Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Eighth

Melanie Stormm

[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She served as guest editor for issue 43.4 of Star*Line, an issue focused entirely on Black voices in the speculative arts. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

CHEKOV’S GUN SHOOTS BACK IN TIME AND HITS CHEKOV

Hello All. How’s your weekend been?

It looks like we’re back to that weird closet activity. I don’t have much to say about the following events except that there comes a time in every draft when a writer will be tempted by the plot of another. I find the truth is that most every book you’ll ever write will require you put one word after the other at some point. What’s your approach when you’re wistfully thinking of all the other stories you could be writing?

Without further ado: the email from Writer X. Figure it’s also time for me to re-up the disclaimer that all typos, grammatical and ethical choices are hers.


Dear Gladys,

I have been haunted this week.

Mostly by the idea that I might be writing the wrong book. I’m 1,060 pages behind schedule. Writing the wrong book has to be what my problem is. Every time I sit down to write Fenchin’s story, I start thinking about all the other stories I’d rather be writing.

For example, the other day at lunch I told myself I was going to write one hundred pages, but went to buy some tide pens at Mr. Morgan’s instead. While I was nosing around the detergent and stain removal aisle, I suddenly imagined a whole story of tiny little people who live in a grocery store and fight ping pong battles on the shelves.

And then, when I went to get an emergency sundae at McDonalds, I imagined that the new brick exterior was actually a castle and I imagined that it was a very big castle (maybe I was still thinking about the little people and so I kept the castle to scale.) Anyways, the castle is SO big that it fits an ENTIRE COUNTRY in it!

Isn’t that so creative????

What if I’m supposed to be writing THOSE stories???

It’s haunting me, Gladys. I’m losing sleep over it. Ms. B___ isn’t talking to me and has threatened a restraining order after my clairvoyant palm reading. That’s depressing too. All I did was tell her that her palm indicates that—within a year, a mysterious fire will rage over her house and this entire neighborhood following an army of Neil Gaiman Golems and ghostly moose and that, as a result of her up-cycled wine bottle fountains melting, she’ll discover her youngest isn’t really at University of Ohio studying pet programming but that he took her money and went to Thailand to start a mouse circus. And that she has abominable breath.

Meanwhile, the other way I’m being haunted is just by that thing in my walk-in closet that keeps jiggling the door handle.

I went to BAM again in hopes of triggering my ability to write and I looked at all the new books out and got depressed and a little bit angry. My book should be up there with those other books but I can’t seem to get it written.

Anyway, I felt so despondent that I went over to the self-help section and looked at all their books on how to write and bought five of them and put them on my new credit card. I started to read one of them but my eyes just kept crossing except for this one part where they talk about CHEKOV’S GUN!!!!

Get ready for this Gladys. This is REAL writing technique. I’m not sure you’ll understand so I’ll explain it very carefully.

Apparently, Chekov was a writer, or a gun collector, whose guns were always taken down from the wall and fired in the third act and essentially that means that the rules to writing are that you have to put a gun somewhere on one of the walls and then you’ve got to SHOOT AT SOMEBODY IN THE THIRD ACT!!!! And it doesn’t matter who you shoot it at. Or if they’re also pointing a gun at you. Or if you miss. Or if you just shoot it to make some noise. YOU JUST HAVE TO SHOOT IT!!!! Isn’t this amazing?

SO THAT’S HOW BRANDON SANDERSON DOES IT.

I knew that there was a secret formula to writing a book!!! Now I’m realizing that all I have to do is put a lot of guns in the backstory so that they all fire at the end!! Magical guns, of course.

But that’s hard. Because that means I have to know how the story ends at the beginning!! I’m going to do something entirely new, Gladys, I’m going to write the end first!!! Then, when I have all the guns go off, I’ll know what to put in the beginning!! Then this backstory won’t be so boring and besides I won’t keep doubting that I’ll ever finish this book because I’ll have finished the book FIRST!!!

I’m starting not to get along with my house again. It’s getting to be the full moon and it’s getting that feeling that it gets that makes me want to be anywhere but here. I never had this feeling when C____ was alive. I think it’s because I’m alone. I think I need to either get a roommate or some beanie babies.

Also, I’m really busy right now trying to unravel this mystery of who was in my yard last week. I went over to my evil neighbor A____’s house and confronted her and demanded my shoe back but she wasn’t home. Instead I ended up talking to her mumble rap nephew, R____. I was going to accuse him of standing in my back yard with the bowler hat, but he has a head full of thick, long dreads and can’t fit the bowler hat on his head. We tried. So it couldn’t have been him. Besides, he’s really nice and I don’t think his foot would fit my missing croc, either.

So now I’m still missing my right croc and I have this mysterious hat. I’m sending you a picture of it. Never mind the chicken feathers on it, the rain still hasn’t washed them all away since The Incident. My question is, who would be wearing this hat and standing in my backyard and why would they take my right croc???

I’m down one and a half pairs of shoes in three weeks. Anyways, it’s getting late and that thing that’s in my closet upstairs has started jiggling the door again. I think I’m going to sleep down here. The good news is that R____ said he’s starting a little handyman business so he’s going to come over tomorrow and look at the closet door and see if he can fix it.

At least The Society seems to be leaving me alone.

I wish C____ were still here. It was cruel what Brian told me. That C____ might not be dead. It goes to show you what a stupid person Brian is. If C___ were here, things would be very different. I would probably still be writing True Blood fan fiction.

Tomorrow IT’S GONNA BE A BIG WRITING DAY!!! I’ll work on the last 171.9 pages of my book! I’ll send you pages after that but keep in mind that everything will be in REVERSE ORDER. I don’t have to warn you about spoilers because when you read it from the end, you’ll still have to find out what the beginning and middle are so that will be interesting for you. Also, things will grow more and more calm as you progress through the story.

In the future, I’m going to sell a writing book about writing a fantasy saga starting at the end. I know that it’s going to work because I’ll have finished writing the book at the very beginning of the process. So that means I’ll also have had the confidence to finish the writing book about writing a book backwards.

Maybe I should start writing the writing book about writing a book backwards first. It’s like a Chekov 21 Gun Salute all the way down!!! This is gonna be easy!!!

To celebrate, I’m going to search for my croc. It’s custom made!!!

xox,
X

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Seventh

Melanie Stormm

[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She served as guest editor for issue 43.4 of Star*Line, an issue focused entirely on Black voices in the speculative arts. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT THE PATHIES

Hello All, Melanie here.

I…there’s so many things I could say about the following emails. I’m still not sure where to begin so I’ll start by telling you how I’m doing.

Had a pretty good writing week this week! Not a lot of pages written, but I feel myself breaking into the final third of this work-in-progress. Finish line on the horizon. If you’re a writer reading this, what’s your approach to a daily page count?

Also: How many pages a day could you type before your hands fall off?

So it appears that she seems to understand that she is talking directly to you. But apparently, I am Gladys now in her mind and I’m not quite sure how to broach the subject again.

Regarding the credit card she mentions, I’m not sure whether to feel sorry for the credit card company who sent it because I have a tiny feeling they may regret this decision.

Her inspirational quote is….um, dangerous.

I’ll let her get to it, then.


Subject: The Book is Wrong

Dear Gladys and Everyone Else,

This has been a terrible week. Work was nice, I sold a lot of tractors, but my real work as an author was horrible. I’ve been holding myself together by looking at inspirational quotes about being a writer.

Something is terribly wrong.

As I told you last week, Puhjyna has no place in this book. Somehow in all of this I have lost the thread to whatever makes this story special. Fenchin seems like such a lifeless character. I started to google advice on what to do when a character behaves like this but everything I found suggested that I “dig deep into character motivations.” I am not Fenchin’s psychologist, Gladys!!! Why should I know what her deepest motivations are? This is supposed to be a fantasy story!!!

