Favorite Reads of 2014: Novels and Anthologies

As usual, most of the books I read this year were not actually published this year. If the award nomination process for 2014 happened in, say, 2020 or so, I’d probably be golden. However, I did manage to read a few current books this year, and for the sake of (hopefully) making this post useful for folks thinking about award nominations, I’ll mostly stick to those. Just so they don’t get neglected, I’ll also include an ‘honorable mentions’ section for non-2014 books at the end of the post. Of course, now that I’ve said that, I’m going to break my own rule and start with a non-genre book that came out in 2004. After that I’ll stick to 2014 stuff, I promise.

My absolute favorite read of 2014 was Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff. This book wasn’t even on my radar until I received it in last year’s All Hallow’s Eve Book Exchange. That being the case, I went in with no expectations, and ended up being floored. The central characters in the novel are the fractured ‘souls’ that occupy two bodies with multiple personality disorder, bodies primarily known as Andy Gage and Penny Driver. The novel is a fascinating look at trauma, perception, identity, gender, subjective reality versus objective reality (and whether such things even exist), conformity, or refusal to conform, coping, and the way people choose to see or not see what is ugly and dirty and doesn’t fit happily into their world view. It is a brilliant and complex story full of characters with rough edges, sometimes fitting together, and sometimes not. It’s the kind of book that stuck with me long after putting it down, and one I suspect will continue to linger for quite some time.


As for books actually published in 2014, I recently discussed a few of them over at Weird Fiction Review. I won’t repeat myself here too much. I’ll just say I adored the relationship between the sisters in Genevieve Valentine’s The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, which is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses set in the era of prohibition.  Jo in particular is a character to fall in love with, as the sister tasked with holding everyone together. She is just as fierce and heartbreaking as you’d expect given her circumstances.

I’ll also say get your hands on copies of Kaleidoscope edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein and Long Hidden edited by Rose Fox and Daniel Jose Older because the stories in both anthologies are consistently strong and they are all well-worth your award consideration.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison was a surprise favorite for me. I never thought I’d find a novel about the intricacies of court manners and personal politics so intriguing, but the rich world made up of tiny details in this novel ended up being enthralling. There’s a mystery surrounding an assassination, but it’s entirely background to the story of Maia, the titular Goblin Emperor, struggling to fit in to his new role as ruler after a lifetime of living in exile as a bastard son, and having no exposure to high society at all, let alone experience being the center of the highest society of all.


I knew I would love Rings of Anubis: A Folley and Mallory Adventure by E. Catherine Tobler based on the author’s short fiction, and this novel did not disappoint. Aside from being good fun, full of adventure and airships, danger and daring, gods and gadgets, Tobler creates a world so rich and sensual you feel like you’re walking around touching, tasting, and smelling everything as you read. At the same time, it’s a highly visual book, one that’s just begging to be made into a movie. (Could someone get on that, please?) I cannot wait for more adventures from Folley & Mallory.

The Poor Boy’s Game by Dennis Tafoya isn’t remotely speculative fiction. It’s a crime/thriller, but it deserves mention here for its often lovely and poetic writing, which stands out in a genre known for generally being terse and stripped-down. It also does something that is disappointingly rare – it features a female main character who is allowed to be a human being. Frannie Mullen is flawed and angry and broken and distant and determined and strong and capable of being hurt physically and emotionally all at once, and these things aren’t seen as contradictions. Whether or not you think you like the crime/thriller genre, I suggest giving this one a read.

Fearful Symmetries edited by Ellen Datlow is another one I was bound to enjoy. I’m a sucker for horror, and a sucker for short fiction, and Datlow is the master of curating both. Like Kaleidoscope and Long Hidden, Fearful Symmetries is packed with strong stories, all of which are well-worth your time and consideration.

Honorable Mentions (aka books I loved this year which were not published in 2014)

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Glitter and Mayhem edited by John Klima, Lynne Thomas, and Michael Damian Thomas
At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
Handsome Devil edited by Steve Berman
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh

Lest the stories get lost in the shuffle, I’ll do a separate post focusing on short fiction soon. Stay tuned!

