Monday, May 14, 2018

THE MIGHTY WARRIORS

Last year, I posted about being accepted to the sword-&-sorcery anthology, THE MIGHTY WARRIORS.

Well, sometimes things in publishing take awhile. But good things come to those who wait, right?

THE MIGHTY WARRIORS is out in paperback now from Ulthar Press. Kindle eBook to follow.

And my-oh-my, just dig that risque art by the one and only Bruce Timm!

(You might want to order soon in case Amazon has an issue with the cover.. could be a collector's item .. just sayin' ;) )

The Amazon listing is sparse. Fortunately I have the means to let you see the table of contents.

 "Know, O Prince: An Introduction" by Robert M. Price
 "Spawn of the Sea God" by Adrian Cole
 "The Corpse's Crusade" by Cody Goodfellow
 "Thongor in the Valley of Demons" By Robert M. Price
 "The Shadow of Dia-Sust" by David C. Smith
 "Amudu's Bargain" by Charles R. Saunders
 "The Secret of Nephren-Ka" by Robert M. Price
 "The Temple of Light" by Milton J. Davis
 "Kiss of the Succubus" by Charles R. Rutledge
 "The Living Wind" by Ken Asamtsu, translated by Edward Lipsett
 "The Last Temple of Balsoth" by Cliff Biggers
 "Lono and the Pit of Punhaki" by Paul R. McNamee

This is an incredible lineup of authors and heroes - classic and new. Not only is Robert M. Price delivering a Thongor story, Adrian Cole is tackling Henry Kuttner's Elak of Atlantis, again. (I covered Cole's first foray in this post last year.) And the incomparable Imaro appears from the pen of Charles R. Saunders himself!

Very happy to see this project come to fruition!

recent read; DARKER THAN YOU THINK


DARKER THAN YOU THINK by Jack Williamson

Will Barbee, an alcoholic small college town reporter, is pulled into a noir-ish nightmare of witchcraft and  lyncanthropy. The deeper he goes, he discovers horrifying secrets about the history of mankind and about himself.

Or, is it all in his head? Has the beautiful, red-headed April Belle bewitched him into devilish deeds, or is his unconscious mind simply playing out his jealous desires?

Written in 1948, by now most of the surprises in the story were predictable. But Williamson works with the suspense of Barbee not understanding what is happening, while the reader does. And that works, too. When will Barbee figure it out? What choices will he make?

Williamson, being a science fiction writer, injects the lycanthropy with pseudo-physics and it suspended my disbelief well enough. It's tricky to try to justify any trope with real world rules.

Near the end, there are reveals. Some worked. One in particular I didn't feel had been setup at all, though.

I don't know if certain writers were influenced or even had read DARKER THAN YOU THINK but there are threads seen later in THE OMEN and ROSEMARY'S BABY, to name a few.

I enjoyed DARKER THAN YOU THINK for its craft and darkness. It deserves its status as one of the great horror and/or werewolf novels.


DARKER THAN YOU THINK is also available via Audible.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

recent read; HIGH ADVENTURE #86


HIGH ADVENTURE #86

Keeping with my resolution for more 'zines in my reading mix...

I swung back into the jungle pulp, following up last year's Ki-Gor read with two more of the better Ki-Gor tales, "The Devil's Death Trap" and "Blood Priestess of Vig N'Ga." Luckily, both stories are included in this single volume.

"The Devil's Death Trap" finds Ki-Gor and his stalwart companions trapped in a lost city of intelligent gorillas (shades of DC Comics' Gorilla City!) "Blood Priestess of Vig N'Ga" also features a hidden city--this one more of a classic Middle Eastern flare. While the former story had echoes of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the later tale had echoes of Robert E. Howard.

Both delivered on pulp fun and adventure.

Unfortunately, this issue (or my copy, anyway) has a glaring misprint in "Blood Priestess of Vig N'Ga" that repeats a page and left out a piece of the story. Fortunately, there is an archive available here. I need to check this out and fill in the gap.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May 2018 writing goals

Current short term writing goals;
  • Finish w.i.p. horror novel
  • Write 2 short stories
    •  find markets and submit
  • Outline the next novel, which will be my "summer project" - to start in June
Check back in 30 days to see how I did!

Monday, April 30, 2018

recent read; Weirdbook #38


Weirdbook #38

I've been acquiring magazines (electronic and print) in addition to books and I should start reading more of them. And by magazines, of course, I mean anthology fiction magazines.

I should also review the newer titles to support the 'zines out there now that are delivering the kind of stuff I enjoy reading. Weirdbook is certainly one of those titles.

#38 is a good mix and like every anthology, some stories appealed more than others. I should think any pulp fan would enjoy it for the most part. The content is truly a "Weird" mix with fantasy, sword-&-sorcery, and horror (including Lovecraftian horror.) There are poems in the mix, too.

All of the current run of Weirdbook helmed by Douglas Draa are available - even cheaply for Kindle if you want. (this issue is currently the least expensive in eformat.)

Because I want to support them, I feel a little conflict of interest reviewing this magazine for the following reason; I must now publicly disclaim that I am scheduled to appear in Weirdbook #40.

This is also why I am giving a high-level simple review. I don't want to review each story or pick out favorites.

