorts in why it sometimes pays to comment on blogs (e.g. this one) or at least skim the comments of others, in this case one on the 19th by Marge Simon pointing out a fairly in-depth piece on Poe by Marilynne Robinson in THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS. This in turn made me search for a copy I had of Poe’s relatively little-known work EUREKA, which came back to John Astin who wrote the introduction to it.
Then finally, back to Astin’s characterization of Poe, a sampler of some of the reviews of EDGAR ALLAN POE: ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT can be found here (and, after skimming, be sure to press the link for the full review from THE LOS ANGELES TIMES).
So now, for something (almost) completely different: Word came this afternoon from British blogger Sonnet O’Dell that I have an interview scheduled for her “Meet A Writer Monday” feature on DUSTY PAGES, but not for a while yet. So look for a bit more nitty on me and THE TEARS OF ISIS from the horse’s mouth as it were, but not until Monday August 17 — which one may be sure I’ll remind people of when the time comes closer.
Friday, January 23 is the official release date for INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS (see January 2, et al.) and, well, let them announce it for themselves: “Both Smart Rhino ‘ASSASSINS’ books will be featured on Friday, January 23rd, 2015 at www.ebooksoda.com. To celebrate the release of INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS, we’ll reduce the price for the Kindle version of UNCOMMON ASSASSINS to $0.99 on Jan. 22-25. Why not grab both Kindle copies?”
In addition there will be a “release party” on Facebook on Friday with some of the authors, etc., perhaps stopping in, and reachable, unsurprisingly, by typing in “INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS Online Release Party.” And if, as the publisher suggests, one should have bought both books, my contributions are “The Wellmaster’s Daughter” among the UNKNOWN and “Labyrinth” in the one that’s INSIDIOUS.
In the evening hours Monday, Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, word came from the UK’s KnightWatch Press that my reprint story, “Bernice,” loosely inspired by Poe’s “Berenice” — the tale of a lady and troubles with teeth — “has been chosen for a place in this anthology.” The anthology in question is ONCE BITTEN, “of stories telling tales of horrific love,” to quote from last fall’s guidelines. “Think of love turned sour, or love that works well in extraordinary circumstances. Could these two peas in a pod really be pod people? What if Harry was a spider and Sally was his victim? As long as it combines a thematic element of love in a horror story, that’s all we ask.”
Who could resist? Other sources tell me that ONCE BITTEN is looking toward an April release, as spring opens up a whole season of new love. “Bernice,” which is actually of an older man’s love for a wife just deceased — and who also had good teeth — originally appeared in INHUMAN in Fall 2011.
Then today, Tuesday, a second publisher has sent royalties for two stories, “Avoid Seeing a Mouse” in ALTERED AMERICA and “Girls Gone Dead” in LIFE OF THE DEAD, both by Martinus Press. Both also are reprints, from ZOMBIE JESUS AND OTHER TRUE STORIES (Dark Moon Books, 2012) and NEW DAWN FADES (Post Mortem Press, 2011) respectively, so, in a sense, the new money can be thought of as gravy. It’s also a tad over nine times as much as the previous royalty received this year (see January 6), so perhaps it might buy a piece of meat for the gravy as well.
For those who might have wondered about the tag “Masuka the Cat” in January 11th’s review, below, of the film A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, it seems the feline actor as well as director and writer Ana Lily Amirpour has gained a following. For one example, check out this review by Howard Feinstein in FILMMAKER MAGAZINE on November 21 2014, “No One Knows About Persian Cats” (scroll down to the end for the really good stuff), or this on SHOCKYA.COM by Tami Smith, who didn’t seem to care for the movie itself that much, but does like the cat.
Also it should be noted that today, January 19, is the birth date of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). His life was short but, hard as it may have seemed at the time, one we’re the richer for today. Poe and his wife Virginia (d. 1847) also had a cat incidentally — no, not a black cat but believed to have been a tortoise shell — named “Catterina.”