Fantasia Diary 2015, Day 13: The Visit and The Demolisher

Sunday, August 30th, 2015 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

The VisitNo-one’s a perfect critic, and I’ll readily confess to being less perfect than most. At any rate, sometimes a film’s best appreciated with a certain level of knowledge. Maybe you know too much about the film’s subject, and you see nothing new. Or you know too little, and you find yourself lost. In the latter case, at least, you can wonder whether your lack of knowledge is representative of a general audience, if not of whatever audience the artist has in mind. No critic’s going to be able to hit the sweet spot of knowing just enough, not every time out. Nobody’s perfect.

Monday, July 27, I saw two movies, both in the De Sève Theatre. The first was a documentary called The Visit, examining what would happen if aliens landed on Earth — what the response would be from human governments and scientific organisations. Then I watched a suspense movie called The Demolisher, about a woman stalked by a mentally-disintegrating police officer. And I found myself wrong-footed in the first case by knowing too much and in the second by knowing too little.

Before The Visit a short film screened: “Testimony of the Unspeakable” (in the original French, “Témoignage de l’indicible”). The director, Simon Pernollet, spoke briefly beforehand setting up the film, a story told by one of his friends about his childhood in Mexico and strange things that happened around his family’s home. We hear a voice telling several anecdotes about unexplained happenings; the stories have the feel of real experiences, in the way they seem to build up an atmosphere more than a connected set of incidents. Meanwhile, the camera moves around an empty house at night, catching shadows, creating an atmosphere and sense of place. At six minutes long, the film manages to subsist on the spooky magical-realist feeling it evokes without feeling as though it’s outstaying its welcome.

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Future Treasures: Dragons, Droids and Doom, Year One, edited by Iulian Ionescu and Frederick Doot

Sunday, August 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Dragons Droids and Doom-smallFantasy Scroll Magazine is one of the great success stories of genre crowdfunding. It was launched with a successful Kickstarter campaign in April 2014, in which it raised enough to fund itself for a full year (four issues). All four issues were released on time, as promised, and since then it’s been operating nicely under its own steam. This year it upgraded to bimonthly, attracting top talent like Robert Reed, Sarah Avery, Pauline J. Alama, Beth Cato, and many more, and the magazine continues to prosper.

Fantasy Scroll has supported itself by selling merchandise and launching a mobile app — and through a Starlight Patrol of enthusiastic backers and supporters at Patreon who help keep the magazine going. Best of all, they’ve announced a new line of anthologies, the first of which, Dragons, Droids and Doom, contains all 51 short stories published in their first year. Here’s editor Iulian Ionescu:

It’s with great pleasure that I introduce you to Dragons, Droids and Doom, Year One, the very first anthology from Fantasy Scroll Magazine. It contains all stories published in the year 2014, and what a cool bunch of stories! There are 51 stories from 49 authors, including names you’ll recognize, such as Mike Resnick, Ken Liu, Piers Anthony, and Cat Rambo. You will also find stories from up-and-coming authors and some from first-time published authors. All in all, I believe it’s a great mix of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and paranormal short stories that will appeal to a wide audience.

We last covered Fantasy Scroll Magazine with issue 7.

Dragons, Droids and Doom, Year One will be published in early November, 2015. It is $14.95 in trade paperback, and $5.99 for the ebook. The cover is by Mondolithic Studios. Read more — including the introduction by Mike Resnick, and two sample stories — at the website, and see the massive table of contents here.


A Brief Guide to Space Race Documentaries, Part II

Sunday, August 30th, 2015 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III

Earthrise The First Lunar Voyage-smallI’ve written two articles at this site about movies and documentaries that deal primarily with the Space Race years, which I define as 1957 (Sputnik) to 1969 (first Moon landing):

A Brief Guide to Space Race Movies
A Brief Guide to Space Race Documentaries

I thought I’d exhausted the supply of space race documentaries worth mentioning, but alas, I recently ran across two more.

Both are worth noting for the simple fact that they solve two problems I often see with this type of documentary. One is the tendency to cram too much into too little time, which means it’s hard to go into any kind of depth in one specific area. The other is the tendency to rely on footage that’s rather familiar.

Which comes with the territory, I guess, at least to an extent. If you’re going to do a documentary on Apollo 11 you can hardly leave out the footage of Neil Armstrong’s first step on the Moon. Ditto for many of the events that made up the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission.

But one can’t help but suspect that there’s a vast amount of footage from this era that we don’t see much of. The following two documentaries seem to support that theory.

Earthrise: The First Lunar Voyage (2014)

It’s safe to say that the best known space missions of all time — whether American or otherwise — are Apollo 11 and Apollo 13.

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New Treasures: Updraft by Fran Wilde

Sunday, August 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Updraft Fran Wilde-smallAs I mentioned in my post on The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, Tor has really been on a tear recently with some top-notch debuts. They’ve always been willing to take a chance on new authors, but recently some of their most exciting releases have come from new authors. That continues with Updraft, the first novel from Fran Wilde, whose short fiction has been getting notice in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Nature, and Asimov’s SF.

