Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Strange, terrible crime case

Do you remember the case of the man who had a bomb strapped around his neck who said he was being forced to rob a bank or it would go off? And then it did? It sounds like a movie plot (and has become episodes of Law & Order and other shows), but it actually happened. What really happened, whether the man set up the whole thing himself to go out with a spectacular suicide or whether he was actually kidnapped and bombstrapped, remains an open question.

Of course, the family knows where they stand and they're pissed. They've posted a Web site,, offering the details of the case and asking for any help. It's a tragic and amazing story. Also check out the Wikipedia entry on the case and this story from CourtTV's Crime Library.

(Link found via Professor Hex.)

"Hallucigenia," by Laird Barron

I just finished this story in the June issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It's absolutely terrific. I've enjoyed most of Barron's stories (you can read Bulldozer, and Parallax online, and you should) but the concluding pages of this story knocked me out.

When I started the story, I didn't have such high hopes for it. The story is told from the perspective of a tough guy rich boy who has travelled the world, mastered hunting and faced down many a problem. He is surrounded by other tough guys. This is so much like Barron's other stories -- all of them feature some kind of hard boiled protagonist -- that I figured I was in for a repeat. And to some extent, I was. The story includes many of the same horrific and pulp ideas as his others, and even includes some references to his last F&SF story, "The Imago Sequence."

But this one tops the others.

I'm not sure I can explain why, either. There's a wealth of detail about the horrific background of the story, but you never quite see the whole picture. There's terrific scenes of horror -- including the one illustrated on the magazine's front cover. And in the climax, Barron brings it all together in one spectacular fright scene. Then, he goes one step better with a coda that adds just a touch of humor.

I'm just rambling on here, but I really enjoyed this story and wanted to share that with others. If you aren't already subscribed to F&SF, go out and pick up this issue. This one novella is easily worth the $3.99 cover price.

You can read a review of the issue at Tangent Online. And you can discuss the story at the magazine's message board.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Still out there writing

For a while, I was posting updates on my writing. The last one was in March. Nobody's asked me to post about it again, but despite the silence I venture once again into navel gazing.

I've been busy since March. That story that I was hashing over for weeks and weeks I finally finished. I ended up going to my notebooks and writing it longhand to get it done. It helps me to get away from easy access to the Internet. The next step for that story is typing it into the computer, making a few changes, and sending it out to friends and at least one more objective reader. (If anyone is interested in reading what may be a horrible waste of your time, or possibly my first genius work, feel free to e-mail me.)

So now, where to go from here? I've played with some flash pieces. I'm trying to take Jay Lake's advice (PDF) and write a story of some kind each week. This isn't the way I've worked up to now. I seem to be a slow writer, I work in fits and starts. I'm attempting to do more to see if that's just how I write, or if that's me being lazy.

My big problem at the moment is I've created this great fantasy setting. It's unusual and, with any luck, it's a fun place to read about. But I'm finding that I don't know what story to tell there. I keep starting things and then backing off. These false starts add new information and descriptions to the world, but don't get me any closer to having a story about it. I need a character who springs from this place and has a tale to tell. For now, I'll keep playing with the idea and I will hope to bump into a character along the way.

So, how's your writing going?

Monday, May 08, 2006

S&S and cover art

Paul M. Jessup has expanded on my sword & sorcery post with some additional links. He also has a post full of science fiction and fantasy covers from the '60s and '70s. There's some beautiful artwork there.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sword & Sorcery linkage

I've had sword & sorcery on the mind lately, so let me clear out a few links.

First off, read Paul Jessup's s&s story The Gods Have Left Us at Flashing Swords e-zine. If you like that, follow it up with the excerpt of a new story in the same setting he posted at his blog.

