My Grandchildren Are Storytellers

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© James Pyles

It was a hard day, in a hard week, in a hard nine months or more.

After dinner, while heating water for tea, I walked into my granddaughter’s bedroom. We’ve reserved one of our two spare bedrooms for her, mainly because when she was smaller and stayed with us, she’d take afternoon naps. It still has her bed, a lot of her toys, plus the walls are decorated with her drawings and paintings.

She’s four-and-a-half, and as I was wandering around, I remembered something about her I’ll tell you about in a bit.

My grandson is almost eleven. Ever since he was about five or six, we have played “the game.” It started out in a really primitive form. He made up some situation and what his character was going to do to my character, but being an adult, I’d always find a way to top him.

As he got older, the stories became more sophisticated. For about two-and-a-half years, I turned some of those role playing games into an ongoing story for him published on this blog. I adapted the very first story I wrote for him, and it became one of my early published short stories in the Magical Reality fantasy anthology from Pixie Forest Publishing.

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Clockwork Dragons is Now Available!

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Promotional image for the Zombie Pirates Publishing anthology “Clockwork Dragons”

Today’s the day. My short story “The Mechanical Dragon” is featured in this Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology.

I have a hard time not offending anyone. When I write horror, some of my friends are unhappy with me, and while I consider my “Dragon” story to be pretty benign, I know that anything to do with magic and dragons rubs some folks the wrong way.

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“I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” or How to Succeed in Both Offending and Encouraging Readers

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Cover image for issue 160 of Clarkesworld Magazine – Zarrio by Edwardo Garcia

UPDATE – January 16, 2020: This story has been pulled from publication by the magazine, and the rationale can be found here!

On twitter, I happened across a tweet by Cora Buhlert. It was referencing a story written by Isabel Fall for Clarkesworld Magazine called I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter. Actually, I saw that Buhlert was referencing a twitter conversation of someone called The 1000 Year Plan (actually a Marxist blogger named “Gary” who announces personal pronouns as “he/him”) commenting on Fall’s story.

As you can guess, he didn’t like it.

What got my attention first is that Gary tweeted:

All of the comments are absurdly over-the-top praise that appeared almost immediately after the story was published. There are way more of these than is normal for a Clarkesworld story.

I looked at the story and couldn’t see any comments anywhere. Slightly earlier, Gary tweeted:

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Update for “A Mighty Fortress: Being an Anthology of Mormon Steampunk”

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Promotional image for the Immortal Works anthology “A Mighty Fortress”

My short story “The Deseret War” has been accepted by Immortal Works publishing for their anthology “A Mighty Fortress: Being an Anthology of Mormon Steampunk”. This is the fourth volume in this annually released series of tales merging the themes of the LDS church and steampunk. This edition includes my story and 16 others.

Here’s a short summary of my tale:

Once Stephen Isaac Eddington converted to Mormonism in his native London and realized the severe persecution the Church was enduring in the United States, he knew he had to use his unique skills to help defend the faith. But to do that, he would have to steal an incredible invention devised by his scientist mentor who had recently perished, and the greedy and corrupt tycoon who had financed the venture.

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How Ricky Gervais Offended Everyone in Hollywood and Restored My Faith in Comedy

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Ricky Gervais hosting the 2020 Golden Globe Awards – NBCUniversal Media, LLC via Getty Images.

Perhaps you’ve heard of comedian Ricky Gervais, or rather his hysterically scathing commentary on Hollywood, including some of the most famous icons alive. This happened at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards last night, and quickly became a social media hit.

The only place I could (quickly) find the full video of his intro to the “Globes” was on Caleb Hull’s twitter account. I promise, it’s not to be missed.

I’m writing this because, as you know, I’ve been critical of awards ceremonies, particularly in the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ve made numerous commentaries, including Jeannette Ng’s Campbell Award Acceptance Speech and Here We Go Again, Are the Science Fiction “Culture Wars” Still Alive and Well?, The Hugo Award Will Not Be Renamed and Why Are All Conservatives (seemingly) Called Alt-Right?, and Once More On Awards And How Your Heroes Will Never Be Perfect.

I’ve suspected more than one awards ceremony has been politically rigged to bias heavily in one direction (left), and last night, Gervais illuminated his live and television audience with just how true this mess in Hollywood is (as if we didn’t know, but it’s nice to have confirmation).

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Book Review: “The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century”

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Cover art for the anthology, “The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century

Note that I’ve previously reviewed individual stories presented in this anthology, such as Brad Linaweaver’s novella Moon of Ice, Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Lucky Strike, and Susan Shwartz’s Suppose They Gave a Peace. This review applies to the entire book.

The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century is a 2002 anthology edited by Harry Turtledove with Martin H. Greenberg. As the title suggests, it’s an eclectic collection of short stories and novellas crafted by various science fiction luminaries over a span of nearly fifty years.

As with all anthologies, it is pretty uneven.

Ward Moore’s “Bring the Jubilee” was the toughest to slog through. It’s depressing and seems to be overly long, including details that may not have been necessary to tell the core story. Also, it’s hard to believe that the Confederate Army could have won the Civil War based on a single engagement, one that our hero managed to change by sheer ineptitude.

Both “The Lucky Strike” by Kim Stanley Robinson and “Suppose They Gave a Peace” by Susan Shwartz were anti-war stories, the former being Robinson’s wish fulfillment of a world with no nuclear weapons, and the latter, an alternate history that bore little difference from the actual one, as told through the eyes of one family.

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DVD Review of “Spider Man: Far From Home”

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Promotional image for the 2019 film “Spider-Man: Far From Home”

I can now officially say I’ve seen every Marvel Studios film ever made. As I’m writing this, I just finished watching Spider-Man: Far From Home.

First off, between the memorial in the film’s beginning and the first end credits, two of my favorite pop hits were featured: I Will Always Love You performed by the late Whitney Houston (video) (and I was surprised it was written by Dolly Parton) and Vacation performed by the Go Gos.

I confess, I’ve known about the story including the mid and end credits scenes for sometime, but knowing is not the same as experiencing. It’s after the “blip,” the return of all of the people, half of Earth’s population, Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped out of existence in the movie Avengers: Infinity War (2018). All of the “blipped” high school kids who reappeared five years later had to take a whole year of high school all over again. This includes Peter Parker (Tom Holland), his best friend Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon), and MJ (Zendaya). Even Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) was “blipped” reappearing in her apartment now rented to other people.

But we’re eight months past that and May is heading up some fundraiser, presumably to help the “blipped” regain their former lives.

We see early on that May and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) are in some sort of relationship, but they’re not the only ones.

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“Dark Valentine Holiday Horror Collection” Available for Pre-Order Now!

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Promotional image for the forthcoming anthology “Dark Valentine”.

As you know if you’re a regular reader, three of my stories were accepted in the Dark Valentine Holiday Horror Collection: A Flash Fiction Anthology. What you don’t know is that it’s available for pre-order right now, with auto-delivery to your kindle device on February 1, 2020.

The link above is universal to Amazon, but here’s more:

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