So it’s over now, the Monday after.  Thanks have been Facebooked to the participants, of which I’m one.  But it ended last evening with a flurry, a reading performance (with sound effects) of a radio play version of FRANKENSTEIN, written and directed by Russell McGee (cf. September 30) and produced by Writers Guild Chair Tony Brewer, for which to quote the playbill, [t]his faithful adaptation presents the creature as an intelligent being that has suffered the injustice of mankind.  In celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of Shelley’s creation, we felt it was important to emphasize Shelley’s text and allow the creature to speak for itself, in Shelley’s own words.  And then one extra twist, to help de-emphasize the hulking, inarticulate monster we may have met in the movies, [t]o that end, we have cast a female actor as the creature to help lift Shelley’s own voice from the text.

It was interesting, the novel itself depicting the “monster” as one that suffers rejection when it really wants companionship with, if friendships with normal humans are too much, at least a creature like itself.  It teaches itself to speak and to read, including such books as Milton’s PARADISE LOST.  But in the end, eight-feet tall and misshapen, it is still driven away, ultimately seeking instead revenge against its creator.  And, if you missed it Sunday, all is not lost.  From the Facebook “thank yous” (including, I might [*ahem*] add, “much gratitude to our panelists and FrankenExperts Monique Morgan, Adam Henze, Joan Hawkins, Rebecca Baumann, and James Dorr”):  The performance will be broadcast on cable access and WFHB, and available online before long, so if you missed the performance you’ll get a chance to see/hear it.

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Making buttons, making monsters on Barbie Doll bodies, these were among the attractions in the “Crafts and Activities” room Saturday.  Also scheduled for all day Saturday, and maybe part of the night too, was a full read-through of the novel’s text, part of FrankenFest as well as the Indiana State Library’s One State/One Story program.  This was a team reading, with people signing for 15-minute time slots, and as it happened was of the 1831 text, one available in a large print edition which was a great help in a not always that brightly lit Monroe County Library auditorium.  I was scheduled myself for 1 p.m. to 1:15 but, noting not as many had signed up as had been hoped, also took over an extra slot just after 3.  Be that as it may, Writers Guild Chair Tony Brewer was talking about continuing for hours after the Library’s normal Saturday closing time (which means, as I write this, they might be just finishing up about now), with hopefully extra readers arriving with more late-evening fortitude than me.

Two other items, which also caused pauses in the reading as readers wanted to be at them too, began with a 2 p.m. “FrankenSlam Poetry Presentation” with poems having to do with the novel itself as well as ancillary topics recited by Adam Henze.  That took us to 3 and my volunteer “extra” in the reading room, and then at 4 p.m. IU English Department assistant professor Monique Morgan (who we met two posts below on the FrankenPanel, see October 4) spoke on “The Science and the Fiction in Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, on scientific thought in the early 19th century and the influrence on the novel of Erasmus Darwin, Luigi Galvani, and Humphry Davy, and other intellectual threads which added to the novel’s texture.

Thursday followed Wednesday’s FrankenPanel (see just below) with a day of film at the County Library auditorium, FRANKENSTEIN (the “original” one, with Boris Karloff), YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, and GOTHIC, of which (other obligations intervening) I was able to see most of the first.  Well, not to worry, I have the others on DVD.  But also competing with the third was an evening lecture at Indiana University’s Lilly Library by Leslie S. Klinger, who just last year published THE NEW ANNOTATED FRANKENSTEIN*, on “The Teenager Who Became Immortal:  Mary Shelley and Frankenstein.”

So, having met Mr. Kilinger in the past, I took the opportunity to say “Hi” (he was very impressed by the Lilly Library’s FRANKENSTEIN exhibit of books before and after/influencing and influenced by/read by Frankenstein in the novel or by his creation), and enjoyed an hour of discussion of Mary Shelly’s life and companions; the genesis of FRANKENSTEIN with Byron’s challenge to Percy Shelley, not-yet-married Mary Godwin, John Polidori, and others at the Villa Diodati (the subject as well of the movie GOTHIC); the reflection of Mary Shelley’s own life in the novel with its several themes (and how, in Klinger’s opinion, a major one shifted from that of Victor as an irresponsible young man to him more as, with the monster, a victim of fate in the 1831 edition); how most movie translations concentrate more on a parallel theme that one must be careful of consequences of actions; FRANKENSTEIN (and other influences) in popular culture. . . .

Let it be said it was a full evening.

.
*Editor of THE NEW ANNOTATED DRACULA, THE NEW ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES, and others as well, Klinger also chaired the 2012 Horror Writers Association/Bram Stoker Estate jury, of which I was a member, that selected Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND as the most important vampire novel in the 100 years since Stoker’s death (cf. June 19 2013; April 3, April 2 2012, et al.)

