Inhuman Swill : Page 41
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

The devil at the end of my bed

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I watched Paranormal Activity yesterday evening on DVD while waiting for Laura to get home from work. I found the movie deeply, thrillingly, and realistically frightening—not because I believe in ghosts or demons, but because it returned me to a time in my life when I did.

Between the ages of ten and sixteen or so, I experienced a few episodes of what I realize now must have been sleep paralysis. This occurs when the brain rouses from REM sleep but the body essentially remains asleep. You're fully awake and aware, but you can't move a muscle.

That's exactly what happened to me maybe half a dozen times that I remember. I would wake up in the darkness of my bedroom unable to move, terrified by the certain convinction that the Devil himself was holding me immobile, and that he was going to kill me. I would struggle to move for what seemed like an hour, to no avail. I would struggle to form words, to shout for help, also to no avail. I would struggle not to fall back to sleep, because I knew if I fell asleep I would die. I would silently pray to God for deliverance from my assailant, deliverance that only came when I did fall back into unwilling unconsciousness.

On one very memorable occasion, when I was an older teenager, this happened on a visit to my uncle's house in Los Angeles, while I was cocooned in sleeping bag on his living room floor. My father was in a sleeping bag not six feet away, but I couldn't make the tiniest peep to wake him up so he could save me.

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Occasionally I have vivid nightmares that leave me afraid to go back to sleep. (Probably PTSD from the LDS years.) The night before last, I had the worst I'd had in some time. It was one of those dreams that seems, while it's happening, to go on for weeks or years. It was also populated by a large cast of my friends—except that, in the way of dreams, none of these friends was anyone I recognized from real life.

These dozen or so friends and I were living on or visiting a subtropical island or peninsula of some sort. We were having a grand time doing incomprehensible things until a giant storm brought flooding. I climbed up a high stepladder to get out of the rushing water. One of my friends followed me up the ladder. I don't know if he was pulling me off or if he was going to make the ladder tip over or if I was just selfish or what, but I kicked him in the face until he fell off the ladder. The swirling water carried him away.

Soon enough things were sunny and dry again, and we were all living in a white multistoried house or possibly a beached yacht. All of us were having a grand time—all of us but our missing friend, of course. He turned up before long, though, not dead and hellbent on killing me for kicking him off the ladder. My other friends hid me downstairs in the house or boat, keeping a lookout from the upper stories.

Eventually, one of my friends came downstairs and told me the coast was clear. In a few minutes it would be time for me to meet the rest of the group out front and make my escape. He went back upstairs, and at the appointed time I slipped out of the house to the rendezvous point outside.

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Book launch party tonight!

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Flowers for the grave (um, the one in the book)
Just a quick reminder of my book launch party for Cast a Cold Eye, this evening in Chicago. All the event details are here:

http://tinyurl.com/coldeyeparty

Hope to see you there. The nice checkout women at Trader Joe's gave me free flowers for it this morning (I was there buying lots of wine), and it would be a shame for the bouquet to go unappreciated!

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Hi, NYC friends! Yes, it's a last-minute surprise to me too, but I'll be reading with the excellent Paul Witcover THIS COMING TUESDAY EVENING, January 5th, as part of the New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series at the South Street Seaport Museum. Doors open 6:30 pm, readings begin 7:00 pm. Suggested donation is $5. See below for all the details, and we hope to see you there.

Please note, if you haven't been to a NYRSF reading at the Seaport lately, that the location is slightly different than it used to be....

--> The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings
and the
South Street Seaport Museum present <--

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The problem isn't that Luke sees dead people. The problem is that dead people see Luke.

CAST A COLD EYE BOOK RELEASE PARTY
w/William Shunn
Friday, January 8, 2010
7:00 to 9:00 pm

Time and Again
1239 W. Cortland St.
Chicago, IL 60614
site | map

Come out to Time and Again in Chicago to celebrate the hardcover release of Derryl Murphy & William Shunn's new novella Cast a Cold Eye! Mingle with fellow book lovers, browse unique treasures from the era of the story in an elegant setting, and sit back with a glass of wine while William Shunn reads chilling selections from the book. (Readings begin at 7:30 pm.)

