Surreal Time Press Reviews GEEK THEATER – The Complete Collection

[Mirrored from the Underwords Press website.]

surrealtimespressIn what is turning out to be one of the most fascinating reviews that I have seen done in a very long time, Surreal Time Press (STP) is publishing a complete set of reviews that feature each play within Geek Theater. It is really quite stunning when someone takes the time and initiative to put together a project like this (all on their own), and it is more than a little humbling. I think, putting it quite bluntly, that this is an editor’s dream. Clearly, STP isn’t going to be enamored of every play and will find things to critique. That’s just how reviews work. However, it’s truly amazing that they have taken the time to sit down and parse each play, pulling out the good and the bad, and then putting it all online for everyone to see.

This list of reviews is currently incomplete as the process is still ongoing, but I will post links to the new review as they are made available. I offer my sincere thanks to STP for this amazing series of reviews for Geek Theater.

Introduction by Jen Gunnels and Erin Underwood

“If there ever was a moment for a collection of plays like Geek Theater: Fifteen Plays by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers, this is it. The recently published volume has been carefully curated by editors Jen Gunnels and Erin Underwood to celebrate the current proliferation of “geek” related content in theater. As a New York theater critic, I have had the great privilege of witnessing this invasion of geek genres and ideas first hand over the last ten years … In the tradition of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, the plays collected in Geek Theater keep the big ticket special effects mostly off-stage and instead find their stories in the human moments and mind-blowing ideas in the spaces between. I’m fascinated and invigorated by the idea that while mindless effects-laden movies are becoming common in Hollywood, the pure science fiction of the mind lives on and thrives in live theater.”

Mission to Mars by Jeanne Beckwith

“The ending is masterful.”

For the Living by Chie-Hoon Lee

“It kind of blew my mind.”

Rapunzel’s Haircut by Cecil Castellucci

“Fractured or post-modern fairytales are certain nothing new, so it’s admirable that despite the murder and brainwashing, Castellucci pries out of this old fairy tale a compellingly modern concept about love in the discussion of Rapunzel’s two suitors.”

The Promise of Space by James Patrick Kelly

“Kelly’s story works because it is driven by character.”

Consider the Services of the Departed by F. Brett Cox

“Delivered by a non-gender specific speaker in formal attire, Cox’s script is instead brisk and bracingly funny, correlating the shuffling deceased with the plight of the migrant worker – why not let them rise from their graves and do the jobs that nobody wants to do?”

The Zombies of Montrose by James Morrow

“We are in refreshingly new territory.”

The Zombies of Montrose by James Morrow

“We are in refreshingly new territory.”

The Clockwork Comrade by Carlos Hernandez

“I never knew I wanted a story about a talking grandfather clock meeting Castro, but this play is so charming and unique that it completely won me over.”

The Long and the Short of Long Term Memory by Cecil Castellucci

“I feel like the tremendous little piece of stagecraft with the hand raising sells the whole thing.”

GEEK! By Crystal Skillman

“There’s a good chance you’ll be won over before you even get to the actual script for Crystal Skillman’s play GEEK!”


Links to each new review will be posted here.

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What Works Would You Add to the 2015 Hugo Ballot?

I’m ready to stop dining on sour grapes and fine whine with a side of Hugo nominations. Anyone even marginally involved with science fiction and fantasy has probably heard about the Hugo Award Hoopla that started last weekend because of #SlateGate also known as #PuppyGate, but that term somehow makes the whole thing sound sweet and innocent. So, I’m coining the term #SlateGate since that really gets to the crux of the issue.

As a result of #SlateGate at the Hugos, a lot of great and well-deserving works did not make it to the final ballot. I for one am dying to find out what those works were since this is one of the things I love most about the Hugos — finding new fiction and authors to read. I enjoy getting to see the wide swath of fiction that people in fandom loved enough to consider nominating. So, I have decided to ask you… What did you put on your nomination ballot? What works did you recommend or love enough to submit? What works got pushed aside in favor of the #SlateGate nominees?

