Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Today, I'll just point you toward a great review of Mage, Maze, Demon by James Reasoner. Since I greatly admire James's writing, it's always nice to get a "well done" from him.
The story is still only 99 cents on Amazon. Check it out.
Friday, March 18, 2016
Wow, it has been a tough three weeks. I’ve actually had no full days off since the beginning of March, including weekends. But finally we’ve made it to spring break. I’m off all next week and man am I looking forward to some sleep. And maybe some writing as well.
It was exciting that it was the last day of work before break today, but even more exciting was the publication of Mage, Maze, Demon, by David Cranmer’s Beat to a Pulp. This is book #3 in their Veridical Dreams series, which are tales inspired by the dream journals of Kyle J. Knapp. Being a fellow who keeps his own dream journal, I much enjoyed writing for this series.
The story is sword and sorcery, which, judging by the number of works I’ve written in that genre, is my favorite genre. I love to read it and write it. Although you could read the cover blurb for it on Amazon, I’ve copied it below.
Having narrowly survived a raging fire, the warrior, Bryle, finds himself caught in a labyrinth of treacherous caverns. It isn’t by accident. An eyeless sorcerer has summoned Bryle. He wants the barbarian to retrieve a talisman that will stop a demon of unfathomable power. To do so, Bryle must first face the challenges of the sorcerer’s maze: flooded tunnels, poisoned traps, and a monstrous beast that can heal its own wounds. The sorcerer promises the barbarian his freedom if he succeeds. But can Bryle trust the word of such a being? Can he trust anything other than the sword in his hand?
Mage, Maze, Demon is only 99 cents on Amazon, so if you have a hankering for some Barbarian versus Mage versus Demon action, it’s affordable.
Friday, March 11, 2016
It’s always interesting to me to trace influences over time in Science Fiction and fantasy. I made an interesting discovery recently as I was reading Cap Kennedy #15, Mimics of Dephene (1975). This is a space opera series from the 1970s written by Gregory Kern, who was actually E. C. Tubb (1919 – 2010). The book would seem to be a relatively minor one in the series, but at the very top of page 62, (Daw Books, Inc. 1975, April), I found a fascinating paragraph.
To set it up, Cap and his colleague, a scientist named Jarl Luden, discover an alien mimic who is trying to pass as a human. Luden remarks: "'There is a certain test. Take some tissue, some blood, and touch it with a hot wire. Normal blood will not react, but that taken from a Mimic will incorporate an individual survival-pattern. It will recoil from the threat of heat.’”
My mind, and quite possibly yours, instantly leaped to the John Carpenter movie, The Thing, which opened June 25, 1982. Here’s the speech Macready gives in the movie just before running the blood test that reveals ‘The Thing.’ “You see, when a man bleeds. It’s just tissue. But blood from one of you things won’t obey when it’s attacked. It’ll try and survive. Crawl away from a hot needle…” In the movie they actually use a hot wire for the test.
I went back to the original novella that was the basis for John Carpenter’s The Thing. This is Who Goes There, by John W. Campbell Jr, which was published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1938. I’d read it a very long time ago but in checking it out I found that the hot wire test was used in that book. This is probably where Kern/Tubb got the idea for Kennedy #15, and would also seem the likely influence on Carpenter. Oddly, though, the wording in the movie is closer to that in Mimics of Dephene than in the novella. Coincidence? Probably.
However, a second tantalizing connection between the Cap Kennedy book and the “thing” is seen later. On page 93 of the Kennedy book, when a mimic is imitating Luden, Kennedy tells one of the forms to "Open your mouth." As soon as the being does so, Kennedy shoots him down. When the real Luden wants to know how Kennedy distinguished between the mimic and the real, Kennedy says: "...no Mimic could have known what was inside your mouth. Expensive dental work."
In the 2011 remake/prequel to The Thing, we find out that the creatures can't mimic dental implants and these get left behind when a human is taken over. This is one way to identify them. And this element did not appear in Who Goes There, or at least I couldn’t find it with a pretty close search. (I wonder if it might have been in the original script for that movie.)
Although certainly no proof of direct connection, the fact that Mimics of Dephene can be linked to both the 1982 and the 2011 movies, tantalizes me. I can’t find any evidence that Tubb himself had anything to do with either movie, so if there was an influence, it came from someone else. Were both links purely coincidental, or had someone who worked on these movies read Cap Kennedy #15? Could it have been John Carpenter himself? If anyone knows him, maybe you’ll ask him for me. I’d sure like to know.
Monday, March 07, 2016
Over the past couple of years, I’ve come up with numerous ideas for writing projects that I’d like to complete. Progress has generally been slow, but some of these projects are starting to take shape and I think at least one or two of them will be completed by the end of 2016. Here’s what I’ve been thinking of.
1. Micro Weird 2: Another collection of short, weird, flash fiction. I’ve got three or four stories ready for this but, as you can imagine, the total word count is still pretty small.
2. Dream stories: I’ve been toying with the idea of putting together a short collection of horror stories that are basically straightforward retellings of some of my dreams. I’ve only got a couple such stories completed but I have another four or five outlined. I’m going to work on one of these tales next, as soon as I finish an anthology project. The new tale will be entitled “Thump, Thump, Thump.”
3. A literary collection. Contrary to popular conceptions, I don’t write all blood and gore. I have several literary stories that have been published that I’m thinking about putting into a small collection. The working title right now is “Down Home and Other Stories.”
4. A “lessons” from Classic Trek. Honestly, this is a longgggg way from being completed. I’ve outlined some ideas and rough drafted a paragraph or two but this will be a low priority project for me.
5. The Scarred One: This is a western novella, about halfway completed.
6. Title Tales: I’ve been toying with the idea for a collection of horror stories in which all the tales would be inspired by the titles of rock and metal music, such as “Fairies Wear Boots,” “Hell’s Bells,” “Immigrant Song,” and many others. I have several pieces of this completed in rough draft form. However, I need to find out if I have to get permissions to use these titles. If so, I probably won’t use them.
7. A series of three longish western stories featuring “The Man from Colt Creek.” Two of these are about halfway done. The third is just a basic outline.
So, no one can accuse me of not having enough writing plans. Now I’ve got to get the words down.
Tuesday, March 01, 2016
Well, I got some exciting news this morning. I was thrilled to find out that a poem of mine called "Gaunt" has been nominated for the 2016 Rhysling Award, which is for poems published in 2015. This award is given by the Science Fiction Poetry Association. My piece was nominated for the "Short Poem" category, (under 50 lines). Here is how the SFPA describes the award:
"The winning works are regularly reprinted in the Nebula Awards Anthology from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc., and are considered in the SF/F/H/Spec. field to be the equivalent in poetry of the awards given for "prose" work— achievement awards given to poets by the writing peers of their own field of literature."
I'm really happy to hear about this. Sometimes when you labor in the fields, someone comes along and says, "nice job!" It's always appreciated.
"Gaunt" was published in The Pedestal Magazine. It's still up in their archives. The link is here if you'd like to read it.