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May. 30th, 2017

Typewriter

“The Hills” Ascends to Enter the Aftermath

Am quite tickled to announce that I’ve sold “The Hills” to the Enter the Aftermath anthology from TANSTAAFL.


Enter the Aftermath is the second in a planned 3-book series of anthologies.  The first, Enter the Apocalypse, came out earlier this year.  Following Enter the Aftermath will be Enter the Rebirth.


“The Hills” was my 24-hour story from Writers of the Future.  For those unfamiliar—when I was in Hollywood for the Writers of the Future workshop, we were tasked with writing a full story in just 24 hours.  I blogged about it here and here and here.


Anyway, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for this story. Many years ago, I had submitted it to Edmund at Intergalactic Medicine Show, who told me it read like the first chapter of a novel. I considered his remarks carefully and discovered he was quite wrong. It’s actually the second chapter of a novel—Apocalypse Pictures Presents, which I may blogged a bit about, too.  So there, Edmund. Nyah, nyah, nyah.


But like I said, I always loved the original short story, and it seemed like a good fit for this anthology. And the editor apparently agrees.


Been a while since I’ve sold some short fiction. So yay. And who knows? Maybe this bodes well for the novel.


Current Music: "Cemetery Gates"--Pantera


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

Apr. 25th, 2017

Typewriter

Spring Sale! Get Petra and Petra Released for $.99 Each! (Cheap)

Spring is here, so what the heck:  I’m having a sale on the Petra books, now through May 7th. The ebooks are going for just $.99. That’s right; a measly buck gets you an ebook edition of either Petra or Petra Released.


So if for some weird reason, you don’t have your copies yet, well, now’s your chance! See the links below for your vendor of choice.


Sale ends May 7th, so don’t delay!


PETRABookOne-semifinal1


 


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Current Music: "Yours Is No Disgrace"--Yes


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

Apr. 22nd, 2017

Typewriter

The 2017 Rotundo World Tour Begins: ConStellation 8

The 2017 Rotundo World Tour begins April 28th-30th, at ConStellation 8 in Lincoln, Nebraska!


Here’s my schedule:


Friday, April 28th


6:00 pm — 6:50 pm   A Long Way down the Road to the Chemist (Vega)


A recent article by astrophysicist Michael Strauss in AEON discussed the difficulties in conveying the vastness of space: “The real challenge is to tie the story to human emotions, and human sizes and timescales, while still capturing the enormous scales of the Universe itself.” Is science fiction capable of conveying these scales in any relatable way? What works have actually managed the trick? Or is it even worth attempting?


Saturday, April 29th


8:00 pm — 8:50 pm   The Oscar from Another World (Vega)


Arrival. Mad Max: Fury Road. Gravity. Inception. Avatar. District 9. All of them were recent nominees for Best Picture. None of them won, but are all these nominations evidence that the Academy’s long-running snub of science fiction will end soon? If so, when? A discussion of what it might take for a genuine science fiction film to finally win the big prize.


Sunday, April 30th


12:15 pm — 12:45 pm   Matthew S. Rotundo Reading (Vega)


You know my motto:  Come for a treat, stay for a tale!  So there will at least be treats.  And maybe even a prize!


Schedule, as always, is subject to last minute changes.


I wasn’t able to attend ConStellation last year, and I’m really sorry to have missed it.  So I’m excited to be going back.


Stop by and see me!


Current Music: "Madman Across the Water"--Elton John


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

Feb. 27th, 2017

Typewriter

An Interview with Yours Truly

The inimitable C. Stuart Hardwick has an ongoing interview series with Writers of the Future winners.  This month, he’s tabbed me as his “veteran” interviewee.  Interested parties may find the results here.


In it, we discuss the effects of winning the contest, bits of workshop wisdom, and corn.  Because no interview is complete without a discussion of corn.


Enjoy!


Current Music: "Breakdown"--Guns 'n' Roses


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

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Feb. 26th, 2017

CE3K

Rotundo’s Oscarology, 2017 Edition

If anything can bring this blog out of its state of suspended animation, it would be my annual Oscar prediction post.  That’s how seriously we take the Academy Awards here at fabulous Chez Rotundo.  So here goes.


