Fascinating courtly intrigue and bloody power games set on a generation ship full of secrets―Medusa Uploaded is an imaginative, intense mystery about family dramas and ancient technologies whose influence reverberates across the stars. Disturbing, exciting, and frankly kind of mind-blowing.” ―Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Em Report (2019)


Every once in a while, I remember that I have a blog and that I'm supposed to keep people posted about my stories and books that have been published in the past year or so. If I had more marketing savvy (not to mention more success), I would be doing this every month, but at this point I'm lucky if I remember to comb my hair before reporting to my day job. So I'll have to make do with this annual(ish) report.

I've got two new novels to crow about: Medusa Uploaded came out from Tor in 2018; the sequel, Medusa in the Graveyard was published July 2019. Joel Cunningham, at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, says, “Book Two of the Medusa Cycle is just as dark, daring, and propulsive as the first.” That should be all you need to hear! Run right out to your favorite indie book store (or click on one of my links to the Evil Empire) and buy them today . . .

I had to think harder about which of my stories has been published, but I've got a pretty comprehensive list, here: 

"10,432 Serial Killers (in Hell)” appeared in the May/June 2018 edition of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and was nominated for the 2019 Thriller Award. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine will also be publishing “Not My Circus, but They Are My Monkeys,” on sale August 14.

I managed to make it into two Apocalypse-themed anthologies in 2018/2019: “Cruddy,” a kaiju story, is in Enter the Aftermath, edited by Thomas Gandolfi, and “Appetite,” my riff on zombies/mummies is in Enter the Rebirth, edited by Thomas Gandolfi.

"Wraith” was published in Longshot Island no. 6.  In fact, editor Daniel Scott White did more than his fair share of Em publishing: “Alternate Universe Ernies” is in Unfit Magazine, vol. 1; “Destry” is in Unreal Magazine, vol. 1, and “The Hitter” is in the forthcoming Unfit Magazine vol. 4.

And last but not least, “Jumpers For Jesus” will be published by Mystery Weekly Magazine, (publishing date to be announced, but I've provided a link to the magazine so you can check them out, maybe subscribe). How can you live without weekly mystery? I need mine daily . . .

I hope I have good stuff to report next year, but if not, there's always hiking, geology, ghost stories, music, movies, book reviews, whatever I can come up with. So please watch this space. 



Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Music for Writers (the SciFi and Fantasy Edition)



Lately people have been asking me to recommend music to listen to while writing. A lot of writers already have their favorites, but most people stick with what they already know. Classical music can be off-putting to people who don't hear it very often, because they think it all sounds like Bach and Mozart. I don't mean to cast a poor light on those composers, but they don't represent everything classical music has to offer. After all, most movie soundtracks can be described as classical in form (or jazz, which is a close cousin). So here's a sampler you can explore if you're feeling more adventurous.

Gustav Holst: Most people are familiar with The Planets, and it is, indeed, most excellent music for evoking fantastic images, but if you don't also listen to “The Perfect Fool”, “Egdon Heath”, and Beni Mora (especially the third movement, “In the Streets of Ouled Nails”), you're not getting everything you can out of Gustav Holst. Not by a long shot.

 
Ralph Vaughan WilliamsI love The London Symphony from start to finish, but by far my favorite part is the 3rdmovement. It’s so rambunctious! You can say the same about The Wasps Suitewhich was written to accompany a play; it has an optimistic, heroic tone. But, my goodness, Sinfonia Antartica! The symphony was adapted from the film score for Scott of the Antarctic. You can see that bleak, majestic landscape when you hear the music, but I feel more inclined to envision the landscapes of Mars. 



Claude Debussy’s famous works are so well-known, I don’t see the point in listing them here, especially when I can recommend something far more magical – his Nocturnes.They conjure mystery, wonder, adventure; what more could a writer ask for? Well, perhaps joy, which is what you’ll hear in “Joyous Isle.”



