Friday, February 12, 2021

recent read; Barry Reese's LAZARUS GRAY

Not so much a review as just to let you know I've started digging into Barry Reese's Lazarus Gray series. I'm enjoying the heck out of it. If you want classic pulp adventure with that New Pulp feel, you need to start on this series.

I've been listening to audiobooks but the first three volumes are also available as a super-inexpensive omnibus ebook. Just $1!

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

recent reads; two from Airship 27

Bulldog Drummond: Disaster Zones by I.A. Watson

I.A. Watson has done a great job bringing Bulldog Drummond into the 21st century. This time around we get three novellas, where Bulldog battles neo-Nazis, faces off against an African warlord, and fights his way through baddies and a hurricane in the Caribbean. The action never lets up. Pure pulp action! I look forward to more new tales of Bulldog Drummond! 


All-American Sports Stories, Volume 2

Derrick Ferguson's "Brooklyn Beatdown" leads off this anthology of three sports novellas.  A story of boxing, and crime. The tale is a perfect mix of bare-knuckle brawling and lively characters.

The second tale is a baseball story. I wasn't very vested in that one, sorry to say. Not because of the baseball subject matter. The story didn't have enough action for me. It felt more like reading a newspaper's season-long-run sports story than a fiction tale.

Ron Fortier closes out the volume with a poignant football tale about a returning disabled Vietnam veteran who must figure out where his life will lead.

"Brooklyn Beatdown" was resurrected from a stand-alone edition (under the FIGHT CARD series) and is worth the price of admission. Highly recommended for that story alone.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Old Doctor Who is New Who, and vice versa

RE: new Dr Who TARGET Books
For those who don't know, many of the original Doctor Who stories' tapes were purged by the BBC, resulting in many lost episodes of the Hartnell-Troughton eras (1st & 2nd Doctor - and one episode of the 3rd--but that's another story.)
One of my first collector bugs was acquiring all the TARGET novelizations of those adventures. While I was at it--being a Dalek (and Cybermen fan)--I also grabbed all Cybermen and Dalek stories in the TARGET novelizations line, regardless of Doctor incarnation.
But a few were never novelized during the original TARGET run. Two came out via Virgin books later: POWER OF THE DALEKS and EVIL OF THE DALEKS.

But they will this year.

I've been waiting a long time to see these come into existence.

Also, they will be putting out some cherry-picked novelizations from the new series, which started in 2005.

Between these books, and animated reconstructions of lost episodes, and the audio dramas Big Finish are doing with past Doctors (including, now, Christopher Eccleston signed on as the Ninth) it's still an awesome time to be a Whovian. (even if I'm not happy with the current broadcasting series.)

Saturday, January 2, 2021

readin', writin', and reviewin'


Well, here we are.

I have no specific books listed for my 2021 reading. I do have some general goals of areas I want to cover.

First, I've been scrambling for so long, trying to catch up on things I've missed and new books releasing, that I hardly ever allow myself to re-read books. But that's silly. If a book is a favorite, no reason I shouldn't enjoy it. I've made a short list of favorites to re-read. I think I'll choose the audiobook route for those, just to be different.

I've really come to enjoy New Pulp. In addition to playing catch-up, via Derrick Ferguson's 100 New Pulp Book To Get You Started (no, I don't intend to read all 100 .. but I'd like to read a good sampling of the list,) I'd really like to keep up with New Pulp releases this year, so I can suggest informed nominations for the New Pulp Factory awards at year-end.

Speaking of reading, I have favorite writers who still have many titles I haven't read. First up, Glen Cook. And Fred Saberhagen. And Les Daniels series of vampire novels (there were 5, the first, The Black Castle, was great.)

More Sherlock Holmes, Solar Pons, and Tarzan. Continuing with the originals, of course, but I'm not ruling out pastiches, either. That will include the ERB Universe, too, as it rolls out.

And I want to ramp up on superheroes. I have a huge backlog of graphic novels I picked up on the cheap. And, superhero prose, too. Why? Reasons. Reasons that you will hopefully hear more about this year.

As to reviews; I'm of two minds. Sometimes I'm tired of feeling obligated to review everything. I used to read for the joy of it. I still do. But I never had to concern myself with reviews when I was done.

But, as a writer, I know what reviews mean to authors. So, my balance will be (continue to be) to review stuff I like. I'm not interested in negative reviewing. Secondly, expect short reviews. I don't think long-winded reviews posted to Amazon or goodreads really help. Long reviews should be reserved for blogs and articles. I've been gearing more toward short reviews that I can cut'n'paste and drop into goodreads and Amazon. The blog might have a few more statements around the core review, but don't expect more than that.

Writing. As of now, there are three short stories expected to see light of day this year. (We all know that can change.) I have no other short stories out in the aether right now.

There are a few open calls I am interested in. But, honestly, right now, I don't even have ideas that fit. We'll see if anything happens before the submission windows close. I had a low publishing output last year, so part of me wants to put stories out there. But, my main 2021 writing goal is to write the sequel to the novel I completed last year. If I'm not distracted by open calls and other opportunities that will dilute my focus, I won't mind.

Friday, January 1, 2021

recent read; CYCLOPS ROAD


Cyclops Road by Jeff Strand

Evan Portin is at a sad, scary place in his life. While taking a long walk to compose himself and figure out where to go from here, he encounters a young woman being mugged in a park.

