Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

HOZ are looking for literature that explores possibilities for the future.  We want challenging short stories that are character driven, that reimagine the world and our place in it.  We are looking for radical authors, feminist authors, LGBTQ2S authors, authors who experiment.  Themes that thrill us:  transhumanism, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, new systems, resistance, activism, queer perspectives, feminist perspectives, nature.  This was the call from independent Canadian publisher House of Zolo for the HOZ JOURNAL OF SPECULATIVE LITERATURE, a new literary magazine featuring quality works of speculative fiction and poetry.  I was interested in the humanist slant to the themes they cited and, they being open to some reprints, I thought of a story originally published in Spring 1994 in Catherine Asaro’s magazine MINDSPARKS (also reprinted in ZIPPERED FLESH 3, see February 3 2017 et al.), “Golden Age,” about surgical life prolonging procedures that might lead to physical immortality — or, to the point, the effect on the person who’s the first to try these.

So I sent it out and today a reply came, that while the process is still in flux, [w]e wanted to accept your story right now, though, because it is exactly what we are looking for, with specifics to come in the next few weeks.  The HOZ JOURNAL OF SPECULATIVE LITERATURE is expected to be published twice a year, with the first, I think, scheduled later in 2019.  More will be reported here as it becomes known.

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill fairy tales.  The stories in this anthology are all about conniving creatures.  We didn’t limit the genre, so expect humor, horror, romance, and tragedy.
Really, we hope, by reading these stories, you will avoid making the mistake of trusting any type of Fair Folk.  Still, if you do make that mistake, we’d sure love to include your future unfortunate story in volume two of this anthology.
So the full title of the anthology was GRIFTY SHADES OF FEY, and the story I’d sent was called “The Kerry Pipers,” an original tale but with perhaps fey folk a little bit nastier than the guidelines suggested.  That is, these weren’t exactly into just fun tricks and jokes.  Then came the email today from Fiction Vortex Editor/Publisher Mike Cluff:  Thank you for your submission!  I really love the story.  However, I have decided to not include it in this first GSOF anthology where it would not get enough deserved attention. So that’s not so good, though perhaps not entirely unexpected.
But the email continued:  I do want to include it in the next anthology as one of the primary stories.  GRIFTY SHADES DARKER is set to hit Kickstarter in Spring 2020.  The theme will be horror and the much darker side of the Fey.  If you are interested, and willing to keep the story out of the market until then, I would list you as one of the authors on the Kickstarter campaign page and the re-designed Fiction Vortex homepage.
So, long story short, this afternoon I sent back my “yes.”

It’s not easy being different — and especially so if one has what one may call “special” powers.  So, too, of films, Julia Hart’s FAST COLOR (billed as Drama, Science Fiction, and Thriller) being a last minute addition to the Indiana University Cinema’s “International Arthouse Series” with special reference this fall to films directed by women, and of which the docent declined to comment on “the way the movie unfolds.”

There was, though, a blurb, even if emailed just four days before:  In the dystopian near future of a drought-plagued American Midwest, a young woman, Ruth, with superhuman abilities is forced to go on the run when her powers are discovered.  Pursued by law enforcement and scientists who want to control her and study her powers, Ruth is running out of options.  Years after having abandoned her family, she realizes the only place she has left to hide is home.  While seeking shelter with her mother, Bo, and the daughter she’s never really known, Lila, Ruth begins to mend her fractured familial bonds and discovers how to harness her powers rather than be haunted by them.

And on Friday the thirteenth as well (and a rare one on which there was also a full moon!), I had some doubts as I went to the screening.  But I can say that I was delighted.  The docent did point out that FAST COLOR received rave reviews at its premiere at the 2018 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival; for myself I would say while there may have been plot holes as well as a possibly simplified ending (e.g., would not agents of the “evil” scientists and cops still have pursued the main character, even if having had it demonstrated that that might not be a good idea), the characters came off as emotionally true — relatable to and likeable, if in weird circumstances — and the SFX (when sparingly used) were good.  All of which I’d expect goes to good direction.

There’s plenty of time left, however, to make a pledge in the DISCORDANT LOVE BEYOND DEATH:  DARK AFFECTION ANTHOLOGY kickstarter (to give it its full name; see also below, September 6, et al.), scheduled to end on October 6 at 7:59 a.m. EDT.  And the premiums include not only book deals, but there’s also a link to an assortment of related swag (scroll way, way down toward the end of the site), and even for those who don’t want to pledge yet there’s a series of mini-bios of the authors to check out, as well as their own brief comments about the stories.  In other words, a sort of sampler before jumping in.

