Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Yes, this is new, though the catch is that, unless you’re on Prime or buy at least three copies, you will have to pay shipping costs as well.  The book:  TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, and it’s still a bargain at $9.31, under $10.00, or 38 percent off its list price of $14.95.  For more click its picture in the center column or, going directly to the chase, press here.  But one would best hurry, Amazon is also doing “Prime Days” just for today and tomorrow and, while this one’s for non-Prime customers too, it may not be offered for very long.
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The above is something I found out more or less accidentally and seemed worth sharing.  I then checked out THE TEARS OF ISIS (as is my wont) but, alas, at least on Amazon one must pay its full $12.95 price.  That is for a new copy (which, I admit, I’d prefer you buy because I get a royalty on them — these are all for paperbacks I should add, with Kindle prices somewhat less), but for a less expensive read three vendors have used copies listed at $10.44, with condition rated as “Very Good,” and with shipping free.  These can be found by clicking TEARS’ picture or pressing here and, hey, if you like it, perhaps you’ll be moved to send Amazon and/or Goodreads a review.
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Once upon a time, a long time ago, I wrote a story called “The Plant-Sitter.”  The sitter in question, hired to take care of an exotic plant while its owner attends a horror convention, in part was a homage to the 1960 Roger Corman film LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, specifically when at the end, the hiree apparently now deceased, the hirer tries to remember her name.  “Audrey something?”  The story was published in the Fall 2004 BOOK OF DARK WISDOM by William Jones, who later founded Elder Signs Press, and who I subsequently worked with on an idea I had for a novel-in-stories about a far-future world of the “Tombs.”  For various reasons that project got delayed, but eventually under new editor/publisher Chuck Zaglanis, thirteen years later, the book was published as TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.

So these things are connected.  The Corman movie begat a 1960s retro rock musical in 1982, and that in turn was made into a movie four years after, in 1986, which I also have seen.  And now — one of the perks of living in a university town, where slightly off the beaten track films and theatre are nurtured — I had a chance to see the play on stage last night in an Indiana University Summer Theatre production.

For local readers the play can be seen on various dates through July 28.  For those who like horror in urban settings (a flower shop in New York’s “skid row”?) and dark, dark humor, all I can say is that it’s a delight.  It does have, yes, a carnivorous plant as well as, like most musicals, innocent lovers — or those at least who start off with some innocence.  Also it adds a sadistic dentist, and a Greek chorus-like trio of girl pop singers (early 1960s style, remember) who’re not averse to demanding tips to give strangers directions — to get to the flower shop, that is — although greed and materialism infect most of the other players as well.  Or in the plant’s case (named “Audrey II,” after the not quite entirely guileless ingenue) perhaps it’s more properly gluttony.

Anyhow I greatly recommend it.

Then a quick note on yesterday afternoon’s post on “11 Space Movies for Apollo 11,” it turns out that the wily SHORT LIST may have sent that particular feature as, apparently, a special treat for its newsletter subscribers — which means that the link may not have worked for all who tried it.  There doesn’t seem to be much I can do about that, but I can give a list of the movies alone.  Thus, from number one to eleven:  2001:  A SPACE ODYSSEY, APOLLO 13, INTERSTELLAR, FIRST MAN, HIDDEN FIGURES, CAPRICORN ONE, THE RIGHT STUFF, GRAVITY, THE MARTIAN, MOON, SPACE CAMP.

Well, there’s APOLLO 11 which I think was on CNN on TV a week or two back (also, I believe, being re-screened locally this weekend by Ryder Films), but that’s not on this list.  Rather this is a list of Hollywood films, some of epic proportion like 2001:  A SPACE ODYSSEY, some uplifting like THE RIGHT STUFF, even some you might not have immediately thought of as about space like HIDDEN FIGURES.  So the list for today is by Libby Plummer, “The 11 Best Space Movies that Are Out of This World,” brought to us via SHORLIST.COM.  We’ve trawled the galaxy to pick out the best of the bunch so if you’re looking for something to watch in celebration of Apollo 11’s historic mission to the moon or you’re just a massive space nerd, here’s our shortlist of the 11 best space movies around.  Since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on the moon 50 years ago, space has been a popular destination for filmmakers.  Whether it’s true-life stories of daring space missions or the possible future of Earthlings in space you’re after, the movie world has you covered.

Others noted: CAPRICORN ONE, THE MARTIAN, APOLLO 13 . . . the list goes on.  But see it for yourself by pressing here!

