And so in the late afternoon hours of Monday, I returned to the Computer Cave to find 2017’s first mid-year royalty check in my mailbox.*  Yep, stories still selling — in this case with sales enough to provide, say, a bag of chips to go with a burger not yet earned.  But others should come in the next few

“Cutting the Check”

days for the just-completed first half of the year, so who knows?  In any event we will most likely have to wait till next week before the check can go to the bank to start collecting interest, since the banks will be closed Tuesday, though for reasons having nothing to do with my mammoth financial windfall, but rather because tomorrow is Independence Day.  Happy Fourth of July!

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*As is customary I am not saying exactly how much or who from, in that way to avoid embarrassment all around.

Today’s serendipity comes to us courtesy of Usman Mlk, via BARNESANDNOBLE.COM (a.k.a. “B&N SCI-FI&FANTASY blog”).  No, TOMBS isn’t on the list, but perhaps it’s in a different category (or possibly not 😉 ).  But to start us off, quoth author Joel Cunningham in “The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2017 So Far”:  As six-month periods go, the first half of 2017 has certainly been, shall we say, interesting.  But even as the real world works ever harder to convince us that we’re all living inside a genre novel (though what kind will depend on your particular point of view:  sci-fi?  Alt-history?  Dystopian thriller?  Grimdark fantasy?), the authors we rely on to provide us with an escape into fictional worlds continue to up their game.

So I myself may be away from computers later this week, but there’s plenty for us all to busy ourselves with.  For a few suggestions, albeit from one who would love to sell you the books itself, press here.

.  Getting her rest (in an old, old, but oh so comfortable chair).

By the time the first three reviews appeared, I was in the middle of TOMBS.  Later, re-read them and frankly can do no better, as they all appreciated this excellent novel-in-story format.  So begins the fourth review on Amazon just up today, by Margaret B. Boston, on TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.  Fortunately, she adds that she will try, continuing on with her own much-appreciated assessment.  She also gives it five stars out of five, as do the other three reviews as well.  To see for yourself (and, perhaps, to buy?) press here.*

Then one other note, as NASFIC approaches the first long-range weather reports for San Juan have been posted.  Highs in the eighties — warm, but not sweltering — and most days with clouds but only Thursday listed as threatening afternoon rain (and that still just a 30 percent chance).  And best of all, no hurricanes in sight.  So, so far so good (though another site warns I’d do well to bring mosquito repellent).
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*To keep myself absolutely honest, not all reviews everywhere have been five-star.  There is one on Goodreads that’s kind of crummy, though all that may mean is not everybody’s tastes are the same (and if you want to see it, no fool I, you’ll have to look up the site for yourself 😉 ).

Most of these are just room assignments, received yesterday in an hour-by-hour schedule of all panels and readings for NorthAmeriCon’17, a.k.a. this year’s NASFiC (see post just below).  One however is a bit more notable in that I seem to have been removed (or probably more accurately someone else added in my place, since I still have four panels plus my reading) from “Writing Diverse Characters of Impact” on Saturday morning.  Not to worry, I still have my reading and “World Building” panel that afternoon, so I’ll still be busy, as well as two panels Friday and one Sunday morning.  But with two exceptions not in the rooms we’d thought they’d be in, so herewith the new schedule of my doings, at least as of this posting:

Friday – 10 a.m. – Bahia 1 – Genre Blending
Friday – 4 p.m. – Bahia 1 – The Critical Eye (moderating)
Saturday – 2:30 p.m. – Sol Boardroom – Reading from TOMBS
Saturday – 3 p.m. – San Cristobal – World Building as More than Background
Sunday – 10 a.m. – Bahia 1 – Zombies Over Time and Space

Then Sunday afternoon look for me in Old San Juan where, weather permitting, I hope to be exploring Morro Castle and Fort San Cristobal.

We have to stop meeting this way, or, for the past announcement of both items below, cf. June 11.  How’s that for coincidence?  The first is that Tammy Coxen, in Programming at NASFiC, sent me two schedule changes for my panels next month, July 6 – 9.  As of now, the new official schedule is:

Friday – 10 a.m. – San Geronimo – Genre Blending
Friday – 4 p.m. – San Geronimo – The Critical Eye (moderating)
Saturday – 11 a.m. – San Cristobal – Writing Diverse Characters of Impact
Saturday – 2:30 p.m. – Sol Boardroom – Reading from TOMBS
Saturday – 3 p.m. – San Cristobal – World Building as More than Background
Sunday – 10 a.m. – San Geronimo – Zombies Over Time and Space

Two items are changed, the first my reading, originally scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. in Bahia 1 (this one in particular is a relief for me, since it gives me extra time Thursday night if my plane should be late) and now on Saturday in the Sol Boardroom at 2:30, convenient for strolling into after a leisurely lunch, and the second “Zombies Over Time and Space” to be one hour earlier Sunday morning and nudged to the room next door, from 11 a.m in San Cristobal to 10:00 a.m. in San Geronimo.