I’ve seen 3 of the 9 Best Picture nominees this year, for what that’s worth. (Hint:  Not much.)  For the record, those films are ArrivalHidden Figures, and La La Land.  My personal favorite of those three?  Arrival, by a rather large margin.  But I can’t vote, so let’s get into predicting how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will.


Best Picture


I’ve said in the past that the Academy rarely nominates bad pictures, but it does sometimes honor overrated ones.  Take, for example, 2011’s The Artist—a fluffy confection telling a story done much better decades earlier, in Singin’ in the Rain.


And speaking of fluffy confections, this year we have La La Land.  It’s an entertaining film, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to go.  The songs are largely forgettable, the singing merely passable, the plot simply cliché.  Best film of the year?  Not even close.  But remember the wit and wisdom of William Munny:  “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”  It’s won top honors from the Directors Guild, the Producers Guild, the American Cinema Editors, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.  A lot of those voters are members of the Academy, too.  And the way Best Picture votes are counted favors a film that many people think is good over one that a few people think is great.


So there you go.  Even though you’re likely to hear a lot of heated political rhetoric on Oscar night, the Academy’s top award will go to an innocuous, nostalgic embrace of old style Hollywood.  La La Land in a walk.


Best Director


The DGA went to Damien Chazelle for his work on La La Land, and that award is a very accurate predictor of this category.


Best Actress


Emma Stone, for La La Land.  Isabelle Huppert has a very outside chance of an upset, for her performance in Elle, but Stone won the Screen Actors Guild award, and that’s enough for me.


Best Actor


This one looked like Casey Affleck’s to lose, for Manchester by the Sea.  But then the SAG went to Denzel Washington (Fences).  And the press Affleck has gotten recently certainly won’t help his cause.  Washington, on the other hand, is highly respected in the industry.  I’ll go with SAG here, as I so often do, and pick Washington.


Best Supporting Actress


This is a category that has been historically prone to upsets, but not this year, I think.  Viola Davis looks to be a lock.  She’s been nominated twice before, her role in Fences is a lead rather than a supporting one, and she won the SAG and the BAFTA.


Best Supporting Actor


The SAG went to Mahershala Ali, for Moonlight, so that’s the way I’ll go.  And hey, after last year’s complaints about lack of diversity at the Oscars, how about a year when three of the four acting awards go to people of color?


Best Original Screenplay


Here’s one award that I don’t see going to La La Land.  Its charms come from sources other than its script.  I’m figuring BAFTA winner Kenneth Lonergan for this one, for Manchester by the Sea.


Best Adapted Screenplay


If I had a vote, it would go to Eric Heisserer, for Arrival.  The Writers Guild agreed with me.  But I don’t get a vote, and we all know how AMPAS feels about science fiction—in a word, icky.  Interestingly, the WGA winner for original screenplay, Moonlight, has been classified as an adaptation for the Oscars, due to some rule quirks.  So I see Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney winning, for Moonlight.


Best Animated Feature


The general rule here is Never Pick Against Pixar, except that Pixar didn’t get a nomination in this category.  However, its parent company did, for Zootopia and Moana.  Given the near-universal acclaim for the former film, and the fact that it has won the PGA, ACE, and Annie awards, I think it takes home the animated prize.  Kubo and the Two Strings could pull an upset, but I don’t see it happening.


Best Foreign Language Film


The critics adored Germany’s Toni Erdmann.  But Asghar Farhadi has a previous win in this category, for A Separation.  And the attendant press regarding Farhadi’s boycott of the ceremony this year in protest of the Trump administration’s immigration policy has put something of a spotlight on him.  I’m picking The Salesman to win.  But as always, one could throw a dart at a dartboard and just as easily nail this category.


Best Cinematography


The American Society of Cinematographer’s top award went to Grieg Fraser for Lion.  But ever the rebel, I’m picking against the precursor guild winner here.  Oscar has an odd fascination with long tracking shots—cf. Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman.  Guess which nominee opens with a long tracking shot?  Why, that would be La La Land.  All that kinetic camera work by Linus Sandgren seems more likely to nab the Oscar.


