Why do magical girls exist? Whose great cosmic plan involves putting preteen and teenage girls into dangerous battles against inhuman enemies for minimal gain? And why the hell are the little critters that bring the pretty transformation items so stinking cute and happy?
Madoka Magica, an anime written for television by Gen Urobuchi (creator of the equally subversive Psycho-Pass), takes a rather cynical approach to the magical girl genre. Madoka is a painfully average middle school student. There is nothing special about her except her level of empathy and kindness. A new girl, Homura, transfers into the school at an odd time of year and starts a strange relationship with Madoka. Then, Madoka and her best friend Sayaka meet a cat-like creature named Kyubey who promises them one wish if they agree to fight against witches as magical girls. The dream is obviously too good to be true since every magical girl they encounter begs them to stay away.
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This weekend at ConnectiCon, I debuted two brand new panels. The 18+ panel was called Lovecraft on the Silver Screen. It was an exploration of the best and the worst attempts to bring H.P. Lovecraft’s stories to film.
Unfortunately, there were some major tech issues during the panel and the projector kept freaking out, preventing any of the full videos from playing. I want to thank everyone who came and stuck with the panel that largely turned into a lecture with guest appearances by convention A/V staff trying to fix everything from muted audio to the blue screen of death.
Below the jump, I’ve embedded the full PowerPoint presentation as well as the videos from the panel in order. You can read along if you choose or just jump straight to the videos for NSFW Lovecraftian madness.
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I love it when my interests and needs can actually cross over. I watched The Call of Cthulhu as the last piece of my Lovecraft on the Silver Screen panel (this Saturday at ConnectiCon, come say hi) and knew it would also work for Horror Thursday. It’s the first (and probably only) time I’ve reviewed a short for the column. To be fair, at 45 minutes long, it is structured and feels like an actual feature film. It’s also surprisingly good.
Horror Thursday: The Call of Cthulhu
I had to break my trend of reviewing the weekly theme film for the Cinefessions Summer Screams Challenge this week. I just don’t see eXistenZ as a horror film.
Now Curse of the Cat People. That’s a great horror film. Such nuance. Such life. Such beauty. Such a terrifying recitation of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Horror Thursday: Curse of the Cat People
That’s right, good people. I will be presenting my long-gestating panel Lovecraft on the Silver Screen at ConnectiCon 2014. This is a panel looking at the best and worst of Lovecraft films. We’ll be discussing the challenges of adapting Lovecraft’s weird fiction to visual media and all sorts of good stuff. Clips will be shown. And Pacific Rim will be showcased because it is Guillermo del Toro’s Lovecraft film. Period.
The panel is tentatively scheduled for Saturday night, 12 July, from 9:30-10:30. The room is huge (250 people), so please stop by if you’re at the con. Details.
I’m a wealth of book reviews this week. This is the third Georgina Kincaid book I’ve read for Cannonball Read and it had a lot to chew on for such a fast read. Richelle Mead knows how to write good characters and isn’t afraid to let a monster from folklore or mythology actually be a monster.
Dream a Little Dream (A Robert CBR6 Review)
Peter Jackson returns to J.R.R. Tolkien’s immersive Middle Earth for the second of three films inspired by The Hobbit. In The Desolation of Smaug, Gandalf sends the brave dwarves and the sneaky Bilbo Baggins off on their own again to reach Erebor before the keyhole to the former dwarf castle will be hidden for another year. Bilbo’s team encounters a less than hospitable kingdom of familiar Elves while Gandalf sets out to stop the rise of the Necromancer before the world is overrun by darkness.
Unlike An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug is not afraid of going darker with The Hobbit. It mostly works. The story has already been stretched out and altered so much that the lighter tone in the funnier scenes acts as a nice buffer for the darker visuals and action sequences.
Even though Bilbo is not front and center in the second chapter, it’s still very much Bilbo’s story. At the start of The Desolation of Smaug, he almost shows Gandalf the ring he stole from Gollum in the last film but chooses not to. The sneaky hobbit hired to sneak is now harboring a deep secret. Gandalf clearly knows, but no one else does. And as Bilbo uses the ring more to go about undetected, he starts to become more aggressive. He’s not comfortable with that at all.
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Buy for Kindle. Buy for iOS. Buy at Smashwords.
Friends, professors, and family have told me for years that I should just take the plunge and self-publish some of my fiction. I resisted for a number of reasons. The organizations I dreamed of joining as a child–like the SFWA and HWA–did not count self-published work toward membership requirements. Any research I did into self-publishing 10 years ago when the suggestions first started said it wasn’t as reputable and there was no market for it. I was terrified of putting my work out there unfiltered without the approval of a big pro-rate magazine or publisher.
I’ve watched as the market for horror, dark fantasy, and bizarre sci-fi short stories has contracted steadily over the past decade. Every time I went to submit a new story through the usual suspects, there were fewer publications showing up for the line-up. New magazines would pop up, accept my work, then fold after their first issue (when I was slated for the second or third). Digital only publications, as a rule, believe that just being kind enough to publish your short story on their WordPress site is payment enough; it’s really not.
I can’t live being afraid of showing off my work anymore. The immense popularity of Kindle, Nook, and eBook apps means that stigma over self-publication is gradually fading away. Even the Horror Writers Association is allowing self-published works to be considered for their annual Bram Stoker Awards now. That is when I knew I needed to finally put my work out there on my own.
Take Out & Other Stories: A Collection of Weird Fiction is my first ever short story capsule collection. Continue reading →