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Greetings to ill and sun-dried,
Today, I present a press release from Hellbender Media about their second book, Edward Martin III’s Through the Night.
Signed in human blood,
Hellbender Media Publishes New Novel
Through the Night Just Published
For Immediate Release – September 8, 2014
HELLBENDER MEDIA PUBLISHES THROUGH THE NIGHT
Hellbender Media announces today the publication of Through the Night.
Through the Night is the second book published by Hellbender Media, and is a horror/action novel following a group of strangers, each with their own secrets, as they fight to survive a night of terror and betrayal.
Hellbender Media’s first book, Close Your Eyes, collected 55 new stories under one cover.
Through the Night was written by local filmmaker Edward Martin III. “With Through the Night, I wanted to try and not only offer a more intimate take on the events of the story, but to make sure that the novel was its own unique experience, with branchings and happenings that never show up in the movie,” said Edward. “But Through the Night is more than just a book. It’s my way of bringing back something that I loved when I grew up reading adventure. I loved fast-paced novels that you could read in a day, that you could lose yourself in, get swept up in the story, flip the pages as fast as you could read, and then you were done with it. Usually, moving on to the next book in the series. So, that’s what I wanted to write. A book like that. A fast book. A page-turner. A book that didn’t need a concordance, a map, and four books ahead of it to get what was happening. Also, I wanted to write a book where everybody was basically some kind of bastard, and yet everybody was sympathetic at the same time. That made it even more fun.”
Popular horror author Jonathan Moon (Heinous and Hollow Mountain Dead) writes “Edward Martin III takes the concept Of Wolf and Man to new levels of cosmic originality in Through the Night…Equal parts horror, action and pure fun.”
About Hellbender Media
Headquartered int the Pacific Northwest, Hellbender Media specializes in movies, books, games, and other media that embraces the strange, the peculiar, the weird, or might simply be a little off the beaten track. Hellbender Media produces material that gets under our skin, that tickles us, or intrigues us. This way, we can at least say our soul’s clean.
Hellbender Media can be found online at HellbenderMedia.com/
For further information, interviews or images, please contact:
Today, I am pleased to bring you this press release about this year’s Zompire: The Undead Film Festival. As a fan of zombie movies myself, I’m pleased to share this press release with each and every one of my fellow revenants.
Signed in human blood,
PORTLAND’S UNDEAD FILM FESTIVAL TURNS TO KICKSTARTER TO SUPPORT INDIE HORROR
Portland, OR, September 8, 2014 — Zompire: The Undead Film Festival is returning to the Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St, and is proud to once again be screening only independent films this year.
The Festival Directors, Brian and Gwen Callahan, who also organize the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon, have decided to use Kickstarter to support this year’s Zompire. Ticket packages, exclusive arcane goodies, and limited edition Undead Domination Kits are currently available through the Zompire Kickstarter campaign which ends Sept 27th.
A number of reasons besides simple fundraising led them to this decision. Brian Callahan explains, “We have discovered from our H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon campaigns, that Kickstarter can help bring together an amazing community of fans and can make the festival more fun for attendees through participation. It’s also more fun for us because we can make cool stuff, which in turn creates exclusive keepsakes of a fun weekend, complete with bragging rights!”
Zompire Festival Director, Gwen Callahan, notes “Indie filmmakers are the trailblazers in the horror genre. They’re constantly pushing boundaries and coming up with new and smart ways to delve into overarching horror themes; life and death, self and other, and what happens when we’re pushed to our limits. We have some insanely good films this year, and cinephiles will not want to miss this line-up of films.”
This year’s program features new films straight from the twisted brains of today’s brightest and best storytellers. You won’t want to miss “Dead Hearts,” a sweet story about undying hearts from Stephen W. Martin (director of “Dead Friends“), “Just Gemma,” a meditation on the nature of loss by George Carson, “Night of the Loving Dead,” a randy, animated piece from Anna Humphries, exploring the ins and outs of love and lust, “The Carriage or: Dracula & My Mother,” a fresh take on vampires from Ben Gordon, and “Sever,” in which Matt Abraxas examines our extreme will to survive.
Doors open at 5:30 pm on Saturday, October 11th, with programming 6-10 pm, and the horror continues on Saturday with a matinee showing 1-5 pm, and final evening program 6-10 pm. Each showing features different programming with no repeats.
Zompire is dedicated to all things undead. We want to highlight various filmmakers’ creative attempts to show the undead in new and unexpected ways. Past years included films such as Kerry Prior’s “The Revenant,” Gris Grimly’s “Cannibal Flesh Riot,” Eiji Uchida’s “Dead Banging,” and Frank Ippolito’s humorous short, “& Teller.”
Publisher’s Comments:NUMBER ONE: launched in November 2012 featuring 3 short stories by Joyce Chng (Singapore), Rochita-Loenen-Ruiz (Philippines), Marian Truta (Romania) and 1 article by Stanislaw Lem (Poland), plus cover art by Rafael Mendes (Portugal).
Greetings to ill and sun-dried,
Today, I will be covering the first issue of the e-zine ISF: International Science Fiction. This is a promising beginning to the series. Without any further preamble, here are my thoughts.
Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin
My experience with reading speculative fiction from non-English speaking countries is mostly limited to translations of works by French authors, such as Jules Verne or J.-H. Rosny aîné. Therefore, I was pleased to have a chance to read this e-zine consisting of three stories and one essay by authors from four different countries. I am pleased to say that this publication is well worth reading.
Singapore native Joyce Chng‘s “Metal Can Lanterns” is a very brief (two pages) but very interesting take on how a traditional Chinese festival may have changed in a distant, dystopian future. Filipino author Rochita Loenen-Ruiz‘s “Beads” is a touching and tragic science-fiction story about two siblings, and was my favorite of the three stories in this issue. Romanian author Marian Truta‘s “Hunt Beneath the Moon” is an interesting tale with supernatural elements that I would love to see expanded beyond the seven pages it occupies here, as I’d love to know more about the characters and world we see in it. Indeed, if I have one complaint about this issue, it is that I would’ve loved for some of the stories to be given more space to expand on their ideas. That said, I still enjoyed them very much. My overall favorite feature here is the final, “Philip K. Dick: A Visionary Among the Charlatans” by the legendary Polish science fiction author Stanislaw Lem, best known here in the United States for his novel Solaris and its film adaptations. Here, Lem examines the works of another sci-fi icon, Dick, particularly the themes explored in those works, and how Dick takes advantage of the inherent differences between genre fiction and its mainstream counterpart. I’ve not read enough of Dick’s work to agree or disagree with Lem’s points, but this compelling piece makes me want to read more of both gentlemen’s respective oeuvres.
