Fantasia Diary 2015, Days 15 and 16: Minuscule, Observance, Boy 7, and Big Match

Monday, August 31st, 2015 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

MinusculeI took a day off from Fantasia on Tuesday, July 28, to run some errands and buy some groceries, then returned on Wednesday to begin a kind of mini-marathon that would carry me through to the end of the festival. I saw four movies Thursday, starting at the De Sève with a wordless 3D animated French film called Minuscule, about a ladybug who falls in with a group of ants who’ve liberated a box of sugar from an abandoned picnic. After that I went to the screening room to see an Australian horror-suspense movie called Observance. Then I went back to the De Sève for the semi-science-fictional German action movie Boy 7. After getting out of that one, I made a snap decision to run across the street to the Hall Theatre to watch the Korean action-comedy Big Match. Which turned out to be one of the better calls I made all festival.

Minuscule: La vallée des fourmis perdues (Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants) is a feature film version of a series of five-minute animated shorts made for French TV; in English, the Minuscule shorts are subtitled The Private Life of Insects. Both TV and film version follow CGI insects with real natural backgrounds. Both (apparently; I haven’t seen the TV show) have a strong Looney Tunes feel.

Co-written and co-directed by Hélène Giraud and Thierry Szabo, Minuscule the movie follows a ladybug separated from his parents. Bullied by some flies, he joins forces with black ants who’ve found an unimaginable treasure: a tin box filled with sugar cubes, left behind by picnickers. The ladybug helps the ants get the sugar back to their queen, threatened not only by obstacles in the landscape but also by vicious red ants. But will the red ants give up the sugar, even if they succeed? In the end, the ladybug must summon his courage and push his limits to save his friends.

Read More »


SEPTOBERFRIGHT Prologue…

Monday, August 31st, 2015 | Posted by Nick Ozment

photo-20Up here near Lake Wobegon, the last two weeks of August have felt more like fall than summer. In the past three days I have seen two sure signs of autumn: the first changing leaves and the first Hallowe’en displays.

I snapped the picture at right in Michael’s three days ago. Those skeletons may be a little early to the party, but what the heck: let ‘em in, and let the Macabre Danse Party begin!

Sure, All Hallow’s Eve is still two months off, and talk of trick-or-treating might strike some as being premature as an Edgar-Allan-Poe-imagined burial. I know it drives some folks batty that retailers start hawking holiday products months ahead of the calendar, and it makes them want to howl at the moon when they walk into their favorite box store in August and see Spook Alleys and Creepy Corners and Haunted Aisles already being rolled out. And even before the last cry of “trick or treat!” has echoed down the block, one can bet that the Christmas displays will debut.

(I took a wonderful pic in Shopko last year that was borderline surreal — Christmas angels vying for shelf space with zombies and ghouls, a strange Nightmare-Before-Christmas juxtaposition. It perfectly captured the retailer crossover moment when the last of the fright-night nick-nacks are on clearance and have not yet been cleared out for the glittery gewgaws celebrating peace on Earth and goodwill to mankind.)

If it bothers you, I understand. I sympathize. I do. But I must confess that I have a weakness for all the holiday trappings, even the cheap plastic kinds that move and light up and make sounds for (if you’re lucky) one season and then break. When I spot the first plastic jack-o-lantern on an end-cap display or the first bag of Brach’s Halloween Mellowcremes on the checkout aisle, I do get a bit giddy.

Read More »


Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: An Apt Description of the Heroine in Beaulieu’s Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

Monday, August 31st, 2015 | Posted by Kelly Swails

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai-smallTwelve Kings in Sharakhai: The Song of Shattered Sands: Book One
By Bradley P. Beaulieu
DAW Books (592 pages, $24.95 in hardcover, $9.99 digital, September 1, 2015)
Cover by Adam Paquette

Eleven years ago, Çedamihn Ahyanesh’ala’s mother was killed by the immortal Twelve Kings that rule the desert city of Sharakhai. Çeda — as she’s known to a few close friends — doesn’t know why her mother was killed. She only has three clues: the Kings carved strange symbols into her mother’s skin before they killed her; a book of poems that belonged to her mother; and the fact that she can never reveal she was her mother’s daughter.

Along with her friend Emre — one of only a handful of people who know her true identity — Çeda earns money on the streets of Sharakhai by delivering messages and cutting the occasional purse. By the time she is a young adult, she earns money with a new identity: the White Wolf, one of the most feared and respected hand warriors in the fighting pits.

