Review: Dark Faith: Invocations

Dark Faith: Invocations
Dark Faith: Invocations by Jerry Gordon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m in this so I’m a bit biased. I also have the first anthology.

I found this one less disturbing, though there are a few stories that made me put the book down and back slowly away (Lucy Snyder, I’m looking directly at you). Most of the stories had me thinking about the nature of faith.

The ones that stuck with me the most:

Subletting God’s head, Tom Piccirilli: a guy living in God’s head and being privy to His innermost thoughts. A part of me felt rubbed wrong by his portrayal of Jesus.

The Cancer Catechism by Jay Lake: I’ve followed Jay Lake as he tweeted about dealing with cancer and this is his most poignant,vulnerable, open, honest take on it. His experience with anesthesia is very much as I found it, disturbing and unsettling. His last line is so strong, it is worth the entire book alone.

Kill the Buddha, Elizabeth Twist – most surreal and sad

Night Train, Alma Alexander – lonely story about belief and trains.

The Sandfather, Richard Wright – this can be considered a sequel to his story “Sandboys” in the first anthology. I didn’t find this one as devastating, but it still stood out.

Sacrifice, Jennifer Pelland – a cool alt-choice story.

Thou art God, Tim Waggoner – Loved this take on “All is God and God is All” belief

Wishflowers, Tim Pratt – I just listened to his story “The Secret Beach” on Podcastle, and this could be considered a continuation of that tale, sort of. Like all Tim Pratt tales, this one socked me in the gut at the end.

Starter Kit, RJ Sullivan – Cute story about the universe as a kid’s aquarium. The apocalypse could really be God hitting the reset button & starting over.

God’s Dig, Kelly Eiro- A kid hears God telling her to dig, and she does. Oh, so disturbing. This was one of those stories that made me put the book down and slowly back away.

The Birth of Pegasus, K. Tempest Bradford – A retelling of Medusa and Poisiden. Loved the style of the story, and loved how it lead into the next story, which is…

All This Pure Light Leaking in, LaShawn M. Wanak – Okay, yes, this is mine. But I reeeeeeeally loved how they juxapositioned this after The Birth of Pegasus. And, it led very nicely into what I consider the “angel” section of the book. Plus, every time I read it, I think, man, I write the freakiest stuff…

Fin de Siecle, Gemma Files – Another angel story that’s more creepy.

The Angel Seems, Jeffrey Ford – Scary folktale, though the ending fell flat for me.

Magdala Amygdala, Lucy Snyder – Holy crap this was disturbing. Probably the most disturbing story in the entire book. How Snyder describes the brain sucking…I can’t even look at someone’s head now without thinking, “Brain jelly…” Oh…guh ::shudders::

In Blood and Song, Nisi Shawl & Michael Ehart – Cool story about how different people have their different gods.

Little Lies, Dear Leader, Kyle S. Johnson – While Madgala Amygdala was creepy, this one affected me the most because it’s so close to real life, it could easily have happened. My inlaws were in South Korea a year ago, so they were able to see the reactions to Kim Jong-il’s death. How all the tvs showed women weeping as if they were heartbroken. This was a hard read, but also necessary, I think.

I inhale the City, the City Exhales Me, Douglas F. Warrick – a great story to end the anthology, this was a nod to all the apocalyptic anime where a blob engulfs Tokyo. Reminded me a lot of Paranoid Agent. Also was a strong theme on stereotype and how we believe cultures are/should be.

As a whole, I really enjoyed this one. It’s more dark fantasy than horror, but I really liked the focus on all kinds of faith throughout the book. This gets five angels out of five…and if I want to see an angel, I’ll ask the right way…

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New Poetry in Stone Telling and Dark Faith! Also, Willow Progress Update

This year seems to be the year of publishing poetry. I got two new poems out, and how fitting that both are released this week during Worldcon!

The first, “I Will Keep the Color of Your Eyes When No Other in the World Remembers Your Name” can now be read for free in issue 8 of Stone Telling magazine (you can listen to me reading it, too!). Arguably, this is the loooongest title I’ve ever had of any story. It’s one of my favorite lines from “The Last Unicorn”, spoken by the tree ensorcelled to life by Schmendrick. I wanted to see what that scene looked like in a science fiction setting, so this prose poem came out. There’s a very interesting story behind this poem which I don’t have time to relate right now, but if you’re at Worldcon, ask me about it and I’ll tell you.

I’m joined by a stellar group of poets: Amal El-Mohtar, Sofia Samatar, Alex Dally McFarlane, Julia Rios…in fact, just check out the entire issue. It’s deep, dark, and at times a little disturbing, but also thought-provoking. I’m honored to be included with them.

