At about 5:30 this morning Melbourne, while I slumbered innocently, the Hugo Award nominations for 2014 were announced. The full list is here. I could sleep because, as Jonathan Strahan pointed out on an episode of Coode Street a few weeks back, Hugo nominees are made aware of their nomination (so they can confirm and approve) a week before. So I’ve been yaaaaaying and giggling for a good seven days. The only thing that has tempered my excitement is the fact that Joshi, Sophie and Jules have all been sick. And I’m sure I’m next on the list.
Anywho, as I said on Facebook I’m extremely proud about the nomination. Well, of course I am. Since I became aware of fandom and the Hugos more than twenty years ago I’ve wanted to be on the ballot. In those dreams I saw myself winning Best Novel for a multi-book series about the Victorian public service. And magic. The fact that I’ve come to be nominated with my BFF Kirstyn for a project that we both dearly love puts those wild, impossible fantasies to shame. (Though I’m still convinced that stories about an enchanted Victorian public service are a winner!)
So yeah. I know have a Hugo PIN. I’ll be wearing the shit out that little rocket. Even if my co-workers do think it looks like a penis.
As for the rest of the ballot. Some thoughts:
I’ve run out of puff. It’s only 9:30 in the morning and I have to dress the kids and wipe my daughter’s snotty nose (where does that stuff come from?). But I am so very happy. THANK YOU to everyone who nominated Kirstyn and I.
Mirrored from The Hysterical Hamster.
I have survived the fligt and am in west Islip. Tapping away on my nook in a house of few electrical outlets. Today was fun and cannolli were aqired. Posting will be light and spotty I am trying to keep a journal of sorts of the trip but not sure if I will remember to write. The brain does tend to fail.
Tomorrow ....into the city
The GUFF ballot form is now available. Alternatively, and possibly more conveniently, there is an online form here.
Under normal circumstances I would just be encouraging you to vote. But if you look closely you will see that I actually nominated one of the candidates. So please vote for Gillian as she would be a great ambassador for down under fandom. Alternatively, just vote for whoever you want to - the important thing is to vote (and pay).
I’m pleased to be able share three stories from our anthology Clockwork Phoenix 3: New Tales of Beauty and Strangeness.
its more than just an adventure.. heading out today for The Boys wedding and other points..
My article for the exemplary Nightmare Magazine, “The H Word: Hardboiled Horror,” is now available to read for free on their website. Here’s a snippet:
Some of the best authors of horror and dark fantasy have been utilizing noir for decades now. William Hjortsberg’s famous novel Falling Angel dates back to 1978 (and was adapted into the movie Angel Heart in 1987). It features a hardboiled private investigator, Harry Angel, who takes on a missing person case that turns into a phantasmagoria of ritual murders, voodoo, and Satanism. Peter Straub’s novels Koko and The Throat take a number of noir tropes—murder, amateur detectives, and a colossal distrust of the supposed rules of a civilized society—and mix them with a strong dose of psychological horror.
Click on through to read the whole thing. For free, even!
It's official! I'm delighted to say that I'll be giving two hour-long talks at Loncon 3: The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London this summer. One will be with the Young Adult Track, "Millennials and Worlds Gone Wrong: Or, Why These Aren't Your Grandparents' YA Dystopias," and one will be with the Academic Track, "Sherlock Holmes and Science Fiction." It looks like I'll be on some terrific panels, as well. I'll post my schedule when I know it. (Special thanks to peadarog!)
I'd also like to offer my congratulations to my undergraduate and graduate students who were chosen to present their original research from this semester formally during Lenoir-Rhyne University's campus-wide SOURCE: Symposium on University Research and Creative Expression. Three cheers for Elena Margo Gould ("Black Elk's Syncretic Spirituality"), Angelia Bedford ("Native Americans and the Criminal Justice System"), Liz Goebelbecker ("Spirit for Sale"), and Leah Phillips ("A Study of How Euro-American Disease and Medicine Affected the Nebraska Winnebago Native"). Well done!
Some Kickstarters of interest:
- Edgar Allan Poe illustrated "Ravings of Love & Death" (Thanks to Diane!) This one ends today!
- The Miskatonic School for Girls: Holiday Break Expansion (Thanks to sittingduck1313!)
- Geek Theater: Anthology of Science Fiction & Fantasy Plays
- Star Wars Lightsabers from Science Fiction to Science Fact
Friday, 17.30: Who Would Live There? The Reality of SF/Fantasy Worlds.
Saturday, 16.30: Shakespeare Retold: The Good, the Bad and the Unexpected.
Sunday, 22.00: Editing Erotica, Publishing Porn.
