Tag Archives: zombie

Writing: Demographics of Tesseracts 17 Part III

anthology, speculative fiction, SF, fantasy, Canadian authors

Tesseracts 17 will be out in October, with tales from Canadian writers that spans all times and places.

I’m sorry that I’ve been so busy that I’ve had little time to write. In about a month I’ll be on my way to Europe and before that, Tesseracts 17 will be released. We’ll be doing a promo interview session on Bitten by Books so stay tuned for more information there. Plus, a reading is scheduled at Bakka Books in Toronto on Oct. 19 and David Jon Fuller, one of our authors will be reading at the Chi Reading Series in Winnipeg on Oct. 9.

Now, I’ve spent a great deal of time working out the demographics of Tesseracts 17, mostly because I was curious. Should I edit another anthology I would track from the beginning. Here I’ve tried to map the genres of the submissions. This is the most subjective list of all. One, I didn’t track all of the stories  so I may not remember what the story is about from the title and the notes. On top of that, every reader and writer will see a story differently. Is a zombie story a horror story, a science fiction story or fantasy? In fact, it can be any of those and sometimes more than one. And I don’t remember all of the stories that well, so the table has an added inaccuracy.

I found as I was starting to list the stories that I couldn’t just say “fantasy.” That’s far too broad a genre umbrella, so I started to list what type of fantasy.  Some of these are tropes more than genres. Was it fairies or mind control or shape shifting?  What about the steampunk wendigo story? Fantasy and SF or just fantasy? And yes there were a few themes that showed up more than once. While the wendigo stories could fit under the subgenre of mythic creatures, they are a specific type of beast, like zombies and vampires, and because there was more than one, they deserved their own heading. Interesting to note, of the three specifically Canadian mythic beasties (wendigo, sasquatch, ogopogo–and there may be more I don’t know about. Maybe Steve can fill in others from the opposite coast) only wendigo appeared in the submissions. ,You, dear reader, can add up the numbers yourself, because yes, I’ve probably spent over a dozen hours on all of the demographics.

This table could have been bigger or smaller. For instance, tales involving gods got shoved under mythic beings/other creatures. I didn’t single out the three tales that involved wine though you’ll read Claude Lalumiere’s tale of wine in the anthology. There were Western flavored tales and hillbilly talk, several brutish husbands with chickenshit wives (these were too cliche), cartoons, historical/alternative histories, Jewish and Asian fantasies, dragons, winged cats, chickens and cows. Yes, even vengeful cows. We do have a historical fantasy with Patricia Robertson’s beautiful tale, and a couple end of the world stories. If anyone is interested I will break down the stories in the anthology into the genres I think they are. It would be interesting to see how Steve would classify them.

The table is read from the left column first. So if I thought a story was predominantly bizarre or metaphorical with a dollop of descent into madness, it went in the left-hand spot for bizarre. If I thought it was descent into madness with a dollop of bizarre it would go into the left-hand spot for madness. Rhea Rose’s story fits in that second category. I’ve colored the table to differentiate the categories: yellow=SF, green=fantasy, blue=horror. So Rhea’s story is colored horror.

WordPress is not easy for inserting tables and spredsheets,  so I’ve attached it. Click on  Genre chart and you’ll be able to see the list. Remember, the numbers won’t match the original demographics because I didn’t include the poems, nor about 35 stories where I couldn’t remember if they were SF, horror or fantasy.

I’m done with the demographics and will be starting to put in short interviews with the authors that will probably span the next few months. I’d like to say I’ll get two in a week but it all depends on time. So in the meantime, enjoy the demographics and look for Tesseracts 17 in October.

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Tips on How to Survive the Apocalypse

zombie, apocalypise, apocalypse diet, survival, end of the world, diet, food

Surviving the zombie apocalypse means having food in storage. From: http://eleusinianmysteriesofreading.blogspot.ca

After surviving three months of the Apocalypse Diet, where I bought no food and lived off of what was in my place, I have learned a few things. In the event of an apocalypse (choose your poison), whether earthquake, alien invasion, uber contagious supervirus, zombies or a gadzillion insects attacking, how long would you survive? Looking at the necessities before battling the foe, that would be the basic creature comforts: a safe place to sleep, food and water.

