Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Weird Book Titles, The 2009 Diagram Prize

Here's another weird book title contest from The Bookseller, the 2009 Diagram Prize. No doubt there are some tech and academic titles that would rival these winners, but these are decently odd.

The winner is Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes, by Daina Taimina. To me, this isn't all that odd. I have a knitwit friend who's interested in similar knitting activities. If you do a Google/Yahoo!/Bing search for "mathematical knitting," you'll find quite a few mathematicians and craftspeople interested in designing mathematical patterns for knitting projects. I offer the following 'proof': if you follow the provided link to the winner, you'll see that she's an adjunct at Cornell, a lofty institution.

Some of the contenders include:

  • What Kind of Bean is this Chihuahua?
  • Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich
  • Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter
  • Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots [SF editorial: not weird at all]

To see more, including the authors of the contender, go to the article.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bram Stoker Awards for 2009

The Horror Writer's Association has announced the winners for the 2oo9 Bram Stoker Awards. For 'superior achievement' in :

  • a novel: Audrey's Door, by Sarah Langan (Harper)
  • a first novel: Damnable
, by Hank Schwaeble (Jove)
  • long fiction: The Lucid Dreaming, by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
  • short fiction: “In the Porches of My Ears,” by Norman Prentiss (Postscripts #18)
  • an anthology: He is Legend, 
edited by Christopher Conlon (Gauntlet Press)
  • a collection: A Taste of Tenderloin, by Gene O’Neill (Apex Book Company)
  • nonfiction: Writers Workshop of Horror, by Michael Knost (Woodland Press)
  • poetry: Chimeric Machines, by Lucy A. Snyder (Creative Guy Publishing)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tiptree Award Winners--2009

The Tiptree Award winners have been announced. If you're not familiar with the story behind this prestigious award, here is a synopsis: the award is for science fiction and fantasy works that are "thought-provoking, imaginative, and perhaps even infuriating." It was inspired by the discussions about gender writing that arose by the revelation that James Tiptree, Jr. was a pen name for a female writer, Alice B. Sheldon. (See the Tiptree Award winners and What is the Tiptree Award? at the award site.)

The 2009 winners are:

  • Greer Gilman, Cloud and Ashes: Three Winter's Tales, Small Beer Press: "a dense, poetic, impressionistic book"
  • Fumi Yoshinaga, Ooku: The Inner Chambers, volumes 1 & 2, VIZ Media: the jury worried about its lack of experience with manga, but chose the story as a winner. Its premise is that 3/4s of Japanese men were killed by a plague, so the shogun and daimo are women. "Through-out the two books, Yoshinaga explores the way the deep gendering of this society is both maintained and challenged by the alteration in ratios."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Found: Black Angel

If you're at least 38 years old, you may remember a short film that was shown jointly with the theatrical release of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. (I'm way past old enough, but have no recollection of that year at all.) The short film was Black Angel, produced with gift money of £25,000 from George Lucas for his appreciation of the art direction provided by Roger Christian in Star Wars.

Mr. Christian used the money to produce a moody, mystical fantasy art film set in the middle ages. The film was lost for many years following an illness suffered by Mr. Christian, but nevertheless was quite influential to filmmakers. Fortunately, a half-inch print of the film has been found. ShadowLocked has an excellent and exclusive interview with Black Shadow director Roger Christian. In the article containing the interview, you'll find stills from the film and conversation about its making and history.

An interesting quote from the interview:

"Cinema has changed so much, and I bless Peter Jackson [director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy], because he gave the world what it didn't know it wanted, and brought this kind of fantasy world into huge mainstream cinema, finally. And did it so beautifully."

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oscar Awards and Speculative Fiction

The Oscar winners have been announced. Here is the official list of the nominees and winners of the 82nd Academy Awards.

