Posts Tagged ‘Dark Science Fiction’

Swinging into the life of the writer, two days ago the contract arrived from the “Scary Dairy Press Team” for their eco-horror anthology MOTHER’S REVENGE (see February 12, et al.).  My offering in this is a story I’m fond of, “Swarms,” originally published in Lone Wolf’s 2001 CD ROM anthology BLOODTYPE (and listed in Datlow/Windling’s THE YEAR’S BEST FANTASY AND HORROR — ah, those were the years!) and also in my collection DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET.  A reprint in the recycling bin, as one might have it.  But MOTHER’S REVENGE is mostly to be original fiction, as most anthologies tend to be these days, making my little tale an exception but, if I may say so, a good enough fit for the theme for (my having explained the story’s status in my cover letter) the editors to have accepted it anyway.  Only problem, the contract that came was one designed for original fiction.

What one does then, though, is fairly standard.  This was one I was to print out and send back as hard copy, so what one does is to pen in corrections, initialing each as well as signing the contract as a whole at the bottom (thus, in effect, signing the contract “as corrected,” in theory allowing the publisher then to correct the corrections if need be, then send it back, and so it goes. . . ).  In this, changing a reference from “first rights” to “one-time rights” and lining out wording having to do with no “prior publication” (since for reprints there is, by definition).  And thus yesterday it went into the mail while I emailed the publisher telling them that it was on the way as well as explaining the changes I’d made in case they might cause any problem at their end.  Then, later that evening I got an email back, Wonderful!  Thanks so much!, so apparently we’re still on the path for a hoped-for Earth Day, April 22, release.

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!

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*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.

These things have a way of sneaking up on you!  The essay was actually published on Thursday, February 9, as advertised last week (cf. February 4), but in the circuitous way of the internet at times, word finally only caught up with me last night.  So it goes.

The essay, anyway, pertains to my upcoming novel, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, but is actually about novel structure.  That is, TOMBS isn’t structured like a majority of novels, as pretty much a continuous narrative, but rather is what is sometimes called a mosaic novel or a novel-in-stories.  Say what?   That is, like Amy Tan’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB or Ray Bradbury’s THE 8451b32b-e3c4-41cb-8f3e-7c6834708f13MARTIAN CHRONICLES.  Or what about Bradbury’s THE ILLUSTRATED MAN?  Or John Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy.  Novels pieced together from parts, the parts sometimes short stories in their own right — but not necessarily always.  And anyhow why do it that way at all?

Well, now we have an answer, courtesy of blogger Heidi Angell who, as of Thursday, has published my “What Is a Novel in Stories” as a guest blog.  And did it really start with Edgar Allan Poe?

To find out, press here.

Saturday brings us news that THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS (cf. January 27, et. al) has been released on Kindle with, according to publisher A Murder of Storytellers, the paperback version hopefully to be available soon.  More here as it becomes known.  This is the one about people’s relationships with their gods, not always as lovely as one might hope, with my “burnt” offering about a lad who apparently couldn’t get to hell, with a cautionary note to preachers.  Titled “Tit for Tat,” it’s a poem in the class sometimes called “Little Willies,” humorous quasi-Victorian takes on boys who cause, or have caused to them dire things.

Then one more quick note:  Word came last night from Heidi Angell, who we may recall from her interview of me last month (see January 10), that she plans to use  an essay by me on her blog sometime next week.  Again, more here as it becomes known.  The essay is titled “What is a Novel-In-Stories?” and explains why that form may be superior to more straightforward narrative for some applications, with special reference to my own upcoming TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (due in June from Elder Signs Press, for more information on which click its picture in the center column).

The Amazon Publication date listed was March of this year but, due to the kinds of mixups that happen sometimes, my copy of DYSTOPIAN EXPRESS (cf. March 11, et al.) only finally arrived in yesterday’s mail.  But what wonderful timing, the day after dystopianexpressThanksgiving, and special thanks to Hydra Publications Editor Tony Acree for sending it Priority Mail!  So all’s well that ends well — or, in that it’s a book about dystopias, maybe not that well.  My mutt in the melange, in any event, is a tale called “Invisible People” of a near-future society where everyone knows his or her place, or else . . . nobody cares.  Post election blues anyone?  Or more to the point, while as of yet I’ve only glanced at the contents, there’s probably a story that will fit the bill however you voted!  (But to make extra sure you might want to press here.)

Then in other news, due to the holiday I had to wait to use the cave computer’s library annex machine today, but this afternoon I e-sent back the signed contract for MEET CUTE (see November 23).  This is the one about unexpected or otherwise amusing meetings between pairs of people in flash fiction settings, in which my offering is one of forests and fairy lore titled “Butterfly.”

Well, maybe not strictly Cthulhuesque.  The guidelines read, “Technology gone wrong.  Madmen  playing with science beyond their control.  Alien creatures with malign intent.  Welcome to DARK HORIZONS, where the future is lost.”  And the story I sent, “Dark of the Moon,” was a reprint originally published in THE CHILDREN OF CTHULHU (Del Rey, 2002), so maybe it’s not too far from that either.  Be that as it may, the word came back from editor/publisherDark_Horizons Charles P. Zaglanis at 7:09 p.m. (EST?  PST?  does it matter?) on Christmas Day.  “Loved the story, please fill out and email the contract back to me.”

So Saturday, later today, I’ll see to the contract — and, gee, it’s like a Christmas present!  But then why not, I did get a rejection from someone else the day before, on Christmas Eve, which I suppose means that art knows no strict calendar-based boundaries.  Or is that commerce?

Be that as it may, DARK HORIZONS is to be published by Elder Signs Press and is currently scheduled for Fall 2016.  As such, it will be a companion volume to STREET MAGICK:  TALES OF URBAN FANTASY (cf. December 5), also due out in Fall 2016 and with my story “Bottles,” a vampire tale of late 1950s Cambridge Massachusetts (originally published in 2004 in CROSSINGS, by Double Dragon; appearing as well in THE TEARS OF ISIS).  Oddly, both stories also have something to do with Russia, “Bottles” with fear of the USSR in a Cold War setting and “Dark of the Moon” about a multi-national near-future lunar expedition told from the point of view of a female Russian crewmember.

And of “Dark of the Moon,” an even worse fear.

It took its time, but this afternoon’s mail brought my author’s copy of TRUE DARK (cf. October 25 2013, February 21 2012) from Red Skies Press.  “Journey into nightmarish landscapes, into the blackest midnight of your fear . . . into the TRUE DARK, 17 tales guaranteed to make you sleep with the light on.”  Technically the book was actually published back in OctobTrueDarkSmaller (and even then perhaps delayed — the colophon page says September 2013).  But you’ve got to admit, it should be worth the wait.

My story here is called “Gas,” a zombiesque tale of college and science and why not to visit the basement of the Chemistry Building after dark.  By an odd sort of coincidence, October 25, cited above for the official publication announcement of TRUE DARK, was also the acceptance date for my zombiesque (sort of) “The Borrowed Man” for the apocalyptic THE GIRL AT THE END OF THE WORLD by British publisher Fox Spirit (see also May 18, below), another anthology hindered by delays, but seemingly back on track.  So good things, apparently, do come to we who wait.

TRUE DARK is billed as an unthemed anthology, “quite simply an anthology of the best of the best horror,” but if Red Skies Press should seem familiar, I’ve had a couple of other stories in themed books there too, “Jessie” in DREAMS OF DUALITY (see February 13 2012, et al.) and “Ghost Ship” in TECHNO-GOTH CTHULHU (May 2, April 28 2013, et al.).  As for TRUE DARK, more information on it can be found by pressing here.

 




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