Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

It’s coming!  It’s coming!  It’s ZIPPERED FLESH 3: YET MORE TALES OF BODY ENHANCEMENT GONE BAD (see July 18, June 19, et al.) and the book itself is scheduled for release by Smart Rhino Publications this October.  But now, for a sneak peek, Paul Dale Anderson has published an early review, including brief appetite whetting descriptions of all the stories.  Mine, “Golden Age,” is the one at the very, very end, a sort of look at the past and the future and perhaps more leisurely than some of the others, science-fictiony, maybe, more than horror, but stories for all tastes appear to be therein.  For more, one may press here.

And lest we forget, another tale of mine, “Flesh,” will be coming out in YEAR’S BEST BODY HORROR 2017 (cf. June 19, May 8), tentatively in late September from Gehenna & Hinnom, this one perhaps a little bit more on the surreal side.  Both stories, I should add, are reprints, with “Golden Age” originally published in MINDSPARKS for Spring 1994 and “Flesh” in MAELSTROM SPECULATIVE FICTION, Spring 1999.

Two things, and both of them lists.  The first, “25 Reasons That Writers Are Bug-Fuck Nuts” (WARNING:  may contain adult language) by Chuck Wendig on TERRIBLEMINDS.COM (courtesy of Scott M. Goriscak via THE HORROR SOCIETY), is sort of self-explanatory — and fun!  It can be checked out here and, yes, Number 14 does involve a $7.53 royalty (for which I would be jealous, but the one I got from Elder Signs Press just the other week, cf. July 23, landscape-1501510359-scifi-comics-leadwas actually for more than that).

But then the other, more serious maybe but also fun in its own different way, is “The 25 Best Sci-Fi Comics” on POPULARMECHANICS.COM, by Tiffany Kelly and Darren Orf.  From ASTRO BOY (#12) to PUNK ROCK JESUS (#21), this one covers a fair bit of ground with stops in between, e.g. for movie buffs like me, #24 TANK GIRL, #6 VALERIAN AND LAURELINE, #14 THE GHOST IN THE SHELL, and others as well.  And potentially perhaps the most interesting of all, #3 INCAL by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius (Jean Giraud).  Or make your own choices by pressing here.

Thus was the call:  Welcome to Digital Science Fiction.  We are excited to announce our first open call for reprint short stories in the science fiction genre.  These stories will be published as stand-alone short stories and as part of an anthology of ten short stories under the Digital Science Fiction imprint, by the publisher, Digital Fiction Publishing Corp.  The announcement went on to specify that stories needed to be from 3500 to 7500 words long, “have appeared in professional or semi-professional books, magazines, collections, or anthologies,” and not be available for free on the internet.  And for which one would be paid, well, a bit, but reprints are reprints and money is money.  And so, why not?

As it happened, in fact, I had a 7000ish-word story published in the “Space Opera” section of NIGHT LIGHTS by Geminid Press in 2016 (see April 1 2016, et al.), a bit tongue-in-cheekish, having fun with the genre, you know, and ready to trot.  And so why not indeed?  Off it went just nine days ago and today the word came back from Michael Wills of Digital Fiction:  Thank you for sending us ‘The Needle-Heat Gun’.  We think it is a great fit and would like to publish it.  We will be in touch shortly with a formal contract and details for your review.

In Saturday’s mail, but no, it wasn’t concerned with TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH which, after all, was only published at the beginning of last month.  No, this was a 6-month-plus check for stories in two Elder Signs anthologies, DARK HORIZONS and STREET MAGICK (see March 16; November 27, 4 2016, et al.), that came out in October and November last year, respectively.  The stories in these were both reprints, “Dark of the Moon” in DARK HORIZONS, of lunar exploration and . . . monsters originally published in THE CHILDREN OF CTHULHU (Del Rey, 2002), and STREET MAGICK’s “Bottles,” from CROSSINGS (Double Dragon, 2004)*, of Cold War paranoia and vampires.  And best of all, even though anthologies rarely bring in BIG bucks (the royalty having to be divided among, say, twenty or so different authors, plus editors, et al.), the check for these books is for a respectable two-figure sum.

