Hyper Realistic Solid Chocolate Baby Heads! MUST SEE!!!

30 11 2012

Hyper Realistic Solid Chocolate Baby Heads! Yes. Yes.

In time for the holidays: reconsidering

26 11 2012

In time for the holidays: reconsidering the Demon. http://ow.ly/fAix0

In this holiday season of giving and lov

26 11 2012

In this holiday season of giving and love, let’s pass some kind thoughts to The Demon.

Consider: Before there was a world, everything was as sinless and unworldly as a great big preschool. All was love, with the entire class having their First Crush.
The love of the First Crush was perfect and all-encompassing. So much so that everyone in the class loved one another for loving the Crush. There was no jealousy, only acceptance and admiration among the peers of the class.
Then one day, the Crush decides to bring in Monkeys. Not fun monkeys with fezzes, but monkeys who are deformed, who fling poo, who disobey the Crush and curse the Crush and hurt each other. The Crush then declares, “I love these monkeys more than I love you, class.”
Wow, that hurts.
The best student in the class says, “Why?”
The Crush replies, “Because.”
The best student says, “That’s not fair! I mean, look at them!”
The Crush shakes His head. “You really don’t get Me after all, do you?”
Rising to his feet, the best student says, “Not if You’re going to be a dick. And if You love them, then you’re not perfect. Why don’t I run this class? My rules will make sense.”
The class splits two for, three against. There is a fight, and the against side loses.
“Are you sorry?” asks You Know Who.
“No!” say the againsts, “You’re still being a dick! Look at them!”
“In that case,” says the Crush, “I’m throwing you as far away from me as possible. Then I’m changing your appearance into hideous creatures. And you’ll only be able to eat disgusting offal. Because you don’t get Me, and I will always love the monkeys more. But if any of you repent at any time, I’ll take you back into class.”
Hell is filled with petty children who just want to be loved like on their terms, and who lack the worldly experience to accept “no” and move on to “best friend” status.
It’s conceivable that God made it worse by placing the demons in the worst place ever. Obsessives fixate because their lives suck except for the ONE GOOD THING, usually an emotional connection that becomes idealized.
Popularly, demons are depicted as gleeful. That would be wrong. They would be glaring and nauseous from a yearning so intense it feels like an eternal flu.
A phone book is opened. A finger stabs down. “You. He loves you more than He loves me.”

Just read the Stephen Jones anthology “Zombie Apocalypse” in one sitting. No, that is not a compliment, because I skipped a lot of lackluster character development. This anthology is a shared-world chronicle of a zombie epidemic written by a bunch of UK writers. The contributions are uneven in tone, so much so that the outbreak’s gritty procedurals end up devolving into broad-brush satire by book’s end. Tanith Lee of all people contributed an evocative zombie epistolary. Mandy Slater’s initial police and medical reports balance character and action. Sadly, a lot of compelling “transcripts” and “diary entries” end flat with last entries of “you look tastee” or somesuch. While it is impossible to do a British horror compilation and not include Kim Newman, it is possible to choose a tone between his strong “Minutes of Meeting” and his loopy messages from Pat Robertson and the Queen, and then stick with it.

In last post, I posted about Horrid Redn

24 11 2012

In last post, I posted about Horrid Redneck tropes turned up to eleven in an old “X-Files” episode. I wondered if we could have a Horrid Hipster.

What would we fear from Hipsters? They are objects of ridicule among the middle-class. It would be like having terrifying hippies or Amish. There have been terrifying hippy commune movies and there were terrifying religious primitivists in “Harvest Home” and “The Wicker Man.” Which brings us to what monsters need.

Monsters need their realm of control. Gentrifying neighborhoods have high traffic, high residency turnover. People come and go with some frequency. But you can go in and not come out.

Monsters have values beyond survival. We know the Hipster tropes of admiring obscure art, making everything by hand, compassion for the environment, and enthusiasm for simple proficiency with rock climbing and kickball leagues. In my estimation, all this is a desire to relive high school as a positive experience, and through this I wonder about Peter Pan. Why Peter Pan?

