Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fire and Ice Memorial Weekend

I went to MisCon 26 this last Memorial Weekend. Since it was free for my kids and I was not a guest/panelist (next year MisCon 27 Memorial Weekend) we went as a family.

It took a little bit getting the kids registered friday morning but the staff were a great help and it was cool visiting with the wide variety of folks in line-book dealers, gamers, fencers, steampunkers, and others who just wanted to sample a bit of everything like me.

We visited the Merchants Room first and took a look at the wide collection of books, fantasy items and such-but we had to hurry up to the Great Hall because George R.R. Martin was already speaking (the line had taken a wee bit too long).
It was packed of course. This was the initial meet G.R.R.M. and he discussed writing and influences. This was his first time to Montana and I was surprised to find that this was arranged 3 years in advance!
I have found his blog helpful on my own journey of writing and am a big fan of his Song of Fire and Ice series. I haven't been to too many cons yet, but it was a little funny to me that the Great Hall was small by the standards of what I was used to compared to LTUE, LDStorymakers, and Book Fest. By the time we arrived it was standing room only.

We then went and took some pictures with the Iron Throne. Debi and I have also been enjoying the TV series as well. Its been long enough since I read the books that while I remember my favorite parts (Tyrion) there are still surprises. George wrote the screenplay for this weekends episode 'Blackwater' and it was cool that they set the Iron Throne up in the dungeon for him to sit on, while everyone at the Con got to watch it with the master.

There were a number of activities for kids coloring, tin foil hats=conspiracy!, creature making-which Mathias excelled at of course-and that was quite a bonus for families, so I appreciated that. Debi had the kids while I sat in on some writers meetings.

Darrell K. Sweet had been lined up to be the Artist of Guest of Honor but as you may have heard he passed away only recently. Rob Carlos was the replacement Artist Guest of Honor this year. I had not been familiar with his work. His style reminds me of Rogue Blades Entertainment alum Johnny Perkins.

All in all we had a great time, made a few new friends and just got out of the house for a day. Looking forward to next year.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Furniture is Coming: MisCon 26

I'll be at MisCon tomorrow.
Not as a guest or panelist--though arrangements have been made for that for next year.
I was too late this year. I haven't been to too many Con's and this looks to be pretty cool. Among the guests etc are George R.R. Martin and the Iron Throne.
I'm excited to see what has been put together and check out some local talent and vendors as well as just making more local connections. I haven't gotten out too much since moving to Montana.
I'll post and put some pics up later.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Trunk Tales

I used to lament that Robert E. Howard had so many tales that weren't finished. They started magically and just left off sometimes at the worst possible spot. Having quite few more tales under my belt these days I understand those unfinished yarns a bit better now as I have a good collection myself. Some I will come back to and finish and sell--like "Tangle Crowned Devil" was a false start to a different Porter tale that I tossed aside-I kept that fragment though, I always keep the fragments, and reworked it for that particular antho. Here's another that I just don't know where or what I want to do with it is older and predates Cowboys and Aliens by a year or so.

Dog Will Hunt

David J. West

The curtain of night fell and as the pinprick of stars began to pierce, a metallic silver airship reeled downward and disappeared over the range of cactus laden hills. The sound of squealing thunder broke and the tremors of the impact caused cattle to stampede.

Porter assumed the airship to be some contraption folks back east made, but a vile stink on the wind gave him pause. Following the foul reek, Porter pondered what cargo could smell so horrible. But curiosity was stronger than his stomach.

The horse shied from venturing closer and it took all his skills to keep the mount moving. Faint crackles and flickering lights teased on the other side of the hills, and Port once thought he heard metal tearing.

At the top of the last hill, Port’s horse bucked him off, and fled. Cursing the animal, he was astounded by what he saw from the peak.

A deep furrow plowed through the hillside as the airship lay crippled a quarter-mile distant. Green flames illuminated the crash. Porter had never seen anything so large.

He wondered why he heard no cry of pain or fear, no sound of anything living or even dying.

Marveling at the vastness, Porter pondered how such a thing could fly. It appeared to be entirely metal, how could such a thing even get off the ground?

Amidst the stench of noxious fuel he also caught the stink of dead bodies. He pulled out his revolver and stepped inside through a gaping hole.

The constant sparking from wires gave just enough light to see. He looked at the wires hanging limp like roots in a cave and puzzled at their function. Telegraph wires inside an airship? There was a slim amount of writing on the walls here and there, but though Porter was illiterate, he knew it wasn’t English.

Then Port saw the first body.

A hand lay palm up.

It belonged to a man.

Port went to feel for a pulse but saw something had been chewing on him. The mans legs were almost gone.

