My story, Heartless! http://nonbinaryreview.com/heartless/
Zoetic Press has posted their 3rd issue of Nonbinary Review online! It's a Wizard of Oz anthology and it has one of my favorite short stories I've written to date- Heartless. Great stories and poems in this issue, check them out!
Wow! I got published in 4 magazines, all in one day! Very stoked, excited, and celebrating!
A great website I've published with before, www.fictionmagazines.com, was kind enough to accept 4 new stories I submitted to New Realm Magazine (their fantasy mag), Nebula Rift (their sci-fi magazine), and Under the Bed (their horror magazine).
Here are links to the new magazine issues I'm in and little descriptions about the stories I wrote:
Nebula Rift, Vol. 4, No. 1! The story is A Clockwork Orientation, which is dedicated to Anthony Burgess, the author of A Clockwork Orange. The story questions how can we cure a psychotic cyborg?
I got published in Nebula Rift, Vol. 3, No. 12! The story is A.I. High, a cyberpunk story set in Japan. In A.I. High, a cyborg takes digitally-crafted replicas of drugs in order to escape his reality.
My story, Yarles the Fool, was published in New Realm Magazine Vol. 4, No. 2! It's a story about a disgraced knight turned jester eunuch forced to perform for a king. I tried to write a continuing story to it, but it was bad... really bad. LOL. So this is a standalone fantasy short for now.
My story, Domain of Shadows, was recently published in Under the Bed Vol. 4, No. 3. A classic "conjure and sacrifice" story... but what kind of sacrifice must be made to this particular entity? Hmmm.... Fiction Magazines also publishes on Amazon, so I'll post a link when it appears there as well!
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess- Classic Novel Deals with Delinquency, Language, Psychology, and the Ability to Change
This is the cover of the book I found in my uncle's old room at my grandparent's house, long ago when I was just 14 or 15. To this day, I kick myself for losing this particular version, and wonder where it is.
Since this is a well-known story that's been out for decades, I've got a few spoilers here.
When I found this book, the title looked very familiar to me. I'd heard of A Clockwork Orange as a movie, but had never seen it. Nor had I heard of Anthony Burgess. What I discovered when I opened the book would become a lifelong inspiration. A Clockwork Orange became one of my favorite books, and Anthony Burgess one of my favorite authors. This was one of the many reasons I didn't watch the movie for years, until my college years. Stanley Kubrick was a movie genius, but still, the book is light-years beyond the movie and for good reason- Burgess was an innovative literary miracle.
It was Anthony Burgess, a self-described Joycean, who would also teach me who James Joyce was, and give me an grand treatment of how authors, like Burgess and Joyce, could play with language. Through Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess plays with adolescent slang, borrowing heavily from Russian, with his narrator and main character Alex.
Alex runs with a group of thugs, young hooligans in a dystopian England. They skip school, drink milk spiked with drugs, and rob houses among other horrible things. All in all, they are horrible people. Alex's bad deeds catch up with him, and he ends up going to prison, where he is eventually signed up for a revolutionary treatment that will alter his mind for 'good'.
There's a powerful moralistic aspect to this story. Anthony Burgess was a big believer in free will, which came from his religious background, and he uses the character of Alex to show a person who always has a choice. Alex decides whether to do these horrible things he does, or not. Due to his youth, and his criminal inclinations, he leans towards error until he is forced, through a scientific experiment, to be mindful of the law. Being forced to be obedient, however, has dreadful consequences. Alex's mind is altered to such an extreme that he goes from being a criminal to a cowering weakling. He leaves prison, and can't really cope with the outside world. Alex runs into one of his old hoodlum friends, now a cop, who is just as brutal and sadistic as a law enforcement as he was a hooligan. After being harrassed and ridiculed by his former friend and enduring a bunch of other humiliating circumstances in his rehabilitation, Alex learns his change has been for the worst. Alex's mind is later treated again and he is "reversed" back to normal.
I live in the US and our version of the book basically ends without the essential final change of Alex taking steps towards becoming a good human being. I found the final chapter around the same time I first saw the movie online (yay for modern technology) and its a shame that it didn't come in American versions of the book. Kubrick's version ends in the American vein without the final chapter, but Burgess's original idea of free will and, if it's better for an individual to choose good instead of the state choosing good for him, is so essential to the book. I'd recommend anyone looking up the real final chapter if they've never read it.
