Friday, March 21, 2014

8 bits of sf/f news to start your weekend off geeky

There is so much news this week in the world of science fiction, I had to take time out from my various other projects and do a blog post.

1) Reported on SFWA on St. Paddy's Day, March 17:  SFWA and SFF Net sever ties

2) For folks in Australia, a new Web TV show is in development called Tomekeeper Preludes. Visit their Facebook Page to learn more. Here's a visual.

3) Stephen King's The Shining - a play. This is a bit of a tease since it's only in Omaha and already sold out, but maybe it will give other folks some good ideas to do something similar. And if you have friends in Omaha, they're still collecting donations for the theatre through the 22nd of March.


Stephen King's The Shining Play from David M. Weiss on Vimeo.

4) This isn't sf or fantasy, but it doesn't get a separate post and it benefits kids. And it's my blog, damn it. Radio Silence, the magazine of literature and rock and roll, is launching a digital, monthly magazine. It's available as a free app for iPhones and iPads, and desktops from web browsers. Editor-in-chief, Dan Stone, says that most of the pieces will include media features like podcasts, films and songs. The March issue has a memoir by Lucinda Williams.

5) Orbit is an indie film in development based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." The press release is below and you can also visit the crowd-funding page to help it along.
Masterwork into Deep Space

Crowdfunding campaign launches to reimagine Poe’s 1843
“The Tell-Tale Heart” against science fiction backdrop


Los Angeles, CA - Filmmakers Don Thiel III and Nicholas Camp announce the launch of the Indiegogo campaign that will support ORBIT - a science fiction reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

Inspired by sci-fi classics from the 1960s and 1970s, ORBIT depicts one man’s madness set against the isolated backdrop of deep space. Co-directing and producing the film, Thiel will serve as Director of Photography while Camp will lead editing efforts. Special attention will be paid to practical effects and elaborate set design. Despite its futuristic environment, the “tense, creepy, visually stunning sci-fi thriller” will draw directly from Poe’s original piece.

“When writing the script, I realized that I didn't need to alter Poe’s story for a single moment to justify the space setting,” Camp says. “The space station will even amplify the narrator’s motivation for madness since it’s isolated in the depths of space, orbiting around a mysterious planet.”

This is Thiel’s second time envisioning Poe’s work in an anachronistic setting. His 2011 short, The Raven, set in 1950s Hollywood, has garnered film festival acclaim, including selection by Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo Del Toro to receive Best Short Film at the 2011 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

“I think the great thing about [Edgar Allan] Poe’s work is that it’s timeless,” Thiel says. “He may have been writing in the 1800s, but the themes and characters and the world he created are really applicable in any time period.”

The crowdfunding campaign, which launched on February 19th on Indiegogo, aims to raise $20,000 to directly support production costs. Reward incentives range from digital downloads and behind-the-scenes access (Black Cat level) to a $5,000 package that includes a walk-on role in the film, premiere tickets and memorabilia, including a framed storyboard (That Hideous Heart level).

Production of the film will take place in Los Angeles and is scheduled to begin this spring.
6) Wired posted a video that shows some behind-the-scenes of the special effects of the latest reboot of RoboCop.

7) Speculative fiction author, Lucius Shepard passed this week. Here's an obit at SFWA.

8) In Canada, March is National Read an E-book Month. What are you reading?



Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Dune movie that wasn't . . . but launched careers

REPOSTING - OPENS TOMORROW

 
Jodorowsky's Dune
Director: Frank Pavich
Producers:  Frank Pavich, Stephen Scarlata
Sony Pictures Classics


Reviewed by Clare Deming

Most fans of science fiction are familiar with Frank Herbert's Dune, in at least one of its forms. First serialized in Analog magazine from 1963 to 1965, the novel won both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1966 and has garnered a reputation as one of the greatest sci-fi novels of all time. Several sequels in the Dune universe followed, both by Frank Herbert and his son, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson.
Photo by David Cavallo, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The original film adaptation by David Lynch was released in 1984, to mixed reviews. More recently, the Sci Fi Channel aired two miniseries encompassing both Dune and some of the sequel material. There are currently attempts to produce an updated cinematic feature under way.

