While this isn’t the contest news some are waiting for: a new mini-contest!

I’m not the only one who has been amused by John Scalzi’s blurb for Sam Sykes just released book BLACK HALO. The blurb reads: “I do not wish Sam Sykes Dead.” High praise, indeed! Still, it leaves me wanting more. So: a weeklong mini-contest!

HOW TO ENTER AND WHAT: Either comment here, on the relevant post on Bull Spec’s Facebook Page, or reply to the relevant tweet from @bullspec on Twitter, with an even better backhanded evil blurb than Scalzi’s. OK, I know, that’s impossible. Just do the best you can. The winner will receive — well, it makes sense, doesn’t it — a copy of BLACK HALO. (The one pictured below to be precise. Only with less camera flash reflecting off of it.)

ELIGIBILITY: The book will be sent only to folks who can receive USPS media or flate rate (US postage) mail. So: US (yes, Hawaii and Alaska), US territories, etc. If you’re outside this area please do enter anyway, because, well, it’s fun and you might still win. I’ll just only be able to send the book to the US mailing address of your choice. Hey. Worldwide postage ain’t free.

DEADLINE: I’ll round up the submissions next Friday, April 1. I can totally see the winning entries sounding like April Fool’s jokes already…

UPDATE: Winner is posted here.


From the issue 4 cutting room floor: NC Speculative Fiction Night article by Alex Granados

(Sam’s note: Issue 4 grew from 64 to 68 pages, and still I couldn’t get everything in. Some things moved onto the upcoming issue 5, but some things were of a more time-sensitive nature and were left, more or less, on the cutting room floor. Here’s one, an article on the November 11, 2010 “NC Speculative Fiction Night”, by Alex Granados.)

A Speculative Fiction Night Out
by Alex Granados

Photo by Libby Himberger, LKH Photography

A standing-room only crowd of fiction fans came out to the New Hope Barnes & Noble Booksellers on November 11 to hear from local speculative fiction writers, editors, and game designers.

Everyone from Bull Spec’s own poetry editor Dan Campbell, to horror writer and game designer Richard Dansky was in attendance at the event dubbed “N.C. Speculative Fiction Night”. Participants qualified their presence by describing dragon-themed novels, romanticized tales of the walking dead, and more. Davey Beauchamp, contributor to the collection of short stories Rum and Runestones, summed up the mission of speculative fiction writing for the audience.

“We have worlds to explore,” he said. “We don’t stay within the confines of the real world.”

And that was in evidence as the writers introduced themselves and some of their work.

There was Kij Johnson, a Nebula Award Winner and Hugo finalist; Mur Lafferty, the podcast professional in charge of the Escape Pod podcast magazine; and conference organizer Jaym Gates, editor of Rigor Amortis which can be summed up in four words: horror, erotica, zombies, and romance.
“There was actually a brief period of time where we were outselling a couple of Stephen King novels,” she said of Rigor Amortis.

Hillsborough’s James Maxey, author of the Dragon Age Trilogy was there as well. He talked a little about himself, his work and even touched upon science fiction in the context of the 70s and 80s.

“I think then science fiction was very much the province of outright nerds,” he said. “And I grew up as a nerd.”

He went on to talk about how Harry Potter and superhero movies have really moved the “geek/nerd” culture into the mainstream. But despite its increasing popularity, Maxey pointed out that speculative fiction writing isn’t a game for people looking to make it big.

“If people truly understood the economics of writing, nobody would be doing it anyway,” he said.

The panelists talked about their personal journeys towards science fiction and answered questions from the audience during the event. Everything from the prominence of digital fiction to the relationship between gaming and speculative fiction was touched upon. After it was all over, the crowd surged to the front to meet the panelists, buy their books, and get signed copies.

This event is the first in what is supposed to be a quarterly event. The next will be hosted by Bull Spec at 7 p.m. on January 12 at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham. Bull Spec’s Samuel Montgomery-Blinn said that events like this highlight all the talent present in the area.

“The Triangle is a fantastic place to be a part of speculative fiction, whether you’re a reader, a writer, a critic, an editor, an artist, or all of the above,” he said. “Bringing this community together to recognize the wealth of authors here is one of the big reasons I started Bull Spec, and it’s incredibly rewarding to see it happening.”

(Related: Additional photos of the event were posted by photographer Libby Himberger of LKH Photography.)


The StellarCon typewriter pages.

To draw attention to the Durham Literacy Center, Bull Spec maintained a typewriter (an old, cantankerous, weighty old Underwood) in the hallway at StellarCon and invited people to type on it, to feel the power of writing and think about those who cannot read. Well, over the course of 3 legal-size blank sheets, some typing was done:

Page one:

Page two:

Page three:

Of course the last page somebody gets a little vulgar, but that’s what happens when you leave a typewriter in a public place. For the most part, people enjoyed it. The typewriter ended up a little worse for the wear, with a good new crack:

But overall it was a fun thing to do. I would have liked to have it at the table with me, but we ended up with a smaller space (and more stuff) than I’d expected. I hope to make this a bit of a tradition going forward as one of the things Bull Spec does — along with the rice crispy treats at the issue launches, of course!


Third Bear Carnival contest winners.

I found this sitting in “draft” when trying to tie up some loose ends, and apologize to the winners for the lateness of the post — though they did get their books long ago. For this contest, I asked readers to submit reviews of non-existent books, tied however loosely, to Jeff VanderMeer’s recent collection The Third Bear.


Well, two came through with shining colors. The first comes from Stephen Gordon:

Two Weird by Jeff VanderMeer (2012) 

Jeff VanderMeer produces remarkable collections of short fiction, and Two Weird, his latest since The Third Bear, is no exception.  If the collection has a unifying theme, it would be the manner in which language, in its gaps and failures, can produce a dread deeper than that instilled by any monster. The first and last stories are illustrative.

The first, “Two Weird,” is set in the aftermath of Macbeth and relates the interrogation of two of the weird sisters by Macduff (the third having been killed during their capture). The sisters reluctantly hand over manuscripts ofMacbeth and its alleged sequel, insinuating a terrifying paradox of intertextuality and fate.

The final story, “Turtles All the Way,” is as a mashup of The Matrix and Borges’ “The Garden of Forking Paths.” Whereas The Matrix presents a horrific world (“the desert of the real”) paired with a shiny but illusory cybernetic projection, each world in “Turtles” is a projection of some other, with the web of worlds never ending, although sometimes looping. The protagonist, a lonely young woman named Differance, travels from world to world fruitlessly seeking meaning, always a signifier, never a signified.

Stephen Gordon writes short stories that are just a little weird and a little fantastical. He can be found on the web at facebook.com/ironnoir,twitter.com/ironnoir, or ironnoir@gmail.com, as you please.

The second comes from Chapel Hill Comics‘ Andrew Neal, and comes with a bit of a profanity alert:
Almost Eaten by Goldilocks 

Review by Baby Bear

In casting herself as a hero in her new book Almost Eaten, Goldilocks has reached down into the deepest depths of her delusions and pulled forth the biggest, steamiest pile of shit I’ve ever tried to read. She’s no Robin Hood. She stole my porridge. She’s a burglar, a thief, and, as this book makes clear, a liar. Simple as that. Memoir? More like Mem-whore. If I ever cross paths with that little bitch again, her she’s going to have to call her second book Eaten.

Whew. Well, that’s about three months overdue. I do promise that it won’t take that long to announce the winner of the Teen Writing Contest which I hope to post quite soon.


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