Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Flash Fiction

It's that time of year again. The time of year, according to the ancient Celts, when the veil that separates our world from the fairy world is at its thinnest. They called it Samhain (pronounced sow-in). We call it Halloween. It's my favorite time of year. And to celebrate, I usually write a piece of short fiction to honor the spooky spirit of the ancient holiday. This years's story is a very short piece of flash fiction that I am dedicating to the only professor that I ever really disliked (that's putting it mildly). I thought I'd share it.

Happy Halloween,
Kris





Unraveled

A siren cried softly in the distance, a solitary voice of sorrow in the still night. The man stood and listened until the cry fell to a moan and then to a whisper until it wasn't a sound anymore. Nothing moved in the yellow light that pooled beneath the lampposts lining the campus' pathways. A puff of chill wind blew out of the north and set the rope to creaking. The man stood and watched the black Chuck Taylor's sway in the air above him. The untied ends of one dirty, white shoe lace hung limply at eye level. A lace tip was unbound, the individual strands unraveling themselves to some unknown, solitary end.
The man looked at his watch. He yawned, and thought about the stack of term papers waiting for him on the leather blotter of his desk at home.
He would go, he thought. He could build a fire. He would open the bottle of Port that his wife had given him for his birthday.
He looked, once more, into the young face. Dirty blond hair draped pale cheeks and hung like the limp ends of the shoe's laces. After a time he shrugged, turned, and disappeared into the night.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Next Big Thing

I’ve been tagged by Tade Thompson.

What does this mean? Well, first of all, it means that I had to come out of semi-retirement to compose a blog post. It’s been over a month since Tade signed me up for this, so I figured I’d better get it out of the way while I’ve still got some of the Winter Break ahead of me. Second, it means that I’ve got to bore the shit out of whoever is still reading this derelict blog with information about my current works-in-progress—written works, that is. Off to it, then.

* A note on format: The word “story” has been inserted wherever the word “book” formerly resided, as I am not currently working on anything that is novel-length. And since I’m currently stirring several of these little pots, I’ll include ingredients for a couple of them.

What is the working title of your story?

The Adventures of Buck Badd

Cro’s Run

Where did the idea come from for the story?

The idea for The Adventures of Buck Badd came to me during this past election cycle. As I watched the divide between the two main parties here in the US widen, I wondered at the thought that we as human beings are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. At the same time, I’d been listening to a lot of 70’s and 80’s rock while in the garage working on different furniture projects, and a lyric from a cover of “Tobacco Road” by David Lee Roth kept jumping out at me: “Bring that dynamite and a crane, blow it up and start over again”. And I’d heard this lyric quoted in different places as a suggestion that the only viable solution for the problems our society currently faces is a literal reset. I began to envision just such a world where a terrible catastrophe had reset the population to nearly zero, and I asked my self if anything would actually change. It probably sounds morbid and terribly depressing, but it is actually meant to be satire.

Cro’s Run is a simple chase story that was inspired by the Dire Strait’s song, “News”.

What genre does your story fall under?

Both are science fiction, and both are set in the near future on an earth that has been devastated by some man made calamity (nuclear war, climate change, etc.) Cro’s Run is a sort of homage to Mad Max film series and to William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy.

 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

The Adventures of Buck Badd

Bryan Cranston=Buck Badd

The boy=no clue

Cro’s Run

Tom Hardy=Cro

Idris Elba=Dibiasi

Mary Elizabeth Winstead=Harriet

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

The Adventures of Buck Badd

Out of the sprawling wastelands of a ruined earth, a man called Buck Badd stumbles upon a virtual Utopia, a place seemingly untouched by the horrors of the post-nuclear world.

Cro’s Run

A retired hacker and corporate thief, in our near future, speeds through the desert on a souped-up motorcycle (dear god, this is utter shit) after stealing information from the factory of a giant energy company in order to secure a better future for his family.

Will your story be self-published or represented by an agency?

No idea. But probably the former.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A few days for both.

What other stories would you compare this story to within your genre?

What kind of self-congratulatory question is this? I guess, if pressed to say, I would say that I’d love Cro’s Run to have the impact of Harlan Ellison’s “Along the Scenic Route”, but I know it’ll never come close to achieving that. As far as The Adventures of Buck Badd go, I don’t really know what to compare it to. I guess I could point to something by Kurt Vonnegut just for the satire and sci-fi comparisons. Anyhow, both of these comparisons are ridiculous. The authors being used for comparison are titans in the sci-fi world. I am but an ant beneath their feet.

