Craig Shaw Gardner: Dangerously Creative Writer of Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction


Broadcasts from the underside, and somewhere over slightly to the left

The New Coke returns -- as coffee

Thursday, April 24, 2008So, I don't drink coffee. Never liked the taste.

My wife, however, the lovely and talented Barbara, is a coffee fanatic -- and a regular customer at Starbucks. Although that might be changing.

Starbucks, which used to rotate its most popular coffees as "daily specials" has now instituted a single new coffee as its everyday blend, a blend that (so I've heard) is supposed to appeal to those who drink that other popular coffee over at Dunkin' Donuts. Late in the day, this new blend is the only option available at Starbucks. And my wife thinks it really stinks.

I was immediately reminded of the New Coke -- the revised soft drink forced upon an unsuspecting public when some dim bulb at Coca Cola corporate decided that they could better compete with Pepsi by making Coke more like Pepsi (in this case, sweeter) completely ignoring the loyal customer base that had given plain old Coke its successful century-long run. New Coke was a dismal failure, and I imagine this new run by Starbucks -- where they force a new product down the throats of their customer base -- will also end in tears.

But hey -- maybe this will be a boost for independent coffee stores. You can always find that silver lining!

Posted by Craig Shaw Gardner at 1:48 PM | 1 comments

A public service message.

Friday, March 07, 2008Poor Jack. He had waited too long. His letter had arrived only moments after the 200th membership had been sold for Camp Necon. But 200 was the limit. He was shut out.

"Noooooo!" he cried out, throwing his substantial collection of stuffed animals and action figures against the walls of his bedroom. But venting his frustration did nothing to change his situation. Jack had always been a man of action. And action was his only hope.

Membership or no membership, he was going to Necon.

By the time he got there on Thursday night, the festivities were well under way. He stopped by registration, hoping for some last minute cancellation. At first, Mary Booth seemed happy to see him. And then she realized he had been -- too late.

"Sorry, Jack," she said, her voice tinged with sadness. "We're sold out. You have to go."

This couldn't be! Jack raised his voice to complain, but before he could utter more than a few bitter words, Mary nodded her head at a pair of nearby students, and Jack found himself quick-marched out of the room by two particularly burly co-eds.

He found himself back at the college guard house, outside the camp. But a man of action didn't take "sold out" for an answer. Maybe Jack couldn't attend officially, but he could at least spend a few minutes hobnobbing with his fellow campers.

Jack's idea would have worked, too, if not for the unfortunate events that had occurred at Necon 33. After that unpleasant, embarrassing Friday night two years before, the college had wisely surrounded the dorms with the ten-foot-high fence -- the fence Jack now looked through -- at the Campers mingling together, so close yet so very far away.

Jack called out to a few familar faces. Most didn't seem to hear him, although one of two glanced at him and waved a bit sheepishly before returning to their beers.

It was all too much. "Noooooo!" Jack screamed again. He would be a part of Necon, or he would be nothing.

He rushed the fence, determined to get to the party on the other side. He jumped as high as he could, a good six inches from the ground, and screamed even higher than before as 10,000 volts of electricity turned his body into a blackened corpse.

A few of the campers noticed the flash of fire as Jack was instantly incinerated.

"A real shame," Dallas Mayr remarked as he lifted his glass toward the charred remains. "I always liked Jack." With a final, sad smile, he turned back to resume his conversation with the young woman he had so recently met.

A breeze came off the bay, and Jack's ashes wafted over the college quad.

Nick Kaufman sniffed the air. "You know," he said to those gathered around him, "all of a sudden, I'm in the mood for a Saugie."


(My contribution to the "Kill Jack Haringa in Your Blog Day." Way to go, Jack!)

Posted by Craig Shaw Gardner at 12:27 PM | 3 comments

Stuff and bother

Friday, February 29, 2008So, once again I haven't been around in like .... forever.

There have been reasons for this. Late 2007 was a big season for death -- two close friends passed away. One of them was John Garcia, the artist on THE BIG WHOSIS, which you can still access on my website. Tom Linehan, my fellow Bad Movie Commando (I'll explain that someday) had been ill for some time and was hospitalized, so his passing was not unexpected. John, on the other hand, seemed fine on Thursday (I had talked to him on the phone) and was gone on Friday, dead of a heart attack. I guess we're not all going to live forever, huh?

