Beginning now (March 3rd) through March 11th, we’re offering 30% off every single ebook title published by Untreed Reads throughout The Untreed Reads Store.  VERY IMPORTANT!!:  There is no discount code for this promotion.  The 30% off will automatically show up during the last step of the checkout process.  . . .  Remember that when people purchase through our store they get EPUB, PDF and Kindle versions for just one price!  Plus, they Pedscan gift a title to someone or send an ebook directly to their Kindle.  So begins the announcement from Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads Publishing, home of two stand-alone short story e-chapbooks by me, the steampunkish-mystery VANITAS and Christmas horror I’M DREAMING OF A. . ., plus my dystopic science fiction novelette PEDS.  To take advantage, press the picture of any of these in the center column and, as an extra, you’ll also find the New Year’s Eve anthology YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR with its opening story, “Appointment in Time,” also by me.

So what’s the occasion?  According to Editor Hartman:  Every year, the ebook world celebrates Read An Ebook Week, and this year is certainly no different!  This year, the dates of the event are Sunday, March 5th through Saturday, March 11th.  Also, he points out, although the discount is only 25%, PEDS and I’M DREAMING OF. . . . are also on sale at DriveThruFiction from March 5 through 11, which can be reached by pressing here.  No coupon code is needed for either sale, though the one directly from Untreed Reads seems the better deal.

This just in from Editor Cliff Gerstang, that EVERYWHERE STORIES:  SHORT FICTION FROM A SMALL PLANET, VOLUME II (cf. November 27, September 29, et al.) can now be obtained in a Kindle edition.  One need but press here.  But for those new to this blog (or perhaps short of memory), let us now take a trip on the Wayback Machine to July 25 2016everywhere-stories-vol-ii, quoting from publisher Press 53:  With a theme of “It’s a Mysterious World,” this exciting addition to the EVERYWHERE STORIES series, edited by award-winning author Clifford Garstang, takes readers on a journey around the globe:  to a wrestling match in Turkey, to a mysterious eye doctor in Guatelmala, to a homeless man wandering the streets of Chicago, to a religious school in Samoa, to a drowning in Mexico, to a fortune-telling monk in Korea, to a miraculous hotel in Egypt, and to more stories in countries on every continent.

Yes, that EVERYWHERE STORIES, VOLUME II, originally published in good ol’ print in the days of yore on September 26.  So these things take time, sometimes.  My tale in this one is “The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” of crime and family life gone sour in the Sahara Desert, originally told in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, November 1991, and also reprinted in my collection STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE (for more information, click its pic in the center column).  Or for the print version of EVERYWHERE STORIES, VOL II, us dead tree buffs can still press here.

Was this a tagline from the original FRANKENSTEIN movie?  Or did it just come into more general use later?  Does it still conjure up the mental image of the mad scientist, hair askew, clutching a test tube with something . . . colorful . . . bubbling out of it?  Those were the days, while today indexwe may think more in terms of computer malware, sneaking invisibly to do its damage.  But are there not still things that even hands-on, laboratory scientists are NOT MEANT TO FIND OUT?

The answer is “yes” according to Paul Ratner in “5 Topics That Are ‘Forbidden’ to Science,” via BIGTHINK.COM.  Or at least kind of sort of.  And within, perhaps, some ideas for science fiction?

For more, click here.  (Or, for a completely different take see TVTROPES.COM, “These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know,” by pressing here.)

For Mardi Gras or, more to the point, this was a six-month royalty for the last half of 2016 and one pretty generous as these things go.  But — how to say it? — perhaps more than one thing has been disappointing about the nether partindexs of the past year.  As the editor/publisher herself put it (as is my custom, to avoid embarrassment on both sides the actual publisher/book[s] will remain anonymous), [w]e hope it rebounds in 2017, and are redoubling our promotional efforts to that end.  Unless you object, we will simply hold your royalty over through this royalty period in the hopes that it grows substantial enough to pay you at the end of the summer.  And fair enough, say I.  Actually this one would buy a small meal at a discount restaurant, but why not let it slide for now and maybe, by Labor Day, have enough for dessert as well!

