Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

And here it is, the DAILY SCIENCE FICTION contract for “Steel Slats” (see August 17) arrived and has been signed (or more precisely, my agreement assented) and returned.  As requested I also included an about 150 word biographical note and, as DAILY SCIENCE FICTION will sometimes have, a few remarks concerning the story’s writing — the latter in this case including the words “the devil made me do it.”  “Steel Slats,” that is, is a sort of reaction to troubles at the US southern border, and celebrates the *President’s Dream* of a “beautiful wall” to be paid for by Mexico to solve all problems.  But might it possibly lead to some new ones?

Exactly when we’ll find out I don’t know, DAILY SCIENCE FICTION usually having a robust lead time before stories are published (though not as bad as some recent examples, including the one that won’t appear until 2021).  In this case it should be within a year, though, and possibly sooner than later, exact information to be shared as soon as I find out.

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It goes round and round.  In a Goodreads reading group I sometimes indulge in the book of the moment is Karel Capek’s WAR WITH THE NEWTS.  It’s one I had read long, long in the past and on re-reading am finding entirely enjoyable, at least as of chapter five or so.  It starts however with a sea captain named van Toch who works largely in the then Dutch East Indies, and one of his ports of call, mentioned several times, is Surabaya.

So big deal, right?  Except there’s a song by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht called “Surabaya Johnny,” from a musical by Brecht and Weill with Elisabeth Hauptmann called HAPPY END — with a story line much like GUYS AND DOLLS and with nothing to do, really, with the East Indies (it takes place in Chicago and also includes “The Bilbao Song,” though the action has nothing to do with Spain either) — and I found the tune going around in my head.  And . . . anyway you can hear it now too, sung by Lotte Lenya (who didn’t actually sing it in the play when it was produced in Germany, but never mind), by pressing here.  And to read the lyrics in English, press here.

A busy Saturday!  First there was my writing group’s monthly critique session; then a Bloomington Writers Guild meeting.  If that weren’t enough, the Goth Cat Triana reminds us that August 17 is “Black Cat Appreciation Day” (so, she’s mostly black).  But added to all that is one thing more.

Saturday’s email brought a new story acceptance and not just by any market either, but DAILY SCIENCE FICTION, a story-a-day free website with professional rates for tales of less than 1500 words, plus an amount of prestige.  Not to mention a pretty wide circulation to boot.  And it’s been a while, though I have been in DSF before (cf. April 21 2015, et al.), five times in fact including two starring our New Orleanian vampiress acquaintances, Aimée et les filles à les caissettes, one of which being their “origin story” (for which see also April 17 2014, et al.).  Today’s new, non-vampiric story is called “Steel Slats” and the really neat thing is I hadn’t had overly high hopes for it, it having been written originally for a satirical near-future anthology which, it turned out, decided it could get along with apocalypses that did not include walking dead, and, well, some of the background may be just a tiny bit politically tinged.  That is, in the case of high-circulation magazines, with a possible risk of irritating some of the readers.

As for what exactly “Steel Slats” is about, perhaps I’ll say more in a future post, but for now there may be some hints in such things as the “Tags” above.  And as for why it was accepted despite my misgivings, I’d like to think it’s because it’s a good story.

