Friday, January 30, 2009

"Spidorans Below" -- Part 1

I mentioned in last week's post that I was semi-disappointed by the last couple of posts I've made. This week I've decided to remedy that with Part 1 of a new Zalam short story.

Zalam, for those not with the knowledge, is an alien Sword & Sorcery character I've written about before. This is the first time he's ever appeared outside of If - E - Zine(tm), my ezine dedicated to science fiction, fantasy and horror. The first story appeared in Issue #3 in a short story entitled "The Last Stand of King Zalam". He then appeared in Issue #4 in the short story "Zalam of the Mountains" and then again in Issues #10-12 in the serialized story "Zalam in the Lost City of Adul-Ra".

Zalam is a derderoid -- an alien species living on the planet Protuculus. He was once king of all Protuculus, but was usurped by an invading human named Norikahn. Zalam escaped to the harsh wintry Argonian Mountains with the help of his wizardly friend Calibos the Mage. He struggled to survive within the climes of the mountain range and was found nearly frozen to death by servants of Rasiki-Ha -- ruler of the fabled city Adul-Ra. Plots were devised to torture and kill Zalam during his stay in Adul-Ra, but once more he escaped, this time with the aide of his new friend Olmec the Golem.

"Spidorans Below" picks up the story from there. As we join the story, Zalam and Olmec are descending the southernmost tip of the Argonians in flight from Adul-Ra. Unbeknownst to them, they are chased by Lizarus -- a lizardman and sworn enemy to all golems and to Zalam alike. As if this weren't enough troubles for our hero, gathering at the base of the mountains is Norikahn's army awaiting Zalam's arrival.

Will our hero escape certain death from either hand fate has dealt him?

Read on! And find out!


Moisture dripped from subterranean walls. Clicking, clattering sounds echoed throughout the cavern. Little light gave heed to size not grandeur of the earthen home. Chitterings followed. As did the shuffling of inhuman feet. A triumvirate of figures bathed in crimson, silken robes gathered round a tiny red orb set atop an ancient metal machine. The glow of the orb gave the cave its only illumination.

Each of the figures was small, yet stood as enlightened creatures. Theirs thousands of eyes each sparkled in the orb's glimmer. The faces were ghastly atrocities -- part metal and part meat. Massive mandible claws extended from lipless mouths dripping with saliva. Their robes bespoke of their six arms each. The topmost pair of arms were thin and ended in tiny hands with painfully long fingers. The other four arms had no hands, but rather a single piercing steel claw each. The robes covered the four legs each creature stood upon.

The three were ugly creatures. Each was organic. Each was inorganic. And when they spoke their mandible claws struck together lightly to add savage intonation, inflection and unnerving clacking.

*clack*clack* "Speak upon us the wisdom you have retrieved," said one creature named Aeroe.

*click*clack*click* "I've used our Seeing Orb to spy the Overworld. There is great unrest for those residing there," spoke Nauru.

*click* "What manner of unrest?" asked Enod.

*click* "The kingdom that has kept peace in the Overworld for generations has been usurped," explained Nauru. "The King of Protuculus has been replaced forcefully." *click*

*click*clack* "A war?" asked the Aeroe.

*click*click* "Not much of one," *clack*. "The king hardly stood his ground, though he remains alive and free. His army was outnumbered nine-to-one."

*clack* "Who ousted the king?"

*click* "A creature called human. His name his Norikahn."

*click* "Huuuman?" asked Enod. "What is this creature?" *clack*clack*

Nauru explained. *click* "Humans are from a world over the Overworld. Those of the Overworld call in Heavens, but the humans call it Outer Space." *clack*

*click*click*click* Enod's mandibles worked fiercely. "A world over the Overworld? This could change the perceptions of all our kind." *clack*click*

*click* "We have long known through our minimal contact with the allied Overworlders the belief is commonly held there is a world above the Overworld. There should be no surprise creatures live in this... this..." Nauru struggled for a name to this alien place. "This Outerworld." *click*

The three Spidorans mulled over matters in silence. At last, Enod -- forever the questioner - asked, *clack* "How would this usurpation affect us?"

