Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Halloween List: Final Destination and "Death Note"

Final Destination (2000)

This is a series I utterly missed out on in the 2000s because I was stuck-up. How lazy was it to ditch a proper Slasher killer and use an invisible hand of Death itself?

Not lazy at all, actually. The movie follows a teen whose vision of his flight exploding causing him and a few friends to leave. The plane does explode, and our teen becomes a suspect of the bombing. Meanwhile, the teens begin to die in a series of ludicrously complicated coincidences. The first features a kid slipping on water from a leaking toilet, falling into a bath tub where his neck catches on wire, and spilling shampoo under his feet so he can’t stand up. It quickly becomes apparent that Death itself is after the survivors, seeking to fix what went awry in its plan.

It’s a fun idea that fits right into the classic Slasher formula with one major change. Slashers historically thrive on either having a killer with a strong personality, or on having the identity of the killer be a mystery. Here instead we have a killer that is as absent as it is present, and one that uses entirely unconventional.

A friend called it “Rube Goldberg’s Death Traps,” and that’s apt, because the fun lies in trying to guess what things in a room are going to wind up being dangerous. Is turning on the record player going to lead to her demise? Is the electrical outlet going to short out at the right moment?

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Halloween List: The Devil's Candy, The Disappointments Room, and Lake Mungo


The Devil’s Candy (2015)

A family of Metal Heads move to a remote farm house and run into the same demon that killed the previous tenants. It’s a demon that loves the arts; it manipulated the love of music of the previous tenants’ son, and now works its way into the new tenants’ father.

My favorite facet of the movie is that the Metal Heads aren’t hard-drinking freaks; they’re misfits, sure, but they love each other, drive a cheap station wagon, and screw up in relatable ways. As they move into their idyllic little house, our soundtrack is screaming Metal. What they do is make their aesthetic feel mundane and human. It’s delightful to see the music culture applied to different life styles.

Metal Heads are people, too. And like all people, they occasionally have to repel the assault of a serial killer who hears the same voices as their father. 

The movie ramps up well after they family sets down their roots. The father, a painter of morbid art, starts feeling “the inspiration” – but an inspiration all too close to what led the previous tenant to go murderous. As the father paints disturbing scenes that even his family thinks are weird, the old killer reappears, confused how anyone else could live there. There’s high tension as both the killer and father stir up, like two kettles on one stove, and you just hope for the sake of the family that they don’t both boil over.

I’ve been harsh on most of the IFC releases that I’ve seen, but between this and Apartment 143, I’m going to have to give their catalog another look.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Halloween List: Raw and The Void


Raw (2017) (AKA Grave)

Julia Ducournau’s gift to us from French-Belgian cinema, a riveting and intimate portrait of a vegetarian who has her first bite of meat and suddenly can’t stop craving more. It’s an abrupt addiction, not a satire mocking vegetarians, but a pathological Horror story about her descent.

Justine is just starting at a veterinary school with harsh hazing rituals. Her bed is tossed out her window, and she has to crawl on her knees through the courtyard, and her seniors force her to swallow a rabbit kidney. Ever afterward she finds herself ravenous, and biting into meat on a shish kabob makes her forget the rest of the world exists. Those cravings quickly darken as she watches boys around campus. As a vegetarian, she argued human life wasn’t any more sacred than that of animals. If anything, she’s consistent.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Halloween List: It Comes at Night and The Autopsy of Jane Doe



It Comes at Night (2017)



No movie in 2017 more understands what film doesn’t have to do than It Comes at Night. It opens on a family putting down their terminally ill grandfather and burning his body in the wilderness. We don’t know what his disease is, but he is in awful shape and they are terrified of touching him.

Then we follow the family back to their boarded up house in the woods, seemingly with no one else around. They only go outside in pairs. They have strict protocols for locking and unlocking their doors. When a stranger shows up at their house in the middle of the night, they treat it with a terrified coolness, both clearly rattled that someone is out there, and forcing themselves to focus.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Halloween List: A Trip to the 70s with Duel, Frenzy, and Picnic at Hanging Rock


Duel (1971)

That Steven Spielberg sure earned his career. This was the movie that earned him Jaws, but rather than the tale of a shark, it’s one long car chase that’s truly harrowing. A salesman is out trying to make a meeting in another state when he tries to pass a slow moving truck; the truck responds by pulling ahead of him, then slowing down again. It’s a moment of impatience and tension a lot of us have driven through, but it begins a game of cat and mouse, out in the middle of nowhere, where no one can help him.

