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My author interview for The Living Dead 2 is up at the anthology website! Hint: I am a nerd who has complicated feelings about Coney Island.

I should probably amend this answer, though:

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I think it’s common knowledge that the human body is pretty disgusting, so the research went quickly.


While I think no one will argue that the human body is full of various squishy internal parts knocking together like sacks of pudding in a bone-jar, that is not the entirety of the research I did. I also went to Coney Island many times to research this story. And to ride the Ferris Wheel against my better judgment. And also maybe to eat funnel cake on an empty beach. (You can't prove it!)

If you want to know what kind of story comes out of eating funnel cake at Coney Island, you can check out "And the Next, and the Next" for free here.
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Wow, it has been a while since I posted. Sorry! A lot of things came due at once. I'll try to pull myself together and get back to making squawking noises about movies in the near future.

Writing news: my story "And She Shall Be Crowned According to Her Station" is live at Strange Horizons!

The first roach appears in the sink, mahogany-dark and glossy against the stainless steel. Jessie grabs a sponge and slams it down, listens for the crunch of wings.

The second roach is in the living room, crawling along the molding. Jessie waits with the vacuum until it's close enough that she can suck it up. Just before it disappears into the hose, she sees it spread its wings and point its antennae backwards like it's offended.


A warning on this one: so, so many roaches. If crawlies make you squeamish, fair warning.
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The website for The Living Dead 2 is live! There are a ton of goodies on the site, including early reviews and a series of author interviews.

I have a story in this one, and it's one of eight stories available on the site as a preview.

"And the Next, and the Next" takes place on Coney Island, home of the Warriors and the Wonder Wheel, and a place about which it's almost impossible not to have feelings of some kind. (Unless you're a zombie, I guess - and even then...)

Anyway, take a look around the site: I'm really excited to be a part of this anthology!

(Thanks to my sister for this picture. I'd dedicate the story to her, too, since she was the person who visited Coney Island with me the first time I ever went, but it seems kind of mean to be like, "So I wrote a story about the mindless, doomed hordes - and I dedicated it to you!" That'll give somebody a complex.)
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More fun writing news today: "Bespoke" is up at Podcastle! I haven't listened yet (*shakes fist at office computer's lack of speakers*), but I'm excited! Give it a listen, if you're so inclined.
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I found out this morning that my story "Light on the Water" has been nominated for A World Fantasy Award, alongside some seriously amazing work.

I am still reeling a little, but I gotta say, news like this has a way of making one's morning.

Music!

Aug. 3rd, 2010 11:45 am
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I'm guestblogging over at Ecstastic Days over the next week or so, and after a handwavey attempt to link writing and music (they are...both things that I like), I start things off with Nine Movie Composers to Know.

This is timely largely because of Inception's amazing soundtrack, by the seriously productive Hans Zimmer (composer of 8 bajillion movies), and has brought new attention to the role that a score plays in a movie. Naturally, all scores play a large part, but this one in particular gets points for the cleverness of some of its cues. (Can you tell how hard I'm avoiding spoilers here? Please, everyone, just see the movie so we can all stop hinting.)

However, I've been a score nerd pretty much ever since I was a movie nerd, and the nine composers there are far from the only ones whose stuff I hoard. Yoko Kanno, Ennio Morricone, Clint Mansell, Trevor Jones, Bear McCreary, Philip Glass, Peter Nashel, Brian Tyler, Jeanine Tesori, Stephen McKeon - basically, I had to cut it off after nine, or it would have been a six-thousand-word blog post about how awesome music is.

Instead, I'll leave you with one of my favorite pieces of movie music ever. (Both times it was used, Graeme, I see you over there recycling! You stop working for terrible TV and score a good movie this instant!)

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And she...knows how to use 'em? That doesn't even make sense. This header is falling apart!

So, the Pillars of the Earth recap is coming, I swear. (Maybe tomorrow, just in time to make you not want to watch it on Starz, since no one actually has Starz! And also because it's pretty terrible, and apparently no one but me likes watching awful things for comedy value. This is a mistake, which you'll see when I talk about Sarah Parish sexing up her onscreen son. Oh, it happens.)

In the meantime, though, some publishing news! I'm pretty stoked about this:



My story "Things to Know About Being Dead" will be in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's YA vampire anthology TEETH, alongside some seriously august company.

The final (awesome) cover is up there, the release date is set (April 2011), and the full TOC has been released - it's at Ellen's LJ for the curious (and you should be curious, because I am not kidding about august company).
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Or, if you're me, any day!

Up at Fantasy Magazine this week, I posted Ten Cheesetastic Fantasy Flicks for Summer. For once, there's no competition for which one is best, because they're all the best!

Except maybe Xanadu is the best.



(Look at those hostage eyes. Yipes.)