What I was not aware of as a fan of Dune, was that in the mid-1970's, Chilean-born director Alejandro Jodorowsky had attempted to create his own ambitious adaptation of the book. The project ultimately failed for financial reasons, but Frank Pavich's documentary, Jodorowsky's Dune, follows the story behind the failed undertaking and the legacy that it left behind that arguably influenced later films such as Star Wars, Alien, and Bladerunner.

Jodorowsky spent his early years studying surrealism in France, and his films became known for their visual style and spiritual themes. He has compared his films to the psychedelic experience of using LSD.

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Sardaukar and Jean
Moebius Giraud, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Pavich's documentary is mainly a series of interviews with those who worked on the production of the picture, including Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, and H.R. Giger. At the heart of the film concept, the script and a book of complete storyboards provide a tantalizing glimpse of what could have been. Through the film, a few animations based on the storyboards help to share Jodorowsky's vision.

Jodorowsky himself is the subject of many of the interviews, and was spirited in describing his work on Dune. His enthusiasm, even decades later, is remarkable, and at times, his fervent outbursts were tinged with madness:

"In that time, I say, if I need to cut my arms in order to make that picture, I will cut my arms. I was even ready to die doing that." -- Alejandro Jodorowsky

He relates several tales about how he recruited the talent for the music and cast, which would have included his own son, Brontis, David Carradine, Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, Mick Jagger, and Pink Floyd.

I was astounded by the spectacular artwork displayed in the film, particularly the full color depiction of a starship blasted open by pirates. While Jodorowsky admits that he planned to take liberties with the source material, if his vision of Dune had been completed, it certainly would have been a spectacle unlike anything at that time.

This documentary likely has little appeal to the average viewer, but for those who have a special interest in the history of science fiction film, or in the source material itself, it was an interesting movie. I was particularly intrigued by the project's influence on later films, particularly the Alien franchise, in which a structure nearly identical to the Harkonnen palace concept art appears in Prometheus.

Jodorowsky's Dune was an Official Selection at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and is scheduled to open in New York and Los Angeles on March 7, 2014.

Friday, January 31, 2014

SIMON451 student contest and paying the bills as a novelist

First my news. I'm the new Santa Rosa TOWNS correspondent for the Press Democrat. I started this PT, contract gig on Monday.  Most published authors still need a day job. Many of us are able to freelance or do some other related job during the week, but unless we're turning out NYTs best sellers constantly, we still need to work. I continue to look for FT employment, but the local job market is flat. Like so many other people who are not finding work, I'm having to make work.

I'm writing resumes and cover letters for a fee, got on board with WriterAccess and have been producing an anthology as a fundraiser for the local YWCA. In addition, I'm putting together a website that will list where all the live music is in the county and teaching beginning dance with my hubby in the hopes that it will support our $70/wk habit (dancing to live music).  I'm also trying to get a grant to create a new book festival here to replace the abandoned Sonoma County Book Festival.

The big question, really, is where do I fit my novel writing in? I'm so busy trying to make a buck and churning out the creative juices toward that end, that the novel is suffering. I have no idea how people keep full-time jobs and write novels. But, then again, they probably don't go out dancing three or four times a week, workout three times a week, and walk or bike ride three times a week. I guess it's all a matter of scheduling and discipline. Toward that end I devised a master schedule and a master time sheet to track all of my various projects. Let's see if I can actually follow it next week.



I'm determined to send the requested synopsis and first chapter for my novel tomorrow. Won't let myself do anything else first. And as I type this, I'm remembering my five-year-old grandson's basketball game at 9 am. See how that happens? Have you ever watched five-year-olds play basketball? It's adorable! Oh, well, after that I'll hunker down and not let myself go dancing unless I get it done. That will light a fire under me for sure!