Welcome to a World of Wind and Bone, Songs and Silence, Betrayal and Courage

Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother’s side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city’s secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.

As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever — if it isn’t destroyed outright.

Read an excerpt at Tor.com.

Updraft will be published by Tor Books on September 1, 2015. It is 364 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Stephan Martinere.


Vintage Treasures: The Martian Inca by Ian Watson

Saturday, August 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Martian Inca-smallBritish author Ian Watson has published 34 SF and fantasy novels and eleven short story collections, including The Books of the Black Current trilogy, The Embedding, Alien Embassy, God’s World, The Gardens of Delight, and Queenmagic, Kingmagic. He’s also the author of The Inquisition War trilogy, three early novels in the Warhammer 40K universe.

His fourth novel, published in hardcover by Charles Scribner’s Sons and reprinted in paperback by Ace Books in 1978, was The Martian Inca. When a Martian probe returning to Earth crash-lands in the Peruvian Andes, a virulent infection wipes out whole tribe…. all except one man, who awakens from a fever with miraculous powers — and a strange destiny.

The Mars Probe has crashed.

A triumph of Soviet technology, the first two-way interplanetary probe performed brilliantly until the final stage of its return. Then something went wrong: rather than following its programmed course to a soft landing in its country of origin, the probe crashed in the Peruvian Andes.

Now a weird infection beyond the understanding of medical science has wiped out an entire village — except for one man, who, alone and undiscovered by medics, survives. He has awakened to find himself become his own ancestor, and a god. Suddenly the flames of an Indian revolution are spreading South America; he is the Martian Inca.

The Martian Inca was published by Ace Books in October 1978. It is 299 pages in paperback, priced at $1.95; it remained out of print in the U.S. until a digital version was published in 2011. The cover is by Stephen Hickman.

See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.


Locus Online on C.S.E. Cooney’s Bone Swans

Saturday, August 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Bone Swans CSE Cooney-smallBone Swans, the long awaited first collection from C.S.E. Cooney, has been loudly acclaimed since its release last month. It received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and a rave review from Tor.com – especially for “Life on the Sun,” which was originally published here at Black Gate. And Library Journal called it “Five beautifully crafted stories… full of flying carpets, fairy-tale characters, and children confronted with a postapocalyptic Earth… [a] gorgeous new collection.” Now Locus Online‘s Paul Di Filippo weighs in, saying:

This is a strong and enduring debut collection… As might be predicated based on its name, the genre dubbed the “New Weird” has its roots in the Old Weird, and one tendril of those roots extends back to the Weird Tales crew. Thus it’s not too surprising that Cooney’s state-of-the-art New Weird tale “Life on the Sun” at times reads like something from the Robert E. Howard canon, with strange tribes, bizarre magics, desert-circled cities, and other nifty pulp tropes. But of course, since Cooney’s poetic, evocative prose is of a higher order of sophistication than Howard’s, the resulting tale is a thing apart. The city of Rok Moris is undergoing a simultaneous assault from without and rebellion from within. At the heart of both movements, it eventuates, is a young woman named Kantu. Her denied birthright contends with her chosen mature allegiances, and she must somehow reconcile them for the survival of her city and all its citizens… Overall, if the byline had been stripped from this tale, one would not be surprised to hear it came from the pen of Tanith Lee…

In his beguiling and affectionate introduction, Gene Wolfe nominates Cooney as a fully formed savant of fantastika at age eighteen. Having matured and honed her skills since then, as seen in this collection, she surely is embarked on a literary odyssey as rewarding and thrilling as any undergone by her bevy of unforgettable heroes and heroines.

Bone Swans was published by Mythic Delirium Books on July 1, 2015. It is 224 pages, priced at $15.95 in trade paperback and $5.99 for the digital version. The cover art is by Kay Nielsen. See the Mythic Delirium website for more details, and the complete Table of Contents here.


The Three Phases of Adam Warlock: Return from the Dead

Saturday, August 29th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Infinity_Gauntlet_Vol_1_1_001I’ve been taking a look at Adam Warlock, one of my favorite comic characters. In previous posts, I’ve written about his early period as a failed messiah figure on Counter-Earth in the early- and mid-1970s, and then his Jim-Starlin-written tragic middle period as the cosmic champion of life, which led to his heroic death in 1977.

Today, I want to take up the thread of the Adam Warlock saga fourteen years later, when both he and the Champion of Death, Thanos, were resurrected as the core of a massive cross-over event called The Infinity Gauntlet.

This may be timely for some folk who had never read the original or reprinted Warlock runs, because Marvel movies have already teased us with a hero-sized cocoon in a Thor movie and have announced an Infinity War movie for 2018.

