Tag Archives: Alien visitors

A somewhat chaotic week, but a productive one.

Although today was pretty much a mess.

I got about a third of the way through the abortion/birth control chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches. I watched E.T. for Alien Visitors, as well as the special features on the DVD (I usually skip them when it’s a Netflix DVD, but they proved useful for my Aliens and Children chapter). I got my Leafs done, and a little bit of work on Questionable Minds. I also got word that No One Can Slay Her made it out of the slush pile to the second round of reviews and so did Southern Discomfort at Baen Books. Neither of which means a sale — I know that from experience — but still, that’s good news. And I sold a couple of copies of Sex For Dinner, Death for Breakfast in a discussion of Bond on FB.

The dogs, however, ate up quite a bit of time. I took care of them Wednesday while TYG was working on something demanding and they proved, as they often do, a distraction (they’re much quieter sitting with her in the bedroom). Then early this morning, Plush dog woke up in some sort of pain, and wandered around the bedroom, with his back legs giving out a couple of times. As TYG had been up late and needed sleep, I took Plushie down with me to the living room (I was already up — bad night of sleep again). Normally I’d have tried drifting back to sleep but while Plushie seemed fine I was worried enough that I couldn’t bring myself to sleep. And caring for him meant I didn’t get any early morning work done, nor did I exercise. The rest of the day I was pretty dazed; I managed to finish my Leafs for the week, then it was pretty much sleep and blogging. I’ll be taking him to the vet later today. Prayers appreciated that it’s something simple to fix and definitely not seriously threatening.

Oh, and I published a blog post on Atomic Junkshop about the insane, illogical plot of Avengers #60 which worked for me as a teen but looks more ridiculous every time I reread it. But the John Buscema art never stops looking good, like this shot of the wedding reception.#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Alien cuckoos: this week’s reading

“One of the luckiest accidents in my wife’s life is that she happened to marry a man who was born on the 26th of September.” So opens John Wyndham’s 1957 novel THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS, an eerie SF/horror novel that I read last week for the first time in years (as prep for watching the film adaptation, Village of the Damned for my Alien Visitors book). I so much associate the story with my mother’s hardback, I was surprised to realize I had this paperback version and not Mum’s copy.

The narrator, Gayford (who explains that by virtue of talking to others about what they did, he’s able to incorporate scenes he wasn’t present for into the story) explains that he and his wife Janet were out of the small, extremely quiet, rather dull little village of Midwich to celebrate his birthday. As a result when something puts everyone in town to sleep and spreads a zone with the same effect for a one-mile radius around the community, the Gayfords miss it until they return. And unlike every woman of childbearing age in Midwich, Janet does not give birth to a golden-eyed baby nine months later. Every other woman does, regardless of whether they’ve had sex or not, married or not; Althea Zellaby, wife of an eccentric scientist/philosopher, is the exception because (I gather) she was already pregnant. In a nice touch, the village leaders (Zellaby, vicar, doctor) work to let all the women know what’s happened, as a group, so none of them has a chance to feel like a freak and nobody starts gossiping about the single ones.

In the best tradition of SF babies, the kids grow super-fast. And while they’re still infants, they demonstrate they can control others: women who left Midwich are forced to return, a mother who accidentally jabs her kid with a diaper pin has to jab herself with the pin repeatedly. As the kids grow older, the responses start to get more violent, which Gayford learns was there was a colony in the USSR and the Russians nuked it. Now the kids are determined to deal with threats as brutally as necessary.

Zellaby deduces that they’re cuckoos, planted in the human nest to eventually push us out. The British government is onto that too, but held off acting to see if they could exploit the alien kids. Now it’s going to be a lot tougher …

Part of what makes this work is that it’s so very low-key. It’s obvious the kids are Not Right (they’re two gestalts, one male, one female) but they aren’t attacking so the government and the village hold off. The response is muted bureaucratic and military observation and discussion rather than direct action (Zellaby at one point contrasts this mockingly with the typical 1950s alien invader film). This could easily produce a dull, talky story, but it’s quite gripping and creepy. A little less so in the last portion when it does get too talky. An argument about how England is simply too democratic and civilized to crush them as the Soviets did feels uncomfortably like the cliches of the Cold War where the USSR has the edge because they don’t respect life like we do.

While one woman does mention this is a creepy violation, Wyndham doesn’t do much with the rape overtones of this. In general, even though the women are the victims they’re acted upon rather than acting (in contrast to the female lead of I Married a Monster From Outer Space, though even there the men have to do the fighting). It’s the men who have Althea address the other women and convince them to stay calm; none of them is as horrified as I think they’d be in real life. Zellaby explains this for the author, saying that while he always deplored the idea of women’s natural role being stay-at-home mom, almost all the women he meets seem perfectly suited for the job. On top of which he adds that women simply can’t imagine the threat: in their simple, calm hearts they think the world just has to go on forever. It’s gratuitous sexism; why not just say the women were influenced by the babies even in utero?

Despite that, this is still an excellent book.

#SFWApro. Cover by Dean Ellis, all rights remain with current holder.

 

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This would be a great time hack if it only worked

Used to be that when I woke up early I would do some writing, then start my normal morning routine (meditation, stretching, yoga, exercise, breathing exercises). Trouble was, I usually wanted to sleep by that point which means I often just stretch out or yoga it (stretching is essential for my comfort, the rest is disposable).