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Coming Attractions

I’m still not quite ready to post my favorite reads of 2014. The year isn’t over, and there’s so much reading to catch up on. If you could all please slow down with your awesome novels and short fiction, it’d really help me out a lot. Thanks. Anyway, while I’m scrambling to not be woefully behind on things that came out this year, I figured I’d take a few moments to talk about what I’m looking forward to next year.

Fran Wilde’s debut novel, Updraft. I can’t tell you how excited I am for this thing. A city of bone, a girl with wings, and monsters in the clouds. Having gotten a sneak preview, I can tell you this book is amazing, and I want everyone else to know how amazing it is so we can all squee about it together. Speaking of Ms. Wilde, I’m also very much looking forward to her story How to Walk Through Historic Graveyards in the Digital Age, which will be in the April/May 2015 Asimov’s, and The Ghost Tide Chanty, which will be up at Tor.com sometime during the year as well.


Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise will be out in February 2015. It’s all about music and magic cast using vinyl records. What more do you need to know? Ever since Silvia started teasing details about this, and her second novel about vampires in Mexico City, I have been making grabby hands in their general direction. Books now, please.

Jaime Lee Moyer’s Against a Brightening Sky. This is the third book in her Delia series, which started with Delia’s Shadow in 2013, followed by A Barricade in Hell this year. Delia, Gabe, Sadie, Dora (oh, Dora!), and even Delia’s kitten – it is impossible not to fall in love with these characters. It’s all set against the rich and beautiful backdrop of San Francisco in the early 1900s. I’ve been making serious grabby hands toward this one too.

Queers Destroy Science Fiction! In 2014, women destroyed all the genres, and because they did it so well, there will be a follow-up issue/anthology of Lightspeed Magazine, which already does wonderful things. I am very much looking forward to the next iteration of destruction. If you happen to be a queer author, please consider the guidelines for this issue, which can be found here.

Speaking of anthologies, I’m pretty much looking forward to every anthology Paula Guran publishes in 2015. It just so happens she has a lot of them lined up. You can find a list of her forthcoming projects here. Yes, some do spill into 2016, but that’s all the more reason to be excited. Paula Guran consistently puts together fantastic collections, and I look forward to reading everything she publishes.


Catherynne M. Valente has two novels coming out next year, and I’m thrilled about both of them. The Boy Who Lost Fairyland is the fourth book in a series that grew out of a throw-away reference in another novel she wrote. That’s not to say that this is in any way a throw-away series of course (in case there is anyone left who may be concerned). It is beautiful and adult and family-friendly all at once. The language is rich and deep and the books are well worth reading no matter what your age. The other Valente book I’m looking forward to is Radiance, which will be out in August 2015. Decopunk space opera set in an alternate Hollywood? Yes, please! And the cover is just gorgeous. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one!

Another novel that looks to combine all the wondrous things one could want to combine in a novel is Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, due out in February 2015. I’ve pretty much loved everything else Bear has written, and this one involves bordellos, steampunk, tentacles, and many other things of which I am a fan. Much excitement!

In a more non-specific form of anticipation, I’m looking forward to new issues of all my favorite online fiction magazines, including but not limited to the ones outlined in my round of up year end posts. I’m also looking forward to new short fiction by many of my favorite authors, who would be too numerous to list here, as well as discovering new-to-me authors who will become my favorites.

Finally, bias aside, I’m looking forward to the stories we’ll publish in Unlikely Story next year. First up will be the Journal of Unlikely Cryptography in February. (We recently posted the ToC.) In 2015, we’ll also publish The Journal of Unlikely Coulrophobia (ToC pending) and The Journal of Unlikely Academia, which will open to submissions on January 1, 2015. I promise you, these issues will be full of fantastic stories, and I can’t wait to share them!

