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Hello Ghouls and Boils,
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!
Publisher’s Comments: Viscount Grandrith, also know as the Lord of the Jungle and the legendary Apeman, proposes to tell all, relating the truth about the origins of The Nine, the elixer that grants near eternal youth and superhuman strength, and the struggles between them, which cause the world to tremble. A brand-new edition of the classic novel.
Greetings to ill and sun-dried,
Today, I follow up my previous review of Philip José Farmer’s controversial yet brilliant novel A Feast Unknown with its sequel, the less provocative but no less enjoyable Lord of the Trees, in the most recent edition, published by Titan Books. Enjoy!
Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin
For twelve years now, the late great Philip José Farmer has been my favorite author. His work was always ambitious, flouting literary conventions and addressing topics such as sex and religion (among others) in thoughtful and unique ways. Recently, Titan Books did a great service to Farmer’s legions of fans by reprinting many of his most famous works, most of which are long out of print. One of those works, Farmer’s A Feast Unknown, is perhaps the most controversial of his more sexually charged novels, featuring the jungle man John Cloamby, Lord Grandrith, and his half-brother, the bronze hero of Technopolis, James “Doc” Caliban (analogues of Tarzan and Doc Savage, two of Farmer’s favorite characters) forced into mortal combat through the machinations of the ancient society known as the Nine. It is undoubtedly one of Farmer’s most explicit novels in terms of sexual and/or violent content, but in this fan’s opinion is also one of his very finest works. Farmer wrote two sequels to Feast, the book under discussion today and The Mad Goblin, the latter of which was reprinted as well by Titan in June 2013. Those two books are narrated by Grandrith (who also narrated the first novel) and Caliban respectively, and depict their simultaneous battles against the Nine, having formed an alliance against their former masters and manipulators at the end of Feast. Although Lord of the Trees is not even remotely as explicit as Feast, it is just as enjoyable an adventure story, and just as well-written, and Grandrith is a fascinating pastiche of Burroughs’ ape man.
Adding to the experience is a wonderful afterword by author Win Scott Eckert examining the question of whether the Grandrith/Caliban stories take place in Farmer’s Wold Newton Universe, named after an interconnected family tree of pulp and literary heroes and villains, including Tarzan and Doc Savage (who according to Farmer are second cousins), who owe their remarkable abilities to their ancestors’ exposure in 1795 to the ionization accompanying the fall of a meteor in the English village of Wold Newton (a very real place and event, which Farmer used as the basis for his theories.) Win’s essay goes into great detail comparing the personalities, backgrounds, and genealogies of Grandrith and Caliban to those of Greystoke and Savage, and allows the reader to choose his or her favorite of several hypothetical answers to the questions of whether or not these characters coexist. I have had the chance to hang out with Win for the past three years at the annual convention FarmerCon, and I can attest through years of correspondence that Win is every bit as much a devotee of Farmer’s work in general and the Wold Newton mythos in particular as I am myself. Moreover, he actually got the chance to meet Farmer on more than one occasion, which I greatly envy him. Win has done several short stories for Black Coat Press and Moonstone Books, among other worthy publishers, that draw greatly on the Wold Newton milieu. Moreover, in 2009 he had the rare privilege of completing an unfinished Wold Newton-based novel by Farmer, The Evil in Pemberley House. Farmer began in his lifetime a fourth novel featuring Grandrith and Caliban, The Monster on Hold, which unfortunately remains incomplete to this day. Given his magnificent work on Pemberley, I firmly believe that Win would be the ideal person to complete The Monster on Hold some day, should Titan be interested in same. Also, his story “The Wild Huntsman” for Meteor House’s anthology The Worlds of Philip José Farmer 3: Portraits of a Trickster, besides elaborating on why so many people were at an obscure place such as Wold Newton on that fateful day, also serves as a companion to the Grandrith and Caliban novels, and elaborates on concepts from both The Monster on Hold and his foreword to Lord of the Trees. It’s also worth noting that one of the characters in the latter novel, an agent of the Nine named James Murtagh, was born in Meiringen, Switzerland, and is a brilliant mathematician like his father before him. Keen-eyed readers will notice that Murtagh bears many similarities to a Wold Newton Family member whose archnemesis (also a member of the family) once referred to him as “the Napoleon of Crime.”