Laissez les bon temps rouler, eh?

Another month and, on a crisp but sunny afternoon, it was time for February’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (cf., e.g., January 29, et al.).  Co-sponsored by the Writers Guild at Bloomington and the Monroe County Convention Center, some 18 to 20 people attended, with the featured poets Indiana University MA/PhD student Nathan Schmidt reading a long poem, “Because I Would Not Stop for Him,” its title based on an Emily Dickenson line “Because I Would Not Stop for Death,” followed by Nancy Chen Long, author of the 2016 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry winner LIGHT INTO BODIES and other poems and chapbooks, with seven shorter works, several on subjects related to “home.”  Following the break were nine walk-on readers (including Tonia Matthews with a delightful series of variations on the theme of “chocolate”) of which I came in at number six with four previously published poems loosely about death:  “Dust to Dust,” “Firelight,” “A Little Night Music,” and “The Instrument Maker.”

And so, to Mardi Gras and March!

Quoting the Indiana University Cinema blurb for February 24:  Set in a dystopian Texas of the future, THE BAD BATCH is a “post-apocalyptic cannibal love story,” as writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour describes it, “ROAD WARRIOR meets PRETTY IN PINK with a dope soundtrack.”  This genre-breaking thrill ride won the Special Jury Prize at the 2016 Venice Film Festival and features a dream-ensemble cast of Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Jim Carrey, and Diego Luna.  The film opens later in 2017.  Director Ana Lily Amirpour is scheduled to be present.  Asked herself afterward about PRETTY IN PINK, Ms. Amirpour allowed that was something she’d said in one interview and she’d never do it again, but she smiled when she said that.  As for ROAD WARRIOR, there is a Mad Maxish ambience to THE BAD BATCH with scavenger societies, makeshift cities (one making use of an aircraft graveyard), and never-mind-where-the-gasoline-comes-from automobiles, though in this case more the speed of Vespas and golf carts.

Then another question:  What was the significance of the bunny?  Let us go back in time for a moment to Amirpour’s earlier movie A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT* and Masuka the cat (cf. January 19, 11 2015).  Masuka acts there as a sort of marking figure, passed in ownership between people who become important; in this a bunny (unnamed in the credits unless I missed it) becomes the pet of a little

“Do you want to hang out or something?”

girl who in turn becomes the bond between principle characters Arlen and Miami Man.  But beyond that, well, animals in some way may represent innocence and purity, Amirpour allowed, but (harking to another question too) this might not be a film to put too much stock in one-on-one symbolism.

What it is, though, she said is a “personal story of a girl who feels cut down, ripped apart by life,” as well as, as she was writing it originally, her “love letter to America.”  She hastened to add, this was before current times with a President Trump.  Yet a pervading image is that of a Texas desert divided by a wall, behind which are thrust the “bad batch,” the non-productive, the terminally ill, illegal immigrants (Miami Man was, originally, “a Cubano”), the homeless. . . .   They then are further divided into two “cities,” The Bridge (so named from homeless who, in US cities, often take shelter under expressway bridges and the like), a machismo culture and also . . . cannibalistic, and Find Comfort, a more benign hippie-like civilization whose diet tends more toward pasta.**  Needless to say, they hate each other.

So what is a girl to do — who’s already lost an arm and a leg (literally) to the dinner table?  Or a doting father who’s lost his daughter, but wouldn’t turn his nose up at a human filet.

Might there be a third way?

But also beware, there’s a quality of dream, of fairytale about the thing too, of don’t always take too literally what you see.  Be content instead to see beautiful images, though often enough combined with the grotesque — this is not a film for the faint of stomach!  Enjoy the soundtrack, and worry not too much about details like where gas or electricity come from in the desert (or pasta, for that matter, or how many humanburgers it takes to sustain a weight-lifter physique).  Or if the ending is, as we say in the romance biz, “happily ever after” or even, realistically, “happily for now.”  Sneak previews aside (Friday’s screening was presumably the first outside the film festival circuit), THE BAD BATCH is set for a June 23 release by NEON according to IMDb and, when the time comes, just sit back and enjoy it!

