Autumn Is Coming


Just got word from Mike Davis that my story "Cul Du-Sac Virus" is going to be included in his Autumn Cthulhu anthology. As an avowed lover of Autumn (there really is no better season) I'm both honored and excited to have one of my stories among the leaves.

 

 

 

 

Friday
Mar112016

Once More With Feeling: J.R.R Tolkein's Lord of the Rings and My Fifth Trip to Mount Doom.

Alright, so I love fantasy fiction more than is right or proper; and you can't even dip a toe into western cannon without at least a grudging nod to Tolkien--whatever you think of his work. Many times in my life (five, to be exact) I've tried to digest his penultimate opus, Lord of the Rings, and found its legendemain too rich for my thin, mannish blood. I'm sure the fault lies within me, and so, with the determination of a fifty-year old hobbit I've packed my mental bags, saddled my proverbial Bill the Pony, and set myself a quest to return the ring, king, the pieces of a sword, a couple hobbits, and whatever else needs put back.

Thus far, I've reached the Council at Rivendell. Still going strong, and yet, I can't help but think the Fellowship would've gone smoother if Elrond had any HR training...

ELROND: "The Company of the Ring shall be nine; and the Nine Walkers shall be set against the Nine Riders, who are evil." 

FRODO: "Who's coming with me?"

GANDALF: "I WILL!"

ELROND: "Alright, alright, you've got a pretty good CV, not to mention adventure experience. My only concern, and I'm sorry for not bringing this up in private, is your ability to pass a drug test."

GANDALF: "Ah, man, I KNEW you'd say that. You White Council suits are all alike. Loosen up, half-elven, have a toke of old Toby."

ELROND: "Sorry, this is SUPER important. I can't have you wandering off for months or years at a time, only to reappear whenever you feel like turning some trolls to stone or whatever. So, I'm afraid that's a HARD pass. Anyone else?"

SAM: "Oh mister Frodo, you'll not be leaving old Sam behind!"

ELROND: "Okay, so wait, TWO hobbits? I really feel like we're doubling up on skill-sets, here. Sam, what do you bring to the table?"

SAM: "I'm a gardener and I have a pony."

ELROND: "Wonderful, the pony might be useful, especially if you give him a name. But I've got, like, a-hundred elf ponies--which are basically like regular ponies only they live forever and have magic powers."

SAM {mutters}: "The power to condescend."

ELROND: "I'm sorry, what?"

SAM: "Nothing, mister Elrond."

ELROND: "It's LORD Elrond, and I'm afraid this isn't going to work out."

SAM: "Half-elven, more like half-ass...en."

ELROND: "Okay, we're going there? Hey, Sam, I was wondering about something: Why DID you come all this way--are you Frodo's slave, his lover...?"

SAM: "Fuck off."

ELROND: "Okay then, NEXT!"

ARAGORN: "I, Aragorn son of Arathorn, will accompany the hobbit!"

ELROND: "So, is that BEFORE or AFTER you marry my daughter? You've been stringing Arwin along for what, a century? I mean, up until now you've just basically been hanging around Rivende
ll, eating my food, touching my stuff, sleeping with--"

ARAGORN: "I am Isildur's heir. The sword has been reforged!"

ELROND: "So, shouldn't you be popping off straight to Gondor, then? I mean, it would be SUPER useful if you could shore up Minas Tirith and Osgiliath, you know, keep Sauron occupied while the fellowship sneaks into Mordor."

ARAGORN: "That's sort of what I was planning on doing, anyway."

ELROND: "Good, then. It's settled."

LEGOLAS: "Methinks a Prince of Mirkwood shall be of use in this fellowship."

ELROND: "Yeah, about that. Isn't your dad the guy who got all butt-hurt about Dwarves 'stealing his treasure' and tried to kill everyone?"

LEGOLAS: "That was decades ago!"

ELROND: "We're elves, mate. It was, like, yesterday."

LEGOLAS: "I am not my father."

ELROND: "Fair enough. There are a couple other candidates from the race of elves, I'll put your resume in the mix."

LEGOLAS: "Really, who else applied?"

ELROND: "No one much, just Elrohir, Elladan, Glorfindel--"

LEGOLAS: "So, your twin sons and the guy who killed a balrog."

ELROND: "Very strong candidates."

LEGOLAS: "Nepotism much?"

