Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Expendable Disabled Heroes of Marvel's Infinity War, live at Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction

It's my honor to have a piece in the Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction issue of Uncanny Magazine. Between Lightspeed and Uncanny Magazine, Disabled People Destroy has allowed voices from multiple marginalized communities to speak openly about the stories that matter most to us and the fandom community. The issue is packed with excellent stories and essays by the likes of Fran Wilde, Merc Rustad, and Nisi Shawl. I've been waiting for this issue for years.

My essay is about the representation of disability in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, particularly as it appears in Infinity War. Infinity War is the biggest nexus for MCU characters to date, and has a number of disabled characters in its cast: War Machine, Nebula, Bucky Barnes, and Thor are a few. Yet they're handled carelessly, either marginalizing them based on their disabilities, or seeking to erase those disabilities from view. It speaks to how few disabled people work on the Marvel films, how few write them and act in them, and it's time for that to change.

Marvel is celebrating their biggest box office hit and ten years of blockbusters. It's time for Rocket Raccoon to stop stealing disabled people's prosthetics.

You can read the entire essay for free right here.

You can buy the whole issue right here.

Thanks for reading! I have more good news for y'all coming soon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

New Story: "Fascism and Facsimiles" live at Fireside Magazine

I have one more story for you this summer! It's been a busy few months and I've capped them off with a new story at Fireside Magazine.

"Fascism and Facsimiles" is a superhero story about henchpeople. The world is about to learn that Captain Democracy isn't a great hero, but a sleeper agent for the evil organization Kommand. It might possibly be a parody of something, not that our heroes are aware. Two underlings at Kommand are startled to learn the guy who's been kicking their heads in for years is actually a co-worker. They're more surprised to learn just how evil their employers are. It's a story about work friendships and about the struggle to refuse to be complicit.

This is my third story at Fireside, following "Bones at the Door" and "A Silhouette Against Armageddon." I'm so happy to have another story find its home with them again.

You can read the story for free by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

My Readercon Schedule

I'll be in Massachusetts this coming weekend for Readercon! I've attended for years, but this is my first time doing programming with them. They have a long history of compelling conversations, and I'm excited to participate. This will also be the first convention where I've done a public reading! Come by for the worldwide premiere of my next short story.


Friday
4:00 PM
Room: Salon 5
The Bureaucracy of Fantasy

  Phenderson Clark, Alexander Jablokov, Victoria Sandbrook, Kenneth Schneyer (M), John Wiswell

Authors such as Daniel Abraham, Max Gladstone, and Ken Liu have received attention for incorporating bureaucratic concepts into their fantasy works, but fantasy frequently has bureaucratic underpinnings that escape notice because they're so familiar: the nuances of who inherits a title or a throne, the specific wording of a prophecy, detailed contracts with demons. Why do some bureaucracies feel more incongruous in fantastical contexts than others? What are some tricks for making dry, nitpicky topics exciting and comprehensible?


Saturday
3:30 PM
Room: Blue Hills
John Wiswell Reads Flash Fiction and Short Stories

I'll be bringing a couple of my favorite flash pieces, as well as a short story I've never shared in public before. It's a comedy about people dying on furniture. Hopefully the seating will be comfortable.


Sunday
12:00 Noon
Room: Salon 5
It Takes a Village to Raise a Protagonist

Andrea Corbin (M), Scott Lynch, Nisi Shawl, Graham Sleight, John Wiswell

Conflicts in speculative fiction often tend toward hyperindividualist solutions, but there are other ways to build those stories. Gene Roddenberry and Ray Bradbury both often wrote stories of cooperation in which the community is the protagonist. In Cory Doctorow's books, long sequences are devoted to the process of achieving consensus. What other stories center collaboration and cooperation, and what are some best practices for writers who want to explore these types of stories?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My 4th Street Fantasy Schedule

This weekend I'll be at one of my favorite cons, 4th Street Fantasy in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I love the location, the conrunners, and most of all, yelling about books with smart people on the panels. I'll be moderating on Friday afternoon, and being a mild-mannered panelist on Saturday. Come say hi!