It’s always good to have either frozen or sealed jugs of sterile water stored, which will keep indefinitely. In Vancouver, we sometimes get “boil water” advisories when the water table is high or there’s been an issue (rare) with the water system. You’ll want a few other items such as easily accessible flashlights, lighters and candles. You might have tools on your list but food is going to matter most. If the power cut out, then whatever you had in your freezer would have to be eaten first, starting with the meats as they thawed. Extra ice would help, or a cool place outside such as a ground cellar. Probably learning how to pickle items would help or how to salt meats if you had a full-on freezer with too many items rotting.

One thing that was absolutely essential in having fresh vegetables throughout my experiment was a low humidity fridge. It removes so much moisture that foods dry out as opposed to mulching down. I once had grapes turn to raisins over three months in my fridge (yes, another experiment). The secret is to leave as many out of the bags as possible or leave them loosely bagged. Items with high water content such as lettuce, spinach, zucchini will rot first, no matter what. Root vegetables will last longest. Apples will last longer than berries.

And of course, it’s important to have a lot of carbohydrates stored: potatoes, yams, rice, quinoa, pasta, flour, barley, beans, etc. I had all of these items and still hadn’t quite run out after three months. I learned some interesting things about eating patterns while eating for the apocalypse. I did eat less. I stretched out my vegetables and proteins by upping the carb content. Carbs fill you up. This explains diets of people who are poor. They’re often undernourished and eat too many fats and carbs, the easiest and cheapest way to feel full. I’ve heard people arrogantly say before that a person who is “fat” should just “lose weight.” It’s not always that easy without knowing the backgrounds, such as physical, mental or environmental disorders.  I consider poverty an environmental disorder.

I also rediscovered some foods; that barley is actually tasty and bulgar wheat isn’t bad, that potato flour can’t be substituted for

apocalypse, zombies, end of the world, survival, food, eating,

May the apocalypse be nothing more than a nightmare. From deviantart.com, artist: arcipello

rice or wheat flour in baking, that coconut milk, peanut butter and soy sauce make a quick and easy Thai curry. I am a food concocter at the best of times, throwing in this and that, so some dishes I never commented on as they’re my normal range of mad scientist fare. An adaptable mind will help as supplies run out.

As well, I found the archaic beasts that had lived in my cupboards for far too long: the raisins (gone to the neighbor), really dead prunes, a host of dried fruit I don’t eat, sauerkraut that will outlive cockroaches. I used up a lot of little bits of this and that but still have the fruit from liqueurs I made about ten years ago. I need to make muffins of this or throw it out. If the apocalypse happened in a month or two I’m sure I could survive another three months as I’ve restocked quickly. Buying in bulk is often cheaper. If it’s the growing season it won’t be as bad for fresh food, even if my freezer is relatively empty. Here’s to surviving the apocalypse.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 73-76

 

food, eating, diet, zombies, apocalypse diet, brains

If only I could make these for my Zombie Salon. Creative Commons: xsomnis, flickr BrettMorrison gallery

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 73 (Mar. 13):

Originally I predicted I could make it till March on the food in my place without buying any, and I have. I’ll make it to the ides of March but will I make it beyond? Anyone want to place a bet on which day I’ll capsize? I said I’d stop when there was nothing but condiments and alcohol, but I am becoming heartily sick of this diet. I miss my veggies. While there are a few veggies and frozen fruits left, I can continue but I won’t last long when they’re gone, not too mention the nutritive balance will be out the window. Right now I’ve at least been getting proteins, carbs and veggies though the portions have changed.

Breakfast was! Yes, molasses banana bread. That sucker keeps going but there is only one more slice left. And lunch was Apocalypse Pottage. Dinner was a simple fair of the last of my hearty pea soup.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 74 (Mar. 14):

I missed breakfast this morning and I’m thinking about zombies, not for food yet. Seriously, if I don’t like red meat and am averse to eating humans, zombies will be very far down on the list. I’d be chomping on every bush in the vicinity first. But how else could I deter the rage infested, virus-filled hyper-diseased zombie? Well obviously, do a better job of boarding up the place. If I’m going to hammer up boards I’m not nailing those boards on straight but driving the nails in at an angle so they can’t be pushed out. Better yet, use screws. If it’s the press of numbers there’s not a lot I can do. I’d also head for the country, where there are fewer zombies. I’d get the biggest mofo truck I could manage with a winch and a huge grill so I could ram anything out of the way. A flamethrower would certainly be helpful for fricassee zombie, and of course the spiky, all encompassing clothing. No going out without a crash helmet and hazmat suit. Let’s see a movie that actually has people acting intelligently in it.