Best Production Design


Your watchword for this category (and several others) is flashy.  The Art Directors Guild loved those Golden Age sets for La La Land, so expect it to win here, too.


Best Editing


Here’s an award that historically goes hand-in-hand with the Best Picture winner—except that it hasn’t lately.  In the 2000’s, Best Picture and Best Editing went to the same film 7 of 10 times.  So far in the 2010’s, it’s only happened once, for 2012’s Argo.  Maybe I’m reaching, and maybe I’m a letting my heart overrule my head, but I’m thinking Joe Walker’s skillful handling of the myriad time jumps in Arrival will be enough to garner an Oscar, beating out La La Land.  And Arrival won an Eddie, too. What I’m saying here, it could happen.


Best Costume Design


La La Land won the Costume Designers Guild award in the Contemporary category.  But the Contemporary CDG winner has never won an Oscar.  This one always goes to either period pieces or flashy (there’s that word again) SF/fantasy films.  So I see BAFTA winner Madeline Fontaine winning, for Jackie.


Best Makeup & Hairstyling


Again, look for flashy to win the day.  That would favor either Suicide Squad or Star Trek:  Beyond.  Both films won Makeup & Hair Stylist Guild awards.  Toss up.  I’m picking Star Trek:  Beyond.


Best Original Score


So there’s a musical that’s about to win Best Picture.  What do you think the odds are that its score will also get an Oscar?  Pretty good, I’d say.  BAFTA winner Justin Hurwitz, for La La Land.


Best Original Song


So there’s a musical that’s about to win Best Picture.  What do you think the odds are that . . .


Well, hold on.  Crazy as it may seem, I’m picking against La La Land in this category.  For one thing, the songs just weren’t all that great.  For another, two songs from the film have been nominated—“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” and “City of Stars.”  The latter has been getting a bit of a push from the studio, but for my money, the former is superior to it.  The point is that I see those two splitting the vote.  And for yet another thing, there’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, nominated for “How Far I’ll Go,” from Moana.  Seems like everything he touches turns to gold.  So I’m going out on a limb here, and picking Miranda to get his EGOT.


Best Documentary Feature


O.J.:  Made in America has won the DGA, PGA, and ACE awards.  I’m picking it to win here, too.


Best Documentary Short


You haven’t seen any of these films.  Neither has anyone else in your Oscar pool.  Don’t sweat it.  I’m picking The White Helmets.  You do what you want.


Best Sound Mixing


War movies (hello, Hacksaw Ridge) do well in this category.  But so do musicals.  The Cinema Audio Society honored La La Land.  It’s my pick here.


Best Sound Editing


La La Land.  See above.


Best Visual Effects


What to do, what to do.  Doctor Strange‘s mind-bending city folding, à la Inception?  Or The Jungle Book‘s photorealistic CGI animals, à la Life of Pi?  Coin flip.  I’m going with The Jungle Book.


Best Short Film (Live Action)


So I’ve managed to see this year’s live action and animated short film nominees.  You might think this would give me an advantage in predicting winners.  Not so much.  If anything, it makes the decision harder, and is no guarantee of accuracy.


Usually, the nominees in these categories are a mixed bag, but this year’s crop is pretty impressive, especially among the live action shorts.  I was genuinely moved by Silent Nights.  Sing (not to be confused with the animated feature of the same name) made me feel like cheering.  Timecode was charming, and featured a hilarious last line.  Ennemis intérieurs was tense and sobering.  Even La Femme et le TGV will bring a smile to your face.


So what to pick?  I have seen that whimsical stuff has fared well in this category in recent years, so I’m going with Palme d’Or winner Timecode.  But I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Silent Nights or Ennemis intérieurs win.


Best Short Film (Animated)


I mentioned earlier that the rule for Animated Feature is Never Pick Against Pixar.  But Pixar has not had anywhere near the same level of success in the Animated Short Film category.  Nevertheless, I’m taking a deep breath and picking Piper for the win here.  Water has been notoriously difficult for 3-D animation, but the sea foam in Piper is startlingly rendered.  The same goes for the animals.  The film also won an Annie.  And it’s friggin’ adorable.


