Lend me your ears

I’ve never been all that much of an Audiobook type person, but a recent blowout sale convinced me to pick up several classics just for fun.  It’s interesting how a spoken performance can cast a whole new light on a familiar work. The most extreme example thus far has been the audiobook of Brave New World. Michael York utilizes hammy, over-the-top British stereotypes to voice all the actors: stuffy aristocrats for  Conditioning Centre academics, working-class brogues for the Savage and other worker drones. The result transforms the work from a chilling dystopia to a virtual Monty Python skit.  Judging by user reviews reactions are mixed, but it works for me as a reinforcement of the satire in ways I hadn’t considered. Interesting.

On a side note: does any business have a pricing model as goofy and byzantine as Audible? Honestly don’t get it at all. I’m not sure what’s more strange: that everything costs exactly 1 “credit” per month, or that you switch between credits and cash payments as you buy more. (A one-hour chapter of John Scalzi’s Human Division? 99 cents OR 1 credit. The 49-hour extravaganza that is George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons? 49 dollars OR 1 credit.) Are they trying to discourage users from purchasing more than one book a month?  Buh?

The horror!

A brief but most excellent update:  Cruentus Libri Press has picked up my flash piece “White Collar Necropolis” as part of their upcoming anthology, Another 100 Horrors.  It’s a sequel to 100 Horrors: Tales of Horror in the Blink of An Eye and, like its predecessor, will be available in both paperback and e-book formats.

It’s a fun project and it’s due mid-April-ish. I will of course post more details as they are made available.

No more room in hell

The day of the dead is officially here!  Today marks the release of Penumbra’s February issue (Zombie Apocalypse theme), featuring a short story by none other than… me! Woo hoo!

To celebrate, I decided to whip up a bonus feature of sorts.  Attached below is my brand spankin’ new mix dedicated to the classic zombie film, Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.  It features a track from the amazing soundtrack by Italian prog-rockers Goblin. The inspired music stands as Dario Argento’s greatest contribution to the film… well, other than financing the whole thing.  One of these days I’ll post about why it’s one of my all-time favorite films.  For now, turn up the volume and enjoy.

EDIT: If the SoundCloud widget above fails to load, as it apparently does on some platforms, the direct link is here.

And while you’re at it, pick up Penumbra and read a batch of great zombie stories that strive to do something a bit different with the genre.

Selling Bleeding Heartland was a singular milestone for me.  My internal editor often struggles with short fiction, so it’s nice to be acknowledged for a such a concise story.  This was my first submission after a directionless hiatus, and I discovered the call for entries with a day or two to spare for a hasty edit. It’s an extensive reworking of a short that was intended for a zombine zine that, unfortunately, failed to rise from the dead.  (Chia, it’s time to publish your excellent prequel as well!)

It’s a good day to die. And live again.


The apocalypse is coming!

Feb13Cover-500Well, here it is: the cover of next month’s Penumbra eMag, featuring me!  Yep, there’s my name, right on the cover.  The theme is, of course, Zombie Apocalypse.  It’s the best kind of apocalypse!

The release date is February 1st, or next Friday if you prefer. You can purchase directly from the Musa Publishing site, or find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and in the iTunes store through the Magzter app. I will provide links to those sources once they become available.  Because, you know, you should totally buy it.  And let me know what you think!

Top Secret: Operation Rapidstrike!

One benefit of housecleaning is the inevitable rediscovery of treasures from another age. Case in point: two dust-covered bins filled with old tabletop roleplaying paraphernalia. One such gem is a module for TSR’s ill-fated Top Secret espionage RPG. Operation: Rapidstrike! is a holdover from TSR’s salad days in a  Geneva, Wisconsin warehouse.

Top Secret module cover

Full disclosure: I have never actually played through an entire Top Secret campaign, and picked up most of the material from discount bins long after the company had merged with Wizards of the Coast. Some friends and I made a couple of half-hearted attempts that never strayed far from the launchpad. (I vaguely remember some elaborate system in the rulebook for determining whether an agent’s actions warranted suspension or termination from his or her shadowy employer. Go figure, I wasn’t too excited about an RPG in which I’d have to worry about losing my job.) Still, there’s a schlocky appeal to the entire package, from the passé Cold War scenario to the trippy artwork.

Speaking of trippy artwork, there’s some amazing stuff from the inimitable Erol Otus between these covers. Many of the illustrations are amusing renderings by the usual stable of D&D artists, with secret agents that bear disturbing resemblance to elves and gnomes. But Otus gets to cut loose with some strange and cool imagery of an agent tripping balls on the designer drug Zucor, a house specialty of the module’s main villainess.

Erol Otus

“Oh my god” seems a perfectly understandable reaction to such a powerful hallucinogen.

We’re also provided with fairly elaborate instructions for creating a drug trip for the unfortunate victim of a Zucor dosage (and I quote):



Smell:   smoke; rotten meat; honeysuckle; chlorine; almonds

Feel: chills; breezes; pressure change; vibration; heat; gelatine

Hear: footsteps; gunshots; screams for help; large engine sound; rushing river

Taste: oranges; cordite; onion; chocolate; coffee

See: Man with weapon; Man with melted face; small child; grenade floating in the air; gas

Erol Otus

Ian Fleming meets William S. Burroughs! Almost makes we wish I’d stuck it out. But something tells me this is better perused than played.

Readings are fundamental

For those in the Bay Area, tomorrow night promises to be a fun evening for a good cause presented by SF in SF.  Authors, VP instructors and all-around good people Steven Gould and Laura J. Mixon will be reading and participating in a Q&A at  The Variety Preview Room Theatre (582 Market @ 2nd in SF). Books will be provided by the legendary Borderlands Books.  Catch the details here, and catch the show to benefit Variety Children’s Charity of Northern California.

I’ll be there if I can manage to get my sluggish self into the City in time.


Kickstarter alert: Fearful Symmetries

Editor extraordinaire Ellen Datlow’s Kickstarter campaign for Fearful Symmetries, a proposed new horror anthology, is sitting at just over 90% funded, with only a couple of days to go. If a new, non-themed horror anthology doesn’t entice you, consider some of the most interesting and unusual pledge offers out there, including editing/publishing face time and a selection of ChiZine ebooks.  There’s also that whole “support supposed niche markets” thing going on, too.  Almost there!  Help them out!  And get some worthwhile goods in the process.