Final Thoughts: Phil Farmer is truly one of the greats of science fiction, and this book more than lives up to his usual high standards. His pastiche of Burroughs’ ape-man is terrific, and he writes action scenes beautifully. Reading this book reminded me why I’ve loved his work for over a decade now. Kudos to Titan for reprinting this wonderful novel, which I give a resounding five out of five tentacles!
That’s right. It is that time of year again! The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon in Portland, Oregon is just 9 days away. If you are anywhere near the Pacific Northwest, make the trip. Trust me, you will have a spooktacular time! Here is the latest buzz straight from the organizers. As always, enjoy my fiends!
Sarah L. Covert
H.P. LOVECRAFT FILM FESTIVAL & CTHULHUCON WELCOMES
ACTOR DOUG BRADLEY TO 19TH ANNUAL EVENT IN APRIL
Portland, OR – March 20, 2014 – The H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival® & CthulhuCon is pleased to announce Special Guest Doug Bradley will be appearing at the 2014 festival, which takes place April 11-13, 2014. Mr. Bradley is well-known for his portrayal of “Pinhead” in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser movie series, but he is also a literary powerhouse who produces his own line of audio books featuring classic stories of Gothic Horror, from authors like Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and many more.
In addition to Doug Bradley, guests this year include Kenneth Hite, author of Cthulhu 101 and Where The Deep Ones Are, Michael Cisco, Locus award-winning author of The Divinity Student, Allen K., famed illustrator of Weird Tales and Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, Sandy Petersen, creator of The Call of Cthulhu role-playing game, S. T. Joshi, reknowned Lovecraft scholar and author of I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert M. Price, editor of Crypt of Cthulhu, and Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., award-winning author of Blood Will Have Its Season and editor of the King In Yellow anthology A Season in Carcosa.
Feature Films include Curse of the Crimson Altar, starring Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, and Barbara Steele, the US Premiere of the much-anticipated French creature feature Dead Shadows, 1970′s classic stop motion monster epic Equinox, and independent features The Sunderland Experiment, Lord of Tears, and The Ackermonster Chronicles, with more to come. We have over 2 dozen Short Films including Phil Tippett’s “MADGOD: Part 1,” “Black Sugar,” “Miskatonic University,” “Out There” directed by Randall Plunkett (the current Lord Dunsany), and many more!
Special events include a Live musical performance of selections from the Dreams in the Witch House Rock Opera, Carbload for Cthulhu and Author Signing, a Live radio play production by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, Pickman’s Apprentice live drawing competition, Lovecraft Under the Gun 72 Hour Film contest, Art Show, Literary Brunch, Temple of Yog-Sothoth Spaghetti Dinner (tickets sold separately), and more!
Since 1996, the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival® has been a Portland institution, celebrating film, literature, and art influenced by the master of Cosmic Horror, H. P. Lovecraft. The festival has grown to three nights and two days of Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction showcasing independent short and feature films, author readings, panel discussions, gaming, and live events on all three screens of the historic Hollywood Theatre.
The Festival opens at 6 pm on Friday, April 11th with an evening program, and continues through the weekend with afternoon and evening shows and special events on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available through the Hollywood Theatre website and box office.
Advance weekend passes will be $55. Advance single night passes for Friday $15, Saturday $25, Sunday $25. Prices will be sightly higher after March 21st.
Long time no type to! I know how much you must have missed me, my wicked darlings. I am sorry for my extended absence, but my underlings and minions have kept up the place well I see. *pushes some cobwebs back* But I am back now and ready to bring you all the best in science-fiction, horror, and strange tales. I thought a lot about how I wanted to revive SNS. Well last weekend I went to the biggest (and newest) horror/sci-fi convention in the region, the Mad Monster Party! I want to make a few statements before I begin. 1) I had a seizure a little over a month ago, so my pain level was pretty high. 2) I did attempt to contact the convention chair and get their feedback. That wasn’t a very successful endeavor — as you will see below. 3) My thoughts were echoed ten fold by con-goers and special guests alike. Ok now that the full disclosure is out there — sit back and enjoy the ride. As always, enjoy my fiends!
Sarah L. Covert
Day One – Lines, lines, and more lines… oh yeah — and frak you Corey Feldman
Ok… I am not new to conventions. I know that lines and ticketing can be problems and technical behind-the-scenes details can delay things. But getting in on opening day was a mess.