Then the second announcement is from Cin Ferguson of Scary Dairy Press (for background on which see June 11 again, et al.), that their eco-horror anthology MOTHER’S REVENGE:  AN ANTHOLOGY OF GLOBAL PROPORTIONS is now available in Kindle as well as print form, with hopefully an audio edition to come out this fall.  To quote from their website, [f]rom living garbage to earth witches and cities that come to life to destroy mankind, there is something for everyone between the front and back cover.  One of the best outcomes from the sale of this anthology is our commitment to donate 10% of our earnings to earth-saving organizations such as Water is Live, Union of Concerned Scientists, the Sierra Club and the Clean Air Task Force.  We are so pleased to be a part of what can help make the earth a better place, and thrilled to bring you in as a participant in this goal when you make a purchase.

My story in this is called “Swarms,” or mutant insects gotta live too, originally published in CD ROM in Lone Wolf Publications’s 2001 anthology BLOODTYPE as well as in print in my DARKER LOVES collection (Dark Regions, 2007), and now can be perused in Kindle format via pressing here (though one will note the print version costs more, thus increasing the donation part of the good work too, for a link to which — is everyone still with me here? — see June 11).

Today brought an announcement from Weldon Burge of Smart Rhino Publications, that ZIPPERED FLESH 3: YET MORE TALES OF BODY ENHANCEMENT GONE BAD (cf. April 27, 19, et al.) is headed toward a, hopefully, pre-Halloween release.  Just in time for costume suggestions, eh?  In this one my story is in final place, the thought to take with one to possibly a ZIPPERED FLESH 4 — or possibly just to hold in one’s own head — and a probably rather benign one at that, called “Golden Age.”  And with the announcement, here is the finalized table of contents:

Horns, Teeth, and Knobs–Billie Sue Mosiman
Upgraded–Shaun Meeks
Worm–Jeff Menapace
Reduced to Tears–Adrian Ludens
Going Green–Christine Morgan
A New Man–William F. Nolan
Transposition–Jason V Brock
The Rose–Jack Ketchum
Consume–Daniel I Russell
All Will Turn to Gray–Jezzy Wolfe
Invisible–E.A. Elizabeth Black
And the Sky was Full of Angels–L.L. Soares
Shopping Spree–Meghan Arcuri-Moran
Closer–Charles Colyott
Dog Days–Graham Masterton
Switch–Jasper Bark
Hypochondria–Martin Marty Zeigler
Gehenna Division, Case #609–Sandra R. Campbell
Golden Age–James Dorr

And, speaking of body enhancements gone bad, let us also recall the “other” anthology, YEAR’S BEST BODY HORROR 2017 (cf. May 8), due out tentatively in late September from Gehenna & Hinnom.  My story in this is called, simply, “Flesh,” one a bit on the surrealistic side concerning a wealthy man who decides to become fat.  More on this, as on ZIPPERED FLESH 3, will be revealed here as it becomes known.

The Question is asked:  What makes a scary movie scary?

If you glanced at what’s come out in the past 20 years, you might think it’s the amount of diced body tissue flying around the screen.  Horror has always depended on shock value (see: FREAKS below), but what really unsettles us hasn’t changed much: an ominous sound from around the corner, an indecipherable figure in the distance, a sense of impending doom as somebody opens a door.  Gore has its place, but only when it’s attached to an idea.  HOSTEL is less a spine-tingling chiller than an endurance test for ick along the lines of E!’s BOTCHED.

And so it goes (to coin a phrase). Herewith a list everyone’s going to have some disagreements with, courtesy of ESQUIRE.COM (via THISISHORROR.CO.UK), but with the acknowledgement that these are just one horror fan’s opinions.  Mileage may vary (to coin another phrase), but, for me, the value in a project like this is to view it as a kind of checklist to see which pictures I may have missed out on.  So, yes, homage is given to many one would expect, but others less known may be there as well (e.g., to deal from the top, most should recognize Fritz Lang’s M [#47], but how many also know UNDER THE SKIN with Scarlett Johansson [#49]; or consider #21, CARNIVAL OF SOULS) — and how many have you seen?

