B Cubed Press Offers Alternatives

B Cubed Press

Since the days of the ancient Greek playwrights, writers have used humor to cut would-be tyrants down to size.  “The pen is mightier than the sword,” but the feather of the quill can be used to tickle.

B Cubed Press was developed to create books that hold a mirror up to the oaf in the White House and his neo-fascist henchmen.  Admittedly, sometimes it’s a funhouse mirror.  In an era of “Fake News,” censorship, and clumsy propaganda, B Cubed Press invites readers to think and laugh.

Alternative Truths, the first anthology in the series, has 94 positive reviews on Amazon.  It’s a five-star book that contains my Darrell Award-nominated contemporary fantasy “As Prophesied of Old.”

Alternative Truths anthology was formed, when on February 23, 2017, I, and many of my friends, asked what we could do. We could write, we could join that noble tradition of using the pen, to poke the powerful.  So was born, Alternative Truths. And our pens became word processors and our ideas became stories.  Bob Brown”  As my colleague K. G. Anderson said, “Twenty-four science fiction writers had one hundred days to think about Trump.  The result is Alternative Truths.” The book was published just before Trump’s 100th day in office.

More Alternative Truths was more of the same, but with poetry added.  (It contains a filk song I co-wrote with Nebula winner Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.)

Alternative Theologies: Parables for a Modern Age took a religious bent.  Some thieves took exception to the notion that there might be alternative interpretations to their theology and stole every copy of the book from MisCon in Montana.

Alternative Truths: Endgames is the fourth and final book of the Alternatives quartet.  It offers fictional possibilities of what might be the result of this interruption into the experiment of American democracy.

After the Orange explores long-term possibilities of what the current regime could do to us and our descendants.

Digging Up My Bones  is an anthology of feminist poetry.

It’s nearly time for summer reading.  Check out these B Cubed Press offerings at your local library or bookstore.  Also available on-line through Amazon.com.

B Cubed Press

Buy a book, then leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.  Reviews are love.  Even if it’s just a tweet saying “I liked this book.  You might, too.”

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not reflect the official opinions of Krypton Radio, Kelly Educational Services, nor the County of San Diego.

Go see ENDGAME ASAP

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{image via Disney}

My husband and I saw Avengers: Endgame Friday. We don’t usually see movies on opening day. We usually wait a week or two to hear some word-of-mouth reviews, but we wanted to see who would be saved and how, and who would be lost and how and why. We also wanted to avoid spoilers with this movie, which can be difficult on Facebook.

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Chris Evans as Captain America {image via Marvel}

If you wish to avoid spoilers, go see Avengers: Endgame as soon as possible, because everyone will be talking about this.

It’s long, three hours, one minute, but it keeps your attention enough that it doesn’t’ feel long while you’re watching it.

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Rocket Raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper {image via Marvel}

Nearly every favorite character (heroes, villains, sidekicks and supporting character) from the MCU makes an appearance. There were three characters I would’ve loved to have seen whom I didn’t notice. Sorry I can’t tell you who: this is a spoiler-free review.

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Brie Larson as Captain Marvel {image via Marvel}

The movie is PG-13 for violence and profanity. Language: Cap! Nothing worse than what you would see or hear at the average junior high these days.

If you’re old enough to remember Disneyland in the days of tickets, this is a real E ticket ride. This is not a good movie to begin the MCU with. I don’t recommend watching it unless you’ve seen the other 21 movies in the MCU franchise and the Agent Carter TV show. However, if you’re already a fan of the MCU, I predict you’ll enjoy Avengers: Endgame.

Science fiction/fantasy author Rebecca McFarland Kyle said “Endgame was worth full price and I would go see it again.” In this economy, that’s high praise.

The comments section below is waiting for you. No spoilers, please.

Aquaman: a movie review

Avast, mateys, here be Spoilers!

trailer

Last weekend, my husband and I went to the discount theater to see Aquaman.  The Bartlett Tenplex gets movies about the time they come out on DVD.  They charge $3 a head.

Jason Momoa doesn’t look a thing like Aquaman in the comic books or the old Saturday morning cartoon, but he did a good job as Arthur Curry, King of Atlantis and Protector of the Seas.  Aquaman was created in 1941 by writer Mort Weisinger and artist Paul Norris.  Weisinger may have be influenced by the song “Keeper of the Eddystone Light.”