Especially for a 1970s made-for-TV movie, Duel is masterful. How do you keep such a simple film from getting visually boring? He films the cars from all angles, and ___ gives a riveting performance as a man falling behind the wheel. The use of music is sparing, often subtle, elevate the rumble of engines and the wind of the wilderness. The movie always knows when to take you in closer to our driver, or when to focus on the enigma of the truck. We never see the man that’s chasing us. There’s only his titanic vehicle.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Halloween List: Killer Dolls! Annabelle: Creation and The Cult of Chucky



Annabelle: Creation (2017)

A serious step up from the first Annabelle, and a film that generally feels closer to the universe of The Conjuring. This is a prequel explaining the tragedy in a doll maker’s family that led to the creation of the eponymous toy, and why it was possessed. After the loss of their daughter, the family opens their house as an orphanage, and we follow Janice, a disabled girl who keeps finding clues that something is amiss in their house.

One of the biggest differences between the first and Creation is that so much more happens in this movie. Both the exploration of the house and creepy events fill much more of the film, giving the kids and their loyal nun attendant agency and investment. It also holds just enough back, such as the creepy well in the back of the property, which merely has to exist in the background of a few scenes and leave you waiting for something awful to come out of it.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Halloween List: The Transfiguration and A Dark Song


The Transfiguration (2017)

I was utterly unprepared for this movie. It was an amazing get for Netflix, which scooped the film up from Cannes and recently released it on its streaming service. It’s the sort of highly poignant thing we can’t get enough of in Horror.

Milo is many things. A high school student. A son whose mother died when he was young, and whose father is long gone. He’s a serial killer who has no idea what to do with his compulsions.

Most of all, Milo is a fan of vampires. He thinks he is one, and uses their sanguine lore to rationalize his impulses and how strange he feels. He doesn’t fit in anywhere; his older brother offers no empathy, and he can’t communicate with the gangs that dominate his block. Instead he hides in his room, watching Nosferatu and Lost Boys. His notebooks are full of diagrams and lists of lore, figuring out how different vampires worked, as he tries to figure out why he is the way he is.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Halloween List: Get Out and Gerald's Game


Get Out (2017)

Surely you’ve heard of Get Out by now. The movie about an African American dating a white girl, and going to visit her parents in their creepy gated community? Where black people have been disappearing, and later reappearing as meek  community members without any memory of their old identities?

If you didn’t know, it’s good.

I was unfair to Get Out at the cinema. I made the mistake of reading writer/director Jordan Peele’s artist’s statements about how this movie would subvert tropes like why protagonists never leave the house. Artist’s statements are dangerous, and the movie doesn’t give compelling reasons for its hero to not get the hell out of there.

But there’s no reason to get hung up on details like that unless you’re holding a grudge against a film’s creators, and Jordan Peele did a hell of a job on this movie. Even in the theater, with my petty biases, I was utterly won over by the end of the movie, which has one of the most satisfying series of reveals and knockdowns in Horror history. It keeps unfolding all its mysteries and gives people some necessary receipts.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Halloween List Returns

If you felt September was too quiet around the Bathroom Monologues, then good news! October is going to be noisy. We're watching scary movies.

Like last year, I'm going to wring every last drop out of October. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and one of the best parts is watching the best in Horror. I'll be coming in at least twice a week with fresh reviews of recent and classic films. Hitchcock and Spielberg? You bet. But also Netflix's latest offerings, indie hits, and my first taste of the Italian Giallo genre.

Here's a loose idea of the posting schedule. Let me know what you think.