And speaking of zombies, the creeping crud is attacking me. A cold sore has started and anyone who has ever had one knows you start to look like a zombie when your skin bubbles and blisters. So I had my pseudo clam chowder for lunch. Someone gave me a big bran muffin and I was only going to eat half but it was so tasty I ate it all. But not feeling very hungry, for dinner I had a bowl of good ole Lipton’s chicken noodle soup, which I found in the cupboard. There’s enough salt in that thing to keep a pasture of cows happy but the noodly goodness is an old comfort food.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 75 (Mar. 15):

Today, the ides of March, it felt like zombies had been clawing their way out of my throat. I had a doctor’s appointment in the

zombie, apocalypse diet, food, hazmat suits, protection, end of the world

Supposedly flaming zombies isn't a good thing but I'd like to believe they wouldn't see through the flames, nor smell anything but flaming zombie. From: jadedviewer.blogspot.com

morning so I got up for that but then came straight home. My mother used to give us hot water with brandy, lemon and honey when we had colds. Of course there was little brandy but my scratchy throat determined that I would have a giant mug with hot water, a liberal dollop of brandy, a squeeze of slightly dessicated lemon, and maple syrup,  since I have no lemon. I drank that and then went back to sleep.

While I was hungry when I awoke I was also feeling slightly queasy. I ate half a bowl of the roasted garlic and potato soup, which severely upset my stomach. The weird thing is that I can do raw or fried garlic but if it’s roasted it gives me terrible gas. I have two more containers in the freezer but the reaction was severe enough I’m seeing if my neighbors would like it. Which means, the larder will empty even sooner. I’ve been looking forward to using the panang curry with some canned crab but that’s a bit too spicy for a sore throat. I ate the last piece of molasses banana bread, and had another cup of the hot brandy toddy but a skin had formed in the maple syrup and fell into my cup. That slimy thick, snotty texture was truly disgusting and I had to fish it out. Blargh!

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 76 (Mar. 16):

The creeping crud and I are in a headlock. I’m not sure who’s winning. I’m feeling rather hungry having had nothing but soup for the last couple of days. I have some Ryvita crackers, rather tasteless, but I munched one down for breakfast. Lunch was the last of the Apocalypse Pottage made with beets, tomatoes, barley and tuna. Tonight I’ll probably do up some rice noodles and a bit of fish sauce, tuna and garlic, and maybe red cabbage.

Keeping with the zombie theme, I’m having a Zombie Salon, because I want peoples’ brains. Which means, I’ll have a few people over to actually discuss topics other than sports and the weather. Since I have lots of vodka I’ve offered up martinis. Not sure if I can do a zombie themed martini though. I’ll report on that in the next update.

To recap after my first month on the Apocalypse Diet, I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I can take home the leftovers but this isn’t a stop-gap so no ordering pizza.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. Someone can give me food, for in the post-apocalyptic world we might want to trade or eat together in safety once in a while.

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Book Review: The Very Bloody Marys

Very Bloody Marys

Very Bloody Marys

I’ve owed M. Christian this review for a very long time and since it’s not timely with the release (2007 by Haworth Positronic Press), then why not a review in time for that holiday shopping list? And a huge mea culpa–I didn’t realize it had been that long. I still owe you.

From the title you might think this is about drinking, or murderous monarchs. If you thought one of these, you’re close to the heart of the matter. But really it’s both, about bloodthirsty vampire queens. Some are not so much queen as just murderous gay vampires. If you’re familiar with M. Christian’s work, you know he’s a prolific writer, and his writing includes erotic tales straight, gay, lesbian, etc. He’s very versatile. So I confess to thinking this book would be about gay vampires with  a lot of erotica thrown in. Though it has sensuous details this is more the tale of a gay vampire trying to gain experience as a detective. It’s a murder mystery with the supernatural thrown in.