The movie begins with the meeting of Aquaman’s parents.  Tom Curry is a lighthousekeeper, played by New Zealand actor/singer Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett in SW 2: Attack of the Clones, and Cmdr. Cody in SW 3: Attack of the Clones).  Nicole Kidman (Dr. Chase Meridian in Batman Forever, Mrs. Coulter in The Golden Compass) plays Atlanna, Queen of Atlantis.  Tom finds the wounded Atlanna on the beach, rescues her, nurses her to health, and falls in love with her.  She explains she ran away from an arranged marriage.

When little Arthur is about three, Atlantean soldiers come to fetch the missing queen home.  She demonstrates incredible hand-to-hand combat skills when throwing them out of her home.  (It was at that point I thought to myself:  the heck with Aquaman.  I want an Atlanna movie.)  She realizes that having found her, the Atlanteans will come again.  She decides to return to the sea rather than endanger her husband and child.  Tom promises he will wait for her at the end of the pier every day at sunrise, to watch for her return.  He faithfully keeps that pledge for years.

Cut to modern day:  Black Manta, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, is a modern-day pirate, is attacking a Russian sub.  Aquaman boards the sub, fights Manta and his crew, and is recognized by the imprisoned Russians as “Aquaman!”  Michael Beach is a scenestealer in an all-too-brief role as Jesse, Manta’s father and second in command.

TV news makes a passing reference to the man social media has nicknamed the Aquaman.  Tom Curry refers to Vulko training his son.  I remembered Vulko from the comic book as Aquaman’s vizier and friend.  We later learn through flashbacks that Vulko came from Atlantis to train young Arthur in Atlantean fighting techniques and culture.  About middle school, by the look of him, and again as a teenager.

When Atlantis sank, it divided into seven kingdoms, some of which evolved in different directions, to the point where their inhabitants are mercreatures that can no longer pass as human.  One of these kingdoms is ruled by King Nereus (unrecognizable as Dolph Lundgren, who’s lost weight since his He-Man days, in addition to having his hair dyed.)  Nereus’ daughter Princess Mera goes to find Arthur.  His half-brother, King Orm, wants to declare war on the surface world, which has been polluting the ocean.  If Orm can ally four of the seven kingdoms to his side, he will be named Ocean Master, and granted great political and military power.

Mera tries to convince Arthur to depose his brother on the grounds if he claims the throne as firstborn son, he can revoke his brother’s declaration of war.  Orm continually refers to Arthur as his halfbreed bastard brother, so apparently Atlantean law doesn’t recognize Atlanna’s marriage to Tom.  Orm pushes Arthur into a corner, where he has no choice but to challenge his brother to personal combat.  After a crowd-pleasing spectacle of a public fight,, Mera helps Arthur escape, so they can look for King Atlann’s magic trident.  Their quest takes them to the Sahara and Italy.  They fight Orm’s soldiers and Manta’s crew, and eventually find his ancestor King Atlann’s tomb, where only the true heir to the king can claim his trident.  A character alleged to be dead turns out to be alive, and a powerful ally for Arthur.

Arthur and Orm fight again, and the firstborn son of Queen Atlanna is recognized as King of Atlantis.  Given that Mera was betrothed to the King of Atlantis, rather than Orm personally, this makes her Arthur’s fiancee.

The city of Atlantis is not quite as impressive as the capital city of Wakanda, but it is impressive, a masterpiece of the special effects artist’s craft.

This was a fun movie.  We got every penny worth of our three dollars.  I told my husband if he wanted to, he could buy me the DVD for my birthday.

I’d rather see a Queen Atlanna movie than Aquaman II as a sequel.

Queen Atlanna

 

 

Writing with Spirituality

A guest blog by Phyllis Irene Radford

Writing with Spirituality

Alternative Theologies, parables for a modern world

Phyllis Irene Radford

Reading a book imbued with spirituality and later trying to write those qualities
into my own work has fascinated me for a long time. Spirituality is more than religion. To me it is a spiritual character, someone who lives their faith and has a personal
relationship with their beliefs. Their faith guides every decision they make even when
they question the advisability of the decision.  For them there is no division between the divine and reality.I played with these ideas in Guardian of the Vision, Merlin’s Descendants #3.

