Friday, December 30, 2011

Retrospecticus 2011

Ahhh 2011 ...where to begin???

The gifted Jeff Jones passed away this year. I broke my favorite "battle ready" sword, and I didn't finish my sequel.

I glanced back over the blog and pondered what I had posted here.

Writing-wise I have sold quite a few stories that I thought would see print this year...and are waiting to be printed next year. But Fistful of Tengu, Curse the Child, The Hand of Fate, Fangs of the Dragon and the first chapter in my dark fantasy serial Midnight Sons in the local Utah UGeek Magazine, were all released. Perhaps the other stories I am waiting on will build up and make it look like 2012 finds me a supremely prolific writer.

I am still way behind on the rewrites for my second novel, Blood of our Fathers, the sequel to Heroes of the Fallen. But I'm working on it and hope to get it turned back into my editor soon.

Life can be topsy turvy, so between a big move and numerous personal and family health issues sometimes you just can't get things done that at one time seemed so simple. But the battle continues.

A number of other mostly finished projects will only help it appear that 2012 is my super year.

Looking over my reviews I read more books than I remembered off the top of my head-most of them were pretty good, lot of indies. But my standout favorites would be Mike Mignola's Hellboy graphic novels. I am in the midst of the latest installment - vol.11 The Bride of Hell

I read a lot of history books (usually rereads) that I didn't bother to blog about but when it comes to non-fiction I think my favorite read this year was - The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring-Gould, the guy who also wrote the hymn 'Onward Christian Soldiers'. Though this might sound like fiction it was a collection of the strange and true horrifying things men do/did-much of it borders on people who thought they were werewolves and or vampires, and then there was always that hint that there may be things that just have no rational explanation and may be supernatural.

I also read a lot of books by folks that I count as friends, practically too many to list off the top of my head and not forget names-and I still have a number of others to catch up on.

I blogged more about movies this year than I ever bothered to previously and following the trend my favorites were the indies- like Ironclad, Kill the Irishman, and 13 Assassins. I sincerely hope this quality storytelling continues.

So summing up, I have very high hopes for our new year, lot of writing to be done, things waiting to be published and lots of things I have yet to turn in or am able to blog about yet. Made some good new friends, and am living where I grew up-I'm excited to able to share that with my kids-jagged mountains, dark forests, vicious wild animals, don't worry Honey, etc etc. I actually hate resolutions but I am gonna try harder to be better than I was before-gotta turn that try into a 'Did'.

Hope the New Year finds you well-have a good one.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Strange Sights of the Week

 This one  from my brothers, might be my favorite Christmas gift-a rare photograph of Sean Connery signed by Daniel Craig.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and here's to a New Year, friends new and old, fresh beginnings and the renewing of old goals. Remembering the victories and defeats that we might make this next one shine all the brighter.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Read Just Lately

The Arabian Nightmare, by Robert Irwin

Is a dizzying trip through 14th century Cairo beside an insomniac Christian spy named Balian.
Yes, this novel predates Ridley Scott's The Kingdom of Heaven by quite some time.
Full of great characters and intertwining short stories that all weave together, at times confusing even infuriating this is still a book that I greatly enjoyed. Hints of magic and intrigue abound as plotters utilize different talents and pawns all leading to a surprising twist ending. I admit the final lines did frustrate me, yet at the same time it was almost what you expected.

Granting splendid views into a sprawling city like Cairo in a post-crusades world Irwin's writing is magical and verbose, he is above all an entertainer but with something to say. The Arabian Nightmare has a lot to offer in seeing an exotic fantasy city for those of you who like a lot of detail-yet it flows in the stories as if it too is a character. One of the better books I have read this year. This also gives a great background (even if chronologically later) to another book I have just started Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones.

Report from Iron Mountain, (On the Possibility and Desirability of Peace) by John Doe

I've really been getting into listening to Douglas Dietrich on a variety of radio programs, and while he would be regarded as quite conspiratorial and subversive, I have yet to hear him say much of anything I found too outlandish-but he doesn't have any books out yet-I know I've been haranguing him about this dilemma, and so I went back and looked over the library for some of my own rare and unusual military type books-probably should have stuck to Secrets of World War 2 for fun-cuz Iron Mountain isn't fun-but it is intriguing. I first heard about it from a strange inventor I knew, he told me to go to the SLC Library and read it-they of course had never heard of it.
But I remembered...
Years later I actually found a copy in a used book shop. In essence it is the confession (anonymously) of a think tank from the Kennedy administration, courtesy of McNamara, on what to do now that the wars have all been won. Now all kinds of things could be said that this is a crock, BUT it was published in 1967 and everything it says that the Gov'ment should do to keep us "Under the Thumb" and distracted has been happening, so it's a little eerie. I had read it before but was on a kick to read something conspiratorial again since Dietrich's The Reality of the Red Undead isn't out yet-oh yeah, I'll be all over that one.

Solomon Kane: Deaths Black Riders, by Robert E. Howard, Scott Allie, Mario Guevara

This graphic novel splices in a short REH tale Rattle of the Bones (which is a great short by the by) and tells us what happened directly before and after that short. Problem is by doing it that way it weakens the REH tale or perhaps a better way to say it-they just don't belong sandwiching it. Sometimes I don't mind Dark Horse doing this with the Conan tales (other times I do mind) and nobodies perfect and while the stories are in of themselves alright and the art is fine, splicing it with more than a fragment to go on like *the first Solomon Kane graphic, Castle of the Devil, is bad form. I'll still check out whatever the next Solomon Kane book is-but if its like this I won't get a third. I would rather they wrote a brand new Solomon Kane tale than sandwich in a classic between two slices of dry bread.

