Posts Tagged ‘Dark Science Fiction’

So sometimes several things come all at once, such is the magical life of the writer.  And so today, Thursday, there are three new items under the aegis of “The Writing Life.”  (1)  For starters, an authors proof copy arrived from publisher Things in the Well for BURNING LOVE AND BLEEDING HEARTS (cf. February 5, January 20, 15) in which my story “A Saint Valentine’s Day Tale” appears in number three slot in the table of contents.  So says the publisher:  We’ve wound the stories and poems — all 60 of them — into a bit of a narrative.  You’ll find no two are alike, in any way.  It’s so wonderful to have such a diverse representation of dark or dangerous love.  We are delighted with how it has all come together, and hope you are too.  (2)  Then second, for Black Hare Press’s SEVEN DEADLY SINS:  LUST anthology, I received an edited copy of my story, “A Cup Full of Tears” (see December 8), to be checked over.  (3)  And then, last, a contract came from The Great Void for using my novelette, “The Garden,” in their upcoming UNREAL anthology.  So. . . .

A flurry of reading, okaying the proof for an already announced February 14th Kindle edition, with paperback following in its time, for vampiress Claudette and “A Saint Valentine’s Day Tale”; more reading to check out Black Hare Press’s edits and find them okay for “A Cup Full of Tears”; and a gimlet-eyed poring over the contract for UNREAL and “The Garden,” with a hoped for publication date of March 14 — all of which I have okayed, approved, and signed and sent back to their respective recipients.  Or, in a word, just another day in the Writing Life lived.

Two very quick items:  The first, a new story has been accepted, with email and contract received last night.  The problem, however, and not an unusual one, is that the market is still open and the editor has asked that I hold off on giving details until all acceptances have been announced.  At a guess, I’d suspect this might be in late January/early February at which time the news will be reported here; until then we’ll just have to wait together.

Then the other, on the 13th I announced that authors’ copies of MONSTERS IN SPAAAACE! had been sent out.  So yesterday evening my copy arrived, exceedingly quickly, and coincidentally at a time when I’d just finished reading another anthology.  So now I know how I’ll be spending my evenings the rest of this week. . . .

This one goes back to late summer, cf. August 2, and an oddly unexpected acceptance of my story “Atoms,” originally published in the February 1992 FANTASTIC COLLECTIBLES.  The anthology’s title, by Dragon’s Roost Press:  MONSTERS IN SPAAAACE!  So last night the email came, not to announce it was finally published, but rather a notice that authors’ copies should be received shortly.
Well and good, with more to come here when mine arrives.  But, playing detective, that also implies . . . YES!  MONSTERS IN SPAAAACE! has indeed been published and, in fact, has been available for a bit of time in both print and Kindle.  Quoting the blurb:  One of the most common fears is the fear of the dark: what might be lurking in the shadows, what we can’t see.  All of the monsters from your childhood could be hiding in that darkness.  Given this, what could be more terrifying than the infinite void of space?  Who knows what creatures await you once you leave the comfortable confines of your home planet.  MONSTERS IN SPAAAACE! contains seventeen such explorations, classic monsters in off world settings.  This collection contains werewolves, vampires, ghosts, haunted items, and more all in the blackness of space or the terrifying settings of foreign worlds and abandoned starships.  Prepare to be scared out of your spacesuit.
So which describes my story, “Atoms”?  To find out (or at least for more information) press here.

Perhaps we’ll recall FANTASIA DIVINITY which we’ve met before concerning a reprint of “Flightless Rats,” a tale of the “casket girl”/vampiress Aimée and her problems with dating in 19th century New Orleans (cf. September 27 2017, et al.).  Fast forwarding to September last year, the publisher emerged again with a call for TWISTED FATE VOL. I: APPLES RED AS BLOOD, [t]he first in a new series featuring retellings of fairy tales!  This one will feature Snow White.  We will be looking for new and fresh takes on the tale, however it has to be easily recognizable as a Snow White story.  . . .  We want you to elaborate on the original short tale, give depth and feeling to the characters, motivations, desires, hope, and despair. . . .  Reprints would be okay and the deadline was listed as September 5.

As it happens I ran across the call on September 4, so the time would be short.  But I also realized I had such a reprint, “River Red,” a “Tombs” universe story originally published in ESCAPE CLAUSE (Ink Oink Art, 2009) and reprinted in my 2013 THE TEARS OF ISIS, so out it went the next day, deadline day, with a cover letter hoping it wouldn’t “be too far afield for use.”  Living on the edge, yes?

Then yesterday evening the email arrived — and a happy ending:  Congratulations!  Your story has been chosen to appear in our upcoming anthology APPLES RED AS BLOOD.  We will be in touch soon with the contract.

Details to appear here as they become known.