Yolanda Kondonassis: While we’re on the subject of Debussy, Debussy’s Harp is simply gorgeous, especially Kondonassis’s interpretation of “The Engulfed Cathedral” and “Dances Sacred and Profane.” I would grieve for you if you never heard these, my imaginative friends. 



Isao Tomita: Another beautiful interpretation of Debussy’s “The Engulfed Cathedral” is arranged for synthesizer for the album, Snowflakes are DancingEach song on the album is lovingly rendered for the Space Age, but it’s also suitable for those more inclined to Fantasy.



Mahavishnu’s album, Apocalypseblends jazz and classical music. When I hear it (which is often, since it’s on my list of top ten albums), I always envision post-apocalyptic landscapes. “Vision is a Naked Sword” also provokes memories of intense thunderstorms in the Sonoran Desert.



Another of my favorite albums of all time is Gail Laughton's Harps of the Ancient Templesinspired by the music of ancient cultures (including a couple that exist only in legend).  (Note: try the Laurel Website, for new copies.)



Chances are, you've heard the first movement of Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazadeand that's about it. Most music samplers don't bother to move beyond that magnificent opening. However, if you saw Amazon's Prime series, The Romanoffsyou may recall the first episode, about the beautiful Paris apartment. The son (who hopes to eventually inherit that fabulous joint) turns on the radio and listens to gorgeous music. If you play Scheherazade all the way through, you'll get to hear that lovely piece, too. Once you have, treat yourself to The Golden Cockerel and Skazka (Fairy Tale), too.



Anatoly Liadov was not as prolific as some of his contemporaries – he liked to take his time. So we're fortunate he produced works like “Baba Yaga” and “Kikimora.” For those trying to envision something different from the European mythos that permeates the fantasy genre, try some Russian flavor from Liadov. 



Jean Prodromidès was a composer of French film scores who isn't well-known in the U.S., but if you were one of the lucky kids who saw La Voyage en Ballon when it premiered over here in the 60s, you got to hear one of the best scores ever composed. This music is adventure, distilled. We have Jack Lemmon to thank for that – he bought the American rights. The best version of the movie is the one that has no narration, just action and music. 



I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know, but Bernard Herrmann's The Day the Earth Stood Still is the essential SciFi soundtrack, and Jason and the Argonauts is the essential Fantasy.



I searched for Georges Auric's La Belle et la Bête for 40 years before someone finally released it on CD, and that's when I discovered that the score had been lost among his personal papers that whole time. Someone found it when they were sorting through, after his death. As beautiful as Cocteau's images are in that movie, Auric's score is half the experience (at least!).



Igor Stravinksy's Rite of Spring was adapted for Disney's film Fantasia by Leopold Stokowski. Many have grumbled about his version, by I think it captures the essence of the piece. You can't hear that music without seeing the dinosaurs. However, if you want to see dragons, go with the original. 



When you were a kid, you heard Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the WolfNow that you're a grown-up – possibly writing a novel with characters in the military? – try the Lieutenant Kije Suite.



Sergei Rachmaninoff would be insulted if we included the work of his countrymen and not his majestically macabre masterpiece, “Isle of the Dead.”



Ottorino Respighi is one of my top ten favorite composers, and the album I've linked to for Pines of Rome is one of the greatest recordings ever made.  This music is a link to ancient Rome, and the wider world beyond it.  However, for pure ecstasy try "The Birth of Venus" from Three Botticelli Pictures.



This is a long post, but a short list.  If you like this music, explore a bit more. You won't be sorry.




Sunday, July 14, 2019

Playlist for Medusa in the Graveyard, with Links:



Music is just as important in Medusa in the Graveyard as it was for Medusa Uploaded, so I thought I would provide a playlist with YouTube links. Those of you who like Spotify can create your own playlist on that site using this list for reference.

"The Sorcerer's Apprentice” by Paul Dukas illustrates the actions of the scrubbers on Olympia, cleaning toxins from the surface of Merlin after she docks in the infamous Lock 212.



