Thursday, July 9, 2020

THE ATLANTA INCURSION, Sequel to THE THING IN THE WOODS, Is Here!

Nearly two years after I completed and submitted it for publication, The Atlanta Incursion, the more science fiction-oriented sequel to my debut horror novel The Thing in the Woods, is now available for purchase. As of the time of this writing, the e-book and paperback have not yet linked--if you prefer your books physical, here is the paperback version.


Thing stood on its own, but the way my imagination works, I soon started devising new adventures for the characters that survived what went down in small-town Edington, GA. Before the cult of the ancient tentacle god got involved, male lead James Daly was planning on going to Georgia State University to get his core curriculum done in preparation to transfer to his parents' alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, while female lead Amber Webb was heading for Valdosta State University to double major in PR and theater.

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Although both survived, neither survived unscathed. James in particular is afflicted by insomnia and post-traumatic stress, while Amber, though less overtly traumatized, blames herself for the death of her distant in-law Sam Dixon. Furthermore, both of them are now dating--Amber had been crushing on him before and although James would grudgingly admit liking her too, he'd thought he could do better in college. Owing to their shared battle against the titular monster and its worshipers, things changed. Although Atlanta-Valdosta is not much as far as long-distance relationships go, things are going to get interesting when James finishes his core curriculum.

And this new adventure brings us additional characters. We'll meet James' close friend Eli, who's mentioned in Thing, as well as completely new Javion Jackson. When I wrote the book in 2016-2018, #Occupy and #BLM were things that had apparently come and gone (Thing and TAI both take place in 2010), but recent events dramatically revived the latter and the concerns raised by the former never really went away. As the book takes place during the lead-up to these social movements, those two characters in particular reflect them.

And shout-out to Armand Rosamilia. Not only did he produce a podcast episode discussing Thing, but he also provided an author blurb for TAI.

"Another topnotch monstrous tale. I loved the first one and this is even better!"

Monday, June 15, 2020

How I Would Have Done Ramsey Campbell's THE HUNGRY MOON

A week or two ago, I read British horror author Ramsey Campbell's Lovecraftian tale The Hungry Moon. Although I liked the title and the concept and there were some good moments (like a psychic vision revealing the monstrous Lovecraftian moon god's full back-story), overall I didn't enjoy the book. The American evangelist Godwin Mann came off to me like a massive anti-Christian straw-man, the ending didn't really make a lot of sense, and there was too much psychodrama and not enough otherworldly stuff.

However, it's easy to complain. Like I've done before on this blog with movies like The Last StarfighterMortal Kombat, and Priest and on Myopia Movies' Patreon, here are some ideas I had that could improve the book. Warning--here there be spoilers.

*In general, I'd tighten up the cast. There are lots and lots of characters and it's hard to tell them all apart. And so many of them have problems that the story is filled up with their drama rather than focusing on the "American preacher accidentally unleashes a Druidic moon god who now wants nuclear weapons" that brought the story to my attention.

*Ix-nay on how the outside world forgets the town of Moonwell exists. If the events of the story took place on a faster timetable, there'd be no need for it. Furthermore, the fact people in London are forgetting about a town in the Peak District hundreds of miles north raises questions as to just how powerful the moon-god is and whether it even really needs to storm the nearby nuclear base in the first place. Why not just mind-control Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and have her launch one at Moscow?

*Play up the nuclear fears. The placement of U.S. nuclear weapons in Great Britain was a very controversial topic in the 1980s, but other than anti-nuclear protests being mentioned and the danger that the moon god would seize control of nearby nukes in order to effect its revenge on mankind for defeating and imprisoning it, this isn't a big part of the story. It's a massive missed opportunity, especially since the climax of the story involves several characters trying to escape the town to get to the missile base ahead of the moon-god and its minions. Female lead Diana Kramer is already an American working in Britain; in my version, she's the wife or daughter of a soldier on the base who got a job working in the town's British school (perhaps the base's school didn't have any teaching positions but administration knew someone who could get her a work permit) rather than someone who emigrated to Britain on her own. She sees what's going down in Moonwell and owing to her direct connection to the base and greater knowledge of what's there, she knows exactly what could happen if the moon god and its devotees gain access to the nukes.

