Blade Runner 2049: Where are the Flame Towers?

Seriously, where’d they go? Throughout this sprawling, 160 minute epic we get shot after shot of the near-future LA skyline, and none of the flame-spitting spires from the original film are anywhere to be seen. I don’t even know what those things were for, but they were everywhere in 2019. What changed? Maybe the locals learned they were just there for atmosphere and decided to quit wasting money on them.

Well, aside from that gross oversight, the movie was great. We seem to be living through a time of sequel fatigue with Hollywood audiences, but this one was a worthy follow-up to the original Blade Runner. LA is still gritty and full of crazies, the Replicants are still trying to find their own place in society, and the movie ends up leaving plenty of unanswered questions while answering the ones that matter to the here-and-now.

Fans of the original should love this film. If you’re looking for a straight-up action sci-fi, this probably isn’t for you. The fight scenes are intense, but are few and far between. The main focus is Officer K (Ryan Gossling) trying to solve a mystery after he “retires” a rogue Replicant at the beginning of the film.

There are a pair of badass heroes, a pair of badass villains, and a whole lot of CG that doesn’t overshadow the rest of the film. It’s all blended in nicely, and has the look and feel of the original film. About the only thing missing from an atmospheric standpoint was the creepy vocal track that would play throughout the first film. I just rewatched the original Blade Runner a couple days ago in preparation for this film, and now I know where Ghost in the Shell gets it from.

Overall, a 4.5/5.0 from me. I had to deduct something due to the whole flame tower thing. It’s iconic, man!

“A Salt on the Rise” is Published

“A Salt on the Rise” has now been published, as part of OnThePremises.com’s 30th Issue. It is the Guest piece, and the tag line the editors came up with for it is a “speculative story about a problem-solving bureaucrat in a particularly complex afterlife.”

I should probably introduce this world a little bit, as it is where most of the stories I’m currently writing take place in, as well as the book I’m going to have finished by the end of the year.

“A Salt on the Rise” takes place on a secondary world similar to our own, but one where magic and fantasy races abound. In this world, one of two things happens to people when they die:

1. Their souls leave their bodies, enter the River Styx, and make the journey straight to the afterlife.
2. Their souls linger, either in their bodies or in some physical object they’re attached to (Rings, swords, etc) and they become part of the undead.

The undead are cursed to wander the earth until they either resolve whatever is keeping them on this side of the veil, or they are exorcised and their suffering souls are utterly vanquished. To keep the undead from becoming a menace on the living and to protect them from the fate of non-existence, the God of Death created a city that sits at the point where the River Styx crosses over to the other side. This is Necrolopolis, a sprawling city of some four million restless souls of various types: ghouls, skeletons, ashlings, mummies, free-floating spirits, even two distinct groups of vampires. All are waiting for their chance to meet with the God of Death to determine what is keeping them here so that they can resolve it and cross over.

But, the wait time is long, and the undead are quite restless. To keep the peace, the God of Death depends on two people: his half-human daughter Grimina, and her full-human assistant Adelvell, a necromancer with a knack for getting caught up in other people’s messes. He may have poor luck (And an even poorer disposition), but this dead-end job in this dead-end town is all Adelvell’s got, and he’s got bills to pay.

This is the first published Necrolopolis story, but it is not the first published Adelvell story. If you enjoyed “A Salt on the Rise” and would like to get a glimpse of our hero prior to his tenure as Grimina’s assistant, check out “Lost in the Mail” in Third Flatiron Publishing’s anthology Astronomical Odds. Also be on the lookout for other announcements. I had several short stories making the submission rounds, and if/when any stick I will let you know the where and when.

A Whirlwind of Stories – 09/30/17

Man, yesterday was a crazy day. I had to finish my touch-up edits on two new short stories, and then go back over a couple of older tales. All four had to be sent off by the end of September 30th, and with company over both in the morning and in the afternoon, that made for a tight schedule. My fault for letting the month slip away from me (My earlier post about PUBG is pretty damning, I know), but I think it all worked out in the end.

The first tale is “Necromotion” and in it a necromancer boards a root train in order to bring an undead client out of hostile elven lands. What is a root train, you ask? Well, it could be a glorified turnip truck, or it could be something completely different. I submitted that to the Fantastic Trains anthology, so if it makes it there you will find out! Well, regardless of where it lands, it will eventually be published. Either out there, or here. This story is part of a larger group of tales, some of which have already found publication. It is part humor, part mystery, part action, and all snark from the first person protagonist.