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My other poem is no secret if you’ve been keeping tabs on Facebook and Twitter. “All This Pure Light Leaking In” will be appearing in the anthology Dark Faith: Invocations, set to debut at Worldcon this week! (Update: Just received word that it won’t be released at Worldcon after all. Publisher is running ten days behind schedule. It will be orderable through Apex website). The poem is an answer to the question, “As a Christian, what scares me the most about my faith?”

This highly anticipated sequel to the first anthology repeats the exploration of faith through a horror lens. And man, what a lineup! Jay Lake, Lavie Tidhar, Tim Pratt, Mike Resnick, K. Tempest Bradford, Nisi Shawl. To tell the truth, I’m a bit intimidated to be included here, but also deeply honored!

Dark Faith: Invocations

You can pre-order Dark Faith of the Apex’s website, and if you use the code “DFWanak”, you get 10% off the cover price! That’s right, I have my very own discount code. Eeee!!! UPDATE: And as stated above, copies won’t be sold at Worldcon, but in about ten days, you’ll be able to order it off the website, and they’re offering free shipping. Plus, you can buy Dark Faith 1 and 2 for $25.

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Feels like I need to end on the Willow novel note. As of today, 1/3 of Willow has been fully edited with the word count at 50,000. I had made a vow earlier in the year saying that I wanted the book to be completed edited by the time Worldcon rolled around, but it didn’t work out that way. However, I’m not depressed that I missed my goal.

When I started the re-re-re-reedits of Willow back in March, I wanted something to toot if an agent or publisher asked me about it at Worldcon. Granted, first I need to work on actually making those contacts, but for the first time, I feel like I’m at a really good place that I actually can give a good pitch. And though the story edits aren’t finished, I am comfortable enough with the first 50 pages that if someone asks me to send it in, I can.

As for the edits themselves, I’m feeling very good about them. Not doing much adding, but more cutting out what I don’t need. And as I cut, the easier to see what needs revamping and what can stay as is. I’m feeling optimistic. I just need to keep plugging away.

So Worldcon is going to be a huge networking deal for me. If you’re the praying sort, pray that I’ll be able to make good contacts and not make an idiot of myself. And, if you’re coming to Worldcon, I would love to say hi!

Con Reports: Mo*Con V

Well, here I am after doing a 16-mile bike ride to the Capital and back. I’m sore, I’m achy and my butt hurts. Perfect time to finally get to my con reports, right?

Back to back cons. Wow. I truly must be insane. Actually, it wasn’t bad. I had planned it that way. And both can be summed up with one word:

Incredible.

Mo*Con first.

I met Maurice Broaddus at Wiscon last year and had been completely unaware of his work. Luckily, I scored a copy of Dark Faith.  I’ve never been to a horror convention before. But when I saw the topic for this year’s Mo*Con, "Homosexuality, the church and the arts" I had to go. I thought Madcon had been an extremely small con. Well, Mo*Con’s smaller. It took place at the bottom of a church basement. There was only three panels. And we all left the church around 8:30ish.

But ahh…the conversation. And the food! Mo*Con was sort like a pre-con party held in an really, really, really far hotel room. I didn’t do much that Friday because most of that time was spent in Chicago construction, and I was also visiting my former boss. I spent Saturday morning with a friend of mine, then headed to the church to hear the main panel mentioned above. Mainly it was several panelists talking about their experiences in the church. All their stories were interesting, though the stories I found most interesting was comic book illustrator who grew up in a fundamentalist church and became gay, and the pastor who grew up gay and became hetero. Maurice also spoke, and he had a line that deeply impacted me: "If I’m a Christian, the first thing you should receive is my love. Period."

After the panel, I asked Maurice if he had considered bringing in a Christian panelist who was against homosexuality, and he said he had. "But then, we wouldn’t have had an open discussion. It would have been more of a debate. This wasn’t the type of panel I wanted. This way, people would be more vulnerable, more open, to sharing their experiences."

Is it possible for Christians and LGBT to have open, honest, vulnerable discussions with each other, even those who have differing opinions without privilege lording over the conversation?  Thinking about it. But that’s a blog post for another day.

Anywho, what made Mo*Con well worth it was what happened afterwards, when we hung out at Maurice’s house. I got to hang with horror writers Chesya Burke and Lucy Snyder, and and meet editors from Apex Publications and Coach’s Midnight Diner and Relief: A Christian Literary Expression. We talked about the upcoming Festival of Faith and Writing. I also got to learn about Worldcon, which is coming to Chicago next year. Looks like my 2011 is shaping up to be a busy time.

I really liked how Mo*Con melds horror writing with spiritual matters. Definitely adding it to cons that I plan to go to when I have time. Plus, they feed you. A definitely plus in my book.

Next report: Wiscon. Right now…bed.