The thing is, some of the movies on that list are cheesy but legitimately good. The Mummy, for example, is pretty unapologetic summer-blockbuster pulp, but I've seen it quite a few times and it always holds up, because Pulpy and Bad are not synonymous, even though a lot of things that aim for Pulpy end up at Bad. (That's another essay. I'm just noting it here.) Lost Boys is awesome, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure is amazing. I'll even make a case for Earth Girls are Easy being a pretty solid flick! (Somewhere, Joseph Campbell is cringing.)

But there are some movies (...XANADU) that defy explanation.

Explaining it more doesn't help. )

(I've seen this movie like, six times. It never gets any less confusing.)

It was hard to choose a representative clip. The scene where the sisters wake up from the mural they're painted on (really happens) is pretty good. It gives the right tone for the film, both because the song makes you want to slap your ears off, and because it looks like the people actually in the scene were just as confused as anyone else, and the choreography was called out in a series of impromptu orders. ("Look at your hands! You have some hands! Have more hands! HAVE MORE HANDS.")

But I think this clip has to win.




Notes: this clip has been severely chopped, so you are missing out on the Gene Kelly-led rollerskating step routine and the part where Kira and her sisters sing this in half a dozen different styles, including Country Western, in which Michael Beck (SWAN, WHY) has to shake his shoulders like he's trying to wrench an arm out of the socket so he can be excused to the medic and just keep running and never look back.

Also, many of those sisters aren't the same sisters from the beginning of the movie. I'm just saying, that's the kind of show you're in for.

An awesome one.
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Okay, I have not even begun to settle back in from Launchpad, but I have a lot of updates and not enough time to write thoughtful intros for them (or for anything, ever), so we'll do this list-style and then I promise to bore you sometime later this week with the awesome details about making s'mores with people using only starlight for heat and marshmallows we harvested ourselves.

(This did not happen. Wyoming has no marshmallow trees, as they only thrive in the Pacific Northwest.)


1. First, fiction news! My short story "The Zeppelin Conductors’ Society Annual Gentlemen’s Ball" is up at Lightspeed Magazine!

2. I saw Inception opening weekend. I had to wait until I was in New York to do it - I dropped my suitcase at my apartment and went straight from there to the theatre - but I saw it. I will be writing more (a lot more) about this movie later, but for now, my SPOILERY review is up at Tor.com. SPOILERS. It says so in the cut-tag, but I'm direct-linking, so SPOILERS. SO MANY SPOILERS. THE TITANIC SINKS. DARTH IS LUKE'S DAD. SO MANY SPOILERS.

3. Launchpad was great. I wrote up an intro post here, with some handy links, and followed it up with Four Fun Things About the Universe, for values of "fun" that include the knowledge that if you get close to a black hole you'll be torn to shreds by gravity. Whee!


Tomorrow I should be caught up and ready to blog again. I hope. (I might just go home and sleep 12 hours. It's reverse altitude sickness!)
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And the Eclipse postmortem begins! First up: Ten Things You Should Know About Eclipse, at Fantasy Magazine. This information might just save your life. (Or, two hours. Whichever.)

4. Howard Shore did the music.
You’ll know because whenever Bella and Edward make out, it sounds like every pervert in the Shire is creeping up on them.




His hand looks like a questing, half-hidden octopus, doesn't it? (Go ahead, unsee it. I dare you.)

I have an article forthcoming at Tor.com about the franchise in general and the trend in cinematic quality (hint: yeeeeesh), and last up will be the line report and blow-by-blow, because seriously, you guys? YIKES.
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Writing news! My story "Take Four" is in issue 9 of Kaleidotrope, alongside awesome people like Jason Heller and [livejournal.com profile] rachel_swirsky. You can check out the full TOC and purchase info here.

Quick excerpt:

Marissa's walkie-talkie hissed to life. "They know the gate's sealed. Watch for them."
The city was more than two miles across, but mobs always moved faster than you thought they would, and Greg barely had time to order the second-unit to film the rising dust before the townspeople burst out of the main square in the center of the city and barreled towards the gate.


Now, back to work. There's a lot to do today before I hit the line for Eclipse. (More about this later...if I make it that long.)
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Last night, while reviewing what I've been working on in handy graphic form (which I will be doing again, because it's fun and prevents me from actually working), Inception was the last square.

Up at Tor.com today, I talk about what we know about Inception, and what Inception means.



Hint: it means that smart sci-fi movies are thin on the ground these days, and a movie pitched as cerebral sci-fi is an event in and of itself. (Seriously, the only thing emphasized in the trailer is dreams/ideas/the mind, and also how all these people look really great in nice clothes.) This strategy wouldn't have worked on a movie like, say, Moon, which was one of last year's thinkiest sci-fi movies, but too indie for its own good somehow, and it ended up coming out in about eight theatres and disappearing off the face of the earth, except for one DVD copy that I put in a time capsule to save for later.