And there you have it.  Best of luck with your own picks.  Enjoy the show!


Current Music: "Hellion"--W.A.S.P.


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

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Nov. 4th, 2016

Typewriter

Petra Released: It’s Everywhere!

If you’re looking for a non-Kindle version of Petra Released, today’s your lucky day!  You can now find it at any of the following outlets:

Apple iBooks
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords
Amazon

Enjoy!  And if you like it, please leave a review. Heck, leave a review even if you don’t like it.



Current Music: "Ride the Lightning"--Metallica




Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown


Sep. 1st, 2016

Typewriter

Petra Goes Wide!

PETRABookOne-semifinal1Some of you might have been wondering when the ebook edition of Petra might become available epub (i.e., non-Kindle) format.  Wonder no more!


Petra is now available in your most popular ebook outlets, like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and more.  You can even find it in the iTunes store.  And of course, if Kindle’s your thing, we’ve got you covered there, too.


And so I continue to build my nefarious media empire . . .


 


 


Current Music: "Stone the Crows"--Down


Aug. 25th, 2016

Typewriter

Join the Scavenger Hunt and Win a Copy of Petra or Petra Released!

Now that all three installments of my Calico in Conversation interview are live, it’s time for a little game . . . and you could win a free ebook copy of either Petra or Petra Released!


See, it’s a scavenger hunt.  All you have to do is correctly answer three questions about the interview, and you will be entered in a drawing for your choice of either ebook.  You only have until August 30th to enter, though, so hurry.


(They’re easy questions, don’t worry.)


And the more people who enter, the more freebies will be available.  See here for details and spread the word.


What are you waiting for?  Click here to get started!


Current Music: "Wild One"--Thin Lizzy


Aug. 4th, 2016

Typewriter

Next Stop on the 2016 Rotundo World Tour: MidAmeriCon II

The 2016 Rotundo World Tour rolls into Kansas City for MidAmeriCon II, aka the 2016 WorldCon.  And kids, let me tell you, I’ll be busy.  Here’s my schedule:


Wednesday, August 17th


2:00 pm — 4:00 pm   Volunteering at the SFWA Table (Convention Center, Dealer’s Room)


Stop by and say hi.


Thursday, August 18th


10:00 am — 12:00 pm   Writing Workshop 1B


All sessions are filled.


1:00 pm — 2:00 pm   As You Know, Bob . . . :  The Fine Art of Exposition (Convention Center, Room 2209)


Exposition is writers giving readers information they need to understand a story. How is it possible to convey the necessary but not at the expense of the enjoyable? We try not to lecture…


3:00 pm —  4:00 pm   Launch Pad (Convention Center, Room 2210)


Launch Pad is an annual event whereby a group of invited writers, editors, and creatives learn about modern science, specifically astronomy, so that they can in turn use it in their work and inspire others. Members who have attended Launch Pad discuss how it has affected their writing and ideas.


Friday, August 19th


10:00 am — 11:00 am   The New Space Opera Golden Age on the Screen (Convention Center, Room 2503B)


There appears to be a resurgence in space opera on the silver screen, including The Force Awakens, Jupiter Ascending, Interstellar, and Guardians of the Galaxy, not to mention new TV shows like Babylon 5, The Expanse, and the forthcoming Old Man’s War. Is this an encouraging sign that public interest and enthusiasm for science and SF is on the rise? Is this resurgence manifesting in literature as well? What more do we want to see?


1:00 pm — 2:00 pm   Why “A Long Time Ago . . . ?” (Convention Center, Room 3501F)


George Lucas set Star Wars in a galaxy far, far away, but also a long time ago.  What is the importance of setting his saga in the distant past?  How would our perceptions of it have been different if it were set in our time in a galaxy far, far away or if it had been set in the future?


