Saturday, February 26, 2011

Strange Sights of the Week

This is good but lacks the quiet dignity of the Cheese Wedge headgear of Green Bay.

Hahaha, suck it U.N.

Small comfort that they left the wheel.
I have felt pretty old these last couple weeks-hurt my back, knee and got strep.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shadow's Son: Book Review

Shadow's Son by Jon Sprunk
Set in a very well defined world, Shadow's Son takes us on quite a ride, whether its the low town back alleys or the manors of esteemed gentry.

We follow Caim, an assassin of some repute. He is very talented at what he does but has help in the form of Kit, an ethereal being that only he can see or hear. Caim also has powers he doesn't fully understand and for the most part those are about the most magical things in the book.

I like that. Keep it simple stupid.

As I've gotten older (and I have railed about this before) I like plenty of action-which this has lots of- and if there is going to be magic in my fantasies it has to have a cost. And thinking about a lot of the talk online I read this last week only made me think about how Shadow's Son has the correct balance.

A couple of term's I do not personally like and will only use for the sake of my rant (sorry Jon) is high fantasy and low fantasy. I find them pointless and they only divide what at its core was the same thing. IF someone wrote Beowulf today it would be lumped into low fantasy-but I hate that term, its negative. And what makes high fantasy so high? Give me a break, both Beowulf and Tolkien denote EPIC and HEROIC.

Getting back on track-Shadow's Son is such a perfect balance over what could be termed both sides of the coin I just argued against. It has the one man (with some great help-namely Josey) fighting for a cause that could be snuffed out with his or Josey's death (S&S) and yet their goal and struggle has far-reaching effects for the entire kingdom HIGH noble fantasy-so we have both the Epic and S&S tropes.

Balance, right here right now. Caim is a sword & sorcery hero, but what he does also fits in with the noble HIGH quest, and true to S&S stylings, Caim has to question why he is even doing it.

Sprunk's writing is wonderful, the prose had a lyrical flow I love and some excellent metaphors-I'm a sucker for that stuff. While I did see some plot twists coming, others were great surprises and one was a big shocker. Wrapping up toward the end I couldn't put the book down, I had to see what happened next-very thrilling.

I did have to wonder at the end, why Caim couldn't just stay a part of things with Josey (societal rules be damned)-but then where would we go for book 2? I sincerely hope we get more pieces to the puzzle of Caim's maternal orgins.

Shadow's Son is the first in a trilogy and I look forward to Sprunk's next work.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fistful of Tengu

Do you know what a "Tengu" is?

A class of supernatural creatures from Japanese folklore. Generally depicted as anthropomorphic birds of prey-typically crows. So in brainstorming for something for A.J. French's MONK PUNK anthology, I thought of Tengu.
Borrowing the title as a play on "A Fistful of Dollars" I had to come up with a reason for you to get a 'Fistful of Tengu' enter my wandering monk and how he deals with monsters plaguing a sleepy little village.
A pretty straight forward yarn, but I had fun writing it nonetheless.

Well, I just recently submitted the tale and A.J. accepted it-very pleased for what was otherwise a terrible day-hurt my back at work-BAD.

Cannot walk like a person under 99 years of age at the moment.

So I better keep writing...

I'll be posting when this one is available.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In the Garden of Legion, Honey...

"Wheat!" as Porter is apt to shout. The eighth anthology I am to be a part of this year just accepted my story "Garden of Legion".

It is a weird western for the Wandering Weeds anthology. A bizarre collection of ravenous roughage, perilous plants, ballistic bushes...I'll stop now.

Inspiration for Garden of Legion came as I was sitting in church (and why wouldn't it?) So, yes it is that Legion.

A recurring character of mine the gunfighter Porter Rockwell, rides into a dying little mining town, (that I based on Eureka, Utah) named Eden. Lot of biblical resonance. Eerie danger rolls into town as it twists and strangles about on a windy moonlit night.

Very pleased with how much it creeped out my wife.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Read Just Lately

Beowulf, translation by Sean Heaney

I reread Beowulf every few years as it is the book which put me on the road to a fascination with monsters. I read it for the first time when I was in first grade and the idea of a Dark Age hero battling hand to hand enthralled me.

Granted it was a abridged version for children (that I have since found a copy of that very same edition for my kids) but the theme was still there. I have read several different translations and treasure the Heaney version above the others-for one it is a handsome hardback but also it contains both the original olde English opposite Heaney's translation. I have used that side by side comparison to examine Heaney's prose choice and even compare the wording for the sake of my own opinions.