Friday
4:00 PM
All the Things We Do That Aren’t Smashing Things 

Mary Robinette Kowal, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Chelsea Polk, Abra Staffin Wiebe, John Wiswell (M)

A discussion of all the ways we tell stories about building lives, civilizations, and legacies using anything but the edge of the sword. Why do we so often truncate our experience/expectations of fiction to revolve so firmly around the linked concepts of heroism and violence when there are so many other crucial aspects to being human? How has the fantasy genre dealt with this conundrum, and how have specific fantasists tried to approach it? How do we keep the discussion from degenerating into a prudish or performative rejection of the abstract concept of “violence” altogether, while affirming that there are other common and crucial ways of getting things done?


Saturday
3:30 PM
Complicity and Consequence in Interactive Narrative: Press ‘D’ to Feel Guilty!

Max Gladstone (M), Scott Lynch, Cat Manning, John Wiswell

A panel discussing the challenges and implications of attempting to inspire feelings of guilt, responsibility, or complicity for fictional activities/decisions in players of games and interactive fiction, also touching on the concept of vicarious responsibility when experiencing a more traditional narrative (if one laughs along with Corwin of Amber being a total bastard, does that make one a bad person?). Why do this? When is this a useful frame-breaking learning tool? When is it a cheap trick? Can we truly use fictional spaces to make people interrogate the decisions they make and the circumstances they dwell in? What are the practical and ethical limits of this sort of exploration?

Monday, June 4, 2018

New Story: "Tank!" is live at Diabolical Plots!

Are you ready for a new story? Because I've got a fresh one, just for you. "Tank!" is free to read over at Diabolical Plots.

This is the story of a sapient tank going to their first nerd convention. Comics books, anime, movies - most of us love them and want a community. The tank wants a community. More than anything, the hulking piece of military technology wants to make some friends.

The story is the result of a conversation I had with Max Gladstone at one 4th Street. I have to thank him for beta reading it, as well as my other beta readers, Paul Starr, Cass Williams, Merc Rustad, and Alison Wilgus. Their support helped me believe in a story that, so far, is touching a lot of people. Maybe more of us have been the tank than we admit.

Click here to meet the tank!

Friday, May 25, 2018

New Story Live at Robot Dinosaurs!

I'm thrilled today to announce the publication of "Buyers’ Remorse and Seven Slain Cause ‘Adorable’ Robot Dinosaur Stock to Plummet Tuesday."

It's part of a series of stories on the theme of robot dinosaurs edited by the wonderful Merc Rustad. My story follows a company that promises to turn unwanted electronics into adorable baby robo dinosaurs.

Naturally, nothing goes wrong.

You can read the story for free by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Eight Tips for Better Conventions

Convention season is almost upon us. Later this week I'm flying to the Nebulas, and 4th Street and Readercon are right behind it. I'm excited to hang out, be on panels, and to see panels. Conventions are a source of joy, but also a source of anxiety. Over the years I've compiled a few tips on how to handle cons. They could help us all have a better time when we nerds congregate. Please consider, and thanks for reading!

Instead of: interrupting the panelists with what you think are insightful comments...
Try this: ...spend this time writing down your question so that, when the panel opens to audience interaction, you have something clear to say and don't ramble. People will remember a succinct question.

Instead of: walking ten feet outside the panel room and continuing your conversation in the middle of the hall, blocking everyone else trying to get to their next destination...
Try this:...invite your chat-buddy to an empty row of seats, or the bar or cafe, or to walk out of the hall and find a nook elsewhere that won't block traffic. Then talk to them for as long as you like as everyone else passes.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Convention Schedule for 2018

I've just booked my travel for this year's conventions. I can't believe all that travel is just a couple months away! I've got an exciting slate of destinations this year:

Nebula Weekend
May 17-20
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

4th Street Fantasy
June 22-24th
St. Louis Park, Minnesota

Readercon
July 12-15
Quincy, Massachusetts

World Fantasy Convention
November 1-4
Baltimore, Maryland

Please come join me if you're at any of these areas! I love meeting new people, and doubly like to meet long-time readers.