Flinching backward, Port scanned the gloom. Was the stink of death even stronger now?

In what looked to be a wheel house with curious dials and switches two more men lay dead. Dull black mirrors, cracked and useless were affixed to the walls and Port couldn't understand their use. If this was the wheelhouse, how could a pilot navigate? He couldn't see outside.

Down the shadowy hallway, Port caught sight of a door that had been smashed off its hinges. Looking in, revealed a small room with a cot and privy. Long thick cables embedded in the wall connected to manacles. They had been snapped.

“Son of a bitch escaped.”

Port found over a dozen more dead. Most had been chewed on and a number had been torn apart. Such strength in close quarters seemed impossible, but this airship was unbelievable, why should anything else seem ridiculous?

Traveling back through the wheel house, Port looked again for an atlas or log to grant him a glimpse of a way to better understand this strange airship. He found a slim rectangle that resembled a book. A latch let the thing flip open. Curious characters presented themselves on half while the other side had a dark mirror similar to those on the walls. Port ran his hand across the smooth surface and the blank face fired to life.

A portrait of a man appeared and spoke.

Port nearly dropped the devilish device.

The portrait stumbled in a nonsensical language, that almost sounded like Spanish yet didn’t have any of the familiar words. The voice changed timbre and speech a half-dozen times then finally addressed Port in a serviceable English. “Why are you aboard our ship? Where is my crew? Is the Apophis still contained?”

Porter didn’t answer but pulled a flask of whiskey from his coat and took a long pull.

The portrait waited.

Port looked around the room. “You talking to me?”


Another swallow.

“You must answer me. Where is my crew for the ship you are aboard?”

Port wiped his beard with his sleeve. “Dead.”


“Near as I can tell, they’re all goners.”

“What of the Apophis? Is it still contained?”

“Don’t know what that is, but if you’re asking about the prisoner, he’s escaped. Looks like he took to a bit of cannibalism to boot. Don't worry, we’ll catch him.”

“The Apophis is no man. You should seek shelter as best you can. A recovery team is on its way but it may not get to your world for some time.”

Frowning, Port muttered, “My world? What the hell, you talking ‘bout?”

“You should hide; keep out of sight of the Apophis. My apologies to your world for the destruction it shall wreak.”

“What’s it gonna do?”

“It brings chaos.”

Port squinted at the portrait, “I’ve taken down the worst men from St. Louis to Frisco, ain’t no man I’m a’feared of.”

“Apophis is no man.”

“You tried to contain him like one.”

The portrait snapped, “I warn you, primitive, for your own sake stay out of this.”

The mirror faded to black and Port puzzled at this display. Then he was angered at the portraits dismissal of his skills. If there was a lawman who had taken down more renegades, Port hadn’t heard of them. His reputation was legendary, though vilified by some. But he was usually humble about it too, until he was completely dismissed like that. Now he had something to prove to the haughty foreigner. And the black mirror—this was an invention that left the telegraph in the dust of ages. Men were polite on the telegraph, perhaps the dark mirror made men rude, and that ain’t worth a damn.

Something shambled in the dark.

Port cocked his gun as a shadow grew.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Strange Sights of the Week

I am a big fan of the Avengers movie. Its a classic.

 I try to tell my kids this all the time.
 Just where in Middle Earth is this restaraunt?
 Infinite mocking ahead.
I am on an Avengers kick.

 I can't believe how behind I am on season 2 of Game of Thrones.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Porter Rides Again

Another Porter Rockwell tale Tangle Crowned Devil has been accepted into another anthology - this time its John Palisano's Unnatural Tales of the Jackalope a collection of weird horror stories involving that most heinous of legendary critters the Jackalope. Like the Wandering Weeds premise I took this on as a challenge of how to tell a good Porter story using elements that on my own I never would have come up with.

Sounds like this ought to be coming out shortly.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Reading the Horror's Lately

My wife is home now-but she was in the hospital for days. We're out of the woods now but it was a little sketchy there for a bit.
I spent too much time in waiting rooms-long enough one day that the kindle ran out of power, but I read a

The Great God Pan, by Arthur Machen

This was one of those classic old Gothic horror's that I had meant to read for ages and never got around to. It is indeed gripping and disturbing on multiple levels-and to me so much more horrific than your typical slasher tale of today. The primeval and esoteric taint of something lingering into the modern world and bewitching across space and time is haunting. I understand its influence on so many other works of today. I recently watched the film Ghost Story (which I read Pan was a major influence) and now can't help but feel that Straub's Ghost Story was a very inferior retelling. Pan is very much so worth a read.