ELROND: "I'm sorry, did the son of the King of Mirkwood just call me out for playing favorites? Do you really think you got your position as Captain of the Forest Wardens on merit?"

LEGOLAS: "I'm a hero, they call me Greenleaf."

ELROND: "Seriously, what does it even mean? Might as well call a dwarf Graystone, or a human Browndirt."

LEGOLAS: "It's a STRONG name...strong, yet supple, like a--"

ELROND: "We'll be in touch."
 

GIMLI: "I, Gimli son of Gloin shall lend my axe to this endeavor."

ELROND: "Excellent, I was hoping a dwarf would apply--didn't want this to be a total tall-fest, right?"


GIMLI: "I don't think I like what you're implying."

ELROND: "Sorry, all I meant was it's good to see candidates from all the free races of Middle-Earth."

GIMLI: "Okayyyy, so why are you making that face?"

ELROND: "Sorry, it's just...it says here on your resume that you're a 'Grand Dragon' in the Longbeards."

GIMLI: "Indeed, the Longbeards are a doughty order of Khazad, famed for--"

ELROND: "You know they're on the White Council's list of designated hate groups, right?"

GIMLI: "Not our fault men keep trying to steal our gold. Killing them has been perfectly legal since King Dain passed that Stand Your Ground law."

ELROND: "It's just..."

GIMLI: "Everyone pats you on the back when you behead a goblin or warg, but chop up an elf? No, they're OBJECTIVELY good. Let me tell you about Thranduil, let me tell you what he did to my dad."

ELROND: "Didn't he imprison Gloin for like, a day?"

GIMLI: "More elven propaganda, it's in their nature to lie--"

ELROND: "Dude, my grandfather was human, but you know I totally identify as elven."

GIMLI: "FINE. I don't want to go on your stupid quest anyway."

BOROMIR: "I am the son of the Steward of Gondor, and have much experience in the lands through which we must travel, not to mention I have battled the Great Enemy since I could hold a sword. You will find none as brave or as dedicated to this quest as--"

ELROND: "Let me stop you right there. Aren't you the same guy who, just five minutes ago, talked about taking the ring for himself?"

BOROMIR: "Um, no?"

ELROND: "Yeah, YEAH, you are the guy. I'd recognize that horn anywhere."

BOROMIR: "Oh, I get it, humans all look alike to you elves, lucky I'm dressed different."

ELROND: "That's not what this is about. Didn't you LITERALLY just say you wanted to claim the power of the ring for yourself?"

BOROMIR: "I don't remember."

ELROND: "And won't the Fellowship's path take it conveniently through Gondor--where your dad just HAPPENS to have an army. You've got to admit, if someone wanted to steal the ring, that would be a pretty good opportunity."

BOROMIR: "Okay, but you HAVE to at least acknowledge the possibility that the ring could be--"

ELROND: "I already DID, the LAST time Sauron tried to take over the world. You know, when Isildur and I were literally inside Mount Doom, ready to toss the ring into the fire? Oh wait, you don't, because that was, like, three-milennia ago. I let that greasy bastard talk me into letting the ring endure, now look, Arnor is ruins, Gondor is on the brink of destruction, and the last heir to the throne of men is basically a murder-hobo. Nope, won't make that mistake again."

BOROMIR: "But, the race of men--"

ELROND: "I try not to generalize, but you men's rights activists are just ridiculous. I'm not going to have this argument, again. Goodbye."

MERRY AND PIPPIN: "We're coming, too!"

ELROND: "Seriously? Seriously."


MERRY AND PIPPIN: "We won't be left behind!"

ELROND: "I mean, I was going to send Glorfindel, but whatever, he's only been fighting against Sauron longer than your species has existed. But okay, sure."

MERRY AND PIPPIN: "Really?"

ELROND: "Oh, abso-lutely! Instead of dispatching a half-dozen indescribably powerful and experienced Sindarin lords to shepherd your mouth-breathing friend to Mordor I'm going to send not one, but TWO hobbits who literally just pitched a fit because they couldn't eat seven meals a day. C'mon, you're not trackers, you're not scouts, you're not even fighters--"

PIPPIN: "Not true. My great-great-greatilly-greedle-grandfather once killed a goblin. You see, there was a field with a lot of rabbit holes, and he had this axe, and--"

ELROND: "I just don't think a trip to Mount Doom is the right venue for two more child--"

MERRY: "Watch it, half-elf."