John and Tom were both big film geeks (as am I) and for some years we had a series of "video days" where a bunch of us would sit around for ten or twelve hours and watch movies, centered around a theme -- film noir, Hong Kong action, Edmund O'Brien (John's fave), giant monsters (Tom's fave). The most successful was "Swashbuckler Day" -- centered around the three Richard Lester MUSKETEER films -- 21 people showed up! The silliest was "Excuse Me While I Wash My Hands Day" -- where we showed Really Bad Movies (such as VEGAS IN SPACE the first sf film with an all transvestite cast) any of which could be stopped at any time, but with a price! Every time we stopped a film, we would all have to watch another five minutes of PUSS IN BOOTS, a badly dubbed Mexican import starring a midget in a mangy cat suit. About twenty minutes into the film, the first midget is joined by a second in a mangy chicken suit. Did I mention that they sang? We almost had a riot on our hands.

So goodbye, John and Tom. I hope you get to hobnob with Randolph Scott and Godzilla up in heaven.


On to other things.

This brush with mortality has caused me to redouble my own efforts writing-wise. I'll try to announce various projects as they become available -- which reminds me, THE FAIR FOLK, the World Fantasy Award Winning anthology edited by Marvin Kaye -- with an Ebenezum novella by yours truly, is now available in mass market paperback!

More soon. Really.

Posted by Craig Shaw Gardner at 4:00 PM | 1 comments

The Workshop Returns!

Thursday, September 27, 2007Just a quick note (this blog knows no other kind) to let folks know that Jeff Carver and I are once again running our incredibly intense sf/fantasy/horror writing workshop at Pandemonium Books in Central Square, Cambridge, MA, starting in Mid-October. Details can be found at or at Jeff's website, One of the graduates of our last class already has gotten an agent AND a book sale! So, if you're serious about getting your writing to a professional level, this is the class for you!

Labels: writing workshop

Posted by Craig Shaw Gardner at 12:11 PM | 0 comments

Excuse me while I disappear

Thursday, July 05, 2007Hey, I haven't been here for a while, have I?

Life gets busy. But I will actually be showing up at two -- count them, 2 -- conventions during the month of July. First, I'll be at Readercon this coming weekend, where I'll be participating in a panel on humor on Saturday morning and co-running the Kirk Polland Memorial Bad Prose Competition on Saturday night!

A couple weeks after that, I'll be spending the weekend at Camp Necon, a small convention down in Rhode Island that has been sold out for months. As a way of getting back into this blogging thing, I'll try to write up a con report on both of these.

See you later! Really!

Posted by Craig Shaw Gardner at 2:23 PM | 0 comments

I want to live without this in my head!

Monday, April 09, 2007The jingle workers are at it again.

All morning, I've been singing "I want to live on the Edge!" spontaneously, involuntarily, hopelessly. Everyone reading this will no doubt recognize these words as the catch phrase from a newish car commercial where hip young people drive their hip cool car over impossible, CGI-produced images. It is a car that, thanks to said commercial, I will never ever look at, much less drive. It's bad enough when you get, say, "Build Me Up, Buttercup," stuck on repeat play in your brain. But a car commercial? Feh!

Excuse me while I put something -- anything -- on the CD player.

Posted by Craig Shaw Gardner at 1:26 PM | 2 comments

An Extra Bit of Ebenezum

Saturday, April 07, 2007Just a note to let people know that my latest, brand new Ebenezum novella, "An Embarrassment of Elves", is now available as part of the trade paperback collection THE FAIR FOLK, edited by Marvin Kaye and published by Ace books. This collection, which features five other novellas from the likes of Tanith Lee, Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder, is so incredibly cool that it won the World Fantasy Award (!!!) for best collection this past Halloween. It originally was issued as a special edition harcover for the Science Fiction Book Club (so you had to belong to the book club to even order it) but now, it's available to everyone! So, for anyone wondering what happened to Wuntvor, Hendrek, Norei and the rest after the events of A DISAGREEMENT WITH DEATH, this book is the place to go.

My funny fantasy lives on -- I've got another humorous story which should be showing up in a different anthology in the next couple of months -- you just have to look a little harder for it.

Posted by Craig Shaw Gardner at 4:49 PM | 0 comments