Category Archives: Science fiction

Unbound II: Changed Worlds

Unbound II Changed Worlds
Award-winning DAOwen Publications has just released its latest anthology, Unbound II: Changed Worlds.

It features my story “Hunting Ground,” which is set in a brooding wetland in rural North Carolina. I grew up in the country, and the farm next to ours had a two-acre marsh where I stomped and rambled and dreamed away many an afternoon. It teemed with exotic plants, frogs, copperheads, and dark, mysterious pools. Now those were the days …

Hunting Ground

In my story, police discover the body of a fracking engineer buried near the marsh where he’d been working, and they arrest an anti-fracking activist who’d threatened him. Buddy Vuncannon, the defendant’s attorney, discovers the marsh hides a bizarre secret that could clear his client — if there were a way he could prove it in court.

My fascination with all things swampy and a Science Alert article about a mysterious stretch of land near Lake Michigan inspired the story. “Hunting Ground” is lively and entertaining, but its topic is serious. Fracking involves pumping a cocktail of chemicals and water deep underground where it cracks open layers of shale to unleash natural gas. The threat to the local water supply is profound.

Exposing the truth about fracking is all well and good, but the real goal is to renew respect and appreciation for nature. No one understands this better than poet/novelist/activist Wendell Berry. In his fiction and essays, Berry argues that the excesses of industrialism, from environmental piracy to the over-concentration of wealth, can be countered only by a rebirth of affection for the local, by which he means love and loyalty for the land we live on and for the people we live with.

Here’s how the National Endowment for the Humanities describes Berry’s literary/political mission:

In the debate that set Thomas Jefferson against Alexander Hamilton—and rural farms against cities, and agriculture against banking interests—Berry stands with Jefferson. He stands for local culture and the small family farmer, for yeoman virtues and an economic and political order that is modest enough for its actions and rationales to be discernible. Government, he believes, should take its sense of reality from the ground beneath our feet and from our connections with our fellow human beings.

And it is my passionate belief that one way we can strengthen or even restore those connections is through a good story. I hope you enjoy “Unbound II: Changed Worlds.”

Unbound II: Changed Worlds pre-release

Unbound II

From Science Fiction and Fantasy Publications:

Unbound II: Changed Worlds

The Unbound Anthologies are a collection of themed short stories perfect for your reading pleasure. Every year we open a call to authors around the world challenging them to create never before created works of fiction, pick the best ones, and bundle them together for you.

This edition, our authors received the challenge of “Changed Worlds” in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre. And now we are pleased to present to you:

Michael Healy’s “Hail Bruce”
Daniel Powell’s “Reclaiming the Elements”
Clint Spivey’s “The Barred Gates”
Lee Clark Zumpe’s “Book of Being”
Dale L. Sproule and Sally McBride’s “The Birthing Blades”
Barry Charman’s “The Knot”
Philip Bran Hall’s “The Hard Stuff”
M. M. Pryor’s “The Witch’s Intern”
M. C. Tuggle’s “Hunting Ground”
K. T. Wagner’s “Mountains to Cross”
M. J. Moores’ “The Reckoning”

While this publication’s release date is January 31st, you may either pre-order the ebook through online retailers or acquire your digital version now through our online store at:

Buy Unbound II – Changed Worlds

Print versions of this anthology will be available through all bookstores January 31st, 2017.

Best Fiction and Writing Blogs

jules-verne

The best fiction and writing blog posts from around the ‘net, all guaranteed to make you a literary legend. Compiled by jules.