So the past couple of weeks I’ve tried a new approach: get up, have tea while I read, then launch my morning routine early, then start writing when I finish. It should give me a jump on the day, and if TYG and the dogs get up early, I don’t have to work my exercise around them (Trixie loves demanding attention when I exercise. The exercise usually loses). But somehow when I get a normal night’s sleep — unusually this week, I did that consistently — it doesn’t happen. Either TYG and the dogs wake up and I’m occupied with them, or Wisp wants in (adorable though she is), or there’s this narrow window of time that I don’t use productively. So I don’t gain as much breathing room as I’d like. But I do get the meditation and other stuff done, so it’s not a total washout either.

I did have a productive week, or 3/5 of a week. I finished the sexual harassment chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches, rewrote Chapter Three of Impossible Takes a Little Longer for reading at the Tuesday night SF group, read The Midwich Cuckoos (as it’s the basis for several alien-invader movies, it’s a good kickoff to my Alien Visitors research) and edited several chapters of Questionable Minds. I hoped to get more work done, but Thursday Plushie began mysteriously whimpering in pain — not consistently but it was clear something was wrong, which didn’t lend itself to creative thought. Today was oriented around watching him until we could get a vet appointment; nothing obviously wrong, so they’re just sending him home with painkillers for now. We’ll see how it goes in the coming week. Man I hate unexplained dog problems!

That left me too fragmented for creative thought so I squeezed out some extra Leaf work. If I can’t make art, I can at least make money. And hey, I had a better week than this guy did!#SFWApro. Art by Dick Dillin, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

What rough book slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

So this week I began work on the new Alien Visitors book for McFarland. Not much done: work out my battle plan for the coming year, submit a list of possible movies to a friend to see if he could think of some I’d missed. But it’s begun! Next week I may begin the watching, or work a little on the writing side.

Otherwise I didn’t get much done besides Leaf but that’s partly because I took Thursday off. I had a doctor’s appointment in the morning (blood pressure is higher than usual but not in the threatening zone) after which I took the rest of the day off to think, read and chill (I try to do that at least once a month). That knocked out a chunk of time, obviously. I did get a little done on Undead Sexist Cliches and submitted a couple of stories though, so that’s cool. And I posted an Atomic Junkshop piece about a Strange Adventures story I thought captured why the Julius Schwartz edited books of the Silver Age were so fun. Yep it’s the one posted here with the giant winged gorilla snatching planes out of the sky.

I might have gotten more done but I had a little extra dog walking, and the temperature dropped enough I could give them both long walks. Which is a net win, but it did cut into my time.

And I did spend a lot of time reading Homeward Bound by Elaine Tyler May. Amazon had recommended it when I was looking for books on 1950s movies for Alien Visitors research, but it’s actually just a book about family life in the 1950s. Very good, though, in contrast to the previous two books I read (Welcome to Mars and Them or Us) and it has some useful information for Undead Sexist Cliches, which is why I kept reading.

Oh, and I sold one of my books on Amazon, though I can’t quite figure out which one yet (they notify me before the sale shows up on the site, apparently). So whoever you are, thanks!

One more full week to this month. I do hope to get more done before we enter September.

#SFWApro. Cover by Sid Greene, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Nonfiction, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Brooding and counter-brooding

So my flash fiction Rabbits Indignateonem came back Saturday with a “Excellent piece, we enjoyed reading it but …” response. Which is nice, because compliments are always better than “that had massive flaws in it” (I get those sometimes) or a No without comments (got that on Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates midweek). But it’s not a sale. And always leaves me worried I’m good, but not quite good enough. That I can’t sell to better markets or more frequently or that I’ve just run out of steam; the last new story I sold was 2018 (two reprints from earlier sold this year). Thoughts of this nature make me broody.

But then again, part of that may be that I haven’t had that many new stories. 2015-16 I was working on Now and Then We Time Travel in addition to my Leaf work; 2017-18 I was doing Screen Rant and those eventually consumed much more time than when I started (hence no longer doing ’em). The past year I’ve put in a lot of time on Undead Sexist Cliches. And of course I was finishing up Southern Discomfort somewhere in the middle of that too.

If I had more stories out circulating, the odds one of them would find a publisher who likes one of them would go up (at least I hope so). I wouldn’t say that’s the only factor in play — I’m definitely not at the level of NK Jemisin or Robert Bloch — but it is a factor.

Once I finish Undead Sexist Cliches my slate will be a lot clearer for fiction. Still doing Leaf, and I have my upcoming Alien Visitors book for McFarland, but that won’t be as demanding as Now and Then .. was (much less ambitious). So, who knows? Perhaps I can elevate myself to at least selling semi-regularly again.

Fingers crossed.

Now, as to this week, it was moderately productive. Did my Leaf articles, and I got close to the end of Chapter Four of Undead Sexist Cliches, which has proven the toughest to organize. Unfortunately the temptation to do just a little more on that book kept me from working on either Questionable Minds or Alien Visitors (formerly titled Space Invaders). Next week I’ll start with them to make sure I put some time in. TYG’s work is going to be crazy for a while which will probably lead to extra dog care, but I’ve had practice working around that.

And unfortunately my cover artist for Questionable Minds, whom I was looking forward to working with, seems to have been sidelined by pandemic stress. No blame attached, this is a rough time for all of us (I’m obviously not finishing the book as fast as expected), but I am disappointed.

Oh, and I posted on Atomic Junkshop about Cast a Deadly Spell as a hardboiled PI movie (matching with my post here about the movie as urban fantasy).

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Filed under Now and Then We Time Travel, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing