Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

Well, some of us writers and other artists are introspective or introverted, maybe not always socialized to the highest degree, but let us not think only of ourselves.  Or perhaps not at all about ourselves, but of all humanity in a possibly frighteningly near future.  As Bernard Marr has it on LINKEDIN.COM:  While some might not protest smart sex toys and what adults choose to do behind closed doors, there’s a bit more controversy and consideration when contemplating if humanoid anatomically correct sexbots are good or bad for society.  That doesn’t stop nearly half of Americans from believing that having sex with robots will be a common practice within 50 years.  Bots such as Realbotix’s Harmony and Synthea Amatus’s Samantha are quite realistic and are adaptable because one robot can assume several different characters and personalities.  They can talk, show expression and respond to touch and pleasure in a similar way humans do.  Since they are learning machines, sexbots are also very attentive to their partner as they listen to learn and become better in conversation.

The article is “How Robots, IoT And Artificial Intelligence Are Changing How Humans Have Sex” and may portend a future trend that will need to be dealt with, at least as background, in our own fiction.  Smart sex toys, sex bots, virtual reality porn, to reference three sub-heads in Marr’s report, but what of government regulations?  There has been at least some discussion in Congress.  Or simply regulation in general — or possibly threats.  Japan may be a leader in humanoid anatomically correct robots, but also is a nation where the birth rate is declining.  Links in Barr’s article lead to a number of interesting side topics, both pro and con — all of which may be checked out (you know you want to!) by pressing here.

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I probably shouldn’t single out any of the stories, because all of them are excellent, but I have to mention that “Aquarium Dreams” by Gary Budgen, “Crow and Rat” by James Dorr, “Rut” by Ian Steadman, “Dewclaw” by Ian Kappos, “Her Audience Shall Stand in Ovation” by Jason Gould are among the best stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.  I also greatly enjoyed “Susheela” by Bindia Persaud, because it reads like a fairy tale for adults, and I loved “Ouroboros” by Douglas Thompson, because it’s something mesmerisingly different.  These stories alone make this anthology worth owning and reading.

So begins the conclusion of a review from March 29 in RISING SHADOW, e-pointed out to me by HUMANAGERIE Editor (with Sarah Doyle) Allen Ashley:  Just in case you haven’t seen this on Facebook, we have had another fabulous review, this time by the respected review website RISING SHADOW.  I am attaching a copy for you.  Everybody gets a positive mention.  And positive these mentions are indeed!  Earlier, reviewer Seregil of Rhiminee comments on each item in the contents, saying this of lowest-of-low ne’er-do-wells Crow and Rat (cf. January 13, et al.):

Crow and Rat – James Dorr:

– An excellent story about Crow and Rat who are beggars in the New City.
– The author’s vision of the world where the sun has become hotter is fascinating and satisfyingly dark.
– This is a bit different kind of a love story, because it has a dark and epic feel to it.  It’s almost like a dark and romantic fairy tale for adults.
– I consider James Dorr to be an author to watch, because this story is amazing.  (When I read this story, I said to myself that I must read more stories by the author, because what I’ve just read is something special.)

The New City, I should point out, is one of the settings in my mosaic novel TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, although Crow and Rat’s story itself doesn’t appear in it.  But let it not go to these miscreants’ heads, but they seem to be doing quite well enough just from their appearance in HUMANAGERIE.  While as for RISING SHADOW’s review, to read it in full for yourself press here.

This is a British thing that I don’t really know a lot about, but I understand from Editors Sarah Doyle and Allen Ashley that HUMANAGERIE (see March 18, et al.) is eligible for nomination for a Saboteur Award for Best Anthology of 2018, as well as Eibonvale Press for Most Innovative Publisher.  As Sarah puts it:  I know there have been some amazing anthologies out in the past year (in which some of you may have appeared), but if you wanted to vote for “Humanagerie” in the Best Anthology category (and/or wanted to share the link with friends/family or via social media), that would be very welcome.  But no worries if not, of course!  As I understand it, the awards are sponsored by SABOTAGE REVIEWS and supported by a “Grant for the Arts” from Arts Council England.

For more information on the awards (with last year’s winners) one can press here while, if so moved, to make nominations press here.