Well, what a coincidence!  Wednesday I posted about an anthology, FORBIDDEN!  TALES OF REPRESSION, RESTRICTION, AND REBELLION, that had been delayed but was now finally released.  A collection, one might surmise, that might include musings on political topics, real or imagined.  Perhaps even a bit of political satire which, by its nature, would likely displease at least some of its potential readers.

So fast forward two days, and a here-and-now piece of satire, a tale I was hesitant to send out at first but at last took a chance on, a reflection of fast-moving current events — has someone just been impeached for some reason?  But not the ones described in this story! — a 1000-word flash piece called “Steel Slats” has just gone live on the prestigious and relatively high-circulation (and free!) DAILY SCIENCE FICTION (see August 23, 17; also April 21 2015, et al.).  A little bit of “if this goes on” one might say, but SteelSlatshopefully, too, with a touch of humor.

To back up a moment, I’ll quote from myself, from the email I’d sent submitting “Steel Slats” and which also appears now on DAILY SF:  There’s a certain class of stories I think of as “the devil made me do it” stories, when the news of the day starts sounding so wacky it seems to demand some kind of response.  This is one of those stories.  To read it for yourself — and remember, it’s free! — press here.

Attached is a 10,000 word submission, “The Garden,” about a mysterious garden in northern Massachusetts which conceals a cutting edge experiment in bio-chemistry.  An edited version has been printed as a chapbook (now out of print), by Damnation Books in 2009, with reprint rights in my possession.  I hope you will be able to use it in UNREAL and, either way, will look forward to your report and any comments.

So went my cover letter to Aditya Deshmukh and The Great Void Books for the anthology UNREAL.  The call had been for Speculative Fiction.  Mix of genres is okay as long as the speculative element remains the main element.  Word count was 4,000 to 15,000 and, while no previous publication was preferred, reprints would be considered.  The story itself, “The Garden,” a bit of both, originally published in a version edited more heavily than was to my taste (cf. picture below in center column) but now out of print, but what I would send would be (with one change which had been by me), the original version.

Then yesterday, Monday, came the reply:  I really enjoyed reading “The Garden.”  At first, the story seemed to have real world elements and I wasn’t really hooked until the nematode part.  The ending blew me.  The plot develops slowly but the end is really well done.

Congratulations!  I’m accepting “The Garden” for UNREAL.  Will send you an email regarding the details next month.

So there it is, the second acceptance for December (the first, a flash vampire piece for Black Hare Press’s LUST, see December 8), and not a bad run-up to the Christmas season.

We had been thinking about “point of view” (cf. December 3, et al.).  Now imagine this.  Imagine a being from another planet disguised as a human, wearing a woman-suit, or a “skin,” but functionally a sort of vampire.  Her job* is to lure lonely men, men who will not be missed, into her lair where they’ll be “transmitted” to her home world (never mind the details, they just sink as it were into a dark pool) where they’re presumably considered food(?).  Ick!  But here’s the twist.  The film is shown almost entirely from the “woman’s” point of view, that of an alien who only gradually gets used to Earth and the ways of its people — who slowly becomes an Earth person herself, at least in her own head, including becoming a victim in turn (yes, there’s some sexual satire here, but wait for the end).  As such the film moves slowly:  she’s slowly absorbed, one might say, into “Earthiness” just as in their own fashion her victims are absorbed through the dark pool into peopleburgers.

The movie:  UNDER THE SKIN, i.e., what’s beneath the Earthwoman surface, Saturday night’s science fiction fare (sorry) at the Indiana University Cinema.  To quote the catalog blurb:  Programmed by IU Cinema Lead House Manager Elizabeth Roell.  UNDER THE SKIN examines the human experience from the perspective of a mysterious young woman (Scarlett Johansson) who seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland, luring them back to her strange, dark lair.  However, a string of events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.  Contains explicit content, including sexual violence, strong language, and violence.  The trick, though, as a couple of Amazon reviewers have suggested too, is to see the movie as a kind of documentary, but one made for the aliens — to take for oneself an alien point of view and learn, with the woman, what’s going on with this strange new world.

But pay attention:  the film may move slowly, but even the smallest details are important.

*With sometime assistance by a man with a motorcycle.

And . . . it’s out, on schedule, the 2019 BOULD Awards Anthology for stories “Bizarre, Outrageous, Unfettered, Limitless, [and] Daring” (see November 15, 8)!  To see or to buy press here.  A list of contents also appears in my November 15 post below, while we also learned the winners today of the small money prizes (the “Awards” part of the title) for the four presumably BOULDest tales of all.  To wit:

1st Place ($50): The Mystery of the Missing Albino – Steve Shrott
2nd Place ($30): The Society – KM Rockwood
3rd Place ($20): Bitch and Chips – Maddi Davidson
4th Place ($10): Euthanasia – Karen Duxbury

Okay, so my entries are not on the list, not that they’re still not bizarre, etc., in their own right (one, in fact, having also appeared in a 2013 anthology titled BIZARRO BIZARRO*), “Mr. Happy Head” and “In the Octopus’s Garden.”  But hopefully all should be quite worth reading, to be found, again, by pressing here.


