THE FANTASY WORLD PROJECT

The New Web Site of

Michael D. Winkle

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I'll also be re-booting my blog.

AUGUST 2016

David Paulides' latest book, Missing 411: Hunters, and the recent podcasts referring to it, touch upon a frightening phenomenon: sightings of "something" that is almost but not quite invisible, like the alien hunter of the Predator movies. If you have checked out my "Missing Annotations" page any time in the past year and a half, specifically the sub-page entitled "Damned Things", you would know that people have been -- not seeing, but experiencing -- unseen "things" wandering around North America for over a century. Remember, you read it here first!

Seeing how this site is called The Fantasy World Project, it's high time said fantasy world saw print. Finally a story set in the world of Aanuu has come out between two covers, in the anthology Gods with Fur. "Origins", appropriately, tells us how the civilizations, races, creatures, and gods of Aanuu came to be.

APRIL 2016

Well, stories are out, but editors hold them for longer and longer periods, it seems (unless they say "NO" almost by reply email). For what it's worth, I won third place in Ann and Dan's Very Short Story Contest (about halfway down the page).

Spring is here, and it's been quite pleasant despite the occasional tornado. I believe I'll celebrate the season by presenting a short nostalgic essay that proved to be a tad too big to be a Reader's Digest anecdote:

The Front Porch Swing

Michael D. Winkle

The front porch swing carried many memories on its slatted maple seat. Grandpa painted it an odd shade of green, a light chartreuse that eventually became simply “the swing color.” On it Grandma and I sang “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” as Southern Pacific cars thundered by only a few yards away. Plastic army men fought and died upon the stage of its wooden seat, and it served as both prop and set to my brother, the amateur filmmaker.

One spring, as we discovered to our dismay, the swing provided scaffolding for mud dauber wasps. Red clay high-rises, hard as brick, covered the huge eyelets screwed into the porch roof. They even cemented over the support chains. A real war raged that summer for possession of the swing, a battle repeated every June thereafter.

The inevitable collapse came, startling and swift, beneath my teenage behind. Grandpa installed another swing, but it was never as comfortable or sturdy – or loving – as Grandma’s original. She is many years gone, but I envision her seated on it still, swinging through golden clouds: “Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah . . .”


AUGUST 2015

Well, the great re-editing and mailing of stories continues. Approximately one story is ready per week. Better than, say, 2009, in which I don't think I sent out more than 7 or 8 stories altogether! (Best not to think of that era).

Also, I've re-posted and updated The New, Improved Eyrie, the newsletter about gryphons. I still need a few illustrations; then, maybe, after all these years, I can work on a new issue!

Work continues on what may be the most episodic novel of all time, Fanzine. Just a few more stories/ chapters to go . . . at least three other novels demand attention, and two finished projects search for an agent. All that plus who knows how many stories and articles that need polishing and submitting, and I'd like to take some college classes this semester, as well!

I may not post often here or on my blog, but if I don't get work published, there's not much point in having a web site to begin with!

JUNE 2015

(Chester and M step briefly out of the Fantasy World Project to look around):

Chester Monday: Say, M?

M: Yes, Chester?

Chester: Have we rebooted?

M: Looks like it.

Chester: We need more illustrations, a guestbook or comment area, and updates everywhere! How will we hold people's interest until we get the Fantasy World Project running again?

M: Well, visitors might check out our pages of annotations and comments concerning the Missing 411 series. The strange disappearances of human beings described by David Paulides' books brings to mind other phenomena that one might not normally associate with missing persons -- so we'll take a look at those.

Or our viewers might look over interesting books to be found at Amazon -- like Tales of the Witch World 3, a shared world anthology about, as you might guess, Andre Norton's Witch World fantasy series. Or Panverse 2, edited by Dario Ciriello, an anthology of those hard-to-place literary wonders, the novellas.