The second is “Divine Rescue” and it is set in the Ruma: Dawn of an Empire pen-and-paper game universe. Ruma is an alternate, fantasy version of Roman times where the Greek and Roman gods walk the earth and magic reigns supreme across the land. In my tale, a group of heroes enter a blasted wasteland in order to rescue someone left behind at the fall of Mount Olympus. This is a straight-up action tale, as heroism is the name of the game in this world.

The third is “The Sky has Fallen!” and it is a Cthulhu Mythos take on the old Chicken Licken/Little story featuring Foxy Loxy as the unfortunate protagonist. I wrote it years back and have recently gone through it again now that I have a slightly better idea on story structure and pacing, so I hope it has new legs and wings. Kathy Steinemann’s The Writer’s Lexicon really helped out with this one, and the other one.

The final one I will not name, as the place I’ve submitted it to prefers to keep things anonymous so as to facilitate blind judging. I will say it is a resubmission to the same place. The first was bounced back – I think – because of formatting errors due to my switching between OpenOffice and Microsoft Office. The original file got screwed up somehow and I had to end up dumping the story into a plain text file, then copy it back over into Microsoft Office and go back through to format paragraphs and other things in order to get it all right again. I also altered the beginning a bit in order to get into the action a little quicker, so I hope it will do well. Once again, the Writer’s Lexicon helped immensely with this tale. I will be writing a review of that pretty soon.

 

The first tale is a Necrolopolis short story titled “Necromotion” and in it

The more I work at this whole self-employed thing, the more I realize you need to be a master of your schedule. Without discipline, things can fall apart quickly. At the least, they can get tossed by the wayside and then you scramble to catch up.

Story Acceptance: On the Premises Guest Position

Last month I submitted a short story to OnThePremises.com’s 30th themed contest. The particular theme had to revolve around the word or concept of “Community.” I spent some time trying to see if there was a way I could twist the word around in some unique way, but then I decided on a more traditional plot, if in an outlandish setting: a clash of communities within a city, and how the city responds to it.

That’s where we get “A Salt on the Rise.” It is a fantasy story about a necromancer who has to resolve a dispute between the mummies and the ashlings before they tear apart the city of the restless dead. The story did well, but didn’t quite make it into the final ten submissions that go on to compete for the top three slots. But, editors Tarl Kudrick and Bethany Granger enjoyed it enough to want to feature it as a guest piece, after helping me to clean it up a bit first.

I’ve taken them up on the offer, and look forward to receiving their edits. Their criticism has already been invaluable: back in the spring I wrote a story tied to this same world and characters, and it placed close to the top 20 or 30 of 200 or so entries. It was a lot closer than I’d ever gotten in an entry for On the Premises, so I paid the $15 for constructive feedback. They wrote back with a two page breakdown of what wrong with the story, and also what went right. This allowed me to go back and evaluate that particular story, but it also helped me better nail down this particular setting, the characters, and my narrative voice.

I will post about the editing process with Tarl and Bethany either later this month, or after the story is released close to October 15th.

 

WIPika Fridays: What Draft Is This Again?

Another week, another bit of productivity.

First on the block is the editing for “The Lone Blue Strand” for Fictionvale. I received the edits on Sunday night, and have spent an hour or so every day this week working on it. There’s still a little bit left to do tomorrow, but for all intents and purposes it’s finished. I’ll send it off tomorrow morning and wait for the second round of edits to come back my way.

Second accomplishment has been the short story codenamed “Evaporated Ocean.” It’s actually a rewrite of a short story I wrote back in 2012 that didn’t go anywhere with publishers. Looking back on it, I understand why: it’s unreadable! There are aspects of it that are neat (Such as the setting), but the characterization and plot were blah. Not coherent in any way, shape, or form. The core setting is largely the same, but the characters and plot have been changed almost completely. I’ve completed three outlines of it, and have started on what could be the second/third draft of it. I plan to finish that tomorrow, and then Sunday work on heavy edits for it.

First line from it:

Jisan paced along the dry ocean floor.

The name of the story will have nothing to do with evaporated anything, so I hope the idea of the ocean floor being anything other than wet will stand out to readers and make them want to continue on. I try to start my stories either with a conflict, or with a strange premise that grabs them. Don’t know that I succeed at it, but I know I’m a lot better than I used to be.

That’s something I should post up one day. A list of story first lines, from my earliest works to now. Should be amusing for somebody, at least.

