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Death Watch, Two.

Yesterday, Ben Payne (benpayne), the editor and publisher of the lo-fi zine, Potato Monkey, announced it's closure.

This, like the Shadowed Realms closure, is in truth hardly surprising: after a hiatus of a couple of years, Payne managed two issues in two years (the last one will be out shortly), and the zine flew under a lot of radars, which is a polite way of saying no one really paid any attention. It was the last of the old school zines from the nineties, which were printed out on home computers, stapled, and with a cardboard cover, usually one colour. I had seen a couple like this round the time, each subscribing to the DIY ethic, but none of them subscribing to it enough that it became something truly beautiful to look at--DIY spec fic people rarely are the type to embrace a fine arts ethic to design, I've found, and I've come across some really beautiful zines when that happens. Anyhow, Potato Monkey was, in truth, a bit of an ugly little thing, which was both its strength and weakness--but as with Shadowed Realms, the editor involved is moving on to other projects, though none have the DIY style of the Monkey.

Like before, I was published in Potato Monkey as well, and had another story slated to appear, some time in the future. This was the last of the Allandros and Balor stories. For those who have never read them (quite a few, I imagine), a few years back I wanted to create a sword and sorcery series, similar to the Mouser and Fafhrd stories by Fritz Leiber, and so I made a mash of steampunk, sword and sorcery, westerns, and faerie mythology, of which the only supporter was ever really Payne. The final story I wrote with them was a novelette called 'the Seven Whistlers', and I figure I'm just going to let it fade away, much like the rest of the stories, both published and unpublished. They were a hard sell, and the itch that I had from them is gone, with the Red Sun stuff filling the void for me, though albeit without the sword fights, chicken feet, and funky footnoting that I enjoyed (I really did enjoy writing them--I laughed at every bad thing I had the two characters do, and the rejections for them were always fun as well). My plan--and I'll share it, since I'll never get to do it now--was to write each series of short fiction as a 'season', structured in a similar way to, say, a season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Deadwood, and so on and so forth. In the end, what you would have was a kind of large, broken up novel, eight to ten episodes, each section eight to ten thousand words, except the finale, which would be about twice that.

Never happened--I never got close, really, since it was such a bitch to sell--but I always liked the idea. One day, perhaps. If my head returns to that mindset.

Comments

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kaolinfire
Apr. 14th, 2007 12:07 am (UTC)
The mixture of your sword and sorcery-esque series sounds intriguing/fun. If they're just sitting around, and they can stand individually (we don't print often enough for a series), you might consider GUD...
benpeek
Apr. 14th, 2007 01:26 am (UTC)
yeah, okay, they stand individually. i'll send it along--you want, cool, if not, fair enough.
paulhaines
Apr. 16th, 2007 09:15 am (UTC)
I remember reading one of them, a few years back, when I was slushing for Orb. (it was those two getting into trouble inside a fort and getting out unscathed). I remember thinking this is similar in a way to my Interferers stuff, though you didn't have anyone fucking animals.

I also thought that you didn't go far enough with the characters too, the humour (for a sick bastard like me) didn't push the boundaries, it felt too safe. I was looking for some particularly nasty black humour at the time.

And after reading this post, I too had a similar idea, having this episodic novel based on these longish short stories, with an overarcing plot, much like a season. I haven't quite given up on the idea yet, James Cain is publishing one of them in the latest Dark Animus (if it ever comes out!)

But I too have found them a hard sell, and if you had no luck with your chaps, I'm thinking it could be pretty hard for my chaps too. Especially when they can't keep their dicks in their pants.
benpeek
Apr. 16th, 2007 09:29 am (UTC)
yeah, i remember that one. it had a giant clocktower. it was one of the first i wrote, before i had fully fleshed everything out, and it's basically two guys walking down a road, coming across a fort, fucking some dude's plans up, and getting out. there's a car chase. that one sits in the back of the harddrive gathering dust, thank fuck, as it was the weakest of the lot i wrote.

they were never intended to be that dark, to be honest. just kind of fun. go figure.

i'm pretty much done with them now, i reckon. my head is in a lot of different places and that kind of fiction doesn't appeal to me, writing wise, so much. i want to do different things--and i think i do them a lot more successfully. looking back at it, i was basically riffing on leiber and these days, i'd just rather read his stuff than write my own. if people dig the stories that got out there, it's cool, but i'm a different dude now, and you got to follow your patterns.

best of luck with yours, man.
paulhaines
Apr. 16th, 2007 09:35 am (UTC)
Oh yeah! I forgot the car chase.

I recently purchased (well, over a year ago now) "The First Book of Lankhmar", but it's still in the queue. I used to love coming across Leiber's stories in the anthos I was reading as a kid/teenager.

how many did you get published?
benpeek
Apr. 16th, 2007 09:43 am (UTC)
three. i wrote four.