The title kind of says what it’s about; the initial call was for [a]n anthology of short creepy & emotional stories based around the idea of love evading the limitations of life & death.  For the anthology I am looking for around 20 short stories — (based on the overall word count of all accepted entries).  The genre will be a mix of ghost stories / horror / thriller and erotic fiction, cross genre stories are welcome.  Each story to be of approximately between 4,000 > 8,000 words in length.  Mine in this was a non-TOMBS, more real world (though at the beginning of the 1930s Great Depression, in northern Florida) crime story, “The Sending,” originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE and also reprinted in my first collection, STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE.  Which might kind of say it for the anthology:  wonder and romance, leavened with death, perhaps a murder or crime or two (though mine, a ghost story, begins with one partner already deceased).
For more, though, the kickstarter’s author comments provide many clues, all of which may be seen by pressing here.  (And also [*ahem*] a timely pledge may mean more money in authors’ pockets.  Well, a little bit anyway.)

A quick Sunday note that yesterday’s email brought a notice from HUMANAGERIE Co-Editor Allen Ashley (cf. July 24, April 3, March 21, et al) announcing yet another review, from the international poetry news and event website WRITE OUT LOUD (a.k.a. WRITEOUTLOUD.NET).  Word of the anthology does get around!  My part in this is the TOMBS related tale of “Crow and Rat,” a pair of good-for-nothings on a dying, depleted far-future Earth and, while reviewer Neil Leadbeater doesn’t cite it specifically (there is, however, a paragraph on prose in general, as well as the poetry), it does give a nice overview of the book as a whole.  It also ends with a link to the publishers website, for those who might be interested in buying it or just for further information, while the review itself can be seen by pressing here.

Hark back to a sultry July 23, and the news that the kickstarter for DISCORDANT LOVE BEYOND DEATH had gone on hiatus, to return in fall a little bit closer to its projected release date of Valentine’s Day 2020 (cf. July 23,10, et al.).  That time is now upon us or, well, more exactly at midnight tonight.  But never mind that, and what time zone are we talking about anyway or, well, what’s a few hours among friends.  So maybe it is a little bit early, but Editor/Publisher Dickon Springate has opened it now!

Love takes on many forms, as does death, the description begins, and this anthology features twenty-two stories that dance the line between Dark Affection and Paranormal Romance, where death is not the end but merely the start of some truly original tragedies, tales that will often stop you dead in your tracks, challenging your preconceptions of what is right and wrong, before allowing you to return and continue reading.

DISCORDANT LOVE BEYOND DEATH offers up twenty-two fabulous inspired short stories, by a fresh line-up of authors from around the world, ensuring that there is something for everyone; and with many being on the macabre side, we believe that this anthology makes the perfect alternative gift for those who want something a little different come Valentine’s Day.

And so you have it, live again and awaiting your perusal of many offers from now until October 6.  My own part in this, perhaps a bit less “macabre” than some, is a classical ghost tale, “The Sending,” set in an early 1930s Florida lighthouse, originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE as well as in my collection STRANGE MISTRESSES: TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE.  But even it contains gangsters and dire plots, including a romance that can’t be thwarted by such a minor detail as death.

Or, for more details on the kickstarter press here.

So what is “Bizarro”?  According to DARKMARKETS.COM, Bizarro is a genre that thrives on absurdity and satire and often grotesqueness.  It’s surreal and imaginative.  BREAKING BIZARRO will scream weirdness to its readers.  That’s what.  But to the point, Saturday afternoon brought a proof copy of BREAKING BIZARRO with my story “Catskinner Sweet and the Twirling Teacups of Deadwood City” (see June 15) and, what with arts fairs and readings and all, I finally got to the actual corrections late Sunday night.  So done is done, and shortly before midnight I sent my fixes in, to be received presumably bright and early this Labor Day morning.

But does it scream weirdness?  Well, “Catskinner Sweet” is more a tall story, a sort of precursor — or maybe subcategory — of modern day bizarro, but Editor Patrick C. Harrison III apparently thinks it will fit, placing it in the contents as the next to last story.  That is, one true enough to the concept that it’s in a position where readers finishing the anthology may well remember it when or if a sequel is published, and that’s not a bad thing (the story that follows it has to do with a protagonist’s would-be girlfriend’s butt, incidentally, so one can understand placing that where it will be “the end”).  As for more on the anthology proper, for those who can’t wait the Kindle edition can already be pre-ordered now by pressing here, with an announced publication date of September 15.