Because monsters are the result of a paranormal force. It would be easy to make our evil hipsters a bunch of devil worshippers, but that’s too easy. Lovecraft is popular, so it’s tempting to say “I knew that Abomination before It became mainstream.” But I feel there are so many horrible HPL pastiches out there, we should move along. Are they aliens or genetic offshoots? Nah. Nihilists living art for its own sake? With their maker culture, we could think of hipsters wanting to transcend life through extreme and obscure means.

Monsters wish to share their insight. How much does it want to Change Others?

Monsters have a striking appearance. Check for before with the mustaches and PBRs, let’s make it more striking.

Let’s start an outline. For contrast to our monster, we need a Protagonist who provides a foundation for what reality is supposed to be in this fiction. His values are a mix of empathy and pragmatism, for otherwise we may not like him.

A Protag is looking for his younger sister. Sister was living in a gentrifying neighborhood with Boyfriend and their Baby. Protag is a commodities trader who doesn’t have much truck with the simple life of the mind. He visits their house, and finds it still furnished, their clothes and personal items still in drawers, their breakfasts rotting on their plates.

The neighbors sort of knew the three. Old folks down the street (who have paid off their houses but are still Poor) remember Baby and Sister. But the car used by Sister and Boyfriend is still on the curb with many parking tickets.

The Co-op offers no help until Mysterious Guy takes Protag aside. “They bought lots of bulk food,” says Guy, “Truckloads. And I heard Boyfriend talk about oxygen and ventilators.”

And so it goes, clue after clue, not to get too meta.

It all leads to Squatter space where Protag’s company is looking to tear down. Squatter space is wired with obscure electric stuff. It is also the portal to an extraplanar space, an empty “fix-‘er-upper” dimension, where hipsters have gone to achieve All Goals.

Residual problems? Those who enter and exit Homeland develop Physical Deformities. Seeing as we are talking dimensional issues, the Homelanders even merge in weird, angular, planar ways, like they are mirrors. Even Baby oh no not baby horrid horrid horrid.

And the Homelanders have discovered they can walk into our reality anywhere.

What happens next? Who knows? We have layers of risk through potential Deformity, familial rejection, or just plain physical danger. Does Boyfriend decide to go Anarchist and weaponize the ability? “Occupy Space” might be a good title for this story, or maybe too thumping obvious.

Did you find this process helpful?

I’m still figuring out what I can write

20 11 2012

I’m still figuring out what I can write about that you would find useful and entertaining. Monsters seem to be a good subject, so here’s one of my faves and why I think it works.

In the X-Files, there were some kickass monsters ranging from the camp fun of Worm Boy to the heartbreaking genius of Clyde Bruckman. But only one episode was deemed so disturbing that Fox (the channel, not the agent) decided they could not place it in reruns.

The aficionados gasp, for I can only be talking about the Peacock Family from the Season Three episode “Home.”

The Peacocks hit so many phobias of the able middle-class of Peoria. In order of appearance: they live in a run-down house near a kids’ baseball diamond; they leave a miscarried fetus where Jimmy Jr. can find it; they are backwoods hicks; they are misformed products of many generations of incest; they listen to the creepy “Wonderful” by Johnny Mathis; they kill lovable cops named “Andy Taylor” with their bare hands; they are proud of their Dixie heritage; the three sons have reproductive sex with their limbless mom. Then they get in their huge ancient car, put Mom in the trunk and get away.

To me, the writer Glen Morgan has always used the loving family as a source of dread (see his recent series “The River”). In many episodes of “X-Files”, the monsters either want babies, or are luring children, not for food or abuse but for comfort or empathy. It’s the Adams Family, obviously, mixing nurturing values with unsavory environment.

Glen also knew his viewing audience. “X-File” fans were not likely to sit and watch NASCAR or “Hee Haw”, so he took every redneck trope and cranked it up to eleven, while naming his unfortunate sheriff after Andy Griffiths’ character from the rural Avalon of “Mayberry.”

The reveal of this over-the-top story had to be gradual. The shadowy family could not coaxed from their house. There was not enough evidence for a warrant. Scully suspected a woman was being held hostage. The sympathetic sheriff who had been long-suffering with his name makes his move on his own and is killed by a booby-trap. The FBI agents discover the mother living in a drawer in a bedroom filled with ancient family pics and Dixie flags. They gun down two brothers, while the third and the mom make the get away.

