New Cover Art for 'The Monster Hunter Ballad'

I announced this yesterday on Facebook, but here’s a big version of the new cover for “The Monster Hunter Ballad,” featuring the artwork by Alan Pollack that was on the cover of Monster Hunter International.

(Click here for an even larger version, if you have a bigger screen.)

Many thanks to Alan for allowing me to use the art. For more of his work, visit his web site.

Thanks also to Toni Weisskopf and the fine folks at Baen Books for letting me adapt the MHI cover type.

If you haven’t already heard it, here’s the song on Bandcamp.

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A Song for Halloween

I put this on Facebook last night, but I decided it should go on the blog as well. My apologies to folks who will, therefore, see this silliness twice.

Just in time for Halloween, the studio version of “The Monster Hunter Ballad” is now available on Bandcamp.

(Click the image to be taken to the Bandcamp page.)

You can listen to the song for free, and you can also download it for free by putting a zero in the payment box.

If you like it, share it with your friends! If you don’t like it, share it with your enemies!

And have a safe and Happy All Hallow’s Eve.

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My Nephew's Jazz Album … + This Date in Space History

If you like jazz, check out my nephew Ben Rolston’s album, Fables.

(Cover art for Ben Rolston’s FABLES. From the associated Bandcamp page.)

Ben is a bassist and composed all the songs in the collection. I am not particularly an aficionado of jazz, so don’t take my opinion as authoritative, but my favorite selection is “Branches and Bark,” which has some nice horns in it.

On the Bandcamp page, Fables, you can listen to each track, which is a pretty cool feature. The whole album has ten tracks, and sells for $10.

Now, as for this date in space history, so …

Thirty-five years ago today — September 29, 1977 — the Soviet Union launched their Salyut-6 space station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome atop a Proton K booster. Aboard Salyut-6, cosmonauts were able to stay in space for longer durations than ever. What that has to do with jazz, I don’t know … but there it is.

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Yes, You Can Nominate for the Pegasus Awards … But Not For Long

Nominations for the Pegasus Awards close in less than two weeks!

The Pegasi are annual awards for filk — generally, folk music with science fiction or fantasy elements — given by the Ohio Valley Filk Fest. Categories include Best Song, Best Classic Song, Best Writer/Composer, and Best Performer, plus two special categories for this year: Best Gaming Song and Best Travel Song.

(Pegasus Award logo.)

I submitted my nominations yesterday. Here’s the online nomination form, if you’re ready to go.

Unsure whether you can nominate? You probably can.

First, you don’t need to be a member of the filk festival itself to nominate or vote. That said, according to the official rules “the purpose of the Nominating process is to poll members of the filk community for their independent opinions of each category.”

Unsure whether you’re a member of the filk community? The rules cover that, too:

Anyone who exhibits an interest in the filk community can be considered a filker. Exhibiting interest can be shown by, but is not limited to:

  • Filking at sf/fantasy conventions
  • Attending filk conventions
  • Attending house sings
  • Participating in online boards/discussions/mail lists/webrings pertaining to filk
  • Discussing filk and filk related issues with other filkers

That last category is pretty broad, but if you and I ever discussed filk in one way or another then it seems as if you’re in.

Curious about what songs, songwriters, and performers are available to be nominated? The friendly folks at OVFF ran a “Brainstorming Poll” to take suggestions for each category; check it out for recommendations, or just to get a feel for the wide variety of filk and filkers. (Something of a shameless plug: As I blogged when the brainstorming results came out, my original song “The Monster Hunter Ballad”* was suggested in the “Best Song” category. Surprisingly, I was also suggested in the “Best Performer” category.)

Who did I nominate? I don’t usually nominate-and-tell (or vote-and-tell), so I won’t go into it category-by-category here on the blog. I will say it was hard to narrow down the choices! In the end, I nominated a number of different people, and some more than once, including Danny Birt, Alex Boyd, Tally Dueshane, Jonah Knight, Michael Longcor, Mikey Mason, Madison Roberts, Carla Ulbrich, and Scott & Kirsten Vaughan (aka The Blibbering Humdingers). Contact me directly and I’ll tell you exactly who I nominated for what.**

So, ready to nominate now? Once again, here’s the online nomination form. You have until midnight on July 29th — go for it!

*Inspired by the series of books by Larry Correia. (Full disclosure: I work for Baen Books, which publishes the Monster Hunter novels.)
**And, if you ask nicely, I might also tell you which of my other songs fit the special categories.

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'The Monster Hunter Ballad' Made the Pegasus Award 'Brainstorming Poll'

My first original filk* song made it onto the “Brainstorming Poll” of the annual filk awards!

It’s not an official nomination, but it’s something.

(Pegasus Award logo.)

“The Monster Hunter Ballad”, inspired by the books by Larry Correia, made the poll in the “Best Song” category.

Nominations are open from now until the end of July.

*Folk music with science fiction or fantasy elements.

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Filk Award Brainstorming is Open

If you like filk — generally, folk music with science fiction or fantasy themes — you may be interested to know that the Brainstorming Poll for the 2012 Pegasus Awards is now available on-line.

(The Pegasus Award Emblem.)

As the site says, the Brainstorming Poll is not an awards ballot. It’s “a poll to help generate ideas for the 2012 Pegasus Awards.”

The filk-related Pegasus Awards* are presented by the Ohio Valley Filk Fest, which is “the world’s largest fan-run filk convention.” (The Blibbering Humdingers, who also live in my current hometown of Cary, NC, are the Interfilk guests this year.)

You don’t need to be a member of the OVFF convention to nominate and vote, but you do need to be part of the filk community, which is broadly defined as “anyone with an interest in filk.” Do you enjoy songs with science fiction or fantasy references? Then you probably qualify.