Fantasy characters need PROPHECIES NOT MOTIVES!!!! THEY NEED MAGIC SYSTEMS!!!

Why does everyone know so little about how to write fantasy??

Earlier this week I spent about twenty hours doing more research on Puhjyna’s special abilities even though she doesn’t come into this story until book five. At first I was going to research UFOs again and learn about potential forms of life in neighboring solar systems, but then I thought maybe I should start with researching Puhjyna’s special gift. I also got a new credit card in the mail with a $20,000 credit limit!

The first thing I did was look up all the -pathies on Wikipedia. Telepathy. Sociopathy. Empathy. Psychopathy. I now know everything there is to know about the -pathies and I even took an online course on becoming a clairvoyant!! It was only $3,000 and I got a real, certified certificate! I’m now a bonafide psychic medium just like my character, Puhjyna! This is going to be so great!! Book five is going to be so easy!

I’m probably going to have to put out some ads offering my services on Craigslist to get this course paid off. Of course that will take away from some of my writing time but I’ve eliminated all my other hobbies so that’s no trouble.

Meanwhile, I’m trapped on page sixty in Book One. Sixty pages is no joke, Gladys. In just 940 pages I will be done with book one and I’m just 8,940 pages from finishing the saga. I’m giving myself a strict deadline of two months to write this saga and that means I only have to write 149 pages a day. Two months should be the maximum amount of time it takes to write a saga. There was this thing the other day on YouTube and it said that Salman Rushdie (whoever THAT is) took four years to write a book. Maybe that’s why no one’s heard of him.

I feel a lot better getting my timeline sorted out. I’m not going to start the page count schedule though until tomorrow. This should be fine. I’ll just have to adjust my daily page count to 151 and one half pages a day. Totally doable.

In spite of all these very important advances, the next few days are going to be grim. I have to write all this stuff before I can write about the cool stuff. I want to be writing about Fenchin riding on a motorcycle with the wind in her hair summoning up the magic within her to wake the hummindaal. I want to be writing about Musradi working on her motorcycle and not even remotely aware that the child of the prophecy is right in front of him.

Unfortunately, I can’t be writing these moments because I have to write all this BACKSTORY. Otherwise, how will readers ever know about that afternoon when Fenchin was in kindergarten and she did the thing with the fruit-by-the-foot that no other child can do and it was the first clue that she’s the child of the prophecy. Or about how painful it was when her kindergarten teacher chose Madison Bass as “most likely to grow up to be a writer” when all along it was really ME???

My one relief is that I really know my magic system. It’s based entirely on wishes and a special kind of broccoli but I don’t want to give everything away.

Be honest with me. Do you think I should cut all this backstory??? I think I feel you saying yes. But f I cut the backstory, then what am I going to put in the first three books???? You’re not really being any help to me, Gladys.

I shouldn’t say that. You’re the only thing that’s keeping me going. Knowing that you are going to read and respond to my pages.

In fact, I think I’m going to call you right now and read you my latest chapters and then you can tell me what you like about them and I can ask you to explain what you like about them in far more detail than I ever spent writing it. My new clairvoyant skills tell me that you’ll be ready to hear my story if I call you RIGHT NOW! It’s a high-feedback-expectations night, Gladys! These are troubled times!!

xox
X


Subject: PAY YOUR PHONE BILL

Dear Gladys,

How am I supposed to get hold of you and read you my chapters if you don’t pay your phone bill??? I keep telling you to come and work with me selling tractors and you never listen. Why you want to work at the Local College is beyond me.

Anyway, in the meanwhile, I googled more inspirational quotes and they made me want to jump off a bridge. Writing is a horribly violent craft with some very mentally disturbed masochists making up a large portion of its population. There was all this stuff about killing your darlings and that to write all you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed, or that extremely famous one that you see in all the stores about a submitting yourself to regular vivisection. I couldn’t find the ones I need to read right now so I made up a few of my own. I’m willing to be the change I want to see in the world.

I took a few hours and put quotes into some pretty fonts and I’ve attached one here for you to share with anyone who needs it. I’ll send you more in the future so that you can send these back to me from time to time when you get your phone turned back on.

Anyway, I have to go next door and prostitute my psychic abilities to do a palm reading for Ms. B____ who lives in the crooked little cape cod three houses down. Do you remember her? She’s the one who has the four up-cycled water fountains made out of all the wine bottles she blows through in a month. This woman is the most narcissistic person I have EVER met!!! She sidelined me in Walmart and spent two hours talking about how she’s thinking about getting unicorn fur and how her youngest is going to University of Ohio to study pet programming.

Hang on.

There’s someone in my backyard!

I can see them from here. THERE IS SOMEONE JUST STANDING THERE IN MY BACKYARD. I can tell because I left my downstairs bathroom light on and it’s got their whole profile lit up. (The upstairs electric still isn’t working and I’ve been blackballed by the electricians in town.) They’re wearing a bowler hat. (The person in the backyard, not the electricians.)

Hang on, Gladys, brb.

Okay, I’m back. I don’t have time to chase people down so I just opened my kitchen window and lobbed my right croc at them. It knocked their bowler hat off and they swore, groped around the rocks back there and ran off with my shoe.

I bet you it was my evil neighbor A____’s mumble rap nephew. I’m going over there tomorrow to give them both a piece of my mind and to get my right croc back!!!

Pages later. It’s going to be backstory so you’re going to need to be a grown up and get some taste! I don’t want to hear that nothing is happening!!! Pay your bill!!!

xox,
X

The UK’s National Film and Sci-Fi Museum Has Opened

By James Bacon: Phenomenal. Star Wars, Star Trek, StarGate, Space:1999, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Guardians of the Galaxy, crikey almighty, no matter what you love, there is something in this outstanding display of devotion to the wonder and fantastique of the screen for all. 

This is an overwhelmingly incredible experience, there is so much on offer here and feels how a museum should, a living collection, a celebration and sharing of the passion fans have for the brilliant artistry and  imagination that so many of us love and are entertained by. 

Located in Milton Keynes, the museum is a registered charity and states that “These artefacts and relics are created and used for only a very short time to make those films before being discarded, and most are never seen again by the audience who cares so much about them. The National Film & Sci-Fi Museum is dedicated to saving these amazing creations and making them available for everyone to see and enjoy, and at the same time telling the story of their creation and the people who helped to revolutionise the way we see films today. Our team of volunteers are very busy working on the exhibits and displays and working with a team of experts from the film industry on the monumental task of bringing them to life, and sharing the magic of the art of film making.”

The Museum opened its doors to the public on Friday, August 27 and as promised, I was able to get in and have a really good look around.

Situated in the first floor of a stylized concrete building in MIlton Keynes, the team here have made good use of the 24,000 sq.ft. space. This is situated next to the previously-reviewed Pixel Bunker Retro Arcade

As I walked in through the styled entrance, I was immediately taken by the Indiana Jones display. Glass cases holding a production-used Bull Whip, a Sankara Stone, River Phoenix’s Scout Hat and, and, and so much more….I was barely 3 feet from the entrance, adjacent to these cabinets full of history and then, ahead full costumes and an Ark of the Covenant.  

I just stood, trying to take it in. I looked back and noted I had walked past a rendition of the Maschinenmench “Maria” from Metropolis, then the Indy display just grabbed my attention. 

The Ark was stood next to a screen-used Indiana Jones costume, along with other costumes, and behind a Ralph McQuarrie production etching of the Ark firing out rays as used in the film, quietly sitting there. 

I turn and there is an Alien display. With art and posters creating the backdrop for a Ripley costume and a sleeping pod, an Alien decorative skull from Predator 2, a Corporal Hicks costume, models, and so much more. I kept finding things I liked, and here no different, as I loved the look of the Reebok Alien Stompers. These were Rebook trainers/runners/sneakers, and I was so impressed, because I found them so fascinating. 