At present it looks like I'll be doing panels at half if not all of these conventions. There's a rumor I might be doing my first convention reading as well, which is exciting. Is there a story of mine you'd most like to hear me read, if you could be there?

Monday, March 5, 2018

Bathroom Monologues Movie Awards 2017

It's almost March 2018, so of course we're all talking about the best movies of 2017. Naturally I disagree with some of the Oscar winners. More naturally, I don't understand what some of the categories mean. But nothing shall dissuade me from telling a democratic body of people who devote swaths of their lives to film that their mass conclusions were wrong. So here we go!

The Robbed Award
Going to the movie that got no play last year
and is just as good as whatever won Best Picture
FENCES

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Bathroom Monologue: The Do's and Don't's of Being a Host

NO: "I'm sorry the house is a mess."

YES: "Thank you for coming so late!"

NO: "I'm sorry I'm turning again. It's a full moon."

YES: "Thank you for gathering the rags that were once my clothes."

NO: "I'm sorry that I'm devouring you."

YES: "Thank you for being delicious."

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Stories Our Games Tell Us at Uncanny Magazine Today!

I have an article in the new Uncanny Magazine. What a way to start out the year.

It's one of the most positive articles I've ever written. Explaining why awesome things are awesome is one of my favorite pastimes, and here I've selected seven videogames released in 2017 to illustrate how great the medium has become for storytelling. Thanks to the tireless efforts of so many geniuses, we're seeing mental illness portrayed with new depth, player choice expanding, and stories that could never have been told in any other medium. This doesn't diminish my love of literature or film. It excites me to see this medium grasping more of its potential.

I'm too excited to share a table of contents with so many writers I admire, and to have published with Uncanny, one of my favorite magazines in the world. Let me know what you think of the article.

The new Uncanny is for sale right here.

You can read the entire article for free right here.

Friday, December 29, 2017

My Best Reads of 2017

If there's one last thing I write this year, it should be about the books I loved reading. These are our inspirations to tell more and fresher stories, and sometimes these are the only things that make us want to see tomorrow. True to my brand, most of these didn't come out in 2017. Some of the authors are actually dead. But I read them this year, and damn it, Kindred is incredible.

Join me for the love of words.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

John's Publications in 2017


This was the best year of my publishing career, and I couldn't be more grateful to all the editors who've worked me with throughout it. I've already lined up a few exciting things for next year and promise to keep working as hard as I can. Despite my syndrome and depression trying their hardest, this was the best year of my publishing career. I sold more stories to pro markets, and was solicited for non-fiction more times than any other year. One of my old stories was even adapted as an Audible short! As a kid clinging to audiobooks for dear life at thirteen, I never imagined that would happen.

So I've rounded up all my publications this year in a handy guide below. Please let me know if anything particularly touched you, and as always, thank you for reading.


Fiction


"Under the Rubble" at Pseudopod, May 26

"A Silhouette Against Armageddon" at Fireside Magazine, August 1

"You Can Adapt to Anything" at Daily Science Fiction, September 15

"The First Stop is Always the Last" at Flash Fiction Online, December 1


Non-Fiction

Indie Videogames of 2017 in Glittership, Winter 2017 Issue

Evil is Not a Disability: 10 Cloverfield Lane, Donald Trump, and Don't Breathe at Fireside Magazine, June 15

BFFs in the Apocalypse at Uncanny Magazine's Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction Kickstarter, July 29


Reprints

"The Terrible" reprint at Flash Fiction Online in April

"Foreign Tongues" on Audible.com in February

Monday, December 4, 2017

"The First Stop Is Always the Last" is live at Flash Fiction Online!

Good news! I managed to sneak one more story into 2017. This is a short story about time loops plaguing a certain city bus, its driver, and its single passenger. It's one of my favorite things I've written all year, and hopefully will bring a little light to your December.

You can read The First Stop Is Always the Last for free  by clicking right here.