The announcement was flattering:

FrankenFest

October 3–7, 2018
Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Frankenstein!

FrankenPanel

Noted horror and sci-fi author, James Dorr, The Lilly Library’s Franken-expert, Rebecca Baumann, and IU professor Monique Morgan talk about this classic novel. Moderated by Joan Hawkins, Indiana University professor of horror and avant-garde cinema.

Adults and age 12 & up
6–7:30 PM
Wednesday, October 3
Meeting Room 1B, first floor

“Noted author” one wishes!  But more can be said of the other two, Rebecca Baumann being head of public services at Lilly Library, the Indiana University rare books archive, who among other things explained why the original printing of FRANKENSTEIN was in three volumes (a common practice of the day when, books being a bit of a luxury, many read them through “circulating libraries”) and why a print run of 500 copies implied a much larger readership then than it would today; and Monique Morgan, associate professor of English with a specialty in Victorian literature who, referencing the part in Volume 3 where Victor Frankenstein first creates but then has second thoughts and destroys the female he was building to be the monster’s companion, discussed male/female relations in the early 19th century and Mary Shelly’s place in the mix.

Moderator Joan Hawkins had led off, introducing the three of us plus citing chapter 4 in volume 1 when the monster first comes alive and Frankenstein’s reaction to it as not a single action but a sort of process, while I followed her by quoting from the preceding chapter the method Frankenstein had used in studying the process of moving from life to death to lead to, through a kind of reverse engineering, “discovering the cause and generation of life.”  But I also mentioned the 1930s films FRANKENSTEIN and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and the “launching the kites” scene in the latter, quoting a passage in chapter 2 describing a tree destroyed by lightning and then 15-year-old Frankenstein’s father explaining electricity (wherein “he made also a kite, with a wire and string, which drew down that fluid from the clouds”) which Shelly later rewrote in the 1831 edition, changing the father to “a man of great research in natural philosophy” who “entered on the explanation of a theory which he had formed on the subject of electricity and galvanism” — “galvanism” being a key hint (assisted by a passage in her introduction about how listening to a discussion of galvanism led to her dream that inspired the novel) that the “cause and generation of life” would most likely have something to do with electricity, as indeed is the case in the movies.

This all took up a bit less than half the session, which then opened up to audience questions, expanding on the sexual mores of Shelley’s time; the transformation of the well educated, if self taught, well-spoken monster of the book to the lurching, grunting hulk of the movies (Boris Karloff actually does move with some grace, it was pointed out, and as he gains a few lines in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN it also shows him in the process of learning); Victor Frankenstein as flawed creator becoming himself a monster in his own way; and modern science fiction monsters (or possible monsters) in robots and androids, with actual fears of industrial robots displacing humans plus such cutting-edge concepts as artificial intelligence.

Let us remember “Crow and Rat,” two of the lowest of the low in the New City world of TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, and how they, while not in the novel itself, had found acceptance in the British anthology HUMANAGERIE (see August 31, 11, July 29).  Expected out in “late October,” the date has now been set more precisely.  According to Editor Allen Ashley:  As you may know, we will be launching HUMANAGERIE at FantasyCon 2018 in Chester (UK) on Friday 19 October 2018.  And wait, for our UK readers there’s more:  But as Londoners born and bred, we are also negotiating a London (UK) launch.  So, please save the date of the afternoon of Saturday 24th of November 2018 for the London launch of the HUMANAGERIE anthology.  More precise details to come, but for those who will be in Britain this month, and should you have a yen to attend, more on the British Fantasy Society’s FantasyCon 2018, Oct. 19-21, can be found here.

So sometimes we just have to get away from it all for a bit, and music hath charms, yes?  And do we remember MR. BURNS, A POST-ELECTRIC PLAY, celebrating the post-apocalyptic mythical status of the “Cape Feare” episode of THE SIMPSONS (see October 24, 2015)?  So it’s here as well, the Cape Feare episode noted that is, at Number 20 of “A Definitive Ranking of the 40 Best Songs in ‘The Simpsons,'” by Tom Victor, as presented — with clips! — via SHORTLIST.COM, which to see/hear for oneself one may press here.  If one might recall the protests of the 1960s, in a time when some protests may be back in fashion, check out Number 11, the almost definitive “Union Strike Folk Song” by Lisa Simpson (“We’ll march day and night,/ By the big cooling tower,/ They have the plant/ But we have the power”).  Or for pulling the stops on an all out production number, what could surpass “We Put the Spring in Springfield” at number 2?

