Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Contests and Indie Films

Today is the last day for your flash stories about mirror balls. Micah Joel awaits your lovely, concise prose. Read the details again here. It's a blind contest and he's the judge.

SyFy has gone all social media and is running a contest via the 'net for you to get a premiere showing of Defiance in your city before it airs on April 15th. The contest started on the 19th of March and runs to 5pm PT, April 4th. Three US cities will win. The advanced screenings will include giveaways and prizes. Vote for your town now.

Defiance takes place in a frontier town in a transformed, near-future Earth where humans and aliens must unite against a mutual threat. Sounds intriguing. We need more shows where humans co-exist with aliens. It might teach us a thing or two about getting along with our neighbors.

Finally, word is spreading about my love of Indie films. This is really a love story with a sci-fi element. I liked the idea, though. You might, too. Maybe even enough to help them fund production. The perks for contributing are especially great if you live in Dublin...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Flash Fiction Contest Final Week and see HENRi!

How are those flash stories shaping up? Tuesday, the 26th is the last day to get your entries in. Then the judging will be another two weeks. I'm anxious to see all of your great stories. I'm also very thankful that I won't have to judge them. Micah Joel will get them sans author names to give all of you an equal shot with no bias. I've long since stopped judging these things as I know too many of the people submitting entries. Fair is fair. See the last post for all the particulars and my story to set the mood.

I started another story on Saturday that will break the bonds of the flash limit. Though I didn't start out with that in mind, it will be the perfect prequel to one of my previous elephant stories. I'm back on my elephant kick.

I just watched a Kickstarter-funded short that won the Best Short at the New York Philip K. Dick Film Festival, Toronto After Dark Film Festival, and Maelstrom International Film Festival. HENRi reminded me of 2001, A Space Odyssey, David Brin's Practice Effect and Asimov's robot series. All good things.

A spaceship lives on after its crew have died. It has evolved and is lonely and craves human interaction. In an attempt to fill that need, it builds a robot to interact with, which, of course, is also "it", an extension of itself. The addition of the human brain that the ship has managed to preserve is a bit hokey, but they're not going for scientific authenticity here. It's a campy send-up to those flicks from the 70s and 80s that romanticized robots. For an Indie short, the special effects (a mixture of quarter-scale miniatures, retro in-camera effects, and computer animation) are, well, most effective. The music is decent, too. You can rent it for $1.99 or buy it for $2.99 and see what you think. I love it when I can promote a good Indie film and this one was superb. There is also a "making of" film available.

Dr. Calvin, the ship's dying captain (in a memory of the robot's), is played by Margot Kidder (Superman 1978). A human could not survive such solitude. The real question is, can a sentient robot fare any better? A robot can't even sleep part of the time. It is a rather tragic flick, but very well done. The cinematic shots and music make you care about the robot's heartache - believe that a robot can suffer from such a thing.

Here's the trailer:

HENRi from Eli Sasich on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Flash Contest and Ann's Flash to Kick It Off

I haven't ran a flash contest here for a while. I got this notion about mirror balls and wondered what other folks could come up with. It's really a mystery to me why they're still around. Send me a speculative story of under a thousand words about disco balls or a disco ball to ann at my domain, annwilkes.com (paranoid of spiders grabbing my email for nefarious activities).

The contest begins today and the last day to submit an entry is March 26, 2013. The winner will be announced April 9th. Please, no gratuitous sex or gore and make sure the story has a speculative element. Also, standard submission formatting rules apply. 

Judging this contest will be author and editor, Micah Joel, who read flash for Flash Fiction Online last year and is now reading flash for Shimmer. We were on a flash panel at FOGcon and he agreed to judge my little contest. Thank you, Micah!

The winning piece will be published here with a link to your website or other works. I claim only first time electronic rights. You're free to publish it elsewhere after three-months' time. The winner will also receive . . . a mirror ball! 

As always, here's my story for your entertainment and to kick things off.

"Mirror Images"
by Ann Wilkes

"Did you feel that?" Sandra whispered in Marty's ear while they danced Cajun-style to a Country-Western tune.

"Feel what?" he whispered back. "The Earth move under our feet? You know you always do that to me."

"Well, that to, but no. A puff of air, like from a fan or from someone whizzing past."

Marty raised her hand up, cuing her into a turn, then looked into her eyes after she gracefully twirled. "I didn't feel anything. But, then again, I don't have as much skin exposed." Then he nuzzled her bare neck before spinning her again. Sandra squirmed with delight.

She decided she just imagined the puffs of air on her shoulders and back. For about a minute. Looking up at the ceiling above the dance floor, she noticed a distressing lack of fans, or vents. Just the funky disco ball and cheap, tacky light fixtures meant to look like chandeliers. She remembered some monitor amps have fans, but she and Marty were much too far from the stage for that to be felt, if such fans were there.