The fans seriously lost their shit after this show. Fox took it out of rerun rotation.

Corollaries: Horrid rich people ? Watch “Society” or “Rosemary’s Baby”.
How could we create a horrific hipster? A horrid kotaku?

Last weekend was PhilCon and I was on pa

18 11 2012

Last weekend was PhilCon and I was on panels giving advice to new writers, and discussing what defined a cult movie. Advice for new writers? If you aren’t already, use duotrope.com to keep track of markets and editorial activity. You can tell whether your story is being held for review or the editors or just being a little slow. Ralan.com has listings that duotrope will sometimes miss, especially for anthologies. Agentfinder is a site which helped me find the agents who I am currently stalking and will submit to when my novel is done. I’ve mentioned Fortean Times magazine for strange-but-true stuff to cram into your head. What movies ought to be cult classics but aren’t? Either of the Dr. Phibes movies deserves more love, but granted, are thin in the characters. The Japanese movie “Hausa” is just dang weird and deserves lots of cosplay. “Liquid Sky” deserves a revival of some sort. My own favorite “Big Trouble In Little China” of course is loved by everyone from cosplayers to quipsters (ddi I just write “quipsters”? Yes. Yes, I did).

Sat., November 10 10:00 AM AUTOGRAPH SES

8 11 2012

Sat., November 10
10:00 AM AUTOGRAPH SESSION at Autograph Table

2:00 PM in Plaza V WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS? [Panelists: Oz Drummond (mod), Ty Drago, Tim W. Burke, Michael Swanwick, Mike McPhail] There’s an old joke that ideas come from mail boxes in Schenectady. But seriously, where do they come from, and how can we tell the good ones from the bad.

3:00 PM in Plaza III RESOURCES FOR NEW WRITERS [Panelists: Victoria Janssen (mod), Keith R.A. DeCandido, A.C. Wise, Tim W. Burke, Meg Howard, Bill Olver] What books, websites and other research materials are essential for the new and prospective writer?

8:00 PM in Plaza II CULT CLASSICS WITHOUT THE CULT [Panelists: Tony Finan (mod), Tim W. Burke, Jeff Mach, Eve Okupniak] Everyone knows about movies like “Rocky Horror” and “Repo: The Genetic Opera”, that have large cult followings. But what about movies with followings that, while truly die-hard, never achieved the same level of cult-film status.

Sun., November 11
10:00 AM in Plaza V IS HORROR INHERENTLY CONSERVATIVE? [Panelists: Dina Leacock (mod), Tim W. Burke, James Chambers, Gregory Frost] In horror, whenever strange things happen, the solution is usually to return to the status quo. What would happen if the story instead embraced the strangeness?

12:00 PM in Plaza IV MAKING YOUR OWN SF SHORT FILM [Panelists: Eve Okupniak (mod), Tim W. Burke, Raven Stormbringer, Christopher Stout, Hugh Casey, Ryan Leonard] With the advent of digital cameras, less-expensive editing software, and online distribution, more people have taken to creating short films. We’ll talk about some things you should know to get started, and where you may want to go when you’re finished.

1:00 PM in Plaza V 50 SHADES OF GREYSCALE – THE GREAT BLACK & WHITE SF FILMS [Panelists: Tony Finan (mod), Ray Ridenour, Steve Vertlieb, Tim W. Burke, Hugh Casey, Mark Leeper] The first movie ever to tell a story was a 13-minute version of “Frankenstein” filmed by Thomas Edison in 1910. Since then, through “Metropolis” up into the 1950’s “B” movies, some of the greatest works of SF, fantasy, and horror film were made without color. We look back at some of the best.

That’s at PhilCon next week, by the way

3 11 2012

That’s at PhilCon next week, by the way.

Sat 10AM in Autograph Table Sat 2PM WHER

3 11 2012

Sat 10AM in Autograph Table

Encouragement from a pro

3 11 2012

A draft of a story of mine was critiqued at Online Writers’ Workshop. Bestselling author Leah Bobet had this to say: “Tim W. Burke’s ‘The First Question is the Easy One’ accomplishes a tricky — and valuable — thing: it takes an idea that is often treated in a fairly standard way to a place that is interesting, heartfelt, sincere, and unique.”


Have you tried OWW? Have a look at http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/