Who or what inspired you to write this story?

Redundant question. See question number 2 for answer.

What else about your story might pique the reader’s interest?

The post-apocalyptic earth theme is hugely popular in all sorts of media at the moment (Robopocalypse, World War Z, The Walking Dead, Oblivion, et al).  Although I haven’t purposefully tried to capitalize on this sub-genres popularity (in reality, it is a scenario that has fascinated me since I was a child, i.e. Mad Max, Terminator, etc.), people that go in for that sort of thing might find either of these two stories worth reading.

Now Tagging:

Jack Dixon

Logan K. Stewart

Kim Denby

David Merten

Kristopher Miller

Rules of the Next Big Thing
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The rise of the 80’s action star

Quickly, it’s been a while since I last fired up the old typewriter and cranked out a blog post. And aside from school, work, trying to write some fiction, and working on a new side business (more on this later), I haven’t really been busy at all. But a few recent film trailers have precipitated my emergence from hiding.

I woke up this morning and glanced over the latest film news over at Slashfilm, and was interested to see that a brand new trailer for an action movie (Bullet to the Head) starring Sylvester Stallone had hit the nets. And this news on the heals of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s newest action film trailer for The Last Stand debuted on the web about a week ago. Someone remind me, please: Which decade are we living in? Check the trailers below, and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

Clearly, these two 80’s action stars are using the success of Stallone’s ensemble actioner, The Expendables, and the projected success of its sequel The Expendables 2 (starring nearly the entire stable of aging 80’s action films stars including Sylvester Stallone,  Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger), which hit theaters a few days ago.

Bullet to the Head, director Walter Hill’s (48 Hours, The Warriors, Red Heat) first film in over 10 years, looks to be the most promising of these two offerings, but it will be interesting to see how these play out with audiences. Clearly, these guys aren’t trying to reinvent themselves, and are obviously playing on some leftover nostalgia for the dead 80’s action genre. But, are these guys recognizable enough to draw in the younger half of Hollywood’s 18-40 year old target audience? Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in The Tomb

Clearly, someone in Hollywood believes in reviving the brand that these geriatric heroes helped create. In addition to the aforementioned trio of films, Stallone and Calli-forn-eeya’s former governor are currently teaming up on a prison escape film called The Tomb.

Timing is everything, but it makes me wonder (and lament) what could have been done with a third Conan film, if Arnold hadn’t gotten himself mixed up with those dastardly Republicrats, and wasted nearly 8 years of his life scratching around in the dirt with politicians. Alas that we’ll never know…

But I digress.

It’s obvious these guys still have the charm and moxie to pull off the old tough guy routine. Not sure that they can do it as well as Clint Eastwood did in Gran Torino—wait, who am I kidding? Of course they can’t. But it is fun to see them play tough guys with some limitations, which is a distinct contrast to the films they made in the 1980’s, in which their characters were almost always invincible.

In case you haven’t seen it, I’m including a trailer for The Expendables 2, and some footage from a Comic Con panel that Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Dolph Lundgren attended to promote the film. Enjoy.

 

 

 

See you at the movies.

Kirk out.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

‘Lockout’ trailer promises nothing new

Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential, The King’s Speech) has roles in two science fiction films this year, one you’ve probably heard of already, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, and one that you might not have heard of. And if I was going to judge the film based on its trailer (which I will), I’m not sure that you’ve been missing anything.

Lockout, written by French filmmaker Luc Besson (The Fifth Element), doesn’t seem interested in pushing any new barriers, or answering any new questions. Actually, the filmmakers behind Lockout seem pretty content to squeeze in every action film cliché and sci-fi trope they could think of to fill in the space between SFX shots—an approach to filmmaking that rarely, if ever, results in anything more than spectacle. In fact, viewing the trailer, one can’t help but wonder if writer, Besson, simply sat down at this computer while watching Carpenter’s Escape from New York.

Nevertheless, I thought it worth pointing out for those of you willing to risk the $10 bucks. Lockout is due out in theaters on April 13, 2012.

Well, what do you think? Worth the coin, or is this a rental? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Kirk out.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Sound and Fury visits bonnie Scotland (sort of)

Giddy. Tickled, even.

Not words I would usually use to describe my emotional state of being, but today, dear readers, these adjectives are perfectly apt. Because, you see, my guest post, a review of Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, has landed on the shores of Scotland’s most terrificest genre blog (of ever), Nial Alexander’s The Speculative Scotsman.