Every which way one turns there is more to see, a James Bond cabinet had guns, props, hats. Octopussy, Moonraker and Licence to Kill all represented amongst so many others, and then a full size Ludo awaits to greet you and then a mixture of replica helmets from Top Gun, and Beverly Hills Cop items.  

The Star Trek section begins subtly, a model of a Klingon War Ship, an original cover art from the ST:TNG book Exiles by Keith Birdsong, and a costume sketch from Star Trek The Motion Picture and soon the space opens up and a vast display of 25 costumes are presented. 

I slowly looked at each and every costume, all the films and so many characters represented,  Krudge’s Kilngon costume, as played by Christopher Llyod in The Search for Spock  but which is explained as being repurposed for Star Trek TNG  and DS9 and worn Robert O’Reilly playing Chancellor Gowron was fascinating, it’s that real history detail that I love. 

With strong representation from Captains, my two mind blowing favorites were an Ilia costume, played by Persis Khambatta in Star Trek The Motion Picture and Chief O’Brien’s costume from seasons 6 and 7 of DS9. 

I counted 11 different phasers, a multitude of tools and medical equipment, and badges. I walked right past a couple of cabinets more items and was impressed that the Grand Nagus cane used by Wallace Shawn in Deep Space 9 was on display and my favorite of the hundreds of Star Trek Items here was Spock’s headband from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. This is what the Museum has to offer, I realized. Not the usual, not clinical, while many grail items are here, and I am sure that the Picard or Shatner costume will be of interest, I realized that this collection spoke to me as a fan. That simple headband made me smile wide. 

A huge model of Mole from At The Earth’s Core was situated across from a cabinet containing items from X-files and Skeletor and Eternian Helmets from Masters of the Universe

The Space:1999 display had a huge backdrop, Comlock and gun prop, and then a host of wonderul models. It was clear that like many others James Winch was sharing much of his collection. 

The Gerry Anderson section was also very impressive,  the Zelda cube from Terrahawks amongst other possibly more iconic items standing out for me, but lest you think we were in a quintessentially British section with Sherlock, Doctor Who and Red Dwarf on the horizon, a Jaws display had the Orca’s radio, Quint’s baseball bat a mechanical scale model of Bruce, as the shark was known to the crew, and a scale model of the Orca.

The Sherlock display was incredible, the whole of Sherlock’s flat rebuilt here in the Museum. There was a long list of key props from given episodes listed, so the observer could spot them and 8 large cases with further props were outside. Martin Freeman’s Watson props including his Afghanistan service medal. I stood and looked at the items, and looked into the Sherlockian living room.  

The Doctor Who section is very impressive, so many costumes, and such key ones too, and then all the props, it was so very cool, and next to the Red Dwarf team which felt perfect. 

If I thought the Star Trek was incredible, I was just not ready for the Star Wars displays. A wonderful space, surrounding a globe, with cabinets and display cases, feeling so science fictional in layout, and there was so much. I have to say, here, there were some legendary items that I never expected to see, and I have seen a number of exhibitions of Star Wars props and costumes, and there were some very very special items. I stood a looked for a long time at one pair of items, and wondered how people will react. 

There were heads, helmets, blasters, costumes and some incredible key props. Pieces of props, and every cabinet stylishly laid out, some so full. For fans of Star Wars weaponry, there was a full display, for those interested in the intricate and beautiful there were amazing personal props, there was something here for everyone. 

It was lovely to see the Liberator and a host of other items from Blake’s 7 in a dedicated display, with many items on loan from Matt Irving. 

I was so impressed that there was a Flash Gordon display and oh my god, war rocket Ajax. And his sword, yeah, so many lovely things.

There is a general approach from the Museum that they want things to be a surprise, and I was surprised, but there are so many things here for so many fans and there’s a love here – a special case contained Gary Kurtz’s baseball cap – Star Wars the saga continues, and the Star Wars items were from the Kurtz-Joiner archive and one felt that a real level of appreciation and genuine hard work had gone into so much of the museum. 

I was very impressed to see so many items from Peter Cushing, personal as well as related to film, and this was very cool, a nice space for such an accomplished actor. 

Throughout the museum, I was surprised, I was not anticipating all the Star Wars toys, nor the Harry Potter props, nor the John Williams Star Wars orchestral sheet paper. And there is a fabulous attention to detail here, as well a real demonstration of love for history and the artistic creativity that goes into it all. 

It’s hard to process just how much is on display here, hard to comprehend, but what Jason Joiner and his team have gathered here at the National Film and Sci-Fi Museum is testament to collectors and fans who want to share their passion, view the unexpected up close and appreciate it. 

An incredible museum, and a wonderful visit. 

The National Film & Sci-fi Museum is in central Milton Keynes at 34 Secklow Gate West, MK9 3AT, England.

File 770 is very grateful to Jason Joiner, the trustees and volunteers of the Museum and appreciate the photographs. 

Michael Bishop Opens NYRSF Readings’ 29th Season

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Thursday, September 9, 2021, the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series opened its 29th season with a reading from Nebula Award-winning author Michael Bishop. The event was simulcast on YouTube and Facebook.

(Yes, the readings are usually on Tuesdays, but Tuesday was Rosh HaShanah, and the reader was, after all, a Bishop. Appropriately, his text was a religious-themed story.)

Michael Bishop is the author of some 35 books, including collections, collaborations and anthologies that he has edited, among them No Enemy But Time, Unicorn Mountain, Brittle Innings, A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire (and its revision Eyes of Fire), and Transfigurations (an expansion of “Death and Designation Among the Asadi”), and short stories including “The Quickening” (which earned him his first Nebula Award), “The White Otters of Childhood,” “Dogs’ Lives,” “The Samurai and the Willows,” and “Life Regarded as a Jigsaw Puzzle of Highly Lustrous Cats.”

The evening began with Series Executive Curator Jim Freund, host of WBAI-FM’s The Hour of the Wolf, introducing and interviewing Bishop. The cover of Bishop’s current book, A Few Last Words for the Late Immortals, a collection of short pieces, including poetry, depicts a baseball player, led Freund to ask why is baseball (still officially our National Pastime) such a great venue for sf and fantasy? Bishop suggested several reasons. The stadiums have an enchanted, even a haunted quality; because the games have no time limit and so can go on for days, “even years”; and because it spotlights individuals as well as the teams that they are operating as part of.

Bishop read not from the title story, but the last story in the book, a 3,000-word science fantasy, “Yahweh’s Hour.” He indicated scenes set in Roman type (set in the main character’s present) and italics (scenes involving the audience and the Creator, who is not necessarily divine). Set in a we-hope-not future of the Patchwork States of America, a literal theocracy under Overman Dad (who is not above operating spas and casinos), the titular TVshow has 100% viewership. In the audience, Mercer, granted an amnesty by Dad for murdering a teenaged transsexual, is unimpressed, until he experiences a vision or miracle.

The story was originally published as “God’s Hour” in the June 1987 issue of Omni, and did not include Mercer or Overman Dad as characters. He began revising the story after the November 2020 Election and finished after the January 6th insurrection. This led organically to a side chat about politics. Georgia, where Bishop lives, is a red state becoming a blue state. Trump was “a wretched President,” “a parody of himself,” a man with no political philosophy except Trumpism; the “election-rigging” was that “people voted.” Bishop, who has medical issues, called politicization of getting shots “absurd.”

Freund asked about Mercer’s name. Bishop noted that there is a Mercer University in Macon, Georgia not far from him and the name evokes mercy. Freund wondered if it alluded to Mercer, a Sisyphus figure, and his religion Mercerism in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Bishop, the author of Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas, was surprised and confessed that he had forgotten that there was a character Mercer in the book.