*click* "It may not," answered Nauru. "But we may desire a hedge in our wages should matters come to directly affect us. And I fear they may." *click*

*clack* "Why would that be?" Aeroe this time was the questioner.

*click* "Because of this human and his army of metal men."

*clack*click* "Metal men?" exclaimed Enod. "Others like we?" *clack*clack*

*click* "No, no," said Nauru. "These men are completely metal and appear similar in form to the human. They have minimal linguistic skills and therefore must be assumed to be fairly stupid beasts. They are not enlightened creatures such as we." *clack*

*clack* "What of this human and its army?" asked Aeroe.

*clack* "It would appear he is bent upon a destiny of cleansing the world of all those who oppose. And those not of his kind are, if they do not willing give themselves over to be his servants, enslaved or murdered outright. It must be assumed the human would only do the same with us." *clack*

*click*click*click* "Who's to say he would discover us?"

*click* "He may not. But know this: he tortures those he enslaves and often for information about this world. We once more must assume he would do the same to the few allies we have in the Overworld and they would certainly speak of us in the fires of torture."

Again the three shared a silence.

*click*clack* "What must we do?" asked Enod.

Nauru took his time formulating an answer. *click* "As I see it," he said. "We either present ourselves to this human and offer ourselves as servants or we aide in any way the surviving king of Protuculus." *clack*

*click* "What matter does this ousted king have in this?"

*click* "It is thought as long as he's alive he threatens the authority of the human's throne. This is not unwise."

*click*click* "Then we must help the old king," said Aeroe.

*click* "His family once claimed a desire for peace amongst the world's many inhabitants. Though we do not live within the Overworld, we are a part of this world -- perhaps moreso than the rest. Ours is an ancient race, a good race filled with the passion of reason. But now is the hour we may need to take increased action to defend our lives, our way of living, our passion for reason. If not, we the eldest race of Protuculus may perish."

*click* "But this human's metal men," interjected Enod. "Think you he may have the wisdom of Fronithus?" *click*click*

Again Nauru took his time to answer. "Perhaps, but it is doubtful. Our Creator, insofar as we know, had no dealings with this Outerworld." *click*click*

*click* "Even so," said Enod, "perhaps this human knows the ways of similar alchemy that created us." *clack*click*

*click* "There are things we must assume and others we cannot," argued Nauru.

"Where is this old king?" *click* asked Aeroe.

*click*click* "He descends the southern Argonians as we speak."

*click* "We've an entrance there! We could meet with him directly!" exclaimed Aeroe.

Enod clacked nervously.

*click* "There is but one problem," said Nauru.

*click* "What problem is that?" asked Enod.

*click*clack*click* "The human's army gathers, also awaiting the old king so they may kill him or imprison him or both."

All three Spidorans clicked and clacked loudly, nervously.


Be sure to check back next week for Part 2!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Things to Come -- 1936 Classic based on H.G. Wells' work

I am a bit saddened by the last couple of posts. That would include today's. Not that we're deep into the year as yet or anything nor have I wasted time here on the blog. I think the first two blogs of the year have been quite noteworthy. But last week I merely posted a video trailer of My Bloody Valentine and today I'm posting someone's copy of the 1936 movie Things to Come. That means I've not been writing much of anything on this blog the last two weeks. And THAT is what saddens me.

But it's not a complete shame. Part of the reason I've not made two 'good' posts the last two weeks is that I've been working hard on my latest novel. In fact, as of today, I'm far ahead of where I had planned to be by this point in the year. So it's not like I'm NOT writing AT ALL. I'm just not doing much of anything here on the blog.

For that I apologize and make appeals to your reasonable side -- hoping that you'll understand.

I will be writing more substantial things soonest. I suspect some of it will have to do with further research concerning the novel (I've already posted something I came across while doing research in the Max Headroom post on January 9th).

Alas, for now we must take what we can and only hear about of the shape of things to come.

Again, with apologies.


Friday, January 16, 2009

I Like Cheese

Today's post is pretty simple stuff. I'll be going to see My Bloody Valentine 3D with a group of people. I've not gone to a theater in a group in years. It should be cheesy and fun.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Max Headroom -- Maximum Override

The title of this post makes reference to two icons of the 1980s, science fiction and horror: 1) Max Headroom being a classic 1980s character oft associated with cyberpunk culture and 2.) Maximum Override being a play on the title Maximum Overdrive - a movie by Stephen King and starring Emilio Estevez.