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Come hear me read tonight, Chicago! I'll be one of several writers reading in the new Essay Fiesta series at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square.

Essay Fiesta features writers reading humorous personal essays, and is hosted by Keith Ecker and Alyson Lyon. The event itself is free, but proceeds from a raffle afterward go to benefit the Howard Brown Health Center. Besides me, tonight's readers include Cameron Esposito, Mike O'Connell, John Loos, and John Newton. Should be a lot of fun.

The reading starts at 7:00 pm, but since seating is limited I'd suggest arriving before 6:30. Besides its great selection of books (including a small but smart SF section), The Book Cellar offers coffee, wine, beer, cheese, sandwiches, and other goodies. They're also great about special-ordering anything you can't find in the store. The Book Cellar is near the Western stop on the Brown Line, at:

The Book Cellar
4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
773-293-2665
Hope to see you there!
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The phantom reviewer

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There's a good chance that you've seen this already, but if you haven't and you care about good, clear storytelling and you have 70 minutes to kill, you must watch this epic deconstruction of The Phantom Menace.

Aside from the pointless serial-killer subplot (seriously—the narrator of the review is supposed to be a delusional serial killer), this is a brilliant and funny dissection of why the Star Wars prequels suck so hard. It crystallized for me many of my own unfocused thoughts about the films, and gave me ten times as many new reasons to hate the them. The sequence where the reviewer asks friends to describe specific Star Wars characters is alone worth the price of admission.

Because of the 10-minute limit on YouTube content, the review is broken up into seven parts. (Part 7 doesn't always seem to play in its original configuration. If you have that problem, try this version of Part 7 instead.) Here's Part 1 to whet your appetite:

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New short story online

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The Visitors at Wriggly Field, by William Shunn
Batter up! My pulpy new short story, "The Visitors at Wriggly Field," is now online as part of the Pulps series at ChicagoIn2012.org. It's probably my first sports story, and may well be my last, so I hope you enjoy it. (The illustration is by Frank Wu!)

The Pulps series supports Chicago's bid for the 2012 Worldcon. Earlier stories in the series, both in print and online, have been contributed by Frederik Pohl, Gene Wolfe, Mike Resnick, Phyllis Eisenstein, Roland Green, Richard Garfinkle, Lois Tilton, and others. I'm glad I hadn't read any of the earlier stories before I wrote mine, or I might have been too intimidated to produce.

The stories are an homage to Chicago's past as a home to many classic publishers of pulp science fiction. The guidelines we all were given were that:

  • the hero must be square-jawed and dim-witted, with B.S. for his initials;
  • the heroine must be smart, capable and beautiful, with the name Elaine Ecdysiast;
  • the evil-genius villain must be dastardly and scenery-chewing, with the name D. Vice;
  • and the story must be set at least in part in Chicago.
Even by those standards, I clearly went for the lowest common denominator. No, seriously. Frank chose wisely by not illustrating the story's climax.

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#83

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I have a confirmed report that book #83 has been spotted in the wild. That's #83 out of only 100 signed, numbered and jacketed copies of Cast a Cold Eye. If you want one, act fast.

(Plenty of copies of the regular edition available, of course.)

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Cast a Cold Eye, by Derryl Murphy & William Shunn
Writing-related announcements have been piling up here in the blog queue, so if you'll indulge me here, I'm just going to get all of them out at once.

CAST A COLD EYE

First and foremost, my book Cast a Cold Eye, a collaboration with three-time Aurora Award nominee Derryl Murphy, is out and available from PS Publishing!

The slim volume looks beautiful, with front and back cover art by Steve Leary, and features an introduction by Charles de Lint. It comes in two editions: a signed, numbered and jacketed hardcover limited to 100 copies, and an unjacketed hardcover.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
missionary
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn

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