Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Well, life in the far future as depicted in TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH is, to be sure, not exactly cheery.  And Amazon’s keywords do include the term “Dystopian,” as well as “Horror.”  But here’s a description from Erin Roberts’s “How to Tell If You’re Living in a Dystopia — And Why It Matters,” from TOR.COM:  Dystopian fiction, which comes from the Ancient Greek words “dys” (bad) and “topia” (place), lives up to its name by featuring worlds in which reality is cruel, suffering is extreme, and hope seems pointless.  But not every horrible place is a dystopia — the trope usually features a world in which society itself is the problem — and not every dystopia is horrible in the same way.  The social order is broken, but how?  The system has been corrupted, but by whom?  These futures may be bleak, but they are not interchangeable.  And so the question, are troubles in TOMBS primarily that of a social order (or orders) gone wrong, or is it more just a physically lousy place to live?  Or some kind of combination of both?

Ms. Roberts suggests four questions one could ask to determine whether one’s milieu is dystopic or not, mostly having to do with societal origins and hopes of relief, but as some of the comments after may suggest those might not be the only criteria.  But see for yourself by pressing here.  While as for TOMBS, for more information click on its picture in the center column, read the reviews, and perhaps buy a copy.

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Another sale, this one by DriveThru Fiction according to Untreed Reads Publishing’s Jay Hartman:  If you’re getting this email, it’s because one or more of your titles have been included in DriveThruFiction.com’s special Halloween sale.  They’re going to be offering 31% ImDreamingoff all horror/ghost titles through the end of October.  And two of the titles offered are my short story Christmas horror chapbook I’M DREAMING OF A . . . and the Untreed Reads New Year’s Eve anthology YEAR’S END with its lead story by me, “Appointment in Time,” as well as my non-horror dystopian science fiction (and hence not part of the sale, but still cheap at only $1.50) novelette PEDS.  For more, press here, where you’ll find seventeen titles from various publishers (mainly anthologies with stories by me in them) concerning me, plus two, PRESIDENTIAL PULP and THE ADVENTURE MEGAPACK, that have nothing to do with me whatsoever.  Whereas for Untreed Read titles on sale only, including ones mostly not by me, one can press here.

Who knows what Friday the Thirteenth will bring, but yesterday, Thursday the twelfth, was rather nice despite a gloomy, Octobery day.  The highlight, a first poetry acceptance for me by STAR*LINE new editor Vince Gotera, for a “horrorku” titled “Wet Work.”  Horrorku?  Well, it’s sort of supposed to be horror plus haiku though it’s really more just a three line poem with a vaguely 5-7-5 syllable count (mine is 5-7-4) on a horror subject, which in my case would more likely be epigrammatic, although not always.  But to the point, even if lacking walruses (cf. October 1) “Wet Work” does have a mermaid.

Then Thursday night brought the Bloomington Writers Guild co-sponsored “Second Thursday Players Pub Spoken Word Series” (cf. June 8, et al.) with, this time, a special reading performance of PREMIUM TAFT, a two-act play by Tom Trent, with musical interludes by Jason Fickel.  PREMIUM TAFT is, to read from the Facebook description, “[a] fictional time-traveling comedy about William Howard Taft’s whistle-stop presidential campaign appearance at the Mitchell Opera House in 1908 . . .  or maybe 1958?”  Or science fiction meets farce, in this case with an Indiana small-town ambience with grifters, politicos, greed, and rock ‘n’ roll.  And lots of fun.

This was followed by “open mic” presentations of which mine came in fourth of six, to an audience of about 15 people.  Noting that it had been a gloomy, Octobery day, ideal as a precursor for Halloween, I read four poems from VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), “Night Child,” “La Méduse,” “Moonlight Swimming,” and “Chagrin du Vampire.”