****

Very exciting news for college students from Simon & Schuster's new sci-fi imprint SIMON451:

SIMON451: NOVEL-WRITING CONTEST FOR STUDENTS
New York, N.Y., January 31, 2014 – Simon451, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, is pleased to announce a writing contest for students. Submissions must fall in one of the following categories: science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian or dystopian fiction, apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic fiction, or alternate history in literature. We are looking for full-length novels only; novellas and short stories will not be considered.

The contest is open to legal residents of the United States who are at least eighteen years of age and are currently enrolled in college at the undergraduate or graduate level, and who possess a student ID card valid as of February 2014 . The submission period runs from February 1, 2014 – March 15, 2014, during which entrants are asked to provide a 250-word synopsis and the first fifty pages of their novel via the online entry form in accordance with the full contest guidelines.

Complete contest rules and guidelines can be found here. Ten finalists will be chosen and contacted by April 15, 2014, at which time they will be asked to submit their complete novels for consideration. The winner will receive a publishing contract with Simon451 and a trip to ComicCon in New York City to participate in the public launch of the imprint.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Big news in the SF/F world and my part of it

You may have been wondering what happened to Science Fiction and Other ODDysseys for the past month. Well, fearless, but not tireless, editor/writer Ann Wilkes, has been wrestling with new ventures. Though she absolutely loves boosting the signal for sci-fi indie films and interacting with her fans, the reviews have been bogging her down and her passions have shifted somewhat.

(This is where the blog shifts entirely into first person - you can say you were there.)

I'm not a fast reader, which is probably part of why I'm such an excellent editor. That said, I would like to occasionally read something - gasp - not science fiction. Or maybe not new science fiction. There are some serious holes in my reading of the classics. I got a Kindle Paper for Christmas and would just like to bury my head in it for a while. I bought a book - can't remember when I last did that! - and found myself mentally critiquing it, even though I'm not going to be reviewing it. That's a hard habit to break, but I'm looking forward to some long-awaited pleasure reading. I'll try my best to turn the critic off. If I don't like a book, I just won't finish it - period.

I have also trotted out a novel I hadn't touched since 2008, which was nearly finished. I've had a request for first chapter and synopsis from a sf/f publisher. I have to get that ending nailed down with a view to the sequels the publisher will need, so that I can write the synopsis. The latter half of the novel needed some work. The book basically died the death of chapter-at-a-time critiquing. I would get so sick of it by the middle, that I would abandon it. I only had to fix some commas and such in the first half. I did, however, enjoy rewriting the sex scene for the second half. Much steamier than its predecessor. :)

I'm also looking forward to hearing my voice on Emerian Rich's horror podnovel. I recorded my part in September. Read more about Artistic License by Emerian Rich.

I'm considering doing a site where local music lovers can find out where all the live music is on one page. Kevin and I are always scouting this venue and that, email lists and Facebook events to find the best live music to dance to. I have thought of doing this for two years now, but finally have some ideas for getting paid for my time. My husband Kevin and I are also considering teaching couples dancing on a private and group basis. People ask us about it from time to time. People actually come up to us, and with a finger pointed at us, say, "You're those dancers!" We get around. ;)

At the video/CD recording party for Gator Nation Nov. 2013

Science Fiction and Other ODDysseys will not be a thing of the past. However, it may change to match the life of its founder, Ann Wilkes. It will still cover science fiction, but will make detours into my other "ODDysseys" and contain more of my own writing news. I won't be posting any more reviews, as I said, but will keep it truly geeky. No worries there.

