Thursday, 29 April 2010

Escape Velocity Magazine is grounded


Escape Velocity Magazine is grounded

By Geoff Nelder

A few years ago, a gap existed on the bookshelves of readers of science fiction, who also enjoyed reading snippets and arguments of fact. Robert Blevins was playing with the idea of a publishing venture featuring stories of adventure – mainly science fiction, but other genres too along with true-life stories of inspiration. Out of Adventure Books of Seattle came Escape Velocity: the magazine of science fact and fiction. Co-editors Robert Blevins in the USA, and Geoff Nelder in Britain were privileged to read thousands of stories and articles from amateurs and professional writers. Their model of production was unique in that instead of printing thousands of copies and sending them to wholesalers for distribution, the relatively new Print on Demand method was employed through It allowed readers to select either an e-book, at the price of a coffee, or a beautiful print version at the price of a roadside lunch. Sadly, in spite of ferociously brilliant reviews, insufficient copies were purchased to make the venture worth the considerable effort involved.

Thousands of the e-books have been downloaded, when they are offered free – and still are from the website of Adventure Books of Seattle. It seems that the world isn’t quite ready for the necessary culture shift for the paradigm of purchasing magazines via the web. People enjoy selecting and buying magazines from stores, or by mail subscription, and are reluctant to try a different approach. Nevertheless, the four issues gave flight to over 50 writers, a debut publishing experience for many. It also saw book reviews, puzzles, marvellous illustrations, cartoons, poetry from Magdalena Ball, interviews with literary agents, actors and others in the science fiction business. It’s been a blast, as they say.

The ending is not sudden. There are enough accepted stories in the files of the editors to fill an anthology – with the Escape Velocity name. Those writers are being offered a place in that anthology along with payment, as they would have had in Escape Velocity.

Apart from the online nature of purchasing Escape Velocity up until now, the magazine had a good reception at conventions in both the US and UK, and will be missed by those friends who had bought their copies annually.  Besides the effort and financial resources taken up by the magazine by the publisher and editors, their time has recently been occupied by other ventures. In particular the intriguing true life story of D.B. Cooper, who’d daringly leapt from an airplane in the 1970s with his skyjacked loot, never to be caught. Robert Blevins and P.I. Skipp Porteous have collaborated on a project to reveal the identity of the daredevil robber, and after many interviews and going over the files, have come up with not only convincing evidence of D.B. Cooper’s real identity, but a compelling adventurous read with Into the Blast.

Escape Velocity may be grounded for the foreseeable future but the editors and others involved with the magazine would like to give a heartfelt thanks to the contributors and many well-wishers, who had encouraged them along the way. 


Adventure Books of Seattle:

Into the Blast: The True Story of D.B. Cooper

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Funland: Week Seven

Something of a no news week, which is one of the reasons I'm posting two days after it ended.  Between an interview last Tuesday that I travelled four hundred miles for only to have the interviewer not show and another interview yesterday at the opposite end of the country, I haven't had much time and my head hasn't really been in the novel-writing game.  Getting back into work is now the priority, and the more of Funland I can do around that the better but I can't let myself worry about it.

Taking that into account, I didn't do terribly last week, I'm a hair's breadth off the three fifths mark and the end of part three, and again I'm quite happy with most of what I produced.  But I'm once more behind where I'd hoped to be and worse, I haven't done the planning I'd intended.  So I should be able to get part three finished pretty easily, but whether I can roll on into four is another matter.

All of that said, if I get the job that I actually interviewed for (and for that matter if I don't) I should have ample time to get, at the very least, part four done, and a good chance of getting finished completely.  It would be fantastic to know I had a start date and return to the carefree innocence of last month, when writing really was the only thing I had to think about.  Ah, the halcyon days of four weeks ago...

Friday, 23 April 2010

Film Ramble: The Fall

I only heard about The Fall quite recently.  In fact, to say I heard about it is an overstatement, I saw a trailer somewhere and thought, 'hey, that looks interesting'.  I'm baffled as to how it managed to pass me by for four years, because it's one of the best fantasy films - indeed, one of the best films - I've seen.