My post the other day about Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser elicited a little talk about sword & sorcery in comics. Professor Hex posted this link about the Thongor comics. Thongor was the character created by Lin Carter. Like most of Carter's characters, it's a tribute to older writers, in this case Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. You can buy Carter's books from Wildside Press, if you were so inclined. Here are some other Carter links: In Memoriam, personal data, bibliography, an article on H. Rider Haggard by Carter (unfortunately, I had to find it on a Google cache, the original seeming to have disappeared), and Carter's introduction to The Three Impostors by Arthur Machen. By the way, Carter will be better remembered for his editing, especially the Adult Fantasy series that reprinted fantasy classics.

The Gor series by John Norman is probably one of the most (rightly) derided series in all of sword & sorcery. But that's not to say there weren't good moments. Fortunately for us, Sonya Taaffe gives us a look at Assassin of Gor and what's right about it. LiveJournaler Hans the Bold follows up with more detail on the Gor series and where it all went wrong.

If you'd like to know who some of the famed characters of sword & sorcery are, check out this list called Heroes of Dark Fantasy.

And finally, Night Shade Books has released Imaro by Charles Saunders. Imaro was one of the S&S greats that was little spoken of in recent years. This book reprints the first novel in the Imaro series, and I believe Night Shade will be publishing more Imaro books in the future. My first encounter (and the only one until I can pick up this book) was through Andrew Offutt's Swords Against Darkness series, which are a lot of fun. Sword & Sorcery has reviews of Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Imaro appeared in Vol. 4.

Hope that fills any sword & sorcery jones you may be feeling.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Prisoner remade?

Oh wow, The Prisoner may get a TV remake in Britain starring Christopher Eccleston (recently of Doctor Who.) This is the kind of thing I get all excited about and really worried about at the same time. The original was such a classic, it doesn't need to be remade. On the other hand, a remake (made well) could be really relevant today. Unfortunately, there's no mention whether Patrick McGoohan (the brains behind the original) will be involved. I'd feel much better if he were.
Here's hoping they do a good job.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

We come to praise Ford

The LitBlog Co-op continues Jeffrey Ford week today with a selection of entries by various non-LBC bloggers praising Ford. I can't account for some of the writers up there, but when Jeff Vandermeer, John Klima, Tim Pratt, Meghan McCarron and John Picacio are among the participants, you know it's good.

And if that's too many nice things said about Ford for you, be sure to check out The Mumpsimus where he reveals the dirty secrets of collaborating with the man.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser returns to comics

Fascinating article from SciFi Wire about Dark Horse Comics and Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Dark Horse will not only be doing a comic book about Fritz Leiber's sword and sorcery heroes, they will also be reprinting all of the novels and short story collections. That's the best part of the whole thing, to me.

The article also mentions they have movie rights. I actually don't want to see a Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser movie. I just know a movie wouldn't find the right balance, it would be either too campy or too serious. It wouldn't have Leiber's great sense of humor and action.

Also mentioned at the end of the article, Dark Horse is looking for the rights to other Robert E. Howard characters. (They already do a Conan comic book, which I thought was OK, but didn't keep me reading.) I must admit, I would like to see Solomon Kane in comic form.

Harlan Ellison interviewed

AZ Central interviews the "Grand master of fabulism" in advance of Saturday's Nebula event when he will be named Grand Master. He has some interesting things to say in the article, so I hope you click the link. But I couldn't help but chuckle over the image this quote provides:

And, of course, I still watch Judge Judy every day. You know, you can watch everything on television night and day and you will not see real people. But Judy, what it is is small-claims court, and you get the cadences of the voices of average people. You can see, sadly, how ignorant most people are these days.

I get a quaint image of the aging Ellison in a comfy chair, eagerly awaiting Judge Judy every afternoon.

I really wish Ellison was writing more these days. I haven't read a new story from him in ages.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ford at the Litblog Co-op

Take time this week to visit The LitBlog Co-op where Jeffrey Ford's The Girl in the Glass will be the topic of conversation. Gwenda Bond has already posted some initial thoughts on the book. Also, some time this week, Ed Champion will be posting a podcast interview with Ford.