So no need in this case to keep things anonymous — both books, in fact, were on the shelves briefly in Barnes & Noble’s brick and mortar stores (though not, alas, TOMBS, though I understand it was considered) — as has been the case for most royalties periodically received, in order to avoid embarrassment all around.  Indeed the amount here, put into edible terms, would easily have been enough for a decent dinner for two back in the days when I was courting the woman who was to become my ex-wife.  (Though perhaps it wouldn’t go quite that far now.)  That is, to cover both nourishment and love, which is not a bad deal at all.

 

*And also reprinted in THE TEARS OF ISIS.

Yes, I am of course one of them, but one must scroll down and down past the other five, to just before the ending blurb for the ZIPPERED FLESH series plus PLAGUE OF SHADOWS.  Not surprisingly, the books featured for all six of us writers include ones by Smart Rhino Publications, including the upcoming ZIPPERED FLESH 3 (cf. June 19, et al.), in my case also covering the two “assassins” anthologies, UNCOMMON ASSASSINS and INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS.  But there are others too.  Also for all six of us there are interviews featured on Editor/Publisher Weldon Burge’s blog, BULLETS AND BUTTERFLIES (see, for me, also January 18).

All told, these are storytellers worth looking into, I think, with information on all of them — including . . . moiavailable here.

There is nothing like hearing a scary story over the crackling of a burning campfire.  Some of the most memorial stories we’ve heard were when we were young, gathered around the warming glow with other kids.  To this day, though you may not necessarily recall the words, but I’m sure you remember the feeling.  The unnerving chills as the sense of dread slowly begins to overwhelm, yet you’re captivated and eager for more.  The stories in this collection are crafted by talented writers to tap into that feeling.   (Amazon blurb)

So has come the word from Jesse Dedman of DEADMAN’S TOME that CAMPFIRE TALES, in two separate volumes, is up for pre-order on Amazon, awaiting official publication on August 1.  So what’s the deal there?  Well, we may remember long, long ago (see June 5 2016, et al.) that a story of mine, “In the Octopus’s Garden,” was slated to publish in CREEPY CAMPFIRE STORIES, except (cf. April 1 this year) CREEPY CAMPFIRE STORIES was to be no more.  But then (April 21) the campfire spark was rekindled, with DEADMAN’S TOME sponsoring a new CAMPFIRE TALES which, with this new announcement, is almost upon us.

“In the Octopus’s Garden” itself has been around the block more than once, originally published in 69 FLAVORS OF PARANOIA in March-April 1999, not to mention being lead story in my Stoker nominated (ah, now!) collection THE TEARS OF ISIS.  And elsewhere I’m sure too — that’s octopuses for you!  But the point is, it’s once more slithering up from the depths to be in the new CAMPFIRE TALES, Volume 1, for more info on which one need but press here.  (Or for volume 2 info, press instead here, or to run a quick check on THE TEARS OF ISIS just click on its picture in the center column.)

It wasn’t to be a big convention, even by NASFiC standards – I was told there were 400-some paid attendees, but actual crowds seemed considerably less.  But I hadn’t gone for a big convention necessarily, though part of it was the new novel-in-stories, TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, and a chance to show copies of it to fans in the hope word might spread.  In fact the convention could sort of be considered cozy, though part of the reason I really went was for the adventure.  The North American Science Fiction Convention, held for us home folks in years when the World SF Convention is going to be overseas, was itself overseas for 2017 — if only a little.  Farther than Cuba, though, or Haiti, in San Juan Puerto Rico.

So, yes, that’s still the United States, no problems with passports, but a lot of people speak Spanish too (which I myself don’t), and some don’t speak much English.  The money’s the same, which is helpful too, though some foods tended to be more salty, and others sweeter than I would prefer.

But in the hotel things were more familiar, including an unfortunately sparse con suite (most missed: morning coffee, heated things being forbidden, the staff explained, for “liability reasons”).  So, okay, make that a pioneer adventure.  Nor was there an autograph session, but there were a small number of readings scheduled, of which one was mine!  And there were panels, for the most part well attended.

