DECEMBER UNVEILED

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At long last I am elated to report that Realms of Fantasy RPG Sourcebook III: Perils & Prowess has finally been published.  This was a long arduous task and I hope you’ll enjoy what lurks behind the cover.  This entire book is illustrated by the one and only Brook Anderson and also ends my work on this version of the game. The link above takes you to DriveThruRPG where you can order the e-book.  Hard copies can be ordered directly thru Mythopoeia Games Publications.

There may be more yet before the month is over.

As Lin would say, Happy Magic!

 

 

November Reckonings

The latest issue of Dead Reckonings (#26) featuring my review of S. L. Edward’s Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts is available at Hippocampus Press.  Was a pleasure to read this work as well as working in anecdotes around the Audient Void: A Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy and many luminaries in the field (too many to name here).

What else is brewing this month… Realms of Fantasy SIII: Perils & Prowess is finished and with the editor then on to the printer.  Will announce ordering very soon.

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https://www.hippocampuspress.com/journals/dead-reckonings/dead-reckonings-no.-26?zenid=ljg96o8c558djq86hhd0fophl0

Enjoy!

OCTOBER COUNTRY I

So far this month a review of Dim Shores release of Luminous Body by Brooke Warra.  Enjoy.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48412948-luminous-body?from_search=true

YOU ARE AN ANOMALY

Michael D. Miller

BROOKE WARRA. Luminous Body. Dim Shores, 2019. 56 pp. Advance Uncorrected Proof.

The H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon has just celebrated another year of proving that “the Weird never dies.” Amid the festival of cinematic explorations of Lovecraftian horror are also of course numerous publishers in the field from Hippocampus Press to Word Horde to a publisher that has been keeping the Weird alive as a publishing directive – Dim Shores. On hand at the festival was an advance uncorrected proof of their latest publication: Luminous Body by Pacific Northwest writer, Brooke Warra and it will no doubt be making cosmic waves throughout the universe very soon.

Luminous by definition is (according to Webster’s II) “ adj, 1. emitting light. 2. Lighted : illuminated. 3a. Well-expressed : clear. b. Inspiring.”  Body by definition is “1a. The entire material structure and substance of an organism. b. The physical part of a person as opposed to the mind or spirit. c. A corpse or carcass. d. A Human : person.”  Luminous Body is all that and much more.  Within the first two pages Warra compresses you – the reader – into a projectile chambered in a pistol and blasts you into the narrative, colliding with horror both cosmic and visceral like meteors and asteroids on a collision course with meaning.

Invoking second-person narrative in the opening with an appeal to randomness and survival we are immediately left to question if this is “extraordinary” or “just lucky.” Often modern literary efforts at earth-centered cosmic alienation entwine anthropomorphism with internal conflicts such as depression, addiction, love, loss, and all other monsters of real life but rarely are they taken beyond that into the meaningless processes of the universe but Warra does this with great effect with a powerful prose style that does not let up for a nanosecond for 33 pages.  We go at once from the cosmic scale of “You are an aberration, rising from primordial ooze of plasma, proteins, and acid” to a character revealing apartment abode with “the sandwich baggie full of my AP Science teacher’s postmortem ashes in the junk drawer.”

What Luminous Body does with its confrontation with weirdness is to examine life (pregnancy) and death (cancer) against cosmicism.  For needed proof consider this description expressed from the first-person narrator Mo (Melissa) describing the diner where she works and her morning sickness that follows.  “We serve coffee that resembles battery acid, runny egg sandwiches, and something called ‘burgerdogs’… The thought of food has me retching again.  The last of my sugar cereal comes up, swirls in the toilet bowl like a neon-blue nebula.  I place my hand over my belly and imagine the baby.  The fetus.  Floating around in there, in the dark, like the world’s tiniest cosmonaut.”

That is the universe of Luminous Body.  Melissa struggles with correlating contents of a life coming to an end seeking to associate knowledge into meaning.  Past and current relationships are measured by their meaninglessness like comets and asteroids colliding into each other in the vastness of space.  This piecing together of memory is all for the purpose of giving some sense or meaning or order to Melissa’s unborn child before the cancerous tumor she also carries takes her life.  (Melissa’s own mother died of cancer, her father waked out on them years before.) As if this dramatic dirge were not enough to carry a narrative, we of course must cross the threshold into the weird.