Only Emre knows the secret deep within her heart: she means to avenge her mother’s death by killing the immortal Kings that rule the city. But in order to do so, she has to face her fears, make allies out of enemies, and risk losing everything she cherishes.

The world building here is robust yet deft. There are several elements in play, such as the mythology that governs the Kings, the magic of the forbidden forest on the outskirts of the city, and the creatures called the asirim that roam Sharakhai every six weeks to prey upon the city’s inhabitants.

Read More »


Discovering Robert E. Howard: Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward Re-Read “The Tower of the Elephant”

Monday, August 31st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Art for "Tower of the Elephant" by Mark Schultz

Art for “Tower of the Elephant” by Mark Schultz

Over at Howard Andrew Jones’ blog, Bill Ward and Howard Andrew Jones continue their re-read of the first Del Rey Conan volume, The Coming of Conan, with the classic “The Tower of the Elephant,” originally published in the March 1933 issue of Weird Tales.

Howard: THIS is Robert E. Howard at his absolute best, in complete control of his narrative, knowing his character better than his closest friend. His Hyborian history article was written just prior to his penning of “The Tower of the Elephant,” which makes sense, because he knows the history and societies so well that he casually mentions cultures in such a way we can usually intuit what he’s talking about…

Bill: Here Conan is a “gray wolf among gutter rats,” to paraphrase just one of the great lines in the opener. From the first paragraph of this section that paints a vivid picture of The Maul, the thieves district of Zamora where the guards have been bribed with “stained coins” to leave the criminals alone, all the way to the conclusion… I think this opener, and this story in general, is one of the best introductions to Conan, and probably the one I would hand a novice that was interested in seeing what all the fuss is about…

Howard: And damn, there are giant spider fights, and then there’s the fight with the thing in the top room of the tower. The only giant spider fight I’ve read that’s on the same level is the one from the first Bard book by Keith Taylor. You can see this monster and its dripping venom, so virulent that it scars Conan for life… It’s just incredibly well written, so much so that even after reading this story multiple times I still find it thrilling. And unsettling.

Read the complete exchange here.

Read More »


The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Solar Pons & The Dorak Affair

Monday, August 31st, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Dorak_BookOne of my favorite Solar Pons stories by August Derleth is “The Adventure of the Golden Bracelet.” If you’ve read that one, you know that an archeologist discovered a fabulous treasure horde at a mysterious woman’s house, made rubbings of the pieces, then found himself embroiled in a scandal when the items turned out to be stolen and no trace of the woman could be found. Pons figures things out and it’s quite a tale.

Derleth didn’t spin this tale out of whole cloth. It relied heavily on The Dorak Affair. James Mellaart was a well-known archeologist with some great successes in Turkey. Riding on a train in Turkey, a woman came in and sat across from him.

She wore a bracelet like the ones found at Troy. She gave her name as Anna Papastrati and said she had many more like it at home. Mellaart accepted her offer to go see them.

She revealed a large collection of artifacts, which she said came from tombs her family uncovered in the village of Dorak. The elated Mellaart was convinced he had proof regarding the Yortans, Troy’s sea-faring neighbors.

He spent three days and nights at her house (certainly bold for the married man), making sketches of the collection. She promised to send him photographs he showed her of the tombs. The photos never came, but after a time, Mellaart did receive a letter from her, saying he could use his sketches in an article.

Read More »


August 2015 Nightmare Magazine Now on Sale

Monday, August 31st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Nightmare Magazine August 2015-smallThe August issue of the online magazine Nightmare is now available.

Fiction this month includes original short stories from Nathaniel Lee and Megan Arkenberg, and reprints from Steve Rasnic Tem and Molly Tanzer:

Original Stories

Where It Lives” by Nathaniel Lee
And This is the Song It Sings” by Megan Arkenberg

Reprints

The Men and Women of Rivendale” by Steve Rasnic Tem (from Night Visions 1, 1984)
Qi Sport” by Molly Tanzer (from Schemers, 2013)

The non-fiction this issue includes the latest installment in their long-running horror column, “The H Word” (“Following the Symptoms”), plus author spotlights, a showcase on cover artist Carlos Villa, an editorial, and a feature interview with Clive Barker.

Read More »


Fantasia Diary 2015, Day 14: 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.

Read More »


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.

Read More »


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, and read Fran’s new short story set in the same world, “Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud,” just released in the latest issue of online magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

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.


  Earlier Entries »

This site © 2018 by New Epoch Press. All rights reserved.