Then there's Tom English's thick anthology, Bound for Evil, full of tales of eldritch, magical, or cursed tomes, with authors ranging from grand masters of horror to modern newcomers.

Or they might wish to look over intriguing magazines, like Necrotic Tissue.

However, it might not be so bad if they left this site for certain others, such as The Journal of Unusual Entomology, or Specklit.

Chester: . . . Because we have stories in all of the above, right?

M: By some curious coincidence, yes.



Truth in advertising requires I post a picture taken during the present century.


Though I prefer this one, taken . . . at some point in the past.

MARCH 2012

Recently I looked over my apartment -- which is dominated by stacks of paper three feet high -- and decided to tidy up or else. So I snatched papers at random from a pile. They happened to belong to a story I'd written called "Sundown Syndrome," which I hadn't looked at since 1998 or so. I decided it was a good story, after all, and set it aside to review/edit/clean up.

Then I pulled out more papers at random. These proved to be a story called "In Your Own Back Yard," which seemed good, though ignored for several years. Then I pulled out an old effort called "The Lincoln Paradox," and that looked good. After a couple more stories popped out, I forgot about cleaning up papers -- I'm going to be busy reading, re-typing, editing, and sending out the forgotten tales.

Meanwhile: I purchased the domain name "fantasyworldproject", so I'd best get on with the fantasy world. Such a millieu implies fantasy creatures to inhabit such a world, and in this one the half-lion, half-bird Gryphons will appear prominently. I even had an occasional newsletter devoted to Gryphons, but when Geocities dropped free hosting, I allowed it to fade into cyberspace.

Now, however, The New, Improved Eyrie will slowly appear in the Fantasy World Project. Only the first issue for now, but others will certainly follow!

JUNE 2011

Earlier this year I decided to write a story for an anthology concerning the fabulous flying monster, "Mothman". The upper limit was 3,000 words. My story, so far, is at least novelette length, and if I don't put on the brakes, might reach "short novel."

I started a second story, much shorter -- but still half again as long as the limit. So I typed it, printed it, and spent a week cutting it word by word. I think I succeeded, and the experience of having a deadline (June 1) spurred me on.

As usual, chugging along on those stories made me want to work on other projects. For instance, I finally decided to dig out and clean up my old web-page, The Kolchak Papers, dedicated to the monster-chasing character Carl Kolchak from the Night Stalker films and series. Then, reviewing my dozens of old, pen-scribbled notebooks, I found untyped stories that I'd completely forgotten -- and, at the risk of sounding immodest, that I think are pretty well-written.

So my plate is getting full with these new projects. Now if I can just get my energy going on the Fantasy World Project! Oh, well, as I slowly finish one, I can set it aside and start on another. Eventually the Project will grow again, along with its associate stories.

MARCH 2011

Well, slowly but surely the writing returns. After a long delay, Panverse Two appeared with my novella "The Curious Adventure of the Jersey Devil." It resulted in some good reviews, including one from Gardner Dozois in LOCUS (Nov. 2010).

On December 29, 2010, the e-zine Eschatology printed "Sudoku Tako", a Lovecraftian short.

And recently the upcoming anthology Mondo Sasquatch (obviously a quality publication) accepted "Strike". Now to work on those stubborn novels!

DECEMBER 2010

Might as well have an amusing little story for the Christmas season:

LOST IN DARKNESS AND DISTANCE

The Monster slogged tirelessly across the pack ice.

"I do not forget my vow to immolate myself, Victor Frankenstein," he muttered, "but firewood is scarce in this frozen clime."

He huffed a thundercloud of breath and marched on, hearing only the crunch of snow and the howl of wind. Here, at the top of the world, he could wander unchallenged and unfeared, but only because no one lived here to object.

"Perhaps it was you, not the Almighty, who made me, Victor," he said to the black sky, "but I prayed for so long that there might be a place for me somewhere in God's creation."

Ahead the jagged peaks of a small island rose over the ice. Tiny flames crackled on the shore. Intrigued, the Monster approached.