2013, the year that brought us the films GRAVITY and DESPICABLE ME 2, as well as in which my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS was published. And what should I run across this afternoon, through sheer serendipity, but an interview of me dated May 7 that year on LONG AND SHORT REVIEWS (“Reviewing Fiction One Happy Ever After at a Time”)?  At that time THE TEARS OF ISIS was about to be published in roughly a week by Isis4_2Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing — pre-orders on Amazon were being taken and five free copies being raffled on Goodreads — although the cover was not the one shown in the center column. The cover change only came a year after, acknowledging TEARS having won a Stoker(R) nomination. While other concerns were about a book that was already planned, but had suffered some setbacks in terms of finding a publisher for it:  James has a series of short stories he’s been writing set on a far future, dying Earth in and around a vast necropolis called The Tombs.  Something more than a dozen of these have been published in various places, including three (two reprints and one for the first time) in THE TEARS OF ISIS, “The Ice Maiden,” “Mara’s Room,” and “River Red” (another new one, “Raising the Dead,” is also scheduled for later this year in the White Cat Publications steampunk anthology AIRSHIPS AND AUTOMATONS). . . .

So it’s not that long a time really, is it?  Other “standard” topics are covered too:  How did you first become a writer?  Advice for new writers?  If interested in how the writing life looked at least for a moment back then, the interview as a whole can be read here.

Strange are the tales told of the Internet.  Of stories presumed rejected that weren’t; of acceptances disguised as things they might not be.  A magical, mystical place it is, of shadows and mysteries.  And here is one such strange telling now.

Let us go first to June 13 2018, and a call for submissions from Old Sins, “a (very) small publishing cooperative.”  Let’s write about conspiracies that have been debunked thoroughly but do so through the lens of Alternate History, where they have actually happened.  Let’s write about the second shooter, chemtrails, the Illuminati, Lizard People, Greys, the Loch Ness Monster, Pope Joan, Templars worshipping Satan, and so many other rumored conspiracies throughout history as if they were real.  So okay, let’s do.  As it happened I had such a tale already, of UFOs on the road to Roswell or, at least, an odd wounded humanoid creature who may have come from a UFO, originally published in BOOK OF DARK WISDOM in Summer 2005, called “The Country Doctor.”*

So off it went, until on October 25 an email came from Editor Joseph Cadotte asking about some possible small editorial changes, and allowing that he had liked the story and was sending it along to his partner.  Okay, so not an acceptance quite, but I sent a reply addressing the suggested changes (most of them having to do with italicization) and so time went on.  But then a new email came on January 27 this year with the subject title “Pending acceptance to FAKE NEWS,” stating in part:  We have a preliminary layout, and, if you are included in this message, you are on it.   So that’s positive mostly, sort of, yes?  Maybe a clearer confirmation (that is, not just “pending”) would be coming soon.

Which brings us to Wednesday afternoon, yesterday, not quite six months later, repeating the January 27 message, and with the same heading, but with an explanation above of how things are being delayed.  The wheels grind slowly, but grind they still do, and concluding:  I will try to send you a contract soonish.

So I’m going to call this an acceptance now of “The Country Doctor” for FAKE NEWS (or a similar title), and if perhaps still not 100 percent sure, we’ll find out together.

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*”The Country Doctor” has also been reprinted in the anthology AMERICA THE HORRIFIC (Bards and Sages, 2011), for which one can see below, October 29, 19 2011, et al.

A very, very quick bit of news. “Flute and Harp,” accepted as a reprint by HELIOS QUARTERLY on June 3 (see below), has now been scheduled for Volume 6, Issue 2, for June 2021.  Yes, that’s two years from now, Volume 5 having already been filled due to a greater than expected response to this year’s call for submissions.  The story itself, originally published in WHISPERS AND SHADOWS (Prime Books, 2001) concerns a pair of musicians on a dying world who like each other very much, but also share a fear of ghouls.  The story itself is a favorite of mine and, if I may say so, should be worth the wait, but for those who might be more impatient it also appears in my novel-in-stories, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (Elder Signs Press, 2017), for more on which one may press its picture in the center column.

Catching up, what a wonderful feeling when it’s story acceptances!  This came in after I’d written yesterday’s post (and that for a late Thursday night sale itself!), from Editor-in-Chief Patrick C. Harrison III:  Congratulations! We at Death’s Head Press have chosen to publish your short story, “Catskinner Sweet and the Twirling Teacups of Deadwood City,” in our anthology, BREAKING BIZARRO.  Please look over the attached contract (don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions) and email a signed copy back to us within the next few weeks.

The story, a reprint originally published in the March 2001 edition of NUKETOWN, to quote myself in my cover letter when I sent it in is written stylistically as a tall tale, yet is still an absurd story of the Olde West, and of how a failed alien invasion, an ace muleskinner who also could herd cats, a failed tree planting, and green-glowing mice turned a dying town into a city as up to date as St. Louis.  That and the invention of a better mouse trap and a warehouse full of dried navy beans, which all also combine to serve young love — although at worst with a mildly implied PG rating.  This one, also, is a bit longer than yesterday’s “Frogs’ Hair,” which actually is about five words shorter than my self-quoted description above.