Final Thoughts: I enjoy non-English language genre fiction a great deal, whether literature or film, and this e-zine is certainly one of the more interesting collections of such works I’ve come across. There is not a dull one among the four pieces included here, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s willing to broaden their horizons by reading works by authors not of American or British heritage. I will definitely be making a point of reading the other issues of this admirable publication. I give this bouillabaisse of the fantastic four and a half out of 5 tentacles.
Today, I bring you my report on FarmerCon, the annual celebration of Philip José Farmer’s life and work hosted by Pulpfest. I had a great time this year, as I did in the three years preceding this latest con. Here we go!
Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin
Philip José Farmer has been my favorite author for twelve years now. My first exposure to his work was via his writings about the Wold Newton Family, a vast family tree composed of heroes and villains from pulp, detective and adventure fiction, as well as a few characters from mainstream literature. Through my involvement in online Farmer and Wold Newton fandom, I have made a number of close friends who share my love for the late great Science Fiction Grand Master’s work. It was through my being a member of his Yahoo group dedicated to the Wold Newton Family that I first became acquainted with my blood brother and fellow site contributor Henry Zeo Covert, which eventually led to his wife, webmistress Sarah L. Covert, asking me to write for this very site. Since 2006, Farmer’s fans have been holding an annual convention called FarmerCon, celebrating this groundbreaking author. I have been lucky enough to attend every single FarmerCon from 2011 onward, during which time the convention has been hosted by the annual Pulpfest, currently held in Columbus, Ohio.
This year, my father (Steven Levin) and I arrived at the Hyatt Regency Columbus, where the convention has been held since 2012, on the morning of Friday, August 8. After dropping my luggage and other things off in the room I was sharing with Henry, I went to the Dealer’s Room, where I greeted my friends who had already arrived. I was especially excited to seeWin Scott Eckert, who has done much to help keep Farmer’s legacy going strong, including heavy involvement in Titan Books‘ recent series of reprints of several classic works by Farmer with new forewords and bonus materials. Win and Henry are my two best friends in Farmer/Wold Newton fandom, and two of my best friends in general. Also in attendance were Rick Lai, Jason Aiken, Art Sippo, Frank Schildiner, Michael Croteau, Paul Spiteri, and Christopher Paul Carey at the booth for Meteor House Press, which is run by Win, Mike, and Paul. I hung out with the guys for a while, shooting the breeze and buying books from them and other sellers (such as Airship 27), and received my contributor’s copies of both the softcover and hardcover editions of Josh Reynolds‘ novella Phileas Fogg and the War of Shadows, an official sequel to Farmer’s The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, which revealed the hidden story behind Jules Verne‘s Around the World in Eighty Days. I did some continuity editing on Josh’s novella, which was published by Meteor House, as did Win. I also received the wonderful news, announced the day before, that Win had been given permission to complete Farmer’s unfinished novel The Monster on Hold, the unfinished fourth novel in Farmer’s Secrets of the Nine series. Win did a great job completing another unfinished Farmer novel, The Evil in Pemberley House, and I know he will do justice to this book as well.
Sean Levin at the Meteor House table
Eventually, I got a call from Henry, who told me he was on his way to the Hyatt. I went down to meet him in the lobby, and we shared a warm greeting. I was ecstatic to finally meet face-to-face someone who had been a true friend to me for ten years. After dropping off his stuff in our room, we went back to the Dealer’s Room, where Henry said hello to everyone. At 2:30, we went to a New Fictioneers reading, where Chris read an excerpt from his story “The Goddess Equation” included in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer 4: Voyages to Strange Days, the latest in a series of annual anthologies from Meteor House. This particular story was set in the continuity of Farmer’s Carmody-Raspold stories, and having already read the anthology, I knew it was a quality story, and enjoyed Chris’ reading. Chris also read the opening of Hadon, King of Opar, a planned novella authorized by the Farmer Estate and sequel to Farmer’s Ancient Opar books, the third of which, The Song of Kwasin, was completed by Chris, and included with the first two books, Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar, as the omnibus edition Gods of Opar. These novels explore the early days of Opar, the lost city that would be discovered by Tarzan in the 20th century. I am very excited to read this novella. After the Dealer’s Room closed, I and the rest of the FarmerCon crew went out to dinner at a nearby restaurant. Unfortunately the service was very poor, but the camaraderie was excellent, and I enjoyed sharing a table with Win and Henry and conversing about pop culture. I also talked to Win, Paul, and Mike about my forthcoming authorized sequels to Win’s two-volume magnum opus Crossovers: A Secret Chronology of the World. We hammered out some of our plans for Volumes 3 and 4, which hopefully will come out next year.
Friday dinner. Left to right: Win Scott Eckert, Rick Lai, Frank Schildiner, Michael Croteau, Henry Covert, and Paul Spiteri
At 8:30 we attended a presentation by Mike and Art entitled “A Feast of Farmer: PJF’s Early Science Fiction,” which discussed Farmer’s stories for the pulp magazines and digest publications. Accompanying this presentation was lots of very cool cover art for those stories. Mike and Art are both Farmer experts, and the panel was both informative and interesting. After this, we went to the second floor, and sat in comfy chairs and talked about everything under the sun for a few hours. Eventually, I chose to retire to my room.