So, all the more selfish reason for me to ask you to keep these 'zines going!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Los Lobos in concert, The Cabot, Beverly MA 21-Apr-2018



It had been a long time since I'd bothered with going to see a rock'n'roll show. But the opportunity to see Los Lobos in a small theater on a Saturday night was too good to let pass. My wife and I rolled together a date night and an early anniversary celebration, had a nice dinner, and attended the show.

Los Lobos started in with a one-two punch of "Will The Wolf Survive" and "Shakin' Shakin' Shakes." After that, the set list came from the top of their heads. They played a first set that was cut short due to technical difficulties. The guitar tech was on stage constantly. The main issue seemed to be the guitars not cutting through the mix - though other trouble came, too. (e.g.; broken guitar strap mid-song.)

The band soldiered through but went to an early intermission after 35 minutes and 6 songs (which ended with a spectacular jam on "That Train Don't Stop.")

The techs took care of the sound during the break. Not sure why things were so off. Without an opening band, levels should have been locked in during soundcheck.

The band came back on fire, ready to erase the earlier problems and they meant business, with Dave Hidalgo firing off a blistering acoustic guitar solo on "One Time, One Night." From there they started into a Mexican set with "Carabinas .30 .30" The rock and blues returned with "Chains of Love," "The Neighborhood, "Wicked Rain," and others before they closed their main set with a rollicking cover of the Grateful Dead's "Bertha."

For their encore, they had a surprise up their sleeve. They invited local musicians Barrence Whitfield and Willie 'Loco' Alexander to join them. They first served up a blues/R&B song and then blasted out the venue with Whitfield wailing through The Who's "My Generation."

It was a great show, complete with flaws, and I can't wait to see them live again - especially if it's in an intimate venue like The Cabot.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

recent read; Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar


Over the past few years, I've been adding the original TARZAN novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs to my reading diet. TARZAN AND THE JEWELS OF OPAR was next on my list;

Albert Werper is a murderer and deserter of the Belgian army in the Congo. Fleeing into the jungle, he is captured by gang of slavers led by the Arab Achmet Zek. Werper convinces Zek of his fugitive status, and joins the troop of cutthroats. Tarzan has been running afoul of Zek, ruining his slave trade. Zek and Werper hatch a plan to kidnap Tarzan's wife, Jane (of course,) and hold her for ransom. Werper decides to pose as a lost French gentleman, separated from his safari, to gain access to the Greystoke compound and home.

Tarzan - John Clayton, Lord Greystoke - has a reversal of fortune before the kidnapper can strike. Suspected unscrupulous business dealings have wiped out Greystoke's capital back in England. But the loss doesn't cause Clayton too much concern. He will return to the lost city of Opar. (His first visit was during THE RETURN OF TARZAN.) He knows where the city's great treasure room is hidden. Even the degenerated descendants of Opar who still stalk the stone corridors don't know that. He assures Jane he will be safe and vows to return with gold.

Werper has eavesdropped on their conversation. Realizing there is no ransom to be had from a destitute man, Werper takes his leave and stalks Tarzan's safari through the jungle to trail him to the treasure and steal his own portion.

While both men are in Opar, an earthquake traps them. Clayton takes a hard blow on the head. He awakens an amnesiac. He can only remember his primitive existence as the ape-man. Eventually, he learns his name is Tarzan, but his more recent memories refuse to return. Manipulated by Werper, Tarzan helps him to escape from Opar, and Tarzan acquires a pouch of "pretty pebbles" from another treasure room - the Jewels of Opar.

The avaricious Werper has designs on the jewels, and Tarzan feels the pull of the jungle, unaware that Achmet Zek and his bloodthirsty horde are descending on the Greystoke bungalow...

Adventure and action follow in large doses. Combat, death, lions, apes, Queen La and her subhuman worshipers. Escapes and recaptures, reversals of fortune, double-crosses. The list goes on - in a good, adventurous way.

I enjoyed this story, a lot.

Right out of the gate, Burroughs drops a "civilization vs. barbarism" quote that surely must have caught the attention of Robert E. Howard.
To Tarzan of the Apes the expedition was in the nature of a holiday outing. His civilization was at best but an outward veneer which he gladly peeled off with his uncomfortable European clothes whenever any reasonable pretext presented itself. It was a woman's love which kept Tarzan even to the semblance of civilization—a condition for which familiarity had bred contempt. He hated the shams and the hypocrisies of it and with the clear vision of an unspoiled mind he had penetrated to the rotten core of the heart of the thing—the cowardly greed for peace and ease and the safe-guarding of property rights. That the fine things of life—art, music and literature—had thriven upon such enervating ideals he strenuously denied, insisting, rather, that they had endured in spite of civilization.
Forgetting his existence as John Clayton, Tarzan is feral, unpredictable, and dangerous. He is - perhaps - more of the barbaric savage than he has been since the first half of TARZAN OF THE APES.

The only plot points I had an issue with were the overuse of lion attacks. While it wouldn't have changed the story a whit, I think exchanging at least one of the attacks for a leopard attack would have been welcome change up.

Despite the plot cliche of "the hero has amnesia," I enjoyed TARZAN AND THE JEWELS OF OPAR. I think it is my favorite of the series so far.