 

Griffin Kirkwood is a Roman Catholic priest who must wrestle with the strict
teaching of his religion, weighing those truths against the truth of Magical talents in
himself and his family. “A spell is nothing more than a prayer.”

 
I started to see that faith is more than emotion, but it needs to invoke and
emotional response from the reader. That is hard to do but begins on a character level.
The writer, and the reader needs to bond closely to the character and understand what
they believe and why.

 
Then came the Confederated of Star System series by C.F. Bentley.  Sissy dove head first into my life and would not go away until I told her story. An undereducated factory worker, our heroine found herself dragged into the Temple Caste and made High Priestess because the powers that be thought she’d be malleable and do as she was told. They learned otherwise. But finally given the right and the means to read the history of Harmony, both goddess and planet, she has questions that she cannot reconcile with her very direct and magical connection to her home and her faith.  No one messes with the avatar of a goddess, even when she is forced into exile on a space station.

 
That series exhausted me, and I went back to more mundane topics. Until…
My best friend and co-writer, Bob Brown, came up with a new anthology idea.
We’d already co-edited and written for Alternative Truths, which hit several Amazon
bestseller lists, and More Alternative Truths. He published a couple of other books
without me while I wrote a couple books on my own. But then I got a phone call. “Want
to edit Alternative Theologies?”  How could I say no?

 
We racked up almost 150 submissions. In every open call anthologies there a
few inappropriate pieces. Some in the “What were you thinking?” category that make
me head for the hand sanitizers. There are a few that are beautifully written pieces that
don’t quite fit theme. We bought two of those for the next anthology Alternative
Apocalypses.  And then there is the good stuff. The really good stuff that made us cry when we had to choose one from among four with similar themes.

 

In reading the stories I had to sit up and take notice, then I had to think. Think
about my own beliefs, think about how the authors presented themes, think about the
readers who would also think, even if they ended up throwing the entire collection
against the wall. I thought about the stories when they made me laugh, or made me cry,
or made my heart swell with new faith and affirmation.

 
This collection does not bash or denounce religion. It does rail against those who
pervert the teaching of their faith. It examines why we believe, crave believing in
something bigger and grander than ourselves. And it gives me new foundations for my
own beliefs.

 
Believe what you will, in the deity who speaks to you. And I hope you can read
these stories and think.

 


I am not in this volume myself.  I came up with two or three ideas, but none that I was able to transmogrify from story ideas to actual stories.  SMM

Where Will We Be After The Orange?

I’m not in this book, but several of my friends and acquaintances are. You might find it worth reading.

A guest-post by Karen G. Anderson

Writer Way

Screen Shot 2018-07-27 at 8.12.06 PMThe writers and editors who put together the Alternative Truths and More Alternative Truths anthologies have taken a collective leap into our uncertain future with a new book, After the Orange: Ruin and Recovery.

Edited by my talented friend Manny Frishberg, the newest B Cubed Press anthology has stories by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Paula Hammond, Mike Adamson, J.G. Follansbee, me and 24 others. Our stories in After the Orange provide a glimpse of the world in 2032 and beyond.

Manny says: “Some stories are about imagined Resistance fighters while others, like ‘Garbage Patch Kids,’ envision people cheerfully making the best of their situation. Generally, the farther in the future a story looks, the more likely it is to be optimistic.”

“Maybe the Monarchs,” by Endeaver Award-winner Brenda Cooper, and J.G. Follansbee’s “The Orange St. Parking Garage Is FULL/OPEN” are all-to-plausible, and disturbingly so. I heard Brenda read “Maybe the…

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DOUBLE FEATURE: A Movie Review of “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Incredibles 2”

incred 2

Saturday night we went to the drive-in.  We saw a double feature of Ant-Man and the Wasp and Incredibles 2Other than the rain during Ant-Man and the Wasp, we enjoyed the movies.

The two movies have some things in common.

  1. Both are superhero movies, with a good blend of action and humor.
  2. Both pass the Bechdel test with flying colors.
  3. Both have competent female protagonists, antagonists, and supporting characters.
  4. Both examine the role of superheroes in society.