Having written this post, I now feel like I’m already behind on my reading for 2015, and the year hasn’t even started yet. However, an abundance of wonderful books is not a bad problem to have. Now that I’ve shared a few of my eagerly anticipated reads, what are you looking forward to next year?


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Award Eligible Fiction 2014

I’ve been rounding up awards-eligibility posts and recommended reading lists from others, and now I’m finally getting around to putting together a post of my own. This was a year of reprints for me, but I did manage to sneak in a few originals. I even have stories eligible in the novelette category! If you’re reading for awards, and you’d like copies of any of the stories that aren’t freely available online for consideration, drop me a note.

Short Stories

Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife – Shimmer #21
Taking the Ghost – Upgraded (Wyrm Publishing)
Matthew, Waiting – Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse (Exile)
And the Carnival Leaves Town – Nightmare Carnival (Dark Horse)


A Game of Cards – Streets of Shadows (Alliteration)
From Stone and Bone, From Earth and Sky – GigaNotoSaurus

There’s a post over at Unlikely Story covering the editorial side of what I did in 2014. Obviously I’m biased, but I think everything published at Unlikely Story in 2014 is well-worth your awards consideration.

In addition to all the usual awards – Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, etc. – I’m eligible for Canadian Awards like the Prix Aurora.

So there you have it. I’ll be putting together a separate post with my favorite reads of 2014 at some point as well.

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New Bugs, Hot Off the Press!

Unlikely Story #10: The Journal of Unlikely Entomology is finally here! We’ve got brand new fiction by Will Kaufman, Polenth Blake, Naim Kabir, Luna Lindsey, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Victorya Chase, and Michael Wehunt. I may be slightly biased, but in my opinion, they’re all fabulous stories. Starting next week, we’ll be posting our Unlikely author interviews with the contributors, so keep an eye on our blog.

On a more general note, we’re still closed to submissions, but we’ll be reopening on January 1, 2015 for our Unlikely Academia issue. Guidelines are available here.

We’re still working through the stories we’re holding for a second look for the Unlikely Cryptography issue, but we hope to make our final decisions and announce the ToC soon.

We’ve responded to all Coulrophobia submissions with a pass or a hold, and once we’ve finalized the ToC for the Cryptography issue, we’ll be working through those and making our choices. (It won’t be easy.)

And that’s all the Unlikely news that’s fit to print. Now go peruse Unlikely Story #10: The Journal of Unlikely Entomology and let us know what you think!

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What Have You Done This Year?

The year is almost over, and while I’m not quite ready to write my own year-end wrap-up post yet, several other intrepid people have started to do so. In the interest of signal boosting, and providing a handy reference for myself and others as the award season progresses, here are a few eligibility and recommendation posts I’ve come across thus far. I’ll do my best to keep updating, so if you have posts (your own or others) you’d like me to link, please share them in the comments or drop me an email.

Mike Allen: The Quiltmaker + 2014 Eligibility Post

Charlotte Ashley/Clavis Aurea: Best Short Fiction o f 2014

Richard Auffrey: My Favorite Fiction of 2014

Prix Aurora Awards: Eligibility Lists (These are constantly being updated, and authors can submit their own eligible work for inclusion if it isn’t already listed.)

Seth Dickinson: What Seth Wrote in 2014

Shaun Duke: Award Recommendations

Rose Fox: A Break Down of Long Hidden’s Eligibility

Kate Heartfield: Stories, 2014

Kaleidotrope: 2014 in Review

Cecily Kane: Provision Short Fiction Round-Up

Lackington’s Magazine: Our Nominations, 2014

Largehearted Boy: Compilation Post of Best of 2014 Book Lists

Jenn Lawrence/Jenn’s Bookshelves: Horror/Thriller Favorites of 2014 and A Year in Review: Series Favorites of 2014 (Other genres coming; keep checking back!)