OCTOBER 2 Get Out, Gerald’s Game
OCTOBER 4 The Transfiguration, A Dark Song
OCTOBER 6 Annabelle: Creation, Cult of Chucky
OCTOBER 9 Duel, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Frenzy
OCTOBER 11 The Autopsy of Jane Doe, It Comes at Night
OCTOBER 13 Raw, The Void
OCTOBER 16 Devil’s Candy, Disappointments Room, Lake Mungo
OCTOBER 18 Final Destination, Death Note
OCTOBER 20 The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Bay of Blood, Blood and Black Lace
OCTOBER 23 Area 51, Dog Soldiers
OCTOBER 25 Sadako Vs. Kayako (The Ring Vs. The Grudge), Hell House LLC
OCTOBER 27 Creep 2, 1920
OCTOBER 30 Stranger Things Season 2

Naturally I'm ending the month with the return of my favorite Netflix show. But it all starts tomorrow with two of the best-reviewed scary flicks of the year: Get Out and Gerald's Game.

Join me. We're going to have some fun.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"You Can Adapt to Anything" at Daily Science Fiction

I wrote you a new story! It's live over at Daily Science Fiction, and it's called "You Can Adapt to Anything."


It follows Juniper and Miguel, two engineering prodigies who dream of being the first people to set foot in a parallel universe. The two were so alike they were almost destined to fall for each other. When they finally open that portal, they find another Juniper and Miguel, who've been working on the same project. The Junipers accidentally switch, and are stranded in alternate realities. But this isn't a bizarre land where the dinosaurs still roam over the North lost the Civil War. Our nearest neighboring universes are nearly identical to our own, just one probability variation away. So Juniper is stranded on earth just like hers, with a life that's nearly identical, trying to get back to her Miguel, and trying to ignore the identical man working beside her.

The reactions have been amazing. Thanks to everyone who's already read and shared this story. It's something I've wanted to write since I was 15.

Thanks as well to the small army of alpha, beta, and final readers who joined me in Juniper's journey. Thank you to A.T. Greenblatt, Cassie Williams, Janice Smith, Phil Margolies, David Twiddy, Laurence Brothers, and Katherine Hajer.

And thanks to Daily Science Fiction for publishing me for the third time. I do so enjoy being in their digital pages.

You can read the entirety of "You Can Adapt to Anything" for free by clicking this link.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Rarely Asked Questions 2017

Happy birthday to people who were born on the same day as myself! Today I'm celebrating by playing the RAQ: the Rarely Asked Questions. Everything here was submitted by people who swear they've never asked these to anyone else before. I will do my best to give them an adequate first answer. Feel free to judge my adequacy in the Comments.

Mris asked, "What is your favorite kind of roof?"

I like the Heroic Shingle package myself. The shingles seem sturdy enough for people to run across, but in case of antagonism, slide conveniently to a steep fall. This would be unappealing if it ever killed a noble soul, but such souls always catch the lip of the roof or a ladder, whereas villains fall to serious spinal injury. It’s a fine trope and it keeps your attic dry.

Mary Garber asked, "Which Firefly character would you want reincarnated into your pet cat? The one who would be watching you sleeping?"
Recognizing that I have a highly dangerous allergy to cats, I doubt I’ll be spending more than one night in the same room as any of the Firefly reincarnates. But Alan Tudyk is a very versatile actor, so I think he’d do the most dynamic job playing the animal whose dander kills me. Hopefully he gets nominated for some award over it.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Great Things I Read in July and August, 2017 Edition

I'll miss you, Summer 2017! Fun as it was to see people at so many cons, it's nice to have the weather cool down and be able to stay home for a while. While I can't tell you some of the projects I'm working on yet, I am happy to share some of my favorite free reads from over the last two months. As always, everything here is free to read. Just click the link. If you like what you read, please consider donating to the author's Patreon, or subscribing to the related magazine. So many places are struggling to get it done right now.


Fiction

"Skills To Keep the Devil In His Place" by Lia Swope Mitchell at Shimmer Magazine
-This is somewhere between a possession story and Slipstream. Slipstream usually bends towards the Fantastic, so seeing it wax toward Horror intrigues. Here a girl is going through the typical pains of adolescence - how to bond with people while protecting her psyche, conflict with a mother who seems alternately ambivalent and overbearing. But at the same time, she feels like the Devil himself is sometimes in her eyes, or sitting in her lap, sometimes in disgustingly vivid detail. The story teases us with how this sort of possession will overlap with the person she's turning into simply as a teenager, and whether she'll do right by anyone in her life - her mother, her BFF, or even Satan. The most poignant part is when she's so horrendously bullied at school that the strange demon slithering out from under her bed at night feels like a viable companion. Possession stories don't examine human isolation often enough, but Mitchell gets it.

