Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

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.

The results are in:

1st: “Driving On” by Guy Medley
2nd: “Hook-Hand Man’s Last Night on Lovers’ Lane” by Patrick Barb
3rd: “Travel Bag” by Bryan Miller &
“Turkish Delight On the Blue Line” by Shoshana Edwards &
“Midnight Sun” by James Dorr

These are the results of the Crystal Lake Flash Fiction Challenge (see October 11, September 25) on the theme of Travel Horror, my entry being “Midnight Sun” on the wisdom (among other things) of heading north when threatened by a zombie apocalypse.  At least, that is, if it’s almost Christmas.  These were voted on by Crystal Lake Patreon subscribers (is that the right term?) of which I am not, so I can’t read the stories myself — but a win (even if in a tie for third place) is a win, yes?  And that’s not a bad thing.

And there’s more as well.  The e-announcement, received yesterday from Contest Coordinator Joe Mynhardt, went on:  After every challenge I check with the authors of stories I really like (or stories that were quite popular with the patrons, even though they didn’t win) about what they want to do with their story.  I’m looking for some stories to fill our SHALLOW WATERS anthologies, and would love to include your story.  These books roughly 20k words, eBook only, and selling at only 99c.  It’s basically just a cool way to promote great flash and our Patreon page, while bringing in a bit of funds for our bigger projects.

So “Midnight Sun” will have a home too, my having just sent back my “yes” this afternoon.   More details to come as soon as I get them.

Then one more item.  Today the proof copy came for STAR*LINE 41.4, for Fall 2019, with corrections going back later today.  I have three poems in this one (cf. October 4), “Parents,” “The Frugal Vampiress,” and “Gourmet Warning,” to appear on pages 13, 28, and 29 respectively.

This was the deal.  This month’s theme is Travel Horror, so any stories taking place on planes, trains, boats and goats.  Or any other medium of travel you can think of.  The prize includes a $20 token payment, publication in an upcoming SHALLOW WATERS anthology, and an Author Spotlight on the Crystal Lake Patreon page and newsletter.  Patreon supporters would vote on these stories, thirteen in all as it turns out (see September 25, below), with mine being last to be posted.  Lucky number thirteen!  And now its time has come.

The story in question is “Midnight Sun,” the tale of a Los Angelino night nurse with a secret, and a need to journey far, far to the north.  Those interested can find it by pressing here, along with, I assume, the twelve that preceded it.  Even better, they can vote for it and, even if it doesn’t come first, if it gets enough support it, too, may be chosen to be in SHALLOW WATERS, Crystal Lake Publishing’s periodic flash fiction anthology.  But there is a catch:  If folks ask, they need to be a $5 Fans of Fiction tier patron, or any of the higher tiers.  Authors who want to read and vote but also want to see our author related posts will have to join the $7 or higher tiers.  If they only join the $5 Author on the Go tier, they won’t be able to read these stories.  Again, information, including how to join should the spirit so move (and, remember, vote “Midnight Sun”), may be found by pressing here.

Also Facebook brought word that ABYSS & APEX Editor Wendy S. Delmater’s “how to” book WRITING THE ENTERTAINING STORY is currently out on Kindle.  So why mention if here?  Well, I get mentioned/supply an example in a discussion about how a writer can use a few broad details to induce readers to flesh out a scene by bringing their own memories and experiences to it.  The story in question — a science fiction flash piece of almost exactly 1000 words (I’d had to cut it down from 1200!) — is called “Nanoflakes,” about a young boy in a future that includes interactive breakfasts, and was published itself in ABYSS & APEX in its Second Quarter 2006 issue.*  Information on the Kindle edition can be found here.

*”Nanoflakes” was reprinted in UNTIED SHOELACES OF THE MIND ANTHOLOGY (cf. September 10, May 6 2011), but also — and here’s the lagniappe! — can still be found in its original outing in the ABYSS & APEX archives by pressing here.

Another week, another contract, this time from Canada’s House of Zolo via Publisher Nihls Andersen:  We are so excited to have your work as part of the first edition of the HOZ JOURNAL OF SPECULATIVE LITERATURE.  Attached please find our contract.  Once you’ve had a chance to read it and you are satisfied with the terms, please fill in your address, sign and return the document at your nearest convenience.  If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.  This was followed by an up to date biography request, for a picture if possible, plus payment information.

The story in question is “Golden Age,” originally published in MINDSPARKS in Spring 1994 and also reprinted in Smart Rhino Publications’ ZIPPERED FLESH 3 (cf. September 11, et al.).  Thus the writing life continues:  We are expecting to release the JOURNAL in November 2019 as an E-Book and as a Printed Book, and we will let you know the exact date as soon as it is finalized.  The JOURNAL will be available Internationally on Amazon and other platforms — we’ll keep you posted as we add other venues.  The signed contract went back this afternoon, with more details to be printed here as they become known.

Also late Sunday the following came from Zombie Works Publications Editor Alan Russo:  You will find attached the official digital copy to MONSTERTHOLOGY 2!  Print copies will be available soon, along with the eBook version.  Thank you to every[one] and their hard work and contribution to this great anthology!  The tale here is a dark-humored take on a New Orleans vampire, but one not in the “Casket Girls” series, “Beefcake and the Vamp” (see September 25, February 19, et al.), with, again, more information here as soon as it’s known.

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