Friday, September 30, 2016

Volk: A Novel of Radiant Abomination

This one's been a long time coming, and it's going to be a little bit longer: the sequel to my 2011 novel EUTOPIA: A Novel of Terrible Optimism*. The book is due out  from ChiZine Publications a bit less than a year from now; the manuscript is not yet ready. But this week, my friend Erik Mohr delivered this cover--a to-my-eye spectacular iteration of the design that he supplied for the front of EUTOPIA.

By the time VOLK comes out, it will have been six years since that one, my first novel was published. For the people in EUTOPIA, it will have been a little longer: the story takes up 20 years later and a continent away, in France and Bavaria, in 1931.

I can't show off much of that now, but back in 2014 I did offer a taste, at the back of my story collection KNIFE FIGHT and Other Struggles: the prologue, "Orlok."

Here's a taste of the taste, of the opening, which takes place a little earlier than 1931:

Was he beautiful?” 
As though he had just registered his own nakedness at that instant, Gottlieb blinked and covered himself. 
Beautiful? No. He was compelling. Huge. Very muscular.” 
And you were sexually attracted to him." 
Of course I was.” 
The doctor allowed a dozen beats of the metronome before he spoke the obvious: “He was not like you.” 
Gottlieb was grasping at his penis. The doctor made no attempt to disguise his observation of that fact and noted with satisfaction that Gottlieb didn’t seem to care. He was as guileless as a babe then. Could a metronome tick triumphantly? The doctor let it, twice more. 
Describe to me the ways he was like you.” 
Gottlieb drew a deep breath and turned to the windows. They were open a crack to clear the air from the morning’s session, and the sweet smell of apple blossom wafted in. The doctor was used to the smell—this was a room in which he spent a great deal of time—but he noted it, along with the flaring of Gottlieb’s delicate nostrils. 
How was he like you?” asked the doctor again. 
I don’t really know,” said Gottlieb. “I didn’t know him for very long.” 
All right. He was German like me. And he was my age.” 
How old were you then?” 
The slightest frown. “Twenty-two.” 
The doctor looked again to the window. A conversation was drifting in along with the apple blossom scent. Two of the girls—Heidi and Anna? Yes. He recognized Anna’s lisp, and she and Heidi were inseparable. Ergo . . . 
They weren’t too distracting—they would barely register on the recording. If they lingered, or became silly, he would have to stand and shut the window, and risk disturbing Gottlieb. But the pair were on their way somewhere, and within four ticks of the metronome were gone. The doctor settled back. 
His hair was brown,” said Gottlieb. “Like mine too.” 
Three ticks. 
And he was homosexual,” said Gottlieb. 
Four more ticks now. 
But not like me.” 
Tell me how he is not like you.” 
As to his homosexuality?” 
If you like. Yes.” 
He is a masculine force. He looks at me and causes me to feel as if . . . as if I am not. Not masculine.” 
The doctor smiled. The last time Gottlieb had spoken of this moment, he’d immediately denied his homosexuality. They were progressing very well, at least as measured against their stated objective of delving into Gottlieb’s neurosis. The doctor started to reach for a pencil where his breast pocket would have been, but stopped himself and settled his hands back in his lap. He spoke quietly, calmly, in rhythm. Like a lullaby. “He is looking at you now,” he said.  
Tick. Tick. 
Gottlieb flushed and, as his hand came away from his penis, the doctor was pleased to see it was flushed too. 
In the beer hall, yes?” said the doctor. 
Gottlieb stretched his slender legs on the chaise longue, and his eyelids fluttered shut. A breeze from the window lifted the drapes, and raised gooseflesh as it passed. The air in the beer hall would not have been so fresh as this alpine breath. 
In the Bürgerbräukeller,” said Gottlieb. 
What does it smell like?” 
Many things. Food . . . there is a basket of schnitzel nearby. There is some smoke. I mean from tobacco. And the whole place stinks of old beer. Of course. Men have been drinking beer all day.” 
The doctor waited until it seemed as though Gottlieb might drift off to sleep, before prodding: 
Where is he?” 
Gottlieb smiled. “He is leaned against a pillar. By himself, across the hall from me. He is a very ugly man—his eyebrows meet in the middle of his forehead, so it seems he is scowling into his beer mug.” 
The doctor shifted in his chair. The towel he’d placed on the leather cushioning had moved, and in the warmth of the day the bare skin of his buttocks was sticking there. But he fought to contain his discomfort, his growing impatience. The metronome ticked seven times more before Gottlieb was ready to continue.
*Coincidentally, the second printing of EUTOPIA has just recently arrived. The first printing in 2011 was unusually large, because of an unusually large death-bed order from the late Borders chain, but it is finally all gone. It should be noted that this second run is NOT the illustrated version that I promised earlier this year. That will be coming out later, a little closer to VOLK's release.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Trump Man