If you hear the score for La Belle et La Bête, by Georges Auric, you may be tempted to sit and watch the whole movie.



"Suites for Two Pianos” by Sergei Rachmaninoff is amazingly romantic, and the perfect music for a garden party.



"Halloween Town” from The Nightmare Before Christmas, by Danny Elfman, is my favorite song from the whole movie.



"There's No Business Like Show Business” by Irving Berlin, is Kitten's favorite song, ever, and the one that really sums her up.



Selections from The King and I, by Rogers and Hammerstein, cannot be fully apreciated unless sung by a Mini, but certain Broadway personalities have given it the ol' college try.



The score for Around the World in 80 Days, by Victor Young – as Oichi says, it makes you feel as if “We have nothing better to do than drift lazily in this balloon. . . . ”



The score for Mysterious Island, by Bernard Herrmann, is packed with dangers and thrills.



"Hydra's Teeth/Skeletons/Attack” from Jason and the Argonauts, by Bernard Herrmann, makes excellent use of the bassoon and a variety of interesting percussion instruments. 



"Baba Yaga” by Anatoly Liadov will evoke images of the hut that walks on hen's legs.



"My Little Grass Shack” from Ports of Paradise, arranged by Alfred Newman and Ken Darby, performed by Mavis Rivers, is the definitive version of this song, and showcases the variety of Indigenous percussion instruments that were lovingly recruited by Ken Darby for this recording.



Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Maori folk music is best appreciated when it's sung, danced, and played at once. It's hard to find good performances online, possibly because there are so many to sift through. Probably you have to see it in person to appreciate its full impact.



"Nocturne/The Flashlight/The Robot/Space Control” from The Day the Earth Stood Still, by Bernard Herrmann, is Sense of Wonder, personified.



Oichi's Default Majesty Music makes another appearance, once she catches sight of The Three, close up.



"The Sunken Cathedral” a.k.a “The Engulfed Cathedral” by Claude Debussy, arranged for synthesizer by Isao Tomita, is my favorite rendition of this piece, which has always sent chills down my spine. Yolanda Kondonasses also does a gorgeous version for solo harp.



I would be remiss if I didn't mention Lady Sheba's “Canon in D” by Pachelbel, which turns out to be a bit of a plot point. 

Friday, April 5, 2019

Em & Ernie On the Trail (Again)



Ernie and I hiked the trails at Piestewa Peak today, pushing our luck a little bit with the advent of warmer weather, now that it's April. We lucked out – it was overcast all morning, and there was a cool breeze. I only needed to drink my water because I was huffing and puffing from the climb.


If you don't live in the desert, you may not be able to tell how fat and sassy these plants are from the extra rain we got this year. They're built to take advantage of every drop, and to store that water in their tissues. The saguaros have pleated sides that can expand when they're holding more water and contract when the water level drops again.


This mountain complex is located in Northeastern Phoenix. It's made up of low-grade metamorphic rocks that were eventually pushed up and tilted by molten material that stretched the Basin and Range Province starting about 17 million years ago. The rocks are mostly slate, phyllite, and quartzite, with eroded seams of quartz. This time of year, the trails are full of wildflowers and happy hikers.


Piestewa Peak is one of the places that city folk can get away from the grind and into the wild. It's an ancient place, unintimidated by the city crowding around it. Every time we hike here, it reminds me of what I really want – and what I don't want. 


This place has gnarlitude. The older I get, the more I appreciate that.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Gleanings in Buddha Fields




I've been reading Lafcadio Hearn's GLEANINGS IN BUDDHA FIELDS, and I was going to post a review on Amazon, but the version available there is apparently some kind of print-on-demand edition that has left at least one reviewer nasty-peeved enough to leave a bad review. The sad thing is that it gives readers the wrong idea about the quality of the book (rather than the edition -- why do these yahoos do that?). So I thought I'd better just post it here (and probably on Facebook  too), so I can let people know about this wonderful title.

