Thursday, April 30, 2015

New Horror Short Story on Patreon!

The new short story is up on Patreon! This week it's horror. 

Here's a preview:



Celia

A Dreamscapes Story
by Alicia VanNoy Call

When I get Celia's note on Friday afternoon, I'm not sure what to think. It's penned on the back of a receipt and scotch-taped to the fridge and it says: Meet me at this cabin for a romantic weekend. Let's rekindle our fire! XoXo! And it has directions. We weren't what you would call a fiery couple, even at the beginning, so I'm really not sure what to think.

But I don't think it's a plot to murder us. Of course I don't think that.

I send her a text. She doesn't reply, as usual. So I shave, turn off the coffee maker, put my email on autoreply, and gas up the car. I get a little lost on the drive, but a guy walking his dog next to the winding road points me in the right direction. By the time I'm pulling onto the unpaved road leading to the cabin, the sun is nearly down. The cabin sits back in the trees, with an awning of black branches curled overhead. Lightning bugs brush the tall grasses on either side.


I pull up to the front of the cabin and park sideways in the gravel. I've got my bag with a change of clothes and a dozen roses for Celia and when I climb onto the porch, I can see through the screen door into the living room. There's a sofa and two chairs around a fireplace and a little lamp on a side table. I can smell cinnamon potpourri. Celia is sitting in one of the chairs, her back to me...  

Want to read the rest? Click here to visit the Fictions and Dreamscapes project on Patreon. If you like it, or if it's just creepy enough to make you shiver, share with your friends and consider becoming a patron!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Movie Review - The Dark Knight


I wrote this review waaaaay back in 2008. But I thought it might be fun to dig up and post here.



The Dark Knight
2008
Directed by Christopher Nolan

Spent a couple of hours in the movie theater today, for some much-needed fantasy fulfillment and dissociation from reality. I found The Dark Knight to be a pleasure to watch from beginning to end.

The art direction is beautiful, overflowing with the same attention to detail that marked the first film. Christopher Nolan's Gotham breathes. It's a decaying and gritty landscape populated by legions of the hopeless. And it is evident that Nolan loves Gotham's haunted hero as much as Batman's biggest fans. Nolan's dedication to sharing his vision of the Dark Knight with us comes through every frame. Nolan continues to explore some of the same themes: justice vs. vengeance, madness, dubious morality, and the personal cost that a lone hero must pay for undaunted courage in the face of evil. It's all good stuff... and yes, I'm a sucker for more cerebral writing. Give me all the soulful introspection, the laden glances, the tragic flashbacks, and I'm happy. I like a hero with soul, and a darker soul striving for light, or a soul of light being drowned in darkness is very interesting to see. I think it's the loneliness that gets me. I've seen that loneliness, felt it. My heart follows the story of this wounded character and I hope... not just for a cessation of pain, but for redemption, for triumph. 

My observations on performance:

Christian Bale is hands-down the best Batman so far; I don't know too many people who have argued that. Nolan's script seems a little weighty at times, giving Bale (and the other characters) quite a bit of moral (or rhetorical) discussion to deliver, but a comic book movie with something more to bite into is refreshing. The most recent comic book/superhero films I'd seen before The Dark Knight were Ironman, The Hulk, and Hancock, all of which I enjoyed... and true, Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne doesn't seem to be having as much fun as Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark, but The Batman has always been a bit of a downer anyway, right? Besides, this is the second act, and it's dark. Anyway, Nolan's treatment of Batman has big shoes (steel-toed boots?) to fill, and Bale fills them perfectly. 

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes is a fine replacement for Katie Holmes. I personally find her more interesting to watch and more believable. She seems real. Like a woman we could bump into at the grocers. We like her. We're invested in her welfare, and Gyllenhaal gives us that.

Gary Oldman is the perfect Jim Gordon. It's satisfying to see him in such a wholesome role, and the fact that he looks just like the Tim Sale and Frank Miller incarnations of Gordon is fun. There's a point in Gordon's story that makes the audience cheer... you'll know what I mean.

Michael Cane's Alfred functions well as Wayne's conscience, and his dry humor keeps the audience chuckling. Morgan Freeman's character has the same function, but Cane.... mmm! I just love listening to any line that man has to deliver. 

