There’s a chill in the air as All Hallow’s Eve approaches, and my little clan is making the usual preparations to fend off the living dead with fun-sized charges of high-energy carbohydrate. Bring it on, walkers.
Is This Thing Turned On? Another interview posted a few days ago, this one with fellow author Mary Ruth Pursselley at her blog, The Writer’s Lair. Topic: Avenir Eclectia, and the new compendium of stories thereof published recently by Splashdown Books. Find out what possessed me to re-enter the world of cooperative shared-world fiction! Avenir Eclectia Volume 1 is on sale at the promotional rate of $5.98 right now at Amazon, so there’s a golden opportunity to “buy low, sell high,” or whatever.
Don’t Get Between Her and a Bag of Skittles, Either: One way the Darling Daughter has been making good use of her hiatus from the U.S. Air Force Academy is to join the debate team at our local community college. This started out as a lark but quickly became Serious Business. She seems to have a knack for arguing opponents to death. In retrospect, her talent seems obvious.
Horror in the Echo Chamber: As anyone still reading this blog may have noticed, I’ve begun a seven-part serial tale of terror called “The Transit” that I’m posting here at Frederation. I’m just playing around with a few ideas, probably a side-effect of some seasonal reading of H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, et. al. Classic “weird” horror. Anyhow, judging by the paucity of hits/comments on this activity, I seem to be talking to myself again (Which is not a huge problem, since I do that all the time, don’t I, Fred? Why, yes, Fred, you’re a perpetual fountain of soliloquy!). So, I’m wondering if I was a little hasty tossing out a half-baked concept that I’m making up as I go along. My Much Younger Brother has already advised me it reads like, and I quote, “college-level creative writing.” Sigh. If the sense that I’m declaiming into an empty room continues, I may pull this monster back into the private zone for vivisection and post it all at a later date, once it’s been stitched up properly. “Igor! Back to the laboratory!”
Did I Mention Splashdown Books? New and fresh from My Fair Publisher is Kat Heckenbach’s latest young-adult fantasy, Seeking Unseen, the second volume in her Toch Island Chronicles that began with Finding Angel. Yes, she went to Heckenbach to bring it to you. Also new and newish are Frank Creed’s cyberpunk actioner Devil’s Hit List and Greg Mitchell’s sci-fi adventure Rift Jump. Keven Newsome’s paranormal offering, Prophetess, the sequel to Winter, will be debuting soon—here’s the trailer. Perfect gifts for the imaginative people in your life, young and old…or those whose imagination needs a little nurturing.
They’re Just People Lookin’ to the East: If you’ve run out of Scooby Doo Movies for your Halloween viewing, here are a couple of suggestions:
Another: Koichi Sakakibara moves to his grandparents’ small-town home from Tokyo while his father is overseas on business, and he soon discovers his junior-high-school class shares a deadly secret. Twenty-six years ago, they kept a desk vacant in memorial of a classmate’s tragic death, but something terrible has returned each year to fill that empty space, wreak havoc, and then blot out the details of its actions and identity. Is it connected to the mysterious girl with the eyepatch who only Koichi can see—and can it be stopped? This is a story of psychological suspense, and it does a great job building up both the mystery and the atmosphere of dread. There are moments of extreme and sudden violence, some of it bloody, though obscured, and the body count accelerates near the end as the pieces of the puzzle begin to connect. No coarse language or sexuality issues, but definitely not for kids or the faint of heart. Older teens and up. Subtitled. Streaming at Crunchyroll.com.
White: In this live-action movie, struggling K-Pop group Pink Dolls finds a discarded demo tape with a catchy song that turns their careers around. Too bad it’s cursed. Can they solve the mystery and break the curse before they run out of time—and cast members? A cautionary tale of the pitfalls of Korean celebrity culture, with a supernatural twist. White is currently listed on Netflix, but can probably also be found via any of the usual movie sources with a little digging. Some grotesque “accidents,” but nothing else particularly objectionable—just scary. Keep the lights on. If you don’t, you will later. Subtitled. Older teens and up.
Or, if you don’t care for the scare:
Sword Art Online: Thousands of people are trapped inside a full-immersion virtual-reality computer game where death in the game means death in real life, and the only way to survive is to beat 100 levels of monsters. Kirito was a beta tester, and finds his prior experience provides an edge, but it also makes him a pariah. Though he shuns close friendships, he begins to realize that he needs to risk the companionship of other people—and for more than just combat support. Based on a Japanese light novel series by Reki Kawahara, Sword Art Online digs a little deeper into the gaming culture and the scenario’s mental and emotional implications than other series with a similar setup, such as .hack//sign. The fantasy landscapes are beautiful, and the fight sequences are gripping, especially the boss battles. Though the violence is computerized (there’s no blood, and slain characters dissolve into pixels), the real-life stakes increase the impact of character deaths and the menace of some social-gaming phenomena like PK (player-killer) gangs. The two teenage leads “marry” within the game, and it’s implied they consummate the relationship, though that’s never explicitly stated nor depicted. Teens and up. Subtitled. Episodes streaming online at Crunchyroll.com.
Space Brothers: Nothing scary about this one, but it’s got a lot of heart. While searching for wildlife in a forest near their home, two kids see a UFO, and the experience inspires them to make a pact to become astronauts and travel to the moon and beyond. Years later, Hibito is an astronaut preparing to fulfill his dream, but Mutta is out of work with no prospects in sight—until a letter arrives announcing a nation-wide search for astronaut candidates from the general public. Mutta enters the tortuous screening process, but the odds against him are, well, astronomical. Will he catch up to his younger brother and keep the promise he made when they were children? I think this is suitable for tweens and up (UPDATE: I’m still working my way through this series, and there is a little profanity and some depictions of alcohol use/overuse, so I’d recommend parental guidance for younger viewers), though some might not have the patience to appreciate the relaxed pace and action level of this series about the power of dreams and family ties. Subtitled. Streaming at Crunchyroll.com.