Rose Lemberg: Award Eligibility, “Stalemate” Reviews, Rhysling

Ken Liu: Nominating Stories for Awards

Carmen Maria Machado: My Nebula Eligible Stories

Sunny Moraine: Here Be My 2014 Awards Post, Yarr

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: December

NPR: Our Guide to 2014′s Great Reads

Daniel Jose Older: Award Eligibility Page 2014

Over the Effing Rainbow: A Year of Awesomeness – Looking Back on 2014

Sarah Pinsker: My Award Eligible Stories for 2014

Cat Rambo: The Inevitable Awards Post, Best of 2014 Version

Merc Rustad: Award Eligibility 2014 Edition

Sofia Samatar: What I Wrote & How I’ll Vote

Erica L. Satfika: 2014 Year in Review

The Book Smugglers: Smugglivius 2014 (This is a multi-part series, so keep checking back!)

Bogi Takacs: 2014 Award Eligibility
and a bonus Roundup of 2014 Stories with Non-Binary Characters

Lavie Tidhar: 2014 in Review

E. Catherine Tobler: 2014 in Review

Tor: A Crowd-Sourced List of Favorite Books of 2014 and Tor.com Reviewer’s Choice 2014 and 2014 Fiction Wrap-up from Tor.com

Unlikely Story: Award Eligible Fiction 2014

Sabrina Vourvoulias: Looking for the Best Speculative Fiction of 2014 in Expected and Unexpected Places

Damien Angelica Walters: 2014 in Review

LaShawn M. Wanak: 21 Steps to Enlightenment (Minus One) Eligible for 2014 Awards

Martha Wells: Award Eligible Work This Year

Weird Fiction Review: End of the Year Booklist (2014 Edition)

Fran Wilde: 2014 Favorite Reads

Caroline M. Yoachim: Stories in 2014

On a related note, as you’re thinking about awards, here’s a list of online publications that consistently publish impressive and lovely fiction (and in some cases poetry and non-fiction as well). While you’re catching up on what the authors above have published this year, and thinking about award nominations, these online magazines are ones I consider well-worth checking out. The list is by no means exhaustive, and only covers online magazines (though a few produce associated print anthologies and collections).

Abyss & Apex
AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review
Apex Magazine
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Book Smugglers
Bourbon Penn
Crossed Genres (also check out their anthologies, which include the above-mentioned Long Hidden)
Daily Science Fiction
Innsmouth Free Press (alas, the magazine ended its run this year, but they are still publishing incredibly anthologies and other wonderful fiction in print form)
Lackington’s Magazine
Lakeside Circus
Strange Horizons
The Dark
Three-Lobed Burning Eye
Uncanny Magazine
Unlikely Story

ETA on 11/30/2014: It just occurred to me that it would be smart to include some links to the folks who regularly review short fiction, especially since several new review columns have popped up recently. One of the best ways to find out what’s out there, what you might have missed, and what you might want to read and recommend come award time is word of mouth. So…

Niall Alexander and Brit Mandelo’s Short Fiction Spotlight at Tor

Charlotte Ashley’s Clavis Aurea at Apex

K. Tempest Bradford’s Newsstand at i09

Fantastic Stories of the Imagination: New & Noteworthy Short Fiction

Haralambi Markov’s Short Fiction You Need to Read

Amal El-Mohtar’s Rich and Strange at Tor

Nerds of a Feather’s Monthly Taster’s Guide to Speculative Short Fiction

Derek Newman-Stille’s Reviews at Speculating Canada (mix of short fiction and long fiction by Canadians)

Lois Tilton’s Short Fiction Reviews at Locus Online

Sam Tomaino’s Short Fiction Reviews at SFRevu

Various Reviews at Strange Horizons (mix of long and short works)

J.Y. Yang: Fiction Nuggets

Eventually I’ll be posting my own eligible work and my favorite reads of 2014. In the meantime, feel free to send me round-up post links, review site links, or recommend online magazines people should be reading.


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All That Glitters is Fabulous

LipsThis is a scary post to write. Because it’s about something amazing and terrifying that doesn’ta feel quite real yet. Part of me is afraid that saying it aloud will make it vanish – like the opposite of Beetle Juice or Bloody Mary. Talk about it too much and it will just go away.