*Consequently, when the possessed Mann fully manifests as the monstrous moon-god, Diana and her remaining allies (after some are killed by the moon-god or its devotees) rush back to the base to warn them of impending assault by "Mann" and its followers. Meanwhile, the cultists are in hot pursuit and the moon god is tormenting them with psychic visions. The book would then climax with something more like a zombie apocalypse outside the now-warned base's gates but with an extraterrestrial monster as the commander and heavy combatant, rather the rather strange and sedate failed escape sequence and the Deus Ex Machina ending.

*Play up the fears of losing control of one's country more broadly. The British once ruled most of the world, but they lost their empire in the 1950s and 1960s and endured a stagnant 1970s. The defeat of the Argentines in the Falklands War boosted their self-esteem, but at the same time they did receive logistical help from the U.S. The placement of American nukes in Britain--weapons that could be launched at the Soviets and invite retaliation on British soil theoretically without any input from the British themselves--is a particularly extreme symptom of a bigger cause.

To that end, I'd connect the nuclear fears and the semi-villainous Mann. Rather than just randomly showing up, I'd have him associated with the nearby American base in some capacity. Perhaps he's a military chaplain or someone associated with the American Christian Right who pulled strings to travel with some followers to live on the facility and use it as a base for his own evangelical efforts.

(A hanger-on would be better, as a military chaplain has very specific responsibilities and is subject to the chain of command. If the base chaplain is spending all his time having rallies in a nearby town and neglecting his soldiers, his superior officer can put a stop to it. A civilian employee or someone who's associated with the base but nobody can explain how might have more leeway.)

I'd also play up the clash between the more easygoing Anglicans represented by the more liberal-minded local vicar, who protested against the nukes and apparently lost congregants as a result, and the more zealous American preacher and his converts. We do see a little bit of that with the Americans' children bothering British children in the school about the sins they need to confess and Mann's Americans followers willing to work without pay to get teaching positions and making the local school, which already had problems, much more unpleasant, but we could get more theological. Mann could cite Revelation 3:14-22 to claim the Anglican churches are the area are "lukewarm," for example, and that he, being British on his father's side and the son of a celebrity to boot, is particularly qualified to revitalize it. Meanwhile, the older vicar thinks Mann is a combination of "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" and too much enthusiasm (Proverbs 19:2 comes to mind) and when he starts trying to interfere with the annual ceremony at the Druids' cave, he's stirring up something that's beyond him. Even from a Christian point of view he might think it's something Mann cannot handle--see the biblical story of the demon the Apostles couldn't drive out or the misadventures of the sons of Sceva.

*I would also tone down Mann. The back-story for him Campbell establishes explains his mentality pretty well--as a result of drug use and sexual abuse at the hands of his British actor father's friends culminating in a suicide attempt, he converts to a very zealous sort of Christianity and then devotes himself to spreading it. And Campbell does avoid the temptation of making him a hypocrite stealing money from the till or sleeping with his secretary--he may be a meddling zealot, but his willingness to confront what he thinks is a demon (the imprisoned moon god in the druids' cave) shows great physical courage (the ropes he uses to rappel into a seemingly bottomless cave could break) and faith that whatever lurks there, his God is stronger. He's an antagonist, but he's not a cliche.

However, although Campbell states that he based him on Billy Graham after seeing him at a crusade in Liverpool, his beliefs and actions (and those his followers undertake in his name) are very out of character for Graham. I have never heard of Graham exhorting his followers to burn "ungodly" books, for example, or engage in subversive and control-freak behavior. Really hard-core fundamentalists objected to Graham's openness toward Catholicism, for example. This Catholic writer agrees with their claims about Graham's ecumenism, although he obviously doesn't think this is a bad thing. The same with this one. And it was the Klan who burned Beatles albums, not Graham or his followers. Graham seemed primarily focused on spreading the core Christian gospel above all else, especially after his association with Richard Nixon burned him so badly.

If Mann is supposed to be an evil (or at least arrogant and bone-headed) version of Graham, once he's possessed by the god he confronts in the cave, it would make more sense for him to have near-continuous rallies--the worshipers' fervor is reviving the moon god to its ancient potency--rather than meddle in the town's affairs overmuch. That would also provide a reason for his followers to persecute those who don't go along--he/it needs as many people fueling it as possible and they're not helping. That way we could still have the confrontation with the local comedian who mocks Mann and the eventual killing of the vicar--"Mann" doesn't want any distractions or rivals for attention.

