Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Well, I couldn’t resist it, and I do have a story in it, an actually gentle science fiction musing called “Golden Age” at last place in the contents.  But Smart Rhino Publications’s ZIPPERED FLESH 3: YET MORE TALES OF BODY ENHANCEMENT GONE BAD (cf. August 5, June 19, et al.) promises, overall, not to be a book for the squeamish, as you may find out too by pressing here.

But — WARNING! — best not be eating when you get to the part, after you’ve gotten a view of an advance copy of the book itself, at the very end.

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The gravitational assist trajectories at Jupiter were successfully carried out by both Voyagers, and the two spacecraft went on to visit Saturn and its system of moons and rings.  Voyager 1 encountered Saturn in November 1980, with the closest approach on November 12, 1980, when the space probe came within 124,000 kilometers (77,000 mi) of Saturn’s cloud-tops.  The space probe’s cameras detected complex structures in the rings of Saturn, and its remote sensing instruments studied the atmospheres of Saturn and its giant moon Titan.  (Wikipedia, “Voyager 1”)

Two items occurred to me to close out the weekend, the first that there were space probes prior to Cassini (cf. September 17, 11, 7), including Voyagers 1 and 2 which also paid a visit to Saturn.  Launched 16 days apart in 1972, Voyager 1 was actually the second, but was on a trajectory that had it reaching Saturn first, performing flybys of not just Saturn and Titan, but also the moons Tethys, Mimas, Enceladus, Rhea, and Hyperion.  And while Voyager 2 also went on to Uranus and Neptune, on August 12 2012 Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to enter interstellar space.  Also, unlike Cassini, both Voyagers continue to journey outward.

So, why my interest?  Thirteen years after Voyager 1 and Saturn, a story of mine, one marking a breakthrough in my writing in my opinion, appeared in the July 1993 edition of Algys Budrys’s short-lived magazine TOMORROW.  Titled “Moons of Saturn,” it told of a couple watching a detailed series of news items on TV of the Voyager mission as it might have been, bringing in also the mythical origins of the moons’ names.  Added to this are fancied adventures on, e.g., the “jewel mines of Rhea,” these conducted through dreams or, possibly, astral projection, all through which the woman, Phoebe, 518B8qShonL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_named for one of the moons herself, grows progressively weaker as the man (“Enceladus,” as named by Phoebe) attempts to find a cure.  This latter possibly with tones of vampirism. . . .

And the thing is (or, here comes the plug!), while TOMORROW and its electronic successor TOMORROW SF are now long gone, “Moons of Saturn” has been reprinted in my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS.  For more information, or possible purchase, just press its picture in the center column.

Then one more item in the life of the writer:  Gehenna and Hinnom Editor/Publisher C.P. Dunphey emailed that the payment for my story in THE YEAR’S BEST BODY HORROR 2017 ANTHOLOGY (see September 13, August 10, May 8) has been sent to Paypal — a thing good to know since Paypal seems no longer to bother to tell people themselves when they’ve received money.  The story in question here is called “Flesh” — and like “Moons of Saturn” may be a little on the surreal side although with a more domestic setting — and also a reprint originally published in Spring 1999 in MAELSTROM SPECULATIVE FICTION.  THE YEAR’S BEST BODY HORROR can be pre-ordered now, by pressing here, in anticipation of a September 30 publication date.

 

And this is it.  On Friday 15 September, after 20 years in space, 13 of which spent in Saturn’s system, Cassini plunged into the gas giant’s atmosphere.  NASA made this choice to prevented it crashing into and contaminating the moons Titan or Enceladus, which could host alien microbial life.  The end was quick: as described in details in this National Geographic’s article, “the spacecraft’s thrusters failed, overwhelmed by gravity and intense atmospheric friction.  It began to tumble, lost sight of Earth, and went silent forever around 4:55 a.m. PT.  Though scientists couldn’t observe the action, they knew that one or maybe two minutes after Cassini’s signal vanished, Saturn tore the spacecraft apart.  The probe shed flaming pieces into the planet’s atmosphere, streaking through the alien sky like a crumbling meteor.”

