Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

Friday’s street mail brought my copy of RE-TERRIFIED, with my story “Gas” (see July 10), fourth and last of Pole to Publishing’s all-reprint “Re-Imagined” series.  Previous titles were RE-LAUNCH, RE-ENCHANT, and RE-QUEST (cf. December 29, et al), each of which also includes a story by me.  The titles also suggest the book themes, the first science fiction, the next two fantasy, and finally horror or, to let the back cover blurb tell it:  Vengeful undead.  Demons.  Hungry Rats.  These creatures and more haunt city streets, unlit hallways, deep space, and the corners of your imagination in RE-TERRIFY.

My story, “Gas,” originally published in the Winter 1994-95 EULOGY, falls into the “unlit hallways” category and was inspired by the basement of Indiana University’s Chemistry Building.  But it has chemicals in it too, and not always used for the nicest of purposes.  To find out more about this and seventeen other stories, one can check out the publisher’s page for RE-TERRIFY by pressing here.


The call was out:  Dramatic, 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.  Lengths were to be 2500 to 7000 words with [o]riginal stories preferred but we will accept a few outstanding reprints.

So you’ve heard the tale.  I responded to test that final provision, but also at the extreme of the guidelines.  Attached is a 7000-word submission for SPACE OPERA LIBRETTI, “The Needle-Heat Gun,” that even ends with singing.  It is a reprint (reprint rights in my possession) that was originally published in NIGHT LIGHTS (Geminid Press, 2016).  And yesterday, exactly two months and one day later, came the response from Editor Jennifer Lee Rossman:  We love The Needle-Heat Gun and would like to publish it in our anthology!

With this — “the writing life,” you know — came a contract and information concerning editing, etc., with me returning the signed contract yesterday afternoon.  As a reprint the editing won’t be much, mainly just a copy edit to make sure everything’s in the right format.  “The Needle-Heat Gun,” incidentally, has been met before on these pages, notably for its original sale (see February 22 2016; November 7, 6 2014) but also for an as far as I can tell never published electronic-only reprint by DIGITAL SCIENCE FICTION (August 20, July 29 2017), that first NIGHT LIGHTS publication being paid at a professional rate to boot.  It does get around!  And now for its third (well . . . actually second) appearance, SPACE OPERA LIBRETTI is aiming for a release in August.

More as it becomes known.

Serendipity strikes again, or, quite by accident I ran across a sale from ThriftBooks with a number of older anthologies that have stories by me in them.  The offer is “20% Off $20 or More” for which one must use the code SALE20 when ordering and some of the titles go back to, well, years before I had even started this blog.  One example, GRAILS:  QUESTS OF THE DAWN with a long poem by me about the Irish god Dagda — and one of my earliest professional sales!  One caveat is that, when you check it out, many of the titles they show are marked as being unavailable, two of these unfortunately being THE TEARS OF ISIS and TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.  But a lot that’s there are books you’ve perhaps never heard of (and for me, that I’ve almost forgotten by now), many of which may be worth reading even without my work being in them.  So, bottom line, if you’re interested  or even just curious press here, but hurry because the sale ends tomorrow, December 13.

Okay, there’s no particular reason for it save that, by pure serendipity, I came across this one on the Interwebs and, what the heck, why not share?  Perhaps good for a laugh — or possibly compassion for our animal friends (the article explains that “the eel didn’t make it”) — but courtesy of POPSCI.COM, herewith “Megapixels:  This Is a Seal With an Eel Stuck Up Its Nose” by Rachel Feltman.  To see all click here (or, to start off your week. . . .).

Today’s e-missives included a link from Pole to Pole Publishing for ordering RE-LAUNCH (see October 11) from several different distributors as well as Amazon, as well as information on titles to come in their “Re-Imagined” series.  All thus far, I might add, Rocket space ship . Mixed mediahave tales by me in them with details to be shared here too as they reach publication.  For now, for RE-LAUNCH, my own story is “The Game,” originally published in the UK in HUB in November 2007 (all the “Re-Imagined” books are for reprints only, in this case “[f]eaturing fiction from Douglas Smith, James Dorr, Kris Austen Radcliffe, Eando Binder, Wendy Nikel, Stewart C. Baker, Meriah Crawford, Gregory L. Norris, Jennifer Rachel Baumer, Jonathan Shipley, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Lawrence Dagstine, CB Droege, Jude-Marie Green, Steven R. Southard, Calie Voorhis, Anthony Cardno, and Andrew Gudgel”).  And the Pole to Pole link, which will also be updated as situations warrant, can be reached here.

Spacecrafts hurtling toward alien worlds.  Second chances for civilizations.  First contact.  Rebirth.  Non-humans looking for a new life.  Opportunities for fresh starts and do-overs far from Earth.  These stories and more explore the theme of RE-LAUNCH.  And the anthology has landed (see September 3, et al.), in print and in my mailbox late Wednesday afternoon.  It’s an all-reprint book, the first of four in Pole to Pole Publishing’s “Re-Imagined” series, all of which also have stories by me, so check these pages for future information.  The oldest in this one harks back to 1954, “Shipwreck in the Sky” by Eando Binder (actually brothers Earl and Otto — ask your grandparents*), but leaping from there to a couple from 1999, one from 2005, three (including mine) from 2007, and eleven more from more recent times.  My story, “The Game,” published in the British e-zine HUB in November 2007 is about a spaceman stranded in an alien port who, by winning a game that is stacked against him, may yet gain redemption.

But see for yourself, with RE-LAUNCH now available in paperback as well as Kindle, by pressing here.

*And (oops!) misspelled slightly on the cover.

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.

*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:


October 3–7, 2018
Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Frankenstein!


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.

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