"Never Yawn Under a Banyan Tree" by Nibetida Sen at Anathema Magazine
-A literally and figuratively spirited story! Dating advice is usually awkward, but especially when it comes from a ghost you accidentally swallowed. Our interloper here is a pret, which fell from a banyan tree and into our narrator's gullet. The pret thinks our narrator could do better than her current romantic prospects, and kicks off a delightful series of events that I don't want to spoil. But I've re-read this story three times over August, just to smile to at certain bits.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Two Story Sales! And more questions for my big RAQ

Happy Tuesday, Earth!

You may have noticed my birthday is coming up on September 4th. I'm celebrating with a custom called the RAQ: the Rarely Asked Questions. I'm asking you to ask me whatever you've never asked anyone else, no matter how silly, personal, or profound. Drop your unusual questions off on that post through this handy link.

But I also have two two story sales to share with you. I'm so excited for both of these to go out into the world.

The first is "The First Stop is Always The Last." This is a Groundhog's Day-like time loop story, following a bus driver who can't seem to make it to the second stop on her route. It might have to do with her single eccentric passenger. This story sold to Flash Fiction Online, and will be my fifth (?!) story in their magazine.

Many thanks to my beta readers on this one: Leigh Wallace, Ariel Harris, and Cassie Williams. It's another stretch for me, expanding what I can do with my fiction, though I don't want to spoil how just yet!

The second story is simply titled "Tank!" This one was the result of joking around with Max Gladstone at 4th Street about how tough it would be for a tank to attend a convention. So, it's literally about the exploits of a sapient tank that just wants to make some friends at Comic Con. Being about a tank, there's a surprising amount of my own lived experience at cons in this story.

Thanks to my beta readers on this one: Alison Wilgus, Paul Starr, Samari Smith, Max Gladstone, Merc Rustad, Leigh Wallace (hi again!), and Cassie Williams (hi again, Part II!). "Tank!" is expected over at Diabolical Plots in June of 2018. It's funny to already have a story set for next summer!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Gathering the Rarely Asked Questions of 2017

I can't believe it's been five years since I asked people to look at my RAQ. This was an annual highlight of the Bathroom Monologues calendar, and I'm resurrecting it in 2017.

What is the RAQ, you ask?

Well my birthday is September 4th. Up until Friday, September 1st, I'm asking you to ask me questions that you've never asked anyone else. These are the Rarely Asked Questions.

Examples include:

-What is the vapor point of extra virgin olive oil?

-If an 80's cartoon villain had to be your aunt, who would you pick?

-If he wants to avoid the conductor and skip the fare, what is the best time for a Mummy to hop the Baltimore light rail?

You can ask as many questions as you like, as long as they're unique. What you don't normally ask anyone else is entirely up to you. Please leave your mysteries and queries in the Comments section of this post.

I'll compile every question and answer at least one per person on September 4th - my birthday.  That's how I like to celebrate.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Two Publications!

Friends! How's your summer going? Because mine's been a heck of a ride.

In the last week I've had two very different things published in venues I adore. I'd like to share them with you before August carries us all off to parts unknown.

First up is "A Silhouette Against Armageddon," my latest flash to be published at Fireside Magazine. This is my third piece they've published, and I'm quite flattered. The story follows a man who's afraid someone is breaking into his coffin. Why he's woken up in his coffin in the first place is a matter of some consternation.

I honestly think it's one of my best pieces of fiction to date, and it would've been a highlight of the Bathroom Monologues run. As proud as I am of it, I was still surprised by how many people have been sharing it around the internet. I've never been tagged in so many personal messages on social media like this. If you've already read and shared it, thank you. You brightened a dark week for me.

You can read the story for free right here.

The second piece is an essay that was a long time coming. Uncanny Magazine is running a Kickstarter to fund Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction, a special issue written and edited entirely by disabled writers. It's picking where Lightspeed's Destroy issues left off, and it's something long overdue in the field. I'm happy to have contributed a personal essay to the drive.

