Generally, I get these books out, and then I don’t think about them too much. Nobody else does, so it evens out. But uploading the Latest LEXX Unauthorized, I was startled to discover that I got reviews. So, I thought I’d share them. Apologies to folks if I’m violating someone’s copyright. But really, I’m flattered, and frankly, it’s a lonely thing to be a writer. So here goes…
Fire and Water, Heaven and Hell
Cause it’s hot and it’s cold
It’s “Yes” or it’s “No”
It’s in if it’s out
It’s up but it’s down
It’s wrong or it’s right
It’s black and it’s white
Apologies to Katy Perry
SERIES THREE OF LEXX, when everything radically. Gone were the Sci Fi adventures from planet to planet, the dark, funny, furious adventures. In it’s place was a thirteen part serial in which the LEXX was trapped in orbit around two warring planets, Fire and Water, and the crew journeyed between them, solving the mystery of Heaven and Hell. Behind the scenes, the genesis of series three was just as topsy turvy, with story roots going back before the first series was even released, driven by the crises and struggles of the second season, and wrestling with financial cutbacks. Volume three covers everything and anything to do with the third series.
WHAT IS LEXX: A ground breaking Canadian sci fi television series, created by Paul Donovan, Lex Gigeroff and Jeff Hirschfield, shot and produced in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by Salter Street Films, that ran four seasons between 1996 and 2002.
David (D.K.) Perlmutter is another local genre writer. I first ran across him through his vividly written ‘American Toons,’ a nonfiction history of animation in America that was fresh, lively and engaging. It is perhaps not a surprise that his debut novel, Orthicon, draws on those sources, following in the footsteps of Roger Rabbit…
Imagine you live a relatively normal life, in a relatively normal place. Then, without warning, you are abducted, and sent to live in a distant place, far off Earth. It gets stranger still when you find out you are not human, or animal, or whatever you thought you were, but completely alien. And your entire life, past, present and future, has been shaped by forces beyond your control, with no way for you to control them. Save one…
Named one of the top 50 Best Indie Books of the Year by Read.Freely.com, “Orthicon” is a revealing narrative told in many voices, coming to only one conclusion. A revealing debut novel with an intriguing premise: who decides what is real, what is human, and what is otherwise.
I’m a freelance writer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The first major book I had published was America ‘Toons In: A History Of Television Animation (McFarland Press) in 2013; the title is self-explanatory, I think. I’m currently working on an updated second edition of that. I’ve also written a reference work, The Encyclopedia Of American Animated Television Shows (Rowman and Littlefield).
he World Fantasy Convention in Salt Lake City is over and done with, life returns to normal. Or as normal as we get these days.
I thought I’d share a few reflections.
First up, I found it really well organized. The web site was clear and easy to navigate, the portal or video conferencing system, was intuitive. I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and despite trepidation, navigated quite easily. I found what I wanted to find without difficulty, and the few times I struggled, the tech crew was understanding and helpful. Apparently they had technical glitches, as with the readings, but they coped, adapted and everything went smoothly.
Not everyone had my experience, a few of the more famous established writers seemed to struggle a little.
But personally, this was great. As far as I’m concerned, this could serve as a blueprint for online conventions.
Programming what I saw of it, was excellent. Programming started Wednesday and ran through Sunday. There was a mix of ‘professional development’ and ‘writing development’ panels. I especially appreciated the ones on finding an agent and on marketing. But all the panels were interesting and imaginative.
I was watching Super 8 last night. That’s the J.J. Abrams tribute to the 80’s, and Steven Spielberg movies. It has that same sort of feel of Stranger Things. Likely because they both have the same inspirations, ET, the Goonies, kids adventures and Steven King novels.
One of the cool things about Super 8, is the movie within the movie. The kids are using Super 8 cameras to make their own little epic. The connection is tangential, their Super 8 project means that they’re in the right place at the right time to see the train wreck which marks the alien escape and the main plot.
Oddly, that reminded me of a movie I hadn’t seen in a long time. The Mystery in Dracula’s Castle. This is an oldy, it aired way back in 1973, as a two parter, on the Wonderful World of Disney. Later on in the 1980’s, the two parts were stapled together and it floated around on cable channels.
Basically, the story is that a small group of kids get inspired, and decide to make their own version of Dracula on mom’s trusty Super 8. This intersects with the “A” plot which involves a jewelry heist, when the kids decide that the lighthouse the gang is hanging out with their ill gotten jewels turns out to be the perfect location for their Dracula movie.
Oh well. Boo hoo and all that.
The finals have been announced for the Booklife Contest. As per previous blog posts, my novel, The Princess of Asylum had made it to the quarter finals, and then the semi-finals. Really good review, really good score. Check it out here:
Alas, not quite good enough.