Small creatures huddled around the fire. Some resembled animals up on their hind legs. Some resembled children with malformed heads and limbs. Stitches lined their bodies as if each one had been sewn together -- badly.

"Oh!" exclaimed a girl with red yarn for hair. "You're the biggest dolly I've ever seen. You must be a misfit!"

A bear with the incongruous fan-tail of a peacock ambled up.

"If you're a misfit, you're welcome here."

A winged form passed overhead, backlit by the wavering aurorae. It was no bird, but a regal hunting beast.

The Monster smiled.



NOVEMBER 2010

DONALD W. WINKLE, 1930-2010

On October 21, 2010, after years of fighting cancer, congenital heart failure, and Alzheimer's, my father, Donald W. Winkle, passed away.

Don's health problems began nearly a decade ago, when it was determined that he needed triple bypass surgery. He has been in and out of hospitals ever since. Anesthesia and drugs never seemed to affect him as they were supposed to, and he learned to hate the doctors and hospitals stays -- I can't say I blame him. Don's increasing physical and mental problems were hard on everyone close to him, particularly so on his wife of 37 years, Sharon Stewart Winkle.

The end came with shocking swiftness. One weekend he was still quite active and talkative; two weeks later he all but stopped speaking, spending his time simply wandering around the house and yard. A week after that he collapsed, having literally (according to the hospice nurses) forgotten how to walk. A few days later, his pulse, blood pressure, and respiration simply grew weaker and weaker until they ceased altogether.

Donald Winkle was interred in Bixby Cemetery, Bixby, Oklahoma on Monday, October 25, 2010.

MAY 2010

Well, more time seems to pass through my fingers. The past nine years have been so messed up, I'm beginning to believe it was all part of a cosmic learning process, of the tough love/sink-or-swim variety. Okay, I've learned my lesson, so it's time to press on.

I don't want to tempt Fate, however, so I'll begin with something easy -- say, a list of my printed works down at the bottom of the page (way overdue, anyway).

JANUARY 2010

Well, possibly it's not a new decade yet, as 2000 was not really the start of the new millennium, but it's good enough for a new beginning.

Seems like I've made statements like that before, but I do need to update things in my life -- like my web-presence. Guess I will start a blog. Then, instead of trying to make some sweeping statements once every few months, I can make little observations every day or two. Like:

Don't you hate when you're behind some slowpokes on the highway, and you decide to pass them, and suddenly they decide to speed up when you're not quite past? Maybe they decided they were, indeed, going too slow -- maybe they hope a truck will roar up and smash you off the road. It's just annoying.

Or I can put things here that are scattered across the Internet, like this post from the Classic Horror Message Board, describing a strange night from my 17th year (about when the photo above was taken):

When I was 17 or so, I stayed up late to see the Spanish "Count Dracula" starring Christopher Lee. No, not the Spanish version of Dracula, or Lee's "Horror of Dracula." This early 70s effort was very faithful to Stoker's novel (down to the bushy gray 'stache Lee had), but it was also the slowest and most boring film I ever saw. Still, I lay down in the living room and watched.

But I kept hearing things from the garage. Eventually I thought I heard noises from the attic, overhead, as well. I flipped on the garage light (from inside) and peeked through the little, distorting peephole that happened to be in the door leading to the garage.

The pull-down ladder that led to the attic was down. I didn't recall it being there earlier. I wondered if someone could be in the attic. I think I opened the garage door, but I didn't step out or call "Hello?", thinking, why attract attention? (Though merely turning on the light would have shown that someone downstairs was at least suspicious.) The noises continued, noticeable enough that I peeked out a few more times.

I continue watching Dracula, but instead of stretched out before the tube in proper Monster Kid fashion, I wandered around the living room, bouncing on the balls of my feet, as if I'd have to run. And I kept hearing noises. I turned down the sound during a commercial. The sounds from above were a soft, continuous creeek-crick-crack-creek-tik-crack, which seemed to me the sound something might make if pressure were being put to it until it was ready to break.

