Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

I live near the end of a postal route which means that my mail usually arrives in late afternoon or evening — sometimes in these winter months even after dark, possibly not to be discovered until the next morning.  That’s reflected here when an item often may not get posted until the next day (though of course email items can also not be received until very late) as, for instance, now.

So what Thursday’s mail brought was a fairly bulky padded package, in which was my long-awaited author’s copy of SPACE OPERA LIBRETTOS (cf. January 1, et al.), the book of [d]ramatic, large-scale stories of the distant future, focused on optimism and inclusion and blowing things up.  Weird mashups.  Actual arias.  Fat ladies singing on funeral pyres.  Watery tarts distributing swords optional.  So had said the guidelines and so, at last, it was here — part of the game is that authors’ copies, at least in print, often come slowly, publishers having to fulfill paid customers’ orders first — including my own tale in number three spot, “The Needle Heat Gun,” a saga of heroism and love on an uncharted planet with, if not formal singing, a lot of humming.

If interested, “The Needle Heat Gun” is one of twenty stories of music and outer-space (or thereabouts) mayhem, more on which can be found by pressing here.

Then for a quick Friday addendum (or electronic copies can come much faster), today’s email brought a PDF authors’ copy of SEVEN DEADLY SINS:  LUST (see post just below) with my “A Cup Full of Tears,” a brief recounting of sweet lesbian vampire love.  With it came instructions for also obtaining a paperback copy, but with a warning:  that its arrival might be less quick.

FAKE NEWS, don’t we just love it!  I don’t mean the term the President uses when he means “real news,” but really fake fake news.  Conspiracy theories, that sort of thing, though it may seem real to those that believe it.  But now it’s time for a trip into history.

Hie us back to the year 2018, to June 13 to be exact.  A call from “a (very) small publishing cooperative” called Old Sins:  Let’s write about conspiracies that have been debunked thoroughly but do so through the lens of Alternate History, where they have actually happened.  Let’s write about the second shooter, chemtrails, the Illuminati, Lizard People, Greys, the Loch Ness Monster, Pope Joan, Templars worshipping Satan, and so many other rumored conspiracies throughout history as if they were real.  As it so happened, I had such a tale, called “Country Doctor,” a reprint first published in BOOK OF DARK WISDOM for Summer 2005, one of UFOs and a strange humanoid creature being held by the military and needing medical attention.  And so off it went.

The above itself was reported here about a year later (cf. June 20, 2019), along with more news.  On August 27 2018 an email had come from Old Sins Editor Joseph Cadotte concerning possible minor changes, and that he liked it and “Country Doctor” was being forwarded to “his partner.”  Not an acceptance but, what the heck, I sent some changes plus reasons for keeping some other things the same.  Another exchange on October 25 about “Pending Acceptance,” and then on January 27 2019 an email titled “Re. Pending acceptance to FAKE NEWS” that said in part:  We have a preliminary layout, and, if you are included in this message, you are on it.  An acceptance then, yes?  But it didn’t really, exactly say.  But then on June 19, and hence the day the June 20 2019 post referred to, came an announcement explaining delays and concluding I will try to send you a contract soonish (which, by the way, I don’t recall subsequently receiving, but you get the idea — the wheels of artistry grind slowly as well as, sometimes, quite casually too) so, what the heck, let’s assume by now that it’s all official.

And then again silence until yesterday an email arrived, “FAKE NEWS News and Request,” and later that afternoon “FAKE NEWS News and request, part 2,” to send in a bio, etc., plus a small questionnaire about original inspirations (“which conspiracy,” e.g.), plus an announcement that “the whole text is going to our design person” (that is, if there are any story changes, to get them in quickly).  So it seems, despite delays, the anthology finally is on its way!

Unless, of course, it’s all fake news.

The announcement came Thursday night, that the HOUSE OF ZOLO’S JOURNAL OF SPECULATIVE LITERATURE, VOLUME 1 (see January 2, et al.) has now been released in all formats, print and Kindle on Amazon and e-book format on its own site, as well as being listed on Goodreads.  Delving into themes of post-humanity, future-shock, and the consequences of climate change, these short stories and poems fearlessly explore what it means to be human.  Alternately dark and hopeful, heartbreaking and humorous, this volume contains stories and poems to spark the imagination and inspire new perspectives on the future.

My page in the poke is a reprint originally published in Spring 1994 in MINDSPARKS (also more recently in ZIPPERED FLESH 3 from Smart Rhino Publications, cf. February 3 2017, er al.), “Golden Age,” about what it means to grow old in a society in which death may be becoming practically unknown.  For more information or purchase, links to Amazon and to the House of Zolo can be found in the January 2 post below, while for the new Goodreads page and its links one can press here.

