Posts Tagged ‘Dystopia’

Comes June and with it a bright sunny afternoon, breezy and in the lower 80s and, with that, the start of the Summer Reading Season.  What better way to celebrate, then, than with a new interview of . . . me, this one by UK author and blogger Jacky Dahlhaus, tentatively to go live Wednesday morning?  So three days from now be prepared for more dish on TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, a mention or two (it mustn’t feel left out!) of THE TEARS OF ISIS, the importance of (*ahem*) reviews to all authors, plus details on the inspiration and influence of Poe and Bradbury (with mentions here of Ginsberg and Brecht), whether I start writing with a pen or on the computer . . . well, you may have seen interviews by me before, but maybe this one will have new stuff to say too.  You can’t really tell until you read it, coming up Wednesday.

And a quick second note, Ms. Dahlhaus is looking for a few more interviewees for the summer, if any other writers out there might be interested in some free publicity.  But there are a few qualifications in terms of work already published, more on which can be found at her website by pressing here.

This comes to us today via Nathan Rowark on Facebook, a sale through June 30 from Horrified Press to include all e-titles.  Other than that I know no details, nor does the publisher’s Facebook page provide any more, except that all anthology titles are thus priced at $3.00 or less.  And, as it happens, I have several stories published by them although one, “Lobster Boy and the Hand of Satan” in HOW TO TRICK THE DEVIL (cf. October 14 2015, et al.) appears to be available in print only, at least on Amazon, and hence doesn’t count. Two others, though, do:  “Tunnels,” concerning familial love in an underground post-apocalyptic world, in UNTIL THE END (see June 15 2014, et al.) on sale for $2.99; and “Flesh,” of a man who strives to get fat (but, when all is said and done, perhaps not enough), in NIGHTMARE STALKERS & DREAM WALKERS (see October 14 2015, December 21 2014, et al.) for an even $3.00.  For more, for UNTIL THE END press here; and for NIGHTMARE STALKERS here.

Beginning now (March 3rd) through March 11th, we’re offering 30% off every single ebook title published by Untreed Reads throughout The Untreed Reads Store.  VERY IMPORTANT!!:  There is no discount code for this promotion.  The 30% off will automatically show up during the last step of the checkout process.  . . .  Remember that when people purchase through our store they get EPUB, PDF and Kindle versions for just one price!  Plus, they Pedscan gift a title to someone or send an ebook directly to their Kindle.  So begins the announcement from Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads Publishing, home of two stand-alone short story e-chapbooks by me, the steampunkish-mystery VANITAS and Christmas horror I’M DREAMING OF A. . ., plus my dystopic science fiction novelette PEDS.  To take advantage, press the picture of any of these in the center column and, as an extra, you’ll also find the New Year’s Eve anthology YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR with its opening story, “Appointment in Time,” also by me.

So what’s the occasion?  According to Editor Hartman:  Every year, the ebook world celebrates Read An Ebook Week, and this year is certainly no different!  This year, the dates of the event are Sunday, March 5th through Saturday, March 11th.  Also, he points out, although the discount is only 25%, PEDS and I’M DREAMING OF. . . . are also on sale at DriveThruFiction from March 5 through 11, which can be reached by pressing here.  No coupon code is needed for either sale, though the one directly from Untreed Reads seems the better deal.

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!

*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.

Jesus Franco’s VAMPYROS LESBOS is yet another horror film that doesn’t quite qualify as scary. More erotica than anything else, the film follows a vixen vampiress that, as the title would suggest, targets female victims. While a lesbian vampire is certainly a creative, albeit odd, character choice, that doesn’t mean that the idea should result in the film.

Unfortunately for us, it did.  And as you could probably guess, scares are in short supply while the sexualization of women is at the forefront of the entire film.  Of course, there are many that would disagree — in many circles, this film is considered brilliant, even one of Franco’s best works.  However, no matter the opinion on the film’s success, vampyroslesboscoverit’s very clear that sexuality is valued over the its “scary” qualities.

We may recall VAMPYROS LESBOS from last month’s post on “Sweet Lesbian Vampire Love” (August 14).  And so it is, um, covered again as #7 in Victoria Robertson’s “10 Trashy Horror Movies With More Skin then Scares” on SCREENRANT.COM, as pointed out in today’s e-mailbox by Scott M. Godiscak via Facebook and THE HORROR SOCIETY.  The list is not to condemn the sexy, at least not per se, but to lament the lack of actual horror when pushed too far aside by skin and/or blood.  The point is well enough taken (VAMPYROS LESBOS for example is actually a retelling of DRACULA from a more CARMILLA-like point of view, but is washed in sun — literally — rather than shadows) although, in some cases, we might still make room for guilty pleasures.  And as Robertson points out herself, for at least a few of these there are contradictory opinions.  Number 1 on her list, starring Robert Englund, is, for instance, filled with sly references to existentialism, albeit perhaps more superficial than profound.  Or are they?

More profound are ten different movies, courtesy of Robert Dunbar via Gerald Houarner on Facebook’s LITERARY DARKNESS, as brought to us by Rebekah McKendry in “10 Terrifying Science Fiction Films You May Have Missed” via BLUMHOUSE.COM.  Some of these are a bit obscure, the list itself sometimes suggesting sources, and I have to confess I’ve only seen four myself (although of the guilty pleasures above, I’ve only seen three as far as I know, but in this case it may be that some are overly forgettable).  Still some should be worth searching for, for a start on which one may press here — while for guilty pleasures press here.

. . . the class is about how science fiction, and speculative fiction in general, “is a favored genre for reimagining, reworking and critiquing gender roles, human sexuality, the relationship between humans and technology, war, and racial stereotypes.  It is a place where utopic and dystopic notions of government and power are explored, a powerful lens for looking back at our own contemporary reality.”

Yes, I’m quoting myself quoting something else, in this case the syllabus of Joan Hawkins’s media class on science fiction in which I and two other “SCIFI” critique group members took part (see May 24).  Apropos of this, last night’s DVD fare was V FOR VENDETTA, spurred by a review by Emily Asher-Perrin via yesterday’s TOR.COM email.  It was the second time I’d seen the movie, actually, and I hadn’t been all that impressed the first time, I V2suspect probably because I watched it as an adventure, dystopic, yes, but on the surface the exploits of a single dissident against “The Man.”  On that basis it wasn’t bad, mind you, but seemed a little too Zorro-like to my taste, too comic-book like maybe (notwithstanding that it is itself based on a graphic novel).

And yes, there are plot holes, if one wants to see them.  But on this second viewing I was looking past the surface, this time at the background, which, sometimes even in comic books as well, offered a richness of context in detail which, I would say now, is the point of the film.  And, as Asher-Perrin argues in her review, perhaps the film is more important now than in any time during its ten-year history, especially given events of last weekend.

How do dystopias work, anyway, and what are their  details?  In Joan Hawkins’s class, one story I described was one of my own, “Invisible People” (cf. October 30, May 30 2015, et al.), with MATRIX-like implications of a semi-voluntary brainwashing, an avoidance of viewing the truth straight on fueled by a desire to conform with others, to not rock the boat.  To blend into the background, even if that background is dishonest.  In V FOR VENDETTA it’s more direct — the background is fear.  In “Invisible People” there may be an echo more of the past, of a mid-century, 1950s America where there was fear too, of “Godless Communism” just as there is now of “radical Islamic terrorism,” but also, as now, an underlying more general fear of those (things and people) that are just . . . “different.”  In V FOR VENDETTA it’s more direct, though with echoes also, accented perhaps by its setting in England, of Orwell’s 1984.

In 1950s America there was ultimately a rebellion of sorts, the shakeout of which is still with us.  Rock ‘n’ Roll, for one thing, as a sort of precursor but, more, the counterculture movement that grew up in the late 1960s.  When the ‘80s came, perhaps it was sold out, what parts remained of it — in economic terms the growing prosperity for those at the bottom as well as the top, what once we thought of as “the American dream,” has yet to return too.  While in the world of V FOR VENDETTA. . . ?

For a look at Asher-Perrin’s view, “Apologize to No One — V FOR VENDETTA Is More Important Today Than it Ever Was,” one may press here.

Yes, another month of bargains through April 30 according to Editor/Publisher Jay Hartman last evening, as reported here February 28 with update March 1.  But why not repeat the details from the latter?  [T]he Untreed Reads Publishing 30-Percent Off March Sale . . .  had its start today and will last through the whole month.  Discounts apply to all Untreed Reads-published ebooks in addition to extra savings for some print editions, and now will be displayed wi9781611874822_SMth the titles themselves rather than only when checking out.  Included are my electronic chapbooks PEDS, I’M DREAMNG OF A. . ., and VANITAS, which can be reached by clicking their pictures in the center column; the page you come to will display all three titles as well as the New Year’s Eve anthology YEAR’S END containing my story “Appointment in Time,” along with links to various other Untreed Reads offerings.

So now it’s extended for an extra month.  Also other specials may come up too from time to time which, if they include any of my titles, will be reported here as well.  Or as said above, you can check any time by pressing one of the three chapbooks’ pictures in the center column (all three lead to my combined Untreed Reads author page), and from which one can navigate to other Untreed Reads Publishing bargains as well.

Well, it’s partly tongue in cheek, but there is that go-playing program, and we humans gave up our mastery in chess decades ago.  But serving up hamburgers — what will jr-fdfb3ff1074aa32ed435d1a0a8d9d298become of the US economy?  Or, as Jon Comulada puts it in his introduction to “5 Robots You Should Be Keeping Your Eye On.  For the Sake of Humanity,” on UPWORTHY.COM:

Every movie about a robot uprising has the same scene:  You know, the one where someone explains that it didn’t start out ALL bad.

It’s usually followed by a flashback where we’re shown that human technology was progressing, we were building better and smarter machines and sitting back to marvel at our technological robut-9a925cb999a54362192fafec870bddadadvances.

Then, before anyone knew what hit them, humanity became slaves to our new robot overlords.

Is that warning enough?  To see more, press here.

These were the words on Editor F.L. Hall’s Facebook page this morning, announcing that DYSTOPIAN EXPRESS (see November 24 2015, et al.) has been published — at least in Kindle form.  Or, the day before, “It took a little over a year but good things come to those who wait.  Later today or early tomorrow we will have the Launch of Dystopian Express from Hydra Publications!” And the print edition is to follow soon, while the ebook edition can now be found here.  To quote from the blurb:  “What happens when every aspect of your life DystopiaFullCoveris managed, manipulated, and controlled by someone else.  Everyone is guaranteed the opportunity to suffer equally for the greater good in this dystopian society.  . . .   Your possessions, your body, and even your thoughts, belong to them and not yourself.  What will you do?

“Jump on board and witness how the landscape has changed as we ride the rails of the Dystopian Express.”

My tale in this turmoil is one called “Invisible People,” originally published in DARK INFINITY for Winter 1992-93, which is one of transition.  What happens when some people are just forgotten, no longer existing as far as society is concerned.  Perhaps because they lost a job, thus written off because they no longer contribute.  Or even now, do you even notice the homeless guy on the street with with the tin cup, or has he become all but invisible to us already?

So all aboard, eh?

A quick note to mention that my guest blog, “To PEDS and Beyond:  Community and the Writer,” is now live on AReCafe (cf. September 29) and can be seen by pressing here.  This was originally published in an earlier version on the Open Book Society in 2012 (see November 28 of that year) on how a writer’s contacts — sales, meeting editors, etc. — forge bonds pedsbetween him or her and a wider community which, in turn, can lead to more opportunities.  The example here is the novelette PEDS, published as a stand-alone ebook by Untreed Reads Publishing, and how it led from and to other Untreed Reads sales* while other, similar associations led to the publication of the poetry book VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), as well as my Stoker® nominated third fiction collection THE TEARS OF ISIS.  Direct links are also provided to OmniLit’s pages on PEDS and the Untreed Reads anthology YEARS END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR with my lead story “Appointment in Time,” from which other titles may be linked to too.

In other news, Grey Matter Press has announced a $10 per paperback sale for Halloween, covering all titles in their current catalog.  “This year’s Halloween Fear-ganza . . . includes horror, science fiction and speculative fiction from some of the most acclaimed voices in our genres, as well as the freshest faces to have arrived on the scene.  Every Grey Matter Press volume containing exceptional dread-filled work from award-winning authors and bestsellers Jonathan Maberry, Ray Garton, William Meikle, Stephen Graham Jones, JG Faherty, Tim Waggoner and many more are all included.”  My own pup in this frightpack is the story “The Artist,” about a butcher who sculpts in meat for banquets and other special occasions, in the 2013 anthology SPLATTERLANDS (cf. February 1, January 28 2015; October 14 2014,  et al.), for more on which one may press here.  Or for info on the sale in general (which, if you scroll down, also mentions SPLATTERLANDS with a link), press here.

Note though that the sale is only good at Grey Matter Press’s own store and is only for a limited time.  And while the precise cutoff date doesn’t seem to be mentioned, my guess is it would be a good idea to take advantage by Halloween.

*The first of those from an original contact through the Short Mystery Fiction Society, which also, years later, led me to the movie/horror anthology REEL DARK and publication there of my story “Marcie and Her Sisters,” for which see May 19, et al.

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