Here are a couple of my Hugo nominations:


There were so many choices that I wanted to add to this category, and I can’t remember what I actually added to my ballot other than Skin Game by Jim Butcher. Clearly, the stress is getting to me! This book was on both of the slates in #SlateGate, and it made it to the final Hugo Ballot. Still, I loved this book. I thought Butcher turned a corner with his series and found a way to reinvigorate the Dresden Files. I am a longtime fan of the series, and I thought Skin Game was an excellent read. I know Butcher is taking a break from the series. So, this may be the last one that we get for a long time.


Most of my reading last year was reprints since I was in the process of editing Futuredaze 2: Reprise, a YA reprint anthology. So, the number of new short stories that I read was light and I didn’t feel qualified to add anything onto the ballot in any of the short fiction categories.


The Loncon 3 Philharmonic definitely made my list. I won’t say anything else about it, but if you are a fan and you love music… you have to check this out. You can download the recording here: The file is: Loncon3 Orchestra H.264.mp4 and is very large: 9.89 GB (2:06:12) – there is a shorter (15 mins) preview file also available, so make sure you click the right download button.

GeekTheater-small-lo-resAnother one of my nominations was Geek Theater: 15 Plays by SF and Fantasy Writers. ed, by Jen Gunnels & Erin Underwood. Yes. That’s my book. And, yes, it feels weird nominating my own anthology. However, it’s a one-of-a-kind work that features some absolutely amazing plays. There is nothing like Geek Theater and it really deserves a little extra attention. It has also had some terrific reviews, including the review series being done by Surreal Time Press.


Maleficent. I loved this movie. I nominated it along with several others that actually made the final ballot, but I wanted to give it a shout out because I really liked the twist they put on the original story. There was something simple and beautiful about the relationship between Maleficent and Aurora. I also thought the cinematography and graphics were gorgeous. I was expecting a regurgitated adaptation and was pleasantly surprised by the originality present in the film.


I nominated a bunch of TV shows, but only my Game of Thrones choice made it to the ballot. I was deeply disappointed that “Straw Man” from Almost Human didn’t make it. This was not only a fantastic futuristic cop show, but it was great story telling and great science fiction that had a chance of tapping into the mainstream market. The series delved into all of the things that my SF friends are constantly debating. “Straw Man” was that last and the most poignant of the episodes. I had hoped it would make it to the Hugo Ballot to send FOX a message to stop abandoning shows.

Another TV episode that I nominated deserves a little extra attention was “The Grove” from The Walking Dead. The things this episode deals with, the things Carol does, and the implications of what is left of our humanity if this is what happens to our children is just chilling. I can’t fault Carol and yet…I can’t condone her actions either. The amazing thing is that the screenwriters were so adept in their storytelling that even as the action unfolds you can’t help but to feel like, “Yes, this is exactly what would happen.”


Again, my nomination for Journey Planet made it to the Final Ballot. However, I also nominated a few other choices, including Amazing Stories Magazine because they are doing some terrific work in bringing back the Amazing Stories name. They have an excellent selection of articles, interviews, reviews, etc that give everyone something to enjoy.


I nominated a few people. However, the one I want to mention here is Jennifer Brissett because I found out that she was disqualified from the ballot because her publisher was not at the correct professional level…or something like that…which is complete nonsense. If a person writes an amazing book that garners loads of praise from industry experts, gets great reviews, wins awards, etc. I can’t imagine that the author is not eligible for this award. There is something clearly broken with this process when someone like Jennifer Brissett isn’t qualified. So, boo on the Campbell for that bit of nonsense!

Okay. So, these are a couple of my choices. Please share! What are some of your nominations that didn’t make the final Hugo Ballot?

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FYI: Geek Theater is Eligible for the 2014 Hugo Nominations

GeekTheater-small-lo-resIt’s time to submit your Hugo Awards Nominations for SF/F work published in 2014. I know there are a lot of people who read my blog who either don’t know much about the Hugo Awards or who don’t understand how to become eligible to nominate or vote for the Hugo Awards. I had to research the ins and outs of eligibility for Geek Theater, so I thought I’d share what I found with you.