This image came to me a couple months shy of a year ago, when the Republican Party primaries hadn't had much of a start. An anonymous fan with photoshop had whipped this up and posted it on Reddit, and another fan had sent it to me. How did I feel about it? What is the word for a feeling of flattered delight reaching a crescendo while throwing up in one's mouth? That.

After watching the first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I found myself thinking back to that picture, and realized that I'd never given it the place it deserved here in the Yard.

It is, of course, a play on the cover of this book, Monstrous Affections:

And it is illustrative, in more ways than one, of my short story "The Sloan Men," which leads off Monstrous Affections and is also available to read right here

I hope this helps.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Children of Lovecraft rides out!

We've talked about this before at the Yard: my novelette "Jules and Richard," and its inclusion in Ellen Datlow's Children of Lovecraft anthology--with its all-star lineup of weird writers, its Mike Mignola cover, its editorial pedigree. Well. Dark Horse has let it free this week, and its available all sorts of places: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters-Indigo.

When Ellen invited me to submit to the anthology, she made the premise very clear: she was looking for stories that were inspired by Lovecraft without pastiching him. No tentacles, was I believe a direct commandment.

Well, there's no tentacles in "Jules and Richard," although it does take a pretty direct stab at one of Lovecraft's more famous stories (not necessarily a Cthulhu Mythos piece). So yeah, no tentacles.

But Ellen didn't say anything about avoiding bicycles. And so, I did take a rather more direct inspiration from my single most serious bike accident a few years back, that did a real number on my shoulder, and also my dignity. 

With that in mind: Here's the first bit--the bit about bicycles--of "Jules and Richard." 

* * *

 “I was crossing back there...” 
Jules pointed, with his good arm, to the intersection a dozen meters to the east, just beyond the tangle of his once reliable old commuter bike: “… and as I was building up speed--” 
--over you went,” she said. 
Over I went, said Jules. He thought about it a moment, his mishap. “Stupid. I was checking to make sure I had my glasses in my pocket.” 
Did you?” 
I did.” 
You don't have them now though.” 
They fell out,” said Jules. 
Ah. Over there.” 
The glasses had fallen into the shadow of the exhaust pipe of a parked van. Jules couldn't see them, but she rose to fetch them and returned them to Jules. They were new glasses and they weren't cheap. 
He put them on, and blinked at his rescuer. 
Funny. I thought you were older,” he said, and immediately apologized. “I'm a little shaken up,” he explained. 
* * *

Well, it was pretty scary at the time...

Friday, August 5, 2016

H.P. Lovecraft and me

Actor and dad Leeman Kessler stopped by Toronto earlier this summer with his beautiful family, and of course the resuscitated shade of H.P. Lovecraft. We met up at a local pub on the Danforth for a chat and a drink, and somehow the conversation got around to exsanguination.

This happens more often than you might think.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"The Parable of the Cylinder"

A couple of months ago, Canadian Notes & Queries published my story "The Parable of the Cylinder," in their Spring 2016 "Games" issue. It's a story about Russian roulette strategies, and religion, and following from both of those, a discussion of the ramifications of turning the other cheek. It was also hard-ish to find, particularly for international readers. But now CN and Q has put the story online.