This is the start of this morning’s entry on Steph P. Bianchini’s THE EARTHIAN HIVEMIND, “So Long, Earthians.  Cassini, Over and Out.”  We may recall THE EARTHIAN HIVEMIND from about a week and a half ago, referring us to a piece on Cassini on NATURE.COM (see September 7).  So returning the favor in a way, for Bianchini’s own final take (though with several more links there that can be pursued too) those interested are invited to press here.

Can’t resist reprinting this just-received press release from Gehenna & Hinnom (seeing as how I’m mentioned in it):  MISSISSIPPI, September 30th, 2017:  C.P. Dunphey, critically acclaimed author of PLANE WALKER, has collected 40+ stories from the best up-and-coming authors in horror for Gehenna & Hinnom’s debut collection, THE YEAR’S BEST BODY HORROR 2017 ANTHOLOGY.  From Bram Stoker Award-nominated authors like James Dorr, to bestselling science fiction authors like David Beers, the anthology presents no shortage of entertaining visceral horror.

Coming off the heels of an incredibly successful first two issues of HINNOM MAGAZINE — one an H.P. Lovecraft-themed memorial collection — Gehenna & Hinnom launches itself into Late-September with unprecedented anticipation for their Body Horror Anthology.  From tales of infectious diseases rotting flesh to cosmic horror stories of perversion and mysticism, horror readers of all audiences will love this collection.

But more to the immediate point, here is the announcement late yesterday from Editor/Publisher C.P Dunphey:  We are excited to announce that the Body Horror Anthology is live for pre-order in digital formats!  The release date is still set for September 30th for both print and e-book, and we are excited to unleash this behemoth into the world.

At 400 pages, this will be a big book (cf. August 10 for a contents listing, May 8), with a pre-order price for the Kindle edition at $4.99.  And as noted above, both print and electronic versions will be physically out at the end of the month.  My part in this one is a slightly surrealistic tale called “Flesh,” of a man of wealth who has a weight problem, but perhaps not the kind one might first think.

So if you can’t wait (and who could blame you?) to pre-order now press here.

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The caption on the picture reads:  An image created by the Cassini spacecraft on July 19, 2013, when the sun slipped behind Saturn and illuminated the planet in an eclipse, illuminating its magnificent rings all the way out to the faint E ring, which appears as a ghostly blue hue of icy particles.  And so another, extensive salute via POPULARMECHANICS.COM, “Farewell to the Greatest Space Mission of Our Time” by Jay Bennett, for which press here.  In four more days (cf. September 7) Cassini will be gone.  Quoting the article once again:  The Cassini spacecraft spent 13 years orbiting Saturn.  It revealed the planet and its rings in striking detail, found liquid around every corner, and invigorated the idea that alien life not only exists, but could be right on our doorstep.

The message came this morning from TALES TO TERRIFY, James, Just wanted to let you know your story aired on our podcast this week narrated by Jake Wachholz.   The story in question:  “In the Octopus’s Garden” (see April 8, 1; also April 21), originally published in 69 FLAVORS OF PARANOIA and also the lead story in my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS.  So, like an unruly child, now it can be heard as well as seen by pressing here, then pressing the button you’ll find therein.  It’s the second story in a podcast of two, starting at just over fourteen minutes in (about 14:12 to be almost exact) with title and bionote, then the reading of the story proper at about 15:18.  That is, fifteen minutes and 18 seconds, but that was my quick approximation for what that’s worth.

Then for reading the words, I’ve already mentioned THE TEARS OF ISIS, for more on which one can click its picture in the center column.  But also “In the Octopus’s Garden” has been quasi-simultaneously released in print and Kindle this August in DEADMAN’S TOME CAMPFIRE TALES, BOOK ONE (cf. July 15, April 24, 21).  For more on this one, one may press here.

