Saturday, September 24, 2005

Just received in the mail the print issue of Apex Science Fiction & Horror Digest #3 ( A reprint of my short story, "Human Resources," is included and my name is on the cover. Very cool. I'm stoked. It originally appeared in The Edge: Tales of Suspense in 2000. Alas that magazine is no more. This story is one of my favorites. I remember that I wrote it while job hunting if that tells you again.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Movies in the 1970s

Got into a conversation about movies made in the 1970s. The times were achangin' as they said. The old studios were done. And so were the codes they had abided by. Some of the great films released during the decade were The Godfather 1 and 2, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, All the President's Men, The Last Picture Show, Network, and several others.
I started thinking about the s/f genres. There had to be great films in that arena too. There were. So I picked one solid s/f film from each year and here's my list:
1970: The first year of the decade and I crapped out. The most well-received s/f film of the year was Beneath the Planet of the Apes. What a dismal way to begin. There wasn't many other choices either -- Colossus: The Forbin Project, THX-1138, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, The Scars of Dracula, or Vincent Price's Cry of the Banshee. Terrific decade, lousy year for s/f films.
1971: Clockwork Orange -- whether you like the film or don't, to write in the genre you have to know it. That and name another movie where the viewer feels pity for a totally despicable (but fascinating) character like Alex?
1972: Deliverance -- Women shake their heads when guys mention this terrifying film. Women have been raped and abused in countless movies for years. Make one movie where a man gets raped and guys go buggy. Women don't understand. I'm not going to debate the reasoning. I'll lose. Still, watch the reaction when you say to a guy, "I want you to squeal like a pig."
1973: The Exorcist -- This film is still on most horror film lists as the scariest movie ever made. I've never much cared for it. Didn't give me the rush I want from a horror film. My brother went to church the day after he saw it. A very influential film. Period.
1974: Young Frankenstein -- There's two words that sum up this movie for me (and put a smile on my face). "Abby Normal."
1975: Jaws -- The first summer blockbuster. An edge-of-your-seat, rollercoaster ride. Spielberg's first hit. It's cool. And yeah, we need a bigger boat.
1976: Taxi Driver -- Think this movie shouldn't be on this list. Wrong. This is a view of Hell on Earth and Travis Bickle is our guide. Riveting.
1977: A tie. Okay, Star Wars is one of the most popular movies ever made. It was a cultural event. I saw it in the theatres more than once. I own the DVD. It is a really fun damn movie. But on the downside, special effects have replaced character development and cool dialogue in movies and it's Stars Wars' fault. Also released in '77 was Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Adult scifi of the best kind.
1978: Another tie -- the ultimate zombie movie and the first slasher fim and both are terrific. Dawn of the Dead and Halloween. (Note: some might argue that Psycho is the first slasher film and Hitchcock's legacy is definite and without question but the John Carpenter movie started the trend that still continues today.)
1979: Alien -- The haunted house scenario in outer space and one of my favorite horror films. It's totally cool. Just one thing -- Ripley, leave the cat!
Anyway, it's late. I'm exhausted. Check out these films if you haven't seen them or if you haven't seen them in a while.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Left: The cover artwork for my alternate history-thriller, Rebel Nation. Now available from . It's received solid reviews so far.

Received word from Jason Sizemore, publisher and editor of Apex Science Fiction and Horror, that the contributor copies of Issue Three have been mailed. My short story, "Human Resources," is included and I'm thrilled to be part of this new zine.

Other than that, not much happening. I keep mulling over ideas for my next venture. Life (and work) keep interrupting. Oh, well, that's just the way it is. However, Mark and I were spitballing and one idea definitely has legs. We'll see if it goes any further.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Returned from a week's vacation in Duluth, Minnesota. Enjoyable. Different culture than I'm used to in Southern California. Nice people. Don't know if I could handle six months (or more) of snow every year though.

Anyway, I thought the movie deal was going to collapse while I was gone. Way of the world. But it appears to be progressing. Contracts are being written. Perhaps this will happen afterall.