Speculative fiction films made a showing. Avatar scored well, winning art direction, cinematography and visual effects. But James Cameron and company, with so many other nominations, was vexed nearly every step of the way by The Hurt Locker: directing, film editing, best picture, sound editing and sound mixing. Maybe the billions in ticket sales will take the sting out of this for Cameron. Avatar eclipsed the previous ticket sales leader, Titanic, but that's his film, too. (I won't even mention Aliens and The Terminator.)

The other major speculative film win was Up with animated feature film.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Physicist: Watch Your Quantum Step, Writers

By way of The End of the Universe: a physicist, Sidney ­Perkowitz, a professor of physics at Emory University, prayerfully suggests that writers, especially screenwriters, violate physics no more than once per script. Dude, are we supposed to FTL ourselves to a distant galaxy and then use picks, shovels and Winchesters to kick out the space aliens there? Oh...we are. Okay, noted.

Especially egregious and offensive was Angels and Demons, according to this related Guardian (UK) article:

"The amount of antimatter they had [to blow the Vatican to Kingdom Come] was more than we will make in a million years of running a high-energy particle collider," said Perkowitz. "You can't contain it using an iPod battery."

That offends even me. They could've used flashlight batteries or a car battery. Sheesh. (And I like Tom Hanks, but isn't there someone else to play professorial adventurers (who is not Sean Connery)?)

Seriously, folks, I like mundane SF (another term badly needed), which doesn't violate any present laws of physics. Those stories are closer to home and have more realistic protags and bad guys, rather than the Gothic figures we're grown accustomed to. But I liked Angels and Demons and Avatar, too, even though my BS meter pegged the red zone several times in each.

A humble suggestion to Professor Perkowitz: watch a few adventure movies. It is not uncommon to see someone leap from a roof down a couple of stories and manage to grab onto a ledge, or leap from speeding car roof to speeding car roof...etc. Don't get me started on video games....

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Trekkie-Zombie Mashup

We interrupt this post for an important announcement: The March 2010 issue of Flash Fiction Online is, well, online. It has three new, excellent stories by Daniel José Older, Caroline M. Yoachim and Andrew Gudgel, plus a classic story, and Bruce Holland Rogers' Short-Short Sighted monthly column.

Now back to our regular posting:

Yikes. Kevin David Anderson has contracted to write a Trekkie/Zombie apocalypse mashup, called Night of the Living Trekkies. Will Mr. Anderson be able to safely attend a Trekkie convention after this? He has published widely in magazines, anthologies and podcasts. My apologies for my earlier misreporting of the actual author of this work. Good luck with this project.

Die hard and prosper, dead Trekkies!

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Author Barry Hannah RIP

I had the good fortune of meeting Barry Hannah a few times when he was teaching at Clemson University. I then managed to get a signed copy of his first novel Geronimo Rex, which he had just published. He was a Faulkner-styled Southern Gothic writer with quite a gift for short fiction. Geronimo Rex was a National Book Award nominee and William Faulkner Prize winner; his short fiction collections netted him the PEN/Malamud Award.

Here is an oft-quoted bit from the 1972 New York Times review of Geronimo Rex, the review written by writer Jim Harrison of Legends of the Fall fame. Harrison said that Hannah was a writer

“brilliantly drunk with words [who] could at gunpoint write a life story of a telephone pole.”

This quote was in each of several articles I read about Barry Hannah's death, including the excellent one in Vanity Fair. Hannah struggled with cancer and drinking, the former one finally winning.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Review of Flash Fiction Online

Sam Tomaino at SFRevu has a review of the Feb. 2010 edition of Flash Fiction Online. This month, he seemed to favor "Six Reasons Why My Sister Hates Me":

The narrator of Aimee C. Amodio's story details "Six Reasons Why My Sister Hates Me" and helps draw a picture of their relationship and the world they live in. It was quite good.

You can see this edition of FFO here.

Sam also reviews Abyss & Apex, Apex Magazine, Black Static, Jim Baen's Universe (penultimate issue), Outer Reaches, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

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