Monday, October 25, 2010

Storyblogging Carnival coming up

The next Storyblogging Carnival will go up on Monday, November 8th. If you use your blog to share your fiction, then the Storyblogging Carnival is your opportunity. Here we host any and all forms of storytelling in blog format. If you're curious about what this looks like, have a look at some examples of previous storyblogging carnivals.

If you'd like to participate, please e-mail your story submissions to me at dscrank-at-alum-dot-mit-dot-edu (or post in my comments), including the following information:
  • Name of your blog
  • URL of your blog
  • Title of the story
  • URL for the blog entry where the story is posted
  • (OPTIONAL) Author's name
  • (OPTIONAL) A suggested rating for adult content (G, PG, PG-13, R)
  • A word count
  • A short blurb describing the story
The post may be of any age, from a week old to years old. The submission deadline is 11:59 PM Eastern time on Saturday, November 6th. More detailed information follows (same as always):
  1. The story or excerpt submitted must be posted on-line as a blog entry, and while fiction is preferred, non-fiction storytelling is acceptable.
  2. The story can be any length, but the Carnival will list them in order of length, from shortest to longest, and include a word count for each one.
  3. You may either send a complete story, a story in progress, or a lengthy excerpt. You should indicate the word count for both the excerpt and the complete story in the submission, and you should say how the reader can find more of the story in the post itself.
  4. If the story spans multiple posts, each post should contain a link to the beginning of the story, and a link to the next post. You may submit the whole story, the first post, or, if you've previously submitted earlier posts to the Carnival, the next post which you have not submitted. Please indicate the length of the entire story, as well as the portion which you are submitting.
  5. The host has sole discretion to decide whether the story will be included or not, or whether to indicate that the story has pornographic or graphically violent content. The ratings for the story will be decided by the host. I expect I'll be pretty lenient on that sort of thing, but I have some limits, and others may draw the line elsewhere. Aside from noting potentially offensive content, while I may say nice things about stories I like, I won't be panning anyone's work. I expect other hosts to be similarly polite.
  6. The story may be the blogger's own or posted with permission, but if it is not his own work he should gain permission from the author before submitting to the Carnival.
If you'd like to be added to the e-mail list, please let me know. Finally, I appreciate folks promoting the carnival on their own blogs, and I'm always looking for bloggers willing to host future carnivals.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Next Storyblogging Carnival

The next Storyblogging Carnival will be going up on November 8th, rather than the 1st.  I'll be traveling next weekend (going to World Fantasy), so it'll be a week later than usual.

Friday, October 15, 2010

From the iPhone

So I'm posting this from my iPhone. I'm really just playing around with the software that lets me do that. It seems to work okay, though the free version doesn't have a lot of options.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review of Mr. Monster by Dan Wells

Mr. Monster is the sequel to I am not a Serial Killer. John Cleaver is a teenage sociopath.  He lacks empathy and compassion, and shows most of the traits of a burgeoning serial killer.  He is not, however, a bad person.  He knows the difference between right and wrong, and has a list of rules he follows to keep himself from becoming the monster he knows he might be.  Mr. Monster is what he calls that part of himself that dreams of torturing those closest to him.  He might be able to hold Mr. Monster in check, but he can't slay him.  Because sometimes, he needs that part of himself.

In the first book, John's small town is haunted by a real serial killer, and it's not long before John discovers that the killer is not human.  It is only by letting Mr. Monster out, just a little, that John can stalk and kill the real monster.

The question of the second book is whether John can contain Mr. Monster again.  At first, it looks like he'll be able to manage as long as he starts keeping his rules, even the ones he had to break last time.  But the killings have started again, and John may need to let his own monster out to stop them.

Mr. Monster is what is sometimes called a Terror novel--one that's more psychological, where you fear for the sanity of the protagonist rather than his health.  And that is certainly the case here.  John is scarier than any of the supernatural dangers we've seen so far.  The absolutely most frightening part of the book is not when John faces down the demon, but when he starts dating.  He likes the girl, and she likes him, but he has to break many of his rules to act normal on a date, and we get to watch as his control on Mr. Monster slips further away.  I won't tell you exactly how far it slips, but it's a relief when he's fighting for his life against the real serial killer.