If you’ve never been, I suggest you hurry on over there now and soak up some of the amazing content that this man puts out on a regular basis. There are a lot of great guest posts up on the site right now that you can read while Nial tours the States on holiday, but TSS is well worth book marking for a mainline to the genre world.

A special thanks is in order to Niall for having me house sit while he’s away, and an even bigger, humbler thanks is needed for the extremely lavish introduction he’s given me there. Thank you, Niall.

Now, why are you still here? Go on. Get thee to TSS!

Kirk out.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

‘Total Recall’ gets a makeover

On August 3rd, 2012, Len Wiseman’s (Underworld) adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s short novel, We Can Remember it for You Wholesale, will hit theaters. In case you’ve forgotten or are too young to remember, this isn’t the first time Dick’s sci-fi story has done time on the silver screen. Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Starship Troopers) had first crack at it back in 1990 with the venerable Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role of Douglas Quaid. The two films, although sharing the same name, Total Recall, (an obvious attempt by the studio to capitalize on name recognition) seem to take fairly different approaches to the source material, trading Arnie’s lumbering strongman for Farrell’s more diminutive everyman. I’ve even read that the Mars aspect of the story has been completely omitted in this new adaptation. But there are a few things that are recognizable, and I can appreciate that Wiseman’s team had the good manners to at least nod in the direction of Verhoeven’s 20+ year old film.

Take a look.

And just for some perspective, here is the trailer for Verhoeven’s 1990 version. Enjoy.

Well? Are you anxious to see this new film? Will it measure up to the original? Do you think Farrell is up to the task of filling Schwarzenegger’s shoes?

Kirk out.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A few things…

 

1. I’m really enjoying this Russian Sci-fi in Lit and Film class. A whole new world has opened up before me. I am currently reading We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin for this class. Apparently it was the inspiration for Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. The prose in this book is outstanding. I highly recommend it.

2. The Academy Awards=lame in every possible way (where were the nominations for Take Shelter?). Lame.

3. Ron Paul leads President Obama nationally in a new Rasmussen poll.

4. Birthday coming up. I’ve come to terms with the fact that my 40’s are nearer than my 20’s. I do not rue the time that has passed, but I do lament the time that is wasted.

5. Logan has a new section on his blog titled “Concerts”. It’s a list of concerts he’s attended along with links to reviews he’s posted. Check him out. He posts regularly and is a good source for finding new, interesting media.

6. I joined Twitter, and already I am regretting/wondering why I did so. There’s an article out now discussing the fact that Twitter has been selling old tweets to data miners. Not cool. The upside is that I find out about a lot of really cool tech-sciency stuff by following one of my favorite authors, William Gibson. Follow me here.

7. Story ideas have been popping up like bunnies in my brain lately. Think I might try a few of them out on you guys in the form of microfiction.

8. I’m almost completely finished with the study/office that I began building over a year ago (it was done in stages, not continuously). Pretty happy with how it turned out, and have shifted my attention to making the backyard look more like a yard-yard, and less like Sanford’s junkyard. Still need to do base and door trim, and replace the construction door with a finished door. But that’s about it.

IMG_0747 IMG_0748

Kirk out.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Politics…schmolitics?

A few days ago I mentioned a possible new writing opportunity with the promise of later elaborating, if it panned out. I guess you could say it did, and so here I am telling you about it.

Several months back, I began to think about taking the writing thing beyond the borders of The Sound and Fury to see what possibilities might be out there in Cyberspace. And then I did what I always do when I have an idea that might require a bit more than just nifty thoughts; I procrastinated and did nothing at all with the idea.

Over the winter break, however, I began to think about it yet again. I mentioned the idea of freelance writing to my wife, Kelley, and she enthusiastically encouraged me to pursue the possibility. And so I began looking again for markets to start publishing material in. I figured I would stick with the things I normally write about: movies, books--entertainment stuff. But as the 2012 election season got underway, the frequency and vociferousness of my political pontificating became such that my wife felt compelled to encourage me to express my sentiments by writing and sharing them with you all. (So blame her, not me.) In any case, I found merit in what she had to say, and I thought there was an opportunity there for me to expand my horizons while “walking the talk”.

After conceding that I would try my hand at political rhetoric, I was pretty certain that I didn’t want to do a lot of that here. I had already been looking at Examiner.com as a possible starting point for some freelance writing work. After checking them out, and reading what other freelance folk had to say about them, I decided it was as good a starting point as any.