ELROND: "Child-SIZED people. I can't help but feel you're going to spend most of the time captured by something…or being carried by the rest of the party."

MERRY: "How else are you supposed to get places if someone's not carrying you?"

PIPPIN: "Same principle as riding a horse, right?"

ELROND: {looking around} "See what I mean? Anyone? Anyone?"

MERRY AND PIPPIN: "If you don't let us go, we'll follow anyway."

ELROND: "THAT, I'd like to see."

GANDALF: "Don't underestimate the strength of shire-folk, when roused they are--"

ELROND: "A bunch of tiny, racist hillbillies. Listen, I subcontracted this shit last time around, and we all know how THAT turned out. Ellodan, Elrohir, pack up some lembas and make sure Frodo doesn't get eaten by a balrog."

MERRY AND PIPPIN: "But what about--?"

ELROND: "I'm sorry, did I fucking stutter?"

….and so the One Ring was delivered into the flames of Mount Doom with the absolute minimum of fuss.

Tuesday
Jan052016

Cross Another One off the Bucket List…

…and I'm one step closer to death, my friends. Just got this in the mail today--a contributor's copy of Esli ("If"), one of Russia's oldest science fiction magazines featuring a translation of my story "Citizen of the Galaxy," and some really great art. Unfortunately, I don't read or write Russian, so you're going to have to settle for some cell phone pics of the issue.

Which gets me off-topic a little. Now, I love getting paid for my work, seeing it posted on a website or printed in a magazine or anthology, but there's really nothing like the thrill I get when I see some incredibly talented artist create a work based on something I wrote.

It just makes me feel so damn lucky.

So I'd like to sincerely thank: Dominic Black, Christoph Shulz, Anthony Pearce, Leslie Herzfeld, and all the other illustrators who've shared their talents. They deserve your praise, your attention, and any/all art commissions you have. 

Tuesday
Nov242015

Still Can't Believe my Luck

In my experience, genre publishing is feast-or-famine, and while I'm riding high on a pair of fine podcast publications this month, my excitement is tempered by the long, quiet winter I know is just around the corner.

Still, if you've got a moment…

Pseudopod just published my horror story "Saturday," read by none other than the inestimable Mikael Naramore. Seriously, the guy has narrated fiction by Nora Roberts, Clive Barker, Wesley Chu…and now me? He could make a grocery list sound epic.

If horror isn't your thing, J.S. Arquin at The Overcast just did a phenomenal reading of my SF satire Black Friday. So give it a listen while you wait in line for that new flatscreen. 'Tis the Season and all that.   

Better yet, Unlikely Coulrophobia is just on the horizon, and the Autumn Cthulhu kickstarter is set to go live in the next few weeks.

Damn, maybe winter won't be so bad, after all.

Thursday
Oct082015

It's Finally Here...

There's a hard edge to the breeze and the leaves are just beginning to rust. Ahh, it must be autumn, my favorite time of the year.

What better way to usher in the season of slow decline than with a cavalcade of creepy Lovecraftian thrills. What? Oh no, my dear, I've no agenda at all…only a selection of fine publications to show you. Go on, take your pick… 

I'm pleased as hard cider punch to announce not one, but two of my stories appearing under the auspices of the venerable Lovecraft eZine. The first: "Gently Down the Stream" published in the most recent issue. The second: "Cul-de-Sac Virus" in the very, very aptly titled Autumn Cthulhu--which I would recommend to any lover of mythos horror on the hideous strength of Laird Barron, Gemma Files, and John Langan alone. The fact I somehow made it onto the table of contents with such great authors is still an October miracle.

If you're looking for some more hopeless fare, might I suggest Apotheosis--a collection of 21 visions of a world completely lost to the old ones' unfathomable whims? Curated by Jason Andrew, it just happens to include my story "Of the Fittest" where I try to show you can really go home again.

Ah, but dark fantasy is your poison of choice? Well, look no further than Hides the Dark Tower, an anthology of fiction based around a symbol that has ghosted through prose from King, to Nervel, to Browning. 

But it's Halloween, what about the traditional monsters? Oh no worries, my friend, Chaosium has you more than covered with Mark of the Beast, an assortment of werewolf stories where you most assuredly won't find the eponymous lycanthrope hiding within a handsome, yet brooding love interest or high school drama--not that I have anything against those particular genre staples. These are shape changer tales, pure and simple, running the gamut from gothic, to fantasy, to cyberpunk. So curl up in the light of the full moon and give it a try.

