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Over the holidays I re-read Prometheus Bound, the play by Aeschylus. (I read the Philip Vellacott translation, which is both elegant and modern, so I recommend it, but this one looks okay.) I mention it because hey, did you know that before Prometheus gave humanity fire and a little education, Zeus considered us to be an inferior blunder and was planning to wipe us all out and replace us with something better?
I've been listening to the excellent Pseudopod for a while, and hands down my favourite story they released in 2013 was Christine Brooke-Rose's "Red Rubber Gloves," narrated by the incomparable Kim Lakin-Smith. (The previous sentence contains a lame joke if you've listened to the story. My apologies.) Along with its sister podcasts, Escape Pod and PodCastle, Pseudopod offers some of the finest encounters with short fiction you're likely to have. I've written about this before, but one of the best things about the Pods is the way they meticulously match reader and story. Lakin-Smith's precise and unrushed narration really allows this story's hypnotic and horrifying repetitive nature to shine through. Load "Red Rubber Gloves" onto your mp3 player or perch your laptop next to you and have a listen. Better yet, listen while you're doing dishes or chopping up some nice, red meat for dinner.
Zombies vs. Vampires, right? If you are *ahem* of a certain vintage, you'll remember the explosion of blood-sucking deliciousness spawned by Anne Rice and others, the resurgence of interest in Bram Stoker's work back in the 1990s, and sundry other events that resulted in David Bowie starring in a vampire movie that never once used the word "vampire." In an excellent column for Nightmare Magazine, Nancy Kilpatrick considers some of the many factors that make zombies the more salient of the two monsters in this modern world of ours today ("And Then the Zombie Killed the Vampire").
In order to jump start my year, I'm working my way through Holly Lisle's free flash fiction course (aka "How to Write Flash Fiction that Doesn't Suck"). Flash is great because you can practice building character, setting, situation, and all that without the investment of a longer story or (gasp!) a whole novel manuscript, and, thanks to our ever-decreasing attention spans, it's more salable than ever. The course includes three lessons in fill-out-these-forms format, and helps you draft five different stories simultaneously, so it's great if you don't feel like writing, and when you're all done, you'll have a lot to show for it. If you're skeptical, this review is worth reading even if all you get out of it is how to write curmudgeonly reviews.