Monday, 10.30: What My Library Meant to Me.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of The Scariest Part, a new, recurring feature in which authors, comic book writers, filmmakers, and game creators tell us what scares them in their latest works of horror, dark fantasy, dark science fiction, and suspense. I’m thrilled to have James Maddox and Jen Hickman as my first guests. Together, they’re the creators behind the ongoing digital comic The Dead. Currently, they’re also running a Kickstarter campaign to fund a graphic novel print version of the comic. Here’s a description of the series:
When Sam opens his eyes after dying, he expects to see heavenly clouds or hellfire. What he’s faced with instead is “The House” – a surreal and often-dangerous afterlife of interconnected rooms. As Sam travels deeper into this new world, he finds the strange creators of these rooms aren’t the only residents of The House. Here there be monsters, and if he isn’t careful, Sam’s stay will take a horrible turn.
And now, let’s hear what the scariest parts were for James Maddox and Jen Hickman.
James Maddox, Story and Writing
The Dead is the story of what happens after you die. And before you ask, it’s not a zombie comic. Rather, our story drops readers into an afterlife made up of rooms that are customized by its individual residents. These rooms have the ability to encompass the entirety of any imagination, so as you may have guessed, the settings for this book can get dark and surreal at times. Some of the horror concepts that emerge in The Dead are graphic in their violence, but the scariest parts for me are more subtle and cerebral than simple gore.
In issue two, I decided to show these two particular approaches side-by-side (i.e. human versus natural horror). Here we find a gang of zealots, the Seraphim, who have banded together to kill one of our main characters, Velouria. Though V and her hatchet bloody the ground with viscera and gore at the beginning of the scene, the advantage quickly turns against her. Soon the strength of the Seraphim’s numbers overcome Velouria and the gang of bastards prepare to deliver her to a gruesome and painful death.
Just before the violence against Velouria kicks into high gear, a monster to which I allude in issue one is finally revealed. Called “the Frail”, it takes the ghostly appearance of a beautiful and gentle woman. In our story, the Frail are creatures that look inviting, but cause mental instability in the nearby population. In this example, the Seraphim begin to attack each other and themselves, allowing for Velouria’s escape from danger. One man tears out his eyes, while another is stabbed through his stomach, a victim of a crazed ally. While at first glance this may seem to be supernatural as opposed to natural, there is no real reason for the Frail’s effects. They are a natural and elemental force in this world.
Unlike a human act of violence, the Frail doesn’t cause horror because it hates or covets. As the scene unfolds, we don’t see her become angered or upset. In fact, she seems concerned for the people who are tearing each other apart thanks to her presence. It’s like a tornado: from a distance it is awe-inspiring and beautiful in its enormity; but, up close a tornado is one of the most horrific and terrifying things you could experience. And whether you are a bystander seeing it from a mile away or unfortunate enough to find yourself in the thick of its fury, the tornado doesn’t care in the slightest.
Violence inflicted on one person by another who holds different beliefs is something we can understand on some level. Wars are fought over differences in belief and (mis)understandings. Even if our understanding is that something is sick and demented, it’s still able to be put it into a framework most of us can fathom. Because I am able to wrap my mind around it, this approach to horror is made more real and visceral, but has less of an overall hold on my imagination.
Perhaps this is why I tend to lean more toward the natural force when I read horror and why the Frail are the scariest part of my own work. I get people’s reasons for violence, as dark and disturbing as they may be, but a force such as the Frail (or a tornado, or a sandworm, or a werewolf, or an earthquake,) can’t ever have reasons that can be understood by a human mind. It is the human mind that fills in the blank spots, and with our speculation we make these things more frightening. Is there anything more terrifying than the stories and details that swell in our minds to explain the things bigger and more strange than us? For me, there’s nothing scarier.
Jen Hickman, Illustrations and Colors
For me, fear in storytelling arrives at the moment when we remember just how vulnerable a character (and by proxy we ourselves) is. It’s that moment before anything happens, when your protagonist is standing in his PJs while a lumbering monstrosity chases after him, when all you can think is, “Oh god! He’s just a pile of delicate biological systems that almost anything could destroy!”
In The Dead our protagonist runs into a bunch of these situations, teetering on the edge of safety and danger. What’s fun about the story is that James doesn’t stick with just one type of peril– there’s a little bit of everything. Fear of heights, ineffable Frail, beastly Wretched, backstabbing, and good old-fashioned well-armed zealots. For me, the scariest part is that there are many, many opportunities to remember just how easy it is to die.
Remember, if you’d like to be featured on The Scariest Part, you can read the guidelines here.
Today is the release of Rjurik Davidson’s Unwrapped Sky in the UK.
It’s a excellent novel, one that I think a lot of people will enjoy, and I recommend. In fact, I thought that so much that I actually gave a blurb for it, which may or may not appear on the book (it was mainly a way for me to read it before a lot of others). But I thought it was very cool, so, click click, buy buy.