Freund relayed audience questions. Did he attend a lot of author readings and does he miss them? Well, he didn’t go to conventions monthly like some of his author friends, and especially now due to his health, but yes, he misses contact with an audience. Some authors had said that the pandemic had given them time to work, but that was not so for Bishop. After he related that many of his stories are about characters in conflict with themselves, but that he personally avoids conflict. Does he work out conflicts in his stories? Yes, and he cited Unicorn Mountain.

He was asked about his experiences of revising his work. Sometimes he was surprised that a story did not “work out well,” and his reason for revising is that he wants a piece “to be the best version of itself.” Also, medical issues have slowed down his production of new material, but he is able to revise, creating something akin to new.

He was “happy at the time” about “The Quickening” (well, it won the Nebula, Freund interjected), and surprised by No Enemy But Time’s win in view of what it was up against. It is being revised next year for a 40th anniversary edition, with some things “knocked out to improve it” (he thanked Gregory Feeley for advice).

He was asked what work of his had needed the most revision. Unicorn Mountain; he cut 20,000 words and added material. He also revised several stories for A Few Last Words for the Late Immortals, as well as poetry. “The Scaffold,” he reported, a new poem, was a response to Dylan Thomas’s “A Refusal to Mourn the Death, By Fire, of a Child in London,” which led to a digression about Thomas’s recording of Under Milk Wood by Caedmon Records in a studio later used by WBAI. Freund noted that none of Bishop’s books are in audiobook form, and that he might help arrange something.

There being time for it, Bishop ended with an sf poem that had been sold to Analog and reprinted in a Best of anthology, “Secrets of the Alien Reliquary.” An Earth military expedition explores an alien bawdy house displaying Earth “deviance” and just plain oddities (Ed Asner ??).

Freund concluded the evening with a request for donations (software and production do cost), thanking Barbara Krasnoff, who did the engineering, and announcing upcoming readers (back on Tuesdays):

  • October 5:  Jason Erik Lundberg
  • November 2:  Nicole Glover (event guest-curated by Amy Goldschlager)

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Bonus Fit

Melanie Stormm

[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She served as guest editor for issue 43.4 of Star*Line, an issue focused entirely on Black voices in the speculative arts. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

NEEDLESS TO SAY, NEIL GAIMAN WAS THERE

Hello, All. Melanie here. So I did it. I reached out to Writer X directly and the good news is, she appears to be in good physical condition? No bad news. I’m just confused is all. For one, does she think that I am a figment of Gladys’ imagination? Or an alter-ego?

I’m going to ignore her goad because I figure I probably deserve it. In the meanwhile, Gladys is rapidly become one of the most interesting people I’ve ever been mistaken for.


From: Melanie Stormm

Subject: I’m not who you think I am

Dear Writer X,

You might be surprised to see this unfamiliar name in your inbox, but I wanted to reach out and make sure you were alright.

I have a small, semi-large confession. I’m not Gladys but I’ve been receiving your emails for the last month and a half and also possibly sharing them with the whole world. My name is Melanie and I—and possibly a few others—would like to know if you are alright and if you’ve made any progress in your draft?

Writing is hard work, frequently emotionally exhausting, but worthwhile. I applaud your persistence. Whatever your response to this revelation, I sincerely wish you the best of luck and hope you’ll consider continuing to share your progress with me…um, with us.

Best wishes,

Melanie

…and the Whole World.

p.s. The contents of your draft have been kept private.


Subject: Re: I’m not who you think I am

Dear Gladys,

I now understand mostly everything there is to know about Puhjyna. However, I have no idea what she is doing in this story.

Do you think it’s okay to introduce her as a new character in book five?

By the way, I ran into your younger sister, Blanche, at Mr. Morgan’s Food Emporium and Things Nicely Priced and she said something very surprising to me.

She said your cousin, Luellayou know, the cousin YOU TOLD ME was terminally ill??? She said Luella was in EXCELLENT HEALTH and recently won the New Hampshire All State Synchronous Sky Diving Championship.

Blanche had no idea why I was under the impression that there was anything wrong with Luella at all. She said you and Luella went to Croatia to talk some man into bequeathing you with his beanie baby and pog collection from the 90s. What have I told you about those beanie babies, Gladys??? Don’t you remember what happened to you in Boise??? Beanie babies are going to be the death of you again!!!

Needless to say, I’m not surprised at all that you are also a person named Melanie and that you have been using my unique voice to attract the attention of the world. Fortunately for you, I’m feeling very benign and a little sore after my weekend and I give you my permission enlighten my future readers of my efforts. Please add this to your list of duties after you get caught up on my latest pages, which I’m changing, but you still should read them. 

I’m getting closer and closer to releasing an epic saga of fantasy books that will CHANGE THE WORLD, Gladys. I know this is true because I have seen Neil Gaiman.

Again.

I saw him again.

I’m not talking about the time I saw him outside the bathroom at BAM.

This time I saw him in a mail truck, but I’ll explain later.

You’re probably wondering why I am a little late in sending you an update. I’m feeling very relaxed following my weekend at the park and thought I would take a day to just seep in all my newfound knowledge about Puhjyna.

I’ve decided that Puhjyna is not an alien investigator but an alien COMMUNICATOR. She receives messages from alien life sort of like Deanna Troi but she supports herself by working at a diner near the airport that I’m loosely basing off our town diner, The Landing Pad. Do you know any alien-communicating telepaths? Can you check at your discord server for me please? I need to do more research!!!

That UFO Communications and Far Far Right Gun Group was a nothing burger.

At dusk, I went to the far far right of the park and must’ve driven past all the pavilions there at least five times. They told me to look for a bunch of people in camo tactical gear with AR15s and a confederate flag with the state of New Hampshire on the front but they were NOWHERE to be found.

Finally I parked my car by the duck pond and decided to poke around in the trees behind the pavilions to see if they might be back there.

There weren’t any UFO investigators back there, Gladys, but there were these little brown capped mushrooms everywhere. Tiny little things with these cute little brown umbrella tops and spindly little stems. Adorable really. I took one look at them and I knew they were safe to eat.

Anyway, no sooner had I clambered through the trees looking for New Hampshire confederate flags, I began to hear all this strange hooting and screeching so of course I had to go see what that was.

And I would have caught up to it but one of my heels was ensnared in this strange white goo beneath a bunch of tree roots. I had to take a few minutes to sit down and scrape all the gunk off with some twigs and, while I was doing this, I felt this strong vibration. It was as though I was in front of massive speakers at a stadium concert and I could feel the sound but couldn’t hear it. My ribs were buzzing under my jacket. My jawbones rattled and my teeth tickled in their sockets. What do you think that was, Gladys?

I didn’t have any time to figure it out because then I went half-blind. Flashing, roving lights swung like beacons through the tops of the trees. They were ridiculous. I had no idea where they were coming from, my best guess was that it was a bunch of sky-divers with flares. Again and again these lights swung back and forth over the forest, blanching all the pines with white, blazing light. Cleaning my shoe became as easy as it would be to thread a needle in a strobe light.

That’s when whomever else was in the woods starting setting off semi-automatic fire works. Stupid New Hampshire with the stupid fireworks. Either that, or there was a gun range very very very nearby.

Come to think of it the whole wood started to stink of gunpowder.

I’m going to have to file a complaint with the park rangers. By the time the soundless humming and the lights and the shooting stopped, all the weird hooting stopped, too. It was suddenly quiet and still. My jawbone stopped quivering. My ribs stopped vibrating. Everything in the woods had stopped vibrating and all there was was this hushed dark, like all the breath had gone from the wood and I was just sitting there on a stump in the dark having forgotten which way I came from with nothing but mushrooms, white gluey stuff, and tree roots as far as the eye could see.

Needless to say, I didn’t learn a thing about aliens.

