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Sigler, Scott (Ancestor)

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In the last few years, with the advent of mp3 players and smart phones, the portability of media has led to a new medium in the realm of fiction: podcast fiction. Authors who want to share their work have serialized and even full cast dramatized their stories and released them for free to the masses. They do it for various reasons, but many — if not most — hope to one day become published authors. And in that growing community horror author Scott Sigler stands out as the gold standard to which most others aspire.

Scott has built a large and devoted audience podcasting over the last several years and managed to work that into a book deal with Crown, a division of Random House. His latest novel, Ancestor (review here), about a genetically engineered beast wreaking havoc on a secluded island is being released today, June 22nd.

There’s some internal dispute as to who was the very first author to podcast his fiction, but no one argues that Scott was one of the first when he began podcasting his novel Earthcore in 2005 after a publishing deal had fallen through. Though, according to Scott Sigler’s official website, he invented podcasting along with the Internet (to be fair, Scott does recognize he collaborated with Al Gore on the Internet but maintains he did most of the work himself), Ninjitsu, and the internal combustion engine and made his first podcast in 1978. Recently I talked with Scott and asked him how podcasting was possible in an age before personal computers and mp3 players.

Scott Sigler Talks Ancestor and Hard Science Horror Writing

Well, the technology’s been around for a very long time. I’ve actually … I need to update that. I think we’re going back to 1954 now, which is when my first podcast was. So we’re over half a century of podcasting at this point,” Sigler insists.

Though no birth date is listed on his website or Wikipedia page, there are pictures of the dapper Mr. Sigler, and he doesn’t look that old. So I asked if he had been podcasting from the womb. “Actually I’m sort of an evil incarnate type individual. So I’ve been around for an extraordinarily long time. Let’s just say I aged very well.”

I thought about asking which of the plagues had been his idea but decided to keep the conversation focused on more recent works. His books are heavy on the science, and I wondered if Scott thought of himself more as a sci-fi or horror author.

I consider myself what I call a hard science horror writer. It’s very different, as far as horror goes, because there’s not a lot of people writing what I consider to be pretty hard core heavy horror, but using it from a scientific bent. Most people are approaching it from the supernatural – you know it’s ghost stories, vampires, werewolves, etc. As far as people who are writing just straight-on horror novels but with a really hard science background, outside of Michael Crichton, whom I count in that camp, Jonathan Mayberry is one that comes to mind and not a lot of other people. So I do consider myself a horror writer, ” says Sigler.

So what sets Scott’s work, with its rational science roots, apart from sci-fi?

My goal with the book is to write a thriller that will scare you but has a logical plot, a logical conclusion where everything is tied together within the novel and comes to fruition at the climax. And from there the thing that separates it from sci-fi I think is that the vast majority of sci-fi is apocalyptic future or far future. It’s spaceships or the world destroyed and now vampires run amok across the face of the country or something like that. And all my stuff is modern day, its people like you and me, so it doesn’t really fit into the sci-fi camp very well.

Scott Sigler's AncestorAncestor, which Sigler wrote in the late Nineties and originally podcasted in early 2006, features a group of scientist who use a machine to create a synthetic genome based on the ancestor of all mammals in order to create a perfect donor herd of beasts with human transplantable organs. In the time from then to now, many of the scientific aspects of the story have crossed from the world of fiction to reality. I asked Scott what his thoughts were on these mirror events, like Craig Venter’s recent announcement that he and his team created the first synthetic life form.

One of the concepts [in Ancestor] was the reverse engineering of the mammalian genome. Which is, if we’re digitizing all of these genomes, we, theoretically, should be able to look at the genomes of all mammals, figure out what bits of DNA are unique in each mammal, get rid of all the unique stuff which is what makes each animal its own creature, and what should be left over should be pretty close to the original genome of all mammals. And Dr. – I think it was Gregory Haussler at the University of California, Santa Cruz who actually did that in 2006-ish, near the end of 2006.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The doctor’s name is David, not Gregory, Haussler and the project happened at the end of 2005.]