Web

It turned out they had a few political topics available, and after a few weeks deliberation (Yeah, I tend not to make quick decisions. It’s a sickness, really.) I decided on Austin American Government. I applied, filled out forms, wrote a sample piece, jumped through a few hoops, and waited to hear back from them to see if I was cut from the right cloth. Needless to say, they took me in despite the shabby cut of my jib, and now I am quite pleased to introduce you to the new Austin American Government Examiner—me!

I published my first article there last night, and I’m still working out the kinks on my profile picture. But that’s me.

We’ll see how it goes, but The Sound and Fury isn’t going anywhere. I have lofty ambitions of posting here more frequently, albeit in shorter bursts. So for those of you still visiting, please keep doing so. But if you have the time, cruise on over to Examiner.com and say hello. Like, share, disagree, agree…whatever you want. I’d love your input.

As always, thanks for reading.

Kirk out.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

School, some new reads, and news

2011 has come and gone, and with it my first year back as a full-time student. It was a good year. A learning year. A year full of small triumphs and not a few minor obstacles. But with last year’s hurdles and celebrations behind me, 2012 has brought a fresh set of challenges and potential rewards with it. And so far, so good.

January marked the beginning of my first semester at the University of Texas (hook ‘em), and I have to say that I’m rather enjoying it. I’m finishing off the rest of my lower division course work this semester with Intro to Astronomy, Intro to Linguistics, Banned Books and Novel Ideas, and Russian Sci-Fi in Literature and Film. Not one of these classes have proven to be a bore yet, and I’m finding Banned Books and Russian Sci-Fi particularly interesting. These classes are right up my alley, and I’m excited to fill the voids between my ears with the kind of knowledge they promise to impart. Interesting as they are, though, they are going to significantly cut into my leisure reading. In fact, as near as I can tell, there will be no leisure reading to speak of for me this spring.

In all honesty, I’m looking forward to the required reading for Russian Sci-Fi and Banned Books so much that I don’t think I’ll mind deferring my To Be Read pile for a couple of measly months. Besides, the cool thing about these required readings is that, with the exception of a few, these are texts that I probably would never have sought out for myself. For anyone who’s interested in this kind of thing, I’m including the list of books I’ll be reading in the coming months below.

Banned Books and Novel Ideas

The Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. Wells

island-of-dr-moreau

Myra Breckinridge, Gore Vidal

Myra-Breckinridge

 

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

handmaidstale

Beloved, Toni Morrison

Beloved

Russian Sci-Fi in Literature and Film

We, Yevgeny Zamyatin

we

A Dog’s Heart (Heart of a Dog), Mikhail Bulgakov

heart-dog-mikhail-bulgakov-paperback-cover-art

Prisoners of Power, Strugatsky Brothers

prisoners

There are several other short readings from medieval texts to Cold War era stories that we’ll be looking at in the Russian class, and I’m looking forward to all of them. The cool thing about this class is that I’ve been developing an interest in things Eastern European for a while now, and so studying the history of the region from the perspective of science fiction and fantasy, two of my favorite genres, is like having my cake and eating it too. And cake makes Kris happy. I’ll probably be posting very short opinions of these selections here at The Sound and Fury as the semester progresses, in case any of you are interested in giving them a try.

I fortuitously (finally!) finished reading King’s Magnum Opus, It, recently, which cleared my plate for all of these upcoming, required readings. It was an amazing feat of literature. To pigeonhole this book as a work of pop-horror fiction is criminally irresponsible and just plain short sighted. It took me forever to read, but I’d hate for anyone to think that this is a result of some defect in the writing. My attention span has been very short lately, and the time it took me to wade through It should be a reflection of my deficiencies and not held against the writer. I doubt I’ll ever get around to reviewing this book (the scope of the narrative is so great that I doubt I could ever adequately distill it into a cogent review), so I’ll just leave you with the knowledge that I thought/think very highly of it, and the book only solidifies the notion in my head that King is highly underrated and under-credited as merely a horror novelist. That isn’t to say that he hasn’t had his missteps, but the man deserves a better descriptor than Horrorist. I will be watching the film adaptation of It in the next week or so, and that might present a better opportunity for a review, perhaps as a compare/contrast review against the book. We’ll see.

It Novel Cover

Despite the mountain of reading that’s about to descend upon my head like an avalanche of bound, collected ideas, I’ve got the second volume of Y: The Last Man sitting on my nightstand patiently waiting to be cracked open. The graphic novel will probably be my one respite from required reading, and I think that’s practical.

y cycles

Aside from school and books, an exciting new writing opportunity has presented itself recently, and I look forward to sharing the details of that here in the next week or so. Until then, friends and neighbors, see you ‘round the nets.