I was also terribly lost. It was much darker than it had been when I’d gone into the woods and after all the blinding light, I was now in foggy dark. I sat there, shivering and uncannily cold trying to hear any sounds of a highway or picnickers or anything that could suggest which way my car was. I knew I needed to get out of there.

That’s when I heard footsteps. Not of a bear or a deer. But something on two legs. Several somethings. They were all stepping at the same time, picking over the ground with one leg. And then with the other. Not a single step out of place. My heart was a golf ball lodged in my esophagus. The deliberate crunch of their feet closed around me and I was finally able to make out these vague shapes in the gray between the trees. They were people. People with long flowing hair. They came closer and closer and I tried to say something but I felt my tongue was held by invisible fingers. As soon as words came in my mind, it felt like someone was scooping them up and tearing them away from me.

One person stepped ahead of the others. She came where I could see her; blue hair flowing down all the way past her knees. White bandage tape covered her mouth. She held out her hand and waggled her fingers slowly for me to follow her. I looked around me at the others, they, too, had that white bandage tape over their mouths, some with stains. I could feel their round eyes looking at me from the trees more than I could see them. But I could see the eyes of the person with the blue hair and, to my mind now, I think she must have been wearing novelty contacts. Her eyes were orange and glimmery as tigers-eye with no pupils to speak of. I wanted to ask her if she knew the way back to the pavilions. I knew that wherever she wanted to lead me, I should not follow, that if I went with her, I would join the ones with the bandaged mouths. But my voice was caught in my throat, my tongue swollen and sticky, and I found I could not run. All I could hope was that she would lead me clear of the trees enough so that I could make a break for the road.

I must have walked with the bandaged souls for a half hour, Gladys. The scent of pine sap in the last of summer heat filled my nose. I clambered over root and rock, trying to stay close to my guide because the branches and bugs seemed to recoil from her presence while I was clawed and bitten. Where I had been cold, I now was hot and breathless. After a small eternity, I found myself with great relief in the midst of a rolling grassy slope with the shrinking moon overhead but as lost as I had been in the forest. What more, Gladys, there were others here. I couldn’t make them out at first in the shadows, but soon I began to perceive the shapes of about twenty more people. But these ones had antlers like deer, and when we got closer I saw that they were dressed like deer, with pelts flapping over their human hands and feet, standing on two legs, stained bandages over their mouths.

Before I could cry out, the deer people and the long-haired people flung their arms into the air and capered in a circle around me. They waved their arms and began a strange dance, one foot crossing over the others, making no sound—not even to breathe, but for their feet rustling in the grass. They danced as though they each could hear some invisible music and I felt myself suspended like a buoy in a black sea of dawning horror. All I could do was plead my legs to bolt for the pavilions, but I looked and I looked with no sight of the pavilions or the duck pond in any direction.

Without warning, all of the dancers stopped, arms hanging in the air. The people dressed like deer removed the pelts covering the bottom halves of their deer costumes so that all their nethers were sitting out for the world to see, an endless shadow mass of shadowy hair. Then, the long-haired flowing ones did the same, stripping skirts and trousers from their bodies and flinging them aside and I stood there in a circle of round, staring eyes and private parts and thought, “Well, this could be fun.”

Needless to say, Gladys, when the park ranger found me in the morning I was much more relaxed although I still haven’t managed to find my shoes.

I had to drive barefoot all the way home and that’s when I saw the mail truck and Neil Gaiman was sitting in the passenger seat. He waved. Real slow like. Do you think he is stalking me for my Modern City Fantasy story???

I’ve decided Puhjyna isn’t from the Nyther regions. That name sounds too much like the Dresden Files. I don’t want to be compared to Jim Butcher.

Will send new pages next week, now that I know I don’t need to worry about Puhjyna until book five!!!

If you see Neil Gaiman say nothing to him!!!!!

xox

X

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Sixth

[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She served as guest editor for issue 43.4 of Star*Line, an issue focused entirely on Black voices in the speculative arts. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

NO EMAIL FROM WRITER X THIS WEEK!

Hello All, Melanie here. I’m sorry to disappoint. I haven’t received an email from Writer X this week. This was a real let down for me; I’ve kind of gotten used to reading her emails. For a moment I wondered if she’s finally learned that her emails weren’t getting to Gladys, but given the content of her last few messages, I’m starting to worry more for her safety—although I’m not sure how she’s actually in danger. Besides that UFO Communications and Far Far Right Gun Group.

I like to assume they have good reasons for requiring her dental records and “various possible forms of identification.”

Probably she’s alright and has just corrected the email error. I’ve tried looking her up some other way, but short of this account on Pinterest, I can’t seem to find her. I’ve also tried looking up articles online to see if there’s any reported incident of chicken feathers covering a neighborhood and that was a wider and deeper rabbit hole than I’d imagined.

It’s not that I found a lot about chickens leaving their feathers all over a neighborhood. For that, I only found this link: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/missing-chicken-lots-of-feathers-but-no-blood.815571/

Rather, I discovered that there are about a hundred thousand small newspapers for towns in the U.S. which is maybe a sign that there’s some hope for our democracy. Most of them have a paywall, which means this is a dead end.

Kinda makes me hope she gets that book written so that maybe it gets published and I can find her again. I couldn’t help it, I opened her file and I have to say the chapter she shared really wasn’t that bad. Almost Dresden Files but with a lot of pink and a passage of confounding length about moonlight on the city of ChaalChaal.

I’m really hoping we hear something from her. If I get anything from her, I’ll be sure to pass it on right away but, barring reaching out to her directly, we might just have to face the fact that she’s fixed the error and is disappearing out of our lives.

For a little while, it was nice to read of someone else having a worst time with writing than I am.

Cross your fingers and toes and hug the nearest writer to you, even if it’s yourself.

…Do you think I should email her? 

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Fifth

Melanie Stormm

[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She served as guest editor for issue 43.4 of Star*Line, an issue focused entirely on Black voices in the speculative arts. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

PUJYNA OF THE NYTHER REGIONS

Hello All, Melanie here! I have another email from Writer X for you to see. The closet thing is still bothering me, but you know what’s really been on my mind? The importance of letting several people read your made up character and place names OUT LOUD so that you can catch mistakes that are potentially embarrassing down the line.

I’m curious. What’s the worst character name you’ve created? Read?

I was once ruthlessly saved from naming a swordsman “Shitand.” Which I, of course, loftily pronounced Sheh-TAHnd, but others may have pronounced…well, you can figure it out. 

Without further ado, the latest email. All typos and punctuation choices belong to Writer X.


Subject: I’m the worst writer in the world

Dear Gladys,

I don’t know what happened. I got into the sixth chapter and all of a sudden it felt like the road disappeared from right under me. I couldn’t get the voice right. I kept thinking about the words. I couldn’t really picture what was happening next. I think I got writer’s block.

I went back and re-read the chapters that I read you and now I’m realizing that you were absolutely right!!! Nothing is happening!!! And until you send me the 60 second script I don’t even know what this story’s about!!!!

This all feels so lifeless. The only thing I really know about Fenchin is that she wears skinny jeans. Maybe I just need to switch characters.

I feel like if I were a better writer, this would be easy. I would just be able to go “blah blah blah, blah blah blah” and it would be the exact right thing. I used to picture that people would line up just to see a screen shot of my rough draft or a scan of my paper napkin chapters but now, I wouldn’t show them to my waste removal professional.

Not that they’re coming around with any regularity since the chicken incident. I’ll tell you about that later but right now I need you to focus on my story.

I got really stuck. I’m going to have to put a pin in Fenchin and her operating the hummindaal. Instead, I did a quick brainstorm on everything that’s wrong with Fenchin and I negated all of those things and I came up with a new character!!!!