Last, but most assuredly not least. My story "Melpomene's Heirs" will be appearing in Unlikely Story's Coulrophobia anthology. Clowns--scary, sad, delightful clowns--need I say more?     

Even if none of these strike your fancy, I do hope that you will have a wonderful autumn. I know I will.

Friday
Jun262015

Now in Delightful Digital Surround Sound (if you have digital surround sound

I'm excited to report the last month has ushered in a veritable cavalcade of podcast sales. My science fiction story: "Moving Away" originally printed in the, sadly defunct, 10Flash Quarterly was read by Alex C. Renwick on Toasted Cake, a clever little podcast headed by the incredible Tina Connolly, yes that Tina Connolly.

Also, Pseudopod will be producing my horror story "Saturday," originally printed in Shock Totem #9. I love all my stories, but "Saturday" is one I'm particularly proud of, so it's really exciting to know it'll get the Pseudopod treatment.

Also, also, The Overcast, a fresh, new podcast out of Portland, Oregon will be producing my SF satire "Black Friday" sometime soon. In just a few short months of operation The Overcast has featured fiction from Erika Satifka and Caroline Yoachim, two of my favorite short story authors. I'm honored to be in such august company.

Lastly, my story "Gently Down the Stream" will be appearing in the July issue of The Lovecraft eZine. The eZine is one of my perennial favorites, both as an author and reader. Mike Davis always does an amazing job finding truly talented readers, but also commissions original art for every single story.

To be completely honest, I listen to a lot of podcasts. Not just fiction,but movie and book reviews, history, psychology, interesting news, and pretty much anything that strikes my fancy. In particular, the following are almost always on my iPod.

  • The Horror Movie Podcast: I love horror movies, but don't have a lot of time to watch them, so the HMP crew serve as my first line of defense against terrible cinema. Specifically, I enjoy the mix of academic, critical, and street-level analysis provided by the diverse cast of HMP--whose cast boasts not only a former professional film critic, but also a writer/director, and two PhD's.  
  • The Sci-Fi Movie Podcast: Sensing a theme? I was recently clued into the Sci-Fi movie podcast by a friend, and have been gobbling up episodes ever since. The reviews tend to run from a half hour to an hour, and so are perfect for my drive home from work. Really, what drew me to the podcast was the sheer breadth of their catalog, which covers everything from The Star Wars Christmas Special to The Last Starfighter, to Alien.
  • 99% Invisible: If you aren't listening to this, you should be. Episodes run less than twenty minutes on average (great for a quick jog or drive) and are basically a grab bag of interesting ideas. I haven't pillaged anything yet, but you can bet some of what Roman Mars covers is already worming its way into my fiction. The episodes on the history of the OUIJA Board and Winchester Mystery House are particularly noteworthy.
  • Invisibilia: Sensing another theme? I've always been fascinated with what makes people do and say the things they do. This led to the first of my superfluous degrees and a brief stint in Clinical Psychology…which led me to look for a different career. In any case, Invisibilia not only fulfills my curiosity, but is damn interesting in the bargain. Their very first episode, exploring how and why good people sometimes think terrible thoughts, is one of my favorites.
  • Hardcore History: Okay, so after I got out of Psychology I got it into my head to be a college history professor. Terrible job prospects and pay eventually disabused me of that notion, although not before I'd acquired two more useless degrees. Despite being several years removed from my Early World History classes, I still hold an abiding interest in the past, particularly all the inventive and terrible ways humans have managed to kill one another over the years. Be warned, Hardcore History doesn't cover subjugated knowledges or new social history, it focuses on military matters, pure and simple. But if you're interested in how horrible the Mongol Invasions, or World War I, or the Punic Wars were--look no further. Dan Carlin seems to delight in depicting in gruesome detail the sheer scope and brutality of warfare over the ages, and what emerges is a surprisingly unbiased narrative--sort of like The Gallic Wars meets All Quiet on the Western Front.   

Oh, I also listen to Pseudopod, Escape Pod, Podcastle, The Drabblecast, The Lovecraft eZine, Toasted Cake, and a host of other fiction podcasts, but if you're here, you probably already know all about them.

As always, if there are any podcasts you enjoy, feel free to share them below. Despite my overflowing playlist, I'm always looking for more.