Yes they are used copies, but out-of-print DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET is there with a “very good” copy for $8.99 and shipping free, plus a very good copy of THE TEARS OF ISIS for $9.46, shipping again free.  And many anthologies with work by me, BORDERLANDS 2, ALTERED AMERICA, INTO THE DREAMLANDS, others, are on ABEBOOKS.COM’s current sale pages — but beware all non-fiction, especially books about descriptive geometry, and a few others by people with names that are similar to mine.  Thus work search engines.
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If interested though there are some real bargains in this month’s list, some from quite a few years back (perusing the list was nostalgic for me), which can be found by pressing here.  In that they’re used I won’t get royalties on any (though for books that one likes, one can always help authors by writing reviews for Amazon, et al.), but what the heck — if you give it a whirl the entries are listed by price, lowest to highest, and the ones I cited (DARKER LOVES, TEARS) will be found on page 2.
Who can resist this one, courtesy of SNOPES.COM:  “Can a Bug Crawl in Your Ear and into Your Brain?” by David Mikkelson?  Subtitled “Bugs do wander into people’s ears sometimes.  But where can they go from there?” the article is admittedly a rerun from December 5 1998, but a possible menace of this sort deserves renewed attention, don’t you agree?  Or in any event, for horror writers and readers out there, for the full monty (as it were) press here.
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And while we’re at it, let’s not neglect earwigs.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I wrote a story called “The Plant-Sitter.”  The sitter in question, hired to take care of an exotic plant while its owner attends a horror convention, in part was a homage to the 1960 Roger Corman film LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, specifically when at the end, the hiree apparently now deceased, the hirer tries to remember her name.  “Audrey something?”  The story was published in the Fall 2004 BOOK OF DARK WISDOM by William Jones, who later founded Elder Signs Press, and who I subsequently worked with on an idea I had for a novel-in-stories about a far-future world of the “Tombs.”  For various reasons that project got delayed, but eventually under new editor/publisher Chuck Zaglanis, thirteen years later, the book was published as TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.

So these things are connected.  The Corman movie begat a 1960s retro rock musical in 1982, and that in turn was made into a movie four years after, in 1986, which I also have seen.  And now — one of the perks of living in a university town, where slightly off the beaten track films and theatre are nurtured — I had a chance to see the play on stage last night in an Indiana University Summer Theatre production.

For local readers the play can be seen on various dates through July 28.  For those who like horror in urban settings (a flower shop in New York’s “skid row”?) and dark, dark humor, all I can say is that it’s a delight.  It does have, yes, a carnivorous plant as well as, like most musicals, innocent lovers — or those at least who start off with some innocence.  Also it adds a sadistic dentist, and a Greek chorus-like trio of girl pop singers (early 1960s style, remember) who’re not averse to demanding tips to give strangers directions — to get to the flower shop, that is — although greed and materialism infect most of the other players as well.  Or in the plant’s case (named “Audrey II,” after the not quite entirely guileless ingenue) perhaps it’s more properly gluttony.

Anyhow I greatly recommend it.

Then a quick note on yesterday afternoon’s post on “11 Space Movies for Apollo 11,” it turns out that the wily SHORT LIST may have sent that particular feature as, apparently, a special treat for its newsletter subscribers — which means that the link may not have worked for all who tried it.  There doesn’t seem to be much I can do about that, but I can give a list of the movies alone.  Thus, from number one to eleven:  2001:  A SPACE ODYSSEY, APOLLO 13, INTERSTELLAR, FIRST MAN, HIDDEN FIGURES, CAPRICORN ONE, THE RIGHT STUFF, GRAVITY, THE MARTIAN, MOON, SPACE CAMP.

Well, there’s APOLLO 11 which I think was on CNN on TV a week or two back (also, I believe, being re-screened locally this weekend by Ryder Films), but that’s not on this list.  Rather this is a list of Hollywood films, some of epic proportion like 2001:  A SPACE ODYSSEY, some uplifting like THE RIGHT STUFF, even some you might not have immediately thought of as about space like HIDDEN FIGURES.  So the list for today is by Libby Plummer, “The 11 Best Space Movies that Are Out of This World,” brought to us via SHORLIST.COM.  We’ve trawled the galaxy to pick out the best of the bunch so if you’re looking for something to watch in celebration of Apollo 11’s historic mission to the moon or you’re just a massive space nerd, here’s our shortlist of the 11 best space movies around.  Since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on the moon 50 years ago, space has been a popular destination for filmmakers.  Whether it’s true-life stories of daring space missions or the possible future of Earthlings in space you’re after, the movie world has you covered.

Others noted: CAPRICORN ONE, THE MARTIAN, APOLLO 13 . . . the list goes on.  But see it for yourself by pressing here!

