Posts Tagged ‘Dark Science Fiction’

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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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.

“Don’t blame Hollywood.” the come-on via Facebook’s SUPERNATURAL TALES page began, including a link to “The History of Creepy Dolls” by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie on SMITHSONIANMAG.COM.  So okay, I’ll bite.  McRobbie’s piece starts with a note about Pollock’s Toy Museum in London.  And in it, just before the exit, the “Doll Room”:  Dolls with “sleepy eyes”, with staring, glass eyes.  Dolls with porcelain faces, with “true-to-life” painted ragdoll faces, with mops of real hair atop their heads, with no hair at all.  One-hundred-and-fifty-year-old Victorian dolls, rare dolls with wax faces.  Dolls with cheery countenances, dolls with stern expressions.  Sweet dolls and vaguely sinister dolls.  Skinny Dutch wooden dolls from the end of the 19th century, dolls in “traditional” Japanese or Chinese dress.  One glassed-off nook of a room is crammed with porcelain-faced dolls in 19th-century clothing, sitting in vintage model carriages and propped up in wrought iron bedsteads, as if in a miniaturized, overcrowded Victorian orphanage.  The point then being that charming as the museum may be in general, some people can’t quite take the Doll Room, even going back all the way to the entrance to leave.

So I have a friend who doesn’t like puppets, but the thing is he’s not alone, that people in general may be creeped out by dolls and other human-like objects — Japanese designing overly anthropomorphic robots are reportedly contending with the same problem — and, according to McRobbie, it isn’t just because of movies with Chucky and other murderous play toys, but goes much deeper.  Much, much deeper.

According to psychologist Frank McAndrew, dolls inhabit [an] area of uncertainty largely because they look human but we know they are not.  Our brains are designed to read faces for important information about intentions, emotions and potential threats; indeed, we’re so primed to see faces and respond to them that we see them everywhere, in streaked windows and smears of Marmite, toast and banana peels, a phenomenon under the catchall term “pareidolia.”  However much we know that a doll is (likely) not a threat, seeing a face that looks human but isn’t unsettles our most basic human instincts.

“We shouldn’t be afraid of a little piece of plastic, but it’s sending out social signals,” says McAndrew, noting too that depending on the doll, these signals could just as easily trigger a positive response, such as protectiveness.  “They look like people but aren’t people, so we don’t know how to respond to it, just like we don’t know how to respond when we don’t know whether there is a danger or not  . . .  the world in which we evolved how we process information, there weren’t things like dolls.

But, hey, it’s a lovely, sunny Sunday afternoon outside so let’s save the rest of this for tonight, as shadows lengthen and, perhaps, even a tiny chill wafts through the air.  Look behind you first, and make sure that noise you just heard is the cat, and then continue by pressing here.

It’s a bit low key in its way, with only this the description on Amazon:  BÊTE NOIRE brings you the best in dark fiction.  In this issue we bring you William Delman, James Dorr, Kevin Hartack, Abhishek Sengupta, Bruce Boston, Pauline Yates, John Grey, Ken Goldman, Marge Simon, Alice Andersen, Bill Thomas, Ronald A. Busse, and Luke Chapman.  Marked as published on April 14 (the news travels slowly to match a late-coming spring) it’s a rather slim volume at 46 pages, but these containing some heavy hitters, Boston, Grey, Simon. . . .  My part in the patch is called “Even Odds,” a quietly apocalyptic speculation which (one hopes) will match the issue itself in being a long time coming (see February 26 2019; December 11 2017).

From my earlier post, BÊTE NOIRE specializes in fiction and poems that are (quoting the guidelines) well written, character driven and have a dark bent to them.  We are open to most genres as long as they have a dark side. This includes horror, dark sci-fi, dark fantasy, crime, mystery or dark humor.  For more on which, or to order a copy one can press here.