Two items today, to look for in the near future:  The first is courtesy of Steph P. Bianchini’s blog THE EARTHIAN HIVEMIND, reminding us that the Cassini space probe will be sending its last signals to Earth just eight days from now.  Or from, as it were, the horse’s mouth, “on September 15, with its fuel tank now almost empty, the probe will make its final dive straight into Saturn, heading for the gas giant’s surface.”  And so, via THE EARTHIAN HIVEMIND, this sendoff:  “Cassini’s 13 Years of Stunning Saturn Science — In Pictures,” by Alexandra Witze on NATURE.COM.  To read (and see), press here.

For the second, we hark back a couple of months to an email from artist, poet, and sometime blog commentator Marge Simon:  Would you have a couple of vamp poems previously published that you could let Kathy Ptacek use for the HWA October newsletter?  If you’ve got an illo to go with it, great.  Maybe something we did for VAMPS?  The reference is to my poetry collection, VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), hopefully to be coming out in a second edition but for info on which, for now, click on its picture in the center column, and so I sent Kathy three favorite poems plus two of Marge’s illustrations.

So then a few days ago came the reply:  thanks, james! I appreciate you sending these to me!  and that’s great that marge sent the artwork for them!  this is going to be a fun issue, I think!  heh!  The issue in question will be the October Horror Writers Association NEWSLETTER with an extra flourish to celebrate the coming Halloween.  And the poems (with initial publication information):  “Night Child,” TOMORROW SF, Feb. 1998; “La Méduse,” ASYLUMS AND LABYRINTHS (Rain Mountain Press, 1997), with a note that it also serves as sort of a foreword to my THE TEARS OF ISIS (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, 2013); and “Bon Appétit,” GOTHIC.NET, Aug. 2002).

While Saturday started off a bit cool and clouded for my taste, the sun had established itself by a little past noon and Sunday followed sunny and warm too, a beautiful weekend for this year’s Bloomington 4th Street Festival of Arts & Crafts and, with it, the Bloomington Writers Guild’s Spoken Word Stage (cf. below, August 30).  Along with a number of poets both days, Saturday also brought Bloomington High School South’s Poetry Out Loud (getting the new generation on our side), children’s theater with the Merry Mac Players, FRANKENSTEIN as presented by the Fig Tree Fellowship Radio Players, and poetry “band” Shakespeare’s Monkey.  Then Sunday introduced more prose fiction readers, including Joan Hawkins and Shayne Laughter who we’ve met before (cf., e.g., various First Sundays Prose readings, for which in a way today’s Spoken Word session was a substitute), and . . . somewhat late in the day at 3:30 p.m., me.  In my case, I read three excerpts from TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, the back cover blurb and the introduction to Section II — by way of a sort of introduction — followed by the Section II story-chapter “The Last Dance.”  This was the same as the reading I presented last July at NASFiC in Puerto Rico (see July 13) and it seemed to go over well to an audience that started out on the small side, but grew as I continued, a good sign as these things go.  Next month, also, I’ll probably read the same first two parts but a slightly shorter story-chapter for October’s First Sunday.

Then speaking of TOMBS, Saturday’s email brought an “eligibility check” from the Horror Writers Association for works submitted to the Bram Stoker Award(R) Jury.  This consisted of questions concerning publication date, length and content, and prior publication (if any) of parts of the contents, all of which I was able to answer in the affirmative and send right back.  While this will be checked by the Jury people, with an official “acceptance” probably not for two weeks, one possibly ambiguous thing has been decided.  Although TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH is a novel-in-stories, akin to Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES or Amy Tan’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB, under the technicalities of the Stoker rules, it will be voted on in the Fiction Collection category.

So what that means in the here and now:  If you’re a HWA member and have read TOMBS, and have a hankering to recommend it for a Stoker, please do it for “Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection.”  But even if you’re not a HWA member, while/if the spirit moves please also consider reviewing it for Amazon and Barnes & Noble (both of which are offering wildly discounted prices on TOMBS, by the way, while they last), as well as on Goodreads.