If you've never read A Clockwork Orange, please do. Please get immersed in the cool language, the interesting "near future" that didn't happen (this book was released in the 60's... but in a way, maybe this book kind of happened when the punk movement hit England? Adicts anyone?). Check out the complicated character, Alex, and the psychological trauma of a man forced to think and feel in a different way. Very eye-opening and thoughtful book that remains a classic to this very day.
I love occult horror. It's one of my favorite genres to read, and one of my favorites to write. The only genre that may rival it for me is cyberpunk.
When I read Jack Rollin's The Seance, I got all of the occult horror I could have asked for. A Victorian backdrop, an asylum, magic, and supernatural forces beyond human comprehension, The Seance is truly a "Gothic tale of horror and misfortune".
The story is filled with a lot of mystery before you figure out what's going on. Asylum patients and workers give little to no clue as to what's going on to the main character of the story, whose trying to figure out all of the details in the dark as we read alongside him. There's a character with a missing limb, which keeps us guessing as to what fate's happened to her. When I started reading The Seance last year, I really didn't know what to expect, and didn't realize just how supernatural the story was going to get until I got knee-deep in it. I was rewarded with one of my favorite supernatural beings in literature (who'd have to read to know exactly what being it is) along with the discord and mayhem that accompanies this fictional creature. You can tell that Jack researched a good deal to create a convincing occult Victorian tale, yet keeps the story going at a decent pace. It's not too fast as for all of the details to be revealed too quickly, and not slow at all, allowing for action and drama. He's also good at creating dread in his story line, and making you feel the horror the characters go through.
A year later, I don't regret owning this book on my kindle. If you like occult horror, supernatural elements in fiction, Gothic literature, or Victorian history, I highly recommend The Seance.
On Amazon, Kindle and Paperback
I've slipped from a "dream within a dream" (Poe) in so many ways while reading Mark Woods' Fear of the Dark.
Fear of the Dark can be described as a short story collection, but it's more than that. In a creative way, Mark has taken a bunch of stories and combined them into a larger narrative, and that narrative belongs within another overarching story. These connected stories and how they're told also have a cool way of revealing the personalities of the characters involved in the book.
Mark Woods starts the book with a boy looking in an old man's attic. The boy finds a picture of the old man in his younger days with friends, young men in early adulthood. This photograph strikes curiosity in the boy, who asks the old man about these friends and who they were. The old man explains that he hasn't seen these friends for many years, and goes on to tell a story that will explain why...
From here, we go into the central story of the book. The old man tells the boy about his last night hanging out with his friends, telling scary stories. Each friend shares a tale as a fun game, trying to out-scare each other, and each story proves to be better than the last.
Mark does a great job of building up the scary factor from story to story. Each story is good, but they get increasingly terrifying as the book moves along. It really seemed like he tried to organize the stories from the least to most horrifying, showing which of the friends were the better storytellers. As the friends tell stories, they also react in a convincing way to display whose stories were scarier, and which ones made them think in a deeper way (the first story had a strong philosophical element that really had the friends talking).
As I was reading the second story told by one of the friends, Let It Snow, I thought "oh, this is going to be my favorite story in the book!" Next thing I know, the further I went into the book, the better the stories got, and I had to rethink my decision multiple times in which story is best. The last two stories told ended up winning, and out of the two, Beneath the Skin was definitely the one that creeped me out the most.
After the stories within the main narrative are told, it becomes clear why the old man's circle of friends broke apart on a tragic night he can never forget.
Darkness was a strong theme in the book, obscurity and being unable to see your hidden enemies and dangers before it's too late. The bigger theme of the book that ties in with darkness and stuck out to me, however, seemed to be curiosity. The book made me think about curiosity and how it can get people tangled in bigger puzzles and mysteries that are best left unsolved. The mystery of one story lead into another story, and revealed more terror and dread for the characters within Fear of the Dark. Love the way Mark tied these stories together. Great book, and quite a diverse yet short, fast-paced read.