*Furthermore, although Mann does convert some locals to his way of thinking, the vibe I get is that most of his followers are actually Americans who have moved to Moonwell. I'm not even sure how mass importation of foreigners, even white, English-speaking Christians who won't raise so many hackles, is supposed to work--in order to get a British job visa, an American needs a job offer from a British employer and must meet a bunch of other requirements. And although those are the current rules, Britain in the 1980s was tightening its immigration control, not loosening them. Here's more. If one of the local skeptics complained and was told they had valid tourist visas that would make more sense, but it seems they're living in the town, getting jobs, etc. rather than staying in the local hotel. Tourist visas specifically bar working or drawing on public funds, although the willingness of a couple of Mann's followers to teach for free at the school is a convenient workaround.

It would make much more sense that the majority of his followers are Britons from the town--youth bored with formal Anglicanism, conservatives who objected to the vicar preaching against the nuclear base, people feeling guilty about sins they'd committed (one of his converts is a girl who confesses to stealing from her employer, for example) attracted to the notion of forgiveness, spiritual-seeker types, or bored small-town people just looking for something new and interesting. Rather than leading an army of outsiders, Mann is a charismatic cult leader type who, despite being a foreigner and coming from a religious tradition the villagers find strange, is able to sway most of the people of the town to his side anyway. That would make him more sinister, not less. And the fact the villagers who don't go along with Mann, be they liberal Christians like the vicar or irreligious people, become pariahs so suddenly might crank up the horror even further--it'd be like Jews in early Nazi Germany before the killing starts suddenly finding most of their Gentile friends either don't like them anymore or are afraid to associate with them.

This is how I would have done the book. Obviously I'm not going to try to tread on another author's turf so blatantly by trying to write "Matthew W. Quinn's The Hungry Moon" or something with the serial numbers filed off in a more subtle fashion, nor am I going to write a "How I Would Have Done It" fan-fic like I did for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I don't have the knowledge of 1980s Britain, nor do I have the time with my own things to work on. Still, this was a fun thought exercise. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2020

After-Action Report: ConFinement 2020

On Saturday (6/13) and Sunday (6/14), I attended ConFinement, an impromptu convention in Dalton, GA put together by people who really, really wanted to go LibertyCon in Chattanooga, canceled this year due to coronavirus concerns. My main goal was to sell books, although networking and just plain enjoying myself was a nice plus.

Before I get into the sales part, here are some fun things that happened:

*I'd anticipated only fans from Georgia and Tennessee and maybe a few outliers from states that are farther out but still nearby, but people came from all over. I spoke to a young-adult librarian volunteer from Florence, Texas about their possibly stocking The Thing in the Woods and met people who'd come down from Raleigh, Detroit, somewhere in Virginia, and even New York City. And although the Facebook event only had 60 confirmed and 80 maybes, around 118 people actually showed up. For a convention that only had two months to prepare and wasn't heavily advertised, this was impressive.

*One person couldn't leave Sunday morning because a cat had gotten into the engine of her hybrid van. The hybrid part is important because the undercarriage is sealed off rather than being open like a conventional engine--the cat would either have to get in/out via the axle/wheel well or up through the engine. I got some of a breakfast casserole to try to lure it out with the smell of meat, but that didn't work. I called the county animal control in hopes they had people with the skills and tools to get an animal out (maybe some kind of lasso or hook), but we had three police cars show up instead. It must've been a very slow morning. :) I ended up going back inside, since I doubted I could be of any more use than three policemen with flashlights and the car's actual owner. I later went back to check on everybody and both the driver and the police were gone. The hotel manager said he didn't know exactly how the "crisis" was resolved.

(Cue the Unsolved Mysteries or X-Files theme songs. The great mystery of ConFinement 2020--what happened to the cat?)

*Enough people came that the convention organizer--Baen Books author Michael Z. Williamson--ordered Chili's for everybody. Given the severe hit that COVID-19 inflicted on the economy in general and restaurants in particular, I'm willing to bet that huge order of sliders, ribs, Southwestern egg rolls, and vegetables with ranch dipping sauce was well-appreciated.

