“Merry Crashed-Mass” appears in this annual compilation of Dark Moments drabbles and Patreon short stories, published January 2, 2023.
Jot In The Dark
Why we're here.
Wednesday, March 8, 2023
Sunday, January 22, 2023
Charlie Whinesworth's Lucky Trinket to appear in Lockdown Sci-FI #4 by Black Hare Press
Charlie Whinesworth's Lucky Trinket
On the sturdy, plastic dashboard of his trusty, one-man spaceship,
Glued with resin-paste extracted from an alien-beastie’s spleen,
Our intrepid space explorer, Charlie Whinesworth, keeps a trinket,
Sentimentally significant: an ivory figurine.
So begins the humorous narrative sci-fi poem, "Charlie Whinesworth's Lucky Trinket", which explains the troubled relationship between the celebrated space explorer and his eternal nemesis, the genocidal maniac, Reggi Farner.
The two characters, Whinesworth and Farner, were created by my brother, Stuart, for a homemade, choose-your-own-adventure storytelling game we invented in 1978, called "Blasers and Beasties". B&B adventures were always puzzles involving space explorers, typically having crash-landed on some planet and needing to rescue themselves (and if possible, also profit). The game required one storyteller and one player, who made the choices for his fictional explorer-protagonist. Charlie Whinesworth's was the name Stuart usually gave to his heroic character. But on days when he was feeling rascally (or perhaps for sheer variety), he would play "Reggi Farnsworth", whose invented goal was to murder every fictional alien, human, or creature he met in the game. This poem is about both characters.
The poem will soon appear in a collection of science-fiction short stories, "Lockdown Sci-Fi, #4, to be published February 3, edited by the good folks at Black Hare Press.
- Further information here https://www.blackharepress.com/lockdown-sci-fi-4/
- Pre-order here - https://www.blackharepress.com/lockdown-sci-fi-4/
- At other outlets here - https://books2read.com/lockdown-scifi-4
More about B&B, which inspired the poem: The game was inspired by the descriptions of two adventure story games that my brother, Stephan, related having experienced during his first year away at college. First, the burgeoning dice-dependant fantasy classic, Dungeons & Dragons, by Gary Gygax and Dale Arneson (published four years earlier). and the seminal computer text-adventure game, "Colossal Cave Adventure" (aka "Adventure" or "ADVENT"*), released in 1976 by Will Crowther and expanded on in 1977 by Don Woods. (I'm guessing my brother played the latter version on the University of Dallas mainframe. Interesting side note, he explained that the command line activation code for the game was "Adventure", but because the program only read the first five characters of any input, "Advent" was sufficient and the shortcut most users became accustomed to.)
Having access to neither dice nor computers, B&B (obviously named to echo D&D) relied on multiple choice options (with some latitude, thanks to a human storyteller), the outcomes for which were mostly predetermined.
Except for theme, a fixed story world, style differences (cheap manufacture was a running gag), and conventions (e.g., standard rayguns were "blasers", extra-terrestrial humanoids were "aliens" and critters were "beasties"), the gameplay was most similar to that in the "Choose Your Own Adventure" book series (which emerged the following year, 1979). Our younger brothers, Shannon and Scott, both furthered game development, indepentantly inventing numerous adventures and introducing original game elements (time pressure, time-travel, recurring characters, etc.)
Finally, there happens to be one more poem of mine (to date) inspired by a B&B character, but this one invented by my mother, June. She called her protagonist "Mary Crockett", and favored xenobotony storylines. "Mary Crockett's Garden" has yet to be published, but it's quite a fun piece, so stay tuned.
Monday, December 26, 2022
Merry Crashed-Mass: A Christmas-themed, Dark Moments Drabble.
How do you erase the cloying taste of fruitcake and eggnog without swallowing more calories? Try reading a wafer-thin, Christmas-themed, "Dark Moments" drabble gifted from indie-horror-publisher, Black Hare Press.
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
Wednesday Limerick: Giving Birth to a Minotaur
When a horny queen chooses to marry a bull
The offspring are often uncarriable.
Since above the boy half
Juts the head of a calf,
Minor tears & many tears are invariable.
Lockdown Fantasy #4 and #5 both launching in September 2022.
Two of my humorous fantasy stories told in rhyming verse will be among those published this month (September 2022) by Black Hare Press, in their most current Lockdown anthologies. Each volume includes several fantasy short stories or poems by a selection of talented writers.
In LOCKDOWN FANTASY #4, "Malomenire the Mad" tells the "sordid" story of a powerful wizard who becomes so insanely jealous of his apprentice that he plots his death by giving him unsurvivable tasks. It introduces the young wizard and future archmage, "Astromote".
In LOCKDOWN FANTASY #5, "Final Spell of The Archmage Astromote", takes up the tale of Astromote near the end of his illustrious, centuries-long career, as told by one of his former students. It concerns the archmage's quest for just the right ink and parchment to complete a final spell vital to mankind's survival.
Only 99 cents on Amazon:
15th September - Lockdown Fantasy #4
20th September - Lockdown Fantasy #5
Monday, August 8, 2022
Eldritch & Ether: Speculative Fiction Poetry (now available)
Eldritch & Ether
With a lot of support from the good folks at Black Hare Press, including volunteer readers, and co-editor Ximena Escobar, we compiled and edited this quality collection of speculative fiction poetry over several interesting but arduous months. It was published April 28. 2022.
It even features four of my own speculative fiction poems, in the last section, following Ximena's poems. Highly recommended, especially for those with "dark" tastes, as befits the Black Hare Press brand.readerlinks.com/l/2317394
Poetica # 7: An Inner Circle Writers' Group Poetry Anthology Now Available
Poetica # 7: An Inner Circle Writers' Group Poetry Anthology