Category Archives: altworld

Son of the Big Dumb Object


EgoOne of my very favorite things in the world of fiction is that cosmic force, the presence that is imposing just because of its size, the very Big Dumb Object itself. An example, seen below, adds consciousness to the mix. The presentation is excellent. I love the image. But not enough was done with it, plotwise, back in the day.
One of the things that makes me create is the desire to see a better version of things, at least in my eyes. My first writing was done in response to a comic-book villain I thought terrible (the Stilt-Man, as in DD#48). So I come by it naturally. My art is, at least initially, imitative.dd48 It always has been. I like a certain amount of structure, a framework to stand on, before taking the great leap into the unknowable seas of imagination. My first drafts, first versions of things, almost always have a large portion of synthesis, of combining previously-known ingredients into a new stew, stirring it up, and then improvising over the changes. Continue reading

bEastliness


the_yellow_sign_by_asmodean1985For Joe…but a small tributary, hardly a capillary, late, but seemingly necessary. At least to me.

 

 

 

This was before the Play. This was before everything.

Cassilda and Cassandra and Caterina and Calliope and Cassiopeia were seated on their pedestals, which spiraled ever-so-slightly upward so that Cassilda was uppermost (done by the strong urgings of her mother, to be sure), having a rather nice chat about their lessons that day, when courtier Jenkin burst into the room all a’titter over something or other that he imagined, a slight so small that it had passed beneath the notice of everyone else at the Ball.

Jenkin carried on tittering and gnashing his teeth and gibbering complete nonsense for quite some time.
Cassilda admired the draperies, which were quite a nice shade of eggshell, and a very fine weave, and Cassandra and Caterina made the motions they had practiced earlier. First up with the right hand, palm up, then the left, then turn them over palm-down simultaneously while stamping both feet.Calliope stamped also, and Cassiopeia said the words.

The girls were all precious and precocious, and they conspired to turn poor Jenkin into a thing. And he just released from the shore-prison, where he had been a rock for just eons.

Now he’d hands and feet, and a smaller and more wizened version of his usual visage, but he was also equipped with a prodigious and very scaly tail, which twitched in annoyance, and a short-furred body about the size of a medium-sized dog’s, though bearing a distinct resemblance to rattus rattus.

How he howled!

His footman Mazuriewicz came then, and fetched Jenkin back before the King, to see if something could be done.

“By the very hoary and hallowed Gods of defile!” Declaimed Mazuriewicz. “These young ladies have gone too far this time. First animating the garden of stones, and now this. And with visitors coming too!”

He huffed off seeking his audience with the regent, not hesitating to take his fill of any provender, victual, or canape that he encountered along the way.

His footsteps and his grumbling echoed in the great groined halls and reached the King long before his personal aroma did. The King was not in fact overtaken with ardor for either Jenkin or Mazuriewicz, and undertook to be elsewhere when they arrived.
His relatives, their relatives and friends, and several persons as yet uninvited but present nonetheless, addressed themselves to the buffet, which was groaning with joints of beast and whole dressed hams, yams, clams, spam, and jam, with a great many varieties of bread and rolls and buns and cakes and pies and tarts and pastries and cookies such as remained uneaten thus far.

Mazuriewicz and Jenkin joined them before continuing on, seeing that the King was not in residence at that moment.

Jenkin also availed himself of several pieces of flatware and a small candelabra.

He resigned himself to his fate.
“I’m resigned to this fate,” he squeaked to Mazuriewicz. “There’s nothing anyone can do.”
“Nonsense,” came the reply. “You simply lack persistence.” Mazuriewicz shrugged elaborately, dislodging his powdered hairpiece somewhat. He patted it back into place absently. “The King will set things to rights.”
“I am not a particular favorite of the King’s,” Jenkin squeaked. “He will make it worse. The last time he was displeased, he turned me into a living rock for a few thousand years.”
“Well, there is that,” Mazuriewicz admitted, shaking his head and making his hairpiece jiggle dangerously. “But time isn’t the same here, so it didn’t seem that long.”

“To you,” Jenkin snarled.
“Well, of course, to me,” Mazuriewicz replied testily. “Who else would I be talking about?”
“I was talking about me,” squealed Jenkin.
“Aren’t you always?” Mazuriewicz raised his left eyebrow and glowered at Jenkin from beneath it. “You’re your own favorite subject.”

Jenkin rushed him, jumped upon his back, began gnawing on his skull. “I will have you for lunch. This very day,” he snarled, taking the wig in his mouth and hurling it. A cloud of powder followed. Jenkin reapplied himself to his task with vigor.

Mazuriewicz covered his head with his arms and tried to move Jenkin by pulling his cloak over his head and making a bag out of the inside-out thing.

Jenkin ate through it.

By then Mazuriewicz was two hundred yards away and widening the gap.

“He’ll be back,” said Jenkin, taking his place at the endless buffet again, among the rest of the misfits, malingerers, malformed, malignant, and misunderstood.

When he was quite round enough to feel comfortable, Jenkin moved on to his chambers and began to collect the things he’d need, for he didn’t feel that he could stay, under the current circumstances.