The next day, I spent more time in the Dealer’s Room, buying books and hanging out with my buddies at the Meteor House table. At 1:00, I attended the panel “The Fun of Writing Pulp Fiction,” hosted by Ron Fortier and consisting of Frank, Art, Ralph Angelo, Jim Beard, and Wayne Reinagel. These gentlemen discussed the joys of writing New Pulp fiction. Afterwards, Mr. Beard read excerpts of his work from the books Sgt. Janus Returns, Monster Earth, and Pride of the Mohicans. I haven’t read much of Mr. Beard’s fiction yet, but I definitely want to now. At 3:00, Frank read an excerpt from his novella The New Adventures of Thunder Jim Wade Volume Two: The Horror of Hyperborea, featuring Henry Kuttner‘s classic pulp hero in a story that also includes elements of Mary Shelley and Robert E. Howard. Frank also read a story of his that was published in the anthology series Tales of the Shadowmen. 5:00 brought the Pulpfest group dinner, held at the Italian restaurant Buca di Beppo. Luckily, the service was much better there than it was at the establishment we had visited the night before, and there was lots of great food and great conversation. At 7:30, the Pulpfest 2014 Business Meeting was held, where guests were allowed to ask questions and make suggestions as to how to make the convention experience even better for all involved. Immediately afterward, the Munsey Award was presented to pulp scholar J. Randolph Cox. After this, me and my friends once again adjourned to the second floor, where we talked about everything under the sun, though mostly of a pop cultural bent. I retired to my room around midnight.
Dinner at Buca di Beppo. Left to right: Jason Aiken, Win Scott Eckert, and Dominique Hopkins.
Sean Levin (left) and Win Scott Eckert (right)
Henry Covert (left) and Sean Levin (right) on the last day of the convention
Left to right: Henry Covert, Win Scott Eckert, Steven Levin, and Sean Levin
On Sunday morning, Dad and I had to leave early to catch our plane, but I was able to say goodbye to those of our friends who were still there, and had my photo taken with Dad, Win, and Henry. It was great seeing all of my friends again, and to finally meet Henry after all these years of internet, phone, and Skype conversations. I know I cannot wait for next year’s convention! I give FarmerCon/Pulpfest 2014 a well-deserved 5 out of 5 tentacles!
I know… I know… it’s been a while. Please don’t worry, She Never Slept is still here to bring you news, reviews and so much more. It has been a trying year from me and my husband, between our health, finances, and wrapping up an estate, we have been tied in knots! But things are starting to level out, thank the Gods and thank you for your patience. 2014 is the 5 year anniversary for SNS and I have some big things planned for the fall! Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, here is some news from the ConCarolinas staff (or me — LOL)! As always — enjoy, my fiends!
Sarah L. Covert
Are you a filmmaker? Do you have a genre (sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, horror, fandom etc.) related short film? Well I have some news for you! The ConCarolinas Short Film Festival wants your film! And a familiar face to SNS fans is the Film Festival Manager for 2015. This will be a challenging, but exciting, event to coordinate. I look forward to seeing what you all have to offer! I also look forward to making this an excellent event at the convention and am thankful for the opportunity.
The ConCarolinas Short Film Festival is dedicated to the art of the short film and the expression of independent filmmakers. In its seventh year, the ConCarolinas Short Film Festival has created a setting for local and international filmmakers to showcase artistic visions surrounding Science Fiction, Fandom, Fantasy and Adventure.
Entry Rules and Submission Guidelines
• All films must be less than 30 minutes in length.
• All entries must have a completed submission form (see below).
• All entries must be accompanied by a brief synopsis and/or artist statement.
• $12 with students receiving a 50% discount. Email email@example.com with copy of your Student ID to receive the discount code.
• If your film is accepted and selected for screening, you will receive one free ConCarolinas Weekend pass!
• Filmmakers will also receive discounted passes for cast and crew. All purchases must be made by May 4, 2015. No exceptions.
• All films will be submitted digitally through Film Freeway.
Publisher’s Comments: Two Men. A Bitter Rivalry. And a Quarter-Century of Unspeakable Horrors. Herbert West’s crimes against nature are well-known to those familiar with the darkest secrets of science and resurrection. Obsessed with finding a cure for mankind’s oldest malady, death itself, he has experimented upon the living and dead, leaving behind a trail of monsters, mayhem, and madness. But the story of his greatest rival has never been told. Until now. Dr. Stuart Hartwell, a colleague and contemporary of West, sets out to destroy West by uncovering the secrets of his terrible experiments, only to become that which he initially despised: a reanimator of the dead.
For more than twenty years, spanning the early decades of the twentieth century, the two scientists race each other to master the mysteries of life . . . and unlife. From the grisly battlefields of the Great War to the backwoods hills and haunted coasts of Dunwich and Innsmouth, from the halls of fabled Miskatonic University to the sinking of the Titanic, their unholy quests will leave their mark upon the world—and create monsters of them both. Reanimators is an epic tale of historical horror . . . in the tradition of Anno Dracula and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Greetings to ill and sun-dried,
Today, I will be covering Pete Rawlik’s excellent Cthulhu Mythos novel Reanimators, which blends together dozens of characters from Mythos tales by Lovecraft and others with characters from other works of fiction set outside the Mythos in a delightfully creepy bouillabaisse. This book was right up my alley, and I hope you enjoy my review.
Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin
I doubt I need to explain to anyone viewing this site who H.P. Lovecraft, or that he created the Cthulhu Mythos, a cosmology that many of his peers added to, and which is still being continued decades after Lovecraft’s death. This novel functions as a sort of “secret history” of the Mythos, featuring Dr. Stuart Asa Hartwell, a minor character from Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror,” crossing paths with many extraordinary figures while scheming over decades for revenge against the title character of one of Lovecraft’s most famous stories, “Herbert West–Reanimator.” Characters from nearly all of Lovecraft’s works appear or are mentioned, as well as many characters created by other contributors to the Mythos. The great thing about Rawlik’s writing is how well he manages to incorporate all these elements without resorting to name-dropping simply to show how knowledgeable he is. Hartwell is very much a narrator in a Lovecraftian vein, and Rawlik manages to emulate the spirit of good old H.P.’s work without slavishly emulating his voice, as some Mythos authors are unfortunately wont to do.