So, since the Infinity Gauntlet series is now 24 years old, I’m not going to issue spoiler alerts; I’ll likely just berate you for not having read this already (you can, incidentally, stop reading this post, go pick up the Infinity Gauntlet at comixology.com, and then come back when you’re done; I don’t own Marvel stock or anything, it’s just that much fun).

To remind readers where we left off, in 1977, Adam Warlock, the lonely, tragic Champion of Life, killed Thanos, the nihilistic, insane cosmic Champion of Death. Fast forward to 1991 to Infinity Gauntlet #1, and we find that quite a bit has happened. Death has been chaffing at the imbalance between Life and Death and has pulled out her greatest admirer and lover, Thanos to rectify things.

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies 180 Now Available

Saturday, August 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 180-smallBeneath Ceaseless Skies #180 has new stories by Alec Austin and Jason Fischer.

Fire Rises” by Alec Austin
Li chuckled too, considering how to kill her.

Defy the Grey Kings” by Jason Fischer
Elephants are quick, even draped in chain and iron, but you are quicker by a whisker.

Issue 180 was published on August 20, 2015. Read it online completely free here.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies is edited by Scott H. Andrews and published twice a month by Firkin Press. Issues are available completely free online; you can also get a free e-mail or RSS subscription.

Firkin Press also sells a Kindle/e-Reader subscription, which includes automatic delivery to your Kindle or other device. A 12-month subscription comes with 26 issues and costs only $13.99. Single issues are available on Kindle and at Weightless Books for 99 cents. Subscribe here.

The magazine supports itself though subscriptions, and also by selling anthologies, including the annual Best of BCS volumes and occasional themed books such as the steampunk anthology Ceaseless Steam. The anthologies each contain 15-18 stories and cost only $2.99-$3.99.

The cover art this issue is “Kodran Migrant Fleet” by Tyler Edlin. We last covered Beneath Ceaseless Skies with issue 179.

Our mid-August Fantasy Magazine Rack is here. See all of our recent fantasy magazine coverage here.


Fantasia Diary 2015, Day 13: Monty Python: The Meaning of Live and He Never Died

Friday, August 28th, 2015 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

The Meaning of LiveThere’s what you expect from a movie, and then there’s what you get. Sometimes a good movie can be a little disappointing, because it gives you only more-or-less what you’d been expecting. And sometimes a movie can surprise you with just how good it is. So if I say that on Sunday, July 26, I had a good day at the Fantasia Festival, it actually means I had two very different experiences in the big Hall Theatre. First was a documentary, Monty Python: The Meaning of Live. And then a supernatural thriller starring Henry Rollins, He Never Died. Both were good. The second was surprisingly good.

The main surprise to me about the Python documentary was how relatively small the crowd was. I reluctantly decided to skip the Korean action movie Tazza: The Hidden Card because I wanted to be sure of getting into the media line for The Meaning of Live, and it turns out I needn’t have worried. Demand was not what I’d expected. When the film started (preceded by a trailer for a Shaw Brothers’ movie called The Bloody Parrot, for reasons that need no explanation) the theatre seemed to be maybe two-thirds or three-quarters full; not a bad crowd, by any stretch, but not the full house I’d been expecting.

I mention this because it led me to wonder how much Python, once beloved of any number of subcultures, had lost popularity over the last couple of decades. That’s the way things happen sometimes: a slow fade, a gradual dulling of the shine. Was the audience for the documentary a little older than the Fantasia standard? Maybe. Was Python’s appeal in part a generational thing? Well, if that question had a meaningful answer, likely the documentary would provide it. In the end, it did and it didn’t because, of course, the answer’s both yes and no.

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Chivalry: Might is Right… Not Quite What You Think

Friday, August 28th, 2015 | Posted by M Harold Page

Chivalry and Violence

I love writing knights because they had such a fascinatingly simple way of looking at the world.

I love writing knights because they had such a unapologetically simple way of looking at the world (first blog entry in this series here).

The knightly world view was internally consistent, but must have been infuriating to anybody with a logical turn of mind. In Swords Versus Tanks, I had fun imagining just such a conversation:

Ranulph swept his arm around the cell to indicate the corpses. “God has just shown you His will.”

“Knights!” The red-haired girl gestured at the carnage. “You think that was a trial by combat.” Her eyes narrowed. “You wear a somewhat soiled arming jacket, so it was defeat in battle which brought you to this dungeon. Was that also God’s will, Sir Ranulph?”

“I suppose that God wanted me here to save you,” said Ranulph, with a vague, familiar, feeling that he was going to regret arguing with her.

Swords Versus Tanks 1: Steel Tide (forthcoming)

In fact — if Kaeuper’s Chivalry and Violence is to be believed — real knights tended to take things further with an utterly glorious piece of reasoning:

Knight: “God granted me victory, therefore  I am more pious than the dead guy.”

Priest: “But you still need to do penance!”

Knight: “Penance, Sir Priest? Pah! Wearing armor in the field is mortification enough.”

Partly this was lazy thinking at work.

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