… But, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Collection is going to be a real thing. A. Real. Thing!

The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron started with a short story in Ideomancer: Operation Annihilate Mars! Or, Doctor Blood and the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron. It was so much fun to write, but I thought that was the end of it. Then Bunny had different ideas. She stepped up and insisted her story be told. And so, there was How Bunny Came to Be, which appeared in Shimmer #17.

And after that, I fell in love. These incredible, fierce, amazing characters kept stepping up and insisting their stories be told. Their armor is glitter and sparkles and they are all the things that so many narratives tell us is the opposite of what ‘strong’ is supposed to be. They wear dresses and nail polish and high heels, and they fight and save the world over and over again. They think gender check boxes are stupid.  And they kick ass harder than you’ve ever seen ass kicked before. Did I mention I love them? I may be biased.

I was afraid no one would ever care except for me. But other people did, and as it turns out, Steve Berman of Lethe Press happened to be one of them, and is willing to take a chance on my gorgeous, glittering girls. I will be forever grateful. (Lethe Press is wonderful, by the way, and you should run out and buy books from them.)

If all goes according to plan, you’ll be able to read all about The Glitter Squadron in Summer 2015. I’ll post more details as they’re available. But for now, I wish glitter to you all.


Image from flickr user Snowkei, cropped and used under Creative Commons License.


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Oculus: A Tale of Two (Or More) Movies


Being in the mood for a Halloween-appropriate movie, we watched Oculus last  weekend. Warning: mildly spoilersish stuff ahead. I was hoping for was a tragically bad movie that would be good for a hate watch and yelling at the screen. What I got was a frustrating movie that had the seeds of a lot of really good ideas in it, but utterly failed on execution. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with ambiguity, or narratives that hint at possibilities, but leave things open-ended. In fact, when well-executed, I love that kind of story.

Alas, in the case of Oculus, what could have been a Turn of the Screw-style story, with its multiple threads hinting at many possible narrative realities came off as a simple inability to make a decision. I’d compare it to a puppy, trying to bound off after every exciting thing all at once. Does it want to be a supernatural thriller, or a chilling examination of domestic violence? Is it a psychological horror movie examining the coping mechanisms people develop to deal with pain, or is there a freaky evil mirror hell-bent on destroying people? Is it a story about the past, or the present? Is it a movie that relies on cheap jump-scares, or legitimately creepy and disturbing imagery? Even the poster makes very little sense. A moment that is tense in the film, isolated as a still image, loses all impact. Maybe the kids are cowering in terror, or maybe they’re just having a bad reaction to pollen.

Oddly enough, for a story about illusion and perception, Oculus suffers from being told through a visual medium. For the most part, the acting and direction are poorly done, so scenes that should be intensely creepy or emotional generally fall flat. The movie borrows heavily from other, far better films, like The Shinning, and suffers from it. All Work and No Play Make the Guy We Don’t Care About and Whose Name I Can’t Even Remember Go on a Murderous Rampage Against His Family Because Some Ghosts Told Him To, I Guess.

The best parts of the movie are thrown away. The way it plays with time. The way it questions whether you can you trust your eyes and your memory. The notion that a malevolent, supernatural entity – implacable and unstoppable – could be more comforting and the truth. As a result of all the juggling the movie does, the most intriguing threads get lost – the dog, the fiance, the dead plants, the fixation on teeth, and broken glass, and fingernails. The imagery of broken glass/broken ceramic in particular could have served as a callback to disturbing childhood memories throughout the movie, but there is only an attempt to give it emotional weight as an after-thought. The opportunity to explore the origins of an entity that feeds off pain and insists on the suffering be self-inflicted is wasted. Similarly, the idea that the entity allows people to experience hints of that pain, then immediately erases it from their memory goes nowhere nowhere. The truly unsettling ways in which the entity forces people to die,for instance a woman putting her children to sleep inside a well, then shattering her own bones with a hammer, could could have stood more exploration. But the whole history of the deaths the mirror caused is glossed over in less than two minutes.