My hubby and I (along with our friend Lauren) got to the hotel across the road (Henry and I booked a room. We just figured it would be easier given my condition) quite early so we had time to settle in and grab a bite before we went to the convention. My hopes were high. I would be getting to meet a lot of my favorite people from the horror and sci-fi genres and a bunch of my friends would be there.
In my hotel, relaxing before the con!
After (a pretty horrible) dinner we made our way over to the Con. (Now keep in mind I have been to a lot of conventions and film festivals.) It was approaching 5:30 when we went over to meet our friend Toohey. We figured that since the first panel was scheduled at 6:30 that that would be awesome timing. Give us some time to mosey on in and check out the dealers/celeb rooms before heading over to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Usually in conventions they open the dealers room anywhere from one to three hours before the first panel is supposed to start. At the least they start admission and processing before the first panel/event starts.) Oh boy was I ever wrong.
The line in front of me.
The line behind me.
Yes, the line continues around the building.
About this time I am thinking… hmmm… must be some kind of issue with ticketing or something. I remember those chaotic times at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival when some small glitch would happen and we’d have a line outside. So at this point I am not annoyed. I am pumped up on red bull and ready to go! I was very excited to get the lay of the land and I figured the line would get moving any minute and I could get down there AND go up to the tent (I wish I had an image of this, it was a a giant wedding sorta tarpy tent where they held all the panels — which no one bothered to mention on the website or programs by the way.) for the Rocky Horror Picture Show panel featuring Brad, Columbia and Magenta!
I am ready to go — my husband is not amused.
Time is moving at a snails pace because we are waiting for something fun. It was like kids before Christmas. I could her sighs and mutters all around me as it was approaching 6:30. (Doors were supposed to open at 6 — said the gentleman behind us.) At this point I am starting to get a little anxious. So as soon as I spotted a volunteer I went to ask about the line and panels. I expressed my concern about the timing and the volunteer wasn’t sure how to answer me. She came back out and said that soon they would be letting people in six at a time (WTF?) and that I shouldn’t worry they would be pushing the RHPS panel back and no one would miss it. I trusted this was true. It is a volunteer who gathered the information — I was assuming it would be accurate. It was not. First they don’t have separate lines for prepay and general admission. I think that might have helped. But I can only contemplate what happened and unfortunately I got nothing but “If they think these lines are bad they should see DragonCon or ComicCon.” from a grumbly security dude. We walked out and I happily pulled out my iphone with the scanner image for our tickets. Then the young lady asks what my last name was, looked on a printed paper and slapped on some cheapy con bracelets and sent us on our way with a map (because 1)She didn’t know where the panels were and 2)They were trying to push us through quickly). Something must have gone wrong with the scanning system, this could have caused they delay. Whatever it was it was super annoying and super tiring. After that exhausting process we were ready to get some instant gratification and check out the guests and treasures in the vendor rooms (where we finally found a volunteer who know what he was talking about and he told us about the tent). Me, the hubby, and Toohey make our first stop at Tom Savini‘s table. Don’t know who Savini is? Shame on you — give me back your horror geek card!
Tom Savini, Me, and Henry
Now, after some thought, I am going to chalk it up to being the same sort of frustration the geeks, media, and staff (or “stiff”) were all feeling… but Mr. Savini was not the most approachable man. I mentioned having met him about 19 years ago or so and he just didn’t seem to want to chat and heck I can’t blame him. My husband and Toohey were getting anxious about getting to the RHPS panel. They decided to head up. But Corey Feldman was at the next table over and I was really looking forward to meeting him.
Corey and me… spiffy dresser!
I was pretty impressed at first. He had on a dazzling jacket and looked just like I pictured. I used to be a bit of a Corey/Corey fan as a teenager. I will admit to having pictures of both of them on my wall clipped out from teen magazines. He was taking time to talk to his fans and they seemed pretty giddy with delight. So I didn’t mind waiting in yet another line to meet him. When I got to the table I told him that my husband and I had been admiring his jacket from afar. He joked saying now you admire it up close. He seemed pretty kewl. I had my copy of Gremlins out ready to be signed. At conventions it is fairly common for celebrities to charge for photos. Nowadays they will even charge for photos on your own camera. This is not a shock. Usually if you buy an item from their table or buy an autograph on an item you brought the celeb will do a photo for free or for a lesser charge. Corey double dipped! They charged me for the autograph on the DVD and then an additional $20 for a photograph. I was so taken aback. I just paid it and then headed off to the outdoors to regroup. So yeah, frak you Corey Feldman. Double dipping from your fan base is so uncool.
