Thursday, August 27, 2015

recent read; Tin Men

...the world has become a hotspot, boiling over into chaos of near apocalyptic proportions. In this perpetual state of emergency, all that separates order from anarchy is the military might of a United States determined to keep peace among nations...

But a conflict unlike any before demands an equally unprecedented fighting force on its front lines. Enter the Remote Infantry Corps: robot soldiers deployed in war zones around the world, controlled by human operators thousands of miles from the action. ...Immune to injury and death, this brave new breed of American warrior has a battlefield edge that’s all but unstoppable—until a flesh-and-blood enemy targets the Tin Men’s high-tech advantage in a dangerously game-changing counter strike.

...anarchists unleash a massive electromagnetic pulse, short-circuiting the world’s technology...comrades-in-arms find themselves trapped—their minds tethered within their robot bodies and, for the first time, their lives at risk.

I'm not one for tech thrillers but I like to read outside my comfort zone once in a while. The more I heard Christopher Golden discussing this novel, the more it intrigued me.

Tin Men is a solid novel. It delivers on its setup. The near-future sci-fi tech is plausible as is the geopolitical hot mess of humanity across the globe. The characters feel real, diverse and have distinct personalities.

The plot threads of suspense are laid out lockstep. The story rushes to an exciting ending - no telling who will survive the upheaval and who won't.

It's a page turner!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Reading Plans

Generally, I almost never make reading plans. I grab whatever strikes my whimsy at the moment I am staring at the abyss of the printed word bookcases.

However, there are things coming down the pike and for once I'd like to be ahead of - or at least on - the curve.

First up, I need to read A Lonely & Curious Country because I want to read what everyone else contributed to the anthology along with me!

Between now and November I want/need to read James A. Moore's The Blasted Lands. The sequel, City of Wonders, is coming out in November.

Also coming out in November will be the comic of Joe Golem by Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden - which puts the original prose novel, Joe Golem & The Drowning City on the short list.

I am seriously considering reading King in Yellow stories - both the Chambers originals and follow-on tales from other writers - as my October horror reads. Mostly because I have one or two story ideas in the milieu and I want to have a solid foundation when I get to work on them.

Longer term, I need to get back to Robert E. Howard re-reads to prepare for Howard Days 2016.

I also need to read some Joe Hill and Mark Morris and hopefully a bit of the other guests, too, before NECON 36 (2016.)

Everytime I think I'd like to stay home and read all day I remind myself that the day job pays for it all. I'll just keep plugging along, one book/story at a time.

Monday, August 24, 2015

NecronomiCon Providence 2015

On Saturday I attended NecronomiCon Providence for the day.

I headed out from home in the morning. Traffic was light and the drive only took an hour. The core event took place across three buildings downtown. With the light traffic, it was easy to follow the signs and I reached my destination without a problem.

The Rhode Island Convention Center housed the vendors' room, attached around the corner in the Omni Hotel, a couple of ballrooms were used for panels. A very short walk down the street brings you to the Biltmore Hotel, where other panels took place.

Rhode Island Convention Center
Biltmore Hotel

View from the 17th floor of the Biltmore
View from one of the Grand BallRoom windows, 17th floor, Biltmore
The Biltmore is a grand old hotel, opened in 1922. It's very wonderful, as you can see from the photos.

My first stop was Lois Gresh's reading/launch of her anthology Innsmouth Nightmares. Great lineup in that book, and some of the contributing writers were in attendance.

Right off the bat I was able to meet Sam Gafford and Matthew Carpenter, as they were both at the reading, too! (Sam is the publisher of Ulthar Press and Matthew was the editor of A Lonely & Curious Country.)
Secondhand Mythos
Next up, I dropped in on the Secondhand Mythos panel which discussed the iterations, peaks and valleys of quiet and resurgence of Lovecraftian/Mythos fiction. The panel consisted of Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones, Paul Di Filippo, Robert Price & Cody Goodfellow. Yeah - very cool!

After those talks, I headed back to explore the vendors' room. Oh. Shiny, shiny books. Art, too. I spent too much money and could have spent way too much money.

Once I finally reached the Robert E. Howard Foundation table, I was done. They brought books. Why'd they have to bring books?

Of course, once I introduced myself to Mark Finn, Rusty Burke and Jeff Shanks, I was invited to have a seat and we spent time chatting, hawking REH wares, and getting folks interested in the Foundation. (If you're not a member, there is now a free membership level which will at least keep you informed of all things REH by email. Hint, hint.)

After a lunch break, I briefly stopped in on the Forbidden Knowledge discussion about the fictional tomes of the Mythos. Some interesting ideas there. Squirreling away for future story ideas.

Then I was back at the REH table socializing. Hey - getting to meet these guys in person after all this time online was grand. (I probably should have spent more time with my editor and publisher. Bad writer!) This really was the highlight of the day for me, though I certainly enjoyed the merchandise & panels and seeing other people I knew.

There was a great talk on Chambers and "The King in Yellow." I learned a lot there, too. I need to read Joe Pulver - he is one knowledgeable guy. He cited Karl Wagner's "River of Night's Dreaming" during the talk, which I was really pleased to hear.