I recommend that you find a copy of it at a used book store. My edition was published by Tuttle Books in 1971. It's a collection of stories and musings, a treasure trove of ideas and reflections about a place and a people that Hearn loved deeply. If I were to review it on Amazon, I'd give it five stars. (So there, cranky Amazon assassin.) 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Rufus and Michael, the Opera



This is an announcement from Michael Levy concerning his music of the ancient harp.  Check it out!

My Ancient-Themed Lyre Music to Feature in Rufus Wainwright's Second Opera, "Hadrian"!

I am pleased to announce, that the Canadian Grammy Award winning composer, Rufus Wainwright, will be arranging one of my ancient-themed lyre compositions, "Hymn to Zeus", in two scenes of his ancient Roman-themed second opera, "Hadrian" - produced by the Canadian Opera Company and due to premiere in Toronto on 13th October!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Oichi's Playlist (With Links!)



If you've read Medusa Uploaded, you've noticed that Oichi is a bit obsessed with music. I created a playlist for the annotated version of the book, but I thought some people might appreciate one with links. I've also included links to sites where good recordings can be purchased. 

The list is probably not comprehensive. It may not even be entirely accurate. For the past several months I've been up to my eyeballs in the sequel, Medusa in the Graveyard, so most of my brain power has been hijacked. But I hope this list will provide a good jumping-off point for curious readers (who are also listeners).

Ralph Vaughan Williams – “Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis,” London Symphony(no.2) (the EMI recording of John Barbirolli conducting the London Symphony Orchestra blows everyone else out of the water), and Pastoral Symphony(no.3) (Sir Adrian Boult's EMI recordings are gorgeous) 



Claude Debussy – Nocturnes, for orchestra (the best recording I've heard is on the Cala label, conducted by Geoffrey Simon with the Philharmonia Orchestra)



Gamelan music (try the album, Music from the Morning of the World)


If you've never heard Japanese Nō music, find some on Youtube. If you've watched Japanese period movies (stories about samurais filmed by Kurosawa, etc.), you've probably heard the instruments used in the film scores.



Pachelbel's “Canon in D” (Lady Sheba's Theme Music)



Beethoven's 7thSymphony2ndmovement (Allegretto – though it has a lot more emotional impact when played slowly, like a dirge)



Gustav Holst – “Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age (my Default Majesty Music),” “Jupiter, bringer of Joviality,” and “Neptune the Mystic”



Alan Hovhannes – “Mysterious Mountain



After you've checked out the Japanese Nō music on Youtube, look for The White-Haired Girl Ballet



You may have heard Leopold Stokowsky's excellent arrangement of The Rite of Spring in the film score of Fantasia (the segment with the dinosaurs), but the original arrangement is pretty mind-blowing. 



Tōru Takemitsu – Kwaidan score



Yasushi Akutagawa – Gate of Hell score



Billy Ray Cyrus – “Achy Breaky Heart



Anatol Liadov – “The Enchanted Lake,” “Baba Yaga,” and Eight Russian Folk Songs for Orchestra (I think of “Sacred Verse” (no.1) as Gennady's Theme Song)



Duke Ellington – “Take the A Train” and “The Mooch”



I think I may have mentioned the main theme from the film score for Around the World in Eighty Dayscomposed by Victor Young. If I didn't mention it in this book, I definitely mentioned it in the sequel.



Irving Berlin – “There's No Business Like Show Business” (another piece that plays a big part in the sequel).



Benjamin Britten's Simple Symphony“Playful Pizzicato”



Sergei Prokofiev – scores from Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible



Rimsky-Korsakov – “Hindu Song



Franz Waxman – Rear Window(opening credits)



Rogers & Hammerstein – South Pacific (Kitten's favorite musical)



Johann Sebastian Bach – “Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring”



Cab Calloway – “Mini the Moocher



George Butterworth, “The Banks of Green Willow” (George died in the trenches in WWI, the same war that had such a profound effect on J.R.R. Tolkien)



Antônio Carlos Jobim – “The Girl from Ipanema” (pick your favorite elevator-music version)



I hope this list doesn't seem too long, and that you haven't gone cross-eyed trying to follow it. My ambition is to let people discover some new music or revisit old favorites. Once Medusa in the Graveyard is released (summer 2019), I'll do another one . . .