And so today, Saturday, back went the contract, with more to be reported here as it becomes known.

HIGH LIFE is not an easy film.  Here’s the way the Indiana University Cinema put it:  In Claire Denis’ highly anticipated science-fiction film, Monte and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to deep space.  The crew — death-row inmates led by a doctor with sinister motives — has vanished.  As the mystery of what happened onboard the ship is unraveled, father and daughter must rely on each other to survive as they hurtle toward the oblivion of a black hole.  Contains mature content, including sexual violence.

For me, I enjoyed it, dark as it might be for science fiction, but then when have I been put off by “dark.”  However between non-linear time and a disjointed scene structure, I’d have to see it a few times more to really get a handle on it.  But as a film (to quote the docent as best I remember) “draw[ing] strong visceral and emotional reactions,” and one “to think about afterward,” it worked.

Beyond that as one Amazon reviewer put it, to say anything much about the plot, other than it begins with a spaceman’s talking with a baby, would risk multiple spoilers.  So here is a closing of other reviews from Wikipedia:  David Ehrlich of INDIEWIRE gave the film an A- grade, saying it owed more to SOLARIS than STAR WARS and describing it as “a pensive and profound study of human life on the brink of the apocalypse.”  Jessica Kiang of VARIETY called it “extraordinary, difficult, hypnotic, and repulsive”. Charles Bramesco of the GUARDIAN gave the film 5 stars out of 5, saying Denis had reconfigured the genre’s “familiar components to create a startlingly fresh engagement with the question of what it means to be human.”  Steve MacFarlane of SLANT MAGAZINE wrote:  “The film asks down-and-dirty questions about what really resides beneath thousands of years of human progress, a savage and haunting antidote to the high-minded idealism of movies like Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR and Ridley Scott’s THE MARTIAN.”

HIGH LIFE will be re-screened Friday (tonight) after which the Cinema will go dark for renovations during the summer, then resume (I believe) in late August.

Yes, let us recall PLANET SCUMM and its Christmastide presentation of “Holly Jolly” (see March 17 2019; December 27, 14 2018, et al.), the tale of a pointy-eared alien conqueror, or at least he hoped to be.  For after all, disguised as a department store Santa’s assistant elf, what could possibly go wrong?  Well, you can find out by buying the Winter 2018 issue of PLANET SCUMM, if you haven’t already, and now you can hear it for yourself too in a just-released audio edition.

Or, to quote from the reindeer’s mouth as it were:  Planet Scumm is a quarterly science-fiction magazine, published by Spark & Fizz Books.  It is produced by Tyler Burdwood, Sean Clancy, Eric Loucks, Samuel Rheaume and Alyssa Alarcón Santo.  [It] was born out of reverence for the bizarre science fiction magazines of the 1930s, 1950s, and 1960s.  We cherish the genre as an open forum for philosophy, anxieties, thought experiments and thoughtless experiments.

Also, according to the announcement, the issue is out as well in a new paperback book edition.  For either form, pb or audio, find more out by pressing here.

Some editors know what they like and don’t mind saying so very quickly.  To quote the announcement, SPECIAL CALL:  HELIOS QUARTERLY turns 5 in 2020!  Over the years, we’ve published less horror than science fiction & fantasy.  . . .  We want to change that.  For our upcoming call for submissions, we’re especially interested in horror short stories and poetry by Black, Indigenous, and other poets and authors of color.  So late Sunday night (the email auto-acknowledgement is stamped as 10:34 p.m.) I plunked the key that sent my submission of a 5500-word story, “Flute and Harp.”

Then just under twelve hours later, listed as at 10:32 a.m. Monday, the e-reply came:  Congratulations writer!  We would like to publish your submission “Flute and Harp”.  At this time we do not yet know the actual date of publication, but we will continue to keep you notified of what is happening as we move forward.  So while I don’t know if that’s a record, it is pretty swift.

“Flute and Harp” is a reprint, originally published in WHISPERS AND SHADOWS (Prime Books, 2001), and is a sort of personal favorite of mine.  It tells the tale of two doomed musician-lovers on a far-future dying planet and also appears as a story chapter in TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (Elder Signs Press, 2017).  And I might also note that HELIOS QUARTERLY has a very narrow window for submissions (again to quote from their guidelines), from June 1-15 11:59 EST every year.  Or in other words, my two musicians (as might benefit musicians everywhere) had a very fine sense of timing!

But that also means there is at least a short time remaining for others who might have a yen to submit to HELIOS QUARTERLY (which though, in addition to quickness, seems also to be rather picky), for more on which one may press here.




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