“I don’t think I could stay,” he said, “or that I should stay. If I stay there will be trouble. If I go there will be trouble. But if I go the nature of the trouble is unknown. I don’t want to be a rock again. This body works, after a fashion.”

Cassilda and Cassandra and Caterina and Calliope and Cassiopeia were all watching of course, because everyone watched everybody else constantly, because how else to know what you should be doing except by comparing one’s plans to others’ plots?

Anything else would nonsensical. So said Demhe, and Demhe knew all.

Demhe was from the universe before this one, and knew what was going to happen before it happened.

Some even said Demhe caused things to happen, but that’s simply not possible. Demhe doesn’t move, have arms, legs, fingers, toes. Demhe is just a stone.

In those days, except to things like Jenkin, it was a happy time. Good days on Carcosa, not long after the universe was born, and the city Carcosa on the planet Carcosa, near the western shore of the great frozen lake Hali, was young and whole, and its marbled avenues and metallic hues rivaled the very five suns for splendor.

For there were five suns then, not just two, and a great many moons, moonlets, satellites, asteroids, comets, planetoids, and personal craft plied the spaceways.

He who is not to be named had not yet arrived. It is unknown if he had yet been quickened.

For, as you recall, it was a very very long time ago.

Cassilda and Cassandra and Caterina and Calliope and Cassiopeia finished their chat about their lessons and practicing their signs, warnings, weavings, castings, and wards, and took leave of one another, making for their respective dwellings.
“I’ll see you later,” called Cassilda. “I’m for tea and a hot bath.”
“Marvelous,” trilled Cassandra. “Oh, a bath. With lots of bubbles!”
Caterina and Calliope thought the bath capital also.
Cassiopeia demurred.
“Be a stick in the mud,” the others jeered.
Cassiopeia’s eyes widened. Cassilda was beginning a weaving. The stars were darkening.

“NO, Cass,” she said.
Cassilda smiled thinly, showing the tips of her teeth, and tied the weaving off.

The stars came back out.
“I wouldn’t do that, to you,” Cassilda said. “But I could.” And she and the others sashayed off to the baths. Cassilda in white, Cassandra in green, Caterina in yellow, Calliope in red.

Cassiopeia, blue, stayed behind.

She had business with the stone.

Her bath done, her precious self fragrant and enveloped in a robe of the palest persimmon, her pert lips parted parsimoniously, Cassilda addressed herself to her instruments, first directing the engine to imitate the sounds of the crimson dawn, utilizing screams and squeaks of her own devising as ambient underpinning for the music of the spears.

Using the visions she had gleaned from the stone, of beasts of all descriptions throwing themselves onto the long blades in the Forest of Knives, of terror that resonated even into the Outlands, Cassilda poured her soul into the music.

Her familiar began to howl along with the melody, to become the melody. He bayed half-formed thoughts, parts of words learned parrot-fashion, his twin throats in counterpoint.

“I can’t stand when he talks like that,” giggled Cassilda, holding her nose. “And the way he sings. But his music flows, and I want some of that.”

She bent over her megatar, tightened a drone string to get it in tune with the others, strummed a chord.

The chord sounded, and hung in the air. As it began to crumble, she sent another one after it. Soon, three was a crowd.

She reached out, made a gesture with her fingers somewhere between a wave and a slap, and the chords reappeared and repeated. She added bass notes, and patiently continued to assemble her song. Her familiar howled and bayed and gibbered and glubbered along, and the engine relayed it all into the stone, into Demhe, and out into the universe.

The King caught the performance. He enjoyed Cassilda’s rage, her desire for destruction. He thought he might like to express some of the feelings her music generated, in words.

He took up his pen. He wrote, and Demhe assimilated those words.

Cassilda

Cassilda 2015 by Duane Pesice

Monday musings 3/21


grovesm

Photo by Ian Sidlow

Monday. Edit/rewrite sorta day. The NIGHTMARE GROVE collection opens with the story “Ink,” which was cribbed from the CRAZYTOWN collection since it was originally set in Oak Grove and only recently moved to Tuxtown.

So I have to fix the references (for the most part-there are connections between the two collections) and there are a couple of scenes that could work more smoothly.
“Ink” is based on one of my more successful stories, “Parchment” in its original incarnation. It was published in three languages, and in seven separate magazines/ezines, and also kindled a fabulous audio reading by the redoubtable Morgan Scorpion (Parchment).
“Ink” makes the process of transposition clearer and ramps up the body-horror and psych-horror.
There is a sequel, which will be part of CRAZYTOWN, perhaps with some input from the inestimable Frederick J. Mayer. That’s getting processed after “Ink” and “stars” Nate Jenkins, who had previously appeared in the BROWN JENKINS series of stories and in “Pnakotic Reaction”.

crazytown

Art by Candra Hope

I’m reworking the text for the CRAZYTOWN cover. It looks like there may be a few things to add. Maybe a blurb or two, and the ToC has been monkeyed with. This is a copy of the original art, which is just beautiful, with the rot beneath the surface admirably depicted. Also in the current pipeline are the novella Fear and Loathing in Innsmouth, which is as gonzo as gonzo gets, a weird/bizarro treatment of the themes of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth and the preoccupations and subtext of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I do plan to run that one by Nick Mamatas and Brian Keene before it hits the stacks. They should be amused, as the authors of The Damned Highway, which has some of those ideas embedded within its pages.
FALII…

fin

Art by Will Jacques

Unfortunately, the graphic novel version of this story never got off the ground. But this version should knock everyone’s socks off.