As I was headed out I spotted Henry Winkler! I had to stop myself from squeeing and jumping up and down. It was the frakking Fonz! So I had to stop for a photo op with him. He was such a sweet guy.
Me and the freaking Fonz!!!
I sent a text to my husband and relayed my woes. He said they got into the panel and it had already started. Our friend Lauren was still waiting in line. No one will miss anything, huh? Yeah… that was a load of BS. He let me know they would be coming soon and would text when on the way. I decided to suck it up and get back to the dealers room.
I saw Nivek Ogre (Ogre, Ohgr, etc) and made my way to his table. I said hi and asked him if he remembered me from last year (I of course reminded him of my crazy hair falls (which you will notice later), and that I was wearing glasses). He said of course he did and greeted me with a hug. Ogre gives the best hugs by the way. I told him we saw Skinny Puppy when they came last month and we chit chatted a bit about that. I felt a lot better and after telling him I would pop back around later I decided to roam again.
Next I spotted Ken Foree! He is a favorite of ours. I got him to sign Dawn of the Dead and posed for some pictures (free by the way) joking how I was going to make the hubby jealous. He was just a genuinely nice guy and such a refreshing change from the arrogance I had seen on the other side of the room. (I totally forgot to tell him I used to hang out in Monroeville Mall)
Me and the great Ken Foree!!!
Right next to the great Ken Foree was the adorable Sid Haig! I had a small stack of DVDs for him to sign. He was so great and down to earth. When he got to Spider Baby he told me that it had recently been preserved by the Academy Film Archive! I said how does that feel? He said great! When he got to the The Big Bird Cage disc, I told him that was my favorite of his. He chuckled and said it was a lot of fun to make. Then I got to snuggle with him for a photo op (also free by the way).
Snuggling with Sid!
I was peopled out again though and had to go out for a smoke (yes I know… I am trying to quit). While I was out there I got to talking with Frankenhooker and some other people about how insane and packed and hot it was in there. By that point Henry and Toohey found me. We were getting ready to head back in when Ken Foree bummed a smoke from me. Yup, folks (the ones without their heads up their own bums) are just folks. We then headed in and dumped some more money on Ken and Sid’s tables. We decided we were going to wander around some more rather than head back up to the tent of doom. Toohey left to pick up Angie — we were going to dance since DJ Spider was supposed to be spinning in the bar. (Only to find out 15 minutes later it was not going to happen, some sort of sound ordinance and no one told her. Loverly.)
We made our way to the Rocky Horror tables and with a renewed vigor I prepared to meet an idol, Patricia Quinn/Magenta!!!
She was the sweetest lady. She was so interested in all my Star Wars geeky jewelry. We got her to sign our disc and my husband bought a great photo of her. Then we posed for several photos with her (free again). I relayed a message for from Ken Foree. She gave me a peck on the cheek for it. I was in geek grrl heaven.
We went outside for another little break. I wasn’t sure what to do since Spider wasn’t spinning. A gentleman outside recommended room parties. I don’t usually do room parties. But then he spoke about the ConCarolinas party. I remembered having a blast at last year’s party. Jada was running the shindig, and I wanted to see her – so bonus! We basically just milled about until party time. We met up with Lauren and headed up the elevators away from the sweaty hordes *phew*.
Exhausted after a long day we wandered on to the hotel after the party to get some sleep. Sadly I couldn’t sleep… strange bed syndrome. But I did rest my eyes and tagged some photos and watched some cartoons.
Day Two – We’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat!