Now for the big news in the greater world of science fiction: Simon & Schuster has launched a sci-fi imprint. No shit! Here's the press release about Simon451:

SIMON451: NEW SCIENCE FICTION IMPRINT AT SIMON & SCHUSTER

New York, N.Y., January 14, 2014 –Simon & Schuster’s adult trade imprint announced today that it will launch a new imprint called Simon451, dedicated to publishing literary and commercial speculative fiction across categories such as science fiction, fantasy, dystopian, apocalyptic and the supernatural.

Simon451 will publish in multiple electronic and printed formats, with a focus on digital-first publishing and ebook originals. Its editors will develop new authors and branded series, and bring established authors to new audiences with the ability to move quickly and nimbly between digital and print publication, taking advantage of marketplace opportunities as awareness builds for authors and series. Simon451 will experiment with publishing serialized novels and original short stories, and will also re-issue classic backlist titles in ebook.

“Within the science fiction and fantasy genre, e-books and online communities are becoming the primary means of reading and discovery,” says Senior Editor Sarah Knight, who is spearheading the new imprint. “With Simon451 we aim to give those readers what they want, when and how they want it.”

The inaugural Simon451 list will launch in October 2014 with the first volume of the EarthEnd Saga series by actress Gillian Anderson, best known for her role on ”The X-Files,” and co-writer Jeff Rovin. Brit Hvide of Simon & Schuster acquired worldwide rights from Doug Grad at The Doug Grad Literary Agency to a trilogy of titles from Anderson and Rovin, the first of which is entitled A Vision of Fire.

“This is a very exciting endeavor, and I’m thrilled that Simon and Schuster has taken us under their wing,” says Anderson. “Together, we will make the most of what I hope will be a compelling series of adventures.”

Other launch titles include the Paris-set dystopian novel The Undying by Ethan Reid; these books and more will be featured in events and promotions at New York Comic Con, October 9-12, 2014. To sign up for the e-newsletter or find information regarding submissions, please visit www.Simon451.com.

The imprint’s name, “Simon451,” pays homage to Ray Bradbury’s seminal science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451, which has influenced countless readers, writers and publishers, and which Simon & Schuster published in e-book for the first time in 2011, along with other works by Bradbury.

Simon & Schuster, a part of CBS Corporation, is a global leader in the field of general interest publishing, dedicated to providing the best in fiction and nonfiction for consumers of all ages, across all printed, electronic, and audio formats. Its divisions include Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Simon & Schuster Audio, Simon & Schuster Digital, and international companies in Australia, Canada, India, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit our website at www.simonsays.com
I'd write an article about it, but I want to write that novel ending, finish my profile at WriterAccess, get groceries and go on a bike ride. My theme for this year? Don't let people "should" on you. It's actually been my motto for a while. I'm just applying it more fully to SFOO now. I hope you'll hang in there with me and follow SFOO's possibly less-frequent sci-fi news and news of my writing endeavors. If you hear about something that would be good to share here, send me an email. Once I tell all the media folks I'm no longer doing reviews, I'll actually be able to find your email! Seriously. I even get requests to review romance novels, cook books and self-help books. What really bites is getting invited to pre-screenings of awesome-looking, yet non-sci-fi movies. First because they're in LA. Second because I can't take advantage since I'm not able to review it here.

Here's wishing all SFOO fans and my personal fans a fabulous new year filled with limitless possibilities and fantastic voyages! 

  


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Aussie Indie goodness

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes looks pretty intense. Too bad we have to wait till July to see the next Planet of the Apes movie.


And here are some still portraits from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.


Filming for the Indie flick Arrowhead is going on in the outback this winter. Arrowhead reached its Kickstarter goal, but the filmmakers want to generate more buzz via Kickstarter to make the most of the launch and recoup some of the funds they personally invested. Here's the teaser and a 10 minute proof of concept that got the initial funding. The film is slated to premiere on TV in Australia in September 2014. No word yet on a US release date.

Arrowhead Show Reel from Arrowhead: The Movie on Vimeo.


Arrowhead: Signal from Arrowhead: The Movie on Vimeo.