Also today marks the second royalty statement for this month, this for substantially more than the last, actually topping $1.00!  I won’t say by how much nor will I mention the publisher’s name, but in full disclosure, royalties received for short stories in anthologies (that is, sharing the take with all other authors) are generally not going to be very great.  Moreover this particular one is for a series of four books published more than ten years ago, which have continued to produce sales every year from the earliest, in 2001 — and indeed, added up especially in the earliest years, have paid totals which had they been paid all at once would be fairly impressive.  (Of course — even fuller disclosure — these are a particularly bright exception, most anthologies doing well perhaps in their first year, but not having nearly that much staying power).

Many of these stories and poems are metaphors for the human world and how we behave, how we show tolerance (questionable often) and understanding.  There is much to reflect on in this book, to help us begin to understand ourselves.  The poems and stories demonstrate the power of the animal world over the human world.  We are challenged throughout this book to question power and where it lies.  (Wendy French)

Say what?

The above is from a review of the anthology HUMANAGERIE (cf. January 13, October 28, et al.), brought to my attention by co-editor Allen Ashley in yesterday afternoon’s email, and while my TOMBS-set story in it, “Crow and Rat,” is not specifically mentioned, the comments in general strike me as worth reading.  The review itself is in the British poetry magazine LONDON GRIP and may be read in its entirety by pressing here.  And that’s not all.  While it’s not a review as such, HUMANAGERIE is also the featured publication for March in ATRIUM, with five poems quoted as well as a link to HUMANAGERIE publisher’s Eibonvale Press site for more information and possible ordering, all of which may be seen by pressing here.

Then finally, if one wishes to go to the publisher’s site directly, just press here.

And now for something completely different.  Or, well, different at least, a recasting of an interview of . . . *moi* . . . by Rushelle Dillon (cf. October 22 2017) in a video format, or part of it anyway.  The title is “Video Refresh:  James Dorr Interview” by Stuart Conover and it’s on HORRORTREE.COM.  Or, to let the poster speak for himself:  A Sample of our interview with James Dorr by Ruschelle Dillon.  In the interview, he has a lot of fun details on his take on the writing process.  If you delve into the full interview there are a lot of playful details on his life on top of that!  . . .  This is a new format that we’re playing around with for articles, interviews, and potentially Trembling With Fear.  Please let us know if this is something that you’d like to see more of!

For more, press here (yes, it is kind of fun)!  And there’s also a link if you wish to read the whole interview as it had been originally posted.

Then a quick word on the two Kickstarters we followed earlier this month.  The ITTY BITTY WRITING SPACE one (see February 3, January 29) will be over this Thursday, February 21, so there’s not much time left if you’re tempted to participate.  The other for Gehenna and Hinnom Books (see February 1), with as of now a few extra rewards added, will end just past the close of the month, on Saturday March 2.  Links to both can be found in their posts on the dates just noted.

Well, it’s on THE-LINE-UP.COM and it’s actually titled “10 Romantic Horror Movies To Watch on Valentine’s Day,” by MacKenzie Stuart, but I didn’t run across it until today.  And anyway, really, ten movies on one day?  To quote the author:  Does the word rom-com send chills down your spine?  If you’re a true horror flick aficionado, you’re likely to dread md_e4939c90cafa-auditionventuring outside of your comfort zone of zombies and psychopaths.  However, horror and romance don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  You can enjoy the best of both worlds with a romantic horror movie that seamlessly weaves touching love stories into your favorite gory films.

And indeed, what films are being suggested, something for everyone starting with SWEENY TODD:  THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET all the way down to ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (these two movies, by the way, with a strong musical interest too).  With, in between, WARM BODIES, HELLRAISER, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES . . . and five in addition, all to be checked out by pressing here.  So break out the amaretto along with the popcorn, snuggle up with your significant other (and/or the family cat — yes, Triana, you’re invited too) and enjoy, enjoy!