But for Number 1 . . . well, it’s one I can’t show to the Goth cat Triana (or, there’s a reason “Horror” is in the key tags), but as long as the family pets are away you can find it yourself!

With a busy week coming up, today’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading and Open Mic” (cf. August 26, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and the Monroe County Convention Center, offered featured readings by relative newcomer Breon Rochelle Tyler (see May 29 2017) who read a poem about being free, introducing her own work on freedom, mothers, art, and creation; followed by many-time participant Maria Hamilton Abegunde (August 27, April 1, et al.) with several works in progress, including two inspired by current events, and ending with three selections from her LEARNING TO EAT THE DEAD.  In the audience readings afterward, my part consisted of three more poems from VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), the second of the three recordings done for fall broadcast on WFIU’s “The Poets Weave” (see August 26, et al.), “Why She Started Writing Poetry,” “California Vamp,” and “Chagrin du Vampire.”

Of busy weeks, though, next Sunday’s normally scheduled prose readings will not be held due to FRANKENFEST (cf. August 5), the 200th Anniversary celebration of the first publication of Mary Shelley’s novel FRANKENSTEIN, co-sponsored by the Monroe County Library and the Writers Guild at Bloomington, and made possible by a grant from Indiana Humanities with additional funding from the IU Arts and Humanities Council.  Running October 3 through 7, events will include a Wednesday evening FrankenPanel, of which I will be a participant; FrankenFilms (FRANKENSTEIN, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, and GOTHIC) on Thursday, October 4; a FRANKENSTEIN Read-a-Thon among other activities on Saturday the 6th; and FrankenTheatre on Sunday, a live radio theater adaptation of FRANKENSTEIN by Russell McGee, who also directs, presenting the creature as an intelligent being who suffered the injustice of mankind.  All events will be held in the Monroe County Public Library.

The story concerned a somewhat slightly built, skinny alien with pointed ears who, disguised as a cosplay Mr. Spock, has been gaining intelligence at STAR TREK conventions in preparation for the invasion.  But Earth, he learns, is preparing for an annual celebration, affecting virtually every nation, offering an opportunity for him and his fellows disguised this time as Christmas elves to infiltrate department store “Santa’s Villages” in nearly every city of any size on the planet, to start the conquest on Christmas Eve.  The story’s title was “Holly Jolly” but somehow calls for invasion stories, with horrific endings, revolving around department store Santas seemed strangely sparse.  And so the story languished.

Until. . . .

The call was from a magazine I was unfamiliar with, PLANET SCUMM, but for information on which one may press hereA horror issue?  In winter?  Not, perhaps, the season you think of when it comes to frights and ghosties and things that go bump in the night, eh?  Then again, perhaps your favorite intergalactic editors forgot to send out the submission call in time, and are now one cycle behind on their theme issues?  Hmm, yes.  Perhaps, perhaps.  And [i]f your story plays off the “winter” theme — literally or not — even better.  Most of our normal submission stipulations still apply here. Ideally, submissions should be both horror AND have a speculative/sci-fi element — a slasher cutting through skiers with an ice-pick (while fun) won’t cut it.

And Christmas is winter, yes?

The rest is history.  Came the reply this afternoon:  Scummy is . . . pleased with your science fiction offering.  We’d like to publish “Holly Jolly” in our Winter 2019 issue of PLANET SCUMM.  A contract was offered which went back today (a little bit of money up front, perhaps a royalty).  So buy an issue when it comes out.  And look for more information here, or maybe at the link above, as it becomes known.

Well, the lighting seems a bit dark to my eye and it sounds like I might have made a hideous mistake early in the first poem, seemingly reading “or I’ll” for “or else” (hence implying Fay Wray would willingly get her hands dirty, doubtful in light of the second poem), but here it is, my reading of three poems “all revolving around everyone’s favorite, skyscraper-obsessed giant ape,” or so says the accompanying blurb.  And there, for Tuesday September 25, my public TV reading at the local WTIU studio (cf. September 18) of three Kong poems, “Godzilla vs. King Kong,” “On the Other Hand,” and “Monkey See,” for which press here.   (sigh)

That’s with free shipping to from the UK to boot, which probably means the exchange rate is breaking really hard in US buyers’ favor.  And . . . hmmm . . . this morning President Trump made a speech at the United Nations.  Coincidence?

Maybe so, maybe not, but if you’re really interested in a bargain copy of TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, the seller is ABEBOOKS.COM (cf. September 20, just below) and can be reached here.  And at this price, heck, the wise might consider ordering two or three extra for Halloween presents!

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