Archive for September, 2008

Steampunk + Cryptozoology = Dr. Roundbottom

Have you been reading the musings of the great philosopher and scientist Dr. Julius T. Roundbottom? I profiled his visionary work for SCI FI Wire today.

Here’s the short version. The website publishes new fiction every week, but it’s not just a regular ezine–instead, the site combines web design, photography, and writing all into one creative endeavor. It’s purportedly the journal of a "Dr. Roundbottom" who takes "photonic captures" of strange and unusual creatures and then writes up notes about his adventures. It combines a steampunk aesthetic with an adventurous cryptozoology sensibility.

What it really is, is a one-man show, created, photographed, and designed by SF author Jeremiah Tolbert. He takes real photos then photoshops them to look exotic and strange, thus transforming an ordinary toad into a spear-wielding boggart. The site also has some "choose your own adventure" aspect to it, because readers can post comments in response to the Doctor’s posts, and he will write back in character.

Go check out my interview with Jeremiah over at SCI FI Wire and be sure to check out Roundbottom’s site,

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Zombie Interview: Catherine Cheek

Tell us a bit about your story, "She’s Taking Her Tits to the Grave." What’s it about?

A trophy wife comes back from the dead and searches for the man who raised her.

What’s was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

The idea for this story actually came from the theme of the World Fantasy Con for 2007 which was “ghosts and revenants.”  I didn’t know what a revenant was, so I wikied it and found that it was a person who came back from the dead and caused great trouble for the living.  It’s that last part that intrigued me. What kind of trouble could they cause? 


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Zombie Interview: Brian Evenson

Tell us a bit about your story, "Prairie." What’s it about?

Explorers from an earlier time travel into a country in which the dead reanimate. They experiment.  As time goes on, starving, the narrator watches his companions and friends die and then come back into a sort of half-life, and the prepares for his own end.

What’s was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

I’d been reading Cabeza de Vaca’s 16th account of crossing North America after being shipwrecked and also had been rewatching Werner Herzog’s movie _Aguirre, Wrath of God_ which has a brilliant, mad ending.  I was interested, too, in thinking about how certain places seem to have a dark but magical quality to them.  Where the idea of bodies reanimating came from I don’t know.


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Readings of The Living Dead @ the New York Review of Science Fiction reading series

On October 7, 2008, come join me and special guests David Barr Kirtley and John Langan to celebrate the release of The Living Dead. I will serve as MC for the evening, and John Langan ("How the Day Runs Down") and Dave Kirtley ("The Skull-Faced Boy") will read from their stories.

For more information, have a look at the poster Dave created for the event:


The event will take place at the Melville Gallery of the South Street Seaport in New York, NY. Doors open at 6:30 PM, event begins at 7:00 PM. The event is part of the New York Review of Science Fiction reading series, which is curated by radio show host Jim Freund.

[NYRSF reading series] [Press Release]

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Zombie Interview: Adam-Troy Castro

Tell us a bit about your story, "Dead Like Me." What’s it about?

It’s a set of instructions, to a hapless protagonist, about how to survive the zombie plague by joining it.

What’s was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

The story was my attempt to get into the fabled BOOK OF THE DEAD III, then being compiled by John Skipp and Craig Spector; the tangled history of that volume being what it was, it didn’t see print until the book became MONDO ZOMBIE, by Skipp alone, a decade later.

The question that prompted it was, if Romero-zombies don’t breathe, how do they track their victims? Certainly not by scent! (Zombies smell badly in more than one sense.) If not by scent, how? If we know the method, can we fool them? And from there I got to, what will it cost?


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The Living Dead: Now Available/Website Now Live

The Living Dead is officially out and for sale at or Barnes &, and at better bookstores everywhere. The official website is now live, and it features a number of bonus features, such as:

(1) Free stories & excerpts. Including free stories by Kelly Link, Adam-Troy Castro, David Tallerman, and Dale Bailey, with more to come in the near future.

(2) Interviews with the authors.

(3) Zombie pop-culture commentary.

So swing on over to check it out, and tell all your friends!

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Making e-Reading Easier: Change Your Screen Orientation

I just had kind of a revelation about reading on my laptop. One of the things that bugs me about reading PDFs is that it’s very difficult to maximize your screen real estate since laptop screens (and most PC monitors) are widescreens, displayed in the landscape view. For a PDF, a laptop screen would be ideal in portrait view, since it approximates the dimensions of a sheet of paper and it would allow you to view one whole PDF page at a time, which makes turning pages in the PDF much easier. So I thought, if I turn my laptop on its side, can I make Windows change the orientation of my display? The answer is yes.

For some machines, apparently the default Windows hotkeys will be in place, so all you have to do is hit CTRL + ALT + [Right Arrow] to rotate your display orientation 90 degrees to the right. To return to normal orientation, hit CTRL + ALT + [Up Arrow].

If, like me, that doesn’t work for you, you can go into your display properties (Start > Settings > Control Panel > Display > Settings) and click on Advanced. Click on the tab for your video adaptor. Then from there, you’ll have to play around with your settings.

In my case, with a GeForce FX Go5200 video adaptor, I have a list of options, including "NVRotate". Opening that screen presents you with the option of changing your screen orientation. That’s kind of pain to do, though, if you’re going to be switching back and forth. So you’re going to want to setup your own hotkeys to accomplish what some lucky users have setup by default. In the same tab for your video adaptor, in that same list of options, there will be one marked "Desktop Management." Click the plus sign to expand the list, then select Hot Keys. Click on the plus beside "Display Mode" then select "Rotate Display" and double-click and follow the on-screen prompts to select your hotkey to change your screen orientation (the default Windows hotkeys mentioned above seem to make sense to me, so that’s what I used). Note you’ll have to setup two hotkeys, one to rotate the screen 90 degrees to the right (CTRL + ALT + [Right Arrow]), then another hotkey to return the screen to normal orientation (CTRL + ALT + [Up Arrow]).

I’m rather pleased with myself for figuring out how to do this. Given all the reading I have to do on screen (while reading for anthologies), it helps a lot to be able to just use my laptop rather than having to put stuff on my Pocket PC phone (which requires file conversion and doesn’t read PDFs well at all). I briefly investigated doing the same thing on my PC, but the settings were different (although the video adaptor is made by the same company) and there didn’t seem to be any option for changing the orientation.

So anyway, I thought I’d share my discovery in case that would be of use to anyone else. Of course, if you have one of those sweet rotating monitors, you don’t need this.

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