In true Lovecraftian execution the narrator and all the characters have their human qualities without restraint to set us up for the “hideous unknown.”  Warra merges Mo’s cancer and pregnancy into something “where the hip meets pubic bone meets belly, the lump wriggles and sighs.  It has grown teeth.” This entity grows with the narrative.  Becomes her.  Becomes “misshapen, angry, and always cold to the touch.  There is hair, and teeth, and blue eyes like mine.  She is pink like me.”  We also enter a post-Lovecraftian denouement, where light replaces madness and new dark ages.  Where entities leave “no more stars inside my skin… I can see them in her.  I am hollowed out, empty.  She is so bright.” Where metamorphosis into a new form is embraced and accepted.

Warra’s prose is etched together in bursts of short and long sentences as are the paragraph beats of the narrative.  Dim Shores has also given the chapbook a comet insignia for the sporadic time transitions and accentuates the work with the surreal black and white illustrations of Zoe Leigh wrapped in an appealing color cover with a human eye against the background of starlit space.  If any critique must be at hand it might ask, is the threshold of weirdness crossed at the perfect moment or flawlessly transitioned in a narrative that wanders in moments across a short lifetime?  Perhaps not but that might be the point.  Weirdness is what weirdness is.  What more than compensates is Warra’s delivery on the rapid-fire voice of her protagonist.  Can it be held for the length of the narrative where many try this vivid panache and fail?  The answer is a convincing yes.  The narrative retains a relentless grip on the reader throughout as Mo gives final birth, becoming a mother as she reaches unity with her own mother’s death.

Luminous Body is a memorable work, searing empathy into the reader amid an apathetic universe.  Every moment is shaped as a perfect encounter forming a body of its own.  No line says it better than this: “We circle each other like so many satellites, orbiting dangerously close, always just moments away from violent collision.”  As Poe articulated in his theory of the single-effect in a prose tale, every sentence must serve to the effect starting with the first.  The effect served is anomaly.  Dim Shores has a delivered a reading experience you will not easily forget.

END

 

August Is Here

The prolific Hippocampus Press has just released Lovecraft Annual No. 13 2019 containing this years’ latest Lovecraft scholarship including my article on Lovecraft and Stephen Crane: “Lovecraft’s Open Boat.”

Lovecraft2019

These last many weeks have been a blaze of activity.  My next poem for Spectral Realms will be out in issue #12, still laboring along with the last sourcebook for Mythopoeia Games Publications: Perils & Prowess.  In negotiations for a monthly streaming game with The Gamer’s Wharf.  Deeply at work on a few things hopefully for Robert M. Price and Necronomicon Press.

Bullets for Breakfast is no longer optioned and is free of all entanglements.  However, we have moved on to something new which hopefully I can announce later this fall…

As for the rest, last week we had a major heatwave followed by a 70 mph storm knocking out trees (and power — no AC) while helping move a good friend and family back to MI.  This month is starting of with a trip to visit another friend after a 24 year absence and a family gathering for burial services for my grand uncle in Mackinac.  Also wrapping up my summer course (July/Aug) in Film Studies: Popular and Unpopular Genres at KCAD.  (Great to see that Sunset Boulevard and 2001: A Space Odyssey are still resonating with first time young viewers…)

The remaining weeks before school have yet to be determined.

PS – 1,000 words a day – minimum – no matter what else!

M

 

Dead Reckonings #25 has arrived

Hippocampus Press has has released Dead Reckonings #25 featuring a number of engaging reviews and articles by S.T. Joshi, Ramsey Campbell, Darrel Schweitzer and others, including a tribute to the late Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire and my article, “A Look Behind the Challenge From Beyond” especially for Lovecraftians and Howardians. An impressive issue at a great price. Order and enjoy.

DR25

https://www.hippocampuspress.com/journals/dead-reckonings/dead-reckonings-no.-25?zenid=dp60aumvv0gegf010grhntocr1