Obviously there's no worries about that here, because Nolan made Batman cool again, which means he can basically do what he wants, forever. However, I am really hoping that this movie does not happen to suck. A lot of movies by good directors happen to suck, but when Channing Tatum gets tapped for the lead in a dimensional-sci-fi-action-romance that got suddenly greenlit because it's vaguely like Avatar, I bet a lot of good scripts are floating around that could really benefit from some box-office proof that smart sells.

I'm just saying, in a world where Ridley Scott is remaking his own Alien franchise, Spider-Man is getting a reboot THREE YEARS after the last one came out, and Avatar can win Golden Globes*, we could really use a win, here.

NO PRESSURE, INCEPTION.



* To be fair, many undeserving people have won Golden Globes.

WIPs

Jun. 24th, 2010 11:11 pm
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Please note, I apparently don't have time to write about anything in depth, but plenty of time to make graphics about what I'm doing. Mmm, logic!




1. Reference image for a story I'm working on; originally was used for a story I just finished, but this image had another purpose. (It's a worker.)

2. If I am not writing a story about someone in a coat of some kind, then I am writing a story about a post-human singularity...in which robots wear coats.

3. This looks like a still from a fantastic movie. It is, in fact, a still from One Night with the King, which is an absolutely terrible movie you will be seeing more of shortly.

4. Ditto. This is from Bathory. Not pictured: Hans Matheson painting a portrait of a baby that's been stored inside the block of ice. (Oh, it happens.)

5. This is a picture of a juggler. Technically, he's from an Anthropologie catalog, and he's probably just a juggler because Hans Matheson found another stand-in. In my imagination, he's my imaginary circus boyfriend. His name is Ben. You will probably see him again.

6. The novel currently with my agent takes place in a river city. This picture was from [livejournal.com profile] vintagephoto, and the time between me seeing it and me right-click-saving cannot be measured with modern instruments.

7. My next novel is set in the 1920s. Researching dance crazes of the time is repellent, grueling work that I absolutely do not enjoy whatsoever, but it has to be done.

8. Because it's never the wrong time to watch Gleaming the Cube.

9. Inception. I have a piece about this movie lined up for Tor.com; in the meantime, just know that Joseph Gordon-Levitt must have signed an extra wire-work clause or something.
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My nonfiction piece "The High Untresspassed Sanctity of Space" is up at Lightspeed Magazine. It's a slightly unorthodox profile of Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon.

I wanted to write a big post here about him/the space program, but I couldn't even decide where to begin. Instead, these are the three photos from the research folder that, to me, say the most.



This now-famous image was shot during Cernan's Apollo 17 mission. It's a pole!



This is Cernan, preparing to climb back into the lunar module and rendezvous with the command module. The plaque on the support pole reads, Here Man completed his first explorations of the Moon. December 1972 AD. May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind. The ladder is still on the moon.

(I will never, never get over how flimsy and fragile this looks; tin foil and some little pipes, and flags taped on.)

And this one, to which I can add nothing.



Check out the article, if you're so inclined; I know sincerity is weird, coming from me, but I think we'll all be okay.
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This weekend, I saw Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time. It was exactly as good as people have said, which means it was a complete wreck.

The saddest thing is, even if you get over the whitewashed casting, and the nonsense plot, and the laborious action scenes (save the first big one during the city raid, which was genuinely exciting), there's still nothing there. It's all so calculated and flat and recycled.

The other saddest thing is watching this cast try to sell what they had to know was a total dog. Richard Coyle managed to do a lot in his three minutes of screen time, and Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton were trying SO HARD, but it was just never going to happen. I'd like to see them in something else. (Particularly in something else that is not the sequel to this movie. Ever.)

Thing I can't find photo proof of but which is totally true: the Alamut CGI looks exactly like Mont-Saint-Michel.





Not sure why, but we'll go with it! (This was said a lot during pre-production, I expect.)

Check out the whole thing over at Tor.com.
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It sounds like an It List for the Shire (Wouldn't that be amazing? Awkwardly-posed group shots of all the Tooks and Proudfeet and Gamgees that made it that year, like a Vanity Fair spread?), but really, Nine Hobbits that Could Happen details how things are probably going to go if any of those nine directors get their hands on the material.

I'm getting really concerned about The Hobbit, actually; bad enough that it's two movies long, which is utterly unnecessary, but there are huge budget issues and production has gone on forever and they are still adrift in the casting pond and it's just turning into a mess. (Plus, one of my favorite people in the whole world, Sir Ian, is not getting any younger, and if this thing takes much longer to get off the ground he's going to be sitting in an easy chair in a lot of his shots. This is fine for Bag End, but will get iffy once we hit the woods.)

