Two Poems By David Z. Morris at TL: DR Magazine

We’re proud to announce that Blown Horizonz editor David Z. Morris has two appropriately strange poems out this week at TL:DR, a new literary publication run by Russell Jaffe.

Click here to read David’s poems, which are about publishing and medieval purges, respectively.

And if you like this site, David’s poems, or the general vibe of the two, we’d highly recommend you check out Jaffe’s own poetry. You can start here.

In Unhinged Praise of Steve Jackson’s Sorcery!

Whoo! No blogging for a long time, thanks to a lot of craziness including a cross-country trip that ended with my cat down a well. But I am finally settled down, and with a little more time to do things like, say, pay tribute to my formative influences.

Today, that’s Steve Jackson’s Sorcery!, four choose-your-own-adventure books first released as part of the Fighting Fantasy series. I recently picked up the very awesome Android re-releases. These games are fantastic in the present day, with some great mechanics and minigames.

But more importantly, they’ve reminded me of the huge fascination I used to have with the Sorcery! books. I think I only had two, maybe three of them, but they stuck with me – not because of their adventure format, but because of their tone. In the world of Sorcery!, everything is simultaneously bizarre, depressing, bleak, threatening, and just slightly goofy. In other words, the books were close to the first time I ever actually ran into Dark Fantasy, and by extension, The Weird.

The writing is of course important, and more on that in a second. But what really sets Sorcery! apart is the amazing illustration work by John Blanche. There’s criminally little of his early work online, but here are just a few tastes.

There’s a lot of good John Blanche in this free .PDF version of the Sorcery spellbook.

I don’t have some kind of patent on pointing out that Blanche is a genius. He ended up being art director for Games Workshop for a while, and, as this post puts it, epitomized the ‘dungeon punk’ aesthetic of fantasy in the ’80s. His work has had clear influence on the aesthetics of black metal, board games, and black metal board games.

But that would all come later. For a nine-ten-eleven year old kid, this was context-free mind-bending at its absolute finest. Everything about the world Sorcery! summoned was bizarre, psychedelic, threatening. Moving on from Blanche’s work, there was the narrative itself (I guess written by Steve Jackson? I’m not sure, and don’t care too much). This was a series of kid’s books in which BAD THINGS HAPPENED. People would rob and stab you. The monsters weren’t just powerful, they were devious and gross. Sometimes they acted nice, at first.

Sorcery!, I’m realizing, really wanted me to learn to not trust people (or things). I kind of wish I’d learned that lesson better.

The first three Sorcery! books are now available as Android apps, and I can’t recommend them enough. Even more than the already-impressive books, they really illustrate the huge potential of narrative games. They’re vastly more satisfying than any action-RPG dungeon crawl (fun as those are), and I wish more like them existed.

Pretty Awesome-Looking Conan Board Game Kickstarter Closing

I don’t know if I’m going to drop the bucks on it myself, but this Conan board game Kickstarter seems like a hell of a way to spend $90. I spent a little more than that for the Shadows of Brimstone Kickstarter around this time last year, and got the boxes in December. I’m still working on putting those figures together, and I have to say, they are a huge pain in the butt – I’m not at all impressed by the build quality.

But Conan looks a lot better, and you get a ton of stuff. Soooooo . . . maybe? You’ve got about three days to decide.

On Laughing at Weird Movies

Last night, I went to a screening of Paul Schrader’s 1982 Cat People, at the bar around the street (yes, that kind of thing very occasionally happens in Tampa). I went hoping to stoke my imagination for some plotting on a script I’ve just started working on. I showed up about ten minutes in, and almost immediately, I noticed people were laughing at the movie, which it seemed most of the audience saw as ridiculous and silly.

Continue Reading…

Please send promo comics, ‘zines, and weird fiction!

Hey folks, my editors over at Creative Loafing have tasked me with covering a bit more in the way of comics, and I would also like to have more obscure and strange stuff to add to the book coverage I already do for them. If you would like to send material, please email me at dzm@davidzmorris.com and I’ll tell you how (I’m too hated by survivalists and conspiracy theorists to give out my address. Seriously!). If it has monsters, abstract art, no dialogue, wizards, experimental languages, Borgesian mythology, number games, crappy special effects, or is inspired by 1970s sci-fi or extreme Japanese horror, I am definitely interested.

Obviousy I can’t promise coverage, but even things that don’t make the cut over at CL will be good fodder for coverage here on the blog.