4:00 pm — 5:00 pm   50 Years of Star Trek, Part Two:  The Influence (Convention Center, Room 3501H)


Star Trek is fifty years old. It has inspired writers to write, children to become scientists, scientists to become astronauts and fans to write erotica. It has an enormous influence and in this session we take a look at the myriad of ways it has done so for a disparate group of people around the world. 


Saturday, August 20th


11:00 am — 1:00 pm  SFWA Business Meeting (Convention Center, Room 2205)


Open to SFWA members only.


4:00 pm — 5:00 pm  Autographing at the SFWA Table (Convention Center, Dealer’s Room)


I’ll be back at the SFWA table on Saturday to autograph copies of Petra and Petra Released.  Note that due to Missouri law pertaining to non-profits, I can’t sell anything at the SFWA table itself.  But I will have copies of both books, which you are welcome to purchase from me any other time.  If, you know, you’re of a mind.


Sunday, August 21st


12:00 pm — 12:30 pm   Reading (Convention Center, Room 2202)


You know my motto:  come for a treat, stay for a tale!  I always bring treats to my readings.


See what I mean about being busy?  And that’s just during the day.  At night, I’ll be bopping around the parties and such.


Ah, WorldCon.  Can’t wait.  Hope to see you there!


Current Music: "Voodoo Chile"--Jimi Hendrix


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

Typewriter

Calico in Conversation Interviews Your Humble Servant (Me)

The fabulous Shara White is the brains behind the Calico in Conversation interview series, in which she chats with various authors about . . . well, whatever comes up in conversation. And this month, her featured author is, uh, me.


Part one of the interview is here. Part two will go up on the 9th, with part three following a week later. I’ll update this post with the links when I have them. The interview was conducted over several months, and covers a variety of topics. Of course, there’s plenty of talk about Petra and Petra Released.  But we also discuss lessons one can learn from karaoke, politics in fiction, and even a bit about Harlan Ellison. Because Harlan Ellison, that’s why.


This interview was a lot of work. But a lot of fun, too. So do check it out.


Current Music: "Tears"--Rush


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Jul. 25th, 2016

Typewriter

The Wait Is Over: Petra Released Is Now Available!

Petra Released, the second book of The Prison World Revolt series, is now available here!



The prison world is free. Or is it?


A grieving Kane Pythen, exiled on Petra light years from his family, has found a haven among the inmates he aided in a failed escape attempt. But after a devastating attack on their settlement, he must lead a dangerous foray into Bone Tribe territory, in search of a new home before the impending winter finishes them off.


Worse, the expedition uncovers a plot to seize control of Petra that could kill millions, including Kane and his friends. The shadowy forces in Farside are on the move, too, intent on eliminating all enemies. And in Ported Space, the powerful Petra Compact is hunting for the explosive prisoner records that were smuggled offworld—which have fallen into the hands of Kane’s wife, Tayla . . .


The battle for Petra has just begun. Kane and Tayla must brave merciless enemies and unlikely allies to save themselves and all they believe in.


If you enjoy the book, please consider leaving a review for it where you bought it, or on Goodreads, or on your own blog.


And if you still haven’t read Petra, well, now’s the time to get caught up.


So?  What are you waiting for?


Current Music: "The Fountain of Lamneth"--Rush


Jul. 17th, 2016

Typewriter

Next Stop on the 2016 Rotundo World Tour: Bennington Public Library

The 2016 Rotundo World Tour rolls into Bennington, Nebraska, for an appearance at the Bennington Public Library on July 26th, at 7:00 pm.


By cosmic coincidence, that just happens to be the day after Petra Released drops. Copies of it and Petra will be available for purchase. And if you’d like me to deface your books with my signature, I will be happy to oblige.


Odds are there will be a reading. And some Q & A. And treats.


If you’re local, or if you just happen to be in the area, stop on by!


Cuz, you know, it would be awfully awkward if no one showed up.


Once again, that’s Tuesday, July 26th, at 7:00 pm.


Hope to see you there!