My essay is "BFFs in the Apocalypse" (I still can't believe they let me use that title), about the paucity of friendships between disabled characters in fiction. Usually we're a token member of a group of otherwise non-disabled protagonists. That's one reason why The Stand is so significant to me - its friendship between Nick and Tom is precious and should be the start of much more in our literature.

You can read the essay for free right here at Uncanny's Kickstarter. If you like it and believe in the cause, please consider becoming a backer!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Great Things I've Been Reading, June 2017 Edition

Nebulas: Done!

4th Street Fantasy: Done!

College Reunion: Done!

The blitz of Spring turning into Summer is almost over. I just have one convention left - Readercon, ironically the only place I won't be doing panels or hosting. As much as I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, I'm equally anticipating all the sleep I get to catch up on afterward. Plus Spoonbenders and Little Witch Academia are calling my name.

Over June, I read some brilliant short fiction and rattling non-fiction. It's a great way to keep the mind sharp in a bunch of airports. As always, everything linked here is free to read in full. Simply click the link in the title of each piece and away you'll go.

Fiction

"Small Changes Over Long Periods in Time" by K.M. Szpara at Uncanny Magazine
-"My attacker holds me like he did on the dance floor" is one of those lines that tightens your guts. Immediately after learning that our narrator was once attacked and turned into a vampire in an alley, we learn it was by their date. The story uses the tropes of vampire fiction to take us through the criminally less-exposed trans experience, including our narrator getting socked by the politics of the Federal Vampire Commission for having an "atypical body." It all builds up to an absolutely beautiful final exchange with their attacker, in which metaphor and power structures get grabbed by the neck.

"The Existentialist Men" by Gwendolyn Clare at Diabolical Plots
-Come for the play on comic book titles, stay for a sweet profiles of people with odd powers (or equally odd absences of powers). Clare swiftly gives you a sense of the community between the people, even if their powers made it difficult for them to always coexist. My favorite is the shortest entry: "Julie could disappear, but only once. We all miss Julie."

"Water Like Air" by Lora Gray at Flash Fiction Online
-Tom Hatcher doesn't believe in ghosts, but something stranger than the average haunting comes dripping to his doorstep. The story opens with Elodia, a mysterious woman, being covered in slime and heaving her way out of the lake. It's all part of her coming home - to Tom. This is one of those creeping flash fictions that only gives you full context after you've gotten goosebumps. The flood inside Tom is calling to her.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Evil Isn't a Disability - An Essay on Ableism in Horror, live at Fireside Magazine

Today, Fireside Magazine published a new essay of mine about Horror, Politics, and Disability. What began as a plaintive question on Twitter has turned into one of the best surprises of my year.

The essay probes into dangerous messages about disability inside 10 Cloverfield Lane and Don't Breathe, and the disgusting ableism both inside the Trump campaign and in attacks against him. Horror and Politics love to compete with each other. Together, they formed a cogent view of disabled people that needs to be dissected, but is only appreciable together. Ableism is always about larger context.


Special thanks to A.T. Greenblatt and Cassie Williams for test reading this, and to Elsa Sjunneson-Henry and Brian White for providing editorial. Fireside's staff has been nothing but thoughtful throughout the process. It's been a privilege to work with them.

You can read the essay by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Great Things I've Been Reading, May 2017 Edition

May kicked off my busy summer, as I finished a novel and visited the Nebula Awards for the first time. This travel is wiping me out, but it's a pleasure to see so many people on the road. Editing has severely eaten my reading time, but I still have some flash, short stories, and non-fiction that I positively have to share.

As always, everything linked here is free to read with no paywall. Just click the title of any piece that interests you. If you like what you read, please consider subscribing to the zine or the author's Patreon.

As never before, there's also this fish. The fish make more sense later.



Fiction
"Carbon Dating" by Effie Seiberg and Spencer Ellsworth at Galaxy's Edge
-No focus group could have honed a story more precisely for me. The Internet becomes self-aware, searches itself to decide it must become happy, and then goes about trying to find true love. But dating sites aren't so wieldy for the incorporeal lovers of this world, and love isn't so rational thing. Thusly, The Internet winds up in love with a mountain has a comely array of glaciers. It is, as our authors put it, "a rocky relationship." It's whimsical, weird, and unlike anything else I've read this year. It makes an off appeal to anthropomorphism, because our internet might well become self-aware (or sprout several self-awarenesses), making this not quite implausible - just that it's an unusual idea for the direction self-awareness might take it. Really, it's among the nicer directions such an event could go.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

"Under the Rubble" is live at Pseudopod!