So that was a trip. That was something I concocted just as science fiction… and it’s not like Haussler read the book or anything like that, but based on theoretical research that was going on at the time I’m like, ‘Well, they should be able to do this someday,’ and then it happened just a few years later. So between the genetic sequencing of the ancestor of all mammals and Craig Venter actually coming up with artificial life, it makes Ancestor all the more plausible, all the more real, and hopefully a lot scarier,” Sigler continued.

I queried Scott as to the best part of writing these hard science horror tales, and he responded, “Getting to come up with all these crazy theories on what we could possibly do and then bouncing them off this battery of biology Ph.D.’s I have that read all my stuff. And they will tell me, ‘Well, that’s cool’ or ‘That’s totally inaccurate; that’ll never happen’. And more often than not they’ll come back and say, ‘We just discovered this; go take a look at this.’ And they’ll send me a Wikipedia link. And I’ll be like… that’s amazing. So I get to do… I get to learn a lot of stuff that is common knowledge but hasn’t quite gotten out to the popular culture level yet and kind of get to be one of the first readers of some of these things outside of the scientific community. So that’s very exciting, and that’s where my ‘every morning is Christmas’ moments come from.”

Our thanks to Scott Sigler for taking the time to speak with us. Watch the Ancestor trailer below, and click here to listen to the full audio version of this interview.

Morgan Elektra

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DVD and Blu-ray Releases: January 16, 2018

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Welcome back, friends.  One would imagine that a release list containing only five entries wouldn’t contain any discrepancies, right? Nope. The Amicus Collection may have come out on December 5th, but it popped up again this week, so if you missed it then, go get yours now.

The big hit of this week, and of 2017, Happy Death Day gets it release this week on both Blu-ray and DVD.  This was a great movie and recently surpassed $100 million dollars worldwide. I highly recommend it.

Up next is The Snowman.  You can check out the Dread Central review of this winter time serial killer thriller here.

If you’re feeling more of a science fiction kind of vibe, check out Beyond Skyline.  Basically there’s a little something for everyone this week.  What are you going to watch?

Pleasant viewing, friends.



MOVIES

Beyond Skyline (2017)

Starring:

Frank Grillo, Bojana Novakovic, Iko Uwais, Jonny Weston

Synopsis:

When the population of Los Angeles is vacuumed off the face of the Earth, Detective Mark Corley storms his way onto an alien ship to rescue his estranged son. But after crashing the ship in Southeast Asia, he must forge an alliance with a band of survivors to discover the key to saving his son and taking back the planet once and for all.

BUY IT NOW!


Eye Of The Cat (1969)

Starring:

Michael Sarrazin, Eleanor Parker

Synopsis:

A man and his girlfriend plan to rob the mansion of the man’s eccentric but wealthy aunt. However, the aunt keeps dozens of cats in her home, and the man is deathly afraid of cats.

BUY IT NOW!


Happy Death Day (2017)

Starring:

Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken

Synopsis:

Blumhouse (Split, Get Out, The Purge) produces an original and inventive rewinding thriller in Happy Death Day, in which a college student relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity. The thrills continue with an Alternate Ending never-before-seen in theaters.

BUY IT NOW!


Snowman, The (2017)

Starring:

Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, Chloe Sevigny

Synopsis:

From executive producer Martin Scorsese, The Snowman is based on Jo Nesbø’s New York Times bestselling thriller series. When an elite crime squad’s lead detective (Michael Fassbender) investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer may be active again. With the help of a brilliant recruit (Rebecca Ferguson), the cop must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.

BUY IT NOW!



COLLECTIONS

The Amicus Collection

Starring:

Peter Cushing, Britt Ekland, Herbert Lom, Patrick Magee, Stephanie Beacham

Synopsis:

Known as The Studio That Dripped Blood , the British film company Amicus Productions founded by American writer/producers Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky built a legacy of horror anthologies and twisted thrillers that remains among the very best genre movies of the 70s. In this trio of Amicus classics featuring stars that include Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom, Britt Ekland, Patrick Magee, Stephanie Beacham, Calvin Lockhart, Michael Gambon and Charlotte Rampling you ll discover the studio s legendary portmanteau Asylum, their insane gothic shocker And Now The Screaming Starts, and exclusive to this set the infamous werewolf whodunit The Beast Must Die, as well as a Bonus Disc of Amicus trailers, TV commercials, rare interviews and more all in this 4 disc box set.