Current Music: "Between the Wheels"--Ruch


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

Jul. 16th, 2016

Typewriter

Coming Soon: Petra Released

Ever since the release of Petra last December, people have been asking me when the next book is coming out. I had originally hoped for sometime in April, but everything takes longer than I think it will. But now I’m confident in making this announcement:


Petra Released, the next book in The Prison World Revolt series, will be released on July 25th, 2016. Read on for details. And check out that awesome cover!



The prison world is free. Or is it?


A grieving Kane Pythen, exiled on Petra light years from his family, has found a haven among the inmates he aided in a failed escape attempt. But after a devastating attack on their settlement, he must lead a dangerous foray into Bone Tribe territory, in search of a new home before the impending winter finishes them off.


Worse, the expedition uncovers a plot to seize control of Petra that could kill millions, including Kane and his friends. The shadowy forces in Farside are on the move, too, intent on eliminating all enemies. And in Ported Space, the powerful Petra Compact is hunting for the explosive prisoner records that were smuggled offworld—which have fallen into the hands of Kane’s wife, Tayla . . .


The battle for Petra has just begun. Kane and Tayla must brave merciless enemies and unlikely allies to save themselves and all they believe in.


Look for Petra Released, the second book in The Prison World Revolt series, on July 25th. And tell a friend!


 


Current Music: "Dance of the Dogs"--Lynch Mob


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

Jul. 2nd, 2016

Typewriter

Petra on Sale! And a Bunch of Other Great Books, Too!

There’s a whole host of science fiction & fantasy ebooks on sale this weekend for 99 cents each.  And Petra is among them!


That’s right, folks, the Kindle edition of Petra is only 99 cents this weekend!  Click on the image below to see all the titles available.



Thanks to the inimitable Patty Jansen for organizing this.  Click through and enjoy!


Current Music: "The River"--Bruce Springsteen


Jun. 28th, 2016

Typewriter

Out of the Darkness

Wow. The blog’s been dark for a couple of months now. That’s a long stretch of time. Let me explain.


No, there is too much. Let me sum up.


I’ve been slowly working toward getting Petra Released ready to unleash on the world, and I’m crap at multitasking.


But I thought a brief post to the effect of “I’m not dead” might be in order. In fact, you can expect a flurry of activity soon. News, like winter, is coming.


In the meantime, hi. Hope you’re well.


Current Music: "Under the Radar"--Joe Bonamassa


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

Apr. 17th, 2016

Typewriter

Next Stop on the 2016 Rotundo World Tour: CONgregation

The next stop on the 2016 Rotundo World Tour is CONgregation, April 22-24, here in sunny Omaha.  I’m doing a couple of panels:


Saturday, April 23


10:00 am – 11:00 am   Writing Workshop (Ballroom A)


Join award-winning author Matthew S. Rotundo for a fun and interactive writing workshop. Bring paper, pen, and imagination!


Sunday, April 24


1:00 pm – 2:00 pm   Reading (Ballroom B)


Come for a treat, stay for a tale! Matthew S. Rotundo will bring the treats . . . and the tale. There might even be a prize!


I’ll have copies of Petra with, in case by some weird chance you haven’t purchased yours yet.  And of course, I’ll be happy to sign them.


Hope to see you there!


Current Music: "I Wonder"--Indigenous


Mar. 30th, 2016

Typewriter

I am now an Unreliable Narrator

The good folks at the Unreliable Narrators podcast have interviewed yours truly.  In it, I discuss PetraFrom Earth I Have Arisen,” and other groovy things.


Check it out, if you’re of a mind.


 


Current Music: "Learning to Fly"--Pink Floyd


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

Mar. 4th, 2016

Typewriter

Eldritch Embraces, now available for your delectation

And in short fiction news, Eldritch Embraces: Putting the Love Back In Lovecraft, an anthology containing my story “Take This, and Eat,” is now available from Dragon’s Roost Press, in both paper and electronic editions.


I’ll let the publisher tell you about it:  “We’ve taken two of the most terrifying concepts in literature, the cosmic horror of the Cthulhu Mythos and Romance, and combined them in 31 tales which will terrify, amuse, and possibly even move you.”


Plus, a portion of the proceeds from the anthology go to the Last Day Dog Rescue organization.


