Review: Writers of the Future Volume 32

I love the stories in this anthology! There’s quite a range in style and variety, all of them intriguing in their own way, and that’s what I always love about the Writers of the Future works. I’ve enjoyed these stories and highly recommend this collection to aspiring writers and lovers of sci-fi and fantasy alike.

I want to highlight “Cry Havoc” by Julie Frost in particular. I know Julie from various Utah conventions and conferences over the years, and am delighted to see her make it into this collection after so much hard work and persistence submitting to the Writers of the Future contests. I’ve been meaning to keep a promise to write a formal review of her story (or, at least, the anthology) for a while.

“Cry Havoc” is a tale of revenge and redemption through the eyes of a werewolf named Nate who has seen the last of his pack mates taken out by a hunter’s silver bullet. Hunters and werewolves have a special kind of feud that the law turns a blind eye to, and Nate goes on a killing spree to wipe out the people he views as a threat to his existence–with one very clever twist of events that unfolds right at the end. This story sets a tone that is both intense and full of heart. It was unique and so much fun to read. I can only imagine that Julie’s full-length novel Pack Dynamics carries on her fabulous storytelling style with the werewolves she writes best.

Congratulations Julie! And to all the authors in this collection–great work. Your voices are all so different and I’m excited to see what else you all come out with as your careers flourish.

You can purchase a copy of Writers of the Future Volume 32 here on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Writers-Science-Fiction-Anthology-Presents-ebook/dp/B01BILD682.

March Updates: SLCC FanXperience Schedule & Redneck Eldritch Anthology

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be on two awesome panels for Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience, taking place March 24-26 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. If you’re going to this amazing fan event, please do come listen to me, and to other authors and artists, as we discuss the Real Science in Science Fiction and the Universe of H.P. Lovecraft! The more people we have attending our panels, the more inclined event orchestrators will be to bring back these topics–and us contributors–again next year. So join us! And if you come to my panels, I might just bring some squishy foam brains to toss out that shamelessly plug my author blog. More on that later…

Here is my schedule!

  • Thursday, March 24 — 5:00 PM: Real Science in Sci-Fi Literature and Film (Room 255F)
    Charlie Pulsipher, Sarah E. Seeley, John Steiner, Eric Swedin, Howard Tayler

  • Saturday, March 26 — 8:00 PM: “Not Meant to Voyage Far”: Sceince in the Universe of H.P. Lovecraft (Room 255B)
    Nathan Croft, Sean Hoade, Sarah E. Seeley, Nathan Shumate, Eric Swedin, David J. West

Isn’t the shout-out artwork for these panels gorgeous? I’m so excited! And I will be selling books all three days at the Xchyler Publishing booth (Booth#ToBeDetermined in the vendors room). You can find more info by visiting saltlakecomiccon.com or browsing the panels here: http://saltlakecomiccon.com/fanx-2016-schedule/. I also keep my schedules for various events under my Events tab.

Oh, yes, and I mentioned squishy brains… Come to my panels, and the Xchyler Publishing booth, and I may give you a little souvenir that will look something like this (haven’t quite decided on the final design yet) (Now showing the updated design). I’ll even sign it for you, if you’d like–no purchase necessary! If you’re not into brains, no worries–I will also have a variety of bookmarks that shamelessly plug my fiction available for you to take at your leisure. 🙂

~*~

Redneck Eldrtich News

In honor of the forthcoming Redneck Eldritch anthology, a collection of Lovecraftian horror novelettes and shorts set in abandoned mines, small towns, weird trucks, creepy outhouses, and questionable swimming holes, Cold Fusion Media will be releasing story “sneak peeks” on their blog once a week until the collection comes out. You can check out the first sampler, “A Hole in the World” by Ian Welke, here: http://coldfusionmedia.us/redneck-eldritch-sneak-peek-a-hole-in-the-world-by-ian-welke/.

(“Signal Boost is Appreciated” Cover Concept Art by Carter Reid)

The anthology is expected to come out in time for the World Horror Convention at the end of April. My story, “Mine of the Damned Gods,” is a [Lovecraftian-redneck] retelling of Oedipus Rex that will appear in this collection alongside stories by several fine authors, including D.J. Butler, Garrett Calcaterra, Jaleta Clegg, Robert J. Defendi, Steve Diamond, David Dunwoody, Eric Jepson, Robert Masterson, Nathan Shumate (our collaborator), Scott William Taylor, Brad R. Torgersen, David J. West, SM Williams, and more. (I’ll let you know if a sample of my story is selected to go up on the Cold Fusion Media site so you can go check it out).

Thank you to all my friends and followers who keep up with me here on my blog and my social media accounts. Your support means the world to me, and I’m off to a very exciting start this year.