The Fall covers similar thematic ground to The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen and Pan's Labyrinth - and while those are two of my all-time favourite movies, I wouldn't hesitate to say that it holds its own.  In 1920's LA, a young girl and a heart-broken Hollywood stuntman are recuperating in the same hospital.  After a chance encounter, the stuntman begins to tell an elaborate, fantastical story to the girl, for reasons that only become apparent as the plot develops.  We see both the events unfolding in the hospital and the tale the stuntman narrates, a bizarre and ever-shifting fable filtered through a child's perceptions and director Tarsem Singh's gorgeous imagery.  And by gorgeous, I mean gorgeous.  I can't wait to pick this up on blu-ray, it's like somebody animated a National Geographic calendar and then somehow worked in a surreal, exhilarating fantasy story just for kicks.

Oh, and if the poster looks familiar, it's because it's based on Salvador Dali's painting Face of Mae West Which May Be Used as an Apartment.  Why?  I have no clue, but it's kind of neat.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Reasons to be Afraid of Superheroes

I mentioned this when I first posted about the sale of my story Wunderkind to Bards and Sages Quarterly, but it bears repeating: if superheroes actually existed then they would be really scary.  I don't just mean the ones that are supposed to be scary either.  Superman?  Scary.  Sure, he means well, but he happens to get his x-ray vision and his heat vision mixed up when he's trying to read your T-shirt size and you're going to end up a twiglet.

So as a small step towards redressing all the pro-superhero propaganda out there, Wunderkind appears in the April issue of Bards and Sages, available in print from and CreateSpace, and electronically from DriveThruFantasy.  For once, I've actually seen a copy, and it's an extremely nicely put together 'zine.  One thing that really struck me is that the decision to offer plenty of very short stories is a good idea, a few times I've bought a magazine only to find that half the issue was taken up with a single tale that I didn't get on with.  Also, it's another truly beautiful cover, amongst my favourites of the magazines I've had work in.

While I'm plugging, the latest issue of Andromeda Spaceways, with my bizarre sci-fi mini-epic The Painted City within, is now available from their website, although oddly with an entirely black cover.  How much more black can you get than that?  Why, none more black, of course.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Funland: Week Six

Wow, is it really week six?  According to the original plan, the revised plan and the revised revised plan, that means I should be past the half way point.  And I am!  Things have gone considerably better than expected at the end of last week, and early yesterday afternoon I broke 55'000 words.  Considering that I lost a couple of days to my interview, (now rescheduled for tomorrow), that puts me about where I should be.  Plus, I have most of part five - though oddly, not part four - planned out.  And I've written some stuff that I don't want to take out back and shoot.  In short, things are reasonably back on track.  If I can hit 60'000 and get part four planned for the end of next week then I'll be a happy bunny.

If I hadn't managed to get things rolling on my own, I think discovering Justin Lee Musk's fanastic blog might well have done it. Justin offers a few timely reminders of why temporarily giving up the day job to write may not have been the stupidest, craziest thing I've ever done, however much it may feel like it on the tough days - and also plenty of much-needed practical advice.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Funland: Week Five

You know last week when I said that I thought things were set to go downhill?  Boy, was I on the money.  Most of this week has been spent wrestling disaster from the grip of success.  It all finally came apart on Wednesday, when I realised that although I was on target, I was so unhappy with what I was doing and where I was going that I was running the risk of derailing the whole project.  It was literally getting to a point where just adding to the mess was making me miserable, and it was clear something drastic was needed.  So I spent Thursday cutting back some of the wastage of the last three days, and Friday doing not a whole lot of anything.

In retrospect, the problem was two-fold.  Part one was just bad planning: I expected that by the two fifths point I'd have a pretty good idea of where things were going and that proved not to be the case.  Worse than that, it was clear that some of the waypoints I had in mind weren't going to work, and some of my initial ideas were starting to look like bad calls.  Although those things looked catastrophic and insurmountable at the start of the week, I'm already starting to see ways round them.