Sunday, May 20, 2018

That Moment When You Realize Success Just Makes More Work . . .



Writers have a lot of delusions when we start out. Time and experience should clear them up, but some of them persist. For me, the biggest of these is the idea that more success is going to equate to less work.

Stop laughing. I'm not the only fool who has thought more money and exposure would land her on Easy Street (or, if I'm going to be honest, Easier Street, since the more expensive version shall remain forever out of reach). But you would think I would at least remember that any endeavor that involves the creative process is just going to generate more work. For one thing, I should have noticed how long it's been since I posted anything on this blog that wasn't an announcement of Michael Levy's latest creative doings. 

A few years ago, I had nothing but time. I hadn't begun to write stories again, and I had no sci-fi extravaganza in the works. I was studying geology (there's something that'll hijack your brain), snapping photos on hikes, and cheerfully blogging about a variety of topics. In fact, that's pretty much how I picture my retirement (okay, seriously, stop laughing – it could sort of happen that way). Somehow I can't help projecting myself into this life where mornings are spent on a comfy porch, sipping coffee and watching wildlife. That also seems like a good spot for the afternoon and evening. 

So yes, the idea of being a happy, lazy bum REALLY appeals to me. And yet I keep generating more work for myself.

In my defense, back when my earlier books were published, there wasn't a whole lot I could do to help promote them. The internet was in its infancy, blogs were not a thing, podcasts were also not a thing, and Amazon was a brand, new thing. Now that Medusa Uploaded has been released, I'm doing interviews, writing guest posts, even traveling to a few signings and conventions. This, on top of my full-time job and my household upkeep. I'm feeling just a tad incompetent, these days.

I'm really happy about the book, though. I've still got a big stack of writing to do, and probably that will generate more work. Maybe I'll wise up and go back to writing about geology and saguaros.

Happy Trails, my friends. We've still got time to plan that retirement. 


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Watch This Space (but not Too Critically)



If you have read any of my science fiction novels, you may get the impression that I'm on the cutting edge of technology and science. I work very hard to give that impression. But the illusion falls apart in real life. Especially when I try to work on this blog. My most recent challenge is trying to figure out how to update the little bio blurb that runs along the top right portion of this page (just below the photo of me with the Mongolian Death Worm).

I can't do it. I have hurled myself at the problem multiple times, and I am foiled. This should come as no surprise, since every year I have to jump through multiple (technical) hoops just to figure out how to pay for this space.

I hope this is not my fault. I like to imagine that these public sites struggle to be user-friendly by a wide range of yahoos (like myself) who try to do more with the sites than they were designed for (on more platforms and operating systems than most sites have to cope with). Surely an army of programmers and designers toil long hours, every day, trying to keep up with the demand. And eventually they'll fix the glitches that frustrate my attempts to update my own biography.

So anyway – here's my update. I sold two novels to Tor, and the first one, Medusa Uploaded is due out in May 2018. It will be released in quality paperback, ebook, and audio formats. The second novel is still untitled, and in progress, and is a sequel to the first.

I've also got a few short stories due out: “Wraith” will be published by Longshot Island; “Cruddy” will appear in Enter the Aftermath, and “Appetite” will be in Enter the Rebirth. 

UPDATE:  Many thanks to John Cardoso, who read about my plight and figured out how I could fix it.  From John's letter: "1. Go to your Google Profile.  2. Click ABOUT, which is next to the edit profile button in the upper right.  3. Under about Emily there should be an introduction text section; click the pencil icon to edit that.  4. Click OK once changes are complete."