THE BUBBLE is the work of writer/director Arch Oboler, famous for his LIGHTS OUT! radio plays in the 1930s and ’40s.  He’s the same Arch Oboler responsible for the 1952 3-D film BWANA DEVIL, who for the rest of his life was a vocal cheerleader for the artistic and commercial potential of 3-D movies.

Oboler liked communicating his ideas about humanity and our imperfect society using the narrative vehicle of the strange, the bizarre, the unexpected.  THE BUBBLE is this kind of story.  Some have compared the film to an extended episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE or THE OUTER LIMITS, and there’s a ring of truth to that.  The events of THE BUBBLE unfold like a groggy dream, nightmarish not in its intensity but in its unsettling mood and mysterious implications.

Thus begins an Amazon review by David M. Ballew of THE BUBBLE, Friday’s “Not-Quite Midnights” series first fall semester screening at the Indiana University Cinema.  Maybe not madness, exactly, but lovely 1966 schlock with at least a sort of zombie apocalypse.  That is, it’s more a psychological thing, but the people in the mysterious town our heroes find themselves in, a man and his wife and their newborn child along with the pilot who unwittingly landed them there, certainly act like zombies.  The cabdriver asks “do you need a ride” but never drives (the hero ultimately commandeering his taxi), the bartender keeps polishing the same glass pausing only to repeat “how may I serve you?” when addressed directly, the bar’s entertainer does her dance without needing music. . . .  A kind of a bad place to raise a new child.  And, as the Cinema’s program puts it, [t]hen there is an even more terrifying discovery — the zombie inhabitants live under an impenetrable dome, trapped like insects in a jar.  Can Catherine, Mark, and their newborn baby escape THE BUBBLE, or will they become mindless drones trapped in a human zoo?

AND, going back to David M. Ballew on Amazon, the real star of THE BUBBLE is Space-Vision 3-D.  The first truly practical American single-strip 3-D system, Space-Vision delivers strong, deep, beautifully rounded stereoscopic imagery that is nevertheless pleasantly comfortable to view, owing in part to the felicities of the original system design and in part to the remarkable restoration work put forth in this Blu-Ray incarnation by Bob Furmanek and Greg Kintz.  If 3-D were a classic Hollywood film actress, you would say she was never lovelier than she is right here.

In other words (but noting this was a theater version “[r]estored from the 35mm negatives by the 3-D Film Archive,” though it may have led to the Blu-Ray one Ballew cites), an ideal film for the IU Cinema:  entertaining, historically /technically important, even avant-garde in its way, and just a whole lot of fun.

Then a second quick note, in view of the lateness in sending some print copies, the DWARF STARS voting deadline for ultra short poems (see just below, August 30) has been extended until September 15.  SFPA has emailed a new voting link to members and it also appears in the July 7 email that included the link for the PDF edition.

Yes, the two long-time perambulating publications finally reached their destination, my personal mailbox, late Thursday evening. The Summer issue of STAR*LINE (see August 24, July 6, et al.) and, sharing its envelope, this year’s DWARF STARS (see July 7, et al.) are here — and with a whole day to go before voting on DWARF STAR poems closes!  Say, what?  Yes, while STAR*LINE is the official quarterly magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (a.k.a. SFPA, for more on which one can press here), DWARF STARS is an annual compendium of nominees for the past year’s best very short poem, here defined as ten lines or less, for SFPA members to vote on.  And, lucky for me, my choice for first place is easy, a poem called “Never Trust a Vampiress” at the top of page 21, by me, though my second and third choices may be a bit harder.  (For SFPA members who may be reading, that’s right at the top of p.21, and remember to vote.)

“Never Trust a Vampiress” is about, in a way, the fickleness of hemophages and why you shouldn’t take everything they say at face value.  Especially if you’re a vampire hunter.  While STAR*LINE this time has two poems by me, one about another vampiress but this time of the mermaid persuasion, and one about the demise of two iconic dolls.

No, not this update, but the BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP anthology itself (see August 4, et al.) will be illustrated according to an email today from Editor/Publisher Jaleta Clegg.  Also, yes, things have been somewhat delayed for various reasons, but a promised kickstarter is expected to be ready on or about September 1.  More will be here as it becomes known.

We may remember that the full title (I think) is BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP FOR COGNITIVE RUMINATIONS, or words of that sort, and the guideline description:  You were expecting it to be a NORMAL book filled with NORMAL stories?  Nope.  Silliness and weirdness will abound.  Also my part in the potpourri is an all of 75-word saga (possibly long, BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP is to be a book of *very* short stories) of magic and beauty called “As Fine as Frogs’ Hair.”

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