*Since the hotel only provided the most basic continental breakfast (i.e. honey-buns), people chipped in food for a con suite. We're talking homemade cookies and brownies, candy, fruit, pastries, deli-type sandwiches, soft drinks, and water. I tend to bean-count to make sure I cover my costs at every event, so not having to buy any meals (other than some McDonalds in Acworth when the sugar crash from the birthday cake I'll get to in a later anecdote hit on the way home) was really nice.

*The whole event, including the panels and all the vending, was in one large room. So from my table I could hear everything being discussed. For example, on a panel about actually running conventions, I learned a bit about labor laws and why chocolate or cheese fountains at conventions are not really good ideas. :)

*Sunday was somebody's birthday, so a big sheet cake was acquired. Another nice boost for the local economy. And free cake. :)

*Late Saturday night, I got to listen to Baen Books Acquiring Editor Gray Rinehart play on his guitar a parody of Looking Glass's "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" about a fan who wants to go to LibertyCon. He also played "Another Romulan Ale" (a Star Trek song that also references other science-fiction franchises) and a short parody of "Freebird" about not playing "Freebird" on request. That song was pretty funny. And he's got a BandCamp page, so if you want to listen to his songs, here you go.

(And although Baen had rejected Battle for the Wastelands, Mr. Rinehart was so kind as to send me all the commentary, both positive and negative, from the editorial readers. I used that to make the final edits before hiring Jason Sizemore to put together an independent print and e-book edition for me. I showed him the final product and he liked what he saw.)

*Baen Books Publisher Toni Weisskopf gave me a free copy of the science-fiction novel Frozen Orbit because I'm a teacher. Ms. Weisskopf went all-in on the free books--for teachers, for parents of teens, for people who'd never attended a Baen "road show" at a convention before, etc. I think I'll review Frozen Orbit when I've got the time to read it.

As far as selling went, I sold that second backer copy of the tabletop war-game Stalin's Final War that I helped fund on Kickstarter. I'd helped fund the game because I liked the concept, not because I'm a gamer, but realized that I could independently sell my backer copies much like I independently sell my books for money. I also sold five copies of Thing, five copies of Little People, Big Guns, two copies of Battle, one copy of my short-story collection Flashing Steel, Flashing Fire, and two copies of the short-story collection The Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Vol. 2 in which my Viking monster story "Nicor" appears. I sold a bunch in "two for $20 deals" and made one "three for $30" deal that, although they meant less per-book profit, meant more books got moved.

Having reviewed my figures, if I don't include the cost of SFW (which I backed more to be a patron of the arts rather than get a product to sell), I made a profit of $34.19 for the whole weekend. If I include the cost of SFW, however, it's a loss of around $35. Not including SFW, period, means a loss of $15. I also got ten e-mail addresses for the newsletter, which will be of particular importance with The Atlanta Incursion (the Thing sequel) slated for release in later June or early July and one person saying they'd prefer Thing and Battle as e-books.

Still, for the fun had and most if not all of the costs covered (I definitely got more than my money's worth on all the food), I would count this as a success. :)

Monday, June 8, 2020

ConFinement Impromptu Convention Set for 6/12-14 in Dalton, GA

Owing to the coronavirus epidemic, I wasn't anticipating attending any conventions until the Atlanta Comic-Con July 31 to August 2 or the Atlanta Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo, originally slated for March but punted to August 15-16. Since books are non-perishable, I figured I'd sit on my inventory and wait.

Then I learned through Facebook about ConFinement, an impromptu convention organized through the group Emergency Holographic Summer Convention. If you join the group, you'll be able to see and sign up for the event. From the look of it, it's being organized by a bunch of people slated to attend LibertyCon and when that was canceled, organized this one instead. At least one official from Baen Books is going to be coming. It's going to be 6/12-14 at the Econo Lodge in Dalton, GA. Address: 1507 N. Tibbs Road, Dalton, GA, 30720.

Here's the full schedule:

Friday, June 12, 2020

10:00 AM - 1:00 PM: Trip to a nearby shooting range

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM: Opening Ceremonies and Cocktails

3:00 PM - 5:00 PM: Random Author BS Session

9:00 PM - 11:00 PM: No Kidding, There I Was (True War Stories from veterans, agents, and others)

Saturday, June 13, 2020

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM: How A Convention Actually Runs--not this emergency seat of the pants thing, but a real one.