And that is in large part what makes this book different from the first.   In the first book, John knew who the monster was, and spent most of the book stalking him--in the modern sense.  That included threatening letters and anonymous tips to the police: ways he could keep the demon off-balance until he could find a way to kill him.  The way he does find shows exactly how dangerous John can be.  But in this book, we spend most of it not knowing who the new demon is.  He's just background while we watch John's psychological drama unfold.  To his credit, Dan Wells brings the drama to a head in the confrontation with the real demon.  Unfortunately, when we did see the real demon, he was something of a let-down.  He just seemed a lot less frightening in the end than the first one.

Overall, I do think this was an excellent book.  The psychological drama worked well, which it had to, since the external threat was ultimately disappointing.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Trip report

Back in September, Kristin and I went to Houston for a wedding, and then visited my family in Louisiana.  I haven't talked about it, but Kristin's been blogging away, with pictures.  See what she has to say, starting with Houston, then St. Francisville, and finally Avery Island.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The History of the Domini: Part II

Old Post: The beginning, Part I, can be found here.

This is the second part of the history of our order written by Randall Aurelius.

Part II: The Exodus

For a while, the Malwer feared the Shades, and whispered that they were ghosts or demons. But no conspiracy can continue forever, and eventually the Shades were found out.  At the realization that the Shades were humans with magic, fear and fury alike swept through the Malwer, and a hunt began to find the Shades and exterminate them.  As an extra dead slave here or there did not concern them, they did not burden themselves with proof that a human was indeed a Shade before executing him.  This hunt forced the Shades to flee.  Many innocent humans fled with them, fearing the Malwer who had turned on them, although many blamed the Shades for bringing this additional oppression upon them.

The Shades and the other slaves who had joined them were far from unified.  The Shades themselves were divided.  Their structure as a loose network of independent cells had protected them from the Malwer’s ferocious hunt, but left them with no hierarchy or leadership.  There was fierce infighting, especially between those who had participated in the Malwer-hunting, and those who believed it to be as bad as anything the Malwer had done.  Many wanted to fight against the Malwer and free all the humans from their grasp, while others thought that those who had now escaped should flee beyond the reach of their former masters.  The mundane humans overwhelmingly wanted to flee.

In the end, the Shades split.  Half remained behind to fight, joined by a few humans who hated their Malwer masters more than they hated the Shades.  The remaining Shades led the vast majority of humans to try to find a land far from the Malwer’s rule.  They headed north, to warmer climes.

If the Shades expected the people to be grateful, there were sorely mistaken.  Most of the former slaves blamed the Shades for the situation they were in, and they all feared their power.  They shunned the Shades, and even the Shades’ own families wanted nothing to do with brothers, sons, and husbands who had been inducted.  They were wise to do so, since, while the people were too afraid of the Shades to threaten them directly, they harassed and sometimes even harmed their families.  The Shades soon discovered that they had as much need to protect their identities from their fellow humans as from the Malwer.  The fear and resentment of the Shades even extended to those with the ability to learn, once it was discovered that there were many untrained humans among the exiles. 

The Shades made several decisions during this time that have continued to shape the Order to this day.  Only young men were taken to be trained, lest they take fathers and husbands from their families.  They were taken in secret, so that there would be no reprisals against their families, and they were required to make a clean break with their old lives, as any contact put their acquaintances at risk.  Not all the young men were willing, but they understood that once it was discovered they had the ability, they were outcasts.  Finally, women were not taken.  There were fewer women than men among the escaped slaves, and the Shades realized that the long-term survival of the independent humans would require children.  They also worried that if they recruited women with the ability, they might deplete the number of boys with it in future generations.  It should also be remembered that in these ancient days that the egalitarian impulses which are rare outside of the Philosophers even now were practically unheard of.  The Shades saw themselves as warriors, and they did not believe that women were suited for their task.

Eventually, the independent humans moved beyond the reach of the Malwer Sovereignty, and settled in a land to the west of it, likely where the Novar Empire is now.  Information trickled to them from those who had remained behind to fight.  While these warriors had been wholly unsuccessful in a direct assault, they still managed to cause difficulty for the Malwer, and to assist many among the remaining slaves who wished to escape.  Meanwhile, the exodus of slaves had triggered internal turmoil among the Malwer, and the infighting would keep them occupied for years to come.

New Post: The story continues here.