What is it with lists?  I’ve had too many lately, probably, but this is a major one to round out the month with.  From the GEHENNA POST, “43 Underrated Films from the Darker Side of Cinema You’ve Probably Never Seen,” with plot descriptions from IMDb plus links to Amazon (though, of the latter, mostly Blu-ray ones, but peons like me can click from there to mere DVD).  To quote from the site:  In this list, you will find 43 films that we felt are lacking in recognition and that deserve more appreciation and acknowledgement.  These films are in no particular order.  There are a few foreign language films, but we are planning an entirely different list for them (so don’t be disappointed at the lack of representation just yet!), seeing as there are so many great pieces out there from across the world.

Appetite whetted?  I will say there are some I haven’t seen myself, including the one pictured here, LAST SHIFT.  Also, while mostly horror, a fair number of them are science fiction — or mostly science fiction.  But to see for yourself, press here.

“Now in its 7th year, the Spoken Word Stage at the 4th Street Arts Festival is one of the largest literary performance events in the Midwest, featuring storytelling, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, live radio theatre, and other unique collaborations,” the announcement tells us (see also, below, August 9 and 7).  As in years past, I will have a slot too, billed as “horror fiction” from 3:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon, September 3rd.  The event itself, arts fair, music, local displays, and the Bloomington Writers Guild-sponsored “Poetry on Demand” booth and Spoken Word Stage, spans the Labor Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday September 2 and 3, arrayed along 4th Street in Bloomington, Indiana.  Or more to the point for the Spoken Word Stage, just off 4th on Dunn Street.

Here is the schedule, as of today, noting again that I’ll be on Sunday with excerpts from my novel-in-stories, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, from 3:30 to 4.  And if you like it, I’ll be up again with an excerpt from a different section the following month, in a featured spot at the Writers Guild’s First Sunday Prose Reading, on which more later.

SATURDAY Sep 2
10:30 Shana Ritter (poetry)
11:00 5 Women Poets (poetry)
11:30 Merry MAC Players (theatre)
12:00 Merry MAC cont’d
12:30 Butch D’Ambrisio (sonnets)
1:00 Alex Hollett (poetry)
1:30 Abegunde (poetry)
2:00 Matt Hart (poetry)
2:30 Wil Gibson
3:00 PrideSlam Showcase (poetry)
3:30 Bloomington High School South Poetry Out Loud (poetry)
4:00 Fig Tree Fellowship Radio Players (audio theatre)
4:30 Fig Tree cont’d
5:00 Steve Henn (poetry)
5:30 Shakespeare’s Monkey (poetry band)

SUNDAY Sep 3
10:00 Tony Brewer (poetry)
10:30 Eric Rensberger (poetry)
11:00 Joan Hawkins (fiction)
11:30 New Leaf New Life volunteers (poetry and fiction)
12:00 Adam Henze (poetry)
12:30 Shayne Laughter (fiction)
1:00 Jack Ramey (poetry)
1:30 Jasper Wirtshafter (poetry)
2:00 Wil Gibson
2:30 Arbutus Cunningham (storytelling)
3:00 Cricket’s Bone Caravan (audio theatre)
3:30 James Dorr (horror fiction)
4:00 Lisa Kwong (poetry/personal essay)
4:30 Bloomington Storytellers Guild (storytelling)

In other news, today brought proof sheets for “Flightless Rats” from FANTASIA DIVINITY (cf. July 7, et al.) which, with one correction noted, went back this afternoon.  To be published in the September issue, “Flightless Rats” is the tale of New Orleanian “Casket Girl” Aimée a-prowl for a new husband, but how some prospects may not make the grade.  It is a reprint, originally published in T. GENE DAVIS’S SPECULATIVE BLOG, January 12 2015, and has also appeared in the flash fiction anthology MOCHA’S DARK BREW: 10 TALES OF HORROR (Mocha Memoirs Press, 2016).




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