Hark we back from Saint Patrick’s Day to Christmas last year and the publication of “Holly Jolly” in PLANET SCUMM (see December 27, 14, et al.), the saga of an elf invasion of Earth gone bad.  This was in issue 6, the “O Scumm All Ye Faithful” edition dated for December 2018.  But all is not over, it seems, for issue 6.  Word has come from editor Tyler Berd that an audio version has just been edited and, moreover, a new print edition in perfect-bound paperback form with “a less Christmasy cover” is in the worls, both planned to be released this summer.  More to be announced here as it becomes known.

Another voice from the past received (cf. December 11 2017) with today’s email:  It’s been a long time coming, but issue 27 of BÊTE NOIRE is finally coming together. Attached is your poem as it will appear in our magazine.  If you could, please take a moment to look it over and let me know if everything looks okay.  Publication originally had been planned for October 2018 but, as we know well in the writing biz, delays sometimes do happen.

Looking back to the guidelines,  BÊTE NOIRE specializes in fiction and poems that are well written, character driven and have a dark bent to them.  We are open to most genres as long as they have a dark side.  This includes horror, dark sci-fi, dark fantasy, crime, mystery or dark humor.  For myself I think of “Even Odds” as falling into the “dark humor” category there, but it’s also a bit on the nihilistic side (being  as it’s about the end of the world and such) which might suggest a gloomy tinge too.

But to the point, corrections (just a small one and that in my biographical note) went back this afternoon, with more to be here as it becomes revealed.

We may recall AbeBooks which seems to have sales about every month (see December 21, et al.), but here’s one for a change from Amazon, and for the rarely discounted THE TEARS OF ISIS.  But there is one catch, that when one adds Amazon’s usual price for shipping, the total isisnewstill comes to more than the marked list price of $12.95.

But wait!  TEARS is also on a special deal until January 31 where, when ordering, even if one is not on Amazon Prime there is a special box that can be checked to get shipping free.  And with that the price for THE TEARS OF ISIS is less than ten dollars — at $9.64 (well, also plus tax, Amazon’s getting picky about that) which isn’t a bad deal at all.  So, if interested, just click on its picture in the center column and don’t forget to scroll down to the section on shipping options, but best do it now while it’s on your mind or at least before the end of the month.*
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*Barnes and Noble, it might be noted, also has THE TEARS OF ISIS on a slight discount, at $12.30, and also right now with “qualification” for free shipping so, even if not as good a deal right now, it still pays to shop around.  More can be found here.

As we continue to settle into 2019, today brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s opening event, “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (cf. December 2, November 4, et al.), this time in the back room of the downtown Soma Coffeehouse.  Featured readers were Bloomington-based writer and occasional dancer and actor Zilia Balkansky-Sellés with “mostly memoirs,” Wendy Teller with the opening chapter of her novel-in-progress THE SORROWS OF SEX, and local poet Eric Rensberger with a brief historical chat about the afternoon’s venue followed by a series of fifteen loosely connected “prose poem paragraphs.”  Holding a larger than average audience, these were followed by seven walk-ons, of which I was third with a just-written (on New Year’s Day to be exact) science-fiction satire of zombies and borders titled “Steel Slats.”

It was a small thing, the kind of thing that might be overlooked amidst the flurry of of year-end activities.  But it does deserve a mention, the “extra” gift I received on Christmas.  The thing is the mail gets delivered late here, at the end of the route, and often these days comes after dark.  No big deal, really — mornings I go out on the front porch for some deep breathing exercises I do, and if there’s mail waiting, I bring it in then along with the newspaper.

So it was Christmas morning (though without a paper) where, with a few other items, there was a smallish package.  A return address identified it as my author’s copy of PLANET SCUMM (see December 14, et al.), and so I dropped it onto the pile of received Christmas loot, and proceeded to have my breakfast, give the Goth Cat Triana her brunch, and do whatever else I had planned for the morning.  And then at last gift opening time came — a few clothing items (including a pair of much needed gloves), a book from my youngest niece, treats for Triana, and . . . PLANET SCUMM with my name even spelled right on the cover (see December 16) and including my story, “Holly Jolly.”  A leisurely read for later that p.m. with carols on the TV in the background, and all in all a pleasant surprise.




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