Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z=Zenith


Here we are at the end of the A to Z Challenge.  We started this month with the hope of launching the IWSG anthology Parallels: Felix Was Here into the stratosphere, and only time will tell if we succeeded.  Who knows where the anthology will be when it reaches its zenith?  We, the ten authors who’ve contributed to this book, can only hope that those who do read it find an enjoyable and thought provoking experience within its pages.

Dive into worlds where memories may be sacrificed for the sake of utopia, where drug trials are unregulated, where cures for diseases may bring about even worse consequences, and people are sorted into groups, inevitably leaving a few who don’t fit nicely within any one box to fend for themselves.  Experience the horrors of looking into the eyes of a serial killer every day and exploring the memories of the dead.  See a society where all but a few people are interconnected by a worldwide network, or another where the internet can be explored through a virtual reality interface.  Experience the magic of creatures folded from paper coming to life and the unsettling feeling of being haunted by that which never was.

There’s a wide variety of stories to read, and odds are that you’ll find something that will entice and intrigue you.

The release date is fast approaching!  May 3rd is just around the corner.  It's this coming Tuesday, in fact!  Are you excited?  I know we are!



Don’t forget!


Every comment gives you a chance to win one of ten copies of Parallels: Felix Was Here!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for . . .

Image Source: WikipediaTsukioka Yoshitoshi, The Heavy Basket, 1892. From the Thirty-six Ghosts series. 9.25" x 14.25". The print depicts a number of monsters attacking an old woman. 

Yūrei, or figures in Japanese folklore analogous to Western ghosts. After death, the soul, or reikon, leaves the body and enters purgatory while the proper funeral rites are observed. If all goes well, the reikon becomes a protector of the living and returns each August to receive thanks at the Obon Festival.

If the person dies in a sudden or violent way such as murder or suicide, the reikon can transform into a yūrei, which will return to the physical world. (Wikipedia)

Successful horror films based on yūrei include Ju-On (The Grudge), Ringu (The Ring), Pulse, and Dark Water.

I’ve only seen The Ring. How about you?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for . . .



X-Files! This is one of the most successful speculative fiction, or science fiction, TV and movie franchises ever.

The X-Files debuted on September 10, 1993 and would run for nine seasons, spawn two major motion pictures, and make a comeback to television in 2016 with a six-episode season.

Created by Chris Carter, the show starred David Duchovny as true believer Agent Fox Mulder, a man haunted by the abduction of his sister under extremely odd circumstances. He’s relegated to the bowels of the FBI, investigating cases involving paranormal phenomena.

But Mulder’s plain brilliant, so the powers that be send in no-nonsense, skeptic and M.D. holding, Dana Scully, played by Gillian Anderson, to debunk Mulder’s nonsense and get him back to “real” cases.

Despite being quite attractive, the pair somehow manages to make it through several seasons before becoming romantically involved. Good thing because love between a show's stars can destroy a series quicker than an alien ray gun. (Anyone remember Moonlighting?)

The X-Files kept audiences coming back for more with a continuing conspiracy involving an alien takeover of Earth and the evil Smoking Man in addition to stand-alone Monster-of-the-Week episodes.

One such episode, Season Four’s Home, was so disturbing that the FOX Network did not rerun it. Ever.


Are you an X-Files fan? Have a favorite Monster-of-the-Week Episode?

If you'd like to learn about the science behind The X-Files, please visit my other blog: www.tamaranarayan.com.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W = War



War has served as a major plot device in several works of alternative history. As the catalyst behind the branch into alternative timelines in many of those works, it has driven some of our most interesting takes on our past, present and future

Ground Zero is set roughly 30 years after a Third World War. In it the Cold War between the US and USSR had escalated into a brief but deadly exchange of nuclear firearms. The soviet nation was all but obliterated as a result, while the city of New York was destroyed by a salted bomb that also transformed much of the American east coast into an irradiated wasteland.

The story explores the aftermath of the war, and how it had shaped the lives of the survivors living just outside Ground Zero. Theirs is a world that must be explored through the safety of hazmat suits, but it is ultimately one that is quite familiar, although hauntingly so.

Ground Zero is just one of the 10 stories featured in the IWSG Anthology, and I sincerely hope you enjoy reading them all, when the anthology launches next week.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V = Victory

Victories should be included in every tale. Don't get me wrong, I'm not implying you must have a happy ending, but if the main character never succeeds at anything, never accomplishes anything, then the story will become stale and fall flat.

Sometimes victory comes at great cost. These victories are a great way to add tension to your story.

In "WIN", my main character sees first hand what victories can accomplish, and cost, people.