Ant-Man and the Wasp, the 20th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), takes place two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War and contemporaneously with Avengers: Infinity War (Part 1).  Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man, is on house-arrest.  He has parted company with Hope Van Dyne, aka Wasp (Jr.), and her father Hank Pym; they are on the run, and have been for the past two years.  Scott provides a clue that Janet Van Dyne, aka Wasp (Sr.) may still be alive in the Quantum Dimension.  Dr. Pym and his daughter are determined to rescue her, with or without Scott’s help.

The physics are less than believable, but the movie is so fun that you’ll turn off your brain and ignore that.  Luis, Scott’s long-winded, silver-tongued friend from prison (and now his business partner), steals the show.  Like Black Panther, it’s a female friendly movie.  Hope Van Dyne, Janet Van Dyne, Ghost (Ava Starr), Maggie (Scott’s ex-wife), and Cassie (Scott’s beloved daughter) are all well developed characters with plausible motivations for their actions.  As with Killmonger in Black Panther, Ghost as a valid reason for what she’s doing.

Incredibles 2 begins literally seconds after the first movie ended.  Unfortunately, the Parr clan’s attempt to defeat the Underminer is less than successful, resulting in some collateral damage.  The superhero relocation program is being shut down due to budget cuts.  With their house destroyed in the last movie and Bob Parr, aka Mr. Incredible, having been fired from his insurance job a few months ago, they’ve got two weeks in a motel before they’re homeless.

Luckily, Frozone is approached by business executive Winston Deavor, a gushing fanboy when it comes to superheroes.  Winston and his genius sister Evelyn want to bring superheroes back into the public eye so their heroics can become legal again.  They hire Elastigirl, aka Helen Parr, to be the first super to make a comeback.  (Her collateral damage record was far less than her husband’s.)  The Deavors provide them with a home which must have belonged to a superhero at one point; it’s a cross between stately Wayne Manor and Tracy Island, and Tony Stark would love it.  She meets other metahumans, some of whom regard her with awe.  As Elastigirl goes after Screenslaver, Mr. Incredible is busy playing Mr. Mom : helping (or attempting to help) Dash with his homework, dealing with Violet’s broken heart, and trying to keep up with baby Jack-Jack who is a polymorph.  None of the female characters — Elastigirl, Violet, Evelyn, the Ambassador, Voyd, Edna Mode — are two-dimensional ciphers.

“Unhappy the land that needs heroes.” Unglücklich das Land, das Helden nötig hat.  Bertolt Brecht, 1898 – 1956

Screenslaver, the antagonist of Incredibles 2, believes superheroes make the rest of the population weak, because they then rely on superheroes instead of themselves.  Ant-Man used the power of his suit to help Captain America, but in doing so broke the Sokovian Accords.  What are the duties and obligations of a superhero?  Who decides when they should intervene?  Who is responsible for the damage after a fight between superheroes and supervillains?

“With great power comes great responsibility.”  Stan Lee

I recommend both movies.  Both were small-scale superhero movies, threatening only one city and a small group of people rather than the entire world, yet both had consequences beyond their own setting.

Images of movie posters “borrowed” from IMDB, both copyright Disney Entertainment.  Videos from YouTube.

 

 

 

RELEASE THE VIRGINS Open for Submissions

I could see something like Heinlein’s “If This Goes On” where the temple virgins go after the prophet, or a story about a radical Mideastern terrorist arriving at the gates of Paradise only to find the Almighty is displeased with how the Koran is being twisted. The 72 virgins the suicide bomber is expecting are closer to Greek Furies or Viking Valkryies.

Michael A. Ventrella

The anthology Release the Virgins! is now open for submissions.

Through a kickstarter campaign, we were able to raise enough to go ahead with this project, and we have confirmations from authors David Gerrold, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Jody Lynn Nye, Allen Steele, Steve Miller, Sharon Lee, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Gail Z. Martin, Cecilia Tan, Patrick Thomas, Shariann Lewitt, Alex Shvartsman, Hildy Silverman, and Daniel M. Kimmel.

We should have room for a few extra stories as well. But only a few.

Submissions are open for short stories that include, somewhere in the story, the phrase “Release the Virgins.”