I want to thank Leigh Wallace and Cassandra Williams for beta reading this, and the staff at Flash Fiction Online for their warm reception. This is actually my fifth story at FFO. I never thought I'd show up there so often!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Superman Movie Outline - Written in 30 minutes


"He's boring."

"He's invincible."

"There are no good Superman stories."

I tire of people slagging this character. Superman is
a dated concept, and yet one that's quite appealing with how preposterously cynical our culture has gotten. I'm exhausted with all the claims that there's nothing left to do with him except kill him. If hope is boring, then you're telling the story wrong.

T
his led to me joke around on Twitter last night about a Superman movie that wasn't so gloomy. Something truer to the vision of Superman a lot of us hold. Things got out of hand.

Back in 2013 I played a little game: I was given thirty minutes to write as much of a Wonder Woman movie as I could. People liked it. Allan Heinberg and Patty Jenkins certainly nailed their vision this year, and if there is a good Wonder Woman movie in existence now, then why not move onto the world's most famous and least popular hero?


Here comes a Superman movie written in thirty minutes. Because these stories are *so impossible* to write.

Up, up, and away.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Halloween List: Stranger Things 2!



It's been fifteen months, but Netflix's most popular show is back. It sounds like we may not get another season until 2019, so savor this while you can. If you've watched the first season a dozen times, I recommend going into this one with moderate expectations. The second season cannot match the surprises of the first because we all love it now. Stranger Things 2 is more Stranger Things: more creepy crawlies preying on the small town, more lore of the Upside Down, and more character development for one of TV's most lovable ensembles. It's another order of that fun meal you had last time.

The season puts its weakest foot forward, taking about four episodes to really get in motion. It’s a hard contrast to the first season, which in one episode set up everyone’s motivations and half of the major plot threads. The difference is that now the Duffer Brothers know exactly how much pop culture loves their kids, and so they don’t mind having them hang out, slowly get into needless conflicts with each other, and lather up in 80s references. The slower early episodes are thickly decorated in Punky Brewster and “vintage” and KFC product placement.

In both seasons, Stranger Things is at its best when it uses its influences quietly. The first season was highly influenced by Spielberg’s E.T. and Stephen King’s Firestarter. It honored its influences by doing things like the bicycle escape scene where Eleven used her powers to save them – flipping a van rather than making the bicycles fly.

At its best, this season handles its influences in the same way. One particular episode dives deeply into visual queues from Alien and Aliens, but no one brings it up, and the outcomes are very different. In another plot thread, Dustin tries to adopt a little monster of his own, promptly feeds it after midnight, and the synth-heavy soundtrack echoes notes from the theme to Gremlins. These are homages embedded in the plot without derailing it. It’s much defter, say, than when the kids scream at a Dragon’s Lair arcade cabinet, or watch a vintage commercial for Oreos and The Terminator.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Halloween List: Stephen King's 1922 and Creep 2



Stephen King’s 1922 (2017)

After the shocking hit of Gerald’s Game, I had to watch Netflix’s other big King adaptation. I am a huge King fan. A decade ago I began limiting myself to reading one King book per year so I wouldn’t run out. Yet I honestly don’t remember this novella from Full Dark, No Stars. Even by the end of the movie, nothing shook loose.

It is certainly a King story. A loveless farm marriage threatens to break up when the wife wants to sell a large chunk of the land that’s legally hers. The husband (Thomas Jane) bides his time, then kills her and dumps the body in a nearby well, covering his tracks and manipulating their son into being an accomplice. The law wants to know where she was, and while the father keeps them away, rats have started climbing out of the well and following him.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Halloween List: Sadako Vs. Kayako (AKA: The Ring Vs. The Grudge)


Sadako Vs. Kayako (2016)
If you were expecting reviews of two modern classics, I've got a surprise for you! This isn't contrasting the two films. It's a review of the much-overlooked movie in which their monsters actually fight. This is a real movie that really happened.


This is a campy and totally amusing crossover that’s almost as perfect as Freddy Vs. Jason, and has very similar sensibilities. If you enjoy the two franchises, it’s a blast to see people thrust through the paces of both hauntings, trying to survive both having seen the haunted tape and trespassed in the forbidden house.