The unexpected highlight of the film for me is Heath Ledger, a kind of maniacal bright spot in the dark universe of Nolan's Gotham. As The Batman's arch-nemesis, Ledger cackles and crackles with nihilistic energy, like a miniature black hole pulling everything off-kilter. His Joker minces, gambols, and pirouettes through the script, seeming to dance the tightrope of insane genius with effortless ease. There are many points in the film where the audience is laughing, but not necessarily because what we're seeing is truly funny... More so for the release of tension that nervous laughter gives us during some of the Joker's more horrifyingly unanticipated antics. Don't get me wrong, I don't admire the Joker, a man who destroys just because he can, or as Alfred says, just to watch the world burn. What I admire is Ledger's ability to capture the cold-blooded menace, the turning on a dime between jest and threat, the terrifying unpredictability that is the Joker of the comics. It was a performance surprisingly nuanced and I'm sure nothing about it was accidental. The way Ledger voiced the Joker will be following me for a while as well, probably inserted into some of my stranger dreams. Yes, a performance very well done, and besides making for a riveting villain, has me regretting once more the loss of such talent. This should have been a small highlight in a long career of profound and exciting performances, instead of what it is: a somewhat bleak epilogue to this young actor's body of work.

The Batman has forever been my favorite, and Christopher Nolan does justice to The Dark Knight. The film was everything I hoped and I hope you like it as much as I did.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

New Sci-Fi Short Story up on Patreon!

The new story is available on Patreon. Sorry I posted it late. I did warn that alien abduction might warrant late posting.

So.

This week's story is science fiction. Here's a preview:


Census

A Dreamscapes Story
by Alicia VanNoy Call


The shuttle dips, low over a stand of trees, before the city bursts into view. 

"Set her down over there," Hendricks says.

We land in the town square -- clock tower on one end, playground on the other.  Benches and tables and trees with spring leaves shedding a flowery scent over the scene.

I step first onto the paving stones. Holding the scanner up, I survey the landscape. Nothing.

It's clear, sir.” I tap a few buttons.

Hendricks comes down the ramp. He walks a little ahead of me, turns in a circle.

"The plague's been here too."

"Yes, captain," I say.

"Well, let's have a look."

He walks through the square, weapon holstered. Birds scatter from a puddle as he splashes through it. There is a littering of seed pods and the wind and nothing else.

I put the scanner away.


It's the same here, as it has been in every city we've found on this world.

Want to read the rest? Click here to visit the Fictions and Dreamscapes project on Patreon. If you like it, tell your peeps and consider becoming a patron! Only $1.50 more per set and we'll reach our first funding goal. :)


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2015 Eisner Award Nominations

Who here looks forward to hearing about book award nominations?

*crickets*

ISITALLWORTHIT

!?!?!

*dramatic silence*


Here's the entire list of Eisner Award Nominees.

The two graphic novels nominate that I am most excited about:

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins. Here's my review on Goodreads.


And El Deafo by Cece Bell. Here's my review.



I love love love both these books.

I'm also happy to see:

Emily Carroll's When The Darkness Presses (OMG I LOVE Carroll's work.)
Skottie Young's Rocket Raccoon
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood
Farel Dalrymple's The Wrenchies

Which ones are you excited about?



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New Sci-Fi Short Story up on Patreon!

The new short story is up on Patreon! This week it's straight-up science fiction. 

Here 's a preview!



Shiva

A Dreamscapes Story
by Alicia VanNoy Call

“The gods came on swift feet,
to fold the scroll of their creation.”
~ Shariq Tahar, Poet, Colony Trimurti, 3841

A falcon swooped before our skiff that morning – silhouetted black for an instant, outstretched wings against the expanse of dunes and sky. Alia yelped, startling me, but I gripped the wheel with barely a wobble. The bird veered aside, missing the viewport shield by finger widths. Alia swung around in her seat to see if it had fallen into our wake.

“Bad luck, Ebrahim,” she said.

“Only bad if we hit it,” I said.