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Improvised Workout Panel (proper name to follow), MEETS IN PARKING LOT

11:00 AM - 1:00 PM: Classic Weapons Show and Tell--A handful of exotic items you won't get to see often

1:00 PM - 4:00 PM: Doc Osborn's Science and Climate Presentation--What Do The Stars Say To Actual Scientists

4:00 PM - 6:00 PM: Baen Traveling Roadshow, The Cozy Edition (tentative)

6:00 PM - 7:00 PM: Operation Blazing Sword

9:00 PM - 11:00 PM: I Hate Trek--by people who hate Trek so much they've seen every episode at least twice and taken notes

Sunday, June 14, 2020

11:00 AM - 1:00 PM: How Do We Research All This Stuff?

I'm going to be selling books at the event on Saturday and Sunday. Last time I was in North Georgia (a toy/game show in Dalton and the Next Chapter Con in Ringgold), I had only The Thing in the Woods and The Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Vol. 2 to sell. Now in addition to those, I've got my steampunk fantasy novel Battle for the Wastelands (and the companion e-novella "Son of Grendel"), the short-story collection Flashing Steel, Flashing Fire, and my bizarro novella Little People, Big Guns.

So if you're looking to get out of the house (don't worry, I'll be wearing a mask and I'll have hand sanitizing wipes for anybody who'd like them), come on by the Econo Lodge. With so many events being canceled, this seems like it'll be the first one since the lockdowns began and one of the few events for awhile.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

"Son of Grendel" Is Here! And It's Supporting a Food Bank!

My newest independent writing project, the steampunk-fantasy novella "Son of Grendel" is here at last. It is a prequel set approximately a year before the events of Battle for the Wastelands.


Here's the book copy.

A tyrant’s heir must go into the mountains to face a band of insurgents on its own ground. Not everybody will emerge from the confrontation unscathed, not least him.

Falki Grendelsson, eldest son of the first lord of the Northlands, serves as a company commander in his father’s elite Obsidian Guard. Though many lords would keep their sons close and out of harm’s way, Grendel is determined his son learn the business of war firsthand for the day he puts on his father’s cloak.

But when Robert Dalton leads displaced farmers armed with stolen Old World repeating rifles in a raid that kills a favored officer, Grendel sends Falki to make an example of them.

Falki has never fought this type of war before. Although the Obsidian Guard has the deadly weapons of the ancient world and dirigibles to rain fire from the skies, Dalton’s insurgents know the land and the mountains hold terrors beyond his increasingly-desperate men.

In order to cement his father’s new order, Falki has to triumph not only over a physical foe who would gladly kill him, but his own demons. And victory over one might mean falling to another…

"Son of Grendel" and the character of Falki Grendelsson more broadly allow me to explore the issue of race and ethnicity in the Wastelands world, something that dates back many years to a meeting of my now-defunct Cobb County writing group. Author G. Gerome Henson (you can find his work in the Thunder on the Battlefield: Sword anthology) asked me if Wastelands was a generic fantasy world where everybody is white except for a few fringe characters. I hadn't really put a lot of thought into it at the time, but Henson's comment got the wheels spinning...

The major ethnic groups of the Northlands, the realm bounded by the mountains, the Iron Desert, and the two seas are as follows:

Sejer-A sort of pan-Scandinavian culture. Very Viking. Grendel is a Sejer. The Obsidian Guard, Grendel's equivalent to Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard that is exclusively equipped with Old World (pre-apocalyptic) weaponry, recruits heavily from among them.

Jiao-The primary cultural base is Chinese, but there are elements of Japanese culture as well like taiko drumming. Grendel's late queen and only formal wife, Falki's mother, was Jiao. Alongside the Sejer, the Jiao comprise the bulk of the Obsidian Guard.

Flatlanders-Sort of generic Old West white people. Robert Dalton and the people of Jenner's Ford are flatlanders. In the main novel, Grendel's warlords Alexander Matthews, Travis "Mangle" Steuben, Stephen Quantrill, and Jasper Clark and the bulk of their troops are flatlanders, as are most of the people under Grendel's rule. However, the Obsidian Guard does not recruit from among them.

(More importantly from Falki's point of view, other than his de facto stepmother Signe Allansdottir, Grendel's concubines are flatlanders and so are their children. Although Falki is the eldest, the only one born of a legal marriage, and the most experienced soldier, he is alien to his father's flatlander subjects in a way that the majority of his siblings are not.)