.
*The night before, in fact, we got to see seven short films by Amirpour including the original A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, on which the feature-length version was based (although, in the short, without any cats).

**And, surely this is just my personal eccentricity, I couldn’t help seeing a parallel to this, and especially the ending, in the 1974 Sean Connery film ZARDOZ (see October 15, 2016).  Or maybe I am nuts.

Or possibly May depending on how one reads the lines, but word has come that PHOBOS MAGAZINE number 4 should be published in print “in the next 1-2 months.  Shortly after, it will be available on Kindle.”  This is the deepblacksea_phobosartissue on the theme of “Deep Black Sea” with, keeping the subject in mind, my Lovecraftian story “The Dark Call of the Sea” (see December 14, October 25).  This is the one about a bad summer holiday spent at Innsmouth, with overtones of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Music of Erich Zann,” and to be available if schedules hold up in time for your and my summer vacations.

Then one more announcement regarding PHOBOS, we have a sneak peek at the cover art, by Abagail Larson.  Gaze and enjoy.

It came down to this, finally,
the fight of all fights,
Godzilla against the King. . . .

So begins the poem as published in DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES for May 2016 (cf. August 6, et al.), “Godzilla vs. King Kong.”  Then, today, came another missive:  Congratulations on having been nominated as a candidate for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s 2017 Rhysling Award, given by king_kong_vs_godzilla_1962member vote for the best speculative-genre poem first published in 2016.  While the award does not include a monetary prize, those included in the anthology receive a contributor’s copy, a 50% discount on further copies, and may join SFPA at half the normal rate.  The email went on to explain the details, the poem would be published in this year’s RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY, I would get a copy of it but no extra money for reprint rights, the anthology, in turn, would be distributed to SFPA members for use in voting.  And, one should add, even just being a nominee carries a certain amount of prestige so, the bottom line, I sent back my permission for the republication.

The Rhysling Award is actually two annual awards, one for shorter poems, one for those fifty lines long or more (at 26 lines, my poem will be in the short division).  These are voted on by SFPA members, by analogy to other genre awards like the Nebulas and Stokers(R), but with this one difference, that every nominee is distributed in the anthology, so every voter will have a chance to have read all the candidate poems.  More on the Rhyslings can be found on the SFPA site by pressing here.

As for who won the fight, however, Godzilla or King Kong, the answer will be in the poem itself and, even if not yourself a SFPA member, there will be a chance to buy the anthology when it comes out.

If at first one should fail to succeed, as the saying goes. . . .  The ZIPPERED FLESH 3:  YET MORE TALES OF BODY ENHANCEMENTS GONE BAD Kickstarter campaign (see February 3, et al.) having fallen a bit short, word is out from Smart Rhino Editor/Publisher Weldon Burge that a new campaign has been started on Indiegogo, to be up fordpytvjudfckqmkp3hfws the next month.  As we might recall, part of the effort is to secure enough for professional pay for the authors included, which is to say (among others) me, so please to consider checking it out by pressing here.  (My story in this, again see February 3 et al., is “Golden Age,” a surprisingly non-painful SF tale of a future pioneer and is last in the book, but for the gore-hounds among us as well there’s horror enough in the other offerings, so [as we say] give until it hurts!)

In other news, welcome the new goth cat Triana’s very own web page that went up today.  To see it, check under “PAGES” in the far right column, and click on her name.  Wednesday’s is there as well, with the entrance to it just beneath Triana’s.

dscn0839

Who can resist it?  This is a picture of new Goth Cat Triana (cf. February 10, 6, et al.) taken by a friend, Eve Schultes-Ridge, last Monday.  Triana is on her inherited high throne (in an earlier life, a carton for a refrigerator door gasket), relaxing with her favorite cat toy, a molded plastic human heart.

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