My Part of the Show

I had two panels Friday, the first on “Genre Blending” which, in my introduction, allowed me to point out TOMBS as an example, keyworded by Amazon as Horror and Dystopic Science Fiction and on this blog as Science Fantasy and Dark Romance.  Discussion included the reason for genres — originally to know which shelf to go to in the library or bookstore — and whether “literary” fictioneers look down on us (but with one advantage of ghettoization, we have our own festivals such as NASFiC, and another as I pointed out of coming to know a small number of writers well enough to allow

San Cristobal

a sort of apprentice system).  But for the future with more and more book sales via the internet the old shelf labels are being replaced by keywords, allowing cross genres for readers to narrow their searches farther.  Then following that, “The Critical Eye” (with me moderating) included discussions of writers’ groups and mutual critiques prior to publication, editors’ comments and suggestions and why and how to sometimes decline these, and finally post publication reviews, even if not all necessarily “five star” — and why fans do authors a real favor by writing reviews, even if only one or two lines, and sending them to Amazon, et al.

Saturday gave me another panel, “World Building as More than Background,” again offering an opportunity to present TOMBS as an example (“It starts by finding the rivers,” I answered to the moderator’s opening question – rivers move commerce, and commerce brings cities, and cities begin to define civilization).  Other questions:  If you like a world, do you expand the book into a series? Can you get mired in research, and how to get out of it (my answer there referenced my story “The Wellmaster’s Daughter” which I built from leftover research about deserts, and which became my first ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE sale*)?  What do you do if your world is so popular readers want to write fan fiction in it?  And, as an example of a “built” world, this was immediately preceded by my reading (in fact, I came into the panel a minute or two late) in which I followed the back cover blurb and section II part of the Ghoul Poet’s story in TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, for orientation of a sort, with the story-chapter of “The Last Dance” to a rather large audience as readings go at conventions I’ve been to.  In fact, it was almost as though there were a cadre of readings groupies, other readings that I dipped into drawing relatively large audiences too, for which kudos to NASFiC and/or I hope it’s the beginning of a trend.

Then Sunday morning brought “Zombies Over Time and Space,” a more relaxed free-wheeling affair with an audience that didn’t mind our straying into vampires for part of the session (I had pointed out that functionally post-Romero zombies are really vampires, just after solid food rather than liquid, and that he himself had said NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was meant in part as a homage to Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND).  Also touched on were Vodoun and Haitian zombies (the “zombies of folklore”), attempts at scientific explanation including various poisons (e.g. Wade Davis’s THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW, the “zombies of science”), the Nineteenth Century New England vampire epidemic, and semi-salacious gossip involving Lord Byron, Percy and Mary Shelly, and other companions.

What I Wasn’t On

There were other panels, including one I had been assigned to at first but then removed from in later schedules, “Writing Diverse Characters of Impact” on Saturday morning, that I still attended.  Others included “Alternate Histories Outside the West,” “Imagining the Impossible” (this primarily about visual art, but of interest to me as having to do with creativity), and “How to Make Religions in Fantasy/SF Stories Real” (also in its own way relating to TOMBS).  In addition, the Opening Ceremonies Thursday night were followed by an “Ice Cream Social” (and as we know, cf. July 7, my being caught in a sudden rain on my way back to the hotel I was staying at), Friday night offered an Artists’ Reception, and Saturday brought an “Alien Abduction Masquerade Party” including food and a live slide show and reading performance of 1976’s “The Capture,” by Robert Aspirin with art by Phil Foglio, depicting an SF convention hijacked by aliens.

The Castillos

Weather for the most part was good, despite brief bouts of rain the first three days. Sunday it was supposed to be rainy in the afternoon, which was to be my free time for exploring the old

El Morro

part of the city and the “San Juan National Historic Site,” but Weather Channel forecasts aside it turned out to be sunny.  Lovely.  So this was the main “adventure” part, including a glance into the huge Cementerio Maria Magdelena de Pazzis outside the city wall to the north, the Cathedral of San Juan, the Plaza Colon (a very nice park, of which there are several, in this case with a statue of Columbus at the top of a pillar but up too high for my camera to reach to), and to the south a walk down the Paseo de la Princesa along San Juan Bay and entering the city through its original main gate.