I thought Friday was bad. Thankful my convention was being fueled by the folks at Red Bull, I prepared myself for another day of confusion. I make sure I get to the Con super early because I prepaid to have a photo op with Elvira. Boy oh boy I wasn’t prepared for this annoyance. So we get there and go inside, because hey we already paid and would rather wait inside on a comfy chair. We show them our wristbands and go in. There is a volunteer standing at the escalator who informs me that we need to leave and go wait in line outside. Here we go outside again. There a different volunteer instructs up to go wait in line. While waiting there we find out none of these people have wristbands yet. So we ask yet another volunteer who instructs us to go inside. She pulls the head of security who then verifies what this girl is saying. I asked the guy if I could contact the con chair through the website, he said I should try the Facebook site (which I did later and gave them more than enough time to respond, the conversation will be at the end of this review). He made some excuses, none of which I can verify so I will not publish them. But let’s say he was trying to persuade me to not let the disorganization affect my review. I understand and listen, if it was just me I’d suck it up… but in general I heard varying levels of complaints about disorganization, lines, temperature, and more from every person I talked to. So, sorry security dude. I can’t ignore this. But listen, I am giving credit for the good stuff too.
Henry and I sit down and with a heavy sigh we start the waiting process. Then the same volunteer who kicked us out the first time tries to do it again. I looked him straight in the eye and said no! I told him if he had a problem to tell the head of security and we could all talk about it. Yeah… I can be scary. Especially when wearing a corseted top and skirt (which later earned me a compliment from Elvira – oh my Goddess)!
After we revived a bit, the hubby and I went to wait in line. We find out while standing there that the convention won’t open up until 11AM (first panel started at 11:11AM). Here I am after the news:
Me annoyed with the lines!
And the lines again:
The folks in front of me…
The folks behind me…
Finally I start asking the volunteers about the photo op with Elvira. It took me four people before I got to someone who knew what was going on. Even then their directions were crazy. But I quickly found the line when I got there and luckily was towards the front of the non-RIP (their version of VIP treatment for con-goers who can swing the dough). I was aware I would be waiting more than an hour but there but I had no idea how agonizing it would be. The photo room was in one of the small conference rooms. It was also a small area to line people up.
Yup, more lines!
It was super congested. It was so hot that con-goers were grabbing flyers and making makeshift fans to stave off the sweat. I felt like I was going to faint several times, which was scary given my recent health issues. Not only that. There were so many people in line for this photo-op thing that people who were differently abled were just having the worst time getting through. There were several times I used my booming voice to clear the way for a wheelchair or mobility vehicle coming through. There was also no place for the elderly or differently abled to sit. So standing in that enclosed space, with that many people (I found out later the line went outside), was just not in any way fun. I tried to fix my makeup like 8 times because it kept melting off. We were all quite miserable, but since misery loves company we had plenty to talk about.
The photo-op started at about 12:30 (it was scheduled to begin at noon). Ok, for $50 they take a professional photo with you and Elvira. They don’t tell you this would be from the waist up only. They don’t tell you they will put up a cheesy background via green screen. And you have no photo approval. Take what ya get and move along like good little cattle. They told us to pick up the photos in an hour or two. I think it was almost 5pm or so when they were finally done. I wasn’t happy with the way mine turned out at all. You could see the green screening. Ugh! So I made lemonade and scanned it in and edited it to black and white – voila!)
Me and Elvira – Two Ladies of Horror!
Afterwards I felt like I won some sort of battle and my reward would be outside… I ran to the nearest exit. Ah air and room to breathe. I bought a six dollar beer and didn’t even mind spending that much money because I was so hot and so thirsty. I had the hubby come grab me and I told him I couldn’t stand the idea of going back in there. So, we went to lunch. I immediately changed out of the corseted skirt and we sat down for a meal. Angie, Kelley, and her husband all met us at the restaurant
We decided to splurge a little at this convention so we went about looking at items (the vendor selection kind of sucked and it was sort of hard to shop because everything was so crowded in) and getting some things from our favorite guests. Feeling a bit better after the break (though I didn’t really eat) we decided to brave the crowds again.
First we stopped by to talk to the elegant Camille Keaton. She was so sweet and was sure to ask everyone their name… and she remembered them! I just adored her. If you have never seen the original I Spit On Your Grave, you need too!
Henry and Camille Keaton
My goal after that was to make a beeline to John Schnider‘s table. We geeks sometimes refer to him as Bo Kent. *laughs* I gushed about how he was the best Pa Kent ever. And he was just so sweet and thankful to everyone I saw him talk to. I had him sign the Smallville DVD which had the episode he directed, Talisman. And boy is he a remarkably handsome man. He looks fabulous.