‘Crow and Rat’ by James Dorr is a mesmerisingly unusual love story with a dark edge, post-apocalyptic urban myth feel.
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Yes, they’re at it again, those two malcontents Rat and Crow, byblows from the world depicted in TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.  But their story was in a different book, HUMANAGERIE (see December 16, October 28, 3, et al.), published in the UK by Eibonvale Press.  And so the above came in Saturday’s email from HUMANAGERIE Editors Allen Ashley and Sarah Doyle:  Some of you may have seen this on social media, but I’m getting in touch because I thought people might like to read this wonderful review of our beastly book, written by renowned poet, critic and publisher, Sarah James, for Abegail Morley’s Poetry Shed.  Such a detailed and sensitive reading is really heartening; Allen and I are so pleased to see you all recognised and appreciated.  To see it all for yourself, press here.
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Also a second, more eclectic review appeared about a month ago on the blog RAMEAU’S NEPHEW by nullimmortalis, which can be seen here.  This takes an impressionistic approach and doesn’t necessarily cover the the book’s entire contents, but “Crow and Rat” is there, as seventh in the listed items.  Of interest as well is a link in that item to a review of the BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY JOURNAL, October 2014, and another story — which does appear in my novel-in-stories, TOMBS, incidentally — “Flute and Harp.”
(From the DVD)  From master storyteller, Guillermo del Toro, comes THE SHAPE OF WATER, an otherworldly fairy tale set against the backdrop of Cold War America circa 1962.  In the hidden, high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation.  Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.  Rounding out the case are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkens, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Doug Jones.  
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Thursday “at the movies” we watched the Swedish film BORDER (for which see below, January 11) with its description in part as [b]lending supernatural folklore and contemporary social issues, the film explores themes of tribalism, racism, and fear of the “other.”  So last night, Friday, I made it a point to watch THE SHAPE OF WATER on DVD, a film cut in part from the same thematic cloth, but with another theme as well that permeates both films:  that of loneliness.  Both films’ protagonists are themselves in some part “the other” and, in both instances, come up against a recognized non-human creature of folklore and find within themselves an affinity.  But what does that then say about them?  The “other,” the “different,” does like then attract like?
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Weirdly there’s a bit of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” to THE SHAPE OF WATER as well, with some role reversal, not to mention CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.  Posters, the DVD cover itself, make no bones that here the “other” will be a merman or similar creature.  But here there is magic too, hinted at in the very beginning, then demonstrated a little bit in the film’s final third (in contrast to BORDER where the creature itself is finally identified — here it’s obvious as soon as we see him) which sets us up for a magic-assisted, surprisingly happy ending.  And it is a good film, even if as mermaids go I did like the Polish film THE LURE better (see December 27, April 25 2017 — in fairness though THE LURE does have vampires, as well as music), and for del Toro I don’t think it quite matches PAN’S LABYRINTH either.  But especially when seen with BORDER as a curtain raiser, THE SHAPE OF WATER makes for part of a great double feature!

Yes, AbeBooks is at it again with a quick through-Christmas sale (cf. November 8, et al.).  Save up to 50% on books and collectibles from select sellers. Discover a great selection of new, used, and collectible books, art and ephemera, all discounted until December 28th, from the horse’s mouth.  And, never mind “only” fifty percent off, there are some copies of TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH marked down to less than $7.00, this for new copies with shipping to the US free, which can be found here.

Also, and this is new, there’s even one copy of THE TEARS OF ISIS for $9.02 (usually, for some reason, not on their sale list), shipping again free though this is a used copy in “very good” condition, as well as a new one at $12.95 with shipping again free, for which one may press here.  So give it a try and enjoy, enjoy!

Yesterday afternoon HUMANAGERIE (cf. October 28, 3, et al.) arrived in the Computer Cave Mailbox, all the way from the United Kingdom, with “Crow and Rat” nestled toward the bottom of the first page of contents.  It’s a very handsome book, moreso than society throwaways like the aforementioned duo are used to, so be sure that they’re on their best behavior.  Moreover, should it be of interest, the world they inhabit is that of my novel-in-stories TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.  To see more for oneself the anthology can be ordered in both hardbound and softcover editions directly from the publisher, Eibonvale Press, by pressing here.

Then those gimlet-eyed enough may have noticed on Friday’s post, for December 14, a misspelling of my name on the cover of PLANET SCUMM pictured.  A missing first letter, “D,” to be exact.  I’m assured however that the picture is of a preliminary test cover from the printer, that had to be used for advertising on their website, and that the actual finished issues sent to subscribers, etc., have been corrected.




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