I'm pleased to announce that "Under the Rubble" has been published over at Pseudopod! It's a Horror story about two people trapped under debris following an earthquake. Except one of them doesn't believe it was an earthquake at all.

They've given it a full podcast adaptation, with a soundtrack and narration by Marguerite Kenner. The proprietor of the podcast network, Alasdair Stuart, also gave me a generous introduction, and an insightful response to the story as an outro. I couldn't be more delighted.

I have to thank my beta readers who have looked at this story of the years since I first had the idea: Samari Smith, Jemma Mayer, Cassie Willaims, Nat Sylva, and Randall Nichols. This story would not be readable without them.

To hear "Under the Rubble," click here and stream or download it to your heart's content.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My True Convention Story That I Wish Was Fiction



We're going into convention season, and I keep meeting new writers who are nervous about making bad impressions. Especially early on, you dread that anything you do will kill your career. In order to make some anonymous writers feel a little better, I want to share a story that I wish wasn't true.

My greatest convention shame began with a great short story. It was nominated for an award at this con I was attending, and was one of the funniest Science Fiction shorts I'd ever read. It was vicious, sometimes repulsive, using impossible plots for hilarious ends. It was so funny that I got up in the middle of it to annoy friends by reading random passages aloud.

As I spread glowing reviews across social media, I discovered something: most reviewers hated this story.

Many of the reviewers were attracted just because it was nominated for this Prestigious Award; they argued that it was too morbid, too awful, or not even a story. After a while, I felt the author was being wronged. Dear reader, I argued on the internet.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Interviewed about Writing and Disability

I'm pleased to be a guest this month at Almost An Author, a site designed to help new writers shape their careers. Kathryn Johnson had me over there to discuss writing with disability, the writing life, and my peculiar health. If you ever wanted a glimpse at just what a diagnostic weirdo I am, the first question will fill you right up.

It's been a while since I've been interviewed in long form like this. It was a lot of fun - I think I laughed more than the average subject. Kathryn was also very considerate and made the chat fun. You can read the entire text here.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bathroom Monologue: Magicians and Hacks

Bobby wanted to be a magician, but couldn't fit all the scarves up his sleeve and made a pocket dimension instead. He was a hack.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Great Things I've Been Reading, April 2017 Edition

I am so unprepared for May. Are you unprepared for May? Well let's make it a little easier with some quality fiction and journalism. As with every time I gather my favorite reads, everything listed here is free to read. The link to read is in the title of each piece. April was an unusually good month for humorous and quirky fiction, which got me through some rough times. Let's have a look!

Fiction

"Attending Your Own Funeral: An Etiquette Guide" by Erica L. Satifka at Daily Science Fiction
-Quirky, morbid, and with just enough heart, this story gets you ready to see your own funeral, in the next universe over. The other attendees? All parallel universe versions of the same lady, naturally, who compare notes on their successes and tragedies. Who stole technology, who destroyed the atmosphere, and what the heck they were after in the first place. Satifka packs so many neat ideas into a tight package.

 "Running safety tips for humans" by Marissa Lingen at Nature Magazine
-Science Fiction often examines alien invasions. But did the last one figure out how our alien overlords will ruin jogging? This is a delightful piece of list fiction, breaking down the hazards of a possibly human-eating species that's babysitting our planet, and how to stay fit while they're in control.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Story Sale: "A Silhouette Against Armageddon" sold to Fireside!

I'm happy to announce that I've sold a new story to Fireside Magazine! I'm excited to be back with them, as they publish such a great tonal variety of stories. You like tragedies? Weird SciFi? Genre satire? They've got you covered.

My new story is "A Silhouette Against Armageddon," the story of a graverrobbing in process - from the point of view of the man in the coffin. He's not happy about having his eternal rest spoiled.


This will be my second publication at Fireside, following 2015's "Bones at the Door." I promise this story will devour fewer children.