Final Thoughts: Reanimators is one of the best post-Lovecraft contributions to the Mythos I have read. Mr. Rawlik tells a tale that is true to the tone of the fictional universe it is based in, and manages to weave several disparate threads and stories together into a coherent whole. Die-hard geeks such as myself will enjoy spotting the many Easter Eggs scattered throughout the book, but they can just as easily be enjoyed without and such prior knowledge. A sequel, The Weird Company, is being published in September, and I will be reviewing it here, as well. I am friends with Mr. Rawlik on Facebook, and knowing that I am writing two huge books about crossovers (including Reanimators), he asked me for suggestions for a pre-existing fictional character to use for a certain role in the sequel. I was flattered that Mr. Rawlik regarded me as knowledgeable enough about pop culture to be of aid to him, and I look forward to reading The Weird Company, whether he uses my suggestion or not. I am sure it will be just as excellent as its predecessor, which deserves each of the five tentacles I am giving it!
Publisher’s Comments: When God decides to quit and join the human race to see what all the fuss is about, all Hell breaks loose. Sensing his abdication, the other defunct gods of Earth’s vanquished pantheons want a piece of the action He abandoned. Meanwhile, the newly-humanised deity must discover the whereabouts and intentions of the similarly reincarnated Lucifer, and block the ascension of a murderous new God. How is he ever going to make it as a stand-up comedian with all of this going on…?
Greetings to ill and sun-dried,
Today, I bring you Floyd Brigdon’s review of Michael Boatman’s book Last God Standing. Take it away, Floyd!
Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin
Hi, folks! It has been a while since I have been able to write a review for you. 2013 was a terrible year for a lot of people I know, but it is in the rear view mirror now, and I am happy to be with SNS again, helping bring news and reviews of all sorts of weirdness to you, our faithful readers.
So, the first project that I chose to review for this year was Last God Standing, the new novel from actor and novelist Michael Boatman. Now, to be honest, I was familiar with Boatman’s work on Spin City, but was completely surprised to learn that he was a novelist. I had received an announcement from Angry Robot (who I have shared my love for in the past; just look through some of my previous reviews) and, after reading the plot synopsis, I was more than a little intrigued. I went into the book expecting something like a mixture of American Gods and an Americanized Terry Pratchett, and while fans of Gaiman and Pratchett might see some faint echoes of those masters in Boatman’s novel, he achieves a voice and direction that is distinctly his own and just as entertaining.
The story centers around Lando Calrissian Darnell Cooper, an up and coming standup comedian who is trying to figure out how to deal with his odd parents while balancing his career and his relationship with the love of his life, the beautiful Surabhi. And then there is the secret. It just so happens that Lando is the mortal incarnation of Yahweh, a god who has, after centuries of worship, decided to take what he thinks of as a well deserved break to find out what it means to be a human. The trouble is that there a number of other gods, some of them abandoned for centuries, who all want in on the action and power that he has walked away from. Oh, and his head. Some of them won’t be satisfied with anything less than his total annihilation.
Last God Standing is set in a rich and detailed world that has a lot of backstory and depth but one if the best things that Boatman does is to ignore all that and dive head first into his story. After a brief prologue (which by itself whets the reader’s appetite) he immediately starts serving up the first course of what winds up being a wonderful five course feast of a novel. He doesn’t tease or hint; right from the very beginning he focuses on points in the narrative that the reader feels matter.
Last God Standing is definitely an urban fantasy but it is a deep and thought-provoking story, as well, and one that is written to inspire the imagination as well as thought. I found Boatman’s style to be very cinematic and visual as well as funny and intellectually engaging, all at the same time. He writes in a style and voice that is very easy to follow and very entertaining to read.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I found Last God Standing very entertaining and very much worth reading. If you want to know probably the best thing I could tell you about my reaction to Boatman’s work, the first thing I did after finishing Last God Standing was to order his first full length work, The Revenant Road, which is now sitting near the top of my “to read” stack. I give this novel four out of five tentacles.
Here it is. The long awaited in-depth ConCarolinas 2014 report! Thank you for tuning in… and as always, enjoy my fiends!
Sarah L. Covert
ConCarolinas 2014 – Behind The Scenes: Looking Through A Volunteer’s Eyes
This year I wore multiple hats – friend, congoer, volunteer, and reporter. It was an exhausting weekend. But it was well worth it. This year we got a hotel in room at the host hotel. (That was totally worth the cost. It was much easier to be where we needed to be at any given time and it gave us a safe haven to rest and recoup when needed.) We arrived on Thursday afternoon and as soon as we got everything stowed away I texted ConChair (and friend) Jada to let her know we were there. Within moments I got a call asking me to come down in a couple of hours and help check in the earlybirds.
I went down to the ticketing area and said, “Ok ladies, what can I do to help?”. Boom and off we go!!! I started by finding the badges for people. Soon Donna, the volunteer coordinator, came down and took over my job. I quickly shifted to putting together program books, opening letters, and bags for the congoers. We all worked our butts off and it was a successful endeavor (plus bonus! I got to meet some amazing people).
After a long day I retired, knowing I had to be up bright and early to report for duty.
I woke up at “Oh God” in the morning and started working on getting dressed. For day one I decided I would go with my new corset and satin skirt. I figured I could look intimidating (yeah, I hear you laughing) and stylish for my morning duty, guarding the entrance so no one snuck in early.
I started off guarding the escalators. While standing there I got to meet George R.R. Martin (and yes, Trent Zelazny I name-dropped you!) and Anthony Montgomery. Both were super nice. Not terribly long after I started I was offered a chair and took it. Then I just people watched and made sure no one got in before the appointed time. After a little while I decided standing in a corset was much more comfortable than sitting in one. After I got the ok I shouted, “Let the convention commence!” and opened the doors!
I decided to run around for a bit before meeting up with my hubby (who was reporting for SNS) and going to the opening ceremonies. I popped my in to say hi to my new buddy Tig. She was finishing up Eggzilla.
After a quick break outside (I can get peopled out at times), I decided to wander around the convention some more. I met a lovely young lady named Arizona sitting at the SCA table. We became fast friends and decided to explore together.
First stop – the 501st booth! I had a secondary goal at the convention. I wanted to get a little stormtrooper signed by as many members as possible. See I heard the story about Michael Morones – a child who was bullied for his love of MLP – and I also knew that the fan community rallied in support of this young man. The 501st put out a badge in honor. (picture later) My nephew is about to start kindergarten. He is a fan of both Star Wars and My Little Pony. I wanted to make sure he knows that he never has to feel bad for what he likes. I was collecting the autographs and purchasing the badge to mail out to him. Unfortunately the badges weren’t there yet. The founder, Albin Johnson, was supposed to be bringing them Saturday. I did manage to get an autograph or two and I made a mental note to come back the next day. More on this later…
Then we strolled over to the dealers room and began checking out the wares and the fabulous costumes! It was quite a sight to see. I knew we’d be back soon enough to look more thoroughly. This was just a casual visit. I got a text from Henry and he met up with me and Arizona outside. We planned to go to the opening ceremonies and Arizona went off to meet her people and check in.
