Included in “TREASURE CHEST: Selected Short Stories”

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Promotional image for the Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology “Treasure Chest.”

This was a nice (almost) surprise. Zombie Pirate Publishing, which has been in existence since 2017, has featured some of my stories in their anthologies, and is producing a “round up” anthology of their favorite tales in Treasure Chest: Selected Short Stories. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon now, to be downloaded to your Kindle device December 1, 2019 (a terrific Christmas gift, by the way).

My classic SciFi tale Joey is featured in its pages.

Joey was first published in the ZPP anthology World War Four back in March of this year, along with many other fascinating tales, including best selling science fiction author Neal Asher‘s novelette “Monitor Logan.”

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of “Joey”:

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Book Review of “Hyperion”

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Cover art for Dan Simmons’ 1989 novel “Hyperion”

I have to admit that I’d never heard of Dan Simmons or his award winning 1989 novel Hyperion until both were mentioned on Mike Glyer’s File 770. Actually, it was specifically the mention that he dared to insult the much vaunted teenage climate change icon Greta Thunberg. I agree that Simmons went kind of overboard on his twitter commentary, but attacking a teenager aside, criticizing Thunberg for any reason has become pretty much the worst thing you can do besides being a “denier.”

Anyway, I became interested in him and his novel, so I checked it out of my local public library and started reading. It wasn’t what I expected, but then again, I didn’t know what to expect.

Hyperion has been loosely compared to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, a collection of stories about seemingly unrelated people. I can kind of see that. Simmons, a former teacher, spared no effort in shoving tons and tons of literary references, many of them aimed right at Keats, into his stories. I’m sure many of them sailed way over my head. I don’t think they added much to the novel.

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Another Mysterious Announcement

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Image found at compellingreads.co.uk – no attribution given

This morning, I received another bit of good news, but I’m sworn to secrecy, at least for the next 24 hours or so, until it becomes official. All I can say is that the email made my day, especially since I was up at a quarter til four in the morning because I couldn’t sleep.

Actually, it gave me time to do the research on a short story submission due in about ten days or so. I’ve been struggling with this one until inspiration seized me, as it usually does, when I’m trying to get some rest.

I spent the early morning working Google into the ground, collecting links, beginning to create characters, and I was starting to outline the plot when the clock told me I only had an hour left before I had to leave for my day job.

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The Next Book I’m Reading

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Cover image for Dan Simmons’ novel “Hyperion”

After Dan Simmons lambasted teenage climate change darling Greta Thunberg on twitter, and came on the radar of Mike Glyer’s File 770 (which must still be experiencing technical difficulties, since I haven’t received any email notifications of new posts in quite a while), AND finding out that his signature novel Hyperion is a Hugo Award winner, I’ve been dying to read the book and learn more about him.

Yes, I think he went too far in his insults of a little teenage girl who is clearly being manipulated by adults, but he also stood up to the more leftist powers that be in social media and the science fiction creators and fandom community, and occasionally, they need to be stood up to. So I put a hold on it at my local public library and today it became available.

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Book Review: “The Collapsar Directive”

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Cover art for the anthology “The Collapsar Directive

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this anthology on the condition that I would write and publish a review. I have also had a short story and a piece of flash fiction published by Zombie Pirate Publishing, but none of my stories appear in the anthology I am reviewing, The Collapsar Directive.

Actually, the anthology’s title is taken from a story written by Adam Bennett, co-founder of Zombie Pirates, called “The Sword and The Damocles,” a tale about two interconnected intergalactic spacecraft. Like many of the short stories in the anthology, I found it to be “okay,” but not particularly remarkable. Of course “Collapsar” was published a few years back, and I know that many of the authors have since honed their writing skills.

Mel Newmin’s “Looking at the Face of God” had a nice twist to it, but I objected to the idea of releasing zoo animals back to the wild, since animals kept in captivity often lose their ability to fend for themselves in an untamed environment. Once the big reveal occurs, the results become interesting, but then science fiction does sometimes have the created confront their creator.

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Film Review of “The Abyss: Special Edition” (1989)

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© James Pyles – DVD cover for the 1989 film “The Abyss”

I hadn’t intended to watch a film on Sunday evening, but saw a DVD of the 1989 film The Abyss and said, “why not?”