So there you go.  Love, romance, and Elder Gods. And you get to help out dogs in need.  What more could you ask for?  A free sample?


OK, if you insist.  Here’s a (*cough*) taste of “Take This, and Eat:”


A kind of chicken teriyaki dish, Leah had said.  And it certainly looked promising at first—generous portions of noodles and meat, without too many vegetables for Darren to pick around.  It smelled spicy, sparking a bit of an appetite in him.  Using the tongs the waiter had brought, he optimistically helped himself to a heaping plateful.


Then he caught a glimpse of the tentacle in his food, and his appetite vanished.


At first he thought he might be mistaken, but a second glance confirmed it—long, black, rubbery, with small suckers running down its length.


Once again, that’s Eldritch Embraces, featuring my story “Take This, and Eat.”  Have a tentacular time!


Current Music: "Man on the Silver Mountain"--Rainbow


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

Feb. 28th, 2016

CE3K

Rotundo’s Oscarology, 2016 Edition

Oscar time is upon us once again.  Here at fabulous Chez Rotundo, things are even more hectic than normal, which means my annual Academy Award post will be rather abbreviated.  But such Oscar analysis/wisdom as I have, I hereby impart to you.  You’re welcome.


I’ve only managed to see 2 of the 8 nominees (The Martian and Mad Max:  Fury Road) this year.  But as I’ve said before, I never let total ignorance get in my way.  So here we go:


Best Picture


And right out of the gate, we have a very tough category to pick.  This one is usually easy, especially if you look at the precursor guild awards.  But this year, the Screen Actors Guild gave its top award to Spotlight, while the Producers Guild and BAFTA went with The Big Short, and the Directors Guild honored The Revenant.


What to make of this mess?


Honestly, I have no idea.  The safest bet would probably be The Revenant, which garnered the most overall nominations. On the other hand, The Big Short‘s PGA win is significant because the PGA uses the same preferential voting system the Academy uses.  On the third hand, comedies fare poorly in this category.


The last time we had this much disconnect between SAG, PGA, and DGA?  Why, it was just two years ago, actually, when American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, and Gravity vied for the top honor.  We ended up with a rare split between Best Picture and Best Director, with 12 Years a Slave getting the big prize.  Because I’m feeling ornery, I’ll make a similar prediction for this year, and go with The Big Short.


Best Director


Despite the horse race for Best Picture, it looks like Alejandro G. Iñárritu will pick up his second Oscar in a row, this time for The Revenant.


Best Actor


Here’s an easy one:  SAG winner Leonardo DiCaprio will finally pick up his first Oscar, for The Revenant.


Best Actress


Brie Larson looks like a lock, for Room.


Best Supporting Actor


The SAG went to Idris Elba, for Beasts of No Nation.  But Elba wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar, which leaves this category wide open.  Amazingly enough, it appears Sylvester Stallone has become a sentimental favorite, reprising Rocky Balboa one more time in Creed.  I guess that makes as much sense as anything this Oscar season.


Best Supporting Actress


In a category that has been rife with upsets in the past, the best bet appears to be Alicia Vikander, for The Danish Girl.  That’s my pick, but I wouldn’t be surprised to be wrong here.


Best Original Screenplay


Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, for Spotlight.  Writers Guild winners.


Best Adapted Screenplay


Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, for The Big Short.  Also WGA winners.


Best Animated Feature


Inside Out.  Say it with me, kids:  never pick against Pixar.  At least, not in this category.


Best Foreign Language Film


Everyone seems to be talking about Hungary’s Son of Saul.  I’ll go with it, but for this category, you could just easily throw a dart at a dartboard and pick a winner.


Best Cinematography


I thought Emmanuel Lubezki’s win for Birdman last year was a bit of reach; the camera work struck me as too self-indulgent by half.  That said, he’s up for an Oscar again this year for The Revenant, and he has a new gimmick:  the film was shot almost entirely with natural light.  I’m guessing that will be enough to garner another win for him.  Certainly the American Society of Cinematographers thought it worth honoring.