In the midst of stopping to answer congoers questions (one is never off duty when one volunteers) and saying hi to those we knew we just barely made it to the packed Opening Ceremony. I snagged some more photos for Henry’s article and (aside from a rude person or two – non-regular congoers is my guess) a great time was had by all.
After some dinner and a judicious removal of the corset (I bruised a rib – ya that happened) and donning my outfit for DJ Spider’s gig, we went back down into the fray. Hubby did some coverage, Arizona and I wondered around together (after I made sure I wasn’t needed as a volunteer). It was getting close to dance time. Henry decided he would call it a night. Me and my new pal counted down the minutes until it was dance time. I was the first on the floor (usually am — not afraid to dance solo). Arizona joined me shortly after. The dancefloor ebbed and flowed, as they usually do. Spider rocked it out, as she always does. Serious fun was had by all (I danced for the full three hours), but my favorite part of the evening was when this older couple got up and danced to Just Like Heaven.
I got back and flopped into bed knowing I would have to be up in three hours to shower and get ready for day two (of the con – three volunteering)
I reported for duty on Saturday, caffeinated if not quite awake. I was assigned to help in the Executive Boardroom where the press and guests picked up badges. I got to talking with the other two ladies about Magic: The Gathering. Soon they were whipping out their cards. It has been more than a decade (nearing two) since I had a deck and they didn’t need the extra help so I ran down to check and see if they needed me at ticketing. They were fully staffed so I started to wander around a bit.
I did a couple of spins through the dealers room. There were so many interesting booths this year. I got a gaggle of goodies – some for me, some for friends. But the best part of walking around (both inside and out) at ConCarolinas is all the great costumes!
I met up with Arizona while Henry was resting (we planned on meeting up soon). I swung past the ticketing area and asked if they needed my help. They said to come back and check in a few hours. This gave me time to collect some signatures from 501st members. Albin had not arrived with the patches yet. So we stepped outside for a while and talked. Another wonderful thing about conventions is meeting like-minded folks. So we gabbed with passersby as well. Henry came out to meet us and we went over our schedules together. Henry was going to do a sweep of the panels and go to the GRRM reading (he had a press pass for that one). I decided to go hunt down more signatures on my Stormtrooper and Arizona headed to her room for a nap.
Before I went roaming around I stopped by the ticketing area to see if they needed help… they needed a few signs put up, which I happily did and then I was given the ok to wander around again. (My main hat for the convention was volunteering. I believe a volunteer is never off duty.) I spotted a few people on the Con Committee and asked if they needed help. When I was sure I couldn’t do anything to help out I went off again.
I managed to capture a convention phenomenon. I always say, it’s not a convention unless people are sitting on the floor!
I went to the 501st table and saw that the patches were there so I scooped one up for my nephew. Sadly, Albin wasn’t at the table but I was given a description and went on the hunt! I snagged every 501st member I could. Eventually I ran into Albin. Apparently someone had already told him part of my story. I told him the story and happily signed, adding “Tell your nephew if anyone gives him any problems that he has a legion of Stormtroopers that have his back.”
Shortly after I met up with Henry again, for a brief time. He was getting ready to go the GRRM reading. I directed Henry to the proper room and walked around some more on my own. I stopped several people and asked if they needed help and also directed congoers who were lost. The LiveCon app was invaluable!
I walked past the room the reading was being held and talked with the volunteers at the door. They were letting people back in the room who had left for one reason or another. There was talk of seats still being open. So me and a few other volunteers shuffled in to enjoy the show! Well… sort of. I always enjoy hearing an author read their work. You get to hear the cadence in their voice. I always hear them speaking, in a way, when I read their work after. But I must admit I was lost. I have not read any of GRRM’s books. I have not seen Game of Thrones. I did, however, enjoy his work on Beauty and the Beast and The Twilight Zone in the 80s. To me he has always just been my friend Trent’s buddy who writes. I can say that it seemed like the audience genuinely reacted well to it. There were rolls of laughter throughout the reading and it ended with glorious applause!
I texted Henry and Arizona to see if they wanted to meet up outside the panel and hang out until it was time to hit a room party. We all ran upstairs for some food and rest in our room. I wanted to check in with the volunteer coordinator and step outside for a bit before hitting the room party. Arizona went with me and Henry was going to meet us on the third floor at the appointed time.
On the way downstairs we got to play “level up”. This was a definite highlight for me. Here is the game: A dragon is trying to eat the convention. You are a hero defending the con. You get to choose your class and ability. Everyone who is playing in the elevator attacks at once and the DM rolls for the dragon. Unfortunately I don’t know if we successfully slayed the dragon. Are we still living in the belly of the beast?
After we were done checking in and hanging outside we went up to Derek and Tig’s room party (meeting Henry on the floor). It was early, so Tig wasn’t back from her panel yet. We hung out for a while and there were a lot of cool people there. That is until some jerk decided to be rude to my husband. I though it best we just head down for Klingon karaoke.
Well… here comes the only issue I had with the convention… Klingon “Karaoke”. Why do you have karaoke in quotes, Sarah? Well I am glad you asked. I do karaoke at least once a week. I have a blast every time and I guess you could say I am spoiled by my regular KJ. Firstly, song selection was horrible. The books weren’t even an inch thick. The also had pages missing in several of them. So it took me a while to find a song I like to sing. Second, they use the slip of paper system with your song choice. So, you hand in your song whenever you find what you want to sing. There are problems with the system. First someone could go up multiple times and hand in slips before they have even sang or in between songs. So they get thrown in as they are collected and stack. So this person gets to sing 4 or 5 times before someone new comes in and hands there slip in. So what does this result in? Me sitting there for over an hour and not getting a chance to sing. A sign up system is much better. You add the rule that you can’t sign an additional time until you sing. We all regretted missing Valentine Wolfe for such a crappy experience. Oh and one more thing… no one spoke Klingon. But it is what it is.