It is here!  ZIPPERED FLESH 3:  YET MORE TALES OF BODY ENHANCEMENTS GONE BAD (see September 26, et al.) arrived this evening, all 371 pages of it, and a handsome book it is too.  Or, to quote three opinions from the back cover:   In Zippered Flesh 3, Editor Weldon Burge has done a masterful job of combining work from well-known masters like Jack Ketchum and Graham Masterton with newer writers.  But it is the original work by newcomers like L.L. Soares and Meghan Acuri that stands out for me. …  Highly recommended. — Gene O’Neill, author of The Hitchhiking Effect:  A Retrospective Collection

“Closer” by Charles Colyott is a wonderfully poignant and romantic story. …  “Going Green” by Christine Morgan is so original, timely, and well-written it deserves special mention. …  Kudos to Burge for putting together another fine anthology of cutting-edge fiction. — Paul Dale Anderson, author of The Instruments of Death series

Hardcore horror that ranges from the socially relevant to the scatologically repulsive — the shock here is like “The Scream’ made flesh.” — Mort Castle, editor of On Writing Horror:  A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association

Mine in fact is one of the gentler pieces, “Golden Age,” a reflective science fiction tale originally published in MINDSPARKS in Spring 1994, one of seven reprints by authors such as Billie Sue Mosiman and William Nolan out of a total of nineteen stories, to end the collection.  But see for yourself — if you dare — by checking it out on Amazon here.

A disturbing film isn’t one that gleefully stands with its arms outstretched to embrace buckets of blood.  A disturbing film is something else, something more — an experience that’s undeniably unsettling whilst it plays out, but even more powerful in the lingering sting it leaves behind.  A truly disturbing movie doesn’t slap you around in your seat on first viewing — instead, it burrows its way into your brain and replays in your thoughts for weeks at a time afterwards.

There are plenty of lists out there that attempt to gather the most disconcerting films of all time in one place, but here at We Got This Covered we’re gonna evade your textbook entries on this occasion — A SERBIAN FILM, HUMAN CENTIPEDE, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST etc. — and go for a slightly different flavor.  These movies don’t simply disgust by serving as commendable pieces of exploitation cinema, but work in a rather different and more complex way to deeply, deeply disturb.  Watching them once will be more than enough. . .

So starts Gaz Lloyd’s “10 Deeply Disturbing Movies That You Need To Watch, But Only Once,” brought to us by WEGOTTHISCOVERED.COM.  To cut to the chase, to see the list for yourself press here (noting that a few of these specify the original movie, not the remake).  For myself, I think I’ve seen four of the ten, but will need to check further when I’m at home (I’m writing this at a library computer right now) to see if I still have two of the titles.  And, tonight, maybe watch AUDITION again?

Nah, maybe not.

“Now comrades, I am finally convinced that a dream of mine — space travel — for which I have given the theoretical foundations, will be realized.  I believe that many of you will be witnesses of the first journey beyond the atmosphere.  In the Soviet Union we have many young pilots. . . (and) I place my most daring hopes in them.  They will help to actualize my discoveries and will prepare the gifted builders of the first space vehicle.  Heroes and men of courage will inaugurate the first airways:  Earth to Moon orbit, Earth to Mars orbit, and still farther; Moscow to the Moon, Kaluga to Mars!”

The square erupted in cheers, led by none other than the country’s leader Joseph Stalin.

Twenty-two years later, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite into space aboard the R-7 rocket.  After its flight into space on October 4, 1957 — 60 years ago today — Sputnik-1 quickly entered into legend, and struck fear in the United States about falling behind in the space race.  But such a momentous launch likely couldn’t have happened without Tsiolkovsky, a mathematician, founding father of modern rocketry, and a science-fiction visionary that even inspired Arthur C. Clarke.

Thus starts today’s anniversary internet gleaning, “How a Russian Scientist’s Sci-Fi Genius Made Sputnik Possible” by Matt Blitz on POPULAR MECHANICS.COM, on the Russian visionary Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky, rocket pioneer and, yes, science fiction author, remembering the October 4 1957 launch of the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik.  Some of us are so old we remember that day, even now when we’ve just celebrated a few weeks ago a space probe’s demise in crashing on the planet Saturn.  And some of us so young that we might live to see the first colony on Mars.  And some of us who became science fiction fans, or even scientists — or even writers — may share in a tip of the hat to those times, though Tsiolkovsky himself, born just over a hundred years before in September 1857, had died twenty-two years before the launch, on September 19 1935.

For more, one may press here.  And for even more than that, for the rocketry details also from POPULARMECHANICS.COM, please to peruse “The Rocket that Launched Sputnik and Started the Space Race” by Anatoly Zak by pressing here.

A time of revelry and reversal, Saturnalia represents the breakdown of what has been deemed the natural order.  HYPERION AND THEIA’s inaugural volume wants stories and poetry that runs the gamut of genres and turns expectations on their heads.  Submit a fantastical murder-mystery set in the biggest carnival in Atlantis.  Wow us with a sweeping romance in space where gods and goddesses serve their creations after a bloody war. . . .