Thanks everyone! Please share my email widely.

QUAID and Tempus Projects go HEAD TO HEAD November 1st!

A little less than a year ago, Seminole Heights’ increasingly venerable Tempus Projects gallery welcomed into its flesh an upstart called QUAID. The collective of young artists took up residence in a portion of Tempus’ new, larger space, and began a campaign of artistry mostly featuring solo shows by its members. They recently landed Best of the Bay recognition, tasting for the first time the dizzying heights of adulation that have surely become yawn-inducing for Tempus Projects staff.

But apparently, all may not have been so sunny between the sister galleries! In what appears to be some sort of Thunderdome/Hell in a Cell deathmatch, the two spaces have scheduled shows side by side, on the same night!

At Quaid, weighing in at about a buck forty soaking wet, Justin Nelson presents his solo show “Miracle Crusade.” Nelson is the notorious wheatpaster behind the bummed-out ghosts that showed up around town two or three years ago, and his work since has been similarly fun/melancholy.

Justin Nelson, New work from Miracle Crusade

Justin Nelson, New work from Miracle Crusade

Nelson is facing off against a tag team, Toronto’s Jenal Dolson and Cleveland’s Nicholas Moenich, presenting a mix of fractal sculptures and broken-plane paintings that make you question the boundary between figure and abstraction. And wait, what’s this? QUAID’s own Neil Bender is coordinating the Tempus show. Whose side is he on? There’s no way to tell until they’re in the ring, folks.

One can only imagine what sort of devastating consequences face the loser of this high-stakes clash. Will the gallery who draws fewer attendees or sells less art have to forfeit their space? Wear funny wigs for a month? Or LEAVE TOWN FOREVER? We can’t know – it’s all pure speculation at this point, though stay tuned for updates on the situation as it develops.

Both events start at 7pm on Saturday, November 1st.

Nifft the Lean – Like Jack Vance meets Michael Cisco

Thanks to a pick on Goodreads, I picked up this out-of-print gem for about $4 with shipping. It’s pretty mind-boggling, a slice of sword and sorcery adventure, but full of tight plotting, bits of sardonic social commentary, and intensely imaginative, deeply unnerving settings and creatures. The gates of hell are guarded by a doting pair of undead giants and their baby made ENTIRELY OF BEETLES, etc. etc.

It’s a worthy counterpart to both Jack Vance and M. John Harrison – sword and sorcery with something both very smart and very dark about it. This is one that should still be in print, so much so that it puts me in mind of crazy fantasies like starting my own publishing house to resurrect it, and others like it.

Any other picks for out of print or little known material that dances on the line between fantasy and balls-out weirdness? Let me know in the comments.

Short Start – Unbowed before the Serpent Throne

I’m in the midst of a lengthy exploration as I work towards finding my voice as a writer of absurd, surrealist fantasy. Here’s a little intentionally stupid/cool nugget that I popped out a few weeks ago and may yet develop further. You can also read and share it at Wattpad.

Slizbotron sat on the edge of the limitless veldt, his lizardine head sunk into his serpent hands. He knew that he would never be king. All of his bold questing and slick dealing had come to nothing, and his brother had finally cast him out as if he were some rebellious pauper with non-robotic legs.

But his legs were definitely robotic. The powerful, articulate, shining legs that marked the truest nobles, the legs that of all his brood of dozens only Slizbotron had been gifted with. The Plasticmen had chosen him, and him alone, as destined to lead his people to a new age of glory.

But now nothing could stand in the way of the rotten Zasbent, who sat the honeyed throne of Gorm in all his misshapen horror, terrorizing the people, taxing the eggs to the point of ruin, taking as fast as he could in what he could in what he must have known would be a very short reign.

Certainy, even if Slizbotron would never mount the Mammal Stairs to give to the people benevolently of the gifts so rightly spotted in the cresch, neither would the proud Narezeen suffer a wet monster like Zasbent to long exploit them. Not even if he had, in the depths of their broodfather’s weakened sickness, connived to change his destiny.

For Slizbotron alone knew that Zasbent had taken the skin of Panther Sequoia, and now, on nights when it pleased him, descended the Mammal Stairs and donned the skin. Then, in the darkness, he operated in the guise of the kingdom’s official punishment rapist, the most vile, hated, and feared creature in the land.

But even when the cloud-breathers did descend to rescue their children from themselves, it would not be for them to restore Slizbotron to his place. He was, he knew, truly lost. But still, he would fight.