2013, the year that brought us the films GRAVITY and DESPICABLE ME 2, as well as in which my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS was published. And what should I run across this afternoon, through sheer serendipity, but an interview of me dated May 7 that year on LONG AND SHORT REVIEWS (“Reviewing Fiction One Happy Ever After at a Time”)?  At that time THE TEARS OF ISIS was about to be published in roughly a week by Isis4_2Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing — pre-orders on Amazon were being taken and five free copies being raffled on Goodreads — although the cover was not the one shown in the center column. The cover change only came a year after, acknowledging TEARS having won a Stoker(R) nomination. While other concerns were about a book that was already planned, but had suffered some setbacks in terms of finding a publisher for it:  James has a series of short stories he’s been writing set on a far future, dying Earth in and around a vast necropolis called The Tombs.  Something more than a dozen of these have been published in various places, including three (two reprints and one for the first time) in THE TEARS OF ISIS, “The Ice Maiden,” “Mara’s Room,” and “River Red” (another new one, “Raising the Dead,” is also scheduled for later this year in the White Cat Publications steampunk anthology AIRSHIPS AND AUTOMATONS). . . .

So it’s not that long a time really, is it?  Other “standard” topics are covered too:  How did you first become a writer?  Advice for new writers?  If interested in how the writing life looked at least for a moment back then, the interview as a whole can be read here.

This time I’ve swiped the headline from the label over the video itself, encased in an article by Sara Chodosh on POPSCI.COM, “We Finally Have Footage of a Giant Squid in U.S. Waters.”  The waters themselves are the Gulf of Mexico and the squid in question far from fully grown.  This squid comes at the camera head-on, so it’s difficult to tell exactly SQUIDDOhow large it is.  The NOAA researchers think it’s around 10 to 12 feet long, which would make it but a wee juvenile in the giant squid world — adults can grow to staggering lengths of 43 feet.  That’s like stacking more than seven average adult American men on top of one another.  And there are hopes that further attempts might snag pictures of some of the really big ones, but as monsters go (see post just below) it’s still worth a glance, for which press here.
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(Incidentally for giant squid fans see also, below, January 6 2016 and December 17 2015, the latter of these with some interesting links too.)

Strange are the tales told of the Internet.  Of stories presumed rejected that weren’t; of acceptances disguised as things they might not be.  A magical, mystical place it is, of shadows and mysteries.  And here is one such strange telling now.

Let us go first to June 13 2018, and a call for submissions from Old Sins, “a (very) small publishing cooperative.”  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.  So okay, let’s do.  As it happened I had such a tale already, of UFOs on the road to Roswell or, at least, an odd wounded humanoid creature who may have come from a UFO, originally published in BOOK OF DARK WISDOM in Summer 2005, called “The Country Doctor.”*

So off it went, until on October 25 an email came from Editor Joseph Cadotte asking about some possible small editorial changes, and allowing that he had liked the story and was sending it along to his partner.  Okay, so not an acceptance quite, but I sent a reply addressing the suggested changes (most of them having to do with italicization) and so time went on.  But then a new email came on January 27 this year with the subject title “Pending acceptance to FAKE NEWS,” stating in part:  We have a preliminary layout, and, if you are included in this message, you are on it.   So that’s positive mostly, sort of, yes?  Maybe a clearer confirmation (that is, not just “pending”) would be coming soon.

Which brings us to Wednesday afternoon, yesterday, not quite six months later, repeating the January 27 message, and with the same heading, but with an explanation above of how things are being delayed.  The wheels grind slowly, but grind they still do, and concluding:  I will try to send you a contract soonish.

So I’m going to call this an acceptance now of “The Country Doctor” for FAKE NEWS (or a similar title), and if perhaps still not 100 percent sure, we’ll find out together.

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*”The Country Doctor” has also been reprinted in the anthology AMERICA THE HORRIFIC (Bards and Sages, 2011), for which one can see below, October 29, 19 2011, et al.




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