Oculus might have been a slow, creeping, suffocating suspense movie. Instead, some people it’s hard to care about do irrational things for 100 or so minutes, and then the movie ends. Except it does all this while giving you tantalizing glimpses of what the movie could have been. Frustrating.

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World Fantasy 2014

Next week, from November 6-9, I’ll be attending the World Fantasy Convention in Washington D.C. This is my first time attending, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m even on programming, which is pretty exciting. Here’s where I’ll be:

Fantasy Food: The Food in Fantasy
Time: 8 p.m.-9 p.m., Saturday, Tidewater 2
Panelists: Fran Wilde (M), Brenda Clough, Diana Peterfreund, A. C. Wise
Description: Elaborate feasts versus alien worms: is Fantasy Food really better than science fiction food. Adults report a life-long love of mushrooms dating back to an early reading of the Fellowship of the Ring. Meanwhile, the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, featuring butterbeer and pumpkin pasties, has sold more than 150,000 copies. There are also cookbooks available or in the works for The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Tolkien’s works, and Narnia. Why does fantasy literature often have a gourmet palette?

Unofficially, I’ll be taking part in the mass autograph session starting Friday at 8 p.m. in the Independence Center, where several of the authors whose stories appear in Nightmare Carnival will be sitting together in case you’re so inclined to have us sign your book. I understand there is also a cash bar involved in the mass signing event.

Also unofficially, I’ll be part of the group signing for The Cutting Room, along with several other authors in the anthology. We’ll be at the Tachyon table in the Dealers’ Room from 2:30-3p.m. on Friday.

If you’re curious, the full schedule for the convention can be found here.

Outside of programming official and unofficial, I plan to attend panels, go to the ice cream social, because freakin’ ice cream social, hang out in the bar, eat food, spend time with friends I don’t get to see nearly often enough, and buy books. I hope to see you there.

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Giveaway: Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume 1

Weird FictionYou like weird things, right? Who doesn’t! So how about a whole book of the very best weird fiction published last year. As the title implies, Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume 1 is the first in a new series published by Undertow/ChiZine Publications. The inaugural volume was edited by Laird Barron, along with series editor Michael Kelly. Next year’s volume will be edited by Kathe Koja and Michael Kelly. (Authors, take note – vol. 2 is currently open to reprint submissions and that handy link I just pasted will take your straight to the submission page.) The first volume contains works by the likes of Jeffrey Ford, Livia Llewellyn, Sofia Samatar, Jeff VanderMeer, and yours truly. Wanna win a copy? Of course you do!

In order to enter, all you have to do is go to the comments and tell me something weird. For the purposes of this contest, I’m defining weird broadly. It could be a real life uncanny occurrence you can’t explain, a link to a piece of weird fiction, an odd coincidence, or even the lyrics to your favorite Weird Al song. The winner will be chosen by random number generator. The contest ends on Halloween. Get your weird on!

ETA: The random number generator has declared Sara Saab the winner! Thank you all for sharing your wonderful weirdness!


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Notes on a Remake

Date: January 18, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

Jimmy, can you please get me a fucking clean copy of this movie? How the hell am I supposed to do a shot-by-shot remake if I don’t even know what the fucking thing looks like? The one you left me is shit, skipping all over the place, audio all fucked up. Jesus fucking Christ. And yes, I fucking know how to use email. I don’t trust it. Just get me a clean copy.

Date: February 13, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

The message boards are blowing up. (I told you I know how to use a computer.) Fans are already shitting themselves, and we haven’t even starting casting. How’s that for market research? I’m telling you, Jimmy, we’ve got a goldmine on our hands, presuming we can ever get the fucking thing made.

