The House of Eddas: Thor Helps to Create Humanity in Journey Into Mystery #103

Journey_into_Mystery_Vol_1_103While Journey Into Mystery’s back-up stories had introduced more mythological figures to play with, the main stories were, at this point, still using a very limited cast of Asgardians: Thor, Odin and Loki, plus some extras (if you’re feeling generous you could maybe count Heimdall as a significant character, although his main role was simply to fail at preventing Loki’s escape from prison).

That changed with issue #103, which introduces two more Asgardians into the Marvel Universe. Which ones, you might ask? Well… let’s just say you won’t be recognising them from anything Snorri wrote.

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“A Brief Lesson in Native American Astronomy” by Rebecca Roanhorse (2020 Ignyte Awards)

Having covered four of the Ignyte Award finalists for Best Short Story – “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island” by Nibedita Sen”, “And Now His Lordship is Laughing” by Shiv Ramdas, “Dune Song” by Suyi Davies Okungbowa and “Canst Thou Draw Out the Leviathan” by Christopher Caldwell – I’m wrapping things up with a look at the fifth and final contender in the category: Rebecca Roanhorse’s “A Brief Lesson in Native American Astronomy”.

Included in the anthology The Mythic Dream, this story is set in a future where virtual reality is more immersive than before; where the famous can have their images projected into space, leaving them visible in the night sky like stars of a more literal sort; and where medical technology can keep a person alive for a century and a half – if they can afford it.

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Werewolf Wednesday: Porno Porno Porno

My weekly column at Killer Horror Critic has reached one of the most important milestones in cinematic history: the first werewolf porno.

Past instalments:

Satanic Panic: Back and Based

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I’ve been thinking about doing a blog series on a revival of the Satanic Panic that’s currently going on in contemporary alt-right circles. For those unfamiliar, the original Satanic Panic of the eighties and early nineties had two main aspects; I’ve come to think of them as the soft and hard varieties:

The soft Satanic Panic came from the fear that entertainment popular with youngsters (Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, He-Man et al) contained occult messages. This was confined largely to fundamentalist communities, and tends to strike outsiders as being rather silly.

The hard Satanic Panic was based on the fear that cults of Satanists were ritually abusing children. This was obviously harder to laugh off than the first concern: even if you don’t believe in demons, it’s entirely within the realms of possibility that a cult or religious sect might commit acts of child abuse. Consequently, this aspect of the Satanic Panic caught on here in the UK, even though we don’t have the fundamentalist Christianity that exists in the US.

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Fundamentalist Creepypasta

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I’ve done some blogging in the past about how a genre of horror story involving cursed cartoons, haunted video games and the like has flourished online via creepypasta, but here’s something I haven’t seen talked about. Before creepypasta developed at the likes of /r/NoSleep, similar stories had been disseminated at outlets of a very different sort: fundamentalist Christian websites.

For a pristine example, take a look at this page on the Crossroad Ministries site, dating from circa 2000. The page republishes an email sent in by someone named Shellie, which is introduced as follows:

[*Note from Pastor Kevin – this is a real life testimony from someone in our fellowship dealing with a relative who is involved in Poke’mon. Demons are real and the power they possess is also very real. The amount of power is determined in degrees by the acceptance of the child or person of these demons.]

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More on the Sordid Life of a Novelist

My second novel’s coming along well, and it’s currently nearing the 45,000-word mark. But looking back, I can’t help but notice that my writing-schedule has changed considerably.

There was a time when I set myself a weekly wordcount. This is a tactic that served me well when I was writing The Omega Factor: Divinity, but as a TV tie-in that had a much clearer framework around it. With my more personal novel, I found that giving myself a quota was leading to bad habits – I was writing up long, irrelevant scenes that, when I get to the editing phase, I’ll very likely be cutting.

With the novel now competing with a number of other projects for my time, I’ve lately been settling for something rather more flexible. My monthly to-do list always includes “work on the novel” but exactly what kind of work varies from month to month. Typically, it’s writing a chapter – although, given that the chapters aren’t particularly long, that amounts to some slow progress, admittedly.

But I’m glad that I’m keeping things pliable. This month, I struggled to get started on the latest chapter and soon realised it was because of a new-ish character I’d introduced into the narrative: I just didn’t know enough about who she was and what she was looking for. So, that’s on my to-do list for October – figure out that character. By the end of the month I aim to have a potted biography of her drawn up.

As well as my monthly list, the novel sometimes turns up on the daily to-do lists I sketch out before I go to bed. In those cases, my aim-for-the-day varies from writing a whole scene to mulling things over until I figure out a solution to a story problem that’s facing me.

Sometimes flexibility works rather well.

“Canst Thou Draw Out the Leviathan” by Christopher Caldwell (2020 Ignyte Awards)

MayJune19-Issue-28-Med-340x510Having bought his freedom, ex-slave John Wood has started a new life as a ship’s carpenter on board a whaling vessel. Once at sea, the crew are imperilled by forces of nature in the form of the stormy waters and the mighty whales. But there are other powers at play – supernatural forces – which may just lend John and his crewmates the protection they need.

“Canst Thou Draw Out the Leviathan” is a story steeped in myth – more specifically, in different types of myth which, rather than forming a mere backdrop, clash against each other like the ocean waves that toss and hurl the ship’s crew. The setting of a nineteenth-century whaling ship is, thanks to Moby-Dick, ingrained in the mythology of American literature. Images of whales and sailors also have Biblical connotations, something acknowledged by the story’s title. In more literal terms, the themes of myth and spirituality are also embodied by the differing religious perspectives of the characters.

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Werewolf Wednesday: Italian Frolics

It’s the first Wednesday of October, so here’s another instalment of my Killer Horror Critic column on the history of werewolf films! This time I’m looking at Italy’s first contribution to the subgenre: the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory

Past instalments:

“Dune Song” by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (2020 Ignyte Awards)

With the Ignyte Awards handed out this month, I’ve decided to take a closer look at some of the stories on the shortlist. There are a few I’ve already written about as part of my Hugo coverage at WWAC, but others are new to me. I’ll start with “Dune Song” by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

In a post-apocalyptic world carpeted with sand dunes, the inhabitants of a remote settlement are warned by their Elders never to leave. The outside world is dangerous, say the Elders; those who venture into the dunes will be killed by whistling gods.

But a girl named Nata yearns to see the wider world. She wants to visit civilisation, something she has glimpsed in one of the books from before the world was desertified – books that are ordinarily reserved for the Chief, Elders and other members of an elite. Most of all, she hopes to find her mother, who said that the whistling gods did not exist – and who disobeyed the Elders, leaving the settlement, never to be seen again. Partnering with the Chief’s young son, Tasé, she decides to head out into the dunes.

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