(actually, it's probably four, and i wrote six or seven; one of the first stories i published had the allandros character in it, but the world was a lot different, as was everything, i guess. that was around 96, 97. long, long gone now, but the boys had a couple of incarnations.)

anyhow, of the ones you're thinking, i published three. one in the first agog, and then two for the potato monkey, though only one got published there. it was the second two that i began with the grand plans, and you can see--well, could, i guess--the links growing there. i had another two half written, i think, but the last shake at those must've been three or so years ago.

the leiber books are cool, man. he wrote a novel called 'the swords of lankhmar' which is just fanfuckingtastic. easily the best sword and sorcery novel i've read.
paulhaines
Apr. 17th, 2007 02:39 am (UTC)
That was "Scratches In The Sky" in Agog!, yeah? I remember reading that (because at the time your name was being bandied as someone to watch, and I wanted to be someone to watch as well) and my reactions were "dark, adult, but surely Cat's just published the chapter of a novel Ben is working on." How about that, eh? (This whole thing of vignettes was going through my head at the time as I'd just been knocked back from Aurealis for submitting a vignette of a novel -- I hadn't, it was a solo short story).

And you know what? I'd never have connected those two stories to the same fantasy universe. If I were to reread them both (scratches and the clocktower) I'm sure I'd see the connection. And I think that discconnect between the pieces was solely from the tone of scratches. Dark, nasty. Didn't they murder the guy at the end of that piece? Somebody got murdered.

Of course, that was a few years back and my mind is very full.

benpeek
Apr. 17th, 2007 03:40 am (UTC)
yeah, that was the first one. it wasn't a novel chapter, just a short i wrote, and it had nothing to do with any of the stuff i wrote later. people seemed to dig it, and the ones i published in potato monkey flow on that style, though the clocktower one doesn't. (that said, last night i found a fourth story i had published in an anthology called AMAZING HEROES 2, in canada somewhere.) you know what i remember most about that story though? first time i met you, you came up to me and told me you didn't like it. heh. wasn't what i expected.

a whole bunch of people get murdered at the end of 'scratches'.

in the end, i think i went too far pushing the faerie mythology into it. nowadays it feels like i pushed too much in.

of course, the funny part is, i pushed that dark tone a lot harder for the red sun stuff, and look how everyone loves them. there's not one bit of cheeriness in those stories. maybe it's what i should have done with allandros and balor from the start.
bluetyson
Apr. 20th, 2007 12:25 pm (UTC)
Australian sword and sorcery?
Was any of this published? Sounds interesting. Has anyone else local done any you know about? Anyone not named Flinthart, that is.

I like to keep track of this sort of thing (and particularly Australian is good) - see http://superprose.blogspot.com if you care. :)
benpeek
Apr. 20th, 2007 02:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Australian sword and sorcery?
like i said, three stories got published. 'scratches in the sky' in agog! fantastic fiction, 'the lost world of the stranger,' in amazing heroes 2, and 'the night of the dead king' in potato monkey four.

as for other people, i dunno. i'm sure there has been. i remember some talk about an anthology a year or two back, but i don't know what happened to it.
bluetyson
Apr. 20th, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Australian sword and sorcery?
Thanks. I have heard of the first one, but never seen one. There's a Cornelius/Holmes crossover in one of those too, I think, that Flinthart did.

I know nothing about the others, are they magazines?
benpeek
Apr. 20th, 2007 09:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Australian sword and sorcery?
potato monkey is, yeah. follow the link to payne's blog--he might have some lying round still. AMAZING HEROES 2 was an anthology put out by ragemachinebooks. the company closed down at the start of the year, so i suspect your chances there are pretty slim.

i did some different S&S for an anthology series called MAGISTRIA, which was ragemachinebooks. however, i hear that another publisher is going to put them back into print, including the second book, which i wrote a story for but which never made it to print. keep an eye on the blog--i'll pimp it and if you're interested,it'll be easy to find.
bluetyson
Apr. 21st, 2007 12:27 am (UTC)
Re: Australian sword and sorcery?
Thanks Ben, if post the list of stories here, I can add them to my list now anyway?
benpeek
Apr. 21st, 2007 02:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Australian sword and sorcery?
the published ones went:

'scratches in the sky', in agog! fantastic fiction, edited by cat sparks.
'the lost world of the stranger', in amazing heroes 2, edited by g.w. thomas.
'the night of the dead king', in potato monkey #4.

and

'the elephant's glass prison,' in magistria, edited by g.w. thomas.
bluetyson
Apr. 21st, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Australian sword and sorcery?
Thanks.
bluetyson
Apr. 21st, 2007 03:25 am (UTC)
Re: Australian sword and sorcery?
If the company is dead, and you aren't interested in 'em anymore sounds like interesting website promo stories, unless you are turning into a romance writer or poetry reviewer or something and don't think they represent you. :)
benpeek
Apr. 21st, 2007 02:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Australian sword and sorcery?
nah, man, i think i'm happy to just let them slide. if people want to track down the books and mags and read them, all fine, but otherwise...
benpeek
Apr. 22nd, 2007 04:19 am (UTC)
Re: Australian sword and sorcery?
Allandros and Balor, yeah.

except for the elephant's prison, one. that's one of three stories involving a character called dog.
bluetyson
Apr. 22nd, 2007 04:42 am (UTC)
Re: Australian sword and sorcery?
Ok, ta.
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