Nahada-Arabs. Falki's lieutenant Thomas Nahed is a Nahada. I haven't delved too much into his back-story, but since he is an officer in the Obsidian Guard (exclusively recruited in Sejera, where Grendel was lord for years before conquering the rest of the Northlands), he was probably a member of Sejera's Nahada minority. Most Nahada live further south under the rule of Grendel's subordinate Alexander Matthews.

Menceir-Colloquially known as "the trading folk" and less flatteringly as "pikeys," they're sort of a hybrid between the Roma (Gypsies) and an Indian caste whose name escapes me at the moment who traveled around carrying good to trade on bulls. I think said group are the Banjara, but I'm not entirely sure.

Also, the Amazon links for "Son of Grendel" and Battle aren't Amazon affiliates as usual, but smile.amazon.com links supporting the charity Feeding America. With so many businesses shut down or operating at reduced capacity due to the coronavirus outbreak, food banks need help more than ever. If you use a smile.amazon link, make sure it's set to Feeding America to benefit that particular charity.

Enjoy!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Some Indiana Jones Humor For You Today...

In the first Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost Ark that takes place in 1936, adventurer-archaeologist Indiana Jones reconnects with his old girlfriend Marion Ravenwood, but by the time of the third film The Last Crusade in 1938 they're no longer a couple and he has a different love interest, Elsa Schneider (who it turns out is a Nazi). The controversial fourth film The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull reveals that he and Marion were engaged but he "broke it off a week before the wedding."

So now let's have an amusing counterfactual scenario. The marriage goes through, but when his father is kidnapped in 1938, Indiana sets off to rescue him (leaving Marion, who at this point might be pregnant with this timeline's version of Mutt Williams and not really in any condition to go adventuring) and the events of Last Crusade still happen. AKA Indiana Jones commits adultery, or Professor Henry Jones has another reason to slap him.



Indiana, a very pregnant Marion, and Elsa (who for the purposes of this scenario is still alive) end up on The Jerry Springer Show to discuss the matter. As often happened, Marion and Elsa get into a cat-fight live on television and we get the following exchange:

ELSA (gasping): "Indiana, there's another man"

INDIANA (angry): "What? Who, Hitler?"

MARION (angrier): "You're one to talk, Jones!"

INDIANA: "Your name is Jones too, you know!"

MARION: "We'll see how much longer that lasts!"

JERRY SPRINGER: (smiling evilly): "Another man? Well, let's introduce him!"

Camera cuts to the audience where we see Sean Connery standing there. Indiana turns bone-white pale.

INDIANA: "Dad?"

AUDIENCE: "JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!"



I posted this in the Concellation 2020 Facebook group where people who'd be going to all the sci-fi and fantasy conventions that got canceled can hang out. It was well-received. 30 reactions so far, mostly the laughing variety.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Jim Henson Buys Disney? So Crazy It COULD'VE HAPPENED

There's a new scenario on the alternate history forum called "A Hippie In The House of Mouse (Jim Henson at Disney, 1980)." The thread's creator Geekhis Khan made the argument that Disney in the early 1980s was in such bad shape that none other than Jim Henson, made wealthy by the success of the Muppets, could have potentially bought out the company if he wanted.

Preposterous you say? The mighty Disney bought up by a shaggy hippie and some singing puppets? Not really. The author posted a lengthy bibliography that includes a lot of history of Disney, biographies of Henson himself, etc. to show that it could've been done if it was handled carefully by Henson and in this case some more grounded Hollywood allies to handle the less-than-straightforward things (shell companies, company politics) Henson might not be comfortable with. This is also the period where Disney is at its weakest, with Walt dead and the company stagnating under his unimaginative, bean-counting successors.

(This is when Don Bluth left Disney to create The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, and The Land Before Time. Here's one interview I did with Bluth and Gary Goldman that goes deep into the history there and here's another.)

Disney's situation got so bad, especially after the failure of The Black Cauldron, that it was subject to a "corporate raid" that could have sold the company for parts. It was defeated and new management brought in that revived the company, but it shows how bad of shape they were in despite their appearance of great power and wealth.