Fear of the Dark on Amazon
I met Eda years ago, online, when I saw his brilliant art. I had the small pleasure of seeing him turn some of my co-creations I did for a comic book publisher into amazing character designs, and I've seen the amazing work he's done for other people. His work always takes me back to the days when I was an avid Capcom fan, particularly with their fighting series, Street Fighter. Eda has a great style, mixed with Japanese anime/manga style and Western semi-realism styles. He is as great of a background artist as he is a character artist, and his city-scapes always make me wish I could live in them.
Check out some of his work here. Look him up on Facebook:
Eda Kunsis Facebook Profile
Eda's Facebook Artist Page
I first encountered Christopher Manuel’s art online, when he was doing a “sketch card a day” project on Deviantart. These sketch cards covered a series of figures in different scenes, mostly from movies and television shows. The main genre was horror, with pictures of Chucky, Krueger, etc. but there were also cards from dystopian science-fiction (Alex from Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange), comics (Batman’s The Joker), and more.
I love Christopher Manuel’s portraits. The way he draws faces is great. His lines are efficient- not too much, not too little. He can do realistic art styles, and cartoonish art styles. He also has great tastes in movie and entertainment in general.
I’d recommend anyone to check him out. He also does commissions for sketch cards, and is great at bringing people’s visions to life. His art speaks for itself.
Check him out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chris.manuel.165
As a small press author, I've had the pleasure of meeting many talented authors online, and the privilege to work with a few. In comics, Chuck Amadori remains the best comic book writer I've come across.
Image, Dark Horse, and any other comic publishing house that hosts and distributes creator-owned comics would be wise to hit Google Search and look up Chuck Amadori. The man's worked hard to contact reviewers and interviewers in order to share his unique, brilliant brand of comics. In a sea of mediocrity where some just piggyback and cover whatever is the hottest fad at the moment, Chuck pushes to do things that are different and reflective of his own creative genius.
That isn't to say that he shys away from genres that are already established and well-known. Science-fiction, thrillers, cowboy shoot 'em ups, Chuck Amadori has touched them all... but in his own way, the way a writer should. He's collaborated with great artists like Ruvel Abril, Alexandre Reis, and Marcelo Salaza, who have all brought Chuck's written words into beautiful panels and covers.
When I was introduced to Chuck Amadori's work online over 3-4? years ago through the internet comic book community, starting with Pale Dark, I saw a writer who loved mystery and crafting complex, original stories. His writing credits span from science fiction (Pale Dark, Tether) to westerns (Snake). Not only is he a writer, but he's a talented filmmaker (https://www.youtube.com/user/Neuralclone) and a driven independent comic editor with his own Isle Squared Comics imprint. His work over the years has led to a variety of titles, and it's amazing how he stays driven to keep it going.
Starting from Pale Dark, an ongoing comic series, I've also read Tether, another ongoing series, and Bang Bang Lucita. Pale Dark and Tether are science-fiction stories in their own right, Tether mixed with post-apocolyptic battle arenas, a mad scientist, and a bacchanalian, evil emperor who thirsts for sex and blood. Pale Dark has its share of crazy science, but nothing is more terrifying than Chuck's Pale Man, a mysterious egomaniac who has a strange obsession with "Subject K", one of his human lab rats. Pale Dark is my favorite, and after reading five issues, I find that what started as a veiled story about guy with amnesia in a hellish space prison has turned into an intense space opera with mind blowing revelations, leading to more mystery! As a fan of Tad Williams and George R. R. Martin, I like weird cliffhangers that offer more enigmas to keep me reading, and Chuck's comics always do this for me. This is why Chuck is so great at long-running comic series.
Chuck's goals in comics, along with getting his work out there, is to be recognized by publishing houses who can help with distributing his material to a wider audience. As an innovative comic book creator, however, Chuck isn't the type to just do "anything" to be recognized as a comic writer. The stories he comes up with are unique to him, not gimmicks for attention, and this means that it may be harder to get immediate attention. His stories carry a lot of mystery in a time period where some marketers make the mistake of believing most audiences want stories "spoon fed" to them, where all of the details are sold to them from the beginning. When I read Chuck's works, I see a creator in the long tradition from Poe to Lynch with his own spin: all the details aren't thrown on the table in issue one. There is a fun sense of mystery, and trippy, even scary elements in his stories that make you want to read more, that get you excited about unraveling hidden territories. His villains are bizarre, and his heroes are empathetic, tortured by the very secrets you, as a reader, anticipate being revealed.