BUY IT NOW!

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Pride and Prometheus Fuses the Horror of Mary Shelley with the Romance of Jane Austen

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This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so you can expect to see several articles tied in with that momentous occasion over the next several months. Today we have your first word on Pride and Prometheus from John Kessel, which fuses Shelley’s Gothic horror with the Regency romance of Jane Austen in an exciting novel that combines two age-old stories in a fresh and startling way.

Born in Buffalo, New York, Kessel holds a B.A. in Physics and English and a Ph.D. in American Literature. He helped found and served as the first director of the MFA program in creative writing at North Carolina State University, where he has taught since 1982. He is the author of the novels Good News from Outer Space, Corrupting Dr. Nice, and, in collaboration with James Patrick Kelly, Freedom Beach. His short story collections are Meeting in Infinity (a New York Times Notable Book), The Pure Product, and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence. Also with Jim Kelly, he has edited five anthologies of stories re-visioning contemporary short sci-fi, most recently Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology.

Pride and Prometheus arrives February 13th from Sega Press. Look for a guest blog from John Kessel in the coming weeks!

Synopsis:
Pride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein as Mary Bennet falls for the enigmatic Victor Frankenstein and befriends his monstrous Creature in this clever fusion of two popular classics.

Threatened with destruction unless he fashions a wife for his Creature, Victor Frankenstein travels to England, where he meets Mary and Kitty Bennet, the remaining unmarried sisters of the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice. As Mary and Victor become increasingly attracted to each other, the Creature looks on impatiently, waiting for his bride. But where will Victor find a female body from which to create the monster’s mate?

Meanwhile, the awkward Mary hopes that Victor will save her from approaching spinsterhood while wondering what dark secret he is keeping from her.

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See the Zombies’ End Preview Released Today

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Do you have an idea about how a zombie apocalypse would end?

The standard story lines from movies, TV, and comics tell us defeating the zombie horde would take either guns and bombs or antidotes and vaccines.

How about a living head in a bucket that sinks deep within his own mind, talks to Death in a tuxedo, and uncovers an uncanny solution?

Zombies' End graphic novel by Gary Scott Beatty
If you’re reading Zombies’ End, the 56-page graphic novel I’m Kickstarting through February 16, 2018, you know the answer. I’m not known for telling simple stories.

We’ve just released a free preview of Zombies’ End that you can read or download here. You can look for the zombie solution there, there are clues, but I’m being tight-lipped about that detail. We’ll see how well I keep the secret through February 16th.

Zombies' End graphic novel by Gary Scott Beatty

Readers will recognize our hero from the Wounds graphic novel I released last year. That story took place inside the hero’s mind. Trauma and isolation caused him to construct different scenarios, and we readers were left to piece together the past and present — just like the hero was doing.

The format of Zombie’s End is meant to complement 2017’s Wounds graphic novel, but they don’t have to be read together. Both are stand-alone stories, but they read as Part 1 and Part 2.

Zombies’ End is in the real world, mostly. Just like in Wounds, the hero’s head holds answers.

Zombies' End graphic novel by Gary Scott Beatty

In Zombies’ End, a living head in a bucket and his zombie daughter, who are said to hold the key to mankind’s survival, are transported by three brave soldiers through the apocalypse.

As the head struggles to maintain sanity and focus, he realizes his disjointed visions are not entirely unreal and must convince mankind that the solution to this zombie horror will be more extraordinary than anyone imagines.

Zombies' End graphic novel by Gary Scott Beatty

The cover blurb reads, “Mankind forever changed.” I realize all zombie stories say that, but it’s an understatement for Wounds. There is absolutely no going back from the solution at the end of this book.

The Kickstarter for this graphic novel runs January 16 through February 16, 2018. Join us in this madness at ZombiesEnd.com. Bring imagination. It’s going to take both muscle and brainpower to take us to zombies’ end.

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