HORROR FOR THE THRONE

Over on Jim Macdonald’s blog, an ANNOUNCEMENT:

Madhouse Manor

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Ian Randal Strock’s Fantastic Books has contracted with James D. Macdonald, Judith K. Dial, and Tom Easton for an anthology of 40 short horror stories to be called

HORROR FOR THE THRONE

ONE-SITTING READS

We will open for submissions on August 8, 2019. Submissions will close September 15, 2019.  Proposed publication date is early 2020, in all the usual paper and electronic formats.

We’re looking for reprints.  Previously published where the rights have reverted to the author.   500-2000 words.  Pay is $20 flat fee for non-exclusive reprint rights.  The stories should NOT involve bathroom horror.

Send submissions (and questions) to Tom at profeaston@verizon.net.

The book will join SCIENCE FICTION FOR THE THRONE and FANTASY FOR THE THRONE on Ian’s dealer table at numerous conventions (as well as on his website at fantasticbooks.biz and on Amazon etc.). With luck, everyone will decide they just have…

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These Days, the Internet Would Fall on Their Heads.

It’s not only future right-wing conservative Supreme Court justices who engage in youthful hijinks involving blackface; once upon a time, the young Virginia Woolf and her friends did something much the same, impersonating the Prince of Abyssinia and his entourage and convincing the CO of HMS Dreadnaught to give them a royal welcome and an official tour.

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(That’s Woolf on the far left, in drag and — frankly — fairly unconvincing makeup.)

Everybody seemed at the time to regard this as a jolly good prank, with the exception of the British Navy, which was embarrassed. (What the Abyssinians thought about the whole affair doesn’t seem to have been recorded — if, indeed, they heard about it at all.)

There’s a 2017 New Yorker article about the affair that waxes pontifical about the symbolic meanings underlying the hoaxers’ acts. It makes some interesting points . . . but as far as I can tell, the hoaxers were just upperclass intellectual twits whose agenda, if they had one, could be boiled down to “make Authority look silly.”

“An Accomplished Man and a Gallant Officer….”

From Jim Macdonald’s blog, the first stop on our Major Andre Historical Tour:

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John André, A Representation of Major John André…going from the Vulture Sloop of War, aquatint, circa 1781. John André, A Representation of Major John André…going from the Vulture Sloop of War, aquatint, circa 1781.

Although I grew up in the area I had never paid much attention to this part of American history.  I therefore determined that, since I was once again in southern New York for a science fiction convention that I would go down a few days early to follow the path of Major John André, Adjutant-General to the British Army during the American Revolution.

Haverstraw Beacj State Park

Our first stop was the Treason Site, where Major André met with Lieutenant General Benedict Arnold.  We drove up from Nyack, NY, under clouds that threatened rain, to Haverstraw, NY.  There, in the woods that are now Haverstraw Beach State Park, André came ashore and met with Arnold. From Nyack you go north on Rt 9W (Not, as you might think, 9 West, but 9W.  There…

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On Villainy

I’ve written here before about the necessity — in my opinion — of making one’s villains well-rounded characters and not merely evil mustache-twirling sockpuppets. By which I mean granting them their virtues as well as their vices, and giving them friends as well as enemies, and generally treating them with a certain amount of respect even as they go forth to meet their richly deserved ends at the hands of the protagonist of the tale.

I don’t know if what I’m encountering a lot of lately is the start of a disturbing new trend, or just the result of seeing a lot of plain old-fashioned bad writing and worse criticism . . . but readers and writers both seem to be getting more into villains who are evil all the way through, from the flaky top crust of their characterization down to the soggy underbaked bottom. Anything in the line of subtlety or multidimensionality or (dare I use the word?) empathy is decried as normalizing or valorizing their badness.

This is, in my opinion, wrong. We as writers humanize our monsters in order to drive home the idea that not only are they people just like us . . . we are, if we’re not careful, people just like them.

And yeah, there are always going to be some readers who simply don’t get it, in the same way that there’s always some genius in the English Lit survey class who thinks that Jonathan Swift was speaking literally when he wrote A Modest Proposal.†

But we shouldn’t have to be in the business of writing for those people.


Spoiler: He wasn’t.

In Which I Visit a Museum

From Jim Macdonald’s blog: a museum visit, in which we see, among other things, a submarine.