The Finalist, Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror for is E.M. Hamill’s Peacemaker. You can check it out here:
E.M. Hamill, according to her bio on Booklife is “a nurse by day, unabashed geek, chocoholic, sci fi and fantasy novelist by nights, weekends, and whenever she can steal quality time with her laptop. She lives with her family, a dog, and a cat in the wilds of eastern suburban Kansas, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse.”
I was recently on an alternate history panel for the World Fantasy Convention. Technically, it was about alternate history and fantasy, to wit…
“Alternate history has long been the domain of science-fiction writers, but it is now being enthusiastically colonized by writers of fantasy, who are bringing in magic, dragons, and the full panoply of the uncanny into what used to be an orderly and rational sub-genre. Who’s doing this and what’s going on?”
Actually, I don’t think it’s that big a deal. A lot of alternate history has had or assumes magical elements. It goes all the way back to Robert Heinlein and his story, Magic Inc. I’m not one of these guys who draws hard and fast lines between fantasy and science fiction, or fantasy and magical realism, or whatever. All of Speculative Fiction simply assumes that at least one thing, and sometimes many things, goes unnatural and you take it from there.
I just want to talk about one thing that struck me during the panel, that I never got a chance to talk about.
Steampunk. I find it interesting, but the entire steampunk genre seems to be in the process of being colonized by, or is entirely colonized by Fantasy. Blame it on Kim Newman and his Anno Dracula perhaps, or the novels Gail Carriger, or the Weird West subgenre. But as often as not, when you’re reading steampunk, there’s strong fantasy elements – ghosts, vampires, goblins, weird creatures, magic, etc.
I think part of that is that when you’re writing in this genre, you’re reaching back into the literary traditions of the ‘weird tales’ of the day, and it all starts to melt together.
But there’s another element to consider.
Victorian, England was a pretty horrific place.
The World Fantasy Convention is the great ‘Business Convention’ of the SF/F/H Literary World. It’s not a Comic-Con, it’s not a fan con. There’s dealers, but they’re just one room. Mostly, it’s Writers, Agents, Editors, Publishers and Artists, people in the trade, and people trying to get in the trade, hanging out, hobnobbing, socializing, enjoying each other’s company, and sometimes wheeling and dealing.
Go there, and odds are you’ll meet all your favourite writers. You can walk down a hallway, and see the writers you grew up with, the writers that helped form your identity, the people you passed time with, the writers who were guilty pleasures, and the ones you’re reading now. You can just go up and talk to them. It’s a business Con, the panels are about writing, serious writing, genres, where the industry is going, insider views.
It’s the place to be if you’re dedicated to the craft. This year, it’s in Salt Lake City, and due to Covid-19, it’s online.
I’m doing two panels and a reading! Wow! I feel like Pinochio when he turns into a real boy!
Check out the panels I’m on….
Word came in today, my novel, The Princess of Asylum, has breached the Quarter Finals, and has made it into the Semi-Finals!
That makes it one of the top five entries in the Sci Fi/Fantasy/Horror category!
Finalist will be the top entry in the category.
Grand Prize winner will be the best of all the categories.
I feel like I’m in Glen Garry Glen Ross, man oh man, one more win and those steak knives are almost in reach!
The review came in finally, with The Luck, my second entry into the Booklife Contest. Just to recap, it’s a legit contest. All the entries get a professional review, which you can use, or bury forever in a lead lined vault, depending on how the review turns out. Some of them are pretty scathing, I gather, looking at previous comments (complaints). After the initial round there’s the quarterly finals, the semi-finals, the finals and then a First prize of $5000.00. My first entry, The Princess of Asylum, has made it into the quarter finals.
Plot: Valdron’s The Luck is a sequel/prequel to The Mermaid’s Tale, but it succeeds as a stand-alone title. Valdron’s complex, well-woven work of fantasy immediately thrusts readers into a detailed world occupied by a menagerie of beings living at odds with, and in suspicion of, one another.
Prose: Valdron’s writing is immersive and colorful, providing a a fine blend of descriptive worldbuilding, exposition, and dialogue that lifts the storytelling.
Originality: The world of The Luck is filled by familiar beings, but provides freshness in the dynamics between these occupants and communities in conflict, as well as its mystery element. The journey of an orc and her unlikely gnome companion, is a rich and enjoyable one.
Character/Execution: Valdron’s protagonist is immensely intriguing. Her identity is slow to emerge and readers expecting a quick moving fantasy may grow frustrated. Those willing to invest in her and other creaturely characters’ story arcs, will be deeply rewarded.
- Plot/Idea: 8
- Originality: 8
- Prose: 8
- Character/Execution: 9
- Overall: 8.25
You are welcome to use this Critic’s Report as promotional copy or as a blurb to promote your book. Please note: When attributing quotes from this Critic’s Report, you must credit The BookLife Prize.