There was a 24-hour delay while the whole shebang updated, and my changes were reflected on the blog.  Yay!  Bazinga!  Success!  John is da bomb.  : )



Music for Meditation



Music is the best aid for meditation I've ever found (other than canyon silence, but that's rare these days). So I'm pleased to announce that Michael Levy is releasing a new album that will ease you into the good vibes. Follow the links below!

Release of my New Compilation Album!

To all my loyal lyre music loving fans, I am delighted to announce the general release across all the major digital music stores and streaming sites, of my brand new compilation album, "Ancient Lyre Music for Meditation".

This compilation album features a selection of my most meditative tracks, which were first featured in a wide selection of my earlier releases between 2012-2017, in addition to this new track, "Etude in the Olympos Pentatonic Scale": a spontaneous improvisation in this haunting ancient Greek tuning, for my stunningly authentic custom-built Luthieros replica ancient Greek tortoise shell lyre, hand-made in modern Greece, with a perfectly preserved natural tortoise shell resonator and authentic gut strings - the nearest one can get to taking the 2,400 year old reconstructed Elgin Lyre out of its display cabinet at the British Museum...and actually playing it:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDAbj0LWTYE

For full details, including a free download link to a PDF of the detailed album notes and a list of all the main purchase links of the album (feel free to share to the rest of the world!), can be found on my new webpage about the album:

http://ancientlyre.com/compilation_albums_for_solo_lyre/ancient_lyre_music_for_meditation/The tracks all feature the use of geometrically pure musical intervals in just intonation, many of which feature the subtly more calming effect of using a reference tuning pitch of A at 432 Hertz. These enigmatic melodies are perfect soundtracks for relaxation, meditation or prayer; for yoga, reiki, aromatherapy or massage; the perfect
musical antidote to living in our stressful, spiritually deprived, aesthetically deprived modern world...

Thank you all once more, for your continued and invaluable support in my ongoing musical mission; to give back to music, its long-forgotten, ancient soul.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Become a True Patron



Music lovers, Michael Levy's work is a labor of love, and it's worth supporting. I urge you to follow this link and make a pledge. You don't need to pledge a lot – you'd be amazed at how much good you can do with just a couple of dollars (pounds? euros?) a month. Follow the links and help Michael keep the beauty of ancient music in the world! I'll be doing the same . . .

Your Support would be a 'Libation to Apollo'!


Dear Loyal Lyre Music Fan,

I am writing to invite you to support my ongoing musical mission, with the launch of my new Patreon campaign!

Indeed, without the support of a record company in my musical quest to reintroduce the recreated lyres and ancient musical modes back into the mostly bland and soulless modern muscial world, my entire work of the last decade, relies entirely on you, my precious team of loyal online followers, to keep spreading the word about my music across social media, blog posts, album reviews etc, so that it can finally reach the new enlightened few!

If, say, 10,000 of my almost 12,000 YouTube subscribers were to pledge just a small monthly donation to my musical mission; to fund the enormous personal cost of replica ancient lyre maintence and acquisition, recording and video equipment, website hosting and most of all, my time to create new compositions, arrangements, recordings, album releases and YouTube videos, then I could finally transform my 'labour of love', into a full-time, creative career!

Your contribution, no matter how small, would literally be a contribution to the development of music itself, so that the world can finally hear again, the long-forgotten, haunting ancient sound of the lyre, resonating across the millenia, into the music of our distant future...be a part of my musical vision!

In return, I can offer my new patrons one-one Skype time; to ask any questions they like about my musical projects, free custom-requested downloads of any track from any one of my albums in any format specified and eventually, maybe even to set up a monthly YouTube podcast series in which my patrons take turns to interview me on my any aspect of my musical mission they want.

Once I have attained this first goal, the next goal to to aquire a magnificent replica of the Bronze Age Megiddo Lyre for my next recording and YouTube projects!

Here, once more, is the direct URL of my brand new Patreon Page:

https://www.patreon.com/Michael_Levy_Ancient_Lyre_Music


Thank you all so much, for your invaluable support over the years - you are all to me, now and forever, a gift from the ancient gods!