On a side note, I just sent in my nominations for a bunch of awesome books, stories, and media such as the Supernatural episode “Fan Fiction”, which was probably the best episode of the entire series. And, yes, Geek Theater: 15 Plays by Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers (Underwords Press, 2014) edited by Jen Gunnels & Erin Underwood is eligible for the “Best Related Work” category.

So, back to what I found, while I’m not an expert on Hugo nominating eligibility, here’s how I believe it works: In order to vote, you need to have an attending membership for the World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon) that is taking place this year (Sasquan), took place last year (Loncon 3), or will take place next year (MidAmeriCon II). The other option is getting a supporting membership for the current year’s Worldcon, which would be Sasquan this year.

If you are/were an attending member of these Worldcons, you can look up your pin on the Sasquan website and you can print the paper Hugo nominations form. For more information, visit the “I Want to Vote” page on the Hugo Awards website. The due date for nominations is early March, and you can find more details regarding due dates on the Sasquan site.

There are lots and lots of amazing books, short stories, films, television shows, and more that came out in 2014 that are also eligible for the Hugo Awards–and they need your vote as well. The more people who nominate and vote, the more variety there are in the Awards…and that is a very good thing.

For everyone who sends in a nomination for a Hugo Award, good luck! I hope your nomination gets on the ballot!

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My Piece in the Fanzine Journey Planet: Issue 19 – Doctor Who

I recently had the opportunity to be a part of Journey Planet’s 100 page fanzine. I really enjoyed being a part of this awesome fanzine, and it turned out to be a great fanzine packed full of fun stuff. It came out in December 2014, and you should definitely check it out. You can access it online or download it from Journey Planet for free! Go now! and Read!

Journey Planet: Issue 19 – Doctor Who

Guest Editors Colin Harris and Alissa McKersie!
A 100 Page Bumper Issue!
Page 11 – The Lost Episodes by Michael Lee
Page 13 – My American Experience with Doctor Who by Jim Mann
Page 15 – Doctor Who and Shakespeare by Nicholas Whyte
Page 19 – Why Can’t The All Be Like “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” ~or~ I’m Glad They’re Not All Like “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”
Page 22 – Walking in the Footsteps, Following the TARDIS Tracks by James Bacon
Page 26 – Nightmare in Pantone 2955c by James Bacon
Page 28 – Before & After The Doctor by Chris Garcia
Page 32 – Instant Fanzine – Who Authors Write Featuring Simon Clark, Eoin Colfer, Paul McAuley, Kim Newman, Lance Parkin, Alastair Reynolds
Page 44 – On Target! – The Whovian Art of Chris Achilleos by Colin Harris
Page 48 – The Mutation of Time: Doctor Who Fandom in Britain 1963 – 1990 by Matthew Kilburn
Page 55 – My Life of Doctor Who by Ken Patterson
Page 58 – Radio Free Skaro by Warren Frey
Page 60 – You Don’t Choose the Yarn Life, The Yarn Life Chooses You by Michael Capra
Page 62 – Back in the Days When Our Telly Was Black and White by Christine and Joe Halse
Page 66 – A Crack in Time and Space by Sabine Furlong
Page 70 – Trial of a Time-Lord Fan by Tim Davis
Page 72 – Doctor Who – The Doctor’s Silence A Review by Christopher J Garcia
Page 76 – Instant Fanzine
Featuring: Michael Carroll, Christopher Erickson, Nancy Gonzalez, Des Grogan, Nalini Haynes, Ruth Leibig, Esther MacCallum-Stewert, Jean Martin, Michael Michela, Helena Nash, Mark Oshiro, Padraig O Mealoid, Jesi Pershing, Liam Proven, James Shields, Erin Underwood, Linda Wenzelburger, Roland Willis

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On this 8th Day of January, 2015, it is my Birthday

Yes. Today, I have achieved 44 successful years of staying alive on this planet. Why stop now? Let’s keep this bus moving for another 44 years because going through this life with you (my husband, family, friends, acquaintances, mortal enemies, and general rabble) has been an honor and a pleasure. You guys make life worth living, and every day with you is a gift.

