Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Well, at the top of the list of names at the lower right, but you get the idea.  And . . . appearing just above Philip K. Dick?  Not shabby at all (and look farther down on the list as well)!  The magazine is DARK INFINITY #5 (see September 15, August 11), the “Derelict” issue, and my story is a reprint too, “Ghost Ship,” harking back to TECHNO-GOTH CTHULHU (Red Skies Press, 2013) and set in the universe of TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.

But as for the magazine itself, let’s let Editor Tom English do the honors:  Cover of BLACK INFINITY #5, (the DERELICTS issue) out in early October.  Stories by Gregory Norris, David VonAllmen, Douglas Smith, James Dorr, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Stewart C Baker, Jason J. McCuiston, Philip K. Dick, Andre Norton, Jack Williamson, Alan E. Nourse and others, with art by Allen Koszowski and others.  Plus:  retro movie reviews by Matt Cowan; weird science by Todd Treichel; a classic SF comics story from the 50s; a special tribute section to the original Lost in Space series; a brief survey of derelict spaceships in SF; and a free music download (details inside the mag) created especially for BLACK INFINITY by Mac of BIOnighT.  — with Jason Krueger.

And out well in time for Halloween — I’m looking forward!

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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.

The story is called “Ghost Ship” and it’s for a special “Derelicts” issue of BLACK INFINITY.  The magazine’s subtitle:  “Strange Science, Weird Worlds, Hostile Aliens, Renegade Robots  . . .  and the Cold Vacuum of Space.”  And so, “Ghost Ship” having been accepted (see August 11), this morning the contract arrived and, signed later today, has gone back to Editor/Publisher Tom English.  Another small part of the writing life.

The call had been for tales of [a]bandoned space ships, alien ships, lost ships on the high seas, as long as they had some science fiction element, and added that reprints would be welcome too.  “Ghost Ship” itself was originally published in TECHNO-GOTH CTHULHU in 2013 (cf. May 2 2013, et al.), and is set in the universe of my novel-in-stories TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.  It is a sea story about the origins of a “Flying Dutchman”-like apparition, as told to the crew of fishing boat hurrying back to land just before a new sunrise.

So then the next step, receipt of a PDF file of the story for proofing should come, according to the email, in a week or so and, when all else is ready, is set to appear in BLACK INFINITY #5.

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.

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.

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.

I believe it was our President’s idea, with a tropical storm as of this morning on a track that could have it reach Puerto Rico, to just drop a hydrogen bomb on the thing.  Well, maybe not this one, but in theory if you can nuke a country, why not the weather if you don’t like it?  Oddly, today, an email came on that very topic, “Why Can’t We Stop a Hurricane Before It Hits Us?” by Charlie Jane Anders via POPSCI.COM.  Also, I’d remembered before that when I was a kid, I’d read a Tootsie Roll (yes, the candy) comic about “Captain Tootsie” and how he was able to break up a tornado by having him and his squadron fly their jet planes through it — and that’s covered in Anders’s article too (that is, for hurricanes, not necessarily tornadoes, but one might suppose the principle’s the same)!  So, to find out if either, or both, or a few other ideas included would actually work, one need but press here.

(Hint: Don’t cancel your storm insurance just yet.)

Of course I’m talking about special dreams, the ones where you’re chased and it’s like you’re trying to run through a lake of molasses.  Or worse, you can’t seem to move at all!  Welcome “Night Terrors:  Why Do We Wake Up Frozen in Fear? by the Lineup Staff, via THE-LINE-UP.COM.  Or, [w]hen you first hear a sleep paralysis story, it can be all too easy to dismiss as something fake or all in the teller’s mind.  You wake up.  You know you are in danger.  An intruder is after you; the water is rising above your head; an evil creature is sitting on your chest and crushing the air out of your lungs.  You need to escape, but you can’t move.  You can’t even scream or call for help.  Could it have been real?

The answer is yes, the feeling of paralysis at least, and a good thing too — if it weren’t for that lack of physical movement you could conceivably end up being seriously hurt.  And could dreams of this sort could be sources of inspiration as well?

Well, that last would be up to you, but to see the article for yourself press here.  And once you’ve read it, note the link toward the bottom to “a sampling of the terrors” for fifteen case reports from other readers in some detail of their own dream experiences.




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