Madhouse Manor

And there see a submarine.

Some years ago, for reasons that matter not to our story, I was driving around northern New Jersey when I saw something by the side of the road.  “By golly,” I said, “that looks like a Holland submarine!”  I pulled over and walked to it.  It was!  Holland boat #2, Fenian Ram.  The precursor of all modern submarines.  In the US Navy, USS Holland (AKA Holland boat #6) was SS-1.

I never saw it again though I looked for it every time I passed through the region.  Then, thanks to the Miracle of the Internet, I decided to search for it and to my joy found that it was now in a more congenial place than rusting away by roadside: Fenian Ram was now an exhibit at the Paterson Museum.

Then I had to wait the opportunity to visit: I’m not in the…

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It’s That Time Again

Created with GIMP
Yes, it’s time for my annual Springtime Services Sale!

From now through April 21, 2019 (that’s Easter Sunday, for those of you who celebrate), all edits on novel-length manuscripts will be 30% off the regular price. You can purchase an edit now to be redeemed at a later date of your choice, or you can buy an edit for a friend as a gift.

For more information, you can go to my about page.

My winter electric bill will thank you.

Free Magic Show: Boston

More magic from Jim Macdonald.

Madhouse Manor

Jim Macdonald, Magician

BEST OF BOSTON

The SAM Assembly 9“Best of Boston” contest will be held Wednesday, April 10th at the Puppet Showplace Theater, 32 Station St., Brookline, at 7:30 PM.  There is no charge for this performance.

Note that the starting time is a bit earlier than usual  because we have eight contestants participating, and we plan to finish voting and present the awards by 9:30.  Contestants include (not necessarily in this order):

 

  • Joseph Caulfield (Lord BlackSword)
  • James D. Macdonald
  • Scott Galbraith
  • Mike Lee
  • Kevin Butler
  • Eddie Gardner
  • Duncan Miller
  • Markus Steelgrave

Each contestant will present an 8-12 minute routine of their choice.

Each audience member will receive a ballot and can vote for up to three
contestants.  The top three vote recipients will be the contest winners.

Duncan Miller
Secretary, SAM Assembly #9

For my part, I intend to present “Pure Jennie, the Moonshiner’s Daughter; or, The Vexations…

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What We’re Planning

(Unless something horrible and unexpected leaps out of the bushes at us beforehand — which has, alas, been known to happen.)

Anyway. We’re going to be attending the Heliosphere sf/fantasy convention in Tarrytown, NY, and while we’re at it we’re going to be tacking a day or so onto the trip to do what Jim Macdonald is referring to as The Major Andre Tour. All the sites associated with the unfortunate entanglement of Major John Andre (even his enemies liked him) with Benedict Arnold (even his friends thought he was a dick) are within a few miles of each other in the nearby area, so it seemed like an opportunity not to be missed.

Jim will undoubtedly be writing it all up for his blog when we’re done, so keep watching this space (or his space) for details.

We’ll be doing the Tour on the Friday before Heliosphere, working out of a base in Nyack. Jim has the itinerary all worked out, with GPS coordinates and everything — once a navigator, always a navigator, I suppose.

It should be fun.

Talk About Your Toxic Work Environments

Back when I was first writing for publication, Jim Macdonald and I wrote a number of YA novels, mostly for book packagers (that was one of the entry points back then, before packagers turned into high-profile wheeler-dealers and were instead mostly borderline sleazy providers of work-for-hire content to publishers who were too dainty to make such deals themselves.)  Some of the stuff we did I’m still quite proud of; and all of it was the best we could provide given the sometimes-weird constraints we had to work under.

But my golly, I’m glad I’m not working in that end of the business right now.  We’ve come to a place where a pre-publication social-media campaign can — shall we say, bully? yes, we shall — bully an up-and-coming author into withdrawing her own book before it can be published.  And that sort of thing can happen more than once.

Whatever happened to publishing the book and letting actual readers decide for themselves whether it’s a Bad Thing or not?

(Right.  I forgot.  This is YA literature, and therefore falls under the purview of all those good-intentioned people who want to Protect Impressionable Young Minds.  Thank God for all the impressionable young minds who are already way ahead of them in finding the stuff that young minds actually want to read.)