Some people said Sadako (Samara in the U.S.) and Kayako aren’t in much of the movie, but both show up early on, and neither franchise has ever been about the two being lingering on-screen presences. They are slow hauntings that lead towards huge catastrophes. What our heroes have to do is cross the streams – to get both ghosts to follow them, and clash, in the hopes to destroying each other and sparing the living.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Halloween List: Dog Soldiers and Area 51



Area 51 (2015)

This is the part of October where I defend Found Footage movies. This is a niche of Horror that I continue to enjoy. Sometimes one is truly awful (see: The Pyramid), but somewhere amid making the camera part of a character, letting us see the environment in ways we otherwise couldn’t, and the tease of where antagonism will come from, this approach to filmmaking gets past my defenses in ways even excellent traditional film can’t. Googling around, it seems Area 51 is universally reviled. But I had a surprisingly good time.

Yup. It’s another case of John liking an unpopular Found Footage flick!

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Halloween List: The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Bay of Blood, and Blood and Black Lace


The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (1970)

These movies have been my first exposure to Italian Giallo, a sub-genre that feels like an evolutionary link between Murder Mysteries and Slasher Films. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage follows Sam Dalmas, an American writer living abroad in Italy, who one night stumbles across an attempted murder inside a museum. Although he’s trapped in the antechamber, he manages to call the police, and then has to wait, just feet away from a woman he can’t help further.

Shockingly, the victim survives passing out from her injuries. More shockingly: she isn’t the only assault victim to live through the movie. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage doesn’t view death like a contemporary film. People survive reasonable injuries, and people like the writer are haunted by what they see. Death isn’t easy to achieve, and it’s also too weighty to shrug off. Sam can’t forget the horrible imagery, and spends the rest of his time in Italy trying to track down the attacker where the police have failed.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Halloween List: Final Destination and "Death Note"

Final Destination (2000)

This is a series I utterly missed out on in the 2000s because I was stuck-up. How lazy was it to ditch a proper Slasher killer and use an invisible hand of Death itself?

Not lazy at all, actually. The movie follows a teen whose vision of his flight exploding causing him and a few friends to leave. The plane does explode, and our teen becomes a suspect of the bombing. Meanwhile, the teens begin to die in a series of ludicrously complicated coincidences. The first features a kid slipping on water from a leaking toilet, falling into a bath tub where his neck catches on wire, and spilling shampoo under his feet so he can’t stand up. It quickly becomes apparent that Death itself is after the survivors, seeking to fix what went awry in its plan.

It’s a fun idea that fits right into the classic Slasher formula with one major change. Slashers historically thrive on either having a killer with a strong personality, or on having the identity of the killer be a mystery. Here instead we have a killer that is as absent as it is present, and one that uses entirely unconventional.

A friend called it “Rube Goldberg’s Death Traps,” and that’s apt, because the fun lies in trying to guess what things in a room are going to wind up being dangerous. Is turning on the record player going to lead to her demise? Is the electrical outlet going to short out at the right moment?

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Halloween List: The Devil's Candy, The Disappointments Room, and Lake Mungo


The Devil’s Candy (2015)

A family of Metal Heads move to a remote farm house and run into the same demon that killed the previous tenants. It’s a demon that loves the arts; it manipulated the love of music of the previous tenants’ son, and now works its way into the new tenants’ father.

My favorite facet of the movie is that the Metal Heads aren’t hard-drinking freaks; they’re misfits, sure, but they love each other, drive a cheap station wagon, and screw up in relatable ways. As they move into their idyllic little house, our soundtrack is screaming Metal. What they do is make their aesthetic feel mundane and human. It’s delightful to see the music culture applied to different life styles.

Metal Heads are people, too. And like all people, they occasionally have to repel the assault of a serial killer who hears the same voices as their father. 

The movie ramps up well after they family sets down their roots. The father, a painter of morbid art, starts feeling “the inspiration” – but an inspiration all too close to what led the previous tenant to go murderous. As the father paints disturbing scenes that even his family thinks are weird, the old killer reappears, confused how anyone else could live there. There’s high tension as both the killer and father stir up, like two kettles on one stove, and you just hope for the sake of the family that they don’t both boil over.