We stopped and talked to my friend Luis Diaz, head of security, and we heard some whispers that GRRM was up on the party floors. I wanted to see Tig anyway so well hopped back on the elevator and went up to the third floor. Man, it has been years since I went to a party floor at a convention. It was loud and it was hot because of all the bodies. I didn’t particularly care for loud crowded places… maybe I am just getting old. We stopped by and said hi to Tig and then we all decided to ditch the idea and hang out for a bit in our room. Arizona hung for 20 minutes or so because I had to be up and ready to volunteer early. It was an eventful day and I fell asleep quickly.
Sunday morning I woke up and checked my blood sugar. It was normal, high normal, but nonetheless it was good. I decided it was ok to treat myself to a frappuccino. I went down and asked around for something to do. After a brief time I was told I put in my fair share of time at the con and to go have fun. So I did! Henry was attending panels to complete his report. Arizona had left the convention. I decided I would go to this booth and buy the parasol I had my eyes in al weekend. Luckily it was still there. I snagged it and went outside and just took in everything. It had been a lovely weekend, but I was very tired. Relaxing by the manmade pond was just what the doctor ordered.
When Henry and I met up we did another twirl around the dealers room picking out items for our collections. He and I were both wiped out so we went up the escalator and snagged some comfy chairs to sit in before the Closing Ceremonies.
The Closing Ceremonies are a time to say good-bye and to talk about the convention. I never attended so I didn’t really know what to expect. It was definitely one of my favorite moments of the convention. Jada, the ConChair, handed out “Jada Awards” to a bunch of volunteers. Me, Tig, Derek, and few others got an award for being exceptional volunteers. It is always nice to be recognized for your work. But I was happy to do it either way. Everyone who came to the event was given an opportunity to share their comments. At the end they raffled off prizes for the volunteers.
This was an amazing experience for me. I had tons of fun with everything from pre-convention volunteering and convention volunteering to fangirl-ing and reporting. It was a phenomenal event. They made good use of the convention space, unlike MMP a few months ago. The programming was great. There were so many interesting panels. The guest list was spooktacular. Even the one or two tiny negative things that happened couldn’t take away from the positive. I can’t wait until next year! I give this convention a solid 5 out of 5 tentacles!
Sarah L. Covert – Creator/Editor/Reviewer/Columnist/Reporter/Monthly Movie Tweet-a-thon Co-host
ConCarolinas 2014 – A Wandering Scribe’s Account
When last I reported on the sc-fi/ fantasy/ general geekery convention ConCarolinas in 2012, I took a tour through the good and the not so good, noting that the con was in the throes of growing pains that would likely work themselves out in the near future. In 2013 I was not able to post a report due to my father’s illness and subsequent passing, as well as other calamities brought on by “real life” (which is so overrated…). 2014 saw many improvements and this year the con boasts its thus far most well-rounded programming and event guide and is infinitely more organized.
We check into our hotels Thursday and soon after Sarah, a volunteer for the con, went to work on badges and programs for Jada Diaz, Con Chair and organizer. I cooled my heels for a few hours and soon we were reunited and planning the weekend’s events in earnest.
After a mandatory Starbucks run, I eagerly awaited the dealers room opening at 3:00 pm. There were already a handful of panels in swing when I arrived on the ground floor caffeine in hand. One thing I must mention – after the nightmare that was Mad Monster Party organization, held in the same place not long ago, this was a safe haven. Traffic moved at a nice pace, the volunteers were helpful and knowledgeable, and the maps and grogram books handed out generally got folks where they needed to be considering the hotel layout (Shelton Drum’s HeroesCon makes things crystal clear, but then the Charlotte Convention Center is his oyster each year).
I took in the second panel of the day, at 2:00, called From Start to Finish. The title pertains to seeing a work through from conception to publication. The panel was comprised of mostly self-published and small press authors who dealt in a nice variety of niche subgenres, from military sc-fi and urban fantasy to zombies and romance (separately – though I could see one of this creative bunch blending the two successfully).
At 3:00 I contemplated attending a screening of Fritz Lang’s classic Metropolis in the Media Room, where films were being shown continuously all weekend. Kino’s beautifully restored print was shown on DVD on a rather large television in what turned out to be a rather small room, and the volume was ear-splitting til a brave audience member grabbed the remote and remedied the situation. After much of the first act, I resolved to find Sarah.
We rendezvoused in the dealers room about 3:15. It was much more densely packed with vendors exhibitors and guests as in previous years – a good sign. Fate seemed to nudge me towards the right wall, where I conversed with three personages both known and unknown to me. We ran into an old chum from my days at Borders Books and Music, Ben Mirabelli, who in the intervening years since last I saw him has blossomed from a killer fantasy artist to to a top notch all around illustrator. My wife purchased three of his pieces and it was a blast catching up. Speaking of catching up, next to Ben’s booth was Sarah’s friend DJ Spider, the fan guest of honor herself, plying the cosplay trade she has so lovingly mastered. She was in dead-on garb as DC’s Zatanna. Foremost among the guests on this wall was Kathryn Leigh Scott, who starred on television’s only daily horror soap, the venerable Dark Shadows. We immediately scooped up an amazing book co-authored by Ms. Scott and Jim Pierson called Dark Shadows: Return to Collinwood, which I devoured rather swiftly that evening. Missing from the guest wall was yet-to-arrive fellow Dark Shadows alum Lara Parker.
At 3:30 we attended the Opening Ceremonies in the main hall. The host of the event was rather nervous and made several jokes that failed to connect with the large audience. He brought out one by one some of the major guests, including Kathryn Leigh Scott and Lara Parker, Star Trek: Enterprise’s Anthony Montgomery, George RR Martin, and DJ Spider, as well as Jada Diaz, who received a well-deserved round of applause for her tireless efforts creating and organizing ConCarolinas. Performing were the Filking Guests of Honor The Ropers and Music Guests of Honor Valentine Wolfe. Valentine Wolfe consists of Lady Sarah Black and Braxton Ballew, and I enjoy their music, which has been described as “Victorian Chamber Metal for Voice, Double Bass, and Electronics”. Their sound is reminiscent of artists such as Rasputina and Emilie Autumn.