I am currently working on a novel involving hackers and hacker culture. As part of my research I came across the following videos concerning the aforementioned Max Headroom. Even though I was somewhat of a fan of Max Headroom (even as a child I found the TV series and movie had poor production values... I thought the Coca-Cola commercials were far superior in quality and overall execution of the character) I must admit I had never heard of this incident until conducting said research.

From Wiki:

On 22 November 1987, two Chicago television stations had their broadcast signals hijacked by an unknown person wearing a Max Headroom mask. The first attack took place for 25 seconds during the sportscast on the 9 O'Clock news on WGN-TV Channel 9 and two hours later around 11 o'clock on PBS affiliate WTTW-TV Channel 11 for about 90 seconds during a broadcast of the science fiction series Doctor Who episode Horror of Fang Rock. The second disruption also included the masked Max Headroom getting smacked on his buttocks by a fly swatter.

Here is video footage of the actual intrusion followed by a short documentary on the subject.


Friday, January 2, 2009

First Post of the New Year -- Outlining 2009

I was hoping to have some great, grand post for the first Friday of the year. Alas, it has not come to fruition. But, truth be told, from about my birthday (December 19) to sometime after the first of the new year I always take time off as a self-imposed vacation. In that respect, I've not written anything besides a few notes hither and thither about various things. In other words: I've not written anything of great import since December 18 and therefore have nothing to really post this first Friday of the new year.

In lieu of posting some tale or essay or some other such thing, I think instead I'll post one of the many notes I have taken while on vacation. It's an outline of the things I hope to accomplish with my writing this year. Of course, writing for me is an organic experience. I go whichever direction it grows. Though I attempt pruning my writing as a gardener shapes a bonsai, at times I have to simply allow my writing to come as it may.

So this is a mere guideline I hope to aim for. If other things come about that I must attend to and that will hamper achieving some of these goals I set forth here, as long as I can consider it productive, I will not consider myself a failure this year.

If 2008 could be summed up in two words, they would be "aggressive productivity." If I were to sum up my goals for 2009 it would be "aggressive productivity and promotion".

Here are those things I wish to see happen this year:

1.) Finish my current cyberpunk novel "Silent Nights". I've already written 111 pages. I'm hoping to finish it by some time between March and May.

2) If I finish "Silent Nights" early (hereby defined as March) I'd like to return to the Southern novel I started while on vacation in New Orleans in 2006. I've already written about 120-150 pages of it, but other writings have kept me from it. The tale is set in the summer, so I hope the Spring thaw and early Summer seasons will help me finish more of it.

3.) I would like to publish another issue of my webzine, If - E - Zine, some time in May. Within its pages I think I'll be placing notes I've been making of the universe of The Sarge - a character that first debuted in If - E - Zine in March of 2004.

4) Write the third novel set within the Xiao-tep universe (if you've been reading my blog you know Xiao-tep to be a wuxia martial arts koi fish-god). I think this third story set in the universe will be the end of Xiao-tep's cycle. However, I do not foresee a time when I am not writing in the universe about some other character.

5) Publish the 6th Annual Special Halloween Edition of If - E - Zine in October.

6.) Promote the site and myself online.

That's pretty much it. About the only other thing I could add is the two life-goals I'm working towards with my writing:

1.) Help with purchasing/owning a home outside of Michigan - someplace sunny and warm - for Johannah and myself.

and 2.) Working towards owning a sailboat.

I'm pretty sure I can achieve all these goals. I'm hungry. Very hungry. Both literally and figuratively. And if any of you know me, you know I don't just sit on my ass and bitch and complain about matters. I get up off my ass and make things happen. I don't know if one can get more motivated than I am right here, right now. I'm about to run like crazy. I just need someone to open the door of opportunity. I'm ready and willing to do it all. Every last bit.

I've got a feeling 2009 will be a big year.

That's about it, folks.

Happy New Year.

Let's get to work. Let's make it a good one.