We are very excited to announce that we rang in this new decade with the launch of our very first release — The HOUSE OF ZOLO’S JOURNAL OF SPECULATIVE LITERATURE, VOLUME 1.  We’ve been working for many months with twenty-eight talented writers and poets and are so proud to share this incredible volume of short stories and poetry with the world.

So I’m a day late, but The House of Zolo has made good its promise to publish the premiere issue of the HOZ JOURNAL OF SPECULATIVE LITERATURE (see November 21, October 7, et al.) on the first day of 2020.  My story in this one is a reprint, “Golden Age,” going all the way back to MINDSPARKS for Spring 1994 (more recently republished in Smart Rhino Publications’s ZIPPERED FLESH 3, cf. February 3 2017, et al.).  But for the volume as a whole, let us let the publishers themselves tell us.

In this exciting new collection, writers and poets from around the world conjure fractured dimensions, cast dark nightmares, and offer alternatives to the apocalypse as they navigate to the very edges of time and back.  Delving into themes of post-humanity, future-shock, and the consequences of climate change, these short stories and poems fearlessly explore what it means to be human.  Alternately dark and hopeful, heartbreaking and humorous, this volume contains stories and poems to spark the imagination and inspire new perspectives on the future.

Curated and edited by Nihls Andersen and Erika Steeves with guest poetry editor, Jon Parsons, HOZ’s Journal of Speculative Literature is an international collection of short stories and poems by some of today’s most compelling writers:  Jessica Barksdale, Joe Baumann, L. X. Beckett, Melanie Bell, Jenny Blackford, Robert Borski, Shenoa Carroll-Bradd, M. S. Chari, Deborah L. Davitt, Joe DiCicco, Steve Dillon, James Dorr, Kevin Freeman, Amelia Gorman, Vince Gotera, Russell Hemmel, Richard Leis, E. H. Lupton, JBMulligan, Jennifer Loring, Sally McBride, Stephen McQuiggan, Laurel Radzieski, Samannaz Rohanimanesh, George Salis, Lucy Stone, Ojo Taiye, Cohl Warren-Howles.

To see for yourself, in Kindle press here (with a print edition due as well January 7), or for EPUB the House of Zolo’s own site here.

To end 2019 with a song, word came Tuesday afternoon that SPACE OPERA LIBRETTI:  MODERN COMEDIC SPACE OPERA WITH ARIAS (cf. November 12, et al.) is out in paperback, with a Kindle edition set for Saturday, January 4.  The problem with space opera is that there’s not enough opera in it, and certainly a dearth of coloratura diva sopranos in the third act.  This anthology sets out to fix that by placing the music front-and-center.  We’ve created a glittery disco-ball of fun.  20 stories designed to amuse.  Some actually take place in space.  There’s even an actual opera in here.  We didn’t hold back.  Time-traveling cats that quote opera. . .  Intergalactic singing competitions. . .  An endless song that becomes the soundtrack to countless generations of rebellions. . .  And, of course, invisible space bears made of black holes that may or may not be extinct.  My dump in the drama pops up in third place in the story contents, a swashbuckling symphony of stubbornness and song, “The Needle Heat Gun” which, accompanied by nineteen additional tune-tales, can become yours by pressing here.

That’s the way they put it, and part of the reason for choosing that date — New Year’s Day 2020 — is simply that it looks so cool.  Though starting a brand new publication at the start of a new year as well as decade seemed appropriate as well.  The publication’s full name is the HOUSE OF ZOLO JOURNAL OF SPECULATIVE LITERATURE, VOLUME 1 (cf. October 7, September 17), for which HOZ are looking for literature that explores possibilities for the future.  We want challenging short stories that are character driven, that reimagine the world and our place in it.  . . .  Themes that thrill us:  transhumanism, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, new systems, resistance, activism, queer perspectives, feminist perspectives, nature.  Originally planned for a release this month, they decided to give it a bit more time, with January 1 2020 now the official release date.

My story in this is “Golden Age,” a tale of surgical life prolonging procedures that lead to a possible near-immortality, originally published in MINDSPARKS in Spring 1994 and also reprinted in Smart Rhino Publications’s 2017 ZIPPERED FLESH 3 anthology.  And for a sort of a preview about this first issue, or at least its authors, one can press here for a list of bios with further links to blogs and personal websites, Facebook pages, etc.