Here's the first bit:

You not been to one of these. I’d remember if you had, even if you stayed at the back of the trailer, hiding your eyes as you do . . . pretty little brown-haired girl like you, with that tattoo’d crucifix right there . . . though I don’t remember everything with my cracked-up noggin as it is, so maybe I’m wrong . . . but you’d have made an impression, looking like you do. 
So how’d it go way back when, in those bad times before the Lord set us on the straight road and our Ministry was proper begat? Gather ‘round, gather ‘round, you and your little ones in tow, and I’ll lay it out for you.
You can read the rest of it, right here at CNQ's website:

"The Parable of the Cylinder"

Friday, June 17, 2016

"The Bicameral Twist" and "The Long Dream"

There will be at least two more stories out from me this year, it looks like. Maybe three, possibly four. If the fourth happens, I count seven new stories in different venues for 2016, which for me is a pretty big haul.

One of those stories is available now in Molly Tanzer's amazing new journal of thoughtful and well-plotted erotica, CONGRESS. You can check out the first issue here, containing my story "The Bicameral Twist." It is pretty smutty and properly tawdry, but also, I am proud to say, definitively within the genre of hard science fiction ("The Bicameral Twist" is neuro-porno, not Beltway porno). With the rise of Chuck Tingle at the Hugos this year, I am preparing my acceptance speech for 2017.

In the fall, I'm pleased to say that my story "The Long Dream" will be among a very impressive list of contributors in Joe Pulver's Cabinet-of-Dr.-Caligari tribute anthology The Madness of Dr. Caligari.

Here's the very stellar table of contents:
Ramsey Campbell – “The Words Between”
Damien Angelica Walters – “Take a Walk in the Night, My Love"
Rhys Hughes - "Confessions of a Medicated Lurker"
Robert Levy – “Conversion”
Maura McHugh - "A Rebellious House"
David Nickle – “The Long Dream”
Janice Lee – “Eyes Looking”
Richard Gavin – “Breathing Black Angles”
S.P. Miskowski – “Somnambule”
Nathan Carson – “The Projection Booth”
Jeffrey Thomas – “The Mayor of Elementa”
Nadia Bulkin – “Et Spiritus Sancti”
Orrin Grey – “Blackstone: A Hollywood Gothic”
Reggie Oliver – “The Ballet of Dr. Caligari”
Cody Goodfellow – “Bellmer’s Bride"Michael Griffin – “The Insomniac Who Slept Forever”
Paul Tremblay – “Further Questions for the Somnambulist”
Michael Cisco – “The Righteousness of Conical Men”
Molly Tanzer – “That Nature Which Peers Out in Sleep”
Daniel Mills – “A Sleeping Life”
John Langan – “To See, To Be Seen”
Gemma Files – “Caligarism”
These two stories ("The Bicameral Twist" and "The Long Dream") will join "The Caretakers" (,  "The Parable of the Cylinder" (Canadian Notes & Queries) and "Jules and Richard" (Children of Lovecraft) in definitively-scheduled 2016 titles.

There are two others that might or might not come out this year. Whether it's this year or next, though... you'll hear about them here.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Jules and Richard

I'd been vague-blogging this one in the last post about "The Caretakers," which thanks to editor Ellen Datlow was up at in February. Now I'm proper-blogging, that my novelette "Jules and Richard" will be appearing in Children of Lovecraft, again thanks to editor Ellen Datlow, who invited me to a party with a bunch of first-class weird writers, in a book with a cover drawn by Mike Mignola.

Here's Ellen's announcement:

I’ve finished Children of Lovecraft, a new, all original anthology coming from Dark Horse Books this September:
Table of Contents:
Nesters by Siobhan Carroll
Little Ease by Gemma Files
Eternal Troutland by Stephen Graham Jones
The Supplement by John Langan
Mortensen’s Muse by Orrin Grey
Oblivion Mode by Laird Barron
Mr. Doornail by Maria Dahvana Headley
The Secrets of Insects by Richard Kadrey
Excerpts for An Eschatology Quadrille by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Jules and Richard by David Nickle
Glasses by Brian Evenson
When the Stitches Come Undone by A.C. Wise
On These Blackened Shores of Time by Brian Hodge
Bright Crown of Joy by Livia Llewellyn
Cover below by Mike Mignola
image by Mike Mignola via Amazon