After the ceremony, we took a lengthy dinner break and returned to peek into a few panels separately. I sat in on The Best of the Worst, conducted by the Charlotte Geeks, which explored films deemed “so bad they’re good”. Much Mystery Science Theater 3000 fodder was discussed, and the group tried to avoid bad movie mainstays such as Plan 9 from Outer Space and Bride of the Gorilla in favour of lesser touted cinematic anomalies, The Killer Shrews being one discussed in-depth. I left to check out the Screenwriting 101 panel next door. It was fairly basic but did encourage aspiring film writers with sound advice and not forcing them to adhere slavishly to the Syd Field school of orthodox scripting. After another foray into the dealers room, I was a bit zonked after getting up very early that day. Sadly I opted not to attend the Dance the Night Away party in the main hall at 11 pm. DJ Spider was spinning (pun intended?), but Sarah did make the event and danced at least most of the night away. I was left with the hotel cable and a round of Adult Swim.
After an overpriced hotel breakfast, I dressed and sauntered down to the main halls and exhibitors’ chambers. Sarah had already gone downstairs to help prepare for the opening of day two at the con. Though I had wished to attend the Wild Cards panel, especially after speaking with George RR Martin about it in passing in the elevator, I had my chance but the line to get in was daunting and I didn’t have a press attendance badge for the event. For those unfamiliar with Wild Cards, Martin created, edits, and contributes to this “shared universe” anthology series featuring the work of various authors. It began in the mid 1980s and was sort of the prose equivalent of its comics contemporary, Watchmen, in that it depicted a more realistic take on superheroes. It’s the work I am most familiar with of Martin’s.
Luckily, I was given a press badge for a later event that day where Mr. Martin read at length from his new book The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones. Martin was engaging, investing in the material the obvious joy he had when writing it. It was rather Tolkienesque, I thought, not what I was expecting based on works of his that I’d encountered in the past. Martin avoided the more tawdry elements of A Game of Thrones that contribute to its huge success on television. Perhaps this was an effort to make the event more “family friendly”. I will admit with head held high to being the only human alive not to have viewed, or had an interest, in the show. There goes all my geek cred. In any case, Mr. Martin did run a bit overlong, but jovially departed to much applause.
Exhausted (none of us being in exactly decent health), we – myself, my wife, and our newfound friend Arizona – decided to forgo panels on the show Supernatural and Horror Costuming & Makeup and (sadly) a screening of the animated demi-classic Heavy Metal. I did actually poke my head in for HM. but its screening was behind schedule. Ralph Bakshi‘s Wizards was to follow but I can catch that at home on the 55” whenever the mood strikes me. Still, it would’ve been cool to share the films with the (admittedly) small audience, and hopefully the sound snafus had been corrected since Metropolis.
At loggerheads, we regrouped in our room to save our energy for hotel parties in which a certain gent named Martin was rumored to be putting in a cameo. Sarah had to check and see if she was needed for the evening so we met at the elevator at 9 pm, eschewing our yearly ritual of the Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog event (highly recommended) and first made a stop at a room party. After a brief stay, Sarah suggested we go to Klingon Karaoke in the Walden hall of the hotel. This was a disappointment, and the performers were all but drowned out by a loud woman sitting directly behind us and singing, or rather screaming, along. Media/ TV Guest Brian Holloway, whose background ranges from stage performance to makeup artist was the only performer to take the mic who stood out.
Sarah wanted a shot at the karaoke but the wait for her turn was looking to be long and so we wafted our way to the third floor, where the proverbial action was purported to be – a glimpse of George RR Martin in the flesh – glimpses Sarah and I had already briefly experienced, as previously noted. The party’s were sedate at first, as parties go… but a pet peeve on mine soon reared its head – sometime SNS contributor Trevor Curtis calls them “fairweather sc-fi fans”. I merely referred to them as “rednecks in Geeks’ clothing”, and more than one rudely accosted me. Overall, the room parties were an underwhelming bust and made me yearn to see Valentine Wolfe perform or to catch Wizards, both of which I had decided to forego in favor of the parties. Bad call on my part.
This morning I excitedly attended the entire Anthony Montgomery panel beginning at 11:30 am. I always liked Montgomery on Enterprise (an underrated and unfairly maligned show in my opinion) where he played the under-utilized Travis. His current project is a comic called Miles Away, (soon to be reviewed here on SNS) which Montgomery has conceived as a multi-platform media experience, going from the graphic novel format to an animated series and a possible future live action film.
There is an in-depth history at the end of the graphic novel that is most helpful and should answer any and all questions a reader may have as they explore the universe of Miles Away. Of course it was great to hear Montgomery elaborate on all of this in person. Especially interesting was the info about the forthcoming animated Miles Away, for which Montgomery has procured the voice talents of, among others, Nichelle Nichols, David Hasselhoff, the cast of Enterprise, Keith David, and Tony Todd (the latter two I’m a huge fan of).
Unfortunately I was so absorbed by Mr. Montgomery I barely rushed next door in time to see the Remembering Dark Shadows panel, which consisted of Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott. These were two classy ladies – and quite lovely for their ages! Interestingly, I gleaned from the tail end of the panel that the ladies were less than pleased with the Tim Burton/ Johnny Depp iteration of Dark Shadows, which the two appeared in.
We returned for a photo op with Anthony Montgomery and purchased our copy of Miles Away. Anthony was gracious and exuded a warmth all too often absent from “stars”.
One more sweep of the dealer’ room yielded an original mass market copy of Dare by my favourite author Philip José Farmer, as well as a gorgeously crafted Yoda bank courtesy of Troy and the gang at Rebel Base, from whom we also purchased the large-headed (but not bobbleheads) figures of Carol from Where the Wild Things Are and, in honor of the recently departed Harold Ramis, a cool Egon Spengler figure. We soon began leaving as the dealers room folded. As the shuffle began, I noted that today Spider was cosplaying Halo from Batman and the Outsiders. She is certainly a pro at this.