“I dreamed of Shiva,” she said, sitting back. The words were quiet, almost to herself.

It was just after sunsrise, the triad climbing fast; soon the sky would be taut and bright as hammered bronze. We zipped over the sand.

“Busy today,” said Alia. We could already see the bright canopies of the bazaar in the distance. The crowds of buyers and sellers, packed into the narrow avenue between stone buildings.

We set down in the port across from the bazaar. Alia raised her veil while I gathered our packs, water skins, slinging everything over my shoulders.

She stopped me at the bottom of the ramp.

“Ebrahim,” she said. Her kohl-rimmed eyes darted across the shadowed hanger bay. One hand clutched my sleeve.


“Forget the hawk,” I told her. “It's a day like any other.”

To read the rest, visit the Fictions and Dreamscapes project on Patreon. If you like it, consider becoming a patron! Only $1.50 more per story and artwork set and we'll reach our first funding goal!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Another Dimension

Okay you guys, I'm really excited about this one.

Angel Leigh McCoy, the founder and Editor in Chief of Wily Writers -- you'll remember they published and produced for audio my story Eric -- has asked me to illustrate the inaugural issue of a NEW publication, Another Dimension.

It's a speculative-fiction magazine that will feature dark fantasy and old-school-style horror in the vein of Twilight Zone and Night Gallery.



 Sound awesome? That's because it is.

She sent me the eight stories that will be featured in Issue #1 and they're AMAZING. And creepy. And wonderful.

But Another Dimension will need a boost to become a reality, so here's the Kickstarter. Kick in a couple bucks, or just pass it along.

You can download a preview issue for free!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New Dreamscapes Fantasy Short Story on Patreon

The new story is up on Patreon. This week it's fantasy. One of my patrons requested a specific genre with a specific subject, so here you go, Geary.

Here's a preview:



JENNY

A Dreamscapes Story
by Alicia VanNoy Call

One day a boy fell into a river.

The boy had been poking among the rocks with a stick, searching for pollywogs under the weeping willow. The day was warm. Warm enough that the boy had taken off his socks and shoes.

A girl named Jenny watched from the watery shadows, minnows darting through her hair. She watched the boy wiggle his toes in the mud.

A few butterflies dashed about the bank and a nesting robin trilled in the branches overhead and the air smelled of blooming summer. The boy's dog napped in the shade.

The boy thought it the finest day he'd ever known, and resolved never to go inside again. He picked up a few pebbles and tossed them into the river. They made perfect little splashes.

The pebbles fell through the water, past Jenny's shoulder, glittering until they were lost in the silt below.


The boy's mother called him in for supper. She stood on the porch with her hands in her apron and called and called and since he wasn't hungry enough for supper, and had resolved to never go inside again, the boy waded into the water. . ..

Want to read the rest? Click here to visit the Fictions and Dreamscapes project on Patreon. If you like it, and the other stories, share them with your friends, and consider becoming a patron. Only $1.50 more per story and we'll reach our first funding goal!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

New Science Fiction Short Story on Patreon

The new short story is up on Patreon. This week it's . . . well, let's just say it's experimental in form.

Here's a preview:


CASE #1472-32

A Dreamscapes Story
by Alicia VanNoy Call

"My washer broke the week before and I had a job interview the next day. It was really important that I look nice, you know? Professional. My mom always said, 'Look your best and God will take care of the rest.' I don't know about the God part, but looking your best, you know, I think that's good advice."

"Alright, what happened next?"

"I was there, pulling my laundry out of the washer. You know, sort of leaning into the tub to get the socks stuck to the bottom. He came up behind me and just grabbed me."

"What did you do?"

"What do you think? I screamed bloody murder."

"Then what?"

“I was kicking and screaming and I elbowed him in the ribs and he kinda grunted. My mom always said to fight. You've got to fight. She told me once about this lady who was about to get raped and she kept kicking and screaming, Help me, Jesus, and the guy just got fed up I guess and took off.”

“Okay. What then?”

“I dunno. That was the end of the story.”

“No. In the laundromat. What happened then?” 

To read the rest, head over to the Fictions and Dreamscapes Project on Patreon. If you like it, consider becoming a patron!