*While the other, “In the Octopus’s Garden,” is also lead story in my Stoker(R) nominated collection THE TEARS OF ISIS.


The word is out.  Late yesterday the email came from Editor Jake Devlin that the BOULD AWARD ANTHOLOGY (for “Bizarre, Outrageous, Unfettered, Limitless, Daring” — cf. below, November 8) is expected to be out on Wednesday next week, November 20.  With this came a list of stories, with word counts — as I recall, the limit was set at 3000 words, but with a premium for short and sweet — as reproduced below.  And, as the quote continues:  I’m even more happy to announce that there are double the number of stories that were in the 2018 edition, and we’ve already received several entries for the 2020 edition.  I’d encourage any of you who might want to submit more stories to think “short” stories; I’d love to see more “flash fiction,” maybe 1,000 words or less.  You’ll find an email address at the bottom of the BouldAwards web site* to get the submission requirements via auto-reply.

Then one thing more — two really — my stories in these are “In the Octopus’s Garden,” collected as well in my book THE TEARS OF ISIS (for info on which, click its picture in the center column), and the as yet uncollected “Mr. Happy Head.”  For both of which, here’s the table of contents:

Bitch and Chips – Maddi Davidson – 1060 words
A Walk In The Park – Francis Hicks – 490
A Man Without His Word – Lise de Nil – 1848
Honor Amongst the Rigid – Wil A. Emerson – 2980
Clarity – Francis Hicks – 720
In the Octopus’s Garden – James Dorr – 2400
Take Nothing For Granite – John Clark – 1170
When I Think About – Gary R. Hoffman – 450
Teacher’s Pets – Kat Fast – 1990
Teagan’s Special Sand Castle – Jake Devlin – 1300
Note Found Near Scattered Human Skeletal Remains – Jack Ewing – 1840
Oh Henry – Wil A. Emerson – 2990
Bait – Eve Fisher – 2700
Zero-Sum – Cheri Vause – 1500
Chemo Queen – Tom Barlow – 2970
The Sadist – Jimmy Summers – 750
In A Town Mostly Forgotten – John Clark – 2060
The Purloined Pickled Peppers – Herschel Cozine – 2400
Eggboy and the Drunk – Lise de Nil – 2990
The Price You Pay – William A. Rush IV – 1850
Henry The Butler – Francis Hicks – 500
The Mystery of the Missing Albino – Steve Shrott – 2800
A Shifting Plan – Elizabeth Zelvin – 2500
Input From A Serial Killer – John Furutani – 2570
Confession of a Serial Killer – Jake Devlin – 500
The Cat – Robert Petyo – 2100
Deer Juj – David Hagerty – 850
The Society – KM Rockwood – 2200
Something Wacky This Way Comes – Karen Phillips – 2000
Pinning Ceremony – John Clark – 2670
Drip-Dry and Wrinkle-Free – Lesley A. Diehl – 2440
Mr. Happy Head – James Dorr – 2700
Preincarnation – Eve Fisher – 1000
To Die a Free Man: The Story of Joseph Bowers – KM Rockwood – 2790
The Suicide Bureau – Robert Petyo – 1700
The Silkie – Elizabeth Zelvin – 2900
Meeting on the Funicular – Kaye George – 735
Cold Snap – Maddi Davidson – 640
Euthanasia – Karen Duxbury – 260
An Apocalyptic Micro Short Story – Jake Devlin – 20


* Link to appear here with info for ordering on November 20.

A quick, quick note.  While I’m still reading — and enjoying — my authors copy of BLACK INFINITY 5 (see November 6, et al.) I also received a note from Editor Tom English inviting me to send something early to the not quite yet open for submissions BLACK INFINITY 6.  Theme for the issue: “Insidious Insects.”  And as it just happens I do have a story I’m rather fond of, originally published in CHIZINE for July-September 2003 and reprinted in THE TEARS OF ISIS, a tale of insect infestations . . . and possible alien action in a sort of surrealistic way (to quote myself from the pitch I sent with it), called “Waxworms.”  And one with flying saucers to boot!

So — long story short — I sent it in and yesterday evening received the reply:  I enjoyed reading “Waxworms” and would like to publish it in BLACK INFINITY:  Insidious Insects (issue #6), adding that I should expect a contract a bit after Christmas.  And thus, you’ve read it here first!

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