Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

Archive for September, 2014

Phantasm Japan Reviews

Friday, September 19th, 2014

I have a story, “Those Who Hunt Monster Hunters,” in new anthology Phantasm Japan. People seem to like the book, and the story.

An early reader, Cecily Kane, called my story  “One of the best feminist stories ever in SFF. I am inarticulate with ‘!!!!!’ Like I cannot believe a dude wrote this. I am stunned.” That was nice to see.

Here’s a review from Skiffy and Fanty (and I’ve excerpted the flattering-to-me bit below):

My favorite story… It’s funny; I’d asked the editor for a review copy of this just as I’d uncovered an unconscious bias of mine, which is that I almost never read books set in Japan. It took about twenty seconds of critical self-analysis to realize that such a reflexive avoidance is probably because Japanese women are so frequently fetishized, particularly in the West. Tim Pratt’s “Those Who Hunt Monster Hunters” addresses this objectification, in which a neckbearded “douchebro” is the antagonist. It’s a revenge tale that should be delightful for women who’ve had some grossly entitled dude become their problem. (Uh, I expect it’d be all of us that fit into that category.) It isn’t just entertaining from the intersectional feminist perspective, though; it’s funny and devastatingly sad at once.

(It’s a rave for the book as a whole too.) I am happy.

 

WhiskeyHorror: The Bay

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

WhiskeyHorror report:

We drank Bulleit rye manhattans, and sipped some Buffalo Trace bourbon. Also had a couple of delicious coffee milk stouts (which my friend Christy brought over to share last weekend and forgot to take home with her — I claimed salvage rights!).

The film was The Bay, which people said good things about on twitter, and you know, it was pretty good, though in the end I admired and respected it more than I liked it. (I feel the same way about The Lord of the Rings, so it’s in good company.)

It’s a found-footage horror movie (I like those) but done documentary style, putting together lots of footage from newscasts, personal cameras, video chats, security feeds, etc. surrounding the outbreak of a horrible disease/infection/infestation in a Maryland beach town one fourth of July.

Things I liked: some impressively gross effects, some really handwavy science that nevertheless made a valid point about just how fucked the environment is in so many ways, some CDC guys with reactions that amusingly ranged from deadpan to “Uhhh…. WHAT?”, the acting was mostly good, and they didn’t go the “parasites turn people into zombies!” route, which was a nice change.

Things I didn’t like: well, basically I like character-driven movies, and this one had a whole bunch of short snippets of characters we didn’t get to learn very much about at all, who mostly just died. (I like to care a lot about a character before they die!) So there’s that. I thought it was nicely put together, but I won’t be making it annual Fourth of July viewing or anything. (Whereas I make a point of watching Trick ‘r Treat, a less ambitious film that makes up for it by being charming and fast-moving, every Halloween. Speaking of, that’s coming up, maybe I’ll watch it early this year.)

I will say, watching a film about murderous isopods with someone who has a background in marine biology is pretty entertaining. It’s just like how I yell at the screen during movies that involve the publishing business when they get stuff wrong.

WhiskeyHorror: Sinister

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

WhiskeyHorror report:

Sazeracs with Bulleit rye (and I finally got some orange bitters in the house — sazeracs are fine with spiced cherry bitters, but so much more right with orange). Then we moved on to the Buffalo Trace bourbon, sipping some straight, though I had an old fashioned, too.

We watched Sinister, which is one of the more genuinely disturbing horror flicks I’ve seen, mostly because of all the children-in-jeopardy stuff, which never used to bother me much until (surprise) I became a parent myself. The snuff films were hard to watch, too, I think because they mostly looked so realistic: dirty, low-light, not impeccably staged. (The iconic hanging scene was an exception, perhaps because we saw it in slow-motion before the title — still disturbing, but so much better lit and composed than the other messy dirty shots. Which, to be clear, I found more effective because they looked so plausible.)

There were some early moments when the main character showed intelligence, like his first impulse to call the cops, which he did only moments after we started yelling, “Dude, call the cops!” at the screen — sure, he thought better of it and hung up, but at that point, such a reaction was reasonable. Later on, when he knew for a fact that a very bad person was occasionally entering his house — and had no reason to think it was inescapable supernatural shenanigans, but just a mortal murderer — I couldn’t believe he didn’t round up his obviously beloved family and get the hell out. I understand the justification the screenwriters had in mind, that he was obsessed and not sleeping and had tunnel vision about his project, but as a father myself I just couldn’t believe he wouldn’t flee sooner. (That could be more about Ethan Hawke’s performance than a failure in the script, which novelist C. Robert Cargill mostly wrote… or just a quirk about where my own suspension of disbelief fails to be suspended.)

I can nitpick some of the procedural elements (a true crime writer wouldn’t be a little more careful handling previously undiscovered evidence?), but the writing-related bits about the main character mostly rang true (again, novelist scriptwriter), there were some effective scares, no more idiot plotting than you see in most movies,  a convincing and wrenching husband-and-wife argument, lots of powerful creepy imagery with the kids, a couple of “I can’t watch this because it’s too horrible” moments (which is not a bad thing in a horror movie, necessarily), no sexual violence (a real dealbreaker for me in movies involving kids — I just can’t handle it as the parent of a first grader), very few stupid jump scares, just enough occult nonsense to make it all stick together, and an ending that you see coming from some distance away, but with mounting dread, not boredom. I’d recommend it, if you can stand stories about awful things happening to children.

Dark Fantasy Story Bundle

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

My novel Bone Shop is one of nine (9!) books you can get from the Dark Fantasy Story Bundle, a collection of DRM-free e-books available on a pay-what-you-want basis (minimum $3).  It’s got books by Steven Savile, Marie Hall, Craig Schaeffer, Harry Connolly, Susan Illene, and our impresario Joseph Nassise. You can choose to give a portion of your payment to charity, too.

Basically it is a great thing and if you people buy a bunch of them I’ll be able to take my kid to Disneyland and/or buy a lot of alcohol. It’s available until September 17, so get clickin’.

 

WhiskeyHorror: Triangle

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

WhiskeyHorror report:

Manhattans with spiced cherry bitters, and later we had gimlets (not whiskey, I know, but it was warm in my house and we wanted refreshing). 

The film was Triangle (2009), and it was good! There are enough axe attacks, point-blank shotgun blasts, scary burlap sack murder hoods, environmental terror, contained nightmare, existential crises, and literally PILES of corpses (human and avian) that I think it’s unquestionably a horror film, but it’s not all that *scary* so much as it’s twisty psychological stuff, with some very good time-loop underpinnings. I might quibble a tiny bit with some of the time-loop mechanism but mostly it’s logical and self-consistent and satisfying. Starring Thor’s buff younger brother Liam Hemsworth and Melissa George (who was so familiar it drove me crazy and I finally remembered, she’s the gubernatorial ethics enforcer on The Good Wife) and I’m assuming a bunch of other Australians pretending to be from Florida.