The novel outlining has had its ups and downs this week. I’ve completed more than I probably would have had I not been on any sort of schedule, but I’ve officially gotten behind. I don’t know that I’ll be able to make up any time Saturday, but Sunday I will have to put my nose to the grindstone and get caught up. Even if it takes all afternoon and evening, it’ll have to get done! Fortunately we have leftover pizza that we made last week, so dinner’s sorted.

Where reading’s concerned, I’m also behind. I had hoped to finish with Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson before the weekend, but that’s just not happening. Same goes with Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Albert Zuckerman. I want to take my time with them and really read them, so it’s taking longer than expected. Alas.

Still, not bad for the second full week of adjusting to a new writing schedule. I need to hold onto this level of productivity, and ratchet it up. As long as I don’t slide backward, it’s all good from here.

Fictionvale Episode Five is Out

Fictionvale5Fictionvale Episode 5: Of Magic and Mayhem comes out today. My short story “Harmonious Bedlam” is featured in there along with nine other tales of fantasy, mystery, or something in-between.

“Harmonious Bedlam” follows the life of a soldier-turned-baker who must turn herself into a soldier again if she is to protect the life she has built in a new land. For a sneak peak at the story itself, check back here on Wednesday. “Harmonious Bedlam” will be the focus of this week’s “Drafty Wednesdays” post. I haven’t decided yet if we’ll look at just the first scene, or if we will dive a bit into scene two, as well. It won’t be more than a couple of pages, though, but I hope you will enjoy the breakdown of it. Further, I hope it will be enough to entice you to pick up a copy of Fictionvale! For those of you who write, please consider contributing to the magazine. I have worked with editor Venessa Giunta on two stories now (Soon to be three), and the experience has been both enlightening and fun. I’ve come out of both editing phases a better writer, and I hope the same will occur with this third time.

Fictionvale Episode 5 can be found both at Fictionvale.com and at Amazon.

Introducing “WIPika(*) Fridays” and “Write 1 Sub 1”

On November 28th, while mass riots break out to see who will limp home with that 50″ TV that’s on sale for $99.95, I will start posting up weekly reports on how my writing is going. This will be a little different from the Writing in Public posts, which will begin again December 1st. In those posts I am just giving a basic update on the day’s activities and writing, but with WIPika Fridays I will post up brief excerpts of what I am doing. It will be done in the form of a few sentences or paragraphs of a piece to be submitted, or I will go through some of the things I’ve been brainstorming and how that works for me, or I may show a bit of the outlining process. Or, maybe I will do all three! It depends on the week, and what I think is the most interesting accomplishment for that week.

W1S1 2014 - Weekly ChallengeThis will go hand-in-hand with the Bradbury Challenge  (Also known as Write 1, Sub 1) that I am also starting Thanksgiving Week. My plan with that is to be a little bit more ambitious and actually Write 2, Sub 2. I want to write a flash fiction story each week, and a full-length short story each week. Will I be able to handle that? Well, we shall see. I am starting this during the holiday season for a reason (And not just so I could rhyme back there). Between November 24th and December 31st there are 38 days, or 5.5 weeks. Let’s be ambitious and say that’s six full weeks. Going by Write 2, Sub 2, that means I should have written and submitted 6 flash fiction stories and 6 short stories. I also want to write a novella-length work and get it out to Writers of the Future. That’s 13 stories in six weeks. If I can manage to do that during the general craziness of the holiday season, then maintaining that pace through 2015 should be a lot easier, barring any family emergencies or illness.

Will it happen? Maybe, maybe not. I know it won’t happen unless I attempt it and maintain a positive attitude while doing it. At the very least I will get more written in the next few weeks than I would have had I not pushed myself.

(*) The name of this section was inspired by 2:30 from the following Sequelitis Video by Egoraptor. Warning: profanity, hilarity, and the tearing down of an iconic video game will ensue!

 

 

“Once Upon an Apocalypse” Now Available

Once Upon an ApocalypseIt’s been a long time coming, but the Once Upon an Apocalypse anthology that my short story “The Little Red Survivalist” is in has finally been released! The book came out in ebook format some time ago, but the paperback came out more recently. Both can be found at Amazon.

The book is basically a retelling of fairy tales with zombies included! The second volume of this series will feature similar fairy tales but with Lovecraftian-style settings and monsters.

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

 

 

Fairy tales are fantastical tales in which anything absolutely anything can happen. Most fairy tales don t involve fairies. Some have morals, some don t. Some are for kids, some aren t. The oldest were told by adults to adults.