Also in the 2016 pipeline is BETROTHED TO YOG-SOTHOTH, a Barbara Cartland meets Tom Tryon sorta version of the Dunwich Horror, with a lot of Lavinia’s biography filled in. The novel was inspired by a piece of art from someone at deviantart that doesn’t answer their email, and so that picture won’t be on the front cover. Instead, I have this evocative art:

yog

Art by JB Lee

Those are the four books I have planned for this year. They’re all in the finalizing stages — the i’s have been crossed and the tees dotted. Walpurgisnacht and the 4th of July, All-Hallow’s Eve, and Xmas are the projected release dates.

They’ll all be under my Planet Moderan imprint, and will be available in both ebook and treebook incarnations. I’m going to revive BEFORE CRAZYTOWN instead of sticking its stories into NIGHTMARE GROVE. That’s getting done this week too.

eebs and arcs


In book news, I entered into what may be the last phase of edits for the collection NIGHTMARE GROVE. This book compiles material from my ebook Before Crazytown and several newer stories, three of which were written especially  for the collection. Here’s a look at the table of contents (the asterisked are new):

grovesm

 

Ink
Linkage*
The Forgotten God*
Ghoul Picnic
The Whispering Trees
Green
Pawprints *
Pnakotic Reaction
Frieze in Blue and White*
Waiting for the Sun (both the story and as a title for a flash fiction section)

 

E-versions (“Eebs”) and ARCs will be made available for review purposes, upon request, from moderanathotmaildotcom, shortly after the first of the month. Continue reading

With Folded Brain


Third+Eye+Doctor+StrangeShit. I forgot to talk about the King in Yellow stuff. I’ll get back to it by and by. I WILL BLOG EVERY DAY. I WILL BLOG EVERY DAY. I WILL BLOG EVERY DAY.I promise. Or something like that.
It’s effectively New Year’s Day. let’s just go with that polite fiction, and on to the content…

Continue reading

Well…


logoI know, deep subject, joke too-often told. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Last time, I reported that I was going to try to blog on the off-days from creating Cub Tracks. I just skipped a couple of days.

They’ve been busy days. I’m amid one of those spells of productivity that I seem to be cursed with and I’m generating new copy and riffs in bulk. Some of it is even worth keeping.

Here’s todays Cub Tracks (Masters Reality) – link – with the fabulous image:

gettyimages-2406034-0-0

Ozzy and Sharon “sing” the seventh inning stretch.

I build these articles as little stories. First I prospect for links, in mostly predetermined places, and see what kind of narrative can either be gleaned or imposed on that collection of webpages.

I’m looking for things that either can create discussion by themselves, or that augment previous discussion on other pages on the site, or that continue the prevailing narrative of the fanbase in general.

Right now, the Cubs are the top of the heap. They’ve conquered as much of the baseball world as you can without actually playing the games. So I’m playing off of that.
The rest I pack with in-jokes, subreferences, links to videos, links to sarcastic commentary, whatever works to further the entertainment value of the piece, or to educate and inform. Just discovering how much I can do with the form.

It takes a couple or three hours three days a week to accomplish this all. The process is pretty involved, but I think it’s worth doing things right. Continue reading

Encapsulated


I finished a book last night and a piece of music this morning. Here’s the review of the book:
The HAB Theory

From Goodreads:

The HAB Theory by Allan W. Eckert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally getting to the end of the Hab Theory. It’s a long book, and the end honestly plods a little bit. It’s a bit anachronistic, in the mode of Arthur Hailey and that bunch.
Not a bad book but not a GREAT book, which is what it wanted to be. A bestselling topper to such things as 334 and The Sheep Look Up, with a new twist on the global disaster thing.
But too much focus on developing sorta stereotype characters made me picture everyone wearing dacron polyester and hoping there would be fondue.

new avatar

Carnival Knowledge

Note:

It’s been decided by the powers-that-be (namely me) that my December ebook will be Fear and Loathing In Innsmouth. January will be the “abed chronicles”, depicting my harrowing experiences in the hospital a couple of years ago. And perhaps CrazyTown if all of the i’s have been crossed and the tees dotted.
Letters from Outside will fit in there somewhere, as long as I’m in finishing mode. Not going to open it for contributions at present but that’s still a possibility somewhere down the line.
Other volumes due in 2015 include “Milk“, the medical satire (Space Merchants meets Bug Jack Barron); Blue Easter (at long last); and Fallen Earring (the Hendrix novel).