Well, I’m not going to say (I have seen the three noted just above), but it’s fun to go through, so enjoy Paul Schrodt’s “The 50 Scariest Movies of All Time” by pressing here.  (But caution: for those afraid of spoilers, avoid reading “scariest moments”).

No, the Goth cat Triana’s kibble was on time and eaten; rather the headline refers to Third Flatiron Publishing’s Kurt Vonnegut tribute anthology CAT’S BREAKFAST (see May 17, April 27), also served up on Kindle this morning. That’s Kindle, not kibble, for which via Amazon one may press here, with a paperback edition expected from Createspace in the near future.  To quote from the blurb:  While satire and humor have long been standard tools of the trade for fiction writers, the authors have channeled the uniquely Vonnegutian attitude into all-original stories that probe and instruct us on themes such as free will, mental illness, social cruelty, loneliness, and family.  The book [also] contains a flash humor section.  (This from the publisher’s own site, with this next from Amazon)  The new “Cat’s Breakfast” anthology from Third Flatiron pays tribute to the imagination and inspiration of the late author Kurt Vonnegut. Emulating Vonnegut’s famous “gallows humor” and skeptical view, these all-original satirical stories are a delightful antidote for the malaise and division plaguing contemporary society.

What more can one ask for?  My puss in the purée is “Dead Girls, Dying Girls,” originally published in SO IT GOES, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing’s 2013 tribute anthology (cf. April 24 2013, et al.), a modern morality tale of sorts of a thoroughly up-to-date young lady, a science fair, and . . . bears.

Then in other news, a third review of TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH is now up on the Amazon site.  This is the one from THE GEHENNA POST (cf. June 3), an extremely good description in my opinion, and can be seen in situ by pressing here (where one may note also that Amazon is still offering a substantial discount, but not quite as big as it had once been, so perhaps one might buy now lest the price go up further 😉 ).

There is a sense of sadness to Rollin’s vampires and even at their most violent, they exhibit weaknesses (to time, to the sun, to unrequited love) that make them far more sympathetic than a typical horror movie heavy.  Clocks are often closely associated with vampires, deepening the symbolic importance of time and fate in Rollin’s world.  It’s no coincidence that one of the most iconic images from his filmography occurs in LE FRISSON DES VAMPIRES (SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES, 1971) when a scantily clad female vampire emerges from within a grandfather clock to menace a young bride.  (Tenebrous Kate on DIRGEMAG.COM)

Think of this as a serendipitous journey.  Long-time readers of this blog may know that vampires are high among my interests.  Cf. the “Casket Girls,” several stories of whom have been published in various places jean-rollin-part-1-feature(see, e.g., August 4 2016, April 28 2015, et al.).  But also an interest in surrealism (February 20 2015, June 22 2014, others), and a chance link back to my own post on “Sweet Lesbian Vampire Love” (August 14 2016) reminded me of a place where these are combined, in the French-language films of Jean Rollin with 1968’s LE VIOL DU VAMPIRE (RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE) an early example.  Then enter DIRGEMAG.COM, linked to in the August 14 post, and another completely different article, “Sex, Death, and the Psychedelic Madness of Jean Rollin,” by Tenebrous Kate.

As it happens, I have a number of Rollin’s films in my own collection (I may re-watch RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE tonight!), but rather than describe things myself, I’ll simply suggest reading Tenebrous Kate’s piece by pressing here.  And to close, I’ll quote two more paragraphs from it, these ones on settings (and not without noting another connection in the second, echoing perhaps an interest parallel to my own TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF Rollin-ViolLATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, albeit in maybe a different direction.  But who can resist a good graveyard, eh?).

Rollin’s films are set far from the noise and action of the city, in isolated and frequently old-fashioned settings.  Beaches, with their endlessly cycling tides and cleansing ocean waters, are places of death and rebirth.  Scenes of vampires risking exposure to the sun at dawn on the rocky shores of Normandy figure prominently in Rollin’s films.  Centuries-old country châteaux hold terrible secrets and can be interpreted to symbolize the nobility of France’s past.  These buildings are populated by strange and often supernatural characters who reflect the opulent decay of their surroundings.

Perhaps most noteworthy of all are Rollin’s cemeteries: overgrown with weeds, gates rusted and creaking, these cities of the dead are transitional places between the everyday world and that of the supernatural.  Cemeteries are places where the living and the dead occupy the same space, a fact that Rollin uses for maximum symbolic impact.  Characters arrange secret graveyard rendezvous, only to uncover secrets that appear in the form of treasures, gateways, or menacing monsters.

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