The story should be no more than 5,000 words. This should be sufficient for what should most likely be a somewhat humorous tale. The payment is 5 cents a word. Do not take this as an invitation to pad your story in order to earn a few more bucks. If your story is complete…

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Kickstarters

One, two, three, kick!

Boosting the signal:  Three people I know are doing kickstarters and GoFundMe.

Mighty Aphrodite

mighty aphrodite

One of my favorite editors, Gene Turnbow of Krypton Radio, is creating a webcomic called Mighty Aphrodite!  Check out this link.  Help the goddess Aphrodite save the world, one heart at a time!

Endless Realms RPG

endless realms

Endless Realms is a new roleplaying experience with two corebooks and myriad realities with one constant: balance is fragile.

Welcome to the Endless Realms – a crossroads of infinite civilizations, animals, peoples, and abominations that gather in the world of Lumis. Those that live there readily manipulate the cosmic energies that the gods themselves used to forge the world, creating tools and resources that mighty spirits seek to claim for themselves. Riddled with tears in the fabric of time and space, Lumis has become a vibrant and turbulent melting pot.

Lumis is the crossroads where an endless number of realms overlap. The species that have made it their home – by fate, chance, or nefarious purpose – each have their own lore, history, and culture, providing rich soil from which to weave intricate and interesting narratives. Their complex views of morality present a scheme far greater than the simple axis of good and evil.

Click here for more information.  It looks like it should be fun.

Time Boys

Susan, Johnny McPhail, Edward

Time Boys is an indie-film, written and directed by Randall Terry, and starring four of his sons as the time-travelling sons of a mad scientist (played by Randall Terry).  The budget being low, writer/director/actor/executive producer Randall Terry is requesting patrons of the arts patronize his film, which is currently in post-production.

For more information, click here.  (Disclaimer:  I was an extra in this film and have a vested interested in seeing it completed and distributed.)

Submission Guidelines: Apotheosis 2: More Stories of Survival After the Rise of the Elder Gods

This might be an interesting anthology. The question is, can I come up with a good story for it? What would day to day life be like after the Apocalypse? Would our eldritch lords and masters micromanage our lives or would things be surprisingly close to how things are now?

The Universes of Jason Andrew

Here are the guidelines for Simian Publishing’s next anthology Apotheosis 2: More Stories of Survival After the Rise of the Elder Gods.  (This anthology doesn’t open to submissions until April 2018, but I like to give my writers plenty of time to ponder the sort of story they might write for me.)

Apothesis2cover

Apotheosis 2 – More Stories of human survival and defiance in a world subjugated by the return of the Elder Gods. Humanity struggled to grow and evolve as a species for thousands of years forever caught in the shadow of a dread threat known only to a devoted few. When the stars are right, the Old Ones will return to claim utter dominion of the world. Lovecraft Mythos stories often climax at the moment of the fateful return of the Elder Gods and the audience is left to ponder what might happen next. This anthology features stories about humanity…

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2018 Darrell Awards Winners Announced

This year my King Arthur story was nominated, but was not a finalist. Next year, or maybe the year after, one of my stories will make it to the finals. And someday, I will win.

In the meantime, congratulations to this year’s winners!

Darrell Awards

The 2018 Darrell Awards Jury is very pleased to announce the following results of our deliberations.

Dal Coger Memorial Hall of Fame Award
Robin Burks for her extraordinary contributions to Midsouth literacy, more specifically her trilogy (Zeus, Inc; The Curse of Hekate; and The Return of the Titans)

Robin Burks plaque for Hall of Fame 2018 Coger Hall of Fame plaque

Best Midsouth Novel
Winner – Land of Wolves by T. J. Turner
First Runner-Up – Wild Hunt by Nick Rowan
Finalist – Seek and Destroy by William C. Dietz

Best Midsouth Novella
Winner – A Night at the Quay by William A. Webb (as seen in Sharp Steel and High Adventure: Volume 3)
First Runner-Up – Luminaria by John Horner Jacob (as seen in Apex Magazine # 94)

Best Midsouth Young Adult Work
Winner – Coney Island Book of the Dead by Sheila Martin

Best Midsouth Short Story
Winner – From Hair to Eternity by…

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