Also received a note fromthe reader at Interzone magazine that my s/f story, "The One-Hundred Lives of Dorian Echo," was being sent to the editorial board for consideration.

Possibilities abound.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Wow. I am still … what’s a good word … “stunned”. There we go. That’s the word. I’ll tell my good news in a moment.

I started writing stories in grade school. I write short stories, non-fiction articles, novellas, novels, and screenplays. The majority of the stories have been in the speculative fiction genre. I sold my first short story, a horror tale called “Blood Alley” in 1997 to a small magazine called Nightmares. I was paid $10.00. I was thrilled. I never cashed the check. The magazine folded before my story was published. Way of the world.

While growing up—and I haven’t finished growing up yet—I always loved the movies. The western is my favorite genre. But I loved the s/f world too. I watched and re-watched movies like Fantastic Voyage, Forbidden Planet, House of Wax, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Jason and the Argonauts, Mysterious Island, Planet of the Apes, Psycho, Them!, The Thing, War of the Worlds and the James Bond series. {Sidebar: One of my favorite all-time moments is in Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. The Monster is chasing Bud and Lou. They push a heavy bed in front of a door then lean into it with their entire body weight and … the door opens the other way! :)}

{Second sidebar: I still clearly remember being allowed to accompany my older cousins to the movies one Saturday afternoon. This was a major event. I wasn’t a “baby” anymore. They took me to see Boris Karloff in Black Sabbath. I had nightmares for years after seeing that film but I never told my folks because they wouldn’t have let me go with the guys again.}

On television I watched Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Time Tunnel, and The Wild, Wild West. Later I would be addicted big-time to The X-Files (at least until Duchovny left). {Another sidebar: The day before our wedding, Annie and I snuck off to see the X-Files movie that had just been released. Addicted, yep.}

In books I read Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Jack Finney, and Robert McCammon.

Today, in my DVD library, the s/f section is larger than even the western section. (Okay, I own way too many movies but that’s another issue.) There are classics like the first three (or is it the middle three?) Star Wars films, the Indiana Jones movies, Alien, Aliens, Jaws, Jurassic Park and The Terminator. But some of the movies I watch again and again are not classics. They are just kick-ass, fun movies – The Deep Blue Sea, Deep Rising, Dog Soldiers, Field of Dreams, The Green Mile, Hellboy, Independence Day, Predator, The Relic, and Tremors. I just picked up copies of The Changeling, The Exorcist III, and Waterworld.

Okay, back to my news. About “five” years ago, I caught up with an old friend from our novel workshop days. Mark “Arachnid” Sevi had sold over fifteen screenplays. Among his credits are Serial Killer, Excessive Force II: Force on Force, Sci-Fighters, Relentless II: Dead On, and Arachnid. His latest work, Pterodactyl, is the highest rated original movie to be on SciFi Channel.

Mark and I have co-written a handful of screenplays together. The latest is a sci-fi horror tale called The Nest. The story has no political or philosophical agenda other than to be an edge-of-the-seat, scare-your-socks-off, fun time. We enjoyed writing it. We are a good team.

On Friday, Mark called me. A production company wants to buy The Nest. They want to make a movie out of it. Stunned. Disbelieving. Whoa … this is way too cool. I am enjoying the moment. If nothing else happens, if the whole thing crashes-and-burns later, I am enjoying this moment. Yep.

Now I’m going to go kick back and watch a movie. When the screenwriter credit comes up I’m going to picture:

Screenplay by
Mark Sevi & Christopher Stires

Oh, yeah, I am enjoying the moment.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The news from the Gulf has been devastating and heart-breaking. I intend to go this morning to the Blood Bank and donate. Also I will give to the Red Cross for Hurricane Relief. Have to do something.

Last night I couldn't watch the news any longer. Needed a break. I put Shane into the DVD. An old 50's western but done very well. For a short time I was transported to another time and place. A place where right and wrong were clear-cut and good triumphed over evil.

A new day begins....