I know. I know. I sound a little soft and mushy hearted, but my 44 years is a lot more than many people receive. So, I’m just really glad to be here. It’s a good day.

When I was younger, I would have been looking forward to the presents, the shiny objects, a road trip, a grand dinner, or something along those lines. Now, I really can’t think of a single thing I need or want for my birthday. Sure, maybe it’d be great to have my bills paid or something like that, but presents really aren’t my thing. However, people are my thing. You, the person reading this post, are my thing. What I want for my birthday is for you to have a good day because a good life is built one day at a time.

While I have you here, I might also mention that should you be in the Boston area between February 13-15, 2015, it would be great to see you at Boskone–New England’s longest running science fiction & fantasy convention. Normally, I wouldn’t include a pitch for a convention in my birthday message, but I’m head of programming this year and what’s the sense in throwing a party if you can’t have your friends there to celebrate! :-)

So, in closing and in honor of Marie Antoinette, I say, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!” In other words, and with my own special twist, “Let us eat cake!” — just make mine gluten free.


Thank you for sharing my birthday with me,
and I wish a very happy unbirthday to you!


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Book Review: Coming Home by Jack McDevitt

Coming-Home-McDevittJack McDevitt’s new book Coming Home, the latest book in the Alex Benedict series, and serves as a great example of what McDevitt has to offer. Set thousands of years in the future, Coming Home features antiquarian Alex Benedict and his assistant/friend Chase Kolpath as they unravel the mystery surrounding a piece of ancient space technology while also grappling with a race against the clock to save thousands of passengers who are trapped in hyperspace–and one of those passengers is Alex’s uncle Gabe Benedict.

A master storyteller, Jack McDevitt delivers another compelling tale of mystery, intrigue, and antiques hunting with Coming Home. After the death of a colleague (Garnett Baylee), a rare artifact from a lost treasure trove of ancient space travel equipment is brought to Alex Benedict’s attention. Alex, being Alex, can’t turn away from the potential of solving an ancient mystery and discovering something from the earliest days of interstellar travel. However, as Alex and Chase get closer to unraveling Garnett Baylee’s secret, they discover that the truth could cost more than their lives. Meanwhile, Chase is being pulled away to help with the recovery and rescue of the passengers stranded on the Capella, the interstellar spaceship that is fluctuating between warp space and regular space. However, success is not so easily found and the rescue mission is left with no easy answers.

While fans of the Alex Benedict series are sure to enjoy Coming Home, new readers might feel like they stepped into the book in media res since one of the story lines is a continuation of the previous novel. However, McDevitt does a nice job of leaving just enough breadcrumbs from the last novel to keep new readers from feeling lost. By incorporating two very different story lines, there is competition for Alex’s and Chase’s attention as they struggle with their guilt, desires, curiosity, and duty to each other and those who have placed their trust in them. On the surface, Coming Home may appear as just another Alex Benedict novel, but in truth it is a jumping off point that leads into the great unknown…which is a wonderful thing for any reader or author who has been with a series for a long time.

In many ways, Coming Home feels like an ending to a long journey. There is a sense of resolution and finality in the novel, giving the distinct impression that things are never going to be the same for Alex and Chase. Coming Home is a great addition to the Alex Benedict series, and it definitely gives McDevitt’s fans something fun to ring in the New Year reading.

Coming Home is a terrific read, packed with all of the best that Jack McDevitt has to offer with a few extra surprises to boot!

Title: Coming Home: An Alex Benedict Novel
Author: Jack McDevitt
Publisher: Ace Hardcover (November 4, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-0425260876

I received this book from the publisher.

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Geek Theater Review & Kindle eBook Special — $9.95 through Dec 31st!

Mitch Montgomery, science fiction theater and film reviewer for Surreal Time Press, is in the process of publishing a series of reviews about Geek Theater. You can find his introductory review of the book as a whole here: GEEK THEATER REVIEW PART 1: INTRODUCTION, which will be followed by another review featuring the short plays within the anthology. Here’s our favorite line as this was exactly what we were aiming for with Geek Theater:

“In the tradition of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, the plays collected in Geek Theater keep the big ticket special effects mostly off-stage and instead find their stories in the human moments and mind-blowing ideas in the spaces between.” – Mitch Montgomery, Surreal Time Press

Read the full review.