Actually, this is the special edition, so it’s expanded quite a bit from what folks saw in the original theatrical production.

The movie opens aboard the USS Montana, an Ohio-class U.S. Navy sub. The sub encounters some strange light apparition near the Cayman Trough and, caught in its wake, is dragged across a rock formation, fatally damaging the sub.

With Soviet ships closing in to salvage the nuclear submarine, the Navy commandeers a private, underwater drilling platform operating near the Trough that’s led by Foreman Bud Brigman (Ed Harris) and crewed by a bunch of roughneck oil drillers.

Brigman’s estranged wife Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), who designed the drilling rig, accompanies a group of Navy SEALs commanded by Lieutenant Hiram Coffey (Michael Biehn) down to the rig just before a hurricane hits, in an attempt to reach the Montana and search for survivors.

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Film Review: “Escape from L.A.” (1996)

© James Pyles – photo of DVD case for the movie “Escape from L.A.”

I saw John Carpenter’s 1981 film Escape From New York starring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, and Adrienne Barbeau when it was first in the theaters and then a few times on disc later. It’s what I consider a “high functioning B movie.” That means it’s a lot of fun, but in spite of the quality actors in the movie, it would attain no higher level than “cult classic.” It’s a good way to waste two hours.

I’ve been aware of the 1996 sequel Escape from L.A. for years, but never had the desire to see it. However, yesterday at my local public library, I found it on disc and figured “what the heck.”

Actually, given the quality of the story of the original, and that sequels almost never live up to the original, I expected to either be bored or to hate it.

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Fiction’s and Real Life’s “Bad Guys” and Stereotyping

I’ve been thinking a lot about villains lately. Actually, this particular File 770 “Pixel Scroll” first brought the topic up in my mind. If you scroll down to item #4 “AUTUMN LEAVES” and to “Watchmen” just below that, you can read:

Oct. 20, 9 p.m., HBO
Confession: I know nothing about Watchmen. Never read the comic or saw the (polarizing) 2009 film. I had to pause many times while watching the pilot so I could look up characters and backstories on Wikipedia. With that said, I can’t wait to see more. Set 30 years after the comics, Watchmen takes place in a world where police hide their identities due to terrorist attacks and a long-dormant white supremacist group wants to start a race war. The show is expensive-looking but not hollow. There’s a humanity to the characters that is often lacking in comic book adaptations, due in large part to the exceptional cast, including Regina King, Jeremy Irons, and Don Johnson. Hardcore fans will have to make up their own minds, but this novice is intrigued. [emph. mine]

I know I wrote a blog post sometime ago about adult-oriented comic books and how they are now themed to emphasize social justice, but I can’t find it again. I do remember that, thanks to Donald Trump, most, if not all of the villains are straight white men, and specifically alt-right white supremacists.

No, I’m not defending racism, white supremacy, bigotry, or anything like that. My wife and children are Jewish, so I specifically take a dim view of antisemitism as well as other forms of prejudice and bigotry. Yes, some of my political views are unpopular to certain demographics but I don’t advocate for hate.

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Well, That Was Fast – “Tales From the Southwest” Featuring My Short Story “The Strangers” is Published.

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Promotional image for the anthology “Tales of the Southwest.”

Right now, as the editor/publisher John Green says, all roads lead to Lulu.com. He says if a book gains enough interest, he’ll publish a digital version on Amazon, but the authors don’t make much from that. If you like western stories, classic and otherwise, please buy and read. Let me know what you think.

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My Short Story “The Strangers” is Being Published in “Tales of the Southwest”

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Promotional image for the cover of John Green’s anthology “Tales of the Southwest”

Yes, “The Strangers” is the eleventh story accepted for publication in an anthology this year and it has a slightly unusual history. I originally wrote it for a different publisher and it was rejected. “Ouch,” yes it always stings. However, I read that John Green was looking for stories to be included in his “Tales of the Southwest” anthology on Facebook. I happened to casually mention that I had a story that might fit but A) it’s set in Idaho (not exactly the southwest) and B) it has aliens. He told me to send it to him anyway.

He liked the story, but asked if I could change the location from Idaho City, Idaho to Cedar City, Utah. I did the research and although the presence of the Mormon church in late 19th century Utah complicated things a bit, I made the edits.

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