The only trouble is, she’s completely different than Fenchin so she’s not a replacement. Instead, I think she’s just an extra character like in epic fantasy. I think I might make a bunch of characters so that every time I get stuck, I just have a new character start their story and eventually they’ll all run into each other. Because she’s a different character, I had to do a little bit more world-building and I’m putting her homeland as a secret land within the land. Okay, are you ready to hear a little more about her?

Her name is Pujyna and she comes from the realm of the Nyther Regions. She’s a raven haired, bronzed-skin beauty and she doesn’t take no for an answer. She does alien investigations for a living (somehow this is going to tie in with the hummindaal but I haven’t quite figured out yet.) I think I’m going to have a love triangle between her and Fenchin and Musradi. Maybe they won’t be a triangle, maybe they’ll just be a thrupple.

Maybe they’ll become a thrupple in book seven. Maybe they’ll just be a love triangle until then.

I’mlonely.

This is a precarious place to be. I’m excited about a new character and starting her storyline, but I’m also really depressed about the quality of the pages I’ve produced. This time, I need to do a little research before I start writing so that’s what I’m going to do in lieu of sending pages.

I reached out to a local UFO Communications and Far Far Right Gun Group on Facebook and they got back to me right away and invited me to a meeting they’re having at the park on the other side of town. I usually don’t like going out that way because the houses and the people are creepy, but I see this as another fated event. Why else would they get back to me so quickly??? The hardest part will be finding their pavilion which, I assume from their group name, is on the far far right side of the park.

The weirdest thing happened the other night. I couldn’t sleep because of all that moonlight and my evil neighbor A____’s chickens. Then, I heard the bell in town begin to ring. It’s such a lonely, foreboding sound. It’s very late, but I don’t think the bell is telling the time. This is different. I can just feel it. The chickens got quiet and stayed quiet. Other than a little scratching sound from my walk-in closet, it was finally peaceful and I fell straight to sleep.

In the morning, I woke up to police sirens and flashing lights in my backyard. I ran outside and the entire neighborhood was covered in chicken feathers. A____’s chickens had all disappeared. No blood. Just white and green feathers covering the entire neighborhood. They had to bring in the fire department to start spraying eveything down and now the streets and gutters and my gladiolas are covered with chicken feathers.

Hang on, my phone’s ringing. BRB.

Okay, that was that creep, Brian, from The Society calling to make sure I’m okay. I don’t know what he’s talking about. Of course I’m fine. He said I’m in danger and I told him that’s what he said a couple weeks ago but the full moon has come and gone and I don’t see hell breaking loose.

He said there could be a slight delay on hell breaking loose. I asked how long of a delay. He said he didn’t know, it’s not a precise thing but rather like a force of energy flooding from one world and intermingling with ours as though you were slowing pouring acid in a garden. I asked him if he has anyone else he prefers to stalk since C___’s died.

You know what he just told me????

He said C____’s not dead!!!! Or at least he said there’s a possibility that C___’s not dead. I said like hell he is, I buried what was left of him in the cemetery around the corner from my house.

The nerve of this guy. Then he says he needs to talk to me about Neil Gaiman and that I have to take this very seriously. I told him I’m in the middle of an email and hung up.

Anyway, I’m going to pull up that UFO meet up on google maps, collect all my “various possible forms of identification” that they asked I bring, call my dentist and ask him to transfer my complete dental records to Mr. D____ of the UFO group. It’s a good thing my dentist is 96 years old and hasn’t ever updated from filing cabinets, that should be no trouble at all. Next, all I have to do is pick out an outfit for next week’s meetup and try to build a backstory for Pujyna!!

No pages this week. Except for notes!!! Notes are very important, Gladys!!!!!

xox
X

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Fourth

[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She served as guest editor for issue 43.4 of Star*Line, an issue focused entirely on Black voices in the speculative arts. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

THE FULL MOON APPROACHES. ALL THE CHICKENS BEGIN TO SCREAM.

Hello All, I’m not going to say much about what’s in this week’s email from Writer X other than it DID contain an actual attachment of pages from a manuscript. I couldn’t bring myself to open it. I guess I already feel a little guilty about sharing this stuff and I figured I had to draw an ethics line somewhere.

Since I’m a writer and hold the manuscript sacred, I decided that’s where I’d draw the line. I won’t read her script. I’ll respect her privacy.

I can assure you that the following emails are more than enough to keep the mind occupied.


Subject: HANDY MAN

Dear Gladys,

If I had known you were in Croatia I would’ve called your google voice line. I’m sorry you’re upset about the phone bill, but I needed to get you caught up on these three chapters. I haven’t gotten any response from you and a lot has changed in the story since you last got pages from me. Besides, 240 international minutes can’t be that expensive anymore. I didn’t even bring up you getting Neil Gaiman’s email but I’m reminding you NOW.

From what I could hear, your cousin sounded fine.

Anyway, I’m sending you this next chapter now and if I don’t get some comments back from you, I’m going to take it that you just want me to call you and read it to you.

I just wanted to take a moment and write to you and respond to you about what you said that there’s “nothing happening” in the first three chapters and that you don’t know what Fenchin’s motivation is or anything bad about her personality.

First of all, why do I need to tell you something bad about her personality? This isn’t grim dark. Besides, I want people to like her and people don’t like female characters that have negative qualities and this is going to be a best-seller.

Secondly, there is a LOT happening. For one, I’m setting up the Hummindaal by showing you exactly how ordinary her life appears to be. But instead of telling you that it’s ordinary, I’m showing you, Gladys. SHOW NOT TELL. This is what real writers do. I bought a book about it at BAM on it and you need to understand that I’m not supposed to tell you that it’s nighttime but SHOW you the moonlight on broken glass or something like that. Those three pages about her paying her parking ticket are called realism, I’ve taken those details from MY REAL LIFE.

Speaking of moonlight, it’s getting to be the full moon again. I still haven’t gotten any power on my second floor which makes it ridiculously hard to use my flat iron.

I’ve gotten the first page of chapter five started and I think you’ll like what happens because this is when I talk about the hummindaal and foreshadow my character Musradi coming into Fenchin’s life. I think he works much better in the new modern city environment and I’ve made him a motorcycle mechanic, but he also has a master’s degree and went to magic school but he doesn’t believe he can do magic and that he’ll never be anything more than a greasy mechanic.

Gladys, I can see everything in this world so clearly. Sometimes I wish I was there. Especially on nights like tonight when I’m all alone in this house and my evil neighbor A____’s chickens are screaming.

I went and filed a complaint with the town when I paid my burn ticket. I hope they kick her out. She’s abusing the chicken ordinance and whatever bread of chicken she’s got out there, it should be outlawed. Then again, I don’t blame them for screaming. They know they’re going to be dinner.

Even worse, A____’s nephew has moved in with her because he’s supposed to go to the local college. It’s been hell. All he listens to is mumble rap and he blares it super loud and I can’t even understand the words. But I don’t even blame him for that because his stupid aunt has those stupid evil chickens.

I’m starting to get lonely.

It used to not bother me, but this house feels especially dark and especially lonely these days. Like, I don’t even want to be here most of the time but the only other place I can write is at BAM.

Oh! Do you know a good carpenter or handy man that lives around me? Can you find one? My walk-in closet door that’s at the top of the stairs isn’t closing anymore. I push it shut, turn the knob and hear it click into place and then it just bounces back open.

Creeps me out.

Okay, read this chapter and then PLEASE REPLY RIGHT AWAY.

xox
X


Subject: The Society called

Dear Gladys,

I forgot to attach the actual chapter. Please be sure to read the last email and then read this one and the chapter I’m attaching now.

I would have sent you this chapter an hour ago but The Society CALLED me. Can you believe it? They CALLED me??? I pick up the phone and I’m wondering who it is and this deep voice says, “Hello, X____, this is The Society. We’ve been trying to reach you.”