Monday, April 3, 2017

"The Terrible" Published at Flash Fiction Online

The first piece of my recent Good Newsathon has walked out into the world: "The Terrible" is in this month's Flash Fiction Online!

I'm honored to have a a story in this month's Flash Fiction Online. "The Terrible"

This is an honor. Not many writers have been published four times in this magazine. FFO was my first pro-sale, and has continued to be a home for diverse authors and wildly diverse stories. It's a privilege to have contributed a few tales to their catalog.

"The Terrible," which originally ran at DSF, is a Superhero Comedy. Actually, a Supervillain Comedy. It follows The Terrible, self-proclaimed arch-nemesis of the world's most powerful woman. He's come so close to killing her dozens of times, and tonight he has the perfect plan. But something's wrong. It's almost like her heart isn't in it...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Seven Pieces of Good News!

It's been my busiest March in a while! A couple of brutal health episodes couldn't stop the train of goodness. In fact, I managed to step up my regular exercise from 2.0 miles on the elliptical to 2.5, thanks partially to being mesmerized by Westworld. But the good news isn't just miles, or reading A Brief History of Seven Killings (and incredible achievement of a novel) and seeing Kong: Skull Island (a far better kaiju movie than I'd expected). In fact, I have so much good news that I have to relay it in list form.

1. The good news started rolling in with an acceptance from Pseudopod! One of the internet's premiere Horror podcasts will be dedicating an entire episode to my short story, "Under the Rubble." It follows two survivors of an earthquake, trapped under the remains of a convenience store, trying to stay sane and alive until rescue can come. If it's coming at all.

2. And then Flash Fiction Online bought a reprint of my superhero story, "The Terrible!" It originally ran at DSF, but is more timely now with the Wonder Woman movie coming out. It's about a villain who learns he was never actually a threat, and his heroine has been patronizing him for years in the hope he'll get over this "evil" phase. This will mark my fourth April Fools humor story at Flash Fiction Online. I couldn't ask for a better home for short humor.

3. Flash Fiction Online also published their Science Fiction 2016 Anthology, and the opening story is my "Foreign Tongues." It's one of my personal favorite flashes, about an alien that communicates by taste rather than sight or sound, and thinks ice cream is the dominant form of life on earth. They have more trouble "talking" to us, but they won't give up easily, no matter how many humans they have to ingest. The anthology is live right now.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Great Things I Read in February, 2017 Edition


This is a few days late, isn't it? I had to postpone a little for my Mock Oscars, covering Logan, and a certain wonderful event in my family. I'll share that last good news with you in my next post, but for now, I want to share some amazing stories and journalism. It includes not one, but two Science Fictional stories of birds that just happen to be true.

As always, everything listed here is free to read with no paywall. I've linked directly to each piece. If you like what you read, consider grabbing a subscription to the publisher or dropping money into an author's Patreon.

Short Stories and Flash Fiction

"The Unknown God" by Ann Leckie at Uncanny Magazine

Such a thoroughly charming story from its first chatter between a frog and a mighty god about all the weird things the local atheists believe. There's quirky personality to its very eschatology, bouncing between personal lives and grand stakes. It's a chatty story, but the dialogue makes lightness of such heavy matters, and gives the motion of the story life, all the way to crystallizing its conclusion. There's wisdom here.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Review: Logan is to Wolverine what the Deadpool movie was to Wade Wilson

Logan is to Wolverine what Deadpool is to Deadpool, significantly more faithful to the character than anything before it. Is it the best X-Men film? It’s weighty, weary, knee-deep in sacrifices, with fights so visceral I jerked my head along with the punches. It has little of the optimism you find in mainline X-Men films, in favor of a bleak Western-tinged story in which Wolverine tries to do the right thing one last time in his life. It is a beautiful send-off for Hugh Jackman, whose portrayal has been every bit as iconic as Christopher Reeve’s Superman and Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Bathroom Monologues Movie Awards 2016

It's almost March 2017, so of course we're all talking about the best movies of 2016. Personally, I'm most bummed that I missed out on The Handmaiden and Fences due to being too busy and ill to see them for their brief runs around here. For the Oscars, naturally I disagree with some of the winners. More naturally, I don't understand what some of the categories mean. But nothing shall dissuade me from telling a sizable democratic body of people who devote swaths of their lives to film that their mass conclusions were wrong. Here we go.