Conan the Barbarian, by Robert E. Howard

This was the mass market paperback used as a tie in for the movie-the logo emblazoned on the cover reads 'Storeies that Inspired the Movie"  IF ONLY
Anyone who has read a REH Conan knows any of these tales would have been a far, far, far better movie. It has actually been awhile since I read the originals in paperback (well awhile for me) and the magic that 'People of the Black Circle' weaves still brought me back, the intrigue and danger of 'Phoniex on the Sword' drew me in like the first time I read it. 'Tower of the Elephant' still looms over filthy Zamora on a steamy spider-haunted night and 'Red Nails' crunches bone beneath dragon feet. I still want those movies made, alas...

One Second After, by William R. Forstchen

Think The Road, as a community. What begins as your perfect small town-which we know is gonna become paradise destroyed, actually has quite a few surprises for even this old paranoiac. We have all heard about doomsday coming one way or another and Forstchen hits us with something that has slipped under the radar a bit too much. Not zombies, or radioactivity or viruses but our own lack of preparedness and ingenuity that modern day life has retarded us on. The very real probability of what do you do when the power is gone?
America is hit with multiple EMP blasts - Electro Magnetic Pulses that fry everything electronic-nothing works. So what happens? No communication, no refrigeration, no transportation, and you can see the breakdown coming. What really hit me was the reality that if the lights don't come on in a couple weeks everyone who is dependent on pharmaceuticals is in serious trouble, then the elderly and what about gangs and those who think they should take what they want? Cormac McCarthy (still the superior writer) was grim (and it was supposed to be an asteroid in The Road by the way, not nukes) but this paints a more horrific picture in the sense that you can see how this would actually affect you and everyone you love-you're not dropped into the story after its almost over-you're there One Second After.

Monday, December 12, 2011

J. Edgar

J. Edgar directed by Clint Eastwood

I've seen three movies in the last two weeks (for work ironically) and this is the only one I feel like admitting to. I don't normally care for Leonardo DiCaprio but I do like historicals and Clint Eastwoods films. A bit slow and ponderous, the film still carried itself with interesting insight into an enigmatic almost mythic character of American 20th-century history. Though a historical film I found it to be rather timely, it's hard not to look at the Occupy Wall Street protesters and the other bad news bears and not see the similarities between the early days of Hoover's dealing with communist insurgents and our own uncertainty today. It's like I always say people don't change that much.

Still this wasn't something I think I need to ever sit down and watch again and there wasn't as much sheer entertainment as there is in some other bio pics such as JFK, Hoffa, or even Nixon, but it is worth viewing at least once. It did grant some humanity to an otherwise atypically vilified (perhaps not unjustly) character and I couldn't help but chuckle at some of the hinted secret files. I also had to wonder if Eastwood made a few of his own digs in the movie.

I usually avoid traffic cops like the plague but I have to respect how much Hoover actually brought to the FBI, the innovations in forensic science, national fingerprinting, the man was a visionary in his field. Also Stephen Root was especially enjoyable as one of the first forensic scientists that Hoover utilized. The rumored aspects of Hoover's secret life were also dealt with in a believable and reasonable manner. The costumes were great but the makeup was atrocious, I thought DiCaprio as an old man looked more like Gordon B. Hinckley than J. Edgar Hoover.

You tell me.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Book Review: Wings Over Talera

Wings Over Talera, by Charles Gramlich

I was introduced to Barsoom and the worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs through Carl Sagan and NOVA. Holst's epic Mars, The God of War blared behind Frank Frazetta's gripping images of John Cater and Dejah Thoris battling alien monsters-it was fantastic, the only thing wrong with any of it was Sagan and his monotonous condescending tone of how there was no such thing ERB's vision of Mars, his science was ridiculous and Percival Lowell could not have seen any canals on the face of the red planet.

This from the guy who is asking me to accompany him on his spaceship of the imagination, no thanks, I'm gonna stick with the Sword & Planet stories, that's what I want to hear more about-which brings me to Charles and his Talera series.

Ruenn Maclang, a 19th century Earthman is mysteriously transported to a strange new world, he escapes slavery at that hands of a reptilian race and finds new love-that's book one that I reviewed last year. This is book two in the series and deals with Ruenn searching for his lost brother and a strange new threat to the peace that he and his own Taleran princess are about to enjoy. Treachery and twists send Ruenn reeling from fire to frying pan.

Molded akin to the best of my favorite pulp novels like ERB and Robert E. Howard, Gramlich's Talera books are not to be missed. His writing descriptions and action are par excellence, the kind of 'I wish I wrote that'. The creatures that inhabit the strange artificial world of Talera evoke both a mythic and Darwin gone wrong ethos, granting a familiar and exotic locale for our narrating hero. I highly recomend that if anyone has an inkling that they will enjoy the upcoming John Carter movie, they check out Charles work as well.

And without spoiling anything, the last line in Wings Over Talera is a killer for the setup of book 3: Witch of Talera.

Grab Charles books here