All ten tales in our anthology show great examples of victories, some of them small ones, some of them larger, and some of them still being struggled towards.

What are some of your favorite examples of victory in stories?

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Unknown


U is for Unknown

Hello everyone, Mel here.

In Speculative Fiction, as with most genres, the unknown is the driving force of the story. It is the most effective weapon in the writer’s arsenal. If used rightly, the reader is left with no choice but to turn pages at a frantic pace until, finally, they get to that last page when all mysteries are solved, all questions answered, all unknowns known— unless, of course, there’s a sequel.  J

My contribution to this work, Haunted, uses this tool more than any other story I’ve written. The mystery remains until the last line of the last page.  Sorry, no spoilers here—I want you to enjoy the unknown.
 
 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T = Tippecanoe and Terror

Cherie Reich and Sandra Cox are here today and are sharing excerpts from their stories "Folds in Life and Death" and "Rainers," respectively, in the forthcoming Parallels: Felix Was Here anthology.


The Curse of Tippecanoe, also known as Tecumseh's curse, is a historical curse placed upon the presidency, starting with President Harrison and seemingly ending with President Kennedy, although both President Reagan and President Bush (George W.) survive assassination attempts. In "Folds in Life and Death," I pondered what if Reagan hadn't survived and what that would mean with the new President elected in 2000. Here is an excerpt from "Folds in Life and Death" by Cherie Reich.

T is for Tippecanoe

“Thank you, Sarah.” John Kelly stood not far from the White House. A gust of wind blew his suit jacket against his lean frame. Behind him, dark smoke trailed from the destruction. Other TV crews crowded along a police barrier. “As you can see, smoke billows from the remains of the West Wing. Paperists search for souls. According to sources, a drone slipped under the radar and plummeted toward the White House. The explosion occurred after one o’clock. We await word on whether or not President Moore and his family survived. Until further notice, the FAA has grounded all aircraft except official military ones.”

Allyson jumped to her feet and headed to the foyer to grab her coat, keys, and purse. As a Paperist, she could help locate souls. As the President’s sister, she needed to be in Washington, DC.

The Curse of Tippecanoe struck again. She warned her brother Charlie not to run for the 2000 Presidency. Since 1840, every President elected every twenty years had died in office. The most recent victim of the curse occurred in 1981 with the assassination of President Reagan. Was her brother dead? Did Tecumseh and his brother, Tenskwatawa, kill another President?

Her hand touched the doorknob, but she didn’t turn it. Should she go to Washington, DC? If she didn’t run into any traffic along the way, a car trip would take her four hours. Alive or not, Charlie wouldn’t want to see her.

AND


Terror~Intense, sharp, overmastering fear. An instance or cause of intense fear or anxiety. (dictionary.com). Here is an excerpt from Sandra Cox's "Rainers."

T is for Terror

Grrr. Two pair of glowing eyes stared at me in the dark. 

My blood crystallized in my veins, the only thing flowing through them…terror.     

Backing up, my shoulder blades hit the jagged edges of the cavern wall. My vision adjusted enough to make out a gray wolf and her pup a few feet away, her lips drawn back in a snarl.

She growled again, then crouched. 

My hands on the rough interior surface, I inched backward along the wall, going deeper into the cavern.

Grrr. She sprang.

I took off into the darkness, racing for all I was worth, my heart pounding so hard I was afraid it would burst loose from my body.

She’s gaining on me. Fear screamed through me. Up ahead a shaft of light flickered from an indention in the cavern wall. The air wheezing out of my lungs, I lunged for it, stretching out my aching legs as far as they would go. Pushing for one last burst of speed, I jumped into the narrow cleft. 

***

Every comment gives you a chance to win one of ten copies of Parallels: Felix Was Here.

Don't forget to visit the other participants in the A-Z Challenge.

Friday, April 22, 2016

S = Sunrise

S is for Sunrise

Did you know that clean air is the main ingredient in brightly colored sunrises and sunsets? Or that ordinary sunlight is composed of a spectrum of colors that grade from violets and blues at one end to oranges and reds on the other. Did you know that if not for the fact that the human eye is more sensitive to blue light than to violet, the clear daytime sky would appear violet instead of blue.

I found this article most interesting. I hope you do too!

by Stephen F. Corfidi


Stephen F. Corfidi's article explains where the colors of a sunrise or sunset come from and in a way easy to understand. Please follow the link to read more.


A sunrise is something the inhabitants of Ever-Ton haven't seen in years.