Anyway, he tells me that I have to let them into my house so they can get those protective charms back in place. I tell him I can’t really do that right now because I’m busy writing a book.

He asks what kind of book I’m writing and I tell him it’s Modern City Fantasy. He says is that anything like Neil Gaiman? I ask him how he knows about Neil Gaiman. He says if he told me, he’d put me in even more danger than I’m already in and can he please come over here and put the charms back in place. I tell him I’ll think about it.

Then he tells me that if I need their help, The Society can help me publish my book. I say, “No you can’t Brian.” He says they have an old printing press. I told him I’d print my book with them when hell freezes over. I’m a professional. He says it’s nearly the full moon and he doesn’t know that he can keep me safe.

I’m going to need you to start reaching out to agents so that I can get Brian off my back. Did you finish that 60 second script? I would really like to know what my book is about.

Here’s the next chapter, I know you’re dying to read it.

xox
X

Attachment: Travelers in a hostile wind.docx

Celebrating Ray Bradbury’s Birthday

By Steve Vertlieb: 101 YEARS. As I remember what would have been his 101st birthday on August 22nd, my memories drift back to a time not that long ago when I was proud to think of one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century as my treasured pal.

Here is my affectionate tribute to cherished friend Ray Bradbury, whose loving presence occupied my world and my heart for nearly four decades. Ray was one of the most distinguished writers of the twentieth century and, with H.G. Wells, perhaps the most influential, legendary science fiction writer of the past one hundred years.

More importantly, however, Ray was a gentle little boy whose love of imagination, fantasy, and stories of other worlds influenced thousands of writers and millions of admirers all over the world. His monumental presence upon this planet warmed and inspired all who knew him, and I was honored to call him my friend for thirty-eight years.

Here, once more, is my loving remembrance of the life and world of Ray Bradbury, “I SING BRADBURY ELECTRIC” at americanmusicpreservation.com – “A Ray Bradbury Remembrance (Film Music Review 14th Anniversary Special”).

Thinking of my beloved friend on what would have been his 101st birthday on August 22nd.

Sharing a few special moments with cherished pal Ray Bradbury at Forry Ackerman’s spectacular 1993 “Famous Monsters” reunion celebration in Crystal City, Virginia.

Jeffrey Smith’s Free Book Giveaway

By Jeffrey Smith:  Here in Baltimore we have a used bookstore called The Book Thing that is either unique or close to it. You enter the warehouse, pick the unlimited amount of books you want, and leave. They’re all free. Since 2000, they’ve given away thousands upon thousands upon thousands of books. Millions upon millions, maybe. Over the years, I’ve given them a couple thousand books – we take a carton or two, and try to bring home fewer books than we’ve donated. They had a recent shut-down because of a fire, and during repairs they fell behind on their taxes and their tax-exempt paperwork, so that kept them closed, and just as they were finishing all that up, the pandemic hit. They’ve been open just one day a month lately, and only occasionally accepting donations. I have stacks of cartons marked “discards” taking up space in my house, waiting for a normalcy that may never return.

So I consulted with Mike, and decided to sort out the sf books to give them away to Filers. Who better to receive them, anyway? Most of these are paperbacks from the 1970s.

Below are a number of lots. If you see one (just one per Filer, please) that you would like, write the number in the comments. Then it’s yours, and no-one else should waste everybody’s time by trying to claim it a second time. Check the comments to see which ones are claimed and which ones are still available. (And don’t say you’d like this book from lot 7 and this one from lot 12 – they’re all boxed up and ready to go.) No bidding necessary, they’re all free, including postage anywhere.

Send a shipping address to smith1339 (at) gmail (dot) com

Some of these books are from my collection, some from Alli Sheldon’s. Sometimes she would write on the table of contents of magazines or anthologies which stories she liked and which she didn’t, and I noticed that on a couple here, but I didn’t look through each one so I can’t tell you which are and which aren’t. Some of the books are beat up a little, but most are very good, and many are unread. Alli was a smoker, but all her books have been in my house for 34 years now, so that should no longer be an issue.

Claim these books! Get them out of my house!

LOT #1  Brian W. Aldiss, Barefoot in the Head :: Michael Bishop, Blooded on Arachne :: David R. Bunch, Moderan :: Italo Calvino, T Zero :: DG Compton, Chronocules :: DG Compton, Synthajoy

LOT #2  Poul Anderson, The Devil’s Game :: The Guardians of Time :: The Man Who Counts :: Mirkheim :: The Night Face :: Satan’s World :: Tau Zero :: Time Patrolman :: Trader to the Stars :: The Trouble Twisters

LOT#3  [Ballantine Adult Fantasies: Poul Anderson, The Broken Sword :: William Beckford, Vathek :: Hannes Bok, Beyond the Golden Stair :: Hannes Bok, The Sorcerer’s Ship] :: John Bellairs, The Face in the Frost :: John Brunner, The Traveler in Black :: Terry Carr,  editor, Fantasy Annual IV :: New Worlds of Fantasy #3 :: Richard Grant, Rumors of Spring :: Donald Wollheim & George Ernsberger, editors, The Avon Fantasy Reader

LOT #4  Brian N. Ball, The Regiments of Night :: A. Bertram Chandler, The Hard Way Up/Robert Lory, The Veiled World :: Lester del Rey, The Sky Is Falling/Lester del Rey, Badge of Infamy :: [Star Trek: The Next Generation] Peter David, Strike Zone :: [Star Wars] Alan Dean Foster, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye

LOT #5  JG Ballard, Chronopolis :: Crash :: The Drowned World :: The Impossible Man :: Vermilion Sands :: David R Bunch, Moderan :: Samuel R Delany, City of a Thousand Suns :: The Towers of Toron :: editor w/Marilyn Hacker, Quark/4

LOT #6  Gregory Benford & Gordon Eklund, Find the Changeling :: Hal Clement, Close to Critical :: Hal Clement, Cycle of Fire :: L. Sprague de Camp, A Gun for Dinosaur :: Lester del Rey, Robots and Changelings :: Wilson Tucker, Ice & Iron

LOT #7  Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man :: James Blish, All the Stars a Stage :: Avram Davidson, Mutiny in Space :: Damon Knight, A for Anything :: The Worlds of Jack Vance (The Brains of Earth, The World Between and Other Stories, part of The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph)

LOT #8  Michael Bishop, No Enemy but Time :: Algis Budrys, The Amsirs and the Iron Thorn :: Budrys, Unexpected Dimension :: Michael Coney, Friends Come in Boxes :: Richard Cowper, Out There Where the Big Ships Go :: Harry Harrison, Homeworld :: Harrison, One Step from Earth :: Harrison, Starworld :: John Varley, The Ophiuchi Hotline

LOT #9  Leigh Brackett, The Ginger Star :: The Hounds of Skaith :: The Reavers of Skaith :: The Long Tomorrow :: Phyllis Ann Karr, The Idylls of the Queen :: Fritz Leiber, Swords and Ice Magic :: Dee Morrison Meaney, An Unkindness of Ravens :: Felicity Savage, Humility Garden

LOT # 10  Leigh Brackett, The Ginger Star :: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Darkover Landfall :: The House Between the Worlds :: The Winds of Darkover/John Rackham, The Anything Tree :: The World Wreckers :: Bradley, editor, Greyhaven :: Anne McCaffrey, Decision at Doona :: To Ride Pegasus

LOT #11  Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Winds of Darkover :: Linda E Bushyager, Master of Hawks :: The Spellstone of Shaltus :: Diane Duane, The Door into Shadow :: Bill Fawcett & Brian Thomsen, editors, Masters of Fantasy :: Robert Don Hughes, The Prophet of Lamath :: The Wizard in Waiting :: Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Fantasy Life