Date: February 28, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

So there was a rumor a while back that Carrie Linden’s still around. Did you know about this? No, of course not, because you would have fucking told me, right? Think we can get her? Cast her as the grandmother or shit? Again, yes, Jimmy, I know there’s no fucking grandmother in the movie, but who cares. The dickweeds who hang out on these message boards will eat it up, I promise.

Date: March 8, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

Okay, maybe bringing in a live snake for the screen tests is bad idea. Duly noted. We’ll CGI that shit. Nobody’ll know the difference. Any word on the Lyndon woman, whatever her name is? Maybe we ought to CGI her in, too.

Date: March 30, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

Ever heard of a guy named Jackson Mortar? Apparently he’s some sort of Kaleidoscope super-fan. His name is all over the messgage boards. They invoke him like some kind of fucking god. He showed up outside the studio the other day, screaming at me as I got into my car. I couldn’t even understand what he was saying. Fucking frothing at the mouth lunatic. I called security to escort him off the premises, and come to fucking find out he’s been camping the gates for weeks. And of course nobody has any idea how he got in, but they promise it’ll never happen again Mr. Elgin, sir. Bunch of fucking assholes. Anyway, just keep an eye out, okay?

Date: April 11, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

Do you mind telling me what exactly the fuck that tangle of rush print film was doing on my desk? Jesus fuck, Jimmy. Where’d you even find that shit? We’re shooting the whole thing on digital and you’re dicking around wasting antique supplies. However, if it gives you some sort of sick pleasure, you’ll be happy to know I did look at a few frames before I threw it in the trash. Did you shoot an entire reel of trees around an empty parking lot? Sometimes I really fucking wonder about you, Jimmy. Those few frames at the end, though? Pure fucking gold. Where’d you find that girl? Is she from make-up? She could be Kerry Lymon’s motherfucking twin. Maybe you could introduce me sometime? Unless you’re saving her for yourself. I know how you hate to share.

Date: April 29, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

Again with the film, Jimmy? Raw fucking stock? Seriously? What am I even supposed to do with that shit? Leave your goddamn garbage some place other than my office.

Date: May 3, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

Jimmy. Look, I’m sorry about last week. Legal’s on my ass. They think the kid’s family might sue. How the fuck did we get here, right? Didn’t we just want to make good movies? I mean, remember back in college, all those late nights we should have been studying, thinking we could do better than whatever shit they were running on IFC, calling those directors hacks and those writers pussies. Where did we go wrong, Jimmy? Shit. I’m going to take a couple days. Maybe we all should. My right eye has been bothering the fuck out of me lately. It’s like there’s always something right in my peripheral vision. Ever since Gina left, home alone at night, you know how it is. Anyway, more than once, it’s freaked me the fuck out. What was it your mother used to take to sleep? Maybe I should get some of that.

From: Thomas Elgin [telgin@studionice.com]
Sent: June 10, 2012
To: James Heinz
Subject: Kaleidoscope

jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjimmy. fuck.
they buried her where she could see the sky the sky could see her. fuuuuuuuuuck.
the glass goes in and it never comes out. it just keeps pushing through the flesh and through and though and through.
i’m tired jimmy. run.

From: James Heinz [jheinz@studionice.com]
Sent: June 18, 2012
To: James Heinz
Subject: Kaleidoscope – CANCELLED


I’ve spoken to most of you individually, but I wanted to reiterate how much I value your work on this project, and how much it pains me that it will never come to fruition. Some things simply aren’t meant to be. I sincerely hope I’ll have the opportunity to work with all of you on other projects.

As I’ve said many times over the past months, I have an open door policy. That hasn’t changed. If any of you have any questions or concerns, about anything, you know where to find me.

Finally, since many of you have asked, there will be no formal services, but I am organizing my own small get together for Tom. A wake, if you will. Those of you who knew him will take it in the right spirit, I trust: I know he would’ve hated it. Since he wasn’t religious, or charitable, and isn’t survived by any family, I’d suggest that if you’d like to do something to honor him, make a donation to the charity of your choice. He’d have hated that, too.


James Heinz, Acting President and CEO
Studio Nice

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