Part two is a little more tricky.  It's been increasingly hard to concentrate with a major interview hanging over me, and until I know which way that goes I have no idea how much time I have left for Funland.  Clearly, if I'm going to be back in work in a couple of weeks then there's no point trying to get it finished, and I'd be better aiming for a point that will be easy to pick up from when the dust has settled.

Am I beating myself up about falling behind schedule?  A little, but not too much.  I'm a lousy planner, so perhaps I did well to get this far; plus, if I'd had a rigid plan I suspect I'd have had to chuck it out by now anyway.  I'm nearly at the half way mark and, thanks to Thursday's cutting, I'm reasonably happy with everything I've got down.  All in all, things could be worse.  So the revised targets are these: by the end of next week, I hope to be at the 50'000 word point, which is where I should have been by tonight.  More importantly, I want to have a clear idea and thorough notes of where the rest of the novel is heading.  Shouldn't be too difficult, right?

We shall see...

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Gug-Shabeth Even Uglier in Colour

In a dramatic break from tradition, I'm showing off a cover to a magazine that I'm not actually in.  The reason?  That weird guy on the cover is Gug-Shabeth, monstrous hero and titular lackey of my tale Caretaker in the Garden of Dreams.  I know this because the illustration appeared in smaller, black and white form to accompany Caretaker in the previous issue.

It's fantastic to see the artwork done full justice like this, and also I can't help thinking that it's nice for poor Gug-Shabeth, who definitely gets the less savoury end of the stick as protagonists go.  Much thanks to the artist, whoever they may be (I can't seem to find a credit anywhere.)

Both the current issue, #10, and issue #9 with my story as editor's choice and a wealth of other disturbing goodness, can be purchased from Amazon and the Necrotic Tissue website.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Funland: Week Four

I think this past week has been the one I've enjoyed most, and also the one I've worked hardest in.  I was determined to get the weekend off and I had a friend visiting on the Friday afternoon, so in the end I just got my head down and plowed on through.  I finished Friday at just under 2400 words in about five and a half hours, a personal record by quite a considerable margin.

I seem to be dealing better with the problems that have been tripping me up for the first couple of weeks, where I couldn't get my head around how a scene began or where it was going and ended up noodling about on Wikipedia instead of forcing myself to think it through.  Now I just go work on something else and let my hindbrain mull it over - even if I don't know how that goes either it still seems to help.  That said, by Thursday I had so many scenes on the go that I had to get it all mapped out on paper just to make sure I didn't leave anything unfinished!

Sad to say, week four may have been the peak of the project.  I've written all the stuff that I had well planned out, I have an interview scheduled for the week after next and generally need to start thinking seriously about getting back into regular work ...  all in all, I suspect reality is going to start intruding more and more into this odd little interlude.

Anyway, this time next week I should be just past the half way point, which is pretty awesome considering that it feels like I've barely started...

Feeler Returns in Shelter of Daylight

My story Feeler, which appeared late last year in the final issue of Ballista magazine, is reprinted this month in issue three of small press powerhouse Sam Dot Publishing's newest magazine / anthology title Shelter of Daylight.

Since I haven't seen a copy, and since I've already plugged Feeler, there's not a lot I can add to that.  It's certainly another fantastic cover, something that I always seem to get lucky on. 

One thing I've found myself wondering about, though: how on earth does she fit into those trousers?  At first I thought there was some sort of intergalactic flirtation going on, but now I'm convinced that he's actually supporting her because she's cut off the circulation to her ankles.  Of course, since it's the future it's perfectly possible that they're spray-on or perhaps some kind of symbiotic lifeform.  Or maybe she's an alien and those are actually her legs.  The possibilities are virtually endless.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The Living Dead ... the Movie!

I just discovered that the The Living Dead anthology I was in back in 2008 has a trailer.  It's extremely cool - especially the zombie schoolkids. Click here to watch on YouTube.

I also discovered I have a couple more stories out, but since neither is 'officially' out I'll hold off posting the details for a little while.

Now, I really should stop playing on the internet and get back to writing Funland.  36'699 words and counting...