Finally, I attended "Two-Gun Bob Rides Again!" presented by Jeff Shanks, Rusty Burke, Scott Connors, Mark Finn and darn-it-missed-his-name-and-not-listed-in-program(Rick Lai.) It was a solid panel. I think the audience enjoyed it. I suspect anyone with little knowledge of REH and his ties to Lovecraft and the Mythos learned a lot.
Two-Gun Bob Rides Again!
We were all encouraged by the turnout for the panel as well as the traffic at the table in the vendors' room.

I ended my day at the Union Station brewhouse with Jeff, Mark, Rusty, and two other guys - Rick and Scott. Food and beer were top-notch! So was the company, of course!

Then I headed home.

The loot!

I really enjoyed my day. The next NecronomiCon Providence will be held in 2017, they are on an every-other-year schedule. I will seriously consider attending for a longer spell, next time. So many people to visit with!

Monday, August 17, 2015

recent read; Wicked Tales

Wicked Tales

I still can't stop admiring the EC Comics style cover of this book. Fortunately, I can report that the book's contents more than measure up to the promise of the cover art.

I enjoyed all the stories. There is a lot of variety. Some personal favorites; "Bitemarks" by Paul McMahon - straight up horror featuring a house being consumed one giant bite at a time. "Keepsakes" by Rob Smales - you'll never see a garage sale the same way again. "The Pawnshop" by T. T. Zuma - a noir start twists into a Twilight-Zone-esque tale. Sam Gafford provides us a different point-of-view from a classic Lovecraft character in "My Brother's Keeper." And John Goodrich slips in a sword-&-sorcery tale of a Greenland Viking in "Odd Grimson, Called Half-Troll."

This a great, eclectic anthology of horror stories. The stories are strong and varied. It was a real pleasure to read. No horror fan should be without a copy!

In case you're curious, Wicked Tales is the third volume of The Journal of New England Horror Writers. Epitaphs was volume 1, and Wicked Seasons was volume 2.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Blog Tour Stop #2; Discovering H.P. Lovecraft

Out promoting A LONELY & CURIOUS COUNTRY again. This time I post about how I discovered H.P. Lovecraft's stories, and how they hooked me. Swing over to Adventures Fantastic, if you are so inclined.


(Thanks, Keith!)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

recent read; Blood For The Sun

Blood For The Sun by Errick A. Nunnally

Alexander Smith is a werewolf who is ancient enough (140 years old and counting) that he is afflicted by an Alzheimer's like memory loss. Working as a police consultant is a double-edged sword. The mental stimulation helps keep his mind from deteriorating, but sudden short term forgetfulness also puts him in harm's way more than once. Brought in on a case of child murder in the projects of Boston, he soon finds himself embroiled in a supernatural plot and winds his way through the supernatural underground of the city.

I like the reality and gravity of this story. As an urban fantasy, there is nothing sparkly or whimsical about the supernatural elements. The world is grounded in ours - both decent and dark. The Alzheimer's angle is very original and thoughtfully explored.

There is a lot to find in this book, it's rich on characters, settings, supernatural elements, murder mystery plot. And they are all well-balanced, no single one overwhelms the narrative.

I look forward to more stories from Errick.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Blog Tour

Hey, I'm on tour! Blog tour, that is. Promotional jaunt for A LONELY & CURIOUS COUNTRY.

I know - I've been promoting it a bit, but Ulthar Press is a small press and I want to help the book do well.

Thanks to Jim Cornelius for allowing me a guest spot at Frontier Partisans!


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A LONELY & CURIOUS COUNTRY now available via Amazon


Ulthar Press can sure turn around a book when they mean to! :)

A LONELY & CURIOUS COUNTRY is available via Amazon already, and will be debuting at NecronomiCON in Providence, RI in a couple of weeks.

There should be a ebook version in the near future, too.

Very excited to be in this anthology and I'm looking forward to reading all the other stories!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

recent read; King of the Bastards

King of the Bastards by Brian Keene and Steven Shrewsbury.

Partial cover blurb;

King of the Bastards is wild adventure across seas, beaches, and mountains full of horrifying monstrosities, dark magic, and demonic entities.

Rogan has been many things in his life as an adventurer — a barbarian, a thief, a buccaneer, a rogue, a lover, a reaver, and most recently, a king. Now, this prehistoric bane of wizards and tyrants finds himself without a kingdom, lost in a terrifying new world, and fighting for his life against pirates, zombies, and the demonic entity known as Meeble.

This is good ol' fashioned sword-&-sorcery with blood, guts and adventure.

Rogan, the 'retired' restless king of Albion is on an exploration & fishing voyage when he is beset by enemies and shipwrecked. The local natives trade his services as a warrior for their help returning him to his homeland. Recruited to dispatch a sorcerer and the sorcerer's dark god, Rogan fights far from home even as troubling news and visions show the former king that his son has been disposed from the throne back home in Albion.

Sure, Rogan is cut from the Conan cloth, but he is his own barbarian. He is more uncouth than Conan. He is a lot more ribald, and one wonders if Robert E. Howard had written in a later year, if he might not have had more sexual elements to his Conan stories like this.

This novel is short, just right for a sword-&-sorcery tale here. I got sucked in and read it in three days, which is not something I have done with a single novel in a long time.

There is plenty of room for more tales of Rogan. Although King of the Bastards is self-contained, there are plenty of threads to pick up in a direct sequel, for a start. I'd enjoy reading that story if Keene & Shrewsbury want to write it!

If you're a sword-&-sorcery fan and want to read something new, King of the Bastards will hit the spot nicely.