While vampire detectives are not necessarily new, a gay vampire detective is. Valentino is thrust into the crime scene on a personal level, since his mentor is missing. And the crime scene: Vespa scooting vampires are killing the folks of San Francisco and risking the outing of all vampires, who tend to live by a code so that they aren’t hunted down. Coupled with mentor Pogue’s disappearance, Valentino has two mysteries to figure out.

The book opens with three different beginnings as Valentino tries on his authorial voice. This sets the tone, and gives this character high twinkiness. Valentino is a flamer, vapid and vain. The character was so irritating and flittythat I nearly put the book down, but his way in the world was intriguing. I think M. Christian might have cut it down a bit but then I realized there is a good reason about a quarter of the way into the book on why Valentino is acting this way. He comes to discover what’s been done to him and his personality deepens as it’s unlayered.

Valentino relies on other supernatural help and Christian’s writing uses some very descriptive phrases. For being an undead guy, Valentino is vibrantly alive and given to over verbosity that doesn’t stop in describing his zombie driver: “One time–big shudder here–I had caught a look at his eyes, two puss-filled boiled-egg eyes staring, unblinking, straight ahead, and didn’t sleep well for a week.” Of course that should be pus-filled not eyes with cats in them, but I blame the publisher for not putting a proofreader on it or maybe they did and missed it. There are very few typos, which is a good thing.

You get a good sense of Valentino’s world as he sees it. “Finally, the Brass Ass of the Great Emancipator (Abraham Lincoln) led me through silverfish heaven to a narrow doorway between the piles…In it was Saul, tarnished silver hair, rainbow sweater unwinding in spots into primary colors, brittle bones showing where unwinding yarn couldn’t hide it, eyes like bleached robin’s eggs, Indian blanket in his lap hiding the bones I knew weren’t just brittle but also didn’t work, and, because of those legs, an ancient wheelchair.”It took me a moment to realize he meant realbones, not bony legs; the visual setting is very concrete.

Much of Valentino’s descriptions go into overdrive, with buckets of adjectives. They hit their height when he’s talking about his lover, Julian. “Oh oh oh Julian Julian Julian–beloved, adored, venerated companion, compadre, mate, playmate, partner, betrothed, idol, best friend, love, lover–oh oh oh Julian Julian Julian…” A bit much? Yes, but then this is the turning point for Valentino.

Events pick up with dire and catastrophic discoveries. I don’t want to give it away but let’s just say the Very Bloody Marys are brutal, relentless, sociopathic, fashion sensitive vampires. As the fog clears from Valentino’s eyes he finds his world isn’t as he suspected. Sure it still has a few supernatural beings but all is not what it seems. He still richly describes things but there is a darker vein now to the vampire detective’s perspective. “The inky blackness didn’t so much as run as steadily walk out of that doorway. A pooling, a billowing, a smoking, and then up and into arms and legs and a wide-brimmed hat pulled down over hooded eyes.”

When  Valentino runs into Ombre, even the supernatural shade notices something has changed though the gay vampire tries to hide it. “It’s just that you seem different somehow. The flippancy is still there, that much is clear, but it’s like something else is missing.”

And Valentino has changed on several levels. In the process of discovering what has happened to Pogue, being threatened with permanent annihilation and in stopping the brutal gang, he earns his wings. He solves the mysteries, stops the Marys and finally grows up a bit after 200 years. M. Christian wraps up the tale in a very satisfying and unpredictable way. It’s one of the many bright spots in the story; very little is predictable. You won’t see this as another tired take on the vampire trope. It’s refreshingly bright and if not a complete happy ending, one with suitable revenge.

If you’re looking for a good, fast paced read, or if you like mystery or fantasy or gay fiction. Or if you just want something different and new, this book will be as satisfying as a vampire’s first drink of blood.

The Very Bloody Marys, M. Christian, 2007 Haworth Press Inc. ISBN: 9781560235354

M. Christian’s site: http://zobop.blogspot.com/

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