I reread it again because I am composing an American Beowulf as of this writing ~ Killer Instinct. Its a weird western with Porter. I've been wanting to do my own version of the epic poem and especially of Grendel for quite some time-and the time is right.

Oh yeah in regard to the review-you know I love this. Highly recommended for anyone into fantasy and heroics-DON'T think you know the story from that abominable Gaiman/Zemekis version.

Gaiman never understood the heroics and could only gripe at book signings/readings about Angelina Joile playing the demon mother of Grendel? Yeah, that made sense??? A seductress demon played by Jolie-whats the complaint Gaiman? It was your weak adaptation that ruined the story.

Read the poem-skip the movie.

Conan:The Hand of Nergal by Robert E. Howard, adapted by Timothy Truman and Tomas Giorello

This has a great foreword by Mark Finn. The art by Giorello is top notch and considering that the version I was raised on, as it were, was the posthumous Lin Carter collaboration this was pretty good-not perfect mind you but pretty good.

I instantly got the inside joke that the demon scion of Nergal- ELA D'SNAL = Lansdale as in Joe Lansdale author of Conan:Songs of the Dead, Bubba Ho-Tep and bazillion other yarns of weird fiction.

While it was interesting that Nestor the Gunderman from Hall of the Dead and Rogues in the House is back in this particular thread (albeit zombiefied) I found the climax with him rather unsatisfying-almost like what was the point of even including him? Just like Julia Roberts in Oceans 13. Neither presence really brought anything to the table.

Still it was a good adaptation and Dark Horse is king in my book right now graphic novels


The Amazing Screw-On Head (and other curious objects) by Mike Mignola

As mentioned a couple weeks ago, I am quite the fan of Mike Mignola's work-particularly Hellboy. This collection is different-it throws a collection of six strange tales together and only the first even has the Amazing Screw-On Head-who is apparently a secret service type robot serving Abraham Lincoln.

It is funny with some tongue in cheek quips and the usual Mignola fascination for odd architecture, archeology & anachronism AND it works. Mignola states there are no more Screw-On Head stories and that's a shame. I am especially interested in more for the sake of his eclectic villains~Emperor Zombie, Dr. Snap and an unnamed Vampire Madame.

Some of it may drift into strange tangents, but if you delight in the absurd and Mignola in general you will like it.

The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett

I have greatly enjoyed the movie versions of Hammett's stories (Maltese Falcon, The Silver Key) but had never actually read them-so this is a first. Its a pretty straight forward Noir, a genre Hammett spearheaded, and while Mr. Charles is no Sam Spade he is intelligent and capable, perhaps a raging alcoholic, but intriguing nonetheless.

Hammett has a way of composing dialogue that pulls you along and keeps you guessing. I have to read the Maltese Falcon and Red Harvest sometime soon.

The Book of Werewolves, by Sabine Baring-Gould

Baring-Gould is the kind of man I imagine inspired the previous authors (excepting the anonymous author of Beowulf) A prolific author, archaeologist and composer (he wrote Onward Christian Soldiers!)

He has collected here the definitive study on Werewolves. Published in 1865 it has remained an engaging read full of useful information for crypto zoologists and speculative fiction authors-I have to wonder if Robert E. Howard read the many french tales collected herein for the sake of In the Forest of Villefere and Wolfshead and I am positive Mignola has read this based off Hellboy story lines. And yes I have a couple werewolf stories up my sleeve at the moment.

Covering Lycanthropy across the ages and continents Baring-Gould leaves no stone unturned-grim as they may be. Some of these accounts are as gruesome (or worse) as anything you can imagine the worst of serial killers commit today.
The last few chapters are not for the squeamish.
But being a Parson! Baring-Gould was not writing to titillate or shock-he was giving the facts.

Inspired by his own encounter outside of Vienna, he compiled this book in an effort to understand the phenomenon. Don't write a werewolf tale without having read this.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Meanwhile at the Man Cave

My latest attempt to offend over half the reading public is up over at the Man Cave.

Check her out.

And by her I mean the post, not the three good witches from Petticoat Junction.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Hand of Fate: Shadows and Light 2

My novella, The Hand of Fate has just become available - you can order a copy here.

I don't even have a copy yet, but I look forward to reading the whole thing and I'll do a review soon. I have to admit I like the black background a lot better than the white one it had (I posted that couple months ago)

Anyway for a refresher - The Hand of Fate is my arabian nights flavored fantasy. Wish I could have put a genie in it but alas I did not. It is about honor, those who can or can't learn redemption, extreme bodycounts, FIRE, brutal sword-swinging action, horses jumping off castle walls and I throw in a few Mongolian Death worms to boot.
I'd appreciate you getting a copy-you won't be disapointed.