Ah, the vagaries of cons. As I grow older, even with the journalist’s hat on, I find myself drawn inexorably to those things I am most passionate and knowledgeable about – and fortunately there was more than enough to sate my varied interests. We ended up leaving when the dealers room closed, omitting such tantalizing-sounding panels as Avengers Assemble! (where was the X-Men panel this year?), How to Get Started in Movies, and Self-Publishing Tips and Tricks (the latter two no doubt teeming with invaluable advice). Again, this mantra plays in my brain: “maybe next year”…
Sadly, due to exhaustion and ongoing health issues (just as the last two years), I admit to missing far too many interesting panels. I hope to rectify that in 2015. I’m just glad such variety exists, and that ConCarolinas, as I predicted in 2012, is now a force to be reckoned with among local cons. Mad Monster Party and HeroesCon have their obvious appeals, but ConCarolinas has developed a vibe all its own – an eclectic melange of general geekery. If you’re a genre buff of any stripe, this near-perfect con is for you. Please make plans to attend next year’s swinging gala.I give ConCarolins 2014 a 4.5 out of 5 tentacles
Written by:Tim Lebbon Published by:Titan Books Page Count: 400 ISBN-10: 1781168784 ISBN-13: 978-1781168783
Where to buy:
Publisher’s Comments: Coldbrook is a secret laboratory located deep in Appalachian Mountains. Its scientists had achieved the impossible: a gateway to a new world. Theirs was to be the greatest discovery in the history of mankind, but they had no idea what they were about to unleash. With their breakthrough comes disease and now it is out and ravaging the human population. The only hope is a cure and the only cure is genetic resistance: an uninfected person amongst the billions dead. In the chaos of destruction there is only one person that can save the human race. But will they find her in time? Coldbrook is a secret laboratory located deep in Appalachian Mountains. Its scientists had achieved the impossible: a gateway to a new world. Theirs was to be the greatest discovery in the history of mankind, but they had no idea what they were about to unleash. With their breakthrough comes disease and now it is out and ravaging the human population. The only hope is a cure and the only cure is genetic resistance: an uninfected person amongst the billions dead. In the chaos of destruction there is only one person that can save the human race. But will they find her in time?
Hello Ghouls and Boils,
The talented Floyd Brigdon has returned to SNS! (holds for applause) We are thrilled to have him back. Today he will be sharing his views on Tim Lebbon’s book, Coldbrook. It sounds spooktacular! But I will let him tell you all about, my wicked ones.
Be sure to check back with us this week. We will have a few more reviews and a convention report escaping from the crypt!
As always, enjoy my fiends!
Sarah L. Covert
I love it when a book takes me by surprise.
As previous readers of my reviews might know, I am a lover of genre fiction and films, but I will be the first to admit that there are a LOT of authors out there whose work, while great and worthy of respect, has escaped my notice. Tim Lebbon is one such example. Looking through his list of credits, I realized that I had read only one of his previous novels (The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Wild, written with Christopher Golden) but remembered that work fondly. Then I read the description of Coldbrook. A zombie novel?
“Uh oh,” I thought. “Here we go again….” It seems to me that the zombie narrative is starting to go the way of the vampire novel in that it winds getting used way too often and in ways that often are remarkably unoriginal. Now there are great modern examples (series like The Walking Dead and In the Flesh, just to name two), but my theory for zombie stories is that if you can take the zombie elements out and replace it with something else (like, say, a pack of wild dogs or some kind of natural disaster), then it is not really a great zombie story. And I was very afraid of that happening with Coldbrook.
Coldbrook is quite clearly not your typical zombie narrative. One thing that sets it apart is the cast of characters that it focuses on. Like The Walking Dead, Coldbrook focuses on characters with depth and meaning. Usually, at this point in a review, I would tell you a little about the protagonist and a little about the story of the novel to whet your appetite, but the trouble with doing that with Coldbrook is that are many characters that could fill that role. The novel is written in a rotating third person perspective, as you follow a few different groups around until they finally converge. By the time that that happens, Lebbon has already set his hooks in his reader in so many different ways that, in many respects, it is really the story rather than one or two characters in particular that the reader is interested in finding out more about. And, boy, what a story it is.
The main tale involves a group of scientists who open a door to…somewhere. They postulate that it is probably an alternate Earth, though none of them honestly knows for sure. As they watch, something comes through this door, something which causes their whole world to literally change.
There is, of course, an element of survival drama, but the novel also mixes in elements of science fiction, moral philosophy, some requisite(but needed) romance, and (not to worry!) LOTS of emphasis on action and all-around zombie goodness.
What you wind up with in in this novel is not just another stereotypical zombie novel, but one which pushes the reader past that and leaves us wondering about larger issues and questions like “Just because we can do something, does that mean we should?”
Final Thoughts: I think that Coldbrook is a novel that will be equally loved by lovers of zombie fiction and those who might have grown somewhat tired of seeing the same old formulas play out time and again. For the former, there are many new ideas and twists here to keep you entertained. For those of us in the latter category…well, I think that Coldbrook will probably surprise you as much as it did me. I give Mr. Lebbon’s latest four and one half out of five tentacles (or zombies, in this case)…but only because very few things are perfect.
I have finally recovered from ConCarolinas 2014 and am crawling back out of my crypt (Convention report – along with a report from a volunteers perspective – will be coming soon!) to present you with an in depth review of the new X-Men movie from the viewpoint of our resident comic encyclopedia, Henry Covert. I will now pass the talking stick his way. Stay tuned for some new reviews, columns, and more in the coming weeks. And mind the cobwebs! As always, enjoy my fiends!
Sarah L. Covert
Greetings friends! I have returned with a new videocast after a fair absence. I’ll be tackling the new X-Men flick, Days of Future Past, directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2, Apt Pupil). This film has drawn near-unanimous praise from most quarters, but I’ll be a bit more critical in discussing some of this film’s flaws. Overall I aimed for an honest and fair review, with facts galore to back my assertions. On the balance, despite some misgivings I have about it, DOFP is a film that has remained with me after three viewings and I eagerly await the Blu-ray/ DVD release. I don’t know if I can salute it as a masterpiece (though there are masterful moments), but for what it is and what it aspires to be I give it a near-perfect rating and definitely recommend seeing it at least once. Warning: contains major spoilers!
I give X-Men: Days of Future Past a 4.5 out of 5 tentacles!