John Schnider has his arm around me!!!
Next on our list, the lovable Ed Neal. Don’t know who he is? Betcha felt a little silly after you clicked the link. I will say meeting him was one of the highlights of my weekend. I hope to snag an interview with him. He was amazingly friendly.
Henry, Ed Neal, and Me!
Oh and what is the fun of having a shot with Magenta and not one with Cloumbia! No fun, I say! And she was so sweet and so gracious. Loved Nell Campbell!
Henry, Nell Campbell, and Me!
Last, but certainly not least on my list was Jeremy Licht. He was my favorite character, in my favorite segment, of Twilight Zone the Movie. I have been wanting to meet him since I was like eight. We chatted for a while and he agreed to do an interview with SNS in May! So look for that one folks!
Me, Jeremy Licht, and Henry
After all the running around, through all those hordes or horror fans, Henry and I decided to go to the hotel and take a little nap. I was in a ton of pain and was very tired. A timeout was necessary. We made it back to the hotel just in time for the event I was most excited for, a regional premier of All Cheerleaders Die – the newest/oldest project of the great Lucky McKee! I will wait until I get this on DVD to give it a full review, but I will say it was funny, gross, scary, all the things I expect from Lucky!
We ran into Ogre in the hall and posed for a couple of pictures. He is such a sweety!
We went back to the hotel and discussed what we were going to do about the next day. The husband and I decided it was best to just skip day three. I guess we felt like the cost outweighed the benefit.
I did attempt to contact the MMP con chair here is the conversation in its entirety.
March 23rd ME: Is there a way I could speak with the con-chair. I am doing a review of the mmp for my site and I had some questions.
Mad Monster Party: All the chairs at the con were property of the Hilton and they make for terrible interviews. Send any questions you have over, and I’ll get you some answers. Thanks!
ME: What was up with the lines??? The lines to get into the hotel were moving at a snail pace, if at all. It was opening day and after waiting nearly two hours I asked a staff member what was happening. She explained there was some kind of delay and they would be letting people in soon. I asked about the panels, which were supposed to start soon, and she assured me no one would miss a panel. Thankful for some news I waited, waited, and waited more and soon I was at the registration table, iPhone in hand – ready to have it scanned. Then the volunteer said she had to look me up by name on a printed out sheet. Oy. When I asked about panels, schedule and the like, the volunteers were not very knowledgeable. Lines again and also why is it that the staff and their frequent miscommunication? On day two we decided to get there early. The fist panel was at 11 and I had a photo op with Elvira at noon. So I walk inside the hotel, we bought the weekend pass. A volunteer demanded (rudely I must say) that we needed to wait outside. I found a volunteer I spoke with the day before. She informed me since I had purchased the weekend pass there was no reason for me to stand in line. She brought us back in and pulled the head of security who both solidly agreed we could sit in the lobby. I was relieved. I had a seizure recently and since then I have been in a lot of pain. Not 5 minutes after we sat down the same volunteer who demanded we go outside, did it again. I explained to him that the head of security said we could sit here and if the young man wanted to bring him over he was more than welcome to, I am not moving. Thankfully he left us alone. Lines again and this time inside… Finally I am waiting in line to meet the amazing Elvira (however fleeting the moment) and get our picture together. That line was so long. It snaked around covered hallways and I heard it even went outside. If a fire marshall had come in he would have shut the convention down. Also, I don’t know how many times I had to make people get out of the path of a fan in a wheelchair. There was no consideration for the disabled. You couldn’t guess by looking at me but I have fibromyalgia, arthritis, and now whatever this seizure is. Sometimes I need to sit. Was there anywhere setup for elders, differently abled, and sick individuals?
I hate to sound so terribly nit picky. I do want you to know that I had some fun. Heck I met so many people I admire. And it is always amazing to be with so many like-minded people
MMP: When thousands of people try to enter a hotel lines form. We tried VERY hard to get into the convention center and the city didn’t think “our group” was a good fit so we were stuck with a convention center sized show in a hotel. The option was to not bring as many cool guests and the consensus seems to be it was worth the wait. We were not at all happy with all of our volunteers, but it’s always a gamble when you have to bring on so many new faces (to accommodate the aforementioned larger lines). Repeat volunteers were awesome (which is why we brought them back) but, as it is with all people, some suck. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.