Such had been the call some months ago and, last December, came the acceptance (cf. December 9 2016).  My “epic” poem DREAMING SATURN, originally published in the anthology DARK DESTINY (White Wolf, 1994) would not only be in the inaugural volume, but tentatively would be set as the opening item.  A contract would follow.

So you know how it is.  Life intrudes, delays happen.  But then, yesterday:  Sorry for the long wait!  I have attached the final contract for you to sign.  I will contact you again on the 27th of October with the cover and other promotional material.  Suffice to say, the signed 8451b32b-e3c4-41cb-8f3e-7c6834708f13contract went back in the email this afternoon.

In other news, a run through the e-bookstores this morning unearthed a 33-percent discount for TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH on Barnes and Noble, at $9.99 — and that’s just the “official” price, with individual sellers’ new copies as inexpensive as $8.98.  There’s no indication how long these prices may last, so best take advantage soon!  Amazon, also, while listing the full price of $14.95 on its site, has several individual listings in the $10 to $11 range.  If interested, check out Barnes and Noble by pressing here; while Amazon can continue to be found, including several substantive reviews, by clicking TOMBS’ picture in the center column.

The crowd wasn’t the hugest, even including the homeless guy asleep in the back row, but was gratifyingly enthusiastic for this month’s “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic”(cf. August 7, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and Boxcar Books, and anyway it had to compete with a lovely late-summerish afternoon outside.  And, yes, this was October.  Be that as it may, it was also our starting-the-buildup-to-Halloween special, with featured readings beginning with Frida Westford and two short shorts, “That Which Remains” about a displaced bog spirit paired with a fairy tale brought up to date in “The Eve of All Hallows,” and ending with Joan Hawkins and Tony Brewer performing brief excerpts from the screenplay for Ken Russell’s never-produced film version of DRACULA, with the title character an aesthete who specializes in biting artists about to die in order to give them eternal life to continue producing.

My reading came in between these two with a presentation from TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH somewhat paralleling that of the previous month at the Bloomington Arts Festival “Spoken Word Stage” (see September 3), this time with the book’s back-cover blurb plus the ghoul-poet’s tale from Section III to introduce the chapter-story “Carnival of the Animals,” and seemed to me to be well received (snoring homeless guy in the back notwithstanding).

Then after the break, with banana bread and ginger cookies, four readers, all of whom we’ve met before, offered open microphone presentations to cap the afternoon:  Tonia Matthews, Shayne Laughter, and (this time separately) Tony Brewer and MC Joan Hawkins.

This is the time for second quarter royalties to (as it were) come home, and the first report was received this week.  One may recall that royalties for individual short stories in an anthology, for instance, or possibly as stand-alone chapbooks are rarely large, and it’s been my custom to avoid embarrassment on both sides by declining to identify either the publisher or the exact amount.  So let it suffice just to say a significant recipient this time around will be the US Postal Service for selling the stamp to send the check to me.

Then, continuing on the topic of matters postal, I stopped by the post office this afternoon needing to buy stamps for myself, and, having been tipped off, asked for two sheets (in this case of twenty stamps each) of the one honoring last month’s solar eclipse (cf. August 22).  The tip?  If you press your thumb on the stamp’s picture of the occluded sun, rolling it a bit perhaps to assure that all has been warmed by its touch, and then remove it — voila!  The picture you’ll see is now one of the moon!

What horror anthology on body enhancements wouldn’t include gross-out fiction?  This book has it in spades.  But, this collection of stories goes far beyond that.  Here you will also find science fiction, surreal fiction, fantasy, and even a full serving of dark humor.  Disturbing, perverse, often gut-wrenching (pun intended) stories — all between the covers of this anthology!

Nineteen chilling tales by some of the best horror and suspense writers today.  Definitely not for the squeamish!

What anthology is it?  It’s ZIPPERED FLESH 3:  YET MORE TALES OF BODY ENHANCEMENTS GONE BAD (see September 19, August 5, et al.) which, according to Weldon Burge of Smart Rhino Publications, has now been published as of September 22 in paperback format.  For more information/ ordering press here.  ZIPPERED FLESH 3 is the “other” body horror anthology (cf. just below) and, at 388 pages, also a hefty book my part of which is the final story, “Golden Age,” a less “gut-wrenching” than some SF story of reasoned reflection, but possibly just right to cap the anthology.




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