Also, if you’d like to pick up a Kindle version of Geek Theater, it’s now only $9.95 through December 31, 2014!

Geek Theater is also available in print at book stores near you as well as online at:

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Working on Boskone: Boston’s Longest Running Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention

The Underwords blog has been a bit quiet lately because I’ve been pouring my time into launching Geek Theater (released Nov 2014) and building the program for Boskone 52 (Feb 13-15, 2015). There are several conventions that take place in the Boston area, but Boskone is by far my favorite … which is why I volunteer my time to help plan and run the convention. It’s a terrific convention for people who love SF & Fantasy books, but we always include other genres like horror, young adult fiction, mystery, and noir as well as comics, games, anime, music …. and lots of real science!

Boskone 52 Image

Boskone is a great example of how a classic science fiction convention can be modernized while simultaneously maintaining the comfortable, relaxed, and safe atmosphere that is so wonderfully conducive for meeting new people and getting together with old friends. Plus, did I mention all of the amazing writers, artists, publishers, musicians, and scientists who will be there? Here’s the list of program participants.

We have a lot of new program participants this year. So, we have begun running a new series called the Boskone Mini Interviews, which provides a nice introduction to many of our program participants who share fun little tidbits about themselves, what they’re working on now, what inspires them, and what they are looking forward to at Boskone. I hope you enjoy the Mini Interviews whether or not you are able to come to Boskone because these are definitely people you want to get to know.

Here’s the list of Mini Interviews that have already been published…and more are coming!

If you’re interested in attending Boskone, the pre-registration rates are: $50 Adults; $35 College Students; $25 K-12 Students. For more information, people can visit Boskone’s website, friend us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @BoskoneNews.

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The Geek Theater eBook is Now Available!

For those of you looking to purchase a digital copy of  Geek Theater, it is now available as an eBook on Amazon and Smashwords. You will also be able to purchase the eBook at Barnes and Noble as well as other retailers in the next few days.

In the meantime, here are the sites where the Geek Theater eBook is currently available:GeekTheater-Kindle

  • Amazon, file format:
    • .mobi (Kindle)
  • Smashwords, file formats:
    • .epub
    • .mobi
    • .pd
    • .lrf
    • .pdf
    • .html


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Happy Book Day to Geek Theater!

We are thrilled to announce that Geek Theater is now available. Happy Book Day to all of our authors who have a play included in this exciting and unique anthology. Geek Theater, edited by Jen Gunnels and Erin Underwood, is a labor of love that we are extremely proud to make available online and in stores near you.

Geek Theater is available in many places including:

Geek Theater showcases 15 science fiction and fantasy stage plays by some of today’s top authors and award-winning playwrights and is the first anthology that truly delves into the world of speculative fiction theater. Until recently, modern science fiction and fantasy stage plays have largely gone unnoticed despite the proliferation of plays and performances by theater companies around the world. These plays are an important part of the science fiction and fantasy canon as they represent a unique intersection of authors and playwrights producing work at a time when these genres are flourishing.

Table of Contents:

Short Length Plays
Mission to Mars by Jeanne Beckwith
For the Living by Chie-Hoon Lee
Rapunzel’s Haircut by Cecil Castelucci
Promise of Space by James Patrick Kelly

Consider the Services of the Departed by F. Brett Cox

Medium Length Plays
Zombies of Montrose by James Morrow
Clockwork Comrade by Carlos Hernandez
The Long and the Short of Long Term Memory by Cecil Castelucci
Geek! by Crystal Skillman
Faustfeathers by John Kessel

Full Length Plays
Thunderbird at the Next World Theatre by Andrea Hairston
Universal Robots by Mac Rogers
DEINDE by August Schulenburg
Hearts Like Fists by Adam Szymkowicz
Dog Act by Liz Duffy Adams

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