Best Production Design


Period pieces tend to do well here.  Much has been made of Mad Max: Fury Road, and indeed, it did win an Art Directors Guild award for Fantasy Film.  But The Revenant won the ADG award for Period Film, and the Academy tends to pretend science fiction doesn’t exist.  So I’ll go with Jack Fisk, for The Revenant.


Best Film Editing


Nine of the past 12 Eddie winners for best edited dramatic film have gone on to win an Oscar.  This year, that would favor Margaret Sixel, for Mad Max:  Fury Road.  But again . . . it’s science fiction.  Ew.  I’m going with Hank Corwin, whose work on The Big Short won an Eddie for comedy.


Best Costume Design


Celebrated costumer Sandy Powell is competing against herself this year, for Cinderella and Carol.  And though Oscar’s disdain for SF is well established, flashy often wins in this category.  So I’m going with Jenny Beavan, for Mad Max:  Fury Road.


Best Makeup & Hairstyling


Score another win for flashy:  Mad Max:  Fury Road.


Best Original Score


What’s that you say?  Ennio Morricone has never won an Oscar?  That’s good enough for me.  Morricone, for The Hateful Eight.


Best Original Song


Lady Gaga appears to be the favorite, for “‘Til It Happens to You,” from The Hunting Ground.  But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sam Smith win for “Writing’s on the Wall,” from Spectre.  Still, I guess I’ll go with Gaga.


Best Documentary Feature


Amy looks to win this one.


Best Documentary Short


A pick ’em category.  I’m going with Body Team 12.


Best Sound Mixing


The Revenant, I think.  The Cinema Audio Society like it, and it’s Best Picture front runner.


Best Sound Editing


The Revenant could just as easily snap up this one, too, but I’m guessing it will go to Mad Max:  Fury Road.


Best Visual Effects


Mad Max: Fury Road.  It’s one category SF films are allowed to win, and Mad Max is also up for Best Picture.


Best Short Film (Live Action)


I’ve seen comedies win this category before, so I’m leaning toward Stutterer.


Best Short Film (Animated)


Um.  World of Tomorrow.  Because who knows?  Pixar’s Sanjay’s Super Team is also nominated, but Pixar doesn’t fare as well in this category as it does in Animated Feature.


And that’s all, folks.  Enjoy the show!


Current Music: "Stone the Crows"--Down


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

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Feb. 22nd, 2016

Typewriter

Petra in Print!

PETRABookOne-semifinal1If you’ve been waiting for the print edition of Petra, wait no longer.  It’s now available here.


Sorry it took so long, folks.  Publishing your own book has its share of rewards, but it’s awfully time consuming, too.  I’ll be quicker with the next one, promise.


As a refresher, here’s some jacket copy:


Welcome to Petra.


It is the ultimate prison. Inmates from all of Ported Space are dumped there, forgotten, and left to survive however they can. Hope dies. Escape is impossible.


Disillusioned war hero Kane Pythen comes to Petra on a fact-finding mission, but gets caught in an uprising that threatens to expose a shattering secret. And Rolf Ankledge, Petra’s ruthless warden, will stop at nothing to keep it from reaching Ported Space. If Kane involves himself, he risks losing everything he has. If he does nothing, he betrays the last shreds of his ideals.


The prison break of the millennium is on. Now Kane must race against time and vicious forces from all over Petra if he ever wants to see his wife and daughter again.


Some reminders:



  • If you enjoy Petra, please consider leaving a review for it, even if it’s just a sentence or two.  The more reviews the book gets, the better Amazon likes it.  The better Amazon likes it, the happier Matt will be.

  • Also, make sure you sign up for my mailing list.  You’ll be among the first notified about any new developments, such as special offers, or the release of the next book.  No spam, I promise.  Your email will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

  • The Nebula nomination window has closed, but you can still nominate for the Hugos.  If you’re a Hugo voter and would like a copy of Petra, hit me up in the comments.  Make sure to specify your format preference.

  • And of course, the Kindle edition is still available, too.


If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.


To sum up, then:  Petra in print.  Reviews good.  Author happy.


Rock on.



 


Current Music: "Land of Hope and Dreams"--Bruce Springsteen


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

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