Presenting Leading Edge, Issue 67 3/4

Leading Edge, Issue 67 3/4 is live! My poem, “Dying Breath,” appears in this issue. To celebrate, today I wore my dragon and quantum duck t-shirt (the new logo for LE).


This special issue includes stories from current and former LE staff members. All material was contributed to help raise funds for this wonderful student-run magazine.

Leading Edge has prepared many BYU students for careers in editing, speculative fiction writing, business, design, and leadership throughout the years. My publication, “Driveless” (Issue 66), allowed me to qualify for affiliate membership in the HWA. When I was invited to submit a piece for consideration for this issue over the summer, I was thrilled. I love this student-run organization, and it is a pleasure to be included in their magazine once more.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas eve. Thanks to my friends, family, followers, and peers for your support and your enthusiasm in all the writing-related endeavors I’ve been involved in. Check out the magazine’s latest issue, and help out a great student organization!

The print version of Issue 67 3/4 is available here: http://amzn.com/1522845631
And the Kindle version is available here: http://amzn.com/B019PLD9CK

For more information about Leading Edge, pop by their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Leading-Edge-121611559628/
Or their website: www.LeadingEdgeMagazine.com.

Thoughts on “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often thought to be a cautionary tale about taking science too far. Yet, there are practically no details of how the monster was created like I might expect to find in a modern work of science fiction. We see Frankenstein collecting body parts (described pretty much just that vaguely), and his emotional reactions to that task. What Frankenstein creates and how he creates it aren’t the main shock value of the story at all. No dead bodies are stuffed with bolts and manually cranked up on a platform by a hunchbacked assistant during a lightning storm. Instead, the cautionary tale seems to have a much more human, rather than technical, implication.

While H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft, Michael Crichton, and more recent authors and movie producers tend to emphasize a theme of “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should,” that lesson never made sense to me when applied to real science or other things in life. Particularly when I live in a culture that praises concepts like “you can do anything you put your mind to,” “knowledge is power,” and “the sky’s the limit.”

In Shelley’s novel, knowledge is a vice. Or, rather, knowing enough to mess around with something but failing to plan or take responsibility for the unexpected consequences is a vice. It seems that Frankenstein’s utter lack of understanding as to what exactly he had created and how he might deal justly with his creation are what made the story so tragic. If he had known more, if he had explored further and come to understand more fully his creation from the beginning instead of letting it wander away and hoping it would go extinct, it might never have become a monster at all. Nor appeared as one to its creator, whatever “deformities” it possessed. Frankenstein turned away from his thirst for knowledge and understanding too soon. Or, perhaps, he had already turned away from a true and honest pursuit of understanding in favor of his own glory or “ambition” long before his creation came to be.

That probably isn’t what Shelley meant. She lived closer to a time when it was thought some things were not meant to be explored or explained by human minds, though this usually held supernatural connotations as well. And that brings me to the broader and rather powerful lesson that I believe Frankenstein actually presents. It’s about taking anything too far. Frankenstein’s ambition or self-glorification in trying to bring back the dead wasn’t so much “playing God” in the sense of trying to unlock the mysteries of Creation, or explore something interesting that no one has explored before, or gaining mortal power over death. It was, rather, a sort of self-idolatry.

Frankenstein’s thirst for knowledge was not his fatal flaw, then, I would argue. The fatal mistake was elevating his ambitions above and at the expense of things that really, primally mattered: his integrity, his health, his joy, his family, and all loving relationships with other human beings. The monster’s appearance in this story is nebulously described in value-based terms: “hideous,” “uncouth,” “miserable wretch,” etc. That creature is therefore a symbol of human negligence. The consequence, without any sort of intervening Christ figure in the story to restore Frankenstein and all who would be afflicted forever by this one mistake the man could not recompense on his own, whatever his efforts to do so, is that this particular monster born of self-glorification would rob that man of all he held dear. It would leave him miserable, alone, and psychologically damned like unto the monster itself. (Frankenstein’s monster did compare himself to Satan numerous times, so this seems a fitting metaphor).

I loved the milieu descriptions, the characters; and the fact that the character Frankenstein came from a warm, loving, functional family rather than a broken home life (another part of what made the story tragic). Some of the descriptions, particularly of people’s life stories, have that old-fashioned pacing that I find a bit cumbersome (I’m not cut out to enjoy Classics, apparently). But the relationship tension is riveting. The mounting twists of horror are heart-wrenching. Super depressing book, but it’s definitely worthwhile.

I recommend the audio version narrated by Dan Stevens, which you can find here on Audible: http://www.audible.com/pd/Classics/Frankenstein-Audiobook/B00FQRCM9O.