When he tries to intervene, he discovers that she doesn't need his help. At all.

Her name is Harriett. She is very, very good at defending herself. Everything she owns is in a large backpack. She's never seen a cell phone. She's never been in a car. She's never really ventured into the outside world.

And she says she's traveling across the country to slay a Cyclops.

She's crazy, right? Evan is not in the habit of hanging out with delusional women he's just met. On the other hand, it can't hurt to offer her a ride out of town. And maybe this insane journey is exactly what he needs...

Strand is known for his horror comedy, and his straight-up horror. This novel is neither of those. It's a modern fantasy tale. It's a road movie in book form, with a cast of zany characters and bizarre situations.

Like the protagonist, Evan Portin, the reader is pulled along. Anticipation of "what could possibly happen next?!" kept me reading. And, of course, like Evan, seeing it through to the end just to know if there really is a cyclops roaming Arizona.

For me, the tale read like an A. Lee Martinez novel, and that is a compliment. It was a fun read I enjoyed immensely.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Happy Holidays!

 I don't want to end this year's blog on a rant. I'm not sure what else I might post before 2021.

 So, just in case - have a great holiday season.

I can't promise I'll post more frequently or anything. But you never know.


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

RANT TIME! The New Parking Gates!

 (this was so long, I decided it was better as a blog post than a Facebook status update)

TL;DR – stupid decisions are stupid, First World Problem

(Not actual gate)

I’ve been getting allergy immunization shots since January. Shots did not require appointments. There were windows of time during the week when you could go--first come, first serve.

The clinic is located adjacent to the hospital. The parking lots are loosely connected. The hospital has a pay parking garage. The clinic parking, though it is a simple lot, was also pay. I assumed it was to help the garage loans and to discourage patients from parking for free and walking over to the hospital (if ambulatory enough.)

The system at the clinic had been a security guard in the booth, issuing tickets and taking money on exit. Once COVID appeared in March, there was a guard in mask for a couple of weeks. Then the clinic closed for shots.

I started up again in October. No more guard. Gates open.

Shots now by appointment. Super convenient for me because I work-from-home for the pandemic and I’m right in town. I pop over and pop back.

A month ago, the shack and gates went away. Open parking!

Then the islands went in.

Then the new-fangled automated gates went in.

And that’s when it all went to shit.

These kiosks are terribly designed. They’re awful.

Same units on enter and exit.

On enter, there is what appears to be a button. It’s round. It’s large. But, no, you don’t press it. It doesn’t press. It’s a laser, and you need to wave your hand in front of it to dispense the parking receipt.

Yes. A receipt. Like from a register. No, it is not a ticket or cardboard or heavy paper. Flimsy, barcoded receipt.

And did I mention the slot where the receipt prints out? The slot *way down at the bottom* that was clearly designed with Lamborghinis in mind?

You know what happens on entrance, now, right? The cars line up and the line barely moves because no one can figure out how to get their ticket, and when they do, most people need to climb out of their car to retrieve it.

Join me, won’t you? Over on the exit side now.

Yes. That *is* quite the line of cars, all backed up.

Same unit.

Grab your flimsy receipt.

(Oh, of course, you’re supposed to pay inside at the automated station or get your slip validated with a bar code sticker … you did that, right?)

No. No. Of course, you don’t hold your slip barcode up to the laser ‘button’ you used on the way in. Why, it’s clearly not wide enough to scan code. No, use the big scan window at the bottom where the *other* reader is. What’s that?  It doesn’t have a big sign and arrow that reads “SCAN HERE” ? Well, maybe not. But on the screen above, it instructs “scan below” with absolutely no highlighting of the words so they will be readily noticed.

Shall we amp up the frustration? Let’s throw in hospital patients. You know, from all walks of life. Maybe some who aren’t familiar with written English yet. Let’s not forget senior citizens who get flummoxed at the slightest whiff of technology.

Why yes. I did get line line behind *two* cars the other day, each of which had to back out of the line because they couldn’t get the gate to open.

Did I mention to “call before you enter” stuff? See, now when you get to the hospital, you’re supposed to call from your car, answer COVID screening questions, and then they’ll call you to come in.

Did I also mention that they have an online pre-screen where you can answer all the questions before you leave home and it doesn’t matter because you still need to call and answer all the questions again, anyway?

Did I mention that new number is for the entire hospital and clinic? Yes, I can’t call the Allergy desk. I need to call the central hub, and when I’m done being on hold, especially on mornings just chock full of appointments, then I get put through to allergy. If they don’t hang up by accident.

That was fine. Until a month ago, when the simple message had a full minute preamble added to it about coming alone, no help unless you really need it, don’t come if you have COVID symptoms, etc.

Literally a one-minute message …. I need to sit through … every time I go.

I could literally drive over, get my shot, and be home in forty minutes, tops. (need to wait 30 minutes after the shot … if we don’t count that, literally, the task should take under ten minutes.)

Now, I need to add “traffic jam at the entrance” time, 5+ minutes of phone time in the parking lot, and “traffic jam on exit” time, to my personal scheduling.

Why? Why would you do this during the pandemic? Why not wait until next year?