LOT #12  Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Eternal Savage :: John Carter of Mars :: The Moon Maid :: The Outlaw of Torn :: The People That Time Forgot :: Robert E. Howard, Conan the Conqueror :: Conan the Usurper (Howard & de Camp) :: Conan the Buccaneer (de Camp & Carter) :: John Jakes, When the Star Kings Die

LOT #13  [Hardcovers, Science Fiction Book Club editions except for the Carr]  Terry Carr, Cirque :: Arthur C. Clarke, Prelude to Mars (Prelude to Space, The Sands of Mars, 16 short stories) :: Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wind’s Twelve Quarters :: Vonda N. McIntyre, Fireflood and Other Stories :: Michael Moorcock, An Alien Heat :: Robert Silverberg, editor, New Dimensions 5

LOT #14  Burt Cole, The Funco File :: James Gunn, Crisis! :: Isidore Haiblum, Transfer to Yesterday :: Zach Hughes, The Stork Factor :: Dean McLaughlin, The Man Who Wanted Stars :: Robert F. Young, The Last Yggdrasill

LOT #15  [Uncorrected Proofs/Advance Readers’ Copies]  Richard Cowper, Out There Where the Big Ships Go :: Philip K. Dick, Radio Free Albemuth :: Gardner Dozois, Strangers :: Elizabeth Lynn, Watchtower :: Larry Niven, A World Out of Time :: Tom Reamy, Blind Voices :: Pamela Sargent, The Golden Space

LOT #16  Gordon R. Dickson, Alien Art :: The Dragon and the George (hardcover, book club) :: The Far Call :: Mission to Universe :: The Outposter :: Pro :: Steel Brother :: Time Storm (hardcover, book club) :: Three to Dorsai! (hardcover, book club) (omnibus of Necromancer, Tactics of Mistake, Dorsai!)

LOT #17  Ursula K. Le Guin, Orsinian Tales :: Vonda N. McIntyre, The Exile Waiting :: Fireflood and Other Stories ::  editor, w/Susan Janice Anderson, Aurora: Beyond Equality :: Pamela Sargent, Cloned Lives :: Starshadows :: editor, Women of Wonder :: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Ariosto :: Cautionary Tales :: The Godforsaken :: Time of the Fourth Horseman

LOT #18  Frederik Pohl, The Abominable Earthman :: The Coming of the Quantum Cats :: Digits & Dastards :: Gateway :: The Gold at the Starbow’s End :: Jem :: The Man Who Ate the World :: Syzygy :: Pohl & Williamson, Undersea Quest :: Jack Williamson, Manseed

LOT #19  Robert Silverberg, Conquerors from the Darkness :: Lord Valentine’s Castle ::The Mountains Of Majipoor ::Thorns :: A Time of Changes :: To Open the Sky ::Tower of Glass :: Valentine Pontifex

LOT #20  [Star Trek]  James Blish, Star Trek 1-9, Spock Must Die!

LOT #21  [Star Trek, oversized]  14 Official Blueprints :: Star Trek Maps :: Spaceflight Chronology :: Intergalactic Puzzles

LOT #22  [Non-fiction}  Brian W Aldiss, Billion Year Spree :: David Hartwell, Age of Wonders (hardcover) :: Sam J Lundwall, Science Fiction: What It’s All About :: Alexei Panshin, Heinlein in Dimension (trade paperback, second printing 1971) :: Charles Platt, Dream Makers

[Anthologies, listed by editor] 

LOT #23  Isaac Asimov w/Greenberg & Olander, 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories :: Judy-Lynn del Rey, Stellar #4 :: Roger Elwood, Demon Kind :: James Frankel, The Best from IF #1 :: Stephen Goldin, The Alien Condition :: Vonda N. McIntyre & Susan Janice Anderson, Aurora: Beyond Equality :: Jerry Pournelle, 2020 Vision (1974 anthology about life in the year 2020, and I’m guessing no one wrote about a global pandemic) :: Donald A. Wollheim & Terry Carr, World’s Best Science Fiction 1970

LOT #24  James Baen, The Best from IF #3 :: James Blish, New Dreams This Morning :: Judy-Lynn Del Rey, Stellar #4 :: James Frankel, The Best from IF #1 :: Stephen Goldin, The Alien Condition :: Vonda N. McIntyre & Susan Janice Anderson, Aurora: Beyond Equality :: Frederik Pohl w/Greenberg & Olander, Galaxy #2

LOT #25  John Carnell, New Writings in SF, UK editions :: Volumes 1, 2, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19

LOT #26  John Carnell, New Writings in SF, US editions :: Volumes 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8

LOT #27  John Carnell, New Writings in SF 5 (US) :: Terry Carr, The Best Science Fiction of the Year #2 :: #3 :: #10 :: Anthony Cheetham, Science Against Man :: Edward Ferman & Barry Malzberg, Final Stage :: David Gerrold, Protostars :: Stephen Goldin, The Alien Condition :: Vonda N. McIntyre & Susan Janice Anderson, Aurora: Beyond Equality :: Frederik Pohl, Best Science Fiction for 1972 :: Rob Sauer, Voyages: Scenarios for a Ship Called Earth :: Thomas N. Scortia & Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Two Views of Wonder

LOT #28  Terry Carr, Universe 2 :: Edward Ferman & Barry Malzberg, Final Stage :: Damon Knight, Orbit 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13 :: Marta Randall & Robert Silverberg, New Dimensions 11, 12

LOT #29  Richard Curtis, Future Tense :: Raymond Healy & J Francis McComas, More Adventures in Time and Space :: Ivan Howard, Now & Beyond :: Mayo Mohs, Other Worlds, Other Gods: Adventures in Religious Science Fiction :: Carol & Frederik Pohl, Science Fiction: The Great Years :: Robert Silverberg, Beyond Control

LOT #30  Judy-Lynn del Rey, Stellar 1, 4, 5, 7 :: Roger Elwood, Continuum 1, 2 :: James Frankel, The Best from IF #1 :: Roy Torgeson, Chrysalis 3, 4

LOT #31  [Magazines]  Amazing 3/70, 7/71, 5/72 :: Asimov’s 9/28/91, Mid-Dec 85 :: Fantastic 8/72 :: F&SF 10/82, 10/85, 11/87 :: IF 8/74

LOT #32  [Magazines]  Analog 3/68, 9/69, 10/70, 6/77 :: Asimov’s 9/28/91, Mid-Dec 85 :: Galaxy 3/69 :: Strange Fantasy Spring 69 :: Thrilling Science Fiction 2/73

LOT #33  [Magazines]  Analog 9/69 :: Asimov’s 9/28/81 :: Galaxy 1/69, 3/69, 4/69, 5/76 :: IF 8/74 :: Tesseract Fall 78

LOT #34  [Magazines]  F&SF 10/61, 8/62, 4/63, 4/64, 8/64, 10/65, 2/66, 3/66 (cover torn), 5/66, 6/66

LOT #35  [Magazines]  F&SF 6/66, 8/66, 7/67, 9/67, 11/67, 2/68, 3/68, 6/68, 9/68, 3/69

LOT #36  [Magazines]  F&SF 10/77, 10/79, 10/82, 10/85, 11/87, 2/06, 7/06, 9/06 :: Venture 1/58, 11/69

LOT #37  [Magazines]  Galaxy 1/69, 3/69, 4/69, 5/76, 3-4/79 :: IF 6/68, 8/74 :: Worlds of Fantasy Spring 71

LOT #38  [Not SF]  These are interesting, if anybody would like them, a literary magazine in paperback form from the UK in the 1940s: The Penguin New Writing, volumes I, II, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39

I also have cartons of mostly thrillers, with some mysteries, primarily from the 1990s, primarily by little-known writers. If anybody would like a truly random selection of those, just specify hardcover or paperback.