But the main attractions were the two castillos, that of San Cristobal to the east, dating back to the Seventeenth Century, and a century before that El Morro guarding the bay on the western tip of the city, begun in 1539.  Both fortifications continued to be added onto over the centuries, El Morro ultimately having six separate levels (of which I explored five but skipped the “water battery” at the very bottom, my knees beginning to give out by then), including a lighthouse at the top built (I think) in the early Twentieth Century — and still in use.

And then, Monday morning, I chickened out on taking the city bus (I had come in on the bus, however, through – someone has to say it, yes? – picturesque narrow streets) and hailed a taxi to the airport.  Time to go home.  But, having changed my seat to the left of the airplane the evening before, I did have a brief final look through the window at a tiny Morro Castle to start the trip back to the mainland.
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*”The Wellmaster’s Daughter” can also be found in my collection STRANGE MISTRESSES: TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE (for which, click its picture in the center column).

Received last night, from FANTASIA DIVINITY Editor Madeline L. Stout:  I really enjoyed this story.  I love the twist.  For inclusion in this particular anthology however, it doesn’t really fit.  . . .  Although it doesn’t fit what we are looking for in the anthology, I would like to publish this in our September issue.  Please let me know if that would be something you are interested in.  And so, yes, I emailed back that I would be interested — the money’s not much, but the story, “Flightless Rats,” originally published in T. GENE DAVIS’S SPECULATIVE BLOG on January 12 2015 (see November 30, 26 2014) and starring New Orleanian vampiress Aimée (cf. April 17 2014, et al.), is a reprint and publication is publication, so why not?  Details to be revealed as they become known.

So this is being written on a hotel computer in San Juan Puerto Rico where I arrived MASFiC2017safely yesterday afternoon, checking into NASFiC and attending Opening Ceremonies that night.  More details on the convention will probably wait (except maybe for snippets, like this) to come most likely after I’m back home.  But one note — ah, those tropical weather patterns! — Opening Ceremonies plus a following “Ice Cream Social” over, who would get caught in a sudden, brief rainstorm?  Me, that’s who, who am writing this at the end of a similar rain event Friday morning and must rush back to the convention hotel now.

Again, more to come later.

Today’s serendipity comes to us courtesy of Usman Mlk, via BARNESANDNOBLE.COM (a.k.a. “B&N SCI-FI&FANTASY blog”).  No, TOMBS isn’t on the list, but perhaps it’s in a different category (or possibly not 😉 ).  But to start us off, quoth author Joel Cunningham in “The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2017 So Far”:  As six-month periods go, the first half of 2017 has certainly been, shall we say, interesting.  But even as the real world works ever harder to convince us that we’re all living inside a genre novel (though what kind will depend on your particular point of view:  sci-fi?  Alt-history?  Dystopian thriller?  Grimdark fantasy?), the authors we rely on to provide us with an escape into fictional worlds continue to up their game.

So I myself may be away from computers later this week, but there’s plenty for us all to busy ourselves with.  For a few suggestions, albeit from one who would love to sell you the books itself, press here.

By the time the first three reviews appeared, I was in the middle of TOMBS.  Later, re-read them and frankly can do no better, as they all appreciated this excellent novel-in-story format.  So begins the fourth review on Amazon just up today, by Margaret B. Boston, on TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.  Fortunately, she adds that she will try, continuing on with her own much-appreciated assessment.  She also gives it five stars out of five, as do the other three reviews as well.  To see for yourself (and, perhaps, to buy?) press here.*

Then one other note, as NASFIC approaches the first long-range weather reports for San Juan have been posted.  Highs in the eighties — warm, but not sweltering — and most days with clouds but only Thursday listed as threatening afternoon rain (and that still just a 30 percent chance).  And best of all, no hurricanes in sight.  So, so far so good (though another site warns I’d do well to bring mosquito repellent).
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*To keep myself absolutely honest, not all reviews everywhere have been five-star.  There is one on Goodreads that’s kind of crummy, though all that may mean is not everybody’s tastes are the same (and if you want to see it, no fool I, you’ll have to look up the site for yourself 😉 ).




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