That said, I don't think Bigelow or Scott are impossible choices, and I'd watch either of those movies. Otherwise I'm just staying home and singing along with my Rankin-Bass version, which is THE JAM.
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Short WisCon report: it was great, except for the hour prior to my reading at the Lightspeed launch, where I had a more serious case of nerves than normal and ended up pacing outside like I was a screwball reporter waiting for a phone call. The reading went fine, though, and everything else was a blast.

Today at Fantasy Magazine, I run down the Top Ten Magical Realism Films, which doesn't sound quite right, but Magical Realist sounds like a wizard who's like, "Listen, I can summon the beasts of the ocean, but my day job is in Indiana, so you tell me."

One of my favorites on this list is Lawn Dogs. It's a modern fairy tale in the good sense and the bad, in that uneven way where the concepts sometimes outstrip the dialogue, and some of the visuals are awesome and some are heavy-handed. (The suburban parents are perkily banal! He's a free spirit because he dives off bridges naked!)

On the other hand, in the opening scene where Mischa Barton's character is making sugar-cookie-girl-with-raisin-bellybutton cookie drones for her Brownies equivalent, and her parents are talking about super-suburban nothing in the background, a fly lands on one of the cookies and she looks at it a moment and then grinds it into the cookie alongside all the raisins. A moment like that...sets the right tone, let's say.

I remain surprised this movie isn't more popular (though it was hard to come by for a few years, so it's not like anyone had a chance to stumble upon it). It was one of the first times I saw Sam Rockwell; I looked this up after seeing Galaxy Quest and realizing Rockwell was the guy from The Green Mile and thinking he was probably pretty awesome in his other stuff, too. (Hint: he is.)
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This week at Fantasy Magazine, the fight-fest continues with Fantasy's Top Ten Fight Scenes: The Battles.

This one was rougher than I had expected, largely because I wanted to get a range of battle scenes, and it's much easier to find a range of movies in which two characters duke it out than it is to find a range of movies where a group of people ends up having a violent engineering dispute with another group of people, and because a lot of scenes that seem like battles on the surface are actually next round's trope, One Against Many.

Anyway, you will recognize battle scenes from two of my favorite movies on that list; one of them is a legit, awesome fantasy battle (thank you, Buliwyf and various alternate-history personages), and the other I put in because it's the shit. (It's legitimately supposed to be a spec movie, so luckily it counts, but when you want a nice, low-tech battle, The Warriors is your jam no matter what.)

Next up, it'll be time for One Against Many. I may end up with twenty of those; it is apparently fantasy's favorite thing in the WORLD. (Because it's awesome.)
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So, I promise I have a Cookson and everything lined up for next week, but this week I am slammed with work on all fronts and my blog posts look like a Tumblr. I know! I'm sorry!

Two things.

1. Pre-emptive apology: If this CSI Miami intro-pun thing is not funny anymore and I am totally behind the times, somebody should tell me, because I laugh every time I run across it, no matter what. I feel suspiciously like I am that person who was the VERY LAST PERSON to give up laughing at the "WAZZZAAAAP" beer commercial.

(Note: I never actually laughed at that, because I hated it and everyone in it, but I am always wary of being the last person in the room to be like, "Have I got an amazing cutting-edge cultural reference!" and then I do a Fonzie impression and everyone's quiet for three thousand years until the building crumbles because of tectonic plate shift and I fall gratefully into an abyss.*)


via [livejournal.com profile] d_princesses


2. Speaking of really dark fairy tales that can easily become more horrifying, this week I wrote up a steampunk remake of Hansel and Gretel that's in the works for next year.

In theory, I approve (steampunk and dark fairy tales and incesty overtones, what's not to like?). However, the news that they're trolling the cast of Twilight like a suspicious old man at a Kinder Kare has me worried, because I don't know if you have noticed this, but that crew is not necessarily made up of the best actors in the world. (Or in their fifty-foot radius.) I know that movie is popular, and I understand that casting Jackson Rathbone sounds like a wise move, but I urge you to actually watch one of those movies and re-evaulate, because for real.
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Today on Fantasy Magazine is the start of a miniseries I'm pretty excited about. This is one in a series of lists that will be tackling fantasy's top ten fight scenes, in a variety of categories. And this time I'm actually counting down from ten to one, which I have never done before, and was not easy. (Don't think I love you any less, Atreyu!)

Today, we begin with The Duels.

Soon to come: one-against-many, epic battles, over-the-top campfests, etc.

And I have to say, after rewatching umpteen fight scenes to put these lists together, I'm thinking of also nominating Top Ten Physical Therapy tricks or something, because unless you're animated, these fights are grueling. (Sorry, Prince Philip.)

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Genevieve Valentine

September 2010

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