It had originally been planned for late summer but there were delays.  Such often happens.  But SPACE OPERA LIBRETTI (cf. November 2, February 11, et al.) Editors Jennifer Lee Rossman and Brian McNett plugged on and, now in the homestretch, another milestone has been passed.  The cover and back cover have been designed and can now be revealed.

For those who’ve forgotten, this is the anthology for (quoting the guidelines) [d]ramatic, large-scale stories of the distant future, focused on optimism and inclusion and blowing things up.  Weird mashups.  Actual arias.  Fat ladies singing on funeral pyres.  Watery tarts distributing swords optional.  Play fast and loose.  No holds barred as long as it’s a tasteful treatment written with respect.  Stories were to be from 2500 to 7000 words, mostly original but with a few “outstanding” reprints.  Thus my own entry, “The Needle Heat Gun,” is one of the latter, originally published in NIGHT LIGHTS (Geremid Press, 2016), with the tale it tells one of two brave spacemen, though only one can be the hero, and equally heroic music badly performed.

But all this should be available soon as publication time draws nigh, with more to be reported here as it becomes known.

A quick Saturday note from SPACE OPERA LIBRETTI (cf. February 11, January 16):  We need updated bios for each of you.  However you wish to write them, but ideally two paragraphs or less, written in the third person, and including social media links if you’d like them.  The anthology theme is probably self-evident, my part in it being “The Needle Heat Gun,” a tale of two intrepid spacemen and a song badly sung, originally published in NIGHT LIGHTS (Geminid Press, 2016).  And so — as quick as that! — the bio was sent as requested, with more to come here as it becomes known.

I had mentioned the film myself in a post on June 26 2014, five years ago, about ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE:  In some ways I’m reminded of ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, though that may just be my own eccentricity, but like that movie ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE is sweet and beautiful yet, at the same time, ruthless and sad.  So last night, Tuesday, courtesy of the Indiana University Cinema, I had the chance to see ETERNAL SUNSHINE again.
IU Cinema blurb:  Joel is heartbroken when he discovers that ex-girlfriend Clementine has erased all memories of their time together.  As Joel undertakes the same treatment in revenge, his subconscious fights back in a surreal, dream-like journey through good times and bad, one that has Joel questioning whether he wants to lose his happy memories in order to forget the painful ones.  Michel Gondry’s direction and Charlie Kaufman’s acclaimed screenplay produced a film that is both intellectually complicated and deeply romantic. 
And so both quotations, I think, are true.  But there’s also more to ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND at least at the IU end, the film being part of a fall “themester” — a themed grouping of courses and ancillary programs and events — on the concepts of “Remembering and Forgetting,” giving this mini-blurb:  In this unusually serious romantic comedy, heartbreak leads a couple to erase all memories of each other.  But, of course, can they really?  And how would that complicate life and possible pairings with others?  And, in the talk before the screening, how can this even be depicted at all in a movie?
That is, films are great for showing things from the outside, but what of showing things that are internal — to get inside a character’s head as one might in a book?  In this case through a series of “fantasy dreamscapes” where techniques like colors or camera angles may gain extra importance.  Thus Joel can experience memories as dreams, and these sometimes then be manipulated, but not in a sense of reality changing but more perhaps as an exploration of what could be.  Or perhaps might have been.
Confused?  I know I am, but that’s not the point.  My point is I think the film is worth seeing — very worth seeing — but also probably has to be watched more than once or even twice.  Or, if failing that, at least enjoyed once as a bittersweet romance with a rather neat, with the memory erasing technique as a subtheme, science fiction flavor.
Or as Charlie Wood notes on POPSCI.COM:  The universe is full of warm bodies.  Why should life limit itself to sun-like stars?  The article is titled “Here’s How Life Could thrive On a Planet Orbiting a Black Hole — And Other Alternative Suns” and can be found by pressing here.  For science fiction authors and fans, that is, for a little but of off-the-beaten-track world building.
White dwarves, for instance, are kind of easy — as long as you can figure out what to do with those pesky red giants that tend to precede them.  But what about planets that orbit neutron stars or, again, black holes (for the latter, though, keeping a healthy distance — or at least picking out the right kind of black hole)?  According to Jeremy Schnittman, an astrophysicist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, [b]iology as we know it is complex, but it basically boils down to needing two simple prerequisites:  an energy source for maintaining liquid water and a stable environment.  “If you’re on a planet that’s constantly being wrecked by earthquakes and volcanoes,” Schnittman says, “even if it has nice beaches it wouldn’t be nice.” 
But some places that do meet these criteria still can be weird.

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