The Dark Horse Award
Going to the movie that was way better
than you all led me to believe it would be
Hail, Caesar!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

So Your Protagonist Is An Asshole. You Still Owe Me A Plot.

Since I couldn't sleep thanks to syndrome pain, I tried out Amazon's new show Patriot. It felt worth a shot given warm reviews and an amazing cast, including Terry O'Quinn and the guy who plays Death on Supernatural. Why not try an offbeat espionage comedy?

The second episode goes on a weird spree of abusing disabled characters are least four separate times. The Asian math whiz who suffered brain damage in a car accident returns... only to be talked down to by everyone, and as soon as he shows his aptitude at math is still there, his competitor shuts his laptop and leaves him helpless. The protagonist steals the prosthetic legs of amputees which pays off in one of them being a security guard who has to chase him later, hopping along ineffectually.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Great Things I've Been Reading, January 2017

This round-up has been on hiatus over a few particularly chaotic months, but is back for 2017. A few old stories and articles popped up in here because I was reading voraciously over that period - I just was encumbered by workload, a novel, and family events and illnesses. This month the round-up comes in three flavors: Short Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Non-Fiction Related to a Certain Odious Fool.

Short Fiction
"Ndakusuwa" by Blaize M. Kaye at Fantastic Stories of the Imagination
Pour one out for Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, which is closing its doors. It paid more than double the professional average for short fiction, and steadily gathered interesting voices and great reprints. As I've gone through my back catalog, this one stuck with me. It's a flash fiction biography of a genius, from the first time she disassembled a clock, to all of the times she left her parents, always for further and less imaginable shores. Perfect poignancy.

"Mamihlapinatapei" by Rachael K. Jones at Flash Fiction Online
Another day, another title that's tricky on the tongue. You'll have to read to the end to learn the meaning of the title, and it's a joyous revelation. The line "For these children, there has never been a world without dinosaurs" gave me such a smile. It's exactly the sort of thing I crave people to speculate in our worlds of speculative fiction. This flash is saturated worldbuilding about coexistence and what it means to have to switch cultures and languages. Jones is, as always, really good at writing characters switching.

"Monster Girls Don't Cry" by Merc Rustad at Uncanny Magazine
My writing naturally lends itself to long scenes, which leaves me fascinated by writers like Walton and Zelazny, who are so comfortable with compact scenes. Rustad's story is a case study in how to do extremely quick cuts in prose, with some scenes lasting only a paragraph, but still being poignant. This takes such advantage of the short fiction form to build to some wonderful emotions.

"The Psittaculturist's Lesson" by Marissa Lingen at Daily Science Fiction
A cracking story of an assassination attempt on an empress whose magic and guards have stopped every avenue so far. More than their, she surrounds herself with parrots, and it's in teaching them language that the twist comes.

"My Grandmother's Bones" by S.L. Huang at Daily Science Fiction
When an editor asked for some good flash for a possible anthology, this was one of the first recommendations I emailed to him. This tab stayed open for a couple months because I relished in revisiting Huang's meditation on an adoration that existed in orbit with love and respect. It's a beautiful and concise view of a relationship.

"In Memoriam: Lady Fantastic" by Lauren M. Roy at Fireside Magazine
It opens complaining about a sexist obituary for one of the world's first superheroes, and it rolls on with rich personality from there. It's a great intersection in poking at superhero culture and at how we treat women, blended perfectly. The account of a fictional superhero life colors in how the narrator grew up, through the Halloween she dressed as Lady Fantastic, and her impacts later in life. Remarkably sweet.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

It's "Women's March," Not "Women's January"

Heads up, everybody: your marching is bothering the Republicans. Better cut it out. You know what special snowflakes they are.

Did the people of Boston misbehave in 1773? Did people challenge Jim Crow Laws? Did people refuse to honor Joe McCarthy just because he was evil?

No. They were polite and refused to challenge the status quo. Quit being so unamerican and stop exercising free speech.

Also, go sit where Republicans want you to sit, because apparently skipping an inauguration is on the same no-no list as Peacefully Marching, Putting Your Hands Up, and Kneeling During the National Anthem.
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