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. A Look Behind “The Challenge from Beyond” ……….. Michael D. Miller
  2. Finding the Everything in Nothing ……….. Christopher Ropes
  3. Simon Strantzas, Nothing Is Everything.
  4. Weird Fiction and Decadence ……….. S. T. Joshi
  5. James Machin, Weird Fiction in Britain 1880–1939.
  6. That Is Not How the Story Goes ……….. Bev Vincent
  7. Theodora Goss, Snow White Learns Witchcraft: Stories and Poems.
  8. Sesqua Valley’s Weirdest Inhabitant, Wilum Pugmire ……….. David Barker
  9. Ramsey’s Rant: Horror versus Horror ……….. Ramsey Campbell
  10. Marvelous Milicent: The Rise and Removal of a Monster-Artist Maven ……….. Danel Olson
  11. Mallory O’Meara, The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick.
  12. Maybe Johnny is an Old One? The Room as Lovecraftian Pastiche ……….. Edward Guimont
  13. Weird Fiction in the 21st Century: A Conversation with S. T. Joshi ……….. Alex Houstoun
  14. Rediscovering Ken Greenhall ……….. Darrell Schweitzer
  15. Ken Greenhall, Elizabeth; Hell Hound; and Childgrave.
  16. Some Notes on Call of Cthulhu and Other Lovecraftian Video Games ……….. Géza A. G. Reilly
  17. Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game.
  18. Running Towards Nothing: B. Catling’s Vorrh Trilogy ……….. Daniel Pietersen
  19. B. Catling, The Vorrh; The Erstwhile; and The Cloven.
  20. The Horror of Mendacity ……….. Acep Hale
  21. Daniel Powell, Horror Culture in the New Millennium: Digital Dissonance and Technohorror.
  22. Marvelous Monsters ……….. Hank Wagner
  23. Anya Martin, Sleeping with the Monster.
  24. Men Kill Women Like Me ……….. Fiona Maeve Geist
  25. Farah Rose Smith, Anonyma.

Meditations on the Agnostic Gothic ……….. Karen Joan Kohoutek

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Lastly, there are so many other developments happening this month I cannot list them all now. On with June Gloom.

Summer Begins with Stoker Con

Guilty as charged — broke the posting twice a month goal.  This April was an extreme wearing on the soul as teaching took every particle of concentration I could muster but that is done, grades are in, the semester is over.  Biggest achievement on the academic level was a great success with my KCHU 330: Genre Studies — Weird Fiction. We now have 28 more devotees to Lord Dunsay and Clark Ashton Smith!

Now StokerCon19 — sending this summary out today as tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I do not want to compete with their honor on social media.

stokercon2019

Thursday started with “Whatever Walked There, Walked Alone”: Bad Places in Contemporary Horror.  As I teach “Hill House” every year this was a must and featured a great panel of writers including Nicole Cushing.

Friday had more excitement — Turn Your Fiction World into an RPG, Beyond the Sale: Working with Editors (with Ellen Datlow on the panel), Exit Stage Death: Writing Horror for the Stage.  This was an unforgettable treat and I encountered the thoroughly convincing Kyla Lee Ward for the first time. (I also scored a copy of The Land of Bad Dreams after and am now totally converted to her mastery of the strange.)

Today, last day — Weird Poetry panel, Going Wide — How to Reach an International Audience with E-Books by PublishDrive (awesome), 100 Years of Horror Movies: The Legacy of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and Darce Stoker’s 120 Years of Dracula.  Excellent presentation, amazing depth of knowledge & research, and he (and J. D. Barker) signed my copy of Dracul.

As for the rest of April (and May), have many submissions out and more to go.  This month also… the pending release of Realms of Fantasy SIII: Perils & Prowess (meanwhile enjoy Mythopoeia’s May D&D Sale).

P.S. — remember Wilum Hopfrog. Pugmyr (1951 – 2019).

Bela Lugosi’s Dead staked during release of Mueller Report

dracula

The run of my essay for BauhausBela Lugosi’s Dead” has reached it’s end, getting “staked” by The Creatures’ “Exterminating Angel” during the Elite 8 round. Can’t help but think the voting for this round got lost during the hype over the release of Mueller report but the fans have spoken. The Tournament of Goth (Vladness) was by far more enjoyable than any basketball tournament so I implore you to still follow the tournament at marchvladness.com. Here’s the story of Bela’s demise by 5 votes:

http://marchvladness.com/#/elite8-bauhausvscreatures/

What remains for March? My published work in Lovecraft Annual No. 12 and Spectral Realms No. 9 will be part of an author celebration along with other fellow faculty members/authors.

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I’ve been informed my article “A Look Behind the Challenge from Beyond” (final proof approved) will be out in Dead Reckonings #25.  My chapter in The Guide to Teaching Beowulf in the 21st Century will be out from DeGruyter in September.  Quite ironic too as they published the 100 Years of Bauhaus (the school) celebration book.

And… I’m still working to finish Perils & Prowess for Mythopoeia Games Publications RPG (with legbreakers from the editor and fans on my doorstep), and prepping submission for Spectral Realms No.11 , Lovecraft Annual No. 13, with a short story in the weird/parody tradition that might bear some fruit making the rounds… Don’t forget:

StokerCon19 in May!

Best, M.