ME: One more question for the article… do you plan on trying for a bigger venue next year?<crickets for a week – then I wrote this>
Year three did not go as well as I had hoped. This convention is suffering some very serious growing pains and this venue simply wasn’t big enough and the staff wasn’t prepared for the crowd wrangling aspect, directions, or ticketing. I am pretty sure it was way above capacity that weekend. I did have fun though, because I had friends there and MMP pulled some awesome guests who were gracious and good with their fans. Will I go again next year? Most likely. I think this convention has potential and there isn’t anything else like it here in Charlotte. So, I am going to give this Con three ratings, to be fair.
Convention Guests & Vending: 3.5 out of 5 tentacles
Convention Staff & Volunteers: 2 out of 5 tentacles
Venue Change: .5 out of 5 tentacles
Sarah L. Covert - Creator/Editor/Reviewer/Columnist/Reporter/Monthly Movie Tweet-a-thon Co-host
Publisher’s Comments: The diaries of Lord Grandrith, the legendary Apeman, Lord of the Jungle and bastard son of Jack the Ripper. Blessed with unnatural long life, his power brings with it a gruesome side effect – one shared by his nemesis, the formidable Doc Caliban, Man of Bronze and Champion of Justice. But these two titans have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Who are the dark manipulators of their destiny? A brand-new edition of the controversial novel.
Greetings to ill and sun-dried,
Today, I’m reviewing Titan Books’ new edition of Philip José Farmer’s classic, controversial novel A Feast Unknown. This much-misunderstood book is an amazing read, and among the talking points below I share my thoughts on the book’s more graphic content. I hope you will give this wonderful tome a chance.
Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin
When I first read this novel a year or two before Titan’s rerelease, I was shocked and greatly impressed. The late Philip José Farmer has been my favorite author for the past eleven years, and I have greatly enjoyed every single novel and story of his that I’ve read. A Feast Unknown is no exception. Farmer’s jungle lord Lord Grandrith and bronze hero of Technopolis Doc Caliban may seem familiar to fans of pulp and adventure fiction, but once you get past the surface they are very distinct from their inspirations, and indeed are in some ways more three-dimensional and realistic then their counterparts, as entertaining as the latter’s exploits absolutely are. Certainly, some of the activities Grandrith and Caliban engage in during the course of Farmer’s novel are ones that their inspirations’ chroniclers would never have dreamed of depicting.
It bears noting that A Feast Unknown is, as has often been noted, very graphic in its depiction of sex, violence, and combinations of the two. Indeed, it was originally published by Essex House, a company that specialized in pornographic novels. However, Farmer’s depiction of extreme human (or superhuman) behavior in this novel is never gratuitous and rarely titillating. While Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ ape-man was steadfastly devoted to his wife, Grandrith is much more sexually adventurous. Similarly, while Lester Dent‘s man of bronze was chaste, Caliban is somewhat sexually maladjusted, despite being in a relationship with his cousin Trish. As Art Sippo states in his wonderful afterword (which is an outgrowth of a speech he gave at the fan celebration FarmerCon in 2011, which I was lucky enough to hear and congratulate him upon), the passages deemed controversial by many have their roots in real-world practices, and tie into the points Farmer is trying to make. Speaking as a film buff who has watched a number of graphic movies, the provocative passages, while somewhat uncomfortable to read at times, are still not as off-putting for myself as they are for many readers. And, as Pablo Picasso astutely observed in one of my favorite quotes, “The chief enemy of creativity is ‘good’ taste.” It is worth noting that Farmer wrote two sequels, Lord of the Trees and The Mad Goblin, which are much less explicit in content, although still quite excellent.
Final Thoughts: Philip Jose Farmer was as controversial as he was renowned among science fiction readers in his lifetime, and this novel is a perfect example of why. That being said, it is also one of the best of his works, and only adds to my disappointment that most people outside genre circles are unaware of Farmer’s work. If you read this book with an open mind, you may just appreciate it as much as I do. Titan’s recently-concluded series of Farmer reprints is topnotch, and I applaud them for putting one of his best and most notorious tales back into print! Though not to everyone’s tastes, I feel that his book deserves every one of the five out of five tentacles I give it!