Although the scenario is still in its early stages, there's a lot of potential for serious changes to some very well-known properties:

*The Black Cauldron might not have bombed so badly. As was discussed in the Myopia podcast episode about it, TBC throws together bits and bobs of several books in the Chronicles of Prydain fantasy series and it comes out a mess. Several people in the thread were convinced Henson could save the project, although something not involving puppets might be a bit out of his wheelhouse.

*Something really interesting is what might happen with The Dark Crystal, which at one point got shelved due to some corporate mergers and skeptical money-types. To get it released Henson had to buy it from the new owners and release it with his own money. With Disney's resources behind it hopefully it'll be something more lively than our history's version--we did a Myopia podcast episode on that one too and although it was beautiful, it was very dull. And hopefully more successful too. The Netflix show Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is set in the same world and is very fun and entertaining. Disney was capable of producing darker fare in this period (see The Black Hole), so it's possible this could be the return of the old magic.

*Hopefully nothing bad will happen to Labyrinth, which was a pretty good film as-is. Maybe with Disney behind it, the film could be even better, but things could also be worse, or at least different. At least we could have Sarah (hopefully still played by Connelly) as a Disney Princess. And ye gods, Jareth as a Disney Prince.

(Also we did a Myopia podcast episode on that one too.)

*Henson apparently had a vision for making puppetry a lot more than something for little-little kids. And puppetry can be used to that effect--The Dark Crystal, especially once you factor in Age of Resistance and hopefully sequels, is something like the Lord of the Rings. And the original Pumpkinhead shows just how scary puppets can be.

I'm definitely looking forward to more. So to paraphrase Epic Rap Battles of History, let's hop on Walt's steamboat with a puppet-loving hippie at the helm and see where it takes us.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Buy My Books Direct!

Owing to the cancellation of numerous conventions and other in-person events, I'm taking a page from author Wesley Southard and offering my books direct for sale. Signed by me, of course, and prices include postage. :)

(U.S. only, owing to high cost of mailing internationally. Sending two copies of Little People, Big Guns to Great Britain cost $25.)


Battle for the Wastelands-I describe this book as "Dark Tower meets Game of Thrones," while steampunk/dieselpunk author (Jack Connor) called it "a rip-roaring post-apocalyptic adventure." In a world rebuilding after a long-ago apocalypse, a young man joins a rebellion against a steampunk Norse tyrant who has problems of his own. One reviewer called it a "steampunk Cormac McCarthy," while another reviewer compared it to Fallout New Vegas. I have plenty of copies, so this won't be a problem. $12.00, including postage.


The Thing in the Woods-This is Lovecraftian horror set in suburbanizing Georgia as opposed to rural New England. James Daly, a teenager from Atlanta, sees something he shouldn't in the small town his family moved to in order to afford a bigger house. Now he's being hunted by a cult that's been worshiping an alien horror since before the Civil War and only a renegade cult member and the local girl he doesn't like liking can help. I Never Meant To Start a Murder Cult author Darrell Grizzle said it's "highly recommended for fans of eldritch horror in a realistic, modern-day setting" and this gentleman who sounds like a military veteran liked it despite not ordinarily being a fan of horror. $12.00, including postage.


Little People, Big Guns-A quartet of Oklahoma little people (they generally don't like being called "midgets") face off against predatory badgers that killed one of their own, only to find a much greater evil at work. Inspired by a story from the British tabloid The Sunday Sport that actually went viral worldwide. Blurbed by horror writers Brian Keene and Wesley Southard. This reviewer on Amazon said it's hard to deliver on the promise of the blurb, but I did it. $10.00, including postage.


Flashing Steel, Flashing Fire-This is a collection of several of my published short stories and some that were never published individually. The book also includes some behind-the-scenes content, such as how the science fiction short story "Illegal Alien" was inspired by the 2006 "Si Se Puede" immigration protests and "Lord of the Dolorous Tower" was originally the prologue for a full novel. This reviewer on Amazon loved the world-building and attention to detail. $10.00, including postage.


The Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Vol. 2-The webzine Heroic Fantasy Quarterly bought my Viking-monster story "Nicor" back in 2013 and later bought the anthology rights for two years. The collection includes 22 stories, only one of which is mine. I've been selling this at conventions alongside Thing and later books for many years and still have a few copies left. $10.00, including postage.

I can be reached via e-mail at mquinn1984@gmail.com to work out mailing arrangements. Payment via PayPal or Facebook.