I'm not really sure how long I knew Chuck before we started working on Empress, which started production in 2013 and has been out for over 2 years. I followed and liked his work, he liked mine, and the rest became history. We've really bonded with this Empress project with our artist Marcelo Salaza, former colorist Matheus Bronca, and current colorist Geraldo Filho. Witnessing his writing not only as a collaborator but as a fan, Chuck Amadori is a comic book writer who deserves to be seen in the comic book industry, independent and mainstream. His work ethic, his originality, and his intelligence is what is sorely needed in our modern American comic book industry. With the fall of the Comics Books Code and the widening of comic genre in the English speaking portions of the west, we have the potential to be as diverse in our market as Japan, Italy, France, and other places. Chuck Amadori's work offers the diversity and innovation we need in a new era of comics. He's a writer who isn't weird or violent just to be edgy or cool. He tackles all types of subjects for both young and mature audiences, and approaches things with a smart but balanced mind, and is open to presenting new experiences for readers. Check him out. Any title you read from Chuck is worth it.
Chuck's Comics on Comixology
Some people place an unfair biased against speculative fiction, thinking that since it often deals with elements and themes that "aren't real", that they lack any connect to reality, and cannot hit us on the psychological and emotional levels that "literary" fiction does. Someone that notes the genius of Dostoevsky or Tolstoy in dealing with a variety of characters, psychological temperaments, and cultural developments may raise their noses when presented with a horror, science fiction, or fantasy novel.
(Thank you to Tommy Bonner for the great background in this picture!)
Readers and fans of speculative fiction know better. There are so many speculative books that not only explore imaginative realms and concepts in beautiful ways, but also possess great characterization, complex tackling of real issues, and a familiar connection to our everyday lives. Otherland is one of those novels... well, four of those novels, a 4-volume series which basically makes one big, epic story.
Otherland, written by Tad Williams, is a multi-character based story set in the late-twentieth century. The main characters of the novel are Renee, a South African instructor at a college who works with virtual reality through an global internet system, and !Xabbu, a South African bushman who becomes Renee's student. When Renee's younger brother, Stephen, suffers from a strange incident on a virtual reality network online, Renee and !Xabbu eventually find out that a strange online-based conspiracy is behind Stephen's tragic circumstance.
That's the simplest I can go without ruining the story line. There are many cool characters I could talk about, but its more fun learning about the characters as they come out through the series. You literally never know who you're going to run into, or what's going to happen in Otherland. Tad's story has so many layers, and as you read on, you realize things really aren't as they seem. There are so many secrets that come out, book by book, and great characters appear all over the place. Not only does Tad Williams do a great job with balancing a variety of different characters in a four-volume book series, but he's great at chapter cliffhangers (which only make you want to read more) and tying up all of his complicated plot puzzles by the end of the series.
Tad Williams crafts a brilliant cast of heroes, and he makes some haunting villains as well. Antagonist-wise, this book has so many creepy characters and unsettling moments, you'll question humanity. The bad guys are really, really bad, from the pathological and insane murderer types to the downright greedy, hateful businessmen that exist "behind the scenes". Reading, you can tell Tad Williams is familiar with a variety of conspiracy theories, but he doesn't just bite off of theories that are out there; he creates his own, yet makes it believable in the make-believe future. In an environment where there is a worldwide virtual-reality based internet system, its not hard to believe the bad guys would do some of the horrific actions they do, and that is scary.
If you're one of many people who have read George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, you'd be pleased to know that Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Trilogy actually influenced Martin to write GOT. Tad Williams' writing and George R.R. Martin's writing have similarities in all of the right areas. Both write big, epic works, both are masters at cliffhangers in chapters, and both make believable but bigger than life characters that are fun to read about. Also, both authors are accessible. They're smart writers, but not so much that they alienate their audience. Otherland portrays these great aspects of Tad's writing from start to finish. Check it out.
This was my third book review. I plan on doing more, so stay tuned.