Kirk out.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns’: A review

I was contemplating Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns after recently reading it, and trying to remember the last time hype resulted in anything other than slight-to-severe disappointment. Sure, you get a pretty respectable mix of positive and negative experiences when plain-old, garden variety expectations precede said experience. But hype is different than the plain-old, garden variety expectation. Expectations are largely the product of your own prior experience or knowledge of a thing. If the experience fails to live up to your expectations, you have yourself to blame. Hype, on the other hand, is the result of media over-exposure, recommendations from friends and peers, internet memes, and/or the established, socially accepted notion that a thing is deserving of the hype it’s received because it receives hype. And even when a thing is so good that it warrants the hype heaped on it, it rarely, if ever, turns out good for the late-comer.

This is the boat I find myself in when considering the highly praised, often reverently spoken of comic pinnacle, The Dark Knight Returns.

TDKR

Now, you might be thinking that I’m about to take a metaphorical bat to Miller’s landmark book based on what I’ve said so far, but rest easy, friends and neighbors. There’ll be no metaphorical batting practice here at The Sound and Fury tonight (besides, my wife doesn’t like me swinging things in the house), but I do have a few grievances to air before we get around to the part where I tell you that I actually liked the book.

Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns was published the same year as Watchmen (1986) and is considered by many to be every bit the landmark comic that is Alan Moore’s dark, gritty twist on the superhero genre. Set in a dystopian Gotham City years after Batman has hung up his cape for the last time, a new, more savage criminal element threatens to bring the city to its knees, and Harvey Dent, the ex-Gotham City D.A. otherwise known as Two Face, is set to be released from Arkham Home For The Emotionally Troubled. From the inside out, Gotham City reeks of trouble. It oozes fear and self-loathing, too full of modern sophistication to admit that it still needs the Caped Crusader. And on the outskirts, an aging Bruce Wayne, tormented by revenge and promises left unfulfilled, once again dons the cape and mask to haunt the rooftops of Gotham, and the hearts and minds of the criminals who prey upon those who live beneath them. Malcontents emerge from every walk of life (including The Joker, of course), and like dogs, take turns trying to bite off a piece of the noticeably older, less resilient Batman.

bruce wayne

Sounds pretty good, huh? It is, I assure you. But it’s not without its faults.

For one, The Dark Knight Returns is confusing. The narrative switches clumsily between the main storyline and TV news segments where pundits and talking heads are depicted debating the events as they unfold within the story. I actually liked the use of the device as a means of giving the reader a social context for the events in the story and for building tension, but I felt like the writing and/or pencils could have made these transitions much smoother and easier to follow with a bit of skilful editing. On my first read through, I had to keep backing up and taking closer looks at and re-reading certain panels to understand what had just happened. I don’t think there’s any excuse for this.

I also thought the Superman subplot was mishandled. It felt tacked on, alien, and just disingenuous. And it led to a climax, and ultimately an ending, that didn’t seem worthy of either characters.

Admittedly, those are two pretty sizable complaints. Despite them, though, there’s plenty to like between the covers of The Dark Knight Returns.

mutantleader

The art is just…fascinating. Upon cracking open The Dark Knight Returns, the reader is immediately transported to a nightmare vision of Gotham City. Panel after panel of noir imagery, subverted and augmented by the rowdy, pastel  influences of the 1980’s, leap off the page. Wispy tendrils of smoke and ground fog drift out of the panels as shadowy appendages drag the reader’s gaze into Miller’s Gotham, a Gotham that is comprised of as many shades of gray as the characters who inhabit it. This ain’t your grandaddy’s Batman, boys. And, obviously, that’s part of the appeal. Part of what made TDKR stand out above the rest of the comic stories that were still doing the same, tired, kid-friendly stories they’d been doing for nearly fifty years. TDKR reflects the pessimism, greed, and fear that permeated the Cold War society of people that had been living in fear of imminent nuclear attack since the sixties.

If, for some reason, the art doesn’t blow your cape up, the writing is sharp enough to make up the difference. Miller seems to hold a magnifying glass up to the darker, grimier corners of Gotham. He shines a light on corruption and greed and self pity as if he were on some crusade of his own. In any case, it feels honest. And honesty makes for easy reading. In this case, it also makes for really good reading.

batman and joker

The Dark Knight Returns, though a bit confusing at times, and lacking any real wind behind its sails by the time it gets to the climax, is a great Batman story. Is it more than that? Maybe. Is it the book to end all books? The final word on Batman, Robin, and even Superman? Nope. Not even close.

See you ‘round the cave.

Kirk out.

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