Fairy tales are populated by the weird and the bizarre. Elves and dragons, bridge trolls and deep-sea mermaids, sprites and goblins, talking animals and talking trees and sometimes, even fairies. There are no limits to what can be used in a fairy tale, or to what a fairy tale can be about. Once Upon an Apocalypse contains fairy tales about zombies. Or, in some cases, zombie stories with fairies, or even fairy tales in which zombies also appear.

If you ve never read real fairy tales then you might ask: Wait, aren t fairy tales cute stories about talking bunnies and Disney characters? The answer is yes and no.

Not the old ones. If you never read the Brothers Grimm are you in for a shock! The ‘fairy tale ending’ we ve come to know is a far cry from what Jacob and Wilhelm were writing back in early nineteenth century. Things tend to end very, very badly for the characters even the good guys.

Not all of the stories in Once Upon an Apocalypse are scary. Some are hilarious, some are tragic, and some are disturbing. However each contains a spark of real magic that special element separating these stories from others of the horror genre.

In fairy tales absolutely anything can happen. There are no rules and there are few happy endings. These are fairy stories, and they re zombie stories, and they are absolutely magical.

And we mean that in the least-comforting way possible.

Table of Contents:

  • Forward by Jonathan Maberry
  • Wednesday’s Goats by Justin Short
  • Ali Baba and the Forty Zombies by Suzanne Robb
  • Steadfast in the face of Zombies by Trisha Wooldridge
  • The Oven by Sean Eads
  • The Seven Ravens by Celeste Hall
  • The Undead Rose by Christopher Peruzzi
  • Undead and the Shoemaker by T. Fox Dunham
  • And the Beast by Rachel Kenley
  • Alice’s Undead Adventures by Amber Keller
  • Mary Had a Little Limb by Wendy Dabrowski
  • Cinders by Katherine Marciniak
  • Thumbelina’s Bloodbath by Herb Shallcross
  • The Zombie Bridegroom by Sheri White
  • Matches by Randy Lindsay
  • Pin by John Boden
  • Seven by K. H. Vaughan
  • Giuseppe Cavaletta and His Aunts by Jeffrey C. Pettengill
  • Foxy and Wolf by Brian M. Sammons
  • The Pied Piper of Cottageville by Tracy L. Carbone
  • Metzger of the Acres by Sean Logan
  • Little Red Survivalist by Benjamin T. Smith
  • Four and Twenty by Stephen D. Rogers
  • More Than Watchmen Wait for the Dawn by Joe McKinney

I am still awaiting my contributor copy, but once it comes in I will dive on in! I’ve heard good things about “The Undead Rose” by Christopher Peruzzi.

If you like horror and fairy tales, I hope you will like them both combined! Pick up a copy at Amazon today.

 

“The Lone Blue Strand” Accepted by Fictionvale!

I’m happy to announce that my steampunk ode to Robocop has been accepted by Fictionvale! I received the news earlier today from Venessa Giunta, the editor-in-chief over at the magazine. “The Lone Blue Strand” will appear in Episode 6, a mashup of steampunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk, and likely some piratepunk stories and appropriately titled “Pick Your Punk!” It will be the third story of mine to be accepted for the magazine, and the second that could be classified as steampunk, though I suppose the argument could be made that “Mechanicis Solis” (In Episode 4) is of the gaslamp fantasy genre.

Once I get the all-clear from Miss Giunta, I will dedicate one of the upcoming “Drafty Wednesday” postings to the opening scene to this story. As I recall it went through several iterations before it wound up in its final, submitted form. And, if “Mechanicis Solis” and “Harmonious Bedlam” are any indicator, it will go through a whole lot more when the professional editing phase begins!

“Harmonious Bedlam” Accepted by Fictionvale!

I am in the middle of working on an “abbreviated epic” for the upcoming Third Flatiron Publishing anthology, and I happened to notice a new message in my inbox. It was from Venessa Giuntas, Editor-in-Chief over at Fictionvale Magazine. Fictionvale has graciously accepted my fantasy short story “Harmonious Bedlam” for Episode 5 of the magazine, due out this upcoming November. My thanks to her and to Fictionvale for the opportunity to submit, and for the acceptance!

Another of my works, “Mechanicis Solis”, will be published by Fictionvale later this month in Episode 4. Venessa and I have worked back and forth on editing the story and it has been transformed into a much, much better piece than the one I originally submitted. I learned quite a lot from that one story, and so I am looking forward to repeating the process with “Harmonious Bedlam.”

Once again, thank you to Venessa! I look forward to working with you again.