The band played lively music they could swing, Zydeco and even polka to, with the occasional waltz, cha-cha and nightclub two-step. The venue, however, was an ancient dive. It looked like an old hunting lodge that time forgot. Smokers, unable to smoke inside, huddled just outside the door, out of the torrential rains, their pungent smoke wafting in each time a patron came or went. Marty spun her again and dipped her. She hung her head down, getting a view of the huge, brick fireplace with the moose head mounted above the mantel.

The place must have been more than 100 years old. Old buildings are drafty, Sandra thought. But not in the middle of a room. She felt it again, on the back of her legs this time. The song wound down and Marty dipped her for a big finish.

They walked hand in hand to their table by the dance floor. Sandra sipped her Chard and smiled warmly at her fiancé. While he took a long draught of dark ale, she gazed around the room at the other tables. They didn't know anyone there, but the Mountain View Club wasn't one of their usual haunts and the stormy night probably kept many people home.

A flash of lightning darted through the high, dirty windows. Sandra felt suddenly cold. Then came the thunder, and the rain pounded down harder on the slate roof.

Marty saw her shiver. "Are you okay? The storm have you spooked?"

"It's not the storm, Marty. Something else is here."

"What do you mean 'something else'?" He looked at her intently, his brows knit in concern.

"You know that feeling you get that you're being watched or followed when there's no one there?"

"Yeah . . . ."

"I think this place is haunted."

"It is old. Who knows what stories these walls could tell? Do you want to leave?"

"No. I know it's silly." Sandra looked up, searching for words to describe what she felt and it seemed to her that the mirror ball had lowered itself. "Marty, do you like mirror balls?"

"What?" He let out a nervous chuckle, taken back by the non sequitur.

"Mirror balls, disco balls. Do you like them?"

"No," he said. "I think they're tacky and should have died in the 70s."

"Yeah. Know anyone who likes them?"

"I haven't exactly taken a poll, but I doubt it."

Sandra nodded, her lips pressed together.

"What are you getting at?" He reached for her hand across the rough pine table.

"What if they have like two way mirrors with cameras behind them?"

"Really?" He raised his eyebrows. "You know how silly that sounds, right?"

"Yeah." She chuckled. "Pretty far-fetched, huh? Why would the owners want to watch the dance floor? I gotta go pee." A breeze caught her in the ankles as she pushed through the sticky women's room door, raising the hair on the back of her neck and goosebumps on her bare arms.

No one was in there, the two stalls were open and empty. Her heart pounded. She stood at the sink, rubbed her ankles together and gazed at her reflection. She looked sane, she thought. A bright flash of light appeared in the windowless room and an image materialized in the mirror of a two-headed androgynous human with greenish skin standing behind her. She shut her eyes and opened them again, hoping to rid herself of what could only be a hallucination. The figure persisted. She wanted to turn around, but looking at it head-on, rather than a reflection somehow seemed more real and frightening. Fear rooted her to the spot.

The thing spoke in English with a lilting, tinny voice and a foreign accent. Or alien accent. She shivered at that thought.

"How did you know?" it said.

"Knoowww? she stammered.

"That we were watching?"

"I . . . I . . . who are you?" She tried again to move. Her whole body felt like she had ice water surging through her veins as she turned around to cast her eyes on the alien.

"We are the Liinoyavaii. We are here on a 50-year expedition to Earth to study your mating rituals. The mirror balls are our surveillance devices, as you surmised. A little mild mind control is all that's needed to make anyone with a dance floor believe it to be a necessity. We implant our equipment within through means you would not understand. It's completely undetectable. Which is why we are so amazed that you figured it out. The door creaked behind her and another chill was the last thing she felt.

The woman in the red dress who entered the bathroom found it empty and thanked the stars that she didn't have to wait in line.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

So Much Science Fiction and Fantasy to See and Hear!

The fourth episode of The Minister of Chance has been released! See the trailer now!

As soon as you hear ep 4, you'll want more. Here's how to make it happen sooner.

Mike Resnick is the editor of a new, free online SF/F magazine for Phoenix Pick's. The bimonthly magazine, Galaxy's Edge, launched on March 1. The inaugural issue includes  stories, columns, SF book reviews and more. Epub, Mobi and PDF versions will be available for download at a nominal fee and a print edition is available from many online stores, including Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Phoenix Pick’s free ebook for March is Grandmaster Robert Silverberg’s Starborne. The coupon code (good through March 31) is 9991828 and the link can be found in the online catalogue page at PPickings.com.

Here's some new trailers. This first one looks like modern-day Godzilla.

Not much to see on this one, but I guess it's another first contact flick.

These folks are looking for Zero G Coupling Experts?  I'm not going to touch that one. I guess I already did, huh?