Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

The word is out!  Grim fairy tales.  Dark magic wielders.  Threatening urban legends.  Crows.  A wishing ring.  An ensorcelled forest.  These stories and more bewitch and frighten in RE-ENCHANT.  Wander the dim-lit paths of enchantment conjured by 18 tales from an international roster of authors.  Featuring fiction from Nancy Springer, Darrell Schweitzer, Don Webb, Alma Alexander, James Dorr, Jude-Marie Green, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Gregory L. Norris, Kelly A. Harmon, April Steenburgh, Robert N. Stephenson, Christine Lucas, Kai Miro, E. E. King, Mattie Brahen, Ace Jordyn, Hans Christian Andersen, and W.R.S. Ralston.  RE-ENCHANT takes readers down twisted walkways to discover strange and magical places, people, and creatures.  This is the second of Pole to Pole Publishing’s all-reprint anthologies, for fantasy this time, with my story in it called “Dust,” a saga of witchery, Spanish ladies, and . . . spiders . . . originally published in my collection, STRANGE MISTRESSES: TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE (cf. July 8).  The first of these with my science fiction story “The Game” was RE-LAUNCH (see October 16, 11, et al.) which, just received, has been a pretty good read so far so I’m looking forward to this one too, for more information on which, or to order one can press here.

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Saturday brought my author’s e-copy from Editor Eric S. Fomley of SINS AND OTHER WORLDS (see August 13, et al.), with the added note that both electronic and print versions of the book will be able to be released “in the next couple of weeks.”  Or, if all goes well, the book should be out just in time for Halloween.  And it’s filled with stories, with authors well known as well those less so — my own, for instance, is in the contents just below a story by Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn.  To quote from the Editor’s introduction:  Within these pages are thirty-five dark tales of science fiction brought to you by thirty very talented authors.  I’ve always had a love for the darker side of the genre, though I’ve found there are few anthologies that collect dark science fiction in one tome.  So I’ve created one, put together with some of the biggest names writing short sci-fi right now.  I hope you enjoy this anthology of the best short dark science fiction in recent memory.

And so it goes.  My own part in the potpourri is a tale of “The Cyclops,” originally published in DARK MOON DIGEST YOUNG ADULT HORROR in June 2013, about a very, very young man whose own mother thinks he might be a zombie.  Say what?  Well it actually may be worse than that, but for more, including info on ordering SINS AND OTHER WORLDS when it’s ready, keep watching these pages.

Yes it was, the Bloomington Writers Guild “Second Thursday Player’s Pub Spoken Word Series” (see October 9; October 13 2017, et al.) with a special early Halloween lineup to honor October.  How special?  Even the five open mike readers at the end chose at least some poems, etc. specifically for spookyness while featured musical guest Travis Puntarelli also went out of his way to play and sing numbers with, let us say, Gothic overtones.  Then of the headlined readers, the first one was . . . moi.  Or to read from the blurb, JAMES DORR is a short story writer and poet, working primarily in dark fantasy and horror with some forays into science fiction and mystery.  . . .  The story he’ll be reading tonight is called “River Red,” and appears in THE TEARS OF ISIS.  It is set on a far-future dying Earth, populated by various creatures including ghouls — eaters of the dead — and is in the same universe as his latest novel-in-stories, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, out from Elder Signs Press.  This was followed by another musical interlude, then by the main event, a dramatic reading by Writers Guild members of . . . well, to quote again from the blurb, DRACULA is a screenplay for a never-made film by the late, notorious Ken Russell, Britain’s cinematic sultan of excess and outrage whose films include TOMMY, ALTERED STATES, LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, and GOTHIC.*  The script was written in the late 1970s and published in 2009.  The film came close to being made only to be abandoned when Universal put its Frank Langella headlined version of DRACULA into production.  Russell’s script, however, allegedly formed the impetus for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version, whose screenwriter James V. Hart was directly involved in the inception of Russell’s interpretation.

In a departure from usual practice, the evening ended shortly after 8 as opposed to a more normal 9 p.m., to allow for an additional band Players Pub had scheduled for the night.  This specifically cut down the amount of time set aside for the play, allowing for only two or three scenes, but enough to give an idea of its flavor, set in the 1920s, that of a vampire motivated by a love of music and on a quest to confer immortality on dying artists.  However, the Writers Guild also announced plans to present the play in its entirety at some time in 2019.
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*Re. GOTHIC, cf. October 5, September 30.  But readers may recall having met Mr. Russell before as creator of THE FALL OF THE LOUSE OF USHER (July 17 2015, “E. A. Poe Meets Alice in Wonderland”), described as a buggy interpretation “for the 21st century” of not just Poe’s “House” (which possibly more deflates than falls at the end of the picture) but almost everything else Poesque beginning with a wink of the eye to “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

Which is to say more October fun is approaching, this from the Writers Guild again in just two days from now, Thursday evening, October 11 at Bloomington’s Players Pub.  Or, let’s let Chair Tony Brewer say it again.  THU OCT 11:  switching gears from Frankenstein to Dracula . . . the Writers Guild at Bloomington presents a staged reading of excerpts from Ken Russell’s unproduced screenplay DRACULA, plus horror writings by James Dorr and music by Travis Puntarelli.  Booo!  And what will I read?  Well, maybe that should be a surprise (though I wouldn’t be all that shocked if I hadn’t mentioned it somewhere elsewhere — it’s sort of a “go to” for me for occasions of this sort).

For now anyway just know you have been warned.

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.

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.

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*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!




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