Tina Ann Forkner5 Reasons You Should Still Pursue a Traditional Book Contract
M. L. KellerWhy Writing Advice is Ruining your Manuscript
Melissa TriplettFreelancing for Beginners and Old People
John FoleyThe Legacy of Hard Science Fiction
Christopher MorrisseyA Holiday Film Festival
Brett McKayWhy Every Man Should Read Jane Austen
Kim WinternheimerSubmission Strategies: Advice from a Literary Magazine Editor
Marc AngenotJules Verne and French Literary Criticism

Quote of the day

Margaret Atwood

“Why is it that when we grab for heaven — socialist or capitalist or even religious — we so often produce hell? I’m not sure, but so it is. Maybe it’s the lumpiness of human beings. What do you do with people who somehow just don’t or won’t fit into your grand scheme? All too often you stretch them on a Procrustean bed or dig a hole in the ground and shovel them into it.” – Margaret Atwood

The Great KOA Getaway

The Great KOA Getaway

There’s an energizing crispness in the October air – and that’s not all. Regional festivals celebrating local wine, apples, and barbecue lure excited crowds with sweet, smoky aromas and music from homegrown bands. The squawking from a wedge of geese overhead reminds us it’s hunting and camping season. And Halloween is just around the corner.

My latest work, “The Great KOA Getaway,” should get you in the mood. It’s a flash story about an unlucky/lucky ranger caught in the middle of a little misunderstanding at a remote campground. I’d describe it as a mash-up of Twilight Zone and National Lampoon’s Vacation, with just a touch of Lovecraft thrown in. It’s available free (!) at The Flash Fiction Press.

I’ve always enjoyed stories that tickle your goosebumps and funny bone at the same time. And isn’t that what makes Halloween so much fun?

I hope “The Great KOA Getaway” brings a shiver and a smile to your day.

New Words, New Worlds

sunrise

Novelist and teacher M. Thomas Gammarino experienced an epiphany when he taught two courses in the same semester, one on science fiction, and another in modernism. Gammarino expected the two genres to clash, but happily discovered they supplemented each other. The reason, he explains in this Omni article, is that all art aims to enable us to see the world more intently by presenting it in unfamiliar and challenging ways:

In his 1917 essay “Art as Device,” Russian formalist poet Viktor Shlovky gave us the term ostranenie to describe the primary function of art. The term is usually translated as “defamiliarization,” though it literally means “strange-making.” The job of art, in other words, is to renew our eyes by making the familiar appear strange. Other modernists had— or would— put forth variations on this idea, from Mallarmé’s “Donner un sens plus pur aux mots de la tribu” (purify the words of the tribe) to Ezra Pound’s “Make it new,” and modernist critics regularly invoke this idea to illuminate the sorts of linguistic experiments writers like Gertrude Stein and James Joyce were up to.

I heartily agree. Both fantasy and sci-fi renew one’s sense of wonder in ways literary fiction cannot. That’s not to say literary fiction is incapable of reawakening the awe we felt as a child discovering our shiny, new world. Energetic, evocative writing in any genre helps us re-imagine the world around us, forcing us to see it anew. But literary fiction tends to focus on the inner world, while fantasy and sci-fi direct us toward the outer world — or even toward new, imagined worlds. Speculative fiction always goes big, reminding us of our role in society, the world, and the universe itself.

That’s what makes fantasy and sci-fi such powerful springboards for the imagination.

Charlotte Observer Caption Contest

Caption contest

From the Charlotte Observer:

“It’s dead, Jim.”

The Winners: Mike Tuggle of Charlotte and Bill McLoughlin of Charlotte

Thanks for all your great entries. This is the first time in You Write the Caption history we’ve had a tie winner, but the judges couldn’t see anyway to avoid that this time. So congrats to great minds, Mike Tuggle and Bill McGloughlin.
———————————–
What can I say? Problem is, the winner is supposed to get the original cartoon. Who will it be? Looks to me like it’s Amok Time! Let the kal-if-fee for the prize begin!

kal-if-fee

A reader sent me this:

Congrats…….on your Cartoon Caption win! But I don’t get the “It’s Dead”! R—Sent from my iPhone

R—,

Hey, thanks!

If you aspire to becoming a certified Star Trek geek like me, you’ll have to learn the classic lines. In numerous scenes from the original series, a character would suffer some sort of unexpected calamity, and Kirk would shout, “What happened?” It was usually Dr. McCoy who’d examine the poor character and announce, “He’s dead, Jim!”

So in the Siers cartoon, Spock is informing Kirk of the fate of print journalism.