Yolanda Renée © 2015



Yolanda Renée

Excerpt:

Homemade flowers, along with wiry trees, lined the broken cobbled streets. Ever-Ton, the biggest dome-covered metropolis in the Himalayas, had lost its luster. Workers used to keep it clean; now they worked on building the resources for the new world. The dome, once translucent, now looked like a mud-covered window. I'd never experienced the sun's rays, breathed air that wasn't manufactured or tasted water from a spring.
Donning sunglasses against the artificial sunlight, I hurried to NWAO headquarters to find a crowd waiting to take the tour of the latest and most modern spacecraft, named Sunrise.
***

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

A to Z: Double R Day



Double R Day
Rabies and Rainers


Rabies:
“an infectious disease of dogs, cats, and other animals, transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected animal and usually fatal if prophylactic treatment is not administered: caused by an RNA virus of the rhabdovirus group; hydrophobia.”
Dictionary.com
Rainers:
“Pubescent children, infected by a rabies mutation, that are drawn outdoors when it rains, the indigo mucus secretion from their eyes, mouth and nose deadly.”
Sandra Cox
Excerpt From Rainers

“I’ve gotten way off topic. You were telling me about Rainers.”
“Rabies had gotten so out of hand…”
I interrupted again.  “Didn’t you vaccinate?”
He gave me a look that radiated impatience. “Of course. We even put out salt blocks with serum for the wildlife, but the disease became resistant to our cure. Our scientists were desperate and came up with a strong airborne anti-pathogen to kill it. It had side effects but nothing could be worse than watching people die from rabies. Or so they thought.”
I held up a hand to stop him. “But don’t you have shots for rabies?” Pressure built between my eyes. I was getting confused.
“We tried that. You have no idea how strong the strain was. Nothing annihilated it.  So the scientists figured they had nothing to lose.” He snorted and shook his head. “All the anti-pathogen did was mutate the virus.” He waved toward the window. “You’ve seen the results.” He gave a bark of laughter that held no humor. “But we did get rid of rabies in its original form.”
“I’m sorry.”
He shrugged. “Not your problem.”
A chill crawled up my spine and settled at the base of my skull. “It could be though, couldn’t it?”
His chin jerked up, his expression arrested. “If you are telling the truth and not totally delusional, yes, I suppose Rainers could find their way into your world.”
“The,” I cleared my throat, “Rainers that you shot were all children.”
“Pubescent children. It’s a weird disease. If the stuff gets on an adult or young child, that person will be dead within hours. But pubescents act as hosts. The disease will live out its short life and when it dies, it takes its host with it, the death agonizing.”
The chill on my neck deepened going straight to the bone. “My sister is twelve.”
“Then you better hope I find a cure or no Rainer finds its way to your world.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q = Quelled the Queasiness


Those pesky emotions when people you love have died is striking Allyson Moore again in this excerpt from "Folds in Life and Death" by Cherie Reich.

Q is for Quelled the Queasiness

Peterson paused at an elevator and pushed the button. The doors slid open, and he placed his hand against the side to keep them from closing. “The children are two floors down, ma’am.”

“Down?” She entered the elevator.

“Yes, ma’am.” Peterson stepped inside and scanned a card. “They constructed this building to withstand a nuclear explosion. Several key government officials will remain here until the threat level lowers.”

The elevator went down, and her stomach flipped. Was the new President here? She looked toward the lieutenant. “Has someone informed the children that their parents… you know?”

She couldn’t say were dead without crying again.

“No, ma’am.” He focused straight ahead. “We thought a family member should be here.”

“Okay.” How could she break the news? Her stomach flopped again, and several deep breaths quelled the queasiness.

***

Every comment gives you a chance to win one of ten copies of Parallels: Felix Was Here.

Click here for the other blogs participating in the A-Z Challenge.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Pharma

Hallo everyone! Hart here. If you've been following along this month, you may recall that on the D-day (D is for Deceit), I promised to tell WHO was doing the DECEIVING in The Seventeen... Even if you HAVEN'T been, you probably have the gist now...
See!  They OOZE Evil!!!

At the risk of getting political, Pharma is a FAVORITE villain of mine... I tend to find the industry borders on evil even without the suspension of disbelief called forth in fiction (profits before people annallat), but add in just a small twist and BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! True rottenness. I've used Pharma as the primary villain before—in A Shot in the Light—but in that case it was a few people within who were the bad actors. In the case of The Seventeen, it is more a structural or institutional reality—the lack of rules is what enables a greedy industry to run rough-shod over people. What about you? Do you have a pet industry or group you like to think of as “the great evil”? Any pharma defenders out there? Any plans to raid your local pharmacy in the event of an apocalypse? (seems to be the thing to do, eh?--anti-biotics most commonly)