Styrbiorn the Strong, by E. R. Eddison

I liked Eddison's fanciful tale of a real historical viking, though it seemed a little slow getting going. As with everything of Eddison's its all about the prose, meter and timbre and you either like it or you don't. While I didn't enjoy it overall as much as I did The Worm Ourobourous, I still probably got into it better than most of Poul Anderson's works save The Broken Sword (there's no topping that).

B.P.R.D. The Universal Machine, by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi

This might be my favorite B.P.R.D. yet. I have enjoyed most everything Mignola has done, but B.P.R.D. while good still seemed to suffer from not having Hellboy, every tale I read made me wish Hellboy was in it-and while I still kinda feel that way-this tale was great even without him. The cleverness the twists were so enjoyable.

America's Secret War, by George Friedman

The only non-fiction I consumed just lately. This was written in 2004 by the founder of the intelligence think-tank Stratfor and deals primarily with America's involvement with a post 9/11 world. It does a marvelous job on explaining how we got where we are, why it will continue (because we won't change our foreign policy in way's that matter) and in my mind it lays out what is going to happen.
Now here is the frightening part (to me)
Everything that Stratfor says Al Qaeda wants to happen (destabilizing the middle east/world economies etc etc)-luckily they have not been able to bring about. But this was written in 2004.
Fast forward to 2011 and everything that has been happening is exactly what Stratfor says Al Qaeda wants to happen-it just took a little bit longer, but its going that way.
Buckle up. Very worth a read IF you are interested in geopolitics.

The King in Yellow, by Robert Chambers

Again an old book of Gothic horror. Some of the plots and tropes in these tales all revolving about the mysterious book about the King in Yellow may seem dated or even overdone but its because they were done here first. While I will admit that at times I thought I knew where the story was going and it gave some very bizarre interesting twists - with truly original (and haunting) characters, I can't see that the terror and horror was quite the same as the Great God Pan, still very worthwhile to peruse if such is your interest.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Prince Valiant

I took a break after yard work/writing work/wife in the hospital (she's doing very well) etc etc and saw coming up on HBO (which I have for Game of Thrones) that a Prince Valiant movie was coming up in an hour.

I watched a Prince Valiant movie when I was a kid-I remember that I liked it-but don't know that I could actually recall much of anything about it-I barely followed the daily comics-but as much as I like love comics I found the medium of a daily strip tedious-and Lord help you if you miss a few days.

But I flipped to the channel and LO! Ron Perlman looking as scruffy as ever-this Prince was filmed in 97'!

How did I miss this? I thought I had seen every old fantasy movie there was to see-at least everything predating the millennium-(still haven't watched Name of the King). I honestly thought well it must be because it sucked-but I still want to watch it. So I did, and I was pleasantly surprised.

It has breaks which feature Hal Foster's original art-but I didn't find that technique disturbing, if anything it just speeds us along to get to the action. I thought the cinematography was fine and the costumes were most excellent-often making me feel like some characters looked so grand that when you didn't see them in action you felt disappointed-there was actually a female viking packing some kind of dragons head flame thrower-AND she was clearly wearing some type of medieval garter beneath her armor-WHAT?!?

Don't get me wrong-this is a romanticized fantasy movie, it is not meant to take itself too seriously-it has Joanna Lumley as Morgan LeFay for crying out loud (my wife knows who that is-AB FAb and a Bond Girl) and that Arthurian romantic ideal is probably what made me like it so much-daring heroes and dastardly villains are a nice break from some of the grimmer things of late. This was exactly the type of enjoyable Sword & Sorcery movie that I am inclined to think most of my regular readers/commentators will enjoy.

The director Anthony Hickox (also plays Sir Gwain) typically does horror films (Waxwork, Warlock, one of the Hellraisers) maybe that's why he had a few good spots of tension and some interesting homages. In the beginning when Morgan LeFay and the bad vikings are digging up Merlin-his shriveled body looks like Nicol Williamson-bizarre shiny steel headplate and all. One of the marauding vikings is clearly wearing one of the elongated skull helms that Halfdan the Black's (John Cleese's character) guardsmen wear in Eric the Viking.

Starring Stephen Moyer (I don't really know who that is) Katherine Heigel, Udo Kier, Warwick Davis, and Ron Perlman I was pretty happy with the performances and fight scenes-with the exception of Prince Valiant, for being a good fighter he made a lot of very clumsy moves that should have gotten him killed.

So aside from thinking some characters were underutilized Warwick Davis for one-and that it had a forgettable soundtrack-this was a pretty decent movie. Light on any blood or gore despite the violence and some sensuality but nothing I'm worried about having my kids watch with me again later (I DVRed it).
I recommend checking it out for what it is.

And its funny because I was just recently lamenting that they don't make fantasy movies like they used to in the 80's-but apparently they still did in 97'.