I studied the ceiling where I thought the noise was coming from. There were long, tiny cracks in the gypsum drywall (or whatever the ceiling was made of), some running from wall to wall! It looked like something was about to crash through into the house!

My dad was always warning us that only in certain parts of the attic could someone stand safely; step in the wrong area and down you'd go through the drywall. Naturally, I decided that a drooling maniac was in the attic, and, unknowledgeable about the weak spots, he was going to crash in on me!

Yet I stood (off to the side), my attention divided between the TV and the ceiling, rather than calling 911 or something (I was terribly introverted and would have truly had to be in danger to actually bother the cops). "Count Dracula" was long as well as boring, and as the night wore on, the noises faded. I convinced myself that the cracks in the ceiling had always been there, I just never had reason to notice them, and that the ladder had indeed been down earlier. Finally I went to bed -- but with one eye (and ear) alert for any crashing noises.

OCTOBER 2009

Well, I'm in the middle of moving, so there's not much time to devote to the web page. Everyone seems to have a blog these days, and some people manage to write in something every day! Don't know how they find the time.

Looking back on the past few years, it doesn't seem to have been that busy. They have been tense, however, and I found myself unable to concentrate on writing, taking classes, or anything else.

The activity of putting things in storage, disposing of unnecessary items, and packing up gets me going, however, and I'll try to keep going. It's odd that action seems to beget action; you'd think you'd have less time to write, read, study, and network if you have more physical tasks to accomplish. Newton's laws affect more than just objects floating in space, it seems.

Moving to a new (and bigger -- and better-looking) place also feels like a new beginning. A fresh start, a fresh approach, and extra Vitamin D -- look out, world!

SEPTEMBER 2009

I never used the option to have the Project put on search engines because I knew from the beginning it would be very slow in its creation -- and that was back when I was burning with inspiration. However, the links from Troy Taylor's "Ghosts of the Prairie" site have resulted in numerous hits, so I may just have to update the FWP.

Guess I'll transfer a couple of fannish stories from the old "Fantasy and Reality" page to here. Manly Wade Wellman's fantastic tales of Silver John, aka John the Balladeer, have always been favorites of mine. Here are a couple of adventures of the modern wandering minstrel that weren't documented in Wellman's book, Who Fears the Devil?:

Away Down the Road a Piece.

Moon-Eyes.

JUNE 2009

It's been nearly ten years since I connected to the Internet and created my first crude web-pages. In some ways the time seems to have passed like a snap of the fingers, and in other ways that decade feels more like a century. It was not an enjoyable era in many ways. Almost annually some Life Problem arose that absorbed all my time and energy, tossing me aside after a while like a wrung-out dishrag -- only to be replaced by a new Life Problem ten times worse than the one before. Even if the new disaster didn't roar up immediately, it took months to recover emotionally and spiritually. I believe it is time for me to put a stop to that.

This web site is called the Fantasy World Project. I expected it to develop in private, away from my old page (Fiction and Reality), but Geocities' decision to shut down their free hosting spurred me on to updating/improving/transferring everything here. Not every file and page from F&R will make the jump, but what does ought to look a bit more professional.

Obviously, I'm dedicating a large part of my bandwidth to "The Fantasy World Project." After years of writing SF and fantasy, it struck me (on June 10, 2006, to be precise) that I could trace almost every character, creature, fantasy name, and storyline back to its original inspiration. I've seen other authors' maps, fantasy histories, and indices of people and things, but nothing on the scale of which I was thinking. Why not? The Project took up a lot of time, but it was fun and inspiring in its own right. Of course, I labored under the belief that the Bad Times were over at last -- when in fact the next few years would get even worse.