I’ve been harsh on most of the IFC releases that I’ve seen, but between this and Apartment 143, I’m going to have to give their catalog another look.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Halloween List: Raw and The Void


Raw (2017) (AKA Grave)

Julia Ducournau’s gift to us from French-Belgian cinema, a riveting and intimate portrait of a vegetarian who has her first bite of meat and suddenly can’t stop craving more. It’s an abrupt addiction, not a satire mocking vegetarians, but a pathological Horror story about her descent.

Justine is just starting at a veterinary school with harsh hazing rituals. Her bed is tossed out her window, and she has to crawl on her knees through the courtyard, and her seniors force her to swallow a rabbit kidney. Ever afterward she finds herself ravenous, and biting into meat on a shish kabob makes her forget the rest of the world exists. Those cravings quickly darken as she watches boys around campus. As a vegetarian, she argued human life wasn’t any more sacred than that of animals. If anything, she’s consistent.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Halloween List: It Comes at Night and The Autopsy of Jane Doe



It Comes at Night (2017)



No movie in 2017 more understands what film doesn’t have to do than It Comes at Night. It opens on a family putting down their terminally ill grandfather and burning his body in the wilderness. We don’t know what his disease is, but he is in awful shape and they are terrified of touching him.

Then we follow the family back to their boarded up house in the woods, seemingly with no one else around. They only go outside in pairs. They have strict protocols for locking and unlocking their doors. When a stranger shows up at their house in the middle of the night, they treat it with a terrified coolness, both clearly rattled that someone is out there, and forcing themselves to focus.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Halloween List: A Trip to the 70s with Duel, Frenzy, and Picnic at Hanging Rock


Duel (1971)

That Steven Spielberg sure earned his career. This was the movie that earned him Jaws, but rather than the tale of a shark, it’s one long car chase that’s truly harrowing. A salesman is out trying to make a meeting in another state when he tries to pass a slow moving truck; the truck responds by pulling ahead of him, then slowing down again. It’s a moment of impatience and tension a lot of us have driven through, but it begins a game of cat and mouse, out in the middle of nowhere, where no one can help him.

Especially for a 1970s made-for-TV movie, Duel is masterful. How do you keep such a simple film from getting visually boring? He films the cars from all angles, and ___ gives a riveting performance as a man falling behind the wheel. The use of music is sparing, often subtle, elevate the rumble of engines and the wind of the wilderness. The movie always knows when to take you in closer to our driver, or when to focus on the enigma of the truck. We never see the man that’s chasing us. There’s only his titanic vehicle.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Halloween List: Killer Dolls! Annabelle: Creation and The Cult of Chucky



Annabelle: Creation (2017)

A serious step up from the first Annabelle, and a film that generally feels closer to the universe of The Conjuring. This is a prequel explaining the tragedy in a doll maker’s family that led to the creation of the eponymous toy, and why it was possessed. After the loss of their daughter, the family opens their house as an orphanage, and we follow Janice, a disabled girl who keeps finding clues that something is amiss in their house.

One of the biggest differences between the first and Creation is that so much more happens in this movie. Both the exploration of the house and creepy events fill much more of the film, giving the kids and their loyal nun attendant agency and investment. It also holds just enough back, such as the creepy well in the back of the property, which merely has to exist in the background of a few scenes and leave you waiting for something awful to come out of it.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Halloween List: The Transfiguration and A Dark Song


The Transfiguration (2017)

I was utterly unprepared for this movie. It was an amazing get for Netflix, which scooped the film up from Cannes and recently released it on its streaming service. It’s the sort of highly poignant thing we can’t get enough of in Horror.

Milo is many things. A high school student. A son whose mother died when he was young, and whose father is long gone. He’s a serial killer who has no idea what to do with his compulsions.