The OVFF folks will compile the results of the Brainstorming Poll and attach them to the Nominating Ballot, which they will release sometime next month. The nominating period runs for a few weeks, and then the Final Ballot will be released during the summer.

The Brainstorming Poll will close on May 5th.

// Shameless Plug Follows //

This post has been brought to you by “The Monster Hunter Ballad.”

*There is also a set of “Pegasus Awards” for non-broadcast media (video) production. Those awards haven’t even been around for 10 years yet, while the OVFF Pegasus Awards started in 1984.

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New Songs at StellarCon

What a difference a year makes!

At the time of StellarCon last year, I had written a grand total of one filk song, which I sang (a year ago today, in fact) at the DeepSouthCon 50 party: “The Monster Hunter Ballad.”

Fast forward to this past weekend at StellarCon 36, and my filk repertoire had grown to the point that I debuted two songs on Friday night: the Firefly tribute song “Finding Serenity,” and “Don’t Cry When You Get Rejected” (to the tune of “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina”).

But that wasn’t enough. Saturday afternoon I finished a Hobbit song I’d been working on, so that night I debuted “Thorin Oakenshield” (to the tune of “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer”). And even that wasn’t enough: I had started writing another new song at the con on Friday, and by Saturday night I had a couple of verses and a chorus for “Steampunk Pirates.” So the filk circle on Saturday also heard me sing my work-in-progress.

What is this craziness?

Whatever it is, it’s fun.

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All That is Gold Does Not Glitter — J.R.R. Tolkien

Facebook friends have already seen this on my status, and will see it again when this blog post shows up there. But I’m proud, so I’ll take the risk.

The video below is “kinetic typography” by my son Chris (a.k.a. Topher):

He chose a verse from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and composed and performed the hammered dulcimer background music.

I think it turned out right nice.

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Hugos, and Nebulas, and Pegasi, Oh, My!

I’ve seen quite a few “Hugo Nominations” blog posts since the turn of the new year — because the nomination period is now open — and a few other awards-related posts way back in late 2011. I even wrote an awards post back in early December, asking for reading suggestions for the Nebula Awards.

So, as yet another exercise in self-promotion, here’s my most detailed awards season post ever.

First, if you don’t care what the Hugo Awards are, or the Nebula Awards, or the Pegasus Awards, then thanks for reading this far anyway! If you think you might care, but just don’t know what they are, I’ll give a brief run-down of each.

The Hugos and Nebulas are Science Fiction & Fantasy awards. By analogy to film awards, the Hugos are roughly equivalent to the Golden Globes, and are given out at every World Science Fiction Convention; the Nebulas are roughly equivalent to the Academy Awards (since they’re voted on by members of the profession), and are given out at a special weekend event held by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

I have two stories eligible for these awards:

  • In the short story category: “The Tower,” published in Crossed Genres Quarterly in June 2011. This is a “swords and sorcery” fantasy, in which there are swords and something resembling sorcery.
  • In the novelette category: “Therapeutic Mathematics and the Physics of Curve Balls,” published in Analog Science Fiction & Fact in September 2011. This is the story of a boy in a freak show who retreats into mathematics for comfort and sanity.

To nominate and vote for the Hugos, you have to be a member of WorldCon. A supporting membership (i.e., that gets you voting rights and usually an electronic package full of the nominated stories and artwork) is $50, so it’s not a trivial matter. If you think you might actually want to attend, this year’s WorldCon is at Chicon in Chicago. But to nominate and vote for the Nebulas, you have to be a member of SFWA, and that’s a big deal to some of us.

In contrast to the Hugos and Nebulas, the Pegasus Awards are “filk” awards, i.e., awards for science fiction & fantasy-related folk singing. (What can sometimes be confusing is that there are also other Pegasus Awards for video production.) The Pegasus Awards are given out every year by the Ohio Valley Filk Fest. They give awards in several categories, including Best Filk Song, Best Writer/Composer, Best Performer, and “Baddest-Ass” Song.

Pegasus Award nominations are made “by the people of the filk community,” whatever that means, although “voting is open to anyone with an interest in filk music.” The nomination period begins around Memorial Day and continues through July, then voting is open until Labor Day. More details about nomination submissions and such are yet to come; however, in the interest of planning ahead, I sang two songs around filk circles last year that should be eligible to be nominated:

  • “Saving Throws,” a Dungeons & Dragons-related song to the tune of “Edelweiss”
  • “The Monster Hunter Ballad”, inspired by the series of books by Larry Correia*

And thus concludes my shameless plug for the day.

*FULL DISCLOSURE: Larry’s Monster Hunter books are published by Baen Books, and I’m one of Baen’s contractors.

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Can’t Get Enough Monster Hunter?

Ballad, that is … “Monster Hunter Ballad.”

Today Alethea Kontis posted on her blog a video shot during her “traveling sideshow” at Dragon*Con, which includes me doing a rough-but-passable rendition of my song, “The Monster Hunter Ballad.” Appropriately, I’m sporting one of the Monster Hunter International hats that were given out during the con.

My song starts at around the 7 minute mark. Before my song, Leanna Renee Hieber did an evocative reading (I was particularly taken with the imagery), and after my song, Danielle Friedman performed a wonderful “poi” routine … unfortunately, without fire. You will also hear some “zombie haiku,” which have become something of a staple at Alethea’s readings.

Thanks again, Alethea, for letting me play along!

P.S. For anyone who may not have seen it, the first video of the “Monster Hunter Ballad” is still available for viewing.


FULL DISCLOSURE: The Monster Hunter International books by Larry Correia, which inspired the aforementioned ballad, are published by Baen Books. I work for Baen as a contributing editor.

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