I've decided that I have to make conscious decisions to get out of life's little quicksand pits. One of these decisions is to re-boot the FWP. I worked on it in 2006, created the web site in 2008, and now -- well, third time's the charm.

Besides, charting the old inspirations will bring to the public's eye the titles of many authors, books, and journals that languish in old libraries. Perhaps others will dig them out, even in this Twitter and i-Phone world, and find inspirations of their own.

Page One of the FWP.

Meanwhile, I'll start polishing up my old pages, such as the Eyrie (gryphon newsletter), the Kolchak: the Night Stalker page, and others. In the real world, I'm also writing more legitimate stories, taking night classes, and working full-time, but -- hey, it's fun!

the author, and one of those on my right is my brother
The author at the Dinosaur Park in Arkansas. One of the fellows on my right is my brother.

An Oldie But Goodie

Summer, 2002

That's a nice broad title. I could add updates here for months.

AUGUST: I watched the old SF film X -- The Unknown a couple of years ago and saw bits that had to have inspired Monty Python's Flying Circus. When people are shown facing the camera (and the radioactive blob from the earth's core), they scream and sink out of view (melted by the monster). If you ever see the movie, be sure to yell, "AAAH! The Blancmange!" at these parts -- referring, of course, to the "Blancmanges of Andromeda" in the "Science Fiction Sketch." Another scene, of a scientist being lowered into a fissure in the earth's crust reminds me of a scene in which some stuffy British Secretary for something-or-other falls through the earth's crust. . .

I bought a video of Hammer Film's The Lost Continent, which came out only a year or two before the first season of MPFC. The video contains the original theatrical previews, and the previews alone seem to be the major inspiration for "Scott of the Antarctic," with the bizarre Sargasso Sea monsters menacing the beautiful women aboard the stranded ship. The slobbering, blocky giant crab is a dead-ringer for the Man-Eating Roll-Top Writing Desk.

There is another major influence in the movie: The ship gets trapped in the Sargasso Sea, the crew sees funky monsters and man-eating sea-weed, and at the center of this unearthly realm, what do they find? THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

And only a couple of weeks ago I found any number of Pythonic influences in a single episode of The Avengers, an early one featuring Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale, entitled "The Little Wonders." It's about an organization of criminals who masquerade as priests. A padre caught at an airport with guns, knives, secret compartments in his luggage and stolen pearls in his clerical collar reminded me of Eric Idle as a priest at an airport in MPFC. A thug in a "doll hospital" looks exactly like Michael Palin's Mr. Liugi Vercotti, down to the wrap-around sunglasses and ever-present cigarette. And the muscular, scarred, thug-like ministers are very reminiscent of the ones seen in "The Bishop," and indeed one fellow is called simply "Da Bishop" throughout the episode.


Some of my Favorite Things

Some may wonder why people bother to give lists of their favorite books, movies, etc. I admit that I sometimes use such lists to screen sites. If I agree with just a few items on the favorites lists, I'm likely to continue clicking through. On the other hand, I'm even more likely to decide that a site isn't worth my while if I see a lot of books, authors, whatever, I don't care about. Hey -- my time is valuable!


Publishing History

Stories:

". . . a solid effort about a retiring librarian who stumbles upon a dark secret lurking in the bowels of Miskatonic University's new library computer network." -- Joseph K. Cherkes, Haunts #28 (Summer/Fall 1994)

"This story grabbed us by the throat and didn't let go until the very end." -- Editorial, deathlings.com #10.

Articles

Some pastiches [stories utilizing other author's characters], the mainstay of the almost-extinct fanzines. Not for profit and not meant to infringe on anyone's copyright:


Once again, Page One of the FWP.

Part Two, The Black Death

Part Three, Geography

Part Four, The Aristeas Factor

Part Five, Aristeas and Herodotus

Part Six, The Otherworld

Gryphons get their own spot: The New, Improved Eyrie!

The Missing 411 Annotations.


We welcome your comments and observations. E-mail the FWP!