Most of all, Milo is a fan of vampires. He thinks he is one, and uses their sanguine lore to rationalize his impulses and how strange he feels. He doesn’t fit in anywhere; his older brother offers no empathy, and he can’t communicate with the gangs that dominate his block. Instead he hides in his room, watching Nosferatu and Lost Boys. His notebooks are full of diagrams and lists of lore, figuring out how different vampires worked, as he tries to figure out why he is the way he is.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Halloween List: Get Out and Gerald's Game


Get Out (2017)

Surely you’ve heard of Get Out by now. The movie about an African American dating a white girl, and going to visit her parents in their creepy gated community? Where black people have been disappearing, and later reappearing as meek  community members without any memory of their old identities?

If you didn’t know, it’s good.

I was unfair to Get Out at the cinema. I made the mistake of reading writer/director Jordan Peele’s artist’s statements about how this movie would subvert tropes like why protagonists never leave the house. Artist’s statements are dangerous, and the movie doesn’t give compelling reasons for its hero to not get the hell out of there.

But there’s no reason to get hung up on details like that unless you’re holding a grudge against a film’s creators, and Jordan Peele did a hell of a job on this movie. Even in the theater, with my petty biases, I was utterly won over by the end of the movie, which has one of the most satisfying series of reveals and knockdowns in Horror history. It keeps unfolding all its mysteries and gives people some necessary receipts.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Halloween List Returns

If you felt September was too quiet around the Bathroom Monologues, then good news! October is going to be noisy. We're watching scary movies.

Like last year, I'm going to wring every last drop out of October. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and one of the best parts is watching the best in Horror. I'll be coming in at least twice a week with fresh reviews of recent and classic films. Hitchcock and Spielberg? You bet. But also Netflix's latest offerings, indie hits, and my first taste of the Italian Giallo genre.

Here's a loose idea of the posting schedule. Let me know what you think.

OCTOBER 2 Get Out, Gerald’s Game
OCTOBER 4 The Transfiguration, A Dark Song
OCTOBER 6 Annabelle: Creation, Cult of Chucky
OCTOBER 9 Duel, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Frenzy
OCTOBER 11 The Autopsy of Jane Doe, It Comes at Night
OCTOBER 13 Raw, The Void
OCTOBER 16 Devil’s Candy, Disappointments Room, Lake Mungo
OCTOBER 18 Final Destination, Death Note
OCTOBER 20 The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Bay of Blood, Blood and Black Lace
OCTOBER 23 Area 51, Dog Soldiers
OCTOBER 25 Sadako Vs. Kayako (The Ring Vs. The Grudge), Hell House LLC
OCTOBER 27 Creep 2, 1920
OCTOBER 30 Stranger Things Season 2

Naturally I'm ending the month with the return of my favorite Netflix show. But it all starts tomorrow with two of the best-reviewed scary flicks of the year: Get Out and Gerald's Game.

Join me. We're going to have some fun.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"You Can Adapt to Anything" at Daily Science Fiction

I wrote you a new story! It's live over at Daily Science Fiction, and it's called "You Can Adapt to Anything."


It follows Juniper and Miguel, two engineering prodigies who dream of being the first people to set foot in a parallel universe. The two were so alike they were almost destined to fall for each other. When they finally open that portal, they find another Juniper and Miguel, who've been working on the same project. The Junipers accidentally switch, and are stranded in alternate realities. But this isn't a bizarre land where the dinosaurs still roam over the North lost the Civil War. Our nearest neighboring universes are nearly identical to our own, just one probability variation away. So Juniper is stranded on earth just like hers, with a life that's nearly identical, trying to get back to her Miguel, and trying to ignore the identical man working beside her.

The reactions have been amazing. Thanks to everyone who's already read and shared this story. It's something I've wanted to write since I was 15.

Thanks as well to the small army of alpha, beta, and final readers who joined me in Juniper's journey. Thank you to A.T. Greenblatt, Cassie Williams, Janice Smith, Phil Margolies, David Twiddy, Laurence Brothers, and Katherine Hajer.

And thanks to